A Children’s Classics Reading Challenge

Being relatively modest in my blogging life, I rarely link to other sites for “events.” However, as the New Year approaches, I am expanding my horizons a bit.

Amanda at Simpler Pastimes is presenting a Children’s Classics Reading Challenge in January 2015. I think this is a great way to start the new year with our children.


The term “classics” is broad enough to include everyone. So, here in the Wholesome Reads family, we are joining the challenge too!

You can choose your own book to read together, read long or read aloud. I would suggest you choose one that you can enjoy as a family on the cold winter evenings.

Winter Silence-H

If you need help choosing a book, or don’t really know what would be considered a “classic” – just head over to the tool bar on the right side of this blog. Choose a category from the drop bar and click on the genre you prefer. (Many of our suggestions are considered old, rare or “classic”). Or, just click on the book title below that catches your eye. These are available for free download on most e-reading devices. You can also (hopefully) find paper copies at your local library.

On to the suggestions:

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Weiss

Heidi by Joanna Spyri

The Wide Wide World by Susan Warner (A lovely LONG read!)

The Coral Island by R.M. Ballantyne

Pollyanna by Eleanor Hodgman Porter

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

This list is certainly not complete by any means. If you have suggestions you would like to make, join the challenge and leave us a comment!

Happy Reading and Happy New Year!


A Sweet Thought

We recently had the privilege of a personal tour of Moore Honey Farm in our local area.


What an interesting and informative time we had!

Not only did we get a step-by-step explanation of the honey extraction process, but we also gained some interesting insight into the life of honeybees that really got me thinking.

Did you know that there are up to 30,000 bees (or more) in a healthy colony?

There is only one queen, who makes one flight in her lifetime. During that flight she mates for the only time in her “reign.” She then returns to her hive and begins the wonderful job of motherhood – on a monumental scale. Her egg-laying career can last for up to eight years in a healthy environment. Her brood begins to hatch and her colony literally grows up around her.

Unfortunately, the environment today is less than ideal.

The reasons for that are many and varied. Our household pesticides are a contributor to the problem. The potential reasons for the decline in the bee population are a hot topic among beekeepers and an interesting subject to research. (That’s a post for another day).

One thing we learned that really impressed me was the loyalty the bees show for their home. If a strange bee enters a foreign hive with the intent to rob the honey, the worker bees will fight it off. They protect their own.

However, if a bee is lost and enters a strange hive, the new colony will adopt him. Somehow all 30,000 of them know he needs a home, and they move over to make room for one more.

What do you think about that?

It made me think of the fact that God reveals Himself in His creation.

With Him, motive matters.

Are we just “robbers,” trying to get what we can from Him and His people, so we can continue on our own way? If so, we will meet with resistance. It just works that way.

However, if we humbly admit that we are lost…

Hungry for a home…

In need of the protection He has to give…

He will take us in every time.

No matter where we came from.

And the entire colony will open before us to make room for one more.

To me that’s a very sweet thought!

“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world:

But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the Blood of Christ.” Ephensians 2:12-13


A Truly Inspired Romance and a Giveaway

OK. For those of you who are fairly regular readers here, you may have noticed that I rarely recommend Romance stories.

So, this post is for those of you who enjoy a good, clean love story.


And … it’s true!

You may have heard of Elisabeth Elliot before? Her books have been a source of great encouragement to me throughout my life. Actually, her biography about the Irish missionary Amy Carmichael entitled A Chance to Die was an integral voice in my own pre-missionary life. She is also known for her books about her martyred husband, Jim Elliot, who gave his life in South America while trying to evangelize a primitive tribe in Ecuador in the 1950′s. This post is about their beautiful love story.

Jim and Elisabeth (“Betty”) Elliot met at Wheaton College in the early 1940′s. Jim was preparing for ministry at that point in his life and was not interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with anyone. (Oh for the same single-minded devotion to once again be a priority among young men today!) For four years, Jim kept his heart focused on preparing for the ministry he felt God was calling him to – a life of sacrifice and service among the unreached people of Ecuador. Upon his college graduation, he had developed “feelings” for Elisabeth (then Elisabeth Howard), but felt he was not at liberty to pursue a relationship with her. His emotions were submitted to God to be directed by Him alone.


Meanwhile, Elisabeth, who had noticed and admired Jim for some time, felt she was called to a completely different field of service in Eastern Europe. She was focusing on language translation work when the opportunity opened for her to also go to Ecuador – separately from Jim. She felt this to be the Lord’s leading and moved to South America upon graduation from Wheaton.

I think it is important to note that both of these young people submitted their hearts and their futures to the wonderful keeping Hand of God. In His time, He ordered their steps in the same direction and both were fulfilling the purpose of God in their own lives. They each knew themselves to be in the will of God apart from the other. They were both seeking first the Kingdom of God and they were resting in His ability to “perform all things” for them.

It was not immediately that Jim felt released to marry Elisabeth. In his journal, we read of many inner conflicts, questions and feelings that were constantly bombarding his young, very naturally male mind. Interestingly, I read Jim’s story first in The Journals of Jim Elliot. His struggles were very real and very candid. After much heart-searching and prolonged surrender of his future and himself, he finally felt a release to marry. (Yaaaayyyy!!!)

Elliot Wedding

Elisabeth tells her story in her book Passion and Purity. (Enter the give-away below to win a copy!) There was a very real attachment in her heart for Jim, but she remained content (or at least tried) to wait for God’s time. She was actively moving ahead in her work among the primitive people of Ecuador. Her burden was ultimately seen by the world when she returned to minister to the very tribe who killed her husband. The workings of God’s Spirit in her life are truly beautiful.


For a long time, as a young missionary’s wife, I had a hard time reading Mrs. Elliot’s books about losing her husband on the mission field. The story hit a bit too close to home (and I tend toward ”borrowing trouble” sometimes – usually the middle of the night when I can’t sleep). It has taken years for me to appreciate the love story that this truly is. Not only the love of a man towards a woman – but the love of a God who is so much bigger than our finite minds and plans.

Our God.

Who knew that there was a tribe worth all that it would take to reach them. All the “hopes deferred.” All the love letters and silent longings. All the sweat and tears poured out in language study and mastery. All the hours of lonely wanderings and wonderings in remote places far from the comforts of home. All of it!

Our loving God knew. And allowed. And perfectly prepared for His children as they trusted in Him.

Was it worth it?

Living those years of the surrendered life, only to lose the “Isaac” that had been so often offered?

I believe Elisabeth Elliot has lived her late husband’s legacy worthily.

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”

Elisabeth Elliot

So, yes. I believe it was worth it.

Eternity alone will tell just how “worth it” is was.

And that, to me, is the truest and most beautiful love story ever known.

Enter below for a chance to win a copy of Elisabeth’s side of the story.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Lovely Link

I always enjoy reading other blog posts.

My dear friend, Ms. Jacqueline at Deep Roots at Home has written a sweet article highlighting Virginia Lee Burton, the children’s book author from the 1940′s.

You might remember Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel or Katy and the Big Snow?

Some of these classics have been around for a long time, and will hopefully continue to speak to young readers for years to come.


So click on through and read what Ms. Jacqueline has to say about this wholesome read for children!

Seeing God’s Hand … at a Pig Show?!

Have you ever been keenly aware of the Divine Hand of God leading you in some way?

In a final tribute to our farm theme, the Lord worked a little of His wonder for us at our local County Livestock show last week.

See this beauty?


This is Rosie. (Short for Rosalita.) And she was used in a lovely way in our lives.

Would you think God would really use a pig?

Well, wonder no more, He did! Let me tell you about it.

In preparation  for the much talked-about chicken show in the Spring, we attended our local county 4H Livestock Show.  We watched and learned from the seasoned professionals, exactly how to enter the show ring, hold our (hopefully) prize-winning chicken, answer the judge’s questions and win or lose graciously. The children competing were really something to see.

During the “Turkey Show,” one young lady caught our eye. She had one of the smallest turkeys, walked with a surgical boot on her foot and smiled like she was having the best time of her life. Her attitude was wonderful to behold. And believe it or not, her turkey seemed to love her!  We chose her as the “Best of Show” among ourselves simply for her attitude, even though she was eliminated at the very beginning.

The next day, we returned to see what was going on at the barn.

Now, if you’ve never been to a “pig show” before, you have missed a cultural experience. I was among the ranks of the uninitiated until last week.

First, the contestants (which are the children, not the pigs)  line up outside of the “show ring.” There they are with their big ole, freshly manicured pigs, (some of them quite irritated – the pigs and the kids) and equally large belt buckles (if they were successful in last year’s show). The judge gives the signal, and in they come. Have you ever “driven” a pig? Me either. These kids did it. They swatted back sides, poked, kneed, clucked, and prodded their bovines, all the while trying to maintain eye contact with the stone-faced judge in the center of the ring. Wow! Talk about pressure! These kids were great! (Mostly.) It was definitely something everyone should experience once in their lifetime!

When we arrived, our boot-footed, turkey friend from yesterday was in the ring. Of course we were rooting for her again today. (No pun intended). After the show, (she lost again, by the way), we were walking through the holding pens looking at the animals. Who do you think we found sitting on the ground in the pen with her pig’s head in her lap? Yep. Our turkey lady! No wonder her turkey loved her, if she raised it like she did the pig. We chatted with her and her parents for a while and then moved on.

Later that evening, we were scheduled to attend a local gathering to sell cupcakes. We walked to our pre-assigned tent and guess who was sitting in the neighboring tent with her unbooted, swollen foot propped up? The turkey/pig lady … with her Mom!

Have you ever had what is commonly called a “Divine Appointment” in your life?

This was one of those for us. We began talking about the Lord and sharing with each other. They were out at the gathering with their church group, witnessing to folks. Their youth group leader was there too, who has spent several summers in East Africa. We talked like old friends the rest of the night. By the time we left, we all knew the Lord had ordered our steps to allow us to meet one another. How wonderful!

I love the reality of Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways, acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths”

“All thy ways” includes pig shows, folks.

So to finish off our tribute to farm life, this week’s book link is going to Animal Farm: Anniversary Edition by George Orwell.

Our favorite quote from this book?

“All pigs are created equal. Just some more equal than others.”

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The Benefits of Goat Milk

Here we are at the farm for another week, posting about various thoughts concerning living a more simple, wholesome, (if somewhat) rural life.


The thought for this week is … the dairy goat and her many virtues.

Of course the first thing that comes to mind is the wonderful gift of goat milk. Before you turn your nose up (as some in my extended family who read my blog may be tempted to do), let’s spend a few minutes discussing the various benefits of drinking raw, unpasteurized goat’s milk.

First of all, for those with a milk allergy (lactose intolerant) goat’s milk is a great choice. The calcium content of goat’s milk is reported to be superior to that of traditionally processed cow’s milk, without the adverse side effects that usually accompany cow milk consumption.

There is less mucous production from goat’s milk consumption due to reduced fat content in goat’s milk, which results in fewer allergy-related symptoms and less inflammation of the gut.  Also, raw goat’s milk more closely relates to the chemical make up of human milk, making it more easily digested in young children and babies.

There is research to support the idea that there are more bone-building amino and fatty acids in nutrient dense goat’s milk than there is in cow’s milk. One cup contains almost 35% of your daily calcium needs. It is also high in riboflavin, giving you 20.0% of your daily recommendation. There are also high amounts of phosphorous, Vitamin B12, protein and potassium in raw goat’s milk. (Source)

So, now that we know it’s good for us, the important question remains …


Does it taste nice?

That all depends on you, really. If you are not particularly fond of cow milk, goat milk might really hit the spot. However, if you are a cow milk connoisseur, (we have a couple of those around here), goat milk might take a little getting used to. (Note: if you are milking during breeding season, your milk will tend to taste a bit “bucky.” Translation – it tastes a little like the big, smelly, disgusting Billy that has been courting your Nanny.) However, under normal conditions, (and if you keep the buck well away from the milking ladies), if you milk into a stainless steel bowl and immediately strain and cool your milk, it should taste really nice.

Goat’s milk isn’t only good for drinking (or adding to your hot tea, like some British folks around here do). There are several other ways to enjoy it.

We have made our own yogurt using a heating pad and a quart-sized canning jar. Simply add a tablespoon of regular yogurt to your uncooled, fresh goat’s milk. Place it into a box or bowl with a heating pad on low heat surrounding the jar. Leave it for 24 hours and then cool it in the fridge. It isn’t always as thick as store-bought yogurt, but it has all of the probiotic and wholesome goodness of raw goat’s milk. (We like ours plain, but I have read that you can add flavoured jello to the mixture before it sets to make whatever flavor you like best.)

Fresh ice cream is always a hit around here. I add a bit of sugar and some peppermint oil with a few ground up chocolate chips and a tsp of vanilla to the goat’s milk before I put it in the freezer in a quart-sized jar. (Be careful not to break the jar with opposing temperatures and don’t use that jar for canning in high heats in the future. It’s best to have designated “milk jars.”) As the milk is freezing, shake the jar every couple of hours. It makes a delicious soft-serve consistency. (It may eventually harden, but we always eat it up before that state!)

Lastly, you can make the very popular goat cheese with fresh milk. We haven’t had as much success with this project, but I know it can be done. (Our attempts at making cheese have laughingly become known as our “squeaky cheese” endeavor. It literally squeaked when we ate it! If you can tell me what I did wrong, PLEASE leave me a comment!)

Oh, one more idea. I was given a lovely gift once of “goat milk lotion.” I have no idea how to make beauty products out of goat milk, but it obviously can be done.

For more information on dairy goat keeping and milking, I highly recommend Jerry Balinger’s book Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats.


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A Trip to the Farm

Around here, we are always open to new experiences. So, this year, we have decided to do something we have never done before…

Show chickens at the state fair!

WinslowHomerFreshEggs1874We have had a bit of experience with “yard hens” for our own fresh eggs, but now we have decided to venture forth into uncharted territory – for us. So we joined our local 4-H group and will be growing meat chickens to enter into the state fair in the spring. Oh, this will be one of those “learning and growing” experiences for everyone. The 11 y/o and 13 y/o will show the chickens while the 9 y/o will document the entire process with her camera.

So, for the next few posts we will take a wee break from the “oldies but goodies“ and the lovely land of literature to get a bit practical around Wholesome Reads and take a trip to the farm, so to speak.

First stop – the chicken coop! (Naturally. :) )

For the chicken enthusiast, who likes to have a “real” book in hand, we recommend …

(Note: there is an updated copy of this book available. However, being the price-conscious shopper that I am, I linked to the less expensive copy).

Families Raising Chickens is also a good resource for those of us who have a lot to learn, and don’t mind reading on a screen. There is a free e-book available for a limited time about raising backyard birds. The site also has resources for coop-building, brooding tips, nutrition and basic chicken husbandry (if there is such a thing).

Also, Laura Childs at Goodbye Citylife has a great archive on all-things-chicken.

So, reading friends, I hope this little series doesn’t bore you. If you have no interest in farming life, stick around. We’ll get back to the regular posts shortly.

Until then…

See you in the coop!

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Meet Agnes Sligh Turnbull

In our ongoing discovery of older writers worth reading, we have stumbled upon Agnes Sligh Turnbull.



Mrs. Turnbull specialized in wholesome stories and books for children during the early part of the 1900′s. At a time when many of her contemporaries were “pushing the edge” in the writing world, Turnbull focused on uplifting, moral stories of regular people who still maintained a modest view of propriety and a Biblical foundation.

As part of my book blessing, I received a  copy of “The Gown of Glory” as my first introduction to Mrs. Turnbull. The story is set in Pennsylvania in the early 1900′s. David and his wife Mary have faithfully served their local community as “the Pastor and his wife” for twenty-five years. Through their years of service, there is a constant hoping for promotion, which is always thwarted for one reason or another.  The character of this couple with their three children (who are entering “marrying years”) is beautifully displayed as we live “a year in the life” of their little community. Many and varied are their experiences in which we see David’s Christ-like service have an effect unbeknownst to him. Then an unthinkable sin in his very ordinary flock is revealed. David’s handling of this situation is a lesson to us all of the mercy and compassion of our Savior.

I haven’t read any other books by Mrs. Turnbull. I was impressed with her discretion and uplifting moral tone in “The Gown of Glory.” If you have read any other wholesome reads by her you would recommend, leave us a comment.

Disclaimer: I would recommend this for adults. The nature of the sin that is revealed is not suitable for younger readers.






A Great Opportunity

I’m not usually one to advertise on my blog, because I figure, well…

You probably aren’t going to read it.

But, for those of you old book collectors out there, I want to let you know about a great opportunity.

World of Rare Books  , a British-based rare book site, is having a free shipping week! It is already underway and will last until Saturday, September 27th.


If you have a particular author you are interested in collecting, they very well may have what you are looking for. I, personally, have already placed two orders this week simply because this is such a great opportunity. (Shipping on books from the UK can range from $5 – $10 per book, depending on the seller). Also, if you like to dig for a deal, many of their books are listed as “final reduction – get it whilst you can at this price!” The prices are listed in British pounds, but when you check out, they will redirect you through Paypal and you will pay in US dollars. The pound is presently worth about $1.64 to 1GBP.

Hope you find some real jewels!

By the way, this is not an affiliate post. I just wanted to share the great deal I found.


Going on a Treasure Hunt

If you could go on a treasure hunt and search for something very valuable to you, what would you look for?


Gold in a chest?


Fabulous jewels and untold wealth?


I was recently blessed with a wonderful opportunity to explore.


To search.


To dig.


Boys Playing on the Shore by Albert Edelfelt 1884

Boys Playing on the Shore by Albert Edelfelt 1884

To hunt for valuable and rare treasure.


And you know what I found?




Before you groan, (which you shouldn’t because you know this is primarily a blog about books) let me tell you about a most lovely day in my life.

Being an international family occasionally we have the opportunity to visit jolly old England to see the relatives still living there. While on a family “holiday” recently, my forbearing and ever-patient husband allowed me some time to treasure-hunt.

Translation: I got to go BOOK SHOPPING!!!

To one who appreciates old books, (and frequently orders them from the UK), this day in my life was a very happy one. We scoured charity shops, antique stores and even visited a rare bookseller’s warehouse in our quest for oldies but goodies.

The result?

I’ll probably be blogging about my “finds” for weeks to come, but let’s just say…

The search was profitable.

Ok, the search (and the subsequent “finding” of one particular treasure by Susan Warner) left me almost squealing with American delight in the ponderous face of my British book benefactor.

I had SUCH a lovely day!

And since we take the Scripture literally that when we acknowledge God in all of our ways, He is certain to direct our paths (Proverbs 3:6), I’ll encourage you with this testimony.

As the time of our visit drew to a close, and my list of desired authors was not completely satisfied, I humbly thanked the Lord for all He had done for my little book quest and asked Him to allow me to return to America with every book He would like for us to have – even if my “list” was not complete. (I am one who firmly believes that there is nothing too small in our lives that we cannot share with our loving Lord).  The next and final day of our stay was to be spent visiting with family. As we sat talking, the door-bell rang. A lovely friend from church stopped by with a bag full of books she had taken from her bookshelf to give to our family. In her generosity, she gave us several of her mother-in-law’s childhood books from the early 1900’s. Among this bag were three of the most precious treasures of the entire trip! And guess what? My list was complete.

So, sometimes, we search for our treasure “as for hid gold” as the Scripture says.

And sometimes …

Just to show us how infinitely precious is God’s care for us …

Our treasure comes looking for us!

Happy Reading!


Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”