Find a Hobby (and Become a Lifelong Learner)

    Project 44, Find a Hobby (and Become a Lifelong Learner), is the one that when I first glanced at the table of contents I thought “I’ve got that one already.”

    There are certainly plenty of these projects where I’d never done them at all (like the eco-friendly skin care), or had barely tried them (like last week’s eat locally), but this one? This one is so taken care of.

    I’m not trying to sound smug, because it’s an easy one for me, so it’s like telling someone who grew up in a bilingual family all about the benefits to learning a second language. Yup, got it, no problem.

    See, if it wasn’t already obvious what with the new book blog I started last month, I love to read. It’s my favorite hobby. It’s the main one I do in this season of life (although someday I hope to get back to some of my others). And reading is such an easy way to dovetail with being a lifelong learner – I do read some light fiction, but I try and steer clear of trashy fiction. And I read a lot of nonfiction. {Speaking of nonfiction, did you see that my 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads starts over at the new blog today?}

    I’m self-taught in some basic CSS & HTML, as well as dabbling in JavaScript and PHP. I’d love to get into more programming, but again, that’s something that’s been pushed aside while my kids are so young.

    I hope to homeschool and one of the things I’m most excited about is the opportunity to learn more myself about many areas where my education was piecemeal. We moved around just enough while I was growing up so that I missed out on some foundational stuff in English and math, so I’m hoping homeschooling will help me make my grammar impeccable. Currently I’ve got few weak areas relating to it. {hanging my head in shame.}

    What’s your favorite hobby? And do you consider yourself a lifelong learner?

    Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you buy a copy of One Bite at a Time using my link, I’ll get a percentage of the price, but it won’t cost you anything extra. Thank you for supporting my blog!

Introducing The Deliberate Reader


I’ve mentioned it a few times, but today I’m officially launching my new blog, The Deliberate Reader. It’s going to be in addition to this one, although at least through October I’ll be dropping my posting frequency here down to three times a week. It’s not just a matter of getting used to a new blog, but because in October I’m going to be kicking off a “31 Days” series over there & it’ll keep me plenty busy. :)

I’d love it if you’d join me over there. I’ll be moving my book review and other book-related posts to the new blog. Other post topics will include favorite books from the past, and tips about finding great books and the time to read them.

If it sounds good to you, you can get The Deliberate Reader by email, or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Hope to see you over there!

Week in Books: Twitter for Good & 31 Days of Twitter Tips

Twitter for Good: Change the World One Tweet at a Time by Clair Diaz-Ortiz

I wanted to like this, but it is so clearly focused on business or non-profit Twitter accounts that it’s usefulness was limited. The examples didn’t really inspire me, and other than giving me a kick-in-the-pants to set up some lists on Twitter I don’t think I took any actions after reading the book.

It wasn’t terrible or anything, it simply wasn’t for me. Unless you’re tweeting for your company or nonprofit, or developing a Twitter strategy for your job, I’d skip it.

31 Days of Twitter Tips: Grow Your Twitter Influence – 12 Minutes at a Time by Becky Robinson of Weaving Influence

This I do recommend, whether you’re using Twitter for a personal account, in conjunction with a blog (like I do), or for your job. While some of her tips were really basic, and some didn’t interest me at all (such as the tip to look at trending topics), most of her tips were useful and doable. Her writing is also perfect for the structure of the book – concise and clear and very motivating.

I appreciated her emphasis on using Twitter even if you have minimal time – her tips were all designed to be able to be done in 12 minutes (although you could spend more time if you want). I was really pleased with the e-book, and if you haven’t already grabbed it before the end of the month don’t delay – it’s free through August 31.

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Week in Books: Cook This Now and WordPress Design for Dummies

Cook This Now: 120 Easy and Delectable Dishes You Can’t Wait to Make by Melissa Clark

A delightful cookbook arranged seasonally, with an introduction to each season, and further introductory remarks for each month. The recipes all include tempting back-story information, which is the sort of thing that makes reading cookbooks so enjoyable for me. Despite not finding many of the recipes tempting (I hate seafood too much for some of her dishes to appeal at all), I still read every recipe, and liked the stories behind them.

I also found a few to try, although I have not yet cooked or baked them. (The Mallobar Recipe from January is calling my name, along with some of the others. Especially the sweets. I have such a sweet tooth, and I adore reading general cookbooks from authors who admit to having one as well; so many chefs seem to scorn sweets that I like it when I run across the ones who don’t.)

Wordpress Design for DummiesWordPress Web Design For Dummies by Lisa Sabin-Wilson

This was good but not great, but that’s probably more because it wasn’t really what I was hoping it would be. If you’re wanting to create your own WordPress Theme, this has some great info, but it seems inconsistent on level of detail. I’m pretty good with HTML and CSS, and some parts were super basic, but then other sections had me scratching my head and thinking that I’d need to go over it again and again to understand.

My biggest complaint is the lack of images or pictures demonstrating what she’s explaining in the text – there are some, but some parts that would have really benefited from an illustration don’t have one. Food Blogging For Dummies was much better at always including an image when the text warranted one, and I think that book was a much better fit for what I wanted (despite me not writing a food blog). Unless you’re really wanting to get into the nuts and bolts of the technical side of WordPress Design, I’d pass on this one. And if you’re at all interested in blogging, I think the Food Blogging for Dummies is terrific (again, even if you’re not a food blogger, but assuming you don’t mind translating post types and niche discussions from food topics to your blog topic).

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Review: Counterfeit Gospels

Title: Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope
Author: Trevin Wax
Category: Nonfiction / Christian Living
Length: 240 pages
Format: Trade Paperback
Release Date: 2011
Publisher: Moody Publishers
ISBN: 080242337X / 978-0802423375
My Rating: 5 Stars

[A] counterfeit gospel will always leave our souls impoverished…. in most cases, counterfeit gospels represent either a dilution of the truth or a truth that is out of proportion. There may still be enough of a saving message to reconcile us to God, but the watered-down version never satisfies our longings. Nor will it empower us for service or embolden our witness before a watching world.

Trevin Wax’s Counterfeit Gospels is a powerful explanation of the true gospel and provides help in recognizing and responding to six common counterfeits to it.

The book begins by explaining the current crisis in the Church regarding the biblical gospel verses counterfeits , describes the three parts to the gospel (story, announcement, and community) and then details six counterfeit gospels that focus on one of those parts.

Part 1 is about the gospel story, followed by its counterfeits: the therapeutic gospel and the judgmentless gospel.

Part 2 is about the gospel announcement, followed by its counterfeits: the moralistic gospel and the quietist gospel.

Part 3 is about the gospel community, followed by its counterfeits: the activist gospel and the churchless gospel.

For each counterfeit, Wax explains the background to it, other forms of it (often describing Evangelical versions of it), what makes it attractive, how to counter it, and key Scripture truths refuting the counterfeit.

I found the structure of the book was really helpful in understanding Wax’s arguments, and I especially appreciated the “what makes it attractive” portion of the description of the various counterfeits . It made it easier for me to understand how and why believers could fall for some of them, and to recognize areas that are especially tempting for me to slip away from the true gospel. Following that section immediately by ways to counter the counterfeit is very effective and helpful.

Highly recommended.

Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions I have expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

Week in Books {Hatmaker, Fowler, Scott}

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

I’m a big fan of Hatmaker, and her latest seemed like a natural extension from her previous book, Interrupted (mini-review here). While I’m not going to replicate her project exactly, it was very inspiring and got me thinking about how I could adapt the challenge to fit my life (and the areas where I most need it!)

I’ve seen lots of other bloggers talking about this book, especially this summer, when there seems to be an informal “Summer of 7″ going on around the blogosphere. It’s an intriguing idea, and I’m considering being a late-starter with it, but I’m not sure what the best way to put some of the concepts into practice in my life is.

That, plus I’m not sure about how to convince my husband to go along with me, and I don’t know that I want to try to drag my kids into some aspects of it.

State Fair by Earlene Fowler

I love mysteries, and I especially love mystery series. I love getting to know characters, and feel like they’re old friends. So even though this wasn’t one of my favorites in the series, I’ll still read the next one. This one felt fairly preachy, but I still like Benny and her family. If you haven’t already been reading the series, I wouldn’t recommend this one as a stand-alone mystery.

It’s also nice to occasionally have an easier read to intersperse with ones that require more effort, because I’m working on a couple that are definitely more demanding.

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott.

Yes, I did read the illustrated, abbreviated version of Ivanhoe. No, I’m not ashamed to admit it. September’s bookclub read is Ivanhoe. The “real” version of Ivanhoe that I have is 367 pages. This one was around 200, and half of those pages were illustrations. I read the quick version to get a general understanding of the story, so that when I read the full version I’m not trying to keep all the names straight and figure out what’s going on with the plot.

This is my first time reading a classic where I first read an abbreviated version, so I’ll see how I like it. Maybe I’ll wish I’d jumped right into the regular version!

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Week in Books

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom with John and Elizabeth Sherrill.

August’s bookclub pick, and I’m so glad it was. I read this years ago (maybe in high school? Sometime around then) and had forgotten many of the specifics. Holocaust memoirs and biographies are a subgenre in which I’ve read extensively, and this is a fantastic one. It’s also great because the detail level keeps it more appropriate for younger readers than some others in the genre.

I’m really looking forward to the meeting next week and the discussion about the book. I’m curious to know what everyone else thought about it!

Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson.

I wanted to love this book, because the premise is terrific. But the examples given are so far from how I can imagine actually speaking to my kids that the usefulness was diminished. It may just be because my kids are so little, but a lengthy response preaching the gospel to my son when he whacks his sister won’t really accomplish much in my opinion.

But again, he’s only three, so I’m not sure that it’s completely a fair complaint. It’s just not right for our stage yet. I do think I’ll reread it when my children are a little older, because I really liked their emphasis on Christian parenting verses moral parenting.

Urban Pantry: Tips and Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable and Seasonal Kitchen by Amy Pennington.

I’ve read so many cookbooks and food blogs, so a three star / “good” rating seems worse than it really is. The book was fine, and if you’re new to really making use of your pantry you may find it much more helpful. There were details about some ingredients that I don’t use all that regularly, but none of her recipes for utilizing them really tempted me. The best part of it for me was the reminder that you don’t have to have an enormous pantry or endless amounts of space to take advantage of a pantry. The author lives in New York; I am 100% positive that I have gobs more available space than she does, so what am I doing to use that storage space wisely?

Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A. J. Jacobs.

I wish I hadn’t bothered with this one. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t really worth the reading time. I liked his The Year of Living Biblically more, but this one had more what had annoyed me in the other. Some aspects of his personality annoy me and make me less interested in reading about a project that’s all about him. I was also somewhat upset by the end of the book when a relative of his develops leukemia (specifically, AML) and he tosses out the stat that she only has a 10% chance of still being alive in 5 years even if chemo succeeds in putting her into remission.

Yeah, my brother has a very rare combination of leukemia – both ALL and AML. I have specifically NOT been researching what his odds are, and the 5 or 10 year survival rate. It was a smack of reality I didn’t want to read. I do realize that this is an unfair reason to not like the book, but I wasn’t crazy about it before getting to that part. It just more of a final “why on earth did I bother reading this?” kind of moment.

The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz
Although it’s extremely dated, I still enjoyed it overall. Lots of inspirational ideas and motivation; you just have to look beyond the gender stereotypes, and the jarring dollar amounts. Oh, inflation, how you have changed what is a high salary or stretch price for a home.

I think it must have been really revolutionary for its time, because it’s so often included on recommended/life-changing lists that I’ve seen. And I think a lot of Brian Tracy and others work is better, but perhaps they’re just building on the foundation that Schwartz laid.

{This one was actually read earlier, but I forgot to include it in the appropriate week. And I don’t want to neglect it. :) }

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