Author Archive

Make-Ahead & Freeze Your Thanksgiving Meal

Saturday, November 7th, 2015

Make-Ahead & Freeze Your Thanksgiving Meal from

It’s that time of year again where I show you how incredibly awesome it is to prepare your Thanksgiving meal ahead and pack it away in your freezer for the big upcoming feast. Over the years I have tried so many recipes to share with you and today I want to show you my foolproof technique meal for creating a delicious meal right from your freezer and to your table that will taste like you cooked it that very day.

Before we dive into all the recipes, here are a few items I recommend having in your arsenal to make your meal preparation day easier and to actually create room for all of these delicious dishes.

Make-Ahead & Freeze Your Thanksgiving Meal from

Ninja Cooker For Preparation & Buffet

This item is definitely a splurge item, but has paid for itself over and over again for me. The Ninja Cooker has two functions on it (Stovetop & Slow Cooker) that allow you to brown meat inside of it and then switch to slow cooking. It also has a Buffet setting that is perfect for using on Thanksgiving Day to keep your dishes warm. I can’t recommend this gadget enough and consider it to be a smart holiday investment. Did I mention it is nonstick? DREAMY!

Ziploc Freezer Bags For Food Storage for the Big Day

I love, love, love Ziploc Freezer Bags for their stackability for storing our food for the big day. I use these to package up my stuffing and casseroles to help me pack more in my freezer without taking up so much space like a disposable pan would. Make sure you reach for the freezer bags and not the regular ones though to prevent freezer burn. When in doubt if something will hold, always double bag!

Chinet Bakeware For An Elegant Freezer Meal Spread

Since I freeze my feast for Thanksgiving Day, I love the ease of stacking (and clean-up) when it comes to disposable pans. Chinet makes ones that are nonstick and I have found them to be a bit more durable for transporting from oven to table. Since they are made of paper, the first time I used them I was a little scared how my food would turn out, but I have had great success with these and find them to be an affordable alternative to foil pans for Thanksgiving Day. If you want to keep things looking nice, these casserole baskets (less than $10 each) are a clever trick I use to disguise a disposable pan.

Make-Ahead & Freeze Your Thanksgiving Meal from

Pie Cutters For Glamming Up Store-Bought Pies

If baking pies isn’t your thing, consider buying a little pie dough and adding a personalized touch with an inexpensive set of decorative pie cutters. You simply roll out the pre-packaged dough, cut out a piece with the pie cutter and press to make a detailed impression on the top. Transfer these delicate details to a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake as directed. Add a glossy shine with a little egg or sprinkle sugar & cinnamon on top to add a little flavor. Between this and a glammed up whip cream or quick topping, your store-bought pies will be a fabulous addition to the dinner table.

Carry-Out Dishes For Packing Leftovers

Sharing the leftovers is not only a nice gesture for your guests, but it makes sure that all the dishes get eaten. I use my takeout pho containers when packaging food up for myself, but these Fitpacker containers would be lovely to share and let your guests take home food or to prepare a few lunches/dinners for your own family for the week so you can really put your feet up!

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Dishes To Try

Cheddar Apple Pie Dip from


Bacon Ranch Cheeseball- Need I say more?

Spunky Spinach Dip- A delicious combination of spinach, salsa, & cream cheese. Serve with carrots and tortilla chips for dipping

Cheddar Apple Pie Dip- Prepare until the point of baking. Freeze for the big day.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip- AKA Crack Dip, as it is so lovingly referred to in our house.

Slow Cooker Chex Mix

Gluten-Free Meatball Sub Appetizer

Gluten-Free Meatballs- Bake & prepare sauce. Freeze separately for the big day. Warm up on the stove top and then skewer with baby mozzarella balls.

Sugar & Spice Nut Mix- Would also make a great hostess gift if you aren’t making the meal!

Cranberry Spread- Tangy and a delicious dip to pair with crackers.

Make-Ahead Green Bean Casserole


Green Bean Casserole- Panko with homemade mushroom cream sauce- it’s divine!

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes- I always double batch this recipe because these are the best mashed potatoes you will ever eat.

Brandied Orange & Cranberry Sauce- This is the best cranberry sauce I have ever eaten- truly!

Buttery Bread Machine Rolls- This foolproof recipe makes storing a bread machine worth it! Be sure to read this article for lots of bread machine tips!

Make-Ahead Gravy

Make-Ahead Gravy Recipe- Finding out I could make this early last year saved me so much time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin Cranberry Cornbread- Bake & freeze for the big day!

Make-Ahead Apple, Sausage, & Sage Sourdough Stuffing

Fancy Up Store-Bought Pies


Store-Bought Pie Tricks- Wow, your guests with a few easy details

Homemade Pumpkin Pie

All-Butter Pie Crust- Prepare and freeze discs of dough

Cranberry Crunch Pie Topping

Cranberry Crunch Pie Topping- Store wet and dry ingredients separately for the big day

Spiced Whipped Cream- Make-ahead and store in the fridge for the big day

No-Bake Peppermint Cheesecakes

No-Bake Peppermint Cheesecakes- A promise of all the good treats to come this holiday season

Not cooking? Here are a few of my favorite hostess gifts

DIY Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles

DIY Slow Cooker Pumpkin Candles

Mini Pie Hostess Favor


Mini Pie Gifts

Microwave Peanut Brittle

Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle

Sugar & Spice Nuts Mix

Sugar & Spice Nuts

Knitted Sweater Cozies

Knitted Sweater Coffee Cozies

Wine Hats & Scarves

Wine Hats & Scarves

Neon Paint Dipped Spoon Set

Paint-Dipped Spoon Sets

Free Thanksgiving Printable

Thanksgiving Decor, Crafts & Entertaining

Woodland Thanksgiving Table + Free Printables

DIY Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Friendsgiving Feast

Friendsgiving Feast

Host a Friendsgiving Feast

How to Entertain the Kids on Thanksgiving Day

How to Set the Perfect Thanksgiving Table

DIY Chalkboard Food Label Frames

I hope these ideas inspire you! If you are looking for a great turkey recipe, be sure to check out this Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast or just use this simple technique for a small crowd to prepare a boneless breast! Happy holidays, friends! xo

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

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How To: Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles

Friday, November 6th, 2015

DIY Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles from

Gift-giving season is upon us and I am always looking for great gifts that don’t cost a lot, can be made in bulk, and will actually be used! Do you remember when we made Citronella Candles in our slow cooker for thoughtful hostess gifts for the cookout season? I am so excited to show you, yet again, how to make candles in your slow cooker and this time we are making easy Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles for the holidays.

As a Pumpkin Spice everything addict, these are full of my favorite holiday scent and can be made with just a few purchases from your craft store and your slow cooker! I just want to warn you how good your house is going to smell so GET READY!

DIY Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles from

Head on over to the Kenmore Blog to get the scoop on how to make these beautiful candles for the perfect hostess gift for the holidays!

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It’s the 3 Little Things: At-Home Facials, Halloween, & Soup Deliveries

Friday, November 6th, 2015

It's the 3 Little Things

I hope you all are having a wonderful week! Gosh, so much has happened this week that it is impossible to put it in a list of three. Obviously, top on the list is having my Knitted Boot Cuff Kit out in the world. I have been working on that since the summer (if you can believe it?) and I am really proud to have something I designed in a craft store.

Hazel & Ruby Holiday Crafternoon Knitted Boot Cuff

I woke up this morning and it’s me- IN STORES. So I have a field trip planned now that it says there are three available in my town! They also happen to be on sale so be sure to snag one!!

Other little things that brought me joy this week was the unexpected warmer weather we had where I got to share an evening with my girlfriends around my picnic table in November (unheard of) by the twinkle of candlelight, I’m having our ’60’s home painted professionally for the first time (ceilings, windows, cupboards, walls…) so it feels like I am walking around in a new house, and I spent last night seeing The Avett Brothers put on a spectacular show!

This number, in particular, made me just weep. It is one of my favorite hymns.

See what I mean? Really good stuff!

Here are a few other things that made me happy this week!


Skin Authority 3-in-1 Cleansing Brush

Affordable Facials At Home

I had been debating on purchasing a Clarisonic Mia because I have heard so many good things about it and what it can do for your skin. The thing is, I am too cheap to shell out $150 to wash my face, no matter how good it is. Skin Authority reached out to me to see if I might like to try some of their products and I noticed that they had a 3-in-1 Skin Cleansing System that cost only $59!! I told them I would love to try it out so I could share a cheaper alternative to the Mia with you and I am LOVING it.

I have super sensitive skin and was a little worried that my skin would flare up with this, but it doesn’t at all and I feel like the products that I use on my face are absorbing so much better, giving me a healthier glow. I can’t believe the difference in the texture and fine lines in my face even after one week.

There is also a microdermabrasion brush that I plan to use once a week for exfoliating, once my skin adjusts to the brush, and it has a makeup applicator to help airbrush your foundation. I love that it can do all of this for a third of the price of the one I was considering.  Between that and my new argan oil addiction, my skin is looking awesome!

In lieu of a charging station, it uses batteries, which is great since our bathroom is so small so this fits my budget and my home!

Halloween Hermione Costume


Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and this year was no exception. This was the first year my husband and I took our daughter, just us two, out to trick-or-treat. My son has outgrown the tradition and prefers to hand out candy, but Emily could not wait to loop through the neighborhood in her wizard robe. We have been on fire for Harry Potter since our trip to Universal and the Harry Potter Illustrated Edition came out.

I know our days are numbered with trick-or-treating so I drank in all of the sweetness this year. It poured rain and the weather was miserable, but nothing a big mug of homemade cocoa and pumpkin pancakes couldn’t fix around our kitchen table. Her rosy cheeks and watching her run full force for candy through the ‘hood as my husband and I held hands was a memory I hope I get to treasure forever.

Where's Waldo & Carmen Sandiego Couple Costume

My hubby & I also hit a costume party this year so we had to come up with a couple’s costume for the occasion. You know we always take this task very seriously. He purchased a Where’s Waldo costume and busted out his messenger bag to complete the look. I happened to already have a red trench and got a floppy hat from Target (sadly, no red in stock!), and a yard of yellow fabric to tie in Carmen Sandiego’s signature yellow scarf. We were pretty proud for pulling this last minute costume together rather affordably this year. It was such a fun night!

Spoonful of Comfort

Comforting Soup Deliveries When You Are Low On Time

It seems to be a difficult season in life for so many people we know. Unfortunately, it is also a difficult season to make time to care for everyone that I want to help thanks to the holidays ramping up and my kid’s activities.  My friend Jessica, from The Mom Creative, told me about this great company called Spoonful of Comfort that is just great if you are wanting to go in on a group gift for someone in need. The concept is a half gallon of homemade soup, rolls, and cookies that arrive through a doorstep delivery to someone you want to help with a note to let them know you care. Whether is a mom on bed rest, a family member that is ill, a college student who could use a little homemade TLC, or a housewarming gift- I can’t think of a better concept for people to go in on a group gift than this. For $70 for their most popular package, it’s a great one to have everyone throw in $10-15 for a gift that will really help someone. I love the mission of the company and I love this sweet gesture that you can offer for a busy family!

PS- I have found loads of coupon codes so be sure to Google those before you place an order to take off shipping or a percentage on your order!

Happy weekend, friends! 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

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


What We Have Learned From Adopting a Shelter Cat

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

Tracking Pixel

Why You Should Adopt a Shelter Cat from

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Fresh Step® litter.

I had never had a cat growing up, but when we were newly married the only type of animal that we were allowed to have in our apartment was a cat. We naively headed to a pet store and purchased our first cat who lived with us through the birth of our two children and a move that brought us from Massachusetts to Indiana. When she passed away, my home felt empty and I found myself incredibly lonely. I never realized how much she filled my days and how much I would miss her daily presence in my life.

Why You Should Adopt a Shelter Cat from our first family selfie with Lulu

This time, I was a little older and a little wiser than my newly married self. I knew that there were many cats available at the shelter that needed a home and I wanted to get our next animal from there to support a great local shelter. We knew that kittens went quickly while the older cats tended to stay longer so we picked out our sweet Lulu who was still a young lady at three, but had been at the shelter for awhile. What a hard selection it was though as we browsed pages and pages of cats looking for a home to call their own. Lulu captured our hearts thanks to her sweet disposition with kids, her sassy tuxedo, and her adorable name (I happened to play a Lulu in a high school play).

On July 15, 2013  we brought her home with us and I immediately moved into crazy cat lady loving territory. I have never loved an animal more than I love this cat.

Why You Should Adopt a Shelter Cat from

Why You Should Adopt a Shelter Cat from

Why You Should Adopt a Shelter Cat from

Why You Should Adopt a Shelter Cat from

Lulu has brought so much joy to my life and to our kid’s lives that we all fight over who gets to hang out with her.  She follows me from room to room like a puppy when it is just us two and enjoys the pets and snuggles from our kids when they get home, waiting by the door patiently for their arrival.  We celebrate her birthday every year on Halloween like the crazy cat lovers we are and sing her the birthday song, much to her disappointment. The torture!

Why You Should Adopt a Shelter Cat from

What Are the Benefits of Adopting a Shelter Cat?

There are so many benefits to adopting a shelter cat and today I want to share a few important reasons with you about what a special gift it is to give one a place in your home:

You Are Saving a Life- There are over  2.7 million animals who are euthanized each year because there are too many pets and far too few families to adopt. This number could be dramatically reduced if more families adopted instead of buying animals. Not only that, but by adopting an animal you also free up space for another animal to take their place and find a forever home.

You Can Take Advantage of Adopting an Adult Animal- Kittens are so fun, but can be a lot of work. Lucky for you, you can skip the toddler stage and jump right into adorable calm and companionship. We found an adult cat fits perfectly in our family and adds so much to our household.  With adult cats their sweet dispositions are already established and you can move right into world’s best couch companion without the crazy! 

You Support the Work of a Great Non-Profit- When you adopt a pet from our shelter, you assist a not-for-profit organization, but you also send a message to others who will be asking you for years to come where you obtained your adorable pet. There are so many incredible volunteers who spend countless hours caring for these animals as they await their forever homes. Nothing makes me happier than to honor the hard work of these volunteers by adopting a pet and supporting great companies like Fresh Steps®  who help support organizations like these.

Why You Should Adopt a Shelter Cat from

How Fresh Step® Helps Shelter Cats Through Their Million Meow Mission

Fresh Steps has a Million Meow Mission that strives to help all cats experience a loving home. Whether it is through caregiving, volunteering, or financial donations, they consider every act of kindness to a cat in need a true gift.

Although I was aware of the program, I wasn’t aware of the work they did to support fospice care. I am not sure if you have even heard of the term, “fospice care,” but it is one mission in particular that is so beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes.  Fospice care is when a family foster cares for a cat that is terminally ill and gives a shelter cat a loving home where they can spend their final days with a family. It certainly takes a special family to do this and Bosley was  one strong cat who overcame the odds and spent a beautiful year with one family who opened their home to make it a place of sanctuary for Bosley in his final days.

Watch this video about Bosley and the family who got to be his family during these last peaceful moments. How can you not want to support a mission like that?

This year, Fresh Step® continues its commitment to shelter cats by offering enhanced opportunities for its Paw Points loyalty members to get involved. Members can:

    • Enter their Paw Points Code to show support for shelter cats and receive a Million Meow Mission badge to share on social media
    • Donate Paw Points to support shelters and receive a $2-off Fresh Step® coupon and a Million Meow Mission badge to share on social media
    • Share their Adoption Story with the community. For more information on the Million Meow Mission and to get involved, please visit their website.


We hope you can join us in supporting this great cause through your purchase of Fresh Step® Litter. Now that we know their mission to assist others, it makes our purchase feel even more special!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Fresh Step® litter.

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DIY Knitted Boot Cuffs With Hazel & Ruby

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

DIY Knitted Boot Cuffs from

Friends, I could not be more excited today to share with you my Knitted Boot Cuff Kit that I have created with Hazel & Ruby for their Holiday Crafternoon line that is available in Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft stores nationwide. It was such a great challenge for me as a crafter to design a kit like this and I have learned so much (and have a new appreciation for) about how people create these kits for the stores.

DIY Knitted Boot Cuffs from

What is Crafternoon?

The purpose of these kits is to be able to create a great gift in an afternoon for the holidays. In this kit, we have lovingly prepared everything you need to create a beautiful set of boot cuffs from lace to yarn to buttons. Instead of you spending time hunting down patterns, materials, or trying to muddle through a pattern alone, Crafternoon puts it all together to you in one easy-to-use package! Check out the video above to see what the fuss is all about!

Why I Know You Will Love This Kit

The thing that I believe really sells this kit though is a set of bamboo needles that you can use over and over again for knitting small projects in the round without the need for double-pointed needles. This particular set is typically not available in most craft and yarn stores. In fact, I have had to order my sets overseas and they cost about the price of this entire kit once I factored in shipping and the expense of the needles. This set includes my favorite needles and once you have them, you can use this pattern over and over again, adding your own unique and beautiful details to these cuffs.

DIY Knitted Boot Cuffs from

Will This Pattern Challenge Me?

I really hope so! I didn’t want to just a simple knitted pattern, although you can definitely do that with the materials provided too. I wanted to create a pattern that would help you learn a little bit of the lace technique (without that super thin yarn!), but that there are enough basic stitches that you could zone out a bit with a Netflix binge and just enough that will hold your interest and create beauty within the cuff.

DIY Knitted Boot Cuffs from

If you have never knit in the round before, these needles make it possible.  Crystal, from Money Saving Mom, shared on her Instagram feed her pride of knitting in the round for the first time thanks to this little kit. I couldn’t have been prouder of her and I know that you can do it too!

The kit not only includes step-by-step instructions, but you can also access a video where I walk you through every step of the way through this process and be accessed with the QR code on the back of your packaging or you can just watch it above! Doesn’t it feel like we are crafting together?

Amy Allen Clark from

Now hurry up and order a kit so we can knit together or order one for a holiday gift for a favorite crafter in your life. You can also pick a kit up at Jo-Ann that you can use this weeks 30% of total purchase on Wednesday AND of course they always have a 40% off coupon!


Have fun blog-hopping through all of the beautiful Crafternoon projects! Lolly Jane has a beautiful Christmas Art Kit that she would love to share with you so swing by to see her Crafternoon project.  Be sure to check out the entire Crafternoon line from Hazel & Ruby for all of your gifting needs!



Amy’s Notebook 11.04.15

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Thanksgiving dessert toppers via Oh Happy Day

Source: Oh Happy Day


Adorable Thanksgiving dessert toppers.

The plot twist: e-book sales slip.

Nancie McDermott soups and stews meal plan.

Making your web content game way strong.

I practice simple living but I still love my stuff.

Rotini with butternut-sage sauce. Yum!!

Horseshoe braid- beautiful & looks easy!

8 memoirs to read.

Brown-bag lunch strategies for grown-ups.

Why successful people are adopting capsule wardrobes.

DIY painted cat nails- adorable!

Books to Inspire via Shutterbean

Source: Shutterbean


Books to inspire you.

24 productive things successful people do with the first hour of their day.

27 moms who are trolls at heart- made me laugh!

On a plate.

How to get over comparing yourself to other creatives.

An average Saturday morning: with kids vs. without kids.

Could you live on half your income? These people do.


Netflix is reviving ‘Gilmore Girls.’

4 artists you need to know.

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!


October 2015 Must-Reads

Friday, October 30th, 2015

October2015MUST READS

I can’t believe another month is behind us and hope you guys have a fun & safe Halloween weekend. This month I have eight new books to share about for this month of reading, but more importantly than that, I have a big ol’ braggy announcement.


It looks like I met my reading goal for 2015! I’m feeling SO proud that I have got sixty books under my belt and I certainly have YOU to thank for that!

If I didn’t have this space to share in, I certainly would have more time to read more books..

Wait a minute…

Now that I think about it YOU hold me back from dream of accomplishing 100 books.

Just kidding!

In reality, I love having lots to share with you each month and these monthly round-ups serve as motivation to read a lot and to read a diverse amount of books. Thank you for motivating me and I can’t wait to see how many more books I can share with you before the year is over.

Let’s dig into a fresh stack, shall we?

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

I have been working my way through the list of must-reads by the authors featured in our Sundays With Writers series and this book was recommended by Elisabeth Egan as a must-read. I picked it up from the library and the way the book was set up was so different than anything I had read before. I was having a hard time digging into it and kept putting it aside, but I just didn’t want to give up on this one because it had come so highly recommended.

That is why I want to say that there are cases where an audiobook can bring an entirely different reader experience and that was the case with Dept. of Speculation. The narration by Jenny Offill is pitch perfect as you dive almost into one’s stream of thoughts about marriage and parenting. It’s not the pretty stuff, but the meat of marriage and the difficult moments of parenting that are so raw and real. It was, in fact, the kind of book where sentences made the hairs on my arms stand up from their beauty.

Jenny Offill’s heroine, referred to in these pages as simply “the wife,” once exchanged love letters with her husband postmarked Dept. of Speculation, their code name for all the uncertainty that inheres in life and in the strangely fluid confines of a long relationship. As they confront an array of common catastrophes – a colicky baby, a faltering marriage, stalled ambitions – the wife analyzes her predicament, invoking everything from Keats and Kafka to the thought experiments of the Stoics to the lessons of doomed Russian cosmonauts. She muses on the consuming, capacious experience of maternal love, and the near total destruction of the self that ensues from it as she confronts the friction between domestic life and the seductions and demands of art.


Although I muddled through it in book format, the audio version really helped me navigate the story in a really beautiful way. I am going to be thinking about this one for a long time!  This would be a really great one for a first-time audiobook user too since the audiobook is just over three hours of listening time, a quick & satisfying listen! 

5 Out of 5 Stars


This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance by Jonathan Evison

There is so much beautiful layering in this book that I just couldn’t put it down! 78-year-old Harriet discovers that her husband had won an Alaskan cruise before his passing and, with an expiration date looming on the prize, she decides to take that cruise with her best friend. When her best friend unexpectedly bails on her, Harriet finds herself on a boat out to sea, but she isn’t alone thanks to her husband’s visits.

We grow to know Harriet in a unique way as chapters alternate with a,“This is Your Life,” game show theme and we jump along the timeline of Harriet learning more about all of the life experiences that have shaped her, the people who have betrayed her, how she was treated when she was a child, how she felt as her marriage and parenting were failing, and what it was like for her to care for a husband who mentally was no longer there.

The book twists and turns, secrets are revealed and an unexpected guest joins Harriet on the cruise. It was a beautiful story that makes you consider what your own, “This Is Your Life,” show might look like- with all the good and the bad moments in it.

Jonathan Evison joined me on Sundays With Writers so when you are done with the book, be sure to read his interview to learn more behind this incredible book! This book has been optioned for screenplay so be sure to read it before catching it in the theaters! 

5 Out of 5 Stars

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This book was another must-read author recommendation, this one was recommended by Liz Fenton in her Sundays With Writers interview. Somehow I had missed this one in between her other two incredible books Forever Interrupted and Maybe In Another Life.

I can now say that I’ve read all of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books and this is, by far, her best work.  After I Do is a brutally honest portrayal of a failing marriage that gives us glimpses into our own marriage struggles that we deal with daily and how, what once was endearing, can be the things that we can’t stand about our spouse.

Lauren & Ryan take a year off of their marriage in a temporary split to see if they really are meant to be together. As they navigate the world without one another, they discover a lot about themselves and each other.

A hopeful book filled with a family of characters that feel like your own, Reid’s book makes you feel like part of the family as you root for Lauren & Ryan to find each other again. Highly recommending this one!

Taylor Jenkins Reid will be joining us this month in an upcoming Sundays With Writers- stay tuned!

5 Out of 5 Stars

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Once again, I hit the must-read list and Vanessa Diffenbaugh had recommended this one saying, It is an incredibly intense book about racial inequality in our criminal justice system, but it is beautifully written and powerful, with just enough hopefulness to help you sit with the discomfort of the truth and think hard about how you can help contribute to a solution.  I recommend it to everyone I know.”

It is true. It is impossible to read this book and not think differently about our broken court system and those on death row. Bryan Stevenson founded an organization called the Equal Justice Initiative whose sole purpose was to defend those who were most desperately in need. His cases include people suffering from mental illness, addiction, poor, the wrongly condemned, and women & children and his stories illustrate case by case how these people wound up on death row and how they worked to defend them.

At the center of it all is Walter McMillian who was wrongfully accused of murder and Bryan’s efforts to redeem this incredible man before he is executed. I flipped the pages as quickly as I would a legal thriller hoping for redemption for Walter and his family.

Bryan is a masterful storyteller, offering heart and humanity to the wounded, and is a true American hero. Everyone should read this book.

5 Out of 5 Stars


7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

With her signature wit, Jen Hatmaker takes a year-long fast for Jesus, tackling one excess after another in the average American life. From whittling down her closet to seven items, to eating only seven foods, to reducing her waste, to trimming her spending; she documents her daily struggles and triumphs through the lessons learned.

What really pulled through for me most was how much we take for granted and how, with a bit of trimming, we have the ability to transform the lives of the poor. If we are to love Jesus, we are to love the poor like He did. Not only are we reminded about our own individual choices, but she really sheds light on the excessive spending of churches, money spent only on themselves when it could be better served for the greater needs of the world. This comes up often in the book as Jen’s church has chosen to spend on those in need rather than their own building and selves.

It would be impossible to read this book and not feel moved to give more. Although I would consider myself a minimalist, there is ALWAYS room for improvement and this gave me a lot of food for thought. I shed many tears through this one for those in need and unwanted. While expecting a light read, Jen delivered a life-changing practice that we could all be challenged to try.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One will be hitting the theatres in movie form thanks to the direction of Spielberg (no biggie!). I selected this book to work for my local book club and planned an outing to the Secret Door Games store to pick up some holiday gifts for our kids. I thought this book would be just perfect for the event.

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the  OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

Ernest Cline wasted a lot of ’80’s references on this poor girl who apparently knows nothing about the era, but it didn’t take away from the unique concept that he developed in this story. Following Wade Watts as he works to discover the ultimate lottery ticket in a virtual world was such a treat as a reader and felt as though, you too, were in the world with him. The twists at the end really brought it all together beautifully!

Although this was out of my typical genre, I really loved the unique concept and think it just might be a bit of the foreshadowing of what might be to come in 2044.

4 Out of 5 Stars


The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

No one can ever believe that I have never read a Kate Morton book, but I think the covers to her books have always kept me away. I decided to not judge a book by its cover and to dig into my first book this month by her. I guess you guys were right, she really IS good! 

During a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy—her vivacious, loving, nearly perfect mother.

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress living in London. The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this may be her last chance, Laurel searches for answers to the questions that still haunt her from that long-ago day, answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past.

All I can say is, holy plot twists, Batman! This book was a SLOW build for me and I wasn’t sure at all where the story was going. Since this was my first Kate Morton novel, I had no expectations of where the story was heading or how her writing works, but in the last hundred pages there were about three plot twists that completely shocked me. It ended up making the whole slow build thing a little more worth it.

Overall, really happy I added this one to my book stacks this month! If you are a Kate Morton fan, please let me know which of her books is your favorite so I can be sure to add it to my next stack!

4 Out of 5 Stars

The Life & Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North

The Life & Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North

This book is dark and unusual as the reader dives into the life of Sophie Stark, an eccentric and unusual filmmaker, beginning from her very first college documentary and on.

“It’s hard for me to talk about love. I think movies are the way I do that,” says Sophie Stark, a visionary and unapologetic filmmaker. She uses stories from the lives of those around her—her obsession, her girlfriend, and her husband—to create movies that bring her critical recognition and acclaim. But as her career explodes, Sophie’s unwavering dedication to her art leads to the shattering betrayal of the people she loves most.

Told through a chorus of voices of people who know her, the reader discovers more about the creative genius that she was and the lengths that she will use people to achieve the films she wants. The reader never really understands Sophie Starks, neither do these sea of voices, but the intrigue about her holds you until the final page.

Disturbing and raw, this reads more like a documentary than a piece of fiction.

4 Out of 5 Stars



Read With Me This Year:

January 2015 Must-Reads

February 2015 Must-Reads

March 2015 Must-Reads

April 2015 Must-Reads

May 2015 Must-Reads

June 2015 Must-Reads

July 2015 Must-Reads

August 2015 Must-Reads

September 2015 Must-Reads

October2015MUST READS

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

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

My Favorite ePantry Items

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

My Favorite ePantry Items from

This week we won’t have our weekly happiness since I will be sharing my favorite reads with you tomorrow for the month! Instead, I thought I would share my favorite items that I order through ePantry. In case you missed my announcement this week, now through November 1st (9PM EST)  you can get a FREE Mrs. Meyer’s Seasonal Scents hand soap, dish soap, and multi-surface cleaner, plus a Full Circle renewable dish brush with any $20 minimum purchase! Not only that, but shipping will also be free (scroll down to cash in on that offer!)

This offer is valid for new ePantry customers only, however, existing customers can add a FREE Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap to your next order through this link. If you already signed up, be sure to snag your freebie! 

Not sure what to spend your $20 on? I have tried just about every item that ePantry offers and I want to share with you my absolute favorites!

My Favorite ePantry Items from

Yes To Blueberries Brightening Facial Wipes

I am big on washing my face every night, but since the evenings have been so chaotic lately, I have gotten out of the habit of a good facial routine. I purchased these Yes to Blueberries Brightening Facial Wipes and I absolutely love them to get my make-up off before I head to bed. I love the smell of these and they do a great job getting my make-up off without drying out my skin. If you have gotten out of a good skin routine, these are awesome! Although I had hoped to like the Cucumber ones, they actually made my skin flare up (I’m not sure why) so I stick with the Blueberries one for my sensitive skin! ($5.49 for 25 wipes)

My Favorite ePantry Items

ACURE Moroccan Argan Oil

My latest obsession is Argan Oil for my sensitive skin and after about a month of doing this, I see an incredible difference in my skin. After  I wash my face, I apply two pumps of Argan Oil to my face while it is slightly damp. I then layer on a thick layer of nighttime cream before I head to bed. I noticed that ePantry started offering Argan Oil recently and I purchased some and I am in absolute amazement at how good my skin looks. Fine lines appear to be more smooth on my face and my skin has never felt softer. The bonus is that you can use this on dry hands, cuticles, and to calm down frizziness in your hair- all especially necessary in these long winter months. I swear, it’s my new beauty miracle! One bottle lasts me about a month with daily use. ($10.95)

My Favorite ePantry Items from

Grove Orange Thyme & Cardamom Candles

If you are looking for a great smelling candle for the holiday season, I am absolutely in love with the Grove Orange Thyme & Cardamom Candles. It really smells like you are baking something absolutely delicious in your kitchen and the scent is powerful, but not overpowering. Although these candles look small, weighing in at just eight ounces, these burn over seventy hours! That is about twice the length of time of most of the candles I have purchased that were much larger than this one. ($12.95)

My Favorite ePantry Items from

Tom’s of Maine Toothpaste

If you would have told me I would become a natural toothpaste lover, I would have laughed. I absolutely made fun of people that purchased this! When my usual toothpaste wasn’t available through ePantry, I substituted with this and now that I have tried it I will never go back.  I have sensitive gums and teeth and this toothpaste delivers on getting clean teeth without the use of harsh chemicals. I worried my kids wouldn’t like the switch, but they haven’t even said one thing about it so I guess we all adapted easier than we thought and I apologize to anyone I may have made fun of for making a purchase like this! I am a believer now!

My Favorite ePantry Items from

Mrs. Meyer’s Laundry Detergent

When I don’t have a batch of my homemade laundry detergent on hand, I have found that Mrs. Meyer’s Laundry Detergent works incredibly well on our clothes. I use this and the Method Fabric Softener (also available through ePantry) in the Lavender scent and everything comes out smelling so good with only a tablespoon of detergent per load! The bottle doesn’t seem that big, but it actually is enough for 68 loads!  In all honesty, I have discovered that if Mrs. Meyer’s makes it, I know I will love it! ($16.64)

That is exactly why I want to be sure you get to take advantage of the Mrs. Meyer’s Seasonal Bundle! 


Cash In On This Exclusive Offer!

Now through November 1st (9PM EST)  you can get a FREE Mrs. Meyer’s Seasonal Scents hand soap, dish soap, and multi-surface cleaner, plus a Full Circle renewable dish brush with any $20 minimum purchase! Not only that, but shipping will also be free.

This offer is valid for new ePantry customers only, however, existing customers can add a FREE Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap to your next order through this link.

1. Sign-up HERE for Cranberry, HERE for Orange Clove, or HERE for Iowa Pine (you can mix & match once your get to your basket, too). Click on the “get started” button (new customers only).

2. You’ll be asked a few questions to personalize your account a little better. (This only takes about 30 seconds.)

3. After answering the questions, a customized dashboard will pop up with a set basket of suggested items for this deal. You’ll see the Mrs. Meyer’s Seasonal Scents and Dish Brush included. On the right, you will see the discounts for the freebies and free shipping.

What the basket will look like upon checkout

4. Modify your basket to your liking and preferences. Your minimum order amount just has to be $20 or more to get the bonus free products. You can choose any combination of seasonal scents for the freebies, too.

5. Shipping is free.

After the freebies, it’s like paying just $2.33 per item shipped!This is a such a great opportunity to save on festive cleaning products for your home during the holiday season!

Here is a breakdown of pricing:


Remember that this offer is valid only through November 1st (until 9PM EST)! Happy Holidays!

The Best of Fall, Halloween & Thanksgiving: 49 Ideas for Decor, Crafts, Recipes, Costumes & More!

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

The Best of Fall, Halloween & Thanksgiving-49 Ideas for Decor, Crafts, Recipes, Costumes & More

Fall is really one of my favorite seasons, from the first leaves that turn glorious colors through Halloween costumes to hanging out with family and friends for Thanksgiving, I love it all! Mom Advice has been around long enough that I’ve got a TON of great ideas, tutorials, and recipes that are perfect for this season, so I’m rounding it all up in one spot for you, since I know a lot of your are fall lovers like me.

No matter what you like, you’ll find something here for you, including lots of easy DIY decorating, some fun knitting projects, comforting food recipes (including my popular list of make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes!), costume ideas for the whole family, and more.


Fall Decor & Crafts

Mini Felted Pumpkin Tutorial

Warm Up Outdoor Spaces for Fall

Handmade Autumn Burlap Wreath Tutorial

7 Easy Upcycle Projects for Fall

Fall Decorating with Goodwill Items

DIY Decorative Thumbtack Pumpkins

Knitted Leaves Centerpiece
Knitted Leaf Centerpiece

Duct Tape Pumpkins

How to Decoupage Pumpkins

Painted Address Pumpkin Topiary

7 Scarves & Cowls to Knit for Fall


Fall Recipes

Pumpkin Hand Pies

Fall DIY Drinks

Pumpkin Nut Quinoa Breakfast

11 Pumpkin Recipes

Pumpkin Cranberry Cornbread

21 Easy Slow Cooker Meals

8 Ways to Use Canned Pumpkin

12 Great Tailgating Recipes

Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Maple Syrup Frosting

And while not a decor or recipe, let’s not forget these 5 Ways to Date Your Husband in the Fall!


Halloween Costumes, Decor & Recipes

7 New DIY Halloween Costumes

DIY Minecraft Costume Ideas

Easy DIY Halloween Costumes

Halloween Costume Ideas for the Whole Family

Doughnut Hole Ghost Cake

Festive Halloween Decorating Ideas

How to Make Chalkboard Pumpkins

Happy, Healthy Halloween Night Feast

How to Make Glow-in-the-Dark Jell-o


Thanksgiving Decor, Crafts & Entertaining

Woodland Thanksgiving Table + Free Printables

DIY Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Host a Friendsgiving Feast

How to Entertain the Kids on Thanksgiving Day

How to Set the Perfect Thanksgiving Table

DIY Chalkboard Food Label Frames


Thanksgiving Recipes

Make Ahead Apple, Sausage & Sage Sourdough Stuffing

Make Ahead Gravy

Make Ahead Green Bean Casserole

Make Ahead Buttery Bread Machine Rolls

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes for a Crowd

Make Ahead Brandied Orange Cranberry Sauce

Herb Roasted Turkey Breast


5 Ways to Decorate Store-Bought Pies

Dress Up a Store-Bought Pie with Cranberry-Crunch Pie Topping

Homemade Pumpkin Pie

All-Butter Pie Crust Tutorial

7 Make Ahead Appetizers for Thanksgiving

Make Ahead Recipes for Thanksgiving Day

Are you a fall lover, too? What are some of your favorite recipes, crafts, or traditions?

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Amy’s Notebook 10.28.15: Transforming Your Space M Challenge Syllabus

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Transforming Your Space M Challenge

As a wrap-up of each month’s M Challenge theme, we will be using the last Notebook of the month as a sort of “Cliffs Notes” edition of the challenge – a place where you can find a list of all the articles we’ve published for the challenge, as well as more inspiration and links from the web around the challenge theme. Our hope is that this will be something that you can refer to in the future as well as catch up on in case you’ve missed anything!

October M Challenge: Focus on Transforming Your Space

Other Links: Easy Ideas to Transform Your Space

Wood Tile Look via Little Green Notebook

Source: Little Green Notebook


8 tips for nailing wood tile.

27 easy remodeling ideas that will completely transform your home (on a budget!).

Makeover a bathroom on a budget.

Update a brick fireplace in a day.

How to paint a faucet.

DIY vanity makeover using concrete overlay.

How to decorate any room starting now.

Staircase Makeover via In My Own Style

Source: In My Own Style


Update a carpeted staircase to stained steps and white painted risers for only $50.

40 temporary ways to transform your rental.

How to transform a closet into a mudroom nook.

How to frame a bathroom mirror.

Update your tile countertops with paint.

Turn a closet into a home office.

Upgrade your windows with DIY trim (the best tutorials).


I hope you enjoyed our M Challenge syllabus notebook, a collection of the Mom Advice articles and gathered links all around the month’s challenge focus. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

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