Galentine’s Day Gift Ideas

February can feel so gray and dreary and long, especially if you are in a northern state, and Valentine’s Day is like the pink and red burst of cheer right in the middle. Like a rainbow on a rainy day, it makes what could be a gloomy day, happy!

Now, we don’t go crazy for Valentine’s Day. Just little things to make each other smile, maybe a special breakfast with the boy (I am thinking waffle hearts this year!), a fancy dessert at dinner, but just something to make the day a good one.

This year, I don’t even have to buy Valentine’s stuff for Wyatt’s class and teachers and other staff, since I am homeschooling. We did buy Valentine’s for him to give to his cousins and also his friend Eloise; he is super into painting right now, and he picked out Valentine’s that included a little tray of watercolor paints. They are super cute and I know he is excited to hand them out. Then I started wondering just what I was going to get Billy, and my friends this year too for Galentine’s Day. I don’t usually get them anything, but I would not have made it through this year without them! And we could all use a pick me up, especially now! So during quiet time today, I did a little online window shopping and found some super cute things for less than twenty dollars each!

Sterling Silver Strawberry Earrings || Pink Princess Philodendron Pin || Scrunchie || Otter Enamel Pin

I guess I was really thinking pink when I was looking! I am in love with all of these honestly. Those little strawberry stud earrings make me think of the 80s and summertime, but in a more grown up way. And I am all about enamel pins right now – they are so shiny and colorful! I love the Pink Princess Philodendron pin, because we are all of a sudden plant people, and even a cutting for one of those plants is like $300! Then these lovely soft scrunchies! The one that says “You’re like REALLY pretty” cracks me up. My niece bought me a Christmas scrunchie from her Secret Santa at school last year, and I love it for showering on days when I am skipping my hair. And finally, these super adorable otters! I love that otters hold hands when sleeping so they don’t drift away from each other.

Be the Sunshine Enamel Pin || Rainbow Planters || Pinky Promise Tee || Variegated String of Hearts || How to be a Wildflower

Ok, I told you I am obsessed with little enamel pins right now – and that Be the Sunshine is so perfect. Sometimes we have to be the light that we are looking for. The rainbow planters are just adorable, and would look so happy with a cute little succulent hanging out in it on a desk or counter. That pinky promise tee is adorable as well – it makes me think of all the crazy conversations and laughs I have had with my crew over the years. And that plant!! If you are a plant person, you know. A variegated string of hearts! What! It is so pretty and I love it.. Finally, Katie Daisy’s book, How to be a Wildflower. I have this book and I love it. It is an inspiration and a spark of whimsy and color and cheer when you need it.

I am missing my friends like crazy this year! We were supposed to take a girls trip to Mackinac/Mission Point this fall that has been postponed, our monthly book clubs, our nights out, lunches, brunches. Just hanging out in each other’s houses! We have zoom calls now, but hopefully when the weather breaks we will be able to get together again at least in backyards. For now I see them from six feet apart and for as long as we can stand the cold or virtually through a screen. Hopefully one day soon we will be out again together!

Brief Thoughts on Recent Reads

The Twenty-Ninth Day by Alex Messenger: This book completely blew me away. First Alex is seventeen years old, and in the Canadian Tundra with a group of friends, The Hommes, on a 600 mile canoe trip. Yep, 600 miles by canoe folks. And then on day 29, he is attacked by a grizzly, and survives. I have to admit, I felt like I was on this trip. We are treated as readers to the first twenty-eight days of the canoe trip – it’s ups and downs, ins and outs, the beauty and the physicality and fun that this trip was. The joy of the meals in the evening, the feeling of accomplishment – that is itself is an interesting read. (and reminds me of one of my favorite authors to read, Pam Houston) Then mix in the grizzly attack and the book becomes next level. The strength, mental and physical, that Messenger displays in this book is amazing and admirable and I would have been crying for my mom immediately, and wouldn’t shame anyone else for doing it either. I don’t want to give anything away so I won’t go into too much detail, but I was mighty impressed. And also by his friends, especially Dan, who was the leader of the group and a trained Wilderness First Responder, and had to treat Alex’s wounds in the middle of nowhere with limited supplies. Fantastic read! (Amazon Affiliate Link)

Dark Salt Clear by Lamorna Ash: Another stellar read. Ash feels herself drawn to the Cornish village and cove that she is named after and heads there to learn more about the people who earn their lives on the cold sea, fishing. I loved reading about a way of life that I knew really nothing about; I’ve sung along to sea shanties, I’ve watched The Deadliest Catch, I know every word to Billy Joel’s Downeaster Alexa, but really didn’t know what the lives of these men and women are like. And I loved learning through Ash’s eyes and experiences aboard the different ships, the different people she encountered. I was struck by one part in particular, where Ash works overnight in the fish sorting warehouse for the morning market – and the other workers talk about the monotony of the job, about how it is a way for fisherman to stay connected to their call of the sea even when they can no longer go out, how they sleep only a few hours in the day so that they don’t become shadow people. This is a beautifully written book about something that doesn’t maybe sound so interesting or beautiful on the outside. I loved it. (Amazon Affiliate Link)

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer
Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

It feels like it has been so long since I have shared here on the blog for some reason! It’s just been really a few days but it feels longer. We had another repeat of the week before – Billy working lots of late nights, Wyatt and I hanging out, homeschooling, playing games, that sort of thing. We have also been really busy with home projects, finishing up things we have wanted to do but never get around to. So that feels good and I will be happy when they are finished. I will be especially happy to have an office room again! We are getting ready to paint and I ordered a few things to spruce it up, a new rug, some new curtains. Nothing major but enough to make it feel all different. We also splurged on new dining room chairs as one of my cats has destroyed the ones we have. Thanks Mags. These are hopefully indestructible as there is no fabric on them at all! It’s been fun to rework our space a bit. We have lived here twenty years and Billy and I realized we have not done too much to change things at all in that time. LOL. My car’s service engine light came on too, and Billy ran it up to the dealership and it is some sort of transmission slipping gears issue that is thankfully covered. So my car goes in on Monday for a few days. Just a little bit longer without a car – I haven’t been driving it since the light came on, right after Christmas! With COVID and everything we had to wait until the stars aligned and Billy had a moment to take it up there. We don’t really go anywhere but it is nice for Wyatt and I to at least take a ride sometimes during the week to break things up! I also somehow got one of my besties to adopt a tiny little pixie frog from the pet store (although pixe frog is a misnomer in my opinion, they get quite huge!) I spotted it when I ran in to buy crickets for Harry and snapped a photo. It looked so cute! Apparently Kelly thought so too, because she went and got him the next morning.

Meet James Lime! (she also has a Pac Man frog named Frances Lemon)

Read Last Week:

I am still working on both of these, but I think I will be done with both of them in the next two days. I have been enjoying them a great deal! After these I am not quite sure what I will be reading. I am hoping I get approved on NetGalley for the new Erin A. Craig book Small Favors. If that happens that is what I plan to read. So fingers crossed!

Watching:

All Creatures Great and Small. LOVE this show so much. As much as the original show, if not more honestly. I have loved the books my whole life, and this show feels so perfect. We finished up Wartime Farm, and started The Hardy Boys, which is pretty good!

And really that is about it from around here! Stay safe and well everyone.

Thinking Spring!

My January seed order has always been such a big tradition in my life, and this year had a little bit more sentimentality. I did this for years and years with my uncle; we would gather around his table, coffee and pastries around us while my aunt fussed about around us. We planned our gardens, planted them together when they arrived, discussed our harvests.. it was our thing. And now they are both gone, my uncle and my aunt. Big memories around this one tradition.

Last year, my uncle had “retired” from gardening and I had a fun garden and seed planning morning with my sister-in-law Chrissy and my niece. This year, though, we couldn’t get together. We tried to find a safe way, but with the weather we decided to forgo it.

But my husband and son came to the rescue! Billy knew I was feeling sad about it this year, and he and Wyatt gallantly stepped in.

We made it a pastry picnic! We spread out a cheery quilt, and all piled on top surrounded by seeds and books and pastries and pencils, and dug in. We looked over the seeds we had left from last year and the year before, made a list of what we still needed (emphasis on need not want, since we just don’t have space in our house for starting all the seeds we want lol), and Billy threw together a quick sketch of a garden plan. We didn’t need to order too many vegetables, as we are good on those still, and Billy has been wanting to start a cut garden, so it all worked out. We picked out flower seeds, which was really fun – neither of us really know too much about flowers so we just chose based on what sounded and looked pretty! I enjoyed the planning with my guys. My uncle would have been happy to see it.

Then, I actually got to the ordering! I went to the quiet basement office, took a glass of wine and my laptop, and started the process. And discovered it wasn’t as easy as previous years! Some seed companies are a month behind processing orders due to COVID, others were not taking orders from non-commercial growers (and I understand that), and other companies were sold out of a lot of seeds already! So if you are sitting on a seed order or wish list, you may want to put it in now. I made adjustments and swaps, and still ordered what we needed plus flowers for Billy’s flower gardens, it just took a bit longer, but that was ok. And I ordered something special as well: a lemon tree in honor of my uncle. My uncle grew a lemon tree from a single seed from a lemon he had used cooking, and he was understandably so proud of it. It is one of the plants I think of when I think of gardening with my uncle. I have to wait until spring for it to arrive, which makes sense with the cold temperatures and shipping right now, but I am so excited to get it. It is definitely something to look forward to!

This year we will also have another new addition to our yard – elderberry bushes. Billy has wanted these for years and finally ordered them. The cuttings arrived and are happily sitting in the window, awaiting their time to be planted outside. It will be here sooner than we think!

All of my seeds have now shipped and I will be checking the front porch a million times a day to see if they have arrived, until they get here. Until then, we can dream of gardens and flowers and color and vegetables from inside our cozy house, eating soup and homemade bread and finding what flowers we can to get us to spring.

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer
Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

We had a quiet week around here, working on our projects, homeschooling, and not really a whole lot else. We made a big decision mid-week, to send Wyatt back to physical therapy starting in February, and I have been wrapping my head around it since then honestly. I probably won’t be comfortable with the decision ever at this point but we need to do it. He is so motivated and while I do ok homeschooling, I just can’t replace a physical therapist.

Read Last Week:

This book was so good – and so scary! Alex is one tough cookie. I was in amazement over his strength and the strength of his team, especially the group leader Dan, throughout this whole ordeal. I hope to post a mini-review with my thoughts sometime this week.

Reading This Week:

My mom and I are both reading Murder on the Orient Express, which is so good! I am also reading Wintering, A Season with Geese, starting this week as well. I am finding a haven in nonfiction right now that I am not in fiction.

Posted Last Week:

What We’ve Been Up To This Week

Homeschool: The Arctic Week 2

Watching:

We started the new All Creatures Great and Small and it was all I had hoped it would be. Just watching the trailer gave me goosebumps, so I was super excited to watch it. I love the cast, I love just everything about it. I have loved this book series since I was a little girl, when my mom gave me the books for Christmas. I was like eight or so and while some of it was over my head I understood most of it and was charmed forever by farm life and James Herriot (Alf Wight). He was born in Sunderland, England, the same place as my grandfather, and almost year to the date after my grandfather. And lived in Glasgow, where my grandma’s family is from. His father worked in the shipyards, the same as my great-grandfather. And.. I digress. We also watched Wartime Farm (check it out on Absolute History YouTube), and finished up His Dark Materials. For our movie night we watched The Secret Garden, which was a visually stunning movie. It has been er, decades, since I read the book so I don’t remember much of the story, but I loved the movie.

And that is about it from here! Stay safe everyone.

Homeschool: The Arctic Week 2

Our Arctic Exploration, week 2 is coming to an end. Good thing we have two more weeks; we are having a ton of fun. This week was all about polar bears!

We started off by learning the basics of a polar bear – their anatomy, about their little ears which are little to protect them from frostbite, about camouflage, about how their skin under their fur is black (and why), that their fur doesn’t actually have white pigment, it is hollow, and how some arctic animals stay warm.

We had a fun week of activities and art..but it was also a very messy week!

This art project is one of my favorites that we have done. I think it looks so pretty! You can read about how to do it here. Wyatt used his fingers for most of it but then also wanted a brush. He hates having stuff on his hands (me too) so I try to have him do some like that, but then let him use a brush as well. Although, if you can see in the first photo he also decided to paint the table too..

He also made a paper plate and cotton ball polar bear. Who would have thought some glue and cotton balls could make a mess? But they did. My mom told me that she and my niece also made a giant mess with both of these are projects. Maybe we are just a messy family? Regardless, it was a lot of fun.

We also did a few activities! One about camouflage, the other about blubber! At least the camo activity was tidy, because the blubber one was super gross. Lol. I think Wyatt felt a little betrayed by that one. He had to put his hand in cold water, then also in crisco. It was pretty interesting though! I tried it and it actually did keep my hand warmer! I think I will just stick to wearing gloves though.

Before things got messy…

Our resource round- up is a bit of the same for some:

Note: If printables include penguins, save those for a separate unit, as they live in the South Pole, not North

Little Spark Arctic Animals

Preschool Mom Arctic Animals

Arctic Animal Fun Pack

Arctic Animals Like Cold book

Arctic Animals Learning Pack

Books That We Read:

(I have links to Amazon Affiliate links, but most of these can be found at the library or even as read alouds on YouTube)

The Bear Report by Thyra Heder || Little Polar Bear by Hans de Beer || Over in the Arctic by Marianne Berkes

Activities and Extras

How do animals stay warm?

Why are polar bears white?

Polar Bear Cotton Ball Picture

Polar Bear in the Snow Process Art

And we also watched a few Wild Kratts cartoons on PBS (we have the PBS Kids app through Amazon), Polar Bears Don’t Dance and Snowy Owl Invasion

Next up: Arctic Foxes and Walruses!

What We’ve Been Up To This Week

It’s been a week of projects around here. We always feel so energized this time of year, getting stuff done, or at least making a good attempt. Over the weekend my husband worked pretty tirelessly on getting my old office ready to painted. We moved stuff out and did some basic maintenance as this room was not being used by anyone other than our cats and boxes of books and odds and ends. It was sort of like a catch-all room, plus cats hanging out. So he worked on that. I was supposed to go through the closet in there and ditch or donate or pack up the stuff in there (mostly books..) but then Billy worked eleventy-billion hours this week and I never got the chance. So a project for this weekend- yay?

I also made a garden plan, and a list of seeds we have and what we need to order still. I have quite a few still from last year and the year before, so I probably don’t need too many! I just need to check their viability. I don’t know how to do that quite yet, but I plan on looking it up later today. We also got our elderberry root cuttings delivered, so we set those up in our fancy solo cups of dirt as our ground is not quite able to be dug into to plant them.

I also wanted to learn to sew this year. I literally could not thread a needle (I mean, I knew the mechanics of it but why so hard???) and I was texting my husband my step by step progress. And I couldn’t believe I even got that part wrong but hey life is about learning right? I started out pretty easy.. I wanted to make Wyatt a little hat for the Kids Moon Club thing we do. We did this two years ago, skipped last year, and I am excited to do it again this year. It is a really unique way to teach kids about the phases of the moon, folklore and history surrounding the different full moons each month, space, and nature. I am excited because before we just kind of focused on the more fun things, like the crafts and snacks, but this year we are really going to focus on the science part of it. But you know me, I have to have a little fun and whimsy in there too. Therefore, my very first sewing project, a little crown for my own wolf cub boy. It’s pretty basic and imperfect but I made it! We all start somewhere!

Wyatt has also had a huge week. As you may know, Wyatt has cerebral palsy and it affects his mobility and right side. This week he has been going up on “high knees” and learned that he can brace himself against the door frame with righty (his affected hand) and open doors with his left. This is huge! He has been really exploring and pushing his own limits which is just what we want, that motivation. We also had a televisit with his big doctor, his PMR who is like the quarterback of his care, which went really well. But, we also made the huge decision to send him back to physical therapy. We have been staying home for ten months and while homeschooling is going well, I just can’t replace his actual physical therapist, and he is getting behind. And since he is so motivated, it is time. I can’t hold him back although I am absolutely terrified. I tell myself though that these doctors and therapists have known Wyatt since he was six months old, and love him as well, and will do their best to keep him safe. (since I have to wait in the car!) So starting in February, Wyatt will be going once a week again.

We have also been doing our normal everyday things, homeschool, cleaning, all that jazz.

So while it is nothing too glamorous and exciting, that is where we are at this week! Stay safe everyone!

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer
Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Hey all! So last week was a pretty good one, we had a week of getting back to our normal rhythm and routine, and kicked off our school studies again by venturing to the Arctic. I made lots of bread and soup, and got two new plants! So, a pretty low key week for us at home, although we all know that it wasn’t such a low key week for any American.

My friend Kelly took a trip to the nursery and shopped for herself and also for my sister-in-law Chrissy and me. It was hilarious – she was posting photos in a group chat and we were all chatting about them at the same time. It was cracking me up. I jokingly told her next time to just live stream it all for us, so we could choose our plants that way. She is a trooper for doing that for us and I love my new Rattlesnake plant and Baby Fiddle Leaf.

Read Last Week:

I am not quite finished with this but hope to be done soon (maybe even today if I get some good reading time in!) I am in disbelief that this 17 year old was taking a 42 day canoe trip (or some insane number like that) through the Canadian Tundra with some friends. I certainly was not doing anything like that at 17! Lol. It is a pretty fascinating book, and I keep reminding myself as I read that this is a kid doing this stuff! It is pretty amazing.

Reading this Week:

After I finish The Twenty-Ninth Day I am planning to start Murder on the Orient Express. My mom and I are reading this together this month as part of our own Agatha Christie Reading Challenge. (I had signed up for the official one but we opted to pick and choose off the list of challenges instead of going in order. We are rebels)

Posted Last Week:

Homeschool: The Arctic!

Winter Hikes

Currently..January

Watching and Listening:

Billy and I are currently watching His Dark Materials season 2 and it is so good! We want to binge it but make ourselves wait. We are also watching This Farming Life on Britbox, which I also enjoy – although we just finished the newest season! I am still listening to bunches of podcasts, all that I have mentioned here before – Ologies with Alie Ward, Redhanded, Morbid, and two new ones, What’s Her Name (the Tasha Tudor one was excellent!) and The Naturalist Kids Podcast. I am also listening to Taylor Swift’s albums Folklore and Evermore on repeat some days. I have never really listened to her before and I am enjoying this new more mellow sound she has going on.

And that is about it from my little corner! Stay safe everyone.

Homeschool: The Arctic!

This week we finished week 1 of our month long Arctic unit! We are venturing far north, learning about the different animals that live there, how they survive, how they live, why they are white, and all sorts of cool things. Unfortunately, it seems like the Arctic heard about our plans and decided to bring the Arctic weather to us, with a possible polar vortex on the horizon. We don’t really need that much authenticity, thank you.

To get back into the swing of school after our holiday break, I began with narwhals, because narwhals are just fun. I knew the kids would be excited about these unicorns of the sea, and they were! We read some cute books (although the kids (my son and niece) did think that narwhals were born in clam shells after reading the book Not Quite Narwhal – whoops! Lol.) We learned about their tusks, which is really a front left tooth that protrudes from their lip, not a tusk at all. We also learned that the tusks are like inside out teeth, with the nerves on the outside, so they definitely don’t use them for fighting. That would be a big ouch! I have to admit I was fascinated by these creatures as well!

We also painted the Northern Lights, using frozen paint cubes. This was actually hilarious – it was fun and then as it started to warm up, changed how the paint flowed onto the paper. But then when it finally thawed it just plunk! fell right off. It also became very messy. It was still a fun activity!

The kids also created salt dough narhwals, and narwhals out of spoons. My niece also made a unicorn spoon, but Wyatt wanted to just make two narwhals, which is fine. I like to do some directed art but also let them feel free to be expressive. Today we are finishing up the narwhals, painting them. I am betting we will end up with another set of blue and yellow narwhals over here…

It was a fun first week back! Next week we learn about Polar Bears, and a really interesting experiment about blubber is in the plans.. and some arctic animal yoga!

Resource Round Up!

Note: If printables include penguins, save those for a separate unit, as they live in the South Pole, not North

Little Spark Arctic Animals

Preschool Mom Arctic Animals

Arctic Animal Fun Pack

Arctic Animals Like Cold book

Arctic Animals Learning Pack

Books We Read

(This section contains Amazon affiliate links)

Wendell the Narwhal || Not Quite Narwhal (about a unicorn but still adorable)

Arts and Crafts

Clay Narwhal (we shaped them using the dough from this recipe)

Narwhal Spoon

Videos and Other Resources Used

(This section contains Amazon affiliate links)

Wild Republic Polar Animals Nature Tube (just don’t use the penguins, they are South Pole inhabitants!)

The Girl Who Went to the Arctic

A Walk in the Arctic

Narwhal: Unicorns of the Sea

As always we also use Blossom and Root for our regular curriculum as well.

Winter Hikes

We are winter hikers; we wait all year to get back out there in the cold and snow. There is just something so invigorating about being in a winter wood, the chill temps, the quiet. On New Years Day, I walked the woods alone; Wyatt had fallen asleep in the car on the way to the trail, and Billy offered to stay back so that I could wander. The only sounds I heard were those of the birds, tweeting and chirping, birds of all kinds. Robins and cardinals and blue jays, various woodpeckers – a chipmunk ran in front of me, scampering into the undergrowth. I had my eyes scanning the trees, looking for the long – eared owl that has been spotted there, but didn’t see it unfortunately. When I headed back to the car, Billy told me that he had been watching all the birds as well, from his warm cozy seat. They were simply everywhere.

We took two more hikes that week, one at our favorite trail system, just to get outside and stretch our legs, get some fresh air. The woods were quiet that day, we didn’t see a single soul, nor see any signs of life at all. The birds and the animals must have been huddled up against the cold, wondering just what we were thinking, hiking around out there.

We also trekked out to Belle Isle one morning, and took a walk around the half frozen pond. It was like being in the Arctic, but not as cold and minus the polar bears. Although I did spy some tracks in the snow on the ice; can anyone identify them? I am thinking maybe fox, but identifying tracks is something I haven’t mastered.

It was a beautiful walk, almost magical near the marshy spots and the cattails.

And what better way to end a cold walk in the snow and ice than with hot chocolate and car snacks?