Date Night In: our one habit of 2016

The kitchen is a mess from the busyness of the day, coffee mugs and plates piled along with mixing bowls and way too many glasses. There’s still a pile on the entry bench from where I gathered all the loose items from around the house but didn’t get a chance to put them away. Jared comes down quietly from upstairs where he has just tucked the girls in, whispering because Kieran is almost asleep.


I’ve cleared a spot on the counter for our cutting boards and I start prepping while he mixes up an evening cocktail. It’s Thursday and it’s date night in.

It’s a simple practice that has become a weekly anchor and highlight for us. It’s not been easy or magical and there’s been a lot of interruptions in the form of little people but it has been so worth it. We’ve tried new foods, learned new techniques and had a lot of fun together.

A serendipitous late Christmas gift of the cookbook Date Night In , and the adjustment of a new baby born in January making going out more challenging has helped make this habit become a weekly priority.

We stick pretty closely to the cookbook, Ashley has done all the work of putting together menus, grocery list and prep timelines. She’s a busy mother of three and the cookbook came out of a desire to connect with her husband in these busy, exhausting years of raising littles. I read the book while feeding my very hungry newborn son and cried while reading almost every essay. This is a hard season, running on little sleep, parenting challenging children, making decisions about careers and balancing all the different relationships in our lives. Making big plans and dreams for house and property while also trying to love these little people and finding time to connect with each other.

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We unwind by chopping vegetables, stirring and tasting. We light a candle and clink our glasses, quietly, to us and our marriage. Good conversation happens, we laugh together and we do a little big dreaming or just quietly eat while our food is hot and the wine is cold.

We alternate planning the date nights, one of us picks the menu and I just add the items to our grocery list. I’ll often glance through the recipe the day before and see if there is any marinating or prepping of sauces to make date night easier. We tag team on bedtime and date night prep. I’m often doing some prep while feeding the girls a very simple supper of toast or popcorn and smoothies. While I put the baby to bed, Jared is heating up the oven or mixing a cocktail. Sometimes we end the evening by cleaning the kitchen together, other nights we stack the dishes in the sink and call it a night.


Lately we’ve added a little more simplicity (and more budget-friendly) to the mix; we’ll pop a big bowl of popcorn, pour some wine and watch a movie or several episodes of a show. Some weeks we order takeout and sit on the couch, eating out of the containers while we talk over the week to come and relive good moments from the previous week.

Our favourite at-home snack is a tapas platter- we take whatever assortment of pickles and olives we have in the fridge, boil some eggs and slice up whatever cheese is in the fridge, adding some dried fruit, nuts and crackers. Sometimes we get fancy and stuff dates with goat cheese, wrap them in bacon and broil them for a few minutes.

We love cooking together; good food and drink is one of our favourite experiences to share. But the weekly connection is more then just good food, it’s time to talk and reconnect, to let the candles burn down low and to remember the person we married.


Now that Kieran is a little older and can be left with our awesome babysitter, we have gone out a few times especially if there’s a movie we want to catch on the big screen (I’m looking at you, Jason Bourne) or a patio we want to experience on a Halifax summer night. But we still come back to our weekly anchor of sitting together at the kitchen table, sharing good food and good conversation.

I’d love to know what your favourite date night in ideas are!



Road Schooling Across Canada

I took some books, catalogs and big legal pad along with us to the beach last week to start sketching out our next homeschool year. I love casting vision and writing down all the things I want to accomplish and then pare it down by fifty percent.

But before I plan out a big picture for next year, I reflect on the past year- what worked and what didn’t? We finished our school year on the road, with a big epic adventure of driving across Canada for 5 weeks.

It was fantastic and memorable and exhausting.

Road Schooling Across Canada

I knew that I wanted to incorporate a study of Canada into our trip and so as I typically do, I went to the library. For the month before we left, the girls looked at books of provincial emblems like the flags, plants and birds of each province. We read about some of the historic figures that make up Canada’s story. We read books like M is for Maple ,A Day in Canada and The Kids Book of Canada. I put together activity binders for the girls that would incorporate the geography study as well as keep them occupied for the many hours in the car. Thanks to Pinterest and free printables, I had a page for each province that had a picture of the flag, map outline of the province, flower and bird. We made a big deal when we crossed each provincal border, stopping to get a picture and then we were on the look out for the provincial flag as we drove. Kilmeny, a new reader practiced reading the names of everything and Khaira practiced her letters by copying out the names and capitals of each province.

Road Schooling Across Canada

Road Schooling Across Canada

We chose just a few attractions to go to along the way that would enhance learning and hopefully provide a tangible experience of the things we’ve studied in the past year. One highlight was the Upper Canada Village  near Morrisburg,Ontario, this was one of the best historic villages I have ever been too. The characters were very knowledgable, there was plenty to see and experience and it brought stories like the Ingalls family to life by giving my daughters a visual of a farm house with a butter churn and a man plowing a field. We talked with a broom maker and a spinner and I fed my baby in the upstairs room of the local hotel. As we left the village, all sweating buckets, my six year old thanked me for reading the Little House books because now it all made sense to her.

Road Schooling Across Canada

Thanks to an instagram video of the zoo, we had the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg high on our radar for months. We knew we wanted to make this an all day excursion partly because we were driving for two straight days from Ontario and a rest day would be quite welcome. We were all completely smitten with the zoo and in particular the Journey to Churchill exhibit. Churchill, Manitoba is home to polar bears, arctic foxes, seals and other Arctic animals. The zoo has done a great job re-creating that special area of the world with displays and information both interactive and visual. We all loved watching the polar bears swim and play in their habitat and thrilled at the seals turning circles as we walked through a tunnel of water. The girls followed along the zoo’s map, figuring out where we should go next. I’m excited to further this study by learning about arctic animals this winter and will bring out pictures from our visit to the zoo.

Road Schooling Across Canada

There were many learning moments along the way like the time we pulled into the tiny town of White River, Ontario to see the train station where Harry Colebourn bought a bear cub named Winnie and brought him to England along with his Army regiment where a small boy named Christopher Robin met Winnie at the London Zoo. Before our trip we had read multiple books about Winnie the Pooh both the stories by A.A. Milne and a sweet picture book narrating the true story of the loveable Bear. It was an absolutely delightful experience. We followed the train tracks all the way to Winnipeg and despite the long day of travel, the girls got excited at any glimpse of the train track because they knew we were traveling the same route as Harry did, decades earlier.

Road Schooling Across Canada

Another route we followed was that of Terry Fox’s marathon of hope. I wasn’t sure how much of his story to share with my daughters, and in the end shared enough that my older daughter understood who Terry was and why he died. We had a few sobering conversations about cancer and big dreams and death so that when we stopped at the memorial overlooking Thunder Bay, Ontario it wasn’t just another bathroom stop. We had read about Terry Fox in The Kids book of Great Canadians, another fantastic learning resource.

Road Schooling Across Canada


I traded my book copy of Story of the World Vol. 1 for my friend’s audio version of this fantastic history resource and we all loved listening to Jim Weiss tell tales of the earliest civilizations. The girls also listened to favourite audiobooks like the Ramona collection, Pippi Longstocking and Betsy-Tacy. It wasn’t all free drawing and audio books, the girls had iPad time almost every day we were in the van for the last couple hours of the day. This was a complete sanity saver for all of us and since we try to be fairly screen free except for movies at home, playing games on the iPad was a novel and exciting experience.

Road Schooling Across Canada


We drove through the heavy forests of Ontario often beside water of some kind into the flat prairies of Manitoba with its checkered board landscape of crops which blended into Saskatchewan with bright yellow canola fields and brilliant blue sky. Alberta was much of the same with the never-ending fields reminding us of the vast Atlantic ocean waves of our home.  Crossing into British Colombia with the mountains on every side and the ocean ahead of us was such a momentous feeling. The day we put our toes into the Pacific ocean was a hot one, we were all tired and a little grumpy but knowing that we had literally driven coast to coast as family with three young children was deeply fulfilling. The girls hunted for treasures and played in the wet sand as Jared and gave each other high fives at this huge adventure.


Reading Around the World: Australia


13641234_10209865754549706_2876752510244736224_o (1)Reading is one of my favourites go-tos for learning, both for myself and for my girls. A story captivates us and draws us in, making that information stick. I was so excited to join the Reading Together: A Family Exploration Book Club and I knew I wanted to co-host for the country of Australia. It’s a special country to me since we spent a couple weeks there in our first year of marriage and now we have a few friends who live there. I’m looking forward to reading these books with my girls and learning more about Australian culture. The books we’ll be reading for July and August are a picture book, middle grade and a non-fiction book.


 Grandma Poss uses her best bush magic to make Hush invisible. But when Hush longs to be able to see herself again, the two possums must make their way across Australia to find the magic food that will make Hush visible once more.






“After all, if you don’t ask the world questions, then you won’t ever work out where the rainbow begins.” And, boy, does Cedar B. Hartley have questions! Like, why won’t her Mum tell her about her father, who died when Cedar was a baby? And what happened to her older brother Barnaby, who ran away from boarding school and keeps in touch sporadically through cryptic postcards? The only thing that helps Cedar forget these troubling questions is her new hobby; acrobatics. When she goes tumbling with her new friend Kite, who can fly just like the bird he was named for, she comes close to finding the start of that elusive rainbow. Missing brothers, mysterious fathers, and the funny, more-than-friends feeling she has for Kite aren’t going to keep Cedar B. Hartley from finding the answers she’s looking for to fulfill her plan for an “unusual life!”

Debut Australian author Martine Murray is a writer to watch. Equal parts Pippi Longstocking and Anastasia Krupnik, her audacious Aussie tomboy Cedar will quickly charm the Capri pants off the female pre-teen set with her pithy sayings and sweet naiveté. A thoughtfully placed glossary of Cedar’s slang is included at the end of the novel for those young readers unfamiliar with the jargon “down-under.

This extraordinary story of courage and faith is based on the actual experiences of three girls who fled from the repressive life of Moore River Native Settlement, following along the rabbit-proof fence back to their homelands. Assimilationist policy dictated that these girls be taken from their kin and their homes in order to be made white. Settlement life was unbearable with its chains and padlocks, barred windows, hard cold beds, and horrible food. Solitary confinement was doled out as regular punishment. The girls were not even allowed to speak their language. Of all the journeys made since white people set foot on Australian soil, the journey made by these girls born of Aboriginal mothers and white fathers speaks something to everyone.

We’ll be having all the discussion on our Facebook page, I hope you’ll join us!


A Notebook of Happy // Vol 3


It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I had every intention of blogging along the way as we drove across this great country of ours, I was going to tell stories from the road and share pictures. I brought the laptop along and didn’t open it once, except for a family movie night one night while we were camping. I learned that I’m not a very good instant writer, I need to let things process a little before writing about them.

So for now, here’s what making me happy on a hot, hot afternoon in July:

Iced coffee. This feels like such an obvious but I’ve never been into the drink before and now I can’t get enough.

Having our own house with a yard! This is our first summer in our house and it feels so luxurious to send the girls outside to play or set up a little pool on the back porch. Watering the hanging baskets each day has become my new favourite morning routine. I loved being on the road but I’m so glad to be home now and getting acquainted with our home all over again.


Traveling. I have so much to share from our big trip, the pictures and stories. It was long, it was hard but it was so worth and also really fun. This was our last big trip for awhile and I’m so glad we did it.


Friendships. One of my highlights from our trip was being able to see so many friends and family. There were many late night conversations, and snippets of talks while the kidlets played. I don’t think I’ve talked or shared that much in a 5 week period for a long time. We’ve moved a lot in our 7 years of marriage and it’s been hard to settle into community but this trip showed me just how rich we are in friendship, across the country.


Podcasts are always part of my mama care strategy, I get to learn from smart people, laugh and be inspired. I also got to be a guest on Anne’s podcast, What Should I Read Next, which was so fun! I loved chatting books with her. I shared about it everywhere but not here on the blog. You can listen to that episode here. 

Book clubs! I’m part of three different book clubs right now, all very different from each other and it’s been one of those surprising delights of life. I’ll share more about one of them soon.

I’d love to hear what’s making your list of happy right now, what are you drinking, listening to, and reading this summer?


What I’ve Been Reading Lately

Sharing what I’ve been reading lately, fiction and non-fiction as well as our current read aloud which has been a favourite.  I’d love to hear what you’re reading lately in the comments and then head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy for many more titles!
Every year or so I like to read a book on childhood and parenting to remind myself of the direction we are choosing to go with our family and because I find the study of people so fascinating. This book I picked up on a whim when we were in Lunenburg , I’ve read Honore’s first book In Praise of Slow, years ago and it inspired some big changes for us. I don’t think our children are under pressure, we’re pretty big fans of slow and simple living but this book was a good read nonetheless. I appreciated his current take on kids and screen time, the reality of balancing activities with free play and reading stories of forest schools around the world.

  I love a good twist on a classic or fairy tale and this book did not disappoint. Samantha is the last of the Bronte family and is heir to  a legacy by her father, if she can figure out the treasure hunt he laid out for her with clues in the Bronte novels. There is much speculation as to what this legacy is and Samantha is constantly finding herself the centre of attention as she tries to find out just what her father actually left her. It’s a great read of a girl who grieves the loss of her father and life as she knows it and comes to embrace her family’s history. It’s littered with references to all the Bronte novels (obviously) and quite a few other classic works as well. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that the cover art moved it to the top of my to-read pile.

 It is rare for me that I take nearly a month to read a fiction book but Hannah Coulter had me re-reading passages, copying poignant paragraphs, wishing I could travel to Kentucky and renewing my library copy a few times. It is at its heart, a simple story of one woman’s life but it is also the story of an era in American history using Hannah Coulter and her family as the main players. This was my first Wendell Berry but it’s definitely not my last.

 I read this book in two stages- the first time I read as much as I could in the seven days I had it from the library in a quick read loan. I finished it after a friend handed me her library copy and offered up her thoughts on it. It’s a book that is for everyone because I believe firmly that everyone is a creative of sorts, everyone has something that fires them up. But just as everyone has something that they are passionate, they also have fear or negative emotions about that thing. This book speaks right to that fear and it is hugely inspiring.

I think every book lover at sometime or another has a daydream to open a bookstore, I’m no different and so I loved reading this memoir of one couple who did just that. It’s an honest read telling of the uphill climb to make a bookstore work in an unlikely sort of place. But it’s also the memoir of people who really like books and the community that came from opening a bookstore.


 This is the book I’m currently reading aloud with the girls, I grabbed it on a whim based on the cover (sense a theme yet?) thinking it was by A.A. Milne. It’s not but it’s a delightful collection of stories of the characters of the 100 Acre Wood with some new friends for Piglet, Pooh and Rabbit. It started us on a treasure hunt of the true story of Winnie the Pooh and anytime a book sparks a whole new world of exploration, it’s a winner. Plus the illustrations are beautiful and plentiful.

I’d love to hear what you’re reading lately and what books you’re reading with your little ones!


10 Ways to Take Care of Yourself in 10 Minutes

Taking care of myself so that I can better take care of those around me has been a habit I’ve worked at cultivating over the last few years. It’s harder with small children but it is more necessary then ever because of those lovely  little ones.

Since Kieran was born time alone has been at a premium, this is a wonderfully exhausting season and I wouldn’t have it any either way. But after having postpartum depression after my second daughter, I have been more mindful then ever during this postpartum time.


I came up with this list of super simple, do-able self-care practices one morning after feeling touched out and burnt out from keeping my tiny humans alive. I know some of you can relate even if your days aren’t filled with diaper changes, home schooling and meal making. Some of these are ten minutes, some are longer but all are life-giving to me.

  • Drinking a cup of coffee or tea while it’s still piping hot.
  • Daily ten minute pilates workout (I dress in leggings most days to make this goal happen).
  • Candle lit shower with an essential oil scrub. One of my favourite shower gifts was a homemade sugar scrub, it makes my showers feel more like spa time and the candle hides the toothpaste clumps on the sink.IMG_0825 (1)
  • Reading before bed-just a few chapters each night makes a huge difference for me even if the day was a doozy.
  • Intentional multi-tasking. If I’m driving solo, I always listen to a podcast. If we’re at the library, I flip through current issues of my  favourite magazines.IMG_1768
  • Fresh flowers on my kitchen table. I add them to our grocery cart all winter long and the girls keep me supplied in bouquets now that the dandelions are out.
  • Weekly conversation with a friend. Homeschooling means I am home a lot with my little ones. I love it but I need adult interaction as well. I try to make this happen weekly whether it’s meeting a friend and her kidlets at a library, staying up later to chat on the phone or a book club gathering.
  • Saying no. I can be such a people pleaser and an opportunity seizer but this is a slow, quiet season of my life and saying no is almost always the best idea for me.IMG_1675
  • An afternoon out. Almost every week I go out for a few hours, by myself, to a coffee shop. I write, people-watch, read blogs and sit in the quiet. It’s one of my favourite times and I’m super grateful for this season where Jared is home more to make this happen.
  • Getting outside, this is such an obvious one but days can go by without me being outside for a good length of time. I’m working on changing that with simple garden projects and nature walks with friends.

That’s my list of simple, do-able self care practices. I’d love to hear what makes your list of refreshing practices when life is busy.



Play to Your Strengths

Last month I went to a playdate at a friend’s house, it was one of the first times I’d gone out by myself with all three kids and I knew that even if all of us ended up having tears, her house was a safe place to do that. She poured me a cup of coffee, held my baby and my girls ran off with her girls and I didn’t see them for the next hour. Another mom and her three showed up, I had never met her before but we quickly found plenty to talk about. Mostly about books and finding the many books we had in common.

I left that gathering feeling completely filled up and with this phrase stuck in my head- play to your strengths. 

And I’ve been thinking about it every since, reminding myself of it when I see new projects I want to take on or sweet ideas to incorporate into our homeschool life.


Play to Your Strengths 

My friend opened her house, poured coffee and served a no-fuss lunch to eight (nine, if we’re counting the newborn) children and their mamas. It was loud at times, there was much peacemaking and slight chaos. That kind of thing stresses me out. I want to be better at opening my home to lots of little children and just let the mess go but it’s hard for me. The other friend is a fantastic conversationalist. I love meeting new people but I feel awkward coming up with small talk to lead to deeper conversations. There were no awkward pauses and the three of us could have talked all day together, despite two of us having just met.

I brought a fruit rainbow, complete with marshmallow clouds and gold coins, it was Saint Patrick’s Day after all. If I had more time, I would have made the marshmallows from scratch. It’s who I am. I love to feed people and I love to make it beautiful. It’s one of my strengths.


This week I had a few friends over a tea party. A tea party I’ve been wanting to have for months. There were scones and berries and cream. There was lemon curd, marmalade and creme fraiche. There was plenty of English breakfast tea and plenty of sugar spilled by little hands. My girls and their friends went wild with their dress up trunk after filling up on chocolate oat birds nest cookies. It was exactly what I love to do. Feed people and make it beautiful. We picked the only two blooming daffodils along with a few pansies and dandelions to decorate the table. It was pretty and the food was tasty but my biggest takeaway was what I learned from my friend weeks ago.

Play to your strengths but also don’t stop learning new things. My house was a bit of a mess afterwards (obviously), we all retreated for an hour of quiet time and supper was almost more scones but I was completely filled up. I fed people, I made it pretty and I opened my house.

I’d love to hear what your strengths are and how you keep learning new things!



Finding Online Inspiration {5 New-to-Me Blogs}

It seems like blogging is both a dying art and yet complete alive in many areas. Most people (myself included) will just write a longer instagram post and call it a mini-blog. I can easily scroll through my instagram feed while feeding Kieran and it is by far my favourite form of social media but I do love words and reading a little more then just a paragraph. For me, it’s also about surrounding myself with wise woman in my village, we may not all live next door to each other but we can share life online. It’s certainly not perfect and is only ever a small picture of the everyday reality.

This year some of our big changes were starting to homeschool and having a third baby, both of which are huge and important  yet they can also be lonely. I reached out to my real life tribe, exchanging many texts with my sister (who lives across the country) and we spent hours talking through our crazy homeschool while pregnant and then newborn life. I went on weekly nature walks with a local friend partly so that our five kidlets could run wild and free in the woods, observing the changes of the seasons, but also so that she and I could have adult conversation in the middle of our school week.


And I added several new accounts to my Instagram feed and clicked over to their blogs whenever I had a few more quiet minutes to read.

Here are the five new-to-me blogs that I’ve been reading lately when I have a need of some inspiration in our homeschool life and some solidarity in the adjustment to three children.

Erstwhile Dear by Rachel 

Rachel lives in Boston with her three daughters, her baby is just a few weeks older then Kieran, and she shares snippets of their life through words and pictures. I love Boston so much and have always wondered what it would be like to live there, with young children. Rachel makes it seem magical and do-able. I also feel a sense of companionship as she shares what life with three little kidlets is like.

Investing Love by Alicia 

Back in January when I was healing from Kieran’s birth and wondered how on earth I was going to homeschool with a newborn, I read copious amounts of Alicia’s blog. She is the mother of four children, homeschooling and making a home in Minnesota. Her instagram feed is realistic yet visionary and her blog is just an expanded version of that. Her children are older then mine and I feel comfort in reading someone else’s story, just further down the path.

Learning Well Community – Inspiration for Homeschooling Parents 

This is a community started by Alicia, it is just the sort of site that makes me happy as we finish out our homeschool year and plan for next year. Homeschooling can be hard and yet the absolute best choice, that’s what I’ve found this past year and I’m grateful to soak up good words from those who’ve been doing it a little longer then I have.


Lindsey Kubly – A Stylish and Simple Life 

Lindsey’s third child was born just a few weeks before Kieran and I have loved reading along as she’s shared snippets of their adjustment to three kidlets, the books she’s reading (herself and to her children) and simple self care. She’s just ahead of me in the postpartum stage and though our personal style is different, I love reading how she’s finding her style again after pregnancy. Her blog is simple and always inspiring.

Cloistered Away by Bethany 

Bethany is a homeschooler, photographer and mother to four children. I want to live in basically all of her photos and always come away feeling filled up and ready to love my family with food, simplicity and good books. She doesn’t candy coat life and speaks to the hard places as well. Whether you’re a homeschooler or not, her blog breathes refreshment.


I’d love to hear what blogs you’re reading these days!



3 kidlets, 3 months in

In this moment, there’s a sense of busy calm. My big girls are outside playing, hunting for signs of spring and finding sticks they can carve. My little man is finally asleep after two outfit changes and a whole lot of snuggle time.

The house shows evidences of life everywhere from the papers and pencil crayons leftover from this morning’s homeschooling time to the books on almost every surface and a half-empty cold cup of tea.

My baby is three months old and I feel the newborn fog lifting with just a few wisps around that will probably always stay because I still have young children.


One of the books I read early after Kieran’s birth has deeply impacted my last three months and the months to come as I try to figure out just where and what to focus on. Three children with three different needs from me, a commitment to homeschool, meals to prep and a house that won’t clean itself plus all the super fun opportunities that come up on a weekly basis. There’s just not that much of me to go around and I’ve flirted with burn out too many times in the past to know I don’t want to go there.

This book is Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less and though the author didn’t intend it to be a manifesto for motherhood, its become that for me. Learning a graceful no and setting boundaries (for myself and others). Identifying the slowest hiker in our little group (hello newborn baby!) and then adapting my pace have been life-giving realizations.

This is an intense season, absolutely exhausting and yet exhilarating often in the same moment. My big girl reads to my baby while my middle and I prep supper. It’s a lightning fast pace yet our days are slow and often feel small and unglamorous. I’ve had to become a much better time manager then ever before fitting homeschool and meal prep and conversations in around feedings and naps. My girls have become adept helpers in rocking the chair, running upstairs for yet another onsie or blanket and learning to be flexible during read aloud time.


I need my focus to be sharp and my purpose clear for the days when I feel two steps behind before I even wake up fully and for the days when everything flows well when Kieran’s naps are long and I sit with the girls and we finally do our butterfly  art project together.

3 months in, I’m finding my groove, readjusting my expectations and quieting my internal crazy, it feels good and I’m grateful.




What I’ve Been Reading Lately

Sharing short reviews of what I’ve been reading lately and linking up with Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy, let me know what you’re reading lately and then head there for many more titles! This month’s highlights include some fun fiction and one stellar non-fiction.

(this post contains affiliate links to Amazon)

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax

I took this book along for a recent weekend away and it was a great relaxing read. The book follows the lives of three woman as they each have big changes in their personal lives which intersect at a weekly viewing of Downton Abbey in their apartment building. The book is set in Atlanta with many references to places around the city which makes it fun for anyone who is familiar with the city (I was there in October and loved all the references!). The book isn’t a great read but what made it enjoyable for me is the underlying truth that we each have something to offer in friendships even when it seems like others are totally pulled together and those friendships can start over something as simple as a weekly viewing of a British period drama.What I've Been Reading Lately || this vintage moment

The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure

After reading All the Light We Cannot See, every book set in Paris during World War II seems to pale in comparison. This book seemed to drag in the first half of the book and I wasn’t sure what the author’s point. I stuck with it because the author is an architect by day, author by night and those kind of books fascinate me. An architect is hired to build an impossible to find hiding place for a prominent Jewish business man. He accepts the challenge and then finds himself doing multiple projects as well as forging an unlikely friendship with a fellow architect who happens to be a Nazi. This book raises a lot of interesting ethical ideas about relationships between the Jews, Parisians and Germans and goes to show that just like in real life, wartime isn’t all black and white.

If You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern

Written by the same author of P.S. I love You, this story is also set in Ireland with a very stoic, organized interior designer, her delightful nephew, her grieving father and flighty sister. The older sister watched her mother leave the family time and time again and as a result had to raise her baby sister. She promised herself that she would leave Ireland and her dysfunctional family but she was compelled to stay. An imaginary friend of her nephew becomes her friend and draws her out of her all black wardrobe and all work life. It’s a bit of a far stretch but it’s also a delightful story about learning to be free and embrace all the messy parts of life and relationship. Plus the descriptions of Ireland are great.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert

This is the food version of You’ve Got Mail, Lou has opened the restaurant she’s always dreamed but without the complete support of her fiancé. In another attempt to win him over, she bakes him her signature coconut cake only to find another woman in his apartment. That night her emotions come out in her cooking which also happens to be the night that an influential food critic eats at her restaurant and is not impressed. She ends up in a relationship with the food critic and he attempts to win her over despite his guilt at causing her restaurant to fail. It’s a delightful read with a British food critic and a solidly mid-western chef and fabulous descriptions of the food they enjoy. Warning: you will want to eat coconut cake at the end.

What I've Been Reading Lately || this vintage moment

When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park

This was a pick for an online family reading book club  and I’m so glad I was introduced to it. Based on the author’s parents’ experiences, it is the story of Korea during World War II from the perspective of a brother and a sister. It’s a fascinating window on an area and time I knew nothing about. Japanese forces took over Korea and forced much of the Korean culture out but the subtle ways the Korean people fought back and retained their heritage was both inspiring and heartbreaking to read. It’s a YA novel and one I’ll be introducing to my girls when they want to read more about this time period.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg MeKeown

This book has been on my radar since my sister reviewed it on her blog a year ago but it took moving and having a newborn for me to actually read it. And without being too gushy, it’s been the most useful book I’ve read in months. The book’s tagline is ‘the disciplined pursuit of less’ and it is the book to read if you’ve ever felt stretched too thin, like you’re keeping too many balls in the air and you often feel burnt out. This book helps to weed out the non-essentials and to hone your focus on what is truly essential for you and your life. It’s a short, easy read but one that I will be returning to on an annual basis.


I’d love to hear what you’re reading lately or what books you think I should add to my to read list, let’s chat in the comments!