Hello my lovely readers!
After the busyness of May, I was incredibly grateful to have a whole week off in the month of June! My bf only had half the week off, so at the start of the week I spring cleaned (umm….in June), made my favorite pie (strawberry-rhubarb), and got ready for our camping trip at the races. My bf’s hobby is racing motorcycles, and when he goes to the track, he camps there. Since I had the time off, I was able to go with him. I’m not able to go every time, unfortunately. I was so excited to get to be there! I love getting to see him race! It’s so exciting, and I love that his hobby is so unique and requires such a complex skill set, from actually riding to maintaining the bike. I also love camping and camping at the track is a wonderful different kind of camping. The excitement of being at the track and hanging out with the racers and their families and pit crews around the campfire at night is so much fun. My dad bought us a grill, so I was finally able to cook most of our foods at the track. I took to pinterest and discovered lots of fun things you can grill. I made us grilled tofu tacos, grilled quesadillas, breakfast of course, and, our favorite, zucchini parmesan. I loved getting to spend so much time on one of my hobbies while supporting my boyfriend’s.
With my vacation in there, I’m pleased with how many book reviews I managed to write this month (eight). I had dubbed June the month of reading ARCs, and I managed to get through four of them this month, taking my total number of TBR ARCs down to 16. I finished designing a new cross-stitch pattern, but I have yet to post it since it is a present, and the recipient has yet to receive it! This month I’ll be working on my first commission. I’m excited to show it to you guys when I’m finished.
Hello my lovely readers! You may have noticed the blog was a bit quieter than usual this month. That’s because I had my annual conference for work, and I extended my Memorial Day three day weekend into a five day one. The month was so incredibly full of both good and stressful busyness, I’m kind of amazed I managed to blog at all!
Every year for work I attend the Medical Library Association’s annual conference. This year the conference was in Chicago. I’d never been to Chicago before, and I made sure to make the most of my limited free-time to see the city! I walked through Millennium Park and got a selfie in the bean, went to American Girl Place on the Magnificent Mile (and bought a mini version of the Native American doll, Kaya), and went to Navy Pier. I also checked out the Chicago History Museum and got to see items that were melted in the Chicago Fire, such as marbles. I walked through Lincoln Park and went to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum where I got to hang out in a butterfly conservatory room. None landed on me, but I got some great pictures! My partner’s sister and her husband live in Chicago, so I went and had dinner with them at a Chicago style hot dog restaurant that actually had vegetarian hot dogs. Score! They also took me to see Lake Michigan, and I was blown away by how soft the sand is and how the lake is so large it looks like the ocean. I guess they don’t call them the Great Lakes for nothing! I know that sounds like a lot to squeeze into the amount of time I wasn’t at the conference, but I am the queen of getting a lot of sightseeing done in a short amount of time. I pre-plan, using Pinterest and its great maps feature, and plot out routes and timing so I can get everything in. Plus, in museums, I only check out the exhibits of greatest interest to me.
Of course, the main reason I was in Chicago was for work. I attended the conference, listening to many excellent plenary speakers, as well as presentations by various librarians and library students on their projects and papers, and networked with vendors at the opening event. This year I was an official blogger for the poster sessions. You can see my blog posts here. Our library director also took us all out for Chicago style deep dish pizza. While I enjoyed the deep dish pizza, it was a lot like lasagna without the pasta, I can’t imagine eating it more than a few times in my lifetime. I still prefer the thin crust brick oven or thick crust New England styles! When I got back to Boston, I taught a library skills class and presented a poster at an education event on my work’s campus. After all of that work, I took my five day Memorial Day weekend!
The reason I took the long weekend was because my bf and I wanted very much to attend Boston Calling, Boston’s live music festival. My favorite band, The Decemberists, and his favorite band, Built to Spill, were both playing, as was the band that sings our song, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. The festival was Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday. It’s held in the center of Boston, at Government Center, on two stages. The architecture there is very brutalist, and the entry to the festival had signs up denoting male and female. We figured out later the signs were just telling you if the person doing the wanding was a man or a woman, it wasn’t intended to split up the crowd along gender lines, but the whole thing felt quite dystopian when we arrived and lent the concert a pretty damn cool vibe. I had such an incredibly wonderful time at the festival, I can barely put it into words. Hearing Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros sing our song live was stellar. I had seen The Decemberists once before, but not as up close as I got at this concert. It was raining when they came out, which, if you know their music, gave the performance such a perfect atmosphere. They sang both old and new songs, and it was just amazing. I also really enjoyed watching my partner’s favorite band, Built to Spill. They have amazing guitar skills, and their fans are of the cool head bob variety, so it was the perfectly chill performance for the sunny, relaxing day. When we weren’t at the concert, we went a long motorcycle ride and grilled for the first time this season. It was a great vacation!
Just because I’ve been busy doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading. I finished seven books this month, three more than usual, but only managed to review two of them so far. Definitely be prepared for an onslaught of reviews in the next couple of weeks!
I was also too busy for stitching most of the month. I would have stitched on my trip to Chicago, but fellow cross-stitchers and embroiderers stated that, even though the rules don’t say you can’t have a sewing needle, a lot of the times they get confiscated. I didn’t want to risk it. Once my vacation was over, I picked it back up again. I’m working on the second item for the Foraging New England line, and it is almost done!
The giveaway winner of one ebook copy of The Second Lives of Honest Men by John R. Cameron, courtesy of John R. Cameron himself is…….
Comment #1 Tristan Cox AND Comment #2 Amanda Ramsay McNeill!
John generously offered to supply a copy to both entrants! Yay!
Tristan and Amanda, your emails as entered in the comment form have been provided to John who will send along the ebook to you.
Thanks for entering!
Hello my lovely readers!
April was such a busy month, I can actually hardly believe it’s over already! It’s always a busy month for me at work, as I help organize and run an annual event on-campus. In addition this month, we also welcomed a new program to our campus, so the library was very busy putting in the groundwork for supporting students studying that new subject area. I also submitted my first-ever poster abstract. So busy! On top of this, the weekend of my work event was the same weekend as the first motorcycle race weekend of the season for my partner. He was incredibly busy prepping for the races. Instead of just the normal getting everything running again after the long winter, he also was prepping a new (to him) race bike to be track ready. Since I couldn’t go with him for the first race weekend, I wanted to send along something nice, so I made him a pie and cookies for carb-loading at the track. I honestly found the baking to be stress-relieving and really enjoyed it. I’m happy to report both the work event and the first race weekend went well!
In spite of the busyness, we were able to squeeze in quite a few hangouts with friends and dates for ourselves. One of our dates was to hike a local trail on Easter Sunday. It was gorgeous weather in a month of a lot of iffy weather. I always find it so refreshing to get outside and in the woods, and even more so with my boyfriend. We saw lots of jack-in-the-pulpits and also got a great view of Boston.
My stitching slowed down a bit this month, although I did release the first design in a new line–rhubarb in foraging New England. The rest of the patterns for the line are designed but they still need to be trial-stitched! I hope to release at least one of them this month.
I read and reviewed four books this month, sticking to my overall goal of one book a week. I’ll be happy if I manage to stick to that during my upcoming even busier month of May! In my own writing, I’m still working away whenever I have the time on my new book idea, writing background short stories. The typewriter my bf got me for Christmas is coming in really handy, freeing me of distractions.
Hello my lovely readers!
It’s my pleasure to be able to wish you all a happy spring! I am so excited for the lighter days and warmer weather, although we definitely are still having a few cold ones here and there. My partner and I celebrated Ostara (spring equinox) with an after-work walk on the Charles River, a special dinner, and presents of course. We were surprised to spot three swans on the Charles during our walk. It’s not common to see swans on the Charles, so it was a nice surprise. Plus, they let us get very close to them! For Ostara dinner, we made deviled eggs, salad with pickled turnips and homemade honey mustard dressing, and homemade handcut fries. I had a pina colada with it, and my partner had hard cider. Delicious!
Even though we’ve been together for over a year and a half, my partner and I had never been to a concert together. We finally changed that this month when we went to see The Dum Dum Girls live. They’re a band my bf is a fan of, so I hadn’t listened to them prior to the night. They put on a great show, though. Kind of surfer/rocker chick style music. Plus their outfits were really fun. I left the concert wanting one of their albums, which I think marks it a success on their part. We had a blast going to a concert together, and I’m pumped to go to more!
I posted six book reviews this month and read five books. I unfortunately got a bit bogged down in a stroke of bad luck of three mediocre reads in a row, so I didn’t end up with time to read a Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge book or an accepted review copy 2014 book this month. I plan to make up for it next month so I can stay on track!
I’ve been dialing back in my fitness along with the gradually lengthening days. I’m doing more yoga and calisthenics, and aiming to lift heavy once a week. Hopefully next month I can ramp it all up a bit more.
I hope you all are enjoying your springs! Happy reading!
I’m sure most of you are aware of the intense cold snap that hit the United States this month, and Boston was certainly no exception. There were a few nights where, even with our heat cranked all the way up, it still wasn’t exactly what you’d call warm inside our apartment. The few times it did warm up, we got snow. In fact, the month rolled in with quite the blizzard. I got to get some exercise in shoveling out our steps and portion of the sidewalk, not to mention my boyfriend’s car (obviously, this was a joint venture). With it being so cold and me having a 30 minute walk as part of my evening commute home from work, I’ve had to get creative in how I bundle up. My dad had bought me some fleece-lined tights, and those have become my base layer. So cozy! Like wearing your jammies under your work clothes (but looks professional). However, when I tried to get more, I couldn’t find any for less than $20 plus shipping, so I’m stuck washing them a lot. Thankfully, today was our first warm day in weeks (43 degrees F!!) Yayyyy
Since it’s been so cold, and also since my dad gave us a Kitchen Aid for Christmas, I’ve been doing a lot more baking. Basically anything that will let me run our oven for justifiable reasons, since that heats up our studio apartment. I’d been struggling with getting my bread to come out right, so when we visited my dad back at Thanksgiving, he went over the process with me and caught two errors. First, I wasn’t letting the yeast grow enough before adding the flour (I’m an impatient person), and second, I wasn’t kneading it long enough. Well, the second problem was easily addressed with the Kitchen Aid. The first was addressed by setting a timer with a set amount of time to wait before adding the flour. My first loaf done with these tweaks and the Kitchen Aid came out perfect! I was very excited. Another recipe I finally perfected this month was vegetarian Thai red curry. I read a tip that combining soy sauce with seaweed replicates the flavor of fish sauce better. I also started using full fat instead of low fat coconut milk. It came out much more authentic.
Coming up on the blog this month, I’m hoping to read another one of my 2014 review copies and offer up another giveaway (enter the one currently running if you haven’t had the chance yet). I’m also hoping to read another book for the MIA Reading Challenge. I’m glad I already got one read for the challenge and enjoyed it! I’m also hoping to make an announcement this month of another project I’m working on, but I need to finish up some behind-the-scenes work first.
Total books read: 54
Average books read per month: 4.5
Month most read: May with 7 (No idea what gave me so much momentum in May)
Month least read: November with 2 (A long cold and the holidays)
Longest book read: The Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey with 538 pages
Fiction: 45 (83%)
Nonfiction: 9 (17%)
Series: 28 (52%) (This went up by 11%. You can tell I found a couple of series I really like.)
Standalone: 26 (48%)
–traditional print: 13 (24%)
–ebook: 27 (50%)
–graphic novel: 0 (0%) (I’m in shock that I somehow didn’t read a single graphic novel this year!)
–audiobook: 14 (26%)
–scifi: 20 (Winner the fifth year in a row. It’s clear what my favorite genre is.)
–YA: 7 (I dislike most YA, but when I find a well-done one, I read everything by the author I can find.)
–historic fiction: 6
–urban fantasy: 6
–short story collection: 4
–Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge: 3 (I really should at least get to the lowest level of the challenge that I run! Wish I’d completed one more book for this.)
–nonfiction history: 3 (As someone with a History BA, it surprises me not at all that this is my most read nonfiction.)
–nonfiction cookbook: 2
–nonfiction lifestyle: 2
–paranormal romance: 2
–African lit: 1
–Chinese lit: 1
–Cthulhu mythos: 1
–nonfiction environmentalism: 1
–nonfiction fitness: 1
–nonfiction memoir: 1
–nonfiction relationships: 1
–nonfiction social justice: 1
Aliens vs. Demons vs. Vampires vs. Zombies
–demons: 7 (Demons just barely beat aliens, who definitely got the extra attention I said I thought they deserved last year).
Number of stars:
–5 star reads: 9 (17%)
–4 star reads: 26 (48%)
–3 star reads: 16 (30%)
–2 star reads: 3 (5%)
–1 star reads: 0 (0%)
Glancing at my stats, I can see that I definitely achieved my main goal for 2013. I read more books I like and stopped forcing myself to read books I don’t enjoy. My percent of 5 star reads went up by 3%, and my number of 1 or 2 star reads went down by a whopping 11%. I’m really glad to have refocused myself on the joy of reading, instead of treating it as a responsibility.
Overall, my stats make me happy. There is still a variety for the well-roundedness I wanted to hold onto, but there is also a clear focus on the types of books I enjoy. The one thing that took me aback was my complete lack graphic novels. I can’t stop reading the new format I discovered just a few years ago! I also would like to see a bit more nonfiction and at least a couple more reads that count toward the Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge. I do run it after all.
Beyond those two minor goals, I mostly just want to continue seeking out books that truly appeal to me, reading at a comfortable rate as one of many hobbies, and continue to expand my horizons a bit with a healthy sprinkling of variety.
Happy 2014, everyone! Any suggestions for my 2014 reading goals?
Hello my lovely readers, and a happy 2014 to all!
Everyone’s always busy around the holidays, and I certainly was no exception. I cross-stitched six presents and made homemade fudge for a bunch of folks as well, in addition to everything else that comes with this time of year. My partner got us a lovely tree that we got to decorate with both of our ornaments for the first time. We had an early Christmas together, because the week of Christmas, we went out to Michigan to see his family. The drive from Boston to Michigan took us 13 hours, and the drive back took about 12. We had a lovely vacation with his family, and I was made to feel 100% welcome and part of the family. It was truly a lovely Christmas.
I’d never been to the midwest, so while we were out there, my bf made sure I got to do a bit of sightseeing. My favorite excursion was to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. Henry Ford invented the assembly line, in addition to starting to the famous Ford car company. The museum featured displays of cars through time, the history of racing, the history of airplanes, the history of trains, and the history of manufacturing in America. It also had a display on the history of Civil Rights in the US, as well as a display showing key items from the different decades of the 20th century. The museum also has the Dymaxion House. A model house made in the 1960s as a fully automated house of the future. Only two were ever made. In addition to all of these, there was also a special display of Presidential limousines, including the one JFK was shot in. There was so much amazing US history. We spent five hours in the museum and still didn’t see it all.
We got back to Boston and spent some time just relaxing at home, and then we got ready for New Year’s. We decided to go out to see the First Night activities and the early fireworks. Boston has one set of fireworks at 7 and the other at midnight to allow for folks who want to be inside earlier to still see a display. First Night featured a lot of interactive art this year in the Common, as well as a parade, ice skating performances, and the typical ice sculptures. The fireworks display was actually better than the 4th of July ones I’ve seen the last couple of years. Then we went home and had a quiet dinner in just the two of us. I’d spent the day making gnocchi from scratch, plus homemade sauce and cheesey garlic bread. I loved the combination of seeing the festivities and getting to celebrate inside in the warmth just the two of us.
Coming up on the blog this month, I’ve got three books from 2013 that I still need to write reviews for. I’ll also be announcing what 12 review copy submissions I decided to accept for 2014, and I’ll be doing my reading stats 2013 post, as well as a round-up of the best reads of 2013. I also have five more cross-stitches to show off to you guys. It should be a busy month here.
Hello my lovely readers!
Sorry for the delay in November’s post. I was away for the last week of November on vacation, and I knew it would be the best part of the month to talk about, so I didn’t want to preschedule a post. :-)
My partner and I both had the last week of November off. He usually gets the entire week off for the holiday, and I took an extra three days off on top of the normal Thanksgiving days (day of and day after Thanksgiving). We split our vacation between a trip to Portland, Maine and a trip to vacation to see my dad and brother and his wife and kids.
For those of you who are not from the US and don’t know, November in Maine is *cold*. It’s officially the off-season. This meant we got to go on the cheap but it also meant it was cold We’re both from northern climates though (Vermont and Michigan), so we dealt well. Portland, Maine is a happening, hip small city. It holds 1/3 of the entire population of Maine. We stayed on an island off the coast of Portland, which meant we had to take the ferry in and out of the city each day. Originally our intention was to rent bicycles and bike around the island one day, but it was too cold one of the days and there was snow the other (and the bike rental place didn’t have snow-friendly bikes), so we went into Portland both days. The cabin we stayed in had a hot tub, fire place, and one of those showers that takes up the entire bathroom. So we got to hot tub in the snow, which was an entirely new experience to me, and I clearly loved!
While in Portland, we went to the International Cryptozoology Museum, which is a delightful museum run by the world expert on Bigfoot. I’m more of a sea monster girl myself, but we still got our picture with Bigfoot. We also hit up the Shipyard Brewing Company and got lots of free samples and got to see the bottling and brewing process. I was surprised to learn that Shipyard was started by an immigrant to the US from the UK. We also went to an official Cabot store. Cabot is an American cooperative of New York and New England dairy farms. They have amazing dairy products.
For food, we visited the original Otto Pizza. The pizza at the original branch is approximately 100% more delicious than the pizza at the new branches down here in Boston. They also had Magic Hat on tap, which floored me! We also did something special for each of our dietary preferences (I’m veg and my partner is omni). We went to Duck Fat for my partner to get poutine made in duck fat. I couldn’t eat anything at the restaurant because literally everything was friend in duck fat, but I did have a delicious locally brewed beer. For me, we went to the Green Elephant, a vegetarian Thai restaurant that was positively reviewed in VegNews magazine. Their bathrooms were literal saunas, and I for once got to have satay for an app! (Made from seitan). But our favorite place in Portland was an Irish pub named Ri Ra on the waterfront. Their menu catered perfectly to both of our dietary needs, with a house-made white bean veggie burger for me and a perfectly cooked medium burger for my partner. We liked them so much we went twice. (The second night I had mac and cheese made with Irish cheddar and my bf had Maine steamers). Incredibly reasonably priced with fireplaces and a wonderful staff, I wish it was closer to us!
After Maine, we drove up to New Hampshire to visit my family for Thanksgiving. The day of Thanksgiving was just my dad, his dog, and my partner and I, since my brother and sister-in-law were hosting her parents for the holiday. My bf made the turkey (under the direction of my dad), my dad made veggie stuffing and gravy, and I made 3 bean chili (for my main course and their sides). We had untraditional alcoholic smoothies for dessert. It was delicious! The next day, we visited my brother and his family and gave my nephews and niece their Christmas presents. They range in age from 2 to 6, so that was obviously a delight.
The vacation was amazing and just what we needed! And when we got back, we immediately got our tree and set it up, because in only three weeks we’re off on a cross-country trek to visit my partner’s family for the holidays.
Happy holidays all!