Writer’s Web: Catching Inspiration from Women Writer’s of Charming Family-ish Fiction 🕯📖📜🖊♥️

Betsy and Tacy’s replica bench from Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy Tacy Series. Mankato, MN ♥️📖

I’ve been thinking about the stories that inspire me and of course, the writer’s behind those stories. I was so excited to recently visit Mankato, Minnesota (Deep Valley in the stories!) and stop at many of the places mentioned in Maud Hart Lovelace’s semi-autobiographical series of children’s stories. Oh, the delicious delight and wonder of seeing the places Betsy (Maud) and her friend Tacy (Frances) haunted and thinking on how Maud captured the specific, odd, charming details that make her stories ring true. It made me think of all the other authors that write these types of stories and how much they inspire me!

One of these lovely kindred souls being Carol Ryrie Brink, an American author, with lovely family stories that warm my heart, so far my favorite being Winter Cottage, a story set in the Great Depression era in Wisconsin, a widower and his children making the best of very hard circumstances. Family Grandstand being a cherished read aloud in our family of an university professor, writer mother, and three kids in a rambling house with a turret and all their adventures. I’ve finally began the sequel, Family Sabbatical with some Booktube friends and the first chapter was SO delightful. Brink, of course, is most famous for her story inspired by her grandmother’s life, Caddie Woodlawn.

An English author that I’ve recently been stalking and been so inspired by is Noel Streitfeild. I first heard of her from one of my favorite films “You’ve Got Mail” in which Kathleen Kelly talks about “the shoe books”. Come to think of it now, Kathleen also talks of Betsy Tacy books in her bookshop and sells some to Joe Fox’s aunt! 😉😄♥️ Streitfeild is wonderful at putting children and families into unique, slightly strange settings and situations. I absolutely was riveted by her story The Magic Summer, about children dumped on an eccentric aunt in the barren Scottish? countryside. Family Shoes (The Bell Family) was delightful as the children tried to help their poor vicar father and mother with money in hilarious ways. There are so many more to explore and I’m currently loving Apple Bough (Traveling Shoes).

Elizabeth Enright is one that I started reading with my older children years ago with her delightful book The Saturdays, but I was reintroduced to her this past summer by my favorite Booktuber, Kate Howe, who also revived my interest in Maud Hart Lovelace. I adored Gone-Away Lake and can’t wait to read the sequel. The nature writing interwoven into this book won my heart.

And of course, one cannot talk about inspiration without mentioning my lovely and favorite Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery. The magic of nature, the spiritual edge hovering over life, and quirky characters are just a few reasons I love this writer SO much. Yes, her stories can be a bit formulaic, but oh, the delicious details she packs into them. The Anne series, The Blue Castle, Jane of Lantern Hill, and Emily Climbs are my favorites at the moment, maybe if all time? I was so blessed to travel to P.E.I. for my 15th anniversary with my husband to soak up some island inspiration.

Laura Ingalls Wilder also comes to mind. I’m currently rereading through her famous series with my younger children and Almanzo’s story in Farmer Boy is just as compelling as it was the first time I read it. The hard, brutal life that early Americans lived is so inspiring for our modern lives. The family dynamics are so intriguing to us. I still want to retrace the Ingall’s path out west which we did as a smaller family years ago. We loved especially wading in Plum Creek. 🥰🌿

Gothic-y-feeling, trickling waterfall near Maud Hart Lovelace’s home.

No list of inspiring women writer’s would be complete with another favorite, the English writer, Elizabeth Goudge. Her magical writing in legend and lore of place, her deep, interesting, nuanced characters, her pulling back the veil between spiritual and reality, make her SO beloved. She definitely is a bit more of a dense writer, you have to work hard at her stories, especially beginnings, but persevere, because oh my, you will be richly rewarded. I’ve read most of her backlist, currently my favorites are A City of Bells, Pilgrim’s Inn, Dean’s Watch, and maybe Gentian Hill is creeping up there, too. Her children’s story, Little White Horse is delightful, too.

Train station where Betsy (Maud) traveled to Milwaukee to see her friend!

And of course, Miss Jane Austen, is a must have for this list. Her books are such an interesting study of character and the inner works of Regency era English families. Romance takes over the films, but the books are something else entirely. My favorites are Persuasion, Pride & Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey. Although, I reread Mansfield Park this summer and so enjoyed it!

How about you? What authors highly inspire your work? Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list for me, Bradbury, Tolkien, Lewis, and others come to mind, but one of my favorite things to read and write is family and children ! And I think these ladies get it oh, so right! Have you done literary travel? Any inspiring places you recommend or you want to visit? I’ve also been to England, but would love to go back, especially to Oxford. Please chat with me in the comments! 📖♥️🖊📚

Monday Ponderings {November 7th}

Gather my broken fragments to a whole,

As these four quarters make a shining day.

Into thy basket, for my golden bowl,

Take up the things that I have cast away

In vice or indolence or unwise play.

Let mine be a merry, all-receiving heart,

But make it a whole, with light in every part.

George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul

||on hot water therapy ||

||filtered light through shower curtain, drips trickle off silver-y, soap-scummed faucet…Irish Spring Soap scent, sniffing out a 32 year old memory of Grandma Fritz, her chunky, pink bubble-shaped bubble bath bottle, her chain plug, while all the dregs drain down…salty tears mixed with mineral-laden water in need of salt to soften. Hey, I’m a cheap water softener, if only my tears could be useful in that way…stretch marks, stretched-taut strength, silent screams through the warm rain. Hair plastered close, veil washed over my racing thoughts…sore nose bridge, loose glasses, may I be able to see pass this all? Purple, frayed, musty towel waiting, dirty feet bottoms planted in the swirling soap suds. Rubber duckies, colorful boat, army man with one leg, Dove Daily Moisture Shampoo, please bring me an olive branch of peace and hope. Hot water sears eczema, coconut oil slathering ahead, healing really does hurt. Worry-disease drained away for the moment, deep breath, steam in, selfishness and stress out. Water pounding massage, life paused in curtained, watery world away from the “on-ness” of it all, soul’s dirty roots deeply watered for another day. Size 12, barely buttoned, unzipped heart, out of chest, maybe hot water therapy will help this heavy-heart, too? Scrub this heart anew.

Joy Journal: November 3rd🍂

Book mail gift 💝 and breakfast ♥️🍂

📖Dear Friends,📖

What is inspiring you or bringing you joy currently? Please join me in comments, in your journal, or on your blog!

🍂I’m grateful today for…🍂

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness 🕯, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 🪔

2 Corinthians

|| searching for cemeteries || diluted sunlight, cool breezes|| another daughter enjoying Black Beauty || learning about Stalin, fascinating discussions || nature journaling paraphernalia spread out || wild flower weed bouquets || candle-lit chili suppers ||cardamon cinnamon, those words AND the new tea || new notebooks || orange-y, brown, green, and purple-y pens ||the wonderful words: russet • plum • golden • scarlet• || roar of wind through remaining leaves ||

|| chasing words || trees at local arboretum, so many varieties in one delicious spot || Joni Mitchell’s songs, art, and dipping a little into her biography || #380 of the Creative Pep Talk Podcast || Vincent’s letters to Theo || acorn tops in bottom of tote bag || box of raspberries || piece of paper birch bark || zoo ticket memories repurposed as bookmark || kitty sleeping on me, all stretched out, so warm || watching “You’ve Got Mail” with hubby, an autumn tradition || golden hue of this time of year || thrifted moccasins ||

|| perusing earrings and rings while thrifting || little animal vignettes in surprising places about home || Tombrow pens 🖊 || stickers of trees and acorns ||my little one falling asleep on me while reading the Tailor of Gloucester || every morning, his soft squishy Ezra Jack Keats poem and snuggling moment with me || Old Farmer’s Almanac tidbits || mums and fat squat pumpkins all in a row || cardigans swinging from back of all the chairs -|| new pencils, crayons, and composition notebooks ||bells ringing on church ||

What are you noticing today? I’m so grateful for the little gifts all around me! 🥹♥️

Monday Ponderings {September 19th}

We all know that there are few surer tests of character than the way rebuke is sustained. The meek, frank soul accepts reproof with unclouded brow and simple gratitude; the ungentle soul resents.

Charlotte Mason, Scale How Meditations

Joy Journal: September 9th


🍂🍃Dear Friends,

What is inspiring you or bringing you joy currently? Please join me in comments, in your journal, or on your blog!🍃🍂

I’m grateful today for…

🌿this quote🌿

“…Love watches, and sleeping slumbers not; weary, is not tired; straitened, is not constrained; frightened, is not disturbed; but, like a living flame and a burning torch, it bursts forth upwards and safely over-passes all.” ~Thomas A Kempis

||Psalms 143|| delicious words swirling around me|| first homeschool co-op of the new school year, seeing friends and “meeting” new ones in the musicians, artists, and writers we will be enjoying together||my baby sister’s 30th birthday ||daughter’s excitement over hairdo change and getting ears pierced||celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary||

||golden-tinged September🍂🍂🍂||son’s excitement about helping friend work in Colorado||beginning Christmas planning|| The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange – enchanting!||P.G. Wodehouse audio books, hilariously ridiculous || “Honey in the Rock” by Brooke Ligertwood|| “Find Me in the River” by Delirious||an Oswald Chamber quote texted to me from my sister||

||Jesse Ahmann’s instrumental cello on YouTube ||foggy pauses||cool, crisp early morning air, with a hint of autumn||laundry snapping on the line||hubby finding a praying mantis on lawn||hard but good conversations||duvet put back on bed, cool and soft||Amish woodsmoke on the wind||bits of red-tipped sumac peeking around bends in the road||Bull thistle fluff blowing in the air, sunset blazing through it||

||Middle-Earth mornings ||harvest moon shining on my face as I awake from sleep||new tea, cardamom cinnamon coming in the post||letter writing to friends in Canada||homeschool mom chat||autumn stationary perusing||journaling saving my sanity||listing gratitudes helping rightly order my heart||purr of Ghibli, our adore orange tabby kitten||piles of books to try and soak in||

How about you? Anything just really bringing you joy currently? Watching anything good? Reading? Creating? I’d love to hear. Happy End of Summer, friends. May you get the chance to soak in the remaining warmth and light of the year! 🍃🍂🍃 Peace & love, Amy 🍎🍏🌾🍂📚🍂🌿🍃📬🖤💌☕️🫖🌾🍎🍃🍏🍂♥️🖤🌿✍️📬💌🖤

Joy Journal: August 5th

Early morning prayer and Bible reading outdoors has been life giving the last few weeks 🌿♥️🌿

☕️Dear Friends,

What is inspiring you or bringing you joy currently? Please join me in comments, in your journal, or on your blog!♥️🌿♥️

I’m grateful today for…

This 🌿quote🌿…

It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity – a friend on IG reminded me of this quote and it was exactly what I needed.

||pressing pizza dough down into three pans, flour-y hands|| talking with 3yo about his Schliech puma and jaguar toys||our new rescue kitten, Ghibli or Gibs||laying in the breeze and looking up through the Honey Locust to a patch of blue above||Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz, an unique, adult murder mystery within a murder mystery ||Black-Eyed Susan’s opening their eyes||

3yo and I’s snuggle reading 📖 one day…

||my daughter’s chamomile flowers|| a wildflower bouquet from my oldest son|| new paneling slowly going into the bathroom || delish iced coffee made by friend, talking about homeschooling, life, and books with my bookstudy women||Christmas gift planning, thrifting and homemade ideas|| catching 3 yo on floor with pile of books, slowly turning the pages|| looking up and around and seeing 3 children reading near me ♥️📚||

||stacks of picture books to put away|| Malcolm Guite reads C.S. Lewis’ poetry at The Kilns ||zucchini, cucumber , and lovely green peppers from Amish stand||glorious sunrises breaking the dark’s hold || star-drenched skies|| paper bits, quotes, snippets, collage journal resurrected || jalapeño tango paint color still growing strong from Menards|| the summer smell, new mown hay, a friend said it “smelled green” and I looove that 🌿🌳🪴💚||

Amish 🌾 wheat…

||a friend texting me a quote from the book she is reading || white paint to wash away a few years of country living ||Miriam Elizabeth’s Jane Austen July vlogs on Booktube || using a laundromat for the first time in a long time, reading The Princess Bride while waiting for clothing to dry|| old Carl Larsson calendar art cut out and reused||Austin Kleon’s email newsletters, so many weird fascinating things to get creative juices flowing ||single sunflower 🌻 that grew under bird feeder || Berber van Gorp’s peaceful ASMR art journaling YouTube channel ||

Book choices for an upcoming road trip…📚📚📚

What’s on your gratitude list? Are you still soaking up summer or gearing up for autumn? I’m praying and planning a bit, but I’m still loving summer. I’m sooo enjoying reading 📖 outdoors and hanging out our 🧺 laundry. 🌿🌞♥️🌻🌿 Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Love 💕, Amy

Favorite Reads {2nd Quarter 2022} 📚🌿📚

Half a year of joys and sorrows. ♥️🌿♥️ How can it be? So blessed to have words to help us through, help us understand, and give us a gateway to journey through life with compassion. What were your favorite reads the past few months?

~☀️April💦~ I had a wonderful reading month with quite a few mysteries, including two Agatha Christies, but the books the stood out were my reread of Christy by Catherine Marshall and Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. Honorable mention was a reread of A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. Christy was such a masterful look at female friendships, our influence and impact as women, and what it means to have a selfless faith. Mr. Dickens didn’t disappoint with his gorgeous cast of characters in Our Mutual Friend, and I was so pleased to immerse myself in the world of an exploration on wealth and what true richness is. I read this with a local friend and some Booktube friends, which made the experience so much richer. I hope to watch the BBC adaptation later this year. These two books fulfill two of the prompts for the Back to Classics challenge. My reread of Mr. Vanauken’s memoir sharing his love story, coming to faith, Oxford, thoughts on beauty, and his friendship with C.S. Lewis was powerful and asked a lot of important questions.

Reginald Wilfer is a name with a rather grand sound…the existing R.Wilfer was a poor clerk. So poor a clerk, though having a limited salary and an unlimited family, that he had never yet attained the modest object of his ambition: which was, to wear a complete new suit of clothes, hat and boots included, at one time.

Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend

🌸May🌿~ another WONDERFUL reading month, mostly thanks to Kate Howe’s Booktube, who’s cozy, comfort recommendations are spot on! I loved continuing to read through the Betsy Tacy Series by Maud Hart Lovelace , reading two more. I loved Betsy In Spite of Herself, as Betsy had to learn important lessons about being herself and not trying to be what she thought others wanted. I loved Chronicles of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery, a short story collection that was heartwarming and thoughtful. I finished up David Copperfield by Dickens with our homeschool group and wow. So good! I loved Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright. The nature writing, details, and domesticity was just so uplifting. An adventurous tale set in Cornwall, In the Roar of the Sea, by S. Baring Gould, had some lovely characters and the descriptions of the Cornish coast were sublime. A nonfiction that I really enjoyed was The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Details by Paula Byrne. The most moving read and surprising was a children’s book, Skellig by David Almond. A haunting story of a young boy coming to terms with his move to a fixer upper, an ill infant sister, a new neighborhood friend, and a mysterious creature tying them all together.

“Fear is the original sin,” wrote John Foster. “Almost all the evil in the world has its origin in the fact that some one is afraid of something. It is a cold slimy serpent coiling about you. It is horrible to live with fear; and it is of all things degrading.”

L.M. Montgomery, The Blue Castle

🌤June🌺~ Another AMAZING reading month! My 1st quarter reading wasn’t the greatest, but the 2nd quarter made up for it! A favorite reread of the month was The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery, so inspiring and heartwarming. Second chances and asks the question if you only had a short time left, how would you live? I’ve reread this book countless times and it’s one of my very favorite Montgomery books. I read a wonderful dystopian, fantasy on my daughter’s recommendation, Elantris by Brandon Sanderson. I enjoyed the light hearted, deceptively deeper YA Pride & Prejudice retelling Pudge & Prejudice by A. J. Pittman. If you like coming of age, 80’s/90’s high school setting, and quirky characters, you will enjoy this! That House That is Our Own by O. Douglas was a lovely domestic, female friendship focus with light romance set between London and Scotland. I also adored the gorgeous writing in The Skylark’s War by Hilary McKay. It follows a widower and his two children in the English countryside leading up to WWI. McKay does a wonderful job thinking and speaking like a child would. My favorite of June, however, after all that goodness, was The Magic Summer by Noel Streitfeild. This strange, quirky story shares how a family of four children has to spend the summer in Ireland with their eccentric aunt. The courage and fortitude they learn is inspiring. Aunt Dymphna may be a bit TOO hands-off, but she doesn’t speak down to the children and trusts them. I really enjoyed this story. I’ve enjoyed two Streitfeild books now and I can’t wait to read more!

It was all over – the goodbys, the present-giving (except Aunt Dymphna’s present) – and everybody seemed sorry to see them go. “But I think this place is like sand,” said Penny. “You are there when you’re there, but when we’ve gone it’s like the sea going out – all the marks which were us won’t show any more.” Robin did not like that. “Not my marks won’t. They remember me forever.” Naomi agreed with him.

Noel Streitfeild, The Magic Summer

I excited for a whole new bunch of months filled with space for reading! What are you especially excited for? I’m looking forward to #janeaustenjuly on Booktube and elsewhere. A month long Read-along centered on all things Miss Austen related! 🌸🌺🌸 Happy Reading! Love, Amy

Joy Journal: June 18th {Happy Birthday to me!}

Bits of joy…

♥️Dear Friends,

What is inspiring you or bringing you joy currently? Please join me in comments, in your journal, or on your blog!

I’m loving right now…

|| thinking this article on Iris Murdock || Lesley Austin’s blog, YouTube, and email newsletter || purging books and filling up 5 main Little Free Libraries on my driving routes || Cherry-flavored water by Clear American from Walmart || golden-lit afternoons, summer sun filtering through Honey Locust leaves and shining through my kids hair as they play || adoring the photography and poetry at Leaf & Twig, even the blog name is enchanting || reading in sunshine and wind ☀️🌬🌥

Gills…spore print coming up!

|| cozy lifestyle vlogs, Hyonyeo, cakes and cats in South Korea || popcorn and oatmeal cookie picnics while reading Prince Caspian under the tree|| lawn lounging days, my Mother’s Day hammock from a few years ago is getting a lot of use || our first bonfire, slowly burning up last years Christmas tree, my 3yo calling the sparks ‘fire birds’ ♥️|| Mary Azarian’s woodcut picture books || ponytails and rooster tails || swimming for the first time this summer ||

Lake and Dickens days…

|| reading short story Watter Mitty and then watching older version with Danny Kaye together- so silly and hilarious! We also love the newer Ben Stiller version of it, too. || SundryWords bookmarks || the haunting, new-to-me author, David Almond’s book, Skellig || TWO recent mail surprises {including a Moomin journal 😍} from a Texan friend, Kim, THANK YOU! || Rae of Sunlight’s back Booktube vlogs || making a summer bucket list with the kids ||

Summer is so lovely…
Tornado watches…gorgeous, angry sky…we had to go into the basement, but rain and high wind were the extent of it’s bite. Do you like storms or wild weather?
Summer snoozes, dirty, darling, little boy feet…
A friend gifted me peonies two summers ago…first bloom!

What’s bringing you joy? I’m so very blessed 🥹 and I just love recording it! ♥️📚♥️ Grace and peace to you, Amy