Author Archive

Slow Cooker Creamy Coconut Oatmeal (& Tips for Perfect Slow-Cooked Oats)

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

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It’s become an embarrassing pattern of mine to make a resolution every year to be better about eating breakfast. Each time, I start on the path towards healthy eating. However, as life becomes fuller and mornings more hectic, I find that eating a good breakfast often gets pushed to the side.

This year, I discovered how invaluable my slow cooker was in creating a beautiful, hot breakfast for my entire family that I could serve in the morning and enjoy for mornings to come. I could also serve it as a midday pick-me-up or as a healthy late- night snack. The discovery might seem a bit old-fashioned, but a batch of oatmeal is a great way to start the day. This isn’t just any old oatmeal though—this oatmeal is made from delicious steel cut oats.

What’s the difference between rolled oats and steel cut oats? Well, a part of it is their structure and the other part is the way that our body digests them. While both contain whole grain oats, they are processed differently. Rolled oats are steamed, rolled, steamed again and toasted, ending up as thin flakes. Steel cut oats are made from oat kernels that have been chopped into thick pieces.

The reason steel cut oats are so awesome is because they digest more slowly than rolled ones, leaving you fuller longer. Like all other grains in whole or cracked form, steel cut oats rank lower on the glycemic index than rolled oats. This just means that it takes longer for digestive enzymes to reach the starch inside the thicker pieces, slowing down its conversion to sugar. For me, those highs and lows are some rough stuff, and I’ve found that a bowl of steel cut oats keeps my blood sugar much steadier.

I make a variety of different oatmeal recipes in my slow cooker and have found one thing to be consistent no matter what kind I make. Can I let you in on my little secret? I absolutely hate cleaning the slow cooker after making oatmeal. I also hate that the oats can get crusty pretty quickly on the edges, yielding a less than creamy bowl even when I have the perfect liquid ratios.

How to make slow cooker oatmeal

Let me share my secret that yields the most perfect and creamy bowl you can imagine and it is probably something you already have in your kitchen:

1. Find an oven-safe dish that fits inside of your slow cooker and fill that dish with all of your ingredients for your oatmeal.

2. Fill a measuring cup with water and pour the water around your dish, just to about the halfway point. This creates a warm water bath (a lot like those candles we made this summer) and helps your oatmeal to cook more evenly yet remain delightfully creamy.

3. Put a lid on the slow cooker (no need to double lid) and set it to cook for eight hours. It’s okay if your slow cooker switches to “warm” in the night. Thanks to your water bath, your oats will not get overcooked, but stay hot until you wake up!

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Once you have that perfect bowl of oatmeal, you can add your favorite toppings to it or create a quick toppings bar of ingredients for the week. For this Creamy Coconut Oatmeal recipe, I found the taste of rich blackberries and toasty almonds to be a delightful way to top it!

Slow Cooker Creamy Coconut Oatmeal (& Tips for Perfect Slow-Cooked Oats)
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups steel cut oatmeal (no substitutions)
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar (can omit if topping with brown sugar)
  • 1 pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in your Kenmore slow cooker as I have shown you above.
  2. Cook on low for eight hours.
  3. Serve with your favorite oatmeal toppings like berries, dried fruits, nuts, granola, nut butters, coconut, brown sugar, cinnamon, or additional milk for topping.

 I can’t wait to hear what you think about this technique for perfectly cooked oatmeal and hope you can get the year started out right with this easy breakfast option!

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Amy’s Notebook 08.25.16

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Eggs in Ham & Cheese Cups via Hos Josephine

Source: Hos Josephine

 

How good does this look for breakfast? YUM!

Love the map in these lamps. It’s all in the details, isn’t it?

Buy only the home you need, not the house you can afford.

Swooning over this kitchen reno!

Wouldn’t these be the cutest present to share?

An inspiring post on vacation cooking- I must do this for our annual trips. So smart!

I love these DIY shelves!

How to build cute comfortable outfits.

Spaces to Organize in the Fall via Polished Habitat

Source: Polished Habitat

 

More organization eye candy. Now to get the energy to make it happen!

I could have written this post.

This studio living room tour brings all the color. Love all the little details!

I love peeking at other people’s favorite reads, don’t you?

“If I’m not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, then say no.”

Adorable study nook!

I’m obsessed with book covers.

Ten key insights from a family therapist on parenting.

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!

DIY Car Organizing Tips (Giveaway with Big Fat Notebooks!)

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

You know that mom that always has bandages, always has a snack and drink on hand, can pull a pen out at a moment’s notice, has tissues, never forgets an umbrella, utilizes time well between running kids, and keeps a tidy car?

That’s not me.

In fact, I have been pretty embarrassed about just how bad things have gotten. No one really wanted to ride in my car including myself (insert scared face emoji).

It was on my organizing bucket list to tackle this since a good portion of my day is now spent in the car running kids from activity to activity. I spent an afternoon getting us organized for this school year and I wanted to show you how I did that.

Big Fat Notebooks Big Fat Notebooks

The inspiration came from today’s partner, The Big Fat Notebook series. If your kids love Diary of a Wimpy Kid, they will LOVE this new way of learning. When my kids were younger, they were hooked on Brain Quest, but once they hit middle school age, I felt like everything just felt like…Well, work. After a long day at school, the last thing they want to do is browse another textbook. That is why these are so genius. They look fun and teach you something in the process.

There are five books in all, and each is the only book you need for each main subject taught in middle school: Math, Science, American History, English Language Arts, and World History.

They also happen to meet Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and state history standards, and are vetted by National and State Teacher of the Year Award–winning teachers. If you are a homeschooling mama, this would make an excellent addition to your curriculum.

You can find these fantastic books at AmazonBarnes & NobleIndiebound, or Workman.

Big Fat Notebooks

I am not lying when I say that my daughter has become OBSESSED with these. There has been a lot of fact reciting at the dinner table!

We REALLY want to share them with you so please scroll to the end to catch this giveaway!!

I also wanted to figure out a way that we could keep these books on hand for busy days so I used this as an excuse to get my car organized and create caddies for each kid with the things they need. With school supplies on sale right now, it also happens to be quite an affordable time to create these little kits!

DIY Car Organizing Ideas

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

After browsing every type of organizer available, I ended up using these shower caddy organizers for each of my kids because they had great pockets and a wipeable surface in case they get dirty or muddy. I also slipped a plastic cup for each to hold pencils/pens so it would make it easier for them to grab. In each one, I have an umbrella, snacks (that can withstand the hot car),  a water, a couple of Big Fat Notebooks (strategically chosen for the subjects we need to work on!!), and packages of tissues.

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I had planned to hang them from the backs of the seats, but the width was too deep on our car. I actually think it will be easier to have them on the floor and they can also be moved to the center when they are being used.

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

Backpacks can also pile up on the floor so I got these hooks to give these guys a home. It can also be a great place to hang a jacket, hat, or purse. Our backpacks often get dirty and thrown on the floor so I am hoping it helps with that too!

Now that the kids are in better shape, I wanted to work on some problem areas for me. My biggest issue is carrying around gym equipment so I wanted to make that an organizing priority.

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DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

In my gym equipment stash I have two pairs of shoes (one for dance class and one for cardio), a spare pair of socks, yoga socks, tissues, water, facial cleansing wipes, hair ties, travel brush, and a towel. These are things that I am always forgetting and that I sometimes end up having to buy at the gym.

All of these fit perfectly in this container.

Again, plastic, wipeable, AND breathable.

Not that my feet sweat AT ALL, but I wanted you to know for you. It’s okay. It happens to a lot of people.

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

My yoga mat takes up valuable space and I hate that it is always rolling around in our trunk. Again, using those utility hooks to keep it in place along with my hot yoga towel and umbrella.

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

To finish up the tour, I wanted to show you just a couple of other things that are helping.

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

removable hook for hanging the trash bag- we will see how long this holds!

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

tiny totes for random things- one has receipts and pens, one has snacks for me, one has a mini first aid kit (for a legit one check here!), and the last one has tissues.

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

utilizing the gaps for my phone to save space in my drink holder (similar idea here!)

It’s not perfect, but I’m pretty proud. I feel like I *might* be able to be that mom this year AND my kids will be learning between activities too. High fives all around, friends!

Giveaway Time

Big Fat Notebook

I can’t wait to give someone this whole collection. We are so excited to share this with you! The books included in this giveaway are:

Everything You Need to Ace Math . . . covers everything to get you over any math hump: fractions, decimals, and how to multiply and divide them; ratios, proportions, and percentages; geometry; statistics and probability; expressions and equations; and the coordinate plane and functions.

Everything You Need to Ace Science . . . takes readers from scientific investigation and the engineering design process to the Periodic Table; forces and motion; forms of energy; outer space and the solar system; to earth sciences, biology, body systems, ecology, and more.

Everything You Need to Ace American History . . . covers Native Americans to the war in Iraq. There are units on Colonial America; the Revolutionary War and the founding of a new nation; Jefferson and the expansion west; the Civil War and Reconstruction; and all of the notable events of the 20th century—World Wars, the Depression, the Civil Rights movement, and much more.

Everything You Need to Ace World History . . . kicks off with the Paleolithic Era and  transports the reader to ancient civilizations—in Egypt, Greece, India, China, Africa, Rome; the middle ages across the world; the Renaissance; the age of exploration and colonialization, revolution and imperialism, and the modern world and the wars and movements that shaped it.

Everything You Need to Ace English Language Arts . . . covers everything to get you your best marks: grammar, including parts of speech, active and passive verbs, Greek and Latin roots and affixes; nuances in word meanings; textual analysis, authorship, structure, and other skills for reading fiction and nonfiction; and writing arguments, informative texts, and narratives.

One (1) lucky winner will receive:

  • Copies of all 5 titles in the Big Fat Notebooks series
  • Branded school supplies including highlighter/pen combos, a notepad, and jigsaw sticky notes.

Please follow the widget below to enter to win! I hope this post inspires you to get organized. As always, feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

This post was sponsored by Workman Publishing and Big Fat Notebooks. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

 

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It’s the 3 Little Things: Bang Trick, Crying Laughing, & Busy Mama Shoes

Friday, August 19th, 2016

 

happy-3

Good morning! These past few days have felt a little heavenly as the kids headed back to school and I’ve had the whole house to myself. I love my kids, but having some introvert time has been so good for my soul. The days here are much longer (we must RISE FROM OUR BEDS at 5:45AM (!!!) and I realized my body is revolting a bit with these new changes. My muscles are throbbing and I have been ending these days curled in the fetal position.

That part hasn’t been heavenly, but that whole health portion of my life really isn’t.

Instead of pushing myself further, I gifted myself three days to get myself used to these changes by  just allowing myself the pleasure of rest. The gym can wait for now!

As soon as the kids have left, I have spent the mornings on my patio with HOT COFFEE (!!!), a good book, and a cozy throw. I drag an ottoman out there and catching a little sunshine on my face, listening to all the nature sounds, and swimming in pretty words! If a girl must rest, that is the way to do it.

I have successfully put up blinders to block weeding, crumbs on the floor, piles of unfinished laundry, and the growing feeling of disorganization already.

Three days shouldn’t set me back too much….right? Right???

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My best friend and I also have an annual tradition of a fancy feast and toast once our children go off to school. A sushi date was arranged for our back to school kickoff, white wine was served, and we toasted to getting through another summer.

Oh, and there are pedicures too every year.

Please pray for the poor woman that had to work on these feet.

Poor, poor woman. Her tip was quite generous (does anyone else avoid looking at someone working on your feet to not feel the shame?)

Here are 3 other things making me happy this week! 

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A New Bang Trick (That Works)

I finally got a haircut again (it’s only been since…oh, April!) and I am back to bangs again. I was looking for tips on styling bangs and I happened to run across a video with the coolest trick for keeping your bangs looking fresh.

I don’t want to give it away, you need to watch it, but I tried it this week and these styling tricks really worked, especially her idea for the finishing touch to keep sweat at bay!

By the way, I can’t recommend this dry shampoo enough- for the price and the results. I use this between my infrequent shampoo days! If you are struggling with bang styling, I hope this helps you as much as it helped me!

You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

A Book With ALL the LOL’s

If you haven’t heard of Jessi Klein, she is the head writer and producer for the Inside Amy Schumer show and a gifted comedic writer.  She has written her first book and I can’t rave about it enough. If you have been looking for a book with the humor of Bossypants, You’ll Grow Out of It, has some of that comedic magic that I enjoyed so much from Tina Fey’s book.  In fact, I have been laughing until I am crying and have side stitches from laughing so hard.

I tried to read chapters aloud to my husband and start speaking gibberish because I can’t breathe or speak through the laughter. Ask him about it. I could tell he really felt like listening to me was a good use of his time.

These chapters are all about Jessi’s life as a tomboy and how she tries to conform to the expectations the world has on her as a female. From getting the perfect tight butt at barre classes, to lingerie shopping when you are more of a 3-pack Hanes Her Way kind of girl, to the inexplicable high we get from going to Anthropologie (which she calls Zooey Deschanel’s manger- LOL!), I am laughing at her struggles and relating to many of them too. Although not a tomboy, I get irritated by the expectations as much as anyone else.

If you need an escape, this would be a great I’m-waiting-for-kids-activities-all-day read since each chapter is its own story.

Just prepare for everyone in the carpool line to look at you like you are absolutely crazy when you are manically laughing alone.

I hope it makes you laugh as hard as it did me!

 

Skechers Ballet Flat

Great On-The-Go Shoes

Although I wouldn’t qualify these shoes as the most fashionable, I have been looking for a shoe that would be perfect to slip in on and as I run kids back and forth to activities or just for a quick jaunt to the mailbox.  I didn’t realize that Skechers made a ballet flat and these are perfect for my wide-foot friends (holla!). The width is generous and the inside is filled with cushy memory foam that keeps cool so your feet don’t sweat. They took a day to break in (I think mostly because I have been living in sandals), but I now wear them all the time and find them to be a really supportive busy mama shoe. Give them a shot- they come in a few different styles too!

For fashionable flats, I still can’t recommend these enough for your fall staples! They are oh-so-comfortable!

happy-1

Completing: Nothing. Please see above.

Reading: I just finished this book. Have you read it? It’s another film project for Reese Witherspoon’s production team. I’d love to chat about what you thought!

Eating: We tried this incredible risotto recipe and I am excited to try my own variation on it. I joined the cult of Instant Pot. Have you heard of it? Let me share a pamphlet with you about the Book of Instant Pot. You, too, could  have a transformed life in just a few easy steps.

Listening: The Living Room episode has been listed as many people’s favorites and I savored it while waiting for my daughter at dance. It is guaranteed to pull at all your heartstrings at once. It also makes you think about how we interpret others. If you have some time, listen to it and tell me what you think!

Happy Friday, friends!

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

DIY Personalized Stamped Pencils

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

DIY Personalized Stamped Pencils

I hate to say it, but it’s back-to-school time! It’s always bittersweet for me. I enjoy summers with my kids so much and love the lazy days, but I also look forward to fresh starts and routines.  In honor of the season,  I created these cute DIY Personalized Stamped Pencils for the first day of school to remind your kiddos just how much they mean to you.

I always try to do one special thing for my kids on their first day of school to remind them how much they are loved. When my daughter started Kindergarten, I made hair bows that had a heart center, reminding her that my heart was with her on her big first day. For my son, it was always lots of jokes and comics tucked away in his lunchbox to share with his friends.

diy-personalized-stamped-pencils

This craft was inspired by one of my favorite books, “The Help,” if you haven’t seen the movie or read the book, you really must. In one particular scene, the sweet character Aibileen gives the little girl she cares for a self-esteem boost each day saying, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” These encouraging words are what help shape this little girl and help her grow and thrive.

I wanted to create personalized pencils for my own little girl for her first day of school that would capture why she is so special to me and capture a little of that self-esteem magic that I found so endearing in the film.

I jotted down a list of words that I think of when I think of my little girl. Kind, smart, funny, sassy, and joyful are just a few examples of what I think makes her so special. I wanted to create a project around these words and thought a pencil could remind her daily of why her mom thinks she is so darn wonderful.

How to Make Stamped Pencils

How to Make DIY Personalized Stamped Pencils from MomAdvice.com.

Supplies Needed

(affiliate links included, if you use them, thank you -they help support the site!)

Directions

1. Jot down a list of words about what makes your child so special that you can use to stamp on your pencils.

2. Begin by sorting out your metal stamps into alphabetical order. I wrote a letter on the side of the stamp so it would be easy to find the stamp I needed while creating these. For me, the sorting was the most consuming part, but once you have this done it will make this project a lot faster.

3. Stamp your letter stamp into your black ink pad several times, until the letter is completely covered in the ink.

4. Then align your stamp, checking to make sure it’s about centered on one of the pencils’ flat sides, and also that it’s right-side up. You will want to give the end of your stamp a tap or two with the hammer. Keep in mind that wood is soft so you don’t want to pound it too hard, just hard enough to make that impression. Keep repeating this until you have spelled out your word.

5. Finish by dabbing your paper towel with rubbing alcohol and rubbing swiftly across the top of it to remove any excess ink that may have carried over from the stamping pad.

6. Wrap these in ribbon and give them to your child for their first day of school!

How to Make DIY Personalized Stamped Pencils from MomAdvice.com.

I hope this project inspires you to create a little bouquet of pencils for your child’s first day of school. Older children might enjoy assisting with this project or love stamping their own name. Not only is this a great activity for mastering spelling, but it is also a great way to use their imagination to create words of their own.

 

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Amy’s Notebook 08.17.16

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Painted Polka-Dot Curtains from LollyJane

Source: Lolly Jane

 

I am loving the simple painted trim on these curtains!

8 brilliantly hidden kitchen drop zones- check out the wine rack!!

This is on my to-do list.

What teens need most from their parents.

Homemade rainbow popsicles with 100% fruit- genius!

This looks like a good page-turner.

I doubt I could ever do this, but I really enjoy it’s beauty!

Harry Potter floating candle tutorial- LOVE IT!

No Churn Brownie Batter Ice Cream via The Recipe Critic

Source: Recipe Critic

 

No-churn brownie batter ice cream- I want to try this with a gluten-free mix!

DIY stair runner made with vintage rugs- gorgeous!!!

I love learning about parenting in other countries.

15 must-see documentaries. I think we have seen all but 3 on this list!

Amy Schumer is one of my faves- loved seeing her favorite reads!

A home tour of musician’s homes- so much design inspiration in these for artsy types!

5 signs you should stop decluttering.

An ancient Tuscan farm turned magical​ bohemian​ home.

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!

 

Planning My 2016 Fall Wardrobe Capsule

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

Fall-2016-Capsule-Wardrobe-Idea-Board

Yesterday I started the shopping process for my fall/winter capsule wardrobe. I love the creative process of putting these together and thought I would share with you how I put these together.  Although I always do the big reveal, I thought it might be fun to take you a little behind the scenes at my process.

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Before I begin, I want to say this is FUN for me and not a chore AT ALL. I love having a beautifully curated closet and I enjoy the creativity in it. If you do not enjoy stuff like this, feel free to try something like a wardrobe uniform or do what you are already doing.

Please don’t criticize me if I love it.

I love a lot of stuff that you might not love, but getting dressed actually brings me a lot of joy.

I hope even if you don’t want to do it, you can at least appreciate the creativity behind it.

 

If you are looking for inspiration, my fingers are crossed we have similar taste and you will find this glimpse helps you too!

capsule-wardrobe- colors-for-fall

My Color Palette

The past couple of years my color scheme has leaned more into the red, white, & blue that feels very nautical and timeless to me. This year I wanted to warm things up so I am selecting a few pieces in wine, rose, mustard yellow, & navy. These colors are folded into my basic neutral scheme (gray, black, cream) for the year.

I love how these colors can be mixed and matched together.

I also love the pink hues since I love a more feminine touch to my wardrobe.

Here are a few pieces that I am eyeing in this scheme (Please Note- I am for waiting delivery on these so I can try them on. I will delete anything that doesn’t make the cut on this board and tell you why! These are affiliate links because they help support my site!)

Modern Henley Blouse

Modern Henley Blouse

Pintucked Blouse in Angel Wing Pink

Pintucked Blouse in Angel Wing Pink (trying this in a basic black too!)

Pintuck Swing Dress from Old Navy

Sleeveless Pintuck Swing Dress

(This will be layered under or over with cardigans or long sleeve t-shirts in contrasting colors when it cools down!

Don’t forget fun colored tights, scarves, & belts that will add even more fun to this one!)

Relaxed Jersey T-Shirt from Old Navy

Relaxed Brushed-Jersey T-Shirt 

(Using these in the grey & oatmeal for layering under my sleeveless dresses. Also can be worn with my jeans on quiet days at home!)

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Mona Solid Sweater Wrap

(To wear over EVERYTHING- love the gray interior on this one. Feeling hopeful about this piece!)

Here are some pieces that I found on thredUP (continuing my commitment to buy mostly secondhand!) Here is $10 to spend if you haven’t discovered this amazing online consignment shop!

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My thredUP Haul (fingers crossed everything fits!)

I Also Pick a Statement Piece or Smart Classic

I have learned that buying one or two really beautiful statement piece really adds to my enjoyment of my capsule wardrobe. I have also learned it is a really smart investment to spend money on things like jeans, a good blazer (mine is 6 years old!), and a well-made skirt.  I bought a beautiful a-line red skirt that I wear absolutely to death and it has held up better than anything else in my wardrobe over several capsule seasons.

That investment piece really paid off and has transitioned from season to season really well while other trendier and cheaper items have not held up or kept my attention as long.

This year I wanted to add a vest for layering. Again,  this one is out of my typical budget, but hopefully a very smart investment piece.

I also happened to catch a BEAUTIFUL sweater dress on sale on thredUP that happened to be in my established color scheme. I just couldn’t resist her print and consider that a statement piece (as well as a classic print!).

wardrobe planning wardrobe-planning

Mabli Vest (SWOON!!)

wardrobe-planner

(thredup Anthro sweater dress find- YES!!)

Clean Out Your Closet

I’m Planning Another Closet Audit

Once I have everything in place, it’s time to count my pieces and whittle away anything I don’t need anymore. This process gets easier and easier each year, I promise you.  For ease, I usually just request a bag from thredUP and then send in items for store credit on my next capsule wardrobe. It’s fun to get items from them, wear them a season, sell them back, make money, repeat process, etc..

To me, it’s almost like those pricey wardrobe rental programs without the commitment or monthly fees.

Not only can you clean out your closet to make money, but you can also make money on your kid’s stuff and maternity items too! Simply order a bag with a prepaid shipping label to start your closet clean out. Their fashion resale professionals review your clothing and then pay up to 80% of the resale value. You can earn thredUP shopping credit, or simply cash out with PayPal.

Items that they don’t accept go to charitable partners or textile recycling companies. They can also be mailed back to you as part of their Return Assurance program for a $12.99 shipping fee. Be sure to check their quality standards before sending.

Get Professional Help if You Need It

I love fashion and feel like I have a strong sense of personal style, but it has taken me a few years to really feel confident in my choices. If you struggle with confidence, I recommend trying out a professional service or professional shopping service to help you.

I can’t rave enough about the Adore Your Wardrobe program (open for registration in September!!) for someone who wants to find their own sense of style. Not only do the video tutorials and printables help with your shopping, but you are connected to a FB community that can help give you feedback (and shopping discounts) as you put together your wardrobe. This program is like having a professional closet audit without judgement and that can be done in your own free time.

The other option is a shopping service like Stitch Fix. I have some referral credit sitting in an account so I am going to give that another shot, but because I have such a strong definition of what I like and don’t like in clothing, I tend to be very picky. That said, I know MANY people benefit greatly from the professional advice so this is a worthwhile experience to explore, at least once!

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Once everything arrives I will post an IG Story for you and you can tell me yay or nay on my selections! Be sure to follow me on IG to get a sneak peek!

Want to try your own capsule wardrobe? Browse these capsules & wardrobe planning advice we have curated for you!

Fall 2014 Capsule Wardrobe

Winter 2014 Capsule Wardrobe

Fall 2015 Capsule Wardrobe

Spring 2015 Capsule Wardrobe

Summer 2015 Capsule Wardrobe

Fall/Winter 2016 Capsule Wardrobe

Spring & Summer 2016 Capsule Wardrobe

Creating the Perfect Capsule Wardrobe (that really works!)

How to Shop Secondhand For Your Capsule Wardrobe

Make Money Organizing Your Closet

25 Best Wardrobe Planning Printables

Fall-2016-Capsule-Wardrobe-Idea-Board

Are you doing a capsule wardrobe? Tell me what has caught your eye this season!

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DIY Snack Station

Monday, August 15th, 2016

diy-snack-station

This post has been sponsored by Jack Link’s in partnership with Ahalogy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

When I became a mom, I began to realize the beauty in one-handed snacks. When my babies were small, I had a hard time holding a baby and feeding myself so I created a basket of one-handed snacks that would keep me fueled throughout the day.

Now that my kids are older, you would think that I would have loads more time to care for myself.  I have found though that although my children aren’t necessarily as demanding as they were, their activity schedule certainly is. I am still struggling to keep myself fueled as we run from activity to activity.

If you struggle with keeping yourself AND your kids fueled, I wanted to share with you a fun snack station we created to encourage ALL of us to grab healthy snacks more regularly. This diy snack station was made with a basic small bar cart and is fully stocked for our whole family.

DIY Snack Station Tutorial

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I headed to my local superstore to gather up four metal pails that had chalkboard labels on front for our little diy snack station and found this sweet little bar cart on summer clearance for 75% off. This is the perfect time to stock up on this summer entertaining accessory and keep it on budget for your family.

We then headed on over to Kroger  (check out the store locator to find one near you!) to grab some healthy options for our snack cart. The beauty in the chalkboard labeling is that you can switch snacks based on what’s in season, what’s on sale, or what you are craving that week. Have your kids be in charge of the labeling to work on mastering their spelling!

Our four pails had bananas (separated for easy grabbing), raisins/nut mixes, Jack Link’s in a few varieties, and crackers with peanut butter. On the bottom tier, I added apples and oranges, a variety of flavored waters, and some fun straws for sipping.

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Snacks with lots of protein are my favorite because they stop the HANGRY from coming on.

Tell me that you know a little about hangry moments too please! I need to know I’m not alone in this!

As someone who fights low blood sugar (as do my children), I have found that protein keeps me from fighting those sugar highs and lows.

Beef jerky can be a great protein-filled option and Jack Link’s is protein-packed with a whopping 12 grams of protein.  I like that you don’t have to be limited to just one flavor because it comes in tons of varieties. From the soy and ginger combo in Teriyaki, to a layer of coarse pepper in their Peppered option, to the smoky mesquite flavoring of their Original turkey, to the bold and savory offerings of their Jack Link’s Original. We are big fans of these options for keeping the hangry at bay.

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For a sweet and savory combo, pair your jerky with fresh fruit for a balanced snack. Bananas always offer a good bang for your buck, apples can be sliced for eating on-the-go, and easy-to-peel clementine’s are always a big favorite in our house. Be sure to look for fruit that is on season for the most affordable (and freshest) options.

We are also really big fans of flavored waters in our house. It makes drinking water a little bit more fun.

A pretty papered straw doesn’t hurt either. What can I say? I am a blogger and paper straws are kind of a requirement over here.

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We hope this post inspires you to create a snack station for your own family! We are thankful to have one at our house as we head back to the grind of school and activities. It is so nice to know that one-handed snacks are on hand for life’s busy moments!

This post has been sponsored by Jack Link’s in partnership with Ahalogy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

It’s the 3 Little Things: A Compelling Documentary, a Bookish Phone Case, & a Deal App

Friday, August 12th, 2016

Saugatuck

Saugatuck

Saugatuck

Saugatuck

Saugatuck

The most glorious gift this summer was spending a week together in Saugatuck. Our family has been fortunate to get to do lots of travel through my work. When we had a power outage and spent the evening with flashlights & giggling with our kids, we asked them where their favorite vacation had been. It surprised me to hear that Saugatuck was their favorite destination. Not only is the town close (just an hour and thirty minutes away), but it was also a heck of a lot more affordable than, say, Disney or Universal. We booked a cabin right away and planned for a completely unplugged week.

With my work (um, this!) and my husband’s (programming), making a commitment to be unplugged felt like a bit of a stretch, but we REALLY did it. We put together puzzles, soaked in the hot tub, took a disastrous paddleboat ride (never knew how heavy those were until we walked one out to the beach), brought an enormous stack of library books, made incredible meals to eat on the porch, late nights with vino & the first season of Game of Thrones….it was heaven.

I am so incredibly grateful that we could do it and we are now planning to do this every year with them. Our time feels so fleeting- to soak in my family like that made my heart so happy and brought us a lot closer before the chaos of the new school year starts.

If you haven’t explored Saugatuck, I shared some of our favorite things in this article (and plan to update it this week with more things we enjoyed!)

Here are some other things that are making me happy this week:

The Fear of 13

The Fear of 13

I know we have a lot of true crime fans on here and I just discovered this incredible documentary called, The Fear of 13. It sounds like the premise would be a little boring without the typical bells and whistles of Hollywood. The documentary is a retelling of how a prisoner, Nick Yarris, found himself on death row. It opens telling you that he has requested his own execution be done early and then, almost in a puzzle format, the viewer gets to find out how he ended up there, what prison life was like, and the scientific breakthrough that changed everything.

More compelling than that though is that Nick found his transformation through BOOKS and that was the window that really helped transform his life. He is, perhaps, one of the most incredible storytellers I have ever had the privilege to listen to. I found myself holding my breath through parts of this. It is, truly, an unforgettable documentary. It sounds crazy that this would make one happy, but it is the beauty in the telling of this transformation that makes it so amazing.

If you have Netflix, it is available for streaming right now!!

Bookish iPhone Case

My New iPhone Case

Well, I held out as long as I could on getting the new iPhone. For our son’s birthday though, he got mom’s old phone and I had to get a replacement phone. That, of course, meant replacing my case. I have never really had anything special, but I found this bookish case on Society6 and it couldn’t ship to me fast enough.

What makes it more special is that David Arnold, Jandy Nelson, & Jennifer Niven were all interviewed on my site and I see their books tucked into this rainbow design. It just has made me so happy and it also has made me want to tackle a few others that are showcased in this case!

If you haven’t ordered from their site before, here is $10 to spend to support an artist!

Dealflicks

The Dealflicks App

I am savvy about saving money, but my sister is INCREDIBLE at saving money. As a single mom, she knows how to make every dollar count. We love to catch movies together and she told me about this app called Dealflicks that would save us money on our tickets.

You download the app on your phone and it offers deals with your local movie theater that save you a ton.

We catch movies in her town and a ticket is $7 and a popcorn is $100.

Well.

Basically.

So with this app, it offers certain shows at a discount rate. So for $7.50 we get a ticket to a show AND a medium popcorn, saving us at least $100 (approximately).

If you want to give it a try, use this code RF8M4BBEAL to get an additional 20% off your tickets at checkout. In that screenshot, you can see where to add your coupon code. I have caught three movies (two with her and one with my Dad) and I have used this each time for our movie dates!

Enjoy all that savings!!!

Book Cover Puzzle

Completing: This incredible puzzle with my family! It was such a challenging one and so fun to see all of these book covers. I hated taking it apart after we were done. This puzzle made us all so happy!

Reading: The Longest Night this week and it was beautiful. I shared my thoughts on it on Instagram and why I think you should read it. I love how books have the ability to teach me about times in history that I never knew about.

Eating: Roasted Shrimp Pasta in bowls on repeat! I can’t think of a better summer dish!

Laughing: At hilarious tweets about Simone Biles. She is amazing…and so are these reactions!

Happy Friday, friends!

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

The Best Lunch Box Hacks

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

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Thank you to Rubbermaid LunchBlox® for sponsoring today’s post! 

Lunches can get a little boring in our house so today’s post will hopefully inspire you AND ME to make lunchtime more fun for our kids. Over the years, I have found a few lunch box hacks that help save me time, money, and keep our family organized. I am excited to show a few of those to you today and share our free printable to help your kids be part of the process for assisting with lunch creation.

Let’s get packing!

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Freeze Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches For The Week

My daughter’s favorite sandwich is the good ol’ PB&J. Did you know that you can freeze your sandwiches for the week instead of making them daily?

If your child’s favorite is this sandwich too, simply spread peanut butter on both slices of bread to create a wall to prevent the jelly from making your bread soggy. Smear your jelly on in the center of one slice of bread and then put the two slices together. By creating an assembly line of sandwiches for your week you only dirty up the kitchen once.

This trick is so simple that your kids can do it!

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Rethink Your Sandwich Styling

When sandwiches start to get a little boring, try making a sushi sandwich instead. Dust off that rolling pin and roll your bread out flat to create the base for your sandwich sushi. Add your child’s favorite meat and then their favorite string cheese combo. Roll it tight and slice in half.

For kids that aren’t as big of a fan of crusts or bread (I have one of those kids too!), this is a great way to get them to still eat a sandwich without investing in a pricier wrap option! Oh, and it’s sneaky- they don’t even notice the crust!

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Get Organized With a Lunchbox Station

Few things have stood the test of time in our house when it comes to organization.

Let’s just say that we are a family with great ideas, but poor execution once those ideas are in place.

There is one thing though that has helped us a lot over the years and it is a lunchbox station in our pantry. I used chalkboard labels to be able to switch our drawer categories as needed so this pantry can grow up with our kids culinary tastes.

The nice thing about having it set up this way is that kids can assist when making lunch preparations. I also love that we are able to actually see and use the items in our pantry. When loads of boxes are placed on shelves, they can often get lost in the shuffle. Having this organized helps me to not purchase duplicate items and to actually use the things we purchase.

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Get Smart Lunch Packing Solutions

Our family had been using a lot of plastic baggies and disposable items to create our lunches, but I knew we could do better.

I have seen a lot of documentaries on waste and what we are doing to our planet and we talk about it a lot with our kids. We knew improvements need to be made.

Have you seen the Rubbermaid LunchBlox® products? I hate to sound like an infomercial, but seriously these are so smartly designed! Everything snaps and fits together into one piece, including the ice pack to make putting together and pulling out your lunch a streamlined process.

I’m absolutely hooked.

Today I’m showing off their Sandwich Kits that you can find over at Target. To prevent you from my experience of walking in forty different aisles to find these, I’ll share an awesome little tip I have discovered on their site.

Rubbermaid Sandwich Kits

If you type in your store on the Target website it will pull up the exact aisle you can find these in at your store AND how many are available. If your store doesn’t have them, you can save yourself a trip and order a set (or 4 like me!!) to be delivered to your doorstep. After discovering the exact aisle, I found them over in the grocery section by the other food storage options!

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Don’t feel like you have to be limited to just sandwiches on the bottom. I have found this is a perfect place for packing a delicious meat, cheese, and cracker combo or it would even be the perfect spot for a salad.  Did I mention these are actually microwave, dishwasher, AND freezer safe? Yup. They also happen to be BPA free.

These containers aren’t just for kids though.

I can’t imagine a better way to get healthy snacks in throughout the day then this system.

Keeping fueled is just as important for adults as it is for kids.

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If packing a lunchbox to carry to work as an adult feels a little weird, I’ve got good news. They also make these really cool Rubbermaid Fasten+Go™ Sandwich Kits that are just like this system with a lid and removable strap for one-handed carrying.

Welcome to the grown-up lunchbox system!

Winning!

I picked up two of these for my husband & I and am so excited to get back to better lunches this year. We need it as much as our kiddos.

Lucky for you, there is a Cartwheel offer to save your family some money on the Rubbermaid LunchBlox® and the Rubbermaid Fasten+Go™ products! Yay! Here are some deals you can score right now!

20% Off Rubbermaid Fasten+Go™ All Items (deal available through August 13th)

5% Off Rubbermaid LunchBlox® Sandwich Kit (deal available through August 13th), 5%- https://cartwheel.target.com/offer/69011

Note: this coupon will go live on August 28th! Don’t miss it…

20% off Rubbermaid LunchBlox® (available on 08/28 through 09/03)

 

 

Lunch box helper printable

DOWNLOAD THE FREE LUNCHBOX HELPER PRINTABLE!

I hope you enjoyed these ways to make lunch easy and fun again! I hope you also enjoy our free Lunchbox Helper sheet and be sure to read this fantastic post on how you can get your kids involved in helping take the hassle out of lunch preparations!

Thank you to Rubbermaid LunchBlox® for sponsoring today’s post!