Author Archive

Amy’s Notebook 10.19.16

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016





source: alice & lois

These indigo pumpkins are everything.

Another sheet pan meal to try- yum!

I need to up my bookcase game- these shelves are inspiring!

How to find all the food shows on Netflix- time for a binge session!!

The trick to the crispiest chicken and turkey skin- who knew??

Did you know that the elderly homeless population is on the rise? Breaks my heart and reminds me to stock the car for the winter again with these.

Gretchen Rubin shares 81 Children & YA books that are her favorites. (and if you don’t know her- read this book immediately!)

Speaking of books, here are 100 YA books that have little to no romance in them (great selections for your YA reader!)

10 mason jar soups to share.

Buffalo Check Cork Bulletin Board

source: i heart organizing

Buffalo Check Bulletin Board. Love this idea for organizing papers!

I can’t wait to ask my kids these three questions tonight over our family meal.

I love these 4 decluttering epiphanies. All things I need to work on over here.

Can’t wait to dig into this book for my local book club- have you read it yet?

14 small space journeys to follow on IG.

Inspiring meatless meal ideas.

Waffled Pizza Fries

source: real food by dad

Waffled pizza fries? OMG!!! I’m all over this one!

This pumpkin bread looks heavenly- would love to adapt it to gluten-free.  I also had no idea that this is a great way to store it- will have to remember this!

Tips for making pho at home- YES!!

Read this first review and belly laugh. I’m still laughing.

This is a great series for working parents- bookmarking to listen to these stories. The juggle is real.

What your wine glass should look like- oops.

Who wants to move into Hermione’s house? ME!!! ME!!!

I just discovered these- not impressed with what they did to my whites, but a good add to my other loads!

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

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies from Thank you, Dunkin’ At Home, for sponsoring today’s post! 

When I lived in Massachusetts, I had a daily run over to my local Dunkin’ Donuts® to grab my morning cup of coffee. I became such a regular at it, the guy behind the corner would look up and say, “Skim Milk, two sugars?”


You know me so well, Sir.

Oh, those were THE DAYS when I sipped a cup of coffee on my walk from the shop to work and where I felt important because someone remembered my coffee just like I liked it.

Mornings look a heck of a lot different now and are often spent in a frantic state of panic over making sure everyone gets out the door on time with lunches packed and backpacks stuffed with everything they need. Someone making me coffee now is a rarity so I thoughtfully program a pot the night before for myself.

You deserve the best, Madam.

And since I deserve the best and still love that quiet cup, I wait until the house is empty and indulge fully in those first morning sips.

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies from

Each morning I treat myself to an hour of reading with my hot coffee and then I repeat this same little treat in the afternoon the hour before they come back.  I consider it my two favorite indulgences during the day and gives me a chance to get in some really great books.

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies from

I, honestly, rarely go out for coffee anymore and instead I invested in a great coffeemaker and make it at home. Since I drink my coffee black, I love flavored coffees and Dunkin’ (TRULY) makes some of my absolute favorites. If you haven’t tried their Bakery Series ® Coffee, you are in for a delicious treat. A couple of my favorites are Cinnamon Coffee Roll and Caramel Coffeecake that I was able to find at my local grocery store. If you happen to be a K-Cup user, you can also score a delicious Chocolate Glazed Donut flavor. You can find all of these delicious options where you buy your groceries! Check out their website for the scoop!

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies from Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies from

For my afternoon indulgence, I wanted to recreate one of my favorite treats, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies, into a gluten-free version that our whole family could enjoy. My biggest concern with modifying this recipe was that I would have a dense and dry cake when replacing the flour. I remembered though that coffee has the ability to enhance and really bring out chocolate flavoring without adding a noticeable coffee taste. To keep these brownies fudgy, I added four tablespoons of coffee to my standard recipe and replaced the regular flour with this gluten-free version.

Dare I say that these brownies are actually LIGHTER than the originals? In fact, my husband kept saying, “Are you SURE these are gluten-free? I mean, are you REALLY sure?” Yes, after our fair share of terrible gluten-free baking experiences, I couldn’t believe how much the coffee added to the flavoring and the lightness of this recipe. It is so fluffy, in fact, that you might mistake it for cake!

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies from

The other struggle I have with gluten-free brownies is getting them to hold their shape, but the coffee really made a difference in how these held together. These were a breeze to cut into squares, especially when using my favorite brownie cutting trick…a plastic knife! I always keep one in our utensil drawer to get clean (not crumbly) brownies. Lining the brownie pan with parchment paper also helps the brownies to hold their shape and cuts down on clean-up.

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies from

I hope you can give the Dunkin’ Donuts® coffee a try at home and I hope you can mix up a quick batch of these Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies for the perfect treat to accompany it. I have found that if there is leftover coffee (does this even happen?), that adding it to my brownies always enhances their flavoring.

Treat yo’self!

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
Get ready for fame because these brownies will make you FAMOUS with your friends. This is a perfect treat to indulge in or to share with someone you love! You won't believe these are gluten-free!
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons coffee (I used Dunkin' Donuts Caramel Coffeecake)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour (see above for recommended suggestion)
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9-inch square metal cake pan with parchment paper, draping the parchment paper over the edges.
  2. In a saucepan, melt the butter with the unsweetened chocolate over very low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.
  3. In a mixing bowl begin whisking together the dry ingredients. In this bowl you will mix your dark cocoa, flour, and sugar. Once your dry ingredients are mixed together, we can begin incorporating the wet ingredients. Add your eggs, cooled coffee, and vanilla extract to the dry ingredients and mix them in with a spatula or use your stand mixer to mix these. Once these are incorporated, you can slowly add in your cooled chocolate and then incorporate that into your batter.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.
  5. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the batter. Using a butter knife, swirl the salt into the batter.
  6. Bake the brownies in the center of the oven for about 33-35 minutes, until the edge is set but the center is still a bit soft and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out coated with a little of the batter.
  7. Let the brownies cool to room temperature. Lift the brownies from the pan and peel back the parchment paper. Cut the brownies into bite-sized squares.
  8. Serve at room temperature.
  9. Side note: The salted fudge brownies can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, and frozen for up to 1 month.

Thank you, Dunkin’ At Home, for sponsoring today’s post! 


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Small-Budget Crushes 10.16.16

Sunday, October 16th, 2016


I am freaking cold sweatshirt, $22.95

Buffalo Checked Pillows

buffalo checked pillows, $15

Swan Socks (Kate Spade)

swan socks (kate spade), $10

Bamboo Double Turntable

bamboo double turntable, $14.99

Chevron Blanket Set

chevron blanket set (2!!), $30.99

Mustard Midi Skirt

mustard midi skirt, $49.99

Plaid Throw plaid throw, $29.99

Sleeveless Turtleneck Sweater

sleeveless turtleneck sweater (several colors), $26.97

Suede Pouch

suede pouch, $19.99

Oblong Scarf

oblong scarf, $3.90

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

It’s the 3 Little Things: Shows With My Girl, Puzzle Season, & Sheet Pan Nachos

Friday, October 14th, 2016


This is, honestly, the first year that I feel like my life has been consumed by an election season. It’s not that I wasn’t passionate before, it was just that I wasn’t so passionately opposed to someone leading our country before.

One day I realized that I spent a good three hours reading and bookmarking articles to talk about with my husband. Let me repeat, I spent THREE HOURS reading through articles and becoming absolutely outraged. I spent showers composing responses to hateful threads that I read (HOW DARE YOU?!?!). I also spent a lot of time being super disappointed in people and the awful crap they have posted on Facebook (both sides, mind you!) about the candidates. (PEOPLE ARE AWFUL!)

The thing is, no matter what I read, I know how I feel about who I am supporting. I can take every online test, read every supportive article, read every unsupportive article and it still will not change how I feel about who I am voting and not voting for. Yet, I am wasting precious time on things that I cannot change.

Ghandi said it best when he said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

You guys. I’m not changing much by getting angry. It isn’t helping my health, my mental health, or (honestly) my relationships with others. I know that I’m never going to make peace with all of this so I’m going to work on my own attitude until this election season comes to a close. My old radio will be in the off position (I will miss you, NPR) and I will continue avoiding my newsfeed (thanks to this little guy!).

I just wanted you to know that I’m not letting this consume any more of my time and happiness. It’s just too dang precious.

Ghandi was a wise one, wasn’t he?

Here IS what’s making me happy this week! 

Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time

As we impatiently await season 2 of, Just Add Magic, Emily and I have been on the hunt for another show to indulge in together. When a girlfriend shared that they had been watching, Once Upon a Time together, I thought it might be a great one for us to pick up. With five seasons available on Netflix, it would also keep us busy for awhile.

If you haven’t watched it before, it’s a show about a New England town called Storybrooke Lane, and the residents all happen to be trapped in the town.

What makes these people special?

Well, they are all fairytale characters that have been held in time, thanks to the curse from a the Wicked Queen.

I would say that this is a PG-rated show, at least it is in our house. Common Sense Media recommends this one for ages 12 and up. A lot of the innuendos seem to go over Em’s head and she admitted that the occasional swear word is not anything compared to what she’s heard on the bus (YAY!). We are really enjoying Season 1 and have made this part of our lazy Sunday routine. She feels like a big girl watching it with me and it’s been fun snuggling up with her again to watch something we both enjoy.

If you don’t have Netflix, you can also stream it on Amazon!


 Puzzle Season

The Clark family loves a good puzzle when the temperatures start dipping and this weekend I got started on another one. My girlfriend asked if we could trade puzzles which is GENIUS and saves us some money or repeating the same puzzle over and over again.

People started asking me , after I posted this photo on Instagram, what type of table I was using to do my puzzles on. Well, I purchased this foldable table to do my crafting on, but it gets very little use because I prefer to use the lighting in my kitchen when shooting tutorials for the site. It has been a great place to sort my fabric and photo backdrops, but I have felt really guilty that I don’t use it as much as I thought I would.

Well, I don’t have to feel guilty anymore because this table is PERFECT for setting up family puzzles. I have it up on just one side and have tucked a barstool underneath to assemble this 1,000 piece puzzle.



Martha Stewart Craft Cart

Martha Stewart Rolling Cart

Here are some older pictures that I had taken when I shared how I organize my craft room. I love that this little table doesn’t take up very much space, but it actually expands into a HUGE table for crafting. We got this incredible rolling cart too for all of my craft supplies and it is awesome. I use this daily and love that it is on wheels so I can roll it where I need it. The drawers are generous, but it doesn’t take up a ton of room. Honestly, everything we have ever gotten from this line has been 5-star quality.

I am so excited that I am able to use the table for our puzzles this year and I love that I can roll it into a corner when we aren’t using it!

If you are on the hunt for a great puzzle, we did this one this summer and it was a blast to put together!

Sheet Pan Nachos from Damn Delicious

source: damn delicious

Sheet Pan Nachos

I am always searching for easy dinner ideas so I thought I would share this one with you- it’s sheet pan nachos! My kids love flour tortillas, but now that we are gluten-free, we need to stick with the corn option. I thought we could switch things up and do nachos instead and these were a HIT. I followed the directions from Damn Delicious, but we made it our own. It’s such a great option too if you have multiple tastes. Half had a covering of black beans and half didn’t (for those bean-haters!). I also told my best friend she could make a corner for her son with his special dairy-free cheese for his dietary restrictions. Basically, everyone has no reason to complain. Seriously, this was the world’s easiest meal, everyone was happy, and I didn’t have a ton of dishes to clean up. WINNING!

I’m calling it Netflix & Nacho night- so much cooler than Taco Tuesday!

Capsule Report

The capsule wardrobe is going great. I did end up adding two vests that I forgot I had ordered from thredup. I figured you guys wouldn’t mind too much! It’s become less of a numbers game this go-round, but I love just having the things I REALLY love in my closet!

Do you ever wonder what that LIKEtoKNOWit stuff is about on Instagram pictures? I am sharing those little tags on my photos for my capsule IG account.  The title is really what the service means- if you like something with that tag on it on Instagram, you can receive an email that tells you exactly where the items are from and how to order them. I get a commision on these that assists with supporting our site and I always try to find the same or a similar budget-friendly equivalent for my outfits.

To receive these shopping links, do a quick registration (in just 30 seconds!!)  to register at  An email will give you links to all the great pieces and I always try to stay within my small budget.

You can also shop my looks from the web by going directly to my LIKEtoKNOWit page: Make sure you are registered!

Fall 2016 Capsule Wardrobe Outfit

top (on sale- similar!)* belt (same, but I got mine gently used)* tassel booties (so comfy and worthy of your feet!)

Fall 2016 Capsule Wardrobe Outfit

striped shirt (similar, similar)*poncho (similar)*black jeans (similar)*tassel booties (so comfy and worthy of your feet!)

Fall 2016 Capsule Wardrobe Outfit

faux leather bag (similar)*denim shirt (similar, similar)*pink jeans (similar)


Reading:  A new book from one of my latest favorite thriller writers. Get this in your stack STAT- I can’t put it down! Those headphones are getting a workout too while I listen to this book around the house. I’m going to say it, I think it is the best one from this author yet!

Listening: I started Accused this week and I’m on the edge of my seat with each episode. Have you listened to this yet?

Eating: Ribs on repeat in the Instant Pot (the world’s great invention, amen.). I used this technique and then brushed them with Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce. We found high pressure for 30 minutes is fall-off-the-bone tender.  HEAVEN!

Happy Fri-yay!

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

The Reading Life of an Entrepreneur: September Must-Reads

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

The Reading Life of an Entrepreneur: September Must-Reads

So in the first installment of what hopefully can be a regular thing (Seriously, I think Amy got a little concerned that you guys might like me more than her. Make sure you give her a <virtual> pat on the back and remind her that she is good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like her) we laid important ground in my self-directed addiction recovery program.

Todd Greer

Todd Greer, Chief Catalyst of The Exchange

I laid out how I like books (another insight, that made me drop into “I Like Big Books and I Can Not Lie”. I have been known to fall for “weaponized song lyrics.”), lots of books. Outside of romance and a few other genres, I pretty much like anything that is well-written and has something that I can take away from it (even if that is just amusement – I see you Evanovich and Goldberg and your Fox and O’Hare series. I have books 4 and 5 on standby right now).

So, without further ado, here is the list of just finished (or at least mostly finished).

Coup D'Etat by Ben Coes

Coup D’Etat by Ben Coes

My take: So the first book in this series, Power Down, sat on my “to read” slot in my Audible files for quite some time. Only after I had demolished a number of other genres and was looking for a break that I finally tapped into what I learned was an entire series on Dewey Andreas.

In the second book in the series, Coup D’Etat, we follow our hero (the aforementioned Dewey Andreas – seriously, I had a hard time with a uber-manly, former Special Forces, hero named Dewey. Seriously, no disrespect to anyone with that name, but I don’t envision you as the guy that can kill me 40 different ways with your bare hands) deeper on his adventures that lead him both to flee America again and once again defend her (and her ally’s) honor when confronted by violence perpetrated by a regime or terrorist network.

The author, Ben Coes, has created a fast-moving series that doesn’t ask for a lot of deep thinking. We have a family (the Fortunas) that has become more wealthy than the gods, who is funding any form of violent jihad they can stand behind, Dewey – the quintessential wrongly disgraced military hero who has to balance love for country with a desire to escape to places that he is neither known, nor needed for his military capabilities. Beyond the battle between these two families (and the network of agents the Fortunas are funding to bring down the United States), we have an interesting affair between Dewey and a National Security Advisor (who somehow is in every important meeting with the President and is able to largely dictate the President’s decision making – yeah, that seems like a stretch), and we have a few other ancillary characters thrown in for good measure.

Summary: The series is (relatively) fast-paced, the storylines feel very post-9/11-ie, and the character development (so far) is weak. That said, if you like beat-em-up, blow-em-up action particularly in the (para)military style you will probably find this series to be worth a look.

3 Out of 5 Stars

The Misfit Economy


The Misfit Economy by Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips

So this is a book that had my attention well over a year ago before it was even released. I had the pleasure of getting to know one of the co-authors, Alexa Clay, through the BLK SHP network and even was able to spend a few days getting to know her talent for asking great questions and framing intriguing (and often overlooked) vignettes.

One of the things that bothers me, as an entrepreneur, is the concept that every startup or idea is based around technology and will suddenly become this massive success (seriously people, we need to understand what survivorship bias is…). Clay and Phillips drive conversation around camel milkers (yep, it’s a thing), Somali pirates (imprisoned ones), hackers, and other non-traditional economic models.

Within the frame of the book, they recognize five things that these misfits seem to bring to light that we can actually be useful for anyone that is seeking to be more creative in their approach to business: hustle, copy, hack, provoke, and pivot. All the while, we begin to recognize that there are real human stories at play that can’t be overlooked.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Menagerie by Rachel Vincent


Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

This was the Daily Deal on one day and I will admit it both intrigued and confused me. Frankly like a lot of audiobooks when the author is new to me and the narrator is not a voice I am familiar with, this one got a shot as part of my bedtime routine. After a few nights, I was able to get enough of a feel for the book that I decided to keep going with it (which isn’t always the case – seriously I tried SOOOO hard to like the No. 1 Women’s Detective Agency, but it just never caught me).

The premise of this otherworldly affair, is that cryptics (imagine hybrid creatures like Minotaurs, Warewolves, and the like) are a reality in the world that we know and love. These shapeshifters, changelings, and (previously only) mythological creatures are living amongst the rest of us.

In the 1980s an event occurs in which human babies are switched out for “surrogates” thus leading to a massive slaughter. From this point on, cryptics are no longer part of the general population but are instead confined to circus’ tents and carnival runways.

This is an interesting tale that caused me to ask some deep questions about how we treat others, particularly those that are different than us. I am not sure that is what the author was driving at, but frankly the power dynamics at play between the staff and the caged performers makes me think about what people are forced to resort to when they are powerless.

(Note: I had no idea going into this, that it was a planned trilogy. I am not certain that I will pick up the 2nd book in the series when it comes out in 2017, but this certainly was a worthwhile read.)

4 Out of 5 Stars

Building the Future by Amy Edmondson

Building the Future: Big Teaming for Audacious Innovation by Amy Edmondson and Susan Reynolds

I kinda have an academic crush on Dr. Amy Edmondson. We follow each other on Twitter and I have been working to try and schedule an interview program with her, on and off, for about a year and a half. Edmondson’s research is on “teaming” (the idea that instead of permanent teams, the future is built on working arrangements that are both shorter term and adaptive), and frankly it is so spot-on to the changing landscape that I see in the world of the new economy. Due to my previous interest in her first book, I didn’t even hesitate when I pulled the trigger on this one.

This one is a little different and frankly I wasn’t always thrilled with the book at first, given I was expecting more conversation around teaming and how the Living Planet group was developed, how it worked, what it looked like in the trenches with major lessons from prior research and examination of it in practice.

Once I came around to the fact that this ultimately was a book about a company’s journey with more of an anthropologists’ framing, I settled in to enjoy the book (I do really enjoy “out there” concepts like building the city of the future, so this gave me some pretty amazing ideas).

I wouldn’t recommend this book to individuals who don’t have a high interest in the way that innovation occurs, or doesn’t, within the fabric of truly city/community development. I was struck often by just how hard it is to truly upend the way that we do much of our building in both this country and throughout the world. While the technology is present now to allow us to do audacious things, this book illustrates that many municipalities and organizations still are unready to bring it to bear.

3 Out of 5 Stars

The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell

Lords of the North by Bernard Cornwell


The Pale Horseman and Lords of the North by Bernard Cornwell

What can I say, other than that I am hooked? Honestly, this series is right up there with the Game of Thrones pantheon of books (though this one is a little easier to follow, given the consistent narrator, and the manageable band of characters). These books allow the reader to travel back to an England of the 9th Century. A time in which war was the norm, kingdoms were fluid, and very few people could read (seriously, outside of priests, monks, and a few elites no one could read…so sad).

Uhtred, is like the Steve Austin of the dark ages (ok, if you don’t understand this, you obviously weren’t a teenage male in the 1990s). He is the preferred sword of King Alfred, yet the two rightly can’t actually stand each other. On one hand, King Alfred is an extremely pious Christian who is as cerebral as they come, on the other hand, Uhtred is a pagan (his amulet of Thor’s hammer is the ever present reminder of this) who is both emotional and headstrong. The two, while at odds with each other find themselves pulled together by the need for the other to reach their desired outcomes.

Look, I don’t want to waste any more of your time or my time so, if you like Historical Fantasy in the least bit (e.g. you watched or read Game of Thrones), READ THESE BOOKS!


New Books on My Shelf

In other news, due to the backlog of books that one compiles when they are addicted to books (both the collection of, and the reading of), I thought I would provide a glimpse of what got added to my shelves (both physical and virtual) recently. I hope to be able to share on these in the weeks to come.

The Startup Owner’s Manual by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf

Smart People Should Build Things by Andrew Yang

The Leader’s Guide by Eric Ries

The rest of the Saxon Series by Bernard Cornwell

House of Nails: A Memoir of Life on the Edge by Lenny Dykstra

Oh, and last but not least – I have 56 posted books being completed on Goodreads. That means that the Editor of this blog is feeling me getting close on her heels (she tries to tell me she has a bunch on standby that she is going to review soon…but I think that might just be her coping mechanism).

Editor’s Note: As you can see, Todd is VERY good at trash-talking. As someone who loves trash-talking, I find it to be one of his best qualities. Unfortunately for him, I’m off to log in 8 more books on my GoodReads account. Oh, snap!  I hope you didn’t miss those reviews this week. You might need to pick up your pace, Todd! 

  The Reading Life of an Entrepreneur: September Must-Reads

Do you have any suggestions for Todd on books he should check out? Please leave them here for his next book stack!

Amy’s Notebook 10.12.16

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Everything

source: our best bites

My friend, Sara, tried all the pumpkin spice things so you don’t have to- what a champ!

It’s time to show up- this is something I am working on too. Presence is so important in relationships.

Speaking of pumpkin, this pumpkin pie smoothie looks like a great autumn treat.

I am truly savoring this book this week- have you read it? You must!

A great guide to the best fall lip colors!

161 ways to add a little storage to every room in your house. What a great read for small space lovers!

The truth about work life balance. This is a good one!

Exterior Home Goals

source: white buffalo styling co.

This before and after on the exterior of this house is so inspiring! Cannot wait to do this to our house someday.

How to teach your child emotional agility.

My favorite cardigans got marked down to $6.99!!!! Seriously, jealous!

A new Halloween centerpiece- this cracks me up!

Narrow entryway inspiration- I can always use that!

Now THIS is the way to buy a house. Aren’t you inspired?

2 ways to wear a neck scarf- I want to try these!

Vegetarian Meal Ideas

source: the kitchn

25 vegetarian meals you can make in a cast iron skillet. I have this one ($20!!) and I can’t wait to put it to work!

Small change, small victories… I needed to read this today!

Love this realistic look at what trends you should be embracing this season if you are 40 or older!

This group Halloween costume is epic.

Adding this chicken cacciatore to this week’s menu plan.

A fellow ALDI fan shares her favorite items at the store. Love it!

A quick guide to buying better this fall- lots of brands that I did not know about!

Can someone please make this for my cat? Seriously awesome!

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

September 2016 Must-Reads

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

September 2016 Must-Reads from

I am running a bit behind on sharing my September reads. It was a pretty eclectic pile of books from dystopian apocalyptic fun to time travel (always a favorite of mine) to coming-of-age to dark comedies. I am guessing there is something for everyone this month and hope you enjoy this stack as much as I did!

Later this week, Todd is joining us again with his best picks for the month too! I can’t wait to share those with you on Thursday! Please keep your eyes peeled too for more incredible interviews with authors in our Sundays With Writers series! Yay!

8 Must-Read Books from September 2016

Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon

Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon

I received a copy for review from Netgalley- all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wife 22 happened to be one of my past favorite vacation reads so I was thrilled to see that Gideon had a new novel out. Time travel is always such a fun escape and this story was a delight from start to finish.

Set in 1975, Valley of the Moon chronicles the story of a single mother who takes a camping adventure on her own to find herself again. What she doesn’t expect to find is that just beyond this thick fog is a community frozen in time in the year 1906.

The community welcomes her into their community and she finally feels a sense of purpose, worth, and love… all that have been missing as she tries to raise her son alone.

The reader gets to follow Lux as she travels back and forth through time, finding love in a different era, and learning many consequences of trying to live in parallel worlds.

Lots of lovely plot twists and the ending Gideon carves for the end is movie-worthy. Although the idea of this portal might feel a little cheesy at first, you can’t help but fall in love with both worlds and eras that the author has crafted. Time travel fans will love this one!

5 Out of 5 Stars

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

One of my friends is a librarian (Hi, Pam!) and she said Eight Hundred Grapes had been one of her favorite summer reads. I listened to this book on audiobook and it would make the perfect vacation read.

The book opens with Georgia sitting in her brother’s bar in a wedding gown. She hasn’t gotten married, but witnesses her fiancée in a moment on the street that rocks her world. Returning home to figure things out, she is shocked to discover that, not only did her fiancée have a big secret, but her entire family has been keeping secrets from her. Her parent’s marriage is failing, her mother is dating, her brothers are involved in a love triangle, and their family winery is in the process of being sold. Yeah, a lot has changed.

This story is part storytelling of how these relationships began, part understanding how wine is really made, and part family drama.

This was a fun little escape and I really enjoyed the audiobook of this one!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Carousel Court by Joe McGinniss Jr.

Carousel Court by Joe McGinniss Jr.

Carousel Court had received rave reviews so I suggested this book as a pick for our local book club. Here is the thing, I wouldn’t say I loved it, but I would say that McGinniss is a gifted writer that made me loathe the characters in his book. I can see why some people enjoyed it, but the characters were so unlikable that it made it difficult to connect emotionally with the story.

This story is about a failing marriage and the true sinking of their marriage ship when they are no longer financially stable. Set in California during the recession, the couple finds themselves in foreclosure alley when no one can afford to stay in their houses. Nick, the husband, works to help clean out the houses when the bank kicks them out of their home. Witnessing all these homes that have remained dormant, he takes advantage of this shaky ground and begins operating a month-to-month leasing company on properties he doesn’t own, using the funds to try to financially recover his own family. Meanwhile, his wife picks up a relationship with an old flame, in hopes that he can pull her out of a life she hates. It can’t, unfortunately, help with her abuse of prescription drugs and lack of any motherly bone in her body. The reader gets to watch the train wreck unfold chapter by painful chapter.

I will remember this, not as a favorite, but the themes from it made it one of our better book club discussions.

If you enjoy stories of failing marriages, twisted soulless characters, and a book filled with literary tension…this one is for you!

3 Out of 5 Stars

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

I received an ARC of Small Great Things from Netgalley and have been waiting to share my review for so long that I forgot to add this to the post when I originally posted it- oops! This book actually goes on sale TODAY!

Jodi, with the exception of The Storyteller, hasn’t been a go-to for me in a long time for reading, but when I read about the premise of this story, I couldn’t resist giving her another spin. Honestly, I was REALLY glad I did.

The story focuses on a nurse, named Ruth Jefferson, that has been working in labor and delivery for over twenty years. When a couple requests that Ruth not care for their family, following the birth of their child, she is stunned to find out that she has been removed from their care because of the color of her skin.

When the baby goes into cardiac arrest while Ruth is on duty, she finds herself in the middle of a grueling murder trial and without a job to support her. Kennedy is the lawyer that is assigned to this tough case and the reader gets to go along on this journey with Ruth as she agonizes over a split second decision that may have cost her the job she has loved for so many years.

In a predictable Picoult fashion, there is a twist at the end that you may or may not see coming. That said, it was a solid read all the way through, even though it may have felt a little predictable at times.

4 Out of 5 Stars


Lost Stars by Lisa Selin Davis

Lost Stars by Lisa Selin Davis

This book was provided to me by the publishing house. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Lost Stars was based upon a Modern Love essay that was expanded into a fictional story about a teen that is falling apart after the death of her sister. Carrie is making poor decisions from the company she keeps to the habits she has formed, but so much of that is in response to the death of her sister, her mother’s decision to leave their family, and the feeling of disconnection from her father. When she pushes things too far, her father makes her join a summer work camp at a local state park to help her develop better habits and hopefully improve her behavior. Her secret is that she has never fit in with the rough crowd and has always been passionate about astrophysics. When she meets a guy that loves her, nerdy habits and all, Carrie begins to become the girl she was always destined to be.

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it for you or your favorite YA reader. Please note, language, mild PG sex, and drug/alcohol use if sharing this with your teen!

3 Out of 5 Stars

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven is a reread for me and actually made my top ten list in 2014 as one of my favorites. I got the opportunity to hear Emily speak and so I wanted to refresh my memory on this beautiful book.

If you haven’t read it yet, it is an absolutely incredible novel and offers a new take on a pandemic world captured through the storytelling of a Hollywood actor and a band of traveling actors that risk it all to perform their art during a flu apocalypse. The storytelling jumps and weaves through time making it a treat to read from start to finish about what life was like before and after a fatal flu strikes the country.

Masterfully woven characters, particularly with the use of the three wives in Arthur’s life, the author brings these stories together in a way that makes you feel like you know each character.

I listened to this one and was curious, when I went to purchase the audiobook, why two versions of the audiobook were offered. I asked Emily about it and she said the UK wanted their own version so that is why there are two versions of it. How funny is that? It was a treat to listen to (I went with the US version) and I am so glad I got to enjoy this one a second time!

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach

The Fault in Our Stars meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is how the publisher describes this dark comedy. In The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko, seventeen-year-old Ivan is a resident at the Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children in Belarus and is quite the handful for the staff at the hospital. He fakes comas (it’s pretty hilarious!), needs lots of vodka to get through his day, an observer of all his fellow patients, and bored out of his mind. When Polina arrives, a beautiful resident suffering from terminal cancer, everything in Ivan’s world changes as they form an unlikely friendship.

I laughed through parts of this and got misty-eyed through others. It’s a beautiful story with a few well-placed plot twists and an unforgettable friendship, not only between these two patients, but an even lovelier one between Ivan and his nurse.

This was a slow starter for me, but I really enjoyed this beautiful story and recommend it for fans of One in a Million Boy!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

This month’s MomAdvice Book Club selection was Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, a timely pick with the movie coming out this month! I have picked this one up several times and never could get into it, but decided to listen to this one on audiobook and browse the PDF later to look at all of the pictures.

When a horrific family tragedy happens to sixteen-year-old Jacob, his father takes him on a journey to a remote island to help give Jacob peace with his grandfather’s death. His grandfather always talked fondly of his time at Miss Peregrine’s so he sets out to see if the woman is still alive. Not only is she alive, but so are all his old peculiar friends. What unfolds is a beautifully dark story of discovery, first love, and what you would do to save those you love.

I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would and look forward to passing on to my daughter to listen to before we see the film. The book does contain some adult language in it for those that are screening their children’s books!

4 Out of 5 Stars

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Read With Me This Year:

January Must-Reads

February Must-Reads

March Must-Reads

April Must-Reads

May Must-Reads

June 2016 Must-Reads

July 2016 Must-Reads

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September 2016 Must-Reads from

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

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

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Small-Budget Crushes 10.09.16

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

Mustard Cardigan

shaker stitch cardigan (so many cute colors), $19.99

Honeycomb-Stitch Infinity Scarf

honeycomb-stitch infinity scarf, $16.94

Driftwood Jewelry Organizer

driftwood jewelry organizer, $22

Fur Throws

fur throws for every room, $15.88

Halloween Garland

halloween burlap garland, $9.99

Hammered Metal Earrings hammered-disc drop earrings, $9.94

Rosette Fur Pillow

rosette fur pillow, $9.97


It’s the 3 Little Things: Can’t Hear You Snoring, Home Goods, & the Backpack Corral

Friday, October 7th, 2016


Did you read this article in the notebook this week? It got me thinking about something that I noticed about myself. Being a crafter and being frugal means that I rarely purchase things that I really desire for our home.

Many times I think, “I can make that. We don’t REALLY need that. We can do without. It’s falling apart, but there is still a little life in it. Is it REALLY a joy sparker?”

I also have other talks with myself that run through my head like, “Do you deserve that? What could you do to help someone else with that money? Why are you wasting money on such meaningless things? Why can’t what you have just be enough?”

Then I go to other people’s homes and long to have their decor and think how nice it must be to have things like that. Gosh, what I wouldn’t give for a few nice things that I didn’t have to make from scratch.

The thing is, I can have those things. I just deny them from my own life.

So, as frivolous as it is, I gave myself permission to spruce up our home this week. The pillows were falling apart and didn’t match anymore, I really DID need a few organizers to get our drawers tidy, it was okay to have a rug by all the entrances (yes, I hand carried one back and forth to, “save money.”), and it was okay to buy a stool if it helped make getting shoes on easier. Some of the things were useful (rugs and stools) and some things just made me happy (pretty pumpkins for our dining table).

Maybe you don’t struggle with this, but the joy that it brought me to buy some purposeful & pretty things for our home made me very happy. I still want to be careful with our funds, but I am giving myself permission to bring beauty in. And when my husband came home and bewilderingly looked around at our house, I looked him in the eye and said, “I make no apologies I love what I got.” And, after I gave him the grand tour, he hugged me and thanked me for working so hard to make our home such a beautiful place.

Do you struggle with this too?

Here are a few other things that are making me happy!


HomeGoods (!!!!)

The timing of HomeGoods opening in our town could not have been better with my home spruce up. It has been over a decade since I have stepped into a Home Goods so I couldn’t wait to take a field trip there with my husband. He was really killing my vibe though so the next day, I went back by myself to spend hours walking up and down the same aisles over and over again.

I got some great pillows for our couch, a stool for our entryway, furry throws, fresh dish cloths, pretty cutting boards, and organizers. I also got fridge organizers (similar to this) and actually used these underneath my sinks and in my fridge (especially for sticky items like syrup!)  for getting these spaces organized. I got on such a kick with these that, we now have several eyesores made over into useful spots.

Welcome to Michiana, HomeGoods!


I Can’t Hear You Snoring

I rarely read through pitches for products (see opening paragraph!) because I hate to clutter up my house, but when I got a pitch for SleepPhones, I could not resist responding. These are a fleece headband with small flat headphones built inside that you can wear while sleeping or when lounging in bed. They make two versions, one has a headphone jack that you put into your phone, the other is the bluetooth-enabled version that is wireless.

I love these for three reasons- 1. Most headphones bother my ears (except these- and I really mean it!) so I can only tolerate them for short periods of time. 2. White noise is much more effective because this is against the ear and blocks out lots of distracting sounds (Like my husband. Who also says I snore, but I do not. He does.) 3. I like to lay in bed to watch shows on my iPad and listen to audiobooks and I like to do that while laying on my side. These work perfectly.

I have the bluetooth version so when I get up, I just plug it in and charge it to be ready for the next day. Then I just slip these on, put on the app they offer to go with these, and pass out. I also think these would be AWESOME for chilly mornings and walking in my neighborhood. Podcast listening would just be so much more comfortable because my ears are always cold.

I can’t rave enough about these- they would make such a great holiday gift for a fellow light-sleeper.

Small Space Organization Basket

Backpack Corral

Small houses usually lack mudrooms and our home is no exception. We got this mirror with hooks several years ago (here is a very similar one), but I felt nervous about putting our backpacks on it, especially the weight of these kid’s backpacks (good grief!). When I was walking around Target (always a dangerous pastime), I spied this basket and knew it would be perfect for this troublesome spot. It’s just the perfect height for your backpacks. If you are struggling to figure out an easy holding station for bags, this basket works like a charm! It has a 5-star rating on their site so I must not be the only one that thinks this is the perfect basket for their home.

It was also requested I show off the rest of our home so I will try to take some pictures today now that it has officially been spruced up for fall!


Eating: Big bowls of Pumpkin Chili and baked potatoes. If you haven’t tried this technique for roasting your potatoes, you are in for a big treat!

Reading:  I am almost done with this book and it is ALL THE FEELS. If you are looking for a sweet read and enjoyed The Rosie Project or even A Man Called Ove, I just think you would love this little book too. Catch a whole bunch of reviews next week from me and my reading buddy, Todd!

Listening: Closing in on this one on audiobook then I’m passing it off to my daughter to listen to before we see the movie. If you guys see it, please let me know how it is! Also, did you enjoy the other books from this series? Is it worth continuing? I have commitment issues!

Sharing: If you aren’t part of the MomAdvice Book Club, you are missing out on some incredible Kindle deals!

Here are your incredible book deals for today (even if you aren’t in the club!):

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES, $1.99 (absolutely loved this one!)


A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU, $1.99 (I gave this one 5-stars!!)

DISRUPTED, $2.99 (I have this in my stack this month!)





DEEP DOWN TRUE, $1.99 (I really enjoyed this one!)

HOOD, $1.99

I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE, $1.99 (beautiful stuff!!)

THE WITCH, $1.99


Happy Friday, friends!

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

Amy’s Notebook 10.05.16

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Quinoa Lasagna

source: fit foodie finds

This quinoa lasagna is going on my menu planner this week.

Why absolute minimalism will never feel like home- I loved this perspective.

I love that they tested internet viral kitchen hacks (with surprising results!)

A simple slow cooker marinara sauce for busy weeknights.

“Learn to embrace a paradox: Time is precious and plentiful. To have as much time as you need for the things you want, you need to be ruthless about not filling time with things you don’t care about.”- secrets of people with all the time in the world.

I can never turn down a great twist on caprese. Get in my belly!

Stuffed Baked Apples

source: camille styles

Stuffed baked apples look like a heavenly autumn treat.

Here are a few ways to turn chicken nuggets into dinner.

Have you heard of a FEED supper? It looks like a great way to share an experience & money for a good cause.

An adorably decorated Halloween porch.

Book Styling Ideas

source: apartment therapy

New ways to style your home with books- SWOON!!

Speaking of books, I am really enjoying this read and excited to dive into this one this week!

The minimum amount you should be tipping for food deliveries.

We need to start a family movie tradition.

These apple treats look like the perfect portion size for our family.

Fake a mantle- we are still enjoying our space heater version that I painted for our office.

This is such a great budget exercise. It makes me think about my own spending.

Halloween Plate Wall

source: tatertots & jello

These are such cute decorating ideas for Halloween!

Blanket scarf diy’ing must be happening right now- this is our top article this week!

I can’t wait to give this new podcast a listen.

Meal prep IG’ers on fleek!  Off to follow them all…

I’m going to work on simplifying my email responses.

You guys must be cozy, blanket capes were your top purchase this week!

I am SO EXCITED about this new Netflix series!

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