Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Book 12: Today Will Be Different

TITLE: Today Will Be Different
AUTHOR: Maria Semple
STARTED: May 28, 2017
FINISHED: June 11, 2017
PAGES: 272
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: Today will be different.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Eleanor knows she's a mess. But today, she will tackle the little things. She will shower and get dressed. She will have her poetry and yoga lessons after dropping off her son, Timby. She won't swear. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe. But before she can put her modest plan into action-life happens. Today, it turns out, is the day Timby has decided to fake sick to weasel his way into his mother's company. It's also the day Joe has chosen to tell his office-but not Eleanor-that he's on vacation. Just when it seems like things can't go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret.

THOUGHTS: I've held off on reviewing this book because I was still trying to decide if I actually liked it or not. Two weeks later and the best conclusion I can come to is that I like the book but I loathe the main character. The story is well written and paced, but I just could not take to the main character. Even when you're supposed to sympathize with Eleanor, I just wanted to yell at her. To me, she's self-centered, dense, and grating. If I met Eleanor in real life, she would be that person I avoid like the plague. My dislike of her overwhelms the rest of the book. The story is fine and I enjoy how the authored structured it as flashbacks set in one day of recall, but again with the character. She just drove me batty.


RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Sunday, June 25, 2017

What I Read This Week: June 25, 2017

The movers we hired to help us relocate one of our branch library collections into the main library started this week. This is the last branch library closure I will have to manage. (Huzzah!) This has been the most complicated relocation and I am so happy it looks like we will finish on time. My project management skills may have grown through all of these relocations, but I am SO SO happy that my department gets to focus on other things now.

In happier news, Lady B and I treated ourselves to facials on Tuesday. It was a wonderful mid-week treat but I always have a hard time not petting my own face afterwards.

  • Work
    • College and Research Libraries News, May 2017 - This week, I took some time to clear off all of the professional reading that has accumulated on my desk. I thought I was going to breeze through this issue, but I thought the story on engaging students with whiteboards was very relevant. We have whiteboards throughout our library, so I liked the new ideas of how we might use them.
    • College and Research Libraries News, June 2017 - This issue opened with a story about how libraries can support refugees and asylum piece. It's an important and, unfortunately, necessary piece for today. In happier news, I'm jealous of the Penn State library's 3D printing program... mainly because there was a photo of a printed t-rex skull in the article. It looked so cool!
    • American Libraries, May 2017 - The Trends story in this issue was all about inclusion. I am so glad that libraries still scream from the mountaintop "All are welcome here!" There was also a great article about adding libraries to public housing developments. I love that kind of outreach. The bulk of this issue was devoted to the annual systems report and tech trends. I love seeing all the new things that come out each year and how libraries choose to take advantage of innovation. Finally, AL did something (new to me) in this issue - they highlighted notable dissertations from library science students. That was really cool!
    • American Libraries, June 2017 - This issue was focused mainly on the ALA annual conference. (One of these days I will get to attend!) My favorite article in this issue highlighted the brave souls who desegregated the libraries in the American South. I also liked the piece of mindful librarianship.
  • Magazines
    • Washingtonian, May 2017 - This issue exemplified why I decided to subscribe to this magazine. It has fantastic local human interest stories (when flooding hit the Greenbrier resort area), it gave me ideas of things to do (Virginia wineries), and I learned a bit of DC area history that was new to me (the baseball misfits). Now I just have to read one more of these issues before I am fully caught up on my backlog. Woot!
    • National Geographic, July 2017 - I was lucky enough to read the majority of this issue in one setting. That was great because I was able to see how climate change was affecting the antarctic and then see all the beautiful pictures of what
      wildlife and ecosystems we could lose. Then, I got to read a great story about a man who risks his life to harvest psychotropic honey. That's not your average beekeeping job. Finally, there was a great story about hummingbirds which included some stunning photography.
  • Books
    • I'm nearly done reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It's a good book but this story on top of my work stress has given me very odd dreams.
  • Other

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Friday Find: Mobile

I need this Harry Potter mobile for reasons.

I can hang it over my desk.

You can find this at the LesPetitsshop on Etsy.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Why I Love... Bookish Puns

This past month at work has been rough. We are relocating our Music branch library into the main library collection. It's a lot of physical, mental, and strategic planning work and I've been the project manager on this (and all our other) library relocations.

My brain is about ready for a vacation but it can't take one just yet. Instead, I amuse myself after long days with a few wonderful bookish puns.

Puns are great because they're stupidly funny and enjoyable. They are ideal antedotes for long days when my mind needs a bit of break as well as a challenge of something different. Bookish puns are extra awesome because they speak to my literary side and help me feel smart because I am in on the joke.

Word play that is both humorous and informative is the best kind of wit.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

What I Read This Week: June 18, 2017

On Monday, the girls and I saw Wonder Woman. IT WAS AMAZING! I was quite scared that the film would not live up to the hype but it did! It did so much! Lady K and I are already talking about seeing it again. I will likely own it and watch it lots.

In reading news, I am [thisclose] to catching up on my magazine backlog.

  • Magazines
    • National Geographic, June 2017 - A cover story about why we lie... while this administration is in office... oh boy! This was a great look at the science and psychology of lying. It also says that none of us tells the truth. Not surprising. Aside from that, this issue had three other great articles: how climate change is impacting the Galapagos, the perils of being an albino in Africa, and the uncovering of an excellent dinosaur fossil.
    • Cooking Light, July 2017 - It's not fair that I don't have a grill. This whole issue was chick full of grilling recipes and they all looked amazing. At least I can partake of the picnic recipes. (Mental note - schedule next picnic) The best part of this issue was the article on non-meat proteins. The Husband and I try to eat vegetarian at least once a week. That's easy. What's not easy is getting us to try tofu. I think some of these recipes might be worth a shot.
    • HGTV, July/August 2017 - This issue was even more catalog like than usual. It was pages and pages of things that you could buy. That said, I did like the article about adding curb appeal. I also liked the fun DIY reupholstery pictures. Before and afters like that are always great.
    • Washingtonian, April 2017 - The main theme of this issue was buying a place in DC. Since The Husband and I are in the market, I ate up all the tips... just not the ads... can't afford those sky-high prices. In non-home news, there was a great guide to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. One of these days we'll spend a long weekend out there. 
  • Books
    • I finished off Today Will Be Different on Sunday night. I've had a week to mull it over and I still don't know if I like the main character or not.
    • I started reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This book has been on my mental TBR for ages. The mood to read it suddenly struck so I grabbed a copy from the public library. I find it odd that it's shelved in the kids section.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Friday Find: Notebooks

I have a "thing" for all things stationary. I love walking in to a store that sells pens, papers, cards, and all manner of journal type things. It's a little piece of paradise for me.

If I went in to a store that sold these adorable literary notebooks, it would be really hard for me to not buy one or two.

You can purchase these from Manuscript.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

What I Read This Week: June 11, 2017

I did not get much reading done this week. The first reason for that is work was cuh-razy and I came home le tired. The second reason is, last Friday, I decided to start rewatching The West Wing. I might not have completed much in the reading department but binge watching my favorite TV show has been so good for my mental health... particularly this week. #ThisTown #Comey

  • Books
    • I put a HUGE dent in Today Will Be Different. If I don't finish it tonight, I would be surprised.
  • Other
    • All things Comey hearing related. I am a DC girl after all. 
In other news, I made a new cookie recipe this week - Bourbon Chocolate Chip. I used a small cookie scoop which resulted in bite-sized pieces of awesome. You have got to try them.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Book 11: Dear Data

TITLE: Dear Data: A Friendship in 52 Weeks of Postcards
AUTHOR: Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec
STARTED: May 10, 2017
FINISHED: May 28, 2017
PAGES: 291
GENRE: Non-fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: [From the Foreward] "My experience is what I agree to attend to," William James wrote at the dawn of modern psycholog.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Equal parts mail art, data visualization, and affectionate correspondence, Dear Data celebrates "the infinitesimal, incomplete, imperfect, yet exquisitely human details of life," in the words of Maria Popova (Brain Pickings), who introduces this charming and graphically powerful book. For one year, Giorgia Lupi, an Italian living in New York, and Stefanie Posavec, an American in London, mapped the particulars of their daily lives as a series of hand-drawn postcards they exchanged via mail weekly—small portraits as full of emotion as they are data, both mundane and magical. Dear Data reproduces in pinpoint detail the full year's set of cards, front and back, providing a remarkable portrait of two artists connected by their attention to the details of their lives—including complaints, distractions, phone addictions, physical contact, and desires. These details illuminate the lives of two remarkable young women and also inspire us to map our own lives, including specific suggestions on what data to draw and how. A captivating and unique book for designers, artists, correspondents, friends, and lovers everywhere.

THOUGHTS: The authors of this book were on NPR some time ago and I really liked the idea of this project. I added the book to my TBR list and I just now got around to reading it. What I thought would be a quick, two-hour read turned into a much deeper and far more interesting book. Sure this work is mainly pictures, but if you take the time to read and try to analyze the data it becomes a much better book. You could just flip through the postcards, but it's far more interesting to the explanations the author gives for how the authors are illustrating their data collections. I also loved that each page included some additional insights the authors discovered about themselves.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

The Friday Find: Spectacles

There are a lot of stereotypes about librarians, but one of them is that we all wear glasses. Thick rimmed and cat-eye glasses seem to be the most preferred presentation of the stereotype. If you want to give in to the myth, might I suggest adding this lovely dress to your wardrobe.

Hat Tip to Lady B for finding this dress from Boden.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Links and Stuff: June 8, 2017

From Indexed

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Book 10: The Truth About Alice

TITLE: The Truth About Alice
AUTHOR: Jennifer Mathieu
STARTED: May 3, 2017
FINISHED: May 9, 2017
PAGES: 201
GENRE: Young Adult

FIRST SENTENCE: I, Elaine O'Dea, am going to tell you two definite, absolute, indisputable truths.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party. When Healy High star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons dies in a car crash, it was because he was sexting with Alice. Ask anybody. Rumor has it Alice Franklin is a slut. It's written all over the "slut stall" in the girls' bathroom: "Alice had sex in exchange for math test answers" and "Alice got an abortion last semester." After Brandon dies, the rumors start to spiral out of control. In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students tell all they "know" about Alice--and in doing so reveal their own secrets and motivations, painting a raw look at the realities of teen life. But in this novel from Jennifer Mathieu, exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there's only one person to ask: Alice herself.

THOUGHTS: I thought this book would make me cranky. Whenever it comes to reading about slut-shaming, I get angry and righteous. This book did make me cranky but only a little. Throughout the books, I mainly felt compassion and empathy for the characters and the events in their lives. I have to give kudos to Mathieu for right such a well-done book about a touchy subject.

Each chapter in this book takes a different characters' point-of-view. Throughout the story, their thoughts and opinions about various events unfold and overlap. This structure works well to show how our experiences are not always the same as others. It also helps to show how personal bias colors our views and actions. It terms of teaching teenagers to think twice before they act or spread a rumor, I have to give Mathieu an A+.

The only thing that kept me from loving this book is that it leans too heavily on stereotypes. The jock is popular, the nerd is ignored, etc. While I get that this is often the way of things, this book was too nuanced for such writing.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Why I Love... A Sudden Reading Mood

I am a total mood reader. I pick what book I'm reading based on what I am in the mood for at that very moment. When I have no specific genre craving, it makes it hard to get in to a book. That's why I love it when a mood suddenly strikes.

These events send me bolting to my bookcase, bookstore, or a library to grab a book that fulfills my sudden craving. It makes me happy and gives me a ton of reading energy. When I find that perfect book for my sudden reading mood, I've been known to plow through it in record time... usually because I neglect sleep.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Book 9: The Woman in Cabin 10

TITLE: The Woman in Cabin 10
AUTHOR: Ruth Ware
STARTED: April 29, 2017
FINISHED: May 3, 2017
PAGES: 341
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: In my dream, the girl was drifting, far, far below the crashing waves and the cries of the gulls in the cold, sunless depths of the North Sea.


THOUGHTS: I haven't read a thriller in years. Many many years. I tossed this book on to my TBR list after reading a review that piqued my interest. I am so glad I did that because this was a fun book to read. I started it at the end of readathon and stayed up past my usual stop time because I was that absorbed in to the story.

I can't review this book, plot-wise without giving stuff away. (I'm not good at being spoiler free.) But I can tell you that the characters are well-written and I love how everyone in the story interacts. Some of the motivation was a touch hard to believe but not enough for me to be taken out of the story. For some reason, this book reminded me of a stage-play in terms of how everything works together.

In terms of writing, Ware manages to give just enough detail to set the scene and create tension without overdoing it. There was not a lot of excess material to the text and I don't remember a single, unnecessary paragraph of infodumping. The story flows nicely with enough tension and slacktime to be well-paced.

While this is far from high-literature or the best book I've read, it's definitely a great summer or beach read.

RATING:7/10 [Very Good]

Sunday, June 04, 2017

What I Read This Week: June 4, 2017

One of the aspects of librarianship that I think many people overlook is how physical the job can be. We are relocating our music library branch into our main library. While I'm done heaving books and boxes about, I've moved onto the planning stage which, somehow, involves lots of squats. Lots and lots of squats. That's what I get for measuring shelves and writing down call numbers.

At least it gives me an excuse to eat ice cream.
  • Magazines
    • Real Simple, May 2017 - The cover was all about makeovers... but there was only one makeover in this issue. Hmm. Anyway. I enjoyed the useful information in the articles on delegating and medical tests, but my favorite piece in this issue was the story about how a woman remembers her father through dance. It brought a few tears to my eyes. I also saved a couple of tasty looking recipes from the food section. 
    • Real Simple, June 2017 - These issue had two major articles that I found useful. The first was on how to finally stop procrastinating and finish things that have been on your to do list for awhile. While the article lack broad tips, I did like that it gave specific examples of how to complete tasks. The second article was about how to be more mindful and healthy with your "me" time. As someone who loves to veg with a
      snack and bad TV, this piece was talking to me.
    • The Atlantic, June 2017 - This issue is well worth the time it takes to read it cover to cover. All of the feature articles and most of the small stories are just fantastic. The cover story called "My Families Slave" was eye-opening and had me in tears by the end. The story on children who are born as psychopaths was a whole new take on brain and behavioral science for me. The feature story on Richard Spencer, the alt-right leader, just made me want to punch things... but in a very understandable way. Finally, the piece on Akan Eustace and his jump for the edge of space was a great adventure story.
    • Washingtonian, March 2017 - I am so far behind in my
      backlogs of this magazine that I was ecstatic I managed to finish one issue this week. The cover story on great places to work in DC was fine, but I did like the prep piece on workplace trends. I also enjoyed the article on how to become a great D.C. United fan. The most surprising story in this issue was about Bobby Charles Thompson, a man who conned thousands for a fake charity while working under a stolen identity while claiming to be under deep cover for the CIA. Phew! Was that a mouthful to get out.
  • Books
    • I started reading Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple. I can't remember why this book ended up on my TBR list, but so far I'm glad it did. I'm not entirely in love with the main character, but I don't think I'm supposed to be. The story is good despite my misgivings.
  • Other

Friday, June 02, 2017

The Friday Find: Tumbler

Books and beverages go hand in hand. Sometimes, I even pair my library trips with a stop at a coffee shop. If you love home brew best, this is a fantastic travel tumbler in which to carry it.
You can find this in the AThingCreated Etsy shop.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Sunday, May 28, 2017

What I Read This Week: May 28, 2017

My brother made an unexpected (and quick) visit to DC this week. The weather was rainy and dreary the whole week, but the rain held off just long enough on Wednesday night to allow us to attend the Nationals baseball game. Thank you, mother nature!

Also, this three-day weekend could not have been more perfectly timed. This week was very busy and extremely tiring at work. I'm prepping our main library for the relocation of a campus library. That meant heaving about a lot of books. I am le tired.
  • Magazines
    • HGTV, June 2017 - This was the annual paint issue. I heart all the pretty colors that come out in this issue. So many lovely blues, greens, and pinks! As for articles, I enjoyed to pieces. The first was on how you can use paint to transform furniture and other decor items. That other was about how to style open shelves in your kitchen.
    • Cooking Light, June 2017 - While Cooking Light is generally all about food, the often include health related articles. In this article, there was a one page story on sunscreen. I just had my first skin check at the dermatologist so this piece was a nice reminder that I need to stock up on the right sunscreen for the summer. In other news, I loved the spread on how to eat by
      color. The recipes were fantastic and it was nice that the story broke down what nutrients can be found in each color of food. Finally, the summer cookbook recipes were just tasty looking. I saved several to try out myself.
    • Real Simple, April 2017 - This was the first issue in my attempt to make a dent in my magazine backlog. This issue, on the whole, was just okay, but there were three pieces I found to be worth reading. The first was, essentially, an infographic on the science of how we fall in love. The second was about how stretching is good for the body. That piece included a few stretches everyone should try. The third piece was the cover story on how to "sparkle" clean your home. I may be one of
      the few people who destresses by cleaning. I can't wait to put a few of the tips to the test in our apartment. My blinds definitely need a deep clean.
  • Books
    • It took me longer than expected, but I finished Dear Data. It was denser than anticipated, but that turned out to make it a really interesting read.
  • Other
    • I subscribe to a several email newsletters. They're mainly about current events and politics... so they contain not so great news as of late. On occasion, however, they link out to some gems. This week, one of The Atlantic newsletters linked to a story on the things scientists carry through airport security and the hilarity (and education) that follow. It was the best thing I read all week.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Friday Find: Hold Me

It's been a very rainy and dreary week. This weather makes me want to read all day in comfort. I think one of the best ways to do that is to snuggle deep in to some pillows with a blanket and a cup of tea. It's weeks like this that make me want a "boyfriend" or bedrest pillow like the one below.

You can buy this at Amazon.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Variations on a Theme: Coloring

I love coloring. I even hosted a girly coloring event not to long ago. Coloring is great because it's both mindless and mindful. I can zone out with my Prismacolors while watching TV or chatting with friends. I don't get to do as much coloring as I like, but when I do have a few hours to devote to this awesome hobby, I'm happy every minute.

If you love this trend as much as I do, then you'll enjoy that this month's Variations on a Theme is a collection of literary adult coloring books.

Pride and Prejudice: A Coloring Classic
Chellie Carroll

Fall in love all over again with Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in this wonderful coloring book featuring beautifully intricate patterns and details, classic quotations, and iconic scenes to color in. Includes a fascinating guide to the Victorian language of flowers and a gorgeous foiled cover.

The Official Outlander Coloring Book
Diana Gabaldon

From the lush green of the Scottish Highlands to the military red of a British soldier’s coat or the vibrant hues of a tartan kilt, the colorful world of Claire Beauchamp Randall and Jamie Fraser is now yours to explore. Featuring gorgeous natural landscapes, detailed drawings of Claire’s medicinal herbs, depictions of the books’ most beloved scenes and characters, and intricately rendered clothing, weapons, and armor straight out of eighteenth-century Scotland, these exquisite black-and-white images—from renowned illustrators Juan Alarcón, Yvonne Gilbert, Craig Phillips, Jon Proctor, Tomislav Tomić, and Rebecca Zomchek—are designed to dazzle and inspire. Fans of the series, as well as lovers of history and art, can party like it’s 1743.
Harry Potter: The Coloring Book #1

Unleash your creativity and escape to one of the most beloved series of all time. From the heraldry of the four Hogwarts houses to the extravagant wares of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, the world of Harry Potter overflows with radiant color. Filled with intricate illustrations and elaborate designs used in the making of the Harry Potter films, this book invites you to imbue the wizarding world with color in your own explorations of Hogwarts Castle, the Forbidden Forest, and much more. You will also find pages of magical creatures and iconic scenes from the films, from the Sorting Ceremony in Harry's first year, to the unforgettable final battle between Harry and Lord Voldemort, as well as some of the marvelous props used in the movies, such as The Quibbler, Quidditch World Cup posters, and the Triwizard Cup. Also includes sixteen pages of full-color art from the movies to inspire you as you draw.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Magical Characters and Places Coloring Book

Explore Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in this intricately illustrated black & white gallery of characters and scenes from the film and designs used in its making, which is officially licensed by Warner Bros. Consumer Products. From the bustling city streets and buildings of a vibrant 1926 New York, to Tina and Queenie’s apartment and the wonders of MACUSA, this book invites you to color your way through the adventure – even from inside Newt’s case! You will also find numerous props and artifacts inside, including wands, signs and symbols, and maybe even a fantastic beast.

Renia Metallinou and Bethan Fanine

Bring to life the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet in this wonderfully romantic coloring book. Beautifully detailed linework combines with iconic quotations to perfectly capture the passion and tragedy of literature's greatest pair of star-crossed lovers. Features a gorgeous foiled cover!

Odessa Begay

Dive into the macabre, mysterious world of Edgar Allan Poe’s chilling tales with popular coloring book artist Odessa Begay (Little Birds). Inspired by Poe’s beloved stories, Begay has created images that reference settings, motifs, and details that fans will recognize.

Other Coloring Books
A Christmas Carol: A Coloring Classic - Charles Dickens
Classic Coloring: Jane Austen - Abrams Noterie and Anita Rundles
Color the Classics: Anne of Green Gables - Jae-Eun Lee
Dracula: A Coloring Classic - Chellie Carroll
The Princess Bride: A Storybook of Color - Rachel Curtis
Wonderland: A Coloring Book Inspired by Alice's Adventures - Amily Shen
The World of Debbie Macomber - Debbie Macomber

Links and Stuff: May 25, 2017

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Why I Love... Taking a Break

The last (!) book on my library waiting list is currently available for me to pick-up. After I finish reading it, I plan on taking a break on reading books for a bit. Normally, I always have one (sometimes two) books going at a time. But, I'm taking a break. I have not lost my reading groove but, instead, I'm taking a break from books sometimes to deal with other things on my nightstand.

In this case, I have an epic pile of magazines I want to read. As you know from my What I Read This Week series, I subscribe to several magazine titles. Most of these I can get through the week they arrive, but some titles (namely, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and Washingtonian) I like to read cover-to-cover. The article are great but they are also long, so it's hard to concentrate on the stories unless I devote my full attention to them. The pile has been growing steadily for months and I've decided, instead of feeling like this is hanging over my while I read my books, I'm going to swap my book reading for magazine reading.

The best thing about reading books is that they will always be there. This pause is not forever and, when I pick up my next back, I can fall right back into my habits without feeling like I have something else hanging over me. 

YouTube Tuesday: Big Time Scanning

Sunday, May 21, 2017

What I Read This Week: May 21, 2017

I really need to catch up on my magazine backlog. It's been easy to keep up with the casual, picture-filled titles, but I have at least a three month backlog of Washingtonian and Real Simple. Methinks I need to focus on reading those as soon as I've finished with my library books...

  • Magazines
    • Food Network, June 2017 - The summer issues are such teases. So many things to grill and we have not an outdoor grill to have. A grill pan just isn't the same. (C'est la vie.) The bulk of this issue was summer food but I really liked the piece on lemonade stand stuff. It was just a really cute idea. The potato salads were also tasty looking. I <3 li="" nbsp="" potatoes.="">
    • Cooking Light, May 2017 - This issue was all about vegetables. That means it was right up my alley. The Husband and I try to eat vegetarian at least one day a week, and I keep adding meals to our rotation that means we eat vegetarian even more than that. Veggies are just super tasty! I saved several recipes in this issue to give a whirl in the future. I
      particularly liked the recipes in the pizza and Mexican vegetarian sections of this issue. I also loved the story of the son recounting his mother's rhubarb-apple crisp. It might have made me sniffle a bit. Finally, I thought the tips in the "how to waste less produce" article were very doable. I'm going to try to put a few to use in my life.
    • National Geographic, May 2017 - This issue's cover story focused on genius - what it is and why we call some people geniuses (white men) and not others (cause we're biased). It delved into the science which was really interesting but also explored the nurture side of things. I was also stunned by the article on the conflicts in the Central African Republic. I had
      zero clue that was happening. I thought the article on Scotland's moors was a new take on rewilding. Finally, the article on Akhetaten fed my love of all things ancient Egypt.
  • Books
    • I'm about a third of the way through Dear Data. I thought this would be a fast read since it's mainly images of postcards, but the data is dense and really interesting to dive into.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Friday Find: Rock Out!

For some reason, I really wanted to post a rocking chair this week. It took me a lot of searching before I finally found a rocking chair that screamed, "You want to read in me!"

You can find this lovely thing at Pottery Barn Kids (in other colors too!).

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Links and Stuff: May 18, 2017

From All You Need is a Wall

Sunday, May 14, 2017

What I Read This Week: May 14, 2017

My hockey team lost in Game 7. It rained a lot at the end of the week and I got soaked. Work was kind of crazy. One of my favorite coworkers is leaving. Can I hibernate for a few hours?

That said, it wasn't all bad this week. I got to try some new recipes (I even made buttermilk rolls from scratch) and they were fairly tasty. Another book I placed on hold at the library came in. The Husband and I successfully adulted with all of our errands. And... I get to call my mommy today. That's always a good thing.

It's all about balance.

  • Magazines
    • The Atlantic, May 2017 - The cover story of this issue was fine. It was an interesting read, but I thought the associated story on how smugness might have fueled trump's rise was far more important. Additionally, I thought the article on how online shopping is bringing back pricing wars might be worth exploring further. Finally, the article on how incentives are tricking people into saving money introduced me to something I had never seen before.
  • Books
    • I finished The Truth About Alice in the middle of the week. I love how fast young adult books seem to go. 
    • On Friday, my most recent library hold Dear Data came in. I'm only a few pages in, but I kind of love this book already.
  • Other
    • Buzzfeed posted a great read on what it's like to trek to the Everest base camp. The article doesn't idealize the hike, it shows the harsh (and often gross) reality of what it's like to be at altitude. This piece is not for the squeamish. 
    • It's Mother's Day, so I definitely have to recommend this NYT article on mother's before they became moms.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Book 8: 365: No Repeats

TITLE: 365: No Repeats - A Year of Deliciously Different Dinners
AUTHOR: Rachael Ray
STARTED: April 29, 2017
FINISHED: April 29, 2017
PAGES: 326
GENRE: Cookbook

FIRST SENTENCE: I don't know what my total lifetime limit is for new recipes, but 365 is definitely this cook's limit for one book.

SUMMARY: [From BN]  Even your favorite dinner can lose its appeal when it’s in constant rotation, so mix it up! With her largest collection of recipes yet, Food Network’s indefatigable cook Rachael Ray guarantees you’ll be able to put something fresh and exciting on your dinner table every night for a full year... without a single repeat! Based on the original 30-Minute Meal cooking classes that started it all, these recipes prove that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every night. Rachael offers dozens of recipes that, once mastered, can become entirely new dishes with just a few ingredient swaps. Learn how to make a Southwestern Pasta Bake and you’ll be able to make a Smoky Chipotle Chili Con Queso Mac the next time. Try your hand at Spring Chicken with Leeks and Peas and you’re all set to turn out a rib-sticking Rice and Chicken Stoup that looks and tastes like an entirely different dish. As a best-selling cookbook author and host of three top-rated Food Network shows, Rachael Ray believes that both cooking and eating should be fun. Drawing from her own favorite dishes as well as those of her family, friends, and celebrities, she covers the flavor spectrum from Asian to Italian and dozens of delicious stops in between. Best of all, these flavor-packed dishes will satisfy your every craving and renew your taste for cooking. With so many delicious entrees to choose from you’ll never have an excuse for being in a cooking rut again.

THOUGHTS: I did not like this cookbook all that much and it was mainly due to formatting. The colors used in the text were glaring. They were hard to read and just looked awkward. And the text itself, there was a lot of it. I prefer my cookbooks to have a few more pictures. Not everything needs a picture, but I need more than all the text I got.

As for the recipes themselves, if I'm being honest, they didn't really grab me. I can't tell you why. Maybe I couldn't get past the formatting, but nothing in this book jumped out and said, "Make me!"

RATING: 5/10 [meh]

The Friday Find: Traveler Bag

I've been a National Geographic subscriber for several years. I love the magazine, but I also love their shopping catalog. It's always full of things that make me want to travel the world. This week's find is one of their tote bags. It's designed for photographers, but doesn't look perfect for a library trip as well?

You can find this online at the National Geographic store.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Links and Stuff: May 11, 2017

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Why I Love... Reading as a Sports Stress Relief

Tonight, my Washington Capitals play in Game 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Husband and I have watched every game in the playoffs, but this series is the most important. The Penguins have been our second round kryptonite. They are one of our biggest rivals who always seem to find our weak spots. The Caps never seem to be able to close out playoff games even when they have dominated in puck possession and drives to the net.

Watching the Caps play is stressful enough on a normal day (they ain't the cardiac Caps for nothing) but Game 7 just makes it... well...

To cope, I tend to multitask. That way, I am only half-focusing on the game. It's an imperfect way to keep my heart-rate in check. Lately, I've been listening to podcasts during tee game to drown out the announcers. Usually, however, I turn to reading. Instead of watching the game, I will read whatever looks good at the moment - my book, a magazine, something on the web. This offers enough distraction from the game but still allows me to look up from time-to-time when something good (or bad) happens.

Reading is a great sports stress reliever because it lets me skip-out for a bit on whatever is bugging me. It's involving enough to get my mind of the game without causing me to miss all the big plays.

Book 7: Fangirl

TITLE: Fangirl
AUTHOR: Rainbow Rowell
STARTED: April 29, 2017
FINISHED: April 29, 2017
PAGES: 438
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: There was a boy in her room.

SUMMARY: [From BN] In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life-and she's really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it's what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. Cath's sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can't let go. She doesn't want to. Now that they're going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn't want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She's got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

THOUGHTS: I can't pinpoint exactly why this book makes me squee with delight, but it did. The characters were just so really that I feel like I knew them. I was with them from the start and could not wait to see where they head. That feeling went for ALL the characters - the characters in the main story, the characters in Simon Snow stories, and the characters in the Snow fic. I was with them all the way. Rowell crafted multiple worlds for this book and all of them are a success.

This book took me back to my days in college. I read a hell of a lot of fan fiction in high school and college (I even dabbled in writing a few Gilmore Girls stories myself - lord knows where those ended up on the web) so this world was immensely nostalgic for me. All the details are right and the writing is descriptive without being flowery.

There is nothing challenging or exceptional about this book. It's just a very good story with characters who feel like real people.

RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

Monday, May 08, 2017

Book 6: Bake It, Don't Fake It

TITLE: Bake It, Don't Fake It! A Pastry Chef Shares Her Secrets for Impressive (and Easy) From-Scratch Desserts
AUTHOR: Heather Bertinetti
STARTED: April 29, 2017
FINISHED: April 29, 2017
PAGES: 208
GENRE: Cookbook

FIRST SENTENCE: I think it's very rare to actually grow up to be what you always said you wanted to be when you were a kid.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Looking to impress your friends and family with decadent desserts but afraid you lack the skills to pull it off? Are you reaching for that packaged cake mix and can of frosting instead of whipping something up from scratch? Fear no longer— we’ve got the fix for you. Heather Bertinetti, a talented pastry chef with years of experience in Manhattan’s top eateries, is sharing her insider tips for how to make restaurant-worthy desserts right in your very own kitchen. Bake It, Don't Fake It! is filled with recipes perfect for the home cook, such as Bourbon- Chocolate Pecan Pie, Strawberry Daiquiri Truffles, Red Velvet Macarons, and PB&J Whoopie Pies. Once you learn the whys and why nots of baking, you’ll be able to get creative and give all of your favorite treats a special touch. As an added bonus, you’ll find Heather’s “Chef It Up!” tips throughout the book, where Heather reveals her tricks for giving homemade desserts the wow presentation factor. All of the equipment you’ll need is probably already in your kitchen and all of the ingredients are readily available in your local supermarket, so it’s time to get baking!

THOUGHTS: I should first point out that the author of this book is The Husband's cousin. Familial ties aside, this is a great cookbook. First, it does exactly what it sets out to do. The recipes are written for a novice baker so they are easy to follow and understand. Jargon is well-defined and special equipment is noted up front. Second, it includes well-formatted and helpful tips that I have not seen in a cookbook before. Third, the option to "Chef It Up" will keep experienced bakers happy and can offer a chance for new bakers to grow their skills. Fourth, this book is the perfect crash course in pastry. I love that it includes essential recipes and offers spin-offs to show you how baking works through variation and experimentation. Lastly, all of the recipes look tasty and seem achievable - even for a novice in the kitchen.

RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]