Tag Archives: Bloggiesta

Currently…Hibernation Sunday

It’s a day for staying indoors, given that it is all of 11 degrees outside as I write. Such is January in Pittsburgh. I skipped church because of the weather and a morning migraine that has, thankfully, subsided. We de-Christmased the house earlier, then I spent most of the day on the couch with a cup of rooibos tea with the Steelers-Miami game on as background (whooooo hoooo, Steelers!) while I caught up on some blog reading and perused Pinterest for some meal planning ideas. You know, the usual lazy Sunday.

The upcoming week will be busier than usual because I’m immersed in a big project at work. This will likely require a few later evenings, on top of several hours of work yesterday during a rare Saturday in the office to try and get ahead of the game.  I took today as a break from the work project which will wrap up this coming Friday the 13th … hopefully a luckier day than the date portends). The intensity is a short-term thing, but this has been in the works for a year, so it will be good to have some semblance of completion.

Reading …
I need to spend some time this evening with a new short story collection which I’m reviewing. (That deadline is Friday, too.) This one will be my first book of 2017, not to be confused with Sheila from Book Journey’s annual First Book of the Year project. I had all good intentions of participating in that but had to temporarily set aside my choice (The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes) to focus on the review book.

I spent a good chunk of my two-week Christmas break binge-watching “This Is Us” and am completely hooked on this show. I don’t watch much TV to begin with and I certainly didn’t need a new obsession, but here it is.  I have two more episodes to watch, which I plan to do right after hitting publish on this. Perfect timing for the season premiere this Tuesday.

Blogging … 
I’m planning to participate in the Winter 2017 Mini-Bloggiesta, scheduled for Jan 14-15.  If you’re new to Bloggiesta, it is described as “a blogging marathon revolving around ticking off those items on your to-do list and improving your blog while in the good company of other awesome bloggers doing the same thing.”

The timing is great because I’ll have a four-day weekend, thanks to the MLK holiday and a vacation day that needs to be used this month. To-do’s for this Bloggiesta include updating my Book Review page (and revising some others) and writing some posts. If you missed it last week, I shared my selections for the Best Fiction books of 2016 (meaning, those I read in 2016, not necessarily ones published during the past year). Even though the window of time for 2016 wrap up posts has pretty much closed, I still want to finish my Best Nonfiction post. I read a lot of stellar nonfiction last year that I’d really like to share with all of you.

OK, I’m off to finish watching “This Is Us” with a case of Kleenex at the ready. Hope your Sunday is going well and that you have a great week.

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Bloggiesta, Spring 2016 edition

Bloggiesta-Spring 2016

It’s Bloggiesta time again! For the uninitiated, Bloggiesta is “a blogging marathon revolving around ticking off those items on your to-do list and improving your blog while in the good company of other awesome bloggers doing the same thing.” (This description comes from the official Bloggiesta About page, which also has more info about the event.)

I wasn’t sure if I was going to participate this go-around and at the rate we’re going, this post might be the extent of my involvement.  I tend not to blog much during the week as it is, but there are a few things on my to-do list that could use some attention. (I will admit that I got a little bit of a jump start over this weekend.)

Write Pittsburgh Bloggers post. I’m participating in a local blogging thing in the next week and a half, which requires a post. Which isn’t written yet.  Which makes this one of my blogging priorities for this week.

Clean up Feedly. It’s been very slow for me lately, which makes me wonder if the sluggishness has to do with my subscribing to so many blogs or if there’s an issue with my laptop or something else altogether. I have a large folder called Blogs That Have Gone Defunct (i.e., not updated in more than a year) and I need to decide which ones are really worth keeping. I suppose I’m an optimist; I like to think all my favorite bloggers will come back … someday.

Finish writing reviews and posts. I have more than 200 posts in Drafts and the majority of them are incomplete book reviews.

Update my Book Reviews page. It’s hopelessly outdated. This is a time-consuming task, though, so the likelihood that this will happen this week is slim.

Participate in a Mini-Challenge. These always look so helpful and informative.

Are you participating in Bloggiesta? What’s on your blogging to-do list? 




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Sunday Salon/Currently …

Sunday Salon bannerCurrently …
Sunday afternoon, 4 p.m. This is a three-day weekend for me, which I am grateful for. It’s snowing outside with temperatures going down to 7 degrees tonight with wind chills near -15 (ugh) and football is on TV (go Steelers!).

Listening To …
The Lazy Weekend playlist on Spotify. As I mentioned in last week’s Salon, this is my new toy. Because of the layout of our office, several of my coworkers prefer listening to music on their phones and iPods during the workday.  I tried doing the same over the past week and it actually made me more productive at times.  I was pleasantly surprised.

I’m in a phase where I’m craving some new music, so if you have any suggestions for artists or playlists you love, I’m all ears. (Literally.) I like singer-songwriter types, indie-alternative, vocalists, that sort of thing. Some people who I’ve had in heavy rotation this week:  Josh Ritter, Death Cab for Cutie, Coldplay, Jackson Browne, Melissa Etheridge, Ben Folds, Dar Williams, Mary Chapin Carpenter …

and of course, Carly Simon because of what I’m …

Reading …
Boys in the TreesI love Carly Simon, so it is no surprise that I am enjoying her memoir, Boys from the Trees. It is quite eye-opening, to say the least.  In my view, this book is more autobiographical than memoir, but I’m OK with that because hers has been one hell of life.

The Heart Goes Last

This week, I finally finished The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood, my first book of the year — which wasn’t intended to be my First Book of the Year or even my second. I wasn’t too enamored of this one, to be honest. The premise was a good one and it held my interest for most of the first half, but then it became … I don’t know. I stopped caring about the characters and the plot became more and more farcical.  I listened to it on audio to start, and switched to the print edition to see if that made a difference. It didn’t.

Last night, sometime around 3 a.m., I remembered that this is a Bloggiesta weekend. Because, of course … isn’t everyone thinking about their blog in the middle of the damn night?  So, needless to say, I haven’t done anything related to this. I did start my review of The Heart Goes Last on Friday night and there’s this post, so there’s that.

Fortunately, this is a three-day weekend for me, so there’s still time to do some Bloggiesta-ing. I’d like to update my Book Reviews page, but we’ll see if that happens.  I’m not feeling the whole Bloggiesta groove this weekend, mainly because I have to focus on an essay I have in progress for something.

Hope your weekend is going well and that you’re keeping warm!

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a few things i’m doing

This thing called Life is kickin’ our collective asses around here lately. Maybe I’ll be able to write about it sometime, but for right now, in the midst of the muck, there are a few things I need to keep off the blog.  In between the hits, though, I’m finding myself in need of a few distractions … which, as we know, is the reason why we have The Internet.

Fortunately, all kinds of cool things are happening in the online world this fall.  Here’s what I’m doing to try and forget about Life for awhile.


My blogging friend Trish of Love, Laughter and (a touch of) Insanity is bringing back her fun Pin It and Do It Challenge for September and October. For whatever reason, I’ve recently re-discovered Pinterest, and this challenge will be a little kick in the pants for me to do some projects, try some new recipes, make some blog improvements and who knows what else.  Go to Trish’s blog for the official sign up, follow me on Pinterest, and have fun pinning and doing.


Speaking of blog improvements and whatnot, look what starts today – besides the first day of the planet Mercury losing its collective shit AGAIN and spinning the hell out of control in retrograde, that is. (Because, you know, I really need THAT nonsense right now.)  Bloggiesta is back, baby, and the Fall 2015 edition is happening now.

I really like this multi-day Bloggiesta format. I’m hoping to use this go-around to take care of a few housekeeping duties here on the blog. Not quite sure what, exactly, as a lot depends on how the week goes. I’m supposed to write an official Bloggiesta to do list as part of my participation post (which I guess this is), so we’ll keep it the same as all the other Bloggiestas I’ve done:

1) catch up on book reviews (and other posts) and
2) update the Book Reviews page here on the blog.

RIP X - 2015

image used with permission, property of Abigail Larson.

It’s September, and that means the return of the book blogging community’s beloved R.I.P. Reading Challenge. Short for R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril, this annual challenge created by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings is being hosted this year – the 10th! – by the wonderful Andi and Heather of The Estella Society. You can find all the R.I.P. details here.  I’m planning to participate in Peril the Second which means I’ll be reading two books of any length that fit within the R.I.P. categories (that includes mystery, suspense, horror, thriller, gothic, dark fantasy, supernatural types of reads and the like).



I’m not sure what books I’ll be reading for this year’s R.I.P. This might be one of those years where I make it up as we go.  Right now, I’m in the midst of The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, which seems to qualify. It definitely has the suspenseful, creepy factor. And I haven’t ruled out doing Peril the Short Story either because I am all about the short stories, yo.

Finally, thanks to the magic of Coursera and FutureLearn, I’m enrolled in four MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) right now:

Plagues, Witches and War: The World of Historical Fiction through the University of Virginia;
William Wordsworth: Poetry, People and Place through Lancaster University, in the UK;
Modern and Contemporary American Poetry (known as ModPo, for short), with the University of Pennsylvania.
Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance (with Monash University and which started on Monday but I haven’t shown up for class yet).

Like everything else, I’ll find my way there, albeit with a few side trips en route.

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sunday salon: ides of march edition

The Sunday Salon

Time and Place:
Sunday evening / the couch in the living room. As per usual.

Weekend Happenings?
Not much. The Girl went to a SibShop yesterday. It’s a support group for kids who have a sibling with special needs. It took me awhile to find such a group and they’ve increased the number of sessions to three weekends per month. A bit of driving around on the weekends, but as much as I might complain about trekking around Pittsburgh, it’s worth it because The Girl loves going and the facilitators are wonderful with her. Afterwards we enjoyed lunch at Panera and I came home and took a long nap.

Today’s been a lazy day. Grocery shopping was the extent of my activity. I should have done more, but I’ve had a bad headache all weekend and wasn’t up to it.

The last week or so has been a mixed bag on the bookish front, with everything from a book that will likely be on my Best Books I’ve Read in 2015 list to two DNFs.

The Paying GuestsLet’s start with what I loved. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters is …well, I was unable to put this down. Set in 1922, Frances Wray and her mother live together in their large South London mansion following the deaths of Frances’ brothers in the War and then her father’s illness. Her father’s mismanagement of the family’s finances makes it necessary for Frances and her mother to rent out some of their rooms. Newlyweds Lilian and Leonard Barber join the household as “paying guests” and change the dynamic of the Wray house – not to mention each one of their lives.

The Paying Guests also is on the just-announced longlist for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize for Fiction) along with 19 other contenders. I’ve read only one other nominee (Station Eleven) and if I had to choose between the two, I would definitely choose The Paying Guests.  Anyway, I’m hoping to have a full review up soon.

My DNFs were Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan – about a group of restaurant workers during their last night at a Red Lobster which is slated for closing – and Inside Madeleine, by Paula Bomer. The latter, a collection of stories, has been hyped for being evocative and daring; however, I read the first two (“Eye Socket Girls” and “Breasts”) and found both to be eh rather than edgy. It didn’t do much for me, so back to the library it goes.


Still completely addicted to and immersed in House of Cards. I’ve just started Season 2 and will hopefully have a chance to watch episode 2 and maybe 3 tonight.

ZZ: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald was on my TBR Goodreads list, but reading West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan made me more interested in picking this up.  Z is my audiobook this week.

Remember the #1000Speak post I did as part of 1000 Voices for Compassion? (Listening to Our Better Angels) Well, now this project has become a monthly thing and on Friday March 20 we’ll be writing on the theme of “Building from Bullying.”  Join us on the 1000 Voices for Compassion group on Facebook. 



Bloggiesta - Spring 2015Bloggiesta comes back this spring and it is better than ever! You guys, it is a week this time. A week! I have a to-do list a mile long for this blog, so I definitely could use that amount of time. Not sure what Bloggiesta is or what it involves? Click on the button to be taken to the Bloggiesta page or go here.


Daffodils - 3-8-2014

Look closely … my daffodils are coming up after a very long winter! You see them? Full disclosure: this is a photo from last March, taken on 3/8/2014, but they look the same right now.

This headache that I’ve had most of the weekend. I think it’s weather-related (yesterday was rainy and miserable) and I’m being very cautious about not taking much of anything like Advil or my Maxalt because I’m scheduled for a root canal tomorrow.

I actually hate the headache more than the root canal. This is long overdue – my dentist wanted to do this back in 2012, according to my chart (I conveniently forgot about that) and now this tooth is starting to bother me. So, as much as one can look forward to a root canal, I am.

Don’t laugh, but I really want to do some spring cleaning around the house. (I know … those of you who know me are probably thinking my blog’s been hacked.)  Every room in this house is a disaster and could use some freshening up. Nothing major – we don’t have the budget for anything crazy. I’m talking about some significant decluttering and deep cleaning (I might hire someone for that), framing some photos for the walls … simple things.

Hope your weekend has been a good one!


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It’s a Mini-Bloggiesta Weekend!


This is the perfect weekend for a Mini-Bloggiesta. It’s snowing outside (of course it is) with about another 3″- 5″ expected on top of anticipated plunge in temperatures (thank you, polar vortex). I’ve sworn off grocery shopping and everything for the weekend  remainder of this damn winter. We have the essentials and enough in the pantry to keep us full, so … Mini-Bloggiesta it is.

(Not sure what I’m talking about? Click on the links or image and join in the fun.)

In regard to my goals, I’m keeping things simple.

1. Book Reviews. As per usual, I’m behind. I have several needing to be written and some that are half-completed. I’m not going to get to all in the queue (I refuse to count how many are outstanding) but I’d be happy with finishing 3-5 reviews. (I wrote 3 reviews last weekend, during a pre-mini-bloggiesta catch up.) UPDATE: 1 review written 

2. Update the Book Review Index page. This is an eternal project from past Bloggiestas.

3.. Restaurant Reviews. There are 3 that come to mind that I’d like to do. I’m not sure if they will all happen, but I’d like to do one.

4. There are some other posts that I’d like to get written and pre-scheduled – at least one for Thursday.

5. Related to #3, clear out my Drafts folder and delete any unnecessary posts.

6. READ – that includes blogs as well as actual books, particularly one that is due back to the library on Monday with no renewals.

UPDATE: the library book is an e-book and all of a sudden, something is wrong with the formatting (first time this has happened). Onto a different book. 

UPDATE: Caught up on today’s blog posts –  all 135 of them! 

After all, if there is no reading, there is no blog.

Happy Bloggiesta-ing, mi amigos!

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Bloggiesta Weekend!


It’s time to Bloggiesta!

New to the party? No problemo! Bloggiesta is a blogging marathon created several years ago by Natasha from Maw Books Blog, and it’s open to everyone. The idea is to spend these next three days working on your blog and connecting with others doing the same thing.

We even have our own mascot. Say hello to my boyfriend PEDRO there in the corner. (He’s not ignoring you – just living up to the acronym of his name, which for Bloggiesta purposes stands for Plan. Edit. Develop. Review. Organize.)

Bloggiesta started yesterday, but I needed to focus on work and life matters to spend much time here. This rainy Saturday here in Pittsburgh will see that continue, and we have Pirates tickets for tomorrow. Still, I love this event and want to participate at least a little bit. Without further ado, below is my overly-ambitious Bloggiesta To-Do List, in no order). I’ll update this post as I get through my tasks (or not).

1. The biggest priority is the unfinished posts. When I imported my posts from Blogger to WordPress, ALL of my posts were published – including those I had in Drafts. (Yeah, that’s not too embarrassing.) I’ve gotten most of them, but every so often a few pop up. I need to do a complete review of this and decide what to do with these prematurely published pieces. (UPDATE: Sat 11:20 PM EST: This is tedious. And much more extensive than I anticipated. But, I’m making progress, so that’s something.)

2. Continue indexing my Book Reviews and add them to the appropriate pages. This has been an ongoing project. Most of them have been done, but not all. During last fall’s Bloggiesta, I checked/added all of my missing reviews through 2009. (UPDATE: SAT 11:20 PM EST: Added a few more reviews.)

3. Finish writing several book reviews lingering in Drafts. 

4. Create a checklist of where to post/promote a post once it’s written (i.e. Facebook pages, Twitter, Goodreads, LibraryThing, etc.)

5. Update editorial calendar for the fall.

6. Organize photos. (I use all my own photography on the blog. So, when I take pictures, I’m often taking them with future blog fodder in mind. It’s my own blend of geekery; I absolutely LOVE when a photo I took at the beach in 2008 is perfect for a post in fall 2013.) I need to move some of my recent photos to the appropriate Blog Photos folders.

7. Pre-write some posts.

8. Read. This includes getting caught up on blogs and books. (I spent some time on Friday afternoon doing this.)

All this in addition to continuing to spend some time editing Blood Draw, the upcoming novel by Melissa Luznicky Garrett.

Want to join in the party and see how others are Bloggiesta-ing? Go to the Bloggiesta page here.



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