Archive for December, 2014

In With the New

December 31, 2014 @ 9:46 pm | Filed under: Holidays

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Happy 2015, my friends.

May a large number of your wishes come true.

(But not all, because it’s nice to have some wishes tucked in your pockets for later.)

The intrepid artist

December 31, 2014 @ 2:36 pm | Filed under: Art

rillaracetrack

Rilla and I have been trying to work in our sketchbooks daily. I feel brave when I tackle a subject like my stapler or a piece of fruit, and then I watch her casually sit down and commence drawing something massive and complicated with utter confidence. She is dauntless. I am inspired.

The Downton Countdown

December 31, 2014 @ 8:22 am | Filed under: Television


Season 5 trailer for those who watch previews. Personally, I’m allergic to them.

Today feels like the weekend and I keep having to remind myself it’s only Wednesday. Guess I’m a wee bit excited about the return of Downton Abbey. Yes, I’ll be recapping the episodes again. Here’s my master list of recaps from previous seasons, if you need to brush up. 🙂

(Did you catch the two “Text Santa” Downton spoof videos last week? Part 1, Part 2.)

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Reading Wrap-Ups

December 28, 2014 @ 8:52 am | Filed under: Books

Mental Multivitamin has posted her annual reading review, a post I always look forward to. In it, she mentions the 52 Books in 52 Weeks site, on which I’m a longtime lurker. I’ve never officially participated in that reading challenge but I’ve played along quietly from home. 🙂 Here’s the Mr. Linky for 2014’s participants: 52 Books in 52 Weeks: 2014 Year End Wrap Up.

I like the questions posed by 52 Weeks hostess, Robin McCormack:

How many books did you read and did you meet your own personal goal?
Most thrilling, oh my goodness, I want to read it again, unputdownable book?
Top 5 favorite stories?
Least favorite book?
New author discovery? New genre discovery?
What countries or centuries did you explore?
Share a favorite character, story, quote or cover
One book that touched you – made you laugh, cry, sing or dance.
Are you ready to do it all over again?
Do you have any goals to check out different genres or authors, read translated books or stories in another language for 2015?

I may take a stab at answering these myself, but I think I’ll wait until after the first of the year when the Cybils shortlists have been announced. Some of my answers might be too revealing. 🙂

Another kind of book report I always look forward to is Julia Sweeney’s monthly recap. (She discusses movies as well.) Here’s her most recent. Like Mental Multivitamin, Julia’s blog poses a threat to the structural integrity of my shelves. (And my wallet.)

Another book challenge I quietly participated in this year was the 20th Century Reading Project. My ongoing list is here. Green entries were read in 2013; black in 2014. I haven’t updated it in a while, having spent the past two months exclusively reading young adult realistic fiction published between Oct 15, 2013 and Oct 14, 2015. (How’s that for specific?) When I get a chance, I’ll bring the list up to date and pick a new color for 2015 entries. I plan to continue this challenge at a casual pace until I’ve read a book for every year, no matter how long it takes. I’m enjoying seeing the clusters of books, such as the three (very different) novels published in 1963 I read in 2013, quite by chance.

Bonus book report: What Charlotte’s kids got for Christmas! Her kids and mine have kindred tastes in books, so it’s always fun to see what she came up with.

If you’ve got a reading recap to share (yours or anyone’s), please leave the link in the comments. I’m a junkie for these things—and coming off the Cybils, I’m way behind on blog-reading!

Related: My 2014 booklog. (Titles only, for now. Notes to follow.)

2014 Booklog

December 27, 2014 @ 8:12 pm | Filed under: Books

Sometime in October or November, I abandoned hope of keeping my sidebar booklog up to date. By then I was deeply immersed in reading YA Fiction for the CYBIL awards. Between 10/15 and 12/26, I read a total of 78 nominees. (In yesterday’s post I said 79. Counted wrong!) Ten of those titles are listed below, but the other 68 haven’t made it into this compilation yet. Was too busy reading to fuss with links and things. Eventually I’ll get them listed here. For now, I’m pulling the January-October(ish) list into this post to serve as my master book log for 2014. Time to wipe the slate clean for 2015!

Some of the links below go to GoodReads; others are Amazon Affiliate links because I have a hundred* children to put through college. You understand.

*More or less.

This list goes backward, with most recently read titles first. If I manage anything new before the end of the year, I’ll update this post. High high high on my list is Sarah Elwell’s novel, Deep in the Far Away, which she published as a serial these past few months. I subscribed eagerly and would have loved to enjoy it in periodical-fashion but the timing coincided with the Cybils onslaught. Also enticing: the prospect of another Forster binge (I know, I know, it’s only been six months since the last one) and maybe some Patricia McKillip. Heir of Sea and Fire jumped off the shelf at me yesterday and I thought ohhhh….(I think that one’s my favorite of the Riddle Master trilogy.)

A final note! I hope to come back here and add commentary to some of the entries below, or links to posts about them. But for now I just want to move the list out of my sidebar. 🙂

Without further ado:

Books I Read (or Listened To) in 2014

117. Matilda (audio with Rilla while we draw—we’re midway through as of this post but I expect we’ll finish by New Year’s)
116. Syllabus by Lynda Barry

Kortney tweeted me about this book, which she correctly pegged as being right up my alley. She caught me at the perfect time, with birthday money from my parents burning a hole in my pocket! And ohhh was she ever right. Utterly marvelous. Inspirational. Possibly life-changing (if only because I was already itching to head in this direction, having so recently resolved to make art journaling and sketching a daily practice).

48-115 (if my math is right): 68 young adult novels to be listed later. So many good books!! (Other Cybils nominees are starred below—some read earlier in the year before they were nominated.)

 

UPDATED TO ADD: 47. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination

(I read about half of this 768-page tome in 2014 and decided that’s enough to warrant inclusion in this list, especially since it inspired numerous lecture-watching rabbit trails, including this excellent talk on George Eliot: Intellect and Consciousness by Catherine Brown of Oxford. Perhaps I’ll finish next year the tome in 2015.)

46. Story of the World Vol. 3
45. Roomies*
44. Conversion*
43. She Is Not Invisible*
42. The BFG (audio)
41. OCD Love Story
40. I’ll Give You the Sun*
39. The Boxcar Children
38. Always Emily*
37. A Mad, Wicked Folly*
36. Girls Like Us*
35. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
34. Pointe*
33. Perfectly Good White Boy*
32. The First Bad Man
31. The Fourteenth Goldfish
30. The Importance of Being Earnest
29. Maurice
28. Dear Committee Members
27. The Blue Castle
26. The Life to Come and Other Stories
25. The Longest Journey
24. A Passage to India
23. We Were Liars*
22. The Rosie Project
21. The Turn of the Screw
20. The Secret Garden
19. The Wheel on the School
18. The Tuesday Club Murders
17. The Remains of the Day
16. The Giver
15. The Blue Flower
14. The Art of Writing, Lecture 1
13. Where Angels Fear to Tread
12. Queen of England: Elizabeth
11. Howards End
10. Howards End Is on the Landing
9. A Room With a View
8. Underfoot in Show Business
7. Q’s Legacy
6. The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street
5. 84, Charing Cross Road
4. The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook
3. Gone Girl
2. Paperless Home Organization
1. The Fault in Our Stars

Merry merry

December 26, 2014 @ 5:43 pm | Filed under: Family, Photos

As of this moment, my 2014 Cybils work is done. Well, except for hauling a metric ton of books back to the library. Whew!

Since October 15th, I have read 79 young adult novels. Seventy. Nine. So now you know why this blog has been so quiet. But ahhhh, here I am, ready to settle back in and, you know, put the B in CYBILs. (Children’s and Young Adult Blogger Literary Awards.) Consider yourselves warned. 🙂

For now, though, today, the day after Christmas, I’ll content myself with a few thousand words’ worth of pictures.

christmas morningChristmas morning

birdbook20 Ways to Draw a Tree: the bird page

bongoboywatching TV with his new best friends

monopolyChristmas night: gaming like the olden days

Hope your holidays are happy and restful, friends. And filled with good books!

One of my best birthday presents

December 17, 2014 @ 7:24 pm | Filed under: Books

Our pal Chris Gugliotti posted this happy drawing of me on Facebook for my birthday. Makes me smile every time I see it!

by Chris Gugliotti

by Chris Gugliotti

Fun Gift Idea: Dress Up Bunch Club

December 16, 2014 @ 10:02 am | Filed under: Fun Learning Stuff

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Saw this on Twitter and had to share! I love Wendi Gratz’s work—her book is one of Beanie’s go-to resources—and this doll + clothes pattern club such a fun idea I wanted to pass it on.

You’re Invited to the Dress Up Bunch Club! – Shiny Happy World.

Join the club and on the 13th of every month you’ll get a brand new, never-seen before pattern!

The pattern in January will be for a new Dress Up Bunch doll (a human girl).

Every month after that for the rest of the year, the pattern will be for an outfit and some accessory (or accessories) to go with the doll. I don’t know what they’ll be yet (though I have some ideas) but at least some of them will tie in to seasons or holidays.

You’ll receive the pattern by email. You can start sewing that very day!

This isn’t an affiliate link or sponsored post, just a gift idea I thought some of you might enjoy. 🙂

December 2014, part the first

December 12, 2014 @ 5:03 pm | Filed under: Family, Family Adventures, Photos

I know, I know, I go dark for almost two weeks and then suddenly, what, four posts in one day. But if there’s anything I’ve learned in (ye gods) nine years and eleven months of blogging, it’s: if you have something to write, write it, and if you don’t, don’t sweat it. And following a related-links rabbit trail on the Huck post this morning led me through many moments I’m glad I chronicled. So here’s an entry for the memory vault.

Of course the main reason for my silence has been my pile of Cybils reading, as we’re rapidly approaching The Big Discussion right after Christmas. I gave up maintaining my sidebar and Goodreads reading logs weeks ago, but after the madness is over I’ll use my Cybils log to catch up. If you are stuck for book choices I can make suggestions, boy howdy.

(I love this committee. It’s so good for mah brain to consume a megadose of YA fiction every couple of years. And my fellow panelists are so darn smart. It’s the book club of my dreams—fierce but fleeting.)

The other occupier of my time has been a glorious stream of company. 🙂 ’Tis the season for visits from college friends. We had Kristen and her family for Thanksgiving (Krissy, did you get any good pix? Mine, not so much) and then a long-awaited, unremittingly delightful week with my friends Ron and Larry from Portland. I got to show them Balboa Park (the best part of San Diego) not once but twice: two long lovely afternoons there roaming through gardens and museums. One day with kids and one day without. Beanie and Rilla came with us to the SD Museum of Art, where the “Gauguin to Warhol” exhibit wowed us. I wasn’t surprised to be choked up by seeing a Frida Kahlo up close (Self Portrait with Monkey), but I didn’t expect the Jackson Pollock to move me the way it did. The scope of the thing, a whole massive wall of paint crammed with small stories.

Soon we’ll have my parents here, and Jane finished finals yesterday (with a paper on Prufrock, color me proud) and will be headed home in a few days. Fortunately she wasn’t planning on taking the train home today! Amtrak had to cancel the coastal train due to this crazy storm. Water, finally! More than this parched land can handle. Much worse in LA than here. We’re cozying up at home for now.

The other notable thing about our December is, of course, that it’s our biggest birthday month. So before I pour in a bunch of photos from Instagram and elsewhere these past few weeks, I’ll just leave you with this: Wonderboy is eleven now. Eleven!

paperwhites
before the rain

umbrellaboy and during

grasshopperpie
genius at work: the making of the annual grasshopper pie

stampydolls
Rilla’s Stampy Longnose paper dolls

legoskates
shockingly, this did not end in a trip to the emergency room

museumofman
Museum of Man, Balboa Park

wethree
the mischief corner

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“Roots + history,” swiped from Larry’s Instagram

birthdayboy11
impossible yet true