Sunday bookends: Relaxing books and shows and my reader confession

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What I/we’ve been Reading

I laid my Anne of Windy Poplars book down somewhere and have not been able to finish it, so I picked up Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery. It is the fifth book in the Anne of Green Gables series.

I’m not usually a girly girl but for some reason this book is making me act like one, complete with giggling in delight at some of the scenes and lines. I’m really enjoying this one, maybe a bit more than Windy Poplars. I have been taking little moments of respite to read a chapter or two from it a day and it’s like having a mini-vacation in the midst of the mental chaos I’ve been dealing with.

On my Kindle, I am reading The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner, which brings me to confession time.

I’ve never actually read a Jane Austen book. I’ve started them, read excerpts, and seen the movies, but I have never completed a Jane Austen book. If you have, recommend one for me in the comments and I’m going to try to read one in March.

Anyhow, The Jane Austen Society is about a group of people who get together to save Jane Austen’s cottage in England. So far, it’s okay. Nothing stunning but interesting at least and maybe that is because I’ve never read her books.

Toward the end of the month and February, I have the following books up to read:

Midwinter Murder: Fireside Tales from the Queen of Mystery by Agatha Christie

All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese

Hell is Empty by Craig Johnson

By March I hope to be reading:

Banderidge by indie author Anne Calvert

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Love and the Silver Lining by Tammy L. Gray

This list could definitely change. It usually does.

Last week, Little Miss and I read Sarah, Plain and Tall and Skylark by Patricia MacLachlan. They are short and beautiful books. Little Miss wanted to go back to Paddington last night but I hope to continue the Sarah series with Caleb, which I bought recently in paperback and then More Perfect Than the Moon and Grandfather’s Dance.

Have you ever seen the Hallmark movies that are based on the books? They are as beautiful as the books and shot almost scene for scene from Sarah, Plain and Tall, Skylark and Grandfather’s Dance.

Even the dialogue is the same.

We first saw Sarah, Plain and Tall when I was in high school and still living at home. It must have been on regular TV. My mom and dad cried through almost the whole movie, and I kept teasing them about it. My mom even tried to hide behind a newspaper but the newspaper shook with her crying.

“You just wait!” she declared. “When you get my age, these type of movies will make you cry too!”

It didn’t even take me that long. I cry every time I watched the movie after that and still do.

The movies star Glen close and Christopher Walken.

The Husband is reading Racing the Light by Robert Crais.

The Boy got delayed in finishing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn this past week, but he will finish it this week. I finished it last night. I will need to plan for a new book for us to read for English by February.

What’s Been Occurring

I rambled a bit about what’s been going on in a blog post I posted yesterday and you can catch up there. Spoiler alert: not much has been going on that’s worth blogging about. Ha!

What We watched/are Watching

This past week we watched a Brokenwood Mysteries and are almost done with the last season they have put out. That will make me sad because I love the characters of the show. I hope they are making a ninth season.

I watched a few episodes of Miss Scarlet and the Duke and I like the show but a lot of these period mystery shows are starting to feel the same. Not only that, but they continue to push modern ideas into historical shows and I find that annoying. People in 1890 did not embrace homosexuality, prostitution and cheating like it was run of the mill and it would be nice if a period drama actually showed that more instead of subtly preaching at viewers about how they think it “should have been.”

All that being said, there was only one episode of this show that I felt did that and it was not overly done and not overly preachy. I hope other shows do not do that, but even if they do I’ll probably still watch the show because it is well written and the male lead is quite good looking, as well as Scottish. *wink*

This week I also watched the two episodes of All Creatures Great and Small’s third season that are up on PBS Masterpiece via Amazon video. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.

Last week we watched episode six of the third season of The Chosen. It was excellent, but episode five was still my favorite. The last two episodes of the season will be shown in theaters on February 2 and February 3 and then streamed on February 4th and 5th (I think those dates are correct). We considered going to the theater to see them but will probably just watch them at home.

My nerves have still been on edge lately, so I also watched quite a bit of The Andy Griffith Show this week.

What I’m Writing

I will be starting two books this week if all goes as planned. One is my Biblical fiction book and another is a book I am writing with a group of other authors. I’ll keep you posted.

On the blog I shared:

What I’m Listening To:

I am loving this new song by Matthew West:

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Sunday Bookends: 2023 needs a restart, a mix of books, favorite blog posts, and Americans portraying the British and vice versa

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays, I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, and what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What’s Been Occurring

Winter came back with a vengeance yesterday and led to The Husband lighting the woodstove to keep the cold at bay. We stayed inside huddled under covers, reading books, correcting errors in a book (for me), and watching a lot of light and fluffy TV and movies. The animals sprawled themselves in front of the woodstove, looking slightly drugged.

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, the last two or three weeks have been pretty awful for us and this past week was one of the worst as I was falsely accused of something that now requires me to provide a lot of documentation. It has my nerves so raw I’ve started internal trembling again but nowhere near as intense as I had after I had Covid or in 2017 after my dog died and after I had a virus. Luckily my mom is doing very well after spending a week in the hospital with pancreatitis and having her gallbladder removed. The side effects from the virus I had during that time have finally started to subside as well.

Before everything sort of fell apart and the temperatures dropped, I went outside and took some photographs for my stock photography accounts and also just had fun goofing off with the pets who thought they needed to be in the photos as well.

I was actually looking forward to life becoming a little bit more normal. Well, that was short lived but hopefully this year will get back on track again soon.

What I/we’ve been Reading

I finished The Reckoning Trees by Alicia Gilliam last night. Wow. What a ride that was. I held on for dear life during most of it, holding my fingers over my eyes because I wasn’t sure what would happen. It was incredibly well written and I’m looking forward to the second book in the series.

I have a couple more chapters of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain to finish up and I’m sure that will happen on Monday.

I lost my paperback copy of Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery somewhere. Either the house or the car, but I would love to find it this week and continue it.

On Kindle, I have a couple of choices of what books to start next. I have Love and The Silver Lining by Tammy L. Gray, The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner, and All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese.

The Husband is reading The Big Bundle by Max Allan Collins.

Little Miss and I finished Children of the Longhouse this past week and are looking for another historical fiction for children to start for school but haven’t picked one yet.

At night we are reading Paddington again. Sigh. I hope to start Sarah, Plain, and Tall with her at some point this week.

What We watched/Are Watching

I found this lady this past week and have a feeling I’ll be watching her a lot when I need to relax.

We watched See How They Run on HBO Max as a family this weekend. It was pretty good but I was irritated that they had an American actor playing a British cop when so often we have British people playing Americans anymore. I mean why couldn’t one of their British actors who comes over here to play a famous  American play the British cop? Doesn’t make sense.

Still, the movie was good – quirky and fun and what we needed.

Little Miss and I had ourselves a Mary Berry marathon of sorts on Friday and Saturday. Watching her is so relaxing. I still can’t believe she’s 87 and still cooking away. Well, the most recent show we watched, she is 85. And still getting around wonderfully – or at least she was two years ago.

We watched her on Saturday (today as I am writing this) while the fire roared in the woodstove. On Friday we watched her show Mary Berry Loves to Cook and on Saturday we watched Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets, Season 1.

I found the first season of Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets on Youtube, by the way.

Little Miss and I agreed that watching her is very relaxing.

The Husband and I also watched an episode of Brokenwood Mysteries and I watched a couple episodes of a show from the 70s called the Manor Born.

What I’m Writing

I haven’t been writing a lot. I am currently making corrections on my manuscript for Shores of Mercy to prepare it to be released on January 31. You can preorder it here.

I did share two posts on the blog this week:

What I’m Listening to

I listened to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn read/performed by Elijah Wood almost all week. Frodo did an amazing job on the book and brought out some of the crazy hypocrisy of the people of Missouri during the years of slave-owning in the way he pronounced and presented the book.

For music I listened to:

Danny Gokey – New Day

Needtobreathe, Multiplied

Needtobreathe, Happiness

Anthony Brown and Group Therapy, Trust in You

Spirit Lead Me – Influence Music and Michael Ketterer

Blog Posts I Enjoyed This Past Week

I am behind on blog reading but this week I did enjoy the following posts:

Sunshine for a January Soul by Mama’s Empty Nest

Lessons from Damar Hamlin by Fuel for the Race

The Helper by Warmly Meg

Also, please say a prayer for blogger Jinjer from The Intrepid Arkansawyer. She lost her mom this week.

Now it’s your turn

What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Sunday Bookends on Monday: Christmas, books to be read in the new year,

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays, I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, and what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to. This week I am a day late since Christmas was yesterday and I was too busy to finish the post, which I actually started Christmas Eve.

What’s Been Occurring

I rambled more about what happened last week in my blog post on Saturday. I included some photos of the kids playing in the snow we received and also shared about the arctic temps we received. You can find that post HERE.  

Today I will share that I’ve been in a cocoon of Christmas for the last two weeks and I really am not ready to crawl out of it. It’s been nice watching happy movies and reading fluffy Christmas books.

Yesterday, we visited my parents for Christmas. I only received a couple of gifts this year and that’s the way I wanted it because I was more excited for the children to receive gifts. I was especially excited because my son was receiving a bass guitar, which he’s been wanting to learn for a while now. I wanted to go back to bed after Little Miss woke us up early but I was too excited to see how The Boy would react to the gift, which we had stored at my parents.

I wasn’t sure he’d want me to share the video I recorded here on the blog, so I won’t, but his grin was huge. He was so excited to get home and try it out, but finally went upstairs at my parents’ and tried it, even without the amp. When we arrived home, he went straight upstairs and started practicing.

My dad joked that our neighbors won’t bring us Christmas cookies anymore because we gave The Boy this loud instrument. For now, though, the windows will be closed since it is so cold, so the guitar shouldn’t bother them.

The Husband did buy me the five-DVD set of the original Anne of Green Gables series by Sullivan Entertainment (the Canadian produced one from the 80s) but it hasn’t arrived yet. I am very excited to start watching it when it does since that movie series was part of my childhood.

What I/we’ve been Reading

This past weekend I finished Shepherd’s Abiding by Jan Karon.

It reminded me I really like Jan Karon books but I also get a little annoyed by how she writes them in short bursts of information with tons of section breaks and quite a few points of view changes that sometimes make my head spin. I still enjoy the overall message of them, however, and will continue to read them as comfort reading.

Last week I started The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham and am listening to it on Audible, which we have at a reduced monthly rate as part of a special deal, for four months. I am enjoying it so far. I’m only on Chapter 4 because every time I try to listen to it, I get interrupted or fall asleep (if I try to listen at night).

Quite frankly, I am overwhelmed with book choices right now. I truly feel like I have some form of ADHD because I can’t focus on one book at a time.

I am reading a book called A Mark of Grace by Kimberly Woodhouse right now because it releases next Tuesday (January 3).

I also got back into Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery, but then a Bookstagrammer I follow on Instagram invited readers to join her in reading The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery so I may try to tackle that this week instead. We will see how far I get. She actually suggested readers read it in a weekend. A weekend?! I’ve never read a book in a weekend.

I’m such a slow reader. My brain seems to dart away to other things I need to do. For example, I have blog posts to share or write and social media pages to maintain and homeschool lessons to plan and … blah, blah, blah.

This week I plan to listen to the chapters I assigned The Boy in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn last week for school. I’ll probably do that as soon as I finish this post.

In the new year, I have a whole list of books I hope to tackle, but I’ll ramble about that another day.

The Boy is not reading anything this week that I know of. He’s simply enjoying talking with friends online, making plans to meet them in person, and practicing on his new guitar.

Little Miss and I are reading Paddington At Large at night still and have taken a break on our book for school but may pick it up again this week.

The Husband is reading Game On by Janet Evanovich.

What We watched/are Watching

I watched quite a few movies last week, a few of them with family.

Two we finished up when we were interrupted watching them the week before. One of those was A Christmas Story Christmas, which was a sequel to a Christmas story. It had a slow start but got much better as it went on and we enjoyed it.

I also watched It Happened on Fifth Avenue, which I stumbled on on HBO Max (via our Roku) and The Husband said he had watched it before when he used to work a night shift as a switchboard operator at the local hospital.

It was very good. If you are interested here is the plot:

On Christmas, The Husband started Miracle on 34th Street at our house and then we finished it later in the day at my parents.

We also watched Charlie Brown’s Christmas at my parents at my dad’s request, even though I had watched it earlier in the week.

On my own, I watched A Walton’s Christmas, which was actually the pilot for the television show. It was a very, very melodramatic and a bit over the top, much like the show could be at times, but still sweet. I don’t know if I’d necessarily watch it again.

I also watched A Little House on the Prairie Christmas special from season eight, which Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs recommended for me and I really enjoyed it. It was very wholesome and heartwarming. Each adult character shared a Christmas memory and Laura’s memory of Mr. Edwards bringing gifts to her family one Christmas when there was a blizzard was my favorite because it is a story that Laura shared in one of her books, which, if you remember, I read a couple of times to Little Miss last year.

On Christmas Eve we watched The Rankin/Bass claymation/animated special Santa Claus is Coming to Town (the one with Mickey Rooney and Fred Astaire) and then really got into the Christmas spirit by watching…. Top Gun Maverick.

What I’m Writing

I am writing nothing right now. Is that proper English. No, probably not, but I’ll roll with it.

I’m on a bit of a fiction writing hiatus after finishing up my Christmas novella, Beyond the Season (which incidentally is free on Amazon this week and via the link at the top of the page). Shores of Mercy is with advanced readers and my editor so I’ll be making corrections on that before long.

On the blog this week I shared:

What I’m Listening To

Last week I listened to a ton of Christmas music. I am not currently listening to any specific music this week. I am, however, listening to audio versions of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Mistletoe Countess this week.

Blog Posts I Enjoyed This Past Week

I hope to share some of my favorite blog posts on this post each week. I’ve been saving posts to share for months but haven’t actually sat down and put them together in one post so I thought I’d share at least a few here today.

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to, or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Sunday Bookends: Snow, disappointing books, more Christmas books and movies

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What’s Been Occurring

I’m starting a new feature on Saturdays where I’ll ramble more about what’s been going on generally in my life. You can find this week’s HERE.

In that post I rambled about the snow we received this week, the snow we might get this week, and some other fairly innoculous stuff.

Here are a couple extra snow photos that I didn’t share yesterday. The kids went out (at my urging) to sled since there was a fine layer of ice on top of the snow. The result was a couple of injuries so it might not have been my best suggestion. The sled was very hard to stop. Oops.

What I/we’ve been Reading

In yesterday’s post, I ranted a bit about the book Little Miss picked out for me a week ago during the local library book sale. She picked it off the shelf so at least I don’t own the book now. I really thought the book was going to be a good one and for the first several chapters I had a hard time putting it down. Eventually, it became a bit wandering and tedious, though, and then, out of the blue, in the 21st chapter of a 23-chapter book, the author dropped two fairly minor swear words and then the big one. Fudge, but not fudge, as the narrator says in A Christmas Story.

It was so bizarre. I mean I was happily skipping along, though getting a little disturbed by the darkness the book was starting to throw at me, and then boom! The bad guy dropped the word and it was just completely out of place. It was like serving vegan food at a biker bar, or biting into a piece of chocolate, swallowing it, and finding half a worm. I told a friend it was like reading a sweet Miss Marple book and then all a sudden she just turned around and said, “Well, f-it, I’m over this sweet stuff,” and walked off the page and out of the book. Okay, I didn’t exactly say that to my friend, I added a bit more for this post, but it was close.

Needless to say, I will not be reading any more books by Leslie Maier. I don’t need any more nasty surprises.

This week I am back to Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon (and hopefully spelling Shepherds right since I have been spelling that three ways lately thanks to writing too much lately and burning out my brain – or because I’m stupid. One or the other.). I actually never left Shepherds Abiding, as I have been reading a chapter here or there for the last couple of weeks to drag the book out for my enjoyment.

I had a bit of a breakdown this week when Little Miss had a cup full of water on our table for her art project and I knocked it over and it spilled down the table and onto my hardcover copy of Shepherds Abiding, crinkling many of the pages in the process. At first, I was upset at Little Miss, but quickly realized I’m the adult who one, allowed her to have the water on the table and two, had left my copy of the book on the floor. Why was it on the floor? I can’t remember, honestly, but I think it was because I was doing schoolwork with her and laid it down and – who even knows. I do stuff like this all the time.

So the book is a bit beat up, but I can still read it. I also have it on Kindle, but for Christmas, I like to read actual books because I am a book snob at times.

If you have never read Shepherd’s Abiding, it is the eighth book in the Mitford Series, and here is a brief description:

Millions of Americans have found Mitford to be a favorite home-away-from-home, and countless readers have long wondered what Christmas in Mitford would be like. The eighth Mitford novel provides a glimpse, offering a meditation on the best of all presents: the gift of one’s heart.

Since he was a boy, Father Tim has lived what he calls “the life of the mind” and has never really learned to savor the work of his hands. When he finds a derelict nativity scene that has suffered the indignities of time and neglect, he imagines the excitement in the eyes of his wife, Cynthia, and decides to undertake the daunting task of restoring it. As Father Tim begins his journey, readers are given a seat at Mitford’s holiday table and treated to a magical tale about the true Christmas spirit.

I hope to listen to The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham this week, as I stole The Husband’s Audible credit to buy it. We have Audible for a few months, but may have to get rid of it in February because everyone keeps raising their prices and it’s getting to be a bit much.

Little Miss and I read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson this week and absolutely loved it. This is a book that was read to me when I was in elementary school and has stuck with me all these years, even though I only had it read to me that one time. This year while looking for Christmas book ideas for Little Miss, I spotted it on a list of suggestions and had planned to order it on Amazon. Then, in an effort to conserve money for Christmas, I delayed order it. I was so excited, however, when I went to the book sale at the library and found an old copy of it!

The story was as hilarious and touching as I remember it and I even found myself crying at the end, after laughing for just about the entirety of the rest of the book. If you’ve never read it, do yourself a favor and find a copy. It is a children’s book but it is so well done that it is entertaining even for children.

Here is a description:

This year’s pageant is definitely like no other, but maybe that’s exactly what makes it so special.

Laughs abound in this bestselling Christmas classic by Barbara Robinson! The Best Christmas Pageant Ever follows the outrageous shenanigans of the Herdman siblings, or “the worst kids in the history of the world.”

The siblings take over the annual Christmas pageant in a hilarious yet heartwarming tale involving the Three Wise Men, a ham, scared shepherds, and six rowdy kids. You and your family will laugh along with this funny story, perfect for independent reading or read-aloud sharing.

Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie, and Gladys Herdman are an awful bunch. They set fire to Fred Shoemaker’s toolshed, blackmailed Wanda Pierce to get her charm bracelet, and smacked Alice Wendelken across the head. And that’s just the start! When the Herdmans show up at church for the free snacks and suddenly take over the Christmas pageant, the other kids are shocked.

It’s obvious that they’re up to no good. But Christmas magic is all around and the Herdmans, who have never heard the Christmas story before, start to reimagine it in their own way.

I just learned this week there is a movie and I couldn’t find it streaming anywhere, but someone put it up on YouTube 8 years ago so I think I’ll check that out this week.

The Husband is reading Star Trek: The Vulcan Academy Murders

Little Miss and I are reading Paddington At Large because we can’t remember reading it before. For homeschooling, we are still reading Children of the Longhouse.

The Boy is stuck reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because I am an evil, evil homeschooling mom. Bwahaha!

What We watched/are Watching

This past week I watched It’s A Wonderful Life (again) as part of the ‘Tis the Season feature I am doing with Erin of Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs. You can read about that HERE.

The Husband and I also watched a couple more episodes of Brokenwood Mysteries, because it’s so good.

I watched part of A Christmas in Connecticut and then felt uncomfortable with it and abandoned it part way through.

I also watched a couple videos by Darling Desi, one of which you can find here:

We watched the first episode of Season Three of The Chosen Sunday night and will watch the second tonight.

You can watch it on their YouTube channel for 72 hours and then you have to watch it via their app. Seasons one and two can be found streaming on Peacock and Amazon and I believe Netflix now.

We got interrupted watching A Man Called Ove the week before last and never got back to it until last night. It’s a really good movie. This is the Swedish version and it’s available on Amazon. This is not the Americanized version that will be coming out with Tom Hanks. I don’t think that version is necessary when the Swedish one is so well done. If you do watch it, please make sure to have some tissues and be prepared for some sweetness and some heartache.

I hope to continue with the Christmas themes this week by watching a couple other Christmas-themed movies/shows. When I found The Best Christmas Pageant Ever on Youtube, I also found that someone had uploaded A Walton’s Christmas and The Christmas Box with Maureen O’Hara. I think I might add those to the list for this week.

I plan to watch The Shepherd, which is part of The Chosen series, as well before Christmas. You can find that here:

What I’m Writing

Today I’ll be finishing the last chapter of my Christmas novella, Beyond the Season, which I am sharing here on the blog in chapters. It finishes up Tuesday and then I’ll post a link to a Bookfunnel file of the full story.

What I shared on the blog this week:

What I’m Listening to

This week I listened to this on YouTube a lot while finishing my Christmas novella.

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Sunday Bookends: Christmas books, Christmas movies and Christmas events

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What’s Been Occurring

I’m all in for Christmas this year.

Am I alone in this?

Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs and I started watching Christmas movies in the beginning of November and for many, that is way too early. In fact, it is usually way too early for me too, but this year I was craving light, cozy, and happiness and had no problem starting the Christmas season celebration early.

When I was a kid, I absolutely loved Christmas and it gave me such a cozy feeling, but over the years that feeling faded. Christmas wasn’t always happy. Sometimes it was stressful and brought back heartbreaking memories of those we’d lost.

This year, though, for some reason, all of that has been pushed aside and replaced with warm joy.

Last year I was definitely grateful to be spending Christmas with my family after being in the hospital on Thanksgiving, but I was still too tired to be as excited as I wanted to be.

This year I am grateful and excited when I think about decorating for Christmas or watching Christmas movies, or working on my little Christmas story for the blog. I feel like this young lady I watch on YouTube. Darling Desi sometimes is too giddy and happy for me, and I feel like she’s fake, but then I realize that she isn’t fake, she’s simply in the mood for happiness on her YouTube videos and she hopes to pass that feeling on to her viewers.

She’s creating a space for happiness, all things fluffy, and nice and she welcomes people to that space, knowing that their lives and hers are not perfect but do need a bit of respite from time to time. Her channel is that respite and it’s very nice, even if I occasionally roll my eyes at some of the things that make her giddy. She really just seems so young to me sometimes, but I’m sure she’d feel the same about me but the opposite direction. *wink* Really, though, I often find the things that make her giggle with delight do the same for me.

I’ve never thought of myself as a “girly-girl” but when I feel giggly over a pretty L.M. Montgomery book cover with her or smile as she sips some fancy tea or shake my head with amusement when she dyes her hair orange-red again, I realize I’m a little more girly than I realized. I even like to watch her decorate her bedroom and fancy bed with fluffy lace and frills.

The weather this week wasn’t super cold. Not until we got to Saturday when we actually wanted to leave the house, that is.

Yesterday our little town held a Christmas festival of sorts with vendors, cookie sales, book sales (glee!), a scavenger hunt, hot chocolate, and ice carving. In the evening they held a tree lighting and caroling and then a light parade or Christmas parade.

The scavenger hunt involved going to each business and finding the photo of an elf and then writing down what the elf was doing in the photo. The entire time Little Miss and her friend were running to stores, I just wanted to go to the book sale and see if they put out any extra books from the day before when I checked. The selection wasn’t the worst, but I’m short and the way they set the books up made it hard for me to see them well.  Plus the books are for sale for a donation and I feel like I have to give a big donation for what I take home with me because I often take home a large pile. My pile wasn’t as large Friday but on Saturday I grabbed a lot more, especially children’s books and a history book on Vietnam for The Boy for later in the year.

Today I might visit my parents but I’m not sure yet because we might actually get a snow/rain mix. If that happens, we usually stay home because my mom doesn’t like us to be on the road, even if we are only seven minutes from their house. It is a very hilly, windy, twisty seven minutes.

What I/We’ve been Reading

The past week I have been making my way through Shepherd’s Abiding by Jan Karon, as a Christmas tradition I started last year. I’m really enjoying it. It’s just such a pleasant and relaxing read, but it’s also very moving.

A few months ago, Little Miss ran to me in the library and handed me a cute little 5”x6” book and said she thought I’d like it.

It was cute and had a cornucopia on the front and I figured those were two reasons she grabbed it. I didn’t know what to say since I’d never heard of the author, but I read it and ended up really enjoying it. It was called A Quilter’s Holiday by Jennifer Chiaverini and it’s a part of a series so I’m sure I’ll be going back to the library to pick up others (if I can get over my fear of damaging library books).

On Friday, Little Miss came running to me again with a book the same size and thrust it at me.

“I think you’ll like this one.”

It is called Christmas Cookie Murder and is by Leslie Meier.

I was a bit disturbed by the cookie skull and crossbones and Little Miss thought it would be right up my alley, but she knows her dad and I watch a little of mysteries so I think that’s why she chose it. The thing is, I don’t know where she finds them or chooses them from the shelves. She couldn’t even see the front photo but somehow, she picks great books because I am breezing through this book, desperate to find out who committed the murder and why.

Like the other book she picked, it’s fairly light. I’d call it a cozy mystery and I think I’ll be reading more by Leslie.

I had a goal to finish a couple more Christmas-themed books, including Dawn Klinge’s America’s Favorite Christmastown and The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham by the end of December, but I don’t think I’ll make the goal since I also have to read the chapters of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that I assign the boy. Sigh. I feel I’m in high school again.

The Husband is reading – gasp! He says he is in between books. I have no book to

Little Miss and I are reading Paddington at night but I am so excited because I have been wanting to read her The Greatest Christmas Pageant Ever, which was read to be in elementary school, but I didn’t want to spend extra money to order it and when I went to the book sale yesterday they had a copy which I got for a small donation. It was so exciting!

What We watched/are Watching

Early last week I watched Holiday Inn. I wrote about it earlier this week on the blog.

The Husband and I watched an episode of Brokenwood Mysteries that made me cry.

Last night we watched The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and, well, it was okay, but I am a bit over Marvel at this point. You ever hear the saying, ‘too much of a good thing?’ Yeah, that’s the case here.

Erin and I are watching It’s A Wonderful Life for our Christmas movie this week if you would like to join in.

I really hope to finish A Man Called Ove, which is a Swedish movie, that I started last week, later this week. I don’t think the previous sentence made sense, but, well, it’s getting

What I’m Writing

I am sharing twelve chapters of a Christmas short story, novelette, whatever it is called, on the blog. I started Friday, December 8 and it will finish on December 20th.

I’m still working on the end of the story while I wait for the final of edit of Shores of Mercy to come to me so I can put the finishing touches on that and get it ready to publish on January 31.

This week on the blog I shared:

What I’m Listening to

This week I’ve been listening to Steven Curtis Chapman’s new album and some Christmas music on the local Christian radio station. The station has also been sharing Christmas radio dramas including A Candle in the Window.

What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Sunday Bookends: Pretty Christmas lights, making pies, and a lot of Christmas movies and shows

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What’s Been Occurring

Last week we had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I was so glad to be there with my family after spending last year’s in a hospital room, alone, with a burly nurse who was really nice but not who I wanted to spend Thanksgiving with. The ambulance drivers and ER nurses and doctors were nice too, but again…not family. 

This year we had a small gathering at my parents and it was the best thing ever – for me at least. I couldn’t stop feeling giddy inside because I was simply there. Little things that usually annoy me – okay, fine. Some of those things still annoyed me but they annoyed me less because I was alive to be with my family! Whoot!

Earlier in the week we went over to help my mom make an apple pie for The Husband’s birthday (he’d rather have my mom’s apple pie than cake any day – the same as our son) and Thanksgiving. We made two apple pies and figured we’d have the second one for Thanksgiving and skip the pumpkin pie since there was only six of us. My husband is given one whole  pie for himself.

Dad decided we needed a pumpkin pie though and made one Thanksgiving morning.

On The Husband’s birthday we visited a local Festival of Lights, per his request. This is a light display set up at a golf course about a 35 minute drive from our house. We had visited it in 2020, missed it last year because we were sick and then recovering so this year The Husband said that’s what he wanted to do for his birthday.

The display is massive with trees wrapped in lights and various displays set up on the grounds. You drive through it slowly and take it all in. I wish it could be done twice but, alas, they charge $30 for one drive through. This year it was completely worth it as they had added even more to the display than when we visited in 2020.

I invited our neighbor and her granddaughters (friends of Little Miss) to come with us and it made the night even more rich and fun. The giggles and squeals of the little girls in the back was a little overwhelming at times but also wonderful to hear.

We encountered a dead deer in the road in the other lane on the way to the display. On the way back our neighbor, who is in her late 70s and gets up very early in the morning, dozed off as she said she probably would. She was maybe out for ten minutes but we thought she was still out when suddenly she said, “Don’t forget that dead deer up here!”

We all about wet ourselves because we thought she was asleep. Luckily, someone had already moved the dead deer out of the roadway because it was a large deer and missing it would have been hard to do.

Friday was a lounge-around-the-house day for the kids since they I had given them the rest of the week off school. Little Miss had a friend over. They decorated our tree for us, which we didn’t expect to happen but it was nice to have that job done for us.

Saturday The Husband and The Boy went to see Wakanda Forever (Black Panther 2) and Little Miss played with her friend again.

What I/we’ve been Reading

I haven’t been reading as much as I want to be so I am still – yes, still – on the same books I’ve been on for a month now.

I hope to finish Love and A Little White Lie by Tammy L. Gray this week so I can continue on some Christmas books, including Shepherd’s Abiding, which I am reading off and on.

I am taking a break from The Father Brown collection for now.

I’d like to read or finish the following books for December:

Shepherd’s Abiding by Jan Karon

By Broken Birch Bay by Jenny Knipfer

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Christmas in Absaroka County by Craig Johnson


America’s Favorite Christmastown by Dawn Klinge

Knowing what a slow reader I am, I doubt this list will be accomplished, but we shall see.

What We watched/are Watching

Last week I watched another Signed, Sealed, Delivered movie, White Christmas, Brokenwood Mysteries, a show called Still Standing, the movie Enchanted, and started the follow up movie to A Christmas Story on HBO Max.

What I’m Writing

I am working on a short story that I hope to share on the blog before Christmas. It will feature Alex and Molly, Robert and Anne especially, but also some of the other characters from Spencer Valley. That’s all I can tell you.

I’ve also started another book and would love to finish it in time for a spring release.

This week on the blog I shared:

What I’m Listening To

 I’m not actually listening to a lot right now. Anyone have any suggestions?

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Sunday Bookends: Snow returns, Charles Bronson movies and fathers in my reading

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What I/we’ve been Reading

I have started my annual reading for Shepherd’s Abiding by Jan Karon. I love this sweet story about Father Timothy Kavanaugh who finds a nativity set that he wants to repaint and fix up for his beloved wife Cynthia. Sigh. It’s just such a sweet story.

(If you haven’t read Mitford before, Father Tim is Episcopalian so he is allowed to marry. *wink*)

I am also continuing with the Father Brown Collection by G.K. Chesteron, which is a collection of short stories. I’m a mood reader so I read a story and then switch to a different book for a bit.

I’ve also started Love and A Little White Lie by Tammy L. Gray and am enjoying it so far. It’s about a woman who has taken a job at a church but doesn’t feel she belongs there. It is the first book in a three book series.

At night I have been reading Paddington Races Ahead with Little Miss.

I am also reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain off and on during the week with The Boy, who is reading it for school.

The Husband is reading…. Oops. I forgot to ask before I scheduled this and he’s already asleep.

What’s Been Occurring

I rambled about what has been occurring on a post from Friday and not much more has happened since then. In that post, I shared that we had our first official snowfall earlier in the week, only a couple of days after it was in the low 70s. Last night we had more snow, but only about an inch and a half.

This week we are looking forward to celebrating The Husband’s birthday by attending a festival of lights display about 45 minutes from us and then a quiet Thanksgiving with my parents. We are also looking to five days off from school since the kids seemed to be burned out on lessons. Yes, already burned out. This early in the school year.  

What We watched/are Watching

The Husband and I watched two Charles Bronson films this week: Mr. Majestyk and Red Sun. They were both very good. Red Sun featured a bit of female nudity that we weren’t expecting and Mr. Majestyk featured swearing that was tame compared to the movies of today but still swearing. That’s just a disclaimer for anyone who is sensitive to those aspects of movies.

I also watched two Hallmark Christmas movies. Sign, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas made me cry and Trading Christmas made me smile. I own Trading Christmas because it is just a light movie I enjoy watching. Both are on Amazon.

I also watched The Christmas Carol Goes Wrong for the ‘Tis The Season Cinema feature with Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs.

This week Erin and I will be watching White Christmas and posting our impression of it on Saturday. Please feel free to join us and post your impressions as well.

What I’m Writing

I’ve started writing a new book while I am editing Shores of Mercy, but I am not ready to share it yet and not sure I will share it on the blog or not this time. It’s going to be different than my previous books, in some ways, and it is not part of The Spencer Valley Chronicles, or any series. I can tell you that the main character is male, over the age of 50, and it will be one point of view, third person. I’ll keep all of you updated.

This week on the blog I shared:

A Chat and a Cup of Tea or Something Warm

‘Tis The Season Cinema: A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong

Special Fiction … Wednesday? Mercy’s Shore Final Chapters

Educationally Speaking: Fall Homeschool Update

What I’m Listening To

While I am watching Christmas movies early, I haven’t yet started Christmas music and won’t do that until December, most likely. When I do it will be the Michaels – Smith and Buble.

I found a Youtube video of worship music being played on a guitar that I’ve been listening to while I write.

Now it’s your turn

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: friend visits, warm weather, and Christmas movies

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, and what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What I/we’ve been Reading

I have been reading a collection of Father Brown stories by G.K. Chesterton and have been enjoying them for the most part. The third one I read went off on a weird ramble for several pages that had nothing to do with the story I thought but these were written in the early 1900s so I cut Chesterton some slack.

I have also been reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain with The Boy for school and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe with Little Miss.

I’ll probably start a new fiction book this week, but I’m not sure which one yet. I have a few I’ve read the first few pages of an am liking so I just need to pick one. The Seven and a half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle has caught my attention so far.

What’s Been Occurring

This past week Little Miss and I were both surprised when her little friends who moved to Texas a year and a half ago, came back to stay.

Little Miss had a blast visiting with them during the week. We were still able to finish schoolwork but it was pushed off to the evenings to they could play together.

The friends are signed up back into school now so we won’t have our school days interrupted as much.

She was able to visit with some other friends yesterday.

We didn’t do a lot last week other than school. We had been doing game nights once a week with my parents but I had congestion and they were doing other things most days so we will have to have a game night another time.

The weather was oddly warm all week and then today it dropped into the 40s and it is literally downhill from here. It’s like we were in spring and then drastically plunged into winter. Our sinuses are definitely going to suffer even more this week. As I was writing this actual snow started to fall. Yuck.

What We watched/are Watching

This week I watched light and fluffy stuff including a couple of Hallmark movies even though I am not the biggest fan of Hallmark movies. I do like the movies based on the short-lived show Signed, Sealed, Delivered which follows a group of employees in the Dead Letter Office of the United States Postal Service. The premise – of them solving mysteries surrounding lost letters or packages — is a bit far fetched but the overall stories are uplifting and encouraging.

Earlier in the week I watched The Man Who Invented Christmas as part of the ‘Tis the Season Cinema feature Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs and I started this week. We are watching Christmas movies from now until the week before Christmas. Next up is A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong which you can find here on YouTube:

This special was on the BBC and is part of a series of specials and shows about a theater group who is always messing up or somehow ruining their shows with misspoken words or mishaps.

What I’m Writing

I didn’t share much on the blog this week other than the last chapters of Mercy’s Shore (Shores of Mercy).

I had to add a quick chapter to Shores of Mercy and also started a couple other stories to see which one sticks in my brain for me to continue it.

I did share a blog post about The Man Who Invented Christmas.

What I’m Listening To

I am listening to a lot of Family Life, our local Christian radio station.

Now it’s your turn

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Sunday Bookends: Radio shows and stations, fun books and classics, and cooking shows

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What’s Been Occurring

Each evening I look around our living room and count heads. Not the heads of children, but pets. I make sure that both our cats and our puppy are inside, safe and sound.

It makes me smile when I look around and they are all there, usually curled up in a dog bed (that’s often our old cat) or a recliner (taking up space where we could sit).

This week I have been trying to remind myself that I get to have this life, especially when I have to do something I don’t really want to do — like drive Little Miss to gymnastics or walk her to the trampoline up the hill, or go get groceries. There is a lot about my life I am blessed to be able to do. I’m blessed, after last year, to still be here.

Our local Christian radio station has had a family hour from 7 to 8 p.m. on weekdays for more than 20-years. They play Adventures in Odyssey and follow it with Down Gilead Lane, Lamplighter Theater,  The Pond, or Animal Jam. These are all children’s Christian radio dramas produced by Focus on the Family.

Little Miss and I started listening to the last half hour on the way home from Awana a month ago but I would forget to turn it on the radio at home. I finally put a reminder on my phone to turn the radio on so Friday night Little Miss was so excited and ran around the house as I turned it on, shutting off all the lights to make it “more like a long,  boring car ride.”

We huddled under my huge, fuzzy blanket and listened to the stories, imagining what was happening, which was nicer than her playing video games or watching cartoons that are full of subjects I am not too sure about.

This radio station has been a real blessing to our family, especially me this week when I had to drive on a road I am not comfortable driving in the daylight, let alone at night, three times in one night. I turned the station on and listened to encouraging Christian music all the way to take Little Miss to gymnastics, then back, then back to the same place to pick up my husband (who was waiting for someone to unlock our van, but that person never came). I’ve heard people say that turning on this radio station is liking reconnecting with a long lost friend and they are right. Much like God never changes, this station has been there for almost my entire life when I’ve needed it the most. If you are ever in the area, it is Family Life out of Bath, N.Y. and they have transmitters throughout Upstate New York and northern Pennsylvania.

They also offer music streams on their webpage (

Temperatures have been dropping very fast at night but we have been dragging our feet on turning the heat on because of how high the oil prices are. When it hit 28 one night this week, I decided we are going to have to break down and turn it on.

What We’ve Been Reading

This week I am finishing up Dog Days of Summer by Kathleen Y’Barbo, which I am enjoying so far.

Here is a description:

Mishaps Abound as Second Chance Ranch Struggles to Get Its Start
Grab a lap dog to cuddle and relax into a fun small-town mystery as a new dog rescue project turns into a three-ring circus of calamities in book 2 of the Gone to the Dogs series.
Trina Potter, Nashville country music star, buys a ranch near her hometown in Brenham, Texas, to help her niece open a rescue facility for dogs. Her presence in town stirs up some old high school rivalries—and romance. Finding property to buy is a challenge, convincing her mother to move there with her is daunting, and navigating a string of strange accidents is perplexing. Sometimes Trina feels like she’s purchased her own three ring circus instead of a beautiful piece of land. But her first priority will be figuring out who wants Second Chance Ranch shut down before they even have the grand opening.

More in the Gone to the Dogs Series:
Book 1 – Off the Chain by Janice Thompson
Book 2 – Dog Days of Summer by Kathleen Y’Barbo
Book 3 – Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Janice Thompson

I am also reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because The Boy is also reading it for English LIT.

After Dog Days of Summer I hope to dive into (in no particular order):

The Father Brown Mysteries by G.K. Chesterton;

Criss Cross by C.C.  Warrens;

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz;

Miss Julia Knows A Thing or Two by Ann B. Ross

At night I am reading The Light, The Witch, and The Wardrobe with Little Miss. I haven’t read this book all the way through since I was a kid so I am excited to read it with her.

The Husband hasn’t — gasped — started a new book yet.

What I’ve Been Listening To

There are so many Christian musicians with new albums out including:

Cody Carnes,

Steven Curtis Chapman

Anne Wilson


Mercy Me

I’ll be listening to a lot of new music this week.

What We’ve Been Watching/Watched

Little Miss and  both enjoy cooking or baking shows so she asked for the Great British Baking Show, but it wasn’t showing up on the streaming services we have so we opted for Mary Berry’s show called Classic Mary Berry.

Little Miss was absolutely delighted when it started and said, “I love these shows!”

The one downside was the commercials. But we had fun watching Mary whip up a variety of dishes. I’ve never had a poached egg, have you? And if I haven’t eaten one, then I’ve never cooked one. Have you?

I also watched part of the Dove Awards and hope to watch more later:

The Husband and I also watched A New Kind of Love with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

What I’m Writing

I am finishing up Shores of Mercy and excited to start a new book while I let the book set for a couple of weeks and then start editing and rewrites. The book is up for pre-order on Amazon HERE (

This week on the blog I shared:

Now it is your turn. What are you reading, watching, listening to, or doing? Let me know in the comments.