somewhat bookish.

Life List #40. Do the 365 day photo project. September 12, 2014

Filed under: Life List — cransell @ 12:18 pm
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Long before I had a life list, I’ve wanted to do a 365 Photo Project. One day last summer, I just decided to start. It actually took me slightly longer than a year, because I occasionally missed a day, but I just kept on trucking. It’s fun to have these reminders of the past year. It’s going to be weird not to be taking a daily picture – but maybe it will help me have a little more distance from my phone as well!

Some of my favorites from the project are below. You can see the full project on Flickr.

Spinning with Grammie #365photoproject #day38Day 38. September 30, 2013.


Sharing her animal crackers with Mommy #365photoproject #day73
Day 73. November 7, 2013.

Thanksgiving is for friends. #365photoproject #day91
Day 91. November 29, 2013.

Elephant! Christmas has begun. #365photoproject #day114
Day 114. December 25, 2014.

Sunday #365photoproject #day125
Day 125. January 5, 2014.

Snow day! #365photoproject #day159
Day 159. February 13, 2014.

Pedicure. #365photoproject #day178 #goodday
Day 178. March 5, 2014.

At the playground with Pop Pop and Grandma #365photoproject #day221
Day 221. April 19, 2014.

Mother's Day at the zoo. #365photoproject #day243
Day 243. May 11, 2014.

Computing like Mommy. #365photoproject #day254
Day 254. May 22, 2014.

Sibling and significant other dinner! #365photoproject #day262
Day 262. May 30, 2014.

Happy Thursday everyone. #365photoproject #day281
Day 281. June 19, 2014.

Friday night at the spray park. #365photoproject #day303 #nofilter
Day 303. July 11, 2014

Water lilies in Rock Creek Cemetery. #nofilter #365photoproject #day319 #loveDC

Day 319. July 27, 2014.

"Say cheese,  little baby" #365photoproject #day336
Day 336. August 13, 2014.

Watch out, DC! There's a dinosaur on the loose. #365photoproject #day359
Day 359. September 6, 2014.


What I Read: August 2014 September 11, 2014

Filed under: Random Reading — cransell @ 1:05 pm

I read 9 books in August, and didn’t hate a one. 2 were non-fiction, the rest fiction. 5 were eBooks, 3 were print books, 1 was an audiobook!

Leaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear (2013).
In the latest book in the Maisie Dobbs series, Maisie investigates the murder of Usha Pramal, an Indian woman who had been living in England for a number of years, working as a nanny and house cleaner. In her personal life, Maisie continues to struggle with what it might mean to marry her companion, James Compton, and with her desire to travel independently.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (2014).
I loved this book so much. It involves books and reading and a baby left in a bookstore. It involves grief and love and family and finding community. It deals with sad (and happy) things, but is not dark. And it reads so fast. HIGHLY recommend.

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper (2009).
This was interesting addition, because I didn’t really read it, I listened to it as an audiobook on my phone. I still prefer print (paper or digital), but it was pretty amusing to be reading a book while walking around, or playing Candy Crush on metro. The story is about the royal family of Montmaray, a fictional island kingdom somewhere between France and Spain, on the eve of World War II. It had lots of elements that I liked, but I kept getting distracted by the fact that the narrator of the audiobook was middle aged and the narrator of the book (which is written as a diary) was a teenager. DCPL only has the sequel in print, but we shall see if I like the sequel better when the voice in my head is a teenager…

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier (2013).
I really enjoyed this book – historical fiction about a British Quaker who moves to Ohio in the time before the Civil War and her involvement with the Underground Railroad. Chevalier does historical fiction quite well – I also loved Girl with a Pearl Earring when I read it years ago.

Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich (2014).
The latest Stephanie Plum mystery. I couldn’t even tell you what happened in this one, just that I read them all when they come out and they provide me 24 hours of comfort reading. This is my literary popcorn.

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit (2014).

My Family and Other Hazards by June Melby (2014).
I got this book through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program, and thoroughly enjoyed it. A memoir of the summers of the author’s childhood, it tells of her family’s adventures running a miniature golf course on a lake in Wisconsin, with a little miniature golf history thrown in for good measure.

Summer State of Mind by Jen Calonita (2014).
Another Early Reviewer book, this was a fun, quick summer read. I literally read it in a day, can’t remember the last time that happened! Nothing too surprising in the plot – spoiled, little rich girl gets sent to sleep away camp to get a reality check. She learns life lessons, and falls for a cute guy, etc. But perfect for the beach!

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson (2000).
YA historical fiction – which looks at the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia. Really interesting and enjoyable, and totally different than the only other book I’ve read by Halse Anderson (Speak) which was a contemporary story about rape. I picked this up as a Kindle Daily Deal and it was a good one!


Men Explain Things to Me August 25, 2014

Filed under: Random Reading,Uncategorized — cransell @ 1:40 pm
Tags: ,

This #fridayreads inspired by @lizfaw. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit. #365photoproject #day344


Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me is a slim volume, just 7 essays comprising 130 pages, but it gave me a lot to think about. Although the book is decidedly feminist, the essays are not, for the most part, about the stereotypical feminist issues. Although I could certainly relate to the titular essay (in which Solnit writes about a time that a distinguished older gentleman spent a great deal of time telling her about a book on Muybridge that she really must read (although he clearly hadn’t), which turned out to be one she had written), the essays that resonated with me most were about activism and uncertainty and the space to think. About how activism is important and has an effect, even if it’s not the one we expected. Solnit spent several years protesting at a nuclear site in the U.S. The protests were unsuccessful, in that they didn’t achieve the goal of shutting the site down, but that protest inspired a protest in Kazakhstan that did manage to shut down a Soviet nuclear site. This week especially, as we all sit here with what has happened in Ferguson, with the knowledge that it is just one killing of an unarmed black man, in a long history of the killing of black men, that was good to read. That activism is important and worthwhile even if you can’t see the end point, that to stand up for beliefs is vital and beneficial, even if the benefit is not what you expect. Sort of the butterfly effect of activism, which is something I hadn’t considered. I tended to think, up to this point, that you protest and speak out and it’s futile and futile and futile, until the moment things changes. And that you keep doing things, because you are waiting for that moment. But maybe the earlier protests weren’t futile at all. Maybe we just didn’t see the way they built the broader web of justice. Such a hopeful thing to think.

“Woolf’s Darkness: Embracing the Inexplicable” was probably my favorite essay in the collection. It certainly made me want to read more by Woolf. The essay praises uncertainty, celebrates the unknown, reminds you that there a truths that you can only see sideways. Or that you glimpse for a second, and then they vanish, never to be seen again. Or perhaps they pop up again at some point in the future, in the words of an author or the image of artist that has managed to capture something so TRUE that it stops you in your tracks. As a librarian (and as a person – let’s be clear, my profession didn’t come from nowhere), I classify. I organize and arrange and make things fit. I write lists. But there are so many things that are amorphous. Hard to describe, hard to pin down. This essay reminded me to celebrate those. To give myself space to think, or more importantly to not think. To not fill up my time and my space and my brain and my life so much that there isn’t room for the unknown, for ruminating, for mysteries. It was a good essay. You should read it.

H/T to Liz for encouraging me to pick this book up!


Totally Two: August August 20, 2014

Filed under: Motherhood — cransell @ 12:58 pm

what a treat!

Vital Statistics: You are now 24.2 pounds! Good job, chowing down and beefing up, kiddo.

What’s New: Your Mommy has a new job! I know that’s not really NEW with YOU, but it does affect you – your daycare schedule has changed to 8-6 (from 7:30-5:30). No longer are you the FIRST kid at daycare every morning.

mmm tomato

Toddler Skills: Eating. Well, I don’t know that this has improved to the level of a SKILL, but we have been really working on getting enough calories in you this past month and you have been doing a great job. And you love your “Dr. Corder Milk.”

"Say cheese,  little baby" #365photoproject #day336

Moments to Remember:

Sometime in the past month, your Mommy pointed out the Capitol Building to you. Now every time you see an imposing white building or one with a dome (including church cupolas), you say “Look! It’s the Cap-di-dol.”

You are working on third person pronouns, but so far you have one – HER. She, he, it, his, her, it’s, HER is currently the word for all of those. This lead to the following amusing (to me) exchange when we read this book last week. F: “What’s her name?” M: “President Taft” F: “Oh!” (Knowingly) “… is stuck in the bath”.

We all watched Annie a few weekends ago for family movie night. You are obsessed and always was to sing Annie songs. You refer to the song “Dumb Dog” as “Mean Dog”. And you are fond of asking us: “What’s Annie’s dog’s name?” If we ask you, you answer confidently: “Sammy!(A note from your Mama: since I first wrote this, you have started saying “Sandy”, but I still love the weeks of “Sammy”, so I am memorializing them here.)

One day, while looking through photo albums (a favorite activity of yours), you saw some old pictures of your Mommy with a guitar (she used to be in a band, you know. Total rockstar). You decided you wanted one too, so a lovely, Minnie Mouse guitar was ordered and you have enjoyed playing it these past few weeks. You do a great rendition of Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

You are very sweet with your loveys. You are sleeping with two these days – LaLa of course, and also Minnie Mouse, who you loved as a baby. At bedtime you often cradle them in your arms and sing them lullabies. Especially “Stay Awake” from Mary Poppins.

this? this is my spray park

Likes: Christmas stories. They are often the choice at bedtime these days. Being two. I’m happy to report that after real peak in the occurrence of tantrums they have calmed down as the month went on. You still have them, but they aren’t constant, like they were for a two week stretch there. You still like spray parks and playgrounds. Plums. Reading. Dr. Corder. Annie. You are always singing the songs from Annie. Exercising.

Dislikes: You went through a few weeks of extreme toothbrushing aversion (teething?), but luckily that has passed. You also really hated putting on your shoes for a while there, but then we bought you new, bigger shoes and we don’t have that problem any more. Guess they just weren’t comfortable, oops. You have some general dissatisfaction with life occasionally, but nothing is particularly bugging you these days.


Adventures: Your Grammie came to visit this past weekend and did all sorts of great stuff with you. SO MUCH FUN.


What I Read: July August 13, 2014

Filed under: Random Reading — cransell @ 9:06 pm

I read 8 books in July, all fiction. 6 were on the Kindle, 2 were in print.

Bertie Plays the Blues by Alexander McCall Smith (2013).
The next book in the fun, light 44 Scotland Street series. 7-year-old Bertie’s struggles with his mother continue. Domenica and Angus are engaged. Matthew and Elspeth are now the parents of triplets! Life, in other words.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (2011).
It feels a little bit like sacrilege to admit it, but this is the first book I’ve read by Rainbow Rowell. I really liked it, one of my favorites of a month of reading. Lincoln gets a job of “Internet security officer” at a Nebraska newspaper. In practical terms, this means reading emails by the paper’s employees that get flagged for “inappropriate” content. He comes to know and like two friends through their email exchanges, which they don’t know he is reading. A fun twist on an epistolary novel and a really quick read.

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante (2011).
This had been on my To Read list for a while and I picked up when it was a Kindle Daily Deal. It’s a mystery that circles around the murder of a retired schoolteacher. Suspected is the teacher’s best friend a world-class surgeon with Alzheimer’s. I didn’t love it but it was solid. Not sad to have spent $1.99 on it.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt (2011).
The Sisters Brothers was on a lot of Best lists when it was first published in 2011. I am not really much of a Westerns reader, but it got enough good press that I thought it was worth checking out when it too was a Kindle Daily Deal. Eli and Charlie Sisters are professional killers working in the Western territories in 1851. Given that, I should have been prepared for how violent the book was, but I really wasn’t. Reviews call it darkly comic, but I didn’t enjoy the humor. It’s definitely well written, accolades well deserved, just not really my cup of tea. I’d recommend True Grit if you want to try a Western, but they aren’t your usual genre.

Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich (2013).
Oh Stephanie Plum. You are always there for me when I want a super quick, amusing read. If life is feeling hard, well, at least I am not a fairly-inept bounty hunter in Trenton!

The Little Lady Agency by Hester Browne (2006).
I picked this up because it was recommended by Everyday Reading and the premise sounded amusing. If I haven’t made this clear yet, I am definitely focused on quick, easy, amusing reads this summer! After getting laid off, Melissa starts her own agency helping socially inept men with the social graces. There is a love interest of course. It’s sweet and fluffy and fun. First in a series.

The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham (2014).
A thoroughly enjoyed Children’s fantasy novel about the Village Drowning, ruled by an evil earl and threatened by the terrifying Bog Noblins. Will the banished secret society, the Luck Uglies save them? The book reminded me of novels by Tamora Pierce. Definitely a keeper.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (2009).
This book made me like Thomas Cromwell. I didn’t really have an opinion about him before, didn’t know anything about him other than he was a non-royal ruler of England, and that that fact wasn’t without, um, conflict. The events Wolf Hall predate that – you see him as very much self-made man, smart, sympathetic, and very, very competent. Not sure if it’s a fair portrayal, but it does make for a very good read.


What I Read: June July 31, 2014

Filed under: Random Reading — cransell @ 12:18 pm

A very late update! I read 3 books in June. One was fiction, two were non-fiction. All were in print!

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. I picked this up based on recommendations for a “don’t want to put it down, read it in 24 hours” book. It took me slightly longer than 24 hours (have I mentioned I have a toddler), but not much, and I found it totally enjoyable. Clay Jannon is laid off from his web design job, and ends up working as a clerk at a 24 hour bookstore in San Francisco, which is a front for a delightfully nerdy secret society.

Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett. I read this for the #betterinrealifereadinglist, and you can read my (and others) others thoughts over there if you are curious. In brief, this is a memoir by the writer Ann Patchett of her friendship with the author Lucy Grealy. I found it really lovely.

This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women, edited by Jay Allison. If you’ve heard the NPR series, This I Believe, then you know what this is about: short essays by folks from all walks of life about their core beliefs. I especially enjoyed the fact that this book mixed essays from the original series in the 1950s with essays from the current series.


Life List #32. Make homemade ice cream. July 24, 2014

Filed under: Life List — cransell @ 12:58 pm

I have long desired an ice cream maker. I started saving ice cream recipes to a Pinterest board over a year ago for the day when I could make all those yummy treats myself. Then, at the beginning of the month I just decided: THE TIME HAD COME. I tweeted:



My thought was that I would add it to my Wish List, and maybe someone would get it for me for my birthday. BUT THEN, my fairy godmother (aka my friend Marcella) replied and offered me her ice cream maker, which was just taking up room in her closet. AMAZING.

Last week, I made my first batch of homemade ice cream. I picked peach, because our CSA had yummy ones just begging to be used.

Here’s how it went:

Chop up peaches, mix with sugar, let sit for 2 hours, so they get nice and juicy:


Always do what Ben & Jerry tell you:


Mix, mix, mix:


Transfer to freezer container and freeze solid:


Consume (bonus point for cute ice cream model):


It’s super tasty! It was super fun! And now we have tons of peach ice cream in our freezer, because I am actually counting calories at the moment. Wah. Wah. STILL! Two thumbs up for homemade ice cream. Just got the Jeni’s Ice Cream book out of the library and can’t wait to make more!



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