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. ~

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!

Monday Ponderings {December 6th}

But two ways are offered to our will – Toil with rare triumph, Ease with safe disgrace: – Nor deem that acts heroic wait on chance! The man’s whole life precludes the single deed That shall decide if his inheritance Be with the sifted few of matchless breed, Or with the unmotivated herd that only sleep and feed.

~ Lowell, p.36, The Cloud of Witness, emphasis mine

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

Monday Ponderings {November 29th}

“Killing Me Softly with His Song” – my favorite version is by Roberta Flack ♥️♥️♥️

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams; —
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

~ Arthur O’Shaughnessy, from Ode, here is the full poem and it’s just so lovely.

♥️I’ve been musing on how art begets art. It’s like really and truly being SEEN by someone and seeing a bit of them, too, connection that knows no boundaries, an amazing gift, when my heart beats with a story, art, music, or a film. ♥️ How about you? What do feel when something someone created reaches out to you?

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

Monday Ponderings ~ on an Illuminated Conscience {September 20th}

Continuing to share favorite comfort reads ❤ //Susan Branch’s A Fine Romance is just swooooony. A memoir/art/photo journey of her trip to England//Another visit to Stillmeadow through Glady Taber’s eyes//and one of the Anne series, Anne of Ingleside, we get a glimpse of Anne as a mother//

…if we mean to live in the wide world of thought and action, our first care must be to get, by slow degrees, the power of forming just opinions. How are we to get such power? In the first place, we must observe and think for ourselves, not ‘cute’ and clever thoughts about our neighbours’ doings, discovering a low motive here, a sharp practice there: persons who allow themselves in this habit of mind lose the power of interpreting life by the aid of an illuminated conscience. But, if we observe with gentle, large, and humble thoughts, we shall find much to instruct and improve us in the life of every family. We shall see good in the action of statesmen, at home and abroad; wisdom in the attitudes of nations. But most of us have little chance of seeing men and things on a wide scale, and our way to an instructed conscience is to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. We must read novels, history, poetry, and whatever falls under the head of literature, not for our own ‘culture.’ Some of us begin to dislike the word ‘culture,’ and the idea of a ‘cultivated’ person; any effort which has self as an end is poor and narrow. But there is a better reason for an intimacy with literature as extensive and profound as we can secure. Herein we shall find the reflections of wise men upon the art of living, whether put in the way of record, fable, or precept, and this is the chief art for us all to attain.

Charlotte Mason, Volume 4, p. 70 {emphasis mine}
Winter Cottage is a heart-warming story set during The Great Depression era in Wisconsin//The Midnight Folk is a creepy good/evil tale in which a young boy has an scary adventures to help others – perfect autumn read//Anne’s House of Dreams is more deliciousness from Montgomery about Anne & Gilbert’s early life//

May you have a lovely coffee and time to spill your heart soon. Wishing you all the best this Monday~ 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!

Gratitude & Glories: Mid~year Reading Favorites, Bookishness, and Other Ramblings

“One can pour something divine into every situation.”

Frank C. Laubach

Hello Dear Hearts,

Happy Saturday to you! I decided to do a little different post this month for my Gratitude & Glories post – combining a multitude of lovely things, The Simple Woman’s Daybook, with the things I’ve read so far this year that are sticking with me like molasses. I may touch on what I’m currently reading and other little rambling tidbits, but I want to stay close to the wonderful words that have been gifted to me through these past few months.

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The Simple Woman’s Daybook

Looking out my window ~ I’ve been basking in the glorious wind-waving landscape and warmth on my face. Part of my enjoyment is the words that whisper right alongside as I contemplate the expansiveness that warm weather brings. It’s truly a seasonal addition to one’s homeplace. My friend Heather lent me the lovely book The Lay of the Land by Dallas Lore Sharp and I’ve been just diving into it in small dips because I don’t want it to end. This is my first by him and it won’t be my last! Do you enjoy naturalist type memoirs? One of my favorite genres. Another book that I’ve had to really focus on, but finding rewarding if I’m patient is Lost in Wonder: Rediscovering the Spiritual Art of Attentiveness by Esther de Waal.

I am Thinking and I am Thankful ~ I’m in love with Hollyhocks and am constantly staring at them and so thankful for them. A little watering and extra TLC in the beginning and the second year they come all friendly-like in their glory. I’ve been thinking a lot about many things, but mostly about stillness and faithfulness and love. I recently finished Kohila: The Shaping of an Indian Nurse by Amy Carmichael. One of the most beautiful, convicting reads for my faith and my mission as a wife, mother, homeschooler, writer, woman, and friend. It’s a bit ramble-ly, but richly rewarding if you put a little fortitude and focus into it. I took pages of quotes into my Commonplace. Along the same vein, I finished Letters by a Modern Mystic by Frank C. Laubach and it was wonderful and unique and so thought-provoking. Living moment by moment, habitually turning one’s thoughts and heart to the Lord. June is my birthday month and I received This Beautiful Truth: How God’s Goodness Break into our Darkness by Sarah Clarkson and I’m only a few chapters in and I am LOVING it. I may purchase a few copies as Christmas gifts for dear women that I love.

One of my Favorite things, what I’m Wearing, and Creating ~ I reread Wendell Berry’s The Mad Farmer Poems this month and man, I love them SO much. I highly recommend them! I’m looking for a copy to purchase soon. They are a favorite. I’ve been loving skirts and dresses and I can’t tell you the satisfaction I get from the wind whipping them about my ankles as I walk barefoot or with my lovely, new sandals to get the post. I inked some words last week on my fiction and I finally organized a whole mess of notes and things for the fiction projects I’m working on. I know deeply that I just need to write and I’ve been reading James Scott Bell’s book Just Write: Creating Unforgettable Fiction and a Rewarding Writing Life and it’s telling me the same thing. I still slowly working on here and there my prereading and nature journal and that is bringing me lots of joy.

I am Watching, Reading, and Listening ~ I watched my two birthday gifts with some of my children, my favorite version of Little Women (I did not care for the new one 😦 ) and Whispers of the Heart, about creativity. I’m slowly reading Jordan B. Peterson’s book Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life and I like it more than the first, if that’s possible. So thought-provoking! I may not see eye-to-eye on him with everything, but I love how he makes me think. I’m almost half way through Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens and slowly moving forward with my oldest two on Great Expectations. Next up will be David Copperfield. I was so happy to find thrifting a book I’ve been wanting to read called Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford and it opened out so well and interesting. I’ve been loving receiving handwritten magazine from a lovely friend in Tennessee about mothering and life and bookishness. It’s a highlight to my month. I’ve been listening mainly to Japanese Instrumental Music and Native Flutes and they have been so peaceful and lovely, paring so well with the weather and languid days of summer.

I’m Hoping, In the Garden, and I’m Learning ~ I’m hoping to find a delightfully deep and detailed fiction read yet this summer. Any suggestions? I like a bit of romance, domesticity, details, spiritual themes, family, mystery, and nature, and I prefer clean, which takes out a lot of modern titles. I’ve tried quite a few and haven’t found any that I REALLY love yet this year. And I’ve read a lot! Surprisingly, this has been, so far, the year of good non-fiction for me. The garden is producing little surprises here and there and I’m especially excited for the sunflowers and other small things. Days of small things are big, indeed. I was excited to see a Raven recently when my husband and I traveled to a funeral (yes, sort of deliciously creepy, I know) because I haven’t ever identified one near our home. We have American Crows, but not Ravens regularly. I’m still learning to continually reorder my affections back into the proper order of Truth & Love. Habits and rhythms that keep me sane and focused help my scatterbrained self. It’s hard, but so worth it. I’m rereading Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin, and Free by Susan Pierce Thompson with friends and it’s so interesting and helpful. I’m loving Zechariah and Romans right now in The Holy Bible.

For the eternal substance of a thing never lies in the thing itself, but in the quality of our reaction towards it.

Amy Carmichael

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.

Gratitude & Glories: {February & March 2021}

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The Simple Woman’s Daybook

Happy Good Friday! ❤ We must endure the darkness to see the light! ❤ Hold on, Love is making a Way!

For February/March 2021

Looking out my window… February was gray and temperamental. We got a big snowstorm early in the month that dumped 8” on us. Good ‘ole northern midwest. I confess February is a hard month weather wise for me, dreary and dark. Dear March, thank you for rescuing us from February. 🙂 March brought hints, whispers of loveliness to come…the trilling of Red-Wing Blackbirds, daffodil spears poking up, and crocus smiling up at us. We had some lovely warm days and some shockingly cold ones that make the warm ones all the more sweet. The first day of Spring was another gift of March and we’ll take hope in any way we can get. The end of March brought Robins, too, rain, and deep, delicious, rich loamy smells, and the spring peepers are serenading us from the pond at night. I won a Snow-Drop plant on IG and can’t wait for NEXT spring to see it bloom!

I am thinking… about SO much. I’ve been reading massive amounts and watching rather too much Youtube. Ha. I took the last couple of weeks off of Instagram and it’s been lovely to immerse myself in my library book stack and interesting ideas via Youtube. A booktuber that I love over there is Chantel at An Intentional Life and a silly, but interesting one that is a sort of mashup between goofy pop culture and classical music is TwoSetViolin. If you want to stretch your brain, here are a couple of mind-blowing channels: DarkHorsePodcast and Jordan B. Peterson. I don’t love EVERYTHING that comes out of these channels, but if you listen when scrubbing mounds of dishes, you may come out with something to mentally chew on and feed you.

I am thankful… for my hubby, who has been working SO hard to get the new-to-us wood burner working properly and breathe a little life into our tired vehicles. He also is sending me on THREE different little getaways this year. One related to my health and two for inspiration related to our Charlotte Mason home educating. So lovely and such a blessing! I’m so thankful for the weather turning, life springing forth, and for the Resurrection. Such an amazing and important part of my faith.

One of my favorite things…early morning quiet time with my coffee, Bible, books, journals, and candlelight. Then after, my littlest comes down and snuggles with me for a bit in my chair. He chatters in his baby language and all’s right with the world for a few minutes. He’s SO snuggly.

I am wearing… black jeans, my powder blue button down, and a 3/4 quarter length striped sweater. It has powder blue, browns, and pinks in it. I got the whole outfit thrifting or on clearance. I also have on my dangling pearl earrings. My hair is terribly in need of a cut, but I’m so lazy to go get one. I have it in a messy bun. 🙂 I’ve been still wearing a lot of scarves, because of the cold, but soon I’ll have to pack them away.

I am creating… oh boy. I knew this prompt was coming. I only seriously wrote on my story last month TWICE. 😦 Yikes. I didn’t meet my goal of making it to 20,000 words. New month, new opportunity. I have yet to confess to my writing buddies this travesty. 😉 Can I blame Youtube? Ha. Anyway, I’m planning on buckling down and hitting it this month and my reward will be this sticker for my laptop. Isn’t this darling? I want it SO badly. Come on, Amy. Wrestle with the work. Wrangle the words. Sit in the seat.

I am watching… well, besides those things above, I found this version of Elizabeth Gaskell’s “North and South“. I still prefer the Richard Armitage version, but this was a pleasant watch.

I am reading… SO much, but I especially enjoyed the medieval-like, fantasy Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (I’ve heard negative things about the second book, so I’m not reading it as I really, REALLY loved this one!), a time-slip, middle-grade, portal story, Fog Magic by Julia L. Sauer, and Okay for Now by Gary P. Schmidt, which was HEART-WRENCHING and beautiful story focused around domestic abuse, Audubon, and Jane Eyre. The Rivers Lead Home by Emily Hayse was a collection of sparse, beautiful short stories about brave spirits in wilderness who battled survival situations. I loved this one, because it made me FEEEEEL. Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell was an amazingly delicious and warm unique adventure for middle graders, centered around a girl raised in Zimbabwe and sent to an English boarding school. I’m not a huge historical fiction reader, but someone recommended Ruta Sepetys to me and I read her Salt to the Sea and it was amazing and heart wrenching. Focused on four different evacuees from war-town parts of Europe in Germany. Wow. When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka was another historical fiction centered around the horrific relocation of Japanese Americans to interment camps during WWII. It was sparse and written in such a way that is displayed the psychological horrors along with the physical deprivations and abuse. I read a lot more in February and March, but those probably were my favorites. I’ve been also reading Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Matthew and dipping into John here and there. I have a few Lenten/Easter devotionals going as well, my favorite being Bread & Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter. As always, I’m just LOVING prayasyougo app each morning to begin my prayer and meditation times.

I am listening to … Josh Garrels, my same ‘ole instrumental stuff, and my daughter twisted my arm to listen to this band 😉 and I guess it’s ok for dishwashing (I wash A LOT of dishes.), ha. Boy, I’m old. Brings back high school. 😛

I am hoping… to WRITE. I’m working on ideas for a poem using the atmosphere/vibes/stories of a cemetery for my online local writing group. I’d love to write some more poetry this month, too, as April is National Poetry Month.

In the garden… we have BIG plans and need to get moving on them. I need to invest in some black plastic to help with weeds and we are in the process of starting seeds. I dream of all the flowers etc, but need to put in the work! 🙂 My hollyhock plants are coming back. Nothing yet from all the lovely plants my friend Sandi gave me and my son and I transplanted last year here, but it’s early here. Still very cold earth!

I am learning… how to just take things one day at a time. One moment at a time.

In the kitchen…I’ve been VERY uninspired, but got a load of veggies from the grocery today and am planning lots of stirfry concoctions for the next couple of weeks and will serve them over brown rice for the kiddos. Any easy, lovely meals you’ve been enjoying? I’m excited to start grilling more.

In the homeschool room… we are plugging along, just trying to faithfully move FORWARD. It’s been very nice outdoors on and off and the younger children have been enjoying that. We’ve resurrected our morning walk when it’s nice and I LOVE THAT. We’ve really been loving the book King Alfred’s English and rereading The Chronicles of Narnia together. I am looking forward to the finish line, though. This has been a challenging year with 6 students and little guy running around.

Shared Quote

Build a little fence of trust

Around today;

Fill the space with loving work

And therein stay.

Look not through the protective rails

Upon tomorrow.

God will help you bear

What comes of joy or sorrow.

Mary Butts ~

Some moments from my day {month}...

Hubby and I visited a shrine on a little getaway together and it was beautiful.