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Friday, May 01, 2015

Five Podcasts Mike and I Love

I am a huge fan of podcasts. So much so that I'm going to break this into more than one list. Do I have time to listen to them all? Of course not. And I'm continually test driving other ones to see if I want to add them to my ever growing list. Right now I am subscribed to 16 podcasts and I have two more  that I don't get updated to but I might want to revisit one day. You know that little red circle that tells you how many unlisted too episodes you have (or how many unread email you have)? I have 77 of those. It's ridiculous.  There's a reason some of them build up tho, see, some of the podcasts I listed to alone in the car, or while I'm sewing if the kids are otherwise occupied. And some of them I save up to listen to in the car with Mike. Those tend to build up, as we don't take THAT many roadtrips. Those are the ones I'm going to share some of today, the ones that are interesting enough that we both enjoy them.

1. Freakonomics Radio. We both read and enjoyed the book Freakonomics and this just continues along that line. There was a good stretch of boring episodes when their last book was released, but otherwise this is consistently good. Episodes range from 35-45 minutes, usually.

2. Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine. (On Facebook) This one is hosted by a married couple, a doctor and her husband, as they discuss all the misguided theories and treatments of medicine in history. Nearly every episode is interesting, and most have very funny moments. I am not a fan of the live shows, but the rest are good. (I'm never a fan of live shows.  This is the only exception I've ever found.) Episodes tend to be between 30 minutes and an hour long, most falling in the middle.

3. NPR's Planet Money: The Economy Explained. The first episode I listened to was about the price of roses, and specifically the price of roses at Valentine's Day. It was completely fascinating. Most episodes are under 20 minutes.

4. NPR's How to Do Everything. This is an interesting mix of advice, how-to, and information. How to find a date. The best exercise program. How to celebrate without getting sick. How to get published in the New York Times. Episodes are under 20 minutes.

5. Serial. If you haven't heard of Serial I can't help you. I remain subscribed, waiting patiently for the day that there are more episodes.

I've also recently started listening to NPR's Ted Radio Hour and I suspect Mike will enjoy that as well.

Other types of podcasts that I'll (hopefully) be listing soon are "Podcasts I listen to alone" and "Bookish Podcasts" but I am always open to more suggestions.

Do you listen to podcasts? Which ones can you recommend? Have you listened to any of these?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Recent Reading, Non-fiction.

Non-romance reading friends, you do not have to look away! Last week, and for the near future, it's all non-fiction around these parts.

I started with The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly by Matt McCarthy. This was a spur of the moment choice from NetGalley, and fairly interesting. McCarthy recounts his intern year as a doctor and the complete change from feeling like a unprepared novice to being ready to supervise interns of his own. He is brutally honest about how incredibly competitive and overwhelming it is, and how it's easy to rollercoaster from feeling too much for a patient (no, not like that!) to closing yourself off completely from emotion. McCarthy writes in such a way as to make the reader realize just how stressful it is, and just how human doctors are. I wouldn't call this a favorite, but it's definitely worth the time.

The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child by Alan Kazdin.  This is a library book, and as you might imagine, I am not reading it for fun. We are struggling with some on-going (and on and on and on) issues that try as we might we can not seem to change. We have tried ALL the suggestions. Yes, all of them. Now we're reading books.

The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley. This is our next book club pick and while I'm not technically reading it YET, I'm hoping to start it soon. Janssen assumes me that it is terrific, and she has rarely steered me wrong.

Waiting in the wings, non-fiction wise:
Forensics by Val McDermid
Head Case by Cole Cohen
Happier by Habit by Gretchen Rubin
The Misfit Economy by Alexa Clay
Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht
A Bone to Pick by Mark Bittman
Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall (Mike is reading this now, I can't wait to get my turn.)

What non-fiction have you read lately?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Five Things I'd love to Splurge On

I'm starting a new thing around these parts. I did Random Friday every week for years, but the last couple years I either never remember or it's a struggle to have enough to say. To that end, I'm going to start doing a short list of five things on Fridays. My inspiration this week comes from one of my favorite weekly posts- the Friday Five at Tina Says... Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (or something) so today I'm sharing MY five.

These fun running capris from Old Navy. I have this same pair in solid black and they are my go to running bottoms.

This GPS enabled running watch. Mike and I have been watching (see what I did there?) all the GPS watches for nearly a year. They are all so much money that it's really hard to pull the trigger. I think this is the one I want tho.

This super pretty phone case. My phone case is just fine, and was cheaper, so I can't justify it, but I really want it. There's a white/ivory version I love too. Actually, there are dozens that I love, so how could I choose?

This sweatshirt. Cause duh.

The Haiku Bucket Bag. I really need to stop buying cheap purses and just buy a good one that I really like. (I'd be happy with pretty much any color but black, I don't want a black bag in summer!)

What thing are you itching to buy these days?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dear Mom with the iPhone, revisit.

A couple years ago there was a post on Facebook that went viral that was completely critical of parents (mothers, in specific) who were using their iPhone while in the company of their children. I was pretty offended by this. The writer was judging mothers (me) by looking at one brief moment in their day, and he had no idea at all what they were doing with their phone. I ranted about this for days and commented every single time one of my friends (overwhelmingly MEN) shared it on Facebook. Honestly, writing this one paragraph I can feel my blood boiling again. I am often on my phone at the park and out with my kids. He's talking about me.

When the weather warmed up a couple weeks ago the kids and I started walking down to the playground. My Kindle fits in my jacket pocket, and of course I took my phone as well. My kids are all finally old enough to play on the playground without my full attention. (HALLELUJAH!)  I don't think playgrounds are meant for parents to play on. I have no desire to go down slides. I don't have to anymore. My kids have siblings to play with and the two younger kids are so incredibly social that they will happily ask (force) any other kid their age to play. (The oldest one would rather be alone in his imagination anyway.) They do not need me. In fact, they are WAY more able to play alone at the playground than at home. I sit someplace where I can see and hear them, and where they can see and hear me, and I pull out my book. On my Kindle.

Only, and here's my entire point, I recently got an iPhone 6.  The screen is plenty big enough for me to read on it without strain or issue. My Kindle and the Kindle app on my phone sync. The weather got warmer and I don't always need the jacket with pockets big enough for my Kindle. So I go to the park and I stare at my phone. I sit in my car on long waits and I stare at my phone. I stand in the aisle at walmart when my daughter takes 30 minutes (literally) to choose which $5 toy she wants and I stare at my phone. (There's no hurrying a 4 year old, and if you think I could make this go faster, without tears (mine) you'd be wrong.)

So last week Trish went on a business trip. (I swear I'm not picking on Trish. I LOVE YOU LADY!) While in the airport she posted this very nice Instagram pic:

A photo posted by trinicapini (@trinicapini) on

And I felt a little twinge. Ok, more than one twinge. First, so jealous of that #alllllllllllbymyself hashtag. Then when I got over that, I thought, "Wait. I don't read paper books. Ever. Is this a criticism of e-books?" because frankly, there's a good bit of judgement out there of e-books. Yes, still. Don't make me go find it, just trust me.  And then I realized she's probably just referring to the people who aren't reading at all, right? And I can mostly get behind that sentiment, I mean why wouldn't you whip out a book at the airport??

Then Trish came home, and she commented that no one on the plane seemed to be reading. That people were on their phones, but probably not reading.  If this was the case, then yes, it's sad. But (scroll up if you've already forgotten) how would she know? This has been bugging me since way before her trip, it's not about HER, not really. But I am also sad that when I pull my phone out and read the exact same book I'd be reading on my Kindle, that I ALWAYS have the thought "oh that guy on Facebook is SO judging me right now... and maybe Trish is too?" And by "Trish" I mean "everyone else at the park." If I were holding a paper copy of that book, I'm sure people would think "oh look at that mom, stealing a moment from what's probably a hectic life, to get some quality reading in." Right? No really, think about it. What is your assumption if you see a mom reading a paper book somewhere? You want to know what she's reading. Your first thought is NOT "Oh, she's ignoring her child."

The world likes to talk shit about people always being on their phones. Society is so anti-social now! Always staring at devices! And I agree, many people go too far. But I try really hard to not assume what they are actually DOING on it. The kid walking to school with his face down? How do you know he's not FaceTime-ing his mom? The woman who is sending a quick text as she goes into a meeting? How do you know she's not putting out volunteer PTO fires at her kids' school? (That was me, yesterday. And yes, it WAS time sensitive, and yes, it WAS important, to entire classes of 5th graders.)  The mom on her phone at the park?

When did it become ok to decide if other parents, other people, are wasting their own time?  Sure, if there were gross neglect, if my kid were beating up some other kid, if my dog were starting fights, but if everyone is happy?  I see this All. The. Time. in the reading blogging community. Don't make me go find examples, it's there. I'm sensitive to it, because of that ridiculous Facebook post years ago. I feel irate and criticized every single time. I notice it, every time. Why on earth am I not allowed to "waste" my time reading at a park I've been to a 100 times? I've seen it. I AM enjoying the beautiful day. Or I'm using reading to forget that I'm at the park on a gross day. If I were there alone, on a pretty blanket with my iced mocha and my paper book, and had instagrammed the occasion, I'd get 100 likes.  But if I'm on my phone on the bench, doing the exact thing, it's assumed I'm on email. If I were home on my couch watching American Idol while my kids played on the swingset would anyone bat an eye?

There's no easy way to end this post. No neat way for me to close it up without sounding even more defensive. So what do you think? Do you see an unfair assumption about moms (parents) in public? Do you feel hyper aware every time you dare do something of your own? Is it just me?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Going No Sugar

Last month Mike, Trish and I went on a strict no sugar diet. (I hate that the word diet implies a desire to lose weight. I use it to mean "eating plan.")  The rules we followed were fairly strict- no sugar, no added sweeteners, no artificial sweeteners, no honey, no fruit, no starches (bread, flour, potatoes, corn, sweet peas, rice, etc), no peanut butter. It was 21 days of strict eating. We went into it because we all had some poor eating habits, and some dependence of eating something sweet as a pick me up. I honestly thought," this will make me not want candy, but that that's all I (might) get out of it."

I was so wrong. I learned so much about food in general and processed food in specific. It completely changed the way I think about everything I eat. I learned that there is sugar in everything. Every. Thing. All those bottles of condiments, dressings, sauces, soy sauce, salsa, mayo. All of it. There is sugar in roasted almonds. There is sugar in most lunch meat, bacon, sausage, ham, jerky. Most yogurt, even plain yogurt. It was a long 3 weeks of reading labels. We ate a lot of salads and grilled chicken. Some days two meals a day.

I learned that even though  I thought sugar didn't really affect me, that I was so so wrong. That mid-morning "low sugar" shaky crash that I was just attributing to not eating "enough" breakfast? Completely gone. Even if I was hungry, it was just a localized feeling, not a full body faintness. In general, so long as I ate meals, I stayed on a more level keel. Also, I never thought of myself as someone who was regularly bloated or had um, digestive issues, but when I returned to eating sugar, specifically bread and pasta, I was suddenly aware of just how they make me feel and make my body react. While I was following the diet I didn't realize how well my body was working, but it was abundantly clear after eating pizza and cake at the boys' party last weekend.

Things that people said would happen, but didn't: My skin isn't magically glowing and clear. I didn't suddenly feel less tired/have more energy. When it was over and I had some Easter candy, it wasn't disgustingly sweet. I did want much less of it, but it wasn't shockingly sweet to me.

What I really truly didn't expect? That I'd lose 8 pounds. That it would linger, that I'd hold onto a lot of the new habits. That I'd consider doing it full time (with a few modifications, I'll get to that.) That snacking would be SO hard- every snack I ever relied on was out, leaving only nuts, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, carrots, and cottage cheese. These get really old, really fast. Especially if these are also what you eat for breakfast. That I would absolutely cringe when I tried to drink a soda afterwards.

As for doing it again- we are still working out how we want to approach it, but I think all three of us are going back to it, with some modifications. For example, I'm going to allow sweetened coconut milk in my coffee. Small amounts of fruit. Sugar Free peanut butter. Granola with a low sugar content. I'm going to "choose well" at restaurants, but not worry too much about being perfect. I'm going to allow beer. I'm going to look for sugar free options for sauces, but I'm not going to disallow soy sauce for having sugar. I'm not going to eat candy, pastries, fries, pizza, or bread with every meal. I'm going to allow myself a "fancy coffee" if I ever happen to be in a town with a Starbucks. When the local ice cream place has "coconut" for the flavor the day, I'm going to have some. I realize that some people just live like this, which is my goal. I'm realistic. I know I can't maintain it forever, but if I could make it my normal that would be terrific.

Now if I could only get my running routine back...

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Part Time Cowboy by Maisey Yates

So we all know how Lisa can't resist a cowboy romance. This makes no sense at all, because I have been to the rodeo and at least half of them wear their pants so tight you can't believe they can sit, let alone ride a horse.  Despite this, I can't resist so of course I requested Part Time Cowboy.

Here's your summary:

A onetime bad girl comes home to small-town Oregon in the first in a sexy, heartfelt new series from USA TODAY bestselling author Maisey Yates 

Sadie Miller isn't expecting any welcome-home parades on her return to Copper Ridge. Least of all from part-time rancher, full-time lawman Eli Garrett. The straitlaced, impossibly hot deputy sheriff glares at her as if she's the same teenage hoodlum who fled town ten years ago. But running from her demons has brought Sadie full circle, ready to make a commitment at last. Not to a man, but to a bed-and-breakfast. On Garrett land. Okay, so her plan has a tiny flaw… 

Eli works too hard to let a blonde ball of trouble mess up his town. But keeping an eye on Sadie makes it tough to keep his hands off her. And if she's so wrong for him, why does being with her feel so right?

Guys. This book is HOT. A lot of romances (but not all, let's not go to that stereotype, k?) contain s-e-x. Honestly, most of the time it's not exciting and I skim it for dialogue or internal dialogue. It's not that it's bad, or purple prose (at least not any more) but it's just not what I care about. THIS book tho? It's believable and hot and the tension is delicious.

Eli is going down (that's what she said!) as one of my favorite heroes. He is straight as an arrow and feels responsible for the entire world. He carefully maintains control of every detail of every aspect of his life, and attempts to control everyone else's. His youth was not happy, and while he logically knows the problems and situation weren't of his making, he can't shake the idea that if he can only control everything that nothing bad will happen again. Of course we can all see how this could turn out badly, right? Sadie is something he absolutely can not control, not the person and not his intense reaction to her. Only around her can he forget about everyone else for any time at all. Most people would revel in this bit of release from responsibility, but Eli sees it as abandoning his duty. These two things ultimately clash at the end, and it's just beautiful.

Sadie isn't really as wild as the summary, and Eli, believe. She too has a a serious history in this town, a secret history of heartbreak, and she's back to try and face that. Eli was a central figure in the events leading to her disappearance ten years ago and Sadie has to face up to the fact that he wasn't actually to blame. I hate that I can't say more without giving it away, but trust me when I say that her exploration of what really happened and his need for ultimate control, always, come together in a fairly heartbreaking manner.  They are so perfect together and you really just want to cheer for them. No one steps out of character and the resolution comes from both of them. I believe in them.

The dialogue is both witty and brutal without getting overly dramatic or hokey. The scenes with the siblings play out just as well as the ones between Eli and Sadie. The cast of secondary characters really round out the book. I've already got the second book, about Eli's brother Connor, on my Kindle and can't wait to dive in. I can't see at all how Yates is going to dig him out of the grief he feels for his dead wife.  Even Lydia, who also wants Eli's attention, is terrific. It looks like there are three potential books here (Eli, Connor, their sister Kate), plus a little novella, but I'd love to see the whole town get some action (Lydia, the bartender Ace, Alison.)

With Part Time Cowboy, Maisey Yates and jumped right onto my list of "grab every title you see" and I am seriously hopeful that she stays there.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Still the One by Jill Shalvis

Yay! More Shalvis! I was so sad that Lucky Harbor was over and just thrilled to find this one on NetGalley. I didn't realize that this was part of an already established series, and other than a few brief scenes it didn't end up mattering.

So what is it about?
Darcy Stone is game for anything except sexy Navy vet and physical therapist AJ Colten, the guy who’d rejected her when she’d needed him most. Now the shoe is on the other foot and he needs her to play nice and help him secure grants for his patients. Unfortunately Darcy can’t refuse. She needs the money to fund her passion project: rescuing S&R dogs and placing them with emotionally wounded soldiers.

AJ admits it-Darcy is irresistible. But he’s already been battle-scarred by a strong-willed, vivacious, adventurous woman like Darcy, and he’s not making the same mistake twice until he and Darcy are forced to fake a relationship. Growing closer than they’d ever imagined possible, Darcy and AJ have to ask themselves: how much between them is pretend? What’s the real thing? And where does it go from here?

First let me go ahead and say I read this a month or so ago, so the details are a little blurry. It's been a crazy month. This is book 6 in the Animal Magnetism series, and if I'm being completely honest, it could be in Lucky Harbor. The setting is familiar and comfortable, only the people are different. I found myself looking up the first five books in the series as I went along, because of course I did. This one centers around a vet clinic, and animals, as you might have guessed. I was a bit leery of this, I am not a fan of animals being main characters in books, but it was a non-issue.

Darcy and AJ are clearly meant for each other. They have both secretly been yearning for each other for years, and both feel that there's just no way it's going to happen. When they are mistaken for a couple at a crucial moment and play along to secure some funding, they are both forced to at least admit the attraction.  They both realize they are falling hard, but still cling to the idea that the other couldn't possibly. There was a lot to love in their interactions and with their history together the "insta-love" was really easy to believe.

The rest of the cast were interesting, and I'd love to see a story for the brothers that Darcy brings into the story.  Am I going to run out for the backlist? Probably not, but only because I have so many other books waiting in the wings (Except maybe for the brother, who I loved.) Am I going to follow along from here? Of course I am.

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