Author Archive

DIY Slow Cooker Citronella Candles + Printable Tag

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

DIY Slow Cooker Citronella Candles with Printable Tag

One of my favorite things in my arsenal of kitchen tools is my slow cooker, and I’m excited to share with you a new way to use it – to make DIY Slow Cooker Citronella Candles for gifts! By using small paint cans and wrapping the with our cute printable tag, it’s a sweet way to thank your hostess for her hard work.

Making candles sounds like something an advanced crafter might tackle, but it is one of the easiest projects I have ever done, thanks to my slow cooker. I purchased the supplies in bulk online for this project, but you could also try this on a smaller scale and purchase the supplies for these at your local craft store.

How to Make Slow Cooker Citronella Candles

Slow Cooker Citronella Candles supplies

Supplies Needed

  • Empty Quart Size Paint Cans (found at my local hardware store)
  • Soy Wax Flakes (you need approximately 1 pound per candle you are making)
  • 6″ Candle wicks
  • Citronella Essential Oil
  • Slow Cooker (or two if you have them!)
  • Food/Postage Scale
  • Bamboo Skewer
  • Pencils
  • Card stock (for printing your tags)
  • Bakers twine, yarn, or raffia to tie your gift tag

Making Slow Cooker Citronella Candles

Directions

1. Measure and weigh out 14 ounces of soy wax flakes for each paint can in a glass measuring cup (be sure to tare your scale). It should fill the can almost to the top, and we will be adding more flakes after the first round melts down and creates more space inside the can. Repeat the measuring with all of the other candles you plan to prepare.

2. Add an inch or two of water to your slow cooker to create a water bath for your candles. Nestle the paint cans inside the slow cooker, place a lid on top, and turn it on HIGH for two hours. As the wax melts down, feel free to add more wax in your can to the desired height.

3. Once the two hours has passed, open the lid and add 15-20 drops of Citronella to each candle (approximately 1 ml of oil). Using a bamboo skewer, stir each candle after adding the oil.  Turn your slow cooker off, then add your candle wick in the center of each candle. Take a pencil and wrap the top of the wick to the middle of it and allow it to help stand the candle up in the center.  Leave the candles in the slow cooker until the wax begins to harden. Remove the paint cans to prevent any rusting that could be created inside your water bath, drying your can well with a dish towel.  Allow the candles to fully harden on your countertop.

4. The next day, trim your wicks and attach our printable for an adorable hostess gift for your next summer barbecue.

Slow Cooker Citronella candles printable tag

To complete the candle, grab my FREE “Thanks For Letting Us Bug You Printable” (click link and save to your computer) to tie on each candle as a thank you for a fun-filled evening.

DIY Slow Cooker Citronella Candles

(fun summer dress: Flourish Boutique)

How easy is that? I now have five gifts to share for a summer filled with family, friends, and delicious food. And if candle-making isn’t your thing, check out these neon paint-dipped spoons that also make great gifts!

 

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Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet

Monday, June 20th, 2016

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from MomAdvice.com

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite sleepovers ever included a beautiful breakfast buffet for us in the morning. The parents got up early to make stacks of waffles and laid out a variety of toppings to make our own waffle creation. It was the stuff that little girl’s dreams are made of,  piled high with whipped cream, strawberries, and unlimited syrup.

I want to be that mom who rises early and makes these sleepover dreams come true, but often I am the mom dragging her tail out of bed after telling the kids to PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE, GO TO SLEEP IT IS THREE IN THE MORNING mom.

Are you her too?

That’s why I wanted to create a REALISTIC buffet that can be made in advance so you can just stumble into kitchen, put everything on the table, and curl up with a cup of coffee in bed with a little sweet silence.

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from MomAdvice.com

Today I am partnering with  Florida Department of Citrus to show you how to make this fun make-ahead sleepover breakfast buffet table complete with glasses of  FLOJ for everyone at the party.  Although waffle parties are fun, I wanted to create a healthy breakfast complete with a glass of Florida Orange Juice that provides 5 amazing nutrients in every glass for our guests. Not only are we loading our table with fresh fruit, but we are also getting, in just one single 8-ounce glass of 100% orange juice,  our daily recommended serving of fruit! Winning!

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from MomAdvice.com

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from MomAdvice.com

Instead of spending your morning flipping pancakes, take a peek at my make-ahead recipe for breakfast burritos. This recipe yields eighteen delicious burritos and you can even make them gluten-free with the use of a gluten-free wrap. They are filled with eggs, turkey sausage, spiced potatoes, and cheese- yum!

Make these ahead and tuck them in your fridge or use these instructions for popping them in the freezer until the morning. The beauty in this one is that no matter what time they rise, each person can have a hot breakfast!

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from MomAdvice.com

I made a simple breakfast bar with burrito toppings like olives, sour cream tomatoes, avocado, salsa, and sriracha. You can just chop and set this in the fridge on a cookie sheet for the big morning.  

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from MomAdvice.com

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from MomAdvice.com

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from MomAdvice.com

 

After warming their burritos, they can fill it with all of their favorites or simply put the toppings on top and dig in with a knife and fork.

Putting this spread together took me under an hour, even with all the chopping, and the best part is that I got to enjoy a hot cup of coffee even with a house full of kids. WINNING!

Thank you so much to Florida Department of Citrus for letting us share a make-ahead buffet with you. Be sure to kick back a glass of FLOJ for us and may your bedhead game be as strong as your coffee.


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

Andromeda Romano Lax’s 3 Favorite Books

Monday, June 20th, 2016

andromeda-romano-lax

Author: Andromeda Romano-Lax. (Author of Behave, Searching for Steinbeck’s Sea of Cortez, & The Detour Read more about Andromeda in our interview HERE!)

Andromeda Romano Lax’s 3 Favorite Books

I have too many favorites so my best way to focus is by theme, and in this case, my theme will be “wives in the shadows” plus “mother blame,” two topics that are central to my novel, Behave.

The Wife by Meg Wolitzer

The Wife by Meg Wolitzer

In the first category, I absolutely love Meg Wolitzer’s The Wife, which is acerbic, funny, and all-too-real. I’ve read it multiple times, and even once the book’s twists are revealed, it’s no less enjoyable. (By the way, one of my favorite classic male writers is Philip Roth, but what he tends to ignore–the inner lives of women and especially wives–Wolitzer examines with a fabulous, Roth-like wit.)

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

 

Also in the category of shadow wives I recommend Curtis Sittenfeld’s American Wife. I loved how she handled a fictionalized version of the Barbara Bush story. Both historical truth and unfettered invention co-exist harmoniously in this empathetic novel.

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

In the category of “mother blame” I challenge anyone to read Lionel Shriver’s We Need To Talk About Kevin and not feel chills, horror, and that rarer thing–sympathy. This is a book that will stay frighteningly current as long as we have mass shootings, but even without the violent storyline it’s a great look at failed mother-child bonding, guilt, public shaming, and all those things that make being a mom heart-breakingly tough at times.  

This post contains affiliate links! To learn more about the authors featured, please visit our Sundays With Writers series!

Sundays With Writers: Behave by Andromeda Romano-Lax

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

Sundays With Writers

Happy Sunday and Happy Father’s Day to all of those special dads out there. We have spent the morning curled up in our jammies, watching shows together, and plowing through a dozen muffins with a pot of coffee. I love how my hubby chooses to celebrate his day!

Today I am also excited to share with your an interview with Andromeda Romano-Lax as we discuss her incredible book, Behave. If you are looking for a compelling piece of historical fiction to add to your summer stack, I have a feeling you will enjoy this one! I’m SO THRILLED that her book is available for $1.99 this month so be sure to get this one while it is at such an affordable price! Treat yo self! 

Behave by Andromeda Romano-Lax

Fans of Masters of Sex will appreciate this fictional exploration of Dr. John Watson and his research that was revered by so many to not spoil children based on his research that he developed during his time at Johns Hopkins. Disturbingly, tests are performed on infants to yield responses from them, all being assisted by Rosalie Rayner. An affair develops between the two that taints their reputation in the medical community and adds strain to an already difficult marriage. When they have children of their own, Dr. Watson uses his own research as a basis for how they are to parent which creates squeamish moments for the reader. Despite it being an uncomfortable storyline, it held my interest all the way through, even when the characters were most unlikable.

Behave was featured in our Must-Reads Book List for May!

Let’s chat with Andromeda today about this incredibly  compelling storyline she built around Rosalie!

Andromeda Romano Lax

Your first round of thanks in your acknowledgements went to veteran psychology textbook editor Christine Brune, who had casually mentioned the controversial case of Little Albert at a party you had attended. Were you aware of this case before this interaction and why were you so excited to share this story from Rosalie’s point of view?

John Watson was vaguely familiar to me from old college psych classes. I remembered something about a baby (“Little Albert”), rats, and conditioning, but I may have been mixing in memories of other famous psychologists like B.F. Skinner. What I didn’t know about Watson interested me more than what I did. I’d never heard that his lover and later wife, Rosalie, was such a major part of his research. Nor did I realize that Little Albert’s identity and health were being questioned in ways that make Watson’s original theories even more suspect. I have never been as sure about a new interest quite this quickly. Within a few hours of the party, when I was home Googling close to midnight, I felt determined to tell Rosalie’s side of the story. Why? Not only because I wanted to tell the story of the “woman behind the man” but also because I was specifically curious how a woman would have reacted to these particular kinds of experiments involving potential psychological harm to babies. What was she thinking?

Little Albert Experiment

I found much of the research that was conducted on these infants made me squeamish and uncomfortable as a reader, but I understand that you didn’t find these infant experiments as shocking. Why do you think this element of their research didn’t bother you as much and what element, if any, did you struggle the most with?

One reason is that I think that most of the babies–except for Little Albert–were experimented upon very briefly in mostly benign ways. We may not like to picture a baby turning blue with rage as his nose is pinched shut or as he is plunged into cold water, but it probably won’t create lasting damage, and in Watson’s mind, the cost was tiny compared to the benefit. That same baby, he believed, would grow up in a healthier and safer world, for which a few minutes of discomfort was small price to pay. Viewing this from a historical perspective, we can empathize with the scientists who had no better models for how to study infant behavior. They certainly didn’t feel they were breaking rules, because the rules didn’t yet exist. (They do now, and thank goodness!) If one element bothers me the most, it’s not just the cruelty of the Little Albert experiment (which was more intense and ran longer than the other baby experiments), but the meaningless of it, because it was bad science. I’m also greatly disturbed by the longer-term popular effect of the Watsons’ interpretations of the Little Albert study. The harm passed on to tens or hundreds of thousands of other babies indirectly based on the Watsons’ ideas about parenting–like the idea that mothers shouldn’t kiss, cuddle, or in any way bond with their own children–probably dwarfs the harm inflicted on any one baby in the lab.

Little Albert Experiment

Since there is very little known information about Rosalie, what was your biggest hurdle as a writer developing her storyline? Do you feel that since there was so little information that it granted you more creative liberties with your story or did you find it more challenging to craft Rosalie’s point of view?

The lack of information freed me in some ways, but I did not want to invent a woman out of thin air, since that wouldn’t offer me or the readers any real lessons about Rosalie or her time period (the ‘20s and early ‘30s), which is such a critical one for women. For this reason, I grabbed onto any verifiable fact like a lifeline. For example, I came across a brief note written by Rosalie to her alma mater, Vassar, saying that she expected to be working in advertising soon (which never happened). This was just after her public humiliation as the outed homebreaker in the divorce scandal involving John Watson and his first wife, Mary. That one note reveals so much, especially since Rosalie rarely reported her post-college activities. Clearly, she was hoping to start a new professional life and wanted people to know about it. Without that one clue, I wouldn’t have been able to imagine Rosalie’s envy of Watson as he launched his own career in advertising, overshadowing her ambitions once again.

Rosalie & John utilize the same childrearing techniques they develop in their book on their children. You later disclose how that worked out for these kids (I won’t spoil it for the reader). Even though I found these childrearing tactics extreme, don’t you feel like we all are experimenting a bit as parents to try to figure out what is best for our children? Do you think any of these theories they came up with are still being held today?

You’ve nailed it, Amy. Yes, we are all experimenting on our children, following the latest “science” as well as popular advice that changes decade by decade, all mixed together with our observations of other parents–whom we can’t help but judge, because we are trying so hard to figure out what works and what doesn’t. We all want to do the right things. Parenting trends seem to swing between extremes: more attachment, less attachment; blame nature, blame nurture. This is yet another reason to sympathize with Rosalie and John even while we might recoil at some of their practices. They had the best intentions, and they worked hard at understanding children. And sometimes they were right! Aside from the bad advice, they had some easy-to-overlook good insights that were not common at the time, such as the idea that parents need not physically punish their children, and that routines in general help children feel safe and become independent.

Did you admire John Watson or did you loathe him? Do you think that his difficulties with his parents ultimately shaped his own theories about childrearing?

Maybe I’m contrary, but I didn’t loathe John Watson at all. At most, I was frustrated by him. I think he let his own childhood experiences (as you suggested), his own appetites and his ambition lead him down some unproductive paths. Elements of his personality–the flirty charisma, the showmanship and brash opinions–are still rewarded today. I am confused, in fact, why some readers seem to think he’s the devil, and a very retro devil at that, when a good many politicians, CEOs, and adored celebrities behave more outrageously than he ever did. I’ve noticed that some women readers who get really riled up do so because they had a boss, professor or lover who had Watsonian qualities. I’ve received emails from both women and men who said the novel hit a little too close to home. I’m glad that readers get riled up, especially if it helps them look at their own choices and relationships more clearly. On the other hand, I hope Watson’s positive side isn’t lost in the process. Especially in his early years, he was committed to making science more objective, he was anti-racist, he encouraged public debate about substantial topics, and he truly did seem to support women in science–at least until he made an about-face and decided wives shouldn’t work, after all.

Rosalie Raynor

In your story, John is unfaithful during both of his marriages.  Was this true or fictionalized?  Why do you think Rosalie stayed with him, after giving up her own career and reputation, and do you think if this happened today that she would have still stayed?

Oh, the affairs are verifiable fact. There was no trouble finding documentation of Watson’s incessant wandering. He was also quite open about his own skepticism of marriage. He didn’t think the institution would last beyond the 20th century. (Surprise!) Again, we have to see Rosalie through the filter of her own times. She was married to someone who was passionate, clearly in love with her (I do believe that), ambitious, and successful. Instead of being just a jilted lover without much hope of a career, she was able to become a 1920s housewife who was encouraged to help him co-write scientific books and articles. There was only one brief window of time in which I think they might have broken up and would break up even more easily today: after they were both booted out of the academic world and their affair made headline news. But then she quickly got pregnant. Big oops. And I do think it was an oops, since he didn’t favor women having children too young.

Could you share one of the most surprising pieces of research you found while preparing for this book? Did you have any interview that really stood out to you during this research process?

There were so many research surprises! Most involved archives work rather than personal interviews. To cite just one: finding out that other popular parenting books before Watson’s were just as mean-spirited and disdainful of mothers. The journalist and satirist H. L. Mencken even wrote one. This helps us understand how Watson’s ideas fit into his time period (he was actually more level-headed than his peers) But even more, it tells us what our own poor grandmothers and great-grandmothers were dealing with. If we thought mother blame was new, we just have to go back a century ago, to that era when infant mortality was finally dropping but mothers were still being blamed for damaging their children in every possible way.

If we are interested in learning more about the Little Albert controversy or in John Watson’s theories, can you share books or documentaries that might help us learn more about the true story behind your book?

A truly revealing documentary or drama is yet to be made. The best sources are scholarly papers written by Ben Harris, who has doggedly written about Watson and served as mythbuster for over three decades, and more recently, Hall Beck (writing in cooperation with researchers Levinson, Irons, Fridlund, and Goldie), who has proposed controversial ideas about Little Albert’s true identity and possible neurological impairment. There are some amazing scientific sleuths out there and I recommend their work in an appendix at the back of my novel.

behave

You can connect with Andromeda Romano-Lax on her website! 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!

 

The Unexpected Blessings of Simple Living

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

(pillow here)

Thirteen years ago we began a journey towards living a simpler life due to a financial crisis in our lives. It was through an absolute need, not necessarily a desire, that we began making smarter financial choices. Back then, it meant saving everything and penny pinching. Later, our simple living evolved into a wish to live minimalistically, clutter free, and to make smarter choices with our money.

It has been a path that started out hard and then became habit.

I don’t think as much about it because, for us, it feels instinctual.

good-for-her-not-for-me

We have had the privilege of watching so many we love move into larger homes and embrace some of those finer things in life. There was a time that I would have been jealous, but now my happiness is genuine for them. Amy Poehler says it best in her book, “Good for her! Not for me!”

I am proud to live in our little fixer upper, drive our old cars, and have less in my life to maintain.

But, I have never been more thankful for the choices we have made more until this year. As I have shared, my health went into a downward spiral this year and I found myself, many days, struggling to even leave my bed.  A very healthy and active woman, this sudden decline in my health was difficult for me and for my family. Although I was overwhelmed with doctor’s appointments, medications, and struggles with understanding my new illness, I was not overwhelmed with the other areas in my life because we have lived simply.

Here are a few unexpected blessings I have discovered from our simple living routines..

I’m Thankful for My Smaller Home

My home is just the right size for us at 1,500 square feet. Years ago, I considered this home to be a starter house that we would eventually sell and leave for a larger house with more room. Now, I marvel at my friends who are able to keep up with their larger homes.  Although I worry about having so many stairs in our house, due to my joint problems, I did not ever feel overwhelmed with keeping up with our home because of its modest size.

I was able to keep up with everything pretty easily, even on my worst days this year,  and cutting our cable freed up our money to have a cleaning service assist me twice a month. Once again, the cost of a cleaning service felt manageable because of the small space we had to have cleaned.

Now I would never want anything bigger than this and going through this has made it more than crystal clear, my house size is just right for me.

I’m Thankful We Declutter Regularly

There was a time where I felt it was frugal to keep everything. What if we might need this someday? What if I could repurpose this into something else? These past few years though, I have learned the beauty of letting go and even have discovered how wonderful it is when clutter is cleared for unexpectedly awesome spaces. I am ruthless about editing things now and almost weekly have things to donate. Thanks to this, maintaining and straightening up the house was easy and manageable.

If my house was filled with stuff, I can’t imagine how sad and overwhelmed I would have felt to have it surrounding me during an emotionally difficult time. Clutter-free spaces bring me a lot of peace and joy. I am so thankful that we made this commitment to keep only what we truly love in our home.

That is not to say that we don’t have spaces that need attention or drawers that couldn’t use a good weeding out. There is enough around here to keep me busy for years, BUT it does mean that those spaces all feel very manageable and I know that when I feel better, I can resume editing even more again.

I’m Thankful for My Commitment to Not Overschedule

I can’t imagine what I would have done this year if I had my kids in millions of activities. We have always told them to take one sport commitment seriously and that they can take on an instrument.  I don’t like being overscheduled and my kids seem to embrace that mindset too. Thankfully, there was very little running that I needed to do for them because of our commitment to keep our kids (and ourselves) on manageable schedules. I don’t know if things can always be this way, but I am grateful they were this way now.

capsule-outfit

I’m Thankful I Have a Well-Edited Closet

The capsule wardrobe project (Project 333) really began because I thought it would be a fun thing to explore creatively. I love a good creative challenge and I am passionate about fashion (as much as a good ol’ Indiana girl can be!). I never realized the unexpected blessings that would come from it when I was not feeling well though. When something in your life feels overwhelming, it’s nice to not have to think too hard about basic things. When I open my closet, I feel very confident about the choices I make and I don’t miss that feeling of being overwhelmed with an overstuffed closet. Not only did it free up mind space, but I have a heck of a lot less laundry to do to. This creative project for me has turned into something that I can’t imagine not having in my life.

I’m Thankful We Pretend My Income Mostly Doesn’t Exist

We live well below our means and sock away almost all of the money that I earn in our savings. My income only exists if we have saved enough for a major household project or for the occasional vacation.  I was struggling to sit at my desk for long periods of time and typing was extremely difficult for me so I was only able to maintain my existing jobs and I wasn’t able to take on any new freelance projects. Thankfully, we live below our means and have only considered my income as an unexpected blessing for our savings. I  missed working creatively, but I can’t imagine how hard it would have been if I couldn’t work and we needed that money for our daily expenses especially if we bit off more than we could chew financially. I am so grateful that we have savings because there was a time where we were knee-deep in debt and I would have never been able to take a break, even if my health wasn’t its best.

I’m Thankful I Embraced Some Smart Shopping Habits

As silly as it sounds, I was really thankful for a couple of things that I shipped to our house regularly so I didn’t have to think about it. Grove sent me all of our toiletries and household cleaners each month that saved me a lot of time at our grocery store. I also did Prime Pantry for my unreal amount of supplements I now have to take. I set up a schedule that we had what we needed when it ran out and it saved me countless amounts of hours over the months to not have to hit natural food stores or run out to a wholesale store to get what we needed. It all just showed up on my doorstep.

I-Like-Big-Books-Book-Bag

(book bag here)

I’m Thankful I Had a Good Escape Every Single Day

Never have I been thankful to be a reader more than I am now. I consider reading one of the ultimate simple living pleasures and I would, dare say, that books have been an unexpected crutch during this difficult time. Unable to craft, knit, type… I felt a little lost. I escaped this time often through a good book. I can’t imagine my life without good books and this escape helped me so much when I was unable to do much else. Thank you, amazing library system!

Not only did books provide comfort, but I’m finding joy in new routines. Walks with a neighbor or a good walk with my husband, a good hot yoga class, a little dabbling in meditation, hot baths in epsom salts, and the always reliable glass of wine after a hard day.

anniversary-1

I’m Thankful I Married the Right Guy

You know when people make their marriage look awesome for social media, but it’s really falling apart? Yeah. I don’t have that kind of marriage. My husband might be mortified that I am sharing this, but I have never been more thankful that I have someone this incredible to help our family through this.  He didn’t know what he was signing up for, but he has pulled through in really big ways. He helps us stay on track with our simple living routines,  he works hard when I am not able to pull my weight, and he has been my best friend since we were kids. I’m so thankful I married the right guy.

I’m Thankful I’m a Work in Progress

Our simple life isn’t perfect and I can see the glaring errors of things I need to work on. I need to rely more on simple meals. I need to say yes when friends ask if they can help me instead of defaulting to no. I need to decline doing things when I am not feeling well. I need to let my family help me more. I need to stop being so angry at God about how hard things have become. I need to let go of some of my perfectionistic ways.

All that said, I have never been more aware how lucky we are to live the way we do and I wanted to share that with you today!

What are some of your biggest blessings you have found from living a more simple life?

Amy’s Notebook 06.15.16

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Blueberry Coconut popsicles via Wallflower Kitchen

Source: Wallflower Kitchen

 

Coconut Blueberry Smash Pops- these look so yummy & easy!

Wowed by this bathroom makeover!

Chicken Pesto Kabobs -Just 4 ingredients- YUM!

Summer Listen List: Must listen audiobooks for everyone in the family this year.

7 larger-than-life wall art DIY ideas- on a little budget.

LOL! If 70’s moms had blogs. Seems about right.

Summer Rules via Thirty Handmade Days

Source: Thirty Handmade Days

 

Printable summer rules- yes!

Kitchen organization inspiration.

How to make a festive holder for your tacos!

Love these grocery store cake hacks!

Summer’s calling, and so is that chilled glass of rosé.

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!

 

Easy DIY Summer Time Capsule for Kids

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Make a memory for your kids (and you!) with this fun summer activity!

Make an easy summer time capsule- a great activity for the whole family!

This year has flown by for our family and it’s hard to believe summer is so quickly upon us. Each year I’m more desperate to hang on to our summer and our memories together. My kids are hitting the teen stages and I treasure each moment with them so much more as they get older than I had ever imagined.

I want to share with you a fun summer time capsule ornament that your children can hang on the holiday tree or can be the launching point of a fun family mealtime together this summer. Have you ever had your kids create a time capsule? I am telling you, it is so much fun and gives you a glimpse, as a parent, into what is important in their lives.

How to Make A Summer Time Capsule

Make-A-Summer-Time-Capsule

Supplies Needed

Directions

1. Tell your child at the beginning of the summer to begin gathering small items that represent their fun-filled summer! To get them brainstorming, consider gathering a representation of their favorite crafts, board games, building activities (puzzles or building blocks), beach finds (pretty sand or shells), or items found on nature walks. Tell them you want this capsule to really showcase what they were passionate about that summer so they can create a really important collection for their capsule.

Make-A-Summer-Time-Capsule

2. Have your child jot down 5 things that they love about summer. Guide them with a gentle writing prompt to explain why they have included these items in their capsule to represent them.

For example, “I love seeing my mom cry when I take all of her money in Monopoly.” Of course, that would be YOUR child, not MY child (*ahem*).

Don’t forget to have them include the date somewhere on this sheet so you can keep track of the years!

3. Fill an ornament with their trinkets and the facts about their summer. Snap shut at the seams. If you are concerned about longtime storage, you can secure with a little hot glue along the seams.

4. Use permanent marker to write your child’s name and the date somewhere on the ornament.

Make-A-Summer-Time-Capsule

In our family, we are all about board games, building blocks, finding seashells at the beach, and my daughter has developed a strong love for finger knitting this year. I love this representation of who she is at nine!

Don’t let the time capsule fun end at summer. We incorporated this same time capsule idea in our NYE celebrating as a family, but selected a few things that represented our favorite moments of the year. Over a celebration dinner, we each twisted open our capsules to share our favorite moments together. I remember that night well because I learned so much about my kids and some of the things they included surprised me. I guarantee you will learn a lot during the big time capsule reveal and make some beautiful memories.

For a summer capsule, this same idea would be fun for a family s’more night or as a fun ending to a sundae party together. Celebrate the end of summer in a new way and remember to get your kids thinking now because beautiful collections that represent them take time!

I hope you enjoy this fun craft together and please be sure to let us know if this becomes a part of your own family traditions as it has become such an integral part of ours!

Easy DIY Summer Time Capsule for Kids from MomAdvice.com.

*this post contains affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though!

 

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Molly Prentiss’s 3 Favorite Books

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Molly Prentiss

Author: Molly Prentiss  (Check out her debut novel, Tuesday Nights in 1980. Read more about Molly in our interview HERE!)

Molly Prentiss’s 3 Favorite Books

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Slouching Toward Bethlehem by Joan Didion

This was the very first book I read that made me think: I want to be a writer. It taught me so much about what it means to have a voice as a writer, and that a voice could be so distinct. I have my mother’s copy of the book that she read when she was young and living in New York, and it has all of her notes in pencil in the margin. The cover is falling off and the pages are yellow. It is probably my most treasured possession.

Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

I read this book during grad school and it utterly changed my life and my writing. I couldn’t believe someone could pull it off: writing a novel in verse, about a small red monster, and making it not only pleasurable to read but so incredibly beautiful and moving. Carson’s use of language is pure genius, and it gave me the idea that everything that’s written should have poetry in it somewhere, that language should be rhythmic and considered, but there should be heart in the language; it should not be pretty for prettiness sake.

A Visit from the Goon Squad

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

I read this book when I was in the thick of writing my novel, and studied it so diligently it was like taking a self-imposed fiction class. Egan’s use of form blew me away. It was another aha moment for me as a writer: that one could play and experiment on the page, and that the reader would trust it, and play along.

This post contains affiliate links! To learn more about the authors featured, please visit our Sundays With Writers series!

Sundays With Writers: Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss

Sunday, June 12th, 2016

Sundays With Writers

I love finding a fresh voice in fiction and Molly Prentiss certainly brings a beautifully fresh perspective to the mix with her debut novel, Tuesday Nights in 1980. This is the story of a writer who was willing to give up many words to carve a better book and spent seven years crafting the voices she wanted for this story. Tuesday Nights in 1980 is unlike any other book I have read and gave me a lot of food for thought, making it an excellent book club selection if you are looking for something to discuss. I am so excited to share about Molly’s inspiring publishing story in our Sundays With Writers series today. How fun to talk about Tuesdays on Sundays…

 

Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss

Welcome to the art scene in SoHo in the 1980’s. Prentiss, much like an artist herself, vividly paints the art scene during this time and the story of two unlikely men whose lives become intertwined in surprising ways. The book follows James Bennett, an art critic whose writing is made more beautiful because he has Synthesia, and the rise and fall of that gift when it disappears. Raul Engales is an Argentinian painter running away from his past and the Dirty War who finds that he can use an art studio on a college campus just by pretending he is a student there. When tragedy strikes, Raul & James became friends as Raul’s paintings bring back the gift of synesthesia that James had when seeing his work. They both make tragic missteps along the way though and that is where the depth to the story is truly added.

It would be impossible to not learn something new and fans of art and the Manhattan scenes in the ‘80’s will definitely find plenty to love in this ambitious debut novel. Her descriptions are like paintings themselves, vivid and full of life! 

I included this book in our May Must-Reads

Grab your coffee and let’s settle in with Molly to talk about her unique debut novel!

Molly Prentiss

You chose to open your story with a focus on Argentine politics. I’m ashamed that I really knew very little about this time in history. What inspired you to make this a part of your book? Were there any real stories of people during this time that helped shape the story of Franca?

You shouldn’t be ashamed at all – so many Americans do not know anything about this brutal moment in Argentine history. It was mostly kept out of the media while it was happening and afterward, since the US was actually supporting the Argentine military government and training their soldiers, so we did not want to be caught in the blame for the mass kidnappings and killings. Obama actually JUST brought the issue to national attention this year, and apologized for the US involvement. It is astonishing to me that something so terrible could be happening on the continent below us and we would not know it was happening, which is part of the reason I chose to speak to it in my book.

Pasillo de la memoria UTN FRA (2015) 11

 

(Photographs of victims of the 1976-83 dictatorship-wikipedia)

 

I learned about the “Dirty War”, as they call it, in a class I took in graduate school called The Violent Task of Remembering. It was taught by an extremely inspirational and intelligent woman named Claudia Bernardi, who is from Argentina and has done countless projects informed by disappeared populations around the world. I had already started writing my book when I took her class, and as I continued to learn about the atrocities that were happening in Argentina during the same period I was writing about in New York, I realized I had to bring that story into the book. It ended up sort of bookending the story, as well as existing beneath the surface as a sort of dark weight through the book.

 One of the most intriguing elements of your book is that James, an art critic, has synesthesia. Did you know anyone personally that had this or interview anyone with it to shape his story? Did you find it challenging to write out the ways he would experience things like art and people in such a unique way or did this come naturally to you?

I have only met one person with synesthesia, also during graduate school. After class one day she came up to me and told me I was the color peach. I was confused at first, but when she began to tell me about her condition, I was completely intrigued. I absolutely had to write about it. And when I did it was so much fun. It was one of the things in the book that was not difficult at all for me, mostly because I adore writing metaphors, similes, and creating unexpected connections through language. I basically just used my own associations with certain colors or people or works of art and gave them to James. It gave me permission to sort of go wild with my words.

Art spills all over your book through the gallery experiences, Raul’s own paintings, and the art critiques that James writes. I understand that your life is filled with artists (siblings, father, and your fiancée just to name a few!) and you even do illustration. Did you find it easy to immerse yourself in writing about art because of this? Did you consider adding any art elements in your book for the reader?

Yes, I guess you could say that I am attracted to artists! I love being around them and witnessing in their processes and sharing their spaces. So I guess it was natural to want to populate my book with them and be around them for the seven years it took to write it.  I did at one point consider including an artwork at the beginning of each chapter, but then I decided against it. It felt a bit forced. I ended up attempting to create the visuals using words, hoping that the reader might come to his or her own vision of the art works as he/she read.

Seven years is a long time to devote to a book. What were your biggest hurdles with this book and what would you say to another writer that is discouraged that the process is taking longer than they expected?

There were so many hurdles. For me, the very difficult part about writing this book was giving the narrative a shape and a clear direction. There were so many drafts where the plot was all over the map. I had to create devices for myself to reign in my writing, which is why it all takes place in one year, and every section takes place on a Tuesday. But none of these things were set in stone for the first five or so years I was working on it, so a lot of pages and ideas and whole characters and plot points were scrapped. The key to overcoming those hurdles for me was to learn how to not consider the writing itself so precious. You have to be willing to throw things away and start over, in the service of making a better story in the end. You have to learn that rejection—whether it comes from yourself, your agent, or your readers—is part of the game. And you have to remember that the work is the fun part. You realize that especially once your book is a real thing, out there in the world. It’s amazing, but its not the reason you did all that work. You did the work because you loved the work.

Scout Press

I have had the unique opportunity to interview the first three authors published under Scout Press now that I am interviewing you today (editor’s note: check out my interview Ruth Ware & Bill Clegg). Do you think that signing under them helped in the promotion and success of your book?

Most definitely. The great thing about Scout is that they are a very new and very small imprint, so they can be dexterous and choosy. They only publish what they really want to publish, and when they do they put the whole weight of their team behind it. They did so much to make this book what it is today, and to get it out into the world in an exciting way. I am very grateful I signed on with them.

Molly Prentiss

I understand you are already working on your next book. Can you tell us a little bit about it and are you finding the process easier or harder after such great success with your first book.

Yes, I am at work on a second novel. In its current state, it takes place in a commune in northern California in the late 1970s. But now that I know how much a book can morph in its making I am hesitant to even say exactly what it’s about. It is both easier and harder to write a second book. Easier because you know what the process looks like, and you can avoid falling into certain holes that you fell into the first time. Harder because there are expectations: you don’t want to write the same book you wrote the first time, and yet you worry that that’s what the publishers and the public might expect.

Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss

You can connect with Molly Prentiss on her website! 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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How to Make Bubble Snakes

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

How to Make Bubble Snakes from MomAdvice.com

These Indiana girls couldn’t be happier that summer is around the corner and today we wanted to show you how to make bubble snakes with our homemade diy bubble recipe. If you haven’t tried our bubble recipe, you are in for the best bubbles ever this year. This fun activity is brought to you in partnership with Tum-E Yummies today.

Have you made your own bubbles or a bubble snake before? If you haven’t, you are going to be amazed at the difference in this solution versus what you buy at the store and the staying power of your bubble snake. Not only are making bubbles and bubble snakes fun, but they are also a lesson in science.

According to Steve Spangler Science, “Bubbles form because of the surface tension of water. Hydrogen atoms in one water molecule are attracted to oxygen atoms in other water molecules. They like each other so much, they cling together. When you blow air through your Bubble Snake maker, you are creating hundreds of tiny bubbles. As the air wiggles through the fabric, bubbles are continuously being made. The bubbles attach to each other when they come out of the fabric. It’s all thanks to the same hydrogen bonds that make bubbles possible!”

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t really understand the science behind bubble making. I love a bit of science with our crafts. Let’s get mixing!

How to Make Bubble Snakes

How to Make Bubble Snakes from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed

Dishwashing liquid soap

Glycerin (we found this behind the pharmacist’s counter at our local superstore. Can also sometimes be found in the first aid supplies section)

Pitcher (we love the kind with a plunger to mix the bubbles)

Liquid Food Coloring

1 plastic bottle

Box Cutter

An old sock or a washcloth (secured with a rubberband) Bubble tray or a disposable plate or bowl

DIY Bubbles Recipe from MomAdvice.com

1. Mix up your homemade bubble solution in your pitcher (recipe below). We halved our recipe to fit in this two quart pitcher, but you can definitely mix up a full gallon too. Set aside.

How to Make Bubble Snakes from MomAdvice.com

2. Today, we are using a Tum-E Yummies container for the base of the craft, so let your kids drink their favorite flavor to get the container ready to be used! If your kids haven’t tried these, they are fruit flavored waters that come in five flavors (Very Berry Blue, Greentastic Apple, Fruitabulous Punch, Orange-arific, and Sour-sational Raspberry). Each of these have 100% daily value vitamin C, B6, B12 and only 50 calories and 13g of sugar. You can be assured, you will need all those vitamins for the bubble blowing that will be happening once we are done creating this craft!

3. Take a box cutter and carefully remove the bottom of the container. Once this is removed, secure a sock or a washcloth (secured with a rubber band) over the newly opened end.

4. Take your liquid food coloring and create a stripe of each color (red, yellow, green, and blue) across the bottom of the sock or washcloth. The more you add to the bottom, the more vibrant the colors.

5. Dip the rainbow end into the bubble solution. Be sure to get a good soak of bubbles on it to create your snake.

6. Blow on the other end of the container to blow out that colorful bubble snake. Be sure to stress to your kids to not suck in their breath (who wants to swallow bubbles? yuck!).

How to Make Bubble Snakes from MomAdvice.com How to Make Bubble Snakes from MomAdvice.com

 

How fun is that? I guarantee amazing bubble snakes with our diy recipe! While you are at it, be sure to purchase some big wands for this fun project. You really won’t believe how big these bubbles are or how long they hold their shape before popping.

How to Make Bubble Snakes from MomAdvice.com

A huge thank you to Tum-E Yummies for partnering with me to create this fun summer activity idea. You can find these flavored waters in many convenience stores, grocery stores, and drugstores. My kids really did love this fun twist on water and I know they will make a fun addition to our pool bags this summer after a long day of swimming!

DIY Bubble Recipe
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Keep these items on hand to make bubbles all summer long. You won't believe the size or the staying power of this amazing solution.
Ingredients
  • 1 gallon water
  • ⅔ cup dishwashing soap
  • 2-3 tbsp. glycerin
Instructions
  1. Mix all these ingredients in a container. DONE!

For more fun family ideas, follow Tum-E Yummies on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!

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