September 8, 2014

Weekday Reading


As I've gotten back into the routine of life with the boys in school and the boxes (somewhat) unpacked, I've been catching up on my saved blog posts and Twitter favorites.

Here are some of my favorites from the last few weeks, in case you missed them!

1. Friday Night Meatballs. This reminded me so much of the way all our friends came together over food in Oklahoma, and how I can't wait to do the same with new friends here in Connecticut.

2. On Writing (nearly) everyday. Katie spent the month of August writing by hand. Makes me wonder how getting back to basics might affect my own creativity.

3. Would you use a room color consultant? With all the paint samples I have taped up around the house, we could sure use one!

4. Fabulous school lunch ideas from Pink Parsley.

5. This is my dream writer's conference. Someday!

6. I'm dying to try this Somali Spiced Coffee from Journey Mercies.

7. Bathroom inspiration from Copy Cat Chic. The boys bathroom is the same one our guests will use in the new house…and does it ever need updating! I love this sophisticated but somewhat masculine space.

8. The history of London through maps. What I wouldn't do to see those maps in person!

9. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote an autobiography in the 30s but it was never published…but the South Dakota Historical Society Press is publishing the annotated version now. You can get a copy here.

10. Today is my contributor day over on Life with the Crust Cut Off. Go check out the perfect side for a quick fall dinner.

11. Prince George is getting a sibling!! The #RoyalBaby hashtag has already taken over Twitter. Nice to see happy news stories for a change.

Happy Monday!!

September 5, 2014

Boxes and Boxes of Books #bookwormproblems

Last weekend I hit my limit for looking at piles of moving boxes. We were at that annoying part of the unpacking process when I had found almost all the necessities, but I haven't figured out where to put all the stuff that's left to unpack. Let's face it, I'm not hanging pictures until we get rid of the crazy yellow walls, and I'm not unpacking our serving dishes until we make friends to invite over. Right?

That left all the boxes of books. So. Many. Boxes. What's pictured above is not even half of them.

My executive decision? I'd rather look at piles of books in my living room than piles of boxes any day! I unpacked them all and divided them up into fiction and non-fiction piles and saved the big organizing for another day.

It instantly felt more like home! Of course, unpacking them led to a second #bookwormproblem…I needed to read/re-read every single one right away :)

Stay tuned…I'll post some pictures of the finished/organized shelves this week!

Joining in with Jessica at the Quirky Bookworm for her #bookwormproblems linkup. (It's also a fun twitter hashtag to follow!)

September 2, 2014

Courage, dear heart

I succumbed to a fit of the mopes this weekend.

I'm tired. Tired of boxes, tired of living in survival mode, tired of our self-imposed family separation.

Tired, tired, tired.

In frustration, I made a cup of tea, and turned to my books. I never fail to find comfort or courage in the pages of my favorites.

In the end, it was unassuming Bilbo Baggins stuck in the goblin caves, who spoke the most to me.

"Go back?" he thought. "No good at all! 
Go sideways? Impossible! 
Go forward? Only thing to do! 
On we go! 
So up he got and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him, and one hand on the wall, his heart all of a pitter and a patter." 

Going forward-it's the only thing to do. Reminders of your path, like courage, can be found in the most unlikely places.

I'd love to know what words bring you comfort and courage. Please share!

And if you are looking for a few more of my favorites (including the CS Lewis quote I used in my post title) you can find them on my "quotables" Pinterest board

August 21, 2014

Hello there!

I'm very excited that today is my day as a featured blogger over at the SITS Girls! For those of you who haven't heard of it, SITS Girls is an awesome community of women bloggers. They have forums, a fabulous Facebook page, and TONS of great articles and resources on their website. I have learned so much and met some really great bloggers too :)

Now that you're here, I want to say hello and introduce myself properly!

Hi there! I'm Moira :) 

I hope you get a chance to look around my little corner of the internet. You'll find yummy things to eat, great books, and the occasional musing on motherhood. 

My family and I just moved back to New England (Connecticut, to be precise) from Oklahoma so my posting schedule is a little off while I unpack boxes and get organized. I can't wait to share more pictures of our new house, and really get cooking in my new kitchen!

Usually you can find me posting on Monday, Wednesday and Friday on the blog. Sometimes these cuties even make an appearance!

I love to connect with readers and bloggers on social media too. You can find me here:

Google Plus

Thanks for stopping by! I hope to see you again soon :)

And a special thanks to my regular readers too-I'm so glad you're here! You make me smile every day!

August 19, 2014

Settling In

The Rose of Sharon tree in our new backyard

We made it! The boys and I are in the new house, our moving truck is en route, and school starts next week.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind, and the next few look to be the same. I have to keep reminding myself that we are in survival mode. It's tough on all of us, grownups and children alike.

This is a time to savor the good moments and gloss over the bad. Time to cut myself some slack when all I want to do at the end of the day is have a glass of wine and a dish of ice cream and zone out to old Inspector Morse episodes on Hulu.

I'm wading back into my writing, and in the meantime I want to share some sneak peeks of the new house!

The fireplace and built-ins…soon to be repainted! 

One of my favorite details: a door knocker perfect for dog lovers!

My dream stove. I'm still catching myself staring at it randomly :) 

August 8, 2014

Secret Lives of the Tsars (book review)

Michael Farquhar is known for his rollicking histories of royalty at its most...well, let's just say its most human. His latest book, Secret Lives of the Tsars, tackles the history of the Romanov dynasty in Imperial Russia. He begins with Ivan V and Peter I in the 1680s, and proceeds ruler by ruler all the way to the family's doomed end during World War One.

I always enjoy Farquhar's books, and this one was no exception. While the writing style at first appears almost gossipy, there is strong history and research underneath. Extensive footnotes and bibliographies make this an excellent jumping off place for the history of the Russian rulers. Russian history is not of of the subjects I typically read about, though of course I was familiar with the brutal outcome of Nicholas II and Alexandra and their 5 children in the Bolshevik Revolution. Farquhar writes in the way you wish history textbooks were written.

Yes, there is a lot of sex, violence and general bad behavior. In between the lightly treated episodes of debauchery though, is an excellent overview of the struggles this dynasty went though to stay on the throne. Alexander III faced seven assassination attempts and could bend metal with his bare hands. Peter the Great raised a commoner to be his wife (Catherine I) who ruled after his death on her own. These are the kind of details that often get lost in a serious history, but those are the things that people respond to and remember.

There was far more to the end of the Romanov dynasty than just the Bolsheviks, and Farquhar covers the reign of Nicolas II in great detail. Sadly, his time on the throne had very few lighthearted moments, and despite knowing the details of the family's cruel fate, it was heart wrenching to read all the same. It was a tough to have to end the book in such a sad and emotional way, that I almost wished he could have rearranged the chapters.

The best history books are the ones that make you anxious to read more, and Farquhar never disappoints in that respect. I'm working my way through the bibliography as we speak.

An ARC of this title was provided through NetGalley for review, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. Some links are affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Hearth and Homefront!

August 6, 2014

How to Teach You Children Shakespeare (Book Review)

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig, a well known playwright and self-described Shakespeare fanatic, is part how-to guide and part homage to the Bard. The premise is one that has intrigued me since I first heard about the book. Ludwig maintains that memorization is key to understanding the plays and he lays out a method for doing this with your children, beginning with short lines and moving on to longer passages.

Ludwig maintains that by going line by line you (and your children) will be able to understand the plays far better than by simply reading them to yourself. Anyone who has seen one of Shakespeare's plays performed in a theater or movie knows that this when the play truly comes to life.

The book is broken down into very short chapters, each covering a passage from one of the plays. The first chapters cover short segments from A Midsummers Night's Dream, and the last few cover the Hamlet soliloquies, for example. It is by no means an exhaustive list of all the lines someone "should" learn, instead he takes his time with the plays that need it, and focuses on ones that will appeal to children or that are so well-known (ahem, Hamlet) that they must be covered well.

His methodology of speaking the lines out loud, and practicing them with your children, using provided "quotation pages" that are found in the book and on his website, is simple and surprisingly effective. I did the first few chapters with my boys and even my youngest kept up. My oldest (who is 6) was SO proud of himself, and weeks later will still come up to me and whisper "I know a place where the wild thyme blows, where the oxlips and the nodding violets grows". 

Better still was the fact that this exercise got my husband and I talking with the boys about our favorite lines, and next thing you know we were all yelling the St. Crispin's Day Speech from Henry V together with Kenneth Branagh. I remember my Dad sitting me down to watch that scene when it first aired on PBS, and I really hope my boys remember the power in those words too.

The tone throughout the book is conversational, and I felt like I was taking a really great seminar class in college. I learned so much just reading the book through, and I see the potential it has to be combined with viewings of the plays themselves, or other non-fiction books or series. Shakespeare Uncovered (also streaming free on Amazon Prime) would be such a good fit! There are excellent appendices and bibliographies that would make it a breeze to match the chapters with other material.

Ludwig paraphrases or translates each passage and then explains the back story of the play. This is the perfect starting point to Shakespeare for children and adults.

Towards the end of the book, Ludwig writes in bold, capital letters:

"Do not be daunted by its length or its seeming difficulty. If you take it a sentence at a time, it will become perfectly clear. The purpose of your work with your children is to demystify Shakespeare. Persevere!"

So encouraging and so true.

I was given a review copy of this book, courtesy of Blogging for Books, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. Some links contained within are affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Hearth and Homefront!
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