Hey all! I hope those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving had a wonderful holiday. Now that Thanksgiving is over, I feel like I can go all out on Christmas everything! We decorated and put up our tree this weekend, as the snow fell outside. However, that meant I had to move a ton of plants and now my office and kitchen look like mini-jungles. Which I am not upset about. We had originally planned to drive to Dayton, OH and hike a trail there that has a troll event happening. It looks so awesome! However, the weather forecast was not great and I didn’t want to spend three hours for just one way in a car if we were getting a blizzard. So, another time, hopefully.
Read Last Week:
I love this fun series! It was good to revisit the characters and their lives. And that awesome lighthouse library!
Reading This Week:
I am kicking off the winter reading season with this middle grade Christmas murder mystery. A tween British cozy! And I love this cover!
Posted Last Week:
Not much! Just two posts then I took the rest of the week off for the holiday.
We finished up the Great British Baking Show – I loved this season!! And the winner was my favorite all the way through, and I love when that happens! All the contestants in the final were phenomenal though. We are also watching Wheel of Time, which is excellent but I have never read the books so I can’t compare. My husband seems to be pretty happy with it though, and he read them all. We also finished up Schitt’s Creek. I have watched it at least twice before, but this was Billy’s first time watching and he is now a convert.
And that is it from our little corner of the Mitten! Hope you are all doing well.
A collection of intersecting stories set at a powwow that bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride.
In a high school gym full of color and song, Native families from Nations within the borders of the U.S. and Canada dance, sell beadwork and books, and celebrate friendship and heritage. They are the heroes of their own stories.
Featured contributors: Joseph Bruchac, Art Coulson, Christine Day, Eric Gansworth, Dawn Quigley, Carole Lindstrom, Rebecca Roanhorse, David A. Robertson, Andrea L. Rogers, Kim Rogers, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Monique Gray Smith, Traci Sorell, Tim Tingle, Erika T. Wurth, and Brian Young.
I 100% loved this book. So many different stories, different traditions and view points that all come together in this one gymnasium in Ann Arbor, Michigan at the intertribal powwow, Dance for Mother Earth. Every story was connected in some way, and it was fun to pick up on those intersections. This book offers so much traditional and cultural information from so many different tribes and walks of life, where one can learn about food and dress and stories; about prejudices and trauma, connection and family. I also enjoyed the glossary at the end.
Although I enjoyed every story, I did have a few favorites. In Fancy Dancer by Monique Gray Smith, Rory finds connection to family, old and new, through dance, while dealing with the trauma of an abusive father, who is no longer in his life physically but still is very present in Rory’s mind. Bad Dog by Joseph Bruchach was also a favorite of mine, as was What We Know About Glaciers by Christine Day. But my very favorite was Indian Price by Eric Gansworth. I thought that story just had so many layers to unwrap and examine and learn from.
One reason I wanted to read this book is because I have actually attended this powwow, as a college student way back when. Billy and I went for one one of my classes, we tried Fry Bread, sat in the stands as the dancers made their way in to the sound of the drumbeats, felt the excitement that was charging the air around us. At the time, I admit, I had no real idea of what I was actually witnessing and participating in by attending. So much went over my head, and now, as an adult who has read more and experienced more, I can look back and see what I didn’t see then. I am hoping to take Wyatt to this powwow in a year or two, as it is open door to anyone who wants to go. To quote Fancy Dancer, “Native people travel from all over to go to powwows, but non-Natives are welcome too. That’s part of the beauty of the powwow, the sharing of cultures.” I look forward to the next time we go, this time taking with us more knowledge.
This book is a wonderful collection of stories for middle grades, and I highly recommend it for any classroom or home library!
Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins Children’s Books for the chance to read and review this book!
Wow week 4 already!! The description for this week as copied from The Thousand Book Project is:
Week 4: (November 22-26) – Stranger Than Fiction with Christopher at Plucked from the Stacks: This week we’re focusing on all the great nonfiction books that *almost* don’t seem real. A sports biography involving overcoming massive obstacles, a profile on a bizarre scam, a look into the natural wonders in our world—basically, if it makes your jaw drop, you can highlight it for this week’s topic.
The book I chose for this week, and I only chose one, is one that I read quite a few years ago but it has stuck with me all this time.. and I just realized I made sort of a dad joke there. That was unintentional, honestly.
This whole event is so crazy to even consider. And terrifying! A giant tank of molasses burst open in Boston’s North End, flooding the streets with two million gallons of molasses, even causing a 15 foot wave. The horror of being caught in that flood is unimaginable. People and animals died, building were crushed in that dark tide of molasses, which reached speeds of 35 miles per hour. There is even a legend that on warm days, you can still catch a faint scent of the molasses rising from the streets.
This book was bizarre and tragic, and like I said, a book that has stayed with me for years.
Last week was pretty good. Not very eventful, but good still the same. My birthday was Tuesday and it was a nice, quiet day and evening. We got my favorite street tacos and had a “car picnic” surrounded by total darkness and it was really cool honestly. Billy, my mom, and I got our booster shots so that is done as well. Wyatt and I have been having a fantastic month of homeschool – I really am hoping to share about it soon, but I keep running out of time and the post keeps getting longer!
Read Last Week:
I kept it light and read Wendell Berry’s book of poetry, The Peace of the Wild Things. It was beautiful, as I expected.
The title poem was my favorite.
What I am Hoping to Read This Week:
So I have been a little weird about reading lately, books just aren’t fitting right. This is the one I have lined up – I am going back to an old friend, The Lighthouse Library Mysteries.
We have been all over the place with television lately. We are watching The Brokenwood Mysteries, The Great British Bake Off, and we just started Wheel of Time, which is Billy’s favorite book series of all time. I have never read it so it is all new to me. I did really enjoy it though – and Rosamund Pike is in it, and I really like her as an actress.
I mentioned Wyatt has been requesting songs on our Alexa in the morning and we have been waking up to whatever random choices he makes, or Alexa makes. This week we heard some good stuff honestly – The Lumineers, Of Mice and Men, Simon and Garfunkel, Lord Huron, John Denver, and The Sound of Silence by Disturbed, which is amazing. It is one of Billy’s favorites and I must say, there is something about laying in bed in total darkness with the lead singer’s voice rolling out over you. It’s so deep and powerful. It was sort of otherworldly.
And that is about it from around here! I hope all is well in your world!
I have been having way too much fun browsing for gifts online this year. There are just so many great makers and creators out there! These items are a little bit outdoorsy, a little bit bookish because that is what I tend to look at the most! A few of these are on my list for others, some on my list, one or two I have even purchased and put away for Christmas already.
This post contains affiliate links from Etsy.
Leather Journal: These leather journals are customizable with nine different stamps and can be further personalized with the name of your loved one. They can hold a field notes notebook as well as a pen and license, debit, card, etc. I actually plan to buy two of these for two special people in my life. I just need to decide on color and customizations!
Let Us Go Then illustrated book: Ok. So, this is something on my own list but I adore it. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot is my all time favorite poem. This little book contains an illustrated rendering of the poem, alongside the lines of the poem itself. It is printed on matte paper and I think it is just so cool looking, honestly. This company also offers the book in different poems, as well as notebooks and journals.
Burned Cedar Kuksa Hiking Mug: I love this! I bought my husband a kuksa a few years ago and he takes it with him on long hikes and camping trips. This kuksa is just so individual though, with the dark burnt color of it. This one is made in Russia, but there are so so many listed on Etsy. They are basically wooden mugs that you can wear while you spend time outdoors. Update: This one sold out last night so I found two alternates. You can find them here and here!
Raised by Boooooks t-shirt: This is another item from my own list. Lol. It is not an Etsy find, but from the company Out of Print, which has so many neat bookish items! I love this one for me, but they also have so many cute kids shirts!
Fox socks: My husband and I always get each other socks at Christmas, and Billy loves socks with patterns and pictures. These are perfect for anyone who loves nature and exploring! This company seems to have socks for every hobby and walk of life though.
Storiarts Anne of Green Gables scarf: I have loved these scarves for years and years. I think they are so cool. I chose this one for the blog because I love Anne and the color green, but there are many variations in their store!
Edgar Allen Poe glass tumbler: Remember I said I already bought something? This is what I bought for my Edgar Allen Poe loving cousin. Again, if Poe is not your jam there are other choices. I will say that I am very impressed with the quality of this glass, the weight and clarity, and the box itself is very nice as well!
8 x 10 Lonely Spruce Print: This is a legit print from a tree. The image was created using the remnants of a Red Spruce in Nova Scotia. It is just so unique! I love it and am considering it for our home. But which room? I can’t decide!
Magical Great Hall candle: For me, the magic of Harry Potter was all about the Great Hall. And Hogsmeade. And the Forbidden Forest. But I loved all the descriptions of the festivities that took place in the Great Hall. Maybe all the talk of food? This candle is visually appealing, and smells like waffles? That is fantastic, in my opinion! This is one you would need to order soon though, it looks like it takes a bit to ship!
Mary Shelley Frankenstein Quote Print: This is one of my favorite quotes. You will see it pop up again next week in my Kid’s Holiday Gift Guide. Lol. I received a bookish literary print a few years ago from my sister-in-law – a quote from Jane Austen actually – and I have it framed on display in my office now and I totally love it. This would be a great addition to any book nook or office or library! Again, the shop has many choices, including one with a few lyrics from “Morning Has Broken” that is simply beautiful.
DIY Mushroom Lamp: This is so pretty! I don’t know much about this company at all (this is not from Etsy), they were actually from a suggested Instagram ad, so I want to throw that out there. I love this lamp though, and it is sort of neat that you get to make it! Perfect for that crafting fungi loving friend.. Update: So I found an alternative for this as well, that one does not need to DIY put together. It’s actually a little less expensive. Find it here!
Fire Starter: I blame my husband for this one. He loves anything woodcrafted and outdoorsy and this fire starter is pretty nifty. Billy and I once went to an outdoor survival class and we did not pass the fire starting lesson. Lol. We would definitely need something to help us out if we were lost in the wilderness. Or just camping.
Wuthering Heights LiteraTea: So this is just fun! I picked this one for this post because it is Earl Grey tea, but there are other flavors. I love the packaging and I do love a pretty package!
And with that, I am going to check my Christmas list and see what I still need to do!
Life lately has been about appreciating all the moment in our lives. The things we may normally gloss over, seeking out that next big thing. Long rides in the dark, sharing a blanket on the couch while watching cartoons with your six year old, warm tea in a solid mug, snowy mornings.
This majestic buck stepped out into the clearing for a quiet moment. We stood for a few moments, jut watching each other in silence. I hadn’t been expecting him, nor him, me. I heard him before I saw him – I am sure the reverse was true as well.
Snow!!! Our first snowfall of the season happened Sunday. Our family loves snow, in a big way. We decided to just go for a ride in it, but couldn’t resist popping out here for a photo.
My birthday came and went – it was a nice quiet low key day. I got my free birthday Starbucks (chai latte), snuggles from cats, street tacos from my fave place, which we ate in the car in the full dark watching the trees and the water, our tacos sharing the space on the armrest between us while Wyatt ate his cheese quesadilla in the back. As an adult, I can honestly say my birthdays are always so different! I’ve celebrated at Epcot on my honeymoon, in the hospital with a sick Wyatt (and stayed up for 36 straight hours as well); I won tickets to the opera once, where we got to sit in the best box seats and visit the fancy VIP intermission room with drinks; dinners at nice restaurants, and at small diners. I have loved them all.
We’ve cracked open geodes this week, spent time poring over the rocks and minerals I’ve been collecting for months now for Wyatt’s science unit, and just basically hung out this past week.
I like having an idea of what we are going to be up to, but for the most part, I am enjoying letting things and moments just happen lately.
Expert Week! This week participants can choose to 1) Be the Expert and recommend books on a topic that they have enjoyed 2) Ask the Expert and request books on a topic you want to learn more about or 3) Become the Expert and create your own list of books on a topic. This year, I opted for number three, become the expert! And I think I have a “whaley” good topic!
So if you couldn’t figure it out by my really bad dad joke, the topic I chose was whales! I have seen the book Fathoms: The World in the Whale by Rebecca Giggs around for a whole year now, and I know that I want to read it. Because I love whales. Who doesn’t love a whale tale, for that matter? As a teen I was a total Greenpeacer and wanted to save the whales – I mean, I still do. My heart broke for orca Tahlequah, who grieved for her dead calf for 17 days in 2018. (good news, she is a mother again) They are gentle giants of the sea, mysterious, adorable. They have inspired so many legends and stories, good and bad. I dream of going on a whale watch in the next five years. I just really love whales. But I could know more about them.
So, I have created a list of books I want to read to learn more about these magnificent beasts of the deep.
Starting with this one:
Then I have done some looking and reading and made a list of a few more.
And now I will ask you – have you read any of these? What do you think? Do you have any to recommend? I can be very sensitive to animal cruelty so I skipped the Sea World books. But I would love your thoughts on any others!
It’s snowing!! Not hard, and not fast, but definitely snowing. In our house, this means Chinese takeout for dinner. It’s just a little tradition that we have, the first sign of flakes means that we order Chinese food.
I feel a Gilmore Girls rewatch coming on.
We had a different sort of week. Wyatt got a vaccine on Wednesday and I never know how to plan around those, in case of any reactions. I guess it is leftover from when he was a baby. So I planned a lighter week and then when he was completely fine, used that time to catch up on housework. It was getting a bit cluttered up in here. I also met up with my friends for a wine night at my friend Kelly’s house – it was a much needed time with them, it’s been a few weeks and it was really good to catch up. Then Saturday I dragged my mom to Target for her first trip to a store in two years. Once we got there, bright and early before most of the world was awake, we had a great time shopping together. We picked up a few presents, some necessary items, and just some weird fun things too. Saturday night my brother and SIL, Billy and I, dropped our kids off at our mom’s house and then the four of us headed back to my brother’s for pierogi takeout and some time to chat without the kids. It was short but fun – it has been way too long since just the four of us have hung out like that.
Read Last Week:
Nothing. Nada. I started The Wild Silence but I am not in the right place to read it right now. It is way too emotional and sad for me – we have recently had some events around here that have been tough, and I need to read to escape. I will come back to this book at a later date.
Reading This Week:
Since I am having such issues lately settling on a book, I decided to pick up a book of poetry, and Wendell Berry is such a wonderful writer. I am looking forward to enjoying his words this week.
Billy and I have been watching The Great British Bake Off. It is so good this season! I mean I always love it but I love all the contestants this time around. We also started Broken Wood and that is really excellent too.
Wyatt has been waking up the house this week by asking our Echo Dot to play music. We have a few set up around the house that we love to set to play everywhere, so that when we listen to music we can hear it all around us. Anyway, Wyatt has been asking Echo to play a song and “she” randomly chooses one that she thinks we will like. And normally, yes. But at 6:45 am, not always. We have gotten used to it though and have begun to really enjoy it. We have heard Sunny by Bobby Hebb, Happy by Pharrel Williams, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot (which had the anniversary of its wreck the other day), Lord Huron, Jolene by Dolly Parton, and Fire and Rain by James Taylor. Honestly the only one I did not enjoy that early in the morning was Happy. It was a bit too energetic before coffee!
And that is about it for us! What is happening in your world?
Winter. Such a polarizing season – it seems like you either love it or hate it. Personally, I love it. The snow and cold invigorate my soul, and the long dark nights are perfect for getting cozy and comfortable at home. And I love cozy. The past few years have been pretty tough too, and I feel like everyone’s souls need a little comfort these days. Treat someone you love, treat yourself, get some ideas – I have a few things that I know make my soul feel warm and nourished, and I am excited to share them with you! So, get comfy, grab your favorite soul soothing drink, and spend a few relaxing moments with me as I set a cozy mood!
This post contains affiliate links.
Hand warming mug: I am blessed to have a potter in the family. My mother-in-law is a potter and I always end up with her leftovers or shed clean outs, and I love everything I get. I recently had a box to share with my friends and they were so excited to gather around and pick and choose different items. To me, these mugs are a treat to use. The weight and size in my hand, knowing they were made by hand, their uniqueness – I just love everything about them. I have bought a few from other artists via Etsy and while they can seem pricey for a mug, they are something that will last. That was made with love for a craft. That work and care went into. And they are totally worth every penny. I love this one because it is designed to hug your hand to keep you warm as you sip. Perfect for those snowy cold nights or rainy days!
Harney and Sons Royal English Breakfast Tea: I love coffee, tea, hot chocolate – you name it. But if I am having real tea, not herbal, I want one that is flavorful and not wimpy. I love this one by Harney and Sons – and that tin is so handy afterwards for storing treasures if you are a child (or an adult!)
Hot Chocolate Bombs: I saw these all over last year and think they are so fun! Just heat your milk and pour over the bomb in your mug and watch it melt! These are available as a kit or individually and in different flavors and toppings.
Vintage Quilt: Is there anything else in this world like a well-loved quilt? There are so many homeless vintage quilts out there, that women poured their hearts into creating. I have a few, and one I use quite frequently is one that belonged to my friend’s great-grandmother. She made it and my friend didn’t want it and I couldn’t bear the thought of it being tossed so I adopted it. It is so warm and soft and I love it. You can find them on Etsy, but be sure to read the descriptions. Some are small, some are torn (so if this is a no-go make sure to look for that in the description), some are just tops. I thought this one was gorgeous but there are hundreds to choose from, and all different prices.
Slipper Socks: It’s hard to be cozy if your toes are freezing! I thought these were so unique and beautiful – I love the folk art pattern and the fact that they are handknit..even better. (These are actually on my Christmas list!)
Cosy Candle: I love candles!! They add such atmosphere to a home – the flickering light, the scents that can set a mood. I love earthy scents or warm food scented candles, and this one has notes of oak and clove and lemon which sounds amazing.
French Lavender Spa Collection: I order shampoo bars and conditioner bars and soap from this company regularly. It is all I use. The scents are amazing (I particularly love the Gravenstein apple scent and the harvest scent right now) and they leave my hair and skin just the way I want them. This spa set would be an awesome gift and who doesn’t love a luxurious feeling bath from time to time?
Bunny Pajamas from Leveret: I am in love with both pairs of pajamas pictured above. These are the more affordable option at $34.99, plus they are green and have rabbits! They have so many different styles though, from solid colors to stripes to tie dye to rainbows and cows and ballerinas – the list goes on. They also have adorable children’s pajamas as well. Last year I bought Wyatt’s Christmas Eve pjs from Leveret and I really liked them!
Forest Wolves Pajamas from Wolf and Badger: These are definitely a splurge item but … these seem so worth it. Not only are they so cool, they are organic, made by happy workers, artisan made, low impact, and non-toxic. So, good for you, good for the planet. I love that they check all these boxes! Plus, wolves!!!
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective Board Game: We are talking about having cozy game nights this winter with my brother and his family. The kids can sleep, we can drink tea and hot chocolate, wear comfy clothes, and gather around the table to play this together on snowy nights! I love that it is a cooperative game where everyone works together!
Wooden National Parks Puzzle: No need for a gathering with this one – this can be completely solo. I love how beautiful this is – and the fact that it is wooden as well. This shop has quite a variety as well – Christmas scenes, animals, places like Paris and Rome, and they even will make a puzzle from a personal photo.
I hope I left you with some ideas for your holiday shopping – and that you enjoyed your warm cuppa!