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



I Could Have

I could have danced…

…with the flashing dragonflies, inbetween the cattails

…among the willow branches, languid light and wind, my partners

…with suspended sunmotes in the slanted light through my window

I could have danced…

…with the swinging, swoop of the barn swallows

…in rivulets of rain, or bathed in concentric circles on the lake face

…with the buzzing song of the bee, dusted with gold

I could have danced…

…with the single-toothed, grinning baby boy

…like the scarlet kite, high and brazen, arms spread scandalously against azure possiblities

…in and out of the sun-kissed, crisp cloth whipping on the line

I could have danced…

…airy and free and gripped in a dripping rainbow bubble-dance

…like the blue eyes of the groom as he sees her

…like the curled fronds of fern in spring, uncoiling, springing, Lazarus come forth-like

I could have danced…

…like the pink and orange tango of sunrise, or the gold fairy dusting thrown about at sunset

…in the moonshine, lighthouse of the night, guiding this lost ship

…like the liquid float of my red, gigham curtains on the breeze

I could have danced…

…like the cat-cozy curl of my coffee steam purring into the morning

…in the icy, whisper of diamonds breathed from my lips on a January morn

…in the sun sparks off the river, glittering dragon’s hoard

…and I could have danced when the ink flowed rich, velvet blood to the pulpy page

But I didn’t.

~

A.M. Pine

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: {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.

Monday Ponderings: January 11th

“In the dark I rest,

unready for the light which

dawns

day after day

eager to be shared.

Black silk, shelter me.

I need

more of the night before I open

eyes and heart

to illumination. I must still

grow in the dark like a root

not ready, not ready at all.”

~Denise Levertov

~Favorite Reads of 2020 and Reading Ideas for 2021 ~

New year, new books ~ fresh, white dusting of pages. 🙂 Firstly, I want to share my favorites of 2020! I’m not including my short reviews as I reviewed everything I read monthly. These are all 4/5 star reads for me! I have categorized them so you can zoom on through to what may interest you. Secondly, I will lay out a few ideas I have for my reading year in 2021. Here is what I wanted to do with my reading in 2020 and all in all, I did do much I what I had wanted to! I wanted to focus on classics, poetry, middle grade, and non-fiction.

~Classic Favorites of 2020~

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (reread)

One of Ours by Willa Cather

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

The Holy Bible 😉

~Poetry Favorites of 2020~

The Other Kind of World: Poems by Jeff Hardin

In the Salt Marsh by Nancy Willard

Jane Kenyon poetry

~Non-Fiction/Memoir Favorites of 2020~

Show Me the Way: Daily Lenten Readings by Henri J. Nouwen

Fierce Bad Rabbits: The Tales Behind Children’s Picture Books by Clare Pollard

Around the World in 80 Trees by Jonathan Drori

Heidi’s Alp: One Family’s Search for Storybook Europe by Christina Hardyment

Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carlson

Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin, and Free by Susan Pierce Thompson

~Middle Grade Fiction Favorites of 2020~

The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson

Snow & Rose by Emily Winfield Martin

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury {very strange, but probably my overall favorite book of the year! Strange year, strange favorite. 😉 }

~Adult Fiction Favorites of 2020~

The Country of Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett

The Child from the Sea by Elizabeth Goudge

Crystal Cave and Hollow Hills by Mary Stewart

~Books about Writing/Creativity Favorites of 2020~

War of Art by Steven Pressfield

A Hundred White Daffodils by Jane Kenyon

Tree & Leaf by J.R.R. Tolkien (read this collection twice!)

~Lucy Maud Montgomery Favorites of 2020~

Anne’s House of Dreams (reread)

Anne of Ingleside (reread)

The Blue Castle (reread)

Christmas with Anne

~Reading Ideas for 2021~

I’d love to keep the same categories from last year (Memoir/Non-fiction, Middle Grade, Classics, Poetry) , but in Non-Fiction, I’d like to try to read a few Biographies. I’m very interesting in Lighthouses and Lighthouse Keepers currently, do you know of any good ones in this area? I’m eyeing one about the Stevenson family, but we will see, as that leads into the next part of my challenge. READ MY SHELVES. I’m blessed to have a large home library and want to do a better job reading what I have! It’s SO hard for me not to buy new books or check books out from the library. But I’d love to grow in this area. The next thing I’d love to do which started unconsciously in 2020, is reread or read Lucy Maud Montgomery more. She really was a boon to me, a sweet delight, and I haven’t read all of her extensive list yet. She is after all my favorite author! Also I love rereading all my favorites from her…the Anne books, Emily, and The Blue Castle, Jane of Lantern Hill, so on so forth. So, I declare a Maud Montgomery Category!

A big change that I’m going to make is that I won’t be doing monthly recaps/reviews of what I’m reading here. I may just list them, include them in a different post, or I’m not sure yet. I will do a Yearly Favorites post, though!

Happy New Year of Reading! Any thing you are looking forward to reading this year?

December Reads

Happy New Year, friends! Another year of books, stories, and beauty! Here’s what I read in December. I’ll be back soon to do my big favorites wrap up for the year and my ideas for my 2021 reading!

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber (***) – This was a creepy, sobering, dsytopian-ish, sci-fi story that I saw recommended on BookTube. Peter is an English pastor who is chosen to travel light years away to reach out to the alien natives whose former pastor is missing. Earth begins to collapse and Peter and his wife Bea are only thinly connected by a primitive email system. The Book of Strange New Things is the Bible which the alien race seem to love. I’m not sure what to think exactly about this one, but it was a weird look at missionary work through the eyes of the alien race and those not of faith. Also as Earth is collapsing, the work on the planet seems fruitful and like Peter is making headway. I feel there were major underlying themes in this book and I may have missed something. I am still thinking about it. This left me a little uneasy and it wasn’t a fav. The idea and writing were well done, otherwise this is a 2.5 stars for me.

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury (****) – This was something I was waiting on to read in October, but didn’t get it until November and finished in December. This was an amazing look at facing fear, Halloween, life & death, different cultures, and friendship. Very creepy, not for everyone, but just so amazing in it’s own eerie way. We aren’t big on Halloween here, but I love Bradbury’s writing style, soooo….

Mistborn (#1 in a Series) by Brandon Sanderson (***.5) – This was my first Sanderson and I can see why fantasy/sci-fi fans rave about him. I thought his magic system was unique and interesting. I loved the character Saazed, in a mentor-type role, and I found the villian, the Lord Ruler, and his henchmen, the Inquistors fascinating. The main two characters were a little annoying to me, but I will try the other two in the series.

Fierce Bad Rabbits by Clare Pollard (****) – Non-fiction about the history of children’s picture books. I really, really enjoyed this bookish memoir. I especially loved her reflections on memories with her father. I bought this as a Christmas gift!

Alyesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin (***) – This was light, fun modern Muslim-spin retelling of Pride & Prejudice. My daughter and I enjoyed it!

The Last Atlantean by Emily Hayse (***.5) – this was written BEAUTIFULLY. An unique reimagining of the legend of Atlantis. I found the beginning part, a lighthouse on the coast of Maine, to be my favorite of the whole story. Hayse really has a way with descriptions. The middle slowed quite a bit down for me, but I enjoyed the ending and this was very different and creative from what I’ve read recently. I’m going to try more of this author’s work.

In the Salt March by Nancy Willard (*****)- gorgeous, haunting poetry. Highly recommend!

Across the MilesPoems of Fantasy, Faith, & Fun by Annie Douglass Lima (***) – lovely, introspective, traditional rhyming poetry.

When the Heart Sings by Vesper Stamper (*****) – Heart-wrenching, unique look at the death camps of the Holocaust, through the eyes of a teen girl and survivor. Very neat illustrations!

Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton (****) – I was pleasantly surprised by this retelling. Very unique with Polish royalty and New York City during WWII playing into this. It was very fun and intriguing!

Christmas with Anne by L.M. Montgomery (*****) – a lovely collection of short stories with two from the Anne books and other random heart-warming seasonal stories.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (*****) – I did it. 806 pages. It took me a few months. The last 50 pages were my favorites. This was an amazing book. How our uninformed consciences or out of order affections can lead to terrible consequences or despair. How jealousy and guilt can tear us apart. Marriage. Questions about what is life really about and death. About faith and God. Motherhood’s {how did Tostoy write this so well?} questions and worries. I really felt most of all for Dolly and I loved getting an insider look into Levin’s thoughts, doubts, and life. Levin was my favorite because he came across so human and real. The characters were amazingly drawn here, albeit the names/titles a bit confusing. I loved Tolstoy’s writing and the picture he painted especially of the Russian countryside and domestic beauty. Much of the Russian history, I’m woefully ignorant about and that was the only thing slightly difficult about this. Otherwise, it was surprisingly readable. This is my first Russian classic and I really enjoyed it. What a way to wrap up a great reading year.

The Holy Bible (*****) – James, 1&2 Peter, 1,2,3 John, Jude, Revelation, and got a good start into Isaiah.

Happy 8th Day of Christmas, friends! What are you reading? 🙂

A Bit ‘O Joy: Two Poetry Books for your Kind Consideration

What is bringing you joy currently? There are so many things that ring joy to me if I take the time to peel back the layers and peer in the cracks. One joy that has filled me consistently over my adult years has been poetry. Today, I’d like to highlight two poetry books that I’ve really enjoyed.

Across the Miles: Poems of Fantasy, Faith, & Fun by Annie Douglass Lima – I just finished this delightful and sweet collection of poems this week. Annie graciously gifted me the ebook of this lovely traditional rhyming poetry which brings to mind memories of growing up, imagination, the journey of Christian faith, and adds a delicious soaking in her glorious nature poems. I found myself especially drawn to her nature descriptions and delighted in the immersive feelings she gave me in the poems like “Grand”, bringing me back to a trip I took with my husband and new baby to the Grand Canyon, “God’s Metronome”, taking me to the edge of the ocean, and the haunting, lovely “The Bloodstained Moon.” I loved her deep honesty in “Ashes”, in which she shares of how she says goodbye to someone through memories put to flame. I shared a lovely Christmas themed poem, “Two Kings” with my children this week as part of our Advent readings. There are so many others I really enjoyed, “Song of the Star”, “In the Forest”, and “The Campfire” were lovely. My favorite probably though were her lovely ones on writing and especially “Poetry Graveyard.” Where does our writing go when it just dies? Annie made this collection very accessible with her poems grouped topically and also with little descriptions of her inspiration for a poem or defining an obscure poetry form. I found that extremely helpful. I plan on using these lovely poems with my children in our home school. Check out the link to this book and make a connection with Annie below!

NEW poetry book: Across the Miles

Connect with Annie: http://anniedouglasslima.blogspot.com/

In the Salt Marsh by Nancy Willard – Ever since I was introduced to Willard through her Anatole stories I was intrigued. My children and I have since read and loved many of her picture books and this was my first of her many poetry collections. Through modern verse, Willard’s metaphors and beauty are subtle and strange at first and she brings things to life through her use of specifics with a twist. However, if you sit a bit with her pieces you began to see and feel truly how many layers you cut sink your heart into. She is AMAZING at looking at the most simple commonplace things in a new way. I highly recommend checking into this short volume and I can’t wait to read more of hers.

How faithfully grass holds the shape of the sea it loves…

That line is from her title poem and it just thrills me…

Have you read anything by Annie Douglass Lima or Nancy Willard? These books would make lovely Christmas gifts! Any poets that you have been loving lately? What is bring you a bit of joy?

Gratitude & Glories: {1st & 2nd weeks of October}

Hello, Dear Friends! Forgive me for catching up a wee bit, the days fly by in a beautiful blur and I’m so thankful for them. Here’s what I’ve been so grateful in these autumnal drenched days of October…

:: beautiful trips away :: belated anniversary celebrations :: stern wheel paddle boat chain of lakes tour :: cabin-living :: steak, asparagus, and cheese dinners :: sweet & spicy tea sipping while watching a sappy, but sweet film called “Song of the Heart” ::

How can Love lose doing of its kind Even to the uttermost?

~ E. Arnold, The Cloud of Witness

:: early mornings with coffee and soaring pines at the cabin :: resurrecting writing dreams :: Amy Harmon’s Instagram videos, so lovely, poetry and encouragement :: gorgeous, still, pine-drenched smelling heaven outdoors :: a day shopping thrift and bookstores in big city with hubby, something we rarely do :: Cost Plus World Market, I love just window-shopping there :: Half-Price Book pursuing :: going out for Mexican food with my brother and sister-in-law and their two sweet girlies ::

Happy is he, Of whom (himself among the dead

And silent) this world shall be said:

– That he might have had the

world with him,

But chose to side with suffering Men,

And had the World against him!

~Elizabeth Barret Browning, The Cloud of Witness

:: Anna Karenina and Edith Wharton Ghost Stories :: late breakfasts :: mural admiring in a little town :: small local book store I visit every year :: coffee and stroll on enchanting covered bridge, admiring fiery and gold- drenched leaves next to the river :: an after dinner bonfire and tea :: chuckles at cheesy Nicholas Cage film that I love, “National Treasure” :: huge gathering of Great Egrets in a little wood as we drove, stopping to observe them ::

:: reading new-to-me Susan Cooper, Boggart, on way home :: orchard stop for big boxes of apples to bring the children :: new fresh month, with no mistakes in it :: devotions, Macbeth enjoyment with the kids :: teaching three of the children to make apple pie from scratch :: watching lovely gnome crafting videos on youtube ::

:: drying out my devotional materials after half a cup of coffee got dumped into them – they survived! Yay! :: visiting grandparents and bringing them a homemade apple pie :: getting to plant my mom some daffodils for spring :: ham and mash potatoes dinner well-received by hungry children :: planting 100 white daffodils with my 6 yo in honor of a line from a beautiful Jane Kenyon essay, the anticipation and tangible act of ‘practicing resurrection’ :: hubby and older children to a friend’s graduation party :: reading afternoon, fun book I won on Instagram ::

:: stopped to see and admire a stone angel headstone at a cemetry on our way to church, she is so sweet and represents something intangible to me. I couldn’t read the inscription except the year of 1912 :: a Sunday evening bonfire with hotdogs and smores for the children, singing, and admiring the stars :: wearing my huge, thrifted pink parka, getting a laugh out of the family for my coldness and weird 😉 style :: baby boy looking darling in his hat and flannel, he and the Saber-Toothed Tiger cat enjoyed one another ::

But when that which is perfect has come,

then that which is in part will be done away.

~The Holy Bible

:: laughs and improvising as we forgot to get our gas filled with the unseasonably warm temperatures, thinking up meals for cooking on griddles, grills, and in the Instapot was fun, in hindsight 😉 :: meeting up with my sister and chatting for hours :: crockpot chicken nachos for the save :: friend’s bonfire for some of our crew, volleyball included :: beautiful morning walk with children, talking about some of the themes in Macbeth :: Charlotte Mason online Zoom class with other moms talking, so refreshing :: late night film with my oldest daughter :: leaf prints by older children for our homeschool community group :: snuggles with baby boy :: You’ve Got Mail w/baby when he felt a bit sick :: gorgeous, warm weather :: library trips with oldest daughter surprising others with ice cream ::

:: older boys and dad on church retreat together :: hearing the news that precious one is ok after a medical scare :: hanging out with friends with my younger four :: continuing on a health journey for 10 months now (!), December will be my 1 year anniversary, so very grateful for the weight loss, better habits, and mental clarity :: gorgeous wind in leaves and sunlight dappled over afternoon :: watching a new version of “The Secret Garden” with my daughters, mom, and sister, enjoying my sister’s delicious chicken tacos together ::

:: butternut and spaghetti squash :: rereading The Hobbit weekends :: rollerskating with friends :: tennis matches for oldest :: rainy, drippy breakfast dates out for hubby and I :: big, fluffy, cream-ish 😉 colored sweaters :: hot, tasty decaf late at night :: two glorious hours of working on ACTUAL writing of my children’s story :: pouring over notes and dipping into lovely, inspiration from my stacks :: muted browns and golds shivering in the wind and rain :: glorious swirl of leaves in rearview mirror, I always look back :: going through a shower of leaves under a tree :: a beautiful autumn season to relish in ::

Be steadfast, immovable,

always abounding in the work of the Lord,

knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

~The Holy Bible

Gratitude & Glories: {3rd & 4th weeks of September}

I am so thankful these past two weeks…

~autumnal mystery & magic in the air here the last few weeks ~ busy weeks, but little bits of margin to also soak it all in ~ rollerskating nights for older children, my husband, and their uncle ~ playing on deck with our dog, Zoey and enjoying the last, fading morning glories ~pork stir fry with brown rice that everyone enjoyed, so satisfying to create a delicious meal ~bittersweet farewell to the barn swallows, they bid their goodbyes, we will wait in hope and anticipation for you next year, our friends! ~

~golden hues around every corner chasing awhile the inner blues ~ deck schooling in the sunshine , laughs with my oldest son that felt so good ~ wild little baby boys to keep me on my toes ~ delicious sausage with cabbage lunches ~ older children helping with younger children’s maths~ our dear homeschooling community group’s first meeting of the year, Excelsior Guild is a bright spot in our school days ~ our dog doing well after a mishap with a horse, such a relief after worrying about her ~ new fresh mornings after bad dreams ~ the hug of a husband, prayers together ~

~long walks hedged in by Staghorn Sumac tinged, dipped in blood red gorgeousness~ hubby singing from his office ~ safe trips to get farm equipment, the relief of him coming home again ~ our favorite stream, the “Withywindle”, the bubbling, happiness of it ~ Gideon’s delight in our neighbor Elaine’s big black cows, all of us having a “mooing” fest with him, to his utter delight ~ baby boy’s overly long blond hair flopping up and down in little wispy tendrils as he’s carried in the Ergo on our outdoor adventures by myself or a big kid ~ popcorn and hot chocolate tradition started back up for Elevensies, our folksong “Country Roads” by John Denver, ringing out regularly now ~ rereading The Little Prince with the children ~

~beautiful tidbits from the Parables on Nature each morning during our meditations over Scripture and poetry ~ deliciously hot sun baking us, cool wind cooling us, as we read together outdoors, basking in the crisp, gorgeous September weather, leaves drifting down around us, and sharp, brilliant blue sky sheltering us ~ Ella and Ben helping me make homemade chicken noodle soup and homemade whole wheat crackers ~ Amos and I curling up to watch “Young at Heart” with Doris Day and Frank Sinatra ~ hubby borrowing juice making thingy 🙂 to make grape juice from our grapes, his joy as he enjoyed glasses of it!~

~kettle merrily on most afternoons, different teas being tried ~ rocking early riser baby blondie sweetheart back to sleep, curled together in blanket ~ lovely devotions and lazy afternoons after school books put away to read ~ started Macbeth with the older children ~ oldest out and about with friends for soccer and ice cream ~ errand dates, just nice to be in silence together, enjoying the rolling hills and changing leaves ~

~laughs after the fact, big boy relieved after finding escaped pigs ~ disasters making for good stories, atv tracks, dog herding type of stories ~ early morning walks down our gravel road, stories, dew drops on pine, and love radiating through the whispering corn cobs ~ sunlight flickering through the rustling of trees, corn, and all things autumn, autumn has a crackling, rattle-y sound to it, does it not? ~ children enjoying pie and ice cream ~ candlelit dinners are back, so relaxing after long days, there’s just something about the Light ~

~bird seed, candles, and new tea purchased ~ beautiful hike with church friends, gorgeous hints of color yet to come, new butterfly and flower sightings ~ picnics, delicious apples, that first juicy bite ~sweet corn stands to pick up dinner ~ little children shucking all the corn on the kitchen floor, messes and mayhem, but the giggles, oh the giggles ~”Little House on the Prairie” episode with dad before bed and 7 Wonders game played ~

~ last day of summer celebrations, donuts and an arboretum together, Ginko and River Birch enchant me ~ rolling down hills, grass in hair, belly laughs, hot sweaty faces ~ little blond urchling truddling through the towering trees ~ started an AMAZING trilogy on Merlin by Mary Stewart, just so lovely to escape to the early days of Britian ~ lovely reading time of The Children’s Crusade by Geoffery Trease and we all crowded around our Holland map and Google images after reading a bit in The Young Traveller’s Holland. Maps and books go so well together, it’s really magical ~ some children remember some lovely tie ins to Hans Brinker and we were excited to talk about that ~ Miranda Mill’s lovely BookTube channel has been something to look forward to with delight ~

~ our second homeschool meeting snuck up on us and was a delight as usual ~ dissections of cow hearts was fascinating (!!!) ~ discussing Prince & the Pauper by Twain with seven teenagers was a highlight ~ the drive to and from our friend’s home was truly gorgeous, the way home the children slept and I was suspended in silence and sunshine as I drove ~ the colors and beauty flashed out at me around every bend, what an amazing gift from God ~ stopping at a farm stand, admiring all the pumpkins, autumn treat for the children ~ mists, a bit of rain, golden corn and soy beans all melding into a real impressionistic painting ~ Earl Grey decaf tea and Anna Karenina evenings, sigh ~ fresh bread hot out of the oven and our “Narnia” meal resurrected, roasted veggies and sausage~

~chiropractors for hubby’s neck, hot coffee after long sleepless nights ~the quarter moon staring at me, welcoming and chilly all in the same glance in a deep night moment at the big, oval window at the top of our staircase, feels literally like a stairway to the stars, I love it so ~ a boy’s narration of The White Stag, so fascinating ~ wet hike around our corn field, secret, enchanting little wood hide-y-holes, mushrooms and flowers ~ a bower of color overhead, color all around bursting forth, autumn truly is for the refreshment of our soul ~ color storing deep inside for the barrenness of the coming cold ~ chicken nachos, tea, and a two boys banding together to make loaves of banana bread ~ finishing a book that was recommended to me in one afternoon, Amy Harmon’s characters in Where the Lost Wander gripping me ~

~ long Saturdays filled with coolness, wild wind, and forts in the barn ~ bubbly lavendar baths for boys ~ hot showers ~ corn shock and pumpkin deck decor ~ copious coffee and more Merlin magic ~ dearest daughter excitedly making Rock Cakes from the Redwall cookbook, checked out from the library, inviting her siblings to tea ~ Peter & the Wolf listened to and gorgeous picture book looked at, rush to finish chores, after which some video games get to be played ~ the sigh and the hush in the afternoon ~

What an wonderful, messy, exhaustingly, beautiful fortnight! Oh good, gracious, Lord, THANK YOU.

How was your last few weeks? I’d love to hear!~

Beauty for you…

The Clothespin

How much better it is

to carry wood to the fire

than to moan about your life.

How much better

to throw the garbage

onto the compost, or to pin the clean

sheet on the line

with a gray-brown wooden clothes pin!

~Jane Kenyson

Gratitude & Glories {4th week of August}

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This week I’m thankful for…

~a few days at the cozy cabin, beating the surprise heat wave ~ gorgeous drive and rereading The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery ~ baby’s happiness to be out of the van and running up and down the hall, his short, stubby legs tooling around ~ children building in the sand, burying one another, and swimming ~ napping ~ dropping off Amos and some children for a tubing run, driving in silence to the pick up point, gorgeous sun and quiet, riverside ~ seeing a Kingfisher twice! ~ bonfire smell and crackle ~ delicious peaches with my breakfast ~ rainy, but cool, romance-tinged air in-between rain showers ~ canoeing on a lovely little lake…so peaceful ~ wooden bridges and pines ~ glass-like lakes reflecting the sky and treeline~ green everywhere ~ lilypads ~ oldest son dragging us through a shallow connecting inlet, laughs all around ~

 

~ hard days that drive us to our knees, humbling this mama ~ catching up on piles, so satisfying ~ new Christmas book arriving in the post, can’t wait to share it with the children ~ early morning prayer and reflection time ~ commonplacing quotes that I’ve read for further reflection and meditation ~ picking a bouquet of flowers and weeds for the table with my Ben ~ a library poetry book and CD listened to over and over again, delighting us all ~ library pickup again, checking out The Mouse Mansion yet again and may need to make our own mouse house, a good autumn/winter project possibly ~ Ella, Phoebe, Benjamin, and Gideon helping me make homemade pizza and zucchini pizza, candle lit, and little hands shredding cheese so chubby and sweet ~ my husband’s invitation to go out and watch the lightening with him, he knows I love the wild and windy approaching of a storm, just what I needed to blow away a case of cobwebbys! ~ last dates to local drive-in cafe before it closes for the season, love their coleslaw~

 

~a morning thunderstorm welcoming Friday in ~ some older children not going to work and helping me purge, rearrange, and spruce up our homeschool supply closet, living room, and library a bit ~ encouraging vlogs and little tidbits I’m reading here and there, preparing my heart and mind for school beginning next week ~ the way the wind whipped my sunflowers and the apples in the orchard, the black willows gorgeous in the sunlight ~ cooler weather rolling in today ~ Ella and Phoebe getting to spend time with a beloved grandma and friends, swimming and playing games ~ haircuts for three of my boys, so good to see their eyes again 😛 ~ Louis Armstrong and blog perusing ~ and look at this lovely mug on sale! ~ continued regular afternoon tea set up by my Ella ~ barn swallows still swishing and swooping my spirit up, up, and up ~ goldenrod bouquets on my book table ~

How was your week? I’ll leave you with this lovely quote that I jotted down in my commonplace journal ~

“As August comes to her slow and dreaming end, the air has a special smell, the smell of ripening, the smell of drying hay, the smell of the piney woods in the cool of the evening. The strange rusty smell of marigolds and the prickling odor of zinnias, and so exciting to breathe it all in! I do not, ever, like ends. I like beginnings and rich plump middles, but ends are always sad. Of all the ends in this old unquiet world, though, the end of summer is one of the best. For the first small throb of color in the swamp maples in September is a fine thing to behold. And the first nip of the air on a golden morning is heavenly to feel after the languor of summer’s heat.”

~ Gladys Taber

Monday Ponderings {August 17th}

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“The Generosity” ~ by Luci Shaw

What well-chosen small presents arrive almost every day,

wrapped in the newspaper of the ordinary.

No ribbons. No gift cards.

Just the coin of the sun glinting behind a gray broth of clouds.

A knuckle of dark rock exposed as 

a freeze lets go and the snow settles in its own melting.

Trees showing off their good bones, skeletal, naked – 

their fractual structures echoing 

the repeating patterns of atoms. 

Yesterday a tender rain came and went,

and the grass drank and was refreshed.

And today, a raven feather on the sidewalk

and wings in the sky,

memos from heaven everywhere.

 

~

{a pen pal friend, Bonnie, sent this to me recently

and it touched me greatly. Hope it does for you, too.

Happy Monday!)