Sunday Afternoons, Alone Time, and a Nature Book Giveaway!

Sunday was another bright and beautiful day! And we had plans to visit my dad and stepmom out in the “country”. They live about an hour and a half from us, in a small town in Michigan. The cute type of town that has antique stores, a small local hardware, a toy store, a tea shop, and a other little boutique shops lining the four streets of downtown. My stepmom had invited us out, asking if Billy could help my dad with a few projects around the house, and threw in the promise of a meal – and that she would watch Wyatt so I could wander the downtown for some alone time. We would have gone despite the promises, they are family, and family helps family. But, I couldn’t pass up the call of some time shopping by myself either.

The drive was easy and pleasant, and we pulled into my dad’s driveway about noon. We piled in the house, the scent of bubbling soup on the stove greeting us as we walked through the door. Their house has a room with a wall of windows that I am in love with. I would 100 percent be sitting there summer or winter, looking out into the yard over tea or a glass of wine in the evenings, coffee in the morning. I can never have enough windows or light. We went in and visited a bit, then Billy headed off with my dad, and I kissed my kiddo goodbye and headed out for some shopping.

I am not a huge shopper by nature – but I don’t mind a turn around an antique store. I can spend some time in one, just marveling over the things being sold. Little teacups, pieces of furniture, old photos and paintings and clocks and watches and jewelry and wooden boxes – well, you know. I love to look at the old photos and wonder about the people in them, what were their lives like, how did their photos end up for sale. I always look at the books, and usually buy one or two.

As it was Sunday, half the stores were closed. But that didn’t stop me. I had the streets to myself. The stores to myself. I just wandered through happily looking at the wares, picking things up, imagining. Listening to the conversations of the people who worked there. (Sadly, one woman had just lost her dog the night before.) And I even purchased a few small things, although quite a few objects were calling my name. One of my friend’s is all about antiques – her whole house is pretty much all antiques and is insanely gorgeous. One day I will do a photo tour of it as it doesn’t seem real. But anyway, she has a talent for finding perfect pieces. I am not that person, but I will spring for some things that catch my eye. My style is more eclectic/boho than antique but it is still fun to putter about.

I liked both of these pieces but left them in the store. But I am loving that little bench and I feel like I need it in my kitchen. I have a library card catalog in my kitchen right now that I want to move to the basement to our art area to fill with art supplies, and a little bench might be nice there instead. And I have no idea why I liked that small chest of drawers – it just appealed to me. But, I wasn’t buying furniture Sunday. I was more about enjoying the look around and the time.

I did buy a few little things though.

I have always loved Gwen Frostic, and whenever I spot her art or books in the wild, I buy them. One of my favorite things that I did this year was visit her old art studio in northern Michigan, so when I saw that they had two of her books of art and writing, I knew that I was buying them. And one is even signed! Then that little sugar and creamer set was just adorable, with its pastoral scene. And only eight dollars for both pieces, which to me seemed like a deal!

After perusing the shops, I strolled the streets, which were peaceful.

Before I knew it I had explored the whole downtown – ending at the Tecumseh Brewing Company. I contemplated having a drink outside but decided not to this time, and opted to head back and see how the kiddo and grandma were doing.

Kiddo was doing wonderful – when I walked in he and my stepmom were enjoying a small picnic on the floor of raspberries and blueberries. He was perfectly happy and content. Grandma had given him ice cream as well, and they had a good time throwing “snowballs” (the plush version). The three of us hung out for a while before being rejoined by Billy and my dad, and we sat down to a delicious lunch of tortellini bean soup and sandwiches. I love that soup! I make it all the time but mine is never as creamy as Shellie’s. I think I need to let it simmer longer. Or something.

Before we knew it, it was time to head back home. It had been a great day visiting and we are planning on going back soon. It is much nicer to see them in person these days!

And now – the giveaway!

If you read here, then you might know that I love John Lewis-Stempel, a British nature writer. I am in love with his work and my husband has gifted me through the years with his books as Christmas gifts. And as my birthday is next week, I am going to make like a Hobbit and gift a copy of The Private Life of the Hare – it is a short read about hares, and is simply gorgeous as well! To enter just drop a comment below and make sure I have your email address. Winner will be picked at random and contacted via email. Sadly, only U.S. only for this giveaway this time. Giveaway ends November 15th at midnight – the night before my birthday! And if you just want to comment but not enter that is cool too! Just let me know!

Updated November 16:

And the winner is….Deb from Readerbuzz!!

Halloween, Hikes, and Holiday Lattes

We have been keeping active around here, between trick or treating and learning and hiking and just having small little adventures.

Let’s start with Halloween! We found a small bakery on a spur of the moment roadside stop that turned into some of the best doughnuts I’ve had, and did some trick or treating with my brother and his family. Halloween is Wyatt’s favorite so I was happy to get him back out there. We did about six blocks total on my brother’s street, but that was the perfect amount. Plus my brother’s street goes all out – Wyatt got 10 full size candy bars! Remember that excitement? The street went all out this year, with decorations and a festive atmosphere. Some of the houses even handed out treats for parents, that were for people 21 and over. As costumed kids picked their candy, parents could pick their poison – cans of beer, jello shots, gummi bears soaked in vodka. I have never seen anything like it, honestly. Lol. Perhaps that contributed to the festive atmosphere! This year we used the wagon with Wyatt, but we have high hopes that next year he will be using his walker, or even walking on his own!

Then Saturday we took a walk in the woods, looking for mushrooms and beavers and whatever else we could spot. It was gorgeous out – the light was trickling like warm honey through the leaves, lighting the trail up in warm yellows and oranges. It was beautiful.

Billy and I also treated ourselves to a holiday coffee from Starbucks! Billy ordered the Caramel Brulee Latte, while I ordered the tiny baby sized Chestnut Praline Latte. I ordered a tiny one in case I didn’t like it – then wished I had sized up since it was delicious!

Nonfiction November- Week Two – Book Pairing

Yay!! This is always my favorite week of Nonfiction November! I think because, like most readers, I read a fiction book that gets me thinking about a certain topic that sends me off on a quest for more knowledge. It can be a setting, a lifestyle, a theory, anything catches my attention. Last year I went off on a real journey that was really coastal/water themed. Fishing villages in particular. Yeah, don’t ask. Not sure why. But, it happened. My pairings this week are centered around this particular theme.

So.. these two are pretty different, obviously. One is a whimsical, lovely romantic type story and the other tells the straight truth, the realness of these people who work the trawlers and fishing boats off the coast of Cornwall, the loneliness and hard work, but also the good times as well. However both have that closeness of connection and community, knowing your neighbors, your people. I greatly enjoyed both of these books.

Jenny Colgan is actually one of my favorite go-to comfort read authors. Her books never fail to capture my attention and make me smile. This book may in fact be one of the reasons I spun down the path of wanting to read about small fishing villages. And Cornwall. Dark, Salt, Clear was just a fantastically written book about the lives of the people in Lamorna, which may not be as whimsical but was a book I greatly enjoyed.

And while these are not books or even documentaries, two movies that I loved last year were both set in small fishing towns.

These are both fictional, but Fisherman’s Friends is based on a true story. And filmed in the same village that Doc Martin is, if you are a fan. Blow the Man Down does not take place in Cornwall although it is set in a small fishing village. It is also a dark comedy, while Fisherman’s Friends is more of a feel good film.

And as I am writing this, I think I want to revisit this little interest of mine! I still have a bunch of books on my list to read that fit this topic/theme.

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

Happy November everyone! It definitely feels like fall around here these days and I am here for it. Billy and I celebrated 21 years married last week – we didn’t do much, just ordered Italian from our favorite local Italian restaurant, including dessert (that tiramisu!! so delicious) but it was still a nice night. We have had so many different types of anniversaries through the years, from big deals – our weekend anniversary trip to NYC and eating at Les Halles at the top of the list – to quiet evenings like the one we just shared, or the year we ate Chinese food in our car while a crazy electrical storm raged around us outside. We don’t care what we do, as long as we are together. We can be happy doing anything.

Yesterday was a spectacular fall day! Wyatt has been learning about beavers for his November nature study, so we went for a hike along the water, with the intent of spotting beaver signs. It was a success! We inspected quite a few trees that had been gnawed through, gathered some wood shavings that were around the base of a tree, carried around fistfuls of leaves, and did some mushroom spotting. We stumbled on puffball mushrooms and Billy showed us how if you push on them, you can visibly see it squirt out the spores! It was pretty cool.

Read Last Week:

I am not quite finished with this book but so far I am really enjoying it. It seems perfect for middle grade to add some reading diversity.

Reading This Week:

I am so excited to read this! Although, I have a feeling I might be sad at the end. I loved The Salt Path and I have been wanting to read this next segment of the journey.

Posted Last Week:

I’ve been a busy bee this week, visiting blogs for these two blog events!

Currently… November

Nonfiction November – Week One

Watching and Listening:

Billy and I have been watching Locke and Key – we have one episode left and we were definitely left hanging last night! We also watched an episode of the newest season of The Great British Bake Off. I was waiting until November to start it and could feel super cozy. Wyatt has been watching the newest episodes of Molly of Denali (which I am so excited about too!) as well as Gumboot Kids and Let’s Go Luna.

As for listening, I have been listening to the podcast The Wild with Chris Morgan quite a bit the last few days. It’s very soothing to be honest. I also listen to Lord Huron, my favorite, on repeat some days. I am always so curious what other people listen to. If you want to drop in the comments what you have been listening to I would love it! I am not a music person; I generally listen to the same stuff over and over and I have artists that I love, but I also am happy listening to just whatever is playing wherever I am.

Coming up this week:

I hope to finish my two books, for one. I have a few blog posts planned too – Nonfiction November Week Two, a round up post of what has been happening with us lately, and a holiday gift guide. Wyatt and I have a fun week of school planned (although he gets a shot on Wednesday so we will see how he is feeling Thursday), and I also signed up for an online..gathering? It is called A Cozy Gathering, so I guess gathering is the right word. It has topics about nourishing soups and crafts and such – I am looking forward to it!

And that is it from my little corner of Michigan! What is up with you all?

Currently..November

It’s that time again! I’m joining up with Anne in Residence for her monthly Currently..post. This month we are talking about what we are appreciatinggetting, makingsharing, and wearing!

I seriously can’t believe it is November! September and October flew by in the blink of an eye. November is a great month – full of cozy moments, family time..and my birthday and anniversary! My husband and I will have been married twenty-one years on Thursday! Talk about time flying. I am pretty sure we are still just 17 years old right?

Well, without further ado – the prompts!

Appreciating: The weather change – it finally feels like fall! I’ve been waiting for fall to really show up to the party so I can break out the soups and comfort meals and hot chocolate. I am also appreciating any and all personal time I get, as that is scarce right now. I am hoping things slow down soon. And, I am appreciating my husband and my son, the source of most of my joy in life.

Getting: Christmas gifts! I feel like I can go all out now that it is November. Other than that, not much just mostly groceries and library books.

Making: Lesson plans, gift lists, tiny sewn felt creatures. I am a super beginner sewer but it is relaxing nonetheless. I think I am going to make some cute little critters out of felt for my cats to play with – they can get them as Christmas gifts! (Maggie, I know you are sitting next to me I hope you are not reading this.. no peeking!)

Sharing: Random funny things with my friends via text and Instagram messenger (looking at you in particular with that one Lisa) It helps break up my day. Meals with my mom, especially when I make a giant pot of chili. My son’s Halloween candy… well, I guess that is more him sharing with me…

Wearing: Nothing exciting here! Comfy clothes, warm sweaters, my new glasses. I am trying to buy things thrifted these days in efforts to be more environmentally friendly, which is sort of like a fun hunt. I am finding so many warm flannels and thick yummy sweaters at the thrift store – I just wash them and wear them! Also, I wore deer ears and a flannel for my costume on Halloween, as a Sweet Tooth inspired outfit. Easy peasy! And I was happier than it appears in this photo!

And that is about it from around here! What about you all? What are you appreciatinggetting, makingsharing, and wearing these days?

Nonfiction November- Week One

Week One : Your Year in Nonfiction with Rennie at What’s Nonfiction

It’s November! It is my third year participating and I am really excited to see what everyone has been reading and enjoying! I just really started reading nonfiction a few years ago, and do not read as much of it as some of the other bloggers participating, but..maybe one day!

My favorite nonfiction read this year was without a doubt World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. I recommended it to everyone I know, and I once waxed rhapsodic about it at wine night with my friends. I loved Nezhukumatathil’s rememberings of her childhood, some of which resonated with me and my own childhood, some which took me on a different journey of a little girl living on the ground of a mental hospital, an adult woman making her own way in the world, starting her own family. I love how Nezhukumatahil was able to weave our connection with nature into these memories, to illustrate how we can learn from the natural world around us. I absolutely loved everything about this book, so much so that I wish I could go back and read it for the first time again.

A look back at what I read this year:

My goal this year was to read 12 nonfiction books and I am so happy to see that I accomplished that!! With time to spare too! Next year I will work on increasing the number, but for this year, I am satisfied!

Looking at my list, it is pretty obvious that I am a nature book lover! John Lewis-Stempel is one of my favorites of all time. I love his observations and thoughts on his wilder neighbors. I would say I loved all of these books with the exception of one, which was a struggle to finish. I was very close to ditching it but then went back and finished it to say that I did. But now I know that style of book is not for me.

And there it is, my nonfiction year in a nutshell!

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

Happy Halloween!! Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, I love the excitement and seeing all of the costumes and carving pumpkins – which we did last night!

And I apologize for the huge picture – WordPress is being all wonky for me today. I am not sure what is happening but it is making me crazy.

We also watched Disney’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow cartoon, a favorite of mine since childhood, and followed it up with the Tim Burton version.

Last week I wasn’t able to read much at all – the week was super busy, busier than I had anticipated. It was all good stuff but not much time. I did get far enough in one of my books (The Wolf Hour) to decide I couldn’t finish it – it was just too sad. It was so well written though, and unlike anything I have read honestly, in terms of plot. Maybe if I were in a different space it wouldn’t have bothered me, but right now was just not the time.

Tomorrow Nonfiction November kicks off and I am so excited! I have only been participating a few years, and I am not anywhere near the level of nonfiction reader that the other participants are, but every year I read more and more nonfiction, in large part due to this event.

Reading This Week:

This book caught my eye – this cover is gorgeous. The setting is at a powwow held in a high school gymnasium in Ann Arbor, MI. And I have been to that powwow! So I am looking forward to this read.

I am all scary storied out for a while. Time to get back to my regular style of reading!

Posted Last Week:

Applejack, Boo Boxes, and Friday Nights from Crazytown

Greenfield Village – Late October

Watching:

Nancy Drew, Only Murders in the Building, Locke and Key Season 2, and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow for Billy and I. We also watched a few episodes of Vera, and started the Bread Baking Experiment on Amazon. Now I want a community of women to make bread with, darn it. Wyatt is watching Let’s Go Luna, Wild Kratts, and Scout and Daisy and the Gumboot Kids. He also loves Pete the Cat and Gabby’s Dollhouse. I am also still watching the YouTuber Rachel Maksy – she makes the coolest vintage projects and dresses! It makes me wish I could sew! And have somewhere to wear actual outfits to. That is kind of the biggest bummer about homeschooling and being a SAHM – I sort of miss dressing up for work some days. Not enough to actually get all dressed up for the day though. I mainly hang around the house in my uniform of jeans and a t-shirt, no makeup, and barefoot, and most days I am super happy with that arrangement. But sometimes, yeah, I miss getting dressed up.

How about you all? Everything good in your world? Any Halloween plans?

Applejack, Boo Boxes, and Friday Nights from Crazytown

This has been an eventful week. Exciting at times, stressful at others, downright crazyville a few times. But it is finally Friday night – finally- and I am fitting in some me time while my husband and son are in the living room, probably making a mess. It’s fine though, it’s Friday night.

Most importantly, we finished moving everything out of my mom’s house and she did the closing this morning! It’s done, with the exception of some financial moving money around business. So, I am enjoying a well earned glass of wine right now. It was a bit of a marathon this week, with all hands on deck, Billy and my brother Devin and SIL Chrissy and I each playing our roles. We are a great team and have fantastic supports as well, from the rest of the family. Next up, finding my mom the perfect little place to live that checks most of the boxes. But we are taking a two week break and enjoying a little quiet time first.

It has been so stressful that I indulged in a new reptile! Ah, the different forms of self care. Is buying reptiles a weird one? I don’t go too nuts, I am not like a hoarder, but they make me happy. And since Dash died, I have been sad seeing the empty table where she used to live. So, I started looking around online for a crested gecko. I knew I wanted one from a reputable place, a breeder that does all the right things and is not part of the yucky underbelly of the reptile trade. And I decided on Josh’s Frogs, which is actually located right here in Michigan. Owosso, Michigan to be exact, a little less than two hours away! I pored over pictures of their babies, debating, going back and forth for weeks, should I, shouldn’t I? Then I realized, my birthday is two weeksish away! Once I realized that, I was like, ok, let’s do this thing. And pulled the trigger on this sweet little baby!

Meet Applejack, the newest member of our menagerie! She is a crested gecko, a flame dalmation morph. They come in so many different colors and patterns, I was almost overwhelmed. I decided of all the colors, I really liked this reddish autumnal color of crestie. Isn’t she pretty? If you look close you can see her little black spots that deem her a dalmation.

Can you believe she was just delivered FedEx, like a little package? The company I got her from are pretty serious about it, which made me feel more comfortable with both the company and the process. Josh’s Frogs sends a scheduling email that asks a billion questions, you have to check the weather, pick a day you will be home and can wait for your live animal to arrive. I picked last Wednesday as her arrival date and she was here by noon that day. I sat by the window waiting (well not really all day) but Wyatt and I did choose to do our schoolwork for the day in the den so we could keep an eye out for her arrival. You know I took a bunch of photos.

She ate right away! I guess she was hungry from her overnight journey. She was also in “fired up” mode. Cresties will “fire up” and their color is more vibrant at this time. It is usually in the evening and at night when they are most active that they are this color. Then they “fire down” and become more muted for daytime and sleeping. This is Applejack fired down.

And then this is her looking crazy. But super cute.

We had two names in mind for her – Applejack and Charlie. I still sort of like Charlie better but Applejack won. Wyatt was pretty adamant about it. So Applejack it is. And it fits her. So far she is still settling in and getting used to being here, so I am giving her space but I am excited to see what her personality will be like! Harry is really laid back and sweet, and Luna is a bit shy but she loves to curl up in my hand or on my lap. She just lets me carry her all over the place. Harry likes to be held but only for a short time and when he is done he is done.

I also finished up my Boo Boxes! I am not much of an artist or a sewer (sewist?) but I like to do both. I find it very calming. I especially like sewing up my little critters I am making on rainy afternoons while listening to Camp Monsters on Spotify. It’s just very relaxing. I started making little kittens for the kids for Christmas, but then switched to these little ghosts for Halloween! I will go back to the kitties next month. And then being me, decided they needed little “haunted houses”, and names, and personalities. Wyatt and each of my nieces has a different ghost, with a different house, name, etc. I made a Giggles, Sunny, Honey, and Coco. These were super fun to make!

I can hear my crazy boyo singing at the top of his lungs, but then that is just Friday night around here. I am going to go round him up, video chat my mum, and then we are going to go watch Charlie Brown’s Halloween.

Enjoy your Friday night everyone!

Greenfield Village – Late October

Saturday morning we woke up determined to have some family fun time. It’s been all work all the time around here lately, and we all needed a break. We tossed a few ideas around before deciding on Greenfield Village. We got there as the gates were opening, the day was overcast, and we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves which was awesome.

I love visiting this time of year. I love fall and Halloween, as you all know, and the Village is all dressed up in vintage Halloween decorations, as well as some spooky ones too. They do Halloween Nights there, with candy and live performances, but to be honest, we prefer it like this. Empty. Without the fanfare and other people. Plus, we can actually see everything rather than be part of a huge crowd in the dark. We did that once and while it was fun, we like visiting on our own terms more.

We walked around the farm, greeting all the animals who were enjoying their breakfasts al fresco. The horses, John and Wilbur, were on their way to plow up the fields and we gave them a quick wave as they went off to work.

We walked around the “town” area, by the Wright Brothers house, closed up refreshment stands, and creepy decorations.

And made our way across the spooky covered bridge, making ghostly ooos and boos as we walked through…

These scarecrows were terrifying. I stepped in close for a photo, and and had the weirdest feeling they were watching me back. I freaked myself out, imagining one would leap off its post at me, and after snapping the picture, raced back to Billy and Wyatt.

We toured around the homes, and headed back over the bridge, not knowing the scariest monster was still to come…

Such scary!!!

Needless to say, Wyatt had fun! And so did we! (I look like a crazy person…I was helping make scary noises with Wyatt…lol)

I love this time of the year at the village! I am so happy that this year they extended the length of the visiting season for members through November. I see some mornings there in our future for a few more weeks at least!

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

And….we are already at the end of the weekend! It flew by for us, how about you? On Saturday we took a fun quick trip to Greenfield Village, which I will post about this week, and then today we moved all the stuff out of my mom’s house, because it sold! Woohoo! She is still living in my uncle’s condo for a bit until we find the right place for her, but the house is ready to be handed over. I just need to go back and pack up a few family heirlooms that I wanted to make sure were safe in their travels.

Moving on!

Read Last Week:

The writing in this book is phenomenal – however, it did prove to be too scary for me. If you are a huge fan of horror, gore doesn’t freak you out, and you can handle real life traumatic type events, then this book will probably be good for you. It just had one too many nopes for me, so I had to set it aside.

Reading This Week:

If you hang around here often, you may have seen my post about Wyatt studying different versions of Little Red Riding Hood last week. And wolves. In my research I came across these two stories, one a middle grade, the other not. I figured if Wyatt was reading them, I would too. Billy is actually going to buddy read Empire of Wild with me (once he finishes Small Favors and he is oh so close). I love when we buddy read, and I thought he might like this one for three reasons- wolves, it is set in Georgian Bay one of his favorite places on Earth, and because it is Halloween week and we need something at least sort of scary! I already started The Wolf Hour and I am really enjoying it so far.

Posted Last Week:

Homeschool: Wolves, Fairy Tales, and China

What Wyatt’s Reading: Halloween Edition

Watching:

We took a break from Nancy Drew and Only Murders in the Building to give them a chance to build up, and have been watching Vera on Britbox. We also watched Kung Fu Panda on Friday with Wyatt. I love that movie! Wyatt’s been watching Let’s Go Luna quite a bit lately, as well as Winnie the Pooh. Halloween weekend I think we are going to watch the Disney Legend of Sleepy Hollow and the Tim Burton one. It’s our favorite spooky season story!

What’s going on in your world? What have you been reading, watching, listening to?