Summer Mini-Bucket List, 2017 Iteration

Wheat field 2017

Summer officially begins today!  In celebration of the start of the most relaxed and carefree season of my year, I’m once again compiling a mini-bucket list of fun activities to enjoy before the Fall, with all its structure and demands, rolls around again.

Summer Mini-Bucket List, 2017

  1. Try three new-to-me local restaurants.  Top choices include the Belvedere Inn, Gibraltar, and Luca.
  2. Visit an Escape Room with my family before Julia and Mark leave for college.  This looks like so much fun!
  3. Attend a lawn concert at Nissley Vineyards.  A soft summer evening, homegrown wine, good friends, and live music for listening and dancing – a recipe for grown-up fun.
  4. Get to Central Market a few Friday mornings.  A historical treasure and a feast for the senses.
  5. Churn out a new flavor of homemade ice cream.  How about the Cookies and Cream Ice Cream recipe from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker, and Dabney Gough?  Yeah, I thought it sounded delicious, too.
  6. Read at least twelve books.  (Just trying to reach my Goodreads Summer Reading Goal of 12 – 20 books).  My summer reading choices swing between light and fluffy and suspenseful and thrilling (i.e, The Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan and  The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware).
  7. Go to a baseball game (the Phillies or Barnstormers).  I do wish the Phils were playing better…
  8. Spend some quality time with my camera.  The flowers alone provide endless  possibilities for reviving my photography skills.
  9. Take an afternoon to bike an area Rail-to-Trail path.  I’d prefer if the trail was a downhill ride both ways.
  10. Volunteer for or support a local non-profit organization.  Clare House, Water Street Mission, and Schreiber Pediatric Center are a few I’m considering.
  11. Camp at a state park.  World’s End State Park on the Loyalsock Creek near Williamsport is looking promising.
  12. Memorize Romans 8:31 -39.  I need some sort of a challenge after all these mostly self-focused, feel good goals. 😉


I have very few other plans for the summer, actually.  In a few short days we’ll be heading to Corolla in the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a week of glorious laziness.  Other than that, I plan to hang around here, watching my son play baseball a few evenings a week and spending as much time as possible on my porch and patio.  We’ll be grilling all the time and eating ice cream (homemade or not), buttery corn on the cob, sweet raspberries, and juicy peaches.  My two oldest kiddos are heading to Lebanon Valley in the fall so I want to spend as much time as I can with them before they go.   I’ll also be starting to teach my youngest son how to drive.  His older siblings have broken me in pretty well so I’m not expecting too many “life passing before my eyes” experiences.

If I can accomplish all of this in the next few months, it will be a blessed summer indeed.

What are your plans and/or goals for the summer?  Please share!

Previous Summer mini-bucket lists here and here.


Summer Reading List

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One of my Summer Mini-Bucket List items is to read 12 books by the end of August.  My intention is to mix books that satisfy the Popsugar Reading Challenge with a few faith-based books and what I consider lighter, fluffier choices.  I’ve compiled a tentative list of the books I plan to devour in the next few months.  I say tentative because, other than the Popsugar books which I have to read to meet the challenge, I’ll be letting my feelings dictate my selections.  Right now the reading list is pretty fluffy because I just finished  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by  Stephen Covey and am in need of some mindless (but well-executed) entertainment.  That may or may not change as the summer progresses.  In anticipation of my fickle feelings, I’ve added some alternative choices just in case nothing I’ve officially listed is tempting me.

Summer Reading List:

  1. The Girl With All the Gifts by Mike Carey (a book recommended by a stranger, audiobook)
  2. The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson (a book published in 2016)
  3. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (a book and its prequel – this would be the prequel to Jane Eyre which I already read)
  4. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (a book with a blue cover)
  5. Dune by Frank Herbert (a science fiction novel)
  6. Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
  7. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
  8. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
  9. Still Life by Louise Penny
  10. A Dangerous Place by Jaqueline Winspear
  11. The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel
  12. Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst

Waiting in the wings (just in case):  The Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan , The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Garielle Zevin, A Man Called Ove by Fredric Backman, Out of the the House of Bread by Preston Yancy, H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Eric Larson.

I’m looking forward to settling in with these books and only wish I had time to read them all…

What books are you looking forward to reading this summer?


Summer Mini-Bucket List


Ah, Summer!  I love your long days, relaxed pace, and the opportunities you provide to do most of my living outdoors.  With your arrival, my schedule loosens up, travel adventures commence, and I can reconnect with my family over campfires and hikes in the woods.  You are the long-awaited, extended vacation of my overly-ordered, hectic year.


Each summer I make a list of fun goals I’d like to accomplish and activities I’d like to experience during the season.  Having a bit of a plan protects me from waking up one morning in September, realizing that summer has slipped away and I missed its unique opportunities because I was too caught up in the minutiae of living.  This summer, my bucket list touches on a few bigger, long term goals but is mostly light-hearted and fun.  I can’t wait to get started.

Summer 2016 Mini-Bucket List

  1. Visit a historical site I’ve never been to beforePoplar Forest (Thomas Jefferson’s vacation home) and Fort Ticonderoga are possibilities based on vacation plans.
  2. Spend a day with each of my children doing whatever their hearts desire.  I have a feeling there’s a lot of fishing in my future.
  3. Offer three different invites for dinner on the patio to friends we would like to get to know better.  I’ve been convicted of my stinginess with my time and this is a small way for me to practice generosity and hospitality.
  4. Try a new homemade ice cream recipe. Strawberry, maybe? Or peach? Or salted caramel?
  5. Go to a major league baseball game.  It’s been a few years and the Phillies are actually playing pretty well so far this season.
  6. Take a road trip.  Is it cheating to put this on my list when I already have the road trips planned?  My husband and I will be driving the Blue ridge Parkway at the end of June and in August the family will cruise to the Adirondacks.
  7. Enjoy some time in my kayak.  My husband bought me a kayak two years ago and I have yet to use it.  It’s about time I took the opportunity to enjoy a float down the Conestoga.
  8. Swim in a lake.  I haven’t done this in years and I think the Adirondacks will be the perfect place to jump in.
  9. Participate in a service project with my family.  I’m not sure what form this activity will take but it should be a great bonding experience for us that also benefits others.
  10. Read or listen to 12 books.  That’s about 4 books a month.  Piece of cake!  I want to keeping plugging away at the Popsugar Reading Challenge and also read some books just for the fun of it.  It is summer, after all, and summer reading should never be a chore.
  11. Walk 108 miles (3 miles, 3 times a week for 12 weeks).   My health and well-being are worth this little bit of time investment.  Besides, I often listen to books when I walk – more story time for me.
  12. Sit on the porch or patio late in the evening with Jay as many nights as possible, listening to nature’s music and talking over our little and big dreams. 

Welcome, Summer!  Stay as long as you like.

Do you have any goals you’d like to accomplish this summer? 

The Eclectic Reader Challenge 2014


Happy New Year!

Now that all the celebrating and party-making is over, it’s time to get down to the business of this coming year.  I’m not talking about New Year’s resolutions, either.  No focus on healthy eating, organizing my home, or budgeting my money for me thank-you-very-much (although I would benefit from attending to all of those things, believe me).  No, I’m talking about something far more fun – a reading challenge!

I stumbled upon The Eclectic Reader Challenge 2014 while I was wandering around Goodreads the other day.  This challenge, hosted by Shelleyrae at Book’d Out, caught my eye for two reasons: 1) It only requires reading 12 books to complete the challenge and 2) each book is chosen from a specific genre.  I mentioned in my previous post that I’d begun graduate school on a full-time basis.  Even as strapped for time as I often feel now, I think I can manage a book a month for the next year.  And, I like the idea of reading different genres.  The exposure to books outside my particular tastes has the very real possibility of broadening my horizons when it comes to reading choices.  I’m feeling a little adventurous and open to new experiences.

Here are the pertinent rules (For a detailed description of the challenge, click here):

  1. The challenge runs from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014.
  2. Select, read, and review a book from each genre listed below during the year for a total of 12 books. A book may be in print, electronic or audio format.
  3. A book may only be used for one category.  This means 12 different books must be read throughout the year.
  4. The list may be completed in any order as long as all 12 categories are fulfilled by December 31, 2014.
  5. To be eligible for the prize drawing, a blog post reviewing each book must be posted to the link found on the Book’d Out blog.

The Eclectic Reading Challenge 2014 Categories (and my possible choices)

  • Award WinningWolf Hall, Snow Falling on Cedars, or Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell
  • True Crime (Non Fiction)In Cold Blood
  • Romantic ComedyBridget Jones’s Diary
  • Alternate History FictionAlleander Morning
  • Graphic NovelPersepolis
  • Cosy Mystery FictionMaisie Dobbs (#1), One for the Money (Stephanie Plum #1), or A Red Herring Without Mustard
  • Gothic FictionJonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, Interview with a Vampire, or The Haunting of Hill House
  • War/Military FictionKiller Angels
  • AnthologyA Mind Awake
  • Medical Thriller Fiction – haven’t decided yet but I used to read a lot of Robin Cook books and enjoyed them
  • Travel (Non Fiction)Wild: Lost and Found or The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places on Earth or something by Bill Bryson
  • Published in 2014 – to be determined

For the record, none of my choices are written in stone which means I am open to book suggestions for all of the categories.  If you have a suggestion for a great book, I’d love to hear it!  I haven’t read any of the books I’ve listed, but several of them are hanging around my home or in my Nook waiting patiently for some undivided attention.  This challenge is inadvertently encouraging me to chip away at my monumental to-be-read pile.

Sounds like fun, don’t you think?  My husband and kids thought so, too.  They’ve decided to join me in this reading challenge; it should be very intersting to see what they come up with to fulfill each of the categories.  I’m looking forward to getting started!  How about you?

Tidying Up

Hello, there. It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Much too long, I think, and I’m so sorry for the neglect. The reality is that my time has been consumed by work, school, and family obligations and the pleasure of blogging always gets pushed to the bottom of a never-ending list of to-do’s. Unbelievably, Christmas has come and gone – I hope it was a meaningful and relaxing one for you – and the beginning of 2014 is looming large on the horizon. Because this year is ending, I feel compelled to address some goals that I posted earlier this year here at Whimsey Pie and then never revisited.  I don’t really feel like doing this because I’ll be forced to face my failures, but I hate loose ends dangling around and I want to start the new year with a clean slate.

In January, I posted a few goals that I thought were pretty doable over the course of the year.  A Cleansing Breath details the seven goals I set for myself but I will list them briefly here with any progress I’ve made:

  • Apply to three graduate programs and hopefully begin classes by the end of the year.  I applied to one graduate school, was accepted, and will be one-quarter of the way through the program by the middle of February.  Because I am a full-time student, it is single-handedly sucking up every minute of my spare time (I just wanted to get it over with!) and is directly responsible for my lack of substantial blog posts and a general lack of fun in my life.
  • Improve my photographic skills.  I didn’t pursue anything intentional and lately I haven’t had to time to practice the skills I already have. 
  • Read My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers.  I tried, I really did.  And I must be one of two people on earth (my husband being the other simpleton) who was completely underwhelmed with this highly recommended devotional classic. After reading it, I often felt like an incompetent, inadequate, and thick-headed imbecile.  The readings were often very esoteric with snippets of verses taken completely out of context.  Needless to say, it was not beneficial for my spiritual growth so I just stopped.  Life is too short.
  • Regularly (monthly) write to our sponsor child in Ecuador. This was a huge fail – I am so ashamed of myself… 
  • Complete an Extreme Room Makeover for Buddy (the middle child).  We are in the midst of the makeover at this very moment – walls are painted, new carpet installed, and new furniture purchased.  The trim still needs painted and all the details attended to but we are almost there. 
  • Read six non-fiction books. I’ve read two this year(not counting textbooks): Worldiness, edited by C.J. Mahaney and Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods.
  • Eradicate Coca Cola from my diet forever!  Considering the fact that I’m drinking an icy cold Coke as I type, I would say this was another epic fail.

In retrospect, I made more progress than I thought.  Not fantastic, of course, but not awful either.  And for the record, I will not be making any goals this year.  Graduate school is more than enough challenge and stimulation for me at this point in my life.

In July, I blogged about a personal summer reading challenge based on the Facebook meme BBC Top 100 Must Read Books List. The post gave a partial list of books I’d read over the summer but I wanted to give an accurate account of what I eventually accomplished.  I was able to get 6.5 books under my belt before the deadline:

  • The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • 3 books of The Ultimate Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (only the first book is required)
  • A Prayer For Owen Meaney by John Irving
  • Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

I did begin a Master’s degree program in the middle of this challenge which significantly slowed my progress.  However, the Harry Potter series has been such an enjoyable surprise and mindless escape that I decided to finish the series after the initial challenge was over.  I’m halfway through the sixth book now and hope to completely finish the series before I head back to work after the New Year.  I have officially read 45.5 books on the BBC list.  (That the entire Harry Potter series only counts as one book seems a bit stingy to me, but I didn’t make the list.)  In the next year, I’m participating in another fun reading challenge (look for a post soon!) which should give me the opportunity to cross a few more books off the list.

I feel so much better now that I’ve addressed those few nagging issues.  I can freely say good-bye to 2013 and face 2014 with an uncluttered conscience and a clear mind.  2014, here we come!

Thanks to all of you who drop by this blog on a regular, occasional, or even accidental basis.  I appreciate the time you take to read, like, and comment on my posts.  I enjoy blogging simply for the sake of blogging but your attention and encouragement makes the experience that much more terrific.  To all of you, I offer:

some belated Christmas cheer….



and my most sincerest wishes for a blessed and prosperous New Year!