Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What I've Been Reading Lately

After several slower months, this has been an excellent reading month for me! Here's what I've been reading lately.  Check out Modern Mrs. Darcy for more Quick Lit reviews.

The Golden Goblet

This was a read aloud to go along with our study of Ancient Egypt for history.  (We're using The Good and the Beautiful Year 1 curriculum and we love it.  LOVE it!) I'll be honest: this book took a while to get into.  I really struggled reading it aloud for some reason.  But we switched over to the audiobook and that went much more smoothly. It took several chapters, but then we were really into it.  By the end we were so invested in the story that we were literally sitting on the edge of our seats as we waited to see how it would play out.  Just go into it knowing that it's a slow-moving story with a slow build to the action.

Living Well, Spending Less

 I am very into simplifying. I love to discover efficient, practical ideas to help me manage my home, use my finances wisely, develop my talents, love my people and serve others well. I don't feel like this book was groundbreaking, but it was a good reminder and boosted my motivation to continue my simplification journey.  The author shares her inspiring personal overspending/ shopping compulsion story and the transformation she underwent as she began to let go of stuff.

This was another fantastic read aloud.  Short, exciting chapters detail the lives of unknown female heroes in American History.  This book was absolutely fascinating and my big kids and I discovered so many inspirational women that we never knew existed.  This is an important book to read, for both boys and girls.  

Meet the Austins

Would you be upset with me if I told you that I didn't really understand all the buzz about A Wrinkle In Time?  I might just need to try it again, but I finished that book feeling kind of 'Meh'. Meet the Austins was completely different for me.  I loved it, through and through.  It's a gentle, sweet, real family story.  L'Engle's descriptions made me feel like I knew this family personally.  It's a very character-driven plot.  Slow-moving in a perfectly lovely way.  I can't wait to move on to the other books in the series.

Long Days of Small Things

I took pages and pages of notes while reading this book.  The author has a way of describing motherhood that is both completely relatable and totally beautiful.  My beliefs differ from her theology on a few points, but overall I was head over heels with the inspirational approach to motherhood and finding tiny, routine moments to connect with God.

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place

I've had several people tell me recently that this book needed to be bumped to the top of my to-read list. I'm glad I finally got my hands on it. It's a light, fun, witty story. Full of hilarious and insightful one liners and with endearing characters.  It's the first in a series, too.


Motherhood Realized

Apparently, I've been in need of a mothering pick-me-up this month. I've had this book sitting on my nightstand for years, borrowed from my very patient sister-in-law. I finally dusted it off and read it this month.  I found some real nuggets of mothering inspiration in this book.  And while it's not really groundbreaking, the comfort of reading words from other Mamas in the trenches lifted me up.  

The Running Dream

This was a quick, fun YA read highly recommended to me by my 13 year old. It's about a 16 year old runner who loses her leg in a car accident. It was predictable, but still had me tearing up at the end a little bit.  Great palate cleanser after a heavier read.

James and the Giant Peach

A children's classic that I read with my nine year old son this month. We took turns reading and even though he's somewhat of a reluctant reader, he absolutely loved it. When we finished the book he threw his arms around me and exclaimed, "It was just SO GOOD!".  Can't ask for anything more! And if you're looking for a good book for boys, Roald Dahl almost always delivers.

Christy (50th Anniversary)

I received an advanced readers copy of the 50th anniversary edition of Christy.  This is a modern classic for a reason.  The way Marshall describes the Appalachian village of Cutter Gap and its colorful residents is unforgettable.  I first read this as a teenage and I'm so happy to have been able to dive into it again. Christy tells the story of a 19 year old woman who left her comfortable life in the city to teach "Highlanders" in a rural mountain village.  She was swept away by a powerful sermon and discovers her true grit as she faces difficulty upon difficulty as the new teacher to nearly 70 children; many of whom had never attended a formal school. She learns their customs and culture and her life is forever changed.  I had no idea when I read this previously that it's based upon the true story of Catherine Marshall's mother.  That just makes it all that much better in my opinion.

Click on the photo below to enter a drawing to win the book and a cash card to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this timeless book.

Christy pin1

Pass It On: A Proverbs Journal for the Next Generation

I love taking time every morning to study scripture, journal and connect with God.  I was so delighted to get my hands on this beautiful leather bound study journal. It's jam-packed with insights into the book of Proverbs. Each chapter focuses on one chapter of Proverbs and includes the following sections: Guided Tour, which tells the background information and summarizes what the chapter contains; a beautiful modern English translation of the chapter; Reflections, which prompts you to write out a verse that was meaningful to you and to journal about it; and Going Deeper, which is a list of journal questions to help you understand the verses better. I am so thrilled to be able to slowly study and learn more about Proverbs using this beautiful book. 

Thornton pin1


The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible

Oh my goodness.  This book is an absolute delight.  The illustrations are so sweet and the bible stories are meaningful, and well told. I have been squirreling this book away to give to my sweet Elijah when he turns 4 next month but I've almost given it to him early several times.  It is seriously the cutest thing I've seen in a long time, while still being uplifting and something kids of any age could learn from.

If you're like us, the tradition of acting out a Nativity play is a centerpiece of your family Christmas celebrations.  Neil Johnson has taken the stress out of planning and preparing and has written a scripturally sound script to perform as a family. I loved this so much when I read through it that I promptly picked up two more copies to give as gifts.  It's the perfect way to make sure the Christmas story takes center stage in your home this season.

In some cases I received free copies of these books to review, but all opinions are my own.  Links may be affiliate links.  If you purchase something through one of them a small portion goes to support this blog, at no extra cost to you. Thank you!
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Saturday, November 11, 2017

My Favorite Journaling Supplies

I've been a journal keeper my entire life.  I remember as a child writing in a floral fabric-covered journal that I had named Bobbi, because it was the 80s and that seemed like the hippest name there could possibly be. While my journal keeping methods have changed (I no longer name them, for instance), I still love spending time processing my life through writing. Currently I have four personal journals going.  They include:

  • Two scripture journals (one for my personal study and one that I'm using as I am working through the personal progress program again with my daughter)
  • My day-to-day journal or commonplace journal: this includes snippets from our day, my thoughts and challenges and silly things the kids say plus photos and memorabilia.  I also take notes on books I'm reading or podcasts I listen to in this journal.
  • Art Journal/Sketchbook.  I've had a goal to paint or draw daily for the past 3 years.  You can find my work on Instagram, I've also shared a few favorites here.
  • my Bullet Journal. I prefer to save my artistic efforts for the other journals above.  My bullet journal is nothing like you'd find on Pinterest.  It's more of a to-do book.  A simple, sometimes messy, place to record things I need to do and to capture ideas for later.
I will be doing a series on journals over the next several weeks.  The first installment includes something I'm asked about all the time: my favorite journal supplies.  I've put together my tried-and-true journaling favorites for you today.  Over the next few weeks we'll take a look at the separate journals I keep (and why I want them separate), common techniques I use, how I make time to journal, journaling for and with your kids and more.

My favorite journal supplies:


Moleskine Classic Journal  I prefer blank pages because I am constantly adding extras to the journal and I just prefer the look of no lines. I don't mind the pages being a little crinkly (in fact, I kind of love that) so the thin pages don't bother me. 

However, if you're planning to do a lot of wet media (watercolor, heavy glue, etc) I love this Moleskine with a heavier paper as well. I've used it as a sketchbook and it holds up well to watercolor on both sides of the paper.

Visual Journals also have nice thick paper. I found a non-spiral bound version at Hobby Lobby and I much prefer that to the spiral bound kind.


  • ticket stubs
  • scraps from my daily life
  • love notes from my husband/kids
  • programs from plays
  • printable coloring pages
  • cards/happy mail
  • magazine clippings
  • journaling cards 
  • scrapbook paper or other patterned papers I come across
  • favorite printed photos


I generally use whatever black pen I can get my hands on. Around here pens are a hot commodity, and no matter how hard I try to protect my favorites, they always go missing a while.  Pens I love for writing include the Uniball 207, Pilot Medium and in a pinch a Bic Medium.

For adding detail to drawings I love Micron pens. I don't use them for writing, they're just to precious for that and the tips can be damaged pretty easily. My all-time favorite for adding detail after a watercolor painting is complete is a Le Pen . Warning: Le Pens are NOT waterproof.  They will smudge if you add watercolor over the top of them, so if you decide to use these, make sure you're doing it after any wet media is dry.


Simple Glue sticks. I use these often, they work really well.

Tombow Mono Adhesive.  I have been really happy with this inexpensive brand.  My biggest challenge with these is keeping them out of my preschooler's grasp.  He loves to pull the tape out of the container and spread it all over the house.  It makes me so sad because: think of how many things I could have glued into my journal with that!

Washi Tape.  Compared to many crafters, I have a small collection of Washi Tape. I would love to acquire more, though. I use it really often to add a little pop of cuteness to a journal page.

Adding Color:

I use a lot of different mediums in my journal, some of my favorites include:

I have only had a problem one time with adding watercolor to the thin pages of my journal. You can see below what happened.  I used the cheap set mentioned above and the colors all bled and smeared and looked really horrible.  You can see the reverse side of the page in the second photo below and where the colors seeped through to the other side.

Keeping a journal (or four) is a practice that has brought a lot of joy to my life. They help me to flesh out thoughts and ideas and impressions.  They help me to grow spiritually.  They are a place to record memories and capture my life in the moment.  I'm excited to share more about my method and tips for keeping a journal over the next few weeks.

Tell me: are you a journaler? Or would you like to become one?

Links in this post may be affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you I receive a small commission when you purchase 
something through these links.  Thank you for supporting A Lively Hope!
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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Gratitude Journal Inserts

November is possibly my favorite month (Do I say that every month?).  And Thanksgiving is definitely just about my favorite holiday.  I love to spend time focusing on gratitude and intentionally remembering the over-abundance of blessings I have been given.  In that vein, I am delighted to share some Thanksgiving journal inserts with you today.

These inserts are coloring pages.  You can leave them black and white or color them in to add a little extra pop to your journal pages. I plan to finish coloring mine in as I write about my blessings throughout the month of November.

Click ADD TO CART at the bottom of the post to grab your free copy.

I've included multiple sizes of both of these pages to allow you to use them for whatever you want. Live in Thanksgiving Daily comes in full-page, half and quarter-size pages. In my examples above I used the half-size and trimmed it to fit inside my journal.  We're using the full page on the bulletin board in our homeschool room as we memorize this verse this month.

Thanksgiving Doodles page comes in full and half-sized. In my examples above, I used the full size and cut out each doodle separately.

Over the next few weeks I'll be sharing a series about journaling, including details on my favorite supplies, where I find inspiration and the different journals I keep. 

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