A Solstice Celebration

Nature is such an important part of our life. We have such a connection to nature, to animals and the trees and the earth around us, that I don’t like to let a solstice go by without some sort of acknowledgement. This year Wyatt and I were able to turn it into a bit of a science lesson as well, albeit a fun one. When we woke up, I talked about how the day ahead was the shortest day of the year, with the longest night, and that the next day would signal the return of the sun, and that gradually, slowly, slowly, the days would become longer and the dark and night would become shorter.

To celebrate during the day, Wyatt and I read Bear Noel and The Animals’ Santa. We had a lot of fun reading them both, but we added a bit of fun to our reading of Bear Noel, with sound effects and participation. I think we might continue this as a tradition, at least for another year if Wyatt lets me. Then we decided to be a bit of an animals’ Santa ourselves, and make gifts for the outdoor animals near us. The birds and the squirrels and the porch opossum, although I haven’t seen the latter in a week or two which makes me nervous. Neither of us like to get sticky fingers so we skipped any ideas that involved goopy peanut butter or even worse, lard. However, dried apples and oranges were just our speed, so we (I) dried the fruit slices in our oven and when they were dry, Wyatt turned them into hanging fruit ornaments to put outside. I also threw some pecans out there as well, for a little added treat.

After our activity, we both had a little quiet time. I read my book and he played a bit. Eventually it became time to make dinner so I switched on some music (Alexa, play Taylor Swift Folklore..) and got to cooking. Every year I want to make sun bread and never remember. This year included. But I did make Greek Lemon Chicken and Rice in a skillet, which was delicious. With lemon to celebrate the sun! Then..we had my ugly cake. I had planned to make cranberry cake which is amazing and delicious. However, I found I didn’t have any sugar! How did this happen! Thankfully we had a spare cake. Lol. The Sunday before solstice we had celebrated my brother’s 40th birthday; I was supposed to make the cake. It was a bit of a baking disaster though, and we deemed it too ugly to take to the party, so we bought one at Kroger on the way instead. My brother was appalled though, and told me I should have just brought the cake anyway. Well, it worked out for solstice because what is a celebration without dessert?

A not great photo of my not great looking cake. At this point I wasn’t sure what was going on with it so I just threw some plastic over it, not caring much about preserving the frosting. It wasn’t too bad though, removing it, we still had plenty somehow. It was actually quite yummy!

After dinner, we moved into the den and read two more books, The Shortest Day and The Longest Night (we absolutely love this one). We talked about some of our favorite nature memories this year – Billy’s camping trip for him, our trip up north with the old Cedar Forest trail and the picnic among the wildflowers, swimming in the lake. My monarchs. Tomato sandwiches, made with tomatoes from our garden. The trolls. So many wonderful moments this year.

That morning, we started the day with two songs – Here Comes the Sun which is Wyatt’s favorite, and Morning has Broken, one of my favorites.

It was a wonderful start to the holiday season! A little tiny celebration before the happy chaos of Christmas.

A Very Merry Christmas

It was a wonderful holiday this year, full of smiles and laughter and togetherness. Wyatt was so excited about everything, and that makes it so much more fun, the anticipation and excitement.

The days leading up to Christmas we spent baking and wrapping and cleaning (me). Wyatt also wrote Santa a letter and we mailed it from the big mailbox downtown in our city, the mailbox that has direct delivery to the North Pole. And would you believe it? Santa wrote Wyatt back!

Christmas Eve we spent the afternoon with Billy’s mom and dad, then later in the evening went to a small gathering with my mom and brother’s family and my sister-in-law’s mom. This group of five people is our regular bubble, we are like a little team. It was a low key night, with a bit of excitement when both kids decided to pillow attack Devin. This was followed up with Devin reading the kids a book, which was good to calm them back down before heading home to Christmas pajamas and cookies and milk. And no, he didn’t read The Night Before Christmas, but Pete the Cat Rides the Bus, a request from Wyatt.

My little baby is such a big little kid now!

Sunday we spent at my dad’s, to celebrate with him and my stepmom. The kids were once again showered in gifts, to their delight, and to the delight of the grandparents. These kids certainly do not want for anything. Wyatt has so many books, games, painting kits, a pottery wheel, and science kits for growing crystals as well as toys now to keep him busy for a long while. He is currently obsessed with mail carriers (do all kids have weird phases?) and was thrilled with his mail carrier dress up stuff. He also wanted to open his painting kit from my mom at bedtime last night. We settled for giving his dog Bowser a bath.

The adults had a good holiday as well. Besides seeing my family, I had wrens visit my bird feeder on Christmas day! I also feel pretty spoiled, with all the new books and journals and other things I got – included cozy warm slippers! Billy also got me a “Raised by boooooks” shirt with a wolf howling on it, and a “Be Kind to Bugs” hoodie, which I have pretty much lived in the past two days.

We had a great few days! We are looking forward to this slow week ahead of us, reading and writing and playing. Billy is off work for the week so I am hoping to get a hike or two in as well.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

10 on the 10th (or 14th in my case)

I am never on time for this blog event! And I love to participate because Leslie is such a sweet soul. Anyway, better late than never?

DECORATING, TRADITIONS AND FAMILY RECIPES

In what ways do you decorate for the winter holiday season?  Do you use traditional colors or have your own color scheme?  Is there a theme to your decorating? Since Wyatt has been born, I have found myself actually becoming more minimalist in our decorations. I am not sure why, exactly. I am trying to be more mindful, and put out our very favorites. We do use traditional colors, lots of reds and greens and plaids, because I love plaid. And we do try to keep to a nature type theme when we can. Our tree is actually all wildlife/nature themed ornaments except for a few that Wyatt was given as gifts, like Daniel Tiger. And a smurf leftover from my ornaments as a child. I do have all my own childhood ornaments boxed up in the basement but we are trying to start a tree that is all new for Wyatt to keep as his own keepsakes one day, with a few old ones as well. Wyatt also has a little tree in his room that has all of his own ornaments on it.

A story about our tree. When Wyatt was born, it was not under the easiest of circumstances. A total of 12 weeks in the hospital between the two of us, and Billy missed a lot of work. Money was very tight, bills were late. We didn’t know how we were going to do Christmas honestly, and planned a very small, modest Christmas, with a gift or two for Wyatt, socks for each other, and a tabletop tree (the one in his room now actually) And then came Faye. An angel of a person, a family friend of my mom and aunt’s my whole life. She gave me my first job, then made it easy on me. I have so many Faye stories. Anyway, that Christmas she sent us $200, a total surprise, out of the goodness of her heart. I remember standing in my living room crying. We went and bought a tree, some lights, and gifts for Wyatt. That year Father Christmas was named Faye and I will never forget.

Share a family holiday tradition or recipe.  Is there something new you plan to try this year? Hmm.. our family loves to make Empire Biscuits and Coconut Tarts at Christmas. We actually have two camps, Team Empire Biscuit vs. Team Coconut Tarts. My grandma used to make them, then my uncle..now my cousin’s wife and my sister-in-law generally make Empire Biscuits and I will make coconut tarts. Because I am team coconut tart, all the way. I did a post on them here!

FAVORITE HOLIDAY BOOKS, MOVIES, SONG OR SHOWS

Do you have a favorite Christmas book, movie, song or TV show?  Why is it special to you?  Is there a popular holiday book, program or movie you have never seen? So so so many!!! Christmas movies: Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas, a favorite of mine from childhood that I still watch every year, A Muppet Christmas Carol, Charlie Brown Christmas, and Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation. I think they are just tradition now to watch!

KEEPER CALM

How do you handle the stress of the holidays?  Do you have some go-to for restoring calm to your life when things get crazy? I have found that starting really early with my Christmas shopping so I am practically done by December helps so much! I have also started to cut down on the activities – we try to do some things, but we don’t need to do everything!

SPARKLE AND SHINE

What will you wear over the holidays?  Do you dress up for New Year’s Eve? I don’t really dress up much for the holidays. I did buy a fancier top from Amazon this year to wear Christmas day, with jeans. It is green with lace detail and almost swiss dots. And short sleeved because for some reason our holidays are always so hot. Lol. As for New Years, not anymore. We do a “Noon Years Eve” with my cousin, his kids, my brother and niece and sister-in-law, where we do a countdown and have fun stuff for the kids. This year my cousin is going to make us winter champagne cocktails too, for the adults. We will probably have a pretty quiet evening and go to bed early. Lol. I have never liked or enjoyed New Years Eve. It always makes me sad and melancholy. So I don’t mind missing it.

How do you feel about snow?  What are the chances you will see a white Christmas?  Do you enjoy any snow day activities?  What will the weather be like where you live in this last month of the year? I love love love snow!! Living in Michigan it is just part of our life. This year however the forecast doesn’t call for snow until the 26th. Which bums me out!

‘TIS BETTER TO GIVE

Do you have a gift-giving budget?  For how many people do you buy gifts?  Do you buy for the postman, your hair dresser, nail tech, children’s teachers?  When do you open gifts?  Who is the hardest person you buy for? My family buys for just the kids these days, and sometimes one of us gets wild and makes gifts for the adults, like jam or soap or something like that. And we buy for our parents. So I guess we just don’t buy for siblings. Lol. I used to buy for Wyatt’s entire team, which was like 6 therapists, a teacher, an aide, and a nurse – now with homeschooling I just buy for one therapist! The hardest gift – my dad and stepmom. I never know what to do for them!

If you could give a kind of impossible gift to someone, what would it be?  Perhaps something beyond your price range?  Or something you can’t buy.  Something intangible. Oh man. So many things. Some so personal I can’t really say. I will say instead..that everyone could be happy for at least one day, all together.

FAREWELL 2021, WISHES FOR 2022

As we bid farewell to 2021, what was your biggest success this year?  Will you be making goals or resolutions or plans for 2022?  If so, what will some of them be?  My biggest success – my monarchs. That was such a fun project that Wyatt and I did together. I always make resolutions, but I don’t get down on myself if I don’t achieve them. You’ll have to check back at the beginning of the year for mine.

Describe 2021 in 3 words.  Name 3 things you wish for in 2022. Keep on moving. And three things I wish for 2021… I am going to just stick with smallish things here. Nothing noble. So lots of picnics, good books to read, and moments of laughter with loved ones.

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’ve been hunkered down pretty good lately, which was my plan for December. A quiet month of cozy times. Lots of baking and music and comfort foods; cuddles with cats and watching movies under my favorite quilt. Soon we will be emerging from this little cocoon to celebrate the holidays but for now, we are enjoying the quiet.

Billy and I got this Santa 21 years ago when we were married, as a gift from a family friend. Wyatt for some reason has really taken a liking to it, and drags it all over the house with him. It cracks me up – until he leaves it somewhere and it scares me in the middle of the night.

Read Last Week:

My progress on this book has been slow, although not due to lack of interest. My darn Kindle charger is being wonky and charging super slowly! It took literally 24 hours for it to charge to 78%. I bought a new charger and cord, and I just put it on to charge again just now, so hopefully this one does the trick. I am halfway through and I am really loving this story.

Reading the rest of the month:

I will probably read from these three the rest of the month, depending on which I am in the mood for- romance, middle grade, or nonfiction. And of course, after I finish Mistletoe and Mr. Right.

Posted Last Week:

Homeschooling: Ice Age

What Wyatt’s Reading – December Edition

Watching:

Still Brokenwood Mysteries! It was pretty good the first three seasons, but season four has been really fantastic. We don’t know if the show hit its stride or what, but lately the shows have been crazy good. We are also still watching Wheel of Time. As for movies, our list has included Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and Ice Age Christmas. I am hoping so hard for snow! I need snow to feel complete at Christmas time. I don’t need a lot, but enough so it feels like winter. I have a hard time completely enjoying my favorite Christmas movies without it – I am sure if I grew up somewhere warm, or lived somewhere warm I would be used to it, but for me Christmas needs some snow, darn it.

How about you all? Stay safe and well everyone~

What Wyatt’s Reading – December Edition

It’s the holiday season, and I tend to go overboard with the holiday books every December. I am constantly at the library, picking up and returning huge piles of books. But, we both love books and it’s Christmas time and..why not?

This is a list of what we have read together so far…I feel a part two might be coming closer to Christmas…

It’s been fun reading for the most part! Gingerbread Baby and Tough Cookie we read during our week of gingerbread; of the two, we both liked Tough Cookie a bit more. And, I like gingerbread more than the story, I have decided – don’t you think the Gingerbread Boy is sort of obnoxious? Lol.

Finding Christmas is a sweet little tale of kindness, with the cutest little illustrations. Little Mole’s Christmas Gift is similar, with the idea of giving what you want to someone who is more in need. Plus, how adorable is that cover and mushroom? The whole book has spectacular illustrations.

Little Blue Truck is always a favorite of Wyatt, for years. And I have to admit, I think they are pretty darn cute too. In this one Little Blue Truck is trundling about delivering the perfect tree to each of his friends.

And on the subject of trees.. The Christmas Eve Tree. Hmm. What can I say about this one? Neither of us really liked it. Wyatt kept looking at me like “What are you reading to me Mom?”. I understand where this book was going and the point it was trying to make, but it was just depressing. Marguerite’s Christmas was actually a wonderful picture book, but I think the message is a bit deep for kids. I always preread Wyatt’s book, not with the intent to censor ever, but just so I am familiar. This one I ended up not reading to him – but I did give it to my mom to read. I thought it was a beautiful book but I thought the message would be lost on Wyatt a bit.

Norman the Slug Who Saved Christmas is a favorite around here. This was a gift to Wyatt from his aunt and uncle, and it is so darn cute. Maybe we are biased because we like all the creepy crawly things like snails and bugs, but this book is just so fun. Little Witch Hazel is one we are adding to our library. It contains four stories centered around the seasons, and is so enchanting. The illustrations are gorgeous and magical and the stories so sweet.

These last two were my personal favorites- Babushka and A Simple Christmas on the Farm. I think both of these are beautiful stories, of coming together, helping others, the beauty of Christmas. The illustrations in Babushka are amazing, colorful and whimsical, and the illustrations in A Simple Christmas on the Farm warm and cozy. These two were hands down my favorite. Little Blue Truck and Tough Cookie were Wyatt’s favorites, but he did like these two as well.

I’m still on the lookout for new and different titles to add to our holiday reading! It is only the 10th of December after all. We have two weeks of holiday reading still left to do! If you have a suggestion, let me know!

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

I feel like last week flew by! Just a week ago I had my mom over for dinner, a cold weather favorite of mine Chickpea Dumpling Soup, then we drove around looking at Christmas lights. And now it is Sunday all over again. We had a pretty good week in our homeschool; we are focusing on Jan Brett books this month and we started with The Gingerbread Baby and finished the week with baking gingerbread! I have had numerous friends and family in the hospital with various ailments so that was stressful, and I always throw myself into projects when I am stressed. They are all doing much better now though, so I am relieved and thankful. This weekend I just totally let go and had fun with my family. We went for a sunny December walk around the Henry Ford Estate in Dearborn, then donated some things to the animal shelter as part of our Wolfenoot celebrations from November. And let myself relax.

That photo of us with Henry Ford’s statue cracks me up. And I also joked with Billy that my reflection in the glass makes me look sort of like Santa Claus! The actual estate is closed for renovation right now but once it is open again I can’t wait to tour it. It is one of my favorite local sites to visit.

Anywhoo..

Read Last Week:

I love reading middle grade around the holidays for some reason, and this one was so good. A cozy British mystery set in the 1930s on the Cambridge campus at Christmas time…a more perfect setting for me couldn’t be found, I am sure. I really enjoyed this book, and I will probably read more in the series at some point.

Reading This Week:

I read book one in this series, The Tourist Attraction, last year and figured I would save this one for this Christmas. I really enjoyed The Tourist Attraction so I am hoping that this one is just as good. We are also reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe together as a family this month, before bedtime.

Posted Last Week:

Wolfenoote, Baking, and Christmas Homeschool

Hello December!

Nonfiction November Week 5: New to the TBR

Watching and Listening:

Billy and I are watching Wheel of Time, which I am really enjoying. We are also watching the Brokenwood Mysteries on Acorn, which is pretty good! We have started adding in Christmas movies too, with our first family Christmas movie Friday night, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas.

As for listening, Spotify had their yearly wrap up the other day – and I was shocked to see that I had listened to so.much.Taylor.Swift. That being said, her Folklore and Evermore albums are really good. (Interesting fact: She grew up on a Christmas tree farm in Pennsylvania)

Here are some highlights from my Spotify Wrapped…

I am skeptical about the Joni Mitchell, considering I don’t really like her. I skip her when she comes on. So often in fact, that Wyatt can instantly recognize her voice and tells me to skip her too. So, either Spotify or Joni Mitchell is trolling me. And no offense to Joni Mitchell or her fans, her music just makes me sad.

Aaaaaannnddd that is it from our little burrow! I hope all is well with you!

Hello December!

Well, here we are! December! And Michigan is behaving appropriately right now, with cold and snow right on cue for the holiday season. I love snow – until the end of February, when I am ready for it to be gone and for spring to arrive. But this month is the month of the Full Quiet Moon – when we have our longest, darkest nights, when we need to snuggle in our homes, eating all the good comfort foods, warming up with delicious hot chocolate and tea, reading and crafting and for the days when we are feeling squirrely, invigorating wintry hikes that refuel our spirits.

Before we move on, let’s take a look back at some of my favorite November moments.. and I just realized I never blogged about Wolfenoot! I will do that soon.

I’m pretty excited about Christmas this year. I started shopping months ago, I am all in on books and movies and music, and really, just everything. We are hoping to have a jam making day with my brother and his family soon, along with a Winter Solstice celebration with just the three of us. And frankly, I want to spend this month enjoying my family, the small moments, the quiet moments. The nights watching the snow fall gently outside, going for rides to look at Christmas lights, those hushed hikes through the woods in winter. Watching the birds at my bird feeders, and hoping for a glimpse of the little baby possum who likes to hang out here as well. I used to jam our schedule all of up – now I am going for quality over quantity. Although, I wouldn’t mind one activity..maybe the lights at the zoo? Or the Holiday Nights event at Greenfield Village, but just me and Billy, like a (gasp) date night? What is that even, I don’t remember. Hmm…maybe both?

As you all go about your months, savor these moments. Do the things that fill you up and make you smile. That restore your soul.

Nonfiction November- Week 5: New to your TBR

I can’t believe we are at the end of November already! This month flew by. But then, they all seem to these days. This week for Nonfiction November it is a wrap up week, where we share the books we have added to our TBR lists over the month. I always add way too many but I figure I will eventually get to them all, right? I fell a bit behind this month, so I think I missed some posts when trying to catch up, and I am sure I have forgotten a few I meant to add to this list – but I guess that just means Nonfiction November is not quite over for me, and I still have some reading opportunities out there.

This week is hosted by www.theocbookgirl.com.

So without further ado..my newest additions!

Swiss Watching: Inside Europe’s Landlocked Island – Entering the Enchanted Castle

Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year – Silver Button Books

The Power of Ritual – Silver Button Books

A Place in the Woods – The Intrepid Arkansawyer

On Island Time – Lesley’s Book Nook

Wilding – Liz @ Adventures in Reading, Running, and Working From Home

English Pastoral – Books Please

When Mountain Lions Are Neighbors – The OC Book Girl

The Tiger – Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction

Rush Oh! – Books are my Favorite and Best

Lost at Sea – Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out

The Haunting of Alma Fielding – Christopher @ Plucked from the Stacks

Finding the Mother Tree – Unsolicited Feedback

Seven Fallen Feathers – The Book Stop

This is always such a great event to participate in! Now, let’s see how many I read before next November!

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 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.

Nonfiction November – Stranger than Fiction

Book Review: Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids

Watching:

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.