lifestyle

Shades of Pink Peonies

four varieties of pink peonies in a white vase

I’ve been spending most of my time taking care of my mom’s garden over the past few weeks, (as she’s on holiday) and we are now entering into a heat wave, so I have not been spending much time on projects of a creative nature, or on outfit posts to share here.

However, I have been getting up early to go out and appreciate the flowerbeds before it heats up for the day, and today I gathered a bouquet of several varieties of peonies. It’s too hot to enjoy them outside, so it was time to bring the beauty inside. We have five varieties of peonies and they are planted in various locations with different conditions, so they all bloom at slightly different times, which is nice since it extends the season. In this bouquet I have what I believe is a white and dark pink centre Festiva Maxima, a medium pink variety of which I do not know the name, a Raspberry Sundae which is yellow fading to pink, and finally a Sarah Bernhardt pale pink variety.

Which is your favourite?

closeup of sarah bernhardt pale pink peony

raspberry sundae peony, sarah bernhardt peony and festiva maxima peony

rasberry sundae, festiva maxima and sarah bernhardt peonies in a white vase

 

Beautiful Books & Lilac Bouquets | Anne’s House of Dreams First Edition

cover of the 1917 copy of Anne's House of Dreams book surrounded with lilac blooms

I love old books. There is just something beautiful about them. Not only have the stories survived through the years and hopefully brought much pleasure to many readers, but the books themselves have become an object of interest outside of the story held within their pages. If you want to read the story Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery, you can pick up a paperback copy at your local bookstore or borrow an e-book for your e-reader. However, it’s a completely different experience opening the cover of a book that was held over 100 years ago by someone also eager to read about Anne’s next adventures.

anne's house of dreams 1917 first edition book open on a table with cup of tea and a bouquet of lilacs beside it

I’ve never thought particularly much about collecting books. By that I mean, seeking out copies of specific books. I’ve always picked up pretty books at thrift stores and the like, but most of them are not my well loved favourite stories. I have a friend who collects the Anne of Green Gables series. She owns a first edition of Anne’s House of Dreams, (and another in the series, but I can’t remember which) so when I saw a listing on Poshmark for a 1917 first edition, it made me think of her. I was in love with the cover of this book, and then the more I thought about it, I realized that it made me think of…me. Why couldn’t I begin a collection of antique, or at least old, copies of the stories I love? I thought about it over a few weeks, periodically clicking on the listing and admiring it, and then when I saw that the seller was closing their closet and accepting offers, I made an offer and purchased the first of my very own collection of L.M. Montgomery books.

So, of course a photoshoot with perfectly coordinated lilac blooms and the ubiquitous cup of tea was required. There are a lot of photos, but the lilacs were just so beautiful this year that I had to keep taking photos.

anne's house of dreams 1917 book sitting on a table with a teacup and a vase with lilacs beside it

white vase with a lilac bouquet in it sitting on a chair and an antique book sitting beside it

top view of the first edition of Anne's House of Dreams by L.M.Montgomery

a gold and white teacup beside a lilac bouquet

a white and gold teacup surrounded by purple lilac blooms

anne's house of dreams first edition book sitting on a table with lilacs and a cup of tea beside it

a gold and white teacup and the cover of Anne's House of Dreams from 1917

Anne's House of Dreams first edition book with a purple cover beside a cup of tea and a bouquet of lilacs

multi shades of purple and white lilacs in a bouquet

Happy Heart Day

Heart shaped plate with pink hearts on it filled with chocolate truffles sitting on a lace tablecloth

Happy Valentines Day dear Reader! I’ve come down with a cold, so just a quick post today.

Lately I’ve been…

(Re)reading: Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions, which has a lovely chapter about Valentines Day, and turning it into a celebration of family, not just romantic love. I, of course, love that sentiment, as Valentines Day has always been one of my favourite holidays.

two heart garlands, one with red clay and raffia hearts and one made of paper

Loving: I don’t do a lot to celebrate Valentines Day, but each year I send out cards, hang my heart garland and try to make some sort of themed dessert. This year it was raspberry chocolate truffles!

scrapbooking pages and photographs spread out across my desk

Making: My mom and I have been sorting through years worth of family photos, and I’ve started scrapbooking again! I started scrapbooking 20 years ago, but I took a long break from it. I was originally planning to put my photos into regular albums, but then decided to scrapbook them. I won’t necessarily make them as fancy as the pages I used to do, but I like that the 12×12 format will give me a place to put all the documents and keepsakes I’ve gathered over the years alongside the photos.   

Finding: New artists to love on Redbubble. I had a voucher to use, and while browsing came across this lovely Jane Eyre painting by Zuzana Čupová. I love Jane Eyre, and fell in love with this painting the moment I saw it. It fits perfectly into my gallery wall. I also really love the artwork of Oh Jess Marie and purchased some of her adorable tea and book themed greeting cards and stickers. (Ps. the print quality on everything I got from Redbubble was great!)

framed jane eyre watercolour painting artwork hanging in a gallery wall

Thankful for: Videos to watch and podcasts to listen to while I am sick and don’t feel up to reading. A few of my favourites lately are Aly Art, Relatable by Allie Beth Stuckey and Farmhouse on Boone.

And, finally, on this day of love, I will leave you with this verse about the best love!

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”- Romans 5:8

A Year of Reading | My Favourite Books of 2023

a cup of tea in a blue floral patterned teacup sits on a wooden background and a vintage book is open beside it

Happy New Year, Dear Reader! Can you believe we are already in 2024? For this first post of the new year I thought I would share my favourite books I read in 2023. Last December, I decided that I wanted to finally read some of the books on my To Be Read list that had been there for a while, as well get through all of the unread books on my bookshelf. (I think that’s my goal every year, and I always fail, but I still keep trying…) I compiled a shortlist of 14 books, some of which were available in the library and some I needed to buy or borrow from others. Then, to accomplish the other goal, I pulled all of the unread books off of my bookshelf (they get lost amongst the other books) and dedicated a shelf specifically for them. As I purchased and borrowed new books throughout the year, they joined the others on that shelf and then as I read them, they went back onto my main bookshelf. (Or into the donation bin for a few I didn’t enjoy!)

This method helped keep me focused and I was able to get through quite a lot of them, while still giving me the freedom to read what I was in the mood for. I know some people like to schedule books to read each week/month, but I would rather have an array of choices and pick what appeals to me the most in the moment. I like to read a variety of genres, but I’m not necessarily always in the mood for all of them.

While I did read almost all 14 of the books I had planned on, I didn’t make it through The Slave Trade by Hugh Thomas. It was a lot thicker of a book than I anticipated, so if I finish it in 2024, then I will consider than an accomplishment! I did read more than those 14 books this year, but this list is a bit on the smaller side, since not very many ended up being ones I “loved” and wanted to share. But now, onto the books that I did like in 2023, in no particular order…

The book Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxes sitting on a wooden background

Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas

I said they weren’t in particular order, but we’re starting off with what was, by far, my favourite book of the year. Last year I read Hitler’s Cross by Erwin Lutzer… which then led me to read Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas… which then piqued my interest in more of Metaxas’ books… which then led me to this volume about William Wilberforce. This book was published in conjunction with the 2006 film of the same name. While I am familiar with Wilberforce, I loved learning more about him as well as the other Reformers and Abolitionists. This is one of those books where a good subject is made even better by a great author. Here is a small example of Metaxas’ writing style, in his “Acknowledgements”, so you can get a feel for what I mean.

“Life is a collaborative effort. That books are is a cliche, but not a fiction. I wish first and foremost to thank my typist, yours truly, for quite literally transcribing my thoughts as I thought them, a feat hardly to be explained, and yet quite literally true.”

While the book chronicles a serious topic, it is not depressing. Metaxas explores both Wilberforce’s personal and political life, his Christian faith and how that propelled him in his work, and the ups and downs of the Abolitionist movement. I found this to be an extremely encouraging and uplifting book, akin to the the way I feel about The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom; it is definitely one I will pull out and read again. If you have never watched the accompanying film Amazing Grace, then I also recommend it!

Little House on the Prairie and Laura Ingalls Wilder biography book sitting on a wooden background

Laura by Donald Zochert and the Little House Series

Alright, so this wasn’t one book but 10, but I’m including them all in one review. I hadn’t read the Little House series for probably 15 or more years, so when I picked up this biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life, I was inspired to read them again. I liked the biography because it filled in some of the areas of her life, clarifying details (such as which States “the West” were, or specific years events happened) and shared Laura’s story from an adult perspective. Then, after I finished the biography, I read the Little House books, spacing them out throughout the year, with other books in between, so I wouldn’t get tired of them as sometimes happens when you read a series too fast. Because they are children’s books, they are quick to read, but they are so enjoyable. As I read them, I just keep thinking about how glad I am that I am not a homesteader, because I would definitely be dead before the first snow came!

paperback version of Les Miserables book sitting on a wooden background

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

I’ve had this book on my list for years, but was always intimidated to start it because I thought it was probably a difficult read which would take me too long to get through in time, if I got it from the library. I found a copy at a second hand book store last year and discovered that I could have borrowed it from the library years ago because I read the story in under a week! However, I am glad to have my own copy now, because I love the story so much I will definitely re-read it in the future.

I was familiar with the general storyline since I have seen the musical both performed live and as a movie, but I was pleasantly surprised with how much more I liked the book. Hugo has an excellent writing style and, obviously, delves deeper into the characters and events than a musical could ever sum up. I thoroughly enjoyed this one: if you liked the musical, then you will love the book too.

adorned book sitting on a wooden background

Adorned by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

I was simultaneously encouraged and convicted when I read this book, which is a study on Titus 2 about Biblical womanhood and the importance of “older” and “younger” women learning from and teaching one another. She talks about how that learning and mentoring can only happen when we are involved in each others lives, and dives deep into this passage of Scripture (it’s a 14 week study). I liked the book so much that I am actually now reading it for a Bible study with several women from my church. However, even if you don’t have a group to go through it with, I still recommend it to read by yourself as there is plenty of food for thought and opportunity for personal reflection. (I also love the cover design of this book!)

artwork of david copperfield

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

This is the only audio book I listened to this year. I really meant to listen to some more, but just got busy listening to other things, like podcasts, in the evenings and forgot all about audio books (even when it would have been nice to listen to while I was sewing and crafting). This was Dickens’ personal favourite of the books he wrote and while I wouldn’t say it is my favourite, I do love to read his stories- or rather listen to them because I love his style of writing and storytelling, and the characters are always so loveable. I listened to this version. I already briefly mentioned this in a post earlier this year, but it is worth repeating again this wonderful quote, which is so typical of Dickens’ wordy descriptions,

The pigeon-pie was not bad, but it was a delusive pie: the crust being like a disappointing head, phrenologically speaking: full of lumps and bumps, with nothing particular underneath.”

I got very frustrated with this story about halfway through, because I didn’t like where he was taking the story, but then he brought it around and resolved it with a strong and satisfying conclusion.

what kitty did next book sitting on a wooden background

What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean

This was another book that had been on my “To Read” list for a few years, recommended to me by my book and Jane Austen loving friend, but it wasn’t available at the library, so I had to get it secondhand. It was on my Thrift Books wish list, but was always out of stock, until one day in October when I checked and it was in, so I quickly grabbed it! This story follows the Pride and Prejudice character Kitty Bennet after Elizabeth and Jane’s marriages. It was written in the style of Jane Austen’s writing and I enjoyed the characterization of Kitty; I thought she was quite believable when compared to the original work. It was a meandering story, which I liked, however, I thought that Kablean’s climax/crisis was a bit weak and could have been resolved a bit more believably. Despite that flaw, I am sharing this one in my list because I like reading about the Bennet family from different perspectives (I’m not sure there is a more famous historical, fictional family than the Bennets) and if you like Jane Austen fan fiction, then I think you will too. I also really liked the cover design of this one! (Ps- if you like reading about the Bennet sisters, then you will probably also like The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow, which has a completely different storyline to this one!)

Well, there are my favourite books of 2023. As for this year, I don’t have any particular reading goals other than to finish the few that I didn’t get to this year. I’ve also got quite a few Classics on my list, so maybe I will listen to more audio books of those. I’ve started listening to Wuthering Heights (it’s been so long since I last read it that I can’t remember any of the story) so I’m already off to a good start on that.

What books are on your list for this year? What were your favourite books of last year? Have you read any of these and if so, what did you think of them?

Handmade and Vintage Christmas Home Tour

berry branches and fairy lights strung over a window with paper stars hanging underneath

I can’t believe it’s less than a week to Christmas! This year I didn’t have much of a theme for my decor, but it ended up that most of what I decorated with was handmade, so I guess that was kind of the theme. My mom and sister and I had fun crafting new pieces, as I mentioned in my last post, and then there were things from years past as well. I like to change up how I decorate each year, and don’t usually put everything out each year. Anyway, this is a rather photo heavy post, so let’s stop talking and get to the pictures.

branches and berries with fairy lights draped over a window, paper stars hang in the window and an orange vintage sofa sits underneath.

First up is the spare room, which doubles as my cozy reading nook. I hung berry branches and fairy lights over the window, kind of like I did last year, minus the juniper branches. Three paper stars hang in front, and I love how they are constantly moving and twirling.

sparkly vintage book paper stars hanging in the window

Next up, my bedroom. I made a simple pinecone and string garland for across my window, and entwined it with fairy lights. I love turning on the lights in the evening when I’m reading in bed. This year was much more pared back than what I did last year, and almost has a Scandinavian minimalist look, which I’ve been really enjoying.

A bedroom window with a cream coloured lace curtain. There is a gallery wall of photos along the side and a pinecone garland is draped over the curtain rod. Fairy lights are entwined with the garland

A pinecone and twine garland hanging across the window with fairy lights

Quilling style paper stars painted gold hanging in the window

My favourite craft this year are these paper quilled style stars that I painted gold and hung in my window. They also turn and twirl and catch the light.

handmade paper stars/ snowflakes hanging in a window with fairy lights glowing in the background

pinecone garland and fairy lights hang across the window in the evening casting a glow across the room

a woodburned snowflake garland drapes across a vanity mirror and a vintage christmas card is tucked into the edge of the mirror frame

a lit beeswax candle sits on a bookshelf in front of a gallery wall of pictures casting a warm glow

A new addition, and a great thrift store find, is this vintage ceramic Christmas tree. I saw one exactly like this on Miss Mustard Seed’s blog last year and thought it was cute. Then I walked into the thrift store a few weeks ago and found this one. It was missing the lamp base and the bulbs, but I was able to find the bulbs online, and am planning to make a lamp base for it for next year. In the meantime I put an LED candle underneath. I also didn’t put a star on the top, as I’m not a big fan of the ones that go with these types of trees, but a bulb in the top actually worked perfectly fine.

a vintage green ceramic christmas tree lamp with clear light bulbs sitting in front of a mirror which is reflecting the lights

The final festive touch in my room is this little picture of Christmas trees. It’s actually a card from my friend which was exactly the same size as this frame. Adding a velvet ribbon bow on the top finished it off nicely.

a framed picture of scandinavian style christmas trees hangs on the wall with a green velvet ribbon

In the living room, we went for a much more sparkly and vintage look. This year the nativity is on the mantle again. We did pinecones, fairy lights and handmade sparkly paper stars along the sides. The stars look so pretty in person, but not so much in the pictures, so just imagine that they look prettier.

A ceramic nativity scene flanked by a pinecone garland, fairy lights and book page stars

sparkly book page stars hanging over the mantle. Underneath are pinecones and fairy lights

This year we hung the advent calendar from a piece of driftwood (last year it was on the mantle). This is the advent calendar; I love it! 

An advent calendar made of watercolour illustrations hangs on the wall and a tiny paper house is displayed under a glass cloche

Finally, my favourite Christmas decor this year is the china cabinet. My mom got it a few months ago, and it’s been so nice to have a place to display her collection.

antique pink and white floral dishes styled in a dark wood antique china cabinet. Christmas decorations are scattered throughout

We added some vintage pink and reproduction mercury glass ornaments in the bowls and platters, a pile of vintage Christmas crackers on a cake stand, and a beaded tassel on the key. The pink ornaments are the perfect festive touch and coordinate so nicely with the dishes. (Doesn’t she have some lovely pieces? The oval plate pattern is called “Indian Tree” and the other shaped platter and teacup is “Blossom Time”)

A beaded tassel hangs from a skeleton key in the china cabinet door and vintage pink oraments are piled in a crystal bowl

vintage pink and mercury glass ornaments arranged in a pink glass bowl

three vintage christmas crackers sit on a white cake plate inside the china cabinet

And that’s it for the Christmas decor this year- I love adding these festive touches throughout the house. While I use many of the same pieces each year, it’s also fun to change up how I style them and where I put them.

Do you like to put out the same decor each year, or do you like to change it up? Do you have any favourite holiday pieces? What’s your best Christmas thrift store find? 

gold quilled paper stars hanging in the window with fairy lights glowing behind them