Author Archive

Creating the Perfect Fashion Capsule Wardrobe (That Will REALLY Work!)

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Creating the Perfect Fashion Capsule Wardrobe (That Will REALLY Work!)

Since I have reached the halfway point in my first fashion capsule, I thought it would be a great time to check in with you and share what I have learned so far in my journey with my capsule wardrobe. If you haven’t been following along, you can view my Fall 2014 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe and read more about the approach I decided to use on my first capsule.  Honestly, I was so nervous even saying out loud what I had planned to do and  planning my fashion capsule wardrobe consumed my every thought for a good month before I decided to take that plunge. Add in the hurdle of three seasons in a single capsule in the Midwest, ranging in temperatures from the thirties to almost one hundred. I had no idea if I could even pull this off.

Here is what I want to tell you and I hope you will listen closely.

This project has changed my life and my habits.

The first couple of weeks I sat firmly in an identity crisis.  What was I going to do with all this free time now that I wasn’t shopping?  There were no impulse purchases to be made, no special date night outfits to purchase to surprise my husband, no picking up a few things for myself before a business trip. I went to places with glorious shops and beautiful clothes and almost wanted to wear a blindfold through stores. I probably pouted.  It seemed like I was being subjected to people just waving their pretty outfits in my face and I couldn’t buy them.

It brought a level of awareness of my need to consume for no reason other than consumption. 

Whoa.

Feel free to read that line again. From the author of THE GOOD LIFE FOR LESS

The shame.

I have a habit of spending money unnecessarily and this is helping me be aware of that. I had a closet overflowing and I will still buy. I have 37 of the most well-thought pieces and I still want to buy. This challenge has been eye-opening.

My next capsule begins on November 22nd and I would love to have you join in with me on this next one!  Since I feel like I have learned a lot in this one already, here is my advice to you if you are considering creating a fashion capsule of your own.

Creating the Perfect Fashion Capsule Wardrobe (That Will REALLY Work!)

Invest in Foundation Garments

One thing I have  had trouble spending money on in the past is good foundation garments. What I have discovered in creating this capsule is that my most used pieces are the foundation pieces that I invested in to layer under my wardrobe pieces. I always relied upon inexpensive camisoles and cheap tank tops to set the foundation for my outfits which lead to constant tugging and pulling on straps, shifting straps to make things look nice,  bulk from added thickness from foundation pieces that didn’t fit properly under my clothing, and the pieces never covered my behind making it impossible to wear leggings confidently.  Three of my most used pieces were my Seamless Perfection Long Sleeve Tunic Dress in Black (purchased- Flourish Boutique and shown above),  a Long Sleeve Seamless Layering Piece in Gray  (owned- Flourish Boutique), and a Seamless Tank in Burgundy (owned- Flourish Boutique).  I swear this isn’t just a plug for the boutique, these were really the pieces that I relied upon the most to add warmth to summer items and to keep things modest.

It doesn’t matter where you get them, but really consider snagging seamless tanks, long sleeve tops, and even a layering piece like a seamless tunic dress to help you feel confident in your outfits and appearance. It has made me feel so much more confident to have these pieces in my capsule wardrobe.

Creating the Perfect Fashion Capsule Wardrobe (That Will REALLY Work!)

Don’t Base Your Fashion Capsule Around Someone Else’s Style

The inspiration for this challenge came from Unfancy and I give her full credit for inspiring me to take the plunge into creating a fashion capsule. I adore her style and her outfits so much. I got a lot of inspiration for smart basics to put in my capsule wardrobe from her. That said, I am not her (isn’t that sad?!?!)  I am a mom  in her thirties of two kids, living in Indiana, who has a style that leans more towards retro than modern. If I based my capsule around her style, I would have felt a little like I was playing dress-up and probably a whole lot NOT like me.  You thought I had an identity crisis before.

My style is probably not your style and that is okay. Your capsule can look nothing like my capsule.  Your body shape could be different from mine and none of these cuts of clothing or ideas will work for you.  When creating your capsule, create it around what you feel most confident in. I suggest peeking in your closet and selecting what makes you feel beautiful and start your planning around those pieces. That’s the best place to start.

Creating the Perfect Fashion Capsule Wardrobe (That Will REALLY Work!)

Creating the Perfect Fashion Capsule Wardrobe (That Will REALLY Work!)

It’s Okay to Add Color & Pattern To Your Capsule

When I told my friends & family that I was embarking on this crazy fashion capsule journey, they told me that they just couldn’t picture me in all black and without pattern. What the what? No way! I love color and I love patterns and textures. I would never shy away from the things that make me… well, ME.  There are certainly those black & white basics weaved in, but I would never be happy in only black and white.  Even when wearing these black and white items, I find ways to weave in color in scarves, necklaces, shoes, belts, and purses.  You can’t hide this loudness. It is impossible.

Again, this is all about making your capsule work best for YOU not anyone else. You don’t have to have a colorless wardrobe unless you want to.

Creating the Perfect Fashion Capsule Wardrobe (That Will REALLY Work!)

Alterations Are a Worthy Investment

I am very petite and my clothing never really fits me right. Shoulders need to be moved up, waists taken in, buttons shifted, and hemlines raised.  Alterations can be pricy, but I promise that you will enjoy your capsule wardrobe so much more if they fit you well.  If clothes right off the hanger fit you perfectly, I really envy you.  If they don’t, consider investing once a week into having one item altered and wearing your wardrobe that does fit until it can come out of alterations. Almost all of my wardrobe is carrying over to my next capsule because it fits me well and because I invested in alterations to help me look my best.  It is one investment worth making and will pay off for future capsules.

Creating the Perfect Fashion Capsule Wardrobe (That Will REALLY Work!)

Invest Wisely By Buying Consignment Clothing

I am a bit of a brand snob, but didn’t want to spend a ton of money on my fashion capsule. I admit, that first one (unless you are a wise investor in basics), can be a little draining on the budget. After buying my basics, I couldn’t necessarily run over to J. Crew to pick up a few things or grab a beautiful sweater or dress from Anthropologie. I was already over budget.  I can, however, seek those items out second hand whether it is a local thrift store or through my favorite second hand online retailer  Twice. The items I selected were practically brand new and I am still getting the longevity out of them that I had hoped for.

Creating the Perfect Fashion Capsule Wardrobe (That Will REALLY Work!)

 

Read Those Care Tags & Exercise Caution When Caring For Them

The hardest lesson I have learned is to be more aware of care labels. Since I am living in these key pieces for three months, I should have bought only things that could be washed or would require a little line drying.

The first week of beginning my capsule, I went to a bridal shower, hopped in the car with my sister-in-law, jetted to Starbucks, spilled Starbucks all over my skirt (a signature piece, I might add!), tried to spot clean it, ended up washing it on delicate, took the skirt out and it was…

thisbig

Yup, dry clean only. I spent all day fluffing and separating the fabric and shaping it back into its former glory. I wore it to church the next day and felt like a slip was dragging behind me. I looked and sure enough the whole underlayer was hanging out an inch. I called my mother-in-law and declared a fashion emergency and she GRACIOUSLY let me bring my tiny skirt over to her house and hemmed it for me.

First lesson learned: check care label information before making minimalist wardrobe purchases.

The second lesson learned is that taking time to REALLY take care of your pieces will help with the longevity of those items. I have been line-drying almost everything and it still looks like new, whether it was from Target or from Anthropologie. If you REALLY take care of your stuff, you can help keep it looking good for future capsules!!

Creating the Perfect Fashion Capsule Wardrobe (That Will REALLY Work!)

Curb the Boredom With Styling

I get bored easily and perhaps it is this boredom that creates that desire in me to buy, buy, buy. I started my Fashion Capsule Pinterest board to help me rethink the items I already have and new ways that I can wear them. If you see a big surge in posts, I am hitting a boredom phase and need to try something new. I have learned new ways to roll my sleeves, new ideas for styling some of my basic key pieces, and discovered new ways to twist scarves.

As soon as that boredom hits, chase it away with a new style.

Creating the Perfect Fashion Capsule Wardrobe (That Will REALLY Work!)

Stealing Helps

The cushion I had in my capsule is that I am allowed one steal from my existing wardrobe. Since I apparently am a shopaholic, I look forward to my steal so much each month. I have been saving it for the end of the month so that I have something to really look forward to. It’s nice to know that just when I am feeling a little tired of my pieces, I can raid my closet!

Creating the Perfect Fashion Capsule Wardrobe (That Will REALLY Work!)

Your Wardrobe Will Get Considerably Lighter

Did I mention I have rid myself of 37 items of clothing in honor of this new challenge? AND IT WAS EASY TO DO. When you buy things that make sense together, that fit well, that make you feel confident…you realize the heavy load of crap that is in your closet that just don’t do those things for you. I filled a bag this week of 37 pieces I do not need and I know there will be more. Since doing this, I feel more confident than ever. Things make sense and this wardrobe works for me. Goodbye stuff that does not make me look and feel good. I don’t need you anymore.

Creating the Perfect Fashion Capsule Wardrobe (That Will REALLY Work!)

I Still Haven’t Wore Everything

I am halfway into my capsule and I still have not wore everything in it. That is the truth. You still will fall into routines and habits with the comfy pieces and the things you love the most. I still have three items I have not worn and many that have only been worn once or twice. Like I said, who needs to shop with so much already at my disposal?

Fashion Capsule Challenge

Would you like to do a Fashion Capsule challenge with me? I will be revealing the next wardrobe very soon to inspire you for the Fall months. I post outfits weekly in my It’s the 3 Little Things and on Instagram. Feel free to leave a comment below and let me know if you want to join in on the fun or if you are doing a similar challenge of your own!

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Apron Full of Giveaways 10.14.14

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

sheep apron

Source: Quince Pie,  $19.79

 

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

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

Good luck to each of you!

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Sundays With Writers: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

Sundays With Writers

I can be the first to admit that sometimes the size of a book can be intimidating to me.  All the Light We Cannot See has been in my book stack several times this year, but at over five hundred pages, I just didn’t think I had the time to sit down and really dive in deep with a heavy book.  It had been recommended to me by some of my most respected fellow readers and I knew I would love it, but it being named our book club selection for the month was finally what pushed me to just sit down and read.

And read.

And read.

And please leave me alone, I AM READING THE BEST BOOK IN THE WORLD.

I could not flip the pages fast enough. What will happen to these beloved characters? How will my life go on when this book ends?

Most of all, why did I wait so long to read this?

I wish I could give this book ten stars on GoodReads. I was held captive by it and could not put it down. The storytelling is superb, the characters vividly created, and the words read like poetry. My heart was in my throat for much of it and I could not turn the pages quickly enough so I knew what would happen with Marie-Laure & Werner. I loved how their stories weaved together and how the author created such striking details that made you feel as though you were witnessing it all firsthand.

All the Lights We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

 

In this story, Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

I can’t recommend this one enough- it will be, perhaps, in my top ten books ever read. I want you to set aside the size of it and just dive in like I did. 

I sent an email to Anthony, firmly believing that I would not get a response. At that time, he had been on the New York Times best seller list for twenty weeks. He certainly doesn’t need to do an interview with me to spread the word about his book.  I was shocked when I received the kindest response and so honored that Doerr would take time out of his busy schedule to answer his new #1 fan and her silly questions.

I hope you will love this interview and book as much as I love sharing about it. I already know this one is in my top ten for the year and, perhaps, forever.

Grab your coffee and let’s share a virtual cup with Anthony Doerr and his literary tour de force.

 

Anthony Doerr

I understand that this beautiful book took a decade for you to write which really speaks to your commitment to this novel. Tell me what it is like to devote ten years to a book like this and did you ever find yourself discouraged during the process of fleshing out this story? Did you ever dream that it would take that long to complete it?

Oh, I was crazy with doubt almost of the time. You invest so many months into a single project—shelves stuffed with WWII books, three separate trips to Europe, dozens of notebooks full of scribbled notes—and the terror that you won’t be able to pull it all together keeps you up at nights. I worried that if I abandoned the project I’d let down my wife, my kids, my editor, myself. And I never dreamed it would take so long—a quarter of my life!

At the heart of this story is the communication via radio that brings unlikely people together in beautiful ways. As an NPR junkie, I absolutely loved picturing Werner & his sister huddled beside the radio (as I may or may not do that myself while tuning in to my favorite shows) and others who were enchanted by radio broadcasting through this story. Why did you decide to explore radio and did you have to do a lot of research on the older models and how they worked in order to develop this plotline?

I adored radios as a boy and would often stay up late listening to baseball games under my covers while my parents thought I was sleeping. But that passion had waned a bit, until ten years ago, when I took a train from Princeton, New Jersey into New York City. I had just completed a novel and was searching around for a new idea, and had a notebook in my lap. The man in the seat in front of me was talking to someone on his cell phone about the sequel to The Matrix, I remember that very clearly, and as we approached Manhattan, and sixty feet of steel and concrete started flowing above the train, his call dropped.

And he got angry! He started swearing, and rapping his phone with his knuckles, and after briefly worrying for my safety, I said to myself: What he’s forgetting, what we’re all forgetting, is that what he was just doing is a miracle. He’s using two little radios — a receiver and a transmitter — crammed into something no bigger than a deck of cards, to send and receive little packets of light between hundreds of radio towers, one after the next, miles apart, each connecting to the next at the speed of light, and he’s using this magic to have a conversation about Keanu Reeves.

Because we’re habitualized to it, we’ve stopped seeing the grandeur of this breathtaking act. So I decided to try to write something that would help me and my reader feel that power again, to feel the strangeness and sorcery of hearing the voice of a stranger, or a distant loved one, in our heads.

That very afternoon, ten years ago, I wrote a title into my notebook: All the Light We Cannot See—a reference to all the wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum (like radio waves) that are invisible. And that night, I started a piece of fiction in which a girl reads a story to a boy over the radio. I conceived of her as blind, and him as trapped in darkness, and the sound of her voice, carried by radio waves – light we cannot see — through walls, as his salvation.

 My heart ached for Werner so much especially his time in the Hitler Youth and what he must do to survive. Death, war, sadness, poverty…it is all there in this book, despite the hope that so much of your story brings in the end. I imagine that this was a very difficult time period in history to write about as an author. What scene was the hardest for you to write?

Yes, lots of the research for this novel was excruciating. The destruction of human beings during WWII, especially on the Eastern Front, occurred on a scale that is almost too large for the human brain to comprehend. So sometimes the source material would send me to dark places, and I’d have to take breaks by working on other projects.

As for scenes that were hard to write, there are many kinds of difficulty a writer faces: technical difficulty, emotional difficulty, syntactic difficulty. In terms of emotions, probably all the scenes involving Frederick were the most difficult, because he reminds me of one of my sons.

It is hard to say who my favorite character is because I found each one so endearing. The relationship between Marie-Laure and her father brought tears to my eyes though because it was so special. The books that he gives her for her birthday are so treasured and one in particular, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, turns out to be a very special one. Was this a childhood favorite of your own? What was it about this book that made you want to use it in such a unique way in your story?

Thank you, Amy. Yes, 20,000 Leagues was indeed a childhood favorite. The book is about wonder and technology, and it uses narrative to excite a reader’s interest in the natural world. This is so similar to the kind of projects I try to make with my own fiction, that – one day, when I started re-reading it — I decided Verne’s text might serve as an effective book-within-a-book.

The intricate puzzles that Marie-Laure’s father creates add so much beauty to your story. It made me wish I could find a puzzle for my kids to solve.  How did you come up with this concept?

A friend of our family’s once gave me a Japanese puzzle box as a present. It was a wooden cube that looked like an ornate, solid block of wood. No visible doors, no knobs, no handles, no buttons. But, as our family friend showed me, if you knew what side to push in on, then various panels would start to slide down, and by manipulating all the panels in clever ways, you could eventually slide open the top and discover a hidden compartment inside.

I played with that thing for hours, showing it off to friends, examining its construction, etc., then eventually put it on a shelf and forgot about it. A couple of decades later, working on this novel, the puzzle box came back to me, along with my fascination with it, and I decided to try writing a couple of scenes in which Marie-Laure’s father fashions puzzle boxes.

Which character do you identify the most with in your book?

I do my best to identify with all my characters, even the bad actors—I think that’s probably part of the job description for any novelist, isn’t it?

This novel has 187 chapters, but they are beautifully segmented and sectioned for the reader in small doses, which created a lot of suspense for me, as a reader, and kept me pushing through your story so I could find out what would happen in the next chapter. Why did you decide to structure your story this way?

Obviously, there are an infinity of ways to write a novel, but for me “plotting it out” has always sounded scary and programmatic. I have to compose, revise, and re-revise scenes just to understand what should happen in them.So my process involves a lot of trial and error. I write hundreds of paragraphs trying to figure out where the story is going, and I usually end up cutting most of them. I knew early on that I wanted the two narratives to feel like two almost parallel lines that inclined toward each other very gently.

The structure was a big mess for a long time. It probably had 250 or 300 chapters at some points. All I knew early on — and wanted a reader to intuit – was that Marie’s and Werner’s lives would intersect. But it took me a long time to figure out exactly how that would happen.

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

Oh, gosh, my answer to this question changes all the time, but a novel I’m absolutely in love with right now is Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. It’s about family, siblinghood, memory, storytelling, and particularly about our society’s treatment of animals. It’s also structured in this beautiful, organic, perfect way—I hope a few of your readers will give it a look!

You can connect with Anthony Doerr on GoodReads or on Facebook! I’m always thankful for these moments with writers and I hope you will pick up this amazing book! You can always connect with me on GoodReads,through our books section of our site, and you can read our entire Sundays With Writers series for more author profiles. Happy reading, friends!

*This post contains affiliate links!

 

 

 

 

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It’s the 3 Little Things: FitBit, Workout Gear, & Gilmore Girls

Friday, October 10th, 2014

It's the 3 Little Things

Happy Friday, friends!  I hope you are having a wonderful week this week. I am happy to have a quiet weekend ahead since that has been such a rarity these days.  I can’t wait to share the happy with you this week!!

Fitbit Flex

I Joined the Fitbit Club

I am one of those people that is slow to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to technology and gadgets. Before the Fitbit Flex even launched, my husband knew about it and wanted to buy it for me. Now that it has been enough time for the trend to pass, I figured I would look into getting one. I scored one for $70 off of eBay and this thing has changed my life.  One reason is related to fitness and the other is just related to my mornings as a whole .

Several of my girlfriends have these and I tend to have an annoyingly competitive streak so being in a competition for the most steps has been pushing me to hit the gym and go on an evening walk so I can compete against my athletic friends.  Two evenings I have walked with my daughter, just us two, and one night I challenged both kids to a Just Dance dance-off to try to increase my steps.  I scored bonus points for looking like a fun mom (which I typically am not!) and have been trying to aim for 10,000 steps a day.  I am sure the newness will eventually wear off, but I really love having a step goal each day.

The other thing that I am loving, not fitness related, is the silent alarm feature on the Fitbit Flex. I have to be the first one up in our house and when my alarm goes off, it triggers my husband to wake up and our cat to start the annoying meowing baby cry reserved for the morning alarm. You can set a silent alarm on the app and the bracelet vibrates to wake you in the morning.  I wake up happier,  my husband continues to sleep, and the cat doesn’t start her annoying meowing baby cry until she realizes I am up. Winning all around!

Danskin Performance Jacket

New Workout Apparel for Cheap

Since I am at the gym every day so I can get my steps in (OBSESSED!), I needed to get a few workout jackets for my morning workouts. I am madly in love with these Danskin Now Women’s Performance Jackets that I found for less than $15 at Walmart! Since I write for Walmart, I have gotten to see behind the scenes on how they create some of their workout gear, and I can attest to the quality of the items now that I have heard first-hand about some of their reverse engineering that they do to replicate that expensive athletic apparel right down to the thread counts.  Since hearing more about that, I have abandoned fancy workout gear and embrace my frugal side which is really not hard for a girl like me to do. Since I am a wee woman, I was thrilled to see that they are making X-Small apparel (something I haven’t been able to find before at the store) and am heading back to my store since I got so many compliments on these pullovers I scored.

They also have the coziest Danskin fleece jacket displayed right by these (I can’t find them online, but they look a lot like this) and I highly recommend them for Midwest winters. Again, $15! What do you have to lose?

Gilmore Girls

Gilmore Girls- #winning

Usually my work trips have me on and running from the time I arrive until the time I get on my plane. I hope you caught the Celestial Seasonings post I shared (I’m giving away over $100 in fun tea prizes!) where I talked about my trip last week. One of the best parts about this trip was they said we could arrive any time and to just “enjoy our day in Boulder.” Say what?! I should have been running all over the city to see everything, but I have been feeling so tapped out that I spent an entire day and evening laying around in my hotel room and it was GLORIOUS.

I happened to see that Kelly, from The Centsible Life,  had posted that Gilmore Girls was available on Netflix starting that day so I soaked in the deepest tub I have ever been in and watched episodes of Gilmore Girls on my iPad in the tub. And it was perfect. I mean, PERFECT.  Don’t judge me, but I had never watched Gilmore Girls before. I wish my daughter was a little older so we could watch it together, but until then..I am really enjoying having a new show to watch. Between that and Big Little Lies (downloaded for FREE on Overdrive through my library), I was one happy little traveler this past week!  Thank you, Celestial Seasonings! What a treat!

Three Things I Wore From My Fashion Capsule. Did I mention I traveled? I didn’t even make a steal- so proud!  Grab more inspiration on my Fashion Capsule Pin Board.

tunic + lace slip + tights + boots + large belt

Down With Damask Tunic (similar & owned- Flourish Boutique)/ Lace Slip Extender (owned- Flourish Boutique)/Brown Belt (owned- Maurices)/ Black Tights (owned- Target)/ Black Boots (6PM- Naturalizer)

bow shirt + long sleeve seamless shirt + track pants + boots + skinny belt

Ann Taylor Loft Pink Print Collared Shirt (purchased second hand on Twice)/ Mint Belt (owned- Target)/ Seamless Perfection Long Sleeve Tunic Dress in Black (purchased- Flourish Boutique)/ Black Boots (6PM- Naturalizer)/Mossimo Black Track Pants (purchased- Target)

black leggings + black dress + jean jacket + large belt + oxfords + large scarf

 Seamless Perfection Long Sleeve Tunic Dress in Black (purchased- Flourish Boutique)/ The Essential Leggings in Black (owned- Flourish Boutique)/ Not Afraid of the Dark Denim Jacket (purchased- Flourish Boutique)/ Wine Scarf (owned- Forever 21)/ Tan Belt (owned- boutique)/ Oxford Shoes (Owned-Naturalizer)

3 Things YOU Loved This Week (you, lover of MomAdvice things, you!)

Slow Cooker Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

How to Spray Paint Furniture

Knitted Sweater Coffee Cozies

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

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

Freebie Friday October 10, 2014

Friday, October 10th, 2014

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

This week on MomAdvice we have a delicious, warming soup from food contributor, Shaina - homemade tomato soup with a cauliflower crumble topping. I’m also excited to share our fun new autumn burlap wreath and how you can make it, plus some tea tips I learned from my trip to Celestial Seasonings – and a HUGE giveaway you can enter! On this week’s edition of  It’s the 3 Little Things I’m sharing what’s making me happy and hope you’ll share yours, too!

Our regular feature,  Amy’s Notebook, is of course filled with lots of seasonal DIY, food, decorating ideas and just plain great reads – and be sure to check out all the contests you can enter on our weekly round-up of great giveaways!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Food & Drink

Breakfast at IKEA Stores on October 13th

Health & Beauty

Dove Oxygen Moisture Hair Care Sample
Gerber Powder Baby Formula Sample
Huggies Diaper and Wipes Sample
Pantene Smooth & Sleek Shampoo Sample
One-Month Trial of Contact Lenses

Entertainment

The Promises of God: Discovering the One Who Keeps His Word eBook
Kindergarten Daily Learning Notebook Printable Pack
Pre-K/K Printable Pack
Pre-K Fun Autumn Learning Printables
Psalty Album Download
31 Days of Planning Printables
Jack-O-Lantern Themed Printable Pack
Printable Fall Door Hangers
Fall Word Search
Martha Stewart Pumpkin Carving Templates

This Week’s Freebie Events: October 11 - 17

11th - Barnes and Noble: Join the Star Wars Reads Day

11th - Lakeshore Learning: Create a Fire Safety Fido, 11 am – 3 pm

11th - Lowe’s: Build a Haunted House, 10 am

11th - Toys R Us: Join the Star Wars Rebels Event, 12 – 2 pm

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Tea Tips and Tricks From Celestial Seasonings (Plus a HUGE Giveaway!!)

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Tea-Tips-and-Tricks-From-Celestial-Seasonings *This post is sponsored by Celestial Seasonings. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I don’t  travel as much as I used to, thanks to two busy kids with two grueling schedules, but when Celestial Seasonings contacted me to see if I would like to learn more about their teas and how they create them,  I just could not turn them down. I credit their Sleepytime Extra with breaking my melatonin habit, I got my husband (who drinks neither tea nor coffee) to indulge in a cup of Sugar Cookie Tea with me on cold days, and I consider all of their holiday teas the ultimate stocking stuffer. I could not wait to hear more about how they develop their products and how I could share about that with my readers.

I was expecting the best in tea offerings because that is what I know as a consumer.

As an observer to the inner workings of the company, I was surprised by the passion and enthusiasm from EVERY employee I talked to.  These people have a passion for tea and they have a passion for their customers.

celestial-seasonings-factory-6 celestial-seasonings-factory-9

We got the chance to hear about where and how they source all of their ingredients and even heard from a farmer who provides the mint for the tea from his family farm. We got to see, smell, and hear the stories of where the ingredients are sourced and how these herbs are processed into the tea bags.  Although Americans might not embrace tea the way our European friends do, it is still the world’s second most popular beverage, topped only by water.

Do you know the difference between the different varieties of teas? I did not until this week!

Herbal Tea

Herbal “tea” actually does not have any tea in it, it is a combination of herbs,  which is why it is naturally caffeine free!  Whether hot or iced, naturally caffeine free herbal teas can calm, energize, refresh and delight naturally, depending on their ingredients—including herbs, spices, flowers and leaves.

Black Tea

Black tea, or what we commonly think of when someone mentions “tea”, is made from the dried leaves of Camellia sinensis, a white-flowering evergreen bush about 3–5 feet high, native to China and India. Most people don’t think of black tea as an herb, yet it is the most widely used herb in the world.  Black tea actually comes from the same plant as green, white and oolong teas—differences in processing determine which kind of tea the leaves become.

Green Tea
Green tea has become increasingly popular in the United States, but it has been enjoyed in Asia for more than a thousand years, especially in Japanese tea ceremonies. The leaves used for green tea are initially the same as those that make black and oolong teas, but they are steamed right after being picked, so they stay green. Brewing green tea is a little different than brewing herbal or black tea – be sure you use water that is very hot but not quite boiling.

White Tea

In the mountains of China, white tea is harvested only from springtime’s first tender buds and top leaves that are covered with soft, silvery-white needles. Very simply and naturally dried, white tea retains the unique flavor of a freshly picked tea leaf—mellow, delicate and slightly sweet. This also preserves an even higher level of healthful antioxidants than in green tea. Because it is so delicate, white tea requires less brewing time than green or black tea.

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Not only did we get to actually smell, touch, and hear the farming stories behind where the ingredients were sourced, but we also got to do a tasting of teas and experience how these teas are meant to be prepared. What I discovered from this process was that I absolutely leave my tea bags in far too long, especially when it comes to green and chamomile tea, and a shorter duration of steeping really yields a better flavor experience overall.  Distilled water was recommended for optimum flavor, but I can’t say that this is an extra step I would take at home. I can, however, be more diligent about removing my tea bag after 1-3 minutes so that I have a better flavor experience overall.

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I am a coffee drinker in the afternoons and have always considered tea to be something to relax with only in the evening hours.  I asked their team if I was making the afternoon switch from coffee to tea what they would recommend for someone who desires to be highly caffeinated all day long (*ahem*) and they shared that Fast Lane just might be the tea for me. It is a black tea, sold exclusively online and in their gift shop, and this tea has 20 milligrams MORE caffeine per 8 ounce cup than coffee. I snagged a case of it for myself and I am giving a case away below (along with tons more stuff!) for one of you. I believe everyone should be as highly caffeinated as me so I am excited to share this tea with you! 

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Did you know that you can tour the Celestial Seasonings factory?  Check their schedule for factory tour times and consider it a must-see attraction in Boulder. I happened to visit while recovering from a sinus infection and I think there is, perhaps, no greater cure in the world then getting to stand inside the mint room to open up those sinus cavities. Getting to tour the factory gives  you a chance to really see how the product is made from start to finish!

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One thing I haven’t thought of is using tea more as an ingredient in my cooking.  To inspire us, our evening meal was created utilizing the Celestial Seasonings tea in each dish from a delicious tea-infused sorbet to a tea brine on the main dish, a roasted chicken. We also got to have a happy hour where the tea was utilized in simple syrups to create a variety of cocktails. I happily indulged in their Jammin’ Lemon Ginger Drop and came home to make it myself. The combination of the Jammin’ Lemon Ginger Tea brewed into a simple syrup, bourbon, and fresh lemon juice makes an elegant and easy cocktail perfect for entertaining.  You can find the recipe below our giveaway today!

Today I am giving away $100 worth of tea and tea accessories from Celestial Seasonings! Not only am I including over a case of Fast Lane tea, but I am also including a few seasonal favorites, a beautiful handmade tea mug, a tea bag holder,  and a thermal carafe to take your teas on the go. Follow the instructions below to enter to win! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Jammin-Lemon-Ginger-Drop-Header

Jammin' Lemon Ginger Drop
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
A fast and delicious cocktail made from Celestial Seasonings Jammin' Lemon Ginger Tea, fresh lemon juice, and a splash of bourbon.
Ingredients
  • 1.5 oz Bourbon
  • ¾ oz fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ oz Jammin’ Lemon Ginger simple syrup (see instructions)
Instructions
  1. To make the Lemon Ginger Simple Syrup: Combine 4 Jammin' Lemon Ginger Tea bags, 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes. Using two spoons, remove tea bags and squeeze out excess liquid. Allow syrup to cool.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker as listed above. Add ice and shake. Strain and serve in an old fashioned glass with a sugar rim.

 

Handmade Autumn Burlap Wreath Tutorial

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Handmade Autumn Burlap Wreath Tutorial

Handmade Autumn Burlap Wreath Tutorial

Handmade Autumn Burlap Wreath Tutorial

Handmade Autumn Burlap Wreath Tutorial

I am so excited to be sharing another tutorial for how to make a burlap wreath today! I can’t begin to tell you how happy this wreath has made me on our new front door. The pop of orange is just what our door needed for the holidays and this wreath is perfect for Halloween and Thanksgiving.  I created this beauty for Kenmore and have had to wait an entire month to share this project with you. If you haven’t made a burlap wreath before, this tutorial is for you. It outlines step-by-step how to recreate this wreath in my picture tutorial.

Head on over to the Kenmore Blog today to find this EASY and no-crafting-skills required  craft for decorating your door with a handmade autumn burlap wreath for the upcoming holiday season!

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Amy’s Notebook 10.08.14

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Pom Pom Bat Cupcake Toppers via Oh Happy Day

Source: Oh Happy Day

 

Adorable pom pom bat cupcake toppers.

How about a cheese graveyard with Brie cut in a coffin shape for your Halloween party?

Five things your teen wants you to know.

Who knew flu shots could be so hilarious?

DIY Crow Halloween Wreath via Darice Blog

Source: Darice Craft Blog

 

Go outside the norm for Halloween with a black crow wreath.

How to make the perfect sweet potato fries.

Are you navigating the eternal screen-time debate with Minecraft?

Top 10 tricks for shopping at Amazon.

Beautiful words on marriage.

Apple Chip Burbon Cider via A Subtle Revelry

Source: A Subtle Revelry

 

Bourbon apple chip cider – sounds just about right for the fall, doesn’t it?

You won’t believe this wedding dress made for $30 during the crafty bride’s commute!

33 books to read to celebrate banned books week – or any time of the year.

World’s best parenting tumblr.

This is what brave means.

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I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, and thrifty ways to spruce up your home. Nothing brings me more joy then to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

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Apron Full of Giveaways 10.07.14

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Black-Pink Polka Dot Apron via Etsy

Source: Cherry Pie Aprons,  $28.95

 

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

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

Good luck to each of you!

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It’s the 3 Little Things: Shiny Pots, Cozy Throws, & Beautiful Books

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

It's the 3 Little Things

Happy Friday, friends! This week I have had the unique opportunity to head to the Celestial Seasonings headquarters and learn all about their teas which is, seriously, one of the coolest opportunities ever for a super fan like me. If you recall, I raved quite a bit about my Sleepytime Extra tea that helped me break my melatonin habit and I even included their teas in a gift guide this past year for the holidays. I am a tea enthusiast so I feel so lucky to get to see how they create their products and share that with you in the upcoming week! Yay!

I am writing this on Tuesday night for you since I will be in Boulder this week and hopefully I am having a magical flight where I get upgraded for no reason, my suitcase is incredibly light since I have a mere fashion capsule wardrobe that I can make four million outfits out of a mere one or two pieces,  and I will be reading the world’s best book.  Let’s just pretend all of those things are happening right now!

Without further adieu- here’s the abbreviated happy today!

All the Lights We Cannot See

World’s Coziest Throw

As if the world’s coziest slippers were not enough, I could not wait for the temperatures to drop so I could spend my day curled up in the happiest shed on earth and read my library books! Last year I scored this throw on clearance for $10 and it has made my world so much cozier. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for it again as they seem to put these back out seasonally at the store and this is one to watch for. It is cozy fleece on one side and then the other side is a glorious faux fur.  They even had a free Better Homes & Gardens Magazine subscription attached to it which made the deal even sweeter.  I promise that it instantly makes all your reading time better- keep those eyes peeled for something similar at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, or Walmart!

A Beautiful Book

My book club read ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr this month, picked by my sweet friend Carrie. Everyone has been raving about this one and I am just going to have to agree that this is one fine piece of literature.  I loved it so much that I immediately emailed Anthony to see if he might do our Sundays With Writers with us and he graciously agreed!  If you want to read it before the interview, you will be so happy you did. I wish I could give this ten stars on GoodReads, it was that good.  I was held captive by this book and could not put it down. The storytelling is superb, the characters vividly created, and the words read like poetry. My heart was in my throat for much of it and I could not turn the pages quickly enough so I knew what would happen with Marie-Laure & Werner. I loved how their stories weaved together and how the author created such striking details that made you feel as though you were witnessing it all firsthand. I can’t recommend this one enough- it will be, perhaps, in my top ten books ever read.

Don’t be intimidated by the length as the chapter are short and help to keep the story moving.  It is one you will be glad you picked up and also will take you on a little Wikipedia narnia when you are done to learn more behind this beautiful piece of work! Stay tuned for a fun interview with Anthony soon!

Bar Keepers Friend

Shiny Everything

Tell me I am not the only one addicted to this stuff- Bar Keepers Friend is the best cleaner ever! You want shiny pots? A shiny sink? A shiny tub? Well, shine, shine, shine. I can think of very little that could not benefit from this cleaner! If you haven’t tried it, prepare to be amazed. My pots look like the day I bought them and I use this every night on my sink.  I can’t imagine my life without this little cleaner and if you have rust issues, this is a great one to have on hand.  A shiny home definitely makes this girl happy.

Three Things I Wore From My Fashion Capsule. Grab more inspiration on my Fashion Capsule Pin Board.

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Did I mention it is Tuesday when I am typing this? I’ve got nothing to share this early in the week, but I did get my bangs chopped and I feel like a brand new woman.

There is that.

If you want to see what I’m wearing you can check my trip highlights on my Instagram feed! :)

3 Things YOU Loved This Week (you, lover of MomAdvice things, you!)

Quick & Easy Knitted Boot Cuffs

Easy Knitted Ruffled Scarf with Sashay Yarn

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

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

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