Book Lists: January/February

Although I’ve sorely lacked in writing in this space what I’ve been reading; I have been reading these last few months. I’ve actually found myself with too many books with bookmarks and an ever growing list. Here’s where I’m at currently and where I’m hoping to head in the month ahead.

CURRENTLY READING:

None Like Him by Jen Wilken – I’m trying to read through this one slowly. To really narrate through on my own each section, spend some time with the scripture references and process each attribute. I do love her writing and teaching style. It’s a great read so far.

Good and Angry by Turansky – This is a re-read for me, but it’s totally different reading this book as a parent of a tween and teenager versus little bitties when I first read it. I’m reading through it pretty slowly when I have a few stolen moments in the mornings while the house is quiet. It is a great parenting book.

The Tech-Wise Family by Crouch – This is another one that I’m reading through slowly. I’m almost done with it and would highly recommend it. I’ve read a few books about technology and parenting over the last few years and honestly I think this one is by far my favorite. It’s an easy read, but yet he asks such great questions to ponder.

The Swiss Family Robinson – by Wyss – The chick and I are still reading this in the evenings before bed when we have a chance. We have one chapter left! I’ve really loved this book more than I ever thought I would. It’s charming and thought provoking and although it’s long, we’ve really enjoyed it.

Hadrian’s Wall by Goldsworthy – The chick and I have been studying early history and the Romans off and on this year and we are reading a children’s book called The White Isle which is about Hadrian’s Wall in England. I snagged this book at the library which is actually a history of this wall and so far it’s actually pretty interesting.

For School I’m reading along with the chick: The Children’s Homer, Defeating Darwinism, It Couldn’t Just Happen, Our Island Story, Augustus Caesar’s World, The Forgotten Daughter and The White Isle.

RECENTLY FINISHED

The Great Alone by Hannah – Goodness this book. I could not put it down and when I got within about 100 pages to the end I spent pretty much the whole day stealing time to read it. I honestly did not like the main characters at all, but I loved the setting in Alaska and all the details. There is something about escaping and surviving on your own that I just totally love (but could never do) and the idea of living somewhere so wild is just exciting to me. It would be fabulous vacation read if you have one coming up.

A Year in Provence by Mayle – I loved this. I’m beginning to figure out that I love memoirs that involve traveling and living somewhere else; maybe because my husband and I would totally do it, yet probably never will. The author was hilarious and it was overall just such a lovely little book.

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Gaynor – This one I grabbed at the library one day because I thought it sounded really interesting. Another book along the lines of living somewhere and having to figure out how to survive against the elements; in this case on a crazy island in northern England and also in New England in the US. It was an easy read and I did love the setting and the characters in this one.

Dark Tide RIsing by Perry – I’ve been reading Anne Perry’s books since I was like 19 so anytime one comes out, I always gobble it up. After all these years I can see the pattern and where she’s going, but I still love them.

Blind Justice by Alexander – This book was awesome. I read it for my book club and so far I’d say this would be my favorite fiction book of 2019 so far. It’s a mystery (which I love) and I’m eager to find some more of his series in the coming months. It’s all based around the same Blind Judge and other main characters and it’s set in a time period in England that I’ve read much about over the years.

The Christmas Mystery by Gaarder – This was a read aloud the chick and I read during Advent and a little beyond. It was good, a little strange but it is a translated book so I think you have to remember that it’s written from a totally different culture and perspective.

The Tuscan Child by Bowen – This was another quick read and I enjoyed it. Can’t say I remember a whole lot about it though!

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Patchett – I love Ann Patchett and any time I get to read about an author’s “real life” and even glimpses into their writing process I love it even more. This is a series of essays and each one don’t necessarily relate to one another, but overall it’s a fantastic book.

What’s Next?

I’m getting ready to start The Ocean at the End of the Lane. This is a re-read for me, but there was something about it that made me want to read it again. It’s a pretty small book and I’m hopefully that this time around I will get more out of it. I like Gaiman a lot and I think there are a lot of things I can glean from his writing as I try to flush out a story that’s been floating around my head for years. I’m hopeful that as some of my responsibilities change this year, my writing life can come back. I have a stackful of books that I’ve sort of started that I’d love to get moving into. But I feel like I need to finish some of the ones I’m currently reading first.

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Starling Quilt

The quilting bug has certainly taken hold; so much so that I finally joined our local Modern Quilt Guild and have already attended the first two meetings.

My mother’s birthday was coming up this month and I felt like I really needed to gift her with a quilt. The Fat Quarter Shop released this Starling Quilt pattern as a freebie and when I saw it I knew it was the perfect pattern for her. (I also knew that there was a pretty good chance I could get it done in time too).

I searched high and low for some fabric for her and when I saw this Steno Pool line from Cotton and Steel I knew that was it. My mom went to secretary school way back and learned shorthand. When we were growing up, my mom would write our Christmas lists in shorthand, which used to frustrate me to no end because I couldn’t decipher them. I even think I tried to use her shorthand dictionary at one point to try and figure it out! This shorthand panel was the tipping point for her quilt.

I found some coordinating fabrics to go with the line, including this lovely, sparkling chambray and got started.

This is a pretty simple quilt to cut and piece. The pieces are bigger and after making so many quilts with tiny pieces it was a welcome respite! I’m still working on my exact piecing skills and I know that some of these don’t line up perfectly, but I’m getting better.

I had originally purchased some fabric for the back, but the color was totally off from what I thought it was and I actually miscalculated and didn’t order enough. Instead of purchasing more, I decided to piece the back (a little inspiration from my quilt guild meeting show and tell) and I’m super happy with how it turned out.

I quilted it with a wavy block with my machine.

This quilt is super soft and washed up really well and I’m beyond thrilled to gift it to my mom on her birthday!

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Reading Goals 2019

I’m sort of in denial or rather amazement that 2018 is over. When I started looking over what I had read last year and the goals I had set for myself, I realized they were a little lofty. I actually didn’t do such a bad job with my main list, but when I looked back I thought my list wasn’t all that realistic and intentional. It was more a list of stuff I either had to read or hoped to read.

This year I want to be more intentional. It’s going to be a different year I think, where I am stepping back from some commitments I’ve had the past few years and I’m hopeful that it will open up space to cultivate some different habits that I’ve been hoping to build up. I’m pondering working through a few of the different reading challenges that I’ve seen in my blogo’sphere but I’m still not sure I’m ready to fully dive into those yet.

So here’s to reading in 2019 – reading with intention and some fun too…

For my Book Club:

  • January: Eothan (Kingslake)
  • February: Blind Justice (Alexander)
  • March: Ghost Map (Johnson) this is a re-read for me
  • April: Humble Roots (Anderson) another re-read
  • May: Fidelity (Berry)
  • June: Persuasion (Austen)
  • July: Becoming Mrs. Lewis (Callahan)
  • August: Oedipus Rex (Sophocles)
  • September: Scarlet Pimpernel (Orczy)
  • October: selections from Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
  • November: Code of the Woosters (Wodehouse)
  • December: Silent Night (Weinbraub)

My Personal List: Fiction

  • The Alchemist (Coelho) **started but abandoned
  • The Tattooist of Auschwitz (Morris)
  • Odd and the Frost Giants (Gaiman)
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane (this is a re-read) (Gaiman)
  • Little Men (Alcott)
  • Anna Karenina (a re-read, but I read it in high school, therefore I remember little)
  • That Distant Land (Berry)
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Everything that Rises Must Converge (O’Conner)
  • The Great Alone (Hannah)
  • The Chosen (Potok)

My Personal List: Non-Fiction

  • The Curve of Time (Blanchet)
  • A Year in Provence (Mayle)
  • Circle of Quiet (L’Engle)
  • The Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Dillard)
  • The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings (Zaleski)
  • First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies

My Personal List: Personal and Spiritual Growth

  • Ourselves (Mason)
  • On the Shoulders of Hobbits
  • You Learn by Living (E. Roosevelt)
  • Tending the Heart of Virtue (started, didn’t finish yet)
  • Beate Not the Poore Desk
  • The Lifegiving Table (Clark) (started, didn’t finish yet)
  • In the Name of Jesus and/or Love, Henri (Nouwen)
  • None Like Him (Wilken)

On a side note, these quilt photos are actually nabbed off the internet and aren’t my actual creations; but they are posted here as a visual reminder of two quilts I actually hope to make this year that are very bookish.

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Sewing Life – 2018

If my reading life sort of dwindled this year, my sewing life pretty much disintegrated, along with my writing life. Let’s just say that my creative output was hampered greatly by homeschooling and teaching an 8th grade class.  I’m beyond hopeful that as I clear some space next year I can start designing patterns, sewing and writing again.

I did cross two major goals off my list this year though. I finished a massive quilt project that I started in 2017 and I finally learned (or started learning) how to do paper piecing.

Fancy Forest Quilt

I started this Fancy Forest Quilt way back in 2017 and steadily worked on it as I could for the next year. When I knew we were moving in the Fall, I pushed super hard to finish it, because I had no idea what my sewing space was going to look like wherever we ended up moving. It was by far the biggest project I’ve ever undertaken and I’m completely fallen head over heels in love with quilting.

I also finally took the plunge and learned how to do paper piecing. I don’t know why this seemed so impossible to me. I’m still developing my skills, so to speak, but it’s probably the coolest thing I’ve learned how to do.


Untitled

My brother is record collector affectionato and I knew when I saw this pattern by Pen and Paper I was going to have to learn how to sew it for his Christmas gift. I was totally amazed with the whole process while it came together and still am baffled how in the world I actually pieced it.

After accomplishing that, the sky was the limit. I had been gifted one of these amazing little tiny flying geese keychains years ago and mine was falling apart. When I realized that I might actually be able to figure out how to sew my own, I jumped at the chance to sew one for me and a few for some Christmas gifts. Again, it was another one of those projects where I just couldn’t believe that it worked!

Flying geese keychains
Flying geese keychains
https://www.flickr.com/photos/daisyeyes/45393467955/in/datetaken/

I also made a holiday table runner using up some of the last of my Cotton and Steel Garland scraps. I’m 100% in love with it and I know that every Christmas now I’ll be super excited to pull it out and lay it on the table!

Hexies Holiday Table Runner

I didn’t do much in the way of embroidery this past year. I finished up a large wedding vows early on in 2018 and then I was pretty much burnt out. I’ve designed a few custom patterns off and on all year and I’ve really enjoyed that, but after nearly 8 years of doing embroidery almost constantly I really needed a break. I’m not sure where that’s going to put me in 2019. I’ve begun a designer relationship with Sulky threads and I’m super hopeful that this will be the kick I need to pick up a needle and thread again – but for now I’m going to enjoy my quilting fascination and also do some garment sewing (of which I did very little of this year).

Custom Wedding Vows - Australian Custom Order

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2018 Reading in Review


I feel like I started out 2018 super strong with my reading life and goals. While my list of books to read was pretty dang long, I felt pretty confident I could get through most of the list. Then entered the Fall and I started teaching a class and my reading life just plummeted.  I ended up having to focus all my extra time on preparing for this class and trying my best to keep up with my own kid’s pre-reading that I couldn’t stay on top of my list – nor could I stay on top of posting where I was at with reading!

That said, I’m hopeful that 2019 will prove to be a little different. I’d love to start posting here again more regularly and I’m working on a list for next year that will be possibly a little more realistic. But…I’m not teaching anyone next year except for my own children so I’m super hopeful!

Here’s what I read this past year – along with those I abandoned (books with an * were for a book club)

Abandoned Books

  • Billy Budd (this was for my son’s CC class – what a doozy)
  • The Great Divorce* (weird, totally weird)
  • The Fledgling (a read aloud my daughter and I started – another weird one)
  • Across Five Aprils (we started this as a family and then life…)
  • Fanny Crosby (this was a pre-read for my daughter and we both abandoned it)
  • Orthodoxy – (My brain…just can’t. Although I’m hoping to keep trying)
  • The Mill on the Floss (I actually really liked this one. It’s a huge book and I had to return it to the library and never picked it up again)
  • Tending the Heart of Virtue – (another one I didn’t have time to finish before I had to return it to the library)

Finished Fiction

  • A Wind in the Door – L’Engle
  • The Princess & the Goblin* – MacDonald
  • Pride and Prejudice* – Austen
  • Alias Grace*  – Atwood
  • The Book of Three* – Alexander
  • Caddie Woodlawn – Brink
  • David Copperfield* – Dickens
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins – O’Dell
  • Before We Were Yours – Wingate
  • The Inimitable Jeeves* – Wodehouse
  • Gilead – Robinson
  • Father and I Were Ranchers: Little Britches – Moody
  • Station Eleven* – St. John Mandel
  • Glass Houses – Penny
  • The Penderwicks – Birdsall
  • Pachinko – Jin Lee
  • A Gentleman in Moscow – Towles
  • In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex* – Philbrick
  • Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures – DiCamillo
  • Jayber Crow – Berry
  • Hannah Coulter – Berry
  • Tanglewood Tales – Hawthorne
  • This Must be the Place – O’Farrell
  • Where the Red Fern Grows – Rawls
  • The Phantom Tollbooth – Juster
  • Murder on the Orient Express – Christie

Finished Non-Fiction

  • Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life – Harrison-Warren
  • A Touch of the Infinite: Studies in Music Appreciation – Hoyt
  • Uncommon Type: Some Stories – Hanks
  • 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You* – Reinke
  • Know and Tell: The Art of Narration – Glass
  • Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything – Bogel
  • The Hiding Place – Ten Boom
  • On Writing: A Memoir of Craft – King
  • The Question: Teaching your Child the Essentials of Classical Education – Bortins
  • The Self-Driven Child – Stixrud
  • Educated* – Westover
  • The Man Who Invented Christmas* – Standiford
  • The Wisdom of God: Seeing Jesus in the Psalms… – Guthrie
  • Seaman: The Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis and Clark – Karwoski
  • Beauty in the Word – Caldecott

In Review

If I look at all the books I had on my original list, I pretty much read 80% of the fiction and read almost none of the Personal Growth. I abandoned a lot, which is a new thing for me to finally admit. I found this list to be a helpful one to turn to when I realized I was short a book to read and wasn’t sure where to go next.

The hardest book I tried to read was Orthodoxy. I really want to pick it up again this year and push through it. I read snippets from it all the time and they are so good! But this book just hurt my brain. I wanted so hard to understand it and just have it sink in so deep.

For fiction, the hardest books I read were a cross between Gilead and Jayber Crow. In both books, I just couldn’t enjoy the voice of the narrator. Gilead I couldn’t identify with at all; although listening to the Close Reads Podcast discussion helped a ton. Jayber Crow, I wanted to love, oh how I wanted to love it because everyone loves it, but honestly Hannah Coulter is my Port William favorite. I think maybe if I had read Jayber first I might have enjoyed it more; but Wendell’s voice as Hannah was much more relatable to me.

My favorite books of the year were:

  • David Copperfield – because Dickens has become my complete favorite classic author
  • Flora and Ulysses – hands down most enjoyable children’s book we read this year
  • Know and Tell – best book on narration and just teaching-wise I’ve read
  • Liturgy of the Ordinary – just super good for your heart and soul

Currently…

I’m still working on my final list for next year, but here’s what I’m reading as we close out 2018:

  • Half a Yellow Sun – Adichie
  • Man, The Dwelling Place of God – Tozer
  • The Tech-Wise Family – Crouch
  • The Children’s Homer – Colum
  • The Swiss Family Robinson – Wyss
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