Photography Friday

February 17, 2012 Photography Friday 4

You know it’s been a busy week when you’re spending your Friday night taking pictures of your shower curtain because that’s really just all the excitement you can handle.  Well, that and the fact that this is the first chance I’ve had all week to even think about pictures.  Another busy week in the lab, the sort of week which has caused the boy to start telling his family that I’m doing “mad scientist stuff” and possibly “making zombie e. coli” (the second part, at least, is provably untrue, while the first part is… subjective).  Anyway, back to the shower curtain.  A while back, I took a picture of my shower curtain as part of my first few fumbling attempts at abstracts for the Ames Camera Club competition.  But the lighting was all wrong, so today I decided to move my own lighting in.  Unfortunately, it seems like there may be one interesting way to take a picture of a shower curtain and I just couldn’t find it again tonight.

Fortunately, I also have an awesome picture of my cat Maggie to share or I might feel pretty sad about my picture selection this week!  She thought I was paying way too much attention to the shower curtain and wanted to play, so I decided to try to take pictures of her while playing with her. Easier said than done! First, she would grab the yarn and sit up and look fierce – until the moment I got my camera oriented for a portrait shot, when she would roll on her back and look adorable and very horizontal.  She also did her absolute best to look at the string (and therefore the camera) for the minimum amount of time possible while still holding the string.  I swear, she was laughing on the inside.  In fact, the one non-motion blurred face shot I managed to get is the one you see here, and I’m pretty sure she’s singularly unimpressed with my picture taking speed.  If she could talk, I think she’d tell me that if I was trying to catch mice, I would be utterly hopeless 🙂


Monday Musings and More Contests

February 13, 2012 Monday Musings 2

Hello all!  It’s time for this weeks Monday musing, and this week the question posed by Should Be Reading is: What is your favorite romantic book –or book that includes a love story?

My first thought when I read the question was “Romances?  I don’t read romances!” but that thought was quickly followed by the realization that there are definitely books I’ve ended up loving for the romance.  I haven’t read a book where the romance really jumped out at me in a while, but mentally browsing books I’ve read in the past one book really stood out to me.  It’s been a while, so I wish I had this book on hand to remind myself why it left such an impression on me, but I vividly remember loving The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause.  I think I might even have cried.  Although I don’t remember all the details, I do remember this being a very moving book and might have to re-read it now.

In addition to answering the Monday Musing question, I’d also like to announce a few more challenges I found for 2012 (I’m a little slow, I know!) which fit particularly well with the reading I’ve been enjoying this year.  Reading through the Dewey Decimal system has made me really want to expand the sorts of books I read.  At first, I’d just wander through the non-fiction section and want to read everything, but now it’s gotten to where I wander the whole library feeling that way!  So, to indulge my desire to sample new genres, I will be participating in the Around the Stack in How Many Ways Challenge at the Palin-esque level, which means I’ll be trying to read books from 20+ genres.  For this to be possible, you’ll notice that the host Dog Ear Discus has defined genres pretty narrowly. I will also be completing the similar Eclectic Reader Challenge hosted by Book’d Out.

And last but not least, I will be starting the Book To Movie Challenge hosted by Para Junkee, because I enjoyed reading and than watching Percy Jackson so much.  I think it will be  a lot of fun to see how well (or not) different books are made into movies.  Feel free to join me!


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 »


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!


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 »


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 »


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.


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 »


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 🙂


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]  Alright now… on to the cheese! Read more »