Author Archive

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft

Monday, March 27th, 2017

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Mirum Shopper. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

Today I’m partnering up with Dannon® Danimals® Smoothies and creating the cutest craft to celebrate spring! We are making diy pom pom bunnies from a few common items you have in your craft supplies and recycling those drink containers from our Danimals® Smoothies.

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

Dannon® Danimals® Smoothies are conveniently snack-sized, sealed and ready to drink, so I love to keep these on hand especially on busy days where we are running from school straight to activities. It’s also good to know that these fun drinks do not contain high fructose corn syrup, no artificial colors or flavorings, and are a good source of Calcium and Vitamin D.

This seems to be a busy season of the school year for us as we close in on the end of the school year. It isn’t uncommon to be running from one thing to the next so I try to keep items like these on hand for days when a healthy snack is required between activities and pair it with a handful of almonds or baby carrots for an easy snack to enjoy on-the-go.

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

danimals-smoothies-2

You can find these over in the dairy cooler at Walmart and right now their 12-pack is under $5!  To save even more, take advantage of this Ibotta offer for an additional dollar off. This coupon can be used on either the 12-pack or you can really stock up for your family and snag an 18-pack for these upcoming busy days.

You can try all the fun flavors from Rockin’ Raspberry® to Strawberry Explosion® to Wild Watermelon®!

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

These containers also happen to be the perfect size for upcyclying into fun crafts so today I wanted to use these containers to make adorable Pom Pom Bunnies for Spring! This would be so fun for a classroom for a quick snack and craft time to celebrate the Easter season.

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed

1 Dannon® Danimals® Smoothies Container (make sure to rinse this out well)

White or Gray Cotton Yarn and a scrap of contrasting color for the bow tie

Wiggly eyes

Pink colored pom

1.5″ foam ball (over by the floral supplies)

Straight Pins

Glue

1 piece of white felt

Medium Pom-Pom Maker (or you can make a pom-pom with a few items around your house)

Scissors

How to Make a DIY Pom-Pom Bunny

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

1. Remove the packaging from your Dannon® Danimals® Smoothies Container carefully with scissors.

2. Place the styrofoam ball on top and push in to secure. Please note, if you don’t want the styrofoam to show, you can wrap the ball in yarn first and then place on top. Also  if you want it to stay in place you can add a little hot glue around this to make sure it is completely secure.

3. If you have never used a pom-pom maker before, you can see my pom-pom tutorial for full instructions. Using a straight pin, pin the pom-pom to the front of the styrofoam ball to make the bunny’s face.

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

4. Glue your pink nose and eyes to the front of your pom-pom.

5. Cut out your felt ears, pinch these at the bottom, and then use the pins again to pin these ears to the top of the head.

6. Finish with a bow tie around the neck.

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

How cute is that? This would be such a fun preschool craft for Spring! I hope this tutorial inspires you to snag some Danimals® Smoothies from your local Walmart to keep on hand for these busy days with our kids and don’t forget to print that coupon for some additional savings!

This post was created in partnership with Mirum Shopper. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

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Small-Budget Crushes 03.27.17

Monday, March 27th, 2017

Reed Garden Top

reed garden top (use code CYBER50 for 50% off & free shipping today only!)

Should I Wash My Hair Today Print

should I wash my hair today print

Blush Tote

blush tote

Unicorn Knitting Kit

unicorn knitting kit

Tassel Earrings

tassel earrings (I got these and they are SO CUTE! Not too big!)

Mock Neck Lace Swing Blouse

mock neck lace swing blouse (I have it and it is SO CUTE! True to size!)

Antique Glass Drying Rack

antique glass drying rack

Gracelin Ballet Flats

gracelin ballet flats (just ordered these for spring- love that they come in wide!)

Printable Gift Card Box

printable gift card box

Block Heels

strappy block heels (use coupon code SPRING17 for 30% off)

Ruffle Front Tee

ruffle front tee

I Love Chicago Art Print

I love chicago art print

How to Tell Time

how to tell time rack

eyelet gingham apron eyelet gingham apron

treat-yo-self-gift-wrap

treat yo self gift wrap

Wooden Clothing Rack

wooden clothing rack

Chambray Poncho

chambray poncho

Clutch Bag

handmade vegan clutch bag

Keep on window shopping by visiting all of my Small-Budget Crushes. This post contains affiliate links that help our site! Thank you for supporting me! xoxo 

 

Amy’s Notebook 03.22.17

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Honey Lime Salmon Tacos

source: two peas and their pod

These honey lime salmon tacos look like a Friday night winner!

What a beautiful gift to share- I definitely want to participate in this #feedingabrokenheart challenge!

Have your kids caught the slime bug too? Here are 14 slime recipes you can mix up!

I’ve been listening to this book on audiobook and it’s SO GOOD. Kind of reminds me of Flowers in the Attic.

This looks like a great simple garden plan for my green thumb friends!

A reviewer puts 5 top-rated sleep-tracking apps to the test. I might give a couple of these a spin!

Buy these! You will not regret it. It’s helping make cute ballet flats a lot warmer and the weight on these is perfection. I can’t believe how much comfort they add for flats!

I had no idea that a bird-based system was the inspiration for Pantone. So fascinating!

I’ve had great success braising meat in milk so this braised pork roast in almond milk would be a lovely Sunday night feast.

This also looks like a healthy nacho switch-up for a gathering with friends.

Pantry Organization source: apt. 34

This pantry design is ah-mazing!! Loving that cookbook display!

I want to try this 1-bowl vegan gluten-free cracker recipe. These actually look pretty easy to make!

This piece on self-care is everything. Also, language on this, but worth the read.

I’ve been thinking about seeing this film so this was an interesting read. Have you seen it?

I haven’t listened to this podcast yet, but this read gave me a lot to chew on this week, especially as a blogger.

This looks like a fun and healthy way to do pizza. I’m going to add these to our menu planner!

These steak salads with miso dressing are a summer date night winner!

10 ways to work on being happier this year! I couldn’t agree more.

These self-tanner tips are awesome. I’m lazy, I prefer to do this for my faux glow, but maybe someday I’ll get some motivation in me!

Jenny's Print Shop

source: little green notebook

If you need me, I’m ordering all these prints for my walls! GORGEOUS and affordable!

I loved touring Caroline’s closet and seeing how she makes it work with her capsule wardrobe.

I’m picky about sweatshirts, but I got this one and it is the softest, butteriest, cutest sweatshirt ever. I’m normally an XS, but got a S in this. Size up! I’m ordering the other colors now!

This bunny butt cake is perfect for Easter!

The idea of crying every week voluntarily is baffling to me, but here you goThis is Us fans.

Some language, but look what happened when these coworkers switched identities on emails. Crazy!

Comments of the Week: Wow, I got so many sweet comments this week on my 6 happiness strategies for a more creative life. Many messages were very personal so I will only share the public ones, but it seems that this is a struggle for many of us as we find our new place in the world.

“This is a great look at how to live our lives. There are so many “stages” in life and we are different people as we go through, and ultimately come out the other side, that we barely recognize the person we were before that point.”

I really loved this post as I feel it’s really hard to find anything blog related for parents with older kids. I was just telling my friend how bored I have been. I was embarrassed to say it since for years I was always thinking, “I will do that when he is older and I have time”! I have one child who is in 8th grade and I don’t have a job outside the home so I definitely have a lot of time. Now I just need to find some motivation and figure out how to figure out what I want to do first (which for me is the hardest part).”

“I’m in this phase of life too. It’s the first year in a decade that all of my kids are in school all day. I wasn’t expecting the mental and emotional struggle that I’ve been going through. Thanks for writing this, Amy!”

“These are great tips! As MY nest starts to prepare to be empty, I find the exact opposite things are filling my cup. I think that the high school years in particular have been so wonderfully full of DOING – I am enjoying the fact that I can sit in a chair with a good cup of coffee and a great book and just BE, guilt free! Maybe there will be a time when I want to add to my schedule, but it is also wonderful to realize that the nest is pretty darn comfortable, even if it isn’t as full as it once was.”

“Just read your post and as always SO much good information!! Really enjoyed your tips on living a happier life.  PS: giving theSkimm a try too! Thank you!!!!”

“Great post. It’s a bit bittersweet to see your kids grow, but it’s lovely when they get to the point where you can refocus on the side of you that has been living in the shadows all these years.”

There are many other comments like that coming in my inbox and I just wanted to say that I’m so glad to share that you are, most certainly, not alone in finding your new identity. The first couple of years were hard and this year has also been difficult as they are both in middle school now and require different things from me. Cue the identity crisis! 

That said, last night I went to my first Rising Tide Society (locals, over here!) meeting and it was SO GOOD for my soul.  I’m working on finding my people at this stage and surrounding myself with creatives is just what I needed as I find my new groove. I had the impression this was a group just for photographers, but I was dead wrong. It’s for anyone who does creative work. As someone with a bit of social anxiety, I felt brave going and proud doing it. I need to step out of my comfort zone more often. 

Just know, mamas, you are not alone and I am figuring it out too alongside of you. Thank YOU for your encouragement, especially those of you that are further along in your journey than me. xoxo

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration! Please note, there are affiliate links that do help support our site- thank you! xoxo

 

Small-Budget Crushes 03.20.17

Monday, March 20th, 2017

ALDI Quarter Holder

aldi quarter holder (GENIUS!)

bardot-midi-dress

bardot midi dress

Knitting Bag

knitting bag

Golden Girls Forever Book

golden girls forever book

gilded-garden-top

gilded garden top

reversible seat cushions

reversible seat cushions (just got these and they are AMAZING!! SO CUSHY!)

co-sleeping art print

co-sleeping art print

Vinyl Separators

vinyl separators

a-line utility skirt

a-line utility skirt (use coupon code SPRING for 40% off)

thanks a flocking lot card set

thanks a flocking lot card set

memory foam slip-on sneakers

memory foam slip-on sneakers

Greer Plans Her Next Adventure Art Print

greer plans her next adventure print

wooden cake stand

wooden cake stand

Deuces Phone Case

deuces phone case

pom-pom lace-up sandals

pom-pom lace-up sandals

sloth running team shirt

sloth running team shirt- who’s ready for a nap?

Keep on window shopping by visiting all of my Small-Budget Crushes. This post contains affiliate links that help our site! Thank you for supporting me! xoxo 

Sundays With Writers: Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Sundays With Writers

I’m so excited to be sharing my Sunday with E.K. Johnston today to discuss her incredible book, Exit, Pursued by a Bear.  The MomAdvice Book Club will be tackling this in our April discussion so I am hoping today’s interview will encourage you to pick it up and join us for a great discussion about this beautiful book in April.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Exit, Pursued By a Bear, packs a coming-of-age punch as it examines the story of a rape and the aftermath for its victim.

Hermione is a flyer on her cheer squad and proud to be their captain. While away at cheer camp, she attends a party where someone  puts something in her drink and she is brutally raped and assaulted. When she awakes, she has no recollection of what has happened to her, but must deal with the devastating consequences of this assault.

I love that this book focuses less on being a victim and more about continuing to fight through the pain, not allowing this horrible situation to continue to define your life. Hermione is a true hero as she picks up the pieces of her life and is determined to carry on.

Heavier than a typical YA read and filled with a supportive cast of characters, Johnston deserves all the accolades she has received for this one including being listed as a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize.

Brave and unflinching, it’s a beautiful, beautiful read!

Grab your coffee and let’s chat about this brave book from E.K. Johnston.

E.K. Johnston

Readers might not know that this book was inspired by Shakespeare’s, The Winter’s Tale. What was it about this work that made you want to retell it? What elements were the most important to you in Shakespeare’s work that you wanted to keep as elements in your own story?

Most scholars will tell you that The Winter’s Tale is the story of two boys-grown-to-men who find that friendship is a fragile construct and disillusionment is the price of adulthood. I respectfully disagree. For me, from my very early days of reading Shakespeare (the Charles and Mary Lamb prose edition), the play was about the friendship between two women: Hermione and Paulina, who loved one another more than they loved their husbands (with good reason). I loved Paulina’s steadfastness and her cleverness, faking Hermione’s death and concealing her in the king’s own castle for more than a decade and half, and I loved Hermione’s resilience and ability to survive utter betrayal from someone she trusted.

Furthermore, Hermione is persecuted by her husband for (falsely) perceived infidelity. He manipulates her actions and his own mind until he can blame her for something she is absolutely innocent of. I chose to update this as garden-variety slut-shaming in Exit, because we tend to back girls into corners and then treat them terribly for existing in the first place.

Also, I just really wanted to use the title: Exit, Pursued By A Bear.

Your fury over a Canadian Member of Parliament who was trying to recriminalize abortion also moved you to write this book. What do you hope the reader will walk away with after reading Hermione’s story?

I have two hopes for all readers of Exit, Pursued By A Bear.

  1. That they will believe women. Women. and,
  2. That they will trust women to make their own choices, particularly when it comes to bodily autonomy.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear has garnered so many awards and accolades including an NPR Best Book of 2016, Booklist Best Book of 2016, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2016, and so many more. Were you surprised by the response to this book especially since you were tackling such brave topics, particularly for the YA genre? What has been your favorite accolade so far?

YA has an extensive legacy of tackling amazing and brave topics, so I am both thrilled and honoured to see Exit join those ranks. If I may be indulgent, I was most pleased by Exit’s nomination to the Ontario White Pine list, which is a reading award program in Ontario high schools. I get to meet so many amazing students, many of them from places mentioned in the book itself, and that’s incredible.

You have shared that in your book, you imagined a world where a girl is believed and supported; a world where adults do their jobs and children are gracious; a world where a bear of a girl can heal, and then save herself. And it’s the most unbelievable thing you had ever done, even as a writer of fantasy. Why did you decide to tell your story in this way?

When I was at university for my MSc, I went to a conference and at the end of two days of people talking about bombings and logistics and mass excavations, a woman from the London Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Laboratory got up to talk to us about digital evidence collection. She was describing transmitting a fingerprint via a cell phone, and said the words “like on CSI”. There was general sighs and groans in the audience, and then she straightened and said “No, it’s a good example. Those shows tell us what we’re capable of. Where we should be trying to go.”

I was used to thinking like that about Star Trek, but it had never occurred to me that CSI might be similar. It’s an approach I tried to take when I was still studying forensics myself: this is how it should be, and that’s the approach I wanted to take with Exit.

This is how it should be.

In the author’s note, you encourage teens to find a champion in their life, as Hermione has found Polly. Who was a champion to you, in your life, and how do you think having that impacted you?

I am lucky enough to have two: Colleen, who I met in high school thanks to the seating arrangement and a pair lightsaber pens, and Emma, who I met in 2008 thanks to livejournal, Avatar: the Last Airbender, and the Naboo Handmaidens.

 Since you typically write fantasy, has writing this book given you encouragement to write more YA contemporary?

I write YA all the time. The great thing about YA is that you can write almost anything, and as long as it’s about a teenager, you’re set. So I’ve done contemporary fantasy, fairy-tale re-imaginings, sci-fi, and epic fantasy, as well as several combinations thereof. I don’t know if I’ll go back to YA contemporary, but I never say never in publishing.

Can you tell us a little about That Inevitable Victorian Thing that you have coming out in October and what else you are working on?

That Inevitable Victorian Thing is a YA near-future sci-fi. It’s a stubbornly utopi-ish vision of an alternate universe where the sun never set on the British Empire, and where a princess in disguise, a lumberjack with money problems, and a reluctant debutante are about to step onto the world stage.

I’m always thankful for these moments with writers and I hope you will pick up this amazing book! You can always connect with me on GoodReads, through our books section of our site, and you can read our entire Sundays With Writers series for more author profiles. Happy reading, friends!

*This post contains affiliate links!

 

6 Happiness Strategies for a More Creative and Interesting Life

Friday, March 17th, 2017

happiness-techniques-for-creative-interesting-life
I invited my parents over for dinner one evening and my mom asked what our family had been up to that week. I shared a bit about a show that we caught at the local theater, how we attended an art gallery event for a friend, the adventure of taking our kids out (with success) to try a new cuisine they hadn’t before, and a documentary on design that we caught together.

My mom said something that really struck me.

She said, “Your family has such an interesting life. You know that?”

This is not a brag session at all because there are many, many moments in our life that are very uninteresting and basic. I have moments where I rant about having to run my children everywhere, where I find my focus is far too centered on my my health situation, I’ve often thought too much about what other people think of me, there are times where I fixate too much on keeping the perfect home, I’ve had periods where I have invested too much time on Facebook, there are moments where I am unkind and judgy to others, and MANY times where I’m just trying to put one foot in front of the other like everyone else.

Those moments don’t necessarily make for an interesting conversation, but they do make us human.

At times, I had thought the only thing that made me interesting was blogging. Blogging is certainly interesting when you are doing it as a profession and has brought interesting people and moments in my life, but I don’t think that makes me very interesting anymore. It’s just an interesting way to make money.

The thing is, as my kids get older I feel like they need me in different ways, but not in necessarily those needy toddler ways that gave me purpose. As they transitioned to middle school, I found that I needed interesting things in my life to fill my cup so that I could survive these days at home alone without boredom.  I began to seek a more interesting life than the one I had before and it has been through this that I am finding happiness and my people.

I hesitated to write these words to you today because I am far from anyone’s life coach.

I’m often a mess.

That said, I also wished for a mentor mom as I transitioned into this new role that can, at times, feel a little lonely. Building a new creative life for yourself really enables you to attract others to you because you bring something new to the table.

It makes conversations fun, it can make you feel young, and it makes you feel valued by others because you have your own things.

I don’t need to tell you it, but one day these incredible kids are hopefully going to be out there carving their own life paths. If our entire identities are just caring for them, what will we do with ourselves when they are gone? What will be our new identity?

Cue the foundation of interesting life moments you have been working on and the transition to the next chapter might feel a tad less bumpy.

Here are six happiness strategies I’m doing to live a more creative and interesting life…

food-pantry

Find an Interesting Volunteer Opportunity

Volunteering can be an incredible way to add interesting moments to your life. I started by volunteering in our school system and connected my love of reading with reading to kids who struggle with this skill. This year, I have found my place working at our church food pantry weekly, doing the behind-the-scenes work of getting the food sorted and organized for people to shop. I also am putting in my application to mentor refugee youth because I love welcoming people to our town and know they would have so much to teach me.

Volunteer Match is a great site to visit to find unique volunteering opportunities that you may not have even known existed. I never even knew about the mentor program for refugees until I went on their website. For example, some of the listings in our town include crafting with hospice patients, being a museum tour guide, working the gardens of a local museum,  becoming a crisis counselor, being a small business mentor, or caring for animals at the shelter.

Can you imagine how different your life might look if you invested in one of these things?

Not only are you helping a local cause, but you also just might be putting your foot in the door for a potential job opportunity someday.

around-the-house-2

Read Interesting Books

What a boring life I would be leading if I didn’t have such a variety of books in my book stack. Since most of you are regulars here, I know that most of you are also embracing a good stack of books in your life too. If you need a fresh one, check out the books section for ideas!

For many years, I got stuck in one or two genres of books and I wouldn’t branch outside of my comfort zone. My reading and life felt a lot more interesting though when I began to read books that were outside of my comfort zone, particularly nonfiction reading. Reading helped me understand and show compassion for people and parts of the world that I would have never known about.

Three good starter books that really helped challenge and shape me are Just Mercy, Hillbilly Elegyand Evicted

Interesting books have certainly lead to interesting conversations and created empathy in me for things I don’t always understand. If you are looking to branch out your reading this year, consider taking our MomAdvice Reading Challenge or joining our online book club!

Online Weaving Class take an  online weaving class!

Find an Interesting Class to Take

Some of the most interesting people I know take classes and embrace new hobbies in their life regularly. Your interesting class may only be interesting to you, but that does not matter one bit. This is a great time to do the things you have always talked about especially since online coursework, in particular, can be done on your own schedule.

This year I got myself a loom and found a great course on Etsy to start teaching myself to weave. I’m also taking a food photography course through Craftsy to help me to expand my food photography skills. I regularly ask for things like this for Christmas so I have a gift that can keep on giving.

I don’t always take just creative courses though, I’m trying to branch out into other terrains. Next week I’m starting a free course through our local library and college to learn about civics so that I can understand the way our government works and understand the world of politics better. I don’t want to be a person who sits and watches the news, I want to be the person that goes out and learns WHY things are happening and what my particular role could be to change them.

Now I realize that these things may be only interesting to me, but I couldn’t be more excited to learn more.

For free learning, check your library and see what they have to offer and to connect quickly with locals. This month, for example, our library is offering a papercrafting class, a brunch & book discussion, a gardening class, a genealogy course, and a musical concert. They also have a great center where people can learn technology skills to benefit their business.

If you prefer learning online, YouTube is a great free resource where you can start learning a new skill and it won’t even cost you a penny. Granted, many are teaser courses to get you to sign up for more, but even teaser courses can teach you a lot.

Rising Tide Society

Join an Interesting Organization

My early days of motherhood survival were often spent seated in a circle as we shared a cup of coffee with a side of whine. For a couple of years after, I floundered and didn’t know where I fit in. I still went to playgroups, clinging to coffee, but feeling a bit of place. I didn’t want to start over again and have to find a new group, but I’m finding that this girl thrives in clubs and organizations. I am meant to be in organized activities and it feeds that social part of me.

I discovered we have a local chapter of Rising Tide Society and I’m hopping into my first meeting next week. I love and am inspired by other creatives so I’m excited to see if this will fill that mom’s group void I’ve been missing.

Some people enjoy finding ways to assist charity through group formats like Junior League. Others can find their people in business and networking groups through their city. Churches can also offer great opportunities to become involved in helping the community and it’s members. Interesting groups, of course, bring interesting people into your life and often build new skillsets.

Embrace Something Interesting That Fosters Conversations

I love to have fun things to bring to conversations and some of my favorite parts of the day are good conversations I’ve had just with my own little family. My best conversations are when I read or listen to something interesting that I can share with others.

theSkimm

I subscribe to theSkimm and love it so much that I am a Skimmbassador which gives me access to a community of Skimm-loving folks that can talk politics and life in respectful ways. This 5-minute nonpartisan newsletter is something that I read daily so I have a clear idea of what is happening in the world each day. I read it over the morning coffee and I start the day feeling informed.

You might be surprised to know that many blog writers aren’t actually blog readers. It’s a challenge to keep up with fresh content and read blogs, but I try to keep up with what everyone is creating as best that I can and share the nuggets with you each week. These are often posts that help to fuel great conversations with others.

We try to watch a documentary each week that gives us a chance to learn about a topic or a part of the world that we know little about. Many of these are watched together as a family and we have great discussions about them after. Many evenings though are spent after the kids are gone to bed with a glass of wine in hand and a documentary ready to go for our evening.

When my eyes are feeling too tired to read, I find  I get so much out of these instead.

Source: Grant Beachy Photography

Seek Interesting People

I’m not saying to give up on your old friends, but we all evolve as human beings and, as I have aged, I am looking for different things in my friendships. Broadening your circle can sometimes bring new and interesting experiences to your life.

For example, we started a record collection and spend many weekends shuffling through stacks at antique stores or sharing a stack of our music with friends on their record players. A bit hipster, perhaps, but music has always been such a big part of my life, and I find sharing that hobby with others is a fun one.

Board games are also a fun thing to collect and share with people. Perfectly portable and pairs well with wine, it’s a party in a box. We love discovering new games through Tabletop (and figuring out these crazy complex ones we purchased!). A few that we have found to be easy to share are Ticket to Ride, Really Bad Art, Pandemic, and our friends recently taught us Settlers of Catan and we loved it!

We try to seek out our town’s local events, gallery showings, festivals, theater performances, concerts, and town celebrations because they add variation to our week and give us the chance to connect with really interesting people. Living in a smaller town, you would think we wouldn’t have much, but I’m finding that it is RICH with stuff to do and it is rare that we can’t find a local event happening to make our days in Indiana a bit more interesting.

Amy Clark-web-23

I hope you find something new to connect with today and that it brings a bit of happiness in your life too.

This stage has been a tricky one to figure out, but what a privilege it is to grow older and find that you are still learning and growing!

What do you find feeds your happiness at this stage in your life?

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though. Check out past editions of It’s the 3 Little Things!

Amy’s Notebook 03.15.17

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

craft-room

source: sugar bee crafts

Tour this colorful craft room. Love these craft storage ideas!

Ack! This made me cry. I am finding this stage to be a hard one to navigate in my life. I hope it helps to know you aren’t alone.

Speaking of FEELINGS, I am on my second week with these supplements and I feel like a completely different person in a really good way. It seems to be the right herbal combo for me to reduce anxiety without a prescription. Did I mention it also has improved my concentration a lot for work tasks? Yup!

This is a great read on buying groceries on a budget. Thrilled to see we are meeting the thrifty government standards for our little family of 4.

Hospitality when you’re an introvert. Honestly, introverts are so quiet I always think they love hearing me talk and listening- ha! Eye-opening for an extroverted introvert!

Oh, love this little tip for making creamier scrambled eggs without adding a thing. Must try!

This instant pot roast is going on my agenda.

I’m reading this book for the first time and absolutely loving it. Glad I have it on digital format so I can highlight all the beautiful passages. Have you read it?

I’m adding this lentil soup recipe to my menu planner for my lunches. I’m on a lentil kick these days.

“The growth of incarceration rates among black men in recent decades, combined with the sharp drop in black employment rates during the Great Recession have left most black men in a position relative to white men that is really no better than the position they occupied only a few years after the Civil Rights Act of 1965.” Read this and if you haven’t caught it on Netflix yet, add this to your weekend agenda.

Roasted Chicken With Fennel and Lemon

source: the kitchn

These roasted chicken thighs with fennel and lemon look like another sheet pan dinner winner.

Sheet pan garlic butter shrimp is also on my dinner planner next week. I love giving my sheet pans a workout!

Planning to sell your home? These are some excellent ideas for staging your home.

This home remodel is my jam. Bookmarking!

Can’t wait to see this documentary. I have mad love for this band! You can catch them on my new playlist I made for you!

Please know that pictures can be deceiving.

Guinness Beef Stew

source: gimme some oven

Bring on the Guinness Beef Stew- yum!

I can’t stop looking at these book covers! Unreal awesome!

Magnolia Homes farmhouse style on a small budget. YES!

Locals, I’m going to the Civic Leadership Academy. This looks like such a fascinating and well-timed series for understanding today’s politics. I’d love you to join me!

Ordering this for my capsule wardrobe- big reveal soon! It goes so well with this necklace with a cute closure I snagged with my birthday money.

These are fantastic ideas for making a decorative and functional entryway even when you have a smaller space.

I’ve been curious about microblading so this was a great read although I’m not sure I could justify the expense!

26 pressure cooker recipes for quicker & easier dinners.

Comment of the Week: Well, we got a lot of comments on our Disney article and I will just leave the post here.

I just want you to know that I have appreciated the respectful commentary even when we don’t agree with one another. I have read lots of posts and comments that were absolutely awful on other sites and I told my husband how proud I was that our readers may not always agree with our articles, but we have always had a respectful discussion.

I asked Mary to step out bravely and share her opinions because I believe she is an incredible Christian writer and I’m a bit of a wild liberal who might not grab your ear in the same way. Her voice was important for this piece and I’m glad she shared it with you.

Over here, we will be seeing the movie and have a love and acceptance for all people. If we disagree, I want you to know that you are still loved by our family! xo

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration! Please note, there are affiliate links that do help support our site- thank you! xoxo

 

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Tracking Pixel Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

Gluten-free baking has always been very intimidating to me and I did my best for a long time to avoid it all costs. Unfortunately, with three people in our house advised to eating gluten-free, I was pushed into the gluten-free baking trenches for our family. I’m not ambitious enough to spend time mixing up my own mixes and that is why I’m excited to share with you about Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-1 Baking Flour.  Today I’m sharing this easy recipe for a Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake with all the flavor minus the gluten.

Did I mention no tricky mixing of flours or trying to perfect recipes that are already in your recipe box? Yup, Bob’s Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour is perfectly formulated for baked goods with terrific taste and texture with no additional modifications on your part.

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

In our family, it is a tradition to make the birthday boy or girl a homemade cake to celebrate their day. My husband’s birthday was the perfect excuse to mix up a yummy cake with Bob’s Gluten-Free Flour. This rich batter is filled not only with a healthy dose of cocoa powder, but it gets a double chocolate whammy from the crushed gluten-free cookies and cream cookies that are folded right into it.

My secret weapon in any chocolate dessert is a little bit of coffee to enhance those rich chocolate flavors. I had my daughter taste the batter before the addition of coffee and after and we both agreed that it makes a really big difference in the smoothness of the flavor.

I know I don’t have to tell busy moms this, but coffee is certainly magic.

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

I’ve played around with a lot of gluten-free flour mixes in our kitchen, since our family’s diagnosis, and I can confidently say that this is the first blend that I’ve tried that I can taste no difference between the all-purpose flour and this gluten-free mix. There is no mealy texture or that sense that something is just off about the mix. The cake baked up as light and puffy as any cake prepared with all-purpose flour would.

For someone who lacks gluten-free baking confidence, this blend has given me the urge to bake again and I’m already dreaming of how else I can put this blend to work for our special treats. Have no doubts that you will see many of them on the site in the upcoming months!

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

Can we talk about the frosting for just one minute? MORE cookies are folded into this whipped cream cheese frosting and adds the jazz hands to this chocolate cake. Ths homemade frosting elevates and lightens the cake with it’s tangy flavor. Also, because there are not enough cookies in this, I added more cookies on top for decorating so you can have a snack in between bites.

We toted this cake to the restaurant to celebrate my husband’s birthday this year, in all her shining glory.

As we sat there eating, he leaned into me to say, “I keep thinking people are looking at me because it’s my birthday. I just realized that they are looking at your cake.”

Yup, it’s a showstopper.

A rousing song of happy birthday and slices shared with all at our table (and a few not at our table because CAKE), and we still had half a cake left once it had all been distributed. We offered the other half to the kitchen staff and it made me so happy to see it being sliced and enjoyed by everyone.

For several years, I worked as a waitress and I remember those long days worked for tips. It’s why we always try to go the extra mile when we dine out and this was just one more way we could show our appreciation for those who care for us.

Homemade cakes really do bring people together and I couldn’t stop the goofy grin on my face from seeing everyone enjoy this sweet treat, as I carried my empty cake stand home. My husband also left with the same grin, after a great meal shared with family and our new friends. He really felt celebrated this year.

Please add this cake and Bob’s Gluten Free 1-1 Baking Flour to your menu planner and grocery list. I promise, you won’t ever miss the gluten in this rich and delicious cookies and cream cake. This is a cake that’s meant to be shared so find a way to make that happen too. I bet you’ll gain a few new friends in the process!

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A gluten-free cookies and cream cake perfect for celebrating all of life's occasions!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee
  • 1½ cups finely crumbled gluten-free chocolate sandwich cookies
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3¾ cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1½ cups finely crumbled gluten-free chocolate sandwich cookies
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two (9-inch) cake pans with cooking spray and dust with gluten-free flour.
  2. In a large bowl, using a hand-held mixer combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the eggs and egg yolk, 1 at a time, and beat until well mixed, then add in the melted butter. Mix well to combine. Next, add the buttermilk and coffee and beat until smooth. Fold in the crumbled cookies with a wooden spoon.
  3. Pour the batter evenly into the cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, approximately 30-33 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool, on a rack, in the pans for 5 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto a rack and let cool completely.
  4. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, blend the butter and cream cheese until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the salt and vanilla. Add in the confectioners' sugar, ½ cup at a time, until smooth. Beat in the crumbled cookies.
  5. Once the cake has fully cooled, add a layer of frosting on the top of one cake layer and then stack the second one on top. Finish with more frosting on top. This recipe yields enough to also frost the sides of the cake, if you desire. Finish with more cookies (whole or crushed) to add decoration to the top of your cake.

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

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Small-Budget Crushes 03.13.17

Monday, March 13th, 2017

FitBit Bling Bracelet

fitbit bling bracelet

book-bag

custom library bag (so cool for an easter “basket”)

 

Tie Front Duster

tie front duster

gold swirl print beach tote

gold swirl print beach tote

Find Your Lobster Print

find your lobster print

afternoon cotton dress

afternoon cotton dress

Family Tree Necklace

family tree necklace

Moonbloom Apron

moonbloom apron

blue lace romper

blue lace romper

Ron Swanson Gift Wrap

ron swanson gift wrap

Elsie Blouse

elsie blouse

terrace jewelry organizer

terrace jewelry organizer

holly golightly's breakfast

holly golightly’s breakfast art

Carrie Fisher Shirt

carrie fisher shirt

Keep on window shopping by visiting all of my Small-Budget Crushes. This post contains affiliate links that help our site! Thank you for supporting me! xoxo 

 

 

4 Top Authors Share Their Favorite Reads

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

4 Top Authors Share Their Favorite Reads from MomAdvice.com

It’s an honor to interview all of these incredible writers for our Sundays With Writers series. Each interview, I gather a list of their favorite reads and today I’m sharing four of these author’s favorite reads with you today.  If you have enjoyed these author’s books, chances are you are going to LOVE their recommendations!

Since our book stacks can never be too high, here are a few more to add to your stack. Be sure to check out my monthly reviews on my favorite reads over here!

Miss Jane Interview

Brad Watson’s Favorite Reads

Author: Brad Watson

Book We Featured: Miss Jane

 

My Antonia by Willa Cather

My Antonia by Will Cather

After I read My Antonia, in graduate school, I read all of Cather’s other novels. It’s such a beautiful tribute to an extraordinary person, and to a place, a land. And the language is not flamboyant, but deeply beautiful with a poetic simplicity that is deceptively simple, as they say. It’s a book that seems as if it must have just come out easily, but it didn’t. You learn how much care and attention a “simple” story must receive from its writer.

Stoner by John Williams

Stoner by John Williams

Stoner is one of only four novels published by John Williams, and the books are all very different, and are all excellent. Stoner is a quiet book about a quiet man who lives a disappointing life, thwarted at just about every turn by some very unpleasant people. But his love for what he does (he’s a teacher at The University of Missouri in the early 20th century) seeps deeply into the book’s marrow and into the reader’s, as well. It is not a cheerful story, but it is one of the most beautiful accounts of a life I know of.

So Long, See You Tomorrow

So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell

So Long, See You Tomorrow won the National Book Award in I think 1981, but it was never a big hit. It’s slowly and steadily gained a strong following, especially among writers, as being one of the most emotionally powerful novels in the second half of the twentieth century. And it’s only 130 pages long. And it’s an odd hybrid of apparent memoir and quasi-novel. But it will break your heart. At 130 pages, it’s novella length, but it has the power of a great novel, distilled into not so many words.

The Death of a Beekeeper

The Death of a Beekeeper by Lars Gustafsson

The Death of A Beekeeper is also brief, and presented to the reader as fragments from three “found notebooks” kept by a dying Swedish beekeeper living alone in the country. And it’s astonishing how moving and even entertaining it is. While we have darkly droll accounts of the beekeeper’s trials with the Swedish health care system, we also have a hilarious account of him attempting to introduce his wife to his mistress, hoping to hurt his wife, and ending up the butt of both women’s jokes and jocular derision. Also, a most astounding chapter in which (in order to entertain a couple of neighbor boys who are reading what he considers to be inferior science fiction) he presents a theory of the nature of God that will blow your head off. More readers ought to know of this one, too.

Mischling Interview

Affinity Konar’s Favorite Reads

Author: Affinity Konar

Book We Featured: Mischling

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie’s stories are memorable in this very specific way, in that I don’t have to dwell on them much at all before a line or scene presents itself, unbidden. Life within and around the Spokane Indian reservation is approached through characters that feel like they’re reinventing your capacity to feel. Whenever I read Alexie, I  just get flustered because what he’s written should be  impossible–there’s just startling poetry matched by startling humanity.

The Collected Stories of Grace Paley

Collected Stories of Grace Paley

Grace Paley was my first literary heroine.  She focuses on the lives of women, and pulls a complexity out of the background hum of daily life that so often goes unnoticed. Her stories are tragicomic, but strangely warm and welcoming, with spare sentences and gut-punches that confuse my heart a little, so I don’t know whether to laugh or cry first. Whenever I’ve spent a day being too-silent, just writing and being totally non-verbal, I love to go visit one of the conversations between her characters, and just linger between her lines for a bit.

The Streets of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz

The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz

Some of Schulz’s work was lost in the Holocaust, and what remains feels very precious. His writing is dreamlike and hazy, and when I first found it as a teenager I was just awed by the fact that this was a world known only to the author, an intensely private landscape that he took care to piece into words. It’s a mythologized rendering of a merchant family, with its own language and eccentricities and sense of reality; it feels like a coded thing that you are deeply fortunate to experience.

I Liked My Life Interview

Abby Fabiaschi’s Favorite Reads

Author: Abby Fabiaschi

Book We Featured: I Liked My Life

Is it possible to highlight three writers instead?

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

Lisa See

I love how Lisa See brings history to life to learn from. Her next book, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, comes out 3/21, which is the day I plan to read it.

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

Elizabeth Strout

Every sentence Elizabeth Strout has penned is worth at least two reads. Her next book, Anything Is Possible, comes out 4/25. I always reserve a quiet weekend for her work.

Diving Into the Wreck by ADrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich

A slice of Adrienne Rich’s poetry inspired and influenced I Liked My Life: “If we could learn to learn from pain even as it grasps us.” Isn’t that a powerful thought?

This is How it Always Is Interview

Laurie Frankel’s Favorite Reads

Author: Laurie Frankel

Book We Featured: This is How it Always Is

This is a nearly impossible question because I have so, so many favorite books. How about one a year?

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Last year, I loved Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad. It’s hard to think a book that hyped isn’t overhyped, but it’s not. It’s exactly as good and heartbreaking and important as everyone said it would be.

Euphoria by Lily King

Euphoria by Lily King

The year before, I loved Lily King’s Euphoria. It’s gorgeous, brilliant, with great characters and great relationships, at once exotic and familiar, and the ending just slayed me.

A Tale for Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

A Tale for Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

And the year before that, I loved Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale For the Time Being. It’s a masterclass in storytelling and inventive novel writing and characters you cannot get enough of.

4 Top Authors Share Their Favorite Reads from MomAdvice.com

*This post contains affiliate links!

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