TBR List Declutter, Issue 18

Odd. I usually have a few things to say before I jump into the list, but I’m drawing a blank today. (Actually, I have lots of things on my mind, but I don’t want to share any of them with the Internet. It’s nothing personal; they’re just not ready to be shared yet.)

So, let’s just get to the books.

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post. Read More

TBR List Declutter, Issue 17

Going through this list, I started wondering if there’s a month in which I’m most likely to add titles or if they’re fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. So, I crunched some numbers (instead of, you know, reading the books on my list) and here’s what I came up with:

Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 3.04.10 PM

This chart represents the average number of titles I’ve added each month from when I joined Goodreads in September 2007 until 31 August 2017. It’s not totally accurate since it doesn’t include titles I’ve already scrapped via this most recent TBR declutter nor does it include the many titles I scrapped during various declutter-fests over the past ten years, but it gives a decent idea of when I’ve added books.

Based on this chart, it looks like March is the clear winner, with November and December essentially tying for second place.

Now that I’ve got the chart, what is the significance of these data? What am I doing in March (and November and December) that makes me add so many books to my TBR? Just like with the number of licks to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.

Titles 161-170: Read More

Bookends: September 2017

A lot happened in September. Heck, a lot has happened in the first three days of October. The hits just keep on coming.

On the reading front, September was a fairly dry month for me. I let too many other things distract me (like my TBR List Declutter ). But October 21-22 is Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon, and I’m getting excited for that, so hopefully this month will be more read-y for me.

In caterpillar news, I am sad to report that although the long-lived last caterpillar formed a J, he/she did not successfully pupate and is now at rest in our compost bin. Our snail pets are doing well, but we’re thinking about setting them free before cold weather because snails are really only so interesting, and I think they’d be happier in the garden than in a plastic terrarium listening (do snails have ears?) to my kids practice piano.

Now to the point of this post: The list of books I read in September!

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TBR List Declutter, Issue 16

Last week I mentioned my plan to think about making a plan to speed this declutter up a little. I’m still mulling on that plan to plan, and I’ve not gotten much closer than to look slack-jawed at the master spreadsheet I have of all of my TBRs and think, “I’m going to be 42 years old before this project is done.”

Act in haste, repent at leisure, the sages say—or rather, “married in haste, we may repent at leisure,” per William Congreve in 1693, who likely modified his version from Shakespeare, who is the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon of English aphorisms (if Six Degrees of William Shakespeare isn’t already an English major game, it really should be). Whatever the saying, I’m neither hastily marrying nor hastily making more changes to my TBR List Declutter.

Actually, I have made one tiny change. You might have noticed that the title of this post says “Issue 16” rather than “Week 16.” That’s so I have the leeway to publish more than one declutter post a week, should I decide to plan on making that part of my speed-up plan.

Wondering what this is all about? (I think we’re all a bit confused by now.) Check out the introductory post.

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Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey

Not only was this a great book to take with me to Utah, it’s also one of the books from my TBR list! The TBR List Declutter is working!

Shortly after my daughter was born, my in-laws came to visit us in California. While there, they drove to Yosemite National Park for a few days. When they got back, my spouse asked them what they’d seen while they were there.

Everything,” his dad replied.

What he meant, of course, was everything they could see within a fifty-yard walk from their car.

On that trip, my in-laws were just the kind of national park tourists Abbey pities and despises. “So long as they are unwilling to crawl out of their cars they will not discover the treasures of the national parks and will never escape the stress and turmoil of those urban-suburban complexes which they had hoped, presumably, to leave behind for a while.” (52)

Abbey opines in 1968 that automobiles are ruining the parks by necessitating the construction of roads and parking lots and ruining the experience for the visitors by keeping them encapsulated in steel and separated from the very experiences they’ve come to experience. He proposes a solution: ban automobiles from the parks. Read More

TBR List Declutter Week 15

Another week, another batch of titles!

I wonder if I should start posting ten titles twice a week to get through the list faster. I do feel like I have some momentum now, and I’m actually starting to read from my TBR, so maybe this project of mine is working. But I don’t want to be too hasty about implementing a plan that will increase my weekly workload unless I’m fairly confident I’ll be able to keep up with it. I’ll mull it over.

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the Introductory Post.

Titles 141-150: Read More

Spicy Chicken, Tomato, and Rice in the Slow Cooker

It’s been a long time (like, four years) since I published a recipe post. I used to publish them a lot, testing out new recipes and variations on old recipes and scarfing down the failures and successes alike, until I noticed a correlation between recipe blogging and the upward progression of the numbers on my bathroom scale, especially once we moved to the suburbs and my incidental physical activity decreased dramatically. So, I cooled my jets on food-related posts for a while.

Then when I was in Utah recently (yes, I’m mentioning Utah again, but it’s just a passing mention this time), I stumbled upon a simple skillet-to-oven way to cook chicken. When I got home, I modified it for the slow cooker and decided to share the results with the Internet. Read More

Scenes from Utah

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, my kids and I traveled to Utah early in September, and we had a fabulous time. The trip reminded me for the second time this year (the first was our visit to Joshua Tree National Park this past spring) how much I love the western United States and how much I love the desert especially. Next time I travel west, I hope to visit some or all of the five National Parks in Utah. I’ve been to Arches, but it bears a return trip, especially now that I’ve read Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey.

But even staying in and near Salt Lake City, we had a blast. Some photos from our adventures, curated to remove anything unpleasant—like my son’s epic nosebleed and almost-very-bad head wound—because that’s what blogs are for:

Tracy Aviary, Salt Lake City:

Soldier Hollow Classic Sheepdog Championship, Midway, Utah:

Salt Lake City Public Library:

Around Salt Lake City:


Minimalist Packing

Earlier this month, I went to Utah with my kids. It was our first trip back to Utah since we moved away more than six years ago, and it was my first trip by airplane on my own with my kids. Without my spouse to lug things, I decided it was time to practice minimalist packing.

Here’s what I packed (including what I wore on the airplane):


One dress, one hooded sweatshirt, one pair linen pants, one sun shirt, one skirt, one tank top, two t-shirts.

Not pictured: undergarments, socks, one set of pajamas, footwear (one pair walking shoes, one pair sandals), and one swimsuit.

Also not pictured: the shorts I forgot to pack.

I realized I’d left the shorts in Massachusetts almost as soon as we stepped through the door of our rental apartment at crazy o’clock PM after enduring a lightning strike to our airplane and a ridiculously long wait at the rental car counter with my daughter at my elbow saying, “Mommy, I think I might throw up.” There was only one couple in front of us at the counter, but they appeared to have never rented a car before. (“Should we get the extra insurance coverage, Bill?” “I don’t know, Edna. What do you think?” “Well, I’m not sure. We should have him explain the options again.” Me: “NO, you don’t want the extra coverage! It’s a racket! Just take the keys and get out so I can get my car and get outside before my kid tosses her cookies!”)

At any rate, I was in a bit of a state by the time I realized that I had no shorts. I texted my spouse in a panic, and he reminded me that if I really needed a pair, I could probably find a store in Salt Lake City that sells shorts.

But it turned out I didn’t need the shorts. Nor did I need the dress, the swimsuit, or the sandals. I walked all over Salt Lake City and even hiked in Little Cottonwood Canyon in my skirt, which was a first for me and something I would never, ever do in New England because ticks. But in Utah, it was fabulous! Highly recommended.

We did laundry once in the middle of our week-long trip, which, with the 97-degree heat, probably made it less unpleasant for our friends to hug us during the second half of the trip. Without a washer in our rental, things might have been a little more complicated, but as it was my exercise in minimalist packing was a complete success.

Maybe next time I can even get by without checking a bag.


TBR List Declutter Week 14

It’s the second week of the new post format, and so far I like it. I hope it’s readable for all of you who enjoy reading this type of list because it’s really quite a bit easier for me to set up.

Now on to the next ten titles!

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the Introductory Post.

Titles 131-140: Read More