Quebec City itinerary: 5 days in Quebec City in December

We love the Christmas season, so Quebec City in December was on our must-visit list. Beyond being beautiful and historical and having a truly European vibe, Quebec City is the home to one of North America’s best Christmas markets. 

We packed our warmest winter gear (prepare to wear your warmest boots the entire time, my friends) and headed to the airport.

And then we were completely charmed by the entire experience — friendly people, greetings of “Bonjour!” everywhere, feeling like we had traveled much further than simply over the border to Canada, and the sensation of time traveling into the past…

Here’s our itinerary…

Day 1: Arrival in Quebec City

  • Flew into Quebec City
  • Picked up rental car
  • Lunch: Chez Victor (145 Rue Saint-Jean) – where they have vegetarian poutine that is seriously life-changing. I can’t stop thinking about it. 
  • Plains of Abraham Museum
  • Rode the funicular from Lower Town to Upper Town  (man, we love a good funicular)
  • Strolled Dufferin Terrace
  • Chateau Frontenac – walked through the lobby and looked at the display of Christmas trees

Day 2: Old Quebec City

Day 3: Day trip from Quebec City

Day 4: Upper Town

Day 5: Departure


Have you visited Quebec City? What sights should we add for our next visit?

Newfoundland itinerary: 10 days in Newfoundland

(all links and locations verified in March 2022)


Newfoundland completely blew us away with its natural beauty and the friendliness of the people.

We spent 10 days in Newfoundland in August, which was:

a) The longest vacation of my life

b) A short enough time that we had to make some tough choices


But our crackerjack team (the Dear Man, his Dear Sister, and her Dear Husband, and I)… we were  up to the challenge.



We prioritized:

  • Natural beauty, especially coastline

  • Whales

  • Puffins

  • Lighthouses

  • Hiking

  • History

Special shout-out to my Dear SIL for her expert scouting of B&Bs and restaurants. Stellar work there!

Here’s our 10-day Newfoundland itinerary… where every place listed is a place we’d highly recommend.

Day 1: Arrival in St. John’s

Signal Hill

Day 2: Day trip from St. John’s

Day 3: Day trip from St. John's

Day 4: Drive from St. John's to Bonavista

Day 5: Drive from Bonavista to Twillingate

Day 6: Drive from Twillingate to Rocky Harbour / Gros Morne National Park

Day 7: Gros Morne National Park

Day 8: Gros Morne National Park

Day 9: Drive from Rocky Harbour to L’anse Aux Meadows

Day 10: Drive from L’anse Aux Meadows to Gander

Day 11: Flight home

  • Returned rental car to Gander airport 
  • Flew home from Gander, with a layover in Toronto

Newfoundland is a stunningly beautiful, consistently friendly place — and we feel fortunate to have visited before it becomes the next It Destination (which seems inevitable, given its charms). 

Highly recommend.

If you’re considering a trip to Newfoundland and have any questions about our itinerary, I’d be glad to answer! Please just post your questions in the Comments.

Happy travels, all!

Bookish tourist: Leelanau Books

We went there for sandwiches. Big, lusty sandwiches.

We’d heard about the Village Cheese Shanty in Leland, and during our trip to northern Michigan, we made it happen.

And then we found a bookstore. An enchanting indie bookstore. 

We visited Leelanau Books directly after the torrential downpour that nearly drenched us in our sandwich quest.

In spite of the foul weather, the bookstore was bright and airy, and the selections were well-curated.

I saw several books I would have happily bought, but chose Working because I love Robert Caro.

So, one more reason to visit northern Michigan: Leelanau Books in Leland.

Other reasons...






Canoeing the Au Sable River








So, as summer sadly approaches its close, I’m wondering… have your summer travels involved bookish adventures?

Bookish Tourist: White Whale Bookstore

During our delightful trip to Pittsburgh, we experienced several culinary delights (Primanti Brothers: that life-changing burger, Apteka: absolutely amazing vegan Polish cuisine, Prantl Bakery: burnt almond torte) and some literary ones, too.

After visiting the wonderful Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, we made our way to the White Whale Bookstore, which I’d been scoping out on Instagram and wanting very much to see in real life.

And I’m here to tell you, it’s even more charming than it looks in the photos. And that’s saying something.

The selection is well curated, the displays are enticing, and the atmosphere is inviting. The Dear Man and I both bought books that are making us very happy indeed.

So, if you’re visiting Pittsburgh, here’s the hungry reader must-see list:

  • Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
  • White Whale Bookstore
  • Apteka
  • Primanti Brothers
  • Duquesne Incline
  • Prantl’s Bakery

Anyone else pleasantly surprised by Pittsburgh? Any recommendations?

Bookish Tourist: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh: so much to love.

We saw surprising historic sites, rode an incline, saw gorgeous views from the heights, ate fabulous and unusual foods that delighted us, and visited a gorgeous library with dinosaur views.

We arrived in Pittsburgh in the evening, and libraries have generous hours so we headed there first.

We visited the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Main Library, which:

  • Is named in honor of the Carnegie—Pittsburgh philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who is famous for the library buildings he funded nationwide
  • Shares space on a huge city block with the Carnegie Institute museums

So we’re talking about a spectacular, swoon-worthy library that causes this kind of reaction…

And it means that when a person is in the nonfiction stacks and looks out the window, this is the view…

And the stacks are utterly charming.

And they’re kept their old card catalog, which holds some of their indexes. And who doesn’t love an old card catalog?

And of course, the most important part is the staff. We were greeted warmly and offered assistance, and a kind librarian answered my questions. And then we wandered into another area, and more pleasant attentiveness there.

As an introduction to Pittsburgh, this place won me over completely.

Well done, city of Pittsburgh. A good library is a great testament to the strength and health of a city.

Bookish Tourist: The Book House

On a quick weekend jaunt to St. Louis, we saw all kinds of historic sites and of course we hit a bookstore.

On a Saturday evening, after a fine, full day of visiting the Cahokia Mounds and the charming town of St. Charles, we swung by The Book House in Maplewood — which happily is open until 10 pm Saturdays.

From the outside, it looks just like an ordinary storefront, but inside… so many books!

It’s an indie bookstore, and they sell mostly used and rare books, but they also stock a small selection of new titles.

And their shop has library ladders!

There are books all over the place, and thankfully there’s a nice bookstore guide stationed at a desk inside the front door to provide guidance to the history and politics sections or whatever a person might be wanting.

Here’s a view of part of the fiction section…

I found two books on my Wish List and bought them, and now they’re still in that new book glory area of our home library where I place new acquisitions before I break down and shelve them.

Other highlights of the trip:

The Dear Man bought a book about Cahokia at the gift shop.

We did some Lewis & Clark tourism.

We ate some amazing cookies in St. Charles.

We said hey to our old acquaintance Daniel Boone.

We went to Pappy’s Smokehouse for life-changing BBQ. (Ribs for him, baked potato for her)

We ate our 2nd St. Louis style pizza — this time at Billy G’s — and analyzed it thoroughly. We’re Chicago people, and while we don’t despise provel, we just can’t make ourselves crave it. Still: it’s not bad pizza, and it easily passes the “Would we eat this again?” test.

So, once again, St. Louis is a hit.

Anyone else visited a great bookstore lately?

Bookish Tourist: The Bookshop in Nashville

The Bookshop – Nashville, Tennessee

3 words: bright, lovely, well-curated

Our recent visit to Nashville had a single mission: attend the wedding of the Dear Man’s dear nephew and his dear fiancée. Mission accomplished! The wedding was one of those really, really good ones — where the couple are so right for one another and it’s truly a blessed occasion.

Rehearsal dinner & amazing BBQ

Plus, at the reception, there were s’mores.


When we weren’t spending time with family, we did some history geek tourism and we stopped by a bookstore whose Instagram feed delights me.

The lightness of those white bookshelves! Those light fixtures!

And the bookshop is every bit as pretty in person (though my photo doesn’t do it justice).

We browsed a good while, and I finally selected two books to buy for my home library:





So we’ve got some fiction (such a favorite!) and a new nonfiction book about a president, by an author whose writing I adore.

Here they are in our living room, because the Unruly home library is not yet open for business. (The move! The boxes! Thank goodness there’s a public library less than a mile away.)


Anyone else doing any bookstore tourism this fall? Any great finds?

The Woman’s Hour: I vote yes

The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine F. Weiss

3 words: stirring, detailed, political

Anyone else look at the pictures in nonfiction books before starting to read? (I always, always do.)

I knew I’d love this book when I got completely verklempt looking at the photos while standing in line at the Apple Store. The heroism and the teamwork and the long, long wait for success… it got to me. And this was before I’d read a word of the book. And then the feeling got stronger.

Looking at the final battle in the fight to win the vote for women, it’s astonishing to consider how long these women had been doing this work. I mean, they were already in the second generation!

The opening to this book is downright riveting: women from across the country are boarding trains to converge on Nashville, and they know they’re heading into a serious political battle. It made me goose-bumpy.

When we were in Nashville last year, we saw some of the important suffrage sites: the state capitol and the hotel where the key players stayed and lobbied. It’s pretty amazing to be in the room where it happened.


This is one of the rooms!


And we visited the recent statue to honor the strong women who helped give half of us Americans the right to vote. (I dearly love to vote.)



What surprised me about the story: learning just how difficult it was for women to win the right to vote, and learning how racism was a key factor in granting women the right to vote. There was a contingent that opposed enfranchising women because it would meant women of all races could vote. It’s appalling. And it makes it all the more significant that women were granted suffrage, because it was a win in more than one way.

If you enjoy reading about political movements and learning the behind-the-scenes maneuvers, this book is for you. And especially if you like books where the good gals win… pick this one up.


Give this book a whirl if you like…women’s history, the complexity of social movements, strong women, history writing that puts you in the moment, heroic women


What book got you all stirred up about politics?

Vacation Reading

A week-long vacation in a tropical paradise. You know what I’m thinking, because you’re thinking it, too…

What books to pack?


Recently the Dear Man and I joined my sister’s family on a vacation to Costa Rica to visit our aunt and uncle.

So yes, I packed two swimsuits and a sun hat and a gallon of sunscreen and sandals… but most of my packing energy focused on the books. There were hard decisions to make, people. My primary criterion: weight. So I went with all paperbacks.

Here’s what I packed…


And coming up… the big reveal of What I Actually Read. But first…


What I did instead of reading

So here’s the thing. With a party of 8, things stay busy. And the most fun I really can even imagine. I love these people.


My vision was this: while the teenagers are surfing, their auntie will be reading. In reality, it was too much fun watching the kids surf and talking with my people and playing in the waves. So the books stayed in the beach bag, and that was just fine.


We spent time in the air (ziplining— a huge triumph for she who fears heights) and in the water (paddle boarding in the sea).


And we ate wonderful foods (gallo pinto and casado and pizza #106 and heavenly coffee). But as we know, in the end…


Reading always wins 

I grabbed a little reading time while hanging out on the balcony of the house we rented and lounging in the room with a view (oh my land, what a view).

I read the middle section of No More Words: A Journal of My Mother, Anne Morrow Lindbergh by Reeve Lindbergh, which seemed a strange but perfect thing to read while on vacation. (Reading about Alzheimer’s is not particularly light or jolly.)

I actually bought the book at the Charles Lindbergh home in Minnesota during a long weekend, so it was a book bought on vacation and read on vacation. And the book made me think all kinds of thoughts, and it was a pleasure to have the time to consider them.

So I had just enough time for some basic maintenance reading there on the ground…


It wasn’t until our long flight home that my books got much attention. And then it got serious.

Here’s what I read…
  • I finished the Lindbergh book.
  • Then I read our upcoming book club book cover to cover. This sounds all impressive, but since the book is only 176 pages long, it’s not that grand an achievement. Sarah Gailey’s River of Teeth was a great vacation book: it’s a swift-moving, surprising, violent Western romp featuring hippos. I don’t mind flying, but the cramped quarters make me glad to be able to escape somewhere else on long flights.
  • Then I read a couple of essays from Portage: A Family, A Canoe, and the Search for the Good Life by Sue Leaf, including a chapter about a river the Dear Man and I have canoed (hello, beautiful Upper Iowa!)
  • And then I dove into Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt, which I also bought on a previous vacation (at the marvelous Novel Neighbor bookstore in Webster Groves, Missouri). And I read half the book on the flight and kept saying to the Dear Man, “This book is so good.”

Now that we’re home, the poor neglected book is in a holding pattern while I get caught up on laundry and all the other adulting things that are clamoring for my attention. But the lovely thing is that once I immerse myself in the book again, it’ll transport me not only into the story itself, but also into The Vacation Feeling. I love that.


So, my fellow readers… what’s your favorite vacation reading tactic?

Bookish Tourist: The Novel Neighbor

The Novel Neighbor bookstore, Webster Groves, Missouri

3 words: blissful, lucky, jubilant

During a recent long weekend in St. Louis, the Dear Man and I spent one of the best days ever.

It included a kitschy antique store visit, Route 66, a fast food restaurant we checked off our list, the Daniel Boone home, another fast food restaurant we didn’t expect to see (where we ate amazing donuts), an iconic bookstore, life-changing pizza (at our 78th pizza place), and the Gateway Arch.

Making a purchase at an antique store on Route 66


Hello, Tim Hortons!

Of course we’re gonna focus on the bookstore, partly because this is a book blog but mostly because It Blew Us All Away.

I learned about the Novel Neighbor from the What Should I Read Next podcast, where Anne interviewed Holland Saltsman, bookstore owner and reader extraordinaire (and they even taped a live show there).

On one of the episodes, Holland raved about The One-in-a-Million Boy. I’ll be forever grateful for that.

And when we visited her fantastic bookstore, I fell head over heels in love with it.

I was seriously in a blissed-out daze.

This bookstore is intensely comfy and cozy, yet it’s also wide-ranging and it just keeps going. And there are delights around every corner!

Here’s what I bought (minus one gift I bought for a friend)…

I selected the book Tell the Wolves I’m Home from the “Holland’s Favorites” shelf because I trust her like that. I bought a book I’d never heard of, simply because I trust her taste. (I adore shelves of staff picks!)

Oh, my goodness, dear readers. If you’re ever in St. Louis, I sure hope you stop by the Novel Neighbor. It’ll bliss you out, too.

My fellow bookish tourists… what’s your best bookstore experience?