Bookends About Conservation

February 11, 2012 Nature, non-fiction 1

Non-Project Non-Fiction

After reading about ways to attract wildlife to the garden earlier in the week, I was ready to dive into a book about an actual conservation project – Nature’s Second Chance by Steven Apfelbaum.  In this book, Apfelbaum chronicles his thirty years working to restore the pre-farming ecosystem at Stone Prairie Farm in Wisconsin.  As the introduction points out, this isn’t a book about homesteading but does include a lot of the same elements.  In particular, the author learns about the wood on his property used for the construction of his house and lives a very green, self-sufficient life style with his family constructing some of their own furniture, using solar power, and canning many of the fruits and vegetables they grow. Read more »

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Photography Friday

February 10, 2012 Photography Friday 0

Unfortunately, this was another week when I didn’t have enough time to get out and take a new picture, but I’ve decided not to be too hard on myself as long as I’m doing something each week toward getting better at photography.  And this week, not only did I touch up the lovely photo above, I also participated in the Ames Camera Club abstract competition.  It was very informal, with no real winners selected, but the judge did pick 8 of the 30-ish pictures as good examples of abstracts, including one of mine (posted here).  Although we don’t always interact that much at camera club (when there are speakers, for example), last night was a lot of fun and everyone was really supportive of everyone else’s efforts.

I decided to work on this picture this week because I’ve had so much fun with taking abstract photos for the competition.  I think I’d like to try to keep looking for interesting shapes like this to photograph.  This particular picture is part of a wooden walkway at the top of the mountain containing the Mammoth Caves, near Hallstatt, Austria.  I had a great time visiting Europe with friends and am having fun attempting to sort through the hundreds of pictures we took too!

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A Great Wildlife-Friendly Gardening Book

February 8, 2012 Nature, non-fiction 3

This week I’ve been reading Welcoming Wildlife to the Garden and I can’t wait for warm weather so I can try some of their suggestions on my balcony!  The first thing I noticed about this book was that it had a lot more in common with A Spring Without Bees than I expected, even knowing they’re neighbors in the dewey decimal system, because this book was incredibly eco-friendly.  The authors counsel against using pesticides, suggest Integrated Pest management (using natural predators to get rid of unwanted bugs, as suggested in A Spring Without Bees), and clearly love all animals – even the creepy crawly ones.  Personally, I’ve always loved all animals and even think flies are cute when they wash their faces with their legs, kind of the way cats do.  So finding a book which seemed to see the best in all animals was like finding a kindred spirit.  They even explain how to attract snakes and spiders, which I think a lot of people really wouldn’t go for.  I was ready to draw the line when they started talking about Crocodilians, but fortunately the authors didn’t suggest attracting crocodiles and alligators to your yard!  Instead they observed that if these animals visit your backyard “that may be wildlife enough”, which made me laugh 🙂 Read more »

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A Spring Without Bees

February 7, 2012 non-fiction, Science 9

This weekend, I finally finished A Spring Without Bees.  This was definitely not a book which took a while because I wasn’t into it, but because I was busy.  Plus I had to restrain myself from stopping every few sentences to write down interesting facts about bees!  Did you know, bees travel approximately 7 million miles per gallon of honey they produce?  All I can say is that if people did that much work for a gallon of honey, it would probably be worth its weight in gold. Read more »

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Monday Musings

February 6, 2012 Monday Musings 2

After some debate, I decided to make Monday Musings a separate post from my book review, so please let me know if you love the decision or if it drives you crazy 🙂  Today’s question is: Did you do any reading in lieu of watching the football game, yesterday, or were you foregoing reading to watch the game? If you read a book (or books) what did you choose?

I’m sure if the boy had still been here, we would have watched the game together.  Unfortunately, he was on a plane home and I was reading instead of watching the game.  Also unfortunately, watching the game instead wouldn’t have been “giving up” reading, as I was reading some papers for class.  I wasn’t lying when I said things have gotten hectic here, as lab work is much more time-consuming than the computational work I’ve been doing and I started two new classes this week!  As I adjust to the new schedule, I’m hoping to work reading back in 🙂  What were you doing on superbowl sunday?  Feel free to leave your answer in the comments or at our lovely host Should Be Reading’s original blog post.

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Bookends About a Movie

February 4, 2012 Book To Movie Challenge 4

As you may have guessed from the lack of complete book reviews this week, things have gotten a little hectic here.  Mostly in a good way, as I’ve started a pretty cool cloning experiment in the lab (cloning proteins, not sheep as I informed my disappointed sister!) and gotten to visit with the boy for three whole days.  So this week I don’t have any non-project books to review, but I did get to watch Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightening Thief with the boy so I’ll be reviewing that today. Read more »

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Photography Friday

February 4, 2012 Photography Friday 6

This week I stayed a little closer to home for my photography and finally got the perfect lighting to take a picture of this interesting shadow created by my balcony rail.  The Ames Camera Club abstract photography competition is coming up next week and I think I may enter this picture as well (everyone may enter up to 3), so wish me luck!  I hope everyone is having a great weekend 🙂

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The Cheese Experiment

February 2, 2012 Uncategorized 4

First, a few brief blog updates.  For subscribes who haven’t stopped by the blog in a while, there is now a description of my rating system and a blog roll available in the side bar.  I’ve also started using Twitter for the first time after reading a post by Kelly at Call Me Bookish about why she finds tweeting worthwhile, so you can now find me there as well.  And finally, I also received a Pintrest invite from Gretchen at The Happiness Project and I would be happy to pass on the favor, so if you’d like an invitation just e-mail me at kxw116 [at] gmail.com.  Alright now… on to the cheese! Read more »

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A Preview

January 30, 2012 Monday Musings 1

This morning, I finished the last book from the Percy Jackson series, and I must say, I loved the ending!  Although I expected a twist, I wasn’t able to anticipate what actually happened, which was nice.   As Jen at The Introverted Reader pointed out, character development was a strong point of these books and it was a lot of fun to see where everyone ended up.  So, having finished the series, I would still highly recommend them 🙂

Looking forward, I’ve gotten my next few books for reading through the Dewey Decimal system from the library and I’m pretty excited about them!  I’ve also decided to participate in my first meme, Musing Mondays, where book bloggers ponder thoughtful questions from Should Be Reading, the meme’s host.  Today’s question is: How far along are you in your current read before you start thinking about what you’ll read next?  As you can see from this post, I usually know what I’m reading pretty far in advance, just because I can’t help picking up large stacks of books every time I go to the library.  Fortunately, I don’t usually bring a tote bag, so I’m limited by the number I can carry!  But I typically still pick out my next fiction series and a chunk of non-fiction on the same or similar topics to read next.  So, without further ado, the next few books in my Dewey Decimal Challenge:

638 – A Spring Without Bees – According to wikipedia, a section on “insect culture”, which at my library meant a section on bees.  Since I don’t think I’m up to the challenge of raising my own bees, I chose this environmental novel over a how-to book.  It seems a little over-dramatic but also gives an interesting view of the ways our food industry depends on bees.

639  – This section was something of a hodge-podge, with books on owning a variety of non-mammalian pets to books on conservation and home gardening.  I was tempted to get one of the books on pets, since I’ve always liked animals, but I’m pretty sure if I did I’d be tempted to get a fish, turtle, or bearded dragon – for science.  So to avoid the temptation, I instead picked up two books about environmental activists: Nature’s Second Chance: Restoring the Ecology of Stone Prairie Farm and The Eye of the Elephant: An Epic Adventure in the African Wilderness.  The subtitles summarize them pretty well 🙂  And finally, I picked up a book called Welcoming Wildlife To the Garden: Creating Backyard and Balcony Habitats for Wildlife.  Although I don’t have a backyard, the section on tips for attracting wildlife to a balcony sold me on this one.  I’m sure my cat and I would both love to watch birds and butterflies if I can make a suitable habitat on my balcony.

So here’s to a week of good reading!  Feel free to post your own thoughts on the Monday Musings question in the comments or on your own blog.

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Bookends: Percy Jackson and More Percy Jackson

January 28, 2012 Fiction 11

In what is definitely the sign of a good series, I have spent the week diving into one Percy Jackson book after another.  I’m currently in the middle of the fourth book in the series, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and am already looking for another YA series to fill the void in my life that will be left when I finish the fifth and last book!  Suggestions are welcome 🙂  Wonderfully, I haven’t noted a decline in quality of the books as the series has progressed and I’ve found the feel of the books to be mostly the same as the first one, so I won’t be doing complete reviews for each but would happily give the whole series 4 stars and highly recommend them!

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