Author Archive

Sundays With Writers: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Sundays With Writers

It’s so good to be back to Sundays With Writers and sharing my first interview for 2015. Over my two week holiday, I read several really incredible books and one of those books happened to be,  WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES by Karen Joy Fowler.  I read about it in this fantastic list of 6 interesting and very different novels that are worth your time on Hollywood Housewife. Laura always has some unbelievably great picks so I knew that if she said this was worth my time, it would be. I avoided all reviews of the book and dug into it.

As a reader, I love a good surprise.

And this book was SO surprising….much like that delicious twist in GONE GIRL where you flipped the page and you were like, “Wait! WHAT?!”

After I finished it, I had to track down Karen Joy Fowler to see if she could share with us a little bit more about herself and her book.  Although this was a tricky interview to do, there are no spoilers in this interview.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Meet the Cooke family. Our narrator is Rosemary Cooke. As a child, she never stopped talking; as a young woman, she has wrapped herself in silence: the silence of intentional forgetting, of protective cover. Something happened, something so awful she has buried it in the recesses of her mind. Now her adored older brother is a fugitive, wanted by the FBI for domestic terrorism. And her once lively mother is a shell of her former self, her clever and imperious father now a distant, brooding man. And Fern, Rosemary’s beloved sister, her accomplice in all their childhood mischief? Fern’s is a fate the family, in all their innocence, could never have imagined.

This is one of those books that you want others to read just so you can talk through it. I avoided reading any reviews on this and I am so glad I did because half of the fun in this one was making sense of this unusual family and just what makes them so unusual. So beautifully executed that it reads like a memoir, it was such an enjoyable and believable read that I will spend the rest of the night trying to find all of the inspiration behind this novel and reading more about how many of these cases featured were true. Although the execution of delivering the information in a mixed up timeline can be confusing for the reader, the originality of this unique & heartbreaking story made this a book that I just couldn’t put down.

I’m not the only one who loved this book though! WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES has won the Pen/Faulkner Award for 2014 and was nominated for a 2014 Nebula Award as well.  The book was also shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize- it’s that good!

Grab a cup of coffee and let’s chat with Karen Joy Fowler this morning about this intriguing book. Remember, no spoilers, friends!

Karen Joy Fowler

You have the unbelievable gift of writing books that cover a wide range of genres beautifully, which I find quite amazing as a reader. Would you find writing in one genre to be monotonous? Do you have a favorite genre that you feel most comfortable in?

I feel most comfortable between genres.  Actually I feel most comfortable when I don’t think about genre at all, but just do whatever seems best to me for the story at hand.  My recollection of the children’s room in the library where I grew up is that books weren’t separated by genre – none of that space rocket on the spine, cowboy hat on the spine that I found in later libraries.  So it was years before I understood that genre mattered, because it never had to me.

WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES explores the topic of animal testing for medical purposes and tells this story of what was happening in the ‘70’s in a truly unique way. How did you decide that this was a subject you wanted to tackle and what types of research did you have to do to prepare for this book? Did your father’s work as a psychology professor who studied animal behavior contribute to you wanting to explore this topic further?

My father’s work and my childhood perceptions of it, as best I can remember them, gave me the confidence to think I maybe could write this book, even though I had no experience or knowledge of chimpanzees beyond the basic when I started it.   The idea came during a conversation I was having with my daughter about my father’s work.  I comforted myself that, if I didn’t know much about chimps, at least I knew a lot about psychologists.  That gave me the nerve needed to begin the reading and research required.

Did writing this book change any of your own views about animal rights? Were you able to relate to one of the characters, in particular, and their viewpoint about animal rights?

I was always an animal rights advocate, but writing the book really expanded my sense of that.  Before I did the research I was most sympathetic to those animals with traits I could identify as human-like, those whose intelligence seemed to echo human intelligence.  I was well into the book before I took a closer look at my own assumptions.  Doing the research widened my circle of empathy as well as my fascination and respect for the cognitive abilities of our fellow creatures.

A few centuries back, Jeremy Bentham said:  the question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? Why should the law refuse its protection to any sensitive being?… The time will come when humanity will extend its mantle over everything which breathes… “

I wonder if things have taken a bit longer than Bentham expected.

In the book, Lowell is something of an extremist, but I am quite sympathetic to him.

It is rare for a novel to take me by surprise, but you carefully crafted the first portion of your book with a big reveal halfway through that simply shocked me. It is actually preventing me from asking you questions I would like to because half of the joy of reading your book was in the discovery of this surprising twist. Did you always know that you wanted to set this story up in this way for your readers?

Yes, before I had written a word, I’d planned to withhold this crucial bit of information until partway in.  My reasons for doing so were not just for the surprise, although I like that side effect.   My reasons were the same as the ones Rosemary offers when the reveal finally happens.

Your book reads like a memoir to me and the way you crafted the story through Rosemary’s eyes made me check the listed genre again after I was done to make sure this wasn’t a true story. Was it easy to create Rosemary’s voice for this book? How hard was it to develop the psychological angle of the loss of Rosemary’s sister?

Having never remotely gone through anything like Rosemary’s life, I was forced to simply imagine it all.  I could do the research I felt I needed for Fern (and besides, I’m never inside Fern’s head, so an outside, researched view will do.)  But creating Rosemary was the most difficult, and also the most fun, part of the book for me.  I find that most difficult and most fun often go together.

If you could tell anyone to read one book (other than your own) what would that book be?

I’m not sure I can answer this question.  It would depend on the anyone – I don’t think books are a one-size-fits-all sort of thing.   But a current enthusiasm is Kelly Link’s new short story collection, GET IN TROUBLE.  Coming out in February.  I will be so happy if you all buy and read it.

You can connect with Karen Joy Fowler on her website and become a fan on GoodReads! 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!

 

It’s the 3 Little Things: A New Podcast to Love, Mad for Laura, & Moving Documentaries

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

It's the 3 Little Things

Happy Friday, friends! This week has been a little crazy as our little ’60’s home is being renovated…I know…again. I have always grown up in a one bathroom home and to have an extra half bath in our house has been a delightful luxury. Things are about to get a bit more luxurious though thanks to All-Pro Renovations as they add a shower in our guest bathroom this week. You can’t even imagine my excitement that we will have TWO showers. I also am remembering how hard it was to juggle a family and one bathroom and have come to appreciate the luxuries of multiple bathrooms all the more.

On a superficial note, I am also quite excited about the pretty subway tiled walls, hex tiled flooring, and pretty painted planks that are going on the ceiling. I can’t wait to show you soon since I have NO DOUBT this will be on the happy list in just a couple of short weeks!

A couple of fun housekeeping things on MomAdvice. First, Sundays With Writers is back for the new year on Sunday with a VERY special writer who is sharing a little of her heart and the story behind her book with us. In all honesty, I can’t believe she answered my email so this is a really special one for me. Secondly, our Wheat Belly discussion is on my schedule for Monday and I’m very excited to be sharing my thoughts on that book with you. Third, it was requested that I continue sharing my book reviews with you here so on the last Friday of each month, plan to meet me here for a monthly recap of what I’m reading each month instead of the happy list. Yay! 

Here’s the happy for this week!

Invisibilia

A New Podcast Addiction

Although I have had to say farewell to my Serial podcast addiction, I am able to handle it so much better than I expected thanks to the new Invisibilia podcast.  Invisibilia (Latin for “all the invisible things”) explores the intangible forces that shape human behavior – things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. Although, I have to say, that description sounds quite drier than what it actually is.

Each week there is a subject of exploration and real people who struggle with it.  I listened to, “The Secret History of Thoughts,” and “Fearless,” which shared the story of people who struggled with things like thoughts or fears (or lack thereof)  and then the show shares the scientific & psychological research behind each topic. It kind of reminds me of Oprah meets This American Life. I really have enjoyed the first two episodes immensely and can’t wait to listen in on the next one today!

Little House: The First Five Novels

Little House: The First Five Novels (IN ONE!)

I had a bit of a Laura obsession when I was younger and I am thrilled to be seeing the Laura gleam in my daughter’s eyes now that we are reading these books together. For Christmas, I asked her grandparents to get her this Little House reissued classic from Barnes & Noble. The book costs a mere $18 and has the first five novels in one book. The inside has a calico print, it has a ribbon bookmark, and the pages have golden edges. It is just a treat for your bookshelf and a treat to read with your child.

Emily & I finished Little House in the Big Woods this week and we just started Little House on the Prairie a couple of nights ago.

I can really tell she caught the Laura bug when I was making her dinner last night and she said, “Oh, I wish we had our own pig so we could slaughter him like Laura’s family does.”

Ummmmm….

No.

After we finished reading it, I nestled the book with all of the other pretty classics I have been collecting and she pointed out the fact that 1. This was not a book for MY bookshelf and 2. Was I enjoying this book that was not my gift as much as I was enjoying the Taylor Swift CD that was not my gift in our car? I had to explain that I thought it might be easier to find the book on my shelf and we have to keep the CD ready for her so that I can play it right when she gets in the car off her bus.

I’m not sure she’s buying it- but I sure am loving her gifts this year! :)

Living On One Dollar

A Documentary for the Whole Family

Our family is still doing our Docu-Pizza nights and last week I stumbled upon this film, “Living on One Dollar,” that is currently on Netflix.  Four people take on the challenge of living on less than $1 a day in Guatemala. This challenge is something that 1.1 billion people face in our world every single day and they attempt to do just what they do on this amount of money. They show what it would be like to try to get a loan if this is your income, what it would be like to give up your schooling to keep your family fed, and the real issues that those in poverty face every single day.  This movie is so beautifully told and shot that it really brings perspective on just how lucky we are to live such a privileged life. I wouldn’t say it made me HAPPY (except the sweet, sweet ending), but it made me THINK A LOT about how we could do and be better. And that, of course, makes me happy.

We talked a lot about this one after it was done and  how we could be better stewards of all that God has given us.  After clearing out my pantry and fridge just days before,  it brought to light how much better we could be doing with eating at home and wasting less food.  This is a small switch that we all could do to free up more funds to give to those in need- what a wonderful thing.

It really is a good one for the whole family and I definitely recommend it over your next homemade pizza night!

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

Now it’s your turn! What’s making you happy this week?

Freebie Friday January 23, 2015

Friday, January 23rd, 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 showcased not one, but two amazing guest post transformations in honor of our m challenge focus on health – Renee shares how she lost weight and keeps it off, and Ashley gives us ideas on incorporating healthy back into our lives! I’m focusing on the fridge and giving it a healthy makeover, along with a great no-bake energy bite recipe for the challenge. And then, in honor of the amazing Ultimate DIY Bundle available only through Sunday, I’m giving you a glimpse into how I went from a girl who thought she couldn’t make anything into a glue-gun-loving diy-er – and if I can, anyone can! And I hope you’ll check out this week’s edition of It’s the 3 Little Things to get your weekly dose of happy.

You can find lots of inspiring DIY, food, decorating and craft ideas in our popular Notebook, and be sure to check out all the contests you can enter on our weekly round-up of great giveaways, too.

Note: I want to lead off this week’s freebies by reminding you that although The Ultimate DIY Bundle I mentioned above costs money, it’s like getting over $1,100 worth of FREEBIES. For example: take one eCourse like the photography 101 ($60+ value) after purchasing the bundle at $34.95 (and that’s like a 50% sale) and all other 75 eBooks & eCourses are FREE. Not to mention the actual freebie bonuses like beautiful prints, cards, magazines and craft classes! Click here to learn more or buy.

Health & Beauty
Entertainment
This Week’s Freebie Events: January 2430
24th – Barnes & Noble: Join story time featuring I Love You Night and Day, 11 am
24th – Lakeshore Learning: Create a My Friends Photo Board, 11 am – 3 pm
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You CAN DIY!

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

You CAN DIY!

When I look back on my life, I can honestly tell you that never in a million years would I believe that I would be sharing tutorials on craft or DIY. I always had crafty ambitions, but seemed to lack that creative gene and talent to take my projects to the next level. My skill set was minimal, but the desire was  always there. When we had to be serious about penny pinching, after the loss of my husband’s job, that is when I knew that I needed to be serious about making the most of our home and to get serious about DIY-ing in our life.

There is nothing like a lack of money that can force you into getting creative.

You CAN DIY!

Each day I am a little prouder of the the things that we have crafted for our home. The comments that I get make me feel so good about the space we have created. My favorite thing people say is, “This house is just so YOU.” Making a house with lots of personality and individuality has always been a big goal of mine and it has been created with an awful lot of crafting over these years. Our house really is just *us* and it was achieved with hot glue, a lot of yarn, plenty of paint, and a strong desire for a house with individuality.

No sewing skills required!

Which is why I am so thrilled to share that I am selling my first eBook called, Easy DIY Crafts for Every Season, in The Ultimate DIY Bundle to help inspire you – from crafting for your home, to creating the perfect hostess gift, to celebrating all of life’s holidays. As someone as un-crafty as I was, this feels like a really big milestone paved with a lot of awful burn marks from poor hot glue planning. :)

Ultimate DIY Bundle

Ultimate DIY Bundle

The resources in this bundle are just the kind of resources that I wished I would have had at my fingertips when I was learning to decorate and craft for my home. It is the kind of resource that would have helped me achieve all that I really wanted to do on my small budget.

This bundle has 75 eBooks and eCourses worth over $1200 and it’s only available for five more days! 

Ultimate DIY Bundle

For me, the photography books included really make this bundle special and worth the investment. Kristen Duke is one of my favorite photographers and I have been dying to learn from her. How awesome that Say NO to Auto is included in this bundle so that I can start taking better pictures of my crafts…and my kids?!  There is also Birthday Party Printables from Amy Locurto, The Ultimate Tassel Guide by Myquillyn Smith (aka, The Nester), Thrifty Decor Chick’s DIY Handbook by Sarah Saucedo, A Summer of Stories by Tsh Oxenreider, Easy Mod Podge Decor for Your Home by Amy Anderson, Infarrantly Creative Printable Collection by Beckie Farrant and SO much more!

You’ll gain access to a library full of 75+ eBooks and eCourses (like Photography 101 from the guys at Shoot, Fly, Shoot), PLUS free bonuses which include a Craftsy class worth up to $60! So, DIY + Freebies? You can see why I’d be excited to share this with you all, right?

More about:

The Ultimate DIY Bundle, is a collection of carefully curated DIY eBooks and eCourses from the world’s leading authors and bloggers in the industry! For just $34.95 you’ll get access to over 75 eBooks and eCourses – and let me reassure you that this really is great value: the Ultimate Bundles team (who produced the resource) has spent MONTHS seeking out the most respected experts in the industry and asking them to contribute their premium-quality eBooks and eCourses. These really are the best of the best when it comes to DIY and crafting advice and information on topics like:

  • Home decor
  • Furniture painting
  • Photography
  • Chalk pastels
  • Handmade gifts
  • Homemade skincare products
  • Cake decorating
  • Photography and photo-editing
  • Paint colors and interior design

There’s no need to worry about information overload though: The Ultimate DIY Bundle comes with a complete guide to getting started, so that you can know exactly which resource to use for your specific crafting or DIY project and jump straight into it with confidence!

Hurry though! The Ultimate DIY Bundle will only be on sale for 6 days – from 8am EST on Wednesday, January 21 until 11.59pm EST on Monday, January 26.

You can buy with complete confidence because you’re covered by the Ultimate Bundles 30-day money-back guarantee: you have a full 30 days to enjoy all the eBooks and eCourses in the bundle, and if you don’t think they provided enough value, you’ll get a full refund.

Not only that, but The Ultimate DIY Bundle comes with 5 awesome bonuses, worth over $118. That’s 3x the price of the bundle alone! These include…

A free $15 Store Credit PLUS 8×10 Art Print from Hope Ink ($43 Value), a free online class from Craftsy (up to $60 Value), free $15 store credit to Fawnsberg.com, a free sewing pattern PLUS a Premium Video Class from UpCraft Club ($19.99 Value), and free, full digital copies of Where Women Create Magazine and Greencraft Magazine ($20 value) from Stampington and Co.

So, don’t miss your chance to grab The Ultimate DIY Bundle, and get 76 incredible eBooks and eCourses for just $34.95. All you need to do is take action by midnight on Monday, January 26!

This amazing deal ends in just…

motionmailapp.com
Pick up your copy right now, before it’s too late. Or, learn more here.

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

 

Healthy Fridge Makeover {& No-Bake Energy Bites}

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Healthy Fridge Makeover_1

As I shared with you, when I attended college I lived on junk & convenience food and I had the inevitable “Freshman 15,” to prove it from my bad eating habits throughout the year. I only wish I knew how great I would have felt and how much better I would have performed if I had stocked my fridge with healthy options.

Now I know that there are healthy ideas for stocking your refrigerator – whether it’s a dorm sized mini-fridge, your first apartment fridge, or the huge family-sized fridge many of us graduate to – and I’m making sure that my kids do know that the foods that are good for your body are easy to keep on hand, too. In this healthy fridge makeover, I’m sharing easy ways to keep good-for-you foods within reach along with a recipe for a quick to make no-bake energy bite that you can mix up in a bowl for easy snacks on-the-go that both kids and adults love.

Healthy Fridge Makeover_2 Eggs- Eggs are the perfect food for starting your day out right or for a healthy late night snack. Did you know that you can prepare an egg easily in the microwave with no special equipment at all? Simply spray or grease a bowl to prepare it and crack two eggs in it with a tablespoon of milk and whisk well with a fork. Place your bowl of eggs in the microwave and cook for one minute. Give it another little scramble with your fork and then cook for thirty second intervals, until your eggs reach the desired consistency. That’s it! Don’t forget that you can add your own fun add-ins to this versatile food like chopped up veggies, cheeses, or meats.

Berries- Berries are a great item to keep on hand to eat as a side, to grab by the handful for a quick snack, mixed in with a cup of Greek yogurt, or as a topper to a bowl of instant oatmeal in the morning. Cut berries can also be added to a water bottle and then allowed to steep overnight to create a healthy & inexpensive infused water.

Veggies- Cut veggies are the perfect item to have on hand for a quick and healthy snack. Some of my favorites for snacking are peppers (in every color), carrot sticks, celery sticks, & cauliflower. Pair these veggies with your favorite dips like a nut butter with celery or dip them in hummus for an easy snack.

Nut Butters & Nuts- Nothing is quicker or easier than keeping a package of nuts on hand for snacking. Did you know that you can even freeze nuts? Grab an extra package and store it in your freezer, up to six months, to make sure they don’t go rancid. Try a new variety like almonds, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, or cashews for a little variety. These can also be added to bowls of instant oatmeal in the morning or mixed into a salad for a crunch topping.

Nut butters are great for an accompaniment to celery or cut apples. My own favorite nighttime snack is peanut butter on a slice of whole grain toast with a glass of almond milk before I go to bed. It’s a satisfying and inexpensive snack!

Hummus- There are many different flavors and varities now of hummus and it is the perfect snack or spread to add to pitas or even smeared as a topping for your favorite sandwich. My favorite variety is the Red Pepper Hummus with sliced cucumbers or pita for an effortless snack.

String Cheese- String cheese is one of those grab-and-go snacks that I love to keep on hand in our fridge. Chop these up to add to your eggs to add a little cheesiness to your egg dishes without investing in bags of shredded cheese or wrap cheese with whole grain bread and a little deli meat into a “sushi” roll for a quick sandwich that can make lunches special.

No_Bake_Energy_Bites Energy Bites- No-bake energy bites are a fun snack to have on hand when you are craving a treat with a little sweetness. We all adore these at my house! The best part is that they don’t require an oven or mixer, making these an easy treat to make…and to eat! Did I mention it tastes an awful like cookie dough too? Yum!

No_Bake_Energy_Bites_3

No-Bake Energy Bites
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12-16 bites
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • ½ cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • ½ cup ground flaxseed
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Mix everything above in a medium bowl until thoroughly incorporated.
  2. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.
  3. Once chilled, simply roll into balls.
  4. Store these in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to one week.

No_Bake_Energy_Bites_2

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Amy’s Notebook 01.21.15 {& Ultimate DIY Bundle is Here!}

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

I’m leading today’s Notebook off with this special offer from the Ultimate Bundles team since it’s a library FULL of DIY projects, which as a regular reader of our Notebook you’ll know is very dear to my heart.

I’m so honored to have my first eBook, Easy DIY Crafts For Every Season, included in this great bundle since it’s right there next to some of the bloggers I most admire in the DIY niche – Birthday Party Printables from Amy Locurto, The Ultimate Tassel Guide by Myquillyn Smith (aka, The Nester), Thrifty Decor Chick’s DIY Handbook by Sarah Saucedo, A Summer of Stories by Tsh Oxenreider, Easy Mod Podge Decor for Your Home by Amy Anderson, Infarrantly Creative Printable Collection by Beckie Farrant and SO much more! You’ll gain access to a library full of 75+ eBooks and eCourses (like Photography 101 from the guys at Shoot, Fly, Shoot), PLUS free bonuses which include a Craftsy class worth up to $60! So, DIY + Freebies? You can see why I’d be excited to share this with you all, right?

You can click here to go to the Ultimate DIY Bundle site for more information, or read on to see more details at the end of the post – but now, here are my favorite links for this week (with a fair share of DIY projects!):

Lace Containers via Design Mom

Source: Design Mom

 

Gorgeous DIY containers with lace imprints.

Slow cooker enchilada quinoa bake- get in my belly.

No sew blanket cape- I feel inspired!

I was addicted to Serial- now what?

I like this secret trick!

10 things I have learned by downsizing my life- I love this and the commitment to smaller space living.

Thankfulness via A View From The Fridge

Source: A View From the Fridge

 

A great reminder to give thanks.

Bright & easy rope coaster DIY.

10 ways to cuff your jeans.

Potterhood. Made me laugh especially after just seeing Boyhood this week!

Lined faux fur infinity scarf- get in my closet.

Knuffle Bunny- Oh, snap!

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 then to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

More about:

The Ultimate DIY Bundle, is a collection of carefully curated DIY eBooks and eCourses from the world’s leading authors and bloggers in the industry! For just $34.95 you’ll get access to over 75 eBooks and eCourses – and let me reassure you that this really is great value: the Ultimate Bundles team (who produced the resource) has spent MONTHS seeking out the most respected experts in the industry and asking them to contribute their premium-quality eBooks and eCourses. These really are the best of the best when it comes to DIY and crafting advice and information on topics like:

  • Home decor
  • Furniture painting
  • Photography
  • Chalk pastels
  • Handmade gifts
  • Homemade skincare products
  • Cake decorating
  • Photography and photo-editing
  • Paint colors and interior design

There’s no need to worry about information overload though: The Ultimate DIY Bundle comes with a complete guide to getting started, so that you can know exactly which resource to use for your specific crafting or DIY project and jump straight into it with confidence!

Hurry though! The Ultimate DIY Bundle will only be on sale for 6 days – from 8am EST on Wednesday, January 21 until 11.59pm EST on Monday, January 26.

You can buy with complete confidence because you’re covered by the Ultimate Bundles 30-day money-back guarantee: you have a full 30 days to enjoy all the eBooks and eCourses in the bundle, and if you don’t think they provided enough value, you’ll get a full refund.

Not only that, but The Ultimate DIY Bundle comes with 4 awesome bonuses, worth over $118. That’s 3x the price of the bundle alone! These include…

A free $15 Store Credit PLUS 8×10 Art Print from Hope Ink ($43 Value), a free online class from Craftsy (up to $60 Value), free $15 store credit to Fawnsberg.com, and a free sewing pattern PLUS a Premium Video Class from UpCraft Club ($19.99 Value).

So, don’t miss your chance to grab The Ultimate DIY Bundle, and get 76 incredible eBooks and eCourses for just $34.95. All you need to do is take action by midnight on Monday, January 26!

This amazing deal ends in just…

motionmailapp.com
Pick up your copy right now, before it’s too late. Or, learn more here.

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

 

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Guest Post: How to Incorporate Healthy Living Back in Your Life

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Note: This is a repost of Ashley’s post from January of 2014 that I thought we needed to see again as we journey through our m challenge of focusing on our health because not only is Ashley inspiring, she gives some wonderful, concrete tips to make healthy living a real part of our daily lives!

I am Ashley Johns, a Personal Trainer, Writer, Creator of Fierce Forward and Fierce Forward Intention Bracelets.  Ever since losing over forty pounds and taking back my life, my mission is to empower others to move forward, fiercely and healthfully, towards the life they want.

I met Amy at a local blogger’s get-together where I learned how retro-chic and creative she is!  We chatted about me guest posting on Momadvice and decided something very valuable I could share with you are my tips on how to make you and your family’s health a priority.

Maybe you’re wondering, “Does this chick have kids?”   Let me answer that.  I am a fierce chick and I do not yet have children, but I sure do know how to manage healthy living and make it work for anyone!

Oh, and I am a master empathizer.

Last September, I married my love, Marcus, and with kids in our foresight, I have made it a priority to position myself in a healthy, balanced lifestyle before all the madness begins, or so that’s what my friends are bracing me for!

Although I’m not yet a mother, I can tell you that I have the utmost respect for all mothers out there and am so grateful to have my mother as my best friend, along side my husband.  Having a full time job, cooking, working out, grocery shopping, friend time, date night, bubble baths, doing your hair on a good day, prepping your healthy food, drinking your gallon of water each day;  I mean, how would all this be doable with a little person(s) in your life?

Well, I know that one day I will figure it out and take it from Amy that it can be done.  After all, I believe nothing is impossible and if you want something bad enough, you find a way and make it work!  Because us women do hard things.

Here are my tips on how to incorporate healthy living back in your life!  

Stock your car.

Stock your car with water bottles and bring healthy, kid friendly snacks with you when you are on the go.  My favorite snacks to pack that are fast and easy are nuts, protein bars, Larabars, cheese sticks and my amazingly delicious baked oatmeal.  This way you leave your house prepared and you won’t be inclined to get fast food in a pinch.

Know your fast food alternatives & set a healthy precedent for your children.

It is so easy to be on the road, feel hungry and pull through McDonalds in 2 minutes; boom, the kids are happy.  Don’t fall prey to this behavior because you and your children deserve more.  There are so many healthy fast food alternatives available to you, such as Starbucks Perfect Oatmeal or Greek yogurt, Panera Bread’s Secret Low Calorie Menu, Subway with mostly fresh ingredients and so many more.  Be mindful of where you take yourself and your kids when you’re out by browsing the online food menus available at most restaurants.  You and your family deserve to eat healthfully and it is possible when you set the intention to do so.

Pack your gym bag the night before.

After a long day’s work, it is easy to put off going to the gym, but if you have your gym bag packed and with you in the front seat, coupled with a quick snack from your snack pack, you will be much more likely to hit the gym.  If you have your kids with you, there are plenty of gyms that have child care.  I look forward to my future “me time” at the gym when I have kids.  Use it as your time to decompress, breathe and regroup so that your children get to vibe off of your calm nature as you go on with your day together.

Breathe.

A lot of people underestimate the power of breathing. When you’re going from place to place, dropping one child off at day care and entertaining another child in the car while on your way to get groceries and feeling the stress on your shoulders, take three deep breaths, exhaling slowly to release the stress, anger and frustration you’re feeling in the moment; then smile.  My motto is, ‘Just breathe through it.’

Be kind to you.

This is a hard one for us women!  Put a spot for you on your to-do list or make a date with yourself.  As women, we spend so much time and energy on others, it’s also important to make time for yourself.  Make sure you’re at the top of your to-do list!  Don’t for a second, forget that you are just as important as everyone else that gets your love and energy.  You deserve that love and energy and need it.   Be kind to yourself, allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes, laugh it all off, smile, make time for you and know that whatever you need, you have it now.  You are enough and you are perfect.

Be intentional.

I have heard children are like sponges.  I truly look forward to the time I can be a source of influence and inspiration to my children.  I wholeheartedly believe in the power of intention and that what you think becomes your reality.  By allotting more time to focus on your intentions as a family, you are creating a more solid foundation in which you are grounded in.  When you know where you are going, it is easier to get there.  I created Fierce Forward Intention Bracelets to empower myself and others to live with intention each day.  Having a visual reminder of your Purpose, Commitment, Courage & Strength, you begin to embody these intentions the more you focus on them.  I even make them child sized upon request!

Fierce Forward Bracelet

You are so lucky to have a family, a foundation, to build upon and work towards something bigger, together!  Be intentional as an individual-remember that girl in the picture- and as a whole and you surely will have a healthy family and a healthy you.

My final tip I will leave you with is to find a picture of yourself that radiates who you are.  This can be a picture from childhood, a picture of you caught off guard five years ago or a more recent picture.  Take your time in choosing and make sure this picture speaks to you and truly nails the definition of you.  Put it up on your DIY Chalkboard (that link will take you right to my tutorial!) or your bathroom mirror, look at that picture every day and remember to take care of her.

DIY Chalkboard Project

Thank you so much for reading my words and thank you amy for the opportunity to reach your Community of Fierce Mothers, whom I look up to!

Fierce Forward Bracelet Ashley from Fierce Forward

To Find Out More About Ashley:

Fierce Forward Intention Bracelets
Website:  Fierce Forward
Find Ashley on Facebook
Find Ashley on Pinterest, on Twitter or on Instagram! 

How do you make healthy living and “me time” a priority for yourself? Feel free to leave your ideas in our comments below!

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Apron Full of Giveaways 01.20.15

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Black-Aqua Ruffle Apron via Etsy

Source: Flirty Aprons,  $24.95

 

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!

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Reader Transformation: Focus on Health

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Renee Ross before and after

I am so excited to introduce you to my friend, Renée Ross from Cutie Booty Cakes. Renée and I have been friends for many years and I have had the joy of watching her weight loss transformation unfold. I am so excited to share with you her story because it is so beautiful, just like her, and shows you how empowering it can be to transform your body & life. 

I started my weight loss journey the week of Thanksgiving 2009. Believe it or not, despite Thanksgiving dinner, dining out and even enjoying a wine spritzer,  I lost 8 pounds that week.  That loss motivated me to continue to work on improving my health and by July 2010, I reached my goal of losing 52 pounds.

I’ll be the first to tell you it wasn’t easy, it took hard work and determination for me to meet my goal. I have been maintaining my weight loss for the last 4.5 years and it has been even more challenging to maintain the loss. I keep my eye on the prize of staying healthy, not just for myself but so that I am here for my son. He has watched my transformation that began when he was just two years old and views healthy living, exercise and making good food choices as a way of life.

For me and I think for most people who want to lose the weight, the first thing to tackle is your mental and emotional state of being. In my case, eating provided me with a level of comfort and helped me deal with the depression that encompassed me as a new mother trying to survive in a failing marriage. At the time, all of my friends lived in my computer and although I had a community, nothing beats getting together with people in real life. As my weight loss journey progressed, I found myself returning to my usual gregarious self, venturing out more often with friends and started to become healthy both mentally and physically again.

Transformations are difficult. As much as I wanted it to, my marriage did not survive my return to my true self. However, my life has been forever changed and taken directions that I could not have foreseen. With a renewed sense of self that developed not simply because of weight loss but as a result of healthy living, I have become a successful professional blogger and an active mother. I’ve run 14 half-marathons, a full marathon and am currently training for my second Ragnar relay.

Being healthy is a choice a make on a daily basis. It continues to be a journey but one I am more than happy to embark upon because the gift of good health is the best thing that anyone can ask for and as long as I am able to, I plan on staying healthy!

 

 

37 Things That Make Me Happy #thisis37

Friday, January 16th, 2015

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It’s my BIRTHDAY today! I know you are just so excited for me. In all honesty,  I  can’t believe that I am turning 37 this year. I remember thinking how old that was when I was a youngster and now when I hear about people who are turning sixty, I’m like, “She’s so young! She’s got a lifetime ahead of her!”

It’s funny how perspective changes as we age.

I  feel happier and more self-assured than I ever did in my twenties. How lovely to stop caring so much about what everyone thinks about you. How freeing to let things go a little easier. How refreshing  to not feel like you have to keep up anymore because we are all just trying to play the game of life together.   I hear that I have even more to look forward to as I get older.

Truly though, I don’t feel a day over 20. Unless it is past ten o’clock. Then I feel like the oldest person in the room and I think about my bed and how it needs me a lot. I guess in some ways, I do feel every bit my age.

Maybe it is just age that finally lets you say “uncle,” and not feel like the best things happen after ten.

In honor of my 37 years of life, here are 37 things that are making me happy!

1. Coffee and lots of it.

2. NPR every day. All day. I feel like I’m finally aware of world issues and it makes me feel passionately about things I thought I would never care about. I’m proud to be able to participate in conversations about those issues too. Well, unless the conversation is political. Then I shall let you have the floor and I will go get a drink while you share it.

3. Sponsoring our first child from World Vision and receiving her updates in the mail.

4. Siblings for friends. What a rarity in life to say that your best friends are your siblings. I try to never take it for granted.

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5. Journaling with my husband. I look forward to his hilarious and heartfelt responses every morning.

6. Being a mom to two awesome kids. Nothing made me beam more this year than to hear from our teachers things like, “Your child…she/he is just GOOD PEOPLE.” Good people and being the one who raised  ‘em- that’s some happy stuff right there.

7.  Volunteering and reading to my kids at school every week. I want everyone to be a reader and love books as much as me. Seeing kids struggle with that and then feeling the triumph of them discovering a love for books makes my heart unbelievably happy.

8. Real and true friendships. The lifelong kind.  No BS and drama-drama-drama. I am thankful I have those kinds of friends.

9. Finding my dancing feet again. I hope I never lose them.

10. Saying no. A lot.

12. Making my little home into the kind of place that I can be proud of. 11 years ago I would have never dreamed of all that we could do in our 60’s fixer upper. I’m still dreaming.

13. Ditching the Facebook addiction and the happiness and peace that came from that decision.

14. Books, books and more books. The Sundays With Writers has been food for my book-loving soul and a dream come true for this reader. Reaching my reading goal of 50 books (and surpassing it) is something  I am really proud I accomplished this year.

15. The absence of so much “stuff” in our home and the joy & peace that comes from clutter-free spaces. It’s always a work in progress and I’m trying to make a commitment to bring in only the stuff I really love.

16. My minimized wardrobe. Raise your hand if you didn’t think I could do it (raises a hand for her very own self).  How lovely to wake up and know just what to wear. And to give to others all that I don’t need.

17. Getting my passport. The first step towards seeing the world with my best friend.

18. Finding two new sources for secondhand goodness for my closet. Consignment shopping from the comforts of my own home is quite lovely!

19. Finally have glasses confidence. Four eyes ARE better than one!

20. Friends finally coming to Netflix.

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21.  Learning to embrace and appreciate the beauty of a scarf to my slimmer wardrobe. The transformation is a delight.

22. Beauty products that keep a girl trucking along in her late thirties. I’d love to get a shout out to this BB cream, this skin cleanser, this at-home hair color, and this exfoliator for making me feel young and happy as I age.

23. ePantry, for not only helping me become a huge fan of so many new green products for the home and saving me trips to the grocery store, but even more for the fact that they made a HUGE donation with my affiliate credit to two amazing organizations in our town on my behalf. Blessing our local women & children shelter and our church’s food pantry for those in need was such a great way to pay it forward this year.

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24. Having a fireplace in our home- what a treat this spot has become this year. Picture my husband with a pipe and smoking jacket, me with my knitting, and This American Life on the radio by our roaring faux fire.

25. My growing vinyl collection. There is just so much nostalgia in getting and playing records…especially the ones I loved as a kid.

26. Mastering the filet. It is the one life skill I wish I could gift everyone.  Our date nights have gotten much more economical now that I know how to make the one thing I was always after when I went out.

27. Boxed wine. Thank you for your easy-to-pour spout after not-so-easy days.

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28. Reading my favorite childhood books with my children. It’s been a Little House year with my daughter and rereading the words as an adult make me just as happy (if not happier) than when I read them as a child.

29. Having the pride of parents. My job is weird and hard to explain, yet they still try to share about it with everyone they know. What are we without our parents?

30. Giving, giving, giving- my heart, my time, my talents, my belongings, my funds. How lucky to be in a position that I can share?

31.  The joy I feel when cooking for people I love- my happy place is definitely in the kitchen cooking and creating for them.

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32. Seeing my daughter dance her first Nutcracker this year- it was truly magical.

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33. Every moment that I get to be with this kid, knowing that these years with him are passing me by, far quicker than I would like.

34. The joy I feel every time I see my book at a store. I take a picture EVERY TIME.

35. Finally having red lipstick confidence.

36. Our little shelter cat who has become my third child. I am embracing the crazy cat lady that I never knew I was.

37. This corner of the internet. What a boring life I would lead without you.  I am thankful for anyone who would take the time to read my words. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

 

xoxo