Author Archive

March 2015 Must-Reads

Friday, March 27th, 2015

March 2015 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

I can’t believe that it is already time to share my monthly reading list with you. I read so many beautiful books in March and I am excited to share my thoughts on what I read this month. I hope that you are also following along with my Sundays With Writers series where I interview the authors about their books and try to find out more about their stories behind the stories. This series happens to be my favorite and it is such a treat to share why they created their books.

Here are six great books I tackled this month!

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

My Sunshine Away is one of those books that you just swim in the words thanks to such a gifted writer. M.O. Walsh does an incredible job of setting the typical suburban neighborhood scene in the year of 1989. It’s the summer that changes everything when the town’s golden girl, Lindy Simpson, is attacked at night near her home. Told in the eyes of another neighborhood boy, who has an extreme obsession & fixation on Lindy, he tries to set the scene and name the suspects…even when his name is included among the list.

I selected this book while browsing this past month’s selection for the Amazon Featured Debut Novel category.  I picked it up and immediately emailed the author to see if I could interview him about his book, the process of writing poetically,  the buzz about his debut novel, and some interesting insights on the town he lives in (Baton Rouge) that can be found within this book.

M.O. Walsh joined me this month for Sundays With Writers and was, perhaps, one of the most candid authors I have interviewed. I would say that the interview is just as interesting as the book so definitely check it out, even if you don’t read this one.

I think with this read you need to know going in that this is not a mystery or a thriller, this is more of a character-driven piece than anything. If expectations are aligned with that, I think you will enjoy this one. It is  graphic and there is language in this one, but it is very much plot-driven and not for shock value. Although, perhaps, not satisfying in the way that a typical whodunit mystery is solved, it is genuinely satisfying in capturing the mind of an adolescent boy, a bittersweet relationship between him and his father, and that tricky terrain of adolescent love and obsession.

4 Out of 5 Stars

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

“Men tell stories. Women get on with it. For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.”

Hannah tells a beautiful story of two sisters who fought the war in their own ways when the Nazis invade France. It is a beautiful rendering of the survival skills needed to survive during this time focusing on the missions of one sister, in particular, who joins the French Resistance and brings soldiers to safety. While her story may seem bigger, the everyday struggles of her own sister who must house a Nazi soldier are just as harrowing. The writing is brutally honest and unflinching at what women had to do to survive and she captures their journey perfectly.

For me,  this was another solid read from Kristin Hannah (much like her Winter Garden from 2010)  and a well-researched rendering of women in the war.  While there are love stories, this was definitely a solid historical fiction book and not a chick lit read. It would lend itself well to book club discussions and I had a hard time putting this one down as  I worried for the safety of these two sisters.

4 Out of 5 Stars

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

I have been trying to read one business book a month to try to help me do my job here a little better. This was a fun read about how an unlikely woman became an entrepreneur of a multi-million dollar company. I think Sophia really showcases that you don’t have to go about business the traditional way and that you don’t have to be a traditional CEO in order for people to respect you. From the nuts and bolts of crafting a resume all the way to landing investors and hiring, this book covers all the basics of business in a fun way.

I really related to Sophia and how she landed into a business she never expected, started small (with no expectation of earning money), and then grew a business with no money at all.  She did not finish school, she lacked the expected polish of a CEO, but she learned that you don’t need to always go the traditional route to be an incredible business woman. Her story really resonated with me and would be a great read if you feel unconfident in business or have always dreamed of being a self-starter, but lack the self-esteem to get started. She shows you that you can be anything you want to be.

A little raunchy and a lot of girl power, I really enjoyed this one!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Americanah by Chimamanda ngozi Adichie

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I have picked up Americanah a few times at my library, but kept returning it because I never got to it, due to the size of the book (588 pages).  When I would do our Sundays With Writers interviews, this book came up a few times as the one book that the authors interviewed thought that everyone should read. I seem to be on a kick this year with books on the struggles of immigration (another book featured below as well as The Unknown Americans) so I thought I would not let the size intimidate me anymore and sit down with this book.

This is a  beautiful read centered around love and race when a young woman and man from Nigeria face difficult choices in the countries they call home. The relationship follows two teens until they are adults as they both try to make their way to America, one succeeding and one not in reaching their destination. Adichie really writes beautifully about race in America, effectively the most in creating one of her characters as a blogger who focuses on race and racial tensions.

The length of this book was my biggest hurdle since it’s been in my pile for months, but I am so glad I made time for this one since it has come so highly recommended by so many writers.  I did feel that there were parts that were a little long on description and that the book would have been just as effective had it been shortened by a couple of hundred pages.  Regardless, I am really proud to have finally read this and would recommend this one to you if you prefer a meatier novel that really deals with race relations and the struggles of immigration. There were parts that I read out loud to my husband and sections that I really had to pause and think how I never thought about these immigration struggles and what it would be like to try to come to America. It is a very powerful read.

4 Out of 5 Stars

The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward

The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward

This is the third book on immigration that I have read this year and definitely packed a powerful punch about how hard it would be to come to America. Ward alternates two stories- one of a typical middle-class woman who is struggling with infertility and becomes a mentor to a struggling teen and the other story of a young girl and her brother who face the harshest kind of poverty and are trying to get to America where they can finally be reunited with their mother and safe. The story of her journey to America is harrowing and devastating to read. Ward doesn’t hold back on setting the scene, giving you an eye-opening look at the real struggles of coming to America. Their lives intertwine and provide a satisfying conclusion to this sad story.

I found this book disturbing in some parts and I have been carrying some of the scenes around with me this month. There is poverty and then there is POVERTY. We are talking, eating flour and water for dinner (if you are lucky), addictions to glue to feel full by small children, parents abandoning a child to take care of another child and head to America. It was really heartbreaking.

I am glad I read it, but it was just really heavy.

Ward does a great job of contrasting the struggles of a typical middle-class white suburban mother against the struggles of a child in poverty effectively without being mean about it. It made me think about how my struggles are so minor compared to the struggles of others.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

I selected this book for my local book club this month after discovering it was the #1 book of all the books on Amazon for 2014. How could you not select this after making that discovery?

This is a beautiful debut novel and Ng’s descriptive language is a treat to read. When a family’s daughter goes missing the lives of her family members begin unraveling through Ng’s beautiful storytelling. The reader is taken on a journey from the very beginning of the relationship of the parents and moving through each family member, including Lydia, their missing daughter. Everything I Never Told You is every character’s story that was never told- from the disappointment felt by parents to not fitting in due to their race to what roles they were expected to fill in the family (whether wanted or not).

This is a book that would lend itself well to a book club discussion since it tackles the big issues of parental roles/expectations as well as the heartache of youth and the challenges with fitting in. As with My Sunshine Away, I did not find this to read like a mystery or thriller, but more of a character-driven piece.

Celeste Ng will be joining me in a Sundays With Writers soon and I am so excited to share more of her story with you.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Read With me This Year:

January 2015 Must-Reads

February 2015 Must-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.

 

 

 

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Freebie Friday March 27, 2015

Friday, March 27th, 2015

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

This week on MomAdvice I’m spilling all my secrets for shopping second hand for your capsule wardrobe, plus you’ll find a great interview with Annabel Smith, author of Whiskey & Charlie, for our Sundays With Writers series, lots of inspiring DIY, food, decorating and craft ideas in our popular Notebook, and tons contests you can enter on our weekly round-up of great giveaways. Stay tuned for the March edition of great reads later today, too!

Have a great weekend, everyone-

Food & Drink

This Week’s Freebie Events: March 28 – April 3
 
28th – Barnes & Noble: Join story time featuring Duck & Goose, 11 am
 
28th – Lakeshore Learning: Create a Changing Caterpillar, 11 am – 3 pm
 
28th – Toys “R” Us: Make & Take Lego Ninjago Mask, plus participate in a fun scavenger hunt with prizes, 12 pm – 2 pm
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Amy’s Notebook 03.25.15

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

DIY Typography Easter Eggs via Lovely Indeed

Source: Lovely Indeed

 

Super cool DIY typography Easter eggs.

DIY Easter bunny shoe clips – adorable!

Loved reading this piece since I am reading these books with my little girl.

Stop apologizing for what remains and what is still being worked on.

A great piece on Project 333!

Slow cooker quinoa enchilada bake looks healthy, yummy & easy to make!

How to find your style and create a capsule wardrobe.

 

2015 Spring Capsule via Elise Blaha

Source: Elise Blaha

 

Love peeking at other people’s spring capsules.

Jotting down these products for my beauty wish-list.

I needed this parenting reminder.

New Alzheimer’s treatment fully restores memory function- this is so exciting!

The 23 best movies on Netflix you haven’t seen yet.

Play ‘Family Feud’ against the top-ten results in Google’s autocomplete.

amys_notebook

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!

 

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Apron Full of Giveaways 03.24.15

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

Black Floral Apron via Etsy

Source: Debz Doodlez,  $40.00

 

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

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

Good luck to each of you!

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How to Shop Secondhand for Your Fashion Capsule Wardrobe

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

shop-secondhand-for-capsule-wardrobe-header.fw

Last week I was so excited to show off my Spring capsule wardrobe with you all. I got some questions and emails regarding the capsule wardrobe and one thing people wanted to know the most is how I was able to pull of my wardrobe secondhand. Today I wanted to share how I did manage to keep my capsule wardrobe 90% secondhand and how you can do the same with your wardrobe.

I have always loved to shop secondhand for clothing and the fun of that just has never ended for me. There is such a thrill in the hunt for the perfect item. When I was a girl we would visit a store in my great-grandma’s town that had barrels of clothing to dig through. I remember my mom shuddering and me clapping my hands with glee. I loved to hunt and who knew what treasure you could find at the bottom of a barrel? It could be something really exquisite and rare like J. CREW or BANANA REPUBLIC or ESPRIT or UNITED COLORS OF BENETTON. RARE, RARE, RARE. For a girl who couldn’t afford to upgrade her wardrobe, this possibility thrilled me.

When I was young though I was simply attracted to brand names that I could not afford and deals…oh, THE DEALS. What I ended up with were loads of items that didn’t look good, that didn’t work together, and things I didn’t REALLY love. If only you could have seen the label on the inside though…you might have been impressed.  As an adult, I have learned to be patient, to choose wisely, and to try to be flexible when piecing together a secondhand wardrobe.

The capsule wardrobe requires a well-edited closet, selecting pieces that work together and that can be worn many different ways to maximize your choices. You might think secondhand couldn’t work, but I will share my secret with you…consignment shopping online has transformed the impossible and multiple trips to shops into the possible.

Spring Wardrobe Classics

(source Kendi Everyday)

Start With a Really Good List

The capsule wardrobe relies a lot on wardrobe staples and I had none of these when I started.  Even though secondhand shopping is more affordable than purchasing the items retail, you still must keep your budget in mind. Make a list of items that are important to you to own this year and consider dividing your list into the different capsules. For me, items like a good pair of jeans, a crisp white collared shirt, a black skirt, a black pair of jeans, a jean shirt, and a good blazer were all wardrobe essentials. Consider this list and this list (pictured above) as a good starting point for building your wardrobe.

Build In a Few Trendy Pieces

Once you have covered the basics, you can start jotting down a few of your favorite trends this season that you would like to incorporate. I love this list of Spring trends that include adding a bit of floral, the mixing and matching of bright & bold, a nod to denim, a fresh summer scarf, and the addition of a good clutch.  Obviously, only embrace the trends that really work for you and for your lifestyle, otherwise, it ends up being a pointless task in incorporating these items if you will never wear them.

Always consider the trendy colors of the year to as a way to add a little bit of color to your capsule, while keeping it timeless with still embracing the basics.

Shop Around

There are lots of great online consignment shops out there, you just have to find the right one for you. I have had the best luck on Twice and on thredUP (both of those are affiliate links and will give you $10 towards your first purchase). Here is a list of all of the shops that I have found to do some online consignment shopping.  I have found that a lot of my happiness with a site and what they offer really relies upon their search tool since I like to shop with my list and not blindly hunt for items.

I would say after trying several different companies out for online consignment, my happiness has really been with Twice the most. I like that I have 30 days to try things on and make sure I really love it. I appreciate the convenience of being able to ship my returns without getting charged for shipping or restocking fees.  I feel like I have been able to make smarter decisions and am not keeping items just because I don’t want the expense or hassle of returning them.

Of course, consignment shopping can happen locally too and many consignment shops are on Facebook, sharing and posting some of the best offerings they have in their store. Consider following the shops you love and keeping your eyes peeled for smart purchases for your capsule.

How to Shop Secondhand for Your Fashion Capsule Wardrobe

(source Twice)

Start Shopping With Your List

Once you have a list of items that you really want, shopping for consignment online is a breeze. I begin typing in descriptions of the items I am after and let the hunting for them begin.

Start with your basics and type in the key phrases of what you are looking for.

“Black Skirt”

“Black Pants”

“Shirt Dress”

“Tunic”

Type in the patterns of fabric you are looking for- stripes, gingham, checks, herringbone, floral, chambray…. the possibilities are endless.

How to Shop Secondhand for Your Fashion Capsule Wardrobe

Be a Brand Snob- You Can Afford To

I have become quite the brand snob with my clothing and the reason is simply because I am buying my clothes at a fraction of the cost that I used to. I don’t want to spend the money on a pair of socks from some of the brands that I have been shopping at in their stores, but I can have a whole outfit when I purchase it on consignment…and not feel one bit guilty.

I try not to be too trendy in my capsule wardrobe and so I look to brands that I know will wash well, will have longevity, and  won’t fall apart on me.

Sell It Back

Since you are keeping a well-edited closet with your fashion capsule, you will know right away what hasn’t gotten worn and won’t carry over to the next wardrobe. Consider making some money or credit for the clothes and sell them back to the retailers you purchased them from.  I have this handy resource list on how to make money organizing that closet.

How to Shop Secondhand for Your Fashion Capsule Wardrobe

(source thredUP)

Add In Your Accessories & Shoes Secondhand Too

Not only is buying secondhand great for your wardrobe, but it can be great for shoes, purses, scarves, and belts to compliment your items.  If there is a trend like, “emerald green,” or “floral print,” consider adding these into your wardrobe with accessories instead of with your wardrobe basics. A quick browse on thredUP yields a million floral scarves and at a much better price than the retail stores. These smaller items are a great way to add something trendy without deciding which trends you think will actually stick in your capsule wardrobe.

How to Shop Secondhand for Your Fashion Capsule Wardrobe

Last spring’s buttery Italian suede smoking slippers from J. Crew were available on Twice when I was putting together my capsule. Would I have spent $200 on these for myself? No way!  I can afford a little luxury when they are priced at $60, use my referral credit, and pay a mere $5. YES! This is a luxury that this cheap lady can indulge in. They are beautiful and worth all five dollars and MORE!

The same principle can be applied to that beautiful handbag you have been dreaming of.

This has always been my secret to good shopping…

You can have the beautiful things you always wanted with a little patience- someone is always editing their items and the chances are good that ONE THING you have been dreaming of will be yours one day.   

I waited a whole year for these shoes and it was worth the wait.

What are your tricks for shopping secondhand for your clothing? Feel free to leave them below!

 

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Sundays With Writers: Whiskey & Charlie by Annabel Smith

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

Sundays With Writers

One of the privileges of having this space has been doing our Sundays With Writers interview series. The other privilege has been getting to sneak peek books before they hit store shelves so I can share them with you. Whiskey & Charlie was provided to me by NetGalley a couple of months ago and I simply could not put it down. I even included it last month in my must-read list! This book will be hitting store shelves on April 7th, but I already read the exciting news that this one has been selected as a Target Book Club pick for April.

How exciting is that for our featured author today? 

Whiskey & Charlie by Annabel Smith

Whiskey and Charlie might have come from the same family, but they would tell you two completely different stories about growing up. Whiskey is everything Charlie is not – bold, daring, carefree – and Charlie blames his twin brother for always stealing the limelight, always getting everything, always pushing Charlie back. By the time the twins reach adulthood, they are barely even speaking to each other.

When they were just boys, the secret language they whispered back and forth over their crackly walkie-talkies connected them, in a way. The two-way alphabet (alpha, bravo, charlie, delta) became their code, their lifeline. But as the brothers grew up, they grew apart.

When Charlie hears that Whiskey has been in a terrible accident and has slipped into a coma, Charlie can’t make sense of it. Who is he without Whiskey? As days and weeks slip by and the chances of Whiskey recovering grow ever more slim, Charlie is forced to consider that he may never get to say all the things he wants to say. A compelling and unforgettable novel about rivalry and redemption, Whiskey & Charlie is perfect for anyone whose family has ever been less than picture-perfect.

This story is incredibly moving and bittersweet. The author does a great job tackling the difficulties of sibling rivalry, what it would be like to be a twin, and how even when we don’t always like our family members, they are always our family and loved.

To me though, the most ambitious element of this book is that the author uses the phonetic alphabet for each chapter that perfectly weaves into the story and adds another level of charm to this book. 

Please grab a cup of coffee and settle in for this fun interview with Annabel Smith today!

Annabel Smith

The story of Whiskey & Charlie, identical twin brothers now estranged, was such a beautiful telling of the messiness and challenges of sibling rivalry. In telling their story, you adopted the phonetic alphabet, something these two were fond of using on walkie-talkies as kids, as the chapter names for your book. How did you decide to incorporate this unique element in your book and did these names actually help to drive the plotlines of your story?

I’ve always been interested in novels which have unique structuring principles, like David Nicholl’s One Day.  When I began writing the book that became Whiskey and Charlie, I had recently learnt the phonetic alphabet. I decided to explore the possibility of structuring the novel around the alphabet. Some chapters were easy: Charlie, Juliet, Oscar and Mike all became characters in the novel; Lima and Quebec became the settings for various episodes, definitely taking the novel in directions it might not otherwise have gone! Certain chapters haunted me: how was I going to build part of the story around ‘Yankee’ for example? But it all came together in the end, and for a novel that tells the story of the communication between two brothers, the two-way alphabet feels like the perfect metaphor.

Why was there a title change from Whisky & Charlie Foxtrot to just Whiskey & Charlie with the US release of your book? How did you feel about that?

David Shafer released his novel Whiskey Tango Foxtrot in August 2014 and the team at Sourcebooks were concerned people may confuse the two books. I was disappointed at first, but the title is just one small part of a book: it’s what’s inside that counts and that hasn’t changed.

Was writing your first book,  A New Map of the Universe,  easier than writing this second one?  I think as readers we think the debut must be the hardest.

I definitely found writing the second novel easier. With my first novel, A New Map of the Universe, I had no idea what I was doing. I had never written anything longer than 8,000 words and every time I contemplated the size of the whole, I became completely paralysed. By the time I came to write Whiskey and Charlie I at least had the confidence of knowing I could write a book, because I’d already proved it to myself. Of course there were different challenges to face – each book has it’s own problems that have to be worked through, but the alphabet structure gave me a starting point for each new chapter, which helped me overcome the terror of the blank page.

How much research did you do to prepare for Whiskey’s coma and writing the medical terminology and explanations that were given to the family? What did you find most surprising about comatose patients?

I did a huge amount of research on coma, because I didn’t have any knowledge about it at the outset, either theoretically or experientially. I read medical websites, hospital information pamphlets, and coma support group message boards, as well as studying the stages of death and grief. It was important to me to understand the physical side of coma as well as the psychological implications for family and friends. The two most surprising things I learned were firstly, how many additional things can go wrong when someone is in a coma, and also, how people can emerge, relatively intact, from comas that last for many months or occasionally even years.

The Small Press Network issues the MUBA’s (Most Underated Book Awards) each year and Whiskey Charlie Foxtrot was one of the 2013 selections. How did it feel to make that list and do you think this is what helped with the book being issued in the US?

I was so thrilled to be on the Most Underrated Book Awards shortlist. It was flattering to have someone acknowledge that it perhaps deserved to have more attention than it got. But I don’t think that was a factor in the US publication. That came about because my Australian publisher showed it to Shana Drehs at Sourcebooks during Frankfurt Book fair and Shana thought it would resonate with a US audience.

What do you have in store for us in your next book?

My third novel, The Ark is quite a departure from Whiskey and Charlie. It tells the story of a group of scientists and their families who retreat into a bunker during a post-peak oil crisis, exploring human nature in desperate times. It is a contemporary version of an epistolary novel, told through emails, blog posts, text messages and memos and is accompanied by an interactive website with a fan fiction hub. However, despite its more experimental nature, it is similar to Whiskey and Charlie in the sense that it explore human relationships and how extraordinary circumstances can reveal people for who they really are.

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

My all-time favourite novel is Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, the incredible story of a prolonged embassy siege and the relationships which form between the hostages and their captors. Patchett has the most incredible insight into human behaviour and her prose is simply gorgeous. I have read this book at least half a dozen times and I get something new from it every time.

You can connect with Annabel Smith on GoodReads or through 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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It’s the 3 Little Things: Naturally Calm, Loving My House, & the Perfect Spice

Friday, March 20th, 2015

It's the 3 Little Things

Happy Friday, friends!  We are looking forward to a quiet weekend (thankfully) at home this weekend. I do have plans to take my daughter to see Cinderella though. Have you seen it yet?  We are both so excited to see it today. I hope you have lots of fun things in store for your weekend!

Here are 3 things that are making me happy this week…

Natural Calm

Natural Calm

Despite how I might portray myself on here, I can admit that I am quite the basketcase these days. The work and home life juggle has been fierce.  Some days I’m like, “WHAT IN THE WORLD?”  In some ways life does get easier with having older kids, but in other ways it gets harder. Between the daily homework grind to the endless activities to volunteering…  most days I am just trying to keep it together like any other mom out there.

Before I begin, I am NOT interested in anyone selling me anything for my nerves/anxiety. 

I take 5-HTP when I feel a dip in my moods which has really worked well for me in the past, but a couple of friends had been telling me about Natural Calm and the benefits of magnesium on the body.  I knew how good I felt after soaking in epsom salts, but the advice to take magnesium orally  went in one ear and out the other.

When I went to pick up my supplement though, the girl waiting on me said, “PLEASE try this! It has changed my life.” She pointed to a bottle on the shelf and I actually listened this time.

It was the same bottle of stuff that my friends had been raving about. If you read the reviews you can get a better picture of how much it helps people.

It is unreal the difference in my mood and calmness levels.  For me, the difference was noticeable immediately. My hardest day of the week is Tuesday. It’s the day ALL THE THINGS must happen and I am a disaster by the end of the day.

I took it in the afternoon and my husband came home and was like, “How did it go today?”

And I’m all like…”It’s cool.”

And he’s like, “No, really. Isn’t this THE HARDEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE?”

And I’m like, “Nah, man, it’s cool.”

In short, he nicknamed me Matthew McConaughey cause I’m all like, “Alright, alright, alright,” around house. Not high strung. Not crying because I can’t do ALL THE THINGS for ALL THE PEOPLE.

Do your own research, start small (or you will have the runs- trust me!) and don’t take more than what is recommended. I take a small amount in the afternoon before my children come home when they ask for ALL THE THINGS and a small amount if I am worried I will have trouble sleeping at night. I took it once in the morning and it knocked me out and I slept all day so I don’t recommend it if you want to have a productive morning. If you want to have the most glorious day of day sleeping though, it was quite lovely.  Of course, it reacts differently in everyone. For me, it makes me feel like I had a little glass of wine or a great bath.

Again, I’m not a doctor.  I don’t want to give anyone a mag addiction. Don’t take more than recommended.  Ask your doctor about magnesium. Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer!

Love the Home You Have by Melissa Michaels

Love the Home You Have

My sweet friend, Melissa (of The Inspired Room), has a book coming out and she sent me a copy of it and asked me to join a blog tour to help her promote Love the Home You HaveI’ve been so lucky to get to watch her success and I was excited to dive into this book. Melissa’s journey towards loving her home echoes the same journey we have been on with our own little fixer upper. This book is BEAUTIFUL and filled with humor and wisdom about the journey towards loving your home. There is a Biblical slant to it, but it isn’t preachy.  I started this yesterday and I can’t put it down. If you struggle with loving the space you are in, she really shows you how to make the most of whatever your situation is. I love that this book isn’t about upgrading our buying more, but making simple switches to make your space more enjoyable. Their journey is relatable and her personality shines in this book.

I don’t promote books because people are my friends, I promote them if they are good.

This one is good.

Love The Home You Have from The Inspired Room on Vimeo.

Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic Blend

Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic

Now that warmer temperatures are just around the corner (yes, they ARE, Indiana!), I have already started switching my menu plan to easier summer dishes.  I bake big batches of chicken and have discovered this Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic is perfect for baking chicken with lots of flavor. I sliced up a bag of roasted chicken and tuck this in our fridge for sandwich wraps (I love a drizzle of ranch, tomatoes, & spinach with this chicken), for topping our favorite berry pecan salad, and I even put it on top of pizza for an extra kick of protein.  This spice mix is super flavorful (and affordable)!

Capsule Wardrobe Ideas (current capsule HERE)

Spring Capsule Wardrobe Outfits Spring Capsule Wardrobe Outfits

Are you following me on Instagram? I post 4 outfits each week!

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

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

Freebie Friday March 20, 2015

Friday, March 20th, 2015

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

This week on MomAdvice you can swing into spring with the fashion advice from Vera Sweeney, save money on kid’s clothes with tips from Mary Carver, get 7 fresh painting ideas, and make mini cannoli cream pastry cups inspired by the movie Annie! I’m also sharing a fun recipe for Easter surprise Peeps cupcakes as well as a terrific interview with Mary Louise Kelly, author of The Bullet, for our Sundays With Writers series.

Check out this week’s edition of It’s the 3 Little Things to get your weekly dose of happy,  find lots of inspiring DIY, food, decorating and craft ideas in our popular Notebook, and be sure to take a look at all the contests you can enter on our weekly round-up of great giveaways, too.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

This Week’s Freebie Events: March 21 – March 27
 
21st – Barnes & Noble: Join story time featuring Edmund Unravels, 11 am
 
21st – Lakeshore Learning: Create a Feathery Friend, 11 am – 3 pm
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Amy’s Notebook 03.18.15

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

Chipotle Chicken Wraps via Tastes Better From Scratch

Source: Tastes Better From Scratch

 

Chipotle chicken wraps- get in my belly.

Success can happen at any age.

A Stay-at-Home Parent Is Not a ‘Luxury’

Oh, this is fancy.

Now THIS is a March Madness I can get behind.

I’m completely inspired by this fun Ikea hack.

How To Make Giant Paper Flowers via Julie Blanner

Source: Julie Blanner

 

Learn how to make giant paper flowers from tissue paper.

Princess books for smart, strong girls.

The case for lowering your expectations.

One-ingredient ice cream? Looks amazing!

13 Netflix shows worth binge-watching.

Making your corned beef and cabbage as a slow cooker soup? Yes, please!

 

amys_notebook

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!

 

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Mini Cannoli Cream Pastry Cups (For Annie the Movie)

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Mini Cannoli Cream Pastry Cups from MomAdvice.com *This post is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

It’s no secret that this girl loves musical theater and one of the productions I did in high school was ANNIE.  It was one of my favorite movies growing up and Carol Burnett was someone I hoped to model a theater career after. To say that the musical is special to me would be an understatement.  I think it is important to admit that I had low expectations for the new ANNIE movie.

How could anything ever live up to the original?

Imagine my surprise that this movie was as charming as the first.   This movie really DID deliver, even for an original Annie-lover,  and in honor of the film’s DVD release today, I wanted to share a special treat you can share while watching the movie!

If you haven’t seen the film yet, it really does honor the classic songs that we all love, but adds its own unique spin often involving fun sound effects, hand clapping, and a more hip hop beat to the music. There are original pieces that are worked into the music that really flow seamlessly into the original music and the film has been updated with current themes, while embracing the sweetness and wholesomeness of the original ANNIE.

Mini Cannoli Cream Pastry Cups from MomAdvice.com

In this film, Annie believes that she will be reunited with her parents,  at an Italian restaurant where they left a note on a receipt with the heart-shaped locket that any wears. Each Friday she visits the restaurant that serves the homemade cannoli that the couple shared on that night, waiting and hoping that they will finally come to retrieve her.  As she sits upon the curb, the owner comes out and tells her that they haven’t come and hands her a little to-go box of cannolis to take home. It is a ritual that is repeated in the movie and a truly sweet scene.

Mini Cannoli Cream Pastry Cups from MomAdvice.com Mini Cannoli Cream Pastry Cups from MomAdvice.com

In honor of this moment in the film, I am sharing a fun recipe that you can make with a prepared pie crust and a homemade cannoli filling that is perfect to share while watching the film together.  This would also make an adorable treat for a birthday party or as a party favor in little to-go boxes tied with butcher twine.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Bowl of Pho today for providing the to-go box and note to make this pretty photo for my cannoli display.  If you are a local, it’s a must in our town to head there and get a bowl-as-big-as-your-head of chicken noodle soup.

Mini Cannoli Cream Pastry Cups from MomAdvice.com Walmart is sharing this adorable exclusive DVD set that comes with a mini plush Sandy that would be a perfect little Easter treat to share with your Annie-lover this year. The price on this set is $29.96. Wouldn’t this be the sweetest gift? Sandy even made it out of for show-and-share this week!

I hope you enjoy this sweet treat and can pick up this film! I guarantee that it is one that the whole family will love!

Mini Cannoli Cream Pastry Cups (For Annie the Movie)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 48 servings
 
A sweet treat to share while watching Annie! These can be made gluten-free with a simple substitution of a gluten-free pie crust!
Ingredients
  • 1 container (15 oz) whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 box refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box (you can also substitute with gluten free pie crust)
  • 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar (raw sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • Additional powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. In large bowl, beat all filling ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until creamy. Place filling in 1-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag; refrigerate while making cups.
  2. Heat oven to 425°F. On lightly floured work surface, unroll pie crusts. Sprinkle each crust with turbinado sugar and cinnamon. Lightly roll rolling pin over sugar and cinnamon to press into pastry. With 2½- to 3-inch round cutter, cut out pastry rounds. Lightly press each pastry round into ungreased mini muffin cup.
  3. Bake about 10 minutes or until pastry cups are golden brown. Cool completely in pans, about 15 minutes. Remove from muffin cups to cooling racks.
  4. Just before serving, remove filling from refrigerator. Cut 1 bottom corner off bag; pipe scant tablespoon filling into cooled pastry cups. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and powdered sugar. Serve immediately. Store any remaining pastry cups at room temperature and filling in refrigerator.

Source: Pillsbury
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