"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of. but do it in private
and wash your hands afterwards." --Robert Heinlein.

We've moved!

For the next two years (Summer 2014-Summer 2016) I'll be blogging our family's adventures in China at www.chinesemileposts.wordpress.com

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Ten Year Anniversary

The ten year anniversary of this blog came and went with no notice. I'd made a note in my calendar that I should do something to celebrate, but I never came up with anything. :(

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

To Read in 2016

Last year I did a reading challenge (similar to the one found here). I haven't decided if I'll do a similar challenge again this year but I did compile a list of all the books I'd like to try to tackle this year. Chances that I'll actually read them all are low, but it's something to aim for. (edited 11/21/16: x = read, / = started or currently reading) (edited 11/7/17: # = read in 2017)

xCorrupted by Lisa Scottoline
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
xAn Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear
#Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
x The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
x Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
Sherlock Holmes (The Hound of Baskervilles?) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
The Time in Between by Maria Duenas
Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
/ The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
/ Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguru
Night by Elie Wiesel
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
x See How They Run (Embassy Row #2) by Ally Carter
x The Chase (Fox and O'Hare #2) by Evanovich and Lee
x The Wedding Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke
The Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
x Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan
x Soar by Joan Bauer
x Calvin by Martine Leavitt
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Jackaby by William Ritter
#Farewell to Manzanar by James D. Houston and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith
Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
/The Mindfulness Solution by Ronald D. Siegel
/Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski
/ Couple Skills by Kim Paleg, Matthew McKay, and Patrick Fanning
x The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
x The Big Tiny by Dee Williams

Monday, January 04, 2016

Book Review: My Leaf Book by Monica Wellington

Another beautiful, colorful book by Monica Wellington.

My mom is a retired reading specialist as well as retired Kindergarten/First Grade teacher, she's also a lover of picture books, trees and fall colors, so I asked her to read this book and tell me what she thought.

My mom loved it. The pictures are bright and beautiful. The story is of a girl out on a walk collecting leaves. The book not only teaches kids about the different types of trees and how to identify them by their leaves, but it encourages kids to get out and collect their own leaves to make their own leaf book.

As you can see by the above page provided to me by the publisher, the book sort of acts as part picture book, part reference book. The right hand page above is labeled "oak" and shows examples of oak leaves and gives the different characteristics of oak leaves. 

Growing up in California, seeing trees with leaves that change colors in the fall is rare. As an adult, I've lived in different parts of the country where the leaves change colors each fall... and I love it. I've even taken notes and drawn pictures of the leaves I love so I can remember to plant that type of tree in my yard someday. This book is a cute introduction for any budding naturalist.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Books: My Top 15 in 2015

These aren't necessarily my favorite books this year, although some are. Some were just really well written, or really made me think, others stayed with me. When I look through the list of books I read this year, these are the ones that stick out.

In no particular order:

The Martian by Andy Weir*
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce*
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr*
Emma by Jane Austen
I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson*
A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
El Deafo by Cece Bell
Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
Death Coming Up the Hill by Chris Crowe
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt*
Still Alice by Lisa Genova

*contains the f-word (in some of the books, very frequently), or other questionable topics

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Read in 2015

Coming soon... my top 15 books read this year.

In 2015 I read 26,097 pages in 85 books (and short stories).

BOOK TITLE                                                                 AUTHOR

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their… Brown, Daniel James
The Night Circus Morgenstern, Erin
The One and Only Ivan Applegate, Katherine
Casino Royale Fleming, Ian
The Westing Game (second time) Raskin, Ellen
Wonder (including The Julian Chapter) Palacio, R.J.
Pretty Little Liars (#1) Shepard, Sara
Bossypants Fey, Tina
Veronica Mars #1: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line Thomas, Rob and Graham, Jennifer
We Can Work It Out Eulberg, Elizabeth
Veronica Mars #2: Mr. Kiss and Tell Thomas, Rob and Graham, Jennifer
American Born Chinese Yang, Gene Luen
Weetzie Bat (#1) Block, Francesca Lia
Brown Girl Dreaming Woodson, Jaqueline
The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse (#6.5) Bradley, Alan
Death Coming Up the Hill Crowe, Chris
Betrayed (Rosato and DiNunzio #2) Scottoline, Lisa
The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman #2) Simsion, Graeme
Dad is Fat Gaffigan, Jim
El Deafo Bell, Cece
A Snicker of Magic Lloyd, Natalie
I'll Give You the Sun Nelson, Jandy
All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) Carter, Ally
Etiquette and Espionage Carriger, Gail
Fangirl Rowell, Rainbow
Much Ado About Nothing Shakespeare, William
The Gift of Fear de Becker, Gavin
#scandal Ockler, Sarah
The Heist Evanovich, Janet & Goldberg, Lee
Just One Night Forman, Gayle
I Was Here Forman, Gayle
Bet Me Crusie, Jennifer
Red Scarf Girl Jiang, Ji-Li
People I Want to Punch in the Throat Mann, Jen
The Kissing Booth Reekles, Beth
Emma (2nd time) Austen, Jane
Pluto: A Wonder Story Palacio, R.J.
Read Bottom Up Shah, Neel and Chatham, Skye
The Cinderella Deal Crusie, Jennifer
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (#7) Bradley, Alan
Double Fudge Brownie Murder Fluke, Joanne
The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden Jonasson, Jonas
Attachments  Rowell, Rainbow
Saint Anything Dessen, Sarah
The Outsiders Hinton, S. E. 
Tell Me Bauer, Joan
Say What You Will McGovern, Cammie
The Beginning of Everything Schneider, Robyn
One Hundred Names Ahern, Cecelia
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore Sloan, Robin
All the Bright Places Niven, Jennifer
Charlie All Night Crusie, Jennifer
Fish in a Tree Hunt, Mullaly Lynda
Lost on Planet China: The strange and true story… Troost, J. Maarten
The House of the Scorpion Farmer, Nancy
Still Alice Genova, Lisa
The DUFF: (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) Keplinger, Kody
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Andrews, Jesse
Bomb: the race to build - and steal - the world's... Sheinkin, Steve
Happy Again Smith, Jennifer E.
Royal Wedding (The Princess Diaries #11) Cabot, Meg
November 2014 Ensign magazine LDS church leaders
Ungifted Korman, Gordon
Everything I Never Told You Ng, Celeste
Dept. of Speculation Offill, Jenny
The Goldfinch Tartt, Donna
The Ransom of Red Chief Henry, O. 
The Truth According to Us Barrows, Annie
Life and Death in Shanghai Cheng, Nien
Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between Smith, Jennifer E.
The Martian Weir, Andy
Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot Wrede & Stevermer
Finding Audrey Kinsella, Sophie
Mudbound Jordan, Hillary
Book of Mormon Smith Jr., Joseph, translator
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids Ockler, Sarah
Before the Fall: Arrival (#0.5 Embassy Row) Carter, Ally
Mansfield Park Austen, Jane
Winesburg, Ohio Anderson, Sherwood
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry Joyce, Rachel
All the Light We Cannot See Doerr, Anthony
Go Set a Watchman Lee, Harper
The Silver Star Walls, Jeannette
My True Love Gave to Me ed., Perkins, Stephanie
Wuthering Heights Bronte, Emily
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