Amy Artisan

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Month: June 2018 (page 1 of 2)

Visiting Anne

(seeing how this week is 1 year since we were in PEI, it’s high time to continue sharing our adventures…)

Indeed, Anne of Green Gables was the catalyst for our trip to PEI. Rebecca is a huge Anne book fan (and is proud of never seeing the onscreen adaptations). Our goal was to see some of the Anne sites but also find the right balance with just enjoying the island for its own charm.

On Tuesday evening, we headed towards Charlottetown to enjoy a preview performance of Anne of Green Gables – The Musical a clever and fun send-up of Anne in a classic musical format. This production was in its 53rd season. For dinner before the show, we enjoyed patio dining at a farm to table restaurant, Terre Rouge Craft Kitchen – the clouds looked ominous as we were seated but the rain managed to hold off until the last bites of our meal. It was a packed theater for the performance and it was fun to see the multi-generation family groups partaking in their annual tradition of the show and also see the varied audience there to enjoy some classic fun. The laughter and reactions of a gentleman across the aisle from us can only be described as pure joy & added to our enjoyment of the evening.

Our PEI home was essentially across the street from the Lucy Maud Montgomery Birthplace – so our first stop on Wednesday morning was this house. We were the first visitors of the day – after an introduction presentation, we wandered through the rooms of the house on our own. I picked up a couple of non-Anne books & was treated to them being stamped by a special museum stamp.

Our next Anne destination had us driving over the Lake of Shining Waters and to the Anne of Green Gables Museum. Descendants of LMM still own this house and it is filled with family heirlooms – some of which inspired elements of Lucy’s stories. Rebecca also enjoyed the Silver Bush novels and said it was very evident that this house was Silver Bush.

From the museum, we headed towards Cavendish and the Green Gable Heritage Place. This was the “most crowded” place we visited and even that crowding was minimal.  We wandered through the house that has been decorated as Green Gables is described in the novels. In Anne’s room, we smiled at the brown puff sleeve dress hanging on the closet door. After touring the house, we ventured a bit down the 2 paths on the property: Lovers Lane and the Haunted Trail.

After a morning and early afternoon with Anne, we decided it was time to get lunch. When our first choice restaurant option had a full parking lot and people waiting outside we went with plan B – look for nearby restaurants via the map search feature on the phone. In just a few minutes, we were at By the River Bakery & Café. We each opted for a soup and sandwich combo: for me, the seafood chowder & roast beef sandwich were the perfect choice; for Rebecca, the corn chowder and a ham & cheese sandwich. On our way out the door, we picked up some scones for future breakfasts (& boy were they delicious…even as they aged).

After lunch, we were in the mood to just drive and explore so we headed toward the town of Summerside. While it no longer evokes the charm Rebecca read about with Anne, we did enjoy a walk along their recently refurbished boardwalk/shoreline park. Then, a quick stop at a grocery store for some breakfast basics and some island honey to bring home. On our way out of town we spotted a cute coffee shack so we treated ourselves to iced coffees from Jo Momma’s Coffee Hut.

Back at home, we enjoyed a bit of relaxing and reading before it was time to go next door for dinner at The Table, an amazing evening that deserves its own post…

Previous stops on this adventure: Acadian Adventures & Meandering to PEI

Quicklit: 3 May Fiction Reads

Since May was such a prolific reading month, I’ve split the reading lists across a couple of posts. For this edition of QuickLit, I’m highlighting three fiction finds that made for enjoyable May reading.

Summer Hours at the Robbers Library by Sue Halpern – I picked this up while browsing the new releases at the local library. This is a quiet and character driven story set in a Carnegie Library in a small New Hampshire town that is sputtering along in spite of local manufacturing drying up. Over the course of a summer, a librarian fleeing her past, a home-schooled teen girl forced to work in the library when caught stealing a dictionary and a former wall street banker are drawn together as they each are recovering from their own trauma and looking for new life and opportunity. I’ll admit that the first chapter had me wondering if I was going to continue reading because it didn’t seem to be tied to the book jacket description – but continuing on revealed a worthwhile read.

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon – It’s safe to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed each book by this author. She has a great way with taking historical stories and creating an engaging and complete fictional tale around the facts. In this new release, the heart of the story is how Anna Anderson spent 50 years battling to be recognized as the Russian Grand Duchess, Anastasia Romanov. This well crafted story was told in a most unique format – chapters from Anastasia (pre-Romanov execution) are told in 1st person chronological order and chapters from Anna are told in 3rd person reverse chronology. Well worth the time to dive into this Romanov read.

Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict – An engaging story of a young Irish woman who assumes a different identity enroute to the US and end up being placed as the lady’s maid for Andrew Carnegie’s mother. As Clara navigates learning the ways of being a lady’s maid she realizes that Mrs. Carnegie is still figuring out her place in society as the family has ascended from working class into the upper echelons of Pittsburgh society. Clara and Andrew form a forbidden friendship over a shared love of books and reading – as their relationship turns into more, Clara vanishes. As Andrew Carnegie hunts for her, the foundations for his charitable legacy & Carnegie Libraries are being established in his thinking and planning. An engaging “what if” story set against a well know figure of American industry whose philanthropy continues to this day.

What are you reading these days?

More May reading is found in my “Show Us Your Books” post and these 3 food reads.

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s QuickLit. Also, joining in with Three on Thursday, hosted by Carole.

Unraveled: Stitches and Pages, 0620

Joining in with Kat & friends for my first Unraveled Wednesday! This is a weekly opportunity to quickly share current knitting and reading.


I have started a Shades of Green shawl – I know that I have some issues in the 2nd lace section but I’m choosing to just move forward – I’ve decided that as long as I’m at the right stitch count at each section transition it will all work out. Also, I need to put some simple knitting on needles for when I’m watching a show or movie that requires me to be more engaged than lace may allow. The pattern is Washed Out by Joji Locattelli in shades of Winter WonderlandO Christmas TreeTannenbaum in Twisty Toes Glimmer fingering by WIPyarns. This is my first time knitting with this yarn and with this pattern designer – and I’m enjoying both. Given this time of transition, I’m planning out some knitting projects for gifts & for me – there is no reason why yarn & needles shouldn’t be crafting wearables these days!

I recently came across a new to me thriller series . This morning I just finished At Risk by Stella Rimington– the first in the Liz Carlyle series. As I said on Goodreads as I logged this: Not sure how this thriller series wasn’t even on my radar. As a fan of the show MI-5/Spooks as well as Alias and several others in that vein, this series is definitely my cup of tea! This was a very clever story to introduce Liz Carlyle – a tale of both personal & ideological revenge coming to bear in a terrorist attack in the UK. A very detailed story – it was interesting to see how little, seemingly throwaway bits in early chapters built together to the full picture. I’m looking forward to working through this whole series.

Earlier this week I finished Love and Ruin by Paula McClain. This recent release returns to Hemingway’s Women – this time, the focus is on Martha Gellhorn. Martha became his third wife and their stormy relationship plays out in the pages. But more than just “a Mrs. Hemingway” we see Gellhorn as a writer in her own right – someone who jumps overseas to be in the midst of the global turmoil unfolding; someone who struggles to find her voice in the stories she tells – both news reporting and fiction storytelling. As I finished this tale, I was definitely interested to learn more about Martha and appreciated the afternote that the author included in the book – and am also intrigued to track down some of her own works.

In a totally different vein, I’m also reading a few new Southern flavors cookbooks via NetGalley & definitely plan to make some recipes from them to blog about & review – Corncob & Leek Stock – Pecan Cheese Crisps – Zucchini Cornbread Bites – Vegetable Purloo and so many more tasty treats are on my list. As I’ve been reading through both cookbooks, I’ve been calling out numerous recipes to Mom as possible things for us to try – so many things seem to call out for the great farmers market produce we are getting these days.

What is on your needles these days?
What are your recent good reads?


Recent Reads – May 2018

In this current season of transition, I’m finding lots of time to dive into books. As I look at my May list, it is too long to share in a single post – so I’ll share thoughts on some of my NetGalley reads and books that had me moving along through several series.

NetGalley Notes

In May, I read several ARCs courtesy of NetGalley and their respective publishers. I have some specific posts planned for some of the books (coming soon) – these are other advanced reads that filled my time.

Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin (*****) – The Charles Martin touch is at work again in this tale weaving together stories of family, sacrifice, PTSD, the Vietnam experience (and aftermath), illegal workers and so much more. As the stories of Jo-Jo, Allie, Catalina and others unfold and converge you are taken on a journey through pain into hope and inspiration and transformation. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are my own. Book is available June 19th.

The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. Reichart (****) – With this literary meal, Amy E. Reichert dives into a multi-generational tale of mothers and daughters navigating life milestones that resonate with many people today – especially the “sandwich generation” that is focused on parental care and child care at the same time. A story wrapped in grilled cheese and brownies, Gina is navigating life as a recent-ish widow, oldest daughter and mother of a middle-schooler the best that she can with daily to-do lists. When her mother suffers a serious stroke, the stage is set for discovering her mother’s “dark secret” that has shaped life for all of them for decades. At the same time, her distant daughter is discovering a budding relationship with a classmate as they play video games and watch Netflix in the basement. Once again telling the story in Milwaukee, this time the city of Milwaukee is not as much a character in the tale as Milwaukee and Door County have been in earlier works. All in all, a good read that reminds you how family decisions can ripple for decades and also how often times mothers and daughters are more alike than they want to admit. Free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Book is available May15th.

Kappy King and the Pickle Kaper by Amy Lillard (****) – A fun and breezy “whodunit” set in a charming Amish valley in Pennsylvania, “Kappy King and the Pickle Kaper” has Kappy and Edie on the trail to find the real reason a young Amish woman was killed when a car hit a horse and buggy on the main road. Descriptions of the people and locale reminded me of fun day trips to Lancaster County, PA. An enjoyable read that you can’t help but smile about as you are reading. This is the second in the Kappy King series – but I didn’t feel “at a lost” not yet having read the first book prior to this story. Free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Book is available June 26th.

Formerly Known as Food by Kristin Lawless (***) –  Formerly Known as Food is jam packed with information about our food production system, the impact of farming and other chemicals on our health, the “magic” of baby digestive systems developing and the lifelong impact they have and so much more. There are several paths of research and education in this book and while each was interesting, it seemed as though they weren’t cohesively presented. Some could read this book and walk away with a sense of “we’re doomed” because of the detail about how some chemicals and treatment exposures have multi-generational impacts and so we have already impacted our grandchildren and beyond with the chemicals in our lives. Others may walk away feeling like they want to get engaged by aren’t sure what to do. The book can be filed on the book shelf with many other books that I’ve read about the state of food production and health today – and seems best suited for people that are reading across the spectrum of food/health books. Compared with other books of this vein, I felt like the author was more self focused in her narrative than some others. Free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Book is available June 19th.

Also in NetGalley,  three food books that I shared last week.

Serial Stories

I visited several novel series during May – some books were returning to old favorites and some were new discoveries that I’ll work my way through as time allows…

  • Visiting Inspector Gamanche in Three Pines with How the Light Gets In  & The Long Way Home  – I continue to enjoy working my way through these tales and will continue to read these along the way.
  • Returning to River Heights with a re-read of the very first Nancy Drew – The Secret of the Old Clock – inspired by a tweet highlighting it had been 80 years since the series began.
  • Keeping current with Cotton Malone in The Bishop’s Pawn by Steve Berry. The latest offering in this series that I have been hooked into in recent years – this story is told differently than others in the series – it is essentially the “origin” story of how Cotton Malone joined the Magellan Billet. Told in more of a flashback approach, this tale revolves around a case concerning the “real” story of MLK Jr.’s death.
  • Finishing the Divergent trilogy by “finally” reading Allegiant by Veronica Roth. I had read the 2 previous books “back to back” several years ago & really enjoyed them. While packing to move in March, the 2 movies on TV provided entertainment & triggered me to finally finish the series.
  • In The Demon Crown by James Rollins, Six Sigma is called upon to save the world from engineered bees that threaten to wipe out life as we know it. Part of this story involved an attack on Hawaii and the possibility of needing to annhialite all lifeforms there for the good of the world – it was a bit “odd” to be reading this just as the latest Kilauea eruptions were starting several weeks ago & evacuations were being implemented.
  • Stepping back into the Pink Carnation spy adventures with The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig – it has been several years since I picked up this series which is a mash-up of spies/intrigue & regency romance & present day chick-lit.
  • Visiting Lavender Tides in The View from Rainshadow Bay by Colleen Coble. I picked this up to read ahead of a NetGalley read of the 2nd book in the series (to be shared later). The “blurb” on the cover of the book said you’d stay up late reading it – indeed I did. A nice mix of relational story lines & mystery/thriller story lines that has me looking forward to continuing the series.
  • In Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia Macneal, I had a first introduction to Maggie Hope  in a story laying the foundation for following her exploits as a WWII spy and code breaker. This will be a fun series to work through.

I have a few other worthwhile fiction reads that I will share later this week.

What are you reading these days?

Joining in with Show Us Your Books hosted by Stephanie & Jana.

3 Food Reads

For today’s Three on Thursday, three food related books that I read as advanced copies via NetGalley. Two cookbooks that have me tagging recipes to make and an ode to Chicago pizza that has me missing the tavern style pizza that I used to get from the local bar around the corner from my apartment. I have beets and apples in the fridge that will be turned into Yellow Beet & Apple Jam this week based on the first of these books.

Ciderhouse Cookbook by Jonathan Carr, Nicole Blum, Andrea Blum – **** – Reading through Ciderhouse Cookbook is like stepping into the kitchen and sitting down around the table of the apple farmers that wrote the book. Starting with simple cider syrups and vinegars, the cookbook walks through a full menu of recipes that draw on apples and ciders to add that extra spark to the plate, bowl or glass. As I read through this cookbook, I was continually reading out titles and descriptions to my Mom & making a list of recipes to try – not only as apple season returns but also throughout the summer and the farmers market bounty. Free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Book is available July 24th.

Pizza City USA by Steve Dolinsky  – **** – A tasty treatise on the pizza that feeds Chicago. Outside of Chicago, most people assume that Chicago style pizza is the big deep dish pie. Those who have lived there know that is just one of many types and really isn’t even the best option out there. As a former Chicago city resident, reading this book provided some fond memories of a couple of different pizzerias that were favorites while I was there. Beyond just reviews and pictures of pizzerias, Steve Dolinsky brings his journalism chops to the table and provides a history of pizza in the city and also a smart education on pizza basics. This book had me longing for a Windy City pie and also has me looking at pizza everywhere through a new and more knowledgeable lens. Free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Book is available September 15th. Bonus: The author has now started a Pizza Tour ( that allows you to sample some of the pies in the book – sounds like a great addition to Chicago tourist fun.

The Fat Kitchen by Andrea Chesman – **** – More than “just” a cookbook, “The Fat Kitchen” provides an in-depth guide to all manners of animal fat – offering instructions on how to render the fats into goodness that will add an extra level of deliciousness to your cooking and baking. The information and recipes in this book provide a great reference for taking the leap into using more animal fat within your kitchen. Free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Book is available November 13th.

Joining the Three on Thursday link-up hosted by Carole

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