How to Save a Wet Book

The fanning stage for damp books.


You’ve got the perfect summer set-up: feet ankle-deep in sand, hat on head, book in hand. But then, that wave hits. You know, the one that you never thought would come all the way up to your spot on the beach. The one that soaks your towel and, worse, soaks your book.


The book disaster in our house wasn’t as exotic as a beach flood. More like a water bottle explosion inside a backpack. Nevertheless, we ended up with the same problem.

Have you experienced a wet book crisis? Good news. You can preserve your book after excessive water exposure. (If you read on a Kindle or iPad, seek help elsewhere. This post is about good old-fashioned printed books.)

Luckily, the bottle explosion we experienced only dampened the edges of Orwell’s 1984. (Daughter is plowing through classics with admirable determination. Since I’ve never read Lord of the Flies, and she has, that’s up next on my TBR. According to daughter, I need to finish before the end of summer because it’s too depressing for the winter. Can’t wait.)

wet book 2
Lucky for us, just the edges got wet. The potential for damage increases if the binding gets soaked.

The procedure for drying damp books vs. completely soaked books varies, so read the directions carefully.

For soaked books:

  • Do not open the book or fan the pages. Place it on its end on absorbent paper, like paper towels.
  • Place the book in a spot with good air circulation; fans are helpful.
  • Replace the paper towels as they become wet.
  • Let the book dry like this for an hour or so before trying the next step.

For partially wet books:

  • Blot the cover and pages with paper towels. Never rub, as this will damage the soft paper.
  • Carefully open the book and interleave (!?! New word!) paper towels every 20 pages or so.
  • Lay book on its side.
  • Replace the paper towels as they become wet.
I interleaved book pages with paper towels.
I interleaved book pages with paper towels.

For damp books:

  • Place book upright in a dry spot with good airflow and fan out the pages.
The fanning stage for damp books.
The fanning stage for damp books.

For almost dry books:

  • Place book flat and put a weight on top (I used a big fat dictionary).

To de-wrinkle pages once the book dries:

Water damaged pages will most likely wrinkle. The Chicago Tribune suggests placing a tissue over the warped page and ironing it on low heat.  We didn’t mess with this step.  If it had been that beautiful hard cover copy of Pride and Prejudice, maybe.

Make sure the book is thoroughly dry – check the binding and cover- before storing on the shelf. Or in your backpack. 😉  You don’t want to grow mold!

For more details and advice, consult

Have you ever had to save a wet book?  Can you share any other tips or tricks?  

Thanks for getting nerdy with me!








Betcha Didn’t Know: Who I Am

Photo credit: Alex Roberts via Flickr CC-BY-SA

Sure, most of my friends and blog readers know that I love to read, run, and write. They’ve picked up on the fact that I enjoy coaching (soccer or running), and that I dabble in painting and photography. They might even suspect that, as a Word Nerd, I silently correct grammar. However, for this month’s Who I Am prompt, Dana asked me to share a few things that people don’t know about the Word Nerd who loves fitness.

Three Things You Might Not Know About Me

Photo credit: gacabo via Flickr CC-BY-SA
Photo credit: gacabo via Flickr CC-BY-SA

I lived in Germany for a year and a half and during that time visited Neuschwanstein castle. Sadly, I was an infant, screamed during the tour, and don’t remember anything about Germany or the castle. My dad was in the U.S. Army and stationed in Stuttgart, Germany when I was born; we returned to the states before I was old enough to form memories. After Germany, we lived in New Jersey, Arizona, Wisconsin, Norfolk, VA, and finally settled in Alexandria VA.  So, this Word Nerd with an army background knows words like commissary (the post grocery store) and exchange (the post “K-mart”).

Hopefully, one day I’ll get back to Neuschwanstein, preferably during a castle tour of Europe. I won’t scream inside the palace.  😉

I love Coke, particularly from a soda fountain. Most people think I’m super healthy, and I try to eat lots of plant-based foods and limit sugar, fat, and salt. But I love my Coke. There’s something about the combination of fizz, burn, and sweet that picks me up at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. And nothing pairs better with pizza or popcorn than Coke. (Note: I hate beer.)

I’ve tried to give it up, but I can’t kick it, even though I know it’s terrible for my body.  For example, one can of Coke has 10 teaspoons of sugar. In most cases, you’d puke if you consumed that much sugar at once, but the phosphoric acid cuts the sweetness and inhibits the action of sugar for a bit. It also rots your teeth. One article I read said that Coke has the same effect on the brain as heroin; I’m not surprised. On those days when I’m tired or cranky, that first fizzy sip feels like a fix.

Clearly, Coke can’t be an everyday drink. Or every other day. But how about every other week? I’m currently in a soda detox challenge with my sister-in-law. So far, I’ve only had two Cokes in the month of June. That’s good, right?

Photo credit: Bryan Wright via Flickr CC-BY-ND
Photo credit: Bryan Wright via Flickr CC-BY-ND

Nirvana’s in my running playlist. I particularly like “Breed” for hill work. I’ve explored eclectic music styles over the years, including Twisted Sister, Black Sabbath, and Judas Priest in middle school, and Candlebox, Nirvana, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the 90’s. When daughter downloaded a ton of Linkin Park, I was a bit concerned. Why all the screaming? Then I remembered what I listened to at her age.  Sometimes you need an angry song, and not all Linkin Park involves yelling.  (Take ”Leave Out All the Rest”, for example.) When I recently found her jamming “Baby Got Back”, I panicked. That came from my music library: parenting fail! She said, “Mom, I’m doing a leg workout. It’s perfect.”

If you had to share three quirky things about you, what would they be?  I’ve bared my soul… how about you?

Who I Am


Thanks for stopping by this installment of the Who I Am Project, hosted by Bev and Dana.  If you’d like to join in, visit Dana’s blog for details.










Cruising the Caribbean: Info and Advice


I’ve never considered myself a “cruiser”, and when our family was invited to go on a seven day Disney cruise to the Eastern Caribbean, I had many concerns:

  • Lots of people packed into a confined space = Julia gets tense
  • I can’t swing without getting nauseous – what will sea waves do to me?
  • That’s a long time out at sea, in the middle of no where. What if we go down like the Titanic?
  • Um, how many ships have had norovirus outbreaks?
  • Will a Disney cruise be too “kid-ish” for my teens?
  • What happens to all the trash and waste? Will I be contaminating the seas?

Turns out, we had a fabulous time, and most of my fears were unfounded.  Here are the highlights from my trip aboard the Disney Fantasy.

Removing the Freak Out Factor: Cruise Fears Debunked

Top deck = pool deck. Note the awesome water slide.

Claustrophobia: Our ship carried 4000 passengers and 2500 crew. Yes, that’s the size of a small town, but the Fantasy is HUGE!! The only time I felt claustrophobic was when were all crammed on the lower decks hoping to be the first onto Castaway Cay. Our state-room was a tad narrow, but it had a balcony to the outside, which gave an illusion of more space. In some spots, ceilings are low and hallways are long, but in general, I felt comfortable.

Sea sickness: We packed Dramamine and prescription motion sickness patches, but nobody used them. I could feel the ship move sometimes – the captain often mentioned “rocking us to sleep” overnight – but it’s not like a roller coaster, or even being on a fishing boat. I got used to it; in fact, it took three days post-cruise to lose the feeling that I was walking around on a ship!

Stranded out at sea: There is SO MUCH TO DO, I never felt “stuck on-board”. Movies and shows, cooking classes and margarita tastings, mini golf and ping-pong. (Yes – ping-pong at the top of the ship- the wind could be vicious!) And don’t forget the beauty of doing nothing but sitting on the “adult deck”, sipping a Mai Tai and reading. All while you hear a toddler screaming on the deck below and think, “Thank goodness we’re done with THAT stage.”

Putt putt on ship requires steady hands… and legs!

Illness: Disney runs an immaculate ship. Crew members were constantly, but not obtrusively, cleaning and polishing the Fantasy. At all dining rooms and food and beverage stations, crew members handed out sanitary wipes to promote good hygiene. My brother-in-law boarded with a slight cold, and we joked that if the crew found out, they’d stick him in quarantine. However, there were no issues with illness.

Too kid-ish: Disney accommodates all ages. There were several areas designated for adults, and the teens had their own hangout spot with activities and hot tubs! Disney owns Marvel, so my teens found plenty of movies to watch. One night, they went up to the top deck at 10:30 to see Captain America: Civil War on the giant “funnel vision” screen. Unlimited soft serve and pizza nearby sweetened the deal.

See the giant screen on the funnel?  Funnel Vision!
See the giant screen on the funnel? Funnel Vision!

Waste disposal: Unfortunately, this is a growing problem as the cruise industry expands. According to Friends of the Earth and, cruise ships dumped over one billion gallons of sewage into the oceans in 2014. Ship sewage includes bacteria, heavy metals, viruses, and pharmaceuticals, all of which harm plants, animals, and humans. Unfortunately, although better technology exists, many cruise lines still treat sewage with ineffective, 35-year-old methods. Luckily for my conscience, Disney Cruise Lines is very environmentally friendly, earning A’s for sewage treatment and water quality compliance and a B- for air pollution reduction. (Cruise Ship Report Card)

Other environmental concerns: There was a lot of waste. Passengers were encouraged to use a new cup every time they visited the beverage station, and that means TONS of paper cups thrown out each day. And I didn’t understand why we couldn’t use squirts of hand sanitizer in the dining areas instead of all those wipes. And I saw so much food tossed out.

Safety: My older kids ran free, and I never worried. Everyone gets a “Key to the World” card, which provides passenger identification, as well as a way to charge to the state-room account. Kids can not get off of the ship unless they were with the adults in their party or other designated guardians. If you opt to leave your children in the kids club for activities, they get an electronic bracelet to monitor check in and out.

And, obviously, we didn’t go down like Titanic, nor was Leo on the boat. Bummer.

What To Pack

If you’re considering a cruise, there are definitely some key items to bring:

  • Magnetic hooks – everything in the state-room is metal, so bringing at least six extra hooks will give you more space to hang wet swim suits and clothes.  I found mine at Lowe’s.
  • Lanyards with plastic cases – to hold the “Key to the World”card, even if you don’t have pockets.  Great especially for kids.
  • A refillable water bottle– to decrease paper cup waste and make sure you’re hydrated.
  • Workout clothes – because you’re going to need to work off all the delicious, readily available food you’re eating (I also recommend, if possible, avoiding the elevators and taking the stairs to burn more calories!)
Handy for keeping track of ID.

Ports of Call and Excursions

Our stops included Tortola, British Virgin Islands, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Castaway Cay, the Bahamas.

On Tortola, we explored on our own. At the port welcome site (newly and colorfully built in 2016), we found a taxi van big enough to haul all 17 members of our party across the island to Brewer’s Bay. During the ride on narrow, twisting, grab your husband’s leg in fright roads, our driver told us all about the history and economy of the island. The most interesting note: when sugar plantation owners decided to free their slaves, they gave the slaves land to start their own farming. (Taxi ride = $16 per person, round trip.)

Tortola, BVI
Tortola, BVI

Brewer’s Bay was a slice of paradise and the favorite stop for most of us. I liked that we got a feel of Tortola, even though we were only there for a day. Colorful buildings dot the mountain landscape, and roosters run loose on every block.

Our slice of paradise
Our slice of paradise

For our stop at St. Thomas, we booked a snorkel trip that included boating out to Buck Island, snorkeling with sea turtles, and a stop at a local beach. I loved the snorkeling but got no sense of St. Thomas. The island looked beautiful, and I’m sad we didn’t explore it.  This was our only paid excursion, as they are expensive, $50-$200 per person!

The view from the port at St. Thomas.
The view from the port at St. Thomas.

Castaway Cay had nice beaches with plenty of chairs and umbrellas, and all food was provided. We enjoyed snorkeling and a water play structure. Later, we learned that Castaway Cay used to be a stop for drug runners, until Disney bought it in 1995. So, that’s what the runway in the middle of the island was for!

Lots to do at Castaway Cay
Lots to do at Castaway Cay

Closing Points

Disney is fabulous with people management, and all staff was friendly and helpful. Disembarkation went faster than I expected.  We did get passports for everyone to facilitate boarding and disembarking.

Unfortunately, the DCL website is clunky and confusing to navigate, and I had to enter payment information more than once. My in-laws stayed up until midnight to reserve a boarding time for our group though the site, and in the end, we were assigned a time when we checked in at the terminal on the day of boarding.

Disney pushes its brand; there was a special boutique on-board for young girls to get “Princess Makeovers” for a significant fee. I grew weary of the constant emphasis on consumption, and I wasn’t alone. Day two my brother in law exclaimed, “Everything here is in excess!”

The gorgeous main staircase
The gorgeous main staircase

Since all of the food is taken care of, our family could truly relax. We were a huge party of extended family, and we all found different things to do during the day and regrouped at night for dinner. It was the optimal situation for a family vacation.

In the end, we had a great time, but I decided cruising is not my preferred vacation mode. I’d rather go to a few islands in the Caribbean and explore them… which, hopefully, we’ll do someday, now that I’ve had a sample.

Have you ever been on a cruise? What advice can you share? Do you have any other questions for me?

Thanks and Bon Voyage!








What’s the Story Behind Ketchup?


My youngest son asked for “catchup” the other day, and as I handed him the bottle of Heinz, I wondered where this odd word came from and what’s the right way to spell it? Catsup? Catchup? Ketchup?

If you’re curious about words, join Kathy at Bermuda Onion for the Wondrous Words Wednesday meme, where bloggers share new and interesting words.

Ketchup \ˈke-chəp, ˈka-\ noun; a seasoned pureed condiment usually made from tomatoes

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, “ketchup” might have come from the Malay word “kichap” or from the Chinese word “koechiap”; both describe a fish sauce.  “Ketchup” first appeared in the U.S. around 1800.  “Catsup” is probably an attempt to “English-ize” the word.  The official spelling, according to the Grammarist and Merriam-Webster, is ketchup.  Outside of the U.S., the condiment is referred to as “tomato sauce”.

Word Nerd Workout

Don't forget to visit Kathy at Bermuda Onion

How do you see ketchup used/ spelled most often? Can you share another interesting “Englishized” word?

Thanks for getting nerdy with me!










Books to Give for Father’s Day

Father's Day Books

Father’s Day is coming in just over a week, and instead of giving Dad the same tired present- a tie, a Lowe’s gift card, or a new grill accessory kit- give him something that’s good for him: a book!

The dudes in my life have recently burned through a number of books that they’ve enjoyed, and I think they might be good gift options for other guys. Caveat: I have not read these books myself, so I’m going on the reactions I’ve solicited and observed.

The Martian by Andy Weir

the martianMark Watney was one of the first people to walk on Mars. Then a dust storm hit, and his crew evacuated the planet, assuming he was dead. Now Mark must survive using his wit, ingenuity, and humor to keep him alive. This book balances scientific information with suspense and is billed as a thriller with plot twists. Who knew that a story about one guy stuck on a planet  could generate such excitement?

My guys liked:

  • The science. “He’s like McGyver on Mars.”
  • The humor
  • The format
  • It’s a good, original story.

Content warning: there is much foul language. For instance, the “F-bomb” is dropped on page one.

I’d like to read The Martian, but I’m afraid it’s sad. “Does he ever get off the planet?” I asked my son. He just looked at me. “Mom, he’s on Mars!”

I don’t take that as a good sign.

Concussion by Jeanne Marie Laskas

ConcussionThis non-fiction piece tells the fascinating story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the pathologist who made a significant medical discovery about the dangers of head trauma. His research put him at odds with one of America’s most powerful organizations: the NFL.

Please note: I dislike football for multiple reasons and have always steered my children away from the sport. My son, an avid soccer player who is also not a huge fan of football, enjoyed the book. I’m curious to know how a football fan would react to its content.

My guys liked:

  • The factual content
  • The main character is likable and his story interesting

The Revenant by Michael Punke

The Revenant BookGoodreads hails this novel as “A thrilling tale of betrayal and revenge set against the nineteenth-century American frontier, the astonishing story of real-life trapper and frontiersman Hugh Glass.” It caught my attention because Leo finally won an Oscar for playing the lead role in the movie adaptation. My son received the novel as a birthday gift and enjoyed it.

My guys liked:

  • It’s semi-historically accurate
  • The epic-like plot

Warning: there is a lot of graphic violence.

Also, all of these books have been adapted into movies. This might encourage the guys in your life to read them, or it might deter them. (”I’ll just watch the movie.”) Proceed with caution.

What other guy friendly books can you add to my list?

Thanks for getting nerdy with me!








Vocab from Jodi Picoult: Allomother

Leaving Time

This month, my book club is reading Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult, an intriguing story about a teen, Jenna, who is trying to solve the ten year old mystery of her mother’s disappearance. One night, at the elephant sanctuary owned and operated by Jenna’s parents, a woman was found dead, potentially trampled.  That same night, Jenna’s mom, Alice, was found unconscious.  Alice received treatment at a nearby hospital and then disappeared.  Jenna is convinced she’s still alive and recruits a psychic and a retired detective to find her.

Jenna’s mom is one of the alternating POVs in Leaving Time, and she shares much scientific info about elephants. Her notes are easy to read and relate to, as she is studying how elephants grieve. So far I’ve only come across one new word: allomother.

Although there are records of adoption within herds, the majority of allomothers will not nurse an orphaned calf; there is just not enough milk to go around without compromising their own biological offspring.

wondrous memeIf you like learning about new words, join the Wondrous Words Wednesday meme, where bloggers share new words they’ve come across in their reading.

Allomother \ˈa-lə-ˌmə-thər\ noun from Greek allos other; allo- being one of a group whose members together constitute a structural unit + mother;

  • an individual other than the biological mother of an offspring that performs the functions of a mother (as by caring for an infant temporarily). This phenomenon occurs among animals as well as humans (as when a grandmother takes over the care of a child when the child’s mother cannot do the job).

Interestingly, this word was first used in 1980. I wonder if changes in our society over the past several decades and the concurrent changes in the structure of the “typical” American family have brought about an increased number of “allomothers”.  Or perhaps the phenomenon has existed for centuries, and we’ve just recently given it a name.

Word Nerd Workout

What scientific terms have you come across in your reading lately?

Thanks for getting nerdy with me today!