Sunday, August 30, 2015

What I Read This Week: August 30, 2015

This week was intense. My grandfather was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in an incredibly beautiful and moving ceremony. We had a ton of family in town for the ceremony. Thus, I spent most of my time with them (eating a lot of food) and not reading. The Husband and I finally got our apartment back from the flooring issue and house guest (at least my brother is easy to host), but it was a loooooooong week.
  • Magazines
    • The Atlantic, September 2015 - Even with everything that was going on this week, I managed to finish this issue. It is, hands down, one of the best issues The Atlantic has ever published. The cover story about trigger warnings would have been good on it's own, but it was supplemented by great pieces on humor on college campuses and incarceration in New Orleans. Most important, however, was the letter by Ta-Nehisi Coates to his son. This letter talks about what it means to live in a black body in our society. It is devastating to read and exquisitely written. More than once I found myself on the verge of tears. There was so much I thought I knew, and this piece showed me just how little I understood. If you read only one thing this year, let it be this piece. 
  • Books
    • I'm working my way through Astonish Me. It's quite good so far and makes me miss dance more than I thought I would. I have a weird feeling that this story is going to linger with me when I'm done.
  • Other

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Friday Find: Doctor's Note

I started a new book this week, and I have a feeling it's going to impact me like this.

Image from KellyAngel.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Variations on a Theme: Washington, DC

I had a ton of family in town this week, and their visit reminded me of how pretty of a city I live in. This month's post is mainly eye-candy books about Washington, DC but here are a few non-fiction in there for good measure.

The Evolution of Washington, DC: Historical Selections From The Albert H. Small Washingtonia Collection and George Washington University
James M. Goode

The Evolution of Washington, DC is a striking volume featuring select pieces of the extraordinary collection of Washingtoniana donated by Albert H. Small to the George Washington University in 2011. It showcases treasures such as an 1860 lithograph of the equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson in front of the White House and a contemporary print of old Potomac River steamboats. Other unique pieces include early designs for the White House, the Capitol, and the Washington Monument as well as presidential portraits and Civil War memorabilia. Each object--from architectural plans and topographical maps to letters and advertisements--tells a fascinating story, and together they illustrate the history of our nation's capital and indeed our nation itself.

N is For Our Nation's Capital: A Washington DC Alphabet
Roland Smith et al.

An A-Z pictorial for children all about our nation's capital including, famous people, geography, history, and symbols. Topics are introduced with poems accompanied by expository text to provide detailed information.

Washington, DC
Jordan Worek

Founded in 1790, Washington, DC, offers some of the country's most notable architecture and significant sites. Along with its renowned buildings, monuments, gardens and museums, the national capital also features some unexpected treasures. Photographs that capture the history and beauty of the city include:
  • National monuments and memorials
  • The Capitol, the White House and the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Georgetown's historic sites and picturesque streets
  • Arlington National Cemetery
  • Parks and gardens 

  • Washington, DC: Portrait of a City
    Graphic Arts

    Washington D.C. is a unique city because it was established by the Constitution of the United States to serve as the Nation’s capital. Built on the Potomac River, the city is composed of government buildings, monuments, parks, museums, performing arts venues, embassies, and numerous office buildings as well as eight professional sporting teams, shopping districts and over 500,000 citizens who make the District of Columbia their home. The District of Columbia’s most popular attractions are pictured here from the White House, the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian’s museums to performances at The Kennedy Center and giant pandas at the National Zoo. Besides all the top tourist destinations, you will see the Declaration of Independence inside the National Archives, gaze into a handmade outrigger canoe in the National Museum of the American Indian and explore the neighborhoods of Washington, D.C.

    Washington, DC: A Photographic Portrait
    Randy Santos and Susan Diranian

    There is no city in the world quite like our nation's capital. It's a place where history meets modern day, power meets compromise, conflict meets peace. It's vibrant, peaceful, political, cultural, sensational, livable and wonderful. From the marble steps of the U.S. Capitol building and the White House to the monumental monuments and museums to the tranquil neighborhoods and parks, it's all captured in this detailed photographic portrait. Many of the city's memorials and monuments have been ranked as America's most favorite architecture by the American Institute of Architects, including the United States Capitol building, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial and the National Cathedral. Neighborhoods, such as Adams Morgan, Chinatown and Dupont Circle, exemplify the vibrancy and diversity found throughout D.C. The surrounding landscape, such as the cherry blossoms, reminds visitors and residents of the sheer beauty that abounds. Take a look at what makes Washington, D.C. so extraordinary. These stunning photographs will take you inside D.C.'s most storied buildings, institutions, memorials, monuments, and landmarks and help make clear that there really is no other place in the world like our nation's capital.

    Capital Views: Historic Photographs of Washington, DC, Alexandria and Loudoun County, Virginia, and Frederick County, Maryland
    James M. Goode

    Metropolitan areas change over the time. These changes come together and create a city's character and personality. Renowned Washington, DC, historian James Goode has assembled an incredible collection of images that look back at a Washington before it developed into the international metropolitan city it is today. The impactful historic photography exposes the elements of the DC metro area that have disappeared: the dairy farms of Loudoun County, the railroad round house in Alexandria, and model boats on the Rainbow Pool on the National Mall, as well as provide startling different views of areas and neighborhoods that still exist. The majority of these images have never been published, and under the curatorial eye of James Goode have been put together in a way that give readers a better understanding of the city Washington DC was, and the city it was to become.

    Other DC Titles
    Cherry Blossoms - Ann McClellan
    Freedom's Cap - Guy Gugliotta
    Hello Washington, DC - Martha Zschock
    The Hidden White House - Robert Klara
    The Kid's Guide to Washington, DC - Eileen Ogintz
    Very Washington DC - Diana Hollingsworth Gessler
    Washington, DC: A Pictorial Celebration - Penn Publishing
    Washington, DC Sights - MobileReference
    Washington: Portrait of a City - Steve Gottlieb

    Links and Stuff: August 27, 2015

    Sunday, August 23, 2015

    What I Read This Week: August 23, 2015

    It was quite the week. Our neighbor's apartment had a massive leak of some sort about two weeks ago. The water managed to seep into our bedroom and completely warp and buckle our parquet floor. We called the building manager about the problem and they started replacing the floor on Monday. The Husband and I had to clear out the bedroom (and a hallway closet) so that they contractors could replace quite a bit of square footage of flooring. We've essentially been living in a studio all week. The bed lived just off our living room rug and next to the dining room table. When we read before falling asleep, I use the office desk as my nightstand. It's been weird.

    Happily, the work is done and our apartment is back together. Fingers crossed the leak does not return.
    • Books
      • I finished In Search of the Perfect Loaf on Monday. Turns out I had all of 10 pages to kill off. It was a good book... and it truly did make me want to eat all the carbs I could find.
      • I also finished Truce. It's a juvenile book about the World War I Christmas truce. For some reason I thought it was supposed to be a graphic novel. It wasn't. It was not a bad book, but I still kind of wish it was a graphic novel.

    Friday, August 21, 2015

    The Friday Find: Quill

    I still take notes by hand. I don't know if that makes me an exception to most people, but there is something enjoyable about writing by hand. I think I may need to up my game by purchasing one of these feather quill pins.

    Can you imagine using this in a class? You'd be the envy of many.

    You can grab your own in the LiselleMade shop on Etsy.

    Thursday, August 20, 2015

    Book 19: Orion and the Dark

    TITLE: Orion and the Dark
    AUTHOR: Emma Yarlett
    STARTED: July 22, 2015
    FINISHED: July 22, 2015
    PAGES: 40
    GENRE: Juvenile

    FIRST SENTENCE: My name is Orion, and I guess you could say I am scared of a lot of things.

    SUMMARY: [From BN]  Orion is scared of a lot of things, but most of all he’s scared of the dark. So one night the Dark decides to take Orion on an adventure. Emma Yarlett’s second picture book combines her incredible storytelling and artwork with die-cut pages that bring the Dark to life.

    THOUGHTS: This was the second book I grabbed for the one-year-old's birthday. She'll have to grow into this one, but her older siblings can enjoy it now. I hearted this book. The artwork is fantastic and the story is adorable. Also, anything that gets kids into science/astronomy is fine by me.

    RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

    Links and Stuff: August 20, 2015

    Wednesday, August 19, 2015

    Why I Love... Kids Books

    I am 31, but I still love reading kids books. Not just Young Adult books (even though they are very awesome), but true kids books. The books meant for those 8 and under. The books with all the pretty, pretty pictures, and simple story lines.

    I don't often read kids books, but I was reminded of my love for them when I had to purchase a few for a one-year-old's birthday. I think the best way to find good kids books is to read them - cover-to-cover. So, there I sat in the aisle of Barnes and Noble, reading kids books. It was like time traveling back to the days I would read a stack of books, huddled in the corner of my grandmother's guest bedroom.

    The artwork and illustrations is these books are simply amazing. Each book has a different style, but they all hold the same allure to me. There is so much to look at beyond the main images. What details did the illustrator include? How do the pictures enhance the text? There is always something new to find, even if you're re-reading the book for the umpteenth time. It's even more fun to read these books with kids, because they always seem to notice something I missed.

    When I moved out of my parents house, I told them they could get rid of anything I left behind... except for the kids books. I am going to want those again one day. If not for my future children, then for myself.

    Monday, August 17, 2015

    Book 18: Happy Birthday, Cupcake!

    TITLE: Happy Birthday, Cupcake!
    AUTHOR: Terry Border
    STARTED: July 22, 2015
    FINISHED: July 22, 2015
    PAGES: 32
    GENRE: Juvenile

    FIRST SENTENCE: "Today's my birthday," Cupcake said, "and I want to share it with friends!"

    SUMMARY: [From BN] What's a cupcake to do when she needs to plan her birthday party? In this hilarious, kid-friendly homage to food and birthdays, Cupcake runs through tons of ideas while her best friend, Blueberry Muffin, finds reasons why they won't work: Soup gets seasick; Donut melts in the sun; someome might get squashed during musical chairs; and Cupcake is not very good at limbo (her icing might get sliced off!). Just as Cupcake is ready to crumble, Blueberry Muffin has one last idea that just might save the day.  With laugh-out-loud visual gags (like a band made up of beans—the musical fruit, of course), this book is sure to put a birthday smile on any kid's face (and on adult faces as well).

    THOUGHTS: Cute and very creative pictures! Also, might induced cravings. Bought this for a  one-year-old's birthday. I should apologize for the fact that my cause my friends' three kids to want dessert.

    RATING: 6/10 [Good]

    Sunday, August 16, 2015

    What I Read This Week: August 16, 2015

    Finally! Some nice weather. Not only did I go back to working out outside, but The Husband and I managed to eat dinner on a restaurant patio. My library's staff picnic was also perfectly timed. There was a light breeze and plentiful sun. The ideal weather for burgers and outdoor chitchat.

    I like it being warmer, but fall cannot come soon enough. There are apples to be picked and leafs to be peeped.
    • Magazines
      • HGTV Magazine, September 2015 - I very much enjoyed the vibrant colors and home tours in this issue. It was a rather festive read for my dreary commutes. 
      • Savory, August/September 2015 - Turns out that Giant offers this magazine for free with your bonus card. Who knew? Clearly I need more stuff to read... Anyway... it's basically a massive ad/catalog for Giant brand products, but it had some decent recipes and a few coupons to boot.
    • Books
      • I made much progress in my current book, In Search of the Perfect Loaf. Between reading on the elliptical and just plain reading more while watching TV re-runs, I've progressed quite a bit. I love how the author has gone beyond looking for bread itself and into history and cultural. Highly recommend so far. Grab a baguette before you start.

    Friday, August 14, 2015

    The Friday Find: Nailed It

    These are just so awesome. I have neither the skill nor the patience to attempt this kind of nail art, but man do I appreciate the outcome of the hard work.

    Found here.

    Wednesday, August 12, 2015

    Book 17: The Royal We

    TITLE: The Royal We
    AUTHOR: Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
    STARTED: July 18, 2015
    FINISHED: July 23, 2015
    PAGES: 464
    GENRE: Fiction

    FIRST SENTENCE: I don't know what to do. 

    SUMMARY: [From BN] American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it's Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain's future king. And when Bex can't resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face. Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick's sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he's fated to become. Which is how she gets into trouble. Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she's sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.

    THOUGHTS: This book is like junk food or bad TV. It's not that it's necessarily bad in and of itself (and this is definitely not bad), but it's addictive and you want way to much of it at one time. I stayed up until 3:30am two nights in a row to finish this... work be damned. The Husband was out of town for work so no one was there to remind me to go to bed. I wanted more and I wanted it now.

    There's not much that I can actually say about this book other than it is addictively written and is basically fanfiction of Kate, Pippa, William, and Harry. I LOVED every minute of it. The only reason this does not get a solid 10/10 is because, while I would totally read a sequel or spin-off, I don't see myself going back to re-read this book. But, oh man, was it fantastic while it lasted.

    RATING: 8/10

    Seen on the Metro: Storytime

    During my commute last week, I saw a rather charming sight. A mother was reading an Amelia Badelia book to her two young children. She sat in the middle of the bench seat, and each kid was curled up against her to look at the book's illustrations. Her voice was quiet, but still loud enough to be heard over the usual noise of the train's movements.

    Aside from being utterly adorable, the best part about this moment was that everyone else on the train was smiling. A few of us were even listening to the story as well.

    At the risk of being weird, I even snapped a reflection of the moment in the train window.

    Sunday, August 09, 2015

    What I Read This Week: August 9, 2015

    The republican debate(s) were this week. I watched. I won't share my thoughts, but I will say that I am excited election season is upon us. I am a bit of a political junkie so I just eat this stuff up. The Husband is a wonderful guy for he listens to my many opinions about many things.
    • Magazines
      • Washingtonian, August 2015 - This issue was all over the place, but it was pretty good. The cover story on small towns was nice. I'm from a (very) small town so I shant be moving to one of these anytime soon, but a day trip is not out of the question. One of the feature articles was bout the artistic director of the Washington Ballet, Septime Webre. He seems like and awesome guy, and his work is amazing. The best pieces in this issue were on parenting: the first was about a doctor who studies child behavior and the second was on the new rules of parenting.
      • Food Network, September 2015 - Normally I don't pull that many recipes from this magazine. They're usually too heavy
        for our tastes, but this issue had some amazing options. I only pulled two to try, but almost everything in this issue looked great. I loved the features on bar cookies, grilled cheese, and tomatoes. Outside of the recipes, there were two nice articles: one about Ted Allen's cookbook collections and another about a food network star's wedding. I'd have to give this issue two thumbs up.
    • Books
      • I'm slowly making my way through In Search of the Perfect Loaf still. It's a good book, but The Husband and I are were on a Top Gear Special kick. We watched more than we read this week.

    Friday, August 07, 2015

    The Friday Find: Color Me Happy

    I'm really into the adult coloring book trend. The Husband even bought be one and a set of colored pencils for my birthday. (He gets me.) So, when this set of coloring bookmarks popped up in my Pinterest, I might have gone a bit gaga.

    You can get them here... for FREE!

    Thursday, August 06, 2015

    Wednesday, August 05, 2015

    Why I Love... Little Free Libraries

    Any place I can grab books for free is my kind of place. That is why I absolutely love the Little Free Library system that is springing up around the world.

    The concept is simple, place a water-proof "bookshelf" on your property where it is accessible to others, fill with books, let people give and take as they please. That's it. The community gets to share books amongst itself. How could you go wrong?

    I've always wanted to live somewhere with a Little Free Library, and now I do. A neighbor placed one on their lawn a few months ago. I pass it routinely during my workouts, and I love seeing the selection of books change over. The images below were taken a few weeks apart.

    The next time I finish a book I can donate, it's going in this Little Free Library... and am taking another home with me.

    Monday, August 03, 2015

    Book 16: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

    TITLE: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
    AUTHOR: Tennessee Williams
    STARTED: July 8, 2015
    FINISHED: July 17, 2015
    PAGES: 173
    GENRE: Drama

    FIRST SENTENCE: [From the Notes for the Designer] The set is the bed-sitting-room of a plantation home in the Mississippi Delta.

    SUMMARY: [From BN] In a plantation house, a family celebrates the sixty-fifth birthday of Big Daddy, as they sentimentally dub him. The mood is somber, despite the festivities, because a number of evils poison the gaiety: greed, sins of the past and desperate, clawing hopes for the future spar with one another as the knowledge that Big Daddy is dying slowly makes the rounds. Maggie, Big Daddy's daughter-in-law, wants to give him the news that she's finally become pregnant by Big Daddy's favorite son, Brick, but Brick won't cooperate in Maggie's plans and prefers to stay in a mild alcoholic haze the entire length of his visit. Maggie has her own interests at heart in wanting to become pregnant, of course, but she also wants to make amends to Brick for an error in judgment that nearly cost her her marriage. Swarming around Maggie and Brick are their intrusive, conniving relatives, all eager to see Maggie put in her place and Brick tumbled from his position of most-beloved son. By evening's end, Maggie's ingenuity, fortitude and passion will set things right, and Brick's love for his father, never before expressed, will retrieve him from his path of destruction and return him, helplessly, to Maggie's loving arms.

    THOUGHTS: This is a play - it should not have taken me almost 2 weeks to read. I think the reason it took me so long was that I didn't much care for the story or the characters. Who knew a Pulitzer doesn't indicate immediate enjoyment? I would write a longer review, but this just didn't have any impact on me. I didn't love it, I didn't hate it. It was just there. Perhaps it's better in performance. I might give the Liz Taylor movie a spin to see if that changes my perception.

    RATING: 5/10 [Meh]

    Sunday, August 02, 2015

    What I Read This Week: August 2, 2015

    DC is heat wave central. Yuck. The AC in my office was also on the fritz this week. I endured.

    On the happy side, I hosted a "I Saw It On Pinterest" shindig yesterday. I wanted an excuse to try a bunch of things I've pinned, so I invited others to join me. I think it went well.
    • Work
      • I flipped through the digital edition of the July/August 2015 issue of American Libraries. It was the conference wrap-up, so I I mainly skimmed.
    • Magazines
      • Real Simple, August 2015 - This issue had some great summer recipes including delectable looking frozen treats. I may have to try a few of the ideas before the hot months leave us. I shall also try a few of the cleaning tips they offered. On the more serious side, the feature articles on dealing with whining (in kids and adults) and pain were very informative. I don't know why I'm also surprised when this magazine includes serious features, but they do it well.
      • Good Housekeeping, August 2015 - I mostly skimmed this issue but the opinion piece by Jennifer Weiner on how words can hurt was well done. I also liked the smorgasbord of pink stuff to buy. Lady C loves pink, so I squirreled a few gift ideas away.
      • Cooking Light, August 2015 - I love it when this magazine features great recipes with minimal ingredients. The 5 ingredient meals cover story was right up my alley. I even pulled a few to try. This issue also had a great spread on 12 fish to eat and how to do so sustainably. (I love swordfish but always feel guilty when I order it, so I do so very rarely.) There was also a short article on clean eating that included rather practical tips.
      • National Geographic, August 2015 - Love the cover image! Love the cover story! This was a fascinating piece on Pope
        Francis and the influence he's having on the Catholic church. On top of that, the article on the Jade sea was both informative and full of great pictures. Finally, I was surprised by the piece on taxidermy. I will never look at the Natural History Museum the same again.
    • Books
      • I'm just over a chapter into In Search of the Perfect Loaf. It's a great book so far (and really makes me want to eat bread), but I keep falling asleep after a few pages.
    • Other
      • Why is a Nazi ship now a training vessel in the US Coast Guard? It's a fascinating story.
      • Article Club met this week. Lady B found this great article about the changes that are happening to a family in rural China.