Winter Book List 2019

I am done reading seed catalogues for the season.  I got my extensive order in and am dreaming and scheming up all sorts of garden plans.  From indoors, on my sofa, with a cup of great coffee and my sleeping farm dog who doesn’t love cold.  All that dreaming aside, this is the time for catching up on projects or reading.  Otherwise one might be prone to give in to seasonal affective disorder and crying until spring.  I have lots of books and plenty to do around her to get me through until spring crops.

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#1 #Do Not Disturb; How I Ghosted My Cell Phone To Take Back My Life by Jedediah Bila was a must.  I try to put my damn phone down long enough to read it.  When I was young (“Oh here we go…” I can hear you say.) we could not have even fathomed such a thing.  A phone without a cord?  A phone that you can take with you?  The computers had math games on them.  There was no Google, we had encyclopedias and libraries.  When the first shoe box sized phone came out in my great aunt’s fancy car, I couldn’t believe it.  So, to say that I am not sure how much time I lose checking email, texts, instagram, facebook, and googling things is beyond my scope of imagination.  I have eye strain, anxiety, and I see the detriment these things have brought our society.  Where children and spouses are ignored, personas are created, and time disappears.  Yes, I am reading this book!

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#2 Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Ngugen is magnificently written with captivating prose and such convincing characters and scenarios that I am tempted to google what is fact and fiction as the narrative is so convincing in this Little House on the Prairie obsessed novel.  Read it!  You will love it.

Also on my list to start-

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#3 Mud Season; How One Woman’s Dream of Moving to Vermont Raising Children, Chickens, and Sheep & Running the Old Country Store Pretty Much Led to One Calamity After Another by Ellen Stimson- I checked this book out many years ago from the library and I am not sure why I didn’t get very far in it.  Did another book show up that I wanted to read more, was it not interesting?  I don’t know but the plot sounds fun so I will start it soon.  I have a friend who did just this, left and went to a small town, a place in the country, and started a farm and café in Vermont.  Perhaps she read this book!

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#4 My Gentle Barn; Creating a Sanctuary Where Animals Heal and Children Learn to Hope by Ellie Laks- I follow this beautiful sanctuary on social media and I am looking forward to going there via the pages of this memoir.  My small sanctuary that I told you I was starting last year has come to be and eventually we want land where we can welcome more animals so reading first hand the pros and cons and ins and outs and triumphs will be a lovely way to learn.

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#5 Grow the Good Life; Why a Vegetable Garden Will Make You Happy, Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise by Michele Owens- You don’t have to tell me twice!  I am well aware of the powers of the garden, but I love reading other’s accounts, often hilarious and educational.

I have a few other memoirs ready to start as well and I hope no one requests them at the library so I have time to read all of them!  Wishing you great reading this cold winter season.  What are your favorite books right now?  Respond in the comments so we all have more books to look into!

Winter Evenings and What Are You Reading?

These cold days are quiet and sweet.  I am trying this year not to immediately begin pining for spring and planting season.  I figured I won’t even look at seed catalogues (oops) or plan out my garden (weeelll…), but I am enjoying the relaxation.  You know, spring and summer is filled with baby animals, and digging, and planting, and harvesting, and watering every day, and preserving, and weeding, and more!  Winter is for settling in and restoring.  In the spring and summer we get more done because the sun is out.  Right now in the freezing dark of suppertime we stay in.  What do you like to do on winter evenings?

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I am the self proclaimed rummy queen.  It’s probably best because I am terrible sport!  I used to play rummy with glasses of iced tea with my great-grandma.  I remember double decks and a large table of family playing at my grandma’s house.  I remember my cousin, Helen, teaching me how to play when I was eight years old on our way up to a cabin with my grandparents.  Doug grew up playing gin among other games.  Do folks play cards anymore?  After dinner the past several nights the shuffling of cards can be heard from our dimly lit kitchen table.  Laughter, music, and memories.

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Winter is also the time to catch up on books!  We love to read and we end every evening with reading and a cup of steaming tea.  Right now I am reading, Meeting the Medicine Man by Charles Langley.  It is out of print and I highly suggest you try to secure a copy off of Amazon.  It is fabulous.  I last read it ten years ago before I started working with medicine people.  It is a glimpse into the world of the Navajo and medicine people.  Of good and evil and the people that help keep the community safe and bring things back into balance.  What are you reading?

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My television is covered by a painting.  We rarely utilize it but for our favorite show (The Voice) and football and the occasional movie night.  It is more pleasant with it not being the center of attention.  We are able to converse more easily, make more memories, and enjoy the ease of these lovely winter evenings.

 

Top Five Books for Winter Reading

During the summer I often only have time to read magazines between farmer’s markets and gardening, and babysitting, and the shop (and soon to be a full blown urban farm), but in the winter I have more time.  The sun goes down earlier, I am called to warm sheets quicker, tea by my side, a book (not an e-book, mind you, I prefer the loveliness of paper) in my hand, and I am whisked away to new places amongst new people for a time.  A way to stop my swimming mind from wandering from subject to worry to plan.  These are my top five books for winter reading.

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1- The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman

This book takes us to the plush apartment of an elderly, elegant woman, at once a hermit and extraordinary storyteller of her time as a courtesan.  Taking place at the cusp of World War Two, her granddaughter both listens to her grandmother’s stories and becomes a woman in a world where being half Jewish in love with a Jewish rare book seller could prove dangerous.  A lovely tale of love and luxury, of loss and simple pleasures, I enjoyed every word.

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2- If There’s Squash Bugs in Heaven, I Ain’t Staying by Stacia Spragg-Braude

I laughed throughout this book.  The author follows an older farmer around for a year and creates a memoir of the life of a Farm girl in Corrales, New Mexico, easily transporting us to her youth, introducing us to family members throughout time, then back to present at the stove stirring this or that to be preserved.  Incredible farming wisdom and homesteading tips are inevitably sought during this delightful story of a life lived simply and near the earth.

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3- The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

Mind you, fiction is not my reading of choice.  I challenged myself this year to read more fiction.  This book delivered an enticing story that jumps from past to present as a young reporter tries to find out the truth behind a maid’s mysterious death by interviewing the elder models that still inhabit the once prestigious Barbizon hotel.  Secrets unfold and kept me thoroughly entertained as it took me to sexy jazz clubs in the 1950’s, Puerto Rican singers, smoke, spices, and models trying to make it set the scene for a beautiful tale of love and second chances.

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4- Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

One I have already read but must recommend you read if you haven’t yet.  The beautiful ideas of self renewal, travel, food, love, spirit all entwined in one enticing book with gorgeous prose and colorful scenes thrills and inspires me.  Then watch the movie.  It is spectacular as well.

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5- The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

I’ll have this one finished in the next day or two.  It makes me stay up past my bedtime to read (which is really saying something as I am fast asleep by 10:01 every night!) just to capture a bit more of the Scottish hillside, hear the brogue, see the kilts, pet the lambs, and travel around with the protagonist who has left her ordinary librarian job to sell books in a large restored van at markets.  I am smitten, and oddly desiring a pint of something.

Bonus- As for magazines I am wondering if some of my fellow farmgirls may have overlooked one.  Oprah magazine is one that I will subscribe to every year.  I have plenty of farming and homemaking magazines but this makes me.  Filled with constant inspiration, encouragement, and great book ideas, I cannot stop pouring over the glossy pages of this beautiful ensemble of ideas and friendship.

What are you reading?  Book recommendations?  Happy reading!

Winter Rest (and making it last all year!)

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A time for rest, a time for play, a time for work.  Balance.  I am great at all but the first one.  I feel like I have been going really fast for forty years!  I sit down to read but there is something more pressing to do.  I try not to make lists, to just go about my day, but then I feel like nothing gets done.  I make lists and they are impossible to complete.  I expect everyone around me to be working if I am!  And I feel guilty for taking a break.  What the heck is that?  This month, this year, will be different.

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After our whirlwind year of events and then moving, I am tired.  Happy, but tired.  Now that I have less to do (though there is always something to do) I find that I can convince myself a little better to take it easy.  I am not sure why I have been rushing through my life!

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This homestead is changing me.  The beautiful stillness outside, the complete silence, the feeling out here is not rushed.  This time of life is changing me.  The children don’t need to be rushed anywhere.  Doug doesn’t need to rush to work.  I don’t have to hurry and get things done and supper on the table before everyone gets home.  Things are slowing down on their own.  Now we need to.

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We have spent a lot of time rushing places.  Always ridiculously early.  I still do not like it when people are really late but I am learning to relax a little and let things fall into place without stress.  We are still on time, we just aren’t an hour early to everything.  We’d be two hours early to farmers markets.  I would get so frustrated with Nancy for not being there early.  For coming in right before we opened.  But we were always set up and ready for the crowd.  It was when she died suddenly that I realized what a waste of energy and time I had spent wishing she would be on time.  Our relationship during the markets wouldn’t have been strained and I would have more delightful memories (and an hour longer of sleep) if I had just settled down.

We are spending more time visiting with people when we drop off medicine. Here Maryjane got to meet a horse that did tricks!

We are spending more time visiting with people when we drop off medicine. Here Maryjane got to meet a horse that did tricks!

We had one market that we did for years that if you didn’t get there two plus hours early then you got squeezed out of your spot.  Doug was always frantic to get there and even though he tried not to be frustrated with me while I was picking last minute produce to take, it was still stressful.  We dropped that market and won’t return this year, opting instead for markets where we know we will have a spot.  It is time to stop rushing here and there.

I need to keep in mind that I don't have to be on vacation to relax!

I need to keep in mind that I don’t have to be on vacation to relax!

Here in the house on this beautifully foggy morning I let Doug sleep and take in the silence of a cold winter morning where I have nowhere to be.  I realize that our bodies cannot possibly withstand constant work and play with no rest.  I must learn to take a magazine over to the couch with a cup of tea and not get up for its duration.  I must learn to take leisurely walks and breathe.  I must learn to breathe.  Especially now that we have fewer places to be.  Come summer, when the chaos begins, hopefully I will have learned to breathe, move methodically, smile, accept, get there when I get there, and notice life around me.  Increase my senses and take in this beautiful world we live in instead of rushing through it.

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What are your favorite ways to rest?

The Do Nothing Day

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We are geared up to hit the farmer’s market today.  We have orders, and vegetables, and customers to meet today.  I have been moving at the speed of light all summer, with to-do lists that would take three days if I looked at them realistically!  I woke up gearing to go.

Doug was up all night coughing, fever, not a happy hubby.  We are not doing the market today.  This throws a wrench in my everyday momentum.  But….what will I do?  I already did the canning and laundry and house cleaning.

Gasp!  Is it possible that we are getting a day off?  I wouldn’t know what to do!  I better make a to-do list anyway just to keep myself from pacing like a caged animal.

1. Drink more coffee

2. Sit on porch and feel sun on my face

3. Drink some spiced chai tea

4. Read a book (currently reading The Pioneer Woman by Ree Drummond)

5. Make homemade pasta

6. Walk aimlessly around the gardens and see what is left to harvest

7. Pour a glass of wine

8. Read a magazine

9. Read a cookbook (maybe pour another glass of wine)

10. If I am really bored, I could do a couple of loads of laundry and can more beans but I am going to try really hard to do nothing today!

…Maybe I will go for a hike.  It’s a beautiful day to do nothing.