Author Archive

It’s the 3 Little Things SUPER EDITION

Friday, August 29th, 2014

It's the 3 Little Things

Oh, I hope you did read that title! It brings me back to the Sweet Valley Twins books and getting that Super Edition book that you knew was going to be so much better and longer than the regular editions. That is exactly what starts this week on our 3 Little Things.

I am trying to figure out a way to blend my fashion capsule challenge with the rest of the blog and decided that I can’t manage a whole separate series and try to build a following to that. Since you guys already love this section so much, the three little things just got more awesome. I am going to include my usual 3 things that make me happy and am now adding 3 outfits that I wore and 3 things you loved this week on the site from our top searches.  Consider this the super editions from here on out! Life got so full with my activities and kids and running and running and running. I still want to inspire you and take you on my journey towards a more minimalistic wardrobe so this is a great way to blend my two loves together.

3 Things That Make Me Happy

aerie bralette

aerie bralette

The Yoga Pants Of The Bra World

Padded, without wires or hooks, and can comfortably be worn to bed or under clothes.  It is the yoga pants of the bra world and it is called the bralette. Behold the awesome from aerie.  It’s my new favorite thing! Be sure to sign up for their email list or check here for coupons because you rarely have to buy anything not on sale at this store. If that doesn’t make you happy, then you are crazy.

savings-catcher

Savings Catcher

I promise I am not being paid to say this,  it’s just something that is saving me some money and time this month. I am madly in love with the new Walmart Savings Catcher app. I shop there a lot for my projects for my clients because I can grab my groceries and craft supplies in one place. If you download the Walmart app, they now have a Savings Catcher tool on that app that you can use for price matching.  What I do is I scan the barcode on my receipt when I get home. They then compare the prices of all of the stores and give you back the difference on an ecard if they find someone with a lower price.  I signed up a couple of weeks ago, entered one receipt, and I already have $2.46 accumulated.  I have gotten a few friends to sign up and they have already accumulated a few bucks too. Pretty great stuff!

Free-Family-Management-Binder-Printables-3

My Home Management Binder

I am so thrilled after months of chattering with my assistant and recruiting our designer and contributor to design a home management system and coordinating the distribution of these files with my husband that these printables are finally out in the world. I am so thankful to Money Saving Mom for sharing this freebie with her readers. We were baffled when the sign-ups suddenly stopped on our brand new newsletter. It turns out that if you have more than 2,000 people sign up, you have to start a paid plan on Mail Chimp.

First world problems, I tell you.

All I can say is, “WOW!”

My hopes of getting a couple of hundred subscribers has been surpassed.  Thank you all for signing up for our newsletter and I am so happy that we got to share these home management binder printables with you after a lot of hard work behind the scenes to make these. I finally feel like I can breathe now that we have mailed them to you.

I am truly using these printables and can’t believe the paper pile-up with school just starting that has already happened. I’m proud that I am a little more organized than the years before and I am loving that I didn’t have to buy a planner this year. I have already started inputting my work trips in it and got a ton in it for my husband so he knows when/where/what to do with our children.  Each year it feels like so much more and I’m hoping this helps me stay cool and collected this year.

Fall-Fashion-Capsule-Wardrobe-4

3 Things I Wore

Did you see I started a fashion capsule wardrobe challenge? I’m so thrilled so many of you are joining in so I have some accountability partners. If you are looking for inspiration I have spent far too much time making a Pinterest Fashion Capsule Board to inspire you into embracing a simpler wardrobe. You really must take a peek.

This week started with a bang. I went to a bridal shower, hopped in the car with my sister-in-law, jetted to Starbucks, spilled Starbucks all over my skirt (a signature piece, I might add!), tried to spot clean it, ended up washing it on delicate, took the skirt out and it was…

thisbig

Yup, dry clean only. I spent all day fluffing and separating the fabric and shaping it back into its former glory. I wore it to church the next day and felt like a slip was dragging behind me. I looked and sure enough the whole underlayer was hanging out an inch. I called my mother-in-law and declared a fashion emergency and she GRACIOUSLY let me bring my tiny skirt over to her house and hemmed it for me.

First lesson learned: check care label information before making minimalist wardrobe purchases.

Here are 3 looks I am *trying* this week.

tank + pleated skirt + chevron necklace

Pleated Bird Skirt (owned- Stitch Fix)/Seamless Tank in Burgundy (owned- Flourish Boutique)/Chevron Necklace (owned- Charming Charlie)

Holy heavens! It was a heat wave and I did not put shorts in my minimalist wardrobe. I did, however, give camis a free pass so this long tank (hidden discreetly under my bird skirt) worked perfectly. I should have probably counted this one as a piece because it is long, but I’m not going back on my decision to include it now that it is ninety degrees out.

bow shirt + mint belt + lounge pants

Ann Taylor Loft Pink Print Collared Shirt (purchased second hand on Twice)/Mossimo Black Lounge Pants (purchased- Target)/ Mint Belt (owned- Target)/Bangles (purchased- Forever 21)

tank + statement necklace + leopard print belt + jeans + black heels

Seamless Tank in Burgundy (owned- Flourish Boutique)/Leopard Print Belt (owned- Target)/Black Pumps (owned- Payless Shoes)/Seven Skinny Jeans (owned- Flourish Boutique)/ Statement Necklace (owned- Groopdealz)

That last outfit isn’t my normal attire, but it turns out we got a sitter for the night so I am heading out for a sushi date with my hubby! I bet that makes my happy list for next week. We haven’t had a date night in ages and I can’t wait to steal that guy all to myself.

I struggled this week..I would say hobbled along in my fashion challenge.  Breaking the habit of changing a few times a day because I think I am hosting an award show, REALLY thinking about accessories, and taking better care of my pieces are all shedding some light on some of my behaviors and habits.

This is going to make me a better person even if I did feel a little Amish the first day because I have never had to work so hard accessorizing to make my clothes stand out.

I am a loud person.  I am a loud patterned person. I am the one with the jazz hands screaming, “LOOK AT ME!”

Just a tiny identity crisis this week. Ahem.

These were my favorite looks because I put some jazz hands on them, but I got dressed EVERY DAY and made it count. So I am really proud of that.

3 Things YOU Loved This Week (you, lover of MomAdvice things, you!)

Here are our top 3 posts this week!

Easy Lunchbox Solutions

A New Way to Teach Your Child How to Tie Their Shoes

14 Free Home Management Printables

*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 August 29, 2014

Friday, August 29th, 2014

freebie friday Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! 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 our most exciting post was all about our FREE set of Family Binder Home Management Printables you can get to help you organize all your household needs. These were designed by our own talented Sarah Milne and all 14 are yours free when you sign up for our MomAdvice newsletter. Make sure to go here to sign up for this and more freebies we plan to offer!

Speaking of Sarah, you’ll definitely want to check out her creative take on a gallery wall and tutorial for a DIY heart string art on wood (with free printable) – so sweet! Another thing you’ll want to check out is the great decor and accessories I saw at the BHG Live Better Style Showcase on my visit to their headquarters – great stuff for great prices! I’m also sharing my 2014 fall fashion capsule wardrobe project, a gluten free broccoli grape harvest salad and a terrific interview with Carla Buckley on Sundays with Writers. On this week’s edition of  It’s the 3 Little Things I’m sharing what’s making me happy and hope you’ll share yours, too!

Our regular feature,  Amy’s Notebook, is of course filled with lots of inspiring DIY, food, decorating and craft ideas, and be sure to check out all the contests you can enter on our weekly round-up of great giveaways!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Health & Beauty
Food & Drink
Entertainment

This Week’s Freebie Events: 

30th - Lakeshore Learning: Create a Whimsical Wind Catcher, 11 am – 3 pm

2nd - The Lego Store: Build a Monsters vs. Aliens Robot, 10 am

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Gluten-Free Broccoli Grape Harvest Salad

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Gluten-Free Broccoli Grape Harvest Salad

I don’t know if I ever devoted an entire post to grapes in over a decade of running this site, but perhaps this showcases how underappreciated this fruit is.  It is a staple around here as a side to round out our sandwiches, it’s an effortless appetizer paired with wine and cheese, and it spends its freshly rinsed self at the pool with us as a snack that can withstand the heat and temperatures. We are definitely fans of the humble grape and I am sure you are too.

Walmart gives me a produce challenge each month to showcase one of their produce items. If you haven’t followed along on my journey towards appreciating fruits and veggies, I have roasted and churned a Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream,   Baked Strawberry Doughnuts, created a Blueberry Sangria Lemonade, threw on my grill  Grilled Tomato Bread With Prosciutto, churned Fresh Peach Sorbet, slow cooked my Slow Cooker Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal, wowed my family with a 3-ingredient Watermelon Granita,  and my fresh Gluten-Free Orange Chicken is our weeknight staple now. What a journey it has been to appreciate the produce section.

Gluten-Free Broccoli Grape Harvest Salad

Tips for Selecting Great Grapes

Unlike some of the more difficult fruits I have featured, it is quite easy to spot a good batch of grapes.  Did you know premium grape season is actually September and October? It really is the best time to buy a big bag of grapes for your family. It is advised to select grapes based on the color of them. For green grapes, they should have a slightly yellowish, translucent hue rather than a true, opaque green. Red grape varieties should be mostly red and have a rich, crimson tone.

One other way to check for a good grape is to look at the stem of the grapes. A dry and brittle stem indicates that the grapes might not be as fresh and seeing a little peek of green on the stem is a good indicator of a fresh batch. The shape of the grape should not be misshapen or wrinkled, but plump and juicy.  Of course, you can always bring them back to Walmart if they aren’t perfect thanks to their 100% money back guarantee so selecting great grapes is foolproof.

Gluten-Free Broccoli Grape Harvest Salad

I decided to incorporate these grapes into a gluten-free pasta salad to take to a cookout. This salad was hearty and filling for someone who is often unsure if she will be able to eat at social events (ahem). Not only is this just the kind of creamy pasta dish I love, but it incorporates the smoky saltiness of turkey bacon and chopped toasted pecans for a protein punch that really fills you up.  The smokiness is balanced with the sweetness of the grapes making for an interesting flavor combination and perfect for showcasing the beautiful in-season grapes.

Oh, grape, you certainly are a wonderful fruit and I’m sorry we haven’t loved on you more over the years! I promise to do better!

Gluten-Free Broccoli Grape Harvest Salad

Gluten-Free Broccoli Grape Harvest Salad
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A gluten-free pasta salad laced with pecans, bacon, and sweet grapes.
Ingredients
  • 1 bag of gluten-free pasta (any variety)- 16 ounces
  • 1 lb. fresh broccoli
  • ½ cup light mayonnaise
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 packets Stevia
  • ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 cups seedless red grapes
  • 10 cooked turkey bacon slices, crumbled
  • ½ cup pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan for about 6 minutes until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
  2. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Once done cooking, rinse well before assembling.
  3. Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets from stems and separate into small pieces using a paring knife. In a large bowl, whisk together mayo, yogurt, Stevia, red wine vinegar and salt and toss with broccoli, hot cooked pasta (that has been rinsed) and grapes. Stir to coat.
  4. Cover and chill for up to 3 hours. Stir in bacon and toasted pecans just before serving.
  5. Note- The sauce on this can be doubled if you desire a more creamy pasta.

Slightly Adapted from Eat Yourself Skinny

walmart_mom_disclaimer

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Amy’s Notebook 08.27.14

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Washi Tape Binders-Blooming Homestead via I Heart Nap TIme

Source: Blooming Homestead via I Heart Naptime

 

DIY binder covers made from washi tape- so cute.

Highest rated nail polish and only $2 per bottle- score!

DIY headphone clips- so. awesome.

Can you guess the 5 things every small bedroom needs?

Food photography through the years- remembering we all start somewhere!

A frugal way to make a package more lovely.

 

Photo Tips and Tricks via A Beautiful Mess

Source: A Beautiful Mess

 

20 photography tips & tricks to inspire and amaze.

You know I love a good shed makeover.

I want to knit this sweater made from t-shirt yarn!

Why it’s okay to quit.

I want to replicate everything in this home.

A genius kid’s dress-up rack made out of pipe fittings. I love it!

amys_notebook

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, and thrifty ways to spruce up your home. Nothing brings me more joy then to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

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14 FREE Home Management Binder Printables

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

14 FREE Home Management Binder Printables

When I first began managing my household, I happened upon a home management binder that really worked for our family. The binder became our family Bible and each year I would order a new set of sheets to keep the same binder going for our family for the next year. Last year when I went to order my sheets, the company no longer existed and I felt lost without my trusty home management binder system. I talked with our amazingly talented craft contributor, Sarah Milne, to see if she could help me execute a binder with the same principles, but a fresh design that would make managing a home fun.  She created the most beautiful set of printables ever and I am so excited to share these with you today.

14 FREE Home Management Binder Printables

What Is a Home Management Binder?

When I say that a home management binder can be a Bible for a family, I really do mean that. A well-designed binder, which I really think we offer with these printables, helps you manage everything in your household in one place.  This binder is housed typically in a central location in your home and contains everything your family needs to have on-hand from your family calendar, your to-do list, important contact information that you want to have at a moment’s notice (particularly for someone who might babysit), the meal plan for the week, grocery lists, a price sheet, and all you need to run your family’s finances smoothly.

I recommend storing this binder  and then purchasing a set of pocketed dividers where you can tuck important information that you might need to refer to. I took a picture of my pockets for you and then realized that it is all pretty personal so you will have to take my word for it that this is where you put the good stuff. When school starts, in particular, you will find your mailbox filled with fliers for events, important forms that need to be filled out, appointment reminders, and invitations. Instead of piling them on a desk or tacking them on the fridge, use the pockets so you always know where to find these items when you need them. I also like to keep an extra pocket or two in the back for the randomness in my life- consider it another junk drawer, if you will.  I have also found that a good spot in the home for daily reference is in your family’s command center.

We have created header pages for each section and I do recommend printing these on heavy-duty cardstock so that they can hold up to the abuse of being referenced daily!

14 FREE Home Management Binder Printables

What is Included In Our Home Management Binder Packet?

First, I just want to say that this is the just the beginning. I plan to come up with more sheets that you can use for all of your home management needs and this will be an ongoing project for MomAdvice.com. I want this to be useful to you so please, please let me know in the comments if there is anything you would like to see that we are missing in our packet. It will help us when we design the next round of sheets for you!

In our packet you will find:

Family Budget Pages

Grocery Price Sheet (for comparison shopping)

Grocery List Sheet

Menu Planner Sheet

Family Calendar

To-Do List

Contact Sheet

Header Pages for Each Section (to print on cardstock)

MomAdvice Newsletter

 

What is the Catch to These “Free” Printables?

Honestly, I paid a lot of money each year to update my binder with new sheets, but I didn’t want to charge for these.

We realize that there is so much happening on MomAdvice each week that it can be difficult to keep up with. I hired another designer to create a beautiful weekly newsletter for our readers that I would love for you to subscribe to. This email newsletter only is sent once a week to our readers (unless we have a special announcement/giveaway) and I promise to never, never spam you. In this newsletter, we feature everything that is happening for the week and this is where our subscribers can access the free printables and additional freebies that we offer ONLY TO NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBERS.  It is beautiful, simple, mobile-friendly, and fast to scroll through.  I promise, I will never send you junk. I know your time is valuable and so is mine- I am committed to a very useful newsletter.

Honestly though, I realized that we needed to offer some type of incentive to get you to join my newsletter and this is our thank you for letting me come in your inbox once a week.  That is the only catch with getting free printables from MomAdvice.com.

If you are interested in receiving 14 free home management printables, just input your email below or in the sidebar and we will send you the link to your packet as our thank you for being a subscriber (look for it in the final welcome email). Subscribers will have access to our additional printables as they become available. Note: if you already subscribe to the Mom Advice Newsletter, be sure to look in your inbox for a special email that contains the link for your set of these printables! If you can’t seem to get the form to work with your browser, just look over to your right in the sidebar. You will see a handy form there too that works with all browsers! We appreciate you so much! Thank you! 

##NEWSLETTERFORM##

 

 This post contains affiliate links.

 

 

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Apron Full of Giveaways 08.26.14

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Black-purple apron via Etsy

Source: Boojiboo,  $28.75

 

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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BHG Live Better Style Showcase

Monday, August 25th, 2014

BHG Live Better Style Showcase

This post is sponsored on behalf of BHG at Walmart.

I’m so excited to share with you that I had the chance to participate in a sneak peek for the new BHG products that you will be able to find at your Walmart store. I have been a longtime fan of BHG and this was such a unique opportunity to both see the new products that will be debuting on your store shelves at Walmart as well as in-depth guidance on fun ways to utilize these items in your home. I left feeling excited and inspired about what I could do on a small budget to spruce up my home and I loved the craft & gift ideas that were created to show us new ways to use some of these items for gift-giving and entertaining.

BHG Live Better Style Showcase

This year it is all about mixing textures, embracing the brights, and bold patterns. We got the chance to circulate around the items and were given many tips for utilizing these pieces in our own home.

Here are some of the tips I received from the stylists for ways to make small and thoughtful updates to your home.

Embrace Weathered Wood

This year it is all about the weathered wood and they have brought this into key items like this awesome coffee table that has generous storage for storing away the family board games, a spare blanket, or the odds and ends that can pop up on a coffee table.  They referred to this style as, “farmhouse luxury.” They are offering many weathered pieces this year along with television stands, side tables, and cubby storage.  This was one of my favorite lines that they are offering this year.

Storage was also a hot discussion and they suggested corralling the remotes on your coffee table in a cookie jar so that you can grab them when you need them, so they aren’t creating a cluttered display in your space. Genius!

Look For The Nailhead Trend

Nailhead trim is very big this year whether it is brought into a headboard or even as a decorative nailhead design in your tableware. I loved this headboard so much that we are planning to purchase it when we update our bedroom. It looked just like one I had been eyeing in a catalog, but came in less than half the price of the one I had planned to purchase.

It’s All About Color

I have always been pretty neutral when it comes to my home, but that changed this year when I started embracing bright colors in my house. The stylists advised that color is big this year and color combos like blue & white, yellow and green, and orange are all hot trends. There is also a running trend of black and white, which will continue through this year.  In my opinion, you can never go wrong with those two colors!

BHG Live Better Style Showcase

BHG Live Better Style Showcase Layer, Layer, Layer

The key to any good design is the layering of textures. Throw a cozy fur throw over a chair or add a fur pillow to add texture to any room. Burlap table runners add a beautiful detail to tables especially when it is paired with a nod to the menswear trend of napkins adorning the tabletop like bow ties.

Textures also abound in centerpieces made from fruits that are in season, pinecones, and fresh flowers (from the yard or purchased on sale at your local market). We got to see numerous fun centerpieces made from a variety of items you could find at the market all using one serving plate. It goes to show that you don’t need a lot to achieve a beautifully decorated home.

I have already purchased this basic white dinnerware set since I got home and I love that this element of white can be layered with seasonal holiday dishes or even a little woodland animal whimsy for the autumn months.

If there is anything I got out of this day with the stylists it is that I need to embrace more layers to my decorating. I also learned that the burlap runner could double as a bathroom window treatment for a small window which I plan to do in our guest bathroom.

BHG Live Better Style Showcase

Simplify Gift-Giving

Gift-giving doesn’t need to be extravagant. One of my favorite examples was this simple idea for lining a walkway for your guests. A simple balloon was tied to a small candle that each guest could take home when they leave. I can’t wait to try this one at our next party!

BHG Live Better Style Showcase

dress: site sponsor, Flourish Boutique

 I have been a longtime fan of Eddie Ross and it was such a treat to get to meet him and also to have him showcase fun ideas for taking houseware basics to another level with the Eddie Ross touch. If you aren’t following his blog or Instagram feed, I highly recommend it. He showed off some of his favorite ways to spruce up the BHG at Walmart items that you could try yourself.

BHG-Style-Showcase-50

 

He transformed a white lampshades into a watercolor beauty using a technique with watered down paint and a paintbrush.  I wish I could have seen this one in action, but I left inspired to try my own watercolor lampshade for our home.

BHG-Style-Showcase-51

He added a tortoiseshell detail to a plain frame by decoupaging some tortoiseshell paper to a plain picture frame. The detail inside was achieved with a simple metallic tape.

BHG-Style-Showcase-53

Curtains don’t have to be plain, they can be trimmed with ribbon that you can attach with fabric glue or sew to your curtains. He also advised mixing up the curtains and using two different colors to create a more custom window treatment feel to your space!

Live-Better-Network-Badge

I’m very excited to be contributing this year to the BHG Live Better Network! Every other month I will get a project challenge and get to showcase a fun DIY project for you. I’m really excited about this opportunity and I hope to share a lot of fun ideas that you can incorporate in your own homes! I also was thrilled to get to sneak peek all the goodies from the new BHG at Walmart line and to find some inspiration for my own space.

Thank you to BHG for this opportunity!

In accordance with the FTC Guidelines, I am disclosing that I received compensation from BHG for my time and participation in the BHG Live Better Network. Although we have material connection to BHG, any publicly stated opinions of BHG and their products remain my own.

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Fall 2014 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

 

Fall 2014 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project

I’m so excited to be putting together my first fashion capsule wardrobe this year.  Ever since I was a kid, I have been intrigued by fashion capsule projects. When I think of them I think of the popular Donna Karan line with seven easy pieces that inspired so many women to embrace a capsule wardrobe.  Who couldn’t be inspired by the simplicity of those pieces and how many outfits you could create from them?

I was not blessed with a big wardrobe budget when I was young, but I had big dreams of making the most of key pieces even then. I remember reading a piece in Glamour Magazine on the school bus that shared the essential pieces every girl should own which included a black blazer, a white shirt, a good pair of jeans, black slacks, and booties. My money for starting my fall wardrobe budget for high school was very small though so I remember investing in these pieces that I found for no more than $10-15 each at the cheapest store in town. What resulted was a really bad school picture in a poorly fitted shirt that only got washed once and became a wrinkly awful misshapen mess that I never could wear again.

The intentions were there, but the budget was not.

As I admitted, I am very passionate about fashion, but have no claims to fame in the fashion blogging world. I decided to embrace a fashion capsule challenge of my own and see if it makes an impact both on how much I am buying and how much I can create from what I already own. I am not doing a ten piece challenge because that does not fit with the area I live in (multiple seasons in the course of three months- you have to love the Midwest!) or with my personal style.  I love that with a fashion capsule you have the freedom to make it what you need in your life.

If you are already a fashion minimalist, you can be unimpressed with me.

I openly admit that I have a closet that is bulging over into other areas of our home and needs to be tailored down. I have so much- I can do better.  For me, this is a true challenge, but one that I hope will help me a lot to learn to embrace a less-is-more philosophy in one area that I need improving in.

What Is a Capsule Wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a collection of clothing which is designed using only interchangeable items, in order to maximise the number of outfits which can be created. The aim is to have an outfit suitable for any occasion without owning excessive items of clothing. This is usually achieved by buying what are considered to be “key” or “staple” items in coordinating colours.

Fall 2014 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project

This project was inspired by the Unfancy fashion capsule challenge, but I am making a few of my own rules for my own personal challenge.

37 Piece Wardrobe- The wardrobe can have 37 pieces  in it. This wardrobe does not include pajamas, workout gear, undergarments, or camisoles (something that is a necessity for me).  The capsule is made from items I already own, some purchased to be workhorses in my wardrobe (since I fail in this department greatly), and purchased second hand at Goodwill or through Twice. All of the items I am not wearing and still love are being tucked in storage for the next fashion capsule.  I have created a Fashion Capsule Pinterest Board to help inspire me with the pieces I am using.

No Shoe Shopping- I am not including my shoes for this challenge, but I am challenging myself to not buy any more shoes and use what I already have.

One Steal Per Month- Things and events come up and I am allowing myself one steal per month from items that I already own. I may find I don’t need this, but I think it might help with the shopping bug.

No Shopping For Clothing- I will wear the clothes I have selected and not shop for three months and only shop two weeks prior to the next capsule for items for the next season if needed. This is going to require a lot of discipline for me and I am planning to unsubscribe to shopping newsletters and avoid the shops as much as possible.

Reassess & Evaluate The Next Capsule- Maybe I will find I don’t need 37 pieces. Maybe I will find that a steal is unnecessary. Maybe I will find that I like my capsule so much that I won’t need a new one. I promise to reevaluate this in three months.

Hopefully This Will Inspire You- Like I said, if you are rocking the minimalist life, this challenge may seem silly. If you aren’t or if you are and want to find new ways to use your pieces, I am hoping to share those ideas with you. I have no time to do a daily document, but I am happy to share once in awhile some fun ways I am wearing my 37 pieces. Please see my disclaimer above because I do not claim to be a fashion blogger. Take the ideas at your own risk!

Fall 2014 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project

Let’s take a peek at the wardrobe! Here are the items that I have for my Fall 2014 Fashion Capsule. The ones that have not been pictured are currently in alterations and have an asterisk next to them!

1.  a’reve lace shirt (owned- Flourish Boutique)

2.  Polka Dotted Peplum Top (owned- Francesca’s)

3. H&M Black & White Striped Top (owned- Goodwill)

4. Gap Black Blazer (owned- Gap)

5. Fleetwood Mac T-Shirt (owned- Luxe Wagon)

6.  Old Navy Vintage V-Neck T-Shirt in Black (Old Navy)

7. Old Navy Vintage V-Neck T-Shirt in White (Old Navy)

8. Faux Leather Jacket (purchased- Marshall’s)

9. Mossimo Short Sleeve Coral Shirt (purchased- Target)

10. Seamless Perfection Long Sleeve Tunic Dress in Black (purchased- Flourish Boutique)

11.  Ann Taylor Loft Pink Print Collared Shirt (purchased second hand on Twice)

12.  Not Afraid of the Dark Denim Jacket (purchased- Flourish Boutique)

13.   Don’t Pull Me Down Mustard Sweater (purchased- Flourish Boutique)

14.  Free People White Cowl Neck Sweater (owned- Flourish Boutique)

15.  Forest Fairy Cardigan (owned- Flourish Boutique)

16.  Black Crochet Sweater (owned- Flourish Boutique)

Fall 2014 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project

 

17.  Long Sleeve Seamless Layering Piece in Gray  (owned- Flourish Boutique)

18.  Old Navy Vintage V-Neck T-Shirt in Gray (Old Navy)

19. Old Navy Plaid Flannel Shirt (owned- Old Navy)

20.  White House Black Market Blue Striped Collared Top (purchased second hand on Twice)

21.  J. Crew Teal Silk Blend Skirt (purchased second hand on Twice)

22. Pleated Bird Skirt (owned- Stitch Fix)

23.  Anthropologie Gray Print Dress (purchased second hand on Twice)

24.  Little Black Dress (owned- Flourish Boutique)

25. Old Navy Rock Star Skinny Jeans (owned- Old Navy)

26. Chambray Shirt (owned- Flourish Boutique)

27.  Black Pleated Maxi Skirt (owned- Flourish Boutique)

28.  Seven Skinny Jeans (owned- Flourish Boutique)

29.  Mossimo Black Track Pants (purchased- Target)

30.  Blue Colored Skinny Jeans (purchased- Flourish Boutique)

Fall 2014 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project

31.  The Essential Leggings in Black (owned- Flourish Boutique)

32. Old Navy Rock Star Skinny Jeans in Black (owned- Old Navy)

33. Converse White Collared Shirt (purchased- Target)

*34. The Must-Have Maxi in Burgundy (purchased- Flourish Boutique)

*35.  Down With Damask Tunic (similar & owned- Flourish Boutique)

*36. Gap Black Skirt (purchased second hand on Twice)

*37. Mustard Peplum Dress (purchased- Flourish Boutique)

 

Coupons That Might Help If You Are Making a Capsule Too

Current Coupons for Old Navy (I am a big fan of their jeans and basic t-shirts)

Current Coupons for Target (their wardrobe is on the smart minimalist side this season- yay!)

Current Coupons for Gap (blazers, chambray shirts, collared shirts, jeans- oh my!)

Get $10 for your first Twice purchase (this is my favorite online consignment resource)

Use web code WEB25 for 25% off your purchase at Flourish Boutique (this is our site sponsor and where I get the majority of my clothing). You can also catch a sale daily on the Flourish Boutique Facebook Page)

Stitch Fix can be a fun resource for shopping for smart basic wardrobe pieces if a stylist might benefit you!

Fall 2014 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project

Thank you to my hubby for photographing my entire wardrobe for this challenge. I am really excited to share this adventure with you! I won’t be daily documenting, but you can find me on Instagram sharing ideas and we will have some ideas for layering and utilizing these basic items in the upcoming months. I promise though to fully commit to this and I know this will be very good for me this year.

Would you like to do a challenge with me? Feel free to leave a comment below and let me know if you want to join in on the fun or if you are doing a similar challenge of your own!

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

 

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Sundays With Writers: The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Sundays With Writers

Happy Sunday, friends! As always, I am so excited to share about great books with you and interviews with fantastic authors. I picked up today’s featured book The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley at my local library and absolutely loved it. I am always a lover of books with big moral issues and this book is one of those books that shares a dilemma of something a mother could face and then begs the question, “Would I do that if I was in her shoes?”

It’s one of those books you want to read with your book club and then dive in a discussion about this mother’s choices. It is one where it is unclear what the right or wrong answers are.

The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley

In this story, Eve Lattimore’s family is like every other on their suburban street, with one exception. Her son Tyler has a rare medical condition that makes him fatally sensitive to light, which means heavy curtains and deadlocked doors protect him during the day and he can never leave the house except at night. For Eve, only constant vigilance stands between an increasingly restless teenage son and the dangers of the outside world.

Until the night the unthinkable happens. When tragedy strikes, it becomes clear that this family is not the only one on the quiet cul-de-sac that is more complicated than it appears. And as Eve is forced to shield her family from harm, there are some crises she cannot control—and some secrets that not even love can conceal.

This book is deeply moving and suspenseful. I sat down with it and I could not put it down until I shut it two days later.  I would recommend this book for fans of Defending JacobThe Husband’s Secret, or My Sister’s Keeper.

Now hurry up and grab that cup of coffee and enjoy this beautiful interview with Carla Buckley!

Carla Buckley

 Fourteen-year-old Tyler suffers from xeroderma pigmentosum, a genetic condition that means he must avoid any exposure to the sun or any UV light. How did you first hear about this condition and what prompted the idea for creating a story around this condition? What type of research did you do to prepare for what it would be like to live with this condition or be a family member who lives with someone who has XP?

When my son was sixteen and had just gotten his driver’s license, I had mixed feelings as I watched him drive away that very first time. He’d worked hard and proven himself to be responsible and I was proud as I watched him carefully back the car out of our driveway. But I also felt sad. He wasn’t just driving himself to his guitar lesson. He was taking a critical first step to becoming a man and leaving home forever. I began to wonder what it would be like to mother a child who could never reach this sort of milestone. It occurred to me that this normal, turbulent, and always challenging period of a boy’s growing up would be complicated immeasurably if he had a medical condition. But which one? My sister, an ER physician, suggested Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) and as soon as she said the words, I saw my story start to unfold.

XP’s an extraordinarily rare disease passed on by both parents in which a person’s skin and eye cells cannot repair the deadly damage done by ultraviolet radiation. Most parents don’t realize they’re carriers until their child is diagnosed, usually by the time their child is two years old. But by then, the damage has already been done. The average life expectancy for someone born with XP is twenty years.

In order to understand the disease itself, I scoured online resources (there are two parent-run organizations, one in the US and the other in the UK that offer general information to caregivers), read numerous medical research papers, and interviewed dermatologists and dentists. Combined, this gave me a basic foundation upon which to build. Then I began to put myself in Eve’s place to imagine what I would do if I had to keep my child safe from sunlight.

Eve struggles with the moral decision of coming forward with information when her best friend’s child goes missing because she thinks keeping it secret can protect her family. Do you think you would have kept the deepest secret, personally, or would you have taken different actions than Eve?

If only there were a users’ manual for raising children. Failing that, we all write our own, cobbled together from experiences that range from “Okay, remember that the next time this happens” to “Boy, I wish I hadn’t done that.” If we’re lucky, our children survive our mistakes with just a few scars. Sometimes I think parenting is like throwing darts and praying they hit the wall and not a few innocent bystanders.

That’s what I wanted to show in THE DEEPEST SECRET. Most of us are just doing the best we can, and we’re not perfect. Eve’s circumstances are difficult, if not impossible, and she’s going to make mistakes. But she’s also going to do some things incredibly right. My hope is that readers will recognize something of themselves in her, whether or not they agree with her choices.

I’m not sure what I would have done if I had been Eve. I hope I never face that kind of dilemma.

There are a lot of secrets throughout the book and many of them focus on the neighbors and Tyler capturing some of those secret lives through photography when they are unaware in their windows. The book also builds to a big scene were the neighbors are disagreeing and then spilling those secrets out onto the pavement to each other.  It made me think how little we know our own neighbors, especially today. What made building this neighborhood such a big part of the Lattimore’s story and was it difficult to develop so many plotlines for so many people?

I’ve always thought there was something magical about a neighborhood at night, all the house windows glowing brightly in the darkness. When I’m out walking my dogs, I sometimes catch a glimpse of a family eating dinner or watching television. From a distance, it all looks so cozy and cheerful.

My children had a piano teacher whose house we visited for lessons. Her home was tidy and filled with photographs of her smiling children. She had something delicious-smelling simmering on the stove, and she laughed easily. One sunny afternoon, her oldest son wandered down the street with a knife in his hand, headed for her house. She didn’t survive the assault and neither did another child home at the time. I had been in her kitchen just the day before and had chatted with her son, and I’d had absolutely no inkling that anything was wrong.

It’s haunted me for a long time. What do we really know about the people in our life, about the houses we visit during the day and pass at night?

Coming up with so many secrets was a challenge. I had to ask myself over and over why someone would hide a part of their life. I searched for the kinds of quiet secrets I believe every neighborhood contains.

I admit to being an overly-protective mother and I could relate so much to Eve’s desire to protect Tyler with his medical circumstance. Did you relate to Eve in this way or did you find her overprotectiveness to be extreme?

The first time I heard the term “helicopter parenting,” I thought it meant a parent who dropped in every so often as needed, like a Medevac. I think that’s the real challenge parents face today—knowing when to be present and when to step back. I don’t think the world is any more dangerous today than it was a generation ago, but the dangers are different and we’re more aware of them. A parent can become almost paralyzed by too much knowledge.

Personally, I do tend toward being an overprotective mother. I’d love to lock my children in a room until they were twenty-five but even if I could, I know it would backfire. Kids are smart—they can fool you into thinking you know what they’re up to. The trick is to give them just enough freedom so they can make a few mistakes and learn a few life lessons that will keep them safe. There’s a lot of trust involved—on both sides.

 I will not say anything about the ending because I don’t want to spoil the book for our readers. Would you say you were pleased though with how this story wrapped up? Did you always envision this to be the ending for this family?

Actually, coming up with the ending was the single greatest challenge I faced in writing this novel. The ending I initially envisioned turned out to be far too melodramatic and I was forced to pull and consider what I was really trying to say in THE DEEPEST SECRET. It’s this: I wanted to write about love in all its guises and show how love prevails, regardless of the obstacles it faces. That’s the note I decided to end this story on and I admit to getting a little teary every time I think of it.

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

Oh, I love talking about books! There are three novels that inspired me as I wrote THE DEEPEST SECRET: Emma Donaghue’s ROOM, Anna Quindlen’s EVERY LAST ONE, and Elizabeth Strout’s OLIVE KITTERIDGE. Just a few days ago, I finished Laline Paull’s fabulous debut, THE BEES; I can’t recommend it highly enough.

You can connect with Carla Buckley  on Facebook or 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: Fashion Capsules, Taking Care of a Hairy Situation, & Laugh-Out-Loud Books

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

It's the 3 Little Things

Happy Friday, friends. It is a happy Friday, indeed, because BACK TO SCHOOL.  I treated myself to an entire day of things I dreamed I would get to do when I was a stay-at-home mom, but in fact, do not do. I hit the gym for a dance class, I got my nails done, I got coffee, I went shopping for my Fall wardrobe, and I read my book in sweet silence. It was the perfect day!  I rewarded myself handsomely for a summer filled with children. I highly recommend finding a way to reward yourself too.  We had a great summer and I enjoyed every minute with them, but I am happily back to a normal routine and schedule now that we have started school. It was nice to treat myself to a me day, but I am back in the office and hard at work again.

Today’s things that are making me happy all surprised me wildly. Here is to some unexpected happiness for your week!

Unfancy Fashion Challenge

Making My First Capsule Wardrobe

Ever since I was a little girl I have been nuts about pretty dresses and clothes.  I was always the girl that they talked about at church who was decked from head-to-toe in a lovely dress, shoes, tights, purse, hair bow…you name it. And it all matched.  Thanks, mom!

I have carried on this extravagant luxury over the years with a pretty rocking wardrobe and take great pride in all of the things  I wear. This year though I am challenging myself to embrace a minimalist wardrobe which is absolutely INSANE for this fashionista.  I discovered this post on How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe by unfancy and it inspired me in so many ways to start thinking about my purchases.  It reminded me that I have a closet overflowing with pieces I am not wearing, it reminded me that I can still be fashionable with less, and it also reminded me how smart I used to be when we were broke and I would make the most of every piece in my closet.

For this challenge, you can select 37 pieces and that is it for three whole months. 37 pieces sounds like a lot, but this is counting your shoes too which is another area that my husband thinks I have too much of. This is totally a first world problem that I am stressed about this and that I have been counting over and over and over again in my closet the items, shuffling them, and recounting. I think it is bringing out my OCD tendencies. That said,  I already love my stuff so much that I have already started wearing them and have put all my clothes that I can’t wear in storage for now. Maybe this will inspire me once and for all to pare down my wardrobe.

This week I have been researching and purchasing for my first fashion capsule and I am so excited to share it with you. It is a mixture of items purchased on sale, secondhand goodness, and items from my own closet.

I am in no way a fashion blogger, but I would love to share this with you. I purchased some photo lights and a white backdrop so I can show you some different ways  I am wearing the items to hopefully inspire you to find a new way to wear something in your closet or to embrace a minimalist wardrobe of your own.  I know this challenge is going to be so good for me.

My husband doesn’t think I can do it. That, in itself, is a powerful motivator.

Braun Silk Epilator

Taking Care of a Hairy Situation

Have you ever tried a new beauty routine that absolutely terrified you? Let me tell you, friends, using an epilator for the first time was the scariest thing I have ever done.  I may have lead you astray in my post about a hairy friend who needed wax strips. This is probably going to shock you, but I am the person who needed them. I know.  This happiness project goes out to all my brunette friends. The ladies who struggle with an armpit shadow even after they have shaved, the ones with the coarse unmanageable leg hair, the ones who have stray chin hairs that have suddenly cropped up since they hit their 30′s, the ones who get razor burn 24/7, whose skin becomes rashy from just seeing a razor, and the girl’s whose lily-white skin tells tales of painful hair removal routines.

I am fist bumping you right now.

I bought this Braun Silk Epilator on Amazon and am saying goodbye to waxing. It removes hair from your legs, your underarms, and your face. It has a million attachments which you can use to remedy whatever your hair situation. It rips the hair out by the roots. It feels as good as it sounds. It has forty tweezers that do it at the same time and can lift hair that is as small as a grain of sand. It really can because I felt every last pull.

The first time was really excruciating because I didn’t do a lot of research beforehand. Here’s what I advise- drink a gallon of wine,  soak in the shower for five minutes, exfoliate well with a loofah, shave so you aren’t grabbing long hairs out, hold it at a ninety degree angle right up close in the shower under the water,  and go all out with the highest setting. The legs are not terrible and the bikini line was a piece of cake since I wax.

The underarms…I almost passed out.  Probably the worst beauty pain of my life.

Now that I am over the first three times of doing it, I love it and am addicted.

Probably the same way people are addicted to tattoos.

It’s kind of sick, really.

I absolutely love how my legs and underarms look. My face is fuzz free.

I am living the blonde girl dream life!

 

This-Is-Where-I-Leave-You

Laugh-Out-Loud Books

I’m hosting my book club this month and I selected This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper as our book so that we can go out and see the movie together that is coming out soon. I love it in the way that I loved the movie Bridesmaids- so wrong and so right. Raunchy, hilarious, laugh-out-loud funny, heartwarming, and so perfectly pitched. I would highly recommend this one for fans of Arrested Development as it reads just like my favorite episodes of the early seasons of the Bluth family. The crazy family dramas are always my favorites and this family does not disappoint in the craziness department. For better or worse, they are family, with all that history and messiness and love. 

This was a fantastic little end-of-summer escape and I can’t wait to read more of Jonathan Tropper’s novels. I only hope they are as hilarious as this. I’m looking forward to seeing this one on the big screen. I hope it measures up to the hilarity of this book.

If you can’t handle adult language and scenarios, skip on over this recommendation.  I am planning a fun feast and book club around this one so keep your eyes peeled for those recipes and the discussion we share before catching the movie!

The bonus happy this week, of course, is getting those kids off to school! Enjoy this video that sums up perfectly our first week back!

*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?