January Hope : Green Growing Things, Light Chasing, and Books are Most Definitely Friends

The early morning tickle of light burns pink and delightful over the snow and cuts through the intense cold. I’ve been snuggling into warm sweaters {sometimes, two at a time!}, jackets, and soothing stories. Early mornings, especially, have been for putzing around, fiddling with my coffee, rearranging books, obsessively checking my paperwhites to see if they are blooming, trying to suck any bit of hope into my spirit from green things. And let’s talk of light chasing. I often find a patch of sun and close my eyes as I stand in its comforting square. Or gaze at the flicker of candlelight, or hold my hands to the wood burner’s glow. Light around corners, light from the heavens, crystal shards through the sharp refrigerator nights, my breath puffing a halo around me. My rereading of Elizabeth Goudge stories is going to be one of endless delight and delicious mind sustenance. I can tell already and I’ve barely dipped into her massive pile of beautiful words. Yes, I’ve slowly begin rereading her and searching for those I don’t yet have in my collection. The crockpot has been bubbling nonstop {my Instapot, too, albeit something seems to be amiss with the cover! 😦 } with chicken taco soup and chilis. Big fluffy socks, moccasin slippers, peppermint mint tea, and finishing off the coffee with a hint of Christmas scent, along with the children’s copious amounts of hot chocolates with a large side of books have been the order of our days.

We finally packed dear ‘ole man Christmas away, wistfully, and full of gratitude for the cheer, remembrance, and sparkle he brings to winter. Back to Miss Goudge, The Scent of Water, brought me through a tough week mentally, mid January, and Snow & Rose, added a sprinkle of whimsy, too. Although, I’m jealous of those that read Emily Winfield Martin’s sweet book for the first time, the little surprises weren’t there on my second read. Wives & Daughters is bringing me so many friends I wish to know and others I’d not care to be around, looking at you Hyacinth Clare *glares*. Poor Mr. Gibson and Molly!

Taking my tea with me to the post! Sending penpal letters and cards is really a delight!

The class system in Elizabeth Gaskell’s story is so unfathomable to me in my independent, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps 21st American mentality. How women had to move about to be proper is fascinating and sobering. But for all its flaws, this Victorian novel is showing the love of one’s family, connections, and it can’t help but pull you in. Gaskell’s characters are so intriguing, mirror-like for ones soul. Molly Gibson’s too accommodating nature, a peace lover at all costs, even to the determent of herself and those she loves is a bit to close to home for comfort. I wonder if she’s an Enneagram 9? HA! 😉 Mr. Gibson’s deep, interesting character, but his extreme resistance to showing his true feelings reminding me a little of Elinor Dashwood. He keeps his regrets, mistakes, and joys close to his heart. Roger Hamley’s open, curious, kindhearted character falling for beauty without the careful observation that he gives his scientific life, Osborne and Squire Hamley. The Hamley family being probably my favorite friends to follow from Wives & Daughters. The 1999 tv mini series has actually been pretty true to the book! Yes, I watched before reading. I can’t wait to tackle the rest of Gaskell’s novels that I’ve yet to read, as North & South, Ruth, and Wives & Daughters, haven’t disappointed. I know just which one to pull into my lap next as I already have it on my shelves. Mary Barton is waiting and beckoning to me from my TBR pile of possibilities for this year.

My heart is anticipating and super excited to join a book challenge on Instagram/Booktube next month called FebRegency. We will be reading Regency plays, poetry, nonfic, and Regency novels mentioned in Jane Austen’s work. I actually want to reread Mansfield Park, dip my toes in William Wordsworth and William Blake’s poetry, try a Richard Sheridan play, read a few diary entries by Dorothy Wordsworth, and maybe a novelist that inspired Jane Austen, Maria Edgeworth, or Fanny Burnley. The cold, hard Kindle is coming through for me, due to a lot of these things above being free or inexpensive. ❤ So exciting! But, I’m choosing to curb the expectation a bit and S-L-O-W-L-Y enjoy the ten remaining days of January.

If all else fails and my heart needs a little lighter fare, but no less deep, the kindly post brought a volume containing the richness that is Professor Tolkien’s Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham with lovely illustrations by Pauline Baynes of Narnia fame.

Our reading together and nature gratitude continues in our homeschool with our first ever phenology wheel nature journaling project for the year and interesting dips and conversations surrounding The Old Farmer’s Almanac. The Yearling and White Fang have been spotted curled up with various children and Rosemary Sutcliff’s illustrated-by-Alan-Lee versions of The Illiad and The Odyssey are well loved. We keep stumbling forward through the mysterious, beautiful, and maddening world of maths, spelling, the frightening current news, topping it all off with a generous dollop of poetry and music. I’ve been enjoying listening to Spiers & Boden, The Hobbit Soundtrack, Enya, Louis Armstrong, Studio Ghibli Soundtracks, and BTS Kpop. How’s that for eclectic? But the good Lord’s earth is a veritable feast of delights for the taking. I for one want to fight back against the ice, darkness, and cold of this world with a tenacity that rages against it all with a whisper of gratitude, open-handed humility, and a shard of Beauty and Truth – He is strength to the poor, strength to the needy in their distress, a refuge from the storm, and shade from the heat {paraphrasing a tender morsel from the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 25}. I see Jesus as my lighthouse, stalwart and aflame in this black, inkiness that enshrouds earth. I grab ahold of a beam of the light, drink it down, eat it up, and try to let it shine out, so others can join me along the murky path. Shine on, friends, keep drinking in, soaking in His beauty so we can spill a little out, a drip, a dribble of Hope. We need Hope. Hope on. ~

Gratitude & Glories {December 2021 Reflecting and A Bit of a 2022 Look Ahead}

Happy New Year! We are back to {home} school and I loved adding a quote from The Quiet Season by Jerry Apps to my nature journal. The sunrises and sunsets have been so gorgeous, cutting through the cold, real warmth for the heart. I tried to capture the bit of beauty I caught as we drove in the gloaming, ice and snow framing the glorious sky painting.
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The Simple Woman’s Daybook

I’m Thinking… about anticipating all the meaningful moments ✨ to be gathered up into my jar of memories , all the wonderful books 📚 waiting to be enjoyed, and about how much I love the seasons ❄️💦🌿🍂, the different beauty each one brings.

I’m Thankful for… my fun reading journal setup this year, reading challenges, and writing ✍️ plans.

Reading Journal with Anne of Avonlea sticker!

One of My Favorite Things… Booktube! I’m in a couple of different reading challenges over there, at Oceana’s, Chantel’s, and I’m loving Emma’s account, sooo much, too! I’m also excited about this blogger’s challenge which I attempted a few times in past. You can also join me there on Booktube, but be forewarned I have a big learning curve with technology and editing ahead of me. 😂♥️😄

I’m Wearing… a lot of layers, slippers socks, and comfy core, as someone called it on Instagram!😂😃

Dressing for warmth and happiness!

I’m Watching… reading journal ideas and Booktube!

I’m Reading… SO many wonderful things I’ve started. I’m surprisingly enjoying my reread of Out of the Silent Planet by Lewis more than I thought I would.

Im Listening… to soundtracks and Salt of the Sound!

I’m Hoping… to continue our slower, deeper dive into our books we started back this week. It’s been sooo great, the conversations swirling around. It’s tempting to do allllll the things, but faithfully and steadily doing a few less things works better for us. I’m all about deeper dives this year.

I’m Learning…to pace myself, trust and rest with Jesus, and to be in Anticipation & Expectation of Him being with me this year! In fact, those are my words of 2022.

In the Homeschool Room… we are just getting back at it this week and it’s been exhausting, but oh, so good. Giving myself the permission to tweak as needed for all of our sanity and for rest. ❄️❄️❄️

Shared Quote…

“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.”

Lemony Snicket

Just some last parting shots of some of my reading journal set up pages! So fun and relaxing! How is your new year shaping up? May the Lord bless you and keep you! ♥️🌿♥️ Love from Hearth Ridge, Amy

Favorite Reads of 2021 ♥️🌿{Massive List: You’ve Been Warned}

Remembering our daily autumn tramps in a little woods on our property…♥️♥️♥️

Dear Fellow Page Turners and Word Drinkers 😄, it’s that time of the year to think about all the wonderful books I’ve read this past year and take on the impossible task of narrowing down my favs {failed miserably at the narrowing down part. Ha! }. 2021 was a FANTASTIC reading year for me! I was thrilled to read so many great books. Here is my post from my 2020 favorite reads and my categories that I wanted to focus on in 2021. I touched all of my categories EXCEPT I didn’t really finish any biographies. Once again, I listed categories below to help you, if you’d prefer to scroll to your favorite genre, instead of reading through my massive list. 😏♥️ I left Goodreads this year in spring with no regrets and have plans for a pretty analog reading journal, continuing what I started this year, because I loved it so much. I’m truly a paper gal. I blame Booktube, especially Chantel 😂😍, for so many great books! I read a lot more mystery this year and surprisingly, historical fiction. Curl up with your favorite hot drink and a pen and paper because happy toppling 2022 TBR, my friends! 😂😎♥️

Favorite Book of the Year 2021~

Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly -5 stars!!!! This was just so lovely! A middle grade story about a little girl being shuffled around in the foster care system and an artist who is slowly declining due to Alzheimer’s disease. Deeper themes about belonging and being seen. This book just made me FEEL. It was so, so sad and lovely and REAL.

Poetry ~

The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry – 5 stars! Some of Berry’s poetry is a little inaccessible to me unless I am in a certain mood with lots of patience. NOT THIS COLLECTION. This book and the Holy Bible got me through 2021, sane-ish. 😉 Ha!

Hilltop Verses and Prayers by Ralph Spaulding Cushman – 5 stars These are lovely, intimate poems, prayers, and Scriptures. I gave this as a gift recently. There is a second book also which I’m slowly savoring.

The Lost Spells by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris – 5 stars, breathtaking watercolor illustrations and gorgeous wordsmithing from MacFarlane. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

Nonfiction/Memoir-

Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings by Diana Pavlov Glyer – 5 stars! This was just SO inspiring about how community is so important in our creative pursuits and in life. I was so inspired by this book, so two writing friends and I have started checking in on Voxer and spurring each other on. I’ve been also getting into more bookish community on Booktube. ❤

Letters by a Modern Mystic by Frank C. Laubach – 5 stars! Fascinating and super lovely look at one man’s attempt at “practicing the presence of God” moment by moment in his daily life. Mr. Laubach was a literacy advocate in the Philippines and other countries.

Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May – 4.5 stars This book articulated how I feel so very often! It was a beautifully written memoir of the author’s pressing INTO the dark times in her life instead of fighting them. This wasn’t from a Christian perspective, but it was so inspiring, reassuring, and I felt “seen”.

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson – 5 stars! A mind-blowing book about personal responsibility. Even if you don’t agree with everything from Peterson, don’t miss this amazing book. Philosophy, religion, psychology, and so much more!

This Beautiful Truth: How God’s Goodness Breaks into Our Darkness by Sarah Clarkson 4.5 stars – this one was ALMOST my favorite of the year. I loved that I finally found a book that questions the scary idea that God is the creator of sin and horror in the world. This book is so beautiful in an unique way – the non-chronological time line in this memoir was my only complaint as sometimes we jumped about a bit, but I loved how Sarah shared her struggles with mental illness and her questions and deep things she was contemplating.

Lost in Wonder: Rediscovering the Spiritual Art of Attentiveness by Esther de Waal – 4.5 stars, despite a few theological differences, this book was such a blessing to my prayer and gratitude life practices. Beautiful thoughts, quotes, Scripture, and glorious poetry on how really seeing and practicing gratitude ultimately turns our heart towards God. Highly recommend.

The Lazy Genius Way: Embrace What Matters, Ditch What Doesn’t, and Get Stuff Done by Kendra Adachi – 5 star read for me! I was so surprised by this as I don’t really like these types of books usually. I felt so freed and like I can tailor my home in the way that fits me. And yet, she does challenge and give tools on how to run what works and is important for you. I can’t wait to read her Kitchen Lazy Genius title next year, as I need major help in the kitchen. HA!

Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now by Greg Boyd – 5 stars, fantastic look at keeping God’s love in mind in the moment you are currently in! This book was life changing for me and so helpful about my thought life.

Kohila: The Shaping of an Indian Nurse by Amy Carmichael – 5 stars, one of the most convicting, beautiful reads for my faith and my job as a wife, mother, homeschooler, writer, woman, and friend. So beautiful! A bit rambly, but I took down pages of quotes that challenged me and inspired me in my Christian faith.

Lay of the Land by Dallas Lore Sharp – 5 stars, just lovely, intimate memoir with reflections on nature, life, with the author’s faith woven throughout.

Boundaries for Your Soul: How to Turn Your Overwhelming Thoughts and Feelings into Your Greatest Allies by Alison Cook and Kimberly Miller – 4 stars – such an interesting book and I especially found the chapters on guilt/worry/anxiety so helpful. I loved that this was from a Christian perspective and included a lot of Scripture.

Middle Grade & YA Fiction ~

Fog Magic by Julia Sauer – 5 stars, a short, haunting portal magic MG fantasy that I really enjoyed. The setting was LOVELY.

Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt – 5 stars. WOW! Jane Eyre thread throughout, the Vietnam War, domestic abuse, and poignant observations on a young boy’s life. Schmidt did NOT disappoint in this companion to The Wednesday Wars.

Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – 5 stars! I LOVED this first in a fantasy/dragon series, but heard the second is not great, and the third never came out. So I just stopped here! If you like classic feel fantasy, this one was great.

Heart of Red, Blood of Blue by Rebecca Belliston – 5 stars! I heard about this one on Oceana’s Booktube channel and my oldest daughter and I loved it. Medieval-adventure-romance done SO well with great twists. Heads up, I did try a couple other of Belliston’s titles later and they weren’t for me, but this one was wonderful!

The Recorder by Cathy McCrumb – 5 stars! This is the first in a Sci-Fi Series called The Consortium. This was one of my anticipated reads from 2021 and it didn’t disappoint. So fascinating and I loved the characters! We follow a Recorder, a person raised from childhood to record history and observe life, or is she? She is thrown into a mission with a great bunch of characters and questions are asked about who she really is? Space, giant bugs, octopus-like robots and more.

Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Ruth Meyer – 4 stars, I read all? of Meyer’s novels in 2021 and I really enjoyed this one. In the beginning, I found the story of the ancient gods on the side was more interesting to me than the main story. However, the last quarter of the book picked up, blending present and past well. I loved Wen, the shape shifting, and the cooperation between the two main characters. The whale was so clever, lots of strange, magical, unique details that made me feel. I loved the secret library/mansion/sea/cottage setting. Meyer is SO good at setting. I loved that Talia didn’t compromise her beliefs. Overall, a bit stream-of-conscious-along-for-the-ride type read, but so atmospheric, clean, and intriguing!

The Rivers Lead Home & Other Stories by Emily Hayse – 5 stars, haunting, sparse, adventure short stories that really inspired me. I really enjoy this Indie author!

Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw – 5 stars, this YA historical fiction was full of intrigue, mystery, and light romance. I gave this as a Christmas gift to my 12 yo!

Of Salt & Shore by Annet Schaap – 5 stars, loved this story! I really grew to care for Lampie, the sweet lighthouse keeper’s daughter and the sad hardships she faced. This has a Beauty & the Beast, Little Mermaid, Jane Eyre, Secret Garden mashup vibe to it! A bit dark and creepy, definitely for older middle grade or YA.

The Brave by James Bird – 4.5 stars. I adored this book and loved the main character Collin. I loved the First Nation/Indigenous, magical realism bent to it which was so well done. I loved the creative and real feeling way this talked about disability, disease, and death. I DO NOT RECOMMEND this book for Middle Grade readers, however, as it included too many adult sexual type comments/situations and I don’t like that in books geared for 8-12 yos. I will be thinking about this one for awhile.

The Mirror Visitor Series by Christelle Dabos – 4 star series! This is a grand, magical, unique, mirror-traveling political type fantasy. It has an extremely slow-burn romance and huge cast of such FASCINATING characters. Pretty long, but it was a page turner for me! This was recently translated from French and I really loved this one. Overall, pretty clean, probably older YA/Adult.

The Breadwinner Series Books 1 & 2 by Deborah Ellis 5 stars – first two books in a heart-wrenching series about a family in war-torn Afghanistan. This is a MG series, but I’d definitely read it with my children or give it to older kids as it touches on sobering topics. I’m taking a break before reading the last two books as they are heavy. I noticed that there is a an animated movie that I want to check out.

Sweep by Jonathan Auxier – 5 star book! Oh my. SO sweet, creative, magical, and heart-wreching about the loss of a parent, belonging, friends, and so much more. I really loved learning more about children as chimney sweeps.

Incarceron & Sapphique by Catherine Fisher – 5 stars duology! Fantasy story about a fascinating living prison and finding the key to it! Creepy and mysterious. Wonderful, intriguing characters, great twists, and very clean. Great YA reads!

Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud – 4.5 stars, SUCH A CREATIVE idea! Ghost hunting children who have an agency to take care of those pesky haunted houses. A little dark, but I enjoyed this first one.

Ignite the Sun by Hanna C. Howard – 4 star creative read of a girl who can harness the power of the sun! If you like elemental magic in fantasy stories, this one was great, and clean. The romance was a tiny bit cheesy, but overall this was great. I loved that it was a stand alone, so that we got all the great action and story in one go!

Adult Fiction ~

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka – 5 stars, disturbing historical fiction about the horrors surrounding a Japanese American mother and her children trying to psychologically and physically survive relocation to American interment camp during WWII. The writing was SO beautiful, sparse, sad, and so wonderfully expressed. The mental hoops that they had to jump through were so disturbing and how others ignored/excused mistreatment of a whole group of fellow human beings was so sobering and thought-provoking.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and O Jerusalem by Laurie R. King – 4 stars – The first and third books in a LONG series surrounding “retired” Sherlock Holmes and his new sidekick, Mary Russell. I’ve read 4? in this series and there are some preachy/weird themes and I disliked the second book so much, but the writing is SUPERB and the idea so creative. I’m going to continue reading!

The Other Bennett Sister by Janice Hadlow – 5 stars, beautiful and sympathetic look at what happened to Mary Bennett. A MUST READ FOR JANE AUSTEN FANS!

Father Brown: The Essential Tales by G. K. Chesterton – 5 stars, unique and interesting mysteries solved by a quiet, observant priest. I was very pleasantly surprised by these!

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet by Jamie Ford – 4.5 stars, another super interesting historical fiction inspired by a true story. An abandoned hotel basement full of Japanese American belongings found some decades later reveals the stories of so many lives disrupted due to the interment camps. Disturbing and so interesting, told through the eyes of a father and son relationship. Highly recommend!

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – 4 stars, another historical fiction for me! Wow! A disturbing, intense look at 4 evacuees from war torn Germany/Poland/Lithuanian who were headed to be taken on the ill-fated “rescue” boats. The horrors of war and ethnic cleansing atrocities were up and in your face. Trigger warning on this one, so scary, but SO well done. This was my first Sepetys and it won’t be my last.

The Secret of the Chimneys by Agatha Christie 5 stars – LOVED this stand alone from The Queen of Mystery. I’m finding her single stories without Poirot or Marple are some of my favorites. So hilarious!

The London House by Katherine Reay – 5 stars – I am not a huge historical fiction reader and especially not of WWII time period, but I ended up reading so many this year. Ha! However, I have enjoyed Reay’s books in the past, so I gave this one a try. It was AMAZING. I loved the story being told through letters, diaries, and memories. I found the history about dress designers, the Nazis, and Salvador Dali to be fascinating!

L.M. Montgomery ~

Along the Shore: Tales by the Sea – 4 stars for me. A lot of Montgomery’s stories are so sweet with happy endings, but these were grittier and dark. I really enjoyed them.

Emily Climbs x2 {reread} – 5 stars The second in the Emily Starr series and my favorite! So lovely about family, writing life tension, creativity, all with Montgomery’s swoon-worthy nature writing. One small thing that’s weird is an older male friend of Emily’s is a bit creepy, but I can forgive it, because the rest is lovely.

Jane of Lantern Hill {reread} – 5 stars! My handle Amy of Hearth Ridge is inspired by this book! I read this first after a hard pregnancy and a touch of PPD and it blessed my socks off. How simple loving and having someone to care for can be the most important thing to your life. How serving and giving end up blessing YOU in return.

After Many Days: Tales of Time Passed – 3.5 stars, short stories of “second chances” or “time past” – it had a slow start, but I appreciated the latter stories.

The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery: Volume 2 – 4 stars The first volume of Montgomery’s journals touched on her girlhood and this one gave such an interesting and dark perspective of a Canadian woman during WWI. Highly recommend!

Whew! 😅♥️ Of course, I read the Holy Bible and so enjoyed especially going through the New Testament, John in particular. Hopefully, you got a good recommendation or three that you anticipate! I’ll be back soon with my reading ideas for 2022!

Gratitude & Glories {November 2021}

Hello Fellow Wordweavers, Dreamers, and Beauty Chasers ~ isn’t this time of year enchanting? I’m especially in awe of seeing it through my children’s eyes. It’s taken me a long while to just take these simple moments, minute by minute and see them for the gift they are! I’ve been dipping into Robert MacFarlane’s Landmarks again and just recently fell under the spell 😉 of The Lost Spells, oh my, I may be getting this in my stocking as a gift from myself to myself. How has your Advent season started? Hopefully, it’s calm & bright in the deepest part of your soul, despite the external craziness this time of year can bring. Happiest Advent to you!

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The Simple Woman’s Daybook

Drive-through light show we like to do during the Festival of Lights ~

I’m Thinking… how odd it feels to be fighting staying present, yet excited about the new year and its dreams, plans, and ideas. There’s just something about a fresh, crisp journal waiting to be cracked open and ink-stained, is there not?!

I’m Thankful For… the grace and space my hubby and children grant me for my weirdness and dreaming.

Views ♥️Coffee♥️Conversation

One of My Favorite Things… the magical half light between dawn and the remnants of dreams – that half dream state of thought, ideas, and creation sprinkled over reality. It’s elusive, but often comes when soaking in The Word {Holy Bible}, the great words of writers & poets down through the ages, glorious art, and music.

I’m Wearing… a favorite grey pullover with a cowl-like neck a lot recently. Jeans, tshirts, and big thick socks. It’s snuggly season.

Coffee and Gorgeous book ~ some of the best things in life ♥️

I’m Watching… Leslie Austen’s peaceful vlogs and old Antiques Roadshow episodes on YouTube. I’m loving Chantel’s bookish vlogmas.

I’m Reading… in a bit of a slump after finishing Laurie R. King’s first in a Sherlock Holmes reimagining, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, which I throughly enjoyed. Thankfully, there are like 18? 😍 books in this series. Hopefully, they will be as good as the first. I also am hoping for a bit of a Jonathan Stroud binge, as I read one of his Lockwood & Co. YA books and really enjoyed it.

Decaf Oat-milk Latte

Im Listening… to a lot of instrumental Christmas music, Brandon Sanderson & Dan Wells podcast, Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly, and I was so enchanted by this talk on Narnia, etc out of Oxford.

I’m Hoping… to continue our quiet Advent readings and keeping things relatively calm so as to truly enjoy celebrating Christmastime. 🎄🎄🎄

Moonshine 🌛🌖🌙

I’m Learning…in giving away, we multiply.

In the Homeschool Room… we are enjoying our Advent and Christmas readings, but just continuing all our great books, at a leisurely pace. We loved making paper bag stars this week and hope to do more soon. We made ours each with 9 lunch bags and hot glue, such a huge, beautiful visual delight.

Celebrating LMM’s birthday this week~

Shared Quote…

“Always clamoring to know, we are ever inconstant. The soul is constant only to this unknowing which keeps her pursuing.”

Meister Eckhart

~Advent & Christmas Reads 2021~

These are the books I’ve chosen off my shelves to use for my personal reading during Advent this year. Have you read any of these?♥️
These are the books I’ll be dipping into together with my family! ♥️🎄
Each of my children will have an individual book or two to read during December and January. ❄️❄️❄️

Hello, Friends ~ I have books on the brain after watching some of Miranda’s lovely YouTube vlogs yesterday! These are my choices for this year along with a lovely, gigantic pile of Christmas picture books. I’m not letting my children start looking at them till November 28th 🙃😅 when Advent officially starts. Anticipation & expectation. Are you doing anything special to mark the Advent season? Meanwhile, for those of you that celebrate, Happiest American Thanksgiving 🦃🍂🍁 to you!

Love, Amy ♥️

Reminiscing: November Past ~ Five Years on WordPress

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{This month, November 2021, celebrates 5 years here at Hearth Ridge Reflections! I thought I’d maybe dig up a few of my old posts in remembrance and gratitude for 5 years of life and reflection. This post is from November 2016, a small lifetime ago, eh? Hope you enjoy!}

The morning suns greets my eyes. I slip on my glasses and glory in the view. The old house creaks a bit and I walk pass the piles flooring we have yet to put in upstairs. I stumble down the ancient farmhouse stairs, dreaming of a steaming cup of coffee. Perhaps I should set up a coffee maker in my room? Maybe that is a bit extreme. 🙂 The chatter of voices greet me. “Hey, Mom. Guess what my dream was?” and “What’s for breakfast?” and “I’m cold, Mom! Where’s my sweatshirt?” all sing out as I grab my package of coffee from the freezer and start my Nectar of Life a brewing. My son begins making oatmeal for everyone, which usually ends up somewhere between water-y porridge or rock hard cement, but we all love it with brown sugar, walnuts, and a dash of milk. Some add a twist with a bit of peanut butter.

I am a huge fan of the author Gladys Taber. Have you read anything by her? She wrote extensively on her farm, Stillmeadow. As I pour my coffee, I take in the scene around me and begin to compose it, in my head, attempting to grasp the charm that Gladys always seems to find as she pens her normal days around the farm. Of course, Gladys lived a different life than me. She worked outside of the home for a time and also ends up having more dogs than children. Yet, I feel a kinship to her, leaning back against the cupboard, sipping, and taking in the beauty of the daily mundane doings and yes, chaos.

“Good news, Mom! Gandalf’s pink eye is clearing up!” is the glad shout I hear next from a precious child. Yes, go ahead and chuckle. Gandalf is our barn cat, so I guess creatures do have a part in my life, Gladys.

We move on through our day, alternating between discussions, chores, and books, with a few fights over stuffed animals and whose scissors the purple ones REALLY are. (They’re actually mine.) Ahh… glorious books. We have chosen to live life with our children here at home, learning together. Gerald Johnson takes us through early American history, we laugh at Ogden Nash’s poetry, and giggle as Louis the Trumpeter Swan learns how to play TAPS on his new trumpet. We write some, do a little math, make some caramel corn, and breathe the fresh, albeit tinged with burning leaves, country air. Someone is always asking me when’s the next meal. My crock pot definitely earns its keep.

I gaze at the steam rising from my coffee cup. Sigh. “Mom, the sewer guy is here.” My romantic ruminations are ruined. Reality stinks a bit, doesn’t it? 😉 I watch the fellow from my window, what a job, huh? He is stooped and haggard looking, I’m thankful for him, he makes my job a bit easier.

A few loads of laundry swirling around, blankets on the line. The scratching noise of pen on paper, drawings and journal entries being created. An old, petrified apple core peeks out from under the couch at me. Ahh. These November days. I get “questioned out” at about 4:00 pm, is there really still 4 or 5 hours till bedtime? Yet, I love this life I’ve been given. So, like Gladys and everyone before and those to come after, I rustle up some ingredients and go about thinking supper thoughts. I sneak in a few minutes of reading in my “garrett” as my daughter calls my bedroom, where I like to hide as frequently as possible. “You can’t just stay up here in your garrett all day, Mom, like Jo March!”

I cave in and put on the electronic babysitter. They have chosen the 1935 version of A Midsummer’s Night Dream with James Cagney and Mickey Rooney. It’s a bit creepy and weird, but I hear a laugh. A Puck-ish laugh, come to think of it.   Later the candles are lit, we began our supper with prayers and because it’s the season of thanksgiving, we purposefully go around sharing what we are thankful for today.

I’m thankful for all the November days days I’ve been given, for little blonde girls who shared their drawing with me, “Here’s what I drawed, Mom.”. I’m thankful for grins after a resolved fight over Nutella, and the piles of books to dig into soon. I’m thankful for the beauty of life. And maybe I DO need that coffee maker in my garrett.

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A favorite recipe for you!

Skillet Sausage and Mushroom Penne

*adapted from original recipe from December/January 2014 Cook’s Country magazine – I use things I have on hand and I’ve doubled the original recipe here for my crowd.

1 pkg sausage of your choice (I use breakfast sausage )

fresh mushrooms, chopped – (I use half to a whole package)

4 cups chicken broth

1 can diced tomatoes (sometimes 2, depending if I feel tomato-y or not)

about 1 1/2 packages penne, this is like 18 oz?? I think

1 1/2 cups heavy cream (I actually use half n half, because I rarely have cream on hand)

Parmesan cheese (being the gourmet that I am, I use the green can shake cheese, I know. The horror. You are welcome to use freshly grated.)

  1. Cook sausage, breaking it up, until no longer pink, add in mushrooms. Cook together till brown. Transfer mixture to bowl, set aside.
  2. Return skillet to heat, add broth, tomatoes and juice, pasta, and cream. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, simmer, stirring often, until pasta is al dente. (I actually use a pot, because of the doubling of the recipe!)
  3. Stir sausage-mushroom mixture and 1/2 cup Parmesan into pasta. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with other 1/2 cup of Parmesan, cover, and remove from heat until cheese is melted.

Enjoy! I serve it alone for quick lunch or add a salad as a side for a bigger dinner.

Gratitude & Glories {September 2021} Happy Autumn ~

I am wholly willing to be here between the bright silent thousands of stars and the life of the grass pouring out of the ground. ~from “On the Hill Late at Night” by Wendell Berry

Warmest and brightest autumn greetings, dear hearts ~

The colors of autumn are heart-achingly beautiful here and I can’t help but snuggle down into them and my current favorite poetry collection, The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry. This book and the Scriptures of The Holy Bible have been such a comfort and guiding light to me this past month. A month of homeschooling is now finished and I’m able to know what needs tweaking a little.

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The Simple Woman’s Daybook

Looking out my Window…

I sink into goldenness…corn, beans, and other crops waiting to be harvested and the edges of leaves & grasses, deliciously dipped in color. The green is still here, but now more as a frame for the glorious autumnal painted splendor. Just unbelievably beautiful this time of year here in the northern Midwest US.

Continuing with my autumn comfort-type reads sharing! Any type of seasonal memoir is SO wonderful this time of year. I pulled a few off my shelves here!

I’m Thinking… about a lot, but especially the books The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi (honestly, a huge surprise to me!) and Boundaries for Your Soul by Cook & Miller. Both are really helping me work through guilt/anxiety and also figure out some things about myself in a healthier way.

I’m Thankful for… my family pitching in a lot lately as I’ve battled head colds etc this past month. I’ve recently realized how thankful I am for my 2 yo, as he’s teaching me so much, brings so much joy, and is keeping me on my knees. Nature’s bounty and ironically, I’m so thankful for my gratitude journal to remind me of how much good there is even in the darkest days.

HP can be such a comfort read if you enjoy the hero journey story with intriguing characters//The Enchanted April is so subtle, but a wonderful read about four women on a journey figuratively and literally//Over Sea, Under Stone is a Welsh-mythology type good & evil tale that I really enjoy//

One of My Favorite Things… there’s never just ONE! 😉 Vanilla Almond tea, my red & black checked flannel, my thrifted jean jacket, and our public library. Original Irish Spring soap takes me back to my grandma’s bathroom instantly and lately, I’ve loved just being surrounded by its lovely scent.

I’m Wearing... my sweater stash is slowly resurrecting albeit we had a warm spell this last week. It’s been so nice to throw on jeans, a tshirt, and grab a cardigan. I’m bringing out my favorite 3/4 length sleeve sweater that I got last year thrifting, too. It’s blue and pink strip and I love it. So nice to meet old friends again, isn’t it?

Jane of Lantern Hill has such a special place in my heart ~ I read it after the birth of my 5th child and it meant the world to me in ways I can’t explain, in fact, my handle on IG is a nod to this book…Amy of Hearth Ridge//The Magic Apple Tree is another of those seasonal comfort books//The Little White Horse by Goudge is just so lovely and strange in a magical way, it’s time for a reread soon for me//

I’m Creating.. not much currently, a few nature journal entries, penpal letters, and we started our terms handcraft of Faux Stained Glass.

I’m WatchingVictober Booktubers, Hallmark Mysteries -when I can find them on youtube-specifically Hannah Swenson, and Hungarian Rhapsodies #2 performances.

Oh my heart ~ I adore The Blue Castle, asks such a good question, how would you live if you had a short time to left?// The Hearth & Home book is a traditional country cookbook, but the last half is my favorite, thoughts on life and what’s truly important. A great book to pull out as the year wanes//Magician’s Nephew is my favorite of Lewis’ Narnia books and I found this unique cover last summer//

I’m Reading… the sci-fi YA Incarceron and two memoirs I’m really enjoying currently are Pastoral Song: A Farmer’s Journey by James rebanks and The Marches: A Borderland Journey Between England and Scotland by Rory Stewart. I’m slowly rereading Fellowship of the Ring, too, and boy, was it time. We all need a little J.R.R.T!

I’m Listeningthis song popped on my Spotify and it’s not that I love it or anything, but boy, it brought me back to highschool. 🙂 I’ve been gravitating to old favorite instrumental tracks on youtube: Scottish, Moonlight on Sea, and Wind.

Seasons of a Mother’s Heart is my favorite of Mrs. Clarkson’s books, as it rescued me as a young mother//The Lighted Heart -memoir about Elizabeth Yates and her husband’s gradual blindness – so inspiring and heart-wrenching//The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith – a hard hitting book on writing from life, I drag this out occasionally for wonderful inspiration//

I’m Hoping… go on a belated anniversary trip with my husband to an art museum, nature trails, and a flea market for Christmas gift shopping.

In the Garden… it’s pretty much morning glories rioting and choking everything, saggy sunflower offerings for the birdie friends, and a few happy zinnias. We so enjoyed the last of the watermelons and I need to clean things out.

Karen Andreola’s lovely stories about a family’s life and homeschool adventures are just the perfect heart-warming type reads for autumn//Spanning Time is another from Elizabeth Yates that I like to dip into//

I’m Learning …to be gentle with the parts of myself I struggle with especially fear/anxiety/guilt. Acknowledging them, but not letting them overwhelm me. Bringing them to Jesus and being ok that they are there, yet not whipping myself over the head with feelings of failure because I can’t rid myself of them completely.

In the Kitchen … we made applesauce and bread now that it’s cooling down a bit. Still doing a lot of stir fries with brown rice, veggies, and a bit of meat. We were able to buy a lot of inexpensive cheese from a bulk Amish store and so we’ve been doing a lot of homemade pizza, too.

To be honest, Sarah Ban Breathnach’s books stray VERY far from my faith beliefs, but I find quotes and a few lovely tidbits in them. I found these inexpensively while thrifting and enjoy the way they are laid our seasonally by months or days//This Beautiful Truth by Sarah Clarkson is one of my favorite books of this year, how our God is ALL good and He’s here WITH us in the darkness and suffering of the world.//

In the Homeschool Room… I’m not going to lie. It’s been exhausting and intense, BUT in a good way. We’ve been getting outdoors on nature walks a lot (in fact, I have a case of poison ivy to prove it! 😦 ), enjoying Liszt music, Vachel Lindsay’s unique, but surprisingly layered poetry, David Copperfield, so, so many interesting discussions about all the books, singing “This Land is Your Land”, and enjoying Rembrandt’s work. It’s an amazing privilege to get to do this life with my children.

Shared Quote…

What is love demanding of me right now? That is all that matters.

Bishop Robert Barron via Instagram

That’s all folks! Thanks for reading, ‘may the stars shine upon the end of your road’ {from Gildor, in Fellowship of the Ring} as you travel through glorious October. ❤ Love, Amy

Gratitude & Glories {August 2021} Ramblings & Reflections

{100 Days of Gratitude Journaling} ❤ I’m so enjoying this meditative practice.
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The Simple Woman’s Daybook

Hello Lovely Friends,

Warmest Greetings to September ~I’ve been slowly attempting to just stop with the {home} school prep. At some point, you have to just run with it and tweak as you go, right? I haven’t been reading as much, in sort of a period where I’m just dipping in and out of things and dreaming a bit. Honestly, I’m approaching this year of {home} school with a healthy dose of respect and finding myself on shaky knees of prayer. Summer loveliness hasn’t quite faded away yet, but my heart is turning slowly towards the anticipation of the richness of autumn and all it brings. I’ve been thinking and meditating much on the turning of the seasons, literally, but also more so figuratively. It’s got me pulling books off my shelves that lend to that lingering feeling of change in the air. So many books evoke feelings of excitement and delight as one burrows in or bursts out depending on our seasons or circumstances. I thought it would be fun to intersperse and share some favorites from my home library throughout this post and for the next while as whim and spirit moves.

Gladys Taber’s seasonal memoirs always evoke coziness – it’s forever nice to visit Stillmeadow // Pilgrim’s Inn by Elizabeth Goudge is like a lovely, worn quilt – it’s the 2nd in a trilogy, but I read it by-its-lonesome all the time//Landmarks is a word lovers paradise and MacFarlane is so haunting and descriptive//

Looking out my window...has got me swooning with soft, dreamy purple sun rises and the rich, gold-drenched sunsets. We’ve had some scorching days and some severe thunderstorms, but for the most part, WONDER-filled weather.

I’m thinking…about habits and the idea that how you spend your days is how you spend your life, Annie Dilliard, thankyouverymuch. See below for full quote.

Wind in the Willows ~ does one have to say anything?//Mitten Strings for God by Katrina Kenison ~ a beautiful memoir for those with little children//Rainbow Valley, sigh. Almost anything by L.M. Montgomery has that magical seasonal inside & out journey feel to it. This one is the adventures of Gil and Anne’s six young children//

I’m thankful for… my new art & idea journal and for all my books and for Jesus loving me at my lowest, my family bearing with me, for lovely writing ideas swirling and spinning, themes and threads, and how life-giving journaling has been for me, as of late. My trip to Minnesota to meet up with my health support ladies for prayer and relaxation was a God-send.

One of my favorite things… has been listening to Studio Ghibli instrumental soundtracks – you can find them everywhere, on Youtube, Spotify…just so inspiring, cheerful, and dreamy. We’ve been working on a couple puzzles recently and just got a new one ~ Japanese Tea Garden~ {I can’t find it on Amazon anymore?} that looks lovely to tie into our upcoming Japan focus for geography and some history. I’ve been loving short walks w/my two little guys in the afternoon or picking bouquets together.

Ray Bradbury is one of my favorite authors ~ definitely on the weird side, but these two books, wow. Something Wicked This Way Comes was my 2020 pick for Favorite Fiction of the Year and Dandelion Wine has just a glorious coming of age/seasons of life vibe to it.//At the Back of the North Wind, I actually haven’t finished yet, but I still think about it a couple years after reading a good portion of it~ haunting and mysterious//Streams in the Desert by L.B.Cowman is a devotional that flows through my life at many different points and I love the memories and beauty of it//

I am wearing… casual has been my mainstay for the last couple of weeks, as it has been just a touch cooler – jean, black, or olive green pants, took a break from my beloved skirts. T-shirts with a cardigan or a button-down with my pearl or sand dollar earrings from the Gulf of Mexico have been my go-tos. I’ve been wearing my brown sandals nonstop. I got myself a little back to {home}school gift that I can’t wait to wear! EEEK! 🙂 I mean it had my name on it. 😉

I am creating…my art/idea journal, school plans, and slowly prepping my offerings for our Charlotte Mason community group, gathering handicraft supplies, and chemistry experiment stuff. Whew. I also have a sweet little cross stitch project I began on my trip with my friends that I’m super excited to work on. I have a short children’s story I’m working on for my online writing group next week, poetry knocking at the door of my brain, wanting OUT, and lots of words/themes/visions/ideas to put to pen.

My little reading/writing spot in my room ~ makes me happy//

I am watching…short art journal videos on Youtube, booktubers, and I’ve watched the movie Totoro a few times with my children. It’s so peaceful.

I am reading…as I said before, I’m not really reading anything super specific, more just dipping my toes into lots of things. I’m most excited about the nonfiction, Heaven’s Ditch by Jack Kelly, Toilers of the Sea (possibly?! it’s BIG) by Victor Hugo (honestly, I most drawn to this book because of the delightful woodcut art), and I’m going to keep choosing a few favorite light reads off my shelves for comfort as we begin school. Maybe Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge? or more Wendell Berry poetry which has been SO lifegiving lately. I did recently finish Agatha Christie’s The Secret of the Chimneys and it was a five-star read for me! So humorous and mysterious. Sigh.

Miss Read – English village schoolteacher, sigh//essays by the poet Jane Kenyon, fabulous and thought-provoking//and any of Leif Enger’s three novels I just want to sink into//

I’m listening... as I already mentioned Studio Ghibli and also Salt of the Sound.

I am hoping…to canoe down a local stretch of river soon with my family and also write more about journaling.

Susan Cooper’s spooky series loosely inspired by Welsh-mythology is a favorite reread//another Katrina Kenison, we are not of the same faith tradition, but I still walk away with so many lovely things from her writings//A City of Bells, probably my favorite Elizabeth Goudge, injured soldier visits his grandfather’s little town and takes over an empty bookshop with secrets ~ deliciously good//

In the garden...we’ve pulled out some sunflowers, tomatoes, zinnias, and our watermelons are coming along any day now ~grapes and apples, too.

I am learning…that I go ALOT slower these days~ I can’t read, do, or be as fast as I used to, and you know what, that’s ok. I need to eat well, nap when I can, and get outside. But I also have to work faithfully at my TO-DO list, at times it’s the best thing for me, meaningful work.

Coffee, sunlight, and plants…

In the kitchen… we’ve been making a lot of veggie, meat, and brown rice concoctions of sorts ~ I added black beans to my browned beef, too, the other night to make it stretch and it was delish.

In the homeschool room… eeek. It’s coming, my friends. Easing in next week. I need to stop by the thrift store this weekend to let the children pick out old frames for our handicraft project and we are slowly purging the homeschool/game/craft closet. It’s positively frightening…the closet, that is. Not school starting. 😉

Shared Quote:

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour and that one is what we are doing.

Annie Dillard

Some moments from my day {month}...

My friends and I in Winona, Minnesota ~ we went to an amazing art museum, prayed & cooked together, got out in nature, and talked books to our heart’s content. It was a soul-balm.

What are some books that evoke the change of seasons, literally or figuratively for you? How are you doing? Excited for autumn or holding on just a wee bit longer to summer? 🙂

It was so nice to chat. Until next time, lots of love ~ Amy



Gratitude & Glories {end of July 2021} ~Summer, Journals, & Back to {Home}School planning

Dear Friends,

Happy August Eve!

Can you believe it’s the end of balmy July? Our weather here has been wonderful, albeit cooler than usual for summer. The garden and fields may wish for a little hotter temps, but I’m not complaining, it has been just delicious! I’ve been thinking about a lot and hope to write more on a couple themes that I actually jotted down some notes on (HURRAY for actually writing!) and can’t wait to flesh them out in the next week or so. Meanwhile, thanks for reading along here and for us being in this strange {online} community of sorts. It’s so lovely.

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The Simple Woman’s Daybook

July 2021

Looking out my window… as I said above we’ve had some wonderous weather. July was filled with our last two family birthdays of the year, traveling, and family get-togethers. We just returned from a lovely visit with my Uncle and Aunt at their lakeside home. What richness a lake brings to one’s life. The haunting morning cry of the loons, peaceful-like floating of the lily pads, the heavenly smell of pine and gooey lake-y muck. I live for the summer sunrises and sunsets, roadside bouquets of wildflowers and weeds, and the brilliant, warmth from light and all of the G-R-E-E-N. We’ve had some dry spells relieved by crashing thunderstorms and cooling rain. Sigh. I’m really coming to appreciate summer.

I am thinking…still soaking a bit in a couple of things I was blessed to listen to at the Living Education Retreat early July. Here is one of the recordings if you are interested. Grab something to drink and a pen & paper! It’s THAT good. I’ve been thinking about this story A LOT and it’s implications to my life. I’m also thinking about how hunger {physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually} can actually be a GOOD thing. Of course, not starvation, but turning this idea over a bit in my mind and heart. I’m thinking about a beautiful poem by William Wordsworth that a friend sent me. I’m thinking on a poem I’ve started for a Zoom writing group. And let’s not forget the many books I’m dipping in and out off, egads. Such wealth! Authors, thanks for pouring your hearts out.

I am thankful… for my Gratitude Journal that I’m on Day 12 of challenging myself to list out what I’m thankful for 100 days straight. You can join me at my Instagram home, if you are interested in reading my lists. I included Day 1 below in the photo. This 100 Days of Keeping was inspired by a book I read by Laurie Bestvater called, Studying to Be Quiet, a couple of years ago. I’ve always made gratitude lists and I thought this would be such a wonderful journal to apply the regularity too. I bought the beautiful art & quote journal from a favorite online shop, Sweet Sequels, just for this purpose. I’ve also been pretty faithfully working in my combo Commonplace & Nature Journal for this summer. This is mainly my prereading Commonplace for things I’m considering for my kids for school, learning myself, and am trying to be a bit more prepared for narrations. I’ve also been doing my nature sketches/painting it it, also, around the quotes. I’m LOVING it. I just got this wave pattern journal with watercolor paper on Amazon.

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One of my favorite things… has been dipping into all my old homeschooling encouragement books. Oh my. It’s like being with a gaggle of lady goose friends again. They are all cackling and honking at me and oh my, the memories of when I had just begin and now that I’m in the middle-ish and graduated my BABY. Sob. Some favorites are: Home Education by Charlotte Mason, A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola, and For the Children’s Sake by Susan Scaeffer Macaulay.

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I am wearing… I’ve been wearing a lot of comfy skirts, my jean-colored blouse a lot, and my new Living Education Retreat t-shirt which says READ – MARK – LEARN – DIGEST on the back and it was SUCH a blessing to learn more about what Charlotte Mason took away from this bit in the Book of Common Prayer. The above recorded talk I linked mentions this more. I must say, a man at Walmart probably regrets asking me what my t-shirt meant as I blasted him with tons of impassioned sharing about it. Ha. 😉 Pearl earrings and my brown slip on sandals have been summer staples.

I am creating… well, I’ve been journal-brained as of late. Despite the two journals above, I’m also keeping up on my Prayer/Scripture journal and my regular Commonplace, which I just got a beautiful new one at a thrift store! My mom saw it and she grabbed it for me! A Vera Bradley and the paisley print is PERFECT. I’ve been writing a bit more but more creative nonfic and hopefully, a poem. No work on my fiction currently as I’ve chosen to set it aside as I pray about it more. I’ve been hoping to get to a quilt fabric shop soon, too. I’m working on a pretty “Brain” for my school plan, too. This is my master list of ideas/books/etc that I transfer to my log book each day during our school year.

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I am watching… I’ve really been enjoying Chantel’s booktube and loved this one from Jeri Lander’s at Hopalong Hollow. Jeri has many that I’d like to watch. So LOVELY!

I’m reading… I have stacks everywhere and many books on the go, {yes, there is steam pouring out of my ears} but just binge-read Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, wonderful historical fiction. Lila by Marilynne Robinson made me think. I didn’t engage well with her Gilead and so I was hesitant, but I gobbled Lila up. I loved Urchin of the Riding Stars by M.I. McAllister, a Middle Grade, that my 12 year old daughter really wanted me to read.

I am listening to … this song here has been on my heart this week! A VERY nerdy podcast I’ve been enjoying when I wash dishes is Brandon Sanderson and Dan Wells talking about VERY random things.

I am hoping… I hoping to continue moving forward for everything for my daughter’s graduation party. I’m hoping to finish some books on my stack, continue faithfully journaling, and get some words in! I’m hoping to really be conscious about choosing joy and to enjoy August fully before our school year begins again. Just stay in THIS moment, Amy. I’m hoping to call it quits/finish planning and rest in what I have on paper. It will tweak itself naturally when I actually walk my plan out. 🙂 Just want to trust and rest.

In the garden… my Giant Sunflowers tipped over in a huge thunderstorm we had this week! 😦 So today, I tried to stake them up. I have other flowers doing well and tomatoes and watermelons coming along. Not sure if it’s been hot enough for all these beauties, but it’s ok. It’s the journey, not the finish line, that is lifegiving and joyful. I’ve enjoyed doing my little bits here and there. I tied strings for my Morning Glories to climb and they are happy.

I am learning… how defensive and quick to judge I can be. *GULP* I’m learning to take people at face value, just believe what they are saying straight up. Not trying to psychoanalyze or figure out any angles. Sigh. Relationships are HARD. A good, yet sort of ugly thing. Worth it, though.

In the kitchen… I actually LOVE zucchini season. None of my plants made it, but I know there has to be some floating around somewhere. 😉 Honestly, I struggle in the kitchen in summer. I’ve been still doing stir-fries, lots of sandwiches, and chicken salad. I’m just not a cook, folks. But I’m trying. Any SUPER easy ideas for 9 people? 😉 No sugar and no flour would be a HUGE plus.

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In the homeschool room… I have now spent June & July pulling my hair out…err, planning for school. Ha. I’m getting to the point where I’m being realistic and getting into a groove of what I really want. I’ve been so inspired by some reading I’ve been doing about the Bendectines and I’ve thought the areas of prayer/meditation, learning, and work/service are good places to anchor our rhythm and routine in. I’m culling all my lists and starting to make some purchases. I heard from my Charlotte Mason group that we will be doing Hamlet in autumn, so yay! I’m excited about that and will start to look for copies of the play. I like the Folger editions.

Shared Quote



Poets who give us ‘snatches of music, rather than complete songs’ bring us something important. Pause – take time – do not fill up all the spaces.

Esther de Waal

Some moments from my day {month}...

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My oldest on her 18th birthday with my youngest! ❤ Sigh. Lovely people.
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Northern Wisconsin lake livin’ bliss!

Monday Ponderings {July 12th}

Sunrise over Lake Koronis – Paynesville, MN

You’ll likely overestimate what you can do in the short run, but underestimate what you can do in a lifetime of faithfulness.

Craig Groeschel

This past weekend, I attended a lovely Charlotte Mason retreat for parents and educators and it was so restful and encouraging. In one of the sessions called “Chronic Consistency” by Jason Fiedler, I jotted down this above quote. Days of small things matter. Keep heart and take courage. Your labor is not in vain in the Lord. ❤

Open Letter to my Saturday Self ~

You can’t sit around thinking. You have to sit around writing.

David Long

Dear Saturday and all my friends,

How are you? Just thought I’d check in and share some heart whispers…

“I’m not sure I can write. The well feels dry. I have nothing to say,” I whine.

“You just have to sit down and start. I feel the same way when starting a sermon sometimes. But once I start, the things I need to say start coming,” he encouraged.

My husband shared this with me recently and it’s one of those things I know, but don’t know. He has been longsuffering as he listens to my lamenting. The official homeschool books have been shut with a slightly dusty bang for a few weeks now, but our learning goes ever on in other ways. My little bit of a green thumb has been poking and prodding in the soil, seeds in and watered, the local lake has had a dip of toes or oar once or twice, and the hammock never lacks for company. Hay fields smell richly fragrant, that warm, freshly baked, right out of the oven smell breathed deeply in, drifting through our open Prius windows as we zip around, errands and farm part pickups with above said hubby. Sigh, ’tis a blessed country life. We’ve gotten piles of treasure from our local library, delicious gems for our hearts and minds, I’ve been enjoying the time to dip into my stacks, curled in the hammock or big, chocolate, fluffy new-to-us arm chair. I especially am loving Letters by a Modern Mystic by Frank C. Laubach, which is challenging my prayer and thought life.

My homeschool planning has begun in earnest, to have a more realistic look as I prayerfully peruse and pick, starting with our home library, books for next autumn. All privileges’ I love to do for the lovely people I’m parenting. I start with massive ideas and book lists and weed it down to a workable plan as the summer burns down to a simmer. I hope to have a rough sketch before I head on a lovely homeschool retreat with my sister next month. I’m finding mornings crucial to my heart aim for each day – to set the day and needs of all who I love at the foot of a Cross, a bath of love flowing over it all. A constant reworking and reordering of a woman’s heart and affections each morning…it’s so easy to feel weight. Weight of our world and my work, as a wife, mother, and follower of The Way. Jesus, The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

My writing has been frozen – not sure why the pause has been pushed, recently, although I’m starting to suspect. My health is so much better now after making changes a year and a half ago, my sleep is a bit better, and I’m getting down time in, with plenty of reading, nature, and inspiration. My suspicion is this: my Baggins self is snuggled down deep into its lazy, second breakfast self and is continuingly stuffing the Tookish voice whispering of tales and adventure to be had at the end of my quill, writing my heart out as I journey alongside all you other pilgrims. Journeying is hard work, but oh, the rewards! How do you find yourself currently? As the summer sun sunkisses our hearts and souls, I know I’m storing that warmth to bring out in February, and I’m trying to kick myself into a gratitude posture. One that shares all the abundance I’ve been given. Because that’s what art is to me, a gift to myself and to others, if I’m willing to put in the heart and ink work. How are your summer starts? In home, garden, heart, or creative digging deep? How is this deeply rich and satisfying season of growth, warmth, and light shining light on your life? I’d love to continue this conversation with YOU. ❤ Please share what book you’ve loved recently, or project, or ANYTHING below!

Gratitude & Glories: {April & May}

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The Simple Woman’s Daybook

Hello dear friends! I certainly had no idea I’d take TWO months off from this little corner. Having friends over, house guests, a family wedding, graduating my FIRST baby *waaa!, and just trying to finish out our homeschool year strong lent for quiet on the blog front. I’m back, though, and inspired by my friend, Kim, and just refreshed from the first month or so of my summer Instagram break, I feel up to the challenge to share here a bit more. Here is a post to record and share what we’ve been up to this spring!

For April/May 2021

Looking out my window… despite one fluke night of freezing temperatures (where my procrastination on the garden came in handy…*wink,wink*), our weather has been GLORIOUS. Low humidity, 70’s & 80’s, sunshine, blue & white fluffy skies, and enough rain for a brilliant green carpet. Wisconsin is a delightful state, minus February. 😉

I am thinking… about a lovely generous gift from an online friend. I was able to attend Art History classes and discussions via Zoom the last four weeks. We finished last night and I really enjoyed them! Check out Rachel Magdalen Drennen’s site here to enjoy her beautiful work and look at her upcoming classes.

I am thankful… for the anticipation each night as I lay my head on my pillow for my morning prayer time with coffee, Bible, journal, and books.

One of my favorite things… our “teepee” trellis that we are attempting this year. My oldest son and I made it out of tree branches, beans, morning glories, and cucumber plants. Hopefully, the plants will grow up the strings and branches to create a fun canopy for my children to play in! 🙂 I keep you updated on it’s progress.

I am wearing… I’ve been wearing gardening clothing for this past week, but I’m so excited to wear my a new black & white striped skirt and soft black t-shirt I picked up thrifting as well as my other skirts (I’m not much of a shorts gal). Also my new copper colored Carhartt overalls which I used some gift money to finally get. I just roll up the bottoms and wear with a fun shirt, different shoes, and earrings.

I am creating… I’ve been writing some cards for pen pals, writing faithfully in my gratitude/prayer journal, and I started a new project inspired by Celeste from Joyous Lessons and The CMEC. I was delighted in April to get away with some other Charlotte Mason moms and I got to listen to some of these sessions. Anyway, I was so inspired, I’ve started a combo journal for pre-reading my older children’s school books this summer, quotes, and nature sketches. I’ve already begun and I’m loving it SO much. It makes me a wee bit nervous to see how much reading I’ve set up for myself, but I really think it will help narrations and discussions in the autumn when school starts up. I may share some photos of this journal. I didn’t write ANYTHING on my fiction project in May. 😦 I did get some words down in April, but my goal would be to hit 20,000 words by the end of June. Hold me to it, would you? 😉

I am watching…some Youtube random things. I hope to watch the new Little Women movie soon with my daughters. Have you seen it? Is it good? Anything fantastic you’ve watched recently? I honestly don’t watch a ton, because my gigantic bookstacks call me so loudly!

I am reading… I read a lot in April and May, to my kids and for myself! We loved reading Petook together for Easter and a favorite around Mother’s Day is My Mother is the Most Beautiful Woman in the World. The Enola Holmes Series was a fun Middle Grade read for me, albeit a letter in the last book irritated me so much! HA! I reread Emily Climbs and Jane of Lantern Hill by dear L.M. Montgomery and sigh. LOVE. My favorite non-fiction reads were Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson, and Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now by Greg Boyd. All three are full of lovely ideas and encouragement! I started a Middle Grade Harry Potter-ish series called Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo. So far, the second book has been my favorite! Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Ruth Meyer is a very lovely, creative fantasy for my fellow speculative fiction readers. In the Holy Bible, I’ve worked through the end of Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel. Luke, John, and now into Acts, too. I’m attempting a Charles Dickens Project and I’m hoping to read all 15 of his novels. I’ve only read Bleak House as A Christmas Carol is considered a novella. No time frame, just to keep up constantly till I’m finished. So far I’m reading Great Expectations with my oldest two over the summer, slowly Martin Chuzzlewit, and I have to read David Copperfield for our Charlotte Mason Highschool Literature class I’m facilitating this autumn.

I am listening to… not much! I do listen to BTS kpop HA! when doing dishes occasionally and I’ve loved this song lately to meditate on.

I am hoping…to write more this month. I’m planning weekly word count goals. Just to keep moving forward. I have two writing friends who I check in with on Voxer and I have a monthly Zoom writing group to help. I have quite a few things to do for my daughter’s graduation party in August, so need to keep moving on those plans. I was so inspired by this post by Kourtney here and am thinking of incorporating this with my writing and journaling.

In the garden… hoping to go to an Amish greenhouse soon to round out some things I’d like to add. I have some seeds to get in the ground, too. I’m definitely moving slow getting things in, but am excited! 🙂

I am learning… to rest when I need too and not to hide or binge on things when I’m feeling misunderstood, exhausted, or overwhelmed. I tend to overeat, over consume media, or spend money INSTEAD of dealing with things or just getting sleep. I really need to grow in this area.

Wood Anemone – early spring nature adventures!

In the homeschool room… we’ve officially closed the books on 2020/2021 Willow Tree Academy! WOOHOO! My first graduate, too! Overall, it was a great year. I’m starting planning already for next because I’m more realistic right after we’ve finished. We have two read alouds to finish this summer and we will be continuing The Chronicles of Narnia reread.

Shared Quote



This is the road of self-indulgence, and whenever we have to justify anything we do to ourselves by saying, ‘There’s no harm in it,’ we may be pretty sure we are on the downward grade.

Charlotte Mason, Volume 6, Book 1, p. 194

Some moments from my day {month}...

We made maple syrup this year for the first time!
My oldest son worked so hard! It was a long process, but a lot of fun.