Christmas-y, Winter-y Reading

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John William Waterhouse – “The Annunciation”, 1914 {Google}

Oh, ’tis the season for a good book. Well, it’s always the season for that, but it’s delightful thing to pick up something related to winter and Christmas. I’ve been inspired by reading other’s Christmas reading.  This list isn’t exhaustive, but I’ve just named a few in each area that we’ve enjoyed or are enjoying currently.

For the Family, our past favorite chapter books:

 

{Goodreads, Google}

The Christmas Stove by Alta Halverson Seymour -We are currently reading another Christmas story of hers and loving it. These are set around the world and The Christmas Stove is set in Switzerland.

On That Night by Elizabeth Yates – this book fostered many good discussions and I hope to reread it again another year. Lovely, heart-probing story.

Winter Cottage by Carol Ryrie Brink – a lovely story from the author of Caddie Woodlawn, another favorite title of ours. A family struggling during the Depression, end up staying in someone’s summer cottage. A heart-warming tale set in winter-y Wisconsin.

Currently, we are reading two new tales to us, and are really enjoying them:

 

{Goodreads, Google}

The Wonderful Winter by Marchette Chute – don’t let that cover fool you! We found an older copy of this lovely story. An orphaned boy runs away to London and spends his best winter ever with an acting troupe! We haven’t finished this, but the writing is GORGEOUS.

I Saw Three Ships by Elizabeth Goudge – I’ve been wanting to read this story for years and now we are finally getting to it. Polly lives with her poor aunts and is hoping for a Christmas surprise. Charming story surrounding the Christmas carol of the same name. I am a huge Goudge fan, so I’m delighted with this!

For myself to enjoy, I was trying to remember ones that I have really loved over the years:

 

{Goodreads}

A Christmas Book by Elizabeth Goudge (not pictured) – I fondly remember this book from years ago and hope to revisit it in the future. A collection of stories from her previous novels, centering around Christmas, and a few new stories, make for a charming read by the tree, sipping hot chocolate.

Winter in Thrush Green by Miss Read – I’m a huge Miss Read fan, albeit I haven’t read much of hers recently and need to remedy that! I enjoyed this story, Miss Read is so good at cozy stories centered in little villages and you can’t help fall in love with what’s happening in the villager’s lives  and the subtle humor throughout.

Martha’s Vineyard: Isle of Dreams by Susan Branch – this may be a bit too sad for the feeling of the season, but I adored this memoir. Filled with Susan’s delightful illustrations, she shares how she pursued her dreams of drawing & painting, finding a darling little home of her dreams, helping her heal and work through a hard divorce.

Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen – I read this with my children and was deeply moved. This is a good title for deep winter, angling into spring. A little family decides to move to a small cabin they’ve inherited that is filled with great summer vacation memories. Dad is suffering from PTSD from the war and it hasn’t been an easy time as a family. This is written so beautifully and surprising wisdom and beauty sneak up on you all the time. I hope to reread this later in winter.

Honorable mention: Jane Austen’s 6 novels often make it into my winter reading rotation. My favorites, currently are, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, and Pride & Prejudice.

We also enjoy many different pictures books and devotional type readings together, but I’ll stop for now. How ’bout you? What titles have you enjoyed during the winter season?

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The Music of Domesticity

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{Spring book love}

Life is full, isn’t it? I’ve been caught once again between the things that must be done and the things that one wishes to do. However, thankfully, there is some overlap and that is the beauty of looking closely at life, a sort of thread of music woven throughout. A tune carrying us forward. There truly are moments of delight to be found in every hour of mundane.  As Mother’s Day approaches, I’ve been ruminating on the relatively short years of my mothering journey so far, trying to remember when I began to see mothering and all things domestic as a gift and a song. My memory isn’t the greatest, but I recall a book called, The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocketboth of my dear sisters and I laughing about the title, yet it meaning so much to me. It gave me a permission to ENJOY art, culture, beauty, and domesticity in my home. Even though my faith is extremely important to me, when I started as a wife and mother, unfortunately, I had some unrealistic standards from the faith community that I took on as a burden. This was a lack of discernment and error on my part, viewing opinions that are man-made as truth, but are not actually from The Holy Bible. Insecurity reigns supreme and it scrambles to look for formulas.  I also remember savoring Edith Schaeffer’s books and Ruth Bell Graham’s poetry. And of course, the gift of Gladys Taber, who I was introduced to through another lovely person, Susan Branch. Gladys column in the Ladies Home Journal many years ago was titled, “Diary of Domesticity” and I think that is just lovely and it inspires me.  In the Family Circle she penned, “Butternut Wisdom”, so sweet and quaint. And of course, my dear mentor, Charlotte Mason, shared on education, life, and relationships. I was so encouraged to read this today and this the other day, thankful once again for having found the name Charlotte Mason almost 10 years ago, and following the prompting to dig a bit deeper. My own dear mother, Margaret, has been a constant example of servant-hood. Just laying aside her own desires for others out of love.  These sweet notes of encouragement also have floated out from many fiction authors over the years. I especially fondly recall hours with L.M. Montgomery, Elizabeth Goudge, and Jane Austen.  Katrina Kension and Annis Duff come to mind as well. All of these women are so different, not all of the same faith, not all mothers themselves, but yet have so invested in my growth, kept the light burning, so to speak, in my heart.  So, anyway, I just was thinking through this, wanting to record and share in hopes that it might encourage others as much as it does me.  Now a bit of life beauty recorded…

Hearth Ridge Daily Diary Entry {4.17.17}

Amos and I discussed a few things. I need to learn to listen better and forgive quicker. Snuggling on the couch with my boys, we sang through “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”, my 9 year old, running to find the book for my 2 year old to look through. Rain clouds rolled in, this hill we are on wears all the weather’s feelings on its sleeve and we can see what’s coming miles ahead of it.

I had to apologize to my 7 year old for snapping at her, and my 9 year old and I laughed about me dubbing him Sir Sam of Mathematics. He was having some negative feelings about hitting the numbers today. I hope I will have enough time to get through all the chapters for my book study tonight. Nothing like procrastination. Ironically, they are about forming good habits. Ha.

I’ve been thinking through my 7 year old’s upcoming birthday. It’s so interesting to really think about the people our children are, who they are becoming. A funny thing happened today, which I promptly shared on Instagram, I was reading from the Landmark Series, Vikings by Elizabeth Janeway, to my 12 year old son. My 5 year old was apparently listening because after we talked about the Labrador Sea and Greenland on the map, she came up and said, “Do you want me to send you back where you were…unemployed, in Greenland?” Oh my. Maybe we watch The Princess Bride movie too frequently. 🙂

The afternoon found us outside, fickle weather, sun peeking out. We blew bubbles and through the windy gusts, my older four played basketball. I showered and threw on a favorite comfy outfit of a black t-shirt, black maxi skirt, light brown sweater, my favorite old Red Converse Allstars, and don’t forget my favorite necklace, bearing words I need to remember daily. “Courage, dear heart.” by C.S. Lewis. At a restaurant before study, I sit sipping my drink, as I listen to that faint tune of beauty humming in the background of my life, soak in the words of a mentor, and thank God again for this blessed home life I live.

 

~

 

Happy Birthday, Gladys!

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Today marks Gladys Taber’s 118th (give or take a few years due to my Math skills) birthday. I originally was introduced to Mrs. Taber’s writings through the beautiful quotes in Susan Branch’s art and books. I am so glad I found her! I have been inspired and charmed ever since, appreciating her attitude of thankfulness for the simple moments in life. A life where beauty can be found anywhere, if (and this is a big if) we just S L O W down and notice it. Be still and know. The little hands of my baby boy squishing his hamburger with delight as he takes a bite, the stamp on a handwritten note, and the moon’s light casting a haunting glow over eventide. The way my husband’s hand rests on the back of my neck, our 12 year old, humming while he does the dishes, and the light hitting a stack of books just right. A gratefulness wells up in me, an astonishment over these gifts I have been given. It turns my heart towards my Savior, from whom all blessings flow. Thank you, Gladys for sharing your life with us. I think I will go make a cake in your honor.

 

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Winter Ideas

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{Good reading choice, boys. 🙂 }

We are slowly making it through the dreary, foggy winter days. We’ve had some glorious sunshine spilling through the bleak grays. The sun is a blessing, shooting out and then deep down into our souls. Here are a few of my favorite wintery things, currently.

  1. Listen to Malcolm Guite recite his poem.
  2. Take a hot shower while listening to Anne’s podcast. Bookish kindred spirits.
  3. Take winter walk with children, listening to their sweet thoughts. Make hot chocolate together when you get back.
  4. Read Amy’s lovely post on the new year. 
  5. Hunker down with a light read and a cup of coffee. Kate’s stories  are lovely or Charles has some good ones, too. These can be found through the public library.
  6. Create a nature journal, highlighting your favorite winter birds, creatures, or whatever suits you. I’m loving these journals. 
  7. Make scones and tea and listen to some haunting music.  She has a song on this particular CD that is inspired by The Highway Man by Alfred Noyes. Sad and thoughtful.
  8. Read poetry together. We love Favorite Poems Old and New by Helen Ferris.
  9. Peruse another’s  reading list for a new book. Go book shopping.
  10. Wash your bedding and snuggle down for a long winter’s nap.
  11. My children love LEGOS, blocks, and Schleich animals this time of year, especially.
  12. I’m looking forward to watching this very soon. 
  13. Put up copious amounts of twinkle lights. Ask my husband. He’ll verify my obsession. 😉
  14. Save up for a new mug or socks.
  15. Journal through your Bible. Memorize a Psalm.
  16. Move your comfy chair by your pellet stove. Wrap up in your favorite blanket. Read Gladys Taber.
  17. Bird watch. Google your favorite birds to hear their calls and watch videos on them. Bundle up and head outside to listen and observe.
  18. Make time to hang out with friends. For me, there is nothing like coffee with other mom friends.
  19. Go on a breakfast date with husband.
  20. Break out a map and plan a trip.
  21. Order free seed catalogs and dream.
  22. Susan Branch. She is so cheerful. 
  23. If you home educate your children, here is a lovely spot for inspiration.
  24. Go to local coffee shop and people watch.
  25. Make a big pot of soup and take some to someone you love. My mom is fantastic at this! ❤
  26. Practice your accents. 😉
  27. Go thrifting.
  28. Practice tying knots aka knitting. (ok, this was a joke about my knitting abilities.)
  29. Write real letters and post with pretty envelopes and stamps.
  30. Light a candle and shake fist at ice. Just kidding. {sorta}

What are you doing to celebrate the last months of winter? (or survive them? 🙂 )

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Tea, Cake, and Susan Branch

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Dear Susan Branch , I just turned the last page of your Martha’s Vineyard: Isle of Dreams. I was so inspired and enchanted. As a wife, mother and home cook, I found it just the perfect shot of encouragement.  I often loose sight of the little bits of joy in creating a home for my loved ones. I  found so much to be inspired by your tenacity in keeping at your dreams.  Your books, especially, Isle of Dreams, and then, A Fine Romance have brought so many smiles to my face, tears (I felt bad for you!), chuckles, and beautiful quotes to think on. Your thoughts on books, movies, cooking,  gardening, and gushes about little lovely bits of life make my feelings of kindred spirit well up. Isle of Dreams was my favorite, but  A Fine Romance was a very close second and I thought of you and just about swooned with delight as I had the chance to visit England this year.

One of the biggest things I loved about Isle of Dreams, was how much you praised and thought on all that you mother had done for you. It is so encouraging to know that little touches, the hot meals, and the traditions reached you and are remembered in a small way. I found that such a blessing to see a child of a big family praising the hard work her mother did for her family. Motherhood isn’t really a prized profession these days and the endless mundane dance we do each day while being told we have to be something MORE can really beat a woman down.

The little cocoa cups, the tea pots, your kitties, the ivy, and the endless magical little paintings you include teach me more than just love of beauty. I want to learn to pay attention deeply, and I pray my children will follow. Just to really listen to people, to savor  meals, to delight in lingering over tea, to mull over and discuss great books, and to never forget their faith. I desire to grow deeper relationships through hospitality and sharing life. You delight and excel in those gifts. Thank you, Susan, for your sweet books and a bit of brightness and warmth to wrap myself in, with a bit of tea and cake, of course.

With love,

Amy

Inspired by this writer, we enjoyed this lovely coffee cake with tea and some new MUSICA for a fall treat. Enjoy!

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