Homeschool Journey: Minnesota, Gwen Frostic, Evergreens and Boreal Forests

This past week has been my favorite so far! Wyatt still is declaring his love of John Henry week but I know he is enjoying this section as well because he is a tree/nature kid.

We are also stretching last week into this week since this week is a short one due to the holiday. We both really need the break but this unit has been a good way to finish before five days off.

Hmm, where to start? Let’s start with social studies and Minnesota. Can I just say that I now want to move to Minnesota? It seems to have everything our family loves. We always talk about the basic information about the state, how to find that information, where the state is on the map, and what region it is in. Then we move on to the good stuff, the interesting facts and moments to remember. Wyatt chose for his favorite things about Minnesota the candlelight hikes that Zipper Bay State Park has, but especially the International Wolf Conservation Center. Wyatt loves wolves – I really need to get this kid to a wolf conservation center soon. I was surprised about the hike but not too surprised – he loves being outside, and night hikes especially in the winter because of all the Kid’s Moon Club stuff we did when he was really small. I need to start that up again! I, of course, want to go to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, as well as F. Scott Fiztgerald’s house in St. Paul. It’s pretty cool that Minnesota has both prairie and forests. I could totally see our family taking a long vacation through Minnesota one day soon.

Our science curriculum had perfect timing – we are “embarking” upon a study of evergreens and boreal forests. Or wait, was it me that had good timing? I even put up our artificial Christmas tree in Wyatt’s room to give a sense of being in a forest. Or at least near a tree. This week is Wolfenoot, a completely made up holiday so I plan to incorporate a little more wolves into our learning this week – it all just ties together so well! We will decorate the tree for December too. He will dig it.

For language arts, we read Let’s Go Home by Cynthia Rylant. I love her books so much. This one was a wonderful read about homes and how special each room is. Wyatt then had to write a little about his favorite room – his bedroom – and why. He chose it because of all his books and the tree!

Art this week we learned about an artist near and dear to my heart, Gwen Frostic. She is originally from my hometown, graduated from my high school, and lived eventually up north in one of my favorite areas. We visited her studios and printing shop two years ago and it was sort of a dream come true for me. So I was super excited to do a few lessons on her art with Wyatt. I could literally go on and on here, but I won’t bore you.

Billy was excited because this was a dream realized. He told me he has wanted to experiment with lino cutting for a while now and he got to do it. So Sunday afternoon art was more demo than hands on for Wyatt, but then today we turned some of the pictures into holiday cards and that was all Wyatt.

And the cards. They turned out super cute and I think we are going to make a few more.

What We Used:

This section contains Amazon Affiliate links. In addition to the curriculum I am creating for him, we also use curriculum from The Good and the Beautiful, The Waldock Way, and Blossom and Root for phonics, reading, science, and social studies.

Crinkleroot’s Guide to Knowing the Trees || V is for Viking || North Woods Girl || Let’s Go Home || Nature’s Friend

Gwen Frostic Art Lesson – Teachers Pay Teachers – The Michigan Art Teacher

Gwen Frostic Studio

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! I hope you have been having a great weekend so far!

Read Last Week/Reading This Week:

I didn’t get as far as I wanted in my reading! I started two books and am halfway through A Study in Charlotte and over halfway in Lovelight Farms. I remember the days before Wyatt when I would three books at least a week. Now I am lucky to finish one! I am enjoying both of my reads though, very much, especially Lovelight Farms.

And when I finish I am picking this one up. I have read and loved the previous two in this series so I am excited to read this one. Plus -a fox! If you know me or read here often you know my weakness for rabbits and foxes.

Posted Last Week:

Saturday Morning Coffee Catch Up

Handmade Holiday Gift Ideas for Children

Tis the Season Cinema: A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong

Homeschooling Journey: North Dakota, Edward Hicks, and Peace

I also want to mention that I participated in the Weekend Traffic Jam over on Marsha in the Middle’s blog last week and my Gift Guide for the Armchair Detective was picked as a favorite and featured on this week’s Traffic Jam post! I felt so tickled that people liked it; I had such a good time putting that post together! (and just bought myself the Agatha Christie character t-shirt with some of my birthday money)

Watching and Listening:

Billy and I are all caught up with both American Ghosts and British Ghosts! We are sad. At least we can expect a few more from the American version – I think?

We are also caught up on Miss Scarlet and the Duke and the Great British Baking Show. We started The Rings of Power and I do like it, I just can’t watch it every night. We also want to watch Enola Holmes 2 and Where the Crawdads Sing, and we have White Christmas all lined up for the ‘Tis the Season Cinema posting I am doing with Lisa at Boondock Ramblings.

As for listening, I finished up the podcast Down the Hill about the Delphi murders, which ugh. I hope they caught this monster.

And that is it from my snowy corner of Michigan! Hope all is well in your world!

Saturday Morning Coffee Catch Up

The coffee is excellent today – Billy made it this morning and isn’t it always better when someone else does the making? We are back to Post Alley, our favorite. Billy also told me the other day that my coffee is always made strongest on Mondays – hmm. I wonder why that could be?

It was a bit of week around here. In the overnight hours of Tuesday/Wednesday Wyatt woke up with some quick illness that came and go very fast, like within two hours. I really don’t know what that was about, but it was an intense two hours!

Then Wednesday was my birthday! It was extremely low key, with basically 100% laying around by Wyatt and I. I could have had worse birthdays, and in fact I have. It was actually sort of nice to be do absolutely nothing for a change and to spend the day with my little guy just chilling. I very, very rarely allow myself to completely relax and it was amazing. Billy gave me a book, my friend dropped off a gift, and my parents gifted me with money to spend on me. They were very specific that it had to go to me and not something for the house or a bill or Wyatt. We will see.

The other night I nestled up in bed with my cup of mint tea, my new book, and a cat and it was all very cozy. The wind was whipping outside and it was so cold outside, but warm and happy inside. And I am still loving our bedroom refresh! The other day was so grey outside but our room still felt so open and light.

I’ve done some online Christmas shopping this week and feel pretty good about where I am! I have one thing for Billy, two of my three nieces are halfway done, and for Wyatt, I need to get just a few things still. I still have more shopping to do but I like to know the kids are covered first, then I move on.

In all my relaxing time from my birthday I took an online quiz on my phone to see what my “booksona” is. It was actually a really fun quiz. It was interactive and different from most little silly quizzes. I mean it was still silly but it was fun too. And I have to say I agree with my booksona! It feels really accurate.

Tonight my brother Devin and his family are coming over here for dinner. We are using a recipe for pizza dough that Jeanie from The Marmalade Gypsy sent me that her partner Rick uses. We are all going to make our own individual pizzas. I think it will be fun! Last week we had a really laid back dinner at my brother’s house, soup and bread and homemade pumpkin pie. It was a very simple, perfect evening. Even though I had Wyatt dressed like Doc Boy from the Garfield Christmas Special. (well Wyatt is super cute in anything) And for a little bit of reality, that is Wyatt being sassy! Then, one second later trying to charm us. Stinker.

This weekend we have to do a lot of around the house stuff. Cleaning, getting groceries including the ingredients we need for our contributions to Thanksgiving and Wolfenoot, and work on the gifts we are making. Busy but also fun, with a nice break for pizza with family.

Next week is a little wild, and the introvert in me is freaking out already! Tuesday we have a get together with my cousin and his kids, my mom, and my brother and fam. Wednesday we have early Thanksgiving with Billy’s family, and Thursday Thanksgiving at my brother’s. It will be a lot of fun but Friday Wyatt and I will be doing a lot of nothing.

And that is about it for today! I hope all is well in your world!

Handmade Holiday Gift Ideas for Children

This gift idea list is always my favorite to create! I have so many kiddos in my life and I love looking for fun, unique gifts for them all every year. I usually get them something I know they want, but also..a little something I want them to have too. I love the idea of potentially giving a gift that becomes an heirloom or is something they save forever. This list is made up of items I have added to a favorites list as ideas for my own family members and I love sharing these ideas with you too!

Pirate Rag Doll || Mermaid Doll || Pirate Map Making Kit

Yarr! Wyatt is OBSESSED with pirates right now and I know he is going to love this little pirate! I actually ordered this already, and it is in the process of being made. This shop, A Button and a Stitch, I included in last year’s gift idea guide and I love them so much I am including them again. There are all sorts of dolls, including special needs dolls and POC dolls. I emailed the shop owner to see if she could give this pirate AFO braces and she is! I am so excited, and I know he will be too. Update: it’s here and it’s perfect! I also immediately ordered two more dolls for my nieces.

And because I was looking for pirate stuff for Wyatt, I came across this pirate map making kit. I am thinking Santa might be delivering this as well to a certain little boy this year.

And since we are at sea, we can’t leave out mermaids. These dolls are so beautiful, the colors, the craftsmanship looks amazing, and that hair!! Dreamy.

Wooden Warrior Set || Sew Your Own Sock Dragon Kit || Marshmallow Catapult

This wooden warrior set looks so cool! All the kids in my life are huge into imaginative play and I love how well made these look! I would totally play with this if I were a kid! Perfect for little knights and shield-maidens! Note: These are from the Ukraine. All the reviews I read have said that the orders have arrived on time but it is something to consider.

I am in love with that cute colorful sock dragon!! I sort of want one – I mean it does say it is for kids and adults. It says it is for kids 8 and up but obviously use your judgement. I would consider this for a little bit older kid but I do know some 8 year olds capable of this project. It is just so happy looking, I love it!

Ok. This marshmallow catapult. We got a similar one for Wyatt at the Renaissance Festival over the summer and it is such a fun toy! Wyatt and Mermaid Girl both had fun playing with the display ones at the festival and Wyatt enjoys playing with it at home. You can use it with marshmallows, pompom balls, etc. Soft things in our house. Plus if you have cats and you shoot off pompom balls the cats love it… to chase! No shooting at actual animals please.

Wooden Bow and Arrow || Nature Satchel || Art Boxes

Another version of a Renaissance Festival purchase. My niece got a little archery set and she loves it so much. This shop has two sizes, small and large.

I had hoped to share Billy’s nature satchels here, but they just aren’t ready yet! He has been working on his own version of adventure bags made from leather, but it’s been slow going, as things made with love are. Anyway, I also really like this one! Most kids I know love to collect on their walks – acorns, leaves, rocks, twigs, chestnuts – anything of interest and this bag can hold more than their little pockets, or their parent’s pockets for that matter!

I am in love with this art box!! I 100% need it for my own little artist, although with his birthday in March, it might be a birthday gift. It comes with art supplies too!

Wooden Puzzle || Felt Merino Animal Slippers || Double Handle Rainbow Mug

I love this simple puzzle. You can buy one, or you can purchase one base and a set of the puzzles themselves. I love the bright colors and adorable illustrations.

Gah! I miss being able to dress Wyatt in sweet little clothes sometimes! I love these cute little slippers for toddlers. They come in other animals as well, but I of course love the foxes best.

You can never have too many rainbows around!! Perfect for hot cocoa season. I also like the double handle for a firmer grip – for Wyatt it would also be good OT!

I hope you enjoyed this list of ideas!! A few tips for Etsy shopping. Make sure to check country of origin and shipping dates, and shipping costs. If you have any questions message the shop owners – most are so quick to respond and if not, that could be a red flag. Also, if you install the Etsy app on your phone and allow notifications for this time of year, you will get notified when an item you have favorited has gone on sale!

‘Tis the Season Cinema: A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong

‘Tis the season to watch movies..fa la la la la, la la la la. Or something like that. I got lost with all those las. September and October were all about the spooky – November and December are all about the holiday season, heartwarming and cozy. Lisa from Boondock Ramblings and I have teamed up again to share our opinions on different movies and I am enjoying our foray into the holiday movie season! You can find Lisa’s impressions here.

Last week we watched The Man Who Invented Christmas – this week Lisa’s choice introduced me to the world of the Mischief Theatre Company and A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong.

I have to admit feeling a little lost at the beginning, because I missed the first few minutes due to my child, but basically it was just as the title states – A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong. Apparently an acting troop decides to hijack a television production, and replace all the professional actors with themselves. However, they have no idea what they are doing and things keep going very wrong for them. The actual actors who were supposed to be in the show keep popping back up (that is what was confusing me, I was like who are these people and why do they keep showing up), Bob Cratchit has to very obviously read all of his lines from any prop he can find, special effects keep going wrong.. the list goes on. The Bob Cratchit character was my favorite, and he made me laugh the most. Throughout the whole production, there is also a whole extra layer concerning the actual actors and their real lives. So for a short little show there is so much going on!

And quite frankly, I needed a laugh yesterday. The night before, Wyatt had woken up in the middle of the night with one of those quick random illnesses kids get, with a very slight fever (99) and throwing up. I was up all night, I talked to pediatric neurology at 1 am..it was just a long night. So yesterday morning we were all exhausted after our long night. And to boot, yesterday was my birthday! Needless to say, it was the most low key birthday I have ever had. By the time tv time rolled around for Billy and I, I was ready for something light and easy to watch. And A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong worked out very well for us!

It reminded Billy and I of the spoof type movies, with Leslie Nielsen, like Airplane and Naked Gun – just done in “the British way” (anyone watch Muppet Christmas Carol? It’s my favorite version of the Christmas Carol and it is on the list for later!) You can watch A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong free on YouTube, and it is a short little 50 minute production full of gags and pratfalls and silliness.

Up next for us is the classic White Christmas!

Homeschooling Journey: North Dakota, Edward Hicks, and Peace.

Last week was well, peaceful. I wanted to explore the concept of peace and mindfulness and home this month with Wyatt. It just felt like the right thing for November. It is an ongoing theme, so we started reading a few books on the topic of peace, talked about things that felt like peace to Wyatt, and made those cute peace dove hearts with his cousin one afternoon. Inside the kids had to write three things that peace is and they did a really good job.

When I learned that North Dakota was home to the International Peace Garden, which is situated on the border of the U.S. and Canada I knew it was the state we were going to work on in social studies. I mean, obviously. We didn’t get around to making our own mini peace gardens but maybe before the month is over we will.

We always cover the key facts of the state, talk about the state animals/trees/flowers etc, and then always pick the interesting facts that are most appealing to us. I am not expecting Wyatt to memorize the date of statehood or what number state they are, or even the capitol of the state right now. I want him to learn about the area the state is in, the region, what the landscape and climate are like, the flora and fauna, and those interesting things that stand out. I am always a little surprised by what he chooses! This time he chose as his favorites the W’eel Turtle, which is an 18 foot turtle built out of 2000 wheel rims, and that the National Buffalo Museum is there, and home to a rare white buffalo named White Cloud. I didn’t tell him that White Cloud passed away in 2016 so he is on display there, not actually living there. I kept that tidbit to myself.

We always have fun in art! This week Wyatt was a bit bored by the actual art and artist I had chosen – Edward Hicks and his work The Peaceable Kingdom. And from his perspective it probably wasn’t super exciting to look at, but it did give us the opportunity to talk about how the animals in the painting are usually animals that wouldn’t normally get along, which was the point of the painting, that they were a peaceable kingdom. He then picked an animal from the painting and then together we created one out of oil pastels. It was again an art lesson with Dad, which has been a fun trend! Wyatt chose a lion from the inspiration artwork, and then I helped him with the actual outline of the lion using hand over hand due to his motor control, although he is getting better and better everyday! Sometimes he just wants my hand over his wrist as a confidence boost while he does all the work. Anyway, we got the lion drawn, he made all the wild marks for the mane, and then Billy showed him how to blend the pastels to make it look smooth and soft. It turned out really well! And Wyatt did enjoy that part!

What We Used:

This section contains Amazon Affiliate links. In addition to the curriculum I am creating for him, we also use curriculum from The Good and the Beautiful, The Waldock Way, and Blossom and Root for phonics, reading, science, and social studies.

P is for Peace Garden || Peaceful Pieces || Peace is an Offering || Peace Train || The Peace Book

For the peace dove heart craft

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 everyone!

It was a pretty good week around here! Wyatt had a good appointment with his epileptologist last Tuesday, which was an appointment I was pretty anxious about. But, it went really well! I also got the call that his actual wheelchair is being delivered the 21st, thank goodness! His loaner has been a blessing but it is also maybe been loaned out a few too many times, as the brakes work half the time, and now the armrests have both fallen off. I tied one on with one of Wyatt’s pirate scarves and the other we just push up out of the way. His therapists and I just sort of laugh at how it is like some sort of like the jalopy of wheelchairs. One more week!

Read Last Week:

I loved my return to the world of Mitford. I needed their kind of generosity and compassion in my life the past few weeks and it was a wonderfully gentle read. I had started another book, The Hills is Lonely, but I couldn’t get into it. I think it was more my mood than the book, so I will try again at a later date.

Reading This Week:

I guess I am more in the mood for light and fluffy or cozy and mysterious. Lol. And, if you have seen my last few posts I am early on the Christmas train this year, but well, I guess I need a little Christmas.

Posted Last Week:

10 on the 10th – Holiday Memories

Holiday Gift Guide for the Armchair Detective

‘Tis the Season Cinema: The Man Who Invented Christmas

Librarians Not to Mess With

Homeschool Journey: Wayne Thiebaud, Missouri, and desserts

Watching and Listening:

Billy and I have been watching Ghosts, The British Baking Show, and the past few nights we have watched Agatha Christie’s Ordeal by Innocence, which was excellent!! I loved it!

We also started watching holiday movies for the fun of it, and as part of the ‘Tis the Season Cinema series I am doing with Lisa from Boondock Ramblings. Next up is A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong, if anyone else wants to watch along with us.

As for listening, a lot of podcasts. With the recent developments and arrest in the Delphi case, I started the long series podcast Down the Hill by HLN.

Musically, we are listening to a lot of vintage music playlists on YouTube. And of course, Taylor Swift.

And that about sums it up for me this morning! How are things in your neighborhood?

10 on the 10th – I mean 12th. Holiday Memories!

This post took me a bit longer than normal – I wanted to make sure I put the right amount of thought in. 10 on the 10th is hosted by the lovely Marsha at Marsha in the Middle!

One of my earliest happy Christmas memories is the year my grandfather built me a dollhouse. I loved it so much – I was so charmed by the tiny details and rooms and I had it decades. I had such fun playing with it for so long, and even as a grown person I loved it. It sadly was destroyed when our basement flooded after a torrential rain that flooded the basements of everyone in our city.

I also remember going to every single parade with my dad as a kid. I loved them so much – whether it was the 4th of July or Christmas, hot or cold, I always loved going. My dad was all about “travelling fast and light” so we could get in and get out so no chairs or blankets for us as we got older, we just parked our bums on the concrete curbs. When I was little though, I did have a giant coat and hat, as well as blankets and cocoa.

I of course remember the first Christmas married to Billy, living in our tiny little apartment. We didn’t have room for a tree so we had a tiny tabletop one but it was a wonderful Christmas. I remember he bought me the softest, warmest robe that year since it was always freezing in our apartment.

When Billy and I were younger I used to work retail at an office supply store-gift store. A lot of our customers were elderly and alone and I was friendly with them. They would come in to visit and chat- I loved hearing their stories. One man was a volunteer for a local charitable organization and told me once he had been born on Christmas and his mom named him Harold Angel in honor of his birthday. Another woman, she told me her family lived far away and that she wanted her massive Christmas village but couldn’t do it herself. So, I volunteered Billy and I to do it for her. That is probably one of the moments I realized how much I loved Billy – most nineteen or twenty year old men would have laughed and refused. But not Billy. He went with me and helped set up this Christmas village for a complete stranger basically, in her home that was a million degrees. She was so happy to have us there. She had cookies and eggnog (which I hate, especially when I was absolutely sweating in her home) but I drank a glass anyway and so did Billy.

And speaking of decorations… let me tell you about my dog Penny. She was the most beautiful, craziest, sweetest English Setter ever. We had adopted her from a local shelter and a week later we had her in the emergency vet. She had gotten into the the basement, found our fake Christmas garland full of thick wire, and eaten it. Which we only discovered when she threw it up. She had also eaten part of a magazine which actually probably saved her as it wrapped around the wire. Anyway, they did emergency surgery and she was ok, but we didn’t want to take the chance of it ever happening again and so for the 13 years we had her we never put up anything other than a tabletop ceramic tree. Not a real tree, not a fake one. Just the ceramic one for years.

The year of Wyatt was actually our first year with a tree again. Penny had passed away a few months after Wyatt was born, but we didn’t think for a while we were going to have a tree at all. Things were tight that year financially, very tight. We were surprised when out of the blue we received a card in the mail from a family friend, a woman who had known me since I was born, who had a giant generous heart, and that card had $300 in it. We used it to buy an artificial tree and to make Wyatt’s first Christmas a good one. Faye is gone now, and I get teary every single year when we put the tree up. We have discussed getting a different tree, or a real tree, but I will never not put that one up somewhere in our house.

A photo of Wyatt from his second Christmas, with our favorite Santa.

Ok halfway through!

I have another dog story. We always had the craziest dogs! This was over twenty years ago, before I was married to Billy. It was Christmas Eve, and the church my family went to was right down the street from our house so after church services that night, my whole family, aunts and uncles and cousins came over as they always did. This time though, my dog Molly was waiting. Waiting to spring! We opened the door and she took off like a shot, racing down the snowy icy sidewalks and streets on a mission to find adventure. I was distraught, upset, crying, freaking out. Everyone in my family who was able to took off, all of us in our nice church clothes, running after her, looking for her, yelling down alleys in the cold night and darkness. We eventually found her about fifteen minutes later sniffing around someone’s yard and were able to grab her collar and bring her home. I was so grateful, but now we all laugh at the craziness of that night!

I have never been a New Year’s Eve person. It always makes me sad and morose, about another year gone. I rally pretty quickly and get excited about the hope of a new year, but that night, the passing of time weighs pretty heavy on me. One of the two best New Year Eve’s I have had, that were not as a child and when staying up late was exciting, or after Wyatt was born when things were totally different, were the New Years Eves’ I spent with my college friends. I have a friend from university who moved to Australia when he married a delightful Australian woman – Dan and Irma. They are so much fun! I actually missed visiting with them over the summer because Wyatt and I got COVID when they were in town! But, they have spent two NYE in Michigan since moving and both have been full of everything happy. And more than likely many drinks.

Now our NYE’s are much more sedate. Dinner with Devin and Chrissy and Mermaid Girl, music, the kids playing, a glass of wine or two, an earlyish night. They are perfection.

One of my very favorite holiday memories is the year Wyatt was born, my niece was born, and my best friend Kelly had a daughter that year too. Boom boom boom. Babies. One in March, one in August, one in September. That year Chrissy, Kelly, and I got together to make Christmas cookies. Our husbands stayed in the living room with our babies, while we baked. Kelly and I did an abysmal job while Chrissy’s we’re as always professional, but we had such a blast. And these babies!! Left to right is my friend Kelly’s daughter Eloise, then my niece Mermaid Girl, then big time Wyatt. These are some of my favorite photos of them ever.

And I don’t think I can top these three cuties so I am ending here.

Do you have any memories of holidays you would like to share? I’d love to hear them.

Holiday Gift Guide for the Armchair Detective

I am an early shopper for the holidays – I start browsing around online during the summer and early fall, and start buying by October. I am not an in-person shopper, I much prefer to do my shopping online and I have lists and lists of things saved! Sometimes I go down little rabbit trails and this was one I had to share, as I myself am an armchair detective. So this holiday gift guide was a lot of fun to create! I hope you enjoy it as well, and maybe you will find that little something for the mystery lover in your life! (or if you are that mystery lover, maybe you will find something to add to your list! I know that I have sent most of these items to my husband as little suggestions…)

This post contains affiliate links from Etsy. All other links are not affiliate links. And these are all just suggestions for fun! Please do not feel obligated or like you have to buy this stuff. If you find something you like, cool. If not that’s cool too.

L to R: Mysteries in my Pajamas || Agatha Christie Character Shirt || British Mystery Writers Mug

I solve mysteries in my pajamas all the time – at least one a night. This shirt is awesome. This design is also available as a mug and a sticker which is nice for small gifts or stocking stuffers.

Who is your favorite Christie character? I have to stick with Miss Marple for now, she still reigns supreme for me. With this shirt your favorite armchair detective doesn’t even have to try to solve the mystery of which is their favorite, they can proudly wear them all.

The British Mystery Writers mug is actually top of my list. At one point I even had it in my cart, ready to buy, and I was like no no no – my birthday and Christmas are coming! But I made sure to send it to my husband. I love to drink tea and read and watch mysteries and this mug looks so lovely – and big!

L to R: Sherlock Holmes Whiskey Glass || Baker Street tie || Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Mont Blanc

Every year I add a literary whiskey glass to my cousin’s collection and I think this Sherlock Holmes glass is the winner for this year! I did consider getting him a tie instead though, because this one is really neat. It’s fun but also understated.

And the pen – well. I have a story about that. My stepmom asked me for pen suggestions for my dad for Christmas. My dad and I LOVE fine pens – I used to work at an office supply store and that was my area – and neither my dad nor I ever added a Mont Blanc to our collection. So I was browsing the Mont Blanc site looking for something appropriate, found this one, and sent it to my stepmom to be silly. It is a lovely pen, although a bit out of the price range she was looking at. But hey, if it is within yours more power to you! Because this pen would be a treasure to have!

L to R: Sassy Nancy Drew Sweatshirt || Hunt a Killer Board Game || The Great Mouse Detective Tee

I have always loved mysteries, even as a child! Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, The Great Mouse detective Basil, Scooby Doo – I could literally go on and on. I love a warm slouchy hoodie, and this one cracks me up. It definitely makes me think of the reboot Nancy Drew show, which I love.

These Hunt a Killer board games are so cool! I have always wanted to play one, and this Nancy Drew edition is really neat! (For a more family friendly version, I would check out this new Clue Board Game )

Pendant Magnifying Glass

Finally, every good detective needs a magnifying glass. Ever since watching Miss Marple and seeing her with her pendant magnifying glass, I have wanted one. I love how vintage this one looks!

A few Etsy tips! Make sure to always check shipping costs, country of origin, and shipping time. I also like to read about the timeliness of responses when people message the shop owners. Also – if you add an item to your favorites or cart, you might get a message from the shop owner offering a discount! Sometimes but not always, obviously. If you have the app and notifications turned on for the holiday season like I do, then you will see the notification straight away! Etsy also has their own favorites pages – I spent some time looking through the picks for him list!

‘Tis the Season Cinema: The Man Who Invented Christmas

It’s the holiday season!! And after a September and October filled with ghosts and other scary things, I am so ready for heartwarming, hopeful, and cozy.- although this was a bit of a ghost story too.. Lucky for me, our first movie of the season checked all of those boxes!

Where should I begin? Last night was my very first viewing of this movie, although I had heard about it. My good friend Jill is a mega Dan Stevens fan and so his work is always on my radar through her. It also is exactly the type of movie I am drawn to, so it was weird that I didn’t see it when it first came out. However, maybe then it wouldn’t have held the same magic for us as it did last night. Because last night, Billy and I were enchanted. It’s been a rough few weeks around here, and this week Billy has worked late every night, which means long days for me as well. When we flopped into bed to watch this, we were both feeling a little worn out and worn down. The world has been too much with us, you know what I mean?

We settled in, and were totally wowed. We were reminded of the magic and love and hope in the world. That people can be kind, that we need to let the spirit of Christmas and generosity and peace be with us all year.

Dan Stevens plays Charles Dickens, who quite frankly I didn’t know much about other than being familiar with his work. The movie begins with Dickens in a bit of a financial pickle, after having written three unsuccessful books in a row (which was unbelievable to me too). He is up to his eyeballs in debt, with his large new home, his growing family, and in addition he supports his father and mother. He’s a bit stressed to say the least, and tries very hard to not let the stress change who he is at heart. But who is he?

We learn through flashbacks that his father went to debtors prison and he himself went to work long, 12 hour days at a shoeshine factory as a young boy of 11. This has long hung over him, and over his opinion of himself, his work, and his relationship with his father.

All of this is going on in the background of his life as he writes his new book, about what some characters in the movie referred to a minor holiday – Christmas. And oh, the scenes of him writing the book is so clever and brilliant. The characters bounding to life, hounding him, haunting him, taunting him, leading him as he writes their stories. At times he is frustrated with them as they won’t do what he wants, and Stevens portrayal of Dickens in his frustration and desperation made me feel frustrated as well, it was so well acted. The movie is so clever, as I said. The characters are with him, there but not there, real to him in his mind at all times as he goes about his days and nights. His wife accuses him of caring more about his characters than his flesh and blood family, and the viewer has to wonder a little bit how much truth is in that statement. We see a wild, whimsical, sometimes reckless Dickens struggle with the part of him that has a bit of darkness, the demons from childhood that hover around him like ghosts, the parts that make up bits and pieces of Scrooge. Stevens is able to convey all of these emotions and I believe that this was his best role ever. I would give him an Oscar for it even.

It’s a race against time for Dickens – will he finish the book by the deadline? Will it get printed? Can he overcome his demons to write a masterpiece? Will his family be ok? And will Tiny Tim live??

This movie was fantastic. Billy and I just looked at each other when it was over, me wiping tears from my eyes at the beauty and love of it all. I had goosebumps. It is an absolutely wonderful movie, and if you have not seen it yet, I 100% recommend it for your holiday movie watching this season.

For Lisa’s rundown, click here!