Author Archive

The 2018 MomAdvice Reading Challenge (FREE PRINTABLE)

Monday, January 1st, 2018

2018 MomAdvice Reading Challenge Printable

I have had such great feedback on last year’s Reading Challenge Printable that we shared with you that we decided to create another one this year for you!

Last year’s challenge was CHALLENGING with 52 challenges to add variety and interest to your book stacks. I ended up coming about eight short on the sheet myself, even with 100 books under my belt this year. I am still REALLY proud though because this really did stretch me out of my reading comfort zones and many of the books ended up being my favorites of the year.

Based on feedback from our book club members, I scaled it back this year to 26 categories and added many of their own category suggestions that they were interested in tackling this year.

MomAdvice 2018 Reading Challenge Printable

The 2018 MomAdvice Reading Challenge Printable- DOWNLOAD USING THIS LINK!!

designed by MJ from pars caeli!!

Start your engines, friends! I hope this helps you reach your reading goals! Don’t forget to join our book club and check out my list of top ten books of 2017 for inspiration for this fun challenge! xoxo

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MomAdvice 2018 Book Club Selections

Monday, January 1st, 2018

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Is one of your goals to join a book club this year? I’m thrilled to share that we have an AMAZING Virtual Book Club group that I’d love for you to join. I’m so excited to share with you our MomAdvice 2018 Book Club selections.

Our book club now has over 1,200 bookworms (!!!) and we would love to have you join in on the fun discussions this year. I loved last year’s selections so much that they even found their way on my Best Books of 2017 list.

How Does the MomAdvice Facebook Book Club Work?

I will be your book club hostess this year and have selected the entire year of books for 2018 to round out your book stacks.  The discussion is held on the last week of the month and posted in the group with a thread for each question.

To make finding these discussions easier (and so you can hop in at anytime!!) we have moved our discussions into the Events tab. You will receive an invitation to each discussion and can find the entire discussion in the Events, instead of searching through our VERY active page.

You can jump in to answer questions at any time throughout that week, interacting with loads of other fellow bookworms.

How fun is that?

Feel free to join us and let your friends know about the group too.

The more the merrier!

How Much Does it Cost?

Nada.

Well, What Do You Get Out Of It?

I want this to be fun and free for you. I post the daily Kindle book deals and I share our book club picks though through something called an affiliate link. Basically, this link gives me a few pennies on each of your purchases that help pay for the web hosting on our website. The web hosting currently costs me about $200 monthly and your purchases from this group basically help to offset that cost for our family at no cost to you.

I try to only share the good stuff and good books.

In fact, I have been reading our book club picks before we get to them to make sure that not a moment of your time or penny is wasted.

I know I can’t appeal to everyone’s taste, but I am really trying!! 

I also would like to think I made a lot of great bookworm friends too in this group. It’s been fun to have a place to obsess about books, to share what we are reading each week, and just hang out with other people who just get you.

I have tried to cultivate a positive environment and the group is filled with those kinds of drama-free people that you want to have filling your Facebook feed. Escape the political nastiness and join a feel good kind of space.

Here are the books we will be talking about this year!

MomAdvice 2018 Book Club

MomAdvice 2018 Book Club Selections

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood January- Alias Grace

Lucky Boy February- Lucky Boy

American Fire March- American Fire

Lilli De Jong April- Lilli De Jong

The Music Shop May- The Music Shop

Everything Here is Beautiful June- Everything Here is Beautiful

Salt Houses July- Salt Houses

Little Broken Things August- Little Broken Things

Far From the Tree September- Far From the Tree

That Kind of Mother October- That Kind of Mother

Steal the Stars by Nat Cassidy November- Steal the Stars

Girls Burn Brighter December-Girls Burn Brighter

MomAdvice 2018 Book Club

Join in on the MomAdvice Book Club HERE! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

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

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The Best Books of 2017

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

top-ten-books-of-2017-from-momadvice

I am so excited to share my selections for best books of 2017. It is always incredibly difficult to narrow down my favorites and this year, in particular, is a tough one because of all the incredible books that came out this year. After reading 100 books this year (!!!), I am looking forward to sharing the books that I can’t stop talking about.

A Few Quick Reflections on My Year in Reading

GoodReads Goals

Joining GoodReads has been an incredible motivator to keep on track with my reading goals.  As you can see, I am reading more and more each year and trying to keep reading a priority and goal. I doubled the amount of books I read from 2014 to 2017.  How do I read so much? You might find this article helpful!

GoodReads Goals

It is also no surprise that this was my highest amount of pages read. GoodReads offers a great end-of-year report to reflect back on your reading which gives you an opportunity to reflect on your favorite books of the year.

Traditionally, I move my goals up for the next year, but I have decided to stick to 100 again for 2018. I felt a little rushed at the end and it impacted my book choices and enjoyment of the books because I wanted to just hurry up and read so I could make it across the finish line.  If I’m on a faster pace than I expect, that will just be a bonus next year!

If you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

Looking to add some variety to your stack? Feel free to join our book club! I announced our selections (starting with this one) and you can find them pinned at the top of the group page. These will be added in a blog entry for January, but book club participants get the list a little earlier. It’s just one more perk to enjoy with this free club!

PS- I know I have had MULTIPLE requests that we offer another reading challenge sheet for the year. I am working on that for you so please stay tuned! I’m so happy to hear you found the 2017 reading challenge printable to be so much fun to work through! The feedback has been that it was challenging, but maybe a little TOO challenging so it will be a shorter one for next year with categories provided by our book club members- woohoo! 

Let’s get to it-

The Best Books of 2017:

The Heart's Invisible Furies

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

This book was just EVERYTHING and reminded me a lot of one of my all-time favorites , A Little Life. At almost 600 pages, I was worried if this book would hold my attention, but Boyne crafts the perfect boyhood friendship as it sprawls decades of time in this gorgeous and gripping saga.

You may be familiar with Boyne’s work, but I was not.  I picked this book up on a whim and devoured it in just a few days.

A faithful Catholic Irish family casts out their daughter when they discover she is pregnant.  Knowing she is not in a position to raise a child alone, she gives him up for adoption to his new parents…

That love to remind him that he is not their real son.

He is their adopted son.

This dark humor is layered so beautifully as the boy, Cyril, becomes dear friends with a boy named Julian. The problem is, as Cyril gets older, he realizes he has a deep and undying love for his best friend. Cyril must keep his sexuality under wraps and keep his affection for him a secret which ends up costing him a lot.

The book follows these two through the decades, beginning in 1945 and ending in Cyril’s elderly age. It finishes in the present day while tackling everything from being closeted to the AIDS epidemic to what it really means to be family.

I laughed and got a little teary-eyed following Cyril as he goes through this identity crisis and finds love. I was really swept away in this story and Boyne builds a beautiful supportive cast.

Goodbye, Vitamin

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

I haven’t heard a lot of people talking about Goodbye,Vitamin, but I noticed it had made its way on so many best-of lists this year that I just had to read it.

I am not a big fan of correspondence or diary entry books, but it works SO well in this smart, funny, and heartwarming story of a 30-year-old daughter who returns to live at home and care for her father with Alzheimer’s, following a break-up with her fiancée.

Told in sparse quips, Khong breathes fresh air into new ways to think about life and love lost. Sentences like, “You know what else is unfair, about Joel? That I loosened the jar lid, so somebody else could open him up,” or, “It was grotesque, the way I kept trying to save that relationship. Like trying to tuck an elephant into pants,” beg you to read them twice.

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself laughing out loud and getting teary-eyed simultaneously through this one.  It’s an achingly beautiful read about growing up, seeing your parent’s struggles with health challenges, and the ability to find humor in even the worst situations. I loved it!

Castle of Water

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge

I’m a sucker for a good love story and I can’t rave enough about the beauty of, Castle of Water. I knew that this would be on the top ten list of 2017 and I have a feeling, if you read it, it will be on yours too.

A small plane crashes in the middle of the South Pacific leaving two of the passengers stranded as they both washed ashore on a small island.  If you think this sounds a bit predictable, I did too, but Huckelbridge writes a story that is anything BUT predictable as the two castaways work together to try to remain alive in the face of numerous hurdles.

The writing is surprisingly witty and laugh-out-loud funny, while still giving you that ache in your heart at all they have lost. Being stranded on an island requires a writer to really drive this story with strong characters. This character development is the heart of the story as these two seem to lift off the pages.

While the ending didn’t bring all that I had hoped, it felt truthful to the storytelling and didn’t overshadow this beautiful story! Run, run, run and get this one!

Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Before We Were Yours absolutely blew me away and is a book that brings ALL THE FEELINGS, if you are looking for a historical fiction escape that will absolutely crush you.

Wingate shares the story of two little girls who become a part of one of America’s most notorious real life scandals of children being kidnapped and sold to wealthy families by Georgia Tann, a director of a Memphis-based adoption organization in the late 1930’s.

I was unfamiliar with the scandal or the heartbreaking stories of children being separated from their families and the tragic things they had to endure while under Tann’s horrific care.

This fictional story is built around the stories of real-life orphans and will just rip your heart to shreds.  Moving backward and forward through time, the reader gets to solve the mystery of two unlikely women with a bond that could never be broken and the granddaughter that must unravel it all, even at the expense of her family’s high society position.

I predicted that this would be in my top ten reads this year. Beautifully written and researched, it pulled all the right heartstrings.

Note- triggers include physical and sexual abuse.

Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You was Celeste Ng’s gorgeous debut (you can read my interview with her over here) and I couldn’t wait to see what she had next in store for us.  I was thrilled when the publishing house reached out to see if I would like to take a peek at her next book and this one did not disappoint.

This novel is a perfect read for Jodi Picoult fans as it explores the intertwining stories of a picture-perfect family and a single mother & child who end up disrupting what has always seemed ideal.

The book is set in a suburban bubble where a wealthy family, The Richardsons, reside. Always with good intentions, they love to help others and one of the ways they help them is by offering a rental home to deserving recipients at an affordable cost so that they can get back on their feet again.

Mia Warren is the lucky recipient of this rental, where she can make rent doing odd jobs so she can pursue her true passion for photography and art. When the Richardson family also happens to have an opening for a housekeeper, they bring Mia further into their lives as Pearl & Mia become fixtures in their home. Everything seems ideal about this family and Pearl, her daughter, immediately is drawn to them and their idyllic life.

Yet, when close friends of the wealthy family decides to adopt a Chinese American baby, sides are quickly drawn leaving Mia & Pearl on the opposing side. It is when the battle becomes fierce that secrets began to unravel and true feelings begin to erupt. And there are secrets….a LOT of secrets.

This is a heartstring puller that I devoured in a little over a day. It would lend itself really well to a lively book club discussion if you are looking for something fresh to add to your group that is guaranteed to get your book club members chatting!

The Book of Polly

The Book of Polly by Kathy Hepinstall

I love quirky stories that are big on humor and The Book of Polly was everything a good read should be. Beautifully developed characters, loads of hilarity, and Hepinstall’s choice of words and phrasing make these characters, truly, come to life.

Polly has an unexpected surprise in her late fifties and gives birth to her daughter, Willow. Polly is not like any mother that Willow knows at school and the reader experiences her pride and shame at just how little she does fit in. One of Willow’s biggest worries is Polly dying and when she ends up being diagnosed with cancer, it is like her worst fears coming true.

Polly’s not going to exit this world quietly though and Willow decides she wants to know more about Polly’s life from her younger years which lead them on an epic road trip.

I laughed out loud through this book and kept reading passages to my husband who laughed alongside me.  Fans of Be Frank With Me and Whistling Past the Graveyard are FOR SURE going to love this hilarious read! I just knew that this would be on the top ten list this year!

Saints for All Occasions

Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan

I have read a couple of Sullivan’s books and enjoyed them, but this book is unlike anything she has written before and is an exquisite escape that I think most readers will love. This story reads like Brooklyn had a baby with The Two-Family House so if you enjoyed those, don’t miss this one!

This story explores the lives of two sisters who come to America in the late fifties. One sister is wildly enjoying her newfound freedom while the other is promised to marry a boy she doesn’t love, but finds the responsible sister role to be an easier one. When Theresa, the “fun” sister, ends up pregnant, her sister comes up with a plan to save her reputation while making sure her son is loved and safe.

The book explores the past and present as each sister makes life-altering decisions that lead them down very different paths.  When Nora’s son dies, it brings the two sisters back together again while unleashing a load of family secrets in the process.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I have read every single book that Taylor Jenkins Reid has written and I have loved each of them in their own way. This book is markedly different than anything she has ever written and is an absolutely spellbinding book filled with old Hollywood glamour, celebrity secrets, and the power of real and true love.

Evelyn Hugo is an aging starlet who has decided to hire a magazine reporter to write her biography. As someone who has been very private, it is the chance of a lifetime for a virtually unknown writer to be given the story that is worth millions of dollars.

Evelyn’s love life has been something that Hollywood has often been speculated on, but no one could ever guess who captured Evelyn’s heart and how she was able, at times, to make her relationship work with the love of her life. Unfortunately, living in the spotlight often gets in the way of real living. This couldn’t be truer in Evelyn’s life and she is ready to divulge all of her secrets to Monique, in exchange for her writing her biography and publishing it upon her death.

I cannot rave enough about Reid’s ability to write real and relatable love stories. Each of her love stories has connected with me in some way and this book is no exception. I was swept away in Evelyn’s retelling of her life and Reid weaves smart plot twists in the end that I have a feeling you will really enjoy. In fact, I’m still thinking about them.

You must add this book to your book stacks stat!

Setting Free the Kites by Alex George

Setting Free the Kites by Alex George

If you haven’t read Alex George’s first book, please do add it to your reading list- it’s beautiful! In his second novel, George weaves a gorgeous coming-of-age story, set in the late 70’s, that chronicles the life and friendship of two boys that find each other in their eighth grade year. This friendship blossoms as a tragic event unfolds in each family’s life and brings them closer together.

It’s hard to say more about this so you can be surprised by these tragic twists, but the setting and characters are so beautifully written that your heart will quickly be wrapped up in this sweet story.

This book reminded me a lot of Ordinary Grace, in what appears to be a simple story, but is told with such beauty, heart, and soul that you can’t help but fall in love with this book . Be sure to have a box of tissues as you read this one as this book dives deep into heartbreak and loss.

born-a-crime

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Although I have been a big fan of his work on The Daily Show, I have an entirely new respect for Trevor Noah and the survival skills he used during his youth in apartheid South Africa, thanks to his incredible memoir, Born a Crime.”

Noah is truly, “born a crime,” because his birth is seen as a criminal act since he was born to a white father and black mother. To keep him from not being rounded up for an orphanage, he often was sidelined indoors instead of playing outside with his peers. His mother also employed survival techniques, like pretending to be his maid instead of his mother, to just be able to play at the park with her son.

The reader is taken through the story of his childhood that, even in its darker moments,  Noah manages to add heart and humor to each and every story. This brave little mischievous boy’s story will pull at every heartstring and illustrates why he is now so passionate about politics and the world.

DO get this one on audiobook to appreciate every nuance and accent that Noah can bring to the table. It’s like listening to the most polished standup comedy routine to hear him read this out loud.

As soon as I finished it, I just wanted to listen to it all over again.

2017 Honorable Mentions (you know I can’t just narrow my list down to ten, right?)

Words in Deep Blue

The Animators

This is How it Always Is

I Liked My Life

The Sound of Gravel

The Hate U Give

Ginny Moon

All Our Wrong Todays

When Dimple Met Rishi

The Child Finder

Amy Allen Clark

Need More Book Ideas? Here are my top ten lists from the past seven years!!

My Top Ten Books of 2016

My Top Ten Books of 2015

My Top Ten Books of 2014

My Top Ten Books of 2013

The Best Books Read in 2012

My Top Ten Books in 2011

The Top Ten of 2010

Top Ten Books of 2017 from MomAdvice.com

For more great suggestions, check out the NPR Book Concierge- swoon! It is heavenly stuff!

Tell me, what your favorite books were in 2017 or share your links to your own round-ups!

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

This post contains affiliate links. I promise to only recommend what I truly love!

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December 2017 Must-Reads

Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

December 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

I hope you had a wonderful holiday and are getting some time to relax the rest of this week! I had to read eight books this month to stay on my pace for my 100 book goal for 2017 and, YOU GUYS, I DID IT!! I’m feeling really proud of myself this year! Don’t mind me while I toot my own horn!!

Stay tuned for my top ten of the year, happening later this week! I’m excited to hear what your favorite books were in 2017 too.

If you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

Looking to add some variety to your stack? Feel free to join our book club! I announced our selections (starting with this one) and you can find them pinned at the top of the group page. These will be added in a blog entry for January, but book club participants get the list a little earlier. It’s just one more perk to enjoy with this free club!

Here are 8 must-read books that I tackled in December!

Goodbye, Vitamin

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

I haven’t heard a lot of people talking about Goodbye,Vitamin, but I noticed it had made its way on so many best-of lists this year that I just had to read it.

I am not a big fan of correspondence or diary entry books, but it works SO well in this smart, funny, and heartwarming story of a 30-year-old daughter who returns to live at home and care for her father with Alzheimer’s, following a break-up with her fiancée.

Told in sparse quips, Khong breathes fresh air into new ways to think about life and love lost. Sentences like, “You know what else is unfair, about Joel? That I loosened the jar lid, so somebody else could open him up,” or, “It was grotesque, the way I kept trying to save that relationship. Like trying to tuck an elephant into pants,” beg you to read them twice.

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself laughing out loud and getting teary-eyed simultaneously through this one.  It’s an achingly beautiful read about growing up, seeing your parent’s struggles with health challenges, and the ability to find humor in even the worst situations. I loved it!

5 Out Of 5 Stars

A Stranger in the House

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

If you have read, The Breakdown, you might not enjoy this thriller as much since I felt like the two had such similar plotlines. That said, this one was a great reprieve during my heavier reads that I appreciated this month.

The story starts quickly with a husband (Tom)  coming home for dinner and finding that his wife appears to have left abruptly from their home, leaving behind her purse, phone, and identification. When he gets a knock at the door, he is horrified to find the police are there to take him to his wife who has been in a car accident.

His wife, Karen, has suffered a concussion and has no recollection of where or why she had left her home that evening. Charged with reckless driving, the police suspect there is more to the story and begin an investigation into Karen’s life that lead them to uncover deep secrets about her past.

This one wasn’t as satisfying as, The Couple Next Door, but it still kept a great pace and held my interest!

3 Out Of 5 Stars

When Dimple Met Rishi

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

If you are looking for a sweetly satisfying YA book, When Dimple Met Rishi, was such a good one. This quirky love story is about a girl, Dimple, who is interested in computer programming and not interested in pursuing the ideal Indian husband (much to her mother’s disappointment).

When she enrolls in a summer program, created for aspiring web developers, she discovers that there is a boy enrolled in the program, named Rishi that has been the arranged marriage prospect that her family has secretly been plotting.

Say what?

It is through this unlikely connection that the two find each other and a deep friendship blossoms between the two that bring them together in unexpected ways. Fans of Eleanor & Park are guaranteed to love this sweet love story between Dimple and Rishi. This book was a treat on audiobook with the beautiful accents and two incredible narrators.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Manhattan Beach has been on almost every top book of 2017 list ever created and now I see why. If you are looking for a compelling historical fiction read, I would highly recommend this one.

This is the first historical fiction novel from Egan, but reads almost like a thriller as you piece together the disappearance of a father. Anna Kerrigan, on the cusp of twelve years old, accompanies her father for a visit to see Dexter Styles. It is a mysterious relationship and visit that she is encouraged not to share with her family.

Later her father disappears and Anna finds herself working for the Brooklyn Naval Yard. She becomes their first female diver and is breaking the mold of what roles women have in assisting in the war. One evening she finds herself at a nightclub where she sees Dexter Styles again and begins to wonder if he might be the key to understanding her father’s disappearance.

If you enjoyed Saints for All Occasions, I think you would enjoy this one too. It surprised me as much as Sullivan’s book as Egan weaves together this compelling plot so vividly that you will have trouble putting it down.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Soulful Simplicity

Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver

I received a copy of this book from the publishing house. All thoughts & opinions are my own.

Soulful Simplicity embraces the power in simplicity and it is done effectively through Carver’s own journey towards a simpler life.

If you aren’t familiar with Courtney, she is the creator of the Project 333, the capsule wardrobe project that I began embracing a few years ago. Her journey towards this simpler life began with her MS diagnosis and the need to scale down her life, home, and belongings in order to make her health a priority.  Through this journey she discovered how wonderful the practice of minimalism is and how powerful it can be for everyone, even if you haven’t been faced with health issues.

Carver tackles the art of saying no, the rejection of busy, the whittling of clutter, the beauty in a smaller wardrobe, and so much more.  Her lifestyle and message speaks loudly during this time of resolutions and serves as a great reminder, to those that are already pursuing a minimalist life, that there is always an opportunity to do better with what we have.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Something Like Happy

Something Like Happy by Eva Woods

Fans of Firefly Lane and Me Before You, will love this story of unlikely friendship so beautifully captured in, Something Like Happy.

Annie has been mourning a terrible loss and is in a negative place where she just feels stuck. When she meets Polly, who has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, she finds that this woman just won’t take no for an answer to friendship and is determined to make the most of every day.

With the given diagnosis, she believes she has one hundred days left where she wants to pursue one hundred new ways to be happy… and she wants Annie to help her with this mission. What Polly doesn’t know is that Annie needs it as much as she does.

This book is the feel-good kind of book that you need in your stack to remind you that we all could use a little happy in our life, the power of forgiveness, and the beauty in the healing of old relationships. Equally parts charming and, at times, a little cheesy, I loved this fictional escape.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Idaho

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

This was one of the big buzz books this year that I had been looking forward to diving into. There is so much to love in Idaho. The book has a very poetic feel with well-developed characters as it explores a horrific family tragedy and all that are left in the aftermath of this event.

Ruskovich has such a beautiful way with words that you find yourself quickly swept up into the story of these characters as you try to understand the motive behind the tragic death of a child. Unfortunately, the nonlinear narrative made it difficult to follow along with the story and the conclusion of the story was unsatisfying. Although I don’t need my endings neat and tidy, I hoped for a resolution that made the reading journey worth it. It isn’t that kind of read though and Ruskovich shares that most endings in real life are rarely neat and tidy.

I would recommend reading this one for the beauty of the storytelling,  while keeping in mind that the conclusion won’t necessarily be the satisfying ending you probably had hoped for.

3 Out Of 5 Stars

Class Mom

Class Mom by Laurie Gelman

Class Mom ended up being a great way to end my reading year thanks to its quick wit and humor. When Jen Dixon is recruited to be the kindergarten class mom, she takes the bull by the horns with hilarity as she corresponds with the parents about what is needed each week. This isn’t her first rodeo, with two college-aged children, and she doesn’t mind being blunt and to the point about what people need to be volunteering for.

Anyone who has volunteered at school and dealt with the pettiness of the helicopter parents is sure to appreciate this hilarious book.  Big Little Lies fans will appreciate the classroom parent drama and are sure to laugh out loud at the correspondence between these parents!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2017 Must-Reads

February 2017 Must-Reads

March 2017 Must-Reads

April 2017 Must-Reads

May 2017 Must-Reads

June 2017 Must-Reads

July 2017 Must-Reads

August 2017 Must-Reads

September 2017 Must-Reads

October 2017 Must-Reads

November 2017 Must-Reads

December 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

What did you read this month? Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

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

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No-Bake Gluten-Free Granola Bars

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Gluten-Free No-Bake Granola Bars This post is sponsored by Mirum, but opinions expressed are my own.

This gluten-free mama is excited to share with you a new tool for making sure that you have good meals that your WHOLE family can enjoy!

Not only that, I’m sharing an EASY no-bake granola bar recipe that is our new favorite after school treat!

Good Choices Made Easy Tool at Walmart

Nestlé has launched a new tool, in partnership with Walmart called Good Choices Made Easy.  This tool helps recommend different products for your family’s meals and helps you select these products based on your own dietary needs.

They recognize that every meal can’t be homemade (especially during this busy season), but they want you to know and trust that the products they are sharing are made with quality ingredients and save you time in the aisles reading all those labels.

How cool is that?

Combining this tool with the low prices at Walmart, you can feel confident about the ingredients you choose AND the pricing on these items!

no-bake-gluten-free-granola-bars-recipe-1 No-Bake Gluten-Free Granola Bars from MomAdvice.com

To celebrate the launch of this new tool, I am sharing a recipe for No-Bake Granola Bars using the Nestlé® Toll House® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels.

I have incorporated oats, almonds, honey, and peanut butter in these delicious treats that are perfect for serving up as a snack after a long day of school.

You may recall that I had a baked granola bar on our site, from many years ago. My original recipe relied upon flour and baking so this is a spin on my No-Bake Energy Bites recipe, just in bar form. These days, I’m all about easy!

Mix these delicious ingredients up in a large bowl and line an 8×8″ pan with parchment paper. Pat these down until you have an even surface across your pan. Place these in your refrigerator for about thirty minutes and then cut them into bars for your week.

No-Bake Gluten-Free Granola Bars from MomAdvice.com

As soon as these were sliced, they were devoured by my kids. I love that these are made from ingredients that we always have in our pantry! I bet if you make them, they will go fast in your house too!

No-Bake Gluten-Free Granola Bars
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
An easy no-bake gluten-free treat that makes the perfect snack.
Ingredients
  • 1 ¾ cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 ⅓ cup sliced almonds, coarsely chopped (if making nut-free, substitute with 1 ⅓ additional cups of quick-cooking oats)
  • 1 cup Nestlé® Toll House® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (or almond butter or sunbutter)
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Line an 8x8" pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Using a small handheld chopper (or your chef's knife), give your almonds a coarse chop.
  3. Add the peanut butter and honey to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together your oatmeal, coarsely chopped almonds, chocolate morsels, ground, cinnamon and salt. Mix well.
  5. Add the peanut butter & honey mixture (make sure it has cooled so you don't melt your chocolate morsels) and your vanilla extract. Mix well.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the pan and then press these in the pan, until they are pressed evenly throughout. I like to spray a little cooking spray on a little plastic wrap to assist with getting these even.
  7. Place the pan in the refrigerator for a half hour.
  8. Remove and slice into bars. Wrap bars individually in plastic wrap or in baggies for snacks and lunches.

Be sure to check out the Nestlé Good Choices Made Easy Tool at Walmart.com I think you will find it invaluable when doing your grocery shopping!

This post is sponsored by Mirum, but opinions expressed are my own.

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Amy’s Notebook 12.20.17

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Design Mom Book Fireplace source

A home filled with books is my kind of home.

I love this trick for perfect cut-out cookies.

This 15-minute microwave caramel corn recipe looks like a fun & easy treat.

Looking forward to watching this documentary and this documentary series over the holidays!

Master a beautiful bow for those gifts under the tree.

This list of the 10 best movies of 2017 gives me ideas for our next movie night.

I treated myself to this skirt for the holidays & this faux fur vest- I can’t wait to wear it!

Loved this list of six surprising secrets of a hair stylist- especially that tip for wearing winter hats.

The loss of Phillip Seymour and the devastation of addiction- so tragic.

If you own one thing- let it be this. A beautiful reminder!

Cheese Ball for Christmas source

Wow your dinner guests with this beautiful Christmas Tree Cheese Ball.

I’ve been enjoying this book as I prepare for the holidays.

This year has been rough… how about these hopeful images of 2017 to remind us of the good.

Did I mention we celebrated a birthday yesterday? Check out this trick I tried for making frosting a less messy experience!

And this was the birthday girl’s cake request this year- it was a hit.

How sweet is this adoption story?

Are you over multitasking? Check out this advice for more focused work by single-tasking.

Here’s how to REALLY thank the black women that voted Roy Moore out of office.

neighbor gift idea source

What a cute neighbor gift idea!

Bookmarking these genius recipes for our menu planner- yum.

I want to make up a batch of this holiday treat to drink.

I feel like this has been the year of finding my true self. Uncomfortable? Yup! Good? Absolutely!

What was learned from not saying how busy you are for 40 days. I need to work on this one!

My hair is so dry, I’m looking forward to indulging in this beauty diy for my hair this winter.

This would make a great family gift, wouldn’t it?

This is going on my birthday wish list.

Bookmarking this list of the best television shows of the year- be sure to read the comments on this one!

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

5 Ways to Make Self-Care a Priority Around the Holidays

Monday, December 18th, 2017

5 Ways to Make Self-Care a Priority Around the Holidays

This blog was sponsored by Florida Department of Citrus. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

The holidays, while lovely, can be a stressful time of year. I don’t know about you, but each day has been filled with a running to-do list, a million activities, and a lot of food preparation.

Oh, and science fair.

For the love.

I will confess that I have NEVER had an issue with self-care, but I will also confess that my idea of self-care has evolved so much over the years.

Today I wanted to share with you 5 ways I make self-care a priority around the holidays and I would love to hear how you make self-care a priority in your life.

Take a “Sick Day” Once a Week

An epiphany came to me the last time I got sick. I spent an entire day at home sleeping, but wished that I was able to have a day like that when I was well and could really enjoy it. I decided to implement a once-a-week “sick day,” where I allow myself to enjoy a day just for me.

On this day, I rarely get out of my pajamas, I read all day, watch my favorite shows, don’t check email, take a nap, and indulge in crafty classes to allow space for creativity. In the evening, I do not do housework or make dinner (thank you, loads of leftovers!).

It is my FAVORITE day of the week and, believe me, if anyone interferes with mom’s “sick day,” it has to be moved to another day. I crave this day to myself.

5 Ways to Make Self-Care a Priority Around the Holidays 5 Ways to Make Self-Care a Priority Around the Holidays

Indulge in a Rewarding Soak

Is anybody else crazy about magnesium and all of its benefits on the body? Adding an Epsom soak to my daily routines has been incredibly beneficial to my body AND to my mental health. Did you know that stress can be a cause of magnesium deficiency, and a lack of magnesium tends to magnify the stress reaction, worsening the problem?

The holidays can be a particularly stressful time on our bodies and contribute towards deficiencies.

In studies, adrenaline and cortisol, byproducts of the “fight or flight” reaction associated with stress and anxiety, were associated with decreased magnesium (source).

I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot like me around the holidays!

To get the benefits add two cups of Epsom salts to your bath and soak for 15-20 minutes in warm water. While you are doing this, combine it with other healthy habits:

Meditate- Add an app like Headspace to your phone and use this time to deeply breathe and meditate. They have a ten-day free beginner program that you can use to give meditation a try. This is the perfect time to give it a spin!

Add a Smart Beverage to Your Routine- Coffee can dehydrate the body so try replenishing it with a glass of Florida Orange Juice. While you soaking in your magnesium, you can also be enjoying a glass of Florida Orange Juice. Every glass (the recommended daily intake of Florida OJ is eight ounces for adults) of Florida Orange Juice has the Amazing Five. In just one glass you have Taste, Vitamin C, Folate, Potassium and No Added Sugar. Fancy it up with a slice of orange and serve in a pretty glass to add to the experience.

Read a Book- When people ask me how I’m able to read so many books, I have to say that these soaks have been where I have done some of my best reading. A book tray has been a smart investment for this bookworm and it feels like I’m really escaping when I can dive into a little fiction.

5 Ways to Make Self-Care a Priority Around the Holidays

Add Small Indulgences to Your Daily Routines

Wrapping, cooking, organizing, and cleaning are things we are all doing to prepare for the holidays. There is no reason that these routines can’t be coupled with small indulgences though, that can make the experience a little more pleasurable. I love to upgrade my boring routine to-do list items with something that brings me joy.

Wrapping gifts?

Why not belly-laugh to ELF while you are wrapping!

DIY Orange Sugar Scrub

Doing dishes?

Add a jar of this diy orange scrub (recipe below) to your agenda and give your hands a little pampering.

Cleaning the house?

Snag an audiobook from your library, strap on some wireless headphones and your fanny pack (this is TOTALLY what I do) and listen to a great book while you clean.

Pairing something that’s pleasurable with something that is not makes tasks like these much more bearable!

Marco Polo App

Make Time for People

This is the season where we can get really swept away with spending and shopping. It has a tendency to pull us away from the heart of what the season is about and into a frenzy of bad spending. In fact, an alarming number of shoppers are still trying to pay off their debt from holiday shopping last year. Instead of giving so much, what if we all just spent more time on each other.

Don’t have time? I have the perfect solution!

The Marco Polo app, shared with me by my sister, is my new favorite way to communicate with the people I love. It’s essentially a video walkie talkie that allows you to send a video back and forth to talk to each other, but doesn’t require you to hop on FaceTime or Skype at the same time. When schedules are impossible to coordinate, this can be an amazing solution for a busy mom.

I now talk and see my sister and best friend every day and even have virtual wine dates with my girlfriends in town. You can even do big group video chats if you can’t schedule a coffee together! How cool is that?

I consider time with good friends and family to be an essential part of my self-care, especially as a work-at-home mom.

Focus on people, not presents!

Rethink Your Idea of Self-Care

The last thing that I want to say is that self-care is much more than these acts.  I linked to this article in my notebook and I still am thinking about it. Self-care is setting healthy limitations that require self-discipline, setting healthy boundaries in relationships, not loading our calendar up so we get run down, and ridding our life of things that are negative or drain us.
Self-care means going to bed on time, giving yourself unscheduled spaces during the day, not going overboard on the food and drinks of the season, and saying no (even if we have to experience FOMO).

Did you notice that everything in this list is FREE? Self-care isn’t a treat yo’self experience that costs a lot, it is making time and space for things that help you feel emotionally and physically balanced! 

Thank you to the Florida Department of Citrus for letting me share about these tips with you! Be sure to make Florida OJ a part of your daily routines to help boost your immune system during this fun season!
DIY Orange Sugar Scrub from MomAdvice.com

DIY Orange Sugar Scrub
Recipe type: Beauty
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
This DIY Orange Sugar Scrub is a wonderful self-care treat for your hands and body! Thank you to Florida Department of Citrus for sponsoring this fun DIY!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of Sugar
  • ½ cup of Coconut Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Orange Essential Oil (like this)
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, heat the coconut oil over low heat, until it is melted.
  2. In a large bowl, mix sugar, melted coconut oil, and a teaspoon of orange essential oil until fully combined.
  3. Scoop into a mason jar (the one in the picture has been doubled) and store with an airtight lid.
  4. When using, scoop a small amount into your hands, scrub gently (allowing the sugar to exfoliate), rinse, and pat dry.

This blog was sponsored by Florida Department of Citrus. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

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Amy’s Notebook 12.12.17

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

gluten-free eggplant parmesan source

Ohhh…this gluten-free eggplant parmesan recipe needs to go on my menu plan!

These are the shows that we all should dig into. Do you spy any favorites?

My resolution is start writing down my monthly intentions this year (and do them).

Here are 30 self-care resolutions you can take into the new year.

I love these fun ways to display your Christmas cards.

I am jotting down a list of the most binge-worthy shows on Netflix this year.

I always love peeking at other people’s favorite books of the year. Stay tuned for my gathering!

Is it freezing where you are? I just bought these leggings and they are PERFECTION for winter.

This no knead rosemary bread looks like a delicious treat for winter.

DIY Sequin Pencil Skirt source

This diy sequin pencil skirt looks like the perfect addition to the holiday wardrobe.

These salad ideas are a great way to turn a salad into comfort food. P.S.- did you also know that it is a great hangover cure?

Here are some tips to nail the beef tenderloin this year! Want another option? My Balsamic Pork Loin is just the ticket!

Snickerdoodle Fudge? Yes!!!

These mini cocktail (or mocktail) diy kits are so cute for giving.

I really want to give this detox bath recipe a spin.

I’m escaping next to my little faux fire with this book this week.

“Someone else’s beauty is not the absence of your own.” Good, good reminders!

arm knitting throw blanket source

I am obsessed with these chunky knit blankets so this tutorial is going on my crafting bucket list.

This is the time of the year to set up your wrapping station.

Laughing that this was your top purchase this week. YOU ARE MY PEOPLE!

This is what it actually takes to quiet your anxiety.

Slime Snow Globes? What a cute gift to share with your favorite slime-lover!

Thinking about taking a social media break? Just follow these easy steps (LOL)!!

How gorgeous are these holiday wreaths? I want to make one!

Time to put my pressure cooker to work with this Honey Sesame Chicken recipe. Yum!

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

Balsamic Pork Loin Sheet Pan Meal

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

Balsamic Pork Loin Sheet Pan Meal from MomAdvice.com

I’m all about sheet pan meals, especially in the winter months! Today’s recipe has been prepared about a dozen times, shared with good friends and great conversation. This Balsamic Pork Loin recipe is a knock-your-socks off dinner that would be perfect for any occasion.

In fact, it is such a cinch to prepare that I double it each time I make it for our family. No joke!

Balsamic Pork Loin Recipe from MomAdvice.com Balsamic Pork Loin Recipe from MomAdvice.com

There are a few tricks I use to make preparation and clean-up a little easier.  This little gadget (only $17) has made chopping garlic and herbs take seconds instead of minutes when preparing this, or any other dish with a marinade. I have such a small amount of storage in my kitchen that everything must be used and used often. I can tell you that this one is on my counter almost every day while I prepare our meal. It has saved me from A LOT of chopping this year.

The second, don’t be afraid to switch this one up and make it with your own with your own favorite vegetables. I have made this same dish with whatever produce we have on hand- baby potatoes, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and carrots…just to name a few. If you have produce that needs to get to work in the kitchen, this is the recipe to do it with.

The third trick is lining your cookie sheets with parchment paper. I do the REALLY lazy way and buy these ready-to-go sheets for preparing our weeknight sheet pan meals. Anything that I can do to cut down my clean-up time is worth it, in my opinion.

The last trick, and probably the most important one, is to make sure that you use your meat thermometer to make sure the pork is cooked perfectly. The USDA recommends cooking pork to 160 degrees! I like to pull it out just a bit before that at 150 degrees because it will continue to cook while it is at rest! 

Balsamic Pork Loin Recipe from MomAdvice.com Balsamic Pork Loin Recipe from MomAdvice.com Balsamic Pork Loin Recipe from MomAdvice.com

Isn’t that a beauty? Since it is easy to double, it is SO EASY to share. This has been my new go-to for anyone who is need of a meal.  Pair it with this brown bag idea for giving! Who wouldn’t feel touched by that?

Be sure to put the leftovers to work too! The meat with a little pesto on top makes a mean slider and I love to reheat the veggies as a morning side with my eggs.

Looking for more sheet pan meals? We have a few great ones on the site!

Sheet Pan Lemon Paprika Chicken & Veggies

Sheet Pan Ranch Chops & Veggies

Roasted Salmon & Asparagus with Pistachio Gremolata

10 minute Fish Tacos

Roast Chicken in Bulk

Balsamic Pork Loin Sheet Pan Meal:

Balsamic Pork Loin Sheet Pan Meal
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8 servings
 
An easy gluten-free sheet pan meal made with just a few simple pantry ingredients. This one can be doubled to feed a crowd!
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds boneless pork tenderloin
  • ¼- cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 head of garlic
  • ½- cup fresh rosemary leaves
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 pounds of your favorite veggies (our favorite combo is sweet potatoes & brussels sprouts)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Line your sheet pan with parchment paper.
  3. Prepare the garlic by removing the outer layer. Add these cloves to your food processor along with your rosemary, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Blend well.
  4. Rub the pork loin on all sides with your prepared balsamic marinade (use about ¾ of it). Place on the prepared cookie sheet.
  5. Chop your vegetables and place them in a bowl. Add the last of the marinade to the bowl and toss them gently until they are all coated in the marinade. Be sure to add more salt and pepper for seasoning.
  6. Spread the vegetables around the pork tenderloin, making sure that they are not overlapping and have space to cook.
  7. Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes.
  8. Now reduce oven to 350F.
  9. Cook for another 50 minutes, or until done. Pork is done cooking when internal temperature 160 degrees.
  10. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes.
  11. Transfer roast to a cutting board; slice and serve with veggies. Garnish with rosemary for a finishing touch.

This post contains affiliate links that help our site! Thank you for supporting me! xoxo 

Small-Budget Crushes 12.11.17

Monday, December 11th, 2017

sofia slippers sofia slippers (several styles and only $17.99!!)

buffalo checked shirt plaid flannel (50% off today PLUS an additional 20% off with coupon code ICING)

crossover knit tee crossover knit tee (only $10 plus can combine with coupon codes on the homepage!!)

crushed by my tbr crushed by my tbr pile (30% off plus free ship with coupon code GIFTIT)

plush robes plush robes ($20.99!! Use coupon code FRIEND for 30% off)

holiday dessert plates holiday dessert plates (less than $10- perfect for Santa’s treats!)

chelsea boots chelsea boots (50% off today!!)

redbook magazine 1 year Redbook subscriptions $4.69 (great holiday gift or stocking stuffer!)

cozy sherpa blankets cozy sherpa blankets (only $13!!)

reebok reebok crossfit sneakers (take 50% off entire Green Monday Collection!!)

striped flare dress striped flare dress (under $20!!)

wool sidewalk skirt wool sidewalk skirt (my FAVORITE skirt, perfect length and fabric weight, several colors under $20!!!)

air-hockey-table air hockey table (marked down to under $40!!)

cozy slippers all slippers take $10 off plus free shipping with coupon code COZYSTYLE

book leggings book leggings (30% off plus free shipping with coupon code GIFTIT)

Popular Science Magazine 1 year popular science magazine for $4.69!! (great stocking stuffer!)

cozy plush wrap blanket plush wrap ($17.49!! Use coupon code FRIEND for 30% off)

ray ban sunglasses ray ban sunglasses (half off!!)

travel packing squares travel packing squares (take 50% off everything in the store with coupon code GIFT)

spotted cat eye reading glasses spotted cat eye reading glasses (use coupon code NEWNOW to get 40% off- only $11.99!!)

cuisinart pressure cooker cuisinart pressure cooker with ADDITIONAL 10% off using coupon code FRIEND

knit mesh panel leggings knit mesh leggings (only $9- can combine with coupon codes on the homepage!!)

striped crewneck top striped crewneck top (use coupon code OHWHATFUN for 20-30% off, minimum spend $100)

cabin scarf cabin scarf (take 50% off everything at the store with coupon code GIFT)

let's stay in bed pajama set let’s stay in bed pajama set ($19 for the set- can combine with coupon codes on the homepage)

P.S.- For every $100 you spend today at Target, you get an automatic $20 off! Score!

P.S.S.- 6PM is offering an ADDITIONAL 50% off on select merchandise. It’s a good time to snag those holiday boots for the kids!

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