Happy Birthday to Maud Montgomery, My Marvelous Muse

Lake of Shining Waters ❤

{Happy Birthday, Lucy Maud Montgomery! Original poem from 2017 after my dream trip to Prince Edward Island with my husband in celebration of our 15th wedding anniversary}

Prince Edward Island to Hearth Ridge Farm: A Tension

Here home again, bittersweet world of words.

Red-stained, Isle of blue-green,

Sail waiting to be unfurled.

Glints of gold on glass, mind’s-eye scene,

path of sunlight to horizon, quiet ease.

The din of loved ones, drowning

sea’s strong murmur. But I’ve a new lease, a fervor.

Responsibilities crashing loudly, crowning,

but a secret seeps from my

lapping lips, whispering of far-flung beauty sounding.

Out comes dunes, out comes brilliant sky,

Out comes red earth, surf, and seagull cry.

The thick worlds collide, my heart’s

isle and soul’s farm become intertwined.

Fingers stroke cheeks, sand grains left behind.

My breath is salty, pungent as I kiss

their darling, dirty faces, fists. The fields of corn,

waves of the sea, something missing and found in me.

Beacons, buoys, blueness, quintessential coastal horns,

sea in my lungs, earth in my throat,

compost of being, soul sea-soaked.

Farm’s beauty full width and breadth, feasting on, seeing

It’s flesh alive because of Island wind,

that died a death sown deep in me.

This old dirt-made woman, new from sweet saltiness of sea.

~A.M. Pine

Other posts I’ve written on Maud here and here if you are interested! ~

Who is your forever muse? I have many, but Maud will always be my favorite inspiration!

~Advent & Christmas Reads 2021~

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

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

Love, Amy ♥️

We Write to Remember: A Look Back

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I wrote this piece below in the late autumn of 2016, the winter winds whistling around the corner. Still as true today. Keep the ink flowing free, my friends. 🍁🍂🍁🍂

I read somewhere once that we write so we won’t forget. I recently joined a memoir writing class at a local library and you know, it has me digging deep into the recesses of my foggy memory for life experiences. It’s hard. Scraps of life jump out to me, childhood games of pretend, forcing my sister to eat grass because we were rabbits. An award ceremony, the cold, hard delight of that basketball trophy gripped in my hand. My grandma’s cigarette-smoke filled home, the soap operas, Smurfs, ice cold milk in old jelly jars, and stale cookies out of her raccoon-shaped cookie jar.

I hear bits of my teacher trying to consul me about my lack of brain function over math. I feel the pain after hitting the wall instead of my brother with my pathetic attempt at a punch. Flashes of my high school and college jobs, the chop suey sold and all the apples and ramen noodles consumed by this broke college student.

Little fragments tinkle and crumble through my hand. But I’m forgetting. My mind is blank in some spots. I remember bits of my wedding, the hot, sticky, humid September air. The kiss from the leathery lips of my husband’s grandfather. I remember smiling so much my lips cracked, the frosting up my nose, my new husband’s hand on my satin-clad waist.

I must keep remembering in ink, so the remembering in life will never be forgotten. I must remember my babies births, that moment when they broke free of my womb and I see their precious face, lips, hands, and toes for the first time. It’s slipping away in a jumble of fog, life, hurt, joys and the simmering soup of time.

I don’t want to forget that first car my dad helped me buy, or the beauty, intrigue, and tension of my first love. The summer camp nights, big group of friends gazing at a sky full of stars. The miles I walked on campuses, Professor Grant’s face from English Lit or a sociology class that turned out fascinating. The Ph.D student from China, who I met and became close with, him cooking Chinese for me and I dubbing him Doc, his laugh echoing and head shaking at my lame attempt with his name. I could go on and on.

I must write to remember, keeping my life moments alive. I have these memories that only I can save from slipping away forever.

Gratitude & Glories {October 2021}

Maud Montgomery, Vanilla Almond Tea Latte with oat milk, and a cosy blanket…pure bliss, Amy-style 😄
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The Simple Woman’s Daybook

November sings out loudly my favorite practice of gratitude keeping. A sort of conscious, daily, or monthly digging for and airing of all the small things I have to be truly astonished by in life. Won’t you join me in this November song?

Looking Out My Window… it’s definitely turned frostier around our edges, the finches at the feeders bring a smile to my face watching them fluffing up their feathers, pulling on their sweaters for winter. The days are pretty mild still for this time of year and one of my little boy’s eyes grew saucer-sized at the promise of Christmas next month.

I’m Thinking… about loved ones walking through covid, about the approaching holidays, and about NaNoWriMo – a lovely November collective challenge online of writers who write 50,000 words of a new novel. While I’m not writing on a new project, I’m making an effort to work on writing each day. It’s gloriously inspiring! Do you NaNo?

A favorite spot, sunlight, and little, darling boy ♥️

I’m Thankful For… my oldest surprising me with a beautiful forest scene Kindle cover, a new stack of deliciousness to dip into from the public library, and anticipation over all the interesting things at our homeschool co-op tomorrow.

One of My Favorite Things… slowly collecting all of L.M. Montgomery’s stories and other writings. Bonfires, stargazing, and my new-to-me striped floral blanket.

I’m Wearing… my favorite green pants, new comfy jewel-toned socks, and tshirts and cardigans. I broke out my Red Converse and found some older, favorite earrings. I had to throw away my favorite slippers, so maybe Santa aka ME 😉 will get me some new ones for Christmas.

I’m Creating… scenes for my two middle-grade stories, working on two short stories, morning pages/journaling, blog ideas, and planning little Christmas gift surprises.

I’m in love with words ♥️✍️😍

I’m Watching… Hercule Poirot 😄 and hopefully, Spirited Away soon.

I’m Reading… L.M. Montgomery short story collections, rereading Emily Climbs, Ray Bradbury’s Green Shadows, White Whale, and peeking into a library stack to see if anything catches my fancy. I just finished ✔️ The Personal Diaries of Alison Uttley and it was so interesting.

Gifts ♥️

I’m Listening… Spotify Japanese instrumental, Studio Ghibli soundtracks, and Hobbit/LoTR soundtracks.

I’m Hoping… to keep up writing momentum, do Operation Christmas Child gift boxes with my children, and visit some favorite haunts with my husband soon.

Mossy rock friend ♥️

In the Garden… frost, friendly ghosts, and dreams of summer 😌♥️

I’m Learning… that writing, sharing, servanthood, and art can birth new art and gifts…we fill to pour out ourselves. We return again and again in a glorious flowing seasonal circle of beauty.

Do not despise the day of small things ♥️

In the Kitchen…lots of pork sausage with cabbage stir fry. The children love this mixed with brown rice. I created a Chicken Taco Chili in the Instapot and it was a hit. We’ve been eating more butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash, too!

In Homeschool Room…we are enjoying our group gatherings at the table to listen to music or Shakespeare’s Hamlet while we nature journal.

My husband and I’s recent anniversary trip was lovely! I especially loved hiking and visiting an art museum 🍁🍂🍁🍂

Shared Quote… “LORD, we need more reincarnations of Thy perfect love like the Christ. Is that the goal every Christian ought to make his own? The question seems to answer itself. But how, God, can all these little Christians succeed when those who have best opportunity find it so hard? I see only two things: first, constant outpourings of Thy Holy Spirit; second, the doctrine of ever fresh beginnings. We may forgetfully sink for an hour, but we may also start over at any moment.” ~Frank C. Laubach

Rainbow sunset ♥️

Let your heart rejoice, my friends! Love, Amy 🍁

Reminiscing: November Past ~ Five Years on WordPress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A favorite recipe for you!

Skillet Sausage and Mushroom Penne

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

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

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

4 cups chicken broth

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude & Glories {September 2021} Happy Autumn ~

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

Warmest and brightest autumn greetings, dear hearts ~

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

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The Simple Woman’s Daybook

Looking out my Window…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shared Quote…

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

Bishop Robert Barron via Instagram

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

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 {August 2021} Ramblings & Reflections

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

Hello Lovely Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coffee, sunlight, and plants…

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

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

Shared Quote:

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

Annie Dillard

Some moments from my day {month}...

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

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

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



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

Dear Friends,

Happy August Eve!

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

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The Simple Woman’s Daybook

July 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shared Quote



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

Esther de Waal

Some moments from my day {month}...

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

Monday Ponderings {July 12th}

Sunrise over Lake Koronis – Paynesville, MN

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

Craig Groeschel

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