Amy Scott's Thoughts

Sharing the thoughts that bounce around in my brain!

Hello February! February 2, 2023

Filed under: Amy's Bookshelf,Family Time,Homeschool Adventures — Amy Scott @ 3:54 pm

Happy Groundhog’s Day! I’ve been informed that good, old Phil saw his shadow today and there will be six more weeks of winter. If “winter” could resemble this last week’s weather, I would happily accept. We’ve had a rare dry stretch here in the PNW. It’s been cold, but it’s been sunny! Something about January (and now February) sunshine feels like a gift. Despite the chill, I’ve done my best to get a walk in the brisk, fresh air everyday it’s clear. Gotta get that Vitamin D! It helps stave off my desire to hibernate during these winter weeks.

My blog posts have been sporadic this past month. I like to write weekly, but something about January… It’s kind of a slow month. We definitely keep busy, but not in the most interesting ways. January feels like a return to ordinary, to routine after the holidays. It’s back to school and the usual commitments that took a break in December. It’s also my birthday month… which means, lots of book shopping… and book reading. The quiet is appreciated. The return to routine is grounding. Not super exciting to write about, but very good in a simple kind of way.

So, what to share? Last week our family gave a presentation at our homeschool co-op about the national parks we’ve visited. Each week at co-op a different family gives a 3-5 minute presentation. The inspiration for this activity was to give the kids in our group a chance to practice public speaking. The day of our family presentation, we also took our drama class on a field trip to the main stage in our church. We talked about the sound board and the lighting. Jeremy came down to help me turn everything on. We talked about stage positions and showed them backstage. This class has been surprisingly fun to teach. While I don’t have professional drama experience, it’s been neat to watch the kids latch on to acting and sharing stories. The kids are greatly enjoying themselves and it’s a huge relief to me that we are pulling this off! I’m so thankful a dear friend is co-teaching with me as well. It’s been quite the experience for us all.

While the younger kids are learning drama, the older class is learning Shakespeare. I sit in on this class as the parent helper. I will happily admit I’m learning just as much as the students. The group is doing an adapted version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I purchased my own copy of the play and I’ve almost finished it! This is the first time I’ve read Shakespeare since high school and the first time I’ve ever done it voluntarily. I love that our homeschool co-op is growing and challenging me as well as my kids.

The other co-op related highlight was our field trip to the fire station this week. We visited the fire station numerous times during our preschool years thanks to MOPS. This was the first time the kids have visited as elementary students. As we were driving to the station, we passed an aid car from the fire station. Then we came upon a fender bender were one of the cars had caught fire. The fire truck was there with the hose out. It had just put the fire out before we drove by. I explained to the boys that the firefighters might be too busy with this call to have us visit. The firefighters were slightly late, but they arrived at the station ready to give us a tour and answer our questions. The boys got to see all the equipment and sit inside the truck. They haven’t outgrown the age of fire trucks being cool. I appreciate having a group of families to do activities like this with. Our co-op has been a huge blessing to our homeschool journey.

What to say that’s not co-op related? We’ve had quite a bit of time around the house as we’ve settled back into routine. Lots of time for board games, books, and baking. The boys are into playing Animal Crossing on the Nintendo Switch. This game has sparked an interest in fish and bugs since they collect them on their island, Sunny Pear. I’ve picked up some new reference books (book club recommendations) and I love seeing the boys pouring through them – identifying creatures and sharing facts. The new thing to build with LEGOs is the variety of fish they can catch on Animal Crossing. While I’m not a huge fan of video games, I can get behind something that sparks their interest in the natural world.

I’m not sure if February will mimic January in its chill vibes. Apparently, Phil thinks so. I won’t mind if it does. I enjoy these winter days – snuggled inside, warm, cozy. It’s a good mix of commitments and down time. A quiet balance. As the weather improves, our calendar fills up. We’ve had lots of calendar talks recently (anyone else feel like their spring/summer is booked? Just me?). I know busy days are coming. Our calendar tends to ebb and flow. I can appreciate this slower season knowing it prepares for me what lies around the bend.

Sharing our love of national parks at co-op!
Don’t let those smiles fool you! They are ruthless Sorry players!
My baking buddy! Graham is a fan of sugar and spice!
Fire station fun!
February books! I learned about Ocean Anatomy and Nature Anatomy at book club. I hope to add more of these pretty reference books to our home library.

 

What I’ve Been Reading – January 2023 January 31, 2023

Filed under: Amy's Bookshelf — Amy Scott @ 6:30 pm

Bookish Thoughts for January

January is a fun book month! Birthday money equals book money! I enjoyed adding lots of books to my home library this month. Some are new, some are used. Some are books I’ve already read and some are books I hope to read soon. You’ll notice in the photo below that I purchased quite a few Roseanna M. White books this month. She has become a go-to author for me and I’ve already re-read many of her works. Her British historical fiction is a favorite of mine. Her January release, Yesterday’s Tides, is my top fiction pick of the month! Other January books of note, I picked up Spare by Prince Harry. The library had over 300 holds on it and I didn’t want to wait that long. I was super excited to find a used copy of Garden City by John Mark Comer at Powell’s for a great price. It’s been on my “To Be Read” list for a while. I ordered A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare to read along with the older students at our homeschool co-op. I haven’t read Shakespeare since high school so this is certainly a stretch for me. Holy Hygee was a book club influence. At least four of us in the group now own copies! Book club often influences my book purchases. I’m also quick to buy books from trusted authors. I went back through my Goodreads account to see what books I’ve given high ratings. This helps refresh my memory on books I might like to own. While I do make good use of my local library and Kindle Unlimited, it’s also nice to own books. It’s like inviting friends to move in and stay a while!

The January Book Haul!

Top Picks for January

Non-Fiction: More Than Your Number: A Christ-Centered Enneagram Approach to Becoming AWARE of Your Internal World by Beth & Jeff McCord – If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you are know I love the Enneagram. It’s such a powerful tool for understanding myself and others. I appreciated the unique take on the Enneagram in this book. Instead of focusing on just your one type, the McCords dial into the fact that many types influence our thinking. This is often why we can feel at odds with ourselves. The second half of the book is very nuts and bolts – super practical. As a Type One, it was interesting to lean into how the Type Two, Four, Seven, and Nine all influence my thinking. I am more than my number!
Fiction: Yesterday’s Day by Roseanna M. White – I briefly touched on this book in my birthday post. Not only did my signed copy arrive before it’s release day, I finished it on my birthday and it was such a perfect way to wrap up my special day. I don’t often give 5 stars so this book is something special. I enjoyed the dual timeline (WWI and WWII) set in the same location. You can tell some of the characters overlap, but it’s puzzle figuring out who and how. I also mentioned before that White wrote in cameo appearances from quite a few of her other WWI characters. “Bumping” into them was a delight. I also appreciate how White touched on racial injustice while highlighting strong female characters. This book was so good! I loved it!!!

Book List of January
1 Star = I did not like it. 2 stars = It was okay. 3 stars = I liked it. 4 stars = I really liked it. 5 stars = It was amazing.

Non-Fiction:

  • More Than Your Number: A Christ-Centered Enneagram Approach to Becoming AWARE of Your Internal World by Beth & Jeff McCord – 4 stars
  • A Burning in My Bones: The Authorized Biography of Eugene H. Peterson, Translator of The Message by Winn Collier – 4 stars
  • Spare by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex – 3 stars
  • Holy Hygge: Creating a Place for People to Gather and the Gospel to Grow by Jamie Erickson – 4 starts

Fiction:

  • Check Mate by Leah Brunner – 4 stars
  • Cabin Mate by Leach Brunner – 3 stars
  • House Rules by Jodi Picoult – 3 stars
  • Compared by Kortney Keisel – 4 stars
  • Complex by Kortney Keisel – 4 stars
  • Complete by Kortney Keisel – 4 stars
  • Commit by Kortney Keisel (novella) – 4 stars
  • Yesterday’s Tides by Roseanna M. White – 5 stars
  • The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman – 2 stars
  • One Day in December by Josie Silver – 2 stars
  • No More Bad Dates by Kate O’Keeffe – 3 stars
  • Friend(shipped) by Savannah Scott – 3 stars
  • Battle(shipped) by Savannah Scott – 3 stars
  • Town(shipped) by Savannah Scott – 4 stars
  • The Borrowers Afield by Mary Norton – 3 stars
  • The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery – 5 stars

 

Happy Birthday to Me! January 15, 2023

Filed under: Amy's Bookshelf,Family Time — Amy Scott @ 5:37 pm

Yesterday was my 37th birthday! Happy birthday to me! It was a good day filled with food and family. Since our family likes to celebrate birthdays over multiple days, birthday “weekend” kicked off on Friday. The boys presented me with flowers and cards when I woke up. We picked up Chipotle for lunch, Crumbl Cookies for dessert, and Papa Murphy’s pizza for dinner. Part of the birthday celebration was not having to cook this weekend! Yesterday, Jeremy and the boys grabbed my free Starbuck drink and a Safeway maple bar for breakfast. We had mac and cheese and chocolate cake for lunch with my parents and sister. Then dinner was tacos and cranberry bliss bars with my in-laws. Now we’re living off the leftovers as we relax over this long weekend!

Books are big part of my birthday celebration as well! I’ve reached an age where my gifts come in envelopes and I’m totally okay with that. I’ve had a blast online book shopping this weekend. I love, love, love growing my home library. I’m super excited to share more about my new books at the end of the month in my book post. I will share two book highlights now, because my joy really can’t be contained!

Book highlight number one, my pre-ordered, signed copy of Roseanna M. White’s new book, Yesterday’s Tides, arrived on Thursday. This was an unexpected treat since the book doesn’t officially release until the 24th. I was able to read it Friday into Saturday and I absolutely loved it! Finishing it on my birthday felt like a gift. I was enthralled with the duel timeline set in WWI and WWII. It was a mysterious puzzle to see how the first timeline affected the second. A very compelling read! I also love that White included cameos of characters from her previous historical fiction works in this novel. It was like bumping into good friends. I couldn’t ask for a better way to wrap up my birthday!

My second book highlight involves our new coffee table. In 2021, I read The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables: The Enchanting Island that Inspired L. M. Montgomery by Catherine Reid. I thought to myself that if we ever had a coffee table this book would go on it. Well, we got a coffee table, so I ordered the book! The beautiful Prince Edward Island landscapes that showcase the world of L.M. Montgomery practically make me heartsick. It’s a dream of mine to roam these spaces in-person someday. After studying L.M. Montgomery over the years, I’ve been deeply moved by her sense of place and belonging, especially in nature. Her friendship with the trees and flowers has colored my own view of home. On my walks around our house, I can’t help but admire our landscape, especially our trees, and feel a sense of companionship. Also, fun fact, I remove dust jackets from books and the foil art on this book is such a delight! The best kind of surprise reveal!

I’ve enjoyed styling our new coffee table. It’s been the project of the week. I pulled out the nice chess set the boys got for their birthday and set it up on the lower shelf. Beside the chess set, I have a beautifully illustrated nature poetry book (The Lost Words), a Where’s Waldo book (for fun), and my new PEI landscapes book. On top of the table, I found a tray to hold our remotes, coasters, and a fake plant to finish the look (I have no desire to keep real plants alive, not my skill set).

As you can tell, it’s been a lovely birthday weekend. I’m looking forward to the rest of this long weekend filled with comfy clothes, tasty leftovers, and plenty to read! I can’t wait for all my book mail to arrive so I can share the official birthday haul with you all soon!

When you don’t have stairs in your house.. you make them!
Such a beautiful book cover!
Making the coffee table feel like home. I might not excel at home décor, but I do enjoy it.
5 stars! A real birthday treat!
Sweet cards and flowers from my favorites!
Birthday vibes with Crumbl
Officially 37
 

Hello 2023 January 5, 2023

Filed under: Amy's Bookshelf,Family Time,Homeschool Adventures — Amy Scott @ 2:40 pm

Does the New Year sneak up on you? It always seems to sneak up on me! I get so focused on the holidays and multiple family birthdays in December. The whole month is one big celebration and then BAM! It’s January! A New Year! I try to reflect on the year I’ve had and set intentions for coming year, but my brain can’t seem to focus on these concepts until the very end of the year. I’m too busy partying in December for reflection. What are my thoughts on 2022? In some ways it was a slow year of rebuilding after pandemic conditions. We still had quite a bit of time around the house. We came back to in-person church and joined a homeschool co-op. Our family vacation to Sunriver, OR was also major highlight. Reading was top priority in 2022. I challenged myself to see how many books I could read in a year and I was shocked to find it was over 200 (thanks to that extra time at home).

Now that 2023 is here, I have some thoughts for the coming year. I try not to make super serious and intense New Year’s Resolutions. I find it beneficial to challenge myself, but my personally type does that all on it’s own without the need of a resolution (I’m an Enneagram Type 1). Since fun isn’t my normal M.O., I try to add yearly goals that bring me joy (thus, the reading goals in 2022 and baking goals in 2021).

What are some of my thoughts for 2023?

I’m working on a whole Bible in two years plans right now. It will wrap up in April and I hope to start a one-year chronological Bible afterward. I thought about doubling up and starting my new Bible while finishing my current plan, but that seemed like a lot. Starting my new Bible in April will mean that the dates are off (it starts on January 1st), but I think this will help me extend grace to myself when I miss a day. I’ll already be off from the actual date, so it’s not as big of a deal. I have a one year Bible that got in high school and have used multiple times, but I decided to get a new one. I wanted a fresh slate and I’m looking forward to the chronological format.

My reading goal for 2023 is 100 books. I’ve also decided to keep track of pages read for an additional challenge. To grow our home library, I plan on letting the boys each pick a new book once a month to purchase. We ordered the January books on Amazon and then also made our way to a popular used bookstore on January 1st. We are doing a good job of growing our home library so far in 2023! I’ll be intrigued to see what they pick each month. I’m hoping this will give me a consistent structure for purchasing kids books. This approach should keep my book shopping in check and spread it out evenly over the course of the year.

As silly as it sounds, I have hopes to watch more television in 2023. In 2022, television time meant a lower book count and I was all about seeing how many books I could read. While I do prefer books to television, I have a few favorite shows I hope to watch again. Jeremy and I started Once Upon a Time this week. This was our favorite show when it was on air and we have so many good memories surrounding this show! I also watched the Call the Midwife holiday episode last night. Television feels like such a novelty now!

Now that Christmas break is over, it’s back to school for our homeschool family. We are two weeks away from finishing our 2nd quarter. Time really has flown by! For the next two months, I’ll be co-teaching a drama class at our homeschool co-op. Each week, we plan to take a classic story to read, discuss, and recreate. We’ll incorporate drama techniques and terminology as we act out these well-known stories. Our first week went really well! Our story was The Gingerbread Man and the kids had a blast acting out the tale (lots of running and giggles). We wrapped up the class by munching on ginger cookies! Next week we’ll dive into Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

While it’s hard to believe the holiday season is behind us, I am excited for the all the possibilities that lie ahead in 2023. I’m not quite sure what to expect by I am hopeful and optimistic. Each day is an adventure, a blank page ready to be written. I hope 2023 is a good story waiting to be told!

Visiting Powell’s was a great way to kick off the New Year!
The January Books!
In a goal to add more furniture to our living room, we got a coffee table! The hope is to also add some bookshelves when they come back into stock at Ikea.
A new coffee table and four additional throw pillows in the loving room! I’m excited to “style” the coffee table soon. Of course, I’m planning for coffee table books!
Back to the school books! Don’t judge our school uniform – pajamas and comfy clothes! I promise we dress normal in public!
 

What I’ve Been Reading – December 2022 December 31, 2022

Filed under: Amy's Bookshelf — Amy Scott @ 9:00 am

Bookish Thoughts for December

Brace yourselves! The book list is long this month! Most of Christmas break as been spent chilling around the house and that meant lots of free time to read. Also, I might have gone overboard on Christmas rom-coms this month. In fact, a good portion of my books this month as actually novellas. The average novella takes less than two hours to read. As you can imagine, I easily finished one Christmas love story a day… sometimes two… I use to obsessively watch Hallmark movies all Christmas season, but we no longer have the Hallmark Channel. I used Kindle Unlimited to fill the void with books that pretty much are Hallmark movies (but better, because they are books, right?!). Anyway, I’ve loved all the Christmas rom-coms… but they are the book equivalent of cotton candy. Very fluffy. It’s been a fun run, but I’m ready to add some diversity to my reading diet in 2023. However… I still have Kindle Unlimited for a few more months, so I expect some fluff will show up in my future book lists. I can’t help myself. In real life and in books, I’m drawn to the sweet stuff.

My home library grows quite a bit in December and January thanks to Christmas and my birthday being less than a month apart. Book shopping is my absolute favorite form on shopping! I added 7 new books to my bookshelves this month, plus 8 to my Kindle. I have 3 more books arriving in the mail this next week. Yay! My book shopping is on pause now until after my birthday. As an avid reader, I’m trying to assess which books from the this last year I want to give a permanent spot on my bookshelf and which new books I take a chance on. Buying new books means I don’t have to rely on the speed of the library, but… sometimes buying an un-read book means adding a dud to the collection. Lots to think about before the next book order!

I want to give some space in this blog to talk about my Kindle Paperwhite. I used my birthday money last year to purchase it. I was unsure how I would feel about using a Kindle instead of an actual book. Oh my goodness! I can’t say enough good things about Kindley (the name of Kindle). I’ve read so many books on Kindely this year. And thanks to Kindle Unlimited and the library, I’ve never lacked for something to read. My Kindle Paperwhite was definitely one of my best purchases in 2022. Also, the cover is navy blue which happens to be my favorite color, so everything about Kindley gives me happy vibes.

Since it’s December, let’s wrap up with reading goals. I doubled my reading goal in 2022 and then some. 2022 was a record breaking reading year. The grand total came in at 264 books which beat 2021 by 85 books (179 in 2021). My sister-in-law mentioned that this year she kept track of pages read instead of books. This concept intrigued me. I realize there are no-hard-and-fast-rules with book counting, but I always struggle with counting novellas… maybe they should count as .5 instead of a whole book, but that’s too complicated. I might join the page counting club in 2023. I haven’t officially decided so you’ll have to check with me at the end of January 2023!

Part of December’s book haul and more books are on their way!!!

Top Picks for December

Non-Fiction: Are My Kids on Track: The 12 Emotional, Social, and Spiritual Milestones Your Child Needs to Reach by Sissy Goff (MEd, LPC-MHSP), David Thomas (LMSW), and Melissa Trevathan (MRE). I’ve read multiple book now by David Thomas and I appreciate his wisdom and insight into how boys are wired. This book had similar material to what I’ve read in his previous works, but I liked how it was formatted. Also, this book would be a fabulous resource for a parent with both a daughter and a son. I even found myself highlighting sections written for girls because the information was so applicable. So often I get hung up on academic milestones that I forget the importance of social, emotional, and spiritual milestones. This book is an excellent reminder of what’s truly important in the hearts and minds of children.
Fiction: The Father Christmas Series by Robin Jones Gunn. I grew up reading Robin Jones Gunn and having her characters become formative friends in my reading life. Her Father Christmas series is a favorite to read around the holidays. The story takes place in the fictional town of Carlton Heath outside of London, England. The main character Miranda sets off to find answers about her father based off a picture of Father Christmas her mother kept hidden. The characters are lively and friends become family. The town’s annual production of A Christmas Carol also plays a prominent part in the story. Hallmark made a movie trilogy out of the books, but of course, the books are better, in my opinion.

Book List for December
1 Star = I did not like it. 2 stars = It was okay. 3 stars = I liked it. 4 stars = I really liked it. 5 stars = It was amazing.

Non-Fiction:

  • Are My Kids on Track: The 12 Emotional, Social, and Spiritual Milestones Your Child Needs to Reach by Sissy Goff (MEd, LPC-MHSP), David Thomas (LMSW), and Melissa Trevathan (MRE). – 4 stars
  • Women Rising: Learning to Listen, Reclaiming Our Voice by Meghan Tschanz – 4 stars

Fiction:

  • Kiss Me Now by Melanie Jacobson – 3 stars
  • Kiss the Girl by Melanie Jacobson – 3 stars
  • Kiss and Tell by Melanie Jacobson – 3 stars
  • Cotswolds Holiday by Kasey Stockton – 4 stars
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – 3 stars
  • The Impossible Princess by Keira Dominquez – 3 stars
  • A Sugar Creek Christmas by Jenny B. Jones – 4 stars
  • His Mistletoe Miracle by Jenny B. Jones – 4 stars
  • The Holiday Husband by Jenny B. Jones – 4 stars
  • The Most Real McCoy by Julie Christianson – 3 stars
  • My Own Best Enemy by Julie Christianson – 3 stars
  • Pretending I love Lucy by Julie Christianson – 3 stars
  • The Even Odder Couple by Julie Christianson – 3 stars

Fiction: Christmas Novellas

  • His Stand-In Holiday Girlfriend by Kasey Stockton – 3 stars
  • Snowed in on Main Street by Kasey Stockton – 3 stars
  • Melodies and Mistletoe by Kasey Stockton – 4 stars
  • Snowflake Wishes by Kasey Stockton – 4 stars
  • The Twelve Dates of Christmas by M.T. Knights – 3 stars
  • Re-Gifting Christmas by M.T. Knights – 3 stars
  • A Holly Jilly Christmas by Emma St. Clair – 3 stars
  • A Christmas Spark by Cindy Steel – 4 stars
  • Not So Alone for Christmas by Jenny Proctor – 4 stars
  • Christmas After All by Cece Louise – 4 stars
  • No Room In the Inn by Gracie Ruth Mitchell – 3 stars
  • Finding Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn – 4 stars
  • Engaging Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn – 4 stars
  • Kissing Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn – 4 stars
  • The Twelves Holidates by Emma St. Clair – 4 stars

 

Christmas Break December 23, 2022

Filed under: Amy's Bookshelf,Cooking Experiments,Family Time,Getting Creative — Amy Scott @ 2:24 pm

We are a week into our Christmas break and it really has felt like a break. Our family has slowed down considerably. We’ve spent a majority of the week around the house resting. We’ve also had some festive and fun outings. We kicked off our break last Thursday by hitting the grocery stores and stocking up for our time at home. We also had the boys go Christmas shopping for each other. It’s neat to see what they pick and if they can keep a secret from each other. Every year they’ve managed to keep their gifts a surprise and I’m always impressed! I know how tricky it can be to keep a special gift a secret.

Jeremy and the boys have blessed me with some time out of the house to visit with friends. I got a Starbucks Red Cup of peppermint hot chocolate with a friend last Thursday and enjoyed a Christmas-themed book club on Friday night. On Monday night, my forever friend, Christa, and I got dinner together. I love getting together with friends this time of year. As a family, we drove through a local Christmas light display at a park and celebrated our nephew’s birthday with a bowling party.

Our time around the house has been filled with holiday movies and shows. We watched White Christmas over the weekend and Jeremy has had the Christmas episodes of The Great British Baking Show on. We’ve done lots of baking over the last week. Jeremy and the boys have made two loaves of French bread and I’ve made dozens of cookies. These days at home have been filled with reading, games, LEGO building, and tasty treats. The change of pace has been appreciated (especially, by me – the most introverted, homebody of the family). I’m truly happiest at home! It’s been nice to take a break from routine and just chill.

We are currently waiting for temperatures to rise after a storm covered our area in a layer of ice overnight. We were prepared for the power to go out, but thankfully, it didn’t (at least, not yet)! I’ve love time at home, but it would be less fun with no heat. The weather inspired me to get my Christmas baking done yesterday before the freezing rain moved in. It’s a blessing that we have nowhere pressing to go and we can wait out the wild weather. Even now, freezing rain falls outside my window and I can’t help but be disappointed that it’s not snowing! Freezing rain, while interesting, isn’t my favorite form of frozen precipitation. On that note, I wish you a warm and wonderful Christmas weekend! Merry Christmas (Eve Eve)!

This might be one of my favorite parts of Christmas! I love them thinking of each and excited to give a special gift.
All ready for book club! Gingerbread bundt cake, a wrapped book for a gift exchange, and a stack of books to talk about!
The Scott men are working to perfect their favorite French bread.
Snuggled up watching White Christmas. A Muppet’s Christmas Carol, White Christmas, and While You Were Sleeping are my all-time fav hoilday movies.
Enjoying a bowling birthday party!
Frist time making salt dough ornaments as a part of the church scavenger hunt.
First time making Egg Nog Fench Toast
Chocolate chip cookies with Christmas M&M’s
I love boxed mixes. I have no judgement for shortcut baking. These gingerbread cookies are so yummy!
Since I didn’t see any real snowflakes during this cold snap, I guess the sugar cookie version will have to do.
 

What I’ve Been Reading – November 2022 November 30, 2022

Filed under: Amy's Bookshelf — Amy Scott @ 2:59 pm

Bookish Thoughts for November

Here we are on the last day of November! It’s book post day! You’ll notice a theme to my November reading. I’ve been using my Kindle Unlimited subscription almost exclusively. I was going to unsubscribe at the end this month, but I decided to keep KU for one more month. I’ve discovered Christmas Rom-Coms and there is no stopping me now! It’s been a month of reading books that are the equivalent of Hallmark Christmas movies! I love it! November has been very merry and bright for my reading life!

At the end of October, I discovered books by Courtney Walsh. Her Christmas novels sucked me in and I moved on to her other books. I did a binge of some of her works on KU. I haven’t read them all yet. She has a similar plot in her stories – the tragic death of a love one in the past before the story takes place – and it made her books a bit heavy to read one right after the other. Her writing might be best mixed in with some diversity. I also stumbled upon The Christmas Escape series in KU. The final book in the series released today and I can’t wait to start it! Each book features a female main character traveling for the holidays and finding love. The books are written by different authors and I appreciated the exposure to new authors. These books gave me all the Christmas feels. I thoroughly enjoyed them.

You’ll notice a lack of non-fiction this month – only two books in that category. I feel somewhat bad about that, but I’ve had a blast with Christmas novels, so I don’t feel too bad. Also, this month was a busy month for our family so quick and light novels fit my mental capacity. This month I was definitely thankful for Christmas novels and Kindle Unlimited!

The six Christmas Escape novels I read this month. Cotswolds Holiday is not pictured because I just downloaded it today. Can’t wait to finish up this fun series.

Top Picks for November

Non-Fiction: Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love by Sally Clarkson – I can’t say enough good things about Sally Clarkson and her writing! She has become a favorite of mine and a true mentor! She shares her wisdom with honesty, empathy, and encouragement. Her journey in homeschooling, motherhood, and ministry has been an inspiration to me. Own Your Life was a reminder to live an intentional life and stay the course in doing good work. It paired well with M is for Mama from last month. Living a life of integrity, priotirzing character development, leaning in your purpose are messages that bolster your soul as you read this book!
Fiction: A Quilt for Christmas by Melody Carlson – Melody Carlson is one of my go-to authors. If she writes it, I’ll read it! I’m not a quilter so I wasn’t sure how attached I would be this story, but it took me no time to be invested in the cast of characters who make up this sweet Christmas novella. It’s a multi-generational tale that shares the power of community. The main character is a widow who is new to town and without friends or family to celebrate the holidays with. Meeting the family next door in an unexpected way leads to forming a unique quilting group that comes together to create a quilt in time for Christmas.

Book List for November
1 Star = I did not like it. 2 stars = It was okay. 3 stars = I liked it. 4 stars = I really liked it. 5 stars = It was amazing.

Non-Fiction:

  • Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love by Sally Clarkson – 4 stars
  • Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess by by Bobby Fischer, Stuart Margulies, and Don Mosenfelder – 3 stars

Fiction:

  • Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh (Harbor Pointe Series) – 4 stars
  • Just Let Go by Courtney Walsh (Harbor Pointe Series) – 4 stars
  • Just One Kiss by Courtney Walsh (Harbor Pointe Series) – 3 stars
  • Just like Home by Courtney Walsh (Harbor Pointe Series) – 4 stars
  • If For Any Reason by Courtney Walsh (Nantucket Love Story Series) – 4 stars
  • Is It Any Wonder by Courtney Walsh (Nantucket Love Story Series) – 4 stars
  • What Matters Most by Courtney Walsh (Nantucket Love Story Series) – 4 stars
  • A Match Made at Christmas by Courtney Walsh (Nantucket Love Story Series) – 4 stars
  • Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh (Paper Hearts Series) – 4 stars
  • Change of Heart by Courtney Walsh (Paper Hearts Series) – 4 stars
  • How to Kiss Your Grumpy Boss by Jenny Proctor (Sweet Rom-Com) – 3 stars
  • Faking Christmas by Cindy Steel (Christmas Escape Series) – 4 stars
  • Christmas Baggage by Deborah M. Hathaway (Christmas Escape Series) – 4 stars
  • Host for the Holidays by Martha Keyes (Christmas Escape Series) – 4 stars
  • A Newport Christmess by Jess Heileman (Christmas Escape Series) – 4 stars
  • Later On We’ll Conspire by Kortney Keisel (Christmas Escape Series) – 4 stars
  • A Not-So Holiday Paradise by Gracie Ruth Mitchell (Christmas Escape Series) – 3 stars
  • The Chosen by Chaim Potok (Jewish American Fiction) – 3 stars
  • A Cup of Cheer by Heather Miekstyn (Sweet Holiday Romance) – 4 stars
  • A Christmas Dare by Heather Miekstyn (Sweet Holiday Romance) – 4 stars
  • A Quilt for Christmas by Melody Carlson (Christmas Novella) – 4 stars
  • Scrooge and the Girls Next Door by Melody Jacobson (Holiday Rom-Com) – 4 stars
 

What I’ve Been Reading – October 2022 October 31, 2022

Filed under: Amy's Bookshelf — Amy Scott @ 8:10 am

Bookish Thoughts for October

I did it! I reached my updated goal of reading 200 books in 2022! Woo hoo! October was a busier month which meant I didn’t fly through as many books. Honestly, hitting my goal also dampened my momentum a bit. We’ll see how many books I reach by the end of 2022, but I’m not feeling any pressure to keep up a certain pace. With a vacation, multiple birthdays, and seasonal activities, my time was spent differently this month. With the holidays right around the corner, I realize my calendar will continue to be full. A reading life has seasons just like real life. Some seasons are quieter with space to read and some are busier, but filled with good things and good people. It’s a balance. It’s been a fun experiment to see how much reading I can accomplish in a year. I’ve enjoyed it immensely and I look forward to two more months of adding to the grand total!

I frequently get asked how I read so much. Since it’s been a topic of conversation with my friends lately, I thought I would share here as well. Books are my preferred downtime activity. I watch very little television. Being a quick reader also helps. I can finish most books in a day or two. Non-fiction takes me slightly longer, but I can fly through novels. I’m not reading rocket science, that’s for sure! Our family schedule intentionally has margin for free time. It’s my goal to raise readers and I want to be a role model. I’m trying to create a culture of reading in our home. Books are valuable and time spent reading them is as well! Confession… I don’t like to cook. By making very simple meals, I don’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen (thus more free time). I tend to be a tidy, organized person. My daily routine helps keep the house manageable. This in turn helps my reading because I struggle to read in a disordered space. I would say routine and intentional time around the house are the key to my reading life.

Tops Picks for October

Non-Fiction: M Is for Mama: A Rebellion Against Mediocre Motherhood by Abbie Halberstadt. This book was recommended at book club. Despite the pacifier on the front, it’s really a book for all mothers in the child-raising years (Abbie is a mother of ten with kids ranging from toddlers to teenagers). I loved the Scripture through the book combined with Abbie’s encouragement. She is real and honest about the struggles of motherhood while calling women to rise up in their roles as a mama. As a person who tends to have very high personal standards, I could relate to the call of this book. For the tired, worn-out mama, this will be a gentle (and somewhat humorous) reminder that we are all human and we can turn to God in the midst of our imperfect mothering. God is our source and with him we can do great things. Motherhood is worthy calling. We have good, important work to do. I appreciated Abbie’s sincerity, optimism, and how she champions God’s Word. A very inspiring read, indeed.

Fiction: The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay. After re-reading Dear Mr. Knightley last month, I decided to read all of Katherine Reay’s novels this month. I enjoyed them all greatly. Katherine writes brilliant main characters. The characters have flaws and hardships, but I love how smart and strong they are. Also, her books are filled with literary references. She writes books about people who love books. As a bookworm, my heart is so happy to read about other bookworms! The Printed Letter Bookshop is about three women and the connection they forge in a small town bookshop. While Dear Mr. Knightley is still my favorite novel by Katherine, I gave this novel 5 stars as well!

Book List for October
1 Star = I did not like it. 2 stars = It was okay. 3 stars = I liked it. 4 stars = I really liked it. 5 stars = It was amazing.

Non-Fiction:

  • Wild + Free Family: Forging Your Own Path to a Life Full of Wonder, Adventure, and Connection by Ainsley Arment – 4 stars
  • M Is for Mama: A Rebellion Against Mediocre Motherhood by Abbie Halberstadt – 4 stars

Fiction:

  • How to Walk Away by Katherine Center (Contemporary Fiction) – 3 stars
  • The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay (Women’s Literary Fiction) – 3 stars
  • Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay (Women’s Literary Fiction) – 3 stars
  • Of Literature & Lattes by Katherine Reay (Women’s Literary Fiction) – 3 stars
  • The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay (Women’s Literary Fiction) – 3 stars
  • A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay (Women’s Literary Fiction) – 4 stars
  • The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay (Women’s Literary Fiction) – 5 stars
  • The London House by Katherine Reay (WWII Historical Ficton) – 4 stars
  • Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult (Contemporary Fiction) – 3 stars
  • The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett (Children’s Fiction) – 4 stars
  • Merry Ex-Mas by Courtney Walsh (Sweet Christmas Romance) – 4 stars
  • A Cross-Country Road Trip by Courtney Walsh (Sweet Christmas Romance) – 4 stars
  • Royally (Re)arranged by Emma St. Clair (Sweet Royal Rom-Com) – 3 stars
 

The Many Adventures of October! October 23, 2022

October is such a fun month for our family! Our adventures this week included a chocolate fountain at our church growth group, a birthday meal with family, Graham’s 7th birthday, a trip to the Oregon Zoo, hosting book club, and pumpkin carving! The whole month feels like one adventure after the next. It’s been a bit of a pace – keeping up with all the good times. I love all the activities of October, but I also look forward to the hibernation vibes of November. We’ve had an unseasonably warm and sunny October. It’s been perfect for adventuring! Now the rain moves in this week and I’m honestly ready for it. Give me a reason to hunker down at home. I’m all for it!!!

Chocolate fountain at church! Then the kids got to bounce off their energy in the bounce houses.
Celebrating a belated birthday for Papa and an early birthday for Graham!
Graham started his birthday with a candle and a song!
Birthday candle and song – take two!
Mountain goats at the Oregon Zoo
Still not too old for the zoo train
I loved sharing cookies, cider, and books on Friday night. It was my turn to host book club and I went for all the fall vibes!
Owen’s Bowser pumpkin! This year we carved our homegrown pumpkins. Owen and I helped clean out the pumpkins, but Jeremy was the MVP who did all the carving magic!
Graham’s Goomba! Graham supervised most of the pumpkin carving, but wasn’t into getting his hands dirty.
 

What I’ve Been Reading – September 2022 September 30, 2022

Filed under: Amy's Bookshelf — Amy Scott @ 8:25 am

Bookish Thoughts for September

The September Book Haul

September was a glorious book month! I had fun money to spend so, of course, new books were added to my home library. Two of my favorite authors had new releases which I pre-ordered for signed copies. I’m apparently that reader now. I picked up The Giver Quartet after reading the series this month and watching the movie on Netflix. I can see myself reading the books again and passing them along to my boys when they are older. I purchased Mr. Malcom’s List – both the book and the movie. I borrowed the book a few years ago from a friend and enjoyed it. I wanted to read it again before watching the movie.

I’m just a few books away from reaching my updated reading goal for 2022. I’m currently at 194 books. Three of those books I’ve read twice this year, so I will have read to 203 in order to get 200 different books read this calendar. I’m curious what my total for 2022 will end up being! I was telling my husband that I don’t plan to read as intensely after 2022. I would like to re-watch a few TV shows in 2023. He started laughing at me saying no one says “watching more television” is their goal for the future. We all know that if I read less next year, I will still read a lot! No worries there!

Apparently signed copies are my new thing!
Occasionally, I enjoy a book and movie comparison.

Top Picks for September

Fiction: Awaking Wonder: Opening Your Child’s Heart to the Beauty of Learning by Sally Clarkson. I appreciate Sally Clarkson as a resource for not only homeschool moms, but also as an inspiration for the spaces we create in our homes and the way we raise wholehearted children. She is full of grace and encouragement. Her words are soul-stirring and bring out the hopeful best in me. This book took a while to read because I started it at the busiest time of my month, but it was worth every page I could sneak in here and there. This is one I’m sure to add to my home collection eventually!
Non-Fiction: Dear Mr. Knightly by Katherine Reay. I read this book last September and gave it 4 stars. I read it again this month and decided to bump it up to 5 stars. It has so many things I love in it! The main character is smart and well-read. She had a rough childhood and found survival in books. There is so much compassion, intrigue, and literary goodness in this book. It rose to the top this month!
I couldn’t pick just one book this month! I’m adding The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber to my top picks this month. Originally, I gave the book 3 stars after the first reading. I was so surprised by the ending that I read the whole book again in the same week to catch elements I missed the first time through. Upon a second reading, I changed my opinion to 4 stars. The end of this book is such a doozy. I’m still reeling! I can’t stop thinking about what comes next in book three of the series!

Book List for September
1 Star = I did not like it. 2 stars = It was okay. 3 stars = I liked it. 4 stars = I really liked it. 5 stars = It was amazing.

Non-Fiction:

  • Wild + Free Book Club: 28 Activities to Make Books Come Alive by Ainsley Arment – 4 stars
  • Habits of the Household: Practicing the Story of God in Everyday Family Rhythms by Justin Whitmel Earley – 4 stars
  • Awaking Wonder: Opening Your Child’s Heart to the Beauty of Learning by Sally Clarkson – 4 stars
  • Raising Emotionally Strong Boys: Tools Your Son Can Build On for Life by David Thomas – 4 stars
  • Adventuring Together: How to Create Connections and Make Lasting Memories with Your Kids by Greta Eskridge – 4 stars

Non-Fiction:

  • How to Kiss Your Best Friend by Jenny Proctor (Sweet Rom-Com) – 3 starrs
  • Just One Chance by Jenny Proctor (Sweet Rom-Com) – 3 stars
  • Her Last First Date by Jenny Proctor (Sweet Rom-Com) – 3 stars
  • The Christmas Letters by Jenny Proctor (Sweet Rom-Com) – 4 stars
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (Animal Fiction) – 2 stars
  • Maude: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery by Melanie J. Fishbane (YA Historical Fiction) – 4 stars
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry (YA Sci-Fi) – 3 stars
  • Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry (YA Sci-Fi) – 3 stars
  • Messenger by Lois Lowry (YA Sci-Fi) – 3 stars
  • Son by Lois Lowry (YA Sci-Fi)- 4 stars
  • Worthy of Legend by Roseanna M. White (Historical Fiction) – 4 stars
  • The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber (YA Fantasy) – 4 stars
  • Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay (Literary Fiction) – 5 stars
  • Mr. Malcom’s List by Suzanne Allain (Historical Fiction) – 4 stars
  • Miss Lattimore’s Letters by Suzanne Allain (Historical Fiction) – 3 stars