Author Archive

July 2017 Must-Reads

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

July 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Summer reading has been in full swing as I start wrapping up the last of my lovely quiet days before school starts. We were fortunate enough to have two getaways this month that gave me a little extra reading time so I’m excited to share 9 great must-read books with you! I had some really great stuff in my stack this month including a few 5-star reads that I think you will enjoy.

Summer Books

follow me on IG to see what I’m reading!

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! This month we will be reading this book (you can see the full list over here).

Not enough variety? Print out our Reading Challenge Worksheet! I’m having a blast working my way through it!

Here are  must-read books that I tackled in July!

Nine Women, One Dress

Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen

Nine Women, One Dress came recommended to me by a local librarian as a fantastic summer read and I couldn’t agree more with her pick.  This type of book is like a big bowl of chick lit comfort food and reminds me of my obsession with the ol’ rom com films that I loved so much growing up. If you loved Meg Ryan films, I bet you will find this to be a light and easy book escape for your summer stack.

The title pretty much explains what this cute read is about. A famous designer, who is soon retiring, makes a beautiful black dress that ends up being THE dress of the season. The dress then finds its way into many hands (some deserving, some not) and the book explores these touching and humorous stories of how this dress came into their possession and what happened after they wore it out.

If it sounds a little cheesy, it is.

I loved every minute of it and grinned from ear to ear right up until the final pages.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book recommended by a librarian

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Book of Polly

The Book of Polly by Kathy Hepinstall

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

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

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

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

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Saints for All Occasions

Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan

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

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

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

As far as criticism goes, I did think it went on just a tad too long in the building of the story, while the ending felt abrupt to me. I wanted more of the conclusion fleshed out, after the long journey, but I understand Sullivan had to end it at some point. Regardless, this will be one of my favorite reads this summer and I highly recommend it, even if you haven’t connected with her books in the past.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

The Arrangement

The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn

The Arrangement was on this summer’s guilty pleasure reading bucket list and this one did not disappoint. I expected a lot of predictability with this book and Dunn surprised me with some really witty dialogue, twists I didn’t see coming and a town of characters that rivaled the infamous folks in Big Little Lies.

Owen & Lucy have a dinner party where friends share with them about an “arrangement,” a couple they know is having in an open marriage (no questions, no guilt) where they can explore having relationships with other people while keeping their marriage happy and healthy.

They feel inspired to devise their own six-month arrangement where they can explore relationships with other people, but it must end after six months. What follows is anything but predictable for either of them and the reader gets to go on one tryst to another,  then concluding their days by coming home to raise their autistic son together.

There are loads of laugh-out-loud moments and some heartfelt ones that resonated with me since we experienced many similar parenting moments to this couple. It also solidified that open marriage, while fun reading in a book, is definitely not for me! I do admit, the husband getting “chored” by his mistress was a treat that brought all the LOL’s.

Seriously, I really enjoyed the wild ride with these two and the book ended up being a lot less fluff and more satisfying than I expected.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Dreamland Burning

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

Dreamland Burning was a selection that I discovered on the MMD Summer Reading Guide. This YA historical fiction novel sheds light on a little known time in history, examining the Tulsa race riot of 1921 and what it might have looked like for the town’s residents.

I had never heard of these race riots, but it is horrific to learn that historians put the death toll at around 300 black lives lost to white rioters. The author notes that some people refer to this as the, “black holocaust,” because of this. Since it is a YA book though, I thought Latham did a great job of giving you an eye-opening amount of violence and dialogue, while staying true to her genre.

The book explores the case of a skeleton that has been buried and found on a family’s property when their family begins to renovate their home.  Rowan, the teen daughter, decides she wants to do some sleuthing to find out who these bones belong to and it sends her hunting for answers that are over a hundred years old.

The chapter alternates between her viewpoint and the viewpoint of William, a white teen growing up in this historical era and struggling to understand his own viewpoint on race.  The reader gets to watch the evolution of William from racist to helper of minorities.

Latham weaves a smart final twist that gives the reader a satisfying conclusion. She also provides resources where you can discover more about this horrific time in history.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (available for preorder!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Shtum

Shtum by Jem Lester

Shtum is a Yiddish word that means silence and this beautiful story is inspired by Jem Lester’s own struggles and triumphs with his autistic son who is trapped in a silence of his own. It is, truly, the most accurate portrayal of what it would be like to parent a profoundly autistic child and a read that many of us can learn a lot from.

In this story, Jonah and his autistic son Ben find themselves under Jonah’s father’s roof to help with the application process for a school for autism that could help Jonah. They don’t have the funds to do it and Ben’s wife encourages a separation in their marriage to help Jonah because being a single parent will lend them favor on the application process and offer more scholarship money.

Residing under one roof with a child who requires 24-hour supervision and a grumpy father isn’t Ben’s idea of a great time and alcohol is Ben’s escape. It is a downward spiral at times and Lester doesn’t let you escape it. The day-to-day grind becomes overwhelming, even as a reader, and it made me REALLY understand more about the challenges that these family’s face every single day.

Yet, as heart wrenching as this read is, it has sparks of dark comedy that had me chuckle out loud many times, particularly with Ben’s father, Georg. This debut novel is raw and unapologetic in the challenges that come with love and sacrifice. I highly recommend this read!

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Everyone has been talking about Eleanor Oliphant so I knew I needed to dig into this one.

Eleanor is certainly one of the most unusual characters I have read because she lacks social skills and avoids all unnecessary human contact. She keeps a rigid schedule with herself that involves a lot of frozen pizza, vodka, and a routine call with her mother.

A persistent I.T. guy, named Raymond, comes into Eleanor’s life though when they help save an elderly man on the street who had fallen. Raymond is also the kind of guy that won’t take no for an answer and begins infiltrating into Eleanor’s life.

Eleanor has her eye on someone else though and he doesn’t even know it. Lunches with Raymond give her a chance to practice for the big moment when she can confess to her true love how she feels about him.

Too bad the guy has never heard of her!

This novel is quirky and the reader gets to go on every cringe worthy moment as the true story of Eleanor unfolds. Honeyman ends the book with a really smart little twist that adds to the beauty of Eleanor’s healing process to find love in her life and readers discover why Eleanor struggles so much in society. It’s a solid read and a promising debut from Honeyman!

P.S.- Look who bought the movie rights to this one? Yay!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Almost Sisters

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

A tequila-soaked night at a comic book convention leaves Leia Birch Briggs, a graphic novel artist, pregnant after a rendezvous with a guy that she only knows as Batman.

Yup, how is that for a starter?

Before she can break the news to her family though, her sister’s marriage implodes and they discover their grandmother has been hiding her rapidly progressing dementia from them. In efforts to help, Leia heads home to start making arrangements for her grandmother and to clear out the home of anything unnecessary…

Like, a skeleton in the trunk of the attic.

This really isn’t a typical Jackson novel, is it?

Jackson has built great dynamics between the two sisters and comical horror as Birchie, their grandmother, lets loose all the town secrets that she knows, thanks to her dementia. It seems there are quite a lot of secrets, especially just who might be residing in the trunk of this house.

This is one of Jackson’s best books, in my opinion, and a treat to read from start to finish. I could see this one being made into a film- it has great charm and heart.

You can read my past interview with Joshilyn as we discussed her writing process on her last great read!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2017 Must-Reads

February 2017 Must-Reads

March 2017 Must-Reads

April 2017 Must-Reads

May 2017 Must-Reads

June 2017 Must-Reads

July 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

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

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

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It’s a Whole Lotta Happy This Month

Friday, July 21st, 2017

20th high school reunion

dress/clutch/necklace (similar)

I hope that July has been treating you good! We had an amazing time at my hubby’s 20th high school reunion this month. Since we went to high school together, I am always just as excited as he is. The night, for me, ended in far too many gin and tonics, karaoking until four in the morning, and a really killer headache in the morning.

But, damn, WORTH IT!

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My husband also started a new job this month (that’s always exciting!) and they had given him a five day weekend for the 4th of July so we spontaneously decided to take a trip to Ferndale. I found this super cute house to rent and we had the best time eating our way through this artsy hipster town and I especially enjoyed soaking in the beauty of their front porch with my books. If you are looking for a great getaway location, this is it! Such thoughtful owners that made everything feel so special for us.

To top it off, I am FINALLY seeing the light at the end of this struggle of a year with my health! My pain had been through the roof again last month with one of my shoulder blades falling out after hanging onto a barre in my barre class. I had burning pain for a week that made me want to crawl the walls and I was leaning heavy into my Vicodin bottle without relief. I was really in the dumps because I’m trying SO HARD to get strong and then stuff like that happens and I find myself back to square one. It was a “poor me” week that I had felt entitled to.

A late night Facebook session lead me to a comment on my Ehlers-Danlos support group board that mentioned something called The Cusack Protocol. This mother (with the last name of Cusack) had three little girls that were all in debilitating pain that required bracing and wheelchairs. She started doing her own research on this disease and developed a protocol that was focused on increasing polysaccharides in the body. With this supplement protocol they are all completely fine and having zero pain- no wheelchairs, just normal little girls.

What helps? Weirdly, this.

I drink two ounces in the morning every day along with a few additional recommendations like this & this (which has helped my brain fog and helps with nerve function) and this (which improves my muscle recovery after exercise). Since I was already on a heavy supplement routine, recommended by our specialist, what is a few more additions?

I have been on this regime for about a month, but even after just two weeks I felt an ENORMOUS difference in my body. The aloe juice seems to be acting like a glue for my joints and my bones are no longer shifting. I know it isn’t a placebo because my husband has even remarked how he doesn’t hear my body when I go up and down the steps with the snap,crackle, pop noises. It is as though someone took a hot glue gun through my body and was like, let’s see…this piece goes here, this piece goes here, this piece goes here…

I visited my physical therapist, who had just returned from a class on reducing pain for her patients, and explained that if I could just get my elbow pain under control that it would help with my hands and I would be almost back to my old self. After diagnosing the source, through the training she had went through, she did some abracadabra thing to my shoulder blade and my pain was immediately gone. My hands are functioning, my elbow feels better, and my body is held together.

I’m at about 90% and the other 10% I can make up with my Quell!

I am back to the gym and I am even back to dance class with no pain! I’m sleeping for twelve hour stretches after many sleepless nights waking with bones popping in and out and feel so much better mentally to have good rest and a good gym routine back in my life. My face hurts from smiling when I get to go to dance.

Isn’t that the best pain ever?

I’m so thankful! That’s what is making me happy this week- what’s been making your week?

This week I am…

Eating: I recreated a favorite restaurant dish on the grill. Do you have one of these? I’m LOVING it for grilling fish and it makes clean up a breeze too!

Reading: I started this book yesterday and I’m already halfway through because it is SO good! I can’t put it down and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be my favorite book from this author.

Adoring: This video (caution- language) and adored it so much that I watched it four times in a row! What a great grandson!

Watching: Yeah, so we never cancelled HBO (I can’t quit you HBO)  and now we are devouring this four part documentary. It is absolutely riveting!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, friends! We are headed to Napa next week so it might be a little quiet here! It’s our last hurrah before school starts again. xoxo

*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 07.19.17

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Taco Salad Kits

source

In the Kitchen

Oh, I want to make these taco salad kits for my summer lunches- yum!

Here are 20 more great make-ahead lunch ideas.

This kebab recipe looks like a great way to get more salmon into our diet this summer.

I had no idea that it was this easy to make a dairy-free yogurt at home. I’m definitely trying that!

This Mexican Corn on the Cob looks like the perfect taco side dish.

If you have a cast iron skillet, this looks like the perfect tool to clean it.

Have you heard of magical coffee? I’m thinking this might be a fun way to enjoy my cold brew!

Now this looks like the perfect summer drink (and a great way to put frozen berries to work).

 

Life

I have to say, this post just made my day!

Oh, I just love this so much. What a cool idea!

Have you thought about using your phone with intention? I admit, it is a crutch when I’m bored so I loved these tips!

This looks like a great young adult book list!

Speaking of YA books, I enjoyed this read this week. Have you read it yet?

Ahhh…remember these days?

4 organizing lessons from Hamilton.

I often feel guilty for asking for what I need so I loved this guide to guilt-free introverting.

This is a very compelling piece on drug addiction.

Unexpected ways that anxiety can show itself.

What to do when your distractions become a lifestyle.

If your distraction is your phone, this little trick sounds like it might help!

Looking forward to reading this thriller on my vacation next week.

Boy, could I relate to this piece!

I’m working on better sleep habits and this article has some great advice.

 

Lake House Style

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Style

Swooning over this lake house.

I am loving this summer wardrobe plan.

I’m just dying over the decorations in this librarian retirement party.

This looks like a great weekend project to improve a room.

Filing this list of the best neutral paint colors away for our next room refresh.

DIY watercolor weaving? These are gorgeous!

I love that this was your top purchase this month. It makes me want to order one for myself!

Planning to switch to more green cosmetics? This is a great guide to shop with!

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 07.17.17

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Sunset Chaser Shirt

Sunset Chaser Shirt- 40% Off + FREE SHIPPING w/code BEACHSTYLE\ striped off the shoulder shirt

striped off the shoulder shirt- half off sitewide using coupon code SWEET

winter is here socks

winter is here socks

striped tank top

striped tank top with ruffle trim

Tassel Necklace

tassel necklace (a fun way to dress up a plain white tee!)

Leopard Print Block Heel

leopard print block heel- extra 60% off applied at checkout on sale items sitewide

Tie Sleeve Knit Blazer

tie sleeve knit blazer

striped cami dress striped cami dress- use coupon code CAMPOUT for an extra 60% off clearance

neutral new balance

neutral new balance-deeply discounted & use coupon code XMASINJULY for an extra 25% off!!

napping baby zone welcome mat

napping baby zone welcome mat

Zella High Waist Moto Leggings

high waist moto leggings

pineapple necklace

pineapple necklace

seafarer ruffled top

seafarer ruffled top- extra 30% off all sale items

rose gold passport holder

rose gold passport holder

crystal cube necklace

crystal cube necklace- use coupon code CAMPOUT for an additional 60% off clearance

Field Jacket field jacket- half off sitewide using coupon code SWEET

laptop case

laptop case

moroccan hammock

moroccan hammock- extra 30% off all sale items

Shower Caddy monogrammed shower caddy- perfect grad gift! 

 

 

Pom Pom Hat

Pom Pom Hat- 40% Off + FREE SHIPPING w/code BEACHSTYLE

Lacy Bow Back Top

lacy bow back top- half off sitewide using coupon code SWEET

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 

 

 

June 2017 Must-Reads

Friday, June 30th, 2017

June 2017 Must-Reads

I hope your book stacks have been high and your coffee cups overflowing this summer. We are looking forward to a family holiday this week so I will be turning off the phone for the week and soaking in loads of unplugged time with my family. You can guess that if I’m not grabbing my phone, I’m grabbing a book so I am hoping I will have lots more recommendations to share with you next month.

Sorry to miss your messages, comments, and emails, but when this girl vacations, she does it unplugged! This request was also made of my kids! We have a stock-up trip to make to the library today, but we did just get the first three books in the Serafina series in the mail, for my daughter, so I’m hoping that she gets sucked into those the same way I did into my series books when I was a kid.

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catch my stack on IG! 

It was just three weeks ago I was chatting about what I read in May so I was a little nervous I wouldn’t have very much to talk about this month. As luck would have it, the rainy and cooler weather lead to loads of reading in my little she shed. Yup, it’s my favorite place to be!  This reading gadget (the stand that I use to pair it with is over here) has been SO wonderful too for enjoying books outside on windy days, completely hands-free.

Just as a reminder, I read many more books than are just featured here, but try to feature the ones that are my absolute best picks.  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 too! 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.

Today I will be announcing our next selections for our MomAdvice Book Club so please stay tuned for that!  You can join our FREE book club to discuss what you are reading, ask opinions on books, and join in a monthly discussion of a really great read! It’s so awesome!

Here are 7 must-read books that I tackled in June!

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

I’m a big fan of Lisa See and have read every single one of her books. I have to admit, her earlier books were among my favorites, but I felt like her latest novel, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane had some of that old magic and sparkle that drew me to her writing when I first discovered her.

This novel is set in a remote Chinese mountain village where Li-Yan and her family work as farmers of tea. Li-Yan is unlike most girls because her parents do encourage her to go to school and believe that she is smart enough to concentrate on her education rather than farming. When Li-Yan becomes pregnant with a child, out of wedlock, she decides to give her child up for adoption because it is tradition in their culture to kill these children. Li-Yan now finds the course of her life has changed so much and the love of her life is not as he has appeared. She courageously must forge a new path for herself and continues to buck tradition by becoming educated and cultivating her own business while never giving up hope on finding her daughter again.

I learned a lot about how tea is farmed and, in particular, a lot about the Akha people and their traditions. See always has a way of storytelling that is both informative and captivating. I enjoyed this one start to finish and think it would be a great intro book to her writing if you haven’t had the pleasure of reading her books before.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book about a culture/religion you are unfamiliar with

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Dry by Jane Harper

The Dry by Jane Harper

The Dry is a well-crafted debut mystery that kept me guessing from start to finish. I have shared before that police procedural books are rarely a favorite of mine, but every so often I will pick one of these up and be sucked in to the story enough to plow my through the investigative aspect of these books.

This fast page-turner did just that as it explores the shocking murder of a mother, father, and child in a small town. Federal Agent Aaron Falk grew up in the town, returns for the funeral, and then finds himself helping on the case by the request of the victim’s family. The problem is that Falk has been harboring a few secrets of his own on another death that happened in the town and he is not welcome or trusted by most of its residents.

The reader is left to wonder how these two cases may be intertwined as Harper takes you down the whodunit path that will leave you guessing up until the last few pages.

3 Out Of 5 Stars

White Fur by Jardine Libaire

White Fur by Jardine Libaire

The first thought that popped into my head when reading White Fur is… well, this was unexpected.  Turn up that A/C and plan on steaming up the room with this dark and gritty love story.

Jamey is the stereotypical rich white kid with a large trust fund, Elsie is a rough uneducated girl from the wrong side of the tracks which basically means, never the twain shall meet…

Until they do.

And then they fall in love.

It’s an unsettling love story as though each person is pushing the boundaries to try and prove their love for one another. They constantly test the limits with each other and with their family and it leaves the reader questioning if it is love or their own path of self-destruction that bring these two together.

This will not be a book for everyone. Many passages are graphic, the sex scenes are disturbing, and it pushes the envelope A LOT.

Yet, when the writing is on it is ON.

It is promising, interesting, and is all the glam and glitz of NYC in the 1980’s.  If you enjoy this one, consider this book option for a slightly tamer selection with the same feel.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Good Widow

The Good Widow by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

Liz & Lisa joined me for our Sundays With Writers series when launching their book, The Status of All Things. I am always intrigued by writing duos and how that process works, and these longtime chums seem to really have a knack writing together.

The Good Widow is the first thriller from the dynamic duo and it was a fun 24-hour escape reading about a wife who has lost her husband in a car crash and then discovers this crash happened with another woman in the passenger seat.  Yup, this guy has been leading a double life and she never even knew it.

Nick, the fiancée of the other passenger, reaches out to the widow (Jacks) to try to replicate the couple’s trip and final days to see where this accident happened, and get clues from locals on their behavior together as they try to understand how they both could have been so in the dark.

The Good Widow

As a seasoned thriller reader, it was a nice escape that held my interest all the way through. Liz & Lisa deliver on a light & twisty beach read that is perfect to read poolside!

Bonus, snag the Kindle version for just $3.99!!

3.5 Out Of 5 Stars

The Light We Lost

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

The Light We Lost is the first book club selection for the Skimm #skimmreads partnership with Target stores. I know I have mentioned it before, but I love this 5-minute newsletter to keep in tune with headline news. My favorite element though, is their Friday newsletter that shares a great book to read. I couldn’t wait to dig into this one after reading the synopsis.

If you are looking for a beautiful love story, this is definitely the book you should be reading this summer. Lucy & Gabe fall in love in college after witnessing the aftermath of 9/11 in NYC. This tragedy is the start of their relationship and the reader gets to hear all of the ups and downs of this relationship through Lucy’s eyes. When Gabe gets a job in the Middle East, the two go their separate ways and find love in other places.

The Light We Lost

The thing about real and true love though is that you always wonder what your life would have looked like if you had stayed together. Santopolo takes you on this thirteen-year odyssey that is filled full of beauty and the exploration of fate. Fans of One Day will really embrace this love story!

5 Out Of 5 Stars

A Piece of the World

A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

I got a little burnt out on historical fiction, but A Piece of the World is a book that I kept hearing such good things about that I thought I would try to dive back into this genre. You may know Kline from her #1 New York Bestseller, Orphan Train.

One of the author’s favorite paintings is Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth. In this book she explores the story of Christina, Wyeth’s muse in many of his paintings, and what Christina’s life might have been like since the painting is so haunting. This well-researched account of Christina and the disability she lived with was so beautifully told. The reader gets a full portrait of this woman from her childhood until her older years and many of the hurdles she went through in her life.

While, perhaps, not as heart-tugging as her first book, Kline’s astounding amount of research on the true story of Christina makes this a captivating read. Be sure to read the author’s notes because it really showcases the effort that Kline took to capture Christina.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Darktown

Darktown by Thomas Mullen

Darktown is the book that was selected this month for the MomAdvice Book Club because I had heard such great things about it. Mullen’s book builds upon the true story of the first eight African American police officers that served in the late 1940’s in Atlanta. I was completely oblivious to their stories and trials that they faced in these roles and Mullen’s tells an unflinching portrait of the daily challenges that these men faced, racially and in their roles at work.

When a black woman is murdered in their town, the white officers start covering up their involvement while the black officers are limited in how they are able to investigate the case. The book is told from alternating perspectives from the officers on each racial side as the book builds a story of corruption and racism that will leave the reader guessing until the final pages.

Thomas Mullen happens to be a white male author and, apparently, submitted this manuscript without his name or picture attached. When it crossed the desk of one of the top black editors in publishing history, it was selected for publication. The acclaim has been so great that it has now been optioned for a television series. Fans of True Detective, are sure to love this one AND learn a lot about this time in history.

Join our free book club OVER HERE!!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2017 Must-Reads

February 2017 Must-Reads

March 2017 Must-Reads

April 2017 Must-Reads

May 2017 Must-Reads

June 2017 Must-Reads

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

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

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Amy’s Notebook 06.28.17

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Low Carb BLT

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This low carb BLT looks like just the ticket to satisfy my favorite sandwich craving.

How wheelchair accessibility ramped up. Many, many things I had not thought about!!

Have you heard of this? I had no idea they are doing this too- I mean, do they do everything now?

This looks like the perfect summer drink, doesn’t it?

I added this to my health regime (two ounces a day) after reading so much on the benefits of this. REALLY excited about it and it has been filtered to taste like water- no bitter taste at all!

I love this weekend project idea. Can you imagine what that might mean to someone?

How top performers practice- a really thoughtful piece, particularly if you have a child practicing an instrument!

Do African Americans have the right to bear arms? I’ve been thinking about this a lot this week after the tragic shooting of Philando Castile.

Holy moly! How exciting is this news?

Switch up your Taco Tuesday with this recipe- yum!

 

2 Step Bun

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Even the hair-challenged (like me!) can master this 2-step bun for summer.

How to prevent activism burnout. Love these tips to keep the fires lit!

This headboard is EVERYTHING!!

This cake-cutting technique is genius. Can’t wait to try it on our next upcoming birthday party!

Want to make your swimsuit last longer? Try these laundering tips.

I’m eyeing these velvet chairs for our home. Cannot believe that price for a little luxe!

Growing a lot of zucchini this summer? This sandwich looks like a fun way to put it to work!

This is, perhaps, one of the most fascinating reads I have read on genetics.

What a smart way to transform an old table. I would have never thought of that!

Ladder Garden

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I love this idea to transform an old ladder into a beautiful plant display for the backyard. So smart!

Have you heard of this app? Bookmarking this since I struggle with remembering ALL THE THINGS.

Can’t wait to dig into this book over the holiday weekend!

Speaking of relaxing over the holidays, I’m loving this grown-up summer bucket list.

Avoiding grains, but still craving a sweet treat? This grain-free berry crisp looks like summer in a bowl.

I cannot wait to see this film next month!!

A real-life guide to buying wine- there are some really smart questions to ask to get the best bottle.

Pulled pork in the pressure cooker would be a fab main dish for the 4th. I also loved these 4th BBQ celebration ideas.

Speaking of the 4th, what kid wouldn’t flip for this inventive s’mores combo?

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 06.26.17

Monday, June 26th, 2017

Striped Swing Dress

striped swing dress (use coupon code FLASH for 40% off!!)

I Saw Her in the Library Print

i saw her in the library print

Linen T-Shirt

linen t-shirt, many colors (use coupon code SUMMER for an extra 40% off sale items!!)

Magnolia Quarter Strap Sandals

cognac sandals (25% off today!!)

Menu Decal

menu decal (use coupon code USA15 for 15% off!!)

striped-peplum-shirt

striped peplum shirt

turn off your straightener mat

turn off your straightener mat Pom Pom Straw Tote

pom pom straw tote

grow dammit garden marker

grow dammit garden marker

Denim Roll Sleeve Romper

denim roll sleeve romper (use coupon code SUNSHINE for 40% off!!)

Water Ski Art

water ski art

Lace Yoke Shift

lace yoke shift (use coupon code SUNSHINE for 40% off your entire order!!)

Wonder Woman Bookend

wonder woman bookend

 

Swing Jacket

swing jacket- perfect to layer over a black dress or with shorts (use coupon code FLASH for 40% off!!)

Ginger Slide Sandals

ginger slide sandals (25% off today!!)

Pivot Pillow

pivot pillow

 

Embroidered Off the Shoulder Dress

embroidered off the shoulder dress (use coupon code FLASH for 40% 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 

 

Amy’s Notebook 06.21.17

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

 

 

chicken fajita sheet pan meal

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This chicken fajita sheet pan meal looks like a great one to serve a crowd.

“It would be an exaggeration to say that the upper-middle class is full of gluten-avoiding, normal-BMI joggers who are only marginally more likely to smoke a cigarette than to hit their children,” Reeves writes. “But it would be just that—an exaggeration, not a fiction.” Wow, this is a compelling piece on social class! Do you think we have become a class-based society?

If you workout in the heat, this tip might save you from feeling sluggish.

I love a good personality test.

Swooning over this gorgeous baby shower. That balloon display is everything.

The more I deal with my chronic pain, the more my eyes are opened to shady pharmaceutical practices.

Speaking of that, this is why I am reading this book this week and, once again, my eyes are opened to a broken system.  Yup, I’m on a soapbox right now.

“The very Evangelicals who’ve spent that last 50 years in this country demonizing those who reject Jesus—are the single most compelling reason for them to do so. “ My thoughts exactly!

I adored this piece on raising a teenage girl. Ah, the things to look forward to!
Receipt & Coupon Organization

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I love these strategies for organizing receipts and coupons so you can actually find them. The pocket for loyalty cards is so smart!

5 mistakes to avoid when grilling chicken. Noted!

TV adaptations must figure out when to go by the book- really interesting read from a producer’s point of view.

Summer is the season of smelly towels. I’m bookmarking these tips to take the stink out of them.

Have you thought about going vertical with your garden? This gathering of ideas has me feeling inspired!

How good are you at letting others help you? Me? Notsomuch.

I had no idea that this is the proper way to store a tomato. Time to do some flipping!

Washi Tape Umbrellas

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I want to have my friends over just so I can make these adorable washi tape umbrellas.

This was big news and this article explains some of the possible motives for the acquisition. Do you think you will use this service?

If you are a magazine subscriber, check out this deal this week. 3 magazine subscriptions (priced at $4.69) for just $12!! Use coupon code 3FOR12 at checkout. My beach bag is going to be really happy this year!

The Thanksgiving episode of Master of None is one of the most compelling pieces of television I’ve ever watched. Read this interview to get the behind-the-scenes scoop.

Follow this formula for perfectly composed salads. Love these combos! Check out this post too for more ideas.

Oh, man! All the LOL’s. #eatyourwords

I love this reminder to stop schedule shaming. Busy people don’t equal important people.

Looking for the perfect ruffle shift? This one fits the bill perfectly!

Want to stay up until the wee hours with a read you just can’t put down? Get this and enjoy a gorgeous love story!

What a smart way to build and cultivate an affordable community for everyone.

Hairpin Leg Breakfast Tray

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Love the addition of hairpin legs to turn a serving platter into a breakfast tray.

Oh, I do love a good tuna salad sandwich in the summertime.

How cute is this DIY skewer soiree for the 4th? I love it for easy entertaining!

These 5 no-heat hairstyles look perfect for summer.

These lessons on money make for a great read and reminder.

Get your tissues out and read this beautiful piece on fatherhood.

This is a gorgeous hallway makeover for under $100. Love the temporary fix of painting dated linoleum.

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 06.20.17

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Red Wine & Blue Shirt

red wine & blue shirt

summer slides

summer slides

High Neck Maxi

high neck maxi (15% off taken off at checkout)

La La Land Poster

la la land movie print

Twist Front Top twist front top (multiple colors)

Hopscotch Print

hopscotch print

ban.do fanny pack

ban.do fanny pack

Whisper Cotton Tank

whisper cotton striped tank

50 Succulents 50 succulents for your diy wreath projects

who run the world? plaque

who run the world? plaque

Striped Suit

striped suit (buy 1 get 1 50% off deal!!)

Drapey Tank Top

drapey tank top (this is my FAVORITE to tuck in with my midi skirts or wear with crops. True to size!!)

Sunflower Lace Leggings

sunflower lace leggings

Outdoor Wine Table outdoor wine table (can be customized!)

Striped Fringe Cape

striped fringe cape

Nap Queen Pillow

nap queen pillow (take extra 10% off with coupon code SUMMER)

Ryan Gosling Fan Club Bag

ryan gosling fan club bag

Knit Sneakers

knit sneakers

tassel tote

tassel tote

Floral Suit

floral suit (buy 1 get 1 50% off deal!!)

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 Breakfast Caddy

Monday, June 19th, 2017

DIY Breakfast Caddy for Car from MomAdvice.com

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

Well, hello there! I hope your summer is off to a lovely start! We are trying to soak in as many carefree and unscheduled days as we can, but it is funny how life gets in the way of this. This week we tackled doctor’s appointments, the dentist, running a kid back and forth to a sleepover, and we are signing up for a couple of fun summer programs and camps that are happening around town.

All of that leads to busy mornings so today I am partnering with  Florida Department of Citrus to show you how to enjoy your breakfast on-the-go, complete with a glass of Florida Orange Juice! We are sharing a breakfast caddy idea that you can assemble on the weekends to get your kids off to a great start, no matter what is on the to-do list!

I will admit, I got the inspiration for this from Pinterest where there were numerous pins of fast food meals in totes to make it easier for kids to eat their meals. I wanted to translate that idea into a healthy one that is perfect for busy mornings.

Supplies Needed

Lightweight Plastic Shower Caddy (exact, similar, similar)

Small Plastic Containers or Jars for Food Assembly

Drink Holder

Water Bottle

Food Supplies (as listed below)

DIY Breakfast Caddy for Car from MomAdvice.com

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Directions for a DIY Breakfast Caddy

The beauty in this project is that you can fill your tote with whatever you think will help fuel your kids that day.  I can’t stress enough how much I LOVE these make-ahead burritos because they save me on many busy mornings in our house. Once heated, they can be wrapped in tin foil to keep them warm. Of course, if burritos aren’t your thing, a breakfast sandwich made on an English Muffin,  peanut butter on rice cakes (a favorite in our gluten-free home), or even a slice of frittata (try this one, or this one) can be other great options for the main course.

For fruit, I follow the rule that it must be in season and on sale that week to make it in our produce drawer. Today’s fruit selection are blueberries and strawberries in mason jars, but grapes, bananas, cantaloupe, or watermelon also make great options. You could also do a package of easy-to-eat veggies like baby carrots, celery sticks, or red & green peppers if you struggle to get your kiddos to eat fruit.

DIY Breakfast Caddy for the Car from MomAdvice.com

Of course, a surefire way to get your kiddo’s to consume fruit is a little juice, isn’t it? Did you know that an 8 oz. glass of 100% orange juice counts as one of your daily recommended servings of fruit? Pretty cool! Not only that, Florida Orange Juice provides 5 amazing nutrients in every glass: Taste, Vitamin C, Folate, Potassium and No Added Sugar.

Since mornings can be long in the car, I added toasted edamame in a small container for munching before or after our morning activities. You could also do nuts like almonds or cashews to add a healthy crunch to round out the meal or as a great in-between snack once hunger strikes again. You just know it will!

Oh, and don’t forget the water! It has been a scorcher out there so we are trying our best to stay hydrated. It’s also so nice to have a water bottle in case we forget it for the next thing on the agenda.

DIY Breakfast Caddy for the Car from MomAdvice.com

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Wouldn’t this be so great for your next family trip too? I have a feeling that our mornings would start out a lot better on trip days if I had a few of these items prepped and ready to go in my fridge for our next adventure.

Well, we are all packed up and off to our next thing probably. I just want time to s-l-o-w down, but I blink and another summer is over. Do you feel that way too?

I hope this idea can be one you can use to fuel the family and maybe squeeze in a good chat with your kids while they are enjoying their breakfast on-the-go. I have, honestly, had some of my best talks with them in the rearview mirror. It is one of those ways that I have found it helps to keep an open dialogue between us as we navigate these new waters of being teens and tweens.

Thank you so much to Florida Department of Citrus for letting us share our fun little diy breakfast caddy with you. We hope you find this idea inspiring.

Cheers, mama, to surviving another summer!

PS- I hope that you made some room for some FLOJ in that mimosa over there!!

Love this idea? Be sure to visit these fun posts too!

Funny Faces Printables

Gluten-Free Orange Creamsicle Pancakes

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet

Follow the rules below to enter to win a HUGE prize pack from Florida Department of Citrus today!! Follow the rules in the widget below- good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DIY Breakfast Caddy for Car from MomAdvice.com

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

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