4/8/21

Melanin Brown Discovers America Children's Book Spotlight


This morning, I have an early reader chapter book in our book spotlight! Check out Melanin Brown Discovers America, learn about author Candice Davis--and enter for a chance to win a prize in the book tour giveaway at the end of this post.

Book TitleMelanin Brown Discovers America by Candice Davis
CategoryMiddle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12),  96 pages
Genre: Early Chapter/Middle Grade
PublisherMascot
Release date:  April 2021
Content RatingG.
 

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About the Book


Melanin Brown is a girl far beyond her years who observes a brand new student being bullied at her school because of his ethics. This causes her to feel distressed, uncomfortable, and the treatment does not sit right with her. As she is given guidance from her parents, friends, and teachers, she also leans on her desire to treat people in the same manner in which she would want to be treated. Melanin finds how to confront disparate difficult situations while simultaneously navigating her own sense of truth and justice.

Melanin is the friend we all wish was in our group when we were in school. Kind, sincere, and smart, Melanin is a leader for our times whose compassion knows no bounds. Open these pages and accompany Melanin on her path to self-confidence!


Buy the Book

 Amazon ~ Mascot
B&N
Add to Goodreads 

 

Meet the Author

Candice Davis is a middle school Special Education Teacher in Washington, D.C., with a background in film. She started her career in education as a Curriculum and Personnel Specialist, writing grants and proposals. Due to her desire to have more of a direct impact with disadvantaged students, she transitioned into teaching. This is Davis’s debut book. She holds a M.Ed. in Educational Psychology with a focus in Social Foundations from the University of Virginia and a BA in Film and Video Studies from George Mason University.
 

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Why Pampering Yourself Increases Your Productivity


 For many years, we've lived in a culture in which the more work you take on, the more productive you're perceived as, and therefore more likely to succeed. Where does that place long vacations and self-care?

 


Research has found that though Americans have fewer vacation days than people from other countries, they've been taking fewer breaks over the last 15 years. In 2015, 55% of American employees didn't use their vacation leaves at all. Meanwhile, those who managed to take vacations still checked into their work while away.

 

And the most concerning of all is 84% of Americanexecutives canceled their vacations for work.

 

Sadly, many of us still think that working more increases our productivity. We still feel guilty about taking breaks, because it forces our colleagues to fill in for us. But what are vacation leaves for, if not to be used?

 

Contrary to the culture we've lived in, pampering yourself is actually the way to boost our productivity. Yes, taking long days away from work benefits your career in the end. Besides, going on a vacation doesn't mean you're abandoning your job. It simply means you're recharging because you're exhausted.

 

Breaks Help You Manage Stress Better

Vacations allow you to detach from work. According to organizational psychology professor Sabine Sonnentag, detaching from work helps you reduce burnout, which impacts your well-being and productivity. When you are disengaged from work, you can return more resilient in the face of stress, and therefore more productive. Even a quick weekend getaway is enough to recover from stress and burnout. But the longer you're away, the more relief you'll get.

 

After a vacation, 64% of people say they feel refreshed and excited to go back to work. As such, vacations are a win-win for employers and employees, considering that unused vacation leaves also cost companies $224 billion every year.

 

A Change of Pace Increases Your Creativity

CEOs across the world name creativity as the number one trait for all incoming employees. But Kyung Hee Kim, researcher and author of the book The Creativity Challenge, says that we are facing a dramatic "creativity crisis". Younger generations are apparently losing creativity scores, which the vacation may help resolve.

 

Vacations increase creativity because it exposes you to new and different experiences. It's the opposite of working behind a desk from nine to five, which only places you in the office, in front of a monitor. As much as the internet is capable of feeding you information and visuals beneficial for your creativity, it will never compare to actual nature. Hiking, for example, leads to a 50% spike in creativity, according to research. That's because you're actually interacting with nature when you're hiking, as opposed to simply researching what hiking feels like.

 

In fact, even idleness was found to create positive changes in the brain. Brain imaging studies show that daydreaming produces alpha waves in the brain that are key to creative insight and innovative breakthroughs. So if you space out at work, it could just be your brain automatically replenishing those waves. You surely find yourself brimming with more ideas after a few minutes of staring into space.

 

Self-care Improves Your Overall Health

Soaking in a hot tub or swimming pool does more than engage your senses. Self-care activities like such also trigger your body's relaxation response, which prevents chronic stress from damaging your health. And of course, good health means fewer sick leaves.

 

Moreover, self-care encourages you to engage in healthier habits, like eating healthful meals, getting enough sleep, balancing between leisure and work, and making time for your friends. Even if you choose to just indulge in a spa all day, you'll still receive the amazing health benefits of self-care.

 

A good amount of alone time is also helpful. Meditation allows you to perform self-reflection or lets your problems work out themselves at the back of your mind, instead of demanding all your attention. That simple act can rejuvenate your mind a great deal, allowing you to go back to work feeling more motivated.

 

How Often Should You Take Long Vacations?

While long vacations are essential for your productivity, taking too many of them in a year will hurt your productivity instead of boosting it. The goal is to achieve a healthy balance between work and leisure.

 

How often you should take long vacations depends on the number of your available leaves and the activities you enjoy. Generally speaking, you should aim for vacations that last seven to eleven days long every year. In other words, try to maximize your yearly vacation leaves. Engage in all the activities you love, in places that allow you to unplug. Avoid checking your work messages and emails while on vacation! If you're not detached, you won't get the full benefits of long vacations. 

 

You deserve a good long vacation for working so hard and barely taking care of yourself. So even if you do nothing for a whole week but sleep or get massages--don't feel guilty.  

4/7/21

Productivity Hacks for Small-business Owners Operating in a Remote Work Setup


Running a small business is like running a one-man show. From managing the entire business, handling the employees, taking care of customers, and generating sales, a business owner has to deal with these aspects while dealing with the ever-growing list of business-related responsibilities. 

 

To optimize operations, business owners have to look for ways to boost productivity, from increasing working hours to adopting cutting-edge technologies. In the manufacturing sector, business owners are capitalizing on manufacturing tech trends such as applying the highest-quality engineering resins and machinery and inventory management tools.

Productivity is always a key factor when running any form of business or organization. According to a survey by Oasis, an outsourcing provider of HR solutions, 52% of small-business owners reported that improving efficiency and productivity are their greatest concerns when managing a workforce.

You may run a business at home, but it shouldn't stop you from meeting the emerging needs of your employees and customers. Along with these changes, they may also drive you to alter the whole business process, which may cause confusion or huge adjustments. But in these times of stability or change, a good business should know how to maximize its productivity. With this in mind, here are some productivity hacks for small-business owners. 


Apply collaboration and communication tools in your work processes


In any situation, communication plays a key role in maximizing productivity. Since most businesses have to transition into a remote work setup, many have to put up with the lack of physical interactions. Although there are videoconferencing applications to make communication easier, these tools aren't enough to ensure team collaboration.

Because of the ever-increasing challenges brought by the pandemic, employers and their teams should familiarize themselves with different online applications to ensure proper coordination. Unfortunately, most employers tend to complicate the task by adding extra steps to their work process. But doing this will only endanger the efficiency of the entire operation.

Investing in online collaboration tools is the most efficient way to manage a remote team. These tools have been dominating the business world because of their ability to facilitate effective communication. They often consist of live updates, performance analytics, visual displays, and other features to measure employees' productivity.

Business communication platforms with file-sharing services allow companies to streamline communication in a single main hub. The participants can easily edit documents, transfer files, and contribute ideas, all in real-time. Some of the popular platforms include Google Drive, Slack, and Hubspot. 


Ensure accountability at all times

Accountability is very critical for businesses that operate outside the traditional office environment. While others measure productivity through working hours, it still doesn't guarantee if the employee made use of those hours efficiently.

To ensure total transparency in a remote work setup, the employer must ensure that all employees are maximizing the number of work hours required for them. A quick Google search will provide time-tracking applications that monitor employee time ins and provide notifications if they submitted the required work hours.

If employees are having problems in terms of productivity, assign daily targets or goals to improve productivity and morale. In fact, people work effectively if they have a predetermined and clear objective with a definite deadline. Do this by breaking down the objectives into subgoals to provide a set of outcomes every week. This way, you will have clear expectations and insights about the weekly and monthly targets of the staff. 


Consult the team


Have you ever wondered why some employees are taking so long with a certain task? Most employers solve this issue by redefining the workflow without consulting the employee. Unfortunately, doing this can negatively affect productivity by complicating tasks you can just simplify.

If an employee is taking too long with a specific task, discuss and investigate the matter with them. But instead of accusing them, structure your inquiry as a curiosity. For example, don't question why a task is taking too long; frame it by asking about the issues they encounter and offering help to improve their performance.

There will be times when employees feel hesitant to provide honest critiques about the company. Solve this by distributing anonymous surveys to encourage them to express their concerns. Just make sure to create tailor-fit questions for each department and include open-ended prompts.

As you might observe, improving the productivity of a business is not about pressuring employees to work harder or increasing the work hours, but rather it is knowing how to apply smart changes and optimizing work efforts to produce quality work in a short amount of time. Follow these productivity hacks and witness your business grow while making employees happier than ever.

4/6/21

Cleo Can Tie a Bow Children's Book Review & Book Tour Giveaway



 

Many of our posts contain affiliate links.
Should you purchase an item via our links--we may receive slight compensation from an
affiliate partner. 


About the Book

  


Cleo can tie a bow. She learned from a rabbit and a fox. They can help you learn to tie one, too. Great parent-child activity for learning to tie a bow with any ribbon or string - including shoe laces.

 

My Review

 

Imaginative Story Helps Teach a Life Skill. Cleo Can Tie a Bow brings fun, creative characters to life to help little ones learn to tie bows. As a parent, teaching shoe tying skills sometimes requires a bit of creativity to keep the task learning from becoming dull. The author and illustrator create a colorful, fun story to give children a slightly different look at bow tying. 

 

The Author Offers Step by Step Bow-Tying Instructions. Sometimes, children just need to see (or read/hear) instructions presented in a slightly different way to encourage them to keep trying to master a new skill! The bow-tying tips and education that the author gives toward the end are well done and easy to understand. The book offers a great way to encourage the kids to follow the fox's directions (like Cleo does with her sash) and try the "fox's way" to learn bow tying. 

 

Would I Recommend Cleo Can Tie a Bow by Sybrina Durant? As three girls' mom, I think this is an adorable book for little girls to learn bow tying. Even my two tom-boy daughters still loved butterflies and bows--and pink things--and played many imaginative games with stuffed animals. The story is easy to read--and offers an opportunity to work on bow tying skills! The author even makes sure to remind readers that the bunny ears tied in her book are fictional--and that real bunnies or long-eared animals should never serve as bow-tying practice objects. Cleo Can Tie a Bow is a cute, imaginative way to illustrate a difficult skill to children, and I would recommend it to little girls especially learning to tie shoes and bows!

 

Buy the Book
Amazon
add to Goodreads


Meet the Author

I've been writing creative and technical works for years. Many of my songs are on Youtube and Itunes. Two of my books are available as ebooks online. They are "Learn To Tie A Tie WIth The Rabbit And The Fox" and "Sybrina's Phrase Thesaurus".

connect with the author: website ~ twitter ~ facebook ~ pinterest ~ instagram ~ goodreads
 

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4/5/21

Let's Talk! A Story of Autism and Friendship Book Spotlight & Book Tour Giveaway



Book TitleLets Talk! A story of Autism and Friendship by Lisa Jacovsky
CategoryChildren's Fiction (Ages 3-7), 32 pages
Genre:  Children's Picture Book
PublisherLisa Jacovsky
Release date:   July 2020
Formats Available: hardback, ebook

Tour dates: Mar 29 to Apr 16, 2021
Content Rating:  G.

Many of our posts contain affiliate links.
Should you purchase an item via our links--we may receive slight compensation from an
affiliate partner. 


About the Book


Harper, a seven-year-old little girl that is typically developing, meets a new friend one day at the pool that is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. They both love to swim at the pool and want to play together however, Emma has little communication skills. Emma can make sounds and not words and flaps her hands when she is excited. When Harper realizes she cannot communicate with her new friend she becomes determined to find a way to. She begins to learn about Autism Spectrum Disorder and the different ways that Emma can communicate. Once she does the two become inseparable. Harper introduces Emma to all her friends and teaches them how to communicate with Emma. Harper and Emma become the center of their circle of friends and have more many more adventures together. 


Buy the Book 

Amazon
BAM ~ B&N ~ IndieBound
add to Goodreads

 
Meet the Author

Lisa Jacovsky currently is a doctoral level student at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She is excited the possibilities having her Doctorate degree will bring her. She has been in the field of ABA since 2014. She began working with children with Autism in 2018 and is currently working in Early Intervention. It is her experience with children that inspired her to finally fulfill her dream of writing a book. Lisa began writing short stories when she was seven years old. Writing is her passion and one of many things she enjoys. She is excited for the future of her series Lets Talk!.

connect with the authors:  website ~ twitter ~ facebook ~ instagram ~ goodreads
 

Follow the Book Tour

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Enter the Giveaway

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4/3/21

Cheese Steak Flatbread Pizza Recipe


My daughters love flatbread--and generally add them to our shopping list most weeks!  They use flatbread for lunchtime sandwiches and pizzas at least once a week.  The latest flatbread pizza creation is this yummy cheese steak flatbread pizza that has become a hit when there are steak leftovers--or when we have only a steak or two for dinner for the family of four!  What is my go-to recipe for cheese steak flatbread pizzas?  

 We are sharing this post as part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge!  C is for Cheese Steak Flatbread!

Two Slices of flatbread pizza topped with grilled steak, mushrooms, onions, peppers, bacon & cheese

Ingredients for Cheese Steak Flatbread Pizzas

4 Roasted Garlic Naan Flatbread (I use Stonefire brand Naan when available) 

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan Cheese

1 lb. Grilled Strip Steak, Cut into Bite Sized Pieces (I season with Kansas City Steak Rub and grill to medium or medium well.)

1/2 c. Chopped Green Bell Peppers

1/2 c. Chopped Yellow Onion

1/2 c. Chopped Mushrooms

4 Slices Bacon, Fried and Diced into Bite Sized Pieces

2 c. Shredded Provolone or Italian Blend Cheese 

 

Pinnable Image for a Cheese Steak Flatbread Pizza Recipe Idea

Instructions for Cheese Steak Flatbread Pizzas

Preheat Oven & Prepare a Baking Sheet.  Preheat oven to 350°F and line two standard sized cookie or baking sheets with aluminum foil.  Spray with Cooking spray if desired.

 

Season the Flatbread. Place two flatbread rounds on each baking prepared baking sheet.  Brush each flatbread liberally with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese. 


Saute the Vegetables Lightly.  In a small saute pan or skillet, heat a tablespoon of Olive oil until hot.  Add the onions, pepper, and mushrooms,  Saute until the vegetables are crisp tender--about 3-4 minutes--or cooked through if you would prefer your pizza vegetables fully cooked.   Toss the steak into the pan and cook for an additional minute or two to heat the steak through.

 

Build the Cheese Steak Flatbread.  Divide the steak and veggie mixture into four portions and spread evenly over each flatbread.  Sprinkle each flatbread with 1/4 of the bacon and shredded cheese.

 

Bake the Cheese Steak Flatbread.  Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and breads are slightly warmed.

 

Cut & Serve.  Cut each flatbread into randomly shaped slices and serve.  We generally serve with green salad and french fries or potato chips.

 

 


Cheese Steak Flatbread Pizzas

Cheese Steak Flatbread Pizzas

Author: Angela Thompson
Make these yummy flatbread pizzas inspired by the flavors of cheesesteak sandwiches!

Ingredients

  • 4 Roasted Garlic Naan Flatbread (I use Stonefire brand Naan when available)
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 lb. Grilled Strip Steak, Cut into Bite Sized Pieces (I season with Kansas City Steak Rub and grill to medium or medium well.)
  • 1/2 c. Chopped Green Bell Peppers
  • 1/2 c. Chopped Yellow Onion
  • 1/2 c. Chopped Mushrooms
  • 4 Slices Bacon, Fried and Diced into Bite Sized Pieces
  • 2 c. Shredded Provolone or Italian Blend Cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat Oven & Prepare a Baking Sheet. Preheat oven to 350
  2. °F and line two standard sized cookie or baking sheets with aluminum foil. Spray with Cooking spray if desired.
  3. Season the Flatbread. Place two flatbread rounds on each baking prepared baking sheet. Brush each flatbread liberally with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese.
  4. Saute the Vegetables Lightly. In a small saute pan or skillet, heat a tablespoon of Olive oil until hot. Add the onions, pepper, and mushrooms, Saute until the vegetables are crisp tender--about 3-4 minutes--or cooked through if you would prefer your pizza vegetables fully cooked. Toss the steak into the pan and cook for an additional minute or two to heat the steak through.
  5. Build the Cheese Steak Flatbread. Divide the steak and veggie mixture into four portions and spread evenly over each flatbread. Sprinkle each flatbread with 1/4 of the bacon and shredded cheese.
  6. Bake the Cheese Steak Flatbread. Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and breads are slightly warmed.
  7. Cut & Serve. Cut each flatbread into randomly shaped slices and serve. We generally serve with green salad and french fries or potato chips.
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