Author Archive

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial

Friday, August 5th, 2016

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

What’s one of the things I dread the most about the new school year?

The papers.

Everywhere.

All the time.

Hey, wasn’t there a kitchen counter here at one point?

In honor of back to school, I wanted to create a place where all those papers, awards, and fun art projects can be displayed so we can all reclaim our counters. Today  I’m making a gorgeous giant fabric bulletin board for the perfect paper storage spot for you or your kiddos. If you haven’t made a diy fabric bulletin board before, you are going to love this simple tutorial that even your big kids can do (with a little help from mom on the stapling!).

Waverly Inspirations Fabric- Paris Print

When I saw this month’s fabric selections from Waverly Inspirations (found at Walmart!), I  kept getting this print out to gaze at it. I just knew there was no way I could not put this in some kind of display especially since my little girl has an obsession with Paris.

I mean, so obsessed she’s been working on teaching herself French this summer.

We really wanted to let this magical fabric be on display in her room.

(PS- She also said she is the beautiful girl in the print with a dress and I am the old lady on the bench.  Thank you, Em- insert crazy-eyed emoji!).

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed to Make A Fabric Covered Bulletin Board

1- Frameless Bulletin Board (found this in the office supplies of the store!)

Upholstery Stapler

Upholstery Staples

Trim (I purchased 2- 3 yard packages to cover this board)

Your choice of matching Waverly Inspirations Fabric (measure the dimensions of your bulletin board to figure out yardage!)

Fabric Rotary Cutter

Rotary Mat

Hot Glue Gun & glue sticks

Optional (but fun!)- Waverly Paints, Fabric Button Kits, and scrap fabric

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

Directions for Making a Fabric Covered Bulletin Board

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

1. Make sure to press out any wrinkles in your fabric before beginning. Next, lay your fabric right-side out over the bulletin board, making sure to position the pattern so that it has nice straight lines.

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

2. After you have centered the fabric, flip the bulletin board over and begin pulling one long side tight to staple it directly into the framing on the back of the board. The most important thing is HOLD TIGHT to create that beautifully smooth surface. Repeat this on the other long side and then fold in the tops, creating neatly folded corners (just as you would with wrapping a package, making sure you are holding tight on each side. Did I mention, hold tight?

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

3. You can now trim the excess fabric around the back of the frame. I lined my rotary mat right up to the edge and trimmed with the fabric rotary cutter. You could just just eyeball it and use a pair of scissors if you don’t have these two items in your craft supplies.

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

4. Finish your piece with your choice of trim. I loved the waviness in this one to add a decorative edge. I lined up and glued the two long sides first and then finished by gluing the shorter sides over, creating an overlapped corner. Play around with this with your own favorite trims and ribbons- the possibilities on that are endless.

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

5. Finish with your choice of cute decorations. My daughter had fun painting wooden thumbtacks to match the color scheme and if you haven’t used a button making kit before, it is a blast and such a fun way to use up any scraps of fabric (all the instructions are on the back of the packaging!). We glued these buttons on to the thumbtacks to create decorative tacks for our papers.

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

We hope you find this idea inspiring for getting organized for another school year! I loved my daughter’s so much, I made one for myself to keep all my work projects organized. This craft can be done in less than an hour (even with making your own fabric tacks!).

Happy crafting!

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

Pin It

Sundays With Writers: The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

sundays-with-writers-1

I am always looking for special books that I think anyone could love and appreciate. One-in-a-Million Boy offers that perfect blending of sweet and sassy that I think any reader could appreciate. I am so excited to share an interview today with Monica Wood to understand some of the inspiration she had for this story! Best of all, it’s on sale today for $2.99 so hurry up and snag it at this price for a great summer reading escape!  The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

In, The One-in-a-Million Boy, Ona is 104 and develops a fast friendship with a Scout who is obsessed with the Guinness Book of World Records. He believes Ona has a chance of winning, thanks to her age. Unfortunately, the boy tragically dies and his father is left to fulfill his son’s duties. Quinn has never been much of a father though, but it is through Ona that he discovers just how special his boy is.

The book flashes back to the special conversations the boy had with Ona around her kitchen table, is laced with true Guinness Book of World record holders, and a road trip adventure that brings the boy’s parents closer to Ona as she tries to seal the deal on her very own world record. This story is touching, heartfelt, and beautifully told.

I included this in our Must-Reads last month!

Now settle in with a cup of coffee for a chat with Monica Wood today to learn more about this sweet story!

Monica Wood

You have such a diverse body of work! You recently wrote a very successful memoir (When We Were the Kennedys) and I also understand you have written your first play which had an incredibly successful run. The One-in-a-Million Boy is equally incredible and such a beautiful read. What type of writing has brought you the most pleasure and which type of writing has been the most challenging for you?

What a lovely question! Playwriting turned out to be the easiest, at least for that first play. For one thing, I had only one tool: dialogue, which I love to write. Any time I’m writing dialogue I’m happy. Novels are by far the hardest. They are so big; you can’t hold the whole thing in your head at once; you can lay the pages out on the floor and look at them the way you can with a short story; and it takes so, so, so, so, SO long to figure out what the story is, who the characters are, and how everything fits together.

One-in-a-Million Boy

You chose to not name the little boy in this story. Is there any reason in particular you decided not to name him?

You know, some readers get really far into the book before they realize this. They page back to see if they missed it. I named him several times in the writing of the book but nothing felt right. In the end, I realized that I couldn’t name him because to name him would be to make him too moral, to corporeal, too much tethered to the earth. He is more of a presence, a spirit in the book. Hence, no name.

You bring such beauty and humor to the story of Ona and just the right voice for a woman of 104 years of age. Did you shape her character from anyone in your own life? What was your favorite scene to craft for this feisty woman?

My favorite scenes are between Ona and the boy, I think. They were both delightful company for me in the many years it took to complete the story. I had a very dear friend whom I did not meet until she was 87. She died at 98, still in possession of a valid driver’s license, and I count her as one of the loveliest friends ever. I miss her still.

The boy says, “I have deficiencies,” to explain some of his obsessions like the Guinness Book of World Records. It reminded me a little of Be Frank With Me, as the writer in that story also refers to these behaviors, but doesn’t actually label her character. As a reader, I am assuming the boy has Asperger’s. Why did you not want to label him in your story?

Mostly because I don’t know that he has Asperger’s or any other syndrome except his own quirky little personality. I was somewhat like this child in my own childhood: a list maker, an obsessive observer. Most writers I know were a little like that as children. I started this book in 2004, when Aspergers was not yet part of the common parlance. I’d heard of autism, I’m sure, but this was before “on the spectrum” was commonly used.

National Wildlife Refuge

source: wikipedia

 There is a pretty epic road trip in this story which brings your three characters together in some surprising ways. I love a good road trip story! What has been a favorite road trip of your own?

My husband and I drove across country and back in the 1980s. I’m a birder, so we planned our trip to hit lots of National Wildlife Refuges. Unlike national parks, refuges are almost always empty of tourists. It was wonderful to find ourselves nearly alone in so many spectacular places.

Kim Goodman- Eyeball Popper

(kim goodman- guinness record holder)

I’m curious to find out what is one of the strangest Guinness World Record that you found while researching for this project?

Oh, my. Where to begin? Those books are a testament to human goofiness and striving. I think the eyeball-popper takes the cake. Something like an inch or so. There’s a picture of her with her eyeballs literally OUT of their sockets.

If I could set a world record in anything, I’d love for it to be the record holder for most book pages read… or maybe most cups of coffee consumed over the course of a lifetime. What is one thing you wish you could set a record in?

I wouldn’t mind a record for most books sold in a single day. Wouldn’t that be cool?

Since your writing is so diverse, I am wondering what you are planning to write next?

I’m working on a new play at the moment. This one is harder because it’s not based on a previous book. So I’m back at the old “who are these people and why are they saying these things” stage of writing.

You can connect with Monica Wood 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!

It’s the 3 Little Things: Evening Snacks, Headphones For Busy People, & 80’s Awesomeness

Friday, July 29th, 2016

skies

I won’t pretend this was an easy week. My husband and I are both scrambling to complete all-the-things so we can enjoy a vacation together as a family. All-the-things, it turns out, is a little more than we both bargained for, but I just keep thinking about that vacation reward that we earned with our kids! Yesterday evening we took the kids out for sushi and toasted to the partial completion of almost all the things.

 

It’s the best we can manage right now.

I can’t wait to have some unplugged time with my people.

Even though it has been busy, I have some fun stuff for my happy list this week!

Planters Nut-rition Chocolate Nut Protein Mix

My New Favorite Evening Snack

I have been working on a little snack station for the back to school season (coming soon!) and I wanted to have some healthy treats on hand for indulging in. I happened to pick some of these Planters NUT-rition Chocolate Nut mixes and they are absolutely amazing.

The chocolate soy nuts and granola clusters make this a yummy sweet treat at the end of the day while packing a 10 gram protein punch to balance out my wine.

It totally balances out.

I did the math for you.

They have several different varieties that come in little portion-controlled packs. I loved this so much that I wanted every crumb out of the bottom, tried to pour the crumbs in my mouth,  and accidentally spilled granola all over my face in a very embarrassing attempt to get every last bite. I didn’t claim to snack pretty!

Good thing I like to snack alone!

SoundPEATS Wireless Headphones

 

My Podcast Listening Got Way Better

I have been wanting to get a pair of wireless headphones for listening to audiobooks and podcasts around the house, but the prices have always seemed a little outrageous. I went hunting on Amazon and found these bluetooth wireless headphones for less than $20 that happened to have amazing reviews. I have been using them all week and they are truly AMAZING. All of the controls are in the plastic portion that rests around your neck and then the buds go in the ears. Normally earbuds bother me, but these don’t seem to bug me at all and the design of them allows for them to stay in better since they are supported around the neck. It can connect with my phone for long conference calls (way better on my old lady joints!) and it tells you audibly when it powers on, off, and about your battery life. REALLY loving these for tackling chores around the house and listening to my books! It’s also really good for ignoring my children.

Sing Street DVD

A New Favorite Musical

If you are a big fan of the ’80’s you will love SING STREET. ONCE is one of my favorite movie musicals and this film is from the same writer and director of that and he worked with Adam Levine on this project for all you Levine fans!

It’s about a boy who wants to impress a girl and tells her that he is in a band and needs her to star in his music video. The problem is… well, he doesn’t have a band. He gathers up all these kids and they create a band just for this opportunity and it is the cutest thing ever. The music is original and KILLER. Since it is set in Dublin the accents can be a little thick at times, but worth straining your ears for to hear this beautiful story. My husband and I agreed, it’s probably the best film we have seen this year! I think you will love it too!

Reading: Bone Gap and it is beautiful! If you like books that use magical realism then you will really love this YA read. I am reading it through my Scribd membership right now as one of their Scribd Selects (free-ish) book options!

Eating: It’s Orange Chicken night and I can’t wait to dig in!

Watching: Raunchy, but hilarious, Broad City is my new guilty pleasure this week!

dad

Loving: This comic strip. No matter what side you are on, what a momentous day for our kids to see this moment in history! Also loving, catching Lights Out with my dad for his birthday! Happy birthday to the man that taught me the importance of reading! I love you!

Happy Friday, friends!

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

Amy’s Notebook 07.27.16

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

Tutu Cake via Oh Happy Day

Source: Oh Happy Day

 

Seriously adorable tutu cake topper.

12 minimalist You Tube channels to follow- inspiring!

Sweet family dinner rituals- do you have one?

More books to add to your library wish list for 2016.

I love an inspiring home tour and this one is lovely!

Sage advice for summer communications.

Tiny kitchen with style via Apartment Therapy

Source: Apartment Therapy

 

Tiny kitchen inspiration.

15 Things About Living In Jordan- I love learning about other countries and their traditions.

On my summer sipping bucket list.

A trick to stop scrolling through those social media feeds- love this perspective!

God creating animals (all the LOL’s- language!!)

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!

 

How to Make a School Supplies Cake

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

How to Make a School Supplies Cake from MomAdvice.com.

It is hard to believe that school is just around the corner, but the school supplies have appeared in the stores! In honor of this I’m going to show you an adorable craft you can create for your kids as a back-to-school gift, a centerpiece for a back-to-school dinner together, or as a teacher gift to get the year started off right. The best part about this craft is that you can take full advantage of all of those back-to-school sales and make this for around $20!

School supplies cake-items needed.

Supplies Needed For Your School Supplies Cake: (affiliate links provided for more information)

1 8″x4″H cake form (or “dummy”)

1 box of 50 Crayola Markers

1 box of 12 yellow pencils (unsharpened or sharpened- your choice)

3 packages of colored rubber bands

1 package file folder bands

2 packages of Post-it Notes

2 skewers

Washi tape, chalkboard clip frames, and scissors (or any variety of fun items you have in your craft room- make this your own!)

School supplies cake tutorial

Directions

1. Place your cake form on a cake stand or on a cardboard cake circle to begin. This will help hold your project steady while preparing it.

2. Wrap one file folder band around your cake form. Remove markers from packaging and insert them in, between the band and cake form. Once you have your markers all inserted, add a second band to secure everything together.

3. Take your pencils and begin inserting these between your markers (every four markers or so) to fill out the rest of your cake. Save four of these and use them to frame your Post-it notes.

School-Supplies-Cake

4. Slip your Post-it Notes in the space leftover, tucking them securely under the bands, as shown in the picture above.

5. Top your cake with rubber bands. Finish with flags made from washi tape or purchase clip-on cardboard labels to write a special message to your kids or teacher. Push the skewers into your cake form to secure.

How to Make a School Supplies Cake from MomAdvice.com.

How cute is this?

And if you’d like another take on a back-to-school supplies cake, here’s another version we created when the kids were younger:

Teacher_School_Supplies_Cake_15

Click here for the steps to create this cake.

Here’s to another great school year!

*this post contains affiliate links- thank you for your support!

Pin It

Kathleen Tessaro’s 3 Favorite Books

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Katherine-Tessaro

Author: Kathleen Tessaro (Author of Rare Objects and many more novels! Read more about Kathleen in our interview HERE!!

Kathleen Tessaro’s 3 Favorite Books

Possession by A.S. Byatt

Possession by A.S. Byatt

A.S. Byatt’s “Possession” is the masterpiece which has inspired me the most structurally in all my novels. I have never recovered from the sheer audacity and scope of its ambitions.

The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford

The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford

Nancy Mitford’s “The Pursuit of Love” is my desert island book – one I could happily read over and over again for it’s flawless mixture of biting wit, sudden tenderness and clear, unadulterated love of language.

Arcadia by Tom Stoppard

Arcadia by Tom Stoppard

 

Tom Stoppard’s play “Arcadia” completely transformed my idea of storytelling. I will never forget the delicious tension of the audience, balanced on the edge of their seats the night I saw it at the National, hanging on every word; thrilled to keep up with the character’s formidable intellects as they unravel a centuries old mystery that married quantum physics with the tragic fate of young woman in the eighteenth century. He taught me never to write down to my audience.

 

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

 

Clare Mackintosh’s 3 Favorite Books

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

Clare Mackintosh

Author: Clare Mackintosh (Author of I Let You Go. Read more about Robin in our interview HERE!!)

Clare Mackintosh’s 3 Favorite Books

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

I read this book more than twenty years ago, and must have read it a dozen times since. The characters are incredibly vivid, and the twists superb. It’s the book every writer wishes they’d written.

Find Her by Lisa Gardner

Find Her by Lisa Gardner

A recent release, as a contrast to du Maurier’s classic! I’m a huge fan of Lisa’s books, and Find Her is her best yet. Terrifyingly plausible, I read it in a single sitting and am recommending it to everyone.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

I felt bereft when this story ended. It is that rare thing; a page-turner of a book, yet written in language so perfectly constructed it’s almost poetry. Thought-provoking, beautiful, haunting.

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

Sundays With Writers: Rare Objects By Kathleen Tessaro

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

Sundays With Writers

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and if you haven’t been introduced to Kathleen Tessaro before, I’d love to introduce you! Today Kathleen is joining me for Sundays With Writers to share about her new historical fiction novel, Rare Objects. If you haven’t read it yet, I think you will find it a welcome and well-researched escape into another era in time.

Rare Objects by Kathleen Tessaro

Set in Depression-era Boston, the book follows Maeve Fanning, a first generation Irish girl, being raised by her widow mother. Maeve engages in risky behavior that lead her to a psychiatric hospital where she strikes up an unlikely friendship with an unstable woman named Diana. Diana runs in an elite crowd, thanks to her wealth, and Maeve begins changing herself to fit in. Dying her red hair to blonde, she begins a job working in a shop selling rare artifacts, being romanced by Diana’s brother, and continuing to engage in her risky behaviors.  As Diana pulls Maeve more and more into her fold, Maeve begins to realize how dangerous it all really is.

Rare Objects was a fantastic exploration of social issues that I would not have considered (like being an alcoholic during the Prohibition, for example) and the dramatic differences in social classes.

This book was included in our Must-Reads for the month of May!

Grab your coffee and join me for a glimpse into Kathleen Tessaro’s writing process and research today!

Katherine Tessaro

How did the story idea for Rare Objects come to you? Since you have written so many historical fiction novels, do the initial ideas come easy or are you constantly researching to pull out a new story?

I do a lot of research and reading to develop new story ideas as I’m not one of those writers who finds it easy to come up with new characters and plots. Often I’m not certain what I want to write about or why a subject interests me until I’m done with the first draft – which is often where I discover what the book is NOT about. Rare Objects came from a notion I had about writing a novel in an antiquities shop and how each new object would have a history, a mysterious backstory, and that would be intertwined with the stories of the people who wanted to own that object. The basic thought was that it would be a venue upon which a series of stories might be built, using recurring characters.

Maeve Fanning, your main character, lands a job in an antiques shop catering to the city’s wealthiest collectors. What types of research did you do to create these collections and artifacts that you are describing in this shop? Did you have one item, in particular, that was your favorite to write about?

I lived in London for half my life, which is full of just the sort of shops I was keen to recreate in the book. I spent many years quite broke, wandering around its narrow streets, going from one establishment to another – constantly amazed at the eclectic collections of items and the detailed stories behind each one. I also spent time in Boston and New York visiting similar shops, which is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon in any city. Afterwards, I researched particular items to create the specific stock of Winshaw and Kessler. All the items in the novel are taken from real life. My favorite would have to be the ring, which I discovered on a website called the Curator’s Eye. To my knowledge it’s still available although I’ll be extremely jealous when someone does finally buy it!

First Edition Ernest Hemingway

Do you own any rare objects of your own? What is your favorite antique or collection in your own home?

I used to collect old first edition books. Among my favorites are several Henry James novels, a Wilke Collins, Nancy Mitford, Evelyn Waugh, Edith Wharton, E. F. Benson and a rather battered first edition of Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, which I bought at the local Bryn Maar Bookshop for $3.00 in 1986. There’s nothing quite like finding a diamond in the dirt.   

You tackle big social issues that I would not have thought of people struggling with, like struggles with sexuality and alcoholism during the Depression era and the Prohibition. Why did you want to explore these topics through your storytelling and did you read any personal accounts that helped you develop these plotlines for your characters?

One of the reasons I write historical fiction is because I like to look back and see how other people handled the considerable challenges of their lives and endured difficult times. In short, I want to learn from the wisdom of the past. For example, the world economy dipped into a massive recession beginning in 2008 which continues to plague us today. Many of the factors involved in that recession (the unregulated mortgage market in particular) are shockingly similar to the unregulated stock market that brought on the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression. And now we see the same fearful, isolationist stance developing politically that in the mid-1930’s developed into fascism and the rise of Nazi Germany.

The Drunkard's Progress- Prohibition

source: wikipedia

As readers face these challenges today, I want to connect the dots, show them how other generations survived and battled with the same issues. It’s important to have a historical perspective about where we are – and where we could possibly end up. Perhaps the issues of alcoholism seem modern but in fact, during the Prohibition period in America, the alcoholism level climbed dramatically especially among women who were previously forbidden from drinking in saloons and bars due to “propriety.”  The attitude towards immigrants was also similarly complex with many captains of industry – Carnegie, Ford, and Kellogg among them – openly funding eugenics research, an area in which America led the field. The idea that some people were genetically inferior was thus supported “scientifically” and greatly influenced the immigration laws of the time, severely limiting the number of Mediterranean, Eastern European, Hungarian, Serbian, Lithuanian and Jewish immigrants. The Italian ghetto of the North End that Maeve grows up in is real. Her red hair and Irish last name represent an authentic barrier in Boston, especially in a time when jobs are scarce. The stigma of her mental health issues is a shameful secret she must hide. And Diana’s confusion with her sexuality and her struggles to fit into the social role her family requires of her are echoed all around us today. None of these issues is recent or new. Life was always complex and challenging. And history teaches us the folly of considering ourselves unique at the risk of repeating the same mistakes.   

What was your biggest challenge when writing this book and what did you find came together the easiest for you?

The whole thing is challenging. I have to do many rewrites and take on board a lot of notes from my agents and editors. I’m extremely lucky to work with such talented people who are so patient and supportive.

Maeve’s mother was one of my favorite characters in the book because I so admired her sense of style even though they didn’t have any money. I also admired her bravery for finding a way to make a community for herself. Who was your favorite character to write?

I too have a fondness for Nora because, as you noted, she’s a survivor and extremely resourceful. I like people who don’t give up and don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves. She’s taken a potentially impossible situation and created a narrative that makes sense of it and gives both her daughter and herself a workable past and future.

Maeve and Diana come from two very different social classes and form a friendship in spite of it. Do you think a friendship like this could ever work? Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this where you just couldn’t fit in?

Absolutely! I see people from different races, backgrounds, faiths and upbringings forming friendships and helping one another through difficult times on a regular basis. One might argue this is the very basis of modern day 12 Step program groups like AA, Al-Anon, and Narcotics Anonymous, as well as a legion of other self-help organizations throughout the world. In fact, many of these groups were founded in the mid-1930’s on just such principles.

Rare Objects Book Release Party

follow Kathleen on Facebook!!

As a working mother, do you have a tip for those of us that are struggling with balance between work and family?

No. I won’t pretend to have a sense of balance. I veer between one extreme and the other and, for what it’s worth, so does my husband, so I don’t think it’s a goal that women alone should be aiming for. As a matter of fact, it might be better to simply not concern ourselves with it at all. I suspect it’s one of those vague terms, like “happiness” that everyone bandies about as the Holy Grail but has little to do with reality. Can you imagine people at the turn of the century anxiously wondering if their lives were balanced? What a luxury!

We have more important things to do than take our emotional temperatures and worry about some illusory ideal state that was probably concocted by advertising executives. If anything, I want other women know that I respect their accomplishments as well as their right to get their hands dirty in life, on their own terms, without judgement or criticism from me or anyone else.  Be messy. Try. Fail. Try again. And above all, never apologize.

Editor’s Note- You bet, I highlighted that whole answer! What a great way to think about the myth of balance!

You can connect with Kathleen Tessaro on her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter! 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!

Pin It

It’s the 3 Little Things: Ping Pong, Entryway Dreams, & Pokemon Mania

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

mary-visit

Well, hey there! I hope you are having a wonderful summer! So much good stuff has been happening over here that this happy list is a genuine one. I headed to Nebraska Medicine for a second opinion on my health issues and the doctor added a pill to assist with the pain I have been experiencing and I FINALLY feel like my old self again. I am virtually pain-free after six months of unbelievable pain.

I truly feel like it is a miracle to feel this good.

Lucky for me, we got in great visits with friends while we were there, I ate my way through Omaha (and I mean it- hello, pajama jeans!), and drank far too much wine…but, hey, worth it!

I hosted a gathering for my girlfriends, once we rolled back into town, in our backyard and in our little she shed. I am always thankful that we had this beautiful table made to be extra long so we always have room at our table for our friends. We had a Salad Bar night for our evening meal (someday I will do a post on it!). I provided the greens, roasted chicken, and dressings for the group. Then everyone came with toppings and drinks to round out our meal. Such a fun and easy night in the backyard without stress on the hostess or the guests.

Here are three other things that are making me happy (and I think would make you happy too!)

Boot Tray Insert

My Boot Tray Got More Awesome

When I did my house tour, one of the most clicked on items in that was our boot tray and I don’t blame you. It is one of my favorite Target finds that we have gotten for our home. That said, anytime we had wet or dirty shoes, they would just sit in the tray in the puddle of water and dirt…

Well, that is, until now.

I was wandering around Target (always a dangerous pastime) and saw this incredible boot tray insert that fits right over my existing boot tray. It gives a place for wet shoes to drip, it’s black so it doesn’t show everything, and it actually looks decorative too. SUPER happy with this purchase!

Narrow entryways will bask in functional glory with this fun addition!

Joola Outdoor Ping Pong Table

 

We Have Been In Ping Pong Heaven

My husband loves playing ping pong and although I love our little house, things like ping pong tables just don’t fit in our tiny spaces.  This guy of mine has been working his tail off and needed a stress reliever that wasn’t in front of a screen and more than anything I wanted to give him a ping pong table to enjoy.

This summer it came time to break down our swing set (how bittersweet is that?) and I had to figure out something we could do in the backyard together that we would all enjoy.

In honor of Father’s Day we splurged on this JOOLA Outdoor Ping Pong Table. Yup, an outdoor table! Who knew?

I had been waiting to talk about it, in our favorite things list,  until we really used it (I hate sharing something we don’t REALLY genuinely love). This table is incredibly made, comes almost fully assembled, and is a breeze to put up and down. We got an outdoor cover (kind of like a grill cover for it) and we have enjoyed many evenings together playing ping pong in our backyard. My husband also discovered they make ping pong balls that are made for outdoor tables even since a windy day can sometimes be an issue. It’s been an incredible addition to our backyard.

In full disclosure, we had an awful surprise storm that knocked half of our table over due to some really crazy winds. One of the wheels broke off and I worried that we would have a broken table forever within the first week of purchase. I contacted the company and a REAL PERSON talked to me, he sent me extra wheels in case it happened again, and they emailed me a shipping notification so we could track our wheels until they arrived on my doorstep.

It was incredible customer service and our table is now happily repaired and awaiting many games together.

Want an inspiring ping pong documentary to share with your whole family? Watch Top Spin (on Netflix!!).  You can watch kids compete for the Olympic team and be wowed. This one is approved by our family for all ages! Yay!

After we watched that, we were all fighting over our turn at the ping pong table!

pokemon-go

I Love Pokemon Go (Even Though I Have No Clue What I’m Doing)

My kids are at a stage where they just want to sit in front of devices and do nothing. It takes a lot to motivate them so I was genuinely excited about the Pokemon Go app (FREE!!). You would have to be buried under a rock to not know about it, but here is a little more info if you haven’t tried it out yet.

My kids are MOTIVATED for evening walks and explorations at parks. Just in our neighborhood alone, we caught 5 of these critters looping the mile through the ‘hood.

Do I know a thing about Pokemon?

No.

I don’t give a flip, but my kids do and they are MOVING.

And they are HANGING OUT WITH ME.

And for the caption on this photo:

“Mom, why would you pose with that? It’s not even a good one. It evolves and won’t even look at you straight. It’s just a goldfish.”

Me: “But, I’m really proud of my goldfish. I worked hard for it. Take my picture with my goldfish.”#pokemonposeur

Sometimes finding something you all love with big kids is hard so I am thrilled we have found something we can do together… even if I don’t understand it!

Advanced Readers for July

Reading: All the Missing Girls and it is incredible! If you are looking for a gripping psychological thriller, you should give this one a try for your summer reading!

Pictured above are some advanced readers for books that should be on your reading radar! I have a lot of reading to do and am looking forward to enjoying these on a family vacation!

LOST STARS

HER EVERY FEAR

THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10

SAVING ABBY

BABY DOLL

SISTERS ONE, TWO, THREE

Eating: We fired up the grill and enjoyed Chicken Pesto Burgers this week and I even baked french fries to go with them. I hope to share that recipe soon!!

Watching: I can’t stop watching this- it’s absolutely incredible and one of the best Adele covers ever made. Amen.

Making:  My hands are finally working again so I am knitting up some Chemo Caps for a special girl- lift her up in prayer for me, won’t you?

Happy Friday, friends!

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

 

 

Amy’s Notebook 07.20.16

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

DIY backyard before and after via Apartment Therapy

Source: Apartment Therapy

 

Totally inspired by this clean, welcoming diy backyard before-and-after!

Mindful grocery choices you can start making today.

Roasted broccoli sweet potato chickpea salad for your summer dinners.

Why the homestead is relevant to the modern woman.

Pork chops with cranberry-mustard sauce & more 5-ingredient meals!

How to slow down summer.

15 wardrobe basics every girl should check off her list.

Stuffed pancake puffs via A Beautiful Mess

Source: A Beautiful Mess

 

Maybe our new pancake obsession?

10 brand new books to read in July.

Easy home remedies for summer wounds.

10 things to eliminate from your kitchen right now.

Saying “yes” more.

S’mores rice krispie treats- maybe the best of both worlds?

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!