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!!

My Favorite Reads of 2019

Hey all! I can’t believe it is this time of the year already! Wowzer. I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday or at least a few great days in December.

I feel like I read some pretty great books this year! I don’t keep up on my Goodreads very well – I get about halfway through the year and forget, so I can’t give stats which is a bummer, because I love everyone’s stats posts. Goals for next year! I know that I read a lot of nature books, thrillers, some magical realism, cozy mysteries, and some romances. And probably some other things too! I also participated in Paris in July which was so fun, and also Nonfiction November, which was pretty spectacular. I feel like I have a great idea of what to expect of them both next year and I am looking forward to them both again.

As I look back, some books I just really liked. My list is sort of based on just what I actually really loved, whether it was a bestseller or not – just a book that I really couldn’t stop reading and wanted more of when I was done. So, that being said, here they are!

I can’t believe this is the first time I had ever read Anne. Now I love her to pieces. And The Wolf Wilder was so so good. If you are going to read it, read it when it is cold – and if you live somewhere warm, just turn that air conditioning way down! Lol.

My love for these two books is real. The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating touched my soul, and The Wood I read first, and then read aloud to Billy and Wyatt over the course of this year, that is how much I loved it. John Lewis-Stempel is one of my very favorite authors to read and I am slowly making my way through his books.

I am pretty sure this is the first time I have had two graphic novels on my list! I absolutely adored Pumpkinheads, but what can you expect from Rainbow Rowell, but greatness, in my opinion. And Brazen – I picked this up on a whim at the library then read it cover to cover without stopping during Wyatt’s nap. I never reviewed it properly but it was seriously amazing.

These are three new to me authors – and I believe Luanne G. Smith and Glendy Vanderah are new authors in general! I loved each of these books for different reasons, but I can’t wait to read more by all of them. Read my review of The Vine Witch here, and Where the Forest Meets the Stars here. And hey I did review Brazen! A mini-one in the same post as Leaving Time!

Hands down my favorite book of the entire year. I am always a little skeptical of big best sellers for some reason, but when Gulfside Musings posted that she loved it, I gave it a shot. And I am so glad that I did. It was everything – nature and mystery and emotional. It was spectacular and I recommended it to everyone I know.

Earth Day Reads

We are all about nature at our house. We love to be in it, we love to celebrate it, we love to read about it. It is very important to me that Wyatt loves the earth and the outdoors as much as we do, and by exposing him to it through being outside, cherishing all our creatures great and small, and learning by reading as well, we can nourish that ingrained sense of love toward our world and all of its inhabitants. I have a few books that I have put aside just for Earth Day next week – some are old favorites, some are new to us. And here they are, one for each day next week and then a bonus one for fun!

The Earth Book – This one has been in rotation here for a while! Wyatt loves it, so do I. It’s a quick easy read, and has great colorful illustrations.

Me… Jane– This is a great read for kids, to introduce them to Jane Goodall- and to show them that a dream you have as a kid can become reality! We read this one together surrounded by every monkey toy that Wyatt has.

Blackout – This one is a favorite of mine. It is about a citywide blackout that causes families to leave their technology behind and venture out into the community. I love it to pieces and is a good book to use to talk about energy conservation and time without tech.

Fancy Nancy Every Day is Earth Day – It is important to me to make Wyatt aware that our choices for a better planet are an every day thing, not just on earth day!

Biscuit’s Earth Day Celebration – I thought this was a cute look at a few things kids can do to participate in keeping our planet alive and healthy.

It’s Earth Day! – I love Mercer Mayer! Little Critter was a favorite of mine as a kid and I can’t wait to read this one with Wyatt. This is a new one to both of us!

The Lorax – No list about Earth Day books would be complete without the Lorax…I think we might make some truffula trees even!

Bug Hotel – My son loves bugs. We bought a bug house last year but this year I want to really expand on it and do a few other things as well.

And a few books for you!

Two books that I love, and one that is on my list! Meadowland and John Lewis Stempel started a whole new way of how I look at the world around me. The Nature Fix took that a few more steps. I highly recommend them both. And Common Ground just intrigues me! I have it on hold at the library and it’s a waiting game.. (If you like nature narratives I read about one a month, check back for more!)

What about you? Do you have any good earth day/environmental reading suggestions? I would love to hear them!