The Well We Draw From


I’ve been drowning myself in epic soundtracks this week. The Celtic strains haunt and delight me. They are like the marriage of prayer and song. They are familiar to me, matching a wandering spirit that is always hovering in the background. A slight dissatisfaction deep within. I’m not referring to ingratitude, on the contrary, a thankfulness and truth in the bottom of my soul. I feel born for another world, just here on borrowed time, really. These notes crescendo and filter through our days.  They meld and fit puzzle-piece like into the slowly aching and awakening earth all around me. Not long ago, the senses led our days, a seasonal movement, natural alarm clocks. The rooster, smells of from-scratch-made meals, the animals needing tending, the sounds of farm life awakening. The birds returning, ground slowly thawing, and longer days. Spring is one of rebirth. The following of the agricultural rhythms to life are pretty much a thing of the past. The natural world has it’s own music, one I’m privileged to have close relationship with, by opening my door and stepping out into it. The grand expanse, a small reflection of the life to come.

The poetry we soak in together, books savored, music enjoyed, the sunshine, and blue skies, it is all a five-sense feast of wonder. What of those who live without it, at no fault of their own, especially children? What of those trapped in steel, concrete, and those who never see, hear, or experience one little sip of beauty, nature, or wonder? What of the times I refuse these gifts by “the tyranny of the urgent”, or non-living things of little true importance? The false feeling of doing something important when on Instagram or Twitter.  All we drink from this deep, rich river of living-giving beauty becomes the well we draw from when reality bears down brutally on us. Without these moist depths, our insides shrivel up and die. We also, more importantly, gain an overflow, one that can spill over to those in need with their dry, cracked hearts.

My daughter and I are in a class learning to make 18th century women’s clothing. The learning curve has been steep to stay the least, but again the same strain of music is floating through these moments. A returning to our roots, learning of the American Colonial women, immigrants to this land, what their lives were like. Each stitch, each piece of clothing we make, feels foreign, alien, even. In reality, each piece was important, whether for a small slice of beauty in the woman’s life, or more likely for her heavy work-load. It’s like putting on the skin of someone else, shedding modernism, and becoming part of the land and people who have helped shaped this place in which we live. The hands-on aspect of it also is something of bringing us home, the value in making with one’s own hands. The contemplative posture, the slowness of progress, the appreciation of quality, one of a kind creations, found in this process.

The massive amounts of undergarments, the lovely slate blue floral kerchief tucked into stays, green linen gown and brown petticoat, white cap, and apron all are romanticized in my mind, of course.  There is something about appreciating others, different cultures, and time periods, though. Again, the flutes play, the aching hums along, this beauty quenches that nagging thirst. The ability of this well not to leave us in a static place, in a place dictated by the current stream’s of thought, but one that draws from the whole river of life and time. 

Oh, how I want to stay in this tune of life, waltzing and dancing through it with those around me. Yes, the reality of relationships and life is hard, but if I listen close and keep my toes tapping to this quiet song, this still small Voice, the well will never run dry.







Weekend Musings


Blessed be the true life that the pauses between its throbs are not death!


Turn your back on fear, and your face to whatever may come.

~George MacDonald~

Lilith, p. 36

{Thinking on these two quotes from my readings this week. What are you pondering over? Happy Weekend!}





Monocles, Maps, and Minutia


Slant snowflakes and slate gray sky, just outside the window. Today was a day of catch-up. I say that everyday around here. Lassoing laundry and slinging sud-soaked dishes was the first order of the day. George Gershwin’s cheery Concerto in F propelled us along. The pellet stove was extra hungry, the smell lingering in the air, not unpleasantly mixing with coffee. The children laugh at me and my Magic Elixir, mmmm, I’m brewing more now.  I must admit, I feel old and worn out with all the questions, hullabaloos, and to-dos. Yet, these beautiful people keep me from rusting, well-oiled am I with six of them. Wonder, amazement, and simplicity are alive and well here, and I have them to thank for that. The last page of a wonderful story was turned today, and how extra bittersweet it was to share it with other kindred spirits. All the dust and crumbs of this life, swirl, crescendo, into a lovely soup-y mix. The snowy boots and little mittens. Sweeping up the spilled sunflower seed, a tromp out to the feeders, a welcome respite. A new poetry book to crack open, the tang of the Emerald Isle air hitting me full salty-spray in the face, Yeats wooing me from afar. Arguing about a sewing project, a daughter recording her dreams on my iPhone, admiring two kerosene lamps from Valentine’s Day past, and not to mention a dirty football on the table, crumpled bits of everything, everywhere. Whispering the fortifying words of Apostle Paul, over and over again, whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. Over and over again, I’m astonished that I get to live this life. It’s not romantic at all, in reality. It’s hard work, the same mind-numbing work, over and over again. But looking at it slant, looking at it through a monocle of love, what I see is an amazing journey in miraculous minutia. My back may ache, my right foot has been bothering me, I need a shower, and extra weight hangs around, but here I am. Discussing the American Civil War and Abe Lincoln with a group of interesting and intelligent people. They remind me of differences in the Union and Confederate flag, bring in the battle of Fort Sumter, and chuckle about Davy Crockett. I just sit and soak it all in. I laughed with them as we listen to the Taming of the Shrew, so much to learn through Will, that’s for sure. Good and bad. Heads get bonked, angry tears happen over messes to be cleaned up, and garbage knocked over. Snow ice cream, taco dinner plans, and endless noise. The sibling riots settle and we pour over maps of Africa, searching the web for information on Cameroon’s violence. Our hearts and souls fly upwards and outwards, beyond the walls of our little home, our state, flitting past our U.S. borders, over the ocean, and enter into the wounds and dusty tears of others. Snow is still falling as the evening envelopes us. My green mug is running on empty, my geranium is blooming, and I’m going to light my lamps for dinner.

Another gift unwrapped here and enjoyed. Good night.




Dear Authors


Two weeks ago, I walked into the book room at a local Goodwill. Dusty rainbows lined the shelves. Passion, tears, laughter, souls bound in grainy pulp, splattered with inky words, donated away. Hardbacks were $1.99, Children’s and Paperbacks just .99 cents. Someone’s 90,000 words of their life, bleeding, discarded, put up for adoption. I lean sideways, eyes hungrily searching for friends. My kin, my soulmates, my muses. The fluorescent light flickers and hums, others come in and out of the cramped little room, I barely registering them in my peripheral vision.  My cart slowly fills, a pair of blue jeans for my daughter and a set of floral serving spoons, disappearing under the mountain. Christopher Milne. Barbara Kingsolver. Pearl Buck. An illustrated version of The Odyssey. Hard back, board books, soft-velvety, well-bent paperbacks. Poetry, thrillers, romance, dictionaries,  random spiritual tomes,  bizarre self-help, and memoir swirl like a kaleidoscope in my eyes. You are not forgotten. Your raw finger tips, blood-shot eyes, and brain that never shuts up can’t ever be truly thrift-ed away. Immeasurable worth. Crouched on my knees, sweating in my wool coat, I keep scanning, keep loving, keep understanding. Your story, your truth, your lies, your beauty is seen, it was worth it. It isn’t forgotten, even buried in a charity shop. I haven’t forgotten your sacrifice for these precious words. Each a piece of a person, an author. The cashier is now scanning them one by one, stacking them in a box for me. My children and I flip through them as we drive away. Welcome home, dear authors, we prepared a place for you.


George MacDonald


Better Things 

Better to smell the violet

Than sip the glowing wine;

Better to hearken to a brook

Then watch a diamond shine.


Better to have a loving friend

Than ten admiring foes;

Better a daisy’s earthy root

Than a gorgeous, dying rose.


Better to love in loneliness

Than bask in love all day;

Better the fountain in the heart

Than the fountain by the way.


Better be fed by mother’s hand

Than eat alone at will;

Better to trust in God, than say,

My goods my storehouse fill.


Better to be a little wise

Than in knowledge to abound;

Better to teach a child than toil

To fill pefection’s round.


Better to sit at some man’s feet

Than thrill a listening state;

Better suspect that thou art proud

Than be sure that thou art great.


Better to walk the realm unseen

Than watch the hour’s event;

Better the Well done, faithful slave!

Than the air with shoutings rent.


Better to have a quiet grief

Than many turbulent joys;

Better to miss they manhood’s aim

Than sacrifice the boy’s.


Better a death when work is done

Than earth’s most favoured birth;

Better a child in God’s great house

Than the king of all the earth.


George MacDonald

Discovering the Character of God,  p.192



Monday Ponderings {Abe Lincoln’s Birthday, February 12th}


One of the greatest things in human life is the ability to make plans. Even if they never come true – the joy of anticipation is irrevocably yours. That way one can live many more than just one life.

Maria Trapp

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, p. 260


Writing is torn from a person, it has to be said. If you are going to say something worthwhile, you’re going to burn.

-Unknown author

from Amy Carmichael: Beauty for Ashes by Ian H. Murray


referring to a snow storm:

…all the time there was a rustling and whispering, a sibilance of snow. The air was alive with movement, the dancing and whirling of a thousand individual flakes with a life as brief as the distance from leaden sky to frozen earth. ❤

p. 105

on feeling like one isn’t doing “enough” of __________ in life:

Warmth suddenly flooded Sep’s cold frame. A man could only do so much! He had set his hand to this particular plough and he must continue in the furrow which it made. What use was it to try to set the whole world to rights? He must travel his own insignificant path with constancy and courage. It might not lead to the heights of Olympus, but it should afford him interest, exercise and happiness as he went along. And, Sep felt sure, there would be joy at the end.

p. 206

Miss Read, both above quotes, emphasis mine

The Market Square


I’ve discovered my best work comes from the uncomfortable but fruitful feeling of not having a clue – of being worried, secretly afraid, even convinced that I’m on the wrong track.

Dani Shapiro

Still Writing, p. 51


{Happy Birthday to Abe! These are some quotes that struck me from my weekend reading. Hope they intrigue you as well. I’m mulling over them more as we start a new fresh week. Happy Monday}





January Reads


February is here. This is what I finished in January! How about you?

Mother by Kathleen Norris (***) – I read this title for my Back to Classics Challenge in the category of Classic with a Single Word Title.   The sentiment expressed in this book about the importance of mothers in the lives of their children was beautiful.  I thoroughly enjoyed the sweet family life. I value and believe this to be true and am blessed to be able to stay at home with my children. The message even brought tears to my eyes and was inspiring as a mother. I’m pretty old-fashioned and enjoy traditional family values.

With that said and keeping in mind that this was originally published in 1911, I found this book to be too saccharine. It definitely painted a women’s life as being the best ONLY one way and not the other. But of course, I’m not going to get up in arms about modern issues on a vintage book. I hate reviews like that. (Continued here.)

The Wild-Bird Child: A Life of Amy Carmichael by Derick Bingham (*****) –  Amy Carmichael is one of my heroines of the Christian faith, her poetry, writing, and life’s work, encouraging and inspiring me. I really enjoyed this unique look at this Irish missionary.  Mr. Bingham created an unique take on her life, beginning each chapter, with a bit of what was going on in the world at the time. I love the first hand letters, personal stories, and information from diaries that the author had access to while writing this book. I found this much more interesting than A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliot.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (****) – Guy Montag’s life and world give one so much to think on! The thought of books being illegal and a life totally dictated and controlled by popular culture and the powers-to-be, so to speak. I recently just read a short story called “The Murderer” by Bradbury in his collection, The Golden Apples of the Sun, and it was so fantastic and tied into Fahrenheit a bit. I think I’ve heard SO much about this book from SO many people I was expecting something earth-shattering. For me, it was a subtle, yet powerful read and I really enjoyed it, but wasn’t blown away for some reason. Dandelion Wine was more shocking to me creativity-wise.

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf (***) –This was my first Woolf. I really enjoyed her stream-of-consciousness type conversational style. She is humorous and interesting. In this collection (or expansion of one?) of essays, she brings up many interesting questions about women and creativity. I didn’t really feel like she came to any conclusions or definite answers to her concerns, but I felt like more like I was listening to a friend, talking over tea, chatting about her concerns and passions. Occasionally, her writing made me feel out of breath and she definitely repeated herself a lot, but I appreciated her general message, her nature descriptions, and her admiration for Jane Austen was evident, which is a plus in my book. Overall, I’m glad I read this. 

My Mother’s Quilts: Devotions of Love, Legacy, Family, and Faith by Ramona Richards (***) – I was given this as a gift by a dear person and found it sweet and heartwarming. The author looks back over her grandmother’s and mother’s lives, walking through many of the beautiful quilts they collected and made. The memories and history were fascinating and the gorgeous color photos added a lot. The only thing I didn’t like was it was a bit redundant, which added unnecessary length.

A Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden (***) – (spoiler alert!) 3.5 stars, this is a sequel to The Bear and the Nightingale which I read at the end of last year. I liked this title much better than the first in some ways, yet I skimmed a lot, especially in the beginning. I found the writing and the atmosphere of this book to be wonderfully beautiful and engaging. I love the natural elements interwoven into the story, talking with horses, water, fire, the trees etc. I loved that there were less characters, so you felt like you got to know them a bit deeper and weren’t jumping around trying to keep people, demons, and gods straight. I loved learning more about Vasilisa’s brother Sasha who is now an older, wiser, if not unconventional (violent? kind of hard to swallow) monk. The creepy monk from the first book is touched on and eww, still as horrifying as before. (Continued here – again spoiler alerts!)

A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver (****) – Oliver doesn’t disappoint, her beautiful words inspire. The technical part of this book was a little harder for me to dig through, but if you are patient she has gems waiting for you. The honesty about how much revision goes into good writing was sobering and a relief in some ways. She doesn’t just sit down and write these gorgeous things instantaneously, huh? 😉

Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful by Katie Davis Major (*****) This is the continuing story of Katie Davis, a missionary to Uganda. This focuses on one of her adoptive daughter’s birth mother returning to reclaim her child. What I appreciated about this book was the fact that she doesn’t seem to blame God for all the heartache all around her. I’m not a big fan of the popular thought now that everything is always God’s will, including all the horrific evil in this world.  I believe that this terrible world, demonic forces, and evil choices of humans have way more to do with suffering. Katie really comes to the conclusion that no matter how her circumstances look, God is WITH her and is suffering alongside her, loving her and those all around her.

The Holy Bible (*****) – John, Acts, Romans, and dipping in and out of Psalms



January Gifts


His hand on my neck. A middle of the night wayfarer cuddling. Three year old cold feet, climbing under the quilt with me. “I sleep in Momma’s bed,” he says sleepily. Crunch of  gravel and ice, a warm gifted day, taking me out into the wood smoke, manure-tinged air, whiff of icy earth. The sun setting shards of sharp sparkle skittering across the straggling snow. There’s something about January. Its sound of silence, quiet under pinning of a humming low, a gentle song. Its own smells, its cadence and chorus. There’s lots of pockets in January. In sweaters, coats, pockets of ice and snow, little bits of fog and sunshine tucked away like my car keys, old receipts, mittens, and lemon lime lip balm. There’s flashes of golden, angled-pieces of fodder rising from fields, the browns, murkiness, grays, and black shadows. Fire flutters, not unlike the busy feeders, ding dinging, clanking, crackling as I pour sawdust bits into the stove. The smell of wood shavings rising brings me immediately to the sun shafts on the floor of the Amish carpenter shop, Amos and I stood in last summer. Drinking in the smell, I feel in two places simultaneously, at home in front of the warm fire, and at the shop, the little dog running around my feet. A sweet Amish child’s eyes staring up at me from under her navy kerchief.  January sharpens the distance between outdoors and in, summer, its door wide open, all of it home, the natural world welcoming and friendly-like. A careful purposefulness is needed to come out into this new, bitter world. This January room. A world foreign, strange, yet essential for the renewal of the earth and its growings and groanings. A watering, a deep rest, a sigh. We too, find ourselves at rest, a rooting and watering deeply, often in-between pages of poetry and prose. A soaking in music, hot drinks, a pause. A conscious sound of silence. Metaphoric silence of course, with our beautiful gaggle of geese here who forgot to fly south. But a season that naturally draws close, simmers, sips, a mind that knows it grows through fallowness. We rest to awake. We drink to quench. We sow to harvest. No matter the broken pipes, icy roads, cold hearts, January breathes of life to come. It takes only a moment to see through the fog, hail, to the gifts given all around. ❤

Quotes for Reflection ~

“The beautiful is as useful as the useful.” He added after a moment’s pause,” Perhaps more so.” Les Miserables – Victor Hugo p. 23

“There may be more beautiful times, but this one is ours.” Jean-Paul Sartre



Monday Ponderings {January 22nd}


But in reality, the more there was to do the better. I never ceased contriving fresh improvements, being fully aware of the importance of constant employment as a means of strengthening and maintaining the health of mind and body. This, indeed, with a consciousness of continual progress toward a desirable end, is found to constitute the main element of happiness.

The Swiss Family Robinson

Johann Wyss, p.228-229

{I’ve been thinking on this quote since I read it last week. I think there is an important truth in it, especially, now, how leisure and work balance are out of proportion in our culture or at least the lines are blurred. I think especially in American culture, work and productivity are glorified. I was recently talking to a friend about other cultures possibly having a better balance with knowing when to quit working, being willing maybe to have less, in order to have more time to relax. Just wondering out loud here. It is interesting how Wyss depicts the fun the Robinson family had WHILE working together, yet, they never seem to stop working. How does rest play into life? How do we find value in people outside of what they can “produce”? I realize this is a work of fiction and they are in a survival environment where their daily bread, so to speak, must be eked out by the sweat of their own brow. Just interesting to think on in a modern environment. I think one can have TOO much leisure time, and become internal and focused on one’s self…ahem. I also think it’s a mistake to think life is about working, money, and always striving. I have found some of my family, who are from an agricultural, country life background, with large families, definitely lean toward the latter. Yet, they also seem to value family time, but WORKING together tends to be the majority of it. What do you think?}

Dear Friend


Dear Friend, 

It has been such a long time since I last wrote. How are you? We find ourselves in a bit of a grey, snowy landscape, yet not without its pleasures. The sun has been shining, glittering off the white brightness, and the temperatures fluctuating between icy negatives to downright balmy 30-ish degrees fahrenheit. Our dear Phoebe turned SIX years old this week and it’s been a spread-out, quiet-like celebration for the past few days. Just her style. She loved her little felt kitty family we stitched for her and we’ve read through her new book twice already.  She asked for a batch of  scones for her Saturday breakfast. Our first two weeks back to our home learning have been just lovely, albeit a few inevitable back-to-the-books hiccups. “Opportunity” by Edward Sill, Spanish lessons, and a sewing class are just few things we’ve loved. I find myself fighting to enjoy all the beauty in this moment, in this season, yet with an anticipation for the coming of spring. There’s a fine line between contentment and looking forward to something, is there not? The bird feeders have been full and I’ve especially enjoyed the American Goldfinches with their dull grey winter coats on, a hint of their brilliance on the edges. They are so much daintier then the jolly, chubby Juncos.  How is the weather in your area? We’ve enjoyed a winter picnic on a brilliant sunny morning, when the temperature rose a bit. We even attempted tea making by melting snow over a crackling fire. A lovely time of relaxing. The children have ice skated and brought out their sleds, their tracks and paths, crisscrossing the acreage. How is your family doing? Anything new brewing? I’m easing back into some crafting, which has been enjoyable. I set aside some of it two children ago, and now with older ones pitching in, we’ve been able to try our hands at embroidery, painting, and I’m gazing at fabric stacks waiting for a new project. On my book stack, I’m especially slowly savoring The Golden Apples of the Sun by Ray Bradbury. It’s definitely a bit weird, but very creative and thought-provoking. This is the first time, in a long while, I’ve enjoyed a collection of short stories. Have you read anything lovely lately? Well, I better close, as I have a birthday lunch to prepare. I’m thinking of a lemon cake for afternoon tea as well. Maybe from my Jane Brocket book. Blessings to you, dear friend, and can’t wait to hear from you soon.

Love & beauty to your day!



{Simple Scones – Allrecipes – I double the recipe. We omit the raisins and I sometimes substitute Greek yogurt if I don’t have sour cream on hand. Sometimes, I add a little nutmeg or other spice. I would love caraway seed, but some of the children aren’t fans.}


The Dean’s Watch by Elizabeth Goudge, Pied Piper by Nevil Shute, and More Favorites from my 2017 Reading Year ~


Reading is a vast ocean of beauty, ugliness, and everything in-between. Ideas swish and swirl, changing the shape of our hearts, giving us compassion and understanding, softening our rocky edges. We are continually filled and emptied as we read. A humility, a refreshment, and a cleansing.

I had a wonderful year of reading, I’m so grateful for the beauty of being at home with my children, all reading together, and the time I’m given to share with many great minds through the pages of books. I tried my best to narrow my list down to those that I really stood out to me and that I’m still thinking about, forgive me for so many. I didn’t include The Holy Bible, books read with my children, Charlotte Mason educational volumes, and so many others, you can look under Year in Books, if you enjoy digging through book lists as much as I do.  I broke it into categories so you can skim to those you might be interested in.

Favorite Book of the Year:


“Could mere loving be a life’s work?”

I cannot tell you how much I loved this book…how much the “simple” act of loving, of reaching out beyond ourselves has far reaching consequences. A timely and beautiful challenge to me as a wife, mother, and friend. This book moved me to tears and Goudge’s characters mean SO much to me, her sense of place is WONDERFUL…I was transported to this cathedral town. The nature descriptions were vivid and gorgeous. Sigh.

Writing/Author Memoir:

Dreams and Wishes: Essays on Writing for Children by Susan Cooper  – Although the author and I have very different worldviews, I found this book enchanting, inspiring, and laced with a bit of magic. I know, I know…weird description for a book of essays. However, Cooper did a fantastic job just speaking to that elusive “something” in story that catches us deep in our core and takes us on a figurative journey. Continued here.

Spanning Time: A Diary Keeper Becomes a Writer by Elizabeth Yates – I found this book of Elizabeth Yates diary entries spanning her life absolutely fascinating. I’m still thinking about it, but it covered so much history and just reading from a young girl growing to woman through the early 1900’s in Buffalo,NY, WWI, the delicate and challenging part of being of a wealthy, upper class family, and the privileges yet heavy expectations on her. Continued here.

Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity by Ray Bradbury –  I’ve read 7 or 8 books on writing or author memoirs this year, instead of writing, imagine that. Ha. Sad truth. This was just about my favorite. Just so beautifully encouraging and so very inspiring. Bradbury is hard to explain, just sort of explosive, I think is my word for him. I have commonplace quotes to think over, and I’m totally in love with his love of words. Long live logophiles.


Landmarks by Robert MacFarlane – This is such a hard book to describe. I loved it! About sense of place, about people who’ve connected with their immediate surroundings and specific far-off places, and the history of place words. Continued here. 

Rising Ground: Search for the Spirit of Place by Philip Marsden – I felt like the author and I were on a hike through all of Cornwall and south western part of Great Britain, chatting about the importance of home, of the religious significance of man-made rock formations, and the land, all connecting with the people who lived and died here. Continued here.

A Gathering of Larks: Letters to Saint Francis from a Modern-Day Pilgrim by Abigail Carroll (poetry-memoir mix) – I found this delightful poet in an anthology, and I’m so glad I did. I’ve been searching out her works and this is a lovely juxtaposition of the life of Saint Francis with Carroll’s modern life. I love the introduction she gives us to St. Francis and I love her jarring, beautiful, simple poetry. Visit her here.


The Exact Same Moon: Fifty Acres and a Family by Jeanne Marie Laskas – I just loved, loved this! The author’s conversations with herself and stream of consciousness type writing. It was all so real. I could picture myself saying and thinking some of the exact same things. The beginning is a bit slow, but then the beautiful last half as she goes through IVF and adopting from China. Wow. One of my favorite memoirs in a long time. 

O Come Ye Back to Ireland: Our First Year in County Clare by Niall Williams and Christine Breen  – This was a beautiful memoir of two New Yorkers, of Irish descent, deciding to pull up roots and move to Christine’s family cottage in West Ireland. The language and writing of this memoir was so beautiful and of course, the descriptions of Ireland are enough to swoon over. Continued here. 

Education & Parenting:

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (YA fiction, but falls under this heading for me as it was about dyslexia) – I absolutely loved this book, I cried at times. This follows the life of Ally, a sixth-grader, who has dyslexia, and doesn’t know it. The author clearly shares some of her own life experiences through the thoughts and feelings of this young girl who believes she is stupid. It shares how one person valuing another as a person can change the course of their whole life.


Charlotte Mason and The Great Recognition edited by Nicole Handfield – I so enjoyed this collection of essays that further helped illuminate and illustrate Charlotte Mason’s Great Recognition. I especially enjoyed the color prints of the fresco and Ruskin’s thoughts on them in such a nice convenient form.

Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World by Ben Hewitt – Firstly, Hewitt is a beautiful writer. Secondly, even though I’m not an unschooler, I took away a lot of beauty, inspiration, and new ways to think about learning at home with our children. I really enjoyed this memoir!


Pied Piper by Nevil Shute – This beautiful story follows John Howard, a grieving 70 year old man, who escapes to a fishing vacation in France, after the death of his son in the RAF. It’s summer 1940 and he craves quiet, avoiding all the talk of war and death in England. Little does he know what he is headed for! This was a BEAUTIFUL, heart-wrenching tale that blessed the socks off of me. It was written in a plain, straight-forward style, and yet I was right there with Mr.Howard through every step of this extraordinary journey. The love and grace shown by him and others was an example to me of God’s unconditional love. I loved the children in this book and Mr. Howard’s treating them as people. My second favorite book of the year!

A Far Country  by Nevil Shute – Beautiful!  I really enjoy Mr. Shute!

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury – his book follows the story of 12 yo Douglas’ summer vacation in a small town during the late 1920’s. This book is so strangely weird and deeply beautifully, bordering on creepy at times. Bradbury does a wonderful job looking at life through the eyes of this extraordinary boy’s imagination and spin on things. The language and turns of phrase are unforgettable. I believe some of this might be inspired by Bradbury’s own childhood. I’m looking forward to reading more from him.

The Major of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy – Wow. Hardy is definitely not cheery reading, but somehow you forgive him because of beauty of his writing. I love the title, it means more than what’s on the surface, of course. Mr. Henchard is a character you find yourself alternating between frustration, dislike and pity. Continued here

Buried Giant by  Kazuo Ishiguro – The beginning was slow, so it took me a bit to get into it. For me this story asked more questions then it answered about memories, age, time, and love. It was a subtle, surprisingly powerful read for me. Continued here.

Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery – I adored this title. (It ended up being my favorite of the trilogy.) Even though I’m an avid L.M. Montgomery fan, this is the first time I’m going through this series. Oh my. This is the second in the series and we continue following Emily as she grows into a young woman and beautiful writer. Continued here.


Gentian Hill by Elizabeth Goudge – English history, legends, sweet romance, mystery, deeply flawed, yet lovely characters, a quiet stone chapel, a lovely working farm, and a gorgeous, idyllic coastal English village make for another charming, beautiful, deeply moving story. Continued here. 

Difficult Books that I’m Glad I Read:

The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan – Wow! This book was the longest I read this year. It was crazy, upside down, and inside out, but totally tugged at my heart strings. I came to care about many of the characters living in the Gray House even the hard-to-love ones. Continued here.

Silence by Shusaku Endo – I’m STILL thinking about this title.  I don’t think I totally understood it for some reason. 


Children’s Classics I Read to Myself:

Dobry by Monica Shannon – I found this book while dipping into a favorite book of mine on reading with children called Bequest of Wings by Annis Duff. Mrs. Duff was mentioning great children’s books with food in them! I was intrigued and picked this one up as it won the Newberry. I found this book absolutely sweet and interesting about a peasant boy in Bulgaria who lives with his mother and grandfather. Continued here.

The Midnight Folk by John Masefield – I found this title because I wanted to read a children’s classic for myself over Christmas. I was reading reviews on The Box of Delights and found out this was the first one in the series. I’m so glad I did! What an enchanting, magical British children’s story. Continued here.

Alright, regrettably, one has to stop SOMEWHERE. Ha. There are many others I read this year that I thoroughly enjoyed, including many rereads of favorites, but I think these are the ones that I keep thinking about.  If you made it this far through my list, bravo! A couple of goals I have for the new year are to read these 12 books on this list, read more modern books, especially memoir, and work on quality choices and finishing things. How ’bout you? What was your favorite read from 2017 and what do you want to read more of next year?

And if this isn’t enough reading goodness for you, here is a lovely bookish place to visit.

Here’s to a new year of great books!





December Reads


Happy Fourth Day of Christmas! We are getting snow currently, a beautiful curtain of white, and my feeders are full and hopping with feathered friends. We are finishing up some last minute gifts for our final Christmas gatherings of the year coming up this weekend, sipping hot drinks, and watching Narnia movies. Sigh. I thought I would share what I finished reading in December a few days early so I can work on one of my beloved posts, my favorite books of the year.

1. Many a Green Isle by Agnes Sligh Turnbull (*****) – I just loved the main character so much. Gavin McAllister is an English professor at a small town college and has a beautiful home with his wife and four children. Life is going smoothly, maybe too smoothly. A series of serious and life-altering events happen, shaking him to the core and challenging his old-fashioned values. This is set in small town America before the Vietnam War, the relationships between the characters are deep, meaningful, and beautiful. I came to care about these people and couldn’t put this book down. I found this book so refreshing in it’s tackling of hard issues with love and grace. Perhaps a bit too idyllic or sweet for some, I LOVED this look at a strong man who cares for his family and his neighbors with all of his being. Internally and privately, he deals with his thoughts, frustrations, and own faults, yet makes choices based on love. There are definitely some bows tied neatly in this story, and maybe some convenient answers, but my heart said, “YES” to the beauty of character throughout. Now to live this way myself. I also read The King’s Orchard by Turnbull way back in January and loved it so much, you can read my review here.

2. The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton (***) I found this Christian fiction title interesting and well-written. It was, however, a predictable look at early American revolutionary times in New England.

3. The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay (****) – 3.5 stars. I loved the pace of this book (calm and meandering) and it’s Austen-drenched dialogue – the mental illness seemed a little far-fetched and the romance had some cheesy-ness . I loved the engineering aspect and the protagonist’s relationship with her father. Overall, a fun read if you like fan fiction-ish stuff.

4. Spanning Time: A Diary Keeper Becomes a Writer by Elizabeth Yates (*****) – I found this book of Elizabeth Yates diary entries spanning her life absolutely fascinating. I’m still thinking about it, but it covered so much history and just reading from a young girl growing to woman through the early 1900’s in Buffalo, NY, then WWI, the delicate and challenging part of being of a wealthy, upper class family, and the privileges yet heavy expectations on her. This follows her determination and grit to go out on her own when the pressure was super heavy from her family and naysayers not to follow her dream of writing. It goes on sharing about her long and sort of strange relationship with her future husband, Bill. Her loneliness at times and her love of animals helping assuage some of that loneliness. Her extensive travels and meeting so many interesting people. Her long standing friendship and working partnership with illustrator Nora Unwin was so heart-warming and fascinating. Her love of England and her experience of living there with Bill up until WWII. Bill’s blindness enters at the end, which can be read about more in depth in another of her fascinating books called The Lighted Heart. I found her search for her faith interesting and at times sad. Her persistence and dogged determination as she kept on writing and submitting through every rejection. I highly recommended this collection of diary entries!

5. The Midnight Folk by John Masefied (*****) – I found this title because I wanted to read a children’s classic for myself over Christmas. I was reading reviews on The Box of Delights and found out this was the first one in the series. I’m so glad I did! What an enchanting, magical British children’s story. This story follows the little boy Kay searching for a lost treasure rumored to be about and all the magical creatures that appear at night also in search of the treasure. This has a way about it that actually might make it a *wee* bit hard to read aloud, one has to pay close attention, but those that do are richly rewarded by lovely details. I can’t wait to read the second soon.

6. Dobry by Monica Shannon (*****) – I found this book while dipping into a favorite book of mine on reading with children called Bequest of Wings by Annis Duff. Mrs. Duff was mentioning great children’s books with food in them! I was intrigued and picked this one up as it won the Newberry. I found this book absolutely sweet and interesting about a peasant boy in Bulgaria who lives with his mother and grandfather. They bake and farm for a living, yet Dobry has an artist’s eye and a bent for noticing beauty in the ordinary. This book is very slow moving (which I loved, but some might dislike), following the agricultural seasons, traditions, a mix of religious, folk lore, and beliefs drive the whole community. There is very little plot to this book, just a general look at their day to day lives, and a gradual realization the Dobry is meant to be an artist. I loved it. Very unique, sparse-like illustrations.

7. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (****) 3.5 stars – This is a modern title that I picked up after a lot of buzz.  Longer review here.

8. Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity by Ray Bradbury (*****) – I’ve read 7 or 8 books on writing or author memoirs this year and this was just about my favorite. Just so beautifully encouraging and so very inspiring. Bradbury is hard to explain, just sort of explosive is my word for him, I have commonplace quotes to think over, and I’m totally in love with his love of words.

9. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien (*****) This was a reread for me and I loved it more if possible. I found so many beautiful quotes and poems to put down in my commonplace. So many things can be applied to this journey of life and battle between good and evil. I’m especially drawn this time to Aragorn’s character and also, as always, Gandalf. I also paid very close attention to the map of Middle Earth and am starting to get more of a picture in my mind of these unforgettable character’s travels.

The Holy Bible (*****) –  Mark, Luke, and John, and some of Psalms

If you want to look through my monthly books posts, take a peek at my Year in Books! I will be back soon with my Best of 2017!