May 30, 2015

CY365 | May Update

Are you playing along with the CY365 project? You can read more about what I'm doing here.

Here is another week of 2015 Captured.


128/365 - 050915 #TuckedIn #cy365
Brekkie is one of my fave meals of the day, and I tuck into a veggie egg scramble most mornings. #delish #foodie


130/365 - 051015 #HappyMothersDay #cy365
Wishing my #Mom and all Moms a day filled with hugs, laughter and love. #momsoftheworld


131/365 - 051215 #Foot #cy365
Picked a foot or so of #librarybooks today. #bookstagram #timetoread


132/365 - 051215 #InNature #cy365
Love that the bleeding hearts are out in the garden. #lovelies #nature


133/365 - 051315 #Tasty #cy365
Dinner tonight consisted of home made empanadas and a salad. Delighted that we have #delish leftovers. #yummy #foodie


134/365 - 051415 #Cherished #cy365
Time alone with some magazines and a soy chai tea latte. #bliss #timefortea


135/365 - 051515 #Intensity #cy365
One of my fave things about Spring is the sheer intensity and range of greens that pop up. #nature #onmywalktoday

As always, click on photos to view larger. You can also follow along with daily updates on my Instagram and Flickr accounts.

May 26, 2015

Recent Reads

55. Pink
Book blurb: Yumi moonlights as a call girl because her day job doesn't pay enough for her to feed Croc, her voracious pet. Haru, an aspiring novelist who has nothing to say, sleeps with a woman his mother's age not just for the money but to work on his "power of observation." When Yumi's step-mother turns out to be Haru's sugar mommy, it's time for - new shenanigans.

I honestly am not sure how I feel about this oh so strange Japanese graphic novel. I was intrigued to read something by the author, who is women's comics legend, and her imagination is a bizarre land indeed. The pet Croc, is indeed a crocodile for a starters! The book comes with an Ages 18+ warning in bold letters. The sex is explict, and many of the themes would certainly not be appropriate for young readers. At no time did I feel I could relate to any of these characters, or what they were going through, but there is something about this story that sucked me in. I am sure that there are things lost in translation, but this is a story that I will think about for a while to come. Rating: 3 stars.

56. The World of PostSecret

I always have fun reading these collections of postcards mailed in to the author. Each postcard shares a secret. Some I could totally relate to, others not so much. I did not love this one as much as the earlier collections. What I enjoy about these books is the window into the sheer variety and commonality of humanity on the planet. And that makes me happy. Rating: 3 stars.

57. Shovel Ready

I was drawn to this book by the premise: Spademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, and before the city became a bombed-out shell of its former self. Now he's a hitman. In a New York City split between those who are wealthy enough to "tap into" a sophisticated virtual reality for months at a time and those left to fend for themselves in the ravaged streets, Spademan chose the streets.

I really enjoyed this gritty, dark, violent, often funny sci-fi noir novel. I listened to the audiobook wonderfully narrated by Arthur Morey, whose gravelly voice was pitch perfect for this story. There's a hitman, or four, there's a damsel-in-distress, there are theological musings, and a critique of people who spend all their time in a virtual reality. A fast paced thriller with nuggets like this one: You'll leave a trail of trash on this Earth that will far exceed anything of worth you leave behind. For every ounce of heirloom, you leave a ton of landfill.
It will not be for everyone, but if you like this kind of story, I'd highly recommend this one on audio. Rating: 4 stars. 

May 23, 2015

CY365 | May Update

Are you playing along with the CY365 project? You can read more about what I'm doing here.

Here is another week of 2015 Captured.



122/365 - 050215 #IndependentBookstoreDay #cy365
So many books. So little time. #bookstagram #northshirebookstore #Manchester #vermont #booktopiavt #selfie


123/365 - 050315 - #Surrounded #cy365
There are few things more fun than being surrounded by bookish friends in a bookstore. #booktopiavt #bookstagram #northshirebookstore #Manchester #vermont


124/365 - 050415 #Pause #cy365
Spring has finally sprung! Paused several times on my walk to admire the blooms. #nature #flowers


125/365 - 050515 #WhereIStand #cy365
It is prom season, and I was at #TheOtherWomanTavern looking down at incredibly self-conscious high school seniors at #ThePerfectWifeRestaurant. #OhTheyAreSoYoung #Manchester #vermont


126/365 - 050615 #SpringCelebration #cy365
We had a yummy Sukiyaki dinner at home tonight to celebrate warmer days. #foodie


127/365 - 050715 #ThursdayCrossword #cy365
So love the #latimes daily #crossword #puzzle. Thursday is when it starts to hurt my brain. #shortyz


128/365 - 050815 #MoveAround #cy365
Am delighted to have the clothes migration done. Winter stuff stored away, summer stuff out. Just looking at flip flops makes me happy.

As always, click on photos to view larger. You can also follow along with daily updates on my Instagram and Flickr accounts.

May 21, 2015

Cinemascope: Brain Games (Season 1)

Cinemascope is a regular blog post where I will share with you movies and TV shows I think are worth watching.



Released in 2011.

Plot line: National Geographic's groundbreaking three-part series provides a fascinating window into the inner workings of the brain as never before. Through interactive experiments and tricks, Brain Games reveals how our brains create the illusion of a seamless reality. As these revealing experiments provide a unique view into our brains, the world's leading experts explain how and why these tests work. Brain Games explores cutting-edge science to examine real people with extraordinary brains, revealing new discoveries about attention, sensory perception and memory.

This one simply blew me away. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

You can see the Season 1 episodes for free online. If you have yet to see it, this is TV worth watching.

May 19, 2015

CY365 | April Done | May Update

Are you playing along with the CY365 project? You can read more about what I'm doing here.

Here is another week of 2015 Captured.



116/365 - 042615 #TheRightLight #cy365
In the right light this is a very stylish motorbike accessory. I see it every morning outside my gym. I want to meet the owner. Who wouldn't? #harleydavidson #skull #bones


117/365 - 042715 #Highlight #cy365
The highlight of my day was a fun evening at Rialto in#harvardsquare with two of my fave women. Oh, and it was $1 oyster night. I hesitate to disclose how many went down the hatch. #delish #foodie #rialtocambridge #dollaroysters


118/365 - 042815 #Hanging #cy365
I love the #harvardnaturalhistorymuseum and could hours exploring their collections. #harvardsquare #birds #naturalhistory


119/365 - 042915 #MovieNight #cy365
How is it possible that the two recent space movies (#Gravity being the other one) are so dang boring? #Interstellar had an interesting premise, but poor execution. #movies


129/365 - 043025 #Inside #cy365
The inside of a #nautilus #shell is one of the wonders of #nature. #naturalbeauty #naturalhistory #harvardnaturalhistorymuseum


121/365 - 050115 #HappyMayDay #cy365
Spending time with friends from near and far at #booktopiaVT is a wonderful way to start the month. #Manchester #vermont #readers #bookstagram

As always, click on photos to view larger. You can also follow along with daily updates on my Instagram and Flickr accounts.

May 18, 2015

Recent Reads

52. Lord of the Silver Bow (Troy #1)
I tend to love stories set in my fave trifecta: Sparta, Athens, and Troy. When I was in Troy a couple of years ago, I stood on the hallowed ground once tread by Hektor, Achilles, and Helen (don't throw your lemons at my mythology people!), and got goosebumps. So, how on earth is it that I've never heard of this author before now? This is the first book in the Troy Trilogy, and I devoured the almost 500 pages in one day. Nothing much else got done that day, and I've made my peace with that. 

Helikaon, Argurios, and Andromache are some of the wonderfully developed characters that people this story filled with the "ageless drama of brave deeds and fierce battles, of honor and treachery, of love won and lost".

Most of us know the basics of the Trojan Wars, and what I loved about this book is that it starts before the famous battle, and breathes new life into a well worn story. We get the lay of the land, its peoples, and the politics that clearly foreshadow the wars to come. This is not beautiful literary writing, but I was transported to the Great Green, could feel the wind and waves on my face, could hear the clash of swords, and smell the spilled blood. 

I loved every moment of this book, and plan to read the next two in the series pronto. Rating: 5 stars.


53. The Unforgettable Photograph: How to Take Great Pictures of the People and Things You Love
This is a different kind of photography book. It is not bogged down with technical information, and pages and pages of boring text. It is full of photographs. The kind you would love to have in your albums. This book is about inspiring you to take better photos, ones with emotion, ones that mean something to you. Each photo comes with a tip or two about something to try. A fun and inspiring read. Rating: 4 stars.

54. Men Explain Things to Me
"Violence doesn't have a race, a class, a religion, or a nationality, but it does have a gender."

This is a good collection of essays from a feminist and activist, and I really appreciated many of the the thought provoking topics she explored. However as with any collection, I loved some and found others not as good. Still, I would recommend this essay collection, as even in the ones I liked least, there are some wonderful nuggets to mull over. Rating: 5 stars.

May 16, 2015

CY365 | April Update

Are you playing along with the CY365 project? You can read more about what I'm doing here.

Here is another week of 2015 Captured.



109/365 - 041915 #Rhythm #cy365
My #bookclub meets once a month all year long. Today we had a fun afternoon discussing Sandrine's Case by Thomas H. Cook.


110/365 - 042015 #Words #cy365
I was thrilled to see these words show up on my feed yesterday.


111/365 - 042115 #MovieNight #cy365
Scallop tacos and this movie on the menu tonight. War is hell for everyone concerned. This is an interesting, yet disturbing World War 2 #movie.


112/365 - 042215 #HandsFull #cy365
Am looking forward to bushels of zukes this year. Unlike last year. When we had loads of flowers, but no zukes. There was a lively debate as to whether we had gay plants. #thatshowweroll #garden #zucchinilove


113/365 - 042315 #NewEnglandAquarium #cy365
School vacation week for my nephews. Spent a fun afternoon at the aquarium and #fanueilhall. #Boston


114/365 - 042415 #SideBySide #cy365
My sister and nephews at the #NewEnglandAquarium.#fishes #Boston


115/365 - 042515 #FrameFilled #cy365
A visit to the #NewEnglandAquarium is almost as good as a snorkeling trip. #Boston #nofilter

As always, click on photos to view larger. You can also follow along with daily updates on my Instagram and Flickr accounts.

May 14, 2015

Cinemascope: Monsieur Lazhar

Cinemascope is a regular blog post where I will share with you movies and TV shows I think are worth watching.


Released in 2011.

Plot line: At a MontrĂ©al public grade school, an Algerian immigrant is hired to replace a popular teacher who committed suicide in her classroom. While helping his students deal with their grief, his own recent loss is revealed.

We often unaware of what people around us are struggling with, and would be quite surprised to find out I'd wager. I have a soft spot for the teacher-in-classroom genre of movies, and was delighted with this one.

You can see the movie trailer here. If you have yet to see it, this is a movie worth watching.

May 12, 2015

CY365 | April Update

Are you playing along with the CY365 project? You can read more about what I'm doing here.

Here is another week of 2015 Captured.



102/365 - 041215 #Color #cy365
The hammock is up on the porch. Can you tell I am so ready for warmer days?


103/365 - 041315 #Nachos #cy365
For some reason I've been craving nachos for the past several days. Loaded mine up with veggies. #delish #foodie


104/365 - 041415 #Blue #cy365
Nylon pants means warmer days. Thrilled to start packing away winter gear.


105/365 - 041515 #Reward #cy365
April 15 is tax day here in the USA, so it is always nice to have a little reward after getting it all done. #nature #flowers #lovelies


106/365 - 041615 #NaturallyBright #cy365


107/365 - 041715 #Pizza #cy365
Friday night is homemade pizza night. Add an episode of Game of Thrones and bring on the weekend. #delish


108/365 - 041815 #Batch #cy365
The creative chef made a batch of stuffed mushroom caps for our bookclub brunch tomorrow. Half veggie and half for the carnivores. Sampled them and they are #delish. #foodie

As always, click on photos to view larger. You can also follow along with daily updates on my Instagram and Flickr accounts.

May 11, 2015

Recent Reads

48. Picture This: The Near-sighted Monkey Book
The author ponders how we are all artists as kids, and why we stop drawing as we get older - something we all experience. In this book she has little activities to help adults make a mark, color, and play again. I'm a huge fan of the author and her work, and while this book is filled with her signature funky art, it was too disjointed for my tastes. Rating: 2 stars.

The relationship between mothers and daughters is one that has been complicated since we first started walking upright as a species I'll bet. There is something about the mother-daughter bond that pulls and pushes at us, binds and embraces us, and one we often reject at the very core of our being when we are young. Most of us are horrified when we first hear something our mother would say come out of our mouth, but as we get older, we make our peace with that. 

This memoir is a coming of age story of the author as a 20-something finding her way in the world. I really liked the start and end of this book, where we learn more about the author's relationship with her mother, but the middle dragged on and on. The thing about ordinary life is that it is really only wonderful to the person living it, and often does not make for a thrilling read for the rest of us. I listened to the audiobook, which was read by the author, and though I quite like her, the voice did not work for me. It is interesting to note that I enjoyed her memoir about her father (the glitter) much more - probably because it was way less complicated a relationship than the one she had with her mother (the glue).

I've heard many women say that they didn't really appreciate their mothers until they had kids. I guess that means I might never appreciate my own Mother as much as I could, but in the meanwhile I try to enjoy every moment we do have together. Rating: 2 stars.

Some of these author essays/talks are better than others. Moving it to my Did Not Finish pile for now, as I'm not compelled to keep reading. Rating: 2 stars.

If you have little ones in your home and have not checked out the Scaredy Squirrel series, get thee to a library. We read these with my nephews when they were younger, and the books sparked much laughter and conversation about what scared this squirrel and how he dealt with his fear, with lots of re-enactment of the "play dead" option. I recently found one we had not read together, and while it is not as good as the earlier ones, it was still fun to read. Rating: 3 stars.

May 7, 2015

Cinemascope: Nightcrawler

Cinemascope is a regular blog post where I will share with you movies and TV shows I think are worth watching.


Released in 2014.

Plot line: When Lou Bloom, a driven man desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story. Aiding him in his effort is Nina, a TV-news veteran.

Holy smokes, but this is a really good and really disturbing movie. If it bleeds, it leads. This movie asks interesting moral questions about how we capture and tell the news, and while often uncomfortable to watch, it is riveting nonetheless. The story captures well some of the reasons I do not watch TV news.  is brilliant in the role of a psychopath with a camera.

You can see the movie trailer here. If you have yet to see it, this is a movie worth watching.

May 5, 2015

Are you a quitter?

“If you're 50 years old or younger, give every book about 50 pages before you decide to commit yourself to reading it, or give it up.

If you're over 50, which is when time gets shorter, subtract your age from 100 - the result is the number of pages you should read before deciding whether or not to quit. If you're 100 or over you get to judge the book by its cover, despite the dangers in doing so.” 
― Nancy Pearl

This just made me laugh. I've been a person who finished every book I started (same used to go for movies). Why? Maybe all those years of Catholic school. Maybe because somewhere I got the message that if I was going to start something I had to finish it. See it through. No matter what. Not doing so made one a quitter. And there were not much worse things you could be, except maybe a serial killer.

This all started to change a couple of years ago, when I realized that there was no parent/teacher/nun standing by with a red pen and ruler just waiting for me to quit. I am not the target audience for all books, and certainly all books are not masterpieces, so what was the holdup? I tentatively started not finishing a book. I created a Did Not Finish category on my Goodreads page to keep track of them, and for those interested, I've logged 38 DNFs since 2010. I've lost the guilt and given myself permission to quit. I still read too many "bad" (by which I mean not for me) books through to the end, but I've gotten better. I often give a book 50 or 100 pages to see if I'll commit, and I was quite proud of myself the other day when I quit a book 12 pages in. 12 pages! I've come a long way baby.

Life really is too short for bad books. Are you a quitter too?

May 4, 2015

Recent Reads

44. Dawn (Xenogenesis #1)
This was my book club selection for the month, and is the first book I have read by this highly acclaimed author. Well people, color me not impressed.

The premise of this first book in the Xenogenesis trilogy is promising - humans have destroyed themselves and the planet, and an alien species rescues the surviving humans. See what I mean? So many fun possibilities here, but I was bored with the story. The writing is rather juvenile, the characters one dimensional, and the sheer number of times the word tentacles was used is mind boggling. I gave this book an additional star only because I did quite like some of of the ideas in the book, though unfortunately none of them were fully developed.

A side note - since I was reading the Omnibus edition at 3 am one sleepless night, I also read about 50 pages of book 2 in the trilogy. Not much improvement in the writing or story telling, so I've quit the series. I know there are so many fans of this work, but I am not one of them. Someday I might try another of her books to see if I can understand what all the accolades are about. Rating: 2 stars.

45. Americus
Middle School is tough enough when you are a book nerd with only one friend. Things take a turn for the worse when said best friend is shipped off to reform school just at that critical time when you enter High School. And if that weren't enough to make life in your piddly town of Americus suck, there are now a bunch of fanatics trying to ban your favorite book series from the library. 

There is much to like about this graphic novel targeted at a young adult audience, and I'd recommend it for readers of all ages who love reading and librarians. Rating: 3 stars.

I've had such fun dipping in and out of this book the past couple of weeks. It is chock-full of inspiration, ideas, and tips for people interested in sketching - with an emphasis on sketching outdoors. The chapters are themed by location with examples of sketchbook pages and materials used. I'd recommend it to anyone who keeps a sketchbook or wants to start doing so. Rating: 4 stars.

In this graphic memoir, the author (about to turn 22), and her mother (about to turn 50) rent an apartment in Paris for 6 weeks. This book is a visual journal of that trip - drawings, text, and photos - the places they visited, the things they bought, and the food they ate. My complaint with the author's earlier work still holds true for this one - she skims the surface of her experiences. There is no deeper reflection or insight, and I think she sells herself short by holding back from diving deeper. While the art is cute and fun, and I enjoyed a trip down memory lane of my own trips to Paris, I was overall bored with the we-did-this, we-ate-that, then-we-did-this narrative of this book. This is one of the earlier works by the author, and I'm glad that her newer work is more to my taste. Rating: 2 stars.

May 3, 2015

Derby Day

Yesterday the 141th running of the Kentucky Derby, and Derby Day calls for Man-O-Wars. Had to teach two local bartenders in Manchester, Vermont how to make them. Neither place had basil (don't get me started), so we made do with mint. Delish. P.S. Way to go American Pharoah!  Cheers.