Book List :: 2020

 Ah, 2021. I don't know if things (big picture, worldly, societal at-large sorts of things) will actually shift much any time soon, but it is nice to at least have some semblance of a fresh start and the potential for a clean slate and new beginnings. As for myself, some of my changes thus far this year have been removing social media from my phone for the time being and committing to daily yoga, at least for the month. I've had to check in on facebook a couple times to contact folks about the monthly herb shares I've been doing since the summer, but I haven't so much as peeked on instagram- a far cry from the way-too-often checking in I was doing there for the last several months. Ever since the lead up to the election in November I'd been fairly glued to my phone- whether it was news or social media as a 'break' from the news...... it was just too much, and I was recently starting to feel like I wasn't as in charge of my own time and energy as I ought to be. I mean, come on- I made it until two years ago with no smartphone and I was just fine, plenty content. It truly isn't a necessary part of my well being and my world. All that said......... I do think there is also some good to the world of social media and all it entails. But. There has to be balance. And there wasn't for me, not for a while there. 

I suppose that's all for another day though, because today I'm here to share my annual list of books read (novels, mostly- I don't typically count my nonfiction here). Maybe soon I'll go back and add my annual birthday gratitudes from 2020, a bit about our last year in general (we bought a farm! we both got covid! we're well!) and our epic summer road trip of 2019. 

For now, books. Shared in the order they were read with favorites marked with an asterisk. It was a year of finally diving into Outlander (LOVE it) and His Dark Materials (such a magical and mysterious and thought-provoking series), among other things. As always, I'd LOVE if you saw fit to share your own favorite books read. 

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All - Laura Ruby

*Giver of Stars - Jojo Moyes

Whiskey When We're Dry - John Larison

Watershed - Mark Barr

The Overstory - Richard Powers

The Golden Compass - Phillip Pullman

The Subtle Knife - Phillip Pullman

The Amber Spyglass - Phillip Pullman

(*suffice to say I enjoyed the series very much and though it's hard to choose a favorite I'd say The Subtle Knife would probably have to be it)

Farm Girl - Corinne Cunningham

Lyra's Oxford - Phillip Pullman

Once Upon a Time in the North - Phillip Pullman

Outlander - Diana Gabaldon

The Book of Dust - Phillip Pullma

Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander book 2) - Diana Gabaldon

The Orphan of the Salt Winds - Elizabeth Brooks

*The Huntress - Kate Quinn

*Voyager (Outlander book 3) - Diana Gabaldon

*The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey (this was a reread of one of my all time favorites) 

The City Baker's Guide to Country Living - Louise Miller

Drums of Autumn (Outlander book 4) - Diana Gabaldon

The Fiery Cross (Outlander book 5) - Diana Gabaldon

La Belle Sauvage - Phillip Pullman

*Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander book 6) - Diana Gabaldon

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek - Kim Michele Richardson

Echo in the Bone (Outlander book 7) - Diana Gabaldon

The Salt Path - Raynor Winn

*Written in My Heart's Own Blood (outlander book 8) - Diana Gabaldon

Lord John and the Private Matter - Diana Gabaldon

Midwife of the Blue Ridge - Christine Blevins (this was good for the 'Outlander withdrawal')

The Burgess Boys - Elizabeth Strout

Olive, Again - Elizabeth Strout

Rose Madder - Stephen King

Remarkable Creatures - Tracy Chevalier

The Exiles - Christina Baker Kline

Wintering : The Power of rest and Retreat in Difficult Times - Katherine May 

Well, there you have it. If you'd like to look back over lists from years past, you can follow this link to last year's post  which includes separate links to each previous year.

Cheers and Happy New Year~


Wow, 2020

 Well. It's been a while. 

I think that's likely how I've started the last several posts here in this dusty old space. A place I've only showed up in the last couple years to share my annual birthday gratitudes and books-read lists. A place where, in spite of that, I can come and lose myself easily for hours looking through old photos and musings and ramblings from early motherhood. Nostalgia, you know. It sings its siren song loud and clear for me and I dive right in. 

Even the yearly homeschool round-up posts fell to the wayside. Even our 11,000 mile road trip last summer went unacknowledged here. Alas.

But here we are, 3/4 of the way through a year that has churned things up and set so much of the world on fire in so many ways. I don't have words for all of it right now but something lead me to peek in here after not doing so for months and so now I'm thinking and wondering what will become of this little space. Will it continue being just a landing spot for my beloved lists and an archive of our family's earlier days together? Maybe. 

Instagram is great, but I'm not known for brevity and sometimes I've got so much to say. And 2020 has brought so much to the surface and brought big things our way personally as well.  So. We'll see. 

Anyway, hello.


2019 book list

So it would seem that this blog has become a place where, if nothing else, I at least keep up with an annual list both of birthday gratitudes and books (mostly novels) read.  You'd think at the very least I could also finally share some of our huge summer road trip and maybe some highlights from the homeschooling year, but what can I say? Instagram makes it so very easy, maybe that's what. Still, I'd like to try a bit more. If for no other reason because I like having this somewhat lengthier and certainly longer-curated chronicle of our days and lives. It always make me so happy to look back through the blog archives.  So as I guess I keep saying, we'll see.

For now though, here's my book list from 2019.  Listed in order read with favorites starred.  As you'll see, once I got to Where the Crawdads Sing, I decided one star wasn't enough so I gave it two.  Turns out I very much liked several books last year, so a few more earned that extra fancy double asterisk.

*A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles

Simple Things, Erin Boyle

Still Me, Jojo Moyes (she's one of my favorite authors, and this was good- she never lets me down, but it wasn't a favorite.  I'm *somewhat* patiently awaiting my library hold copy of Giver of Stars)

*Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, JK Rowling

Wednesday's Children, Kathryn Michaels

Britt-Marie was Here, Frederik Backman

*Us Against You, Frederik Backman (really really like his writing, pretty much always)

*Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince, JK Rowling

You Were Made for This, Michelle Sacks

Unsheltered, Barbara Kingsolver (I love her, but I found myself only truly interested in one of the stories being told here- the one from the 1880s-and not so into the modern day story)

Warlight, Michael Ondaatje

Sugar Land, Tammy Lynne Stoner

Victory Garden, Rhys Bowen

*We Hope for Better Things, Erin Bartels

Notes on a Nervous Planet, Matt Haig

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted, Robert Hillman

*Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman

**Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens (I mean, wow. Totally worth all the attention, I'd say)

*The Girl He Used to Know, Tracey Garvis Graves

Ellen Foster, Kaye Gibbons

*Lilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly

**East of Eden, John Steinbeck (Grapes of Wrath is in my top ten, probably top five. This didn't edge that out, but my gosh I just love his honest and raw and salty and real writing. So much.)

**Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, JK Rowling (my fave HP. well, maybe tied with book 3...)

The Songs of the Humpback Whale, Jodi Picoult (Maybe not the best choice for a first read of hers, as it left me feeling unresolved and a little pissed and therefore not keen to give her another try. But please tell me if I'm wrong and there's a particular gem out there of hers.)

The Body Lies, Jo Baker

Lost Roses, Martha Hall Kelly (really good, but I didn't love it as much as Lilac Girls)

All the Flowers in Paris, Sarah Jio (so close to wanting to give this a *)

In Another Time, Jillian Cantor

*The Winter People,  Jennifer McMahon (creepy! totally different for me but I liked it!)

*The Book Thief, Markus Zusak (There were a few things I didn't like about the book but overall I was just so moved by it, by certain characters and parts of it, that it must get a star. I mean it guts you, for sure, as most of you probably know because you've probably already read it. Ooph)

Rules For Visiting, Jessica Francis Kane

Last Ones Left Alive, Sarah Davis Goff  (bizarre and apocalyptic- made me want to start training hard core in case I need to fight off monsters or zombies or something, so there's that...)

*Call Your Daughter Home, Deb Spera (so, so good. historical fiction telling the stories of women struggling in the depression era south)

History of Wolves, Emily Fridlund

*The Wolf Border, Sarah Hall

Future Home of the Living God, Louise Erdrich

Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout (I mean, it was really good- I know a lot of folks love Olive. I'm looking forward to the sequel but it wasn't a big standout for me of the year.)

**Water Dancer, Ta-Nehisi Coates (I don't really know what to say, but I loved it. There were times it felt a little hard for me to come to terms with magical-realism-meets-the-horror-of-slavery, as though that was a too-light handling of it, but I just thought the writing was so beautiful. One of those books where I'd find myself reading lines aloud because I loved them so much.)

*The Testaments, Margaret Atwood

**City of Girls, Elizabeth Gilbert (mmmmm so good)

Widow of Rose House, Diana Biller

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All, Laura Ruby (technically still reading, so we'll have to see about stars, but so far so good!)

And there you have it! Happy reading in 2020! I've already got a list going for the year and have a few holds at the library, but I'm always, always looking for recommendations.  What were your favorite reads last year?

Lists from previous years:



39 years, 39 things

Well hello.  It's been a good long while since I've spent any time in this space.  I'm spending way less time with my (big) camera these days, less time on the computer.  And it shows here.  I've got over a thousand photos on my phone and a few hundred on my camera from our epic 7 week road trip this summer, and I hope to share some of that here, soon.  If nothing else, I know I want to continue using this space as a photo journal of our days, an easy and visual way to catalog and honor the highlights from our little world.

For right now, though, I'm here to compose and share my annual birthday gratitude list~ something I several years ago and always look forward to.  A way to mindfully notice the things (and people) in my life that I am most grateful for.  The things (and people) that I want more of in the world, that I say a resounding 'YES!' to.

So without further ado,  my 39 things:

*slow, easy mornings

*my morning tea

*plants (this is an understatement and a bit vague.... I've got my favorites of course- tulsi, calendula, maple, oak, ferns, mint, lemon verbena, larkspur and peony, and so on.)


*hearing the train whistle as it wraps around the valley, especially at night

*the neighborhood screech owls calling to one another at night as the weather cools

*that magic dancing liquid light of early morning and late afternoon

*the way she still, for now, fits so well in my lap and in my arms

*our incredible summer road trip- 50 days, 11,000 miles (!), the three of us in our van camping and exploring our way all across this big and beautiful country.  What an immense gift.

*the time and space and energy to farm our little yard as much as we can with flowers and vegetables and herbs and fruit, and the therapy and meditative satisfaction I get from doing so

*our sweet Ollie cat

*that we are able to homeschool, and for the freedom and time and space and flexibility that doing so affords us as a family


*books. particularly novels. particularly, (it would seem from my favorites) historical fiction and magical realism that isn't too fantastic.

*my slippers

*listening to her practice the piano, and music in general

*my job(s) that I love- teaching after school art, part-time seasonal farm work, a bit of writing...

*salty ocean air

*waterfalls (the best church there is, in my opinion)

*bubbly and tasty and fizzy homemade kombucha

*all the fermented foods

*the community of women that come together to make magic twice a year at my swaps

*the great good luck of having been born in a time and a place with clean water and good medicine and public sanitation, where I am safe, secure, and not in the midst of famine or civil war or immediate danger

*the amazing generation of young and ingenuitive climate activists fighting and stirring folks up in a great effort to address the very real and very clear and dire state of things on a global ecological scale

*and their peers who are fighting for common sense gun laws, teenagers who are tired of seeing their classmates murdered; trying to shout loudly enough over the lobbyists to have legislators and everyone acknowledge that the public at large have no need (or right) to possess weapons of war and that bulletproof backpacks is a pretty awful and ridiculous solution


*the forest

*having been among the giant sequoias with my loves this summer

*the tidal pools behind the sea stacks along the shore at Olympic National Park

*all the southern Utah back roads

*the US National Forest Service's dispersed camping opportunities

*my main squeeze, for everything.

*my family~ that which I was born into, married into, and the friends who have become family

*The big and bittersweet honor of watching my girl as she very slowly crests her little-girlhood and starts to turn toward adolescence.  There is much little girl about her yet, but I can sense we are on the cusp of big things.  I've seen that for a long while now.

*the way I accept more about myself as each year passes

*that particular hike in North Cascades NP, the most beautiful hike of my life so far

*our woodstove


*good food

Ah.  I enjoyed that.  I never peek at previous lists before making these, though obviously there's always sure to be a good bit of overlap from year to year.  Below I'll link the lists from previous years, in case you've got any interest in checking them out.


37 (so many good photos in this one- food, farm, camping, total solar eclipse, birthday campout, the sea, our trip up to the Adirondacks....)

36 (this one has links to all the previous years as well)

cheers from here~


to the sea

Living a solid 4.5-5 hours from the sea, we don't get there so often.  Once a year for sure, twice if we really work to make it happen.  I mean, I always want to be near the sea, but, well....... sometimes even 4.5-5 hours feels unrealistic in the scope of everything else life brings our way.  This was the third year in a row (here are photos from our first trip) we've gone camping to the beach with a group of friends in the spring.  This year we landed back at Edisto Beach State Park in SC.  So, so good.  5 days of zero driving and loads of biking, plenty of time exploring the beach and looking for treasures from the sea.  5 days of her running wild with friends and plenty of connecting between the adults, too.  Seafood and campfires, shenanigans and live oak climbing, trying out some of our new camping gear we've purchased for the big trip this summer..... Just so good, all of it.  I've said it many times before and I will again and again- that salty ocean air is one of my favorite medicines ever.

I'm still finding sand in my pockets and seashells tucked away here and there.


spring things

Apple blossoms, beginning of season bonfires, flowers growing, blooming, bursting.  Exuberant, lusty birdsong.  A sudden goodbye to a sweet hen.  Repotted houseplants happily spreading and thriving in the windowsill alongside recently collected beach treasures. Plans being made, now in full force, for our upcoming summer road trip....... Ah, spring.

I aim to write in this space more regularly for a bit.  I'm loving instagram but sometimes feel like there's so much more to say, and I don't quite want to let go of this way of chronicling our days. Hoping to soon write posts summing up our homeschool year, trip plans, garden doings, and so on.  We shall see.

cheers from here~


2018 book list

Well, it would certainly seem that I'm still in that weird "instagram at my blog" stage, but I can't not share a beginning of the year post on my previous year's reading list.  Below are my reads (generally fiction, I tend not to keep track of the nonfiction as much) from last year, in order of them being read, with the ones I enjoyed the most starred. I'd love to hear from you what your favorite reads of the year (or ever) were and which books you're looking forward to reading.  Happy New Year to everyone, and happy reading in 2019!

*The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Kindred- Octavia E. Butler
*The Indigo Girl
*Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
*Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince
*Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The Power
Dirt Road
All the Pretty Horses
Claire of the Sea Light
*Little Fires Everywhere
Swimming Between Worlds
Atomic City Girls
How to be a Feminist
Leopard at the Door
*The Great Alone
The Last Letter From Your Lover
A Beautiful Young Woman
Winter Garden
Plain Language
Home for Unwanted Girls
Big Stone Gap
Big Cherry Holler
Milk Glass Moon
Back to Big Stone Gap
SLOW: Simple Living for a Frantic World
The Woman in Cabin 10
The Color Purple
Moon of the Crusted Snow
*The Hate You Give
*A Gentleman in Moscow

With Claire:

Swallows and Amazons
The Hobbit
The Curious Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
The Penderwicks at Point Mouette
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Here's my 2017 book list post, which has that year's list as well as links to the lists from 2013, 2014, 2105, and 2016.