Author Archive

July 2015 Must-Reads

Friday, July 31st, 2015

July 2015 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

I can’t believe that summer is already coming to a close in just a few short weeks for our family. Summer reading is my favorite kind of reading… you know, the kind done poolside? I have snuck in quite a few books this month and I’m excited to share a fresh stack with you. We have everything from teen angst to historical fiction to developing good habits in business to family dramas to comedy to a little smut. What are you in the mood for? I am pretty sure I have a great pick for you this month!

Let’s dig into my July pile, shall we?

My Notorious Life by Kate Manning

My Notorious Life by Kate Manning

I renewed my Scribd membership this month so I have been digging into some of the books that I have had in my library for awhile. One of those books was, My Notorious Life.  If you are a fan of Dickens or have enjoyed Fingersmith, I think you will really love this incredible story.

Inspired by a real midwife who became one of the most controversial figures in Victorian New York City, Manning weaves a rags to riches story of Axie Muldoon. The impoverished child of Irish immigrants, she grows up to become one of the wealthiest and most controversial women of her day.

Axie goes from orphan to midwife to lady to prisoner,  and Manning creates a compelling story of what it would be to be like to work as a midwife under scrutiny of the law for your services in the mid to late 19th century. Controversial in her services and notorious in her community for offering birth control to those who needed it, it’s an incredible journey to follow and keeps you on the edge of your seat. A beautifully woven love story between two orphans (one being the infamous midwife, Axie) who met on the orphan train and find each other later in life adds to the beauty of this story as they create a business together as adults.

A couple of things to note with this one. It’s  a long one (464 pages), but was a really incredible read that was worth diving into! Secondly, if you have strong opinions on women’s reproductive rights this one will give you a lot of food for thought and would lend itself really well to a book club discussion. I had many opinions of my own about reproductive rights and this one really illustrates the necessity of birth control options during such an impoverished time in history. It was an eye-opening read and I highly recommend it!

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

I listened to the audiobook of this throughout the week through my Scribd membership and found it it to be absolutely fascinating, as did my husband.

The Power of Habit  was one of the most interesting books I have ever read on habits and routines. What could have been a very dry topic on our scientific responses and why we implement good/bad habits in our life, ended up being an absolutely fascinating piece. The book tackles everything from how DJ’s get us to listen to certain music, to how businesses use surveys to control our habits (again, both good and bad), and even how brands target consumers to make their products a part of our routines when they had never existed before.

The end of the book offers valuable advice on how to break bad habits by identifying your habit loop and how to get the good stuff back in your life. I wouldn’t say that this was a book of solutions (unless you count the last part), but more a share of research and science behind why we do the things we do and why so many of us can’t break our bad habits.

I really recommend this book for both professional and personal development and the audiobook version of it was fantastic!

5 Out of 5 Stars

We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh  (currently available for pre-order, hits stores on August 18th!)

I received an advanced reader of this one from Netgalley.

In this story we learn that for fourteen years, Letty Espinosa has worked three jobs around San Francisco to make ends meet while her mother raised her children—Alex, now fifteen, and Luna, six. But now Letty’s parents are returning to Mexico, and Letty must step up and become a mother for the first time in her life.

Navigating this new terrain is challenging for Letty, especially as Luna desperately misses her grandparents and Alex, who is falling in love with a classmate, is unwilling to give his mother a chance. Letty comes up with a plan to help the family escape the dangerous neighborhood and heartbreaking injustice that have marked their lives, but one wrong move could jeopardize everything she’s worked for and her family’s fragile hopes for the future.

It would be hard to follow up such an incredible book like The Language of Flowers and I think this was a valiant effort, although it might be missing some of that charm of the author’s first book. This book is beautiful in its own way though and it reminded me a lot of, The Same Sky as it tackles the issue of illegal immigration and two sweet kids neglected by their alcoholic mother, struggling with poverty and placement in society. I would recommend this one for fans of The Book of Unknown Americans.

I have asked Vanessa to join us in a future Sundays With Writers and I look forward to sharing more about her own very compelling story that shaped this incredible book next month!

4 Out of 5 Stars

You by Caroline Kepnes

You by Caroline Kepnes

I received an advanced reader of this from Netgalley.

Hey, remember the smutty book I was talking about in the opening paragraph? Yup, this is it. Avert your eyes if you can’t handle it! This book is dark, disturbing, twisted, erotic, psychotic…just try to put it down. Fans of Chelsea Cain & Gillian Flynn will love this book.

This is a twisted love story told from Joe, our obsessed narrator, who finds love in his bookshop after cyber-stalking a girl who used her credit card at his store. We watch as Joe becomes more and more unhinged as he discovers love is nothing like the books he’s read and the movies he’s watched- a fact that he is most displeased with. Twisted humor makes for laugh-out-loud moments and cleverly woven pop culture themes add a little lightness to the dark. This is an author to watch!

If you love it, you will be happy to know that it looks like the next book is in the works. This is one that would be fine as a stand-alone though, if you aren’t feeling committed to another series! Add this to your must-read steamy book pile!

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

This is another book that I enjoyed through my Scribd membership this month and am SO happy that I finally read. It’s got the sweetness of Eleanor & Park going for it and made for an incredible slow build love story. Those are the BEST kind, in my opinion!

Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

When two broken people find each other it is often a rocky road. This beautiful book takes you on an incredible journey as two sweet kids, bearing unfathomable burdens, find each other and discover that being broken doesn’t mean you can no longer experience joy or be loved. This book is perfect from start to finish and gets bonus points for the perfect last words spoken in a book!

Keep in mind, this is another long one (I can’t believe I tackled two big books in one month),coming in at 426 pages, but the pacing was just perfection!

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

This is another one I tackled on Scribd (that poor company is losing money on me this month- geesh!) and, yes, I know I am the last person in the world to read this one. I decided to go for it once I heard it was going to be made into a film and one of the casting decisions that was announced (yay!)

If I’m not the last person on earth to read this, I can’t recommend this one enough! This was the cutest quirkiest love story ever. Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

I fell in love with Don and found myself laughing out loud often at so many of the scenes in this one. I wish the ending had not felt so rushed and I did have a hard time figuring out The Father Project results (told from Don’s perspective), but I adored this book anyway! This was a great summer read!

Did you read the sequel to this one? I’m not seeing great reviews on it so I’m on the fence if I want to read it or not! Let me know!

5 Out of 5 Stars

Amy’s 2015 Bookshelf (join me on GoodReads):

2015 Best Books to Read List

Read With Me This Year:

July 2015 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

January 2015 Must-Reads

February 2015 Must-Reads

March 2015 Must-Reads

April 2015 Must-Reads

May 2015 Must-Reads

June 2015 Must-Reads

What should I be adding to my library bag?  Leave your suggestions in the comments below! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though.

 

Pin It

Freebie Friday July 31, 2015

Friday, July 31st, 2015

freebie friday Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! As always, we would like to thank Couponing 101 for assisting us with our freebies each week for loads of deals, savings, and freebies!

This week on MomAdvice we finished up July’s Focus on Beauty M Challenge with a terrific article from Mary Carver about teaching our daughters about beauty (real beauty!) and our huge Beauty M Challenge edition of the Notebook with all the links to our articles and many more to help you in your beauty routines. With back-to-school right around the corner, I’m sharing ideas for meaningful teacher gifts on a budget, as well as a wonderful interview with Erika Swyler on The Book of Speculation for our Sundays With Writers series.

This week I’m excited to be sharing my best book picks for July and be sure to take a look at all the contests you can enter on our weekly round-up of great giveaways, too.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Food & Drink

Tum-E Yummies at Kroger with eCoupon
Small Root Beer Float at A&W on August 6th

Health & Beauty

Nivea Body Lotion Sample
Simple Micellar Cleansing Water Sample
Garnier Full & Plush Haircare Sample
L’Oreal Nutri-Gloss Haircare Sample
Equate Ultra Thin Sample
Nexcare Waterproof Bandages Sample

Entertainment

Take Heart Song Download from Seeds Family Worship
Slow Cooker: Weight Loss eCookbook
Free Redbox Movie Rental with Text Code
Hero Girl Math Worksheets
Minions Math Activity
Bacteria All Around Us Unit
Minecraft-Themed Addition Worksheets
First Day of School Printables

This Week’s Freebie Events: August 1 – August 7

1st- Home Depot: Build a Chalkboard Door Hanger, 9 am – 12 pm
1st- Lakeshore Learning: Create a Friendship Day Keepsake, 11 am – 3 pm
1st & 2nd – National Museums: Bank of America Cardholders get free admission all weekend long
4th & 5th – Lego Store: Build a Lego Kangaroo, 5 pm

Pin It

Amys’ Notebook 07.29.15: M Challenge Beauty Syllabus

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

m-challenge

As a wrap-up of each month’s M Challenge theme, we will be using the last Notebook of the month as a sort of “Cliffs Notes” edition of the challenge – a place where you can find a list of all the articles we’ve published for the challenge, as well as more inspiration and links from the web around the challenge theme. Our hope is that this will be something that you can refer to in the future as well as catch up on in case you’ve missed anything!

July M Challenge: Focus on Beauty

Other Links for Our Beauty Focus:

DIY Hair Care Tips

Source: Parent Pretty

 

DIY hair care tips you don’t want to miss.

Ways to save time on your beauty routine.

Effortless overnight beauty treatments.

Beauty products from your kitchen!

How to save money on hair care.

Beauty tips for hot weather.

22 beauty tips you should ignore!

10 Simple Beauty Tips

Source: All Day Chic

 

Simple beauty tips you can start doing today.

12 beauty hacks no one told you about.

Ways to get longer, thicker hair.

Fruits to eat for glowing skin- do you eat these?

How to care for your fingernails.

A list of the best cheap makeup.

Video: how to expertly use a nude eyeshadow palette.

amys_notebook

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!

Pin It

Great Teacher Gifts on Small Budgets

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

Great Teacher Gifts on Small Budgets from MomAdvice.com

I am a firm believer that it’s a great idea to start your year off right with a little treat for your teachers. When my kids were small and I was tired, the gestures were small like a shiny apple on the first day and a handwritten note of thanks. Through the years, I try to do grander gestures like knitted cozies and cakes made from school materials.
When talking to teachers about what gifts they love though, I am told that the act of thankfulness can be a rarity in this harried world and that is why even something as small as a note to say thanks can mean so much.
Today I want to talk about small gestures that don’t cost a lot, but could mean a lot to a teacher. These are budget-minded projects created with a few items you can find at your local Goodwill store!

Read more over on the Goodwill Tips blog this morning!

Pin It

Apron Full of Giveaways 07.28.15

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

Floral Garden Apron via Etsy

Source: Love of Pattern,  $42.00

 

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Good luck to each of you!

Pin It

Sundays With Writers: The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

sundays-with-writers-1

My husband laughs about how much research I do to prepare for these Sundays With Writers interviews, but I love researching about the people behind the books just as much as I love the books themselves. Today’s guest, Erika Swyler, is an author that I have found completely fascinating as I have read more about her.  She wrote a beautiful book called The Book of Speculation and instead of going about the whole writing process the traditional way at a computer, she did it longhand. Instead of sending files to land an editor, she decided to try binding books herself to catch an editor’s eye.

It’s because of her unique methods that I wanted to feature her today in our interview series. I can’t wait for you to read this book and this interview with Erika!

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

I knew I was going to love The Book of Speculation because it had so many ingredients in it for success with me- librarians, old books, a bit of magic, and a glimpse at the old carnival life. The book has been compared to Water For Elephants and Night Circus, but definitely stands on its own and is an ambitious debut novel from this first-time author.

When Simon, a young librarian, receives the gift of a book that is a travel log for a carnival in the 1700’s, he discovers a drowning death of a circus mermaid that is coincidental to his own mother’s drowning death (a former circus mermaid herself) that happened even on the same day. If their family is cursed, his sister could be the next victim and he will do anything to save her. The chapters alternate between the travel log (complete with unique sketch drawings) and present day as Simon tries to stop the curse on his family. The author manages to bring these stories together in a beautiful way with a satisfying conclusion to these mysterious drownings.

You can read my full review of this book here as well as a few other great must-reads for the month of April!

Grab your cup of coffee and let’s settle in with Erika Swyler today and learn more about her debut novel! 

erika-swyler

I can admit, I am a bit of a nut about books and movies that have to do with the circus. I understand that you lived at the library for months researching the history of circuses in America to write The Book of Speculation. What is it about the circus life that fascinates you and what is the most surprising discovery you made while doing your research?

Circus life fascinates me because it’s so much about people finding and building family. Shows are living, breathing things with all these fascinating interpersonal dynamics. The life seems so rootless, yet these intense bonds form between people in shows. When you look at circuses and carnivals closely they make you question your ideas about what a home and family are.

the-wallendas

It was surprising to discover how far back some families can trace their history with the circus. The Wallendas were already established and touring in the 1780s. That’s insane. They’ve been practicing circus arts for essentially half of circus’s history. That’s a bigger footprint than P.T. Barnum.

Your book has a lot of unique elements in it, but one of them that really stood out to me was the use of illustration in your story. Did this add more pressure to you to create these and how do you think it makes your book more interactive for your reader?

Illustrating added pressure, but it also offered me far more control than most novelists have their first time out, and it kept me mercifully busy. When most people are sweating and waiting for edits, I was up to my ears in charcoal and graphite. That was a very good thing. I had total freedom as to what the illustrations were, and that let me build on aspect of a characters I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. My circus master, Peabody, sketches in his journal. Actually showing the reader the illustrations says so much about him, his journal, and the plot. Illustration lets readers look at the exact images the characters in the book are seeing. That’s smashing a wall. You’re looking at the drawings, you’re in the book.

erika-swyler-2

I think the most surprising thing I discovered about you while researching for this interview is that I read that when you prepared your manuscripts of this book to send out to various publishers that you hand bound and tea-stained each of the copies to give them the feel of an old book, similar to the one that Simon receives in the beginning of this novel. Do you think that the work you did to create a unique reader experience for them ultimately helped you land your book deal?

Binding the manuscript put the story on the outside. It’s rare to see a book look exactly like what’s in it. I had an inkling that whoever connected with the manuscript as art would connect with the story, because it is about old books, bibliophiles, and beautiful objects. I also suspected that I was selling myself based on my ability to work hard. Making books like that is a huge time investment. I wanted people to know that I was willing to break my back to make this book happen. Ultimately, that came across. Once the manuscripts were out, things moved quickly. And I found my dream editor.

I understand you are now an expert in Japanese Stab Binding. For those of us reading our pathetic e-books, what is this binding process and why did you chose it for your manuscripts?

I’m more a jack-of-all-trades than an expert, but I’ve gotten pretty good with this type of binding. Japanese Stab Binding is a method where you sew through an entire block of paper rather than stitching together folded signatures. Each stitch goes through both covers and the pages. The stitches are visible, and the thread can be used to make decorative patterns. It’s used a lot in photo albums, for binding loose pages, and for quick and dirty paperback repair.

Stab binding made sense for the manuscripts because it’s relatively cheap, fast when compared to other techniques, and it’s visually striking. Being able to sew loose pages meant I was able to work with standard copy paper and splurge on covers rather than losing money on typesetting and printing. It’s also a very human stitch. When you see a book with a stab binding, you get a sense of how it’s done and that you understand it. It’s a binding that feels like history.

I often feel like I was born in the wrong era and it seems that might be something you and I have in common! I read you do your first drafts in longhand and on your collection of vintage typewriters. Do you have a favorite typewriter in your collection and why do you love these retro methods of book writing so much?

I write a lot longhand and on typewriters because it keeps me from editing. Computers have given us this terrible habit of writing a word then deleting it over and over again. You don’t do that longhand. I also find that characters and scenes demand different voices. Writing by hand feels very different than using a typewriter, which is a universe away from writing a laptop. Some characters want the typewriter. Sometimes if I’m really flying I switch around between hand, typewriter, and computer.

I do hoard typewriters. The oldest I have is an Underwood Champion from the late ’30s, but my favorite is a 1958 Hermes 3000. It’s mint green and fabulous. The keys feel right, it has great control over margins and spacing, and I can really move on it. It’s a beautiful machine. My husband got it for me. He supports what I do in a very deep way. He can’t write the words, but he makes sure I have the tools to write them.

There have been comparisons to The Night Circus and Water for Elephants with this book. In what ways do you think your book is different from these and why do you think there is such a fascination with the circus life in literature?

So those comparisons are huge and humbling. But there are some major differences. First, the fantastic element. Water for Elephants has both feet in a lush reality. The Night Circus floats in the fantastic. The Book of Speculation dances in between. I love the idea of everyday lives being infused with elements of wonder. I’m essentially mythologizing the ordinary—that’s the oldest trick in storytelling, but one that’s often overlooked. Then there’s scope. The Night Circus and Water for Elephants both span a lifetime (albeit magically enhanced in some instances). I went big and set my scope as 250 years of a family’s history. It asks readers to look for overlaps and intertwining stories. Essentially, I got to write historical fiction, fantasy, magical realism, mystery, a family saga, and literary fiction all at once.

Circus demands that you gawk, while also maintaining an intense wall of privacy. It’s impossible to watch a circus performance without wondering about artists and what their lives are like. Acts are billed as “the best” or “the only.” It’s the nature of writers to need to know what “the best” is like without makeup and lights. Combine that with a secretive culture and you might as well just wave a red flag at us.

Circus (PBS series)

Do you have any books on the circus or documentaries that you could recommend for people who want to learn more about the circus life?

There’s a wealth of information out there. The Circus Age: Culture and Society under the American Big Top by Janet M. Davis is pretty fantastic. For that specific carnival cadence, Howard Bone’s Side Show: My Life with Geeks, Freaks and Vagabonds in the Carny Trade is about as atmospheric as it gets while revealing surprisingly little. That perfectly captures the “insiders only” feel of carnivals and circus. PBS also made a six-episode series, Circus, which is incredible. As far as access to modern circus life, it’s unbeatable.

 If you could tell anyone to read one book (other than your own) what would that book be (we will add it to our list of recommended reads for our readers!)?

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. I suggest people read it because it may freak them out. It’s also what fearless narration looks like. It’s bold and bizarre in all the right ways and full of incredible visual writing. It’s a book that stays with you long after you’ve finished. It’s the book I dream about writing.

 You can connect with Erika Swyler on GoodReads or through her website! 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!

 

10 Questions

Friday, July 24th, 2015

In lieu of our typical 3 Little Things, I was tagged by Centsational Girl to answer ten questions today so I thought this might be a fun way to share a little with you today about some things I am loving right now! We used to do these quite often when I first started blogging so it’s a bit of a Throwback Thursday on a Friday today. Happy weekend, everyone! xo

deer-head

Share something you’ve pinned (or bookmarked) and why you love it.

I have been wanting to shape up our entryway table in our front room and I have these cardboard deer heads bookmarked for something I would like to hang above my little table. I also scored a 1964 1st Place Home Economics Trophy on Etsy this week as a place to tuck our keys and I am checking the mail every day in sweet anticipation for its arrival.

I’m enjoying personalizing this space right now and have so much fun making our space a little piece of us. I particularly love to add whimsy to our home and have been trying to add a touch of old from vintage pieces that have years of history in our house.  Unique spaces are my jam!

map-wallpaper

What’s your favorite color and where have you used it or seen it used in a beautiful way?

Oh, I love just hints of color on neutral surfaces. If I was going to model the color and style of a home in my own space, it would definitely be ANYTHING from The Inspired Room. In fact, I have more than once told Melissa that if she came to my house that it would be awfully awkward since I glean so much from her site. This map wall is something I have bookmarked for our entryway (as we have a narrow one that I never know what to do with) and I love the industrial schoolhouse lamps she has in her house. The pop of green is just perfection! I highly recommend touring her house and snagging her book for inspiration!

Burkina_Faso_2012_681[1]

If money was no object, what’s something you’d buy right now.

As many wells as possible for Burkina Faso. Clean water for everyone!!

Books for needy kids and more time to read with them. I have witnessed the transformation of kids learning to read and falling in love with books. It’s so big and it makes my heart so happy. Can you imagine if every poverty-stricken school had shelves overflowing and grown-ups who loved to read that just had time to help them fall in love? MAGIC!

Food for the hungry- can you imagine having the funds to stock the shelves until they overflow for those in need?

And if it was possible, extra time so I could give more time to others and still manage my daily life and work. I’m ashamed how much time I waste that could be serving other people in our community. I want to do better.

And if all the needs of the world were addressed, I would finally renovate that kitchen. Of course, this post really inspired me that it’s okay to wait and put my money somewhere else right now. So that’s what we’ve been doing this year instead and I’m proud we can do that.

Share something that scares you, something that comforts you, or both.

I’m a high-anxiety person so the list can be a long one.  As a mom, my biggest worry is the safety and well-being of my children. I worry so much for them in this world.  The comforting fact though is that we have worked really hard to raise good people and teach them good stuff that I am comforted knowing that someday we will be putting two really incredible people out into the world (that hopefully won’t be highly anxious because of their crazy mother).

I’m also comforted to know genuine love. I am one of the lucky ones to have a spouse who loves me unconditionally for so many years of our life.

shrimp-boil-1

The perfect meal? Name it.

Any meal with people I love, great conversation, and delicious food is a perfect meal to me. My girlfriend’s family had us over one night for a shrimp boil and I thought, “It can’t get more perfect than this.” A spicy one-pot dish thrown on newspaper in the center of the picnic table and shared with great drinks and good friends. The best part? NO DISHES- just throw the paper away. I’m planning to post the recipe we used next week, but I think this is the perfect meal for a hostess who actually wants to hang out with her guests.

Shed-Makeover-Ideas-7

how-to-paint-laminate-furniture-5

How_To_Stain_Furniture-23

laura-ingalls

janet-hill

What’s one decorating piece of advice you swear by.

Be you.  It can be easy to look at Pinterest and want to replicate someone else’s style or head to a home store and just buy everything without really thinking about what it will mean in your house. I want everything to have a story from the pieces of art we select from our travels to the handmade goodness that is our centerpiece.

Don’t let decorating hold you back from entertaining though. I still have a bucket list of projects that I want to do on my home to personalize it the way I want. I struggle with patience because I know I am capable of doing these things, but the money and time isn’t there.  Slow decorating is my new motto. I will bask in all the good stuff I am doing and be content knowing how far I have come. My friends will just have to witness the slow transformation!

chicago-mix-popcorn

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Chicago Mix Popcorn, a generous pour of boxed wine, and a really good YA novel. I am working on this one right now and it’s so good!

milkshake

Tell a joke, the cornier the better, or share a meme or show that makes you laugh.

Does a t-shirt count? Although, the lack of apostrophe is slaying me right now.

Italy-Edits-20

Italy-Edits-22

Italy-Edits-23

Italy-Edits-31

Italy-Edits-33

Congratulations, you just won an all expenses paid trip to           !  Fill in the blank.

ITALY and you can bring your whole family this time. My husband and I have been watching House Hunters International, scoping properties in Italy, and dreaming of how we can save for another trip back there. This trip was a dream come true and I am so thankful I got to do it with my best friend! It also made me realize, this world is so big and so many adventures are out there for us. I can’t wait to see more of it.

What advice would you give your twenty something self?

This will be one of the hardest times in your life- you will get married while your friends are still doing keg stands, you will have a baby and think you are ready for this parenting thing (and you aren’t), you will have a hard time financially, you will have a hard time professionally because you don’t know yourself yet, and you will have debt that will make you cry. You will get through it. Those moments will shape you, your marriage, your new business, and your new financial path… you will be better because you went through this.  The important thing is to never forget those moments because those are the moments where you can connect with others facing those same hardships and truly be empathetic. You will have so much to give to others so take a nap now!

This morning I tag: Hollywood Housewife, Redefined Mom, Blushing Basics, & Dine & Dish to answer the same ten questions!

1. Share something you’ve pinned (or bookmarked) and why you love it.

2. What’s your favorite color and where have you used it or seen it used in a beautiful way?

3. If money was no object, what’s something you’d buy right now.

4. Share something that scares you, something that comforts you, or both.

5. The perfect meal? Name it.

6. What’s one decorating piece of advice you swear by.

7. What’s your guilty pleasure?

8. Tell a joke, the cornier the better, or share a meme or show that makes you laugh.

9. Congratulations, you just won an all expenses paid trip to           !  Fill in the blank.

10. What advice would you give your twenty something self?

 

Freebie Friday July 24, 2015

Friday, July 24th, 2015

freebie friday Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! As always, we would like to thank Couponing 101 for assisting us with our freebies each week for loads of deals, savings, and freebies!

This week on MomAdvice you’ll find two posts for the Beauty M Challenge – the Domestic Diva shares her make-up must-haves (all drugstore finds!) and I’m showing how to make Mojito bath salts. Need some mid-summer snack ideas for the pool? Got you covered! I’m also happy to share how we used fabric dye on canvas shoes – they turned out so cute! And don’t miss this week’s Sundays With Writers interview with Greer Macallister, author of The Magician’s Lie.

Check out this week’s edition of It’s the 3 Little Things to get your weekly dose of happy,  find lots of inspiring DIY, food, decorating and craft ideas in our popular Notebook, and be sure to take a look at all the contests you can enter on our weekly round-up of great giveaways, too.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

 

Food & Drink

Yogi Tea Sample for a Friend
Coke for Troops
Premier Protein Bar at Kroger with eCoupon

Health & Beauty

ORS Shealicious Hair Conditioning Cocktail Sample
Hugo Red Fragrance Sample
Pond’s Skin Care Sample
Emergen-C Sample

Entertainment

Live Uncaged eBook
Uncensored Science Debate Video
Writings of Thomas Paine – Volume 1 eBook
Writings of Thomas Paine – Volume 2 eBook
Writings of Thomas Paine – Volume 3 eBook
Writings of Thomas Paine – Volume 4 eBook
Manners Coloring Book Download
Minecraft-Themed Worksheets
Google Online Summer Camp
Printable Seasonal Produce Guide
What to Freeze and How to Freeze It Printable Guide
Printable Minions Handwriting Set
Printable First Day of School Signs
Monet-Inspired Art Activities
Mambo Sprouts Coupon Book
Free eBook Bundle from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

This Week’s Freebie Events: July 25 – July 31

25th – Lakeshore Learning: Create a Stay Cool! Sun Visor, 11 am – 3 pm

25th – Lowe’s: Build Hawkeye’s Quinjet, 10 am

Pin It

How to Make DIY Mojito Bath Salts

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

What better way to focus on beauty than with a pampering bath salts recipe? Let’s celebrate this M Challenge repost of an earlier DIY project by making up a batch and use it today in a relaxing bath – preferably with a glass of wine!

How to Make Mojito Bath Salts

How to Make Mojito Bath Salts

These Mojito bath salts incorporate everything we love in a delicious mojito drink, with lots of fresh lime and mint. To really increase the mint component in these, we are adding a little mint essential oil to the mix. It’s easy to mix up an easy batch of Mojito Bath Salts that you can create with just a few items from your local grocer and craft store and makes a great addition to your beauty routine as well as a welcome handmade gift for the women in your life!

DIY Mojito Bath Salts

Supplies Needed

4 cups of Epsom Salt
2 limes, zest & juice
5-8 drops of mint essential oils (you can add more or less, depending on your preference)
2-4 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
Soap colorant in green (optional)
Glass Container or Jar

How to Make MojitoBath Salts

Have you ever made your own bath salts? It’s the kind of gift (or just for you!) that sounds really impressive, but you don’t have to have any craft skills at all to create it.

Epsom salts are the key ingredient in these and can be found at your local grocer or drugstore.  The wonders of Epsom salts have been well known for hundreds of years and are said to have beneficial properties that can soothe the body. Some of the countless health benefits include relaxing the nervous system, curing skin problems, soothing back pain and aching limbs, easing muscle strain, healing cuts, treating cold and congestion, and drawing toxins from the body.

The best part though is that these are inexpensive to buy and can be customized with your favorite ingredients, whether it be mint, lavender, eucalyptus, or any other essential oils that you might have on hand.

When purchasing these ingredients for this recipe, avoid any that have added ingredients or scents and just stick to the basic Epsom salts so the scents don’t overpower the essential oils that you are adding.

Easy-to-make Mojito Bath Salts

How to Make Mojito Bath Salts

1. Pour four cups of Epsom salts in a large mixing bowl.
2. Add the zest and juice of two limes to your bowl.
3. Finely chop your mint and add these to your bowl.
4. Add 5-8 drops of essential oils. You can also add a small amount of green soap colorant, if you would like, to add a little color to your salts.
5. Mix the ingredients well and scoop into a glass jar.
6. Directions for use: Add ½ cup of Mojito Bath Salts to your bath.

Have you ever made bath salts before? What is your favorite recipe for these?

Pin It

Amy’s Notebook 07.22.15

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

No Sew Coil Rope Basket via Allice and Lois

Source: Alice & Lois

 

DIY no-sew rope coil basket. NO SEW? I can do this.

I need to up my popcorn game.

Why you should still read “Go Set A Watchman.”

Another great viewpoint from NPR.

Why we don’t stress about choosing a school- AMEN.

Wonder Book Club ideas- so cute!

I love watercolors.

Come anyway- my new entertaining motto.

Poolside playlist!

Bedroom Inspiration via LittleGreenNotebook

Source: Little Green Notebook

 

Bedroom inspiration- love the layering on this bed!

More tiny home inspiration.

Coffee and tonic water – your new favorite summer drink?

The ultimate flower girl must-have.

Adding this to my summer reading list- have you read it?

A year-long shopping ban…I feel INSPIRED.

I want to do a career day with my kids!

Printable car parts for a “drive-in” movie- what a fun summer activity.

Let’s be people who see one another.

amys_notebook

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!