Rub Dirt in It #ReadersWorkouts

logo for Readers' WorkoutsWelcome to Readers’ Workouts, the weekly event where book lovers share workout stories, goals, successes, and challenges.

After bragging in my post just last week that I hadn’t injured myself in over a year, I turned my ankle while working in the garden yesterday. Argh!

So  this week, I can write about my proven recovery technique for turned ankles, wrenched knees, and pulled back muscles. My first priority is to keep the swelling down. I use RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) plus Naproxen for that purpose.

My second priority, which counteracts the first a little, is to keep going. I recover more quickly with a combination of rest and movement. I employ a kind of Midwestern callousness. We’ll tell a child with a scraped knee to rub dirt in it. Which is not taken literally. It’s a reminder that small unsolvable problems are best handled by a refusal to whine and a determination to get on with things.

So, I’ll be doing a lot RICE and Naproxen today. My exercise session will be stretching and dumb bells. But, I’ll rub some dirt in it and do a little walking, too. So far, the evidence is that my ankle feels a little better after five minutes of slow walking than it did before. I hope by this time next week, I’ll report that I’m walking for exercise again.

How do you handle minor injuries?

For Readers’ Workouts, talk about your fitness activities on your blog (feel free to grab the logo) and link to your post below or join us in the comments! Be sure to visit the other participants to see how we all did.

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Benjamin Franklin in Paris

Paris in July 2014It’s Paris in July, so I wanted to learn about Benjamin Franklin’s time in Paris from Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson. Over the 4th of July weekend, I learned about his time in London, where he attempted to solve the problems between Britain and the colonies before the Revolutionary War. When that didn’t work out, he went home. Among other things, he helped draft the Declaration of Independence. In late 1776, he was dispatched to Paris by the fledgling United States, where they hoped he would secure support for the cause by the French government.

He spent the war in Paris, performing complex diplomatic negotiations with the French and, later, England, that kept the US from floundering before it got off the ground. Franklin was in his 70s while all this was going on.

Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson

I read Chapters 13-15 for Paris in July

My favorite part of his time in Paris, though, was shortly after the peace treaty was signed. Franklin was in France for Balloon Mania in 1783 when the first hot-air balloons were flown. He was present for the first manned flight on November 21, flown by brothers Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier.

As a huge crowd cheered and countless women fainted, the balloon took off with two champagne-toting noblemen, who initially found themselves snared by some tree branches. “I was then in great pain for the men, thinking them in danger of being thrown out or burnt,” Franklin reported. But soon they were free and gliding their way over the Seine, and after twenty minutes they landed on the other side and popped their corks in triumph. Franklin was among the distinguished scientists who signed the official certification of the historic flight the following evening, when the Montgolfiers called on him at Passy. (p. 420)

I love picturing Franklin, and the Seine, and the first manned hot-air balloon.

photo of Eiffel tower with words Dreaming of FranceI’m happy, too, that I can participate in Dreaming of France this week. Check out Paulita’s post for more French-themed content.
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Sunday Salon — #Reviewathon Edition

Review-a-ThonI’m participating in my first ever Review-a-Thon this weekend. This is a monthly event hosted by Brianna at The Book Vixen. So far, it’s been a record-smashing success. I wrote four book reviews yesterday!

Here’s what I’m still hoping to complete from my To Do list today:

  • Write the review for Writing for Emotional Impact by Karl Iglesias
  • Repost my reviews of The Pomodoro Technique and the Slated series on Goodreads
  • Write a post about Benjamin Franklin in Paris
  • Make an editorial / reading calendar for now through September

What are you up to this Sunday?

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List of Forthcoming Reviews #reviewathon

Review-a-ThonI’m participating in my first ever Review-a-Thon, a monthly event at The Book Vixen.

Here’s Brianna’s blurb:

The Write On review-a-thon is a monthly event created and hosted by Brianna at The Book Vixen. It’s 2 days dedicated to getting reviews done, whether you have one review to write or 30+. This edition of the review-a-thon takes place all day Saturday, July 26th and Sunday, July 27th. Let’s get those reviews done!

I learned about Review-a-thon last week during mini-Bloggiesta, just about the time that I realized I wasn’t going to get done as much as I hoped. It was like being given a second chance to succeed!

Here are the reviews I want to write this weekend:

  • The Illustrated Longitude by Dava Sobel and William J.H. Andrewes scheduled for British Isles Friday on August 1
  • Some of My Best Friends Are Black by Tanner Colby scheduled for July 30
  • Writing for Emotional Impact by Karl Iglesias
  • Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh scheduled for July 31
  • The Diet Fix by Yoni Freedhoff scheduled for Weekend Cooking on August 2

I have some related activities, as well. I’d like to repost my reviews of The Pomodoro Technique (which I’ll be using this weekend, by the way) and the Slated series on Goodreads. I’d like to write a post about Benjamin Franklin in Paris similar to my Franklin in London post. And, I’d like to make an editorial / reading calendar for now through September.

That’s not too much, is it?

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Slated, Fractured, and Shattered by Teri Terry #BookReview #BriFri

British Isles Friday logoWelcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British-themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Lift a pint and join our link party!

Last week’s British Isle Friday collection included book reviews, photos, and two lists of favorite British TV shows. Don’t miss Satia’s first contribution, a list of films and books she is watching and reading in preparation for her trip to London.

My post today is a review of a YA series I read recently, something a bit lighter than some of my reading this year, but still British-themed.

Book: Slated, Fractured, and Shattered by Teri Terri
Genre: YA
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Publication date: 2012, 2013, 2014

Source: Library

Shattered by Teri Terry

Shattered is the third book in the trilogy that began with Slated.

Summary: I enjoyed reading this trilogy back-to-back as one story. The first two books have reasonable endings, but leave some big cliff-hangers as well. Slated introduces us to a world where teenager terrorists get a second chance at life after their memories are erased — for a clean slate. Kyla, though, seems different from other slated teens. She glimpses dreams that might be memories, retains quirks that might be residual elements of her former personality, and encounters people who might have dangerous associations with her past. Unraveling these mysteries will take her on a three-book adventure all around a futuristic England.

Thoughts: I loved that this last book of the trilogy, Shattered, was set in two places that I won’t see on my first trip to England: The Lake District and Oxford. They are on the top of the list for the next trip!

Here is a description of the Castlerigg Stone Circle:

Leaning up against the gate, I can finally see it. A wide field with the stone circle at its center; the mountains, standing guard, are an amphitheater all around. I open the gate and step through, then stand there, staring, something stirring and shifting inside. Not just a dream, I’m sure of it. I remember, and the joy of memory makes me laugh out loud. I’ve been here, many times before, in all weather: picnics on sunny summer days, walks in blustery autumn rains and snow-covered magic, searching for bright dots of spring wildflowers. p. 72

Appeal: This trilogy has a dystopian setting but not as different from our our world as some. There is enough of a sci-fi element to Slated, and the follow-up books, to appeal to sci-fi lovers, but not so much to render it unreadable by those who prefer their futuristic novels to be light on the science.

What YA books set in the British Isles do you recommend? I also enjoyed the Shades of London series by Maureen Johnson, Finishing School series by Gail Carriger, and the World War II books by Elizabeth Wein, including Code Name Verity.

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How to Get More Done in the Time You Have #BookReview #Pomodoro

Book: The Pomodoro Technique: Do More and Have Fun with Time Management Francesco Cirillo
Genre: Self-help
Publisher: FC Garage
Publication date: 2013

Source: Purchased the Kindle edition from the book’s website.

The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo

Pomodoros changed my life, improving how I manage time and tasks.

Summary: The basic technique of the pomodoro is easily explained. Well, once you understand that ‘pomodoro’ is the Italian word for tomato and that a popular kitchen timer in Italy is in the shape of a tomato.

A pomodoro is 25 minutes of time focused on a chosen task. Choose your task, set your timer, don’t allow interruptions for any reason short of a fire alarm. When the 25 minutes are up, take a break. Repeat.

Of course, you don’t need a whole book to explain that. The book helps you take that basic technique and turn it into a way of gradually improving the efficiency of your entire work day.

Thoughts: I must have encountered pomodoros when the first edition of this book came out in late 2006. I’ve used them on and off for years, but recently decided that they might help me structure my days better. I was suffering from too long To Do lists and too little time focused on the tasks on those lists. I purchased the latest edition of the book to see if I could build a new way of doing things around it. I’ve been working with the system for a little over a month.

The Pomodoro Technique has helped me plan my day better. By framing things in pomodoros, I’m able to predict how much can be done in a day, so I’m no longer putting twice as many tasks on my to do list than can possibly be completed. The pomodoro, itself, has helped me stay focused on each task as I do it, so that I’m being more efficient when I work (Facebook videos have to wait until the breaks between pomodoros). I usually get up and walk around a bit during my breaks, so it’s helping the step count on my Fitbit, too!

I’ve made The Pomodoro Technique my own by using playlists as my pomodoro timer. Spotify shows how long a playlist is, so I can make them about 25 minutes. If you’re on Spotify, you can check out my lists:

I started making playlists for this purpose after reading Your Playlist Can Change Your Life by Galina Mindlin, Don Durousseau, and Joseph Cardillo. So, most of my lists take their suggestion to start with a brain-engaging relaxed piece. Then, I add instrumental music, switching styles with each pomodoro so that I don’t get bored. I like up-beat music when I work to keep up the energy, but that can include everything from Mozart to Joplin to Copland. I think my next new one will feature Charlie Parker.

Appeal: This book suffers a bit due to the formal style of English and the highly structured style of an engineering mindset. Be patient. What it lacks in readability, it gains in usability. If you’re a more visual or right-brained person, I suggest making a mind map as you read the book to help keep track of the various components. The subtitle is correct — this system is fun when you actually start playing with it.

Mind Map of The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo

My messy mind map of The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo

2014 Nonfiction Reading ChallengeChallenges: This is Book 12 in my Nonfiction Reading Challenge for 2014 — I should make my goal of 16 books easily enough.

I’m also linking this to Non-Fiction Friday at Doing Decimal. Check out the list of resources this week!

Do you think the Pomodoro Technique would help with the time and task management challenges in your life?

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Every Day for a Year #ReadersWorkouts

logo for Readers' WorkoutsWelcome to Readers’ Workouts, the weekly event where book lovers share workout stories, goals, successes, and challenges.

I did it! My walk with a friend on Saturday was my 365th day in a row. We walked from the farmers market to the park and back. She took my photo when we finished our shopping at the market.

Joy at Farmers Market

Me, after the walk that represented my 365th day in a row of exercise.

There’s not much point in stopping my streak now, so I’m continuing my daily exercise. Of course, I’m lucky that I didn’t have a serious injury or illness in the past year. But, it’s also likely that the cause and effect runs the other way. My body likes low-intensity, high-consistency exercise. With that, I’ve rid myself of both over-use and under-use injuries and aches and pains. I also think that the mood-boosting and sleep-inducing effects of regular exercise improves my immune system. I might as well keep going with what works.

How are you doing with your exercise right now?

For Readers’ Workouts, talk about your fitness activities on your blog (feel free to grab the logo) and link to your post below or join us in the comments! Be sure to visit the other participants to see how we all did.

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Sunday Salon — mini #Bloggiesta edition

Mini Bloggiesta July 2014So far, all I’ve managed from my Bloggiesta To Do List is my backups and updates (but I was way behind on that, so I’m thrilled it’s done!) and a bit of socializing. I’m hoping to join the Twitter chat today (1PM Eastern, noon Central).

I’d so love to meet the challenge by Coral of Book Bunny PR to write 5 blog posts, but most of the posts I want to write are book reviews. A review, usually, takes me two hours to write, so I’ll likely run out of day before I get to 5 posts. Maybe, I’ll count this post….

Are you doing Bloggiesta?

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Mini #Bloggiesta July 2014 To Do List

Mini Bloggiesta July 2014I’m getting a slow and late start on this mini-Bloggiesta, which started this morning. I can spend about 90 minutes on this today and a bit more tomorrow. Because of that, I’m going with a very low-key to do list. Also, it’s much less technical than my normal ones — more focused on pre-scheduling new posts than making improvements to the backstage area. But I do want to do my normal back ups and software updates because it’s been too long.

  • Back ups and updates
  • Hop the blogs of other participants, especially folks participating in the Google+ Community
  • Join the Twitter Chat (tomorrow at 1pm Eastern, noon Central), #Bloggiesta
  • Write and schedule reviews and posts — I have a backlog of ideas

Will you be participating in the mini-Bloggiesta this weekend?

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Interview with Pies & Peril Author #WeekendCooking

Pies and Peril by Janel Gradowski

A fun cozy mystery with descriptions of amazing baked goods and other foods

Last week, for Weekend Cooking, I reviewed Pies & Peril: a Culinary Competition Mystery by Janel Gradowski. This week, Janel stopped by for an interview!

Do you bake every thing that Amy bakes? Or, are these treats for your imagination?

Most of the foods start out as imaginary dishes. I keep track of every food that is mentioned in a story and then decide which ones I want to develop into actual recipes. Once in awhile, like for the tomato pies, I come up with the recipe first and then integrate it into a story. I came up with that recipe last summer when I couldn’t resist the heirloom tomatoes at the farmer’s market. Not only did the pie make it into Pies & Peril, so did the farmer’s market, although the one I go to isn’t quite as crowded as the fictional one in Kellerton.

As a librarian, I’m always interested in the research that authors do for their books. What research was required for Pies & Peril and what were your best resources?

I didn’t really have to do a lot of research for Pies & Peril. I love watching Food Network and Cooking Channel. I also have a huge collection of cookbooks. Between those things, the many cooking blogs I follow and Pinterest I found lots of ideas for the foods I mentioned. The book is set in a fictional Michigan town. I have lived in Michigan my entire life, so I took bits and pieces of the many cities I have visited in the state and turned them into Kellerton, the small town where Amy lives. I guess you could say paying attention to things in my everyday life was the research.

Is Pies & Peril the first in a series of culinary competition mysteries? Can you give us a clue about what we can expect next?

I am working on the next book for the series. I will also be writing a short story based on the series that will be published in an anthology for the holiday season. For Book #2 readers will get to experience winter in Michigan. Instead of pies, chicken soup will play an important part in the book. Some minor characters in Pies & Peril will return to take on more prominent roles. Of course, there will be lots of food and some interesting new characters to read about.

new Weekend Cooking logoThanks for stopping by, Janel!

Janel Gradowski is a participant of Weekend Cooking. Check out Beth Fish Reads for this week’s round-up of cooking posts.

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