Monthly Archives: July 2011

Blueberry picking

Second annual trip to Ward’s Berry Farm. (See last year’s post here.)

Not quite ready…

Just right.

I’d love to say that I made some fantastic concoction with them, and I did use some in smoothies, but mostly, I just ate them fresh by the handful. And they were delicious.

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New site launch!

My former roommate and I just started a new blog together, Things I Put In My Container Today. (It’s exactly what it sounds like.) Check it out!

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Mutant Zucchini

This is the zucchini we got from our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share this week. I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to harvest them before they get to be the size of a newborn baby.

Seriously – it might not have weighed as much as a healthy newborn, but it was definitely as long/tall as one. Thing was the size of my arm (as you can see). We roasted it with some (normal-sized) summer squash and baked it into a lasagna, which nicely filled up an 9 x 13 baking dish.

What I’ve been reading: The Song Is You, Arthur Phillips
What I’ve been listening to: The Best of Elvis Costello and All This Useless Beauty, Elvis Costello; Exile on Main Street and Tattoo You, The Rolling Stones

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What do I read next?

“What do I read next?” is a conversation I have a lot. Here’s a post copied from my other site, which is mostly library-related:

For my summer class, I’ve been working on designing an evaluation of readers’ advisory services at a public library. “Readers’ advisory” is the library-speak term for suggesting books that people will like, either directly (through a conversation or “readers’ advisory interview”) or indirectly (e.g., displays).

I’ve been doing this for family and friends for years without realizing it was a “service” – we just called it talking about books. But it is definitely something that people expect from libraries (and from bookstores), and of course now there are online tools as well, from Amazon’s “If you like this, you might also like…” feature to social networking sites like Goodreads and LibraryThing to the subscription-based NoveList.

Whichbook is a site I learned about recently, and it’s unique in a number of ways. First, it’s incredibly browsable – I got pulled in right away. I don’t think any online experience can really replicate the experience of wandering around in a bookstore or library, but this comes closer than anything else I’ve found.

You can manipulate a number of factors (see below) to get results, and you can also look through lists (“weird and wonderful,” “bad luck and trouble,” “a terrible beauty”), or search by author.

Whichbook’s About page explains that all of the books are fiction or poetry, written in or translated to English, and published within the last ten years. They focus on “books people won’t find for themselves,” not bestsellers, and have a wide range.

The site is British, and once you’ve found a book that interests you, there are links to borrow from a library or buy through Amazon. If you’re not in the UK, there’s a link to WorldCat, so you can find a copy of the book in a library near you. I’ve played with the variables a lot, and the results are promising: a few books that I’ve already read and enjoyed came up, as well as a number of titles I hadn’t heard of before but that looked good. Try it out!

What I’m reading: The Lantern, Deborah Lawrenson
What I’m listening to: Long Gone Before Daylight, The Cardigans

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Just Watch the Fireworks

Where has July gone? Here are the (belated) fireworks photos from New Hampshire.

Fireworks are a big thing in New Hampshire. Unlike California, they aren’t so paranoid about fires (with reason – in New Hampshire, it rains in the summer. Not so in California), and they are also really into personal freedom (“Live free or die,” and all that). This was a community event, but we also saw some pretty spectacular privately-funded fireworks.

The above photos are from July 2, by the way. Why save it for the 4th?

And here’s July 3.

Shiny objects in the sky, what’s not to like?

What I’ve been reading: Wide Awake, David Levithan; Little Brother, Cory Doctorow; American Nerd, Benjamin Nugent; The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, Chris Van Allsburg
What I’ve been listening to: Let’s Face It, Medium Rare, and Question the Answers, Mighty Mighty Bosstones; Turn the Radio Off, Reel Big Fish; Voodoo Lounge, Rolling Stones; Volume 1, Traveling Wilburys; Empire Records soundtrack

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We interrupt this broadcast…

There are still more New Orleans photos to come (and now New Hampshire photos as well – I’ve got a backlog), but I am interrupting the New Orleans streak to confirm that peach cobbler is still out-of-this-world amazing and you should make it.

I will caution you that there is a step in the recipe – the first step – where you peel the peaches, take out the pits, slice them (the peaches, not the pits, good luck with trying to slice peach pits, not that you would), and toss them in a bowl with 1/4 cup of sugar. The peaches sit in the sugar for 30 minutes, and you’re supposed to toss them repeatedly. If you use your hands for this you will get sugar and peach juice all over your hands. And it is the most delicious thing ever. So if you manage to get past this step of the recipe and not just eat a bowlful of sugary peaches, congratulations, you have an admirable amount of willpower.

I managed to summon the requisite amount of willpower myself, and went on to make the biscuity topping and bake it all in the oven and even let it cool. (Feel free to express your amazement here.)

This is not a photo of the cobbler. These are birthday pies from last weekend. One of them had peaches in it, and it inspired me to make the cobbler again. Good decisions!

What I’m reading: Little Brother, Cory Doctorow
What I’m listening to: Keep It Together, Guster

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Restaurants and Bookstores

When I travel, I am most interested in food and in independent bookstores. I will happily visit museums, architectural wonders, castles, etc., but left to my own devices: food and bookstores.

Crescent City Brewhouse.

The Librarie Bookshop. I found a list of bookstores at NewOrleansOnline and marked them on a map I printed out.

This note was pinned up at the end of a bookshelf inside the Librarie: “A novel by definition is fiction. There is no such thing as a nonfiction novel. -Marvin Oster Berry, Oxford – 1863.” Refreshing to see for anyone who has had to explain this to someone looking for a “nonfiction novel” (or a “fiction novel,” which is just redundant).

Beckham’s Bookshop, interior. Lovely, old, books to the ceiling.

Crescent City Books, where I resisted acquiring a copy of Goya’s Los Caprichos. To be fair, I did leave home with one book and return with seven.

Everyone loved the cat upstairs on the couch. Everything a bookstore should be!

The Roosevelt Hotel, home of the Sazerac Bar.

The Sazerac itself. A beautiful bar with beautiful (if no-longer-politically correct) murals. Also, I met some very nice librarians there, from the University of Maryland and the Smithsonian and Minnesota State University.

Cafe Beignet, where one can procure sweet tea, if one so desires.

The Camellia Grill. Very good milkshakes.

Faulkner House, where William Faulkner wrote his first novel.

There is a bookstore here too, but I didn’t get to go; they weren’t open as late as Crescent City Books and Pirate’s Alley was too small to be marked on my print-out map.

Coming soon: signs of all kinds.

What I’ve been reading: Bossypants, Tina Fey; The Fates Will Find Their Way, Hannah Pittard
What I’ve been listening to: Lost and Gone Forever, Guster; Exile on Main Street, Rolling Stones

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