My 2017 Reading List

I am ashamed to confess that after I graduated from college almost four years ago, I virtually stopped reading regularly. Yes. I might claim to be a “lover of literature,” but it turns out I was a pretty bad lover. I graduated from college just in time to see the sudden rise of netflix, hulu, and amazon prime, and soon enough my husband and I were sucked into the vacuum that is binge watching (Downton Abbey? Sherlock? Mad Men?). Don’t get me wrong, during all this time my husband was also re-reading all of his favorite Tolkien books among others, while I was maybe only reading what I needed to in order to complete my freelance assignments.

And then I became a mother. Motherhood is an absolute blessing, but if I didn’t have anything outside of home-life to read up on such as lesson plans or gardening, then the only things I found myself reading on a regular basis were board books and then soon children’s books. The occasional completed novel found itself here and there, but leisure reading always, always fell by the wayside – as do so many things.Then at some point a few months ago I rediscovered my love of reading and I intend to keep up the momentum.

I have enjoyed reading other’s yearly booklists and the occasional “What I’m Reading” post, so I’ve decided to compile my own for the sake of order and keeping myself accountable. When I put it together I had a few goals in mind…reading what we already own and finishing what lay unfinished.

We own a ton of books, too many to house. Just last week my husband brought up maybe 5 or 6 boxes of books into the attic that have just been sitting around the third bedroom collecting dust. Eventually we will turn our little storage room into a library, but that won’t happen for a while. While combing through the books deciding which to shelve and which to store, I realized how many great books we have that I have never read or even books that I started and never finished. So most of my reading list will come straight from our own library with the exception of a few books.

Though I am not a naturally organized person, I always work best when there is a goal in sight. Plus, if I have something new to look forward to, I won’t fall into old habits and stop reading. I formatted the list by month to have some sort of loose time frame, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I plan on strictly sticking to it. I’ll allow myself the freedom to move things around or add or replace books as the time comes.

January

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I started this book in December, and it was such a delightful read during Advent and the Holiday season. While I have always loved the movie, I had never read the book. Alcott wrote the novel modeled on the old family diaries, and that’s exactly what it felt like. All the characters are so lovable, yet so human.  While the book may have been a little too sentimental for me, I do realize that it’s meant to be a children’s book, and I so wish that I had read it when I was a girl!

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

My husband read this book earlier last year and loved it, and I had also heard a friend sing its praises. I read it alongside Little Women during the Advent/Christmas season, and I absolutely loved it. This was my first Cather book, and I look forward to reading more of her. The novel takes place in the mid-19th century and follows the missionary life of a young priest who becomes the bishop of the mission diocese in newly acquired New Mexico and beyond. Cather’s writing was captivating in both her descriptions of the desert landscape and in the personal reflections of the missionary priests.

February

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

This was a book that was not previously owned, and I gifted it to my husband for Christmas. I just finished this book a few days ago, and it totally blew me away. It is certainly a new favorite. This was also my first Wendell Berry, and I am in love with how he writes. Though the story might be simple, there is such effortless truth, wisdom, and beauty in the book. It’s written in first person, told by the character, Hannah Coulter; and takes place in Berry’s familiar and small rural community in Kentucky. Coulter begins her story from childhood, through World War II, the death of her first husband, and her life with her second husband. This book has caused me to get weepy more than once, and it has moved me to reflect more on the importance of family, community, and the homestead life. I highly, highly recommend it.

The Privilege of Being a Woman by Alice von Hildenbrand

Nonfiction, reread. After the recent events in January, I decided to reread this gem. We are bombarded with so many conflicting ideas of what it means to be a woman, and Hildenbrand goes through these and sheds light on our unique calling and virtue as women. It’s a short read, and not at all daunting.

March

The Last Gentlemen by Walker Percy

My husband loves Walker Percy, and Percy spent the last several decades of his life in our hometown, so I’m eager to continue to read more of him.

33 Days to Merciful Love by Father Michael Gaitley

This was another book that was recently purchased. My bible study is following Fr. Michael’s video series on Mercy, so I thought this would be a good supplement to that, as well as a great Lenten read.

April 

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Though I own all of Austen’s novels, I have only ever read Pride and Prejudice! A friend of mine recently finished this one and loved it, so I’ll be happy to give a read.

The Everlasting Man by GK Chesterton

Nonfiction, reread. I read this in college for a Theology course, and while I enjoyed it then, I couldn’t dedicate enough attention to it. I often find myself thinking about parts of the book, so that’s a good enough sign that it deserves a reread! From what I remember, it was an enjoyable and rather enlightening read.

May

A Place on Earth by Wendell Berry

Because I was loving Hannah Coulter so much, I really wanted my husband to read Berry alongside me, so I picked this book up at the library for him. He seems to enjoy it just as much, so I plan on reading it later so we can discuss it together.

The New Faithful by Colleen Carroll Campbell

Nonfiction. This is a book that I started but never finished years ago. I have read Campbell’s memoir, My Sisters the Saints, which I absolutely loved. The New Faithful is not a memoir or biography but more of a study of  why more young people are embracing Orthodoxy. I’d like to re-read it because the book was written over ten years ago, and I’m interested in reading it in light of today.

June 

Lord Peter by Dorothy Sayers

I have never read Dorothy Sayers before, and I’ve never really read much of her genre of detective fiction so I’m excited to explore it!

July 

The Second Coming by Walker Percy

This book follows the same main character as in The Last Gentlemen. 

August

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

I do not own this book, but it is a Fountains of Carrots book club read, so of course I’m interested. 🙂 From what I’ve heard, it is one of the few novels Montgomery has written for adults.

The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton

Another Chesterton. This is one of his most well-known novels and a must-read from what I’ve heard.

September

My Antonia by Willa Cather

I don’t currently own this book either, but I loved Death Comes for the Archbishop so much, and I’ve heard so many wonderful things about this novel.

October

Lilith by George MacDonald

George MacDonald is such a delight. I have read a handful of his fairy tales and novels but never Lilith.

November

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Finish. Hah hah. There is no way that I plan on finishing this book from start to finish. I will just pick up where I left off a year and a half ago – which I hope is somewhere in the middle.

December

For now I’m going to leave this month blank, and add on when the time comes.

If you have any recommendations leave them, please! I love hearing what other people have enjoyed.

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7 Quick Takes, Vol 5 – What’s Up 

It’s been quite a while, but here we go! I’m typing this on the fancy smancy WordPress app on my phone, while my husband uses my laptop. 

One 


This book. I initially put it on my reading list after the Fountains of Carrots podcast did an episode of it last summer. Wendell Berry is an author I’ve heard great things about but had not yet read. Though I am only one third of the way into the book, I have already managed to cry twice. Berry does an incredible job of conveying such beauty and truth through the simplicity of Hannah Coulter’s story. This book is in danger of becoming a new favorite. 

Two 

This guy. This past month he has begun to show up so much more personality, and he is such a delight! He is now pulling up to standing, as evidenced by the photo. So if he has any notion of refusing to nap, he’ll just stand up at his crib rail. Funny thing is though, he hasn’t figured out yet how to sit down from a standing position. He has a lot of upper body strength, but his chunky, fat legs don’t match. So he’ll often fall backwards, and just today I put the baby walker back in the closest because he was just not ready. He’s eager, but his lower half needs some work, haha! 

Three


This man. Last weekend, we went to the New Orleans’ New York Life annual kick off banquet. This was the first fancy work event that we have ever attended as a couple together, and we had an absolute blast. I was a little hesitant because I didn’t know what to expect, but everyone was welcoming and pretty easy going. Ross and I had the best time on the dance floor. We could have stayed much longer, but we left around ten so I could be home in time to nurse Rainer. I am still reeling from how much fun we had. Fun fact, it took a while for me to finally decide on an outfit – whether or not I should get my MoH dress for my best friend’s wedding this summer and wear it to this – and I ended up going with one that I got four years ago before our own wedding when I worked at LOFT. 

Four 

I recently started going to a bible study with some wonderful women, and I am loving it so far. I had been meaning to go for months, and they started back up again after a little hiatus. While I have a few friends in the study, I didn’t previously know the others. Most of my friends are married and are moms as well, while not everyone in our bible study fits that description. It’s been meaningful to hear more from single ladies and working wives, when I am so often in my “mom bubble.” 

Five

Speaking of community, I have been reflecting lately on how grateful I am to have such a wonderful community of friends and family here. Not everyone has that, and I am reminded of when we lived in West Houston for 10 months and had no friends at all there except for family. It is such a blessing to share in fellowship with other moms and young families. It is also a blessing to have such wonderful and generous in-laws just a couple miles away. I honestly don’t mean to brag, that’s not what I’m getting at, I am just grateful for what we have because I know what it’s like to not have a community nearby. 

Six


My daughter. Shout out to her, because she is beautiful, wonderful, and such sweetness. She is surely trying to help sanctify her mother and teach her patience through her toddler ways. 

Seven 

This is so silly, but I got a haircut before me and Ross’ banquet night and I’m slowly beginning to love it. Yes, so silly and probably vain but hey that’s what’s up lately. I loathe taking selfies, so here’s a super awkward one where you can barely see my hair and my kids look blah. 

There, satisfied? Hah!

Now head over here for some much better quick takes! 

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 4 – Let’s Redirect

Linking up with Kelly for this week’s quick takes! 

Ok, I know I’m not the only one who has been dismayed all week long at the state of practically everything in our country now. Therefore, here are a few things to inspire and/or distract.

one

My friend, Hannah, wrote this post essentially about the sanctity of mundane household chores, which really struck a bell with me (is that even a saying?). For the past two weeks, my attitude has fallen into “I just need to get through this and that,” so the simple reminder that we can love through all things helped change my tune. Also, I loved how she related her experience of dishes and laundry – in that she usually only has 3 minutes of perfectly folded clothes and a shining kitchen counter. It is so true! Oh the irony of working so hard for a few spare minutes of cleanliness!

two

Teresa, offered a short and sweet reminder that the best thing that we can do is – as Mother Teresa hearkens – “to go home and love your family.” This also something that I have been striving to actively focus on – my family is my ministry, my children are my ministry, making sure the household is still running is my ministry. Drying those tears, changing the stinky diapers, even cleaning the kitchen floor from a broken bowl filled with my leftover gumbo is my ministry.

three

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I cannot remember the blogger who wrote this, but a few months ago someone wrote about how now is the perfect time to re-read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Beauty is our greatest inspiration, and Tolkien’s writing is transformative. My husband re-reads the Lord of the Rings every year, and this year I’ve decided to join him. Last week, I finished The Silmarillion (for the first time!) and was absolutely blown away. (Yes, I am aware of how ridiculous it is that I have a daughter named Luthien, and I am just now finishing The Silmarillion, but that is not the point). Throughout the book there is constant tragedy after tragedy, but despite everything there is always hope and good always prevails even in the most seemingly hopeless circumstances.

four

This excerpt from Wendell Berry that keeps popping up:

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

five

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Yesterday I took both kids to the library for only the second time since Rainer was born. I used to take Lu all the time when I was pregnant, so it’s been such a while. Hallelujah, it went so well! And now I might begin to take both children to the babies and toddlers’ storytime on Tuesdays, fingers crossed!

six

We are starting to make time for family prayer, which we really haven’t done before other than bedtime prayers. At the moment, we are just praying one decade of the rosary. I really want to make it a habit early on, plus we need that as a family. ❤

seven

Lastly, I just started reading Little Women for the first time! Gosh it is too adorable, and the characters are already so endearing. I’m really trying to eliminate all the noise that netflix and social media provides and begin a habit of reading regularly again. So it’s Little Women and (re-reading) The Hobbit at the moment!

That’s it. This was probably my quickest quick takes ever. Have a great weekend y’all.

Peace,

Dot

7 Quick Takes, Vol 3 | life lately |

I have not done one of these in forever, but I’m feeling the blogging itch. Don’t expect anything incredible.

one

Last night for the first time in what feels like MONTHS (because that’s the reality), I got together with some friends for a girls’ night out. It was my first time leaving both kids with anyone other than Ross and my mother-in-law, so I was a little nervous. By the time the babysitter got to our house, I was then so excited that I just got my stuff together and left without finishing getting ready. (I realized later that I never put on any make-up, but whatevs). ANYWAY, our time together was so blessed, and I came out of it feeling such gratitude. Also, I probably had one of the best glasses of red wine I’ve had in years.

two

Finally at some point in this week, I began to truly feel confident as a mom of two. Because of the nature of my husband’s job, he is often gone at night and I have dinner and bedtime on my own. After two nights in a row, I had a moment all of a sudden where I realized – hey, I think I really know what I’m doing this time! Things aren’t easy, but I’m grateful for finally feel more comfortable and confident because for a while I absolutely haven’t felt that way.

three

This rarely happens, but on Wednesday night Ross was home from work early and done for the day. I was out with the kids on a random errand aka desperate need to get out of the house. He called from home and suggested that we all go out to eat for dinner (we never do this on our own). Two hours later we found ourselves at a really neat restaurant which basically served Asian-Cajun-esque food. The menu was really interesting and the food turned out to be even more interesting. We ate outside and the weather was gorgeous. Once it hit 7pm though we ended up rushing through our food to get Mr. Fussy home to sleep. All in all, it was refreshing eating out (spontaneously) together, especially after me and the kids dining in without dad the previous two nights.

four

Here in Louisiana the highs are still in the mid 80s, but if we’re lucky – like last Saturday – we might get a low of 55 in the morning. img_4334I had left the house for a couple hours – at the suggestion of Ross – for the alone time. I think we’re going to make it a regular thing because I had forgotten how much better I feel afterwards. Anyway, coming home to the sight of both kids in sweatshirts and my husband in a flannel gave me all the butterflies.

five

While I was out I decided to do something that I can never do with both kids…and I just browsed a consignment/antique store for fun window shopping…alone…I hadn’t done that since college. I actually found some really interesting dining room chairs and a bench, (which we might consider if we didn’t already have a big list of things to consider), and I took a picture of this lamp because hey…it’s a fox and isn’t that fun. img_4305Lu actually has an antique elephant lamp in her bedroom, which looks amazing. I thought that maybe this might look neat in Rainer’s room, but…hmm….

six

I have been on the fence for a long time about buying a bumbo. I’ve seen both negative and positive things about it, but like most things, I’m sure you just need to use them in moderation. We ended up purchasing this Summer Infant seat, which is similar, but much cheaper and multi-functional, and on sale for $25!

img_4355

seven

We STILL have no idea what we’re going to be for Halloween…oops. I was ALWAYS last minute with costumes growing up, and I usually went with whatever my ballet recital costume was the year before. When we go back to Virginia for Thanksgiving I have every intention of going through mine and my sisters’ old dance costumes and bringing them home (dress clothes up for Lu!).

That’s a wrap. Not too exciting, but hey, it’s Friday and that’s great!

Peace.

Linking up with Kelly!seven-quick-takes-300x300

Seven Quick Takes, Vol. 2

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these, but I hope to be writing them more often!

These past several days have been fast-paced, slow-paced, exciting, nerve-wracking, joyful, and tiring. First we’ll get the serious out of the way. 😉

ONE

Last week and the last week prior my mother was very sick. During Holy Week, she has pleurisy which is an inflammation of the lungs. Then following the week after Easter Sunday, she ended up in the ER where they ran a whole host of tests on her. Nothing came back positive, but they sent her home with an antibiotic and a narcotic. After that ER visit, she began to feel worse and worse (I heard this all long distance, we live a thousand miles apart) and she had extremely painful migraines along with head and back pain. She could barely sit up in bed and eat. She saw a doctor that weekend, but he was not very helpful. We were all so worried because it seemed that nobody could determine what was wrong. Then, almost a week after the first ER visit, they took her to the ER a second time. It turns out that she had a spinal headache which is a rare complication of the spinal tap she received during her first ER visit. She received a blood patch, and hours later she said she felt like a new person. I read later that spinal headaches can been some of the most debilitating and excruciating headaches you can experience (the fluid in your brain and spine is all off). THAT being said, if you have a spinal tap or even an epidural and end up with a terrible headache and back pain, you probably have a spinal headache!

TWO

As I briefly mentioned in my last post, Ross pulled up the carpet in our living room and hallway. He filled in the nail holes in the concrete, sanded it, mopped it, and then applied a few coats of Benjamin Moore’s Distant Grey. It’s an odd name for the color, as it’s really very white. We love it so far, but the work is not completely done. The walls desperately need to be painted, as they look so goofy with the white floors. Luckily, the Christmas gift card we kept for paint should cover most of the rest of that. As for now, we were going to give the floor several days to “age” and then Ross will be applying a protective wax coating. Though we have our area rug for the living room, we have yet to find a super long runner and still need to install shoe moulding at the baseboards.

 

after the first coat

THREE

We had friends in town from DC for a job interview and to visit with us for a few days. While Ross was working on the floor and we waiting for the paint to dry, the three of us had been staying in the temporary home where his family have been for the past 3 weeks since the flood. (Our renovation was unnecessary, their’s is necessary). Therefore, our guests were all over the place during their short visit. On their last full day here, we were finally able to come to our place and sleep here due to the paint being dry enough. Regardless of our vagabond status, we all still had a very nice time together. 🙂

 

Lu and Chiara

FOUR

The bunnies are getting bigger and bigger and cuter and cuter. We’re trying not to get too attached to them. 😉 They are still in the indoor cage with their mother, and Ross will be building their rabbit tractor for them to move to pasture this weekend. (We do a lot of things last minute or spontaneously around here). They are still nursing, but they are now enthusiastically eating greens and pellets.

FIVE

The broilers (cornish cross) are getting bigger and bigger. They’ve been out on pasture for a couple weeks or so now. They are such strange chickens! It took a while for them to learn how to forage, and it is insane (and sad) how quickly they grow. I can’t get over how goofy and fat they look. We weren’t planning on using this particular breed, but you work with what you have!

SIX

Since the Spring has coincided with my third trimester, I really haven’t put as much time and care towards our garden. Ross has put forth most of the efforts. Though things are all over the place, we are gradually adding more and more. What I love this time around is the overlap we have from the Fall/Winter garden into the Spring garden, which we didn’t have last year. We’ve had an abundance of kale, and we harvested our first batch of carrots for our dinner last night. This weekend I’ll be adding more vegetables of the squash variety (summer squash, cantaloupe). Last year, I had a full on battle with squash vine borers (UGH). This year however, we’ve introduced a lot of new soil and manure that wasn’t formerly on our property, so I believe that will help to confuse them when they come back.

SEVEN

This is more of Ross’ update, not mine. 🙂 While his parents were out of town this weekend they found this beauty. My husband is blacksmith, who has never owned an actual anvil. (Apparently, they are very hard and expensive to come by.) They gifted it to him as a birthday gift, and he was over the moon.

 

handsome, happy man

Well, they wasn’t particularly “quick” but there you go! Until next time!

Seven Quick Takes, Vol. 1

This is my first Seven Quick Takes, exciting! I believe this whole thing was started by this blog, and I think it’s such a fun idea. 

I. 

This week we got our first letter from my brother who is in Navy boot camp right now. It was so exciting to pull it out of the mailbox. Now, I always love letters, but there is always something much more meaningful when the other person cannot communicate by any other means but by writing. It sounds like he’s killing it right now, and is very strong mentally and physically. 

II.

I very recently just accepted a temporary teaching position at a local school in the area until the remaining of the semester. It really just fell into our laps and was a God-send because we really need it right now. It’s just one class a week,  so I’m not away from Lu for long at all. The babysitting schedule is a bit of a balancing act, but I’m confident all will work out. 

III. 

Our Fall garden is definitely not as vibrant and full as we had originally hoped. Ross’ new job and the health of both of us has been a bit of a handicap lately, so it’s been on the back burner. On the plus side, we harvested a bunch of black beans this week which we’ll have for dinner tomorrow. 

 
IV.

We’re working on building a chicken tractor right now and got some more chicky-babies, as Ross calls them.  We originally wanted to do just meat birds, but it didn’t work out so we picked up some heritage breed, dual purpose birds. 

 
V.

My father-in-law was able to get a few tickets to the Saints/Falcons game last week, and we got to go with some good friends. It was my first NFL game ever, and the excitement in the area was incredibly contagious. I’m not much of a football girl, but New Orleans fans are one of a kind, you just have to join them.   

   
VI.

  
This right here. I love this icon of the Martin family. Saints Zelie and Louis are such a beautiful example of total devotion to God, marriage, and family. 

VII.

  
Probably going to be my thanksgiving pie, or some variation of it. Ross and I had way too much time to kill at the hospital for a procedure of his today, so of course I flipped through magazines. Please pray for his health!