Author Archive

7 Things I’ve Learned That Save Us Serious Money

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

Amy Clark

Hey, hey! Today is my big 4-0 and I keep wondering how I got to this milestone so quickly. In many ways, I wonder when I will feel like an adult. In other ways, I can see how much better I feel in my own skin and the wisdom that has been gained, especially in this last decade of years.

Before I launch into my list, I’d love to share that I am doing a birthday fundraiser on Facebook. I’m asking for donations to Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation. The diagnosis of myself and my children has made the research from this organization an important one for us. I am donating this occasion in hopes that more funding can help provide those needed answers we are in search of.

If you have a buck or two to spare, I’d be thrilled to share this with the Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation

In honor of this day, I wanted to share 7 things that I’ve learned that save us some serious money. As we continue to embrace our simplified path, I can see how being open to learning new skills and continuing to research new strategies has really paid off for us. As I get older, I find more and more joy in the life we have chosen and I’d love to share some of my favorite strategies today. 

birthday reflections

7 Things I’ve Learned That Save Us Serious Money

Restaurant-Style-Steak-Recipe-3

I Nailed a Restaurant-Worthy Steak

Steak dinners and fancy date nights were hard on our budget and learning to master making a perfectly restaurant-worthy steak has saved our family oodles of money. I’m not pro enough that I can touch it and distinguish its degree of doneness, but I do know how to work my digital meat thermometer like a boss and that’s almost the same thing. Our cast iron skillet (another frugal and wise investment) really sears our steaks so beautifully and the butter finish is a decadent treat.

Instead of paying over a hundred dollars for a filet dinner out, my hubby and I take trips to the supermarket and purchase a couple of steaks and a bottle of wine for less than the price of one meal at a restaurant. This recipe has been a go-to for our dates and for special occasions when we are celebrating our kids. It takes about ten minutes to pull this off (with a little roasted asparagus on the side) and everyone gets so excited about this meal.

My secret?

Loads of Kosher Salt, baby, and a screaming hot pan.

Let me know if you can give this technique a spin in your kitchen!

flipster

I Gave Up My Magazine Subscriptions

Magazines have been a weakness of mine and discovering our library has the Flipster app has made me SO incredibly happy this year. Basically, you can get a digital subscription to just about every magazine, check them out digitally, and read your magazines on your tablet or phone.

The best part has been being able to take screenshots of recipes and ideas for myself and as inspiration for our site as I page through them (soooo handy!!)

So far the only catch has been the length of time that you are allowed to check them out (it varies per magazine), but usually I can plow through one in a day and it costs ZERO bucks.

brunch

I Brunch Like a Boss…At Home

Brunch used to be a big weakness for me, but we rarely go out to brunch anymore now that I finally have a few smart brunch recipes up my sleeve.

I call this year the year of the egg because mastering a few techniques was on my cooking bucket list. The omelette, for example, was something that I just couldn’t get the hang of. It usually ended up into messy scrambled eggs over here.

brunch

Not anymore though.

Here’s a little picture proof because I know you don’t believe me!

I watched a YouTube video tutorial, found the perfect skillet for the job, and discovered how awesome coconut oil is for creating a nonstick surface for my omelette making. This has become a go-to for busy nights when I don’t feel like making dinner and is the new tried-and-true for a satisfying weekend brunch at home. It’s also a fantastic way to use up the odds and ends in your refrigerator.

If we aren’t in the mood for an omelette, this Chicken Pesto Frittata, Sausage & Vegetable Frittata, Gluten-Free Overnight Waffles, or these Light & Fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes (I just sub with this flour now to make them gluten-free) are all in our brunch rotation.  Don’t forget this diy drink mix recipe for a delicious drink (with or without alcohol!)

Movie Pass

I Go to the Movies All the Time For Cheap-As-Heck

I’m wondering how long this offer will last, but this girl got on the Movie Pass train really early and it has been a highlight of the year. A membership is $9.95 a month and you can see a movie EVERY SINGLE DAY of the month at a REAL theater (should you so choose!) by only paying the membership fee.

If you haven’t heard of it, I’ll try to explain it as briefly as I can. You sign up, they mail a card that looks like a debit card (can take awhile, fyi!), you download the app, head to your theater to check-in on the app, and it says something like, “enjoy the show!” When you head to the counter, you just use the pass instead of your debit card and that’s it.

Obviously, the big catch is being at the theater to check-in and the availability of seats. I aim for the weird times (like 1 PM in the afternoon) and don’t see the movies as soon as they come out. You also can’t see 3D flicks, but that’s NBD because I’m not into action films.

My goal this year is to start feeling brave enough to go to movies ALONE since my work schedule is so quirky.

It is accepted all the theaters near me and I bribed my sister and neighbor to get a pass too so we could have movie dates together for cheap-as-heck.

Capsule Wardrobe

Honey, I Really Did Shrink My Wardrobe

If you would have told me five years ago that I would embrace a minimalist wardrobe, I would have laughed until I cried. Seriously, I was a dedicated fashionista that loved a good deal. What I’ve learned though is that shrinking my wardrobe has brought me a lot of peace and calmness to my mornings. It feels so good to have everything working together and to look in my closet and have it make absolute sense.

Was this hard? Absolutely!

Was it worth it? Absolutely!

One of my biggest inspirations is this lady and her beautiful book just might be the ticket for you to whittle down your wardrobe (and a few other things!) in your life this year.

I have been documenting my journey on the blog and you can see where I started and where I’m at now over here.

My one smart investment has been Rent the Runway for special occasions. This girl isn’t into one-trick-ponies anymore so I enjoyed their Unlimited services for the holidays and it was a blast, without taking up a lot of closet space as a commitment.

blue-apron

I Learned to Cook New Things For My People

If you think bloggers don’t get into meal plan ruts, you are quite mistaken. I think burnout happens a lot with this job and we often ended up repeating the same meals over and over again so we don’t have to invent one more thing for the day. I got a subscription for the summer to Blue Apron and it has widened my perspective on so many things and brought me a ton of joy.

How does spending money on a meal subscription service pay off, right? I know! I didn’t think it was a good use of money either.

I *may* have made fun of people who did these.

The thing is,  it REALLY broadened my perspective on fruits and vegetables we had been neglecting at the grocery store and taught me some valuable cooking techniques that I would have NEVER tried or figured out on my own.

Blue Apron

The night that my kids and hubby were raving about eggplant about knocked me out of my chair. I was like, “WE ARE DOING THIS FOREVER.”

The biggest lesson I learned is how invaluable high heat is for roasting our veggies. I am now cranking my stove up to 450 degrees to roast everything and it has made everything taste like it is roasted and not steamed.

We have taken a break until next summer on this subscription so that I have the time and slowed down day that I need to get my most enjoyment out of this, but I enjoyed almost every minute of it.

Tackling the challenge that I’m showing you, in the picture above, nearly did me in while they were doing the Master Chef challenges promo for their customers to try at home. This TEAM challenge was pulled off by ONE sweaty mom, but was declared the best meal of the bunch.

I’m not sure if that was true or everyone felt sorry for me after I tackled a TEAM challenge SOLO. I did that challenge though, LIKE A BOSS.

By the way, if you use this link, it should give you $30 off your first box and you can pick all the quick meals so you don’t look crazy like me.

It is almost like it’s your birthday too, amiright?

family

I had coffee with a friend and she shared such a valuable piece of wisdom with me that I wanted to share it with YOU too, as I wrap up my birthday post today. She said that 40 is where you are easing into the second half of your life and you realize who and what is important as you move into this second phase of your life. Who wants to spend the second half of their life keeping up with the Joneses, investing time into shallow relationships, making small talk, and living a life of overcommitment?

Nope, not this girl.

I want all the good stuff- the deep and the meaningful stuff. I want to savor these moments with my kids. I want to be present in this lucky partnership I have with my hubby. I want my friendships to be real and not flighty. I want to continue to give myself grace that life has looked differently, in many sobering ways, but I still have the ability to transform lives by sharing our story. I want to allow people in to see the cracks and brokenness, both online and offline. I want to work on my commitment to believe in God’s plan and timing… even though it looks nothing like the timeline I’ve drawn up.

My word this year is MINDFUL- mindful of my time, mindful of my words, mindful in my role as a mom and wife, mindful of where I invest my time (in my personal life AND business), mindful of our money, and mindfully being my authentic self.

I hope you’ll stick around because having you here has given me purpose in my steps MANY, MANY days!

Can you celebrate with me and share what’s one way you have learned to save your family money or a fun tip that has changed a routine? It would be a fantastic present today!

This post contains affiliate links that help our site! Thank you for supporting me! xoxo 

 

Small-Budget Crushes 01.14.17

Monday, January 15th, 2018

Feminist Gift Giving

You might recognize the theme today for our small-budget crushes! Thank you to all the women who have stood up to say #metoo in such brave and courageous ways!

Today’s crushes all celebrate women and girl power!

listen to women tee listen to women tee

ruth bader ginsburg tote ruth bader ginsburg tote

female hero female hero pillow her face launched a thousand ships print her face launched a thousand ships print (janet hill)

girly karate bag girly karate bag (pick from several sports that girls love!)

more like jane more like jane bossten travel mug

empowered women pillow empowered women pillow

malala cards malala print

fight like a girl tote fight like a girl tote

women of the world shirt women of the world shirt

frida travel mug frida travel mug

making herstory pillow making herstory pillow

formation print let’s get in formation

the future is inclusive tee the future is inclusive tee

mantone mug mantone mug

angela davis print angela davis print

female protagonist mug female protagonist mug

the handmaid's tale art print the handmaid’s tale print

maya iphone case maya iphone case

exhausted feminist mug exhausted feminist mug

time's up pin time’s up pin

Keep on window shopping by visiting all of my Small-Budget Crushes. This post contains affiliate links that help our site! Thank you for supporting me! xoxo 

 

Amy’s Notebook 01.10.17

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

Roasted Cauliflower Soup source

Sign me up for a bowl of this roasted cauliflower soup- yum!

Looking to try something new with your friends? I LOVE these ideas (Pssttt- I’m in for a wine walk or day of reading quietly side-by-side ANY DAY!)

Speaking of reading, after hearing all your rave reviews, I can’t wait to dig into this one. Oh, and this one because BOOK CLUB!

If you need me, I’ll be listening to this list of the 50 best podcasts of 2017.

Less stuff, more adventure. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this.

What the men DIDN’T say at the Golden Globes.

I can’t wait to try this tip for better tasting chicken.

I’m all about self-love this year and this list of self-care resolutions really resonates with me. I hope it does with you too!

I’m inspired to try a few of these dishes from this vegetarian batch cooking post.

“We stuck a smartphone in every 14-year-old’s hand and told them it could make them famous. Little wonder that the kids who won that lottery don’t know when to turn the camera off. ” The social media star and the suicide.

Rock Bookends source

Love this easy DIY to glam up rocks into bookends.

Smuggling in toppings for your popcorn? Now this combo is genius!

10 wellness trends everyone will be talking about in 2018.

Here are also 7 books that will put in the right mindset for 2018.

This is also a great to-do list for making 2018 your most healthy year ever.

Maybe she’s born with it…maybe it’s something else.

This update made me so happy to read about.

Know anyone who is highly toxic? This list explains 50 devious ways you are getting played (and why they do it).

This is a fun spin on cakes that I can get behind.

Struggling? I have been thinking about this advice a lot this week.

Bible Study Planner source

Planning to read the Bible more? This free printable planner might help!

Wanting to consume more books this year? I love this article (especially those tips in the comments section). Here are a few of my own strategies.

Do you love Settlers of Catan too? This post should give you a good laugh!

Is decluttering your inbox on your resolutions list? This should help.

Just stocked up on some sweet deals at this unmentionables shop. If you haven’t tried their bralettes, you are in for a treat!

Want to stick to your resolutions? Consider phrasing it differently this year.

Say what? This grocery store is really upping their game.

I bought this printable and I’m having a blast tracking my reading goals now.

If you haven’t watched this show, what the heck are you waiting for? Also, check out this interview with the set artist (SWOON!)

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! Please note, there are affiliate links that do help support our site- thank you! xoxo

 

Readers Recommend: A Book About Refugees or Immigrants

Monday, January 8th, 2018

Books About Refugees or Immigrants from MomAdvice.com

I thought it would be fun to work through our 2018 Reading Challenge worksheet together! I asked our amazing book club members to share their favorite reads about refugees or immigrants and wanted to share their favorites with you today. This list is such a great place to start when thinking about tackling the first category together.

Looking for more reading challenges to join? Here are a few that look like winners to me!

Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2018 Reading Challenge

2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge

Tale_Away 2018 World Reading Challenge

Book Riot’s 2018 Read Harder Challenge

GoodReads Around the Year in 52 Books (don’t forget to friend me!)

Last year’s MomAdvice Reading Challenge Worksheet

 

Books About Refugees or Immigrants To Check Out

Americanah Americanah

The Book of Unknown Americans The Book of Unknown Americans (read our author interview)

Saints for All Occasions Saints for All Occasions (featured in our Best Books of 2017)

Brooklyn Brooklyn

Refugee Refugee (this was the MOST recommended book!)

Behold the Dreamers Behold the Dreamers

Pachinko Pachinko

Behind the Beautiful Forevers Behind the Beautiful Forevers

We Were the Lucky ONes We Were the Lucky Ones

A Good American A Good American

The Sun is Also a Star The Sun is Also a Star

The Leavers The Leavers

American War American War

Stealing Buddha's Dinner Stealing Buddha’s Dinner

The Illegal The Illegal

Exit West Exit West

Little Bee Little Bee

Breath Eyes Memory Breath, Eyes, Memory

The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing

We Never Asked for Wings We Never Asked for Wings

Shanghai Girls Shanghai Girls

Weeping Under the Same Moon Weeping Under the Same Moon

 

Books About Refugees or Immigrants

What books would you add to this list today? Don’t forget to print out your free Reading Challenge Worksheet and join our FREE book club!

 

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Small-Budget Crushes 01.05.18

Friday, January 5th, 2018

small-budget crushes

glacia beret glacia beret (EXTRA 40% off sale prices today- good time to stock gifts!!)

ruffled stripes top ruffled stripes top

I Want to Be Where The People Aren't Mat i want to be where the people aren’t “welcome” mat

small closet starter kit small closet organizer starter kit

coffee is my daytime wine mug coffee is my daytime wine

eucalyptus wreath eucalyptus wreath

break your spine break your spine pillow

city sweatshirt
oversized sweatshirt (perfect for leggings!!)

yearly reading log yearly reading log

rose slip on sneakers rose slip-on sneakers

weekly refrigerator organizer weekly refrigerator organizer

faux leather leggings faux leather leggings (under $20!!)

socially awkward book bag socially awkward book bag

zinc boot tray zinc boot tray

infj did you peg me for an INFJ? Choose your own pillow here!

 

all the light we cannot see art all the light we cannot see print (or pick your favorite book cover!)

sherpa lined cardi sherpa lined cardi

netflix and avoid people netflix and avoid people

Keep on window shopping by visiting all of my Small-Budget Crushes. This post contains affiliate links that help our site! Thank you for supporting me! xoxo 

Instant Pot Indian Vegetable Rice

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

Instant Pot Indian Vegetable Rice from MomAdvice.com This post is sponsored by Honeysuckle White. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

Happy New Year, everyone! I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to 2018 and getting a fresh page in our lives. Today I’m partnering with Honeysuckle White to talk about my New Year’s resolutions and share about their fun new line of ready-to-go products to help you with your dinner hour.

In 2018, my resolutions are:

– Read 100 books
– Set business hours so I have more time for my kids in the evenings.
– Be serious about strength training again at the gym
– Get a book proposal done and sold
– Get back to smart budgeting and tracking of our money to save more.
– Eat at home more and dine out less.
– Write & photograph an Instant Pot ebook
– Get back to crafting again (for the pleasure of it, not for work)

I like to think of myself as a bit of a go-getter (just in case that doesn’t always come through) and last year I had to sideline many of these goals to make a commitment to my physical health. Having an unproductive year definitely drives me a lot to do better this year and I’m hopeful that I can tackle everything on this list if I work on being more disciplined with my free time.

I’m giving you the side eye, Facebook & Instagram.

If you are looking for new ways to tackle resolutions too, I loved this piece that offered different strategies for starting the year well.  It doesn’t always need to be a list of goals, it could be as simple as a word commitment or writing a, “Dear Future Me,” letter.

The thing about good intentions is that life gets in the way of all the good that we want to establish, doesn’t it?  For example, I’m escaping for a girl’s trip for my big 4-0 and that means that I’m abandoning my kitchen duties and leaving them to my husband.

Which usually means a lot of eating out for the family and gets us ALL off track from saving and eating at home more.

Lucky for him, Honeysuckle White came out with this awesome line of products that make getting dinner on the table so much easier. This year  they launched a new line of flavored meatballs, burger patties, and cutlets to help make the dinner hour easier and more affordable for busy families. Today I’m showing you how to dress up their DELICIOUS HomeStyle Turkey Meatloaf. YUM!

Honeysuckle Farms Turkey Meatloaf Honeysuckle Farms Turkey Meatloaf

Since we eat gluten-free, I am LOVING that these are gluten-free and a much healthier alternative to ditching it all for a bowl of cereal for dinner. Just like the package states, there are no added hormones, steroids, or growth-promoting antibiotics.

Best of all, they support independent farmers and YOU support independent farmers when you make a purchase.

Instant Pot Indian Vegetable Rice from MomAdvice.com

Top your meatloaf up anyway you like, but today I thought I’d show you the fun spin that we decided to do with this one.  Since we love eating Indian food, I usually have some type of simmering sauce in our pantry to put to work for an easy weeknight meal. Save just a little of those jars in your fridge and use these fun simmering sauce (like Tikka Masala, Butter Masala, or Korma sauce) to dress your turkey meatloaf.

How easy is that?

I wanted to create a delicious side today that would complement these amazing flavors so I’m sharing this OH-SO-EASY Instant Pot Indian Vegetable Rice that I just can’t get enough of. This rice is FRUGAL (which fits right in line with my resolutions) and DELICIOUS. I guarantee that you won’t make this recipe just once!

instant-pot-indian-vegetable-rice-3

If you got an Instant Pot for Christmas, this is a great beginner recipe to get you started.

Just as a reminder, when making rice, it is a good idea to give the rice a good rinse before placing it in your pressure cooker to get that beautiful fluffy consistency.

I hope you love this recipe as much as our family and can keep these Honeysuckle White products in mind when you are doing your grocery shopping!

Instant Pot Indian Vegetable Rice from MomAdvice.com

Instant Pot Indian Vegetable Rice
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
 
This gluten-free side is so easy to create and happens to be easy on the wallet too! If you prefer your dish spicier, add an additional teaspoon of curry to bring on the heat!
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ cups basmati rice
  • ½ cup diced carrots
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Turn your Instant Pot on the saute function.
  2. Rinse your basmati rice well in a colander
  3. Once your Instant Pot has warmed up, add the garlic and rice and saute for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the carrots, curry powder, vegetable broth, and salt. Stir well.
  5. Secure the lid to the top of your Instant Pot and cook on HIGH pressure for 22 minutes.
  6. Once the rice is finished cooking, turn off your Instant Pot and wait ten minutes before releasing the pressure.
  7. Release the pressure, open lid, add the frozen peas, and fluff your rice. Add additional salt to taste.

This post is sponsored by Honeysuckle White. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

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Amy’s Notebook 01.03.18

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

DIY Dryer Balls source

I’ll have to stash bust some yarn with this diy wool dryer balls tutorial.

This new year glow smoothie bowl looks like a great way to start the day- love the matcha powder addition in this one! More of a smoothie in a cup kind of person? This detox smoothie looks amazing too.

I am so inspired by this #40by40 list- maybe I can try a #41by41 instead!

Trying to save more money this year? These are some fantastic strategies for saving 30% of your income in the new year.

Timberlake fans are rejoicing about this news- woot, woot!

I just got this book and can’t wait to dig in today.

Speaking of books, here are the best books we might have missed in 20017.

This egg roll soup recipe looks delicious and a great way to warm up this winter.

Hurry up and offer this service to the Midwest.

Did you end the year with a heavy heart too? I loved these ideas for what to say to someone who didn’t feel like awesome about 2017.

how to wear ankle boots with skinny jeans source

How to wear ankle boots with skinny jeans- love these ideas for cuffing your jeans.

Are you doing a Whole30 this month? Here are 24 things to do with your friends instead of hitting a bar.

Speaking of diets, here is a sugar-free diet plan to kick off the new year right too.

Looking to join a book club this year? This cookbook club looks like a fun spin on a book club (and would motivate me to cook more!). We also have an incredible book club and reading challenge worksheet to share with you this week!

I’m really curious about bullet journaling in the new year.

Here are ten tips for living minimally long term. Great advice and call to actions!

I always love seeing these favorite reads lists (and she’s giving them away!)

Curious about how to care for your Instant Pot? This guide on deep cleaning it should help!

“I felt like we were making the new Wizard of Oz for another generation.” Are you excited about this film too?

My in-laws gave me my birthday gift early and I have used it almost every day. YOU GUYS- it is a life-changer!

What did you learn this year? I always look forward to this collection at the end of the year.

The most 2017 photos of 2017. Can’t wait to show my hubby these!

Vintage Camper Makeover source

I’m swooning over this vintage camper makeover, especially those floors (whoa!).

“Waste more time” wasn’t about slacking off. It was about carving out a life that had room for more than just work and striving. For the first time in a long time, I felt truly free… What a great reminder that wasted time isn’t always wasted time.

Here is a list of the most anticipated television shows of 2018! And, here is a great list of the most underrated movies of 2017 to enjoy.

This tuna salad recipe looks like a great lunch or snack to enjoy this month.

What was learned from reading 75 books in 2017. Oh, in case you were wondering, here is her top ten too!

Speaking of 75, here are 75 things that blew our minds in 2017.

How to do more that is meaningful in 2018.

The top ten New Yorker articles from a loyal reader. I can’t wait to sit down and read these this week!

Is one of your goals to embrace a better skin care routine? You might find this article helpful. I swear by this cleanser- it has done wonders for my sensitive skin!

This is such a lovely way to deal with sentimental clutter.

Could you do a year of no shopping? I find this so inspiring!

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! Please note, there are affiliate links that do help support our site- thank you! xoxo

Burning Mouth Syndrome…Maybe Not?

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

Burning Mouth Syndrome

It has been awhile since I have checked in with you about my own personal health journey, but something occurred this year that I thought would be a vital PSA since I had such a hard time locating information on the topic and finding the correct diagnosis. In fact, I can’t tell you how many people have written to me that have finally found answers to their health issues (or their children’s) when I wrote about my connective tissue disease. It was through this that I realized that transparency about our reality really does help people.

For example, when I discovered a life-changing way to manage my pain without drugs, I was able to connect other people to this incredible device that got me off painkillers.

Today’s post has been a few months coming and it’s a long one…

Say Goodbye to Your Normal Jaw

My biggest struggle with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is my body’s ability to dislocate/subluxations with no real rhyme or reason. It creates a lot of anxiety when you wake up and don’t know if all your bones are going to stay in place throughout the course of a day.  My biggest issues have been my shoulder blades slipping, ribs subluxations, fingers (which I brace now with these), and hips.

This Fall though, I had my first dislocation of my jaw and it was as awful as you might imagine it.

I opened my mouth and the pain shot through my jaw all the way to the top of my head with a loud pop. I woke up the next morning in excruciating pain and my teeth were so out of alignment that I had chewed my tongue through the night. I hit the emergency dental office the next evening, after attempting to tough it out for the day, and they put me on muscle relaxers and fitted me for a night guard that would hopefully help relax my jaw to move back in place.

To shorten the drama-filled post-I had an allergic reaction to the night guard, got fitted for another night guard, the allergic reaction progressed, and my tongue swelled and now REALLY didn’t feel like it belonged in this jacked up jaw of mine.

My tongue had scalloped and looked like this and hurt along the sides and tip.

Almost even worse than that though was that my mouth started to feel like it was ON FIRE and it was a 24/7 kind of pain that it was all I could think about.

Imagine burning your tongue, but imagine your whole mouth feels like that all the time.  It was utter misery.

I spent the next three months seeking the help from every medical professional I could find.

I tried to mediate and use yoga to quiet my mind from thinking about the burning in my mouth.

I saw a chiropractor.

I saw a massage therapist.

I consulted with three dentists.

I visited my GP and got seven different prescriptions.

My physical therapist tried to calm the nerve pain.

NOTHING worked.

NOTHING.

I spent hours and hours trying and hundreds of dollars in agony.

I did not sleep through the night for months.

This lead, admittedly, to some bad habits. I drank A LOT of wine to try to relax in the evening- to stop my mind from thinking about the burning.

I consumed a pot of coffee during the day so I could drive my children to and fro, driving them in a foggy haze that bordered on unsafe every day from the lack of sleep.

I called the doctor for anxiety medicine because all my mind could think about was my tongue.

I ate like crap since I felt like crap anyway.

I would sleep for an hour and walk around the house crying from the jaw pain and the furnace in my mouth.

MONTHS of this! My quality of life went to absolute (for lack of better word)  shit.

Burning Mouth Syndrome or Your Own Personal Hell

After doing a lot of research and talking with my medical professionals, we concluded that I had Burning Mouth Syndrome, brought on by the dental disturbance in my life.

Burning mouth syndrome is the medical term for ongoing (chronic) or recurrent burning in the mouth without an obvious cause. This discomfort may affect the tongue, gums, lips, inside of your cheeks, roof of your mouth or widespread areas of your whole mouth. The burning sensation can be severe, as if you scalded your mouth.

Burning mouth syndrome can appear suddenly or develop gradually over time. Unfortunately, the cause often can’t be determined (like in my case). Whatever pattern of mouth discomfort you have, burning mouth syndrome may last for months to years. In rare cases, symptoms may suddenly go away on their own or become less frequent.
Basically, it can just start up for no reason and never end. It can also start up as a secondary syndrome, where it is triggered by other circumstances (like in my case).
According to  the Mayo Clinic, underlying problems that may be linked to secondary burning mouth syndrome include:
  • Dry mouth (xerostomia), which can be caused by various medications, health problems, problems with salivary gland function or the side effects of cancer treatment
  • Other oral conditions, such as a fungal infection of the mouth (oral thrush), an inflammatory condition called oral lichen planus or a condition called geographic tongue that gives the tongue a map-like appearance
  • Nutritional deficiencies, such as a lack of iron, zinc, folate (vitamin B-9), thiamin (vitamin B-1), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and cobalamin (vitamin B-12)
  • Dentures, especially if they don’t fit well, which can place stress on some muscles and tissues of your mouth, or if they contain materials that irritate mouth tissues
  • Allergies or reactions to foods, food flavorings, other food additives, fragrances, dyes or dental-work substances
  • Reflux of stomach acid (gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD) that enters your mouth from your stomach
  • Certain medications, particularly high blood pressure medications
  • Oral habits, such as tongue thrusting, biting the tip of the tongue and teeth grinding (bruxism)
  • Endocrine disorders, such as diabetes or underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
  • Excessive mouth irritation, which may result from overbrushing your tongue, using abrasive toothpastes, overusing mouthwashes or having too many acidic drinks
  • Psychological factors, such as anxiety, depression or stress

Burning mouth syndrome usually begins spontaneously, with no known triggering factor. However, certain factors may increase your risk of developing burning mouth syndrome, including:

  • Recent illness (BINGO!)
  • Previous dental procedures (BINGO!)
  • Wearing dentures
  • Allergic reactions to food
  • Medications
  • Traumatic life events (BINGO!)
  • Stress (BINGO!)
  • Anxiety (BINGO!)
  • Depression (BINGO!)

The side effects are depression, anxiety, and no sleep.  I am not kidding when I say that when I visited forums on this topic that people were often contemplating ending their lives after decades of living like this. 

Hello, TMJ Specialist

I ended up seeing a TMJ specialist, a costly but necessary investment, and we talked about what my goals were for my visit. For my case, I needed a night guard that was not made from acrylic material and I needed a resolution to my Burning Mouth Syndrome.

I was put through a battery of tests and the biggest takeaways I learned about myself is that I have a narrow airway and my body had been in fight-or-flight mode all night because I don’t get enough oxygen. I was pushing my tongue in weird places at night to try to make oxygen for myself and gritting my teeth because I couldn’t breathe.

It was advised that I pursue this type of nasal surgery (a relatively new option) and that I start Cold Laser Therapy weekly to help calm down my mouth.

With a new night guard and the mild relief from the cold laser therapy, a little lavender essential oil on my tongue, and a proper night guard, I felt like I was back in business.

The burning was still there, but manageable

Feel the Burn

Back to crappy eating, excessive Christmas Cheer consumption, and a load of coffee to make the Christmas magic for my kids and I found the burning started to increase again. Once again,I am pacing the floors and crying at night because of the pain. I have, seriously, been the most miserable person to be around.

It is one of these late night sessions that lead me to a forum where a woman shared that she had been misdiagnosed with Burning Mouth Syndrome. She, in fact, had Acid Reflux and this had been the culprit.

Acid reflux?

I’ve never had heartburn so that couldn’t be right….

That is when I stumbled upon something called SILENT Reflux. 

Silent Reflux, Say What?

Silent Reflux or the term Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR) refers to the backflow of food or stomach acid all of the way back up into the larynx (the voice box) or the pharynx (the throat). LPR can occur during the day or night, even if a person who has LPR hasn’t eaten a thing.

Not everyone with reflux has a lot of heartburn or indigestion. In fact, many people with LPR never have heartburn. This is why LPR is called SILENT REFLUX, and the terms “Silent reflux” and “LPR” are often used interchangeably. Because LPR is silent, it is sometimes difficult to diagnose.

Check out the symptoms list- I share this because most people don’t know they have this condition and it can potentially be dangerous and lead to cancer. Any untreated reflux increases the risk of developing esophageal cancer; in fact, reflux-induced esophageal cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the United States. 

Remember how I shared about my excessive coffee and wine consumption? It isn’t just so you can judge me (although you totally can!), I basically was adding fuel to the fire all day long.

That night I popped a Pepcid and my mouth calmed down about 80% and I realized that I was on to something. I talked with the TMJ specialist and he congratulated me on solving the riddle in my body and that we would no longer need the cold laser therapy sessions.

Now What?

Well, now that we have solved the riddle, I have to make some major dietary and routine changes. I need to book an ENT to resolve my oxygen issue and get guidance on my silent reflux. I consider the fact that my mouth was doing this a very serious cry for help. With all my health issues, I’d be a fool not to take that seriously.

I checked out this book and realized that everything I love to eat had been contributing to the burning sensation in my mouth. I’m a late night snacker, I love my all day coffee habit, I love wine, I have been known to sit down and eat two or three tomatoes with a load of vinegar, give me all the red sauce and heavy foods, etc…

Here are some things you should avoid if you suspect you might have silent reflux too.

I’ve got a lot to work out still, but I would do anything, ANYTHING to feel like my old self again. I need to figure out my new normal again.

I feel like I’ve been through hell and back.

But, you guys, I DID THAT and I’m back, still standing.

Also, I need to distribute medals to my friends, family, and medical professionals this year- thanks for still loving me.

Feel free to shoot any questions to me about any of this or tips on dealing with acid reflux!

This post contains affiliate links. I promise to only recommend what I truly love!

 

The 2018 MomAdvice Reading Challenge (FREE PRINTABLE)

Monday, January 1st, 2018

2018 MomAdvice Reading Challenge Printable

I have had such great feedback on last year’s Reading Challenge Printable that we shared with you that we decided to create another one this year for you!

Last year’s challenge was CHALLENGING with 52 challenges to add variety and interest to your book stacks. I ended up coming about eight short on the sheet myself, even with 100 books under my belt this year. I am still REALLY proud though because this really did stretch me out of my reading comfort zones and many of the books ended up being my favorites of the year.

Based on feedback from our book club members, I scaled it back this year to 26 categories and added many of their own category suggestions that they were interested in tackling this year.

MomAdvice 2018 Reading Challenge Printable

The 2018 MomAdvice Reading Challenge Printable- DOWNLOAD USING THIS LINK!!

designed by MJ from pars caeli!!

Start your engines, friends! I hope this helps you reach your reading goals! Don’t forget to join our book club and check out my list of top ten books of 2017 for inspiration for this fun challenge! xoxo

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MomAdvice 2018 Book Club Selections

Monday, January 1st, 2018

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Is one of your goals to join a book club this year? I’m thrilled to share that we have an AMAZING Virtual Book Club group that I’d love for you to join. I’m so excited to share with you our MomAdvice 2018 Book Club selections.

Our book club now has over 1,200 bookworms (!!!) and we would love to have you join in on the fun discussions this year. I loved last year’s selections so much that they even found their way on my Best Books of 2017 list.

How Does the MomAdvice Facebook Book Club Work?

I will be your book club hostess this year and have selected the entire year of books for 2018 to round out your book stacks.  The discussion is held on the last week of the month and posted in the group with a thread for each question.

To make finding these discussions easier (and so you can hop in at anytime!!) we have moved our discussions into the Events tab. You will receive an invitation to each discussion and can find the entire discussion in the Events, instead of searching through our VERY active page.

You can jump in to answer questions at any time throughout that week, interacting with loads of other fellow bookworms.

How fun is that?

Feel free to join us and let your friends know about the group too.

The more the merrier!

How Much Does it Cost?

Nada.

Well, What Do You Get Out Of It?

I want this to be fun and free for you. I post the daily Kindle book deals and I share our book club picks though through something called an affiliate link. Basically, this link gives me a few pennies on each of your purchases that help pay for the web hosting on our website. The web hosting currently costs me about $200 monthly and your purchases from this group basically help to offset that cost for our family at no cost to you.

I try to only share the good stuff and good books.

In fact, I have been reading our book club picks before we get to them to make sure that not a moment of your time or penny is wasted.

I know I can’t appeal to everyone’s taste, but I am really trying!! 

I also would like to think I made a lot of great bookworm friends too in this group. It’s been fun to have a place to obsess about books, to share what we are reading each week, and just hang out with other people who just get you.

I have tried to cultivate a positive environment and the group is filled with those kinds of drama-free people that you want to have filling your Facebook feed. Escape the political nastiness and join a feel good kind of space.

Here are the books we will be talking about this year!

MomAdvice 2018 Book Club

MomAdvice 2018 Book Club Selections

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood January- Alias Grace

Lucky Boy February- Lucky Boy

American Fire March- American Fire

Lilli De Jong April- Lilli De Jong

The Music Shop May- The Music Shop

Everything Here is Beautiful June- Everything Here is Beautiful

Salt Houses July- Salt Houses

Little Broken Things August- Little Broken Things

Far From the Tree September- Far From the Tree

That Kind of Mother October- That Kind of Mother

Steal the Stars by Nat Cassidy November- Steal the Stars

Girls Burn Brighter December-Girls Burn Brighter

MomAdvice 2018 Book Club

Join in on the MomAdvice Book Club HERE! 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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