#ReadWomen2014 – Jennifer Holland

Categories: News, Pets


Thanks to her mother’s DNA, Jennifer S. Holland has loved animals since the womb. When combined with her love of writing, she’s a force to be reckoned with. This is apparent through her book Unlikely Friendships, the phenomenal New York Times bestseller. Unlikely Friendships documents one heartwarming tale after another of animals who, with nothing else in common, bond in the most unexpected ways. In her follow-up book, Unlikely Loves, Jennifer explores animal attachments that, in human terms, can only be called love.

To celebrate the publication of her newest book, Unlikely HeroesJennifer is our #ReadWomen2014 author for October! Unlikely Heroes uncovers and celebrates yet another side of animals that we often think belongs primarily to people—heroism, that indefinable quality of going above and beyond, often for altruistic reasons, often at great personal risk.  

unlikely family

Enter to win the entire Unlikely Friendships Collection from our friends at Page-A-Day here and read what Jennifer had to say about her latest book, hero animals, and more below!

Q: What is your definition of a hero pet? Where did you get the idea to write this book?

A: For me a hero animal can mean anything — I use the term broadly in this case. Although I don’t expect they know it, animals that put themselves at risk to help another animal or a person are heroic — like the Leonberger (a huge dog) in Unlikely Heroes who jumped into the river to help his owner who was being swept away. I also consider therapy animals heroic for their commitment to making people’s lives better. Even animals that serve a conservation effort, such as surrogate mom sea otters or dogs that protect cheetahs or other animals, are doing something heroic. Even if they’re trained to act in some of these cases, I give them credit — just as I would to a fire fighter who’s job it is to act valiantly.

Q: When you were researching this book, what was the most personally touching story of a hero pet you came across?

A: It’s hard not to be touched by stories of soldiers who get through their hardest days with an animal by their side. For example, in Unlikely Heroes there’s a man who bonded with a stray cat while he was on a military base overseas, and that cat’s affection kept him steady during tragedy. Often, dogs feature in that type of story. I am also touched by the animals that bring smiles to sick kids and elderly folks, like Rojo the llama. But I also want to mention Naki’o, the pup on the cover of the book, who survived a terrible ordeal but maintained a wonderful spirit and a sweet and gentle demeanor toward people. I love that dog for his heroic attitude.

Q: Who was the most surprising or shocking hero animal?

A: One of them would have to be Gimpy the elephant seal. This is an animal that isn’t typically seen as “kind” to humans — in the wild they are pretty ornery — you wouldn’t want to approach one. But this particular animal seemed to realize that the keeper was a friend and came to the man’s rescue when other seals were set to attack him. It’s really remarkable! I’m also amazed by the story of the parrot who put words together that he never had before in order to alert the babysitter that the little girl was choking.

Q: What organizations are doing work with working animals that train to be heroes?

A: There are a lot of them, and what they do is fantastic. You have organizations that train dogs (or in one case, rats!) to sniff out bombs and mines, others that sniff out drugs or find missing people. Even some that help track endangered species for conservation purposes. Then there are the animals trained to help people with disabilities, and to give back to returned veterans suffering the mental or physical effects of war. My mother-in-law volunteers with one of those, a non-profit called Hero Dogs, located in Maryland. She’s actually keeping one of the puppies right now that will eventually be placed with a war veteran who needs help. Another group, called Helping Hands, trains little monkeys to be assistants and companions for people with disabilities. Both the animals and the people training them in these cases are heroes to me.

Q: What are your favorite animal charities, and why?

A: I’ve always been a fan of the local groups that are really on the ground, pulling animals out of hoarding or abuse situations and caring for them until they can be placed in new homes. These non-profits are usually staffed by lots of volunteers (or low-paid employees); there isn’t any real money in the business and the workers have to do a lot with few resources. People do the work because they care, and they are tireless in their efforts on animals’ behalf. When I make donations I usually seek out those kinds of hands-on organizations. I’ve also donated to groups that go after a natural disaster and try to round up injured or abandoned animals and get them care of into love homes.

Q: Who are your favorite female authors?

A: I have a hard time picking favorites but I can think of authors I’ve read recently whom I’ve liked a lot. I must admit I rarely read books about animals because I’m steeped in that kind of thing for my work. Most recently I red a couple of books by Mary Karr that were so so beautifully written — in particular her memoir called Lit. I also love Mary Roach (Stiff, Gulp, and others) for her humor and great approach to scientific topics that you might otherwise not want to read about. Jeanette Walls (The Glass Castle) writes “can’t put it down” books. And Laura Hillenbrand, who wrote Seabiscuit and Unbroken, is an absolutely amazing storyteller. I think people who can turn an incident or a life into such compelling reading are really talented.

Don’t forget to check out and order your 2015 Unlikely Friendships Wall Calendar and/or the Unlikely Friendships Mini Calendar — both are irresistible gifts for animal lovers of all kinds!





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Where The Cookbook Comes In

Categories: News

Recently, food critic Adam Platt visited élan, the new restaurant from David Waltuck of Chanterelle fame. The review more or less boils down to one suggestion: skip élan, and pick up a copy of Waltuck’s cookbook Staff Meals instead. According to Platt, Staff Meals is a “durably excellent cookbook… and contains seminal chef-savvy recipes for now-trendy comfort-food specialties like burgers, fried chicken, and even a corn dog.”


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Platt calls out a few of the recipes from the book including chicken pot pie, buttermilk-dipped fried chicken, and the classic burger with fresh butter, chopped garlic, and Dijon, but the one we felt most compelled to share (and make… and eat… immediately), is the Staff Meals Aioli BLT.


Aïoli BLTs from Staff Meals from Chanterelle

Yield: 6 servings


  • 1 pound good-quality, thickly sliced smoked bacon
  • 12 slices good-quality white bread, toasted
  • ½ cup Aïoli
  • 6 leaves romaine lettuce
  • 6 large slices fresh, ripe tomato
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Cook the bacon as directed in the box on the following page.
  3. Lay out 6 of the bread slices and spread each with some of the aïoli, using about ¼ cup. Assemble the sandwiches by layering on the lettuce, tomato, and bacon, then sprinkle a healthy grinding of pepper over it all.
  4. Spread the remaining aïoli on the remaining bread slices, then place 1 slice on each sandwich, aïoli-side down. Press down lightly and cut crosswise into halves to serve.
  5. For the Aïoli: Place the egg yolks, vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender. Process until the mixture is frothy, it turns lighter in color, and the garlic is finely chopped, about 1 minute. With the machine running, slowly add the oils through the feed tube in a thin, steady stream, about 2 minutes. The aïoli will emulsify nicely to a thick, smooth consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

The Secret of Perfect Bacon: When restaurants use bacon, they generally need to cook a lot of it. Instead of frying it in a pan on top of the stove, professional cooks lay the bacon strips in a sheet pan (you could also use a rimmed baking sheet, such as a jelly-roll pan) and bake in a preheated 350°F oven until crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain on paper towels before using. The bacon strips will curl up very little, if at all; they usually come out good and flat, which makes them easier to use.


For more recipes like this, check out Staff Meals from Chanterelle by David Waltuck.

GET THE BOOK: Amazon | B&N | eBooks.com | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo

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The Burst! Workout 10 Day Challenge

Categories: Books in Action, Diet and fitness, Health, In the office, Live by the Book, Sports

Here at Workman, we are a get-up-and-go kind of bunch.

We prove that daily with our passionate book-making and -selling, our unbeatable party planning, and even our amazing baking (and fundraising!) skills. And more recently, with our company-wide wellness initiative. With this summer’s selfie scavenger hunt, we got on our feet and out into the sunshine, and our Workman Running club which launched in July has been steadily growing (not to mention, trucking!) ever since.

So when author Sean Foy challenged us to a 10 Day Burst Workout Challenge to kick off the release of his new book The Burst! Workout, naturally we had to accept.

jacket image for The Burst! Workout


Every day, over the course of 10 days, Sean emailed  us (and anyone else who signed up online) a Burst Minute Move to get us up out of our chairs and moving. The great thing about these moves is that they can be done anytime, anywhere (read: at your desk!) with no equipment or gym membership necessary. Who hasn’t had those days when you just want to do a quick 60 seconds of air boxing at your desk?

The Burst Workout Challenge took form in our office in a number of ways.

The Credit department decamped to the stairwell to practice 60 seconds of Burst Stair Stepping:

Editorial gathered for a group Burst Wall Sit:

and the Workman Running Club paused at the halfway mark on their runs to do some Burst Chair Push-Ups.

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But it wouldn’t be very Workman-like to only do 10 days of The Burst Challenge… Since you can sign up for the Burst Workout Challenge any time, lots of Workman employees have kept their exercise up by participating in the Challenge again this week!

You can join the Challenge any time by signing up to receive Sean’s emails at burstworkout.com.


jacket image for The Burst! Workout




GET THE BOOK: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Powell’s | Workman




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The Magic Pattern Book Is Hittin’ The Road

Categories: Authors on tour, Crafts and hobbies, News


The Magic Pattern Book is hittin’ the road, stopping at sewing and fabric stores and Expos across the country.

Starting this weekend The Magic Pattern Fashion Show will be traveling with the Original Sewing and Quilting Expo. Author Amy Barickman will be on hand at stops in Fredericksburg, VA, Overland Park, KS and Minneapolis, MN to emcee the fashion show. Visit with Amy as she shows you fashion-forward (yet functional) garments and accessory styles.

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See The Magic Pattern Trunk Show at a sewing retailer near you!

The Magic Pattern Trunk Show will be stopping at sewing and fabric stores across the country. The trunk show will feature 13 projects from The Magic Pattern Book in fashion-forward fabrics from Robert Kaufman, Free Spirit & Westminster Fabrics and Crossroads Denim from James Thompson, as well as some of our favorite original samples seen in the book. Each chapter is represented so you will see finished projects from The Tank Top, The Skirt, The Dress, The Cardigan, The Coat and The Accessory.

See the full schedule of Magic Pattern Trunk Show dates on AmyBarickman.com.

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The Magic Pattern Blog Tour!

Categories: Crafts and hobbies, How-to, News

The Magic Pattern Book is going on a blog tour!

9780761171621Home sewing is booming again. Inspired by sites like Etsy, Craftsy, Pinterest, and CreativeBug, by the continuing popularity of Project Runway and other fashion shows, and by the ever-growing DIY movement, there are more than 35 million sewists in America. Now, for this new generation that wants to make their own clothes, express their fashion sense, look great, be creative—and save money, to boot—comes Amy Barickman’s The Magic Pattern Book, an illustrated guide to creating a one-of-a-kind wardrobe from six magic patterns.

To celebrate the publication, blogs from around the country are sewing patterns from the book, and writing about their results. Each blog will also feature a giveaway and more!

Official Tour Stops on Amy Barickman’s The Magic Pattern Book Blog Tour:


October 7: WINDY LOU

October 8: MELLY SEWS


October 10: SEW MAMA SEW


October 14: LILACS & LACE




October 20: CUT OUT & KEEP


October 22: CHIC STEALS

October 23: THREADS


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The Happy Desk Lunch

Categories: Cookbooks, e-books, Health, In the office, Live By the Book, Recipes

The thought of bringing your own lunch to school or work probably conjures up some pretty unpalatable images for you – a soggy turkey sandwich, someone else’s microwaved fish slowly heating up in the office kitchen, or just plain old PB&Js crumbling over your keyboard as you work through another lunch break. But this week, Workman is taking a step back to reflect on lunch with the help of our new ebook, Bring Your Lunch! by Califia Suntree.




The concept behind Bring Your Lunch! is one that all of us busy adults can easily get behind. Bringing your lunch can save you money (at least $25 a week – that’s $750 a year!) and is way healthier than those last minute dashes out to the greasy pizza joint across the street. And Califia offers tons of thoughtful, inspired, and downright delicious recipes to ensure that the lunchtime doldrums never set in.




To get in the spirit here at the office, we sent everyone at Workman some tips and tricks from Bring Your Lunch! as well as a few great (and easy!) recipes, including the Prosciutto and Provolone Sandwich with Fig Jam featured below (click to enlarge).


BYL Prosciutto and Provolone Sandwich


On Monday, those who had brought in their lunches gathered at our big table downstairs for an indoor picnic complete with a red and white checkered tablecloth, fresh flowers, and two types of homemade lemonade! For every day that employees bring in their lunches this week, they are entered in our raffle to win some swag from our friends at BlueAvocado and a gift certificate to Whole Foods. Employees who bring their lunch every day this week are also eligible for Workman Wellness Points as part of our wellness initiative.




Every day this week, we have been gathering at lunch time for more indoor picnics and on Friday we will celebrate one more lunch together with desserts and a drawing for our raffle prize winner!

Who knew bringing your lunch to work could be so much fun!

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#ReadWomen2014 – Carol McD. Wallace

Categories: News

If you’re positively alit with anticipation of Downton Abbey Season 5, you’ll want to read the book that inspired Julian 9780761171959Fellowes to create the character, Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham: To Marry an English Lord, by Carol McD. Wallace and Gail MacColl. After the New York Times published a piece about books Downton Abbey fans would enjoy, the creator of the hit PBS series responded with a letter to the editor. Julian Fellowes wrote, “In your very flattering article about books that might please fans of “Downton Abbey,” I was sorry that one title was missing: To Marry an English Lord.” The letter went on to read, “It occurred to me that while many people knew about the arrival of the heiresses, not much was known about what their lives then became, trapped as they were in a way of life that many of them would outlive.” To Marry an English Lord tells the stories of the American heiresses who invaded Brittania and swapped dollars for titles. For those who clamor for more when each episode of Downton Abbey ends, this book may be just what the doctor ordered.

In our continued support of the #ReadWomen2014 social media movement, we interviewed author Carol McD. Wallace about this book, Downton Abbey, and more!

Q: What discovery surprised you most while researching this book?

A: I’ve had a lifelong obsession with weddings (comes from growing up across the street from a church, I think) and I was astonished to find out how closely the most of the weddings of the American heiresses in To Marry an English Lord resembled the way we still get married in the U.S., with the religious ceremony followed by a reception, the bride in a white dress, the bridesmaids in similar dresses, the wedding gifts, the bouquets, etc. etc. I actually got so wrapped up in this that I wrote a book about it, called All Dressed in White, which came out in 2005.

Q: Who is your favorite Downton Abbey character and why?

A: Violet, Countess of Grantham, of course, same as everybody else! I think we all love her because she says the things we all wish we could say, and gets away with it! Also, who wouldn’t want all the punch lines?

Q: What sparked your interest in English aristocracy?

A: I actually don’t know, but I can tell you that when I was still in grade school I researched and wrote a massive report on British heraldry, so that interest has been there for a very, very long time.

Q: If you weren’t writing about dukes and heiresses, what would you be writing about?

A: Remember that To Marry an English Lord was first published in 1989 so I’ve had lots of time since then to cover other subjects. The most profitable was a series of baby name books (back before baby names were all on the Internet) so I was immersed in that for several years.   I also studied art history at Columbia University  from 2003 to 2006. The research for my M.A. thesis  became a novel (published in 2011) called  Leaving Van Gogh. It’s about the last two months of Van Gogh’s life, narrated by the doctor who tried to help him before he committed suicide. What it has in common with To Marry an English Lord is the nineteenth century, which I don’t seem to want to leave. Ever.

Q: Who are your favorite female authors?

A: Well, that would be a long list! Just off the top of my head, I’d say Hilary Mantel, Edith Wharton, Colette, Elizabeth Jane Howard, Jane Gardam. And of course Jane Austen.

Q: What are you reading now?

A: Beside my bed is Middlemarch which is fun because each time you reread a big novel like this, you are also revisiting yourself, the last time you read it. And on my Kindle, the new Tana French novel, The Secret Place. Very hard to put that one down.

For more information on Carol, visit her site here and here! And don’t forget to spend the year at Downtown Abbey with the 2015 Page-A-Day Calendar and 2015 Engagement Calendar, available now here.

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#SummerReads – A Visit From the Goon Squad

Categories: News

Happy Friday! If you’re having a tough time accepting that summer is over, we’re with ya. In the spirit of extending summer, we’re adding one last book to our summer reading list: A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. Read Workman employee Jacquelynne Hudson’s thoughts on this book below!


Q: What was A Visit From the Goon Squad about?

A: A novel about the evolving lives of people in the music industry. A startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.

Q: How/why did you decide to read this book?

A: This book was chosen by members of my book club.

Q: When and where do you read/did you read this book?

A: On my iPad mini, usually on my commute to and from work.

Q: What’s next on your reading list?

A: Sacré Bleu by Christopher Moore.

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#SummerReads – The Little Friend

Categories: Fiction, Friday Reads, Reading

Even though we’re heading into the last weekend of summer, there’s still plenty of time to get lost in a good book. Workman employees have been sending in their summer reading lists and we’re sharing one today: The Little Friend by Donna Tart. Read below for a summary and a Q & A with Liz DeBell, who submitted this book.


The Little Friend is about a girl named Harriet whose mother retreats into herself, after Harriet’s older brother is found murdered in their yard. Harriet decides to get revenge on the person she believes killed her brother. It’s about life in a small town in the south, about boredom and ennui that kids feel during the summer and the escape found in a book, and about family dynamics (Harriet’s, as well as a neighboring, notorious family that lives on the seedy side of town and has a well-deserved bad reputation — for instances: they make meth).


Q: Did you like the book, and would you recommend it?

A: Yes, and yes but with reservations. In typical Donna Tartt fashion there are no neat resolutions to be found at the end which can be frustrating after 500 pages.

Q:  Which character from the book would you want to hang out with in real life?

A: Harriet who is nine years old and a complete bad ass.

Q: How/why did you decide to read this book?

A: Loved Donna Tartt’s newest book, The Goldfinch.

Q: What’s next on your reading list?

A: I’m currently reading Provence, 1970. Then Eleanor and Park. Then Lush Life.


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Important Moments in Waffle History

Categories: News

Ever heard of obelios? They were savory flat cakes that Ancient Greek bakers cooked between two hot plates, and they are the oldest known ancestors of the modern waffle. Jumping to the colonial period, Thomas Jefferson was not only one of our country’s founding fathers, but a pioneer in waffle history: in 1789, he brought a waffle iron from France to America, reviving the Dutch settlers’ tradition of the “waffle frolic,” a social gathering centered on the gridded food. Jump ahead some 250 years and you come to another great waffle milestone: right now. Yes, we are in the midst of what you might call a waffle renaissance, wherein people are looking beyond the classic breakfast-made-of-batter to discover what else can be waffle-ized. The possibilities are endless: Waffled mac and cheese. Waffled cookies. Fawaffles. At the forefront of the movement is Daniel Shumski, the author of Workman’s new book Will It Waffle?, who this week turned the studio of Good Morning America into a regular waffle frolic. Check out the video here:


For more waffle history, not to mention recipes for everything from waffleburgers to waffled grilled cheese, seek out a copy of Will It Waffle?.

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