Chit Chat Coffee Time

My week this week was just…blah. Not good, not bad, I can’t quite say what I even did this week. It was just sort of like a week on autopilot. This upcoming week we are taking a break from school, maybe I just need a refresh.

This morning we left bright and early to go to a different garden center. I was joking with Billy that this particular garden center is the one ALL the butterfly people talk about, so we had to be cool too and check it out. I am hoping to help raise monarchs this year so I needed to go to the cool garden center too. And honestly, it was really cool.

My friend who has done the whole monarch thing for years gave me a list of milkweed I needed, particularly common and swamp. I found those and grabbed them, and added some prairie milkweed and also a kind with a very interesting name. They had tables set up with types of butterflies and their host plants which made it really easy to shop. I also picked up a butterfly bush and a few forget-me-nots. They have a butterfly house but it is not open yet, so we will have to go back to check it out.

We went first thing in the morning and no one was there. I love having places practically to myself. We had just planned on Billy and Wyatt hanging out in the car but when I saw it was so empty and open, I called Billy and told him to join me inside, and I am so glad we did, we had a great time. I feel like they just needed to serve coffee and it would have been perfect. (Hint hint Barsons if you read here – set up a little coffee area for people to buy coffee, I am sure it would do well.)

However, now it is so humid and hot outside that we have unloaded it all and are waiting until it cools off a bit. I found a few butterfly eggs on my rue this afternoon and gathered it up. I am actually getting my mom in on this too, and I am taking her these first eggs from a black swallowtail. I think she will enjoy it!

I have spent the past few weeks working on our final month of lessons for kindergarten! I can’t believe this year is almost over! We are going to spend a month finishing up our regular curriculum and we will also be spending some time learning about the ocean and ocean animals. And mermaids, per the request of my niece. Then I get to start planning for next year, and I have to be honest I am really excited about that. We will also be continuing school throughout the summer but more informally. We are spending July immersed in learning about Italy, as part of our family ancestry studies combined with geography. It should be a lot of fun. And delicious as I am going to use it as an excuse to eat all the pasta and tiramisu that I want.

I hope you are all having a good day so far! Enjoy the weekend!

Etsy Artists – AAPI Edition

Photo taken by Jackie Munyer

It’s Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month! As the mother of a child with Hawaiian heritage, it is important to me to teach Wyatt about this aspect of his ancestry. My husband’s grandmother, Maleka Kane, was Hawaiian born and bred, and her family is Hawaiian all the way back. My mother-in-law is also a very talented artist; those are her hands pictured above as she works at her pottery. She is also a painter and has worked with textiles, and she has passed her talent for art down to her sons, who all excel at different mediums. I would link her store but she is currently not selling pieces online!

In celebration of the AAPI artist, like my mother-in-law, I found so many amazing pieces on Etsy. I was always an Etsy fan but since the pandemic I have turned to it as my go-to for unique items and gifts, as I want to support artists who may be struggling during this time. Hopefully this summer we will see a return of art fairs though!

(this section contains Etsy affiliate links)

As a reader, these pieces immediately called to me! I am in love with the Book Scout and Literary Kitty Brass Bookmarks (I’m thinking ahead to Christmas book club gifts already!) and I will be honest, I added a bunch of stuff from this shop! (Justinegilbuena) That flour sack towel from KeiaandMolly is also super adorable!! This is another shop I pretty much loved everything listed.

The vintage carved plant stand pictured is also something on my wish list. We are getting ready to redo our bedroom over the summer, and I am pretty sure I need this planter in my life. And, speaking of plants, I am also in love with this cute turtle trellis!! The shop PineandSprout also has little rainbow shelves that I considered – I could probably do a post just on rainbow products, I am a fan. And finally, this little ceramic coffee scoop! I have been wanting a coffee scoop for a while now, and this one from Mammothandminnow seems pretty perfect.

I have inherited my father’s love of blank books and feel like I can never have too many. I am considering getting these two for him as part of his Father’s day gift – my dad is horribly difficult to buy for and I feel like notebooks are the one thing I can really get him, especially unique ones like these two from the shop Cynla. She also has a lot of really neat greeting cards too!

Isn’t that little crochet dragon the sweetest little thing? I save so many crochet patterns and I don’t know why, since I absolutely can not crochet. But look how cute!!! AllaboutAmi had so many squishlicious stuffed animal patterns. Now if only I knew someone to make them!

And rainbows happened. I saw this Hawaiian lei rainbow t-shirt and squealed – I have to get one for my rainbow loving Hawaiian kiddo. Unfortunately they are all out of his size right now so I will have to keep checking back, but I am on Etsy all the time poking around and looking at stuff so, no worries there!

Just as I make sure to educate Wyatt on his diverse heritage, I also want to encourage his love of art. One of his favorite things to do is paint! In fact, we are getting ready for a painting session after lunch today.

Have a great day everyone, and make something lovely this weekend!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

 It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

I missed the Sunday posts, but I am here for Monday! We spent the weekend doing a lot of work, which needed to be done, but now I am tired! It was a good weekend though, that was punctuated by good moments as well. Friday night I had mom’s night at my friends, and I stayed out way past my bedtime, but it was so good to be with them. On Saturday night we had tacos again before going to my brother’s house for a fire and adult beverages while the kids played like crazy. So much giggling and smiles between Wyatt and his cousin.

Read Last Week:

I loved this book! I read it all in one day, and I am ready to read more in this world that Penny Reid created. Be forewarned, I am about to go on a binge.

Reading This Week:

So, the Winston Brothers are characters that were introduced in Happy Trail, and since I had so much fun with that one, I am starting this series. I need some fun reads right now.

Posted Last Week:

Homeschool Dino Week

Book Review: Happy Trail by Daisy Prescott

The Beautiful May Be Small

What We Watched:

We are watching Johnathan Creek still, for the most part. We also are glued to Weed ‘Em and Reap, a YouTube channel, and CottageFairy, another YouTube channel. Wyatt is watching Molly of Denali, Wild Kratts, and Tumble Leaf. I am still listening to lots of podcasts, and the very best one I listened to last week was the Maritime Archaeology (Shipwrecks) episode on Ologies by Alie Ward. I am loving that podcast and I hope to listen to the Cicadaology (Cicadas) episode today.

Homeschool: Dino Week!

It’s been dino week around here! My little niece requested that we have a dinosaur theme, and very specifically asked for a dinosaur life cycle and craft. So, I of course obliged. I call her dino girl for a reason – at five, she already knows pretty much everything about dinosaurs. When I started to get resources together, I decided to focus on skills work with a dinosaur theme, rather than actually learning about dinosaurs themselves. I mean, we did do a little of that, but for the most part everything was more related to dinosaurs instead of about them. And it turned out to be a great week! Wyatt likes dinosaurs but he is not all in, so I did want him to know a little more about dinosaurs before we go to Jurassic Quest next month. We did lizards last week per his request, and I felt like the two, dinosaurs and lizards went hand in hand pretty nicely!

We do have quite a bit of dinosaurs and dinosaur things at our house, so it made it easy to set up an inviting area to introduce this week’s topic. I always like to set it up on Sunday night to surprise Wyatt with our weekly theme, and this was a fun one. When Billy saw it he asked “How will Wyatt survive school with all those dinosaurs?”

So – we did our regular curriculum from Blossom and Root and Math for a Living Education, then added in some fun extra stuff. A dinosaur memory game, and of course, a dinosaur life cycle. We divided dinosaurs into herbivores and carnivores, labeled a triceratops, and reviewed size sequencing. We read about different types of dinosaurs, as well as some fun little stories too. Then yesterday we went to my mom’s for craft time with my mom and Dino Girl.

We are going to keep the theme up for another week, then take a week off of school for a break. When we start back up it will be our last “official” month of school and kindergarten, so we are going out with a splash and doing a month long ocean unit. I am looking forward to it!

Resource Round Up:

Free dinosaur printables from Simple Every Day Mom

Free Dinosaur Printable Pack from Simple Living Creative Learning

Book Review: Happy Trail by Daisy Prescott

Goodreads Summary:

A man of few words, Ranger Jay Daniels values the calm, quiet solitude of the Great Smoky Mountains. Never quite fitting in with either side of his family, he prefers the company of birds and trees to people.

Yeah, he’d most definitely prefer a bird—any bird, any bird at all, take a vulture for instance—to the human-tornado hybrid that just blew onto his peaceful stretch of the Appalachian Trail.

The path of true love never has run smooth for Olive Perry. After getting dumped and promptly abandoned in the middle of her multi-month hike, Olive swears off men. Determined to finish the long trek by herself, she doesn’t need a prince—or broody and taciturn ranger—to save her.

Yet, when an early snowstorm threatens the mountains, and Ranger Daniels is charged with getting hikers to safety, that includes hot-tempered Olive Perry. Snowed in and forced to share an abandoned cabin, can Olive’s heated intensity melt Jay’s cool reserve?

And if so, will this happy trail lead to true love? Or will their time together be just another bump in the road?

My Thoughts:

I have been in the mood for some lighter reading these days; it’s the time of year, I think, making me crave something fun and nothing too serious. As I scrolled through Amazon looking for something that looked interesting, this one stood out to me. Hmm, bearded guy and a park ranger – sure, why not? I like nature and national parks. And bearded guys. My decision was made.

And I am glad I picked this one! I really loved it. I loved the characters and the setting, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Appalachian Trail (the AT). And it was funny! One of the ways to my heart is humor, and this book made me smile and chuckle out loud a few times.

Jay is a bit of a loner, preferring the woods to the city, and flocks of birds to crowds of people, and loves his job as a Ranger for the National Parks. While he is Ranger, his primary role is that of a biologist, specifically studying birds. That’s not to say that is all he does – he does have to do other job duties, such as clearing the trail of hikers when there is impending bad weather. Which is what brings him to Snowbird, aka Olive. With a big storm system on the way, Jay sets off to clear the trail of hikers that could caught out in it, a dangerous position to be in. By the time he locates her, it is too late to avoid the snowstorm and the two must take refuge in an old moonshiner cabin off trail.

The interactions between these two are adorable. While Jay is a gentleman, Olive can’t seem to help putting her foot in her mouth occasionally, slipping up with the random innuendo. Olive had found herself stranded on the AT after her boyfriend dumped her and abandoned her on the trail alone. Prior to the three miles they had hiked together, the only other long walks Olive had taken were on big city streets and in heels – this was a totally new experience. And after finding herself stranded, she had two choices – quit or keep going. She chose to keep going (but for more reasons than I will tell you) and found that she actually really liked it. When Jay found her, she was reluctant to stop for the night but in a refreshing twist in a romance novel, she took professional advice, stating that if someone like him was worried about the weather, then she would be kind of stupid if she ignored that. (paraphrasing here) I hate it when characters self-sabotage and she didn’t do that, which was nice.

I pretty much devoured this book. Jay and Olive were so cute together, and both were carrying around what they felt were secrets about themselves, and carried the weight of the bias of other people, for two totally different reasons. Jay, for feeling like he never fit in with either side of his family or even in his community, for being half-Japanese and half-American, Olive for being.. well I will let you read it.

This book is part of the Penny Reid universe, something I was confused about until my friend cleared it up for me. I kept seeing this book linked to Penny Reid and I was confused since the author is Daisy Prescott. There is a whole universe that Reid has created and now other authors are writing under the umbrella of that world. I haven’t read any Penny Reid before, but I am definitely going to start – and I know where I am starting too, with the Winston Brothers series. The Winston brothers show up in Happy Trail so it will be fun to read their stories now that I have met them. Overall, I am super happy I read this book and am looking forward to exploring this world that Reid has created, and the characters that other authors are adding to it.

The Beautiful May Be Small

I have a little book that was my grandpa’s. A little “Diary and Daily Reminder”. I am told all the time that my penchant for record keeping and writing stuff down is just like him. I found this little book last year, at the start of the pandemic, and since I had a practically brand new planner sitting around that wasn’t getting used at all, I started to keep track of what I had done that day in it, rather than what I had to do in the future. When 2020 ended, I ordered another one, not knowing what changes 2021 may bring. And while I do add more to it now, I have some stuff to add to those calendar pages, I still use it mainly as a daily diary of sorts – nothing too much, just a little jot here and there of what we did.

My planner has little quotes for every week, just like his did, and the quote for this week in mine is “Look closely. The beautiful may be small.” (Immanuel Kant) I love everything about this; it is so true. I try to find the happy and joy and beauty in everyday, no matter how big or small. Some days big things happen. Sometimes, it is just that I spotted a bunny on a walk, or that I finished a really good book.

So far May has been made up of lots of little things that have made me smile. Lots of flowers, lots of sunshine, and even on rainy days, good moments spent inside, even just enjoying a tea at night while watching a British mystery show with Billy.

May is the month of the Flower full moon, and I fully can see why. I feel surrounded by their colors bursting around me, at the garden center, in yards, everywhere. I am a dandelion fan, I’m sure much to the chagrin of my neighbors who are all very good at keeping their yards perfect. I am sort of a let it grow person, and I like the home the yard provides to insects. I mean, we do cut our grass but not as regularly as most people do. And I like to see the happy faces of the dandelions popping out all over the place. Without them, how could Wyatt make wishes? I am also putting them to use making a dandelion oil infusion to add to lotion bars – a process that takes four weeks!

I love the fact too, that I name all of my houseplants and when I bring a new one home, Wyatt will ask me what it’s name is. These two are new to the house today – Lucy the lemon tree (which I ordered one snowy January evening!), and then little Olive, because “Olive” snails.

I do have this little corner of plants that are nameless though. A wandering dude and a pothos. Any suggestions?

A little spiderweb in my car the other morning, lit up by the sunlight. I guess it has been a bit since I have had a passenger! I let it be.

Lately, this is mostly what my life has been about. Small moments.

Just life I guess. The little things we usually don’t talk about as they don’t seem very newsworthy, yet this is exactly what life is made of, small moments.

What beauty have you seen around you this week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

 It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

Last week was a good one. This weekend was even better. So much time outside on Saturday, which was good because it rained all day on Sunday for Mother’s Day. We still got out and went for a drive through the rain, where I spotted a new to me bird, a green heron. I always get so excited about this. Billy and Wyatt surprised me with a few nature books that I wanted – they know me so well.

Read Last Week:

I really loved The Cottingley Secret!! But I love all things fairie so, no surprise there. Wicked Plants was a fun one to page through and read when I only had a short time to do so. Pretty interesting stuff in there!

Reading this Week:

I am feeling in the mood for some lighter reading right now – so I downloaded these two to my Kindle. I read the Witches of Palmetto Point series last spring so I am interested to see if I still enjoy it. And Happy Trail is new to me but the mention of park rangers has me intrigued.

Posted Last Week:

Chit Chat Coffee Time

Currently.. May

The Weekend Vibe

Watching:

Finishing up Shadow and Bone. We are also still watching Death in Paradise and we have added Jonathan Creek to our lineup as well, another British mystery series.

And that is about it for this morning! I hope all is well in your corner of the world!

Chit Chat Coffee Time

Today, I am impatient to get outside. The sun is shining, and I have a bunch of plants I bought last night after heading back at the garden center with my friends. I said over and over to them, that I wasn’t going to buy anything, and I really didn’t plan on it. But then, I did. Most of the cart is filled with little 99 cent herbs and veggies, like pumpkins and rue and lovage and sage, some for the garden for us to eat, and some for the butterflies. However as we wandered around chatting and exclaiming over all the plants, I found myself adding a few more.. some yarrow, some lupine, and then the plants with those cuplike leaves, brunnera. I think I am in love with those, they are so cool. We have empty space in our front garden and I think they are all going to go there, nestled in with the raspberry bushes.

I also bought the cutest teeny little prayer plant.

Reconnecting in person with some of my family has been wonderful for all of us, as all of us have been so isolated for a year, none of us had a bubble outside of the family that we lived with, and I think we are making up for lost time. My husband has been to my brother’s at least three times, Wyatt and his cousin have been together at least that many times as well. Watching them play together has been awesome, after all this time. I have visited my mom at least twice. (although I talk to her numerous times a day). My mom’s sciatic nerve has been giving her grief this week so that has been not fun, so I popped by the other day to drop off a new ice pack and to just visit with her for a bit. Then Thursday, I took Wyatt over for arts and crafts time with my niece, who spends the day with my mom while her parents are at work. The kids had fun decorating their geckos!

And, I think that is it for this morning. Those plants are calling my name and I can’t resist any longer!

Have a good day everyone!

Currently..May

It is time for Anne In Residence’s monthly Currently post where we answer one word prompts about different things we are doing and feeling. I always love the insight I gain from these, taking inventory of my own life. This month we are looking at what we are consumingexploringgettinghoping, and seeing.

Consuming: We finally got with the program, a bit behind the trend, and got an Instant Pot. We have not used it much yet but I already know it is going to be helpful for dinners! Billy works late a lot, and it is always like last minute that I find out. The Instant Pot I think, will help us eat healthier more often. (If you have one and have a go-to recipe you love drop a link in the comments! I would love to hear what you all are enjoying) I am also hoping to make jam and yogurt in it!

Exploring: All of our favorite trails and hopefully some new ones soon! We are on the lookout for new places outdoors to explore this spring and summer.

Getting: Our garden in, bit by bit, slowly but surely. We have one no-dig bed set up, and I hope to get one more done before planting in two weeks. We are also getting ready for our camping trip next month, including a new tent. I guess my husband hopes to tent camp a lot over the summer…I am not so sure about that? I like a room that can’t blow away and a real bathroom but I can do it a few times for Wyatt and Billy. We also bought tickets to Jurassic Quest, a drive through dinosaur event that will be happening near us next month. I think it will be fun!

Hoping: Oh, for so many things. But I would be happy with more nights by the fire this summer, and coffee every morning.

Seeing: Our newly formed bubble! My brother, SIL, and niece, and my mom have “bubbled” together with us now that we all have vaccines. With Wyatt and his medical needs, we still have to stay pretty locked down but they have all agreed to do that with us. It has been a long time coming for us to have this experience, and it has been so nice to be with family again. We are also seeing signs of spring – the red-winged blackbirds singing in the cattails, the early flowers bursting with color from their beds where they nestled all winter, even a few bees circling the apple blossoms on our tree. It’s going to be an apple summer this year!

How about you? What have you been consuming, exploring, getting, hoping, and seeing?

The Weekend Vibe

This weekend was all about time outside and with people we love. It was a very full, very fun weekend. I feel like, finally, spring is here and we are free to roam.

We started off with a hike at our favorite metropark, Oakwoods. We were in search of tadpoles and vernal pools, but no dice. I mentioned this in my Sunday post and I was slightly alarmed to hear that other people have been looking and haven’t spotted any either! What is up with that? Is it too soon? Too dry? I would love to hear from someone who has spotted tadpoles this year. We were rewarded though however, with a spotting of the Pileated Woodpeckers that live there, and also these Jack-in-the-Pulpits! And some moss, because I love moss.

We also tried a new taco takeout place that is nearby, that we had been wanting to stop at – Atwater Street Tacos. We ate them in the car, which is a feat, I think, but holy moly they were amazing!! They are my new favorite. Billy and I split the tacos and an order of tostadas, and they were fantastic. Wyatt also enjoyed the chips and the cheese quesadilla that he had too.

After our hike and car picnic, we headed home to be lazy until it was time to go to my brother’s for a bonfire. Everyone had a blast, but the kids most of all. They played ALL NIGHT outside, and were laughing and dirty and just having so much fun. I had gotten a rope ladder free from Designed2Climb, so we hung that up and let the kids play on it. My niece got brave and climbed up to the top, and it was a great motivator for Wyatt to work on reaching and going on tall knees and pulling himself up and standing. The adults all sort of took turns playing with and watching the kids, and chatted by the fire, enjoying our adult beverages. It was time to head home all too soon. I think next time we may take our tent and let the kids crash out inside when they get tired instead.

We went home and crashed out (after I washed the smoke scent from my hair), that kind of sleep you have when you have had a fun day outside. Heavenly. Which was good, because I had a date early Sunday morning!

On Sunday bright and early in the morning, I met my friend Kelly at the garden center, our first visit of the year! Doesn’t she look so pretty? I call us the odd couple, we are so different yet so similar too – we have been friends for 20 years, were in each other’s weddings, and have been through many ups and downs of life together. We are totally going to be Grace and Frankie when we are older. Guess which character I am?

I wasn’t quite ready to go bonkers yet, this is Michigan and we may still have a freeze, but I did get some snapdragons and this totally adorable snail begonia, due to my love of all things snail. It’s on my desk as I sit here and I love it. We had so much fun shopping for plants together and making our lists for our gardens.

This weekend just left my soul feeling so full and happy, and refreshed for our week of homeschooling and all the little odd myriad everyday things that need to get done.