Author Archive

Bringing Back the Art of Storytelling: Circle Round

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

Circle Round Storytelling Podcast from

This blog was sponsored by WBUR’s Circle Round.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

It’s been no secret that I have a mad love affair with my record player. Although I have many beautiful and distinct memories of listening to music on it, my plastic record player was my original love.

record player

record player

The reason it held my heart was simple…it read me stories.

I had piles of books, complete with matching records, that I would flip through and listen to over and over again. The magical chime to turn the page conjures up so many memories of sprawling on my shag carpet and closing my eyes to imagine those stories coming to life. Even before I was able to master reading, I knew a good story when I heard one.

As you know, MomAdvice is ALL about books and storytelling. This is why it brings me immense pleasure to share with you about a new storytelling podcast that your kids will flip for.

In fact, I listened to a few when I heard about it because of the captivating storytellers that they secured to read these beautiful stories.

Have I intrigued you yet?

3 Wishes source: Circle Round

Circle Round is a storytelling podcast for kids ages 4-10, and comes from the WBUR producing team behind the popular podcasts Modern Love, Dear Sugars, and Kind World. 

These episodes are narrated by Rebecca Sheir and the original music is composed and performed by Eric Shimelonis (he introduces a different instrument for each episode!). This dynamic duo also happen to be a husband and wife creative team and the two partnered together to share their storytelling gifts with the world.

I know, as a parent on-the-go, it can be difficult to squeeze in a story hour, but these stories have been tailored to a length that works for a busy family’s lifestyle. Each episode is around 10-20 minutes in length, with a strong focus on offering global perspective by using voices that represent cultures from all over the world.

It’s such a fun way to share a different part of the world with them.

Even as an adult, I am thankful for books and their ability to transport and expose me to different parts of the world or cultures that I didn’t know about!

I also love that these podcasts focus on topics like kindness, persistence, and generosity.

In today’s world, I can’t imagine better themes for our kids.

lion source: Circle Round

The reason I was so intrigued to hear these stories for myself though are because of the amazing talent that they were able to secure for their shows. Circle Round stars some of today’s most exciting theater, film, and TV actors (e.g., Jason Alexander from Seinfeld, Kathryn Hahn from Transparent and Bad Moms!).  These familiar voices make these stories even more fun and a joy to listen to as a parent.

Seriously, share this fun storytelling podcast with your kids and be sure to subscribe to get the updates. Circle Round already happens to be wrapping up its first season, offering thirty stories for you to share with your kids, so there is PLENTY to listen to!

Circle Round Storytelling Podcast from

Subscribe to Circle Round via iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app and download episodes!

This blog was sponsored by WBUR’s Circle Round.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

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It’s the 3 Little Things

Friday, April 27th, 2018

Happy Friday!

How long has it been since I shared a few of my favorite things?

Too long, in my opinion!

It’s been all good things this month and I wanted to catch you up a bit and then share what’s been making me happy this week.

It has been a busy month of fun travel this past month! After visiting the HGTV Smart Home with SimpliSmart, I headed to Florida with the family for our first really long road trip (where we learned about team building- hahaha!), and then I headed to Whistler with the Maven Coalition.

All of these opportunities were made possible, by this amazing supplement that came in just the nick of time.

Next week I’m off again to head to Pasadena for the Mom 2.0 Conference, which was a surprise trip this month.  Typically, our ballet festivities happen around this time of year so I decided to not secure a ticket to the event. The ballet festivities got moved to June though and then this happened…

Iris Awards Nominee

There was an email in my inbox that said, “Congratulations! You were selected and recognized as a 2018 Iris Award nominee for the distinguished Best Mom Blog of the Year Iris Award®, one of the year’s greatest achievements in parenting blogging as determined by your peers and leaders in media, journalism, marketing and the creative arts.”

This is where I promptly bursted into tears with my husband.

How awesome is this?

This was worth packing my suitcase again and I am SO excited to spend some time with my friends and learn how to continue to grow this space.

For you AND for me!

I need to sit down and finish out my no-spend challenge documentation, but decided since this month was so crazy that I would halt my plans to slow down on social media and commit to that in May instead. I’ll share more about that next week, but I am excited to see how it opens my eyes to my habits. I know that the no-spend challenge DEFINITELY opened my eyes A LOT and has been making me way more conscious of my spending habits this month.

Here are 3 other things that are making me happy!

Wild Wild Country Wild Wild Country

If you haven’t dug into the Netflix docu-series, Wild Wild Country yet, you will definitely want to add this to your watchlist. This series explores the controversial story of the Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho), his one-time personal assistant Ma Anand Sheela, and their community of followers in Rajneeshpuram community that resided in Wasco County, Oregon in the ’80’s.

Imagine a sleepy and quiet town that is suddenly taken over by a religious group that no one really understands as they fall at the feet of an Indian guru who rides in on a Rolls Royce and has a red carpet rolled out at his feet.

Unbelievable, right?

The group takes over a huge acreage of land, next to the small town of Antelope, and build a compound where they can live and grow together in their way of life. When the town feels threatened by their presence, actions are taken to protect their community that they have built and many of these actions end up having devastating consequences.

We could not plow through this series quick enough and had lots of discussions since about what it means to be welcoming to people we don’t understand and our own human natures to shy away from anything that we don’t see as, “normal.”

In the current political climate, it fits really well with many of the themes that we have discussed around our dinner table about our love and acceptance of all. That said, this piece really sheds light on a bigger picture issue of the children that were left behind and while elements of this movement made since, many were disturbing as well.

I also found this piece compelling on why people gravitate towards cults and the differences between what defines a cult versus an organized religion.

I could talk about this one all day, but I’ll just say that this one gave us a lot to chew on and I think you might find it compelling too.

Swiftkey source

Swiftkey Keyboard

I am queen of shortcuts these days, especially when it comes to my hands and fingers. I joined a life hacks group for my health challenges, and one of the posters shared about the Swiftkey Keyboard (over here for iPhone) as a great option to help people who struggle with texting and typing on their phones.

Am I the last person on earth to discover how awesome this is?

Basically, you install this keyboard on your phone and it replaces your current keyboard. Instead of pecking at your keys, you can just drag your fingers across the letters to type the words. The keyboard is very intuitive so it gets the hang of your patterns quickly and then it starts predicting your words and where spaces should be.

I’m still getting the hang of the layout, but dragging my fingers versus the tapping I was doing seems to be slightly easier on my joints.

Nuun Electrolytes

Nuun Electrolytes

I am trying to do better about staying hydrated and since I have been traveling a lot, I decided to see if there were any electrolyte options that might travel well. I ran across the Nuun Electrolytes at my local vitamin store and thought I would pack them in my carry-on bag with an empty water bottle.

I have to say, this addition to my travel routine was such a smart one! Most electrolyte drinks have too much sugar in them and I usually have a major crash, thanks to my hypoglycemia. Most sports drinks actually have more sugar in them than two scoops of ice cream (!!!)  which explains why I crash so hard after I drink them.

These tablets have just 1 gram of sugar (you can read more about what’s in them over here) and have made drinking water a little more fun. I have loved the Fruit Punch and Mixed Berry flavors, in particular.

Not only are these great for travel, but I see these as a great hangover remedy too when I know the drinks will be flowing.


I hope you have a wonderful weekend, friends!! If you are looking for me, you’ll find me curled up with this book this weekend. Stay tuned for my favorite reads this month-


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




Amy’s Notebook 04.26.18

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

orange chicken broccoli rice bowls source

I would love to switch up my lunch bowl game with this orange chicken and broccoli rice bowl recipe.

Did drinking give me cancer? This was a really compelling piece.

This two-ingredient recipe upgrades any salad- yum!

Finally, a home tour one might be able to relate to. I love the way cat vomit adds to the rug’s texture!

Bookmarking this list of the best new books to check out for Spring.

This made me giggle- can you even imagine?

Has anyone else been working through a slump? I thought this post had some great ideas to get through it!

Here are some great tips for ditching the PMS naturally.

Paint-Poured Marble Clock source

I am wowed by this paint-poured marble clock. What a fun craft project to try!

Paint-pouring seems to be very on-trend in the craft community. Check out these gorgeous dollar store chargers for another project idea.

I love this time-tracking experiment.

After reading a pile of books with heavy topics, I’m wrapping up this fun & smutty read (and loving it).

This news must be very bittersweet for many families. McNamara’s book was incredibly compelling, if you want to learn more.

A friend sent me this awesome piece- “high maintenance” things people do when they have a chronic illness.

I love this new dad-calling option.

Was anyone else a big fan of these books when they were a kid? I’m curious how this will play out on the big screen.

rugs source

I love this smart tip for adding texture to your home that won’t break the bank.

Loving the look of shiplap walls? Here is a tutorial to do a wall in under two hours.

Thinking about switching to a natural deodorant? Check out this post and comments.

This would definitely spice up our taco nights.

How the Pulitzers chose Kendrick Lamar. Quite fascinating!

Speaking of that, here are this year’s prize winners.

If you are a fan of this board game, this should bring all the LOL’s!

I can’t wait to try this two minute creamy avocado dip recipe.

This week’s listen is my workout playlist for your next leg day!  Cheers!

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

Small-Budget Crushes 04.24.18

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

small budget crushes

This week’s faves! xoxo

adopted a plant shirt adopt a plant shirt

Kerryn Footbed Sandals kerryn footbed sandals (use coupon code SHOES for 20% off!!)

ruffle sleeve top ruffle sleeve top (on sale AND additional 30% off with coupon code GOSHOP)

one line a day journal one line a day journal

embroidered top embroidered top (several shades)

princess and the pea print princess and the pea print

bonus mom candle #bonusmom candle (great Mother’s Day gift!)

brushed fleece wrap brushed fleece wrap

eat well, travel often tea towel eat well travel often tea towel

back-away back away slowly please

ruffled hem midi dress ruffled hem midi dress- several colors

dream bathroom print dream bathroom print

dance bracelet dance bracelet (LOVE!!)

leaf supply book leaf supply book (perfect to pair with a plant for your mama!)

off the shoulder stripes off the shoulder stripes (additional 40% off- no coupon code needed)

cassidy apron cassidy apron

relaxed chambray shirt relaxed chambray shirt (30% off- no coupon code needed)

for what it's worth for what it’s worth quote

twist front sweatshirt sweatshirt with a twist-two colors (on sale AND additional 30% off with coupon code GOSHOP)

linen cushion covers linen cushion covers

white tee perfect tee (under $10 and tons of colors)

woven slide sandals woven slide sandals (use coupon code SHOES for 20% off!!)

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 

DIY Reusable Floor Pads For Your Swiffer Mop

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

DIY Wet and Dry Swiffer Pads Tutorial from

This Indiana girl could not be happier to know that Spring has finally sprung! I am so excited to throw open those windows and to get my home ready for this warmer season. In honor of all the Spring cleaning today I wanted to share with you an easy 5-minute craft to create wet and dry Swiffer pads for your mop. This idea couldn’t be easier and will cost you less than $20 in supplies that you can use over and over again.

If you visit our house, you will find a Swiffer behind almost every door in our rooms. I find that these are such a great way to tidy up quickly before guests arrive or to swipe a room after getting ready in the morning. Pairing these with these DIY Swiffer Pads make this an environmentally-friendly investment that you can use over and over again in your home.

Let’s get started by first making our DIY Wet Swiffer Pads with this easy tutorial.

DIY Wet Swiffer Pads from

How to Make DIY Wet Swiffer Pads

DIY Wet Swiffer Pads from

DIY Wet Swiffer Pads from

Supplies Needed for the Wet Swiffer Pads

4 cups of vinegar

6 cups water

1 tablespoon dish soap (I chose a Mrs. Meyers in a fresh lemon scent)- PSST- Use this coupon from Grove for a Mrs. Meyer’s five-piece set for FREE with your first purchase.

1 gallon size freezer bag

11×11 utility dishcloths (This is the EXACT match to what I purchased- as you can see in the picture below, these are ALMOST the same exact size as our purchased pads, but you won’t have to do any sewing to achieve it!

Measuring cup & spoon

Swiffer mop


DIY Wet Swiffer Pads from

In a gallon size freezer bag, mix together your vinegar, water, and dish soap. I used a measuring cup to help hold the bag in place as I filled it and then sealed and swished the bag to mix the ingredients. DIY Wet Swiffer Pads from
Insert your utility cloths into the solution until they are submerged. DIY Wet Swiffer Pads from

When you are ready to use them, simply wring out a little of the solution and then place on your Swiffer as you would the purchased pads. Clean your floors and then shake any debris into the trash can and throw them in the wash when you are done. DIY Wet Swiffer Pads from

As you can see, these do a great job of gathering crumbs from our floor.  These would also be great for swiping down surfaces in lieu of those throw away wipes that you might be using to clean your home.  The best part though is that these do not streak my laminate flooring like the purchased pads did. My floors have no residue and the vinegar smell dissipates quickly, leaving a clean and natural shine.

Now that we have made our DIY Wet Swiffer Pads, let’s start whipping up our Dry Swiffer Pads for our rooms. Again, this tutorial couldn’t be easier!

DIY Wet Swiffer Pads from

How to Make DIY Dry Swiffer Pads

DIY Dry Swiffer Pads from

Supplies Needed for the Dry Swiffer Pads

1 yard of fleece (this site has very affordable prices)


A dry Swiffer Pad to use as a template or you can use the 11×11 utility dishcloths for a template for your pads

Swiffer mop


DIY Dry Swiffer Pads from

Using a dry Swiffer pad or your 11×11 dishcloth as a template, cut your fleece to the same size. Repeat, making as many as you like. DIY Dry Swiffer Pads from

Place on your Swiffer just as you would do with your purchased pads. Do a dry dusting of your floors with your reusable pads to gather dust, debris, and hair. Shake off any loose debris in the trash when you are done. Wash and reuse. DIY Dry Swiffer Pads from

As you can see, these also do a great job of gathering hair and dust.  I love to use these in my bathroom where it can be difficult to trap the dust and hair.

I love my shiny floors and look forward to replacing all of those pads with these easy DIY alternatives. Since these just take about 5-minutes to create, you have no time to lose and will have a beautiful home in no time flat!

  DIY Wet Swiffer Pads from

I hope you found today’s project inspiring! Have you ever created your own DIY Swiffer Pads? Feel free to leave your ideas below!

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MSM Supplement to Treat Joint Pain

Friday, April 20th, 2018

MSM Supplement to Treat Joint Pain

I am not a doctor. Please speak with your physician if this supplement is right for you or if it will interact with any medications you may be taking. 

I have been meaning to sit down to write this post for you for a couple of months, but I also wanted to be sure that what I shared with you was an actual experience with a supplement and not something I wasn’t informed on. If there has been any privilege in going through this experience, it has been hearing that something I have shared has helped you or your family members in some way.

I am so excited though to share with you about a supplement that has GREATLY decreased my joint pain and, truly, given me my quality of life back.

The craziest thing though is that NO ONE is talking about it and it is an affordable solution that has allowed me to kick my pain medication habit to the curb and given me the ability to return to travel and take on work projects again.

In fact, after sharing a post on my personal page on Facebook about how much it had helped me, I  had three friends reach out and share with me that they have been able to discontinue their medications for arthritis pain or that this has decreased their symptoms significantly.

The supplement is called MSM and it has helped me SO incredibly much with my joint pain and many of the issues I struggle with when it comes to my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

MSM Supplement

What is MSM?

MSM stands for Methylsulfonylmethane (that’s a mouthful) and has been nicknamed the, “miracle supplement,” because of its ability to lower inflammation, fight the effects of stress and pain, raise immunity and increase energy levels.

At its root it is an an organic sulfur-containing compound that can be contained naturally in some green vegetables and other food products, but not at the levels that you would find within the supplement itself. While its presence can be found in many of the foods we eat, it is quickly lost during the cooking process. That is why it is so valuable in supplement form.

The reason so many benefits are attributed to the MSM supplement is because MSM provides biologically active sulfur, which is the fourth most plentiful mineral in the body and needed for many different critical bodily functions every single day. MSM is especially popular as part of an arthritis diet and supplementation plan to treat arthritis or osteoarthritis/degenerative joint disease since it helps form connective tissue and repair joints, tendons and ligaments. (source)

Is it Clinically Proven to Help Anything?

Supplements are always a tricky territory, aren’t they? I am a big believer though that many supplements have the ability to improve the quality of our life.

Clinical trials though have been done with MSM and you can read about the medical study over here. In this clinical trial they tested the effects of MSM on joint pain in 118 patients with osteoarthritis and found that compared to a placebo, MSM supplements taken over 12 weeks resulted in more improvements in pain, swelling and joint mobility.

In reference to dosage, in this trial, the MSM supplements were given in 500-milligram doses three times daily along with glucosamine (also taken in 500-milligram doses three times daily). Together they both seem to safely reduce inflammation and pain intensity without causing side effects for the majority of people.

Ideally, adding MSM along with Vitamin C (which improves the absorption)  and Glucosamine (see the study above) is the perfect combo to achieve optimal results.

With regards to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, what I have, I found this medical advice given- “We therefore hypothesize that the symptoms associated with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome may be successfully alleviated using a specific (and potentially synergistic) combination of nutritional supplements, comprising calcium, carnitine, coenzyme Q(10), glucosamine, magnesium, methyl sulphonyl methane, pycnogenol, silica, vitamin C, and vitamin K, at dosages which have previously been demonstrated to be effective against the above symptoms in other disorders.” (source)

How Much Should You Take?

This, again, is another tricky territory and would be great to speak to your physician about. You can take anywhere between 500mg on up to 10,000mg, but starting small is always ideal.

What Has it Helped Me With?

My Joint Pain Has Decreased- Vicodin has been the only pain medication that has worked for me and we all know that this isn’t a sustainable solution and not a great one for a mom who has to run her kids around town.  Since starting the MSM, I have been able to use this daily (with the exception of some of the really bad days) instead of my prescription pain medication.

The effects, for me, were rather immediate and amazing. I felt like I had taken a pain pill, but wasn’t struggling with the foggy head and exhaustion that I experienced while taking Vicodin.

Coupling this with my favorite chronic pain gadget (read all about it over here), I feel like I have found two great solutions that I can live with.

The best part, I’m traveling again because of the decrease in pain. How awesome is that?

It Has Decreased My Hair Shedding- I am not sure if it was the medications I was taking or if it has been the stress that my body has been under, but I was losing A LOT of hair. Since taking this supplement, I am only shedding a few strands (versus clumps) and my hair feels thicker and seems to be growing much faster. In a similar way, my nails are thicker and growing faster than they were before.

I discovered that it is also referred to as a, “beauty mineral,” because of how much it helps with your hair, nails, and skin.

The only plus to this connective tissue disorder is that I do not have struggles with my skin, but if you are struggling with things like age spots/pigmentation issues, this can help with that too. It also helps with acne, rosacea, psoriasis, and dermatitis.

I Am Bouncing Back Better From My Workout Routines- It has been really awesome to get back to my workout routines and not be hobbling around for a couple of days after. I feel like MSM was the tweak in my supplement routine to help my body build back some of its strength.

I’m Not Needing to Brace My Joints as Much- My PT had instructed me to brace my fingers since we discovered the pain in my fingers (from being hypermobile) was causing my elbow pain. Guess what? I’m not wearing my finger braces anymore unless I have a really long day at my desk. This has been absolutely incredible to be able to use my fingers again for longer periods of time.

Any carpal tunnel issues I have been having seem to have decreased, if not completely resolved.

My heart is so hopeful that I will be knitting again soon!


My MSM Routine

After going through so many capsules daily, I decided to purchase the MSM powder instead. I add a 1/2 teaspoon (2,000 mg) to my smoothie in the morning. In the afternoon, I add the same amount to my La Croix, and in the evening I add this to my Calm with warm water.

I am disclosing, it is horribly bitter. It takes a bit to get used to, but totally worth it for the benefits it provides.

If you prefer, you can take MSM in a capsule format instead.

I Am NOT All Better Though

I don’t want to mislead anyone because this is helping, but I still have bad days. I was excited to be traveling again, but I still was hurting and needing to rest when I got back. The thing is… I can travel again.

I feel much, much better and anything that keeps me off pain pills in the winter is a GREAT thing.

I am focusing on that.

Here are some other articles you may find helpful:

Life Happens to You While You’re Busy Making Other Plans

11 Ways to Naturally Relieve Joint Pain

The Life-Changing Device I Found for My Chronic Pain

Burning Mouth Syndrome? Maybe Not!

Living in the Gray

Follow all my medical adventures (and more!!) on Instagram.

Have you tried MSM? I’d love to hear if this supplement has helped you? Please share!

This post contains affiliate links.

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Amy’s Notebook 04.19.18

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

lets stay home printable source

How cute is this free printable for your home? These sentiments match my personality perfectly.

Teeth whitening treatments aren’t cheap. Loving this diy version made from all natural ingredients!

Oof. I do this a lot and needed this reminder.

Here are ten easy things you can do in a weekend to update your space.

This site always has the best teacher appreciation gift ideas. Looking for more? Check out this sweet idea or this one (it was a huge hit!) or even this. Yeah, we really love our teachers!

I’m so ready to put together my spring capsule wardrobe. These spring outfit combos are really inspiring.

Be sure to check out this list of books recommended by 22 ambassadors that they encourage you to read before visiting their country.

If you are white and struggling with empathy on the topic of these shootings, give this exercise listed a try. #eyeopener

Here are nine plants that will help you get better sleep. I am becoming quite the houseplant addict!

Some exciting developments are happening at ALDI. Woot, woot!

I’d really like to make this switch.

Not sure how many of you craft, but Craftsy is offering unlimited courses for two weeks for one dollar. Pretty sweet!

Bedroom Styling source

Freshening up your bedroom for Spring? Check out these bedroom styling tips for some inspo.

Since I have been seeing a TMJ specialist, these exercises for relieving jaw & neck tension are so up my alley!

I am going to have to add this to my carry-on bag when I’m traveling and steal one of these the next time I’m staying at a hotel.

I am swooning over this new line.

Looking for a new morning devotional to dive into? Check out this list.

I’m so happy to see this lady back to blogging again and peeking at her favorite books.

Bookmarking this list of best-of television shows for my next lazy day.

Jute Bag source

Turn placemats into a cute jute and leather tote. ADORABLE!

I finished this book this week and was blown away.

Thinking about making a purchase? This simple list of six questions might guide your decision.

I’m feeling like my kids are starting to develop some allergies towards us so this read was reassuring.

Here are four classes to revive your side hustle. Who couldn’t use a little help with that?

I can’t stop laughing. I am TERRIFIED of birds. Seriously. Also, if you haven’t read this interview, you really should (and read the book).

One Pan Moroccan Lemon Chicken source

This one-pot Moroccan Lemon Chicken recipe looks like a weeknight winner.

I found this piece to be really compelling about the pluses and minuses of building your following on Instagram. On a very small scale, I get this.

This gorgeous basic top is on my spring capsule wardrobe agenda.

I’m also eyeing this classic piece.

What if your kiddos could rewrite the house rules. This was such a fun piece!

This week’s album share below! Happy listening!

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

Small-Budget Crushes 04.17.18

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

small budget crushes

This week’s faves! xoxo

pony pin badges pony pin badges (how cute are these for birthday gifts?) vintage soft sweatshirt tee vintage soft sweatshirt tee

tassel pyramid necklace tassel pyramid necklace

the power jean the power jean (today only- 30% off)

probably at target welcome mat probably at target welcome mat

striped tassel bag striped tassel bag (today only- 30% off)

peplum sweatshirt peplum sweatshirt

book party mug book party mug

rattan chairs rattan chairs

pillow covers pillow covers (several designs and currently HALF OFF!!)

custom vases custom family portrait vases (what an amazing Mother’s Day gift!!)

naturalizer sandals naturalizer comfy sandals (several colors and widths- half off!)

gingham one piece gingham swimsuit (use coupon code SWIM for 25% off!!)

wall planter wall planter

library card coasters library card coasters

macrame picnic tote macrame picnic tote

the cat gets everything the cat gets everything mug

mixed stripe flare dress mixed stripe flare dress (use coupon code FRIENDS for 40% off!!)

call me big papaya dishcloth call me big papaya dishcloth (just $3-cute hostess gift!!)

double planter double planter (under $20!!)

national park checklist national park checklist

embroidered wrap romper embroidered wrap romper (use coupon code FRIENDS for 40% off!!)

memory foam travel pillow memory foam travel pillow

water bottle tracker water tracker bottle

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 


Trends You Really CAN Do at the 2018 HGTV Smart Home (With SimpliSafe)

Monday, April 9th, 2018

Affordable Spring Decorating Ideas from

I had the opportunity to head to Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina to tour the 2018 HGTV Smart Home last month. It has been one of those bucket list items that I have always wanted to do so when SimpliSafe asked if I would like to go, I couldn’t have been more excited.

Today I wanted to share with you the 2018 home decorating ideas that I spotted at the HGTV Smart Home and share a little bit about what SimpliSafe is all about.


If you haven’t heard of SimpliSafe before, you aren’t alone! It was, actually, new to me too. This is a smartly designed security system that is meant to integrate seamlessly in your home and offer smart technology protection to keep your home and family safe. It is so seamless, in fact, that SimpliSafe was integrated through the entire Smart Home to showcase just how seamless in design it could be.

Before accepting the trip offer,  I went through the materials about their security system and just knew that I would need to pass on the opportunity to come to this event. I do my best to only feature budget-friendly buys here so when I finally dove into the prices on their units, I was surprised to discover they were incredibly affordable and a perfect fit for a MomAdvice reader. Even as they continued to make improvements to the designs, the costs have remained low for their customers.

In fact, the security subscription service is half of their competitors and they pride themselves on keeping the costs for these home security systems low!

Since we live in a small home, I love the options that are available to customize these to your own space and your own personal needs. Many packages are hard to match with our square footage and what we REALLY need so I loved the build-your-own option choices. Of course, they have conveniently bundled a great starter pack (priced as low as $229) or you have the option to choose your own security adventure and build a package that fits your needs.

2018 HGTV Smart Home

Often when I think of security, I am only thinking about keeping the doors locked and watching for intruders. Security systems are about so much more than that though and one item, in particular, caught my eye. We have had issues with water in our basement, after a few brutal storms, and this very unobtrusive water sensor on the floor, would be an incredible investment for our family. They also offer a Freeze Sensor that can alert you when temperatures drop below 41 degrees to protect your pipes from bursting.

Yeah, that never happens in Indiana.

Cassie and Amy

I can’t rave enough about these smart products and the amazing team that introduced me to them (you can see one of my favorite team members, Cassie, above)! Who knew all of this could be so affordable? Definitely, check them out!

Speaking of affordable, let’s take a tour of some of the other affordable trends that I spotted while touring the 2018 HGTV Smart Home.

2018 HGTV Smart Home

2018 HGTV Smart Home

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I thought we could start with the exterior of the home. I loved the simplicity of the window box in the front and the beautiful greenery in the beds.

Around the back of the home is an absolutely stunning patio. These tall plant stands with ferns were such a beautiful addition without taking up as much space as flower pots would on the floor and added a little color to this area.

I am a big fan of these statement chairs that have been placed at the end of the table,  paired with the simplicity of these wooden folding chairs. While I don’t know the price tag on these statement chairs, I did spy some beautiful ones over here that I have my eye on that could replicate a more affordable look. We also, typically, have bought our dining chairs from this affordable shop, but now you can find gorgeous chairs just about anywhere and add two beautiful chairs at the end to have that mismatched look for less!

The styling with brown paper covered books and candle lanterns are beautiful (and also so doable!)

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018-hgtv-smart-home (33 of 7)

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018-hgtv-smart-home (34 of 7)

This house was filled to the brim with greenery. Plants, plants, plants EVERYWHERE. It was absolutely dreamy. Houseplants can be pricey, but I try to justify it by reminding myself how long a bouquet of flowers last. Even with my black thumb, I can usually get more longevity out of a plant than a bouquet and greenery makes such a beautiful statement in a home.

The mix and match of greenery in this house really caught my eye in every room. If you can believe it, all the greenery (in the vases),  had been purchased from a local Kroger (!!!) so this look is definitely on a budget. I will be referencing these pictures for a great how-to on beautiful mixing because I think that was key with these green displays.

Again, a pair of chairs adds visual interest and I loved the matching blanket and velvet pillow combo that adorned both of them.
2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

These industrial shelves framed the kitchen sink and I loved the styling they did with them.  I, genuinely, have a hard time styling shelves so I wanted to be sure to snap pictures in here too. Jars of dried beans and colored rice make a lovely display (that can be eaten) and books really made the house.



I did find it interesting that this heavy shelving was built in front of the windows.

Once again, they are KILLING IT with their greenery. This big glass vase was a beautiful statement piece on the kitchen island.

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

Here are a few of the details that I loved in the bedrooms.

Suitcases for Storage- This would be such a smart place to tuck an extra set of sheets or blankets for guests.

Floor to Ceiling Curtains- We raised our curtains in our bedroom, but not as high as this. Moving them up to the tippy top made the room feel dramatically bigger and taller.

Wooden Beads- Must invest in millions of strands of wooden beads for decorating. They add such beautiful natural tones and they added these in almost every room.

More Books- Wrapping them in paper is such a beautiful touch and I loved how they are paired with a colored glass vase for a simple pop of color.

Styling Around a Wall-Mounted Television- I loved that the frames were incorporated around this television so it made it blend in more and made the framing of the television more natural.

Smart Touches Above the Beds- In particular, the use of two frames and then the cow OVER the frames made for beautiful visual interest without looking cluttered.

Candlestick Holders- A collection of three was perfect for an ottoman display and added a touch of metal to the room.

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

Heading into the bathroom… This was a SMART home so you can see that the mirrors are also allowing you to surf the web or watch the news while you get ready. You could swipe on them to browse just like you would your phone.

If you have the space, this was such an adorable display for a robe. Also, that painting in the corner is adorable and I loved that it was on an easel display to add some interest around the tub.

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

Gallery walls make me so happy and I loved the use of mismatched frames and different styles of artwork that helped to achieve this stunning wall. As a perfectionist, I get hung up on the placement and the matchy-matching, but this shows you that they don’t need to match and staggering them adds more beauty to this wall.

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

I love when a home uses every nook and cranny and I do think this house did that. This little room has a bookcase with a hidden gaming room tucked behind for the kiddos. A window seat adds a little perch for reading books too.

Once again, I’m in awe of the gorgeous styling on these shelves. The use of just one color of book throughout the bookcase is just stunning.

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

Truly, no corner went to waste in this beautiful space, even in the trickier corners. I loved every inch of this space!



Group Shot

Group Shot 2 Mom Trends * Family Focus Blog * Well-Connected Mom * Christine Koh

The bonus to this beautiful weekend was getting to spend time with some really wonderful friends.

Another huge thank you to SimpliSafe for giving me the opportunity to sneak peek the HGTV Smart Home. It was, truly, a dream come true.

I was provided travel accommodations to attend this event by SimpliSafe

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March 2018 Must-Reads

Friday, March 30th, 2018

March 2018 Must-Reads from

I have been a little out of my reading groove this year, but I read so many great books this month that I’m feeling back in the game again.

My biggest challenge?

Beating my readers to books and getting to share about them before they have read them.

I am really hopeful though that I have made a few discoveries that you haven’t explored yet and I have several 5-star reads in this month’s stack that I think you will love.

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I’m looking forward to enjoying our Spring Break in the sunshine this year and I’m, perhaps, a little TOO ambitious with how many books that I’m hoping to tackle. I’m guessing next month you will definitely want to stop by to see what I enjoyed over the break.

My Usual Reminders

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 can’t believe we have over 1,500 bookworms in this group. Our discussion this month was AMAZING and it is so much fun to have so many participating (and enjoying) the books that I selected to share. I announced our selections (here is what we will be reading in March) 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!

Need another challenge to push you out of your reading comfort zone? Be sure to download this year’s Reading Challenge Worksheet.

April BOTM

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s special:

Get your first month of BOTM free with code YESPLZ

April Selections:

From a Gillian Flynn-approved thriller (trust her: it’s nasty) to a showdown on Mount Olympus, the selections this month are fast, fun, and full of adventure. Get excited.

❃ Circe by Madeline Miller—recommended by BOTM Judge Liberty Hardy

❃ The Oracle Year by Charles Soule—recommended by author and blogger Samantha Irby

❃ Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall—recommended by BOTM Editorial Director Siobhan Jones

❃ The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya—recommended by BOTM Brand Ambassador Etaf Rum

❃ Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell—recommended by BOTM Readers Committee member Laura Whitelaw

Here are 9 must-read books I tackled in March:


Brass by Xhenet Aliu

Brass explores a beautifully complex mother and daughter story as the duo go on their own parallel journeys. Elise, our mother in the story, is working as a waitress when she meets and falls in love with the diner’s line cook, Bashkim.

What Bashkim failed to share with her is that he was already a married man.

He promises her the moon, but delivers on nothing and Elise must make the difficult decision to stay and raise their child together or leave.

Seventeen years later, Luljeta has a very complex relationship with her mother. She has never understood why she has left and she decides to go find the answers herself and the father she never knew.

This story is told in parallel narrative and Aliu does such a great job weaving the complexities of mother daughter relationships into these two characters. If you like your family stories a little messy, like me, I have a feeling that you will really enjoy this read.

3.5 Out Of 5 Stars

The Immortalists

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

The Immortalists has been on many must-read lists this year and I was absolutely engrossed in this incredible book, told from four sibling’s perspectives.

The premise of this book is that the four children visit a fortune-teller who is able to tell them the exact date of their death. Each sibling keeps this information a secret from one another and the story explores how knowing when you will die (young or old) impacts your decision-making. Do you engage in risky behaviors because you know you know when you will die anyway? How does knowing your final date shape your own patterns of behavior?

The book is broken into four sections following each of their lives and how they live them with this forecasted information. Each of the characters was so well-written that I found myself escaping into each story easily.

I, honestly, couldn’t put this one down. I highly recommend it for yourself or to share with your book club!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Every Note Played

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

If you are looking for a tear-jerker to add to your book stack this month, then be sure to add Genova’s latest novel, Every Note Played.

I have read everything that Genova has written and this has been my favorite of all her incredible books.  This story explores the disease ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and the swift decline that occurs when someone is faced with this illness.

Richard is a world-renowned pianist that has chosen to make playing music the focus of his life, even over his family. Divorced and estranged from his daughter, he bounces from one relationship to the next. When he begins having difficulties playing piano, particularly with his right hand, he sees a doctor and is faced with the devastating news that he has ALS and will soon see paralysis throughout the rest of his body.

Unable to afford the care that he needs, he must ask his ex-wife to help care for him, someone he had cast aside and cheated on during their marriage. This dynamic is quite toxic as Richard and Karina must learn to live together again and face the horrific and heartbreaking decline of Richard’s health.

Richard is an unlikable character from beginning to end and I do think that this makes Karina’s sacrifice even greater because he is so ungrateful. Some readers may struggle with a connection to him, but you definitely won’t struggle to sympathize as you see the gravity of this illness and how quickly it takes over the body.

I cry about once a year over a book, thanks to a hardened soul and reading so much.

This book WRECKED ME.

I was crying reading it and then two days later I was still crying about it. It moved me emotionally, in ways that books rarely do.

Once I came to the end and saw all of the people that Genova lovingly mentions that shared their journey with ALS with her, you see how much thought and research went into this project. Genova’s compassion in telling this story is, truly, a gift.

Be sure to add this one to the top of your book stack this month!

5 Out Of 5 Stars


Himself by Jess Kidd

(ON SALE right now for just $1.99!!)

It is hard to categorize this read, but I found myself moved and completely laughing-out-loud through this beautifully told story.

Mahony was abandoned at an orphanage as a baby and has always assumed his mother did not want to be a part of his life. When he receives an anonymous note though, it implies that she might have been forced to give him up and that there might be more to this story. Mahony sets off to his hometown to try to find out what exactly happened to his mother.

The whole town starts talking the minute that Mahony shows up. The ladies want him, the people who never liked his mother want him to leave, and he also happens to have a gift for talking to ghosts who would love to tell him a few stories of their own.

If you love a good Irish accent, be sure to listen to this one on audiobook because it really is a treat. Even with such a potentially heavy topic, this book is thick with humor and heart. All the villagers practically lift off the page. Kidd definitely has a knack for storytelling and I’m sure we will be seeing a lot more from her in the future.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

American Fire

American Fire by Monica Hesse

American Fire was this month’s MomAdvice Book Club pick so I really got to dive deep into this one as I prepared for our monthly discussion.

This is a fast and easy-to-read true crime novel about a series of 70+ fires that happened in Virginia’s Accomack County. The love affair of Charlie Smith and Tonya Bundick apparently needed a little more spark (I had to do it-sorry!) and they decided that setting fires to local abandoned buildings would be a great way to spend their time together.

This isn’t a whodunit story, it is a whydunit story. If you prefer your true crime with some mystery, you won’t get that in this one. Hesse reveals exactly who set these from the start and then unfolds their motivations for attention. You follow these two all the way to the courtroom and also, as a reader, get to understand the unbelievable time and effort that were involved in putting these fires out.

I listened to this one on audiobook and thought it was very well-written. Hesse really did her research and I enjoyed hearing more about this twisted love story and how these arsons brought the town together in some really unlikely ways.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Mrs. Fletcher

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta

Looking for a little spice in your book stack? Mrs. Fletcher explores sex, love, and identity in America through the story of Eve, lonely and divorced, and her college-aged son.

Eve begins exploring her sexuality through porn because her life has felt boring and mediocre, inspired by an anonymous text calling her a MILF. When she joins a Gender Studies course, she finds an openness in her co-workers and also discovers that the message has become a fixation for her that she just can’t let go.

Meanwhile, her son lacks the smooth charm with the ladies and embarrassingly embraces his frat-bro style in his relationships (*cringe*). When he takes things a bit too far with a girl, he is forced to see the confusion he has had with what he thinks girls want and what they really do want.

I told ya, this book has some spice and it won’t be for everyone. It was like watching two train wrecks unfold and definitely examines today’s culture and how we explore our sexuality. What’s okay now? What’s not?  It held my attention, even when I felt the plot took some strange and disturbing turns.

3 Out Of 5 Stars

Dear Fang With Love

Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe

I always like to walk around the library and pick up one book that isn’t being talked about and that is no longer on the new releases table. Dear Fang, With Love had such a gorgeous cover that it immediately grabbed my attention and I enjoyed this book so very much that I’m surprised that I haven’t heard more about it.

Vera is seventeen and has recently suffered a psychotic breakdown and is being treated for bipolar disorder. She has been estranged from her father her whole life, but he decides to take her on a trip to the city of Vilnius, his grandmother’s homeland, after her recent diagnosis. The two go on a group tour where they make unlikely friendships, learn about the Holocaust, explore a mystery around their grandmother being granted an escape from the Nazis, and begin finding beauty in rekindled relationships with those we love.

Vera writes to her boyfriend, nicknamed Fang, with some laugh-out-loud letters about what has been happening as she mentally feels better and better being in this new environment. Thorpe explores the tricky terrain of mental illness through very beautiful writing and I have a feeling you will fall in love with Vera and her father as much as I did.

This coming-of-age story was a wonderful surprise this month. I hope you can snag it at your library too!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Losing Brave

Losing Brave by Bailee Madison & Stefne Miller

Losing Brave is a haunting YA novel about a year-old mystery surrounding the disappearance of Payton’s twin sister, Dylan. Payton was there when Dylan disappeared, but has holes in her memory about what has happened. Although the case is still open, she knows that she might be the one to hold the key into uncovering Dylan’s reasoning for her absence in their family.

When another missing girl’s body is discovered by the lake, with similar features to Dylan, the police begin to believe that these two disappearances may be linked. As Payton begins to uncover some of her memories around this moment, she has no idea the danger she is putting herself in. To make matters worse, she has begun to have feelings for Dylan’s boyfriend as the two become closer and closer through their mutual sadness over the loss of Dylan.

This mystery is well-paced and kept me guessing throughout. Madison builds believable motives and adds a real rawness to Payton’s character. Better yet, the story takes some really shocking twists that I don’t think you will see coming at all… at least, I didn’t.

The audiobook is beautifully narrated and really adds another layer to the story that I think you will appreciate. This was another beautiful surprise in my book stack this month that I think even people who aren’t as into YA will really love because of the maturity of these characters, the writing, and the thriller-style mystery!

4 Out Of 5 Stars


Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Looking for a really quick page-turner that you won’t be able to put down? Allegedly had me up until waayyyy past my bedtime because I was so wrapped up into this story.  Described as, Orange Is the New Black meets Walter Dean Myer’s Monster, this story is about a teen who had been accused of killing a baby when she was just nine-years-old….allegedly.

Mary B. Madison has been written about in many, many books as people tried to understand the motivation behind this child-murderer. Now that Mary is pregnant with her own baby, she has decided to come clean with what really happened that night and has begged her mother to tell the true story so her baby is not taken away from her. Living in a scary group home and without money,  she decides to see an attorney, who has volunteered her time to this intriguing case,  and has asked that the case be reopened so she can keep her child.

The story unfolds for the reader through newspaper and book clippings of speculations and through Mary’s own eyes as she slowly shares about her heartbreaking childhood and her mentally ill mother.

Get ready for a BUMPY ride, folks. I don’t want to reveal too much more beyond this because half the fun is your own discoveries as a reader.

I’m so thankful for our book club and the recommendations that they make. This book came highly recommended and I would have never picked it up on my own. It’s free to join in on the fun- I think you’d love the recommendations too.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2018 Must-Reads

February 2018 Must-Reads

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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.

March 2018 Must-Reads from