Author Archive

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from MomAdvice.com

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

Making a fabric wreath has been on my crafting bucket list for a long time and I finally had the perfect excuse to execute it. I joined the Waverly Inspirations Network this month and am showcasing all the fun craft goodies you can find now at your local Walmart stores- YAY!

Each month I am challenged to make a project out of a surprise box of materials and the team gives me a theme to work with. This month’s theme was BEACH so I went with a nautical spin to show you how to make a fabric wreath and rope garland for your home.

Best of all, no sewing skills required!

Let’s get crafting.

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed To Make a Fabric Wreath

12″ or 20″ wire wreath frame

2 1/2 yards Waverly Inspirations Fabric (for 12″) or 3 yards Waverly Inspirations Fabric (for 20″). Be sure to select two or more patterns or solids that compliment each other. Have fun with this!

6 yards Waverly Inspirations Grosgrain or Satin Ribbon (select 2 3-yard packages in complementary colors)

Fabric Rotary Cutter

Rotary Cutting Mat

(Note- if making matching garland, be sure to pick up some rope (like this) over in the home improvement section of the store)

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from MomAdvice.com

Directions for Making a Fabric Wreath

1. Taking your fabric lengthwise, cut at the 1″ mark on your rotary cutter.

2. From this starting point, begin tearing down until you get to the bottom of your fabric to create strips. There will be loose threads. Pull any that are particularly bothersome, but this project is meant to have rough edges to it.

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from MomAdvice.com

3. Begin cutting this torn fabric into 6″ strips. Repeat these same 3 steps over and over again with your two fabrics.

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from MomAdvice.com

4. The same length strips will need to be cut out of your two ribbon options so begin cutting those, utilizing all of the ribbon that you have purchased..

5. Starting from the outer edge of the wire wreath frame, begin tying the fabric, making sure to keep your printed side turned out, and then slide the tied fabric down to the nearest crossbar. Repeat until you have filled the section, alternating fabrics and sprinkling a tie of ribbon in throughout. In the picture above, you can see that ALL of these have a fabric loop- this is to demonstrate your starting point for each row.  Continue doing this until you get all the way around the outside edge. Then repeat this same process on the remaining 3 wires until you have filled your entire wreath.

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from MomAdvice.com

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from MomAdvice.com

I added a little pom-pom trim that I had in my crafting cart and clipped it with two tiny clothespins to finish this.  I had so much fun making this that I wanted to add a garland to match.

How to Make a Fabric Rope Garland from MomAdvice.com

Utilizing the same technique for ripping your fabrics, cut 2″ strips this time and then cut these into 8″ pieces. Repeat this step with both fabric selections (or more if you have them!). Tie them onto your rope, making sure to have that printed side facing out. I love that you can make this as long or as short as you need for your space!

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from MomAdvice.com

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from MomAdvice.com

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from MomAdvice.com

My little painted laminate fireplace, in our basement, gets so much love and I love decorating it for the different seasons. I finished our beachy look with two rope handled lanterns. I, honestly, loved making this so much that I now have plans to make another smaller one for my fancy little she shed in yellows and polka dots.

I hope this tutorial inspires you to get out there and craft today!

Making brings me so much joy and I love sharing that with you!

 

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from MomAdvice.com

 

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

 

Sundays With Writers: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

sundays-with-writers-1

It is rare to surprise me as a reader and it has probably only happened a handful of times over the past few years. Since I read so much, it is like I now know the lay of the land and where we are heading. When an author makes a plot twist that leaves my jaw on the ground…well, it’s a rare and amazing reader experience for me.

I Let You Go is a well-woven thriller that you will be unable to put down and when those twists come, I know you will be as blown away as I am. I am so excited to share an interview with Clare Mackintosh today. Not only is her thriller incredible, but she has a background as a detective that allows her to make more plausible crime stories with an attention to detail that few can possess without this background.

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

I Let You Go will be the psychological thriller you need to pull you out of a reading slump. The book opens with a mother crossing the street with her child. She let’s go for just a moment and that child is hit by a car. This hit-and-run case leaves little clues to the killer and the reader follows this grief-stricken survivor as she tries to form a new life in a new town, far from the reminders of the accident. Hold onto your hats though because nothing is as it seems and the reader is taking on plot twists that will leave you gasping.

The tired saying that, “this book is the next Gone Girl,” has been said about many thrillers since Flynn’s incredible book.

This book?

Well, I think it really is the one and once you start reading it, you will see why!

Grab your coffee and let’s chat with Clare Mackintosh about her story!

Clare Mackintosh

You worked as a police officer for 12 years and then came out with a wildly successful psychological thriller, I Let You Go, that I can’t stop talking about or recommending to all my friends. Did you always want to be a writer and how do you think your time on the force helped benefit your story?

I spent 12 years in the police and loved every minute of it, but it became increasingly hard to balance a busy career with life as a mother of three young children. I took a career break and reinvented myself as a freelance feature writer, and at the same time I wrote I Let You Go. I signed a two-book publishing deal the month before I was due back at work, so I handed in my notice and never went back. The thread that links all three types of work is storytelling: as a detective I told victim’s stories on their behalf; collected witnesses’ stories to support allegations of crime. My job was to pull together all the threads of a story and present it to a court in such a way that they could decide on a verdict. In that way it wasn’t dissimilar to the work I now present to readers.

The book opens with a mother letting go of her child’s hand on a dark street and witnessing her child being hit by a car. I understand that this plot came from a real-life incident that happened in Oxford? What was it about this story, in particular, that made it stick with you so much that you would want to fictionally explore this?

In 2000, just after I started my career in the police, there was a tragic hit and run in Oxford, England. It killed a nine year old boy and sent shockwaves through the city. I didn’t work directly on the case, but I was profoundly affected by it. I couldn’t understand how anyone could drive away from such a terrible act, and I couldn’t see how the child’s mother could ever survive such a tragedy. Many years later I lost my own son – in very different circumstances – and I began to understand the impact grief has on one’s life. The more I considered this, the more a story took shape.

Jenna’s grief is so raw that, at times, I found it difficult to read what she was going through. I was so sad to read that you also have lost a child yourself. Were you able to channel some of that into shaping Jenna’s grief and loss?

My son died when he was five weeks old. It was, and still is, the hardest thing that has ever happened to me. I found some of the scenes in I Let You Go exceptionally difficult to write, and extremely emotional. There would be times when I would be sitting at my keyboard, tears streaming down my cheeks, wanting that particular scene to be over. It was just too raw, too real. But overall I think I did find it cathartic, just as I have always found it therapeutic to blog about the way I feel.

I Let You Go at the British Book Industry Awards

follow Clare on Facebook!!

I am a very seasoned reader so it is very difficult to take me by surprise, but your plot twists absolutely floored me. I truly mean that! Did you always have these twists in mind when you started writing your story and did you try to replicate that experience in your second book for the reader or were you worried it would be too formulaic?

The twist was the first element to arrive. I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve, and why I wanted to do it, and I knew that if I could pull it off, it would provoke an extraordinary reaction among readers. From there it was a question of letting the story take shape around it. I actively avoided adopting a similar structure for my second book, to avoid being predictable. I See You comes out in July 2016 in the UK, and spring 2017 for US readers; it’s very dark, and very twist, but in a very different way to I Let You Go.

I understand with your background, as a police officer, that you have found a lot of errors when it comes to writing of scenes in crime fiction. Is there anyone out there that is getting it right that we should check out?

When I’m reading crime fiction and thrillers I’m always impressed when the author writes authentic police characters. For me I’m less concerned about procedure being a hundred percent accurate – it is fiction, after all – but more sensitive to the realism of a situation. Police officers calling each other ‘Detective’, for example, is something I see a lot in British crime fiction, but never happens in real life! I always find it hard to swallow when UK police brandish guns about, or keep their police cars at home, or charge people they haven’t even interviewed yet. It suggests a lack of research that takes me out of the story. Sarah Hilary’s Marnie Rome is a great authentic contemporary detective – it’s a series worth following.

chiplitfest

I read that you have started your very own literary festival! Is there anything you can’t do? What compelled you to start one?

When I left the police in 2011 I was worried I’d be bored without a department to run. I set up ChipLitFest with some like-minded local people, with the aim of creating a community project that had national reach. We’ve had some fantastic authors – Lionel Shriver, Peter James, Brian Blessed, Joanne Harris – and last year we became the first literary festival to divide its profits equally between all the authors involved in the event. I’m hugely proud of it, and honoured to remain a trustee, although the hard graft is all done by other people nowadays. It’s been interesting being on both sides of the fence. It’s made me keen to support smaller festivals, and very understanding of the budget constraints they experience. I love doing events and enjoy small audiences just as much as big ones – often more.

 I know you must get asked this a lot, but is there any possibility of a sequel with this book?

Definitely not. I’m aware that some people feel the ending is ambiguous, and it’s impossible to discuss here without spoilers, but I’m always happy to talk about it at book groups or via private messages. Suffice to say, the story – as far as we’re concerned – has been told, and I have no plans to return to these characters.

I Let You Go translated in many languages

I Let You Go translated into many languages!

 Even after you have sold your books, I understand that you spend a lot of time rewriting them. Why do you think these rewrites are so important to the success of a novel?

The first draft of I Let You Go took about nine months, then I spent the same time again editing it before I found a publisher, and another year doing more rewrites with the help of my editor. It was a long process! I wrote eight drafts in total, and each one made the book stronger. They brought out nuances, made characters more three-dimensional, and tightened the twists. Every draft was necessary, but that didn’t stop it being a fairly painful process at the time!

I-See-You

preorder I See You

 I understand you took an entirely different writing process with your second book and are using visuals of your characters to help craft your story and their backstories. Did you find writing the second book to be easier than the first or do you feel a lot of pressure after all of the accolades with your first book?

With I Let You Go there was absolutely no pressure. My deal had been relatively small, which meant I didn’t feel the weight of expectation from my publishers, and there was no pre-publication hype from the UK media. The book’s success crept up gradually; there was an online buzz first of all, on Twitter and Facebook, and it just got bigger and bigger. With my next book (I See You) I felt under enormous pressure to deliver something just as good, and it was hard not to let that get to me. In the end I just focused on simply writing the best book I possibly could; I couldn’t do any more than that. As for the approach, I’m still learning what works best for me. It’s been different each time, and I fully anticipate it being different for book three, too!

You can connect with Clare Mackintosh on her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter! I’m always thankful for these moments with writers and I hope you will pick up this amazing book! You can always connect with me on GoodReads, through our books section of our site, and you can read our entire Sundays With Writers series for more author profiles. Happy reading, friends!

*This post contains affiliate links!

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It’s the 3 Little Things: Today We Sit

Friday, July 1st, 2016

Happiness Challenge: SITTING

When we bought the furniture for our home, all I wanted were comfortable places to sit.  Years of uncomfortable furniture had created a wanting in my heart for the biggest and comfiest couch we could fit in our space. Although the aesthetics were important, it was far more the depth and the sinking-in-of-it all that was the most important to me.

We recently had some new (and old) friends to our home and took them on our little renovation tour of our very own fixer upper. The remarks often were regarding the comfortability of our spaces that I had worked so lovingly to create to help our guests feel welcome. Often the remarks were, “How do you get any work done when you have this cozy place to sit?” 

These were the places they said they couldn’t resist.

Yet, I resist them.

What might look, at times, like a cushy job (and believe me, cushy moments do exist), is a lot of sweat and hustle to create. I am not complaining, but sometimes that glamour shot you see is nothing like my life.  Many moments are spent hunched over the computer and in some state of frantic panic over a post that, honestly,  I’m lucky if people might scan briefly through with their morning coffee.

What there isn’t a lot of, for me,  is… well, SITTING. The corners that people might envy are rarely enjoyed by me so I challenged myself to SIT in every one of those corners this week because I deserve to rest.

I am worthy of that.

I soaked in a good book on my giant leather chair, I snuggled up with my cat and watched a television show, I knitted in my shed sanctuary, and I curled on my bed in the evening to browse my blog reader. It sounds so silly, but for the first time in probably a few years, I just enjoyed sitting in the places I had made for myself.

All the places.

If you don’t do a lot of sitting at your house either, consider this a challenge to sit in those beautiful and cozy corners you created. They aren’t just for company, they are for YOU. 

I thought it might be fun to creatively explore a bit on this post so today might seem different than usual.

I’m glad.

I want you to enjoy the REAL over in blogland and that can never be cultivated if I’m not honest with you. I want to explore how I’m working towards the happy in my life. As always, I am a big work in progress.  

Tell me, do you struggle with being still too?  

Here are 3 other things that make me happy.

Hania Sandals from Naturalizer

Amazingly Comfortable Gladiator Sandals

Oh, I am loving this year’s sandal trends, BUT I have stupidly wide feet so I am not always able to embrace the trends. I had to break my rule of not buying shoes during my capsule challenge because a joint fell out of the side of one of my feet (I kid you not) and it hung off the side of my sandal in a really uncomfortable way. I totally demoed it for my husband to justify said shoe purchase.

Come on. You would too.

I found these gorgeous, gorgeous sandals from Naturalizer (the Hania Sandals in Gingersnap)  and they are PERFECT in every way.  This has a comfortable wedge on the bottom that gives a petite girl some height without compromising her balance. If you are looking for a gladiator shoe that you won’t have to break in, these fit the bill perfectly!

Although you may not have a joint falling out, my sister remarked that only I would find a way to make bracing this travesty fashionably. What can I say? I’m an EDS warrior these days.

PS- if you have NARROW feet, they make this one in a narrow too, lucky ladies!

SYTYCD Next Generation

Kids Dancing Gives Me ALL THE FEELS

This seasons SYTYCD is all about the kiddos and it is absolutely epic this year.  If you want a great show to watch with your kids that will inspire them (especially if you have a tiny dancer on your hands too!), you MUST watch the show this year, SYTYCD Next Generation

Not only are the kids amazing dancers, but they have some compelling stories. Not to mention how hard their parents worked (ahem!).

The only UN-happy about this happy is that when a kid gets cut, I start weeping.

EVERY. TIME.

I mean, you can’t cut kids. Seriously. It’s awful.

That said, my whole family is just loving this season. Since we don’t have cable (you should cut it, you guys!!) we watch this through Hulu! Use this link (if you like) to sign up. Yay! That is one subscription we get our money’s worth out of.

a-murder-in-time

Participating in My First Big Library Read

My book club site is growing every day and I tell you, these ladies know their stuff. It’s totally free so join us and participate!  They told me about the Big Library Read and I jumped on the bandwagon this week to participate.

The Big Library Read is an opportunity for those with a valid library card to read the same digital title at the same time without any wait lists or holds. Participating in this event allows your library to offer a new simultaneous use title for community-wide access from your library at no cost. It’s a worldwide digital version of a local book club! 

Big Library Read

It’s not too late to join in so check and see if your library is participating and take advantage of another fun (and free!) book club opportunity. So cool!

I’m not going to tell you a ton about it because I want you to discover this one yourself. The book is called,  A Murder in Time and it is about a gal from the FBI that ends up time traveling into the 1800’s and helps work on a case of a serial killer on the loose. Unfortunately, she can’t use any modern day anything to solve the case so you can imagine it’s a tough case to crack.

Oh, and did I mention she’s a woman who is a servant in a castle?

Yeah, you can imagine how receptive people are. (wink, wink!)

Now go snag this book and join in over the weekend!

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!

 

How to Make a DIY Terrarium

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

How to Make a DIY Terrarium from MomAdvice.com.

You know people that are amazing at gardening and planting?

I’m not one of those people.

I am the girl that goes to the greenhouse and requests plants that can take care of themselves. My plants must be able to survive without water or nourishment of any kind.

Despite my black thumb, I spent many of my summers working in a greenhouse as a kid and I do know a few things about caring for plants. Thanks to my greenhouse knowledge, I know that terrariums are the perfect project for a girl with my skill set and they are also the perfect project  for any gardener-in-the-making.

How_To_Make_Terrariums

For those of you itching to play in the dirt, this project is a fun one that adds a bit of green to your house while you await planting season.  If you are looking for a fun project to tackle with the kids, this can transform into a little fairy garden with a few novelty items.

The possibilities of terrariums are endless because they are made in any type of glass container or jar.  A good place to hunt for unique jars is your local thrift shop. You can also get inventive and use other types of glass containers like cake stands, fish bowls, hurricanes, or even a light bulb!

How to Make a DIY Terrarium

Terrarium Supplies

Supplies Needed

Drop cloth or Newspaper (I use a dollar store shower curtain to cover my tables for messy crafts)
Glass container or jar
Small Plants or Herbs (Look for plants of varying heights, leaf shapes, & colors)
Pebbles
Moss
Charcoal
Potting Soil
Hand Trowel

 

Creating a terrarium is a lot like creating a layered cake. You need all the different layers in your terrarium in order for your plants to thrive. Since we are using such small amounts of materials, like pebbles or moss, ask your local greenhouse if you can buy small quantities instead of investing in large bags. At our greenhouse,  I was able to snag both the moss and pebbles for my project for just $.50!

How_To_Make_Terrariums

1. Begin by adding your pebbles to the bottom of your container. This is to create a false drainage layer so water can settle and not flood the plants. You will want to add 1 inch to two inches of stone, depending on the size of your container.

2. Next, we will layer our charcoal. The charcoal can come in granules or shards (the type I am using is shards). We will spread a layer of this over the rock to help reduce bacteria, fungus, and odors in our terrarium.

How_To_Make_Terrariums

3. Prepare your plants for planting. Remove them from their pots and loosen up the root ball, exposing the roots. If the roots are particularly long, you can trim them down a bit.

How to Make a DIY Terrarium from MomAdvice.com.

4.  Add a layer of dirt to your terrarium. Gently place your plants inside and then top them off with a bit more dirt, using your hands to gather the dirt firmly into place around each of the plants. Be mindful where you are planting them, mixing up your plants of varying heights and foliage, to fill your jar.

5.  Finish your terrarium with a layer of moss to keep the soil moist and add a decorative finish. If your kids are making their own little garden, this is a great time to finish them with fun little trinkets.

How_To_Make_Terrariums_Collage

6. Clean the container. Wipe down the outside and inside of your container, to remove any excess dirt that may have gathered on the sides.

7. Finish by watering your terrarium, being mindful not to overwater it. Caring for your terrarium is easy, especially if you are a terrible gardener like me. Check every couple of weeks to see if your terrarium needs water. Feel the soil to see if it is dry and add water if it is. If your terrarium is closed, be sure to take off the top at least once a month to air it out. If you see lots of condensation or have added too much water, leave the top off until it has had a chance to dry out.

How to Make a DIY Terrarium from MomAdvice.com.

How_To_Make_Terrariums-17

Here is a visual of what we want our container to look like. I love that this looks beautiful from the side as well as the top. I had so much fun making this that I can’t wait to make another one for other rooms in our home!

Have you ever made a terrarium? What advice would you give on these?

 

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Amy’s Notebook 06.29.16

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Slow Cook Chicken Tinga Tacos via I Heart Naptime

Source: I Heart Naptime

 

Slow cooker chicken tinga tacos- yum!

Curate your life and the rest will follow.

9 DIY rope rug projects to try this summer.

Beach wave tutorial- so cute!

Recipes to make with a farmer’s market haul.

Being bored is a way to make children self-reliant.

Summer capsule wardrobe inspiration!

Picnic like an Event Planner via Camille Styles

Source: Camille Styles

 

I want to picnic like an event planner.

You can’t read this and not feel inspired.

Never tie a water balloon again.

15 ways to use a rotisserie chicken.

What a sweet end-of-year tradition.

Birthday goals.

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!

Tips for Grilling Success & Herb-Buttered Grilled Corn Recipe

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Tips and Tricks for successful grilling plus our family's favorite grilled corn recipe!

Nothing says summer like dinner prepared outdoors on the grill. I relish those al fresco dinners even more because of how easy it is to clean up afterwards! What mom wouldn’t enjoy fewer dishes to wash and making dinner in the fresh sunshine?

Grilling success was harder to come by for our family. The first year we began grilling outdoors was a year of trial and error. Over the years, we discovered that our key to success relies on a good meat thermometer, an arsenal of good marinades, a little bit of patience, and these tips and tricks that make grilling even easier.

I’m also sharing with your our family’s favorite grilled corn recipe – it’s so simple, yet SO good! (Amazon affiliate links are included where appropriate for your convenience.)

Tips for Grilling Success

Grilling tips for success 1. If you don’t want your food to taste like last year’s burger, start with a clean grill. My biggest grill-cleaning hack is this: I take the simplest approach possible when cleaning my grill racks by using the self-cleaning function on my oven. Simply bring the grill racks indoors and place them in the oven, run the oven through the self-cleaning mode and you’ll end up with a clean oven and beautifully clean grill racks!

2. Maintain those shiny grates by oiling them before you grill. When you’re done grilling, use a wire grill brush to clean off the grates while the grill is still warm.

Kabobs for grilling 3. Plan your menus in advance. Prepare meat in bulk and store in freezer bags (I double-bag mine to prevent messes) or freezer-safe containers. I love to prep a few different marinades at a time. Most marinades have similar base ingredients (olive oil, vinegars, seasonings, Worcestershire sauce) and it’s so much easier to do it all at once. Chop meat for kabobs and jot down any cooking times or special instructions on the outside of the bags. Then just stick the containers, marinade and all, in the freezer!

Grilling tips and tricks for meats 4. Consider investing in a digital meat thermometer. This will ensure that your meat is always fully cooked and at its optimal flavor. Look for a thermometer with a probe that beeps when the internal food temperature is reached. The best part is that some now come with a separate receiver that you can take indoors with you, letting you prep the rest of the food without worrying about burning the meat.

5. To get the best flavors from your meats, always:

  • Preheat the grill to medium-high heat (to prevent the meat from sticking).
  • Season both sides of meat generously with salt and pepper.
  • Apply sauces at the end of the cooking time to prevent charred meat.
  • Let meat rest ten minutes after removing from grill, to allow the juices to redistribute.

Grilled brussels sprouts 6. Grilled vegetables are the perfect side dish. Large veggies like eggplant, squash or onions can be cut into chunks and placed on the grill rack. Smaller vegetables like cherry tomatoes or sliced veggies work best in kabobs.

My favorite tricks are to throw veggies into a cast iron skillet right on the grill, to save on time threading kabobs, and grilling in a heavy duty foil. So easy and just enjoy the delicious taste of grilled flavor throughout!

Herb-Buttered Grilled Corn Recipe

Our favorite summertime food has always been grilled corn on the cob. Our new favorite is this herb-buttered version that you must try. This recipe is a great way to use up any herbs from your herb garden. The finished product is delicious, buttery and so fresh tasting!

Grilling corn on the cob

Herb-Buttered Grilled Corn Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: grilling
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
 
A delicious and buttery way to cook corn that is so fresh tasting!
Ingredients
  • 6 ears fresh corn, cleaned
  • 6 tablespoons sweet butter, softened and divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
  • 6 pieces aluminum foil, big enough to wrap cobs (or use husks after de-silking cobs)
Instructions
  1. Place each ear of corn on a piece of foil (if using husks, remove the silk from each cob and open the husks enough to spread the butter).
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and dissolve the sugar and salt into it. Add this to the remaining butter and blend well.
  3. Mix herbs together and add to butter. Rub mixture onto each cob.
  4. Wrap foil (or husks) around the corn and grill 15 minutes, turning often.

Here are a few more of our favorite grilled recipes:

5_Ingredient_Caprese_Pork_Chop

5 Ingredient Caprese Pork Chops

grilled-brussels-sprouts

Grilled Brussels Sprouts

Three_Cheese_Grilled_Potatoes

Three Cheese Grilled Potatoes

 What are your favorite grilling hacks?

 

Robin Wasserman’s 3 Favorite Books

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Robin Wasserman

Author: Robin Wasserman. (Author of Girls on Fire and many more!)  Read more about Robin in our interview HERE!)

Robin Wasserman’s 3 Favorite Books

I’m terrible at “favorites,” but here are two books I’ve loved recently and then one of the only books that unquestionably counts as an all-time greatest hit:

The History of Great Things by Elizabeth Crane

The History of Great Things by Elizabeth Crane

Midway through this novel, I stopped reading and sent my mother a copy for mother’s day. (Which, fortunately, she appreciated, despite the fact that things don’t go especially well for the mother in the book.) This book, the ingenious and heartbreaking story of a mother a daughter trying to understand each other, is so unexpectedly smart and delightful and fascinating that I don’t want to tell you too much about it and spoil the surprise, so all I will say is that I would give quite a lot to be come up with a structure half as clever as what Elizabeth Crane is doing here.

Alice & Oliver by Charles Bock

Alice & Oliver by Charles Bock

Sad and sweet and brutal and funny, this is a novel about a family trying to battle its way through a cancer diagnosis, and about how to survive the possibility of losing the person who makes life worth living. You should read it; everyone should read it.

  A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace

I don’t think the world needs yet another paean to David Foster Wallace’s greatness, and if you’ve ever read one of these essays, it’s pretty self-evident, so I’ll just say that this is one of those books that cracked my world open. It’s not just that the book opened my eyes to radically new and enormous possibilities of what writing could do and be—though it did. And it’s not just that the book made me want to be a better writer, or a better thinker, or a better person—though it did that, too. It’s that, when I’m reading Wallace, I get a brief but glorious taste of what it might be like to inhabit life as he did. I get to mold my thoughts to his, and embody a person capable of and determined to deeply understand every piece of his world.

 

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Sundays With Writers: Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

Sundays With Writers

Girls on Fire has been on my radar for months and I put a hold on it at our library months in advance to be first in line for it. Yup, I’m one of those people.  I am such a big fan of the dark and gritty thriller genre and this one delivered quite the punch for a great summer escape. Longtime readers know that I don’t shy away from racy books and today’s book is a bit darker and racier than my usual selections, but I really enjoyed this exploration of a twisted friendship set in an era that I remember rather fondly…the ’90’s. As soon as I finished it, I passed it on to my best friend because it is the kind of book you want to share with someone else so you can talk about it.

 

Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman

Girls on Fire is the first adult book from Robin Wasserman and it is ADULT so, readers, be warned!  Follow down the path of Dex & Lacey, two social outcasts who find comfort and friendship in one another through a mutual dislike for the high school queen bee. When one of the popular kids commits suicide in their small town, we are quick to see that things are often as they seem as Lacey’s dangerous interactions start coming to light. Set in the ‘90’s with plenty of nostalgic flashbacks, it also laces in the beginning of the twilight of the satanic panic that plagued this era.

Due to the language, sex, and violence in this one, this will be a pretty polarizing book that you will either really love or really hate, much like how I felt about Luckiest Girl Alive (read my interview with Jessica Knoll here). I found it to be a great summer escape and a well-woven plot although, as a reader, I often wondered if some of the scenes were set up to shock you rather than to move the story forward.

Once I closed the book, I raced to my computer to see if I could secure Robin for our series. I am thrilled to have her join us today to talk about this book as well as writing from an uncensored place. As someone who constantly is worried what her readers might think of her if she gets a little too real, I appreciate learning about writing from a more open place.

Grab your coffee and let’s chat about Girls on Fire today!!

Robin Wasserman

So many writers are making the switch from writing Adult Fiction to Young Adult this year. You took a different path and went from writing for young adults, for over a decade, to writing for adults. Since this book is still exploring adolescence, why did you decide to take this path? Did you feel like it gave you more freedom in your writing since you didn’t have to write for the adolescent mindset? Do you think you will continue writing for adults?

When I started this book, I decided to do my best not to think about the market, how it would be labeled or sold. I just wanted to get the story down and let the characters take me wherever they needed to go—so the shift from young adult to adult (whatever that actually means on the page) is something that happened mostly organically, I think, as the characters, plot, and style evolved over the course of many drafts. But at some point in the revision process, I did start thinking about this more as a book for adults than for teenagers, and while I wouldn’t say that freed me of any constraints—I never felt particularly constrained by YA!—it did give me the luxury of writing a somewhat more retrospective story, putting a little distance between myself as writer and my adolescent characters. The book gradually became not just a story about teenage girls, but a story about girlhood itself, an examination of adolescence—and vehicle for all the thoughts and opinions and arguments on girlhood that have been simmering in me for the last decade. I think there are a lot of YA writers out there who do this with work—but for me, the shift to a different audience turned out to be the key that unlocked that part of my brain. It gave me the permission—maybe even the directive—to take a step back and think about the bigger picture. To take different kinds of risks with the narrative and the writing. And yes, it’s definitely become addictive, as is the freedom to write adult characters—so I’m planning to write a lot more of it in the future!

 

 

Books With Girl in the Title

source: ew

My husband and I were laughing because six of the books that I have on my Kindle right now all have, “girl” in the title. I also read your article where you addressed this phenomenon in literature (it was fantastic!). Did you worry about the overlap with other books with this word in the title or do you think that the word, “girl” is a little bit of the secret sauce to a successful thriller?

I don’t really believe there’s a secret sauce to success, but if there is, I’m pretty sure it’s not something as simple as a word in the title. As I said in the LitHub essay, I think of myself as a contrarian so it chafes a bit to have accidentally thrown myself onto this bandwagon—it sounds ridiculous now to say that the “girl” trend didn’t even occur to me when I titled this book, but it’s true, and if it had, I probably would have come up with something different. (That said, I’m glad I didn’t, as this has been Girls on Fire since I first started writing it and I can’t imagine any title that would feel as right.) I don’t much worry about any potential overlap, and despite my contrarianism—or maybe because of it—I’ve come to embrace the idea, because as I argued in LitHub, I think you can see the plethora of “girl” titles as a new cultural engagement with and anxiety about what it means to be female, a reaction against marginalization and knee-jerk categorizations. Over the last couple years I’ve become increasingly enraged by the way society treats adolescent girls and I think the marginalization of their story—and their voices is a big part of that. If the increase in “girl” titles is, at least in part, a movement toward acknowledging the value of girlhood, the narrative power of that story, then it’s a movement I’m proud to be part of.

 Your writing feels raw and uncensored as you explore a lot of dark and gritty themes in this book. Did you ever worry about how “adult” your book was going when you were writing it, particularly some of the sexual content that it contains? Were there any scenes that you found difficult to write?

When I’m writing, the idea of an eventual reader seems so hypothetical as to be almost literally unimaginable, so I rarely censor myself or the places the story goes. With this book in particular, as I said above, I was really trying to force myself to draft it in isolation, and I think that was necessary for what the story turned out to be. I can remember pretty vividly coming up with the idea for—well, let’s call it The Thing That Happens in the Woods. I remember thinking, Wait, can I actually do that? Is that allowed? And there was such delicious satisfaction in the realization that I could. Who was going to stop me?

I don’t know what it says about me that the dark and gritty scenes aren’t particularly difficult to write and the intensely emotional ones often tend to come the easiest. I think it’s one of the reasons I’ve gravitated toward writing adolescent characters—because my memory of adolescence is that it’s a bloody emotional battlefield. Anything but dark and gritty would feel like a lie.

Lacey & Dex have a toxic and all-consuming friendship in this book and the reader gets to go down this twisted tunnel with them both. Did you have any intense friendships like this when you were growing up? Which of these two characters did you feel you related to most when you were a teenager?

I was very much a Dex growing up, and I did live my adolescent life in pursuit of the ultimate Lacey, attaching myself to a series of wild (or wild-ish) girls who seemed like they could give me the permission to be reckless, or at least plausible deniability on those rare occasions I seized it for myself. But none of those friendships ever quite took; they never turned into what I wanted them to be, probably because what I wanted was a self-immolating collision of souls, and that’s a somewhat tall order. I think one of the reasons I’m so fascinated by the all-consuming friendship is precisely because I never quite found it—I was obsessed with the idea of being obsessed. Of finding myself a soulmate that I could lose myself in. The romance of that kind of best friend—the certainty that it would change everything, would save me—loomed very large over my adolescent horizon, and pretty clearly took root in my subconscious.

Dex’s dad tries to take Lacey under his wing since she doesn’t have any positive male role models in her life. Do you think this friendship went past the appropriate boundaries? Did you sympathize with her father and that need to still feel cool?

Oh, I’m pretty sure this friendship went past appropriate boundaries! I have great sympathy for all characters involved and the choices they made—though my greatest sympathies, as I hope is evident (though I gather is not) lie with Dex’s mother, who’s forced to play the grown-up whether she wants to or not. Her husband has put her in an incredibly untenable position, her daughter lacks all empathy for her, and she somehow manages to soldier on and do the right thing, without holding too much of a grudge against either of them. I imagine things might have gone very differently had Lacey thought to cozy up to her instead!

Which character did you have the most fun writing in this book? Were there any scenes, in particular, that you enjoyed writing?

The scenes that felt the best to write tended to be the most painful, filled with rage and misery and trauma, so I’m not sure “enjoyed” is the right verb to use there. But I guess you could say the scene, early on, where Dex and Lacey drop acid at church and then wind up making some very ill-advised choices in a nearby field, has a special place in my heart—that was originally (and in very different form) the second chapter, and writing that scene is the moment the book took flight for me. With that scene, I realized this was a book I had to write, no matter what, and that it was going to be a very different book than I’d ever written before.

My So Called Life

 Since I grew up in the ‘90’s, I appreciated all of the nostalgia of this era in your book. How much fun was it to write about this time period? Also, if you could bring one thing back from the ‘90’s, what would it be?

Massive, massive amounts of fun. Suffice to say my research involved a lot of grunge music and a lot of old episodes of the Real World, not to mention an unfortunate and embarrassing deep dive into my old high school yearbooks. It’s an excellent question, though, what I would bring back—maybe overalls! Sartorially ill-advised but oh, how I loved them.

I might also bring back My So-Called Life era Jared Leto. 

satanic-panic

You write about the twilight of the Satanic Panic that happened in the ‘90’s which is something that I had forgotten about. Why was this an important part of your story? Do you recall this panic in your own town when you were growing up?

If you’d asked me this question last week, I would have said that I grew up in the suburbs and the Satanic Panic never touched us—but just the other day I got an email from a guy I went to high school with who’d read the book and was reminiscing about all the rumors about Satanists performing dark ceremonies in our local cemetery. I have no memory of this whatsoever (and I was so out of the loop in high school that most rumors never reached me), but I guess it’s testament to how widespread these fears really were. The Satanic Panic element of the book was there from the beginning—it was one of the original inspirations for the novel, and dovetailed perfectly with one of the larger themes I wanted to explore, this question of the porous boundary between fears for our children and fears of them. The Satanic Panic—as Richard Beck has argued very persuasively in We Believe the Children—began at least in part as an outgrowth of anxieties about working mothers. This was the first generation of latchkey children, and I think it’s fascinating to think about how in the 80s, people were consumed with panic about what might be done to the kids when their parents left them behind…but by the ‘90s, the children grown into teenagers, the new panic revolved around what the kids might do.  I’m fascinated by the way so many adults seem to see teenagers as this mysterious, alien other. Girls on Fire is partly about interrogating that willful forgetting of our own past selves, but also about the ways our unspoken anxieties can manifest in various forms of moral panic, defense turning to offense, insecurity masquerading as righteousness, all of it often ending up victimizing exactly the people it purports to protect.

Is there any possibility of a sequel?

No—this is the story of Dex and Lacey’s life. Everything after is epilogue.

What are you working on next?

I’m a little superstitious about talking about work in progress, but suffice to say I’m having fun!

girls-on-fire

You can connect with Robin Wasserman on her website! I’m always thankful for these moments with writers and I hope you will pick up this amazing book! You can always connect with me on GoodReads, through our books section of our site, and you can read our entire Sundays With Writers series for more author profiles. Happy reading, friends!

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Did You Check For Your Amazon Money Yet? It’s Also a Really Good Day For Kindle Deals!

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

kindle-deals

I don’t post too many deal posts around here, but today’s book deals were just too good to pass up especially because you might be the proud owner of some FREE MONEY right now thanks to the company settling a $400 million e-book lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed against Apple Inc. and five publishing companies for their roles in an alleged e-book price-fixing scheme, according to Hagens Berman, a class-action litigation firm. Eligible customers made e-book purchases between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012 and were entitled to a settlement for their purchases. According to the terms of the settlement, consumers will receive a $6.93 credit for every e-book which was a New York Times bestseller, and a $1.57 credit for other e-books. To see if you have credit, check HERE first (you want to be sure to do this because there is an expiration!!).

 

If you have credit, it will appear like this.

amazon-lawsuit-credit

If you don’t, you will see this message: “There is no eBook settlement credit associated with this account.”

Since I am a proud library supporter, I only had a whopping, $8.50, but I know many of my friends have had upwards of $200 in credit!! Come back and tell me if you had anything in your accounts, bookworms!

Every day I post all the best Kindle deals in our Book Club group. If you haven’t joined yet (no strings attached, free & fun!!), it is bookworm central and a great place to chat about books.

Today there are some INCREDIBLE deals on bestsellers that I didn’t want you to miss so I am sharing them here while you have a little credit burning a hole in your pocket!

those_who_save_us

My Recommendations for Spending That Kindle Credit

Here are some incredible deals that are happening today that, I believe, are smart investments for that Kindle credit!!

JUST MERCY, $3.99

PRETTY GIRLS, $1.99

THE ORPHAN’S OF RACE POINT, $1.99

BEHAVE, $1.99

THE ONE-IN-A-MILLION BOY, $2.99

THOSE WHO SAVE US, $2.99

FATHER’S DAY, $1.99

THE COVE, $1.99

THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY, $1.99

GIRL ON A WIRE, $1.99

THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN, $1.99

THE REVISED FUNDAMENTALS OF CAREGIVING, $1.99

THE SLEEPWALKER’S GUIDE TO DANCING, $1.99

THE DRESSMAKER’S WAR, $1.99

LEARNING TO SWIM, $1.99

WHEN THE MOON IS LOW, $1.99

WHAT THE WAVES KNOW, $1.99

LILY & THE OCTOPUS, $1.99-

THE ROWAN TREE- FREE!!

BEAUTIFUL LIES, $1.99

BENDING TOWARD THE SUN, $.99

STARS OVER SUNSET BOULEVARD, $1.99

HANOVER HOUSE- FREE!!

THE MOON IN THE PALACE, $1.99

LOVE THE ONE YOUR WITH, $2.99

THE COLOR PURPLE, $2.99

THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE, $1.99

FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS, $1.99

THE WITNESS, $4.99

REBECCA, $1.99

THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL, $1.99

THE STORYTELLER, $1.99

FROG MUSIC, $1.99

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It’s the 3 Little Things: iPad Summer Shields, Binge-worthy TV, & Pillow Love

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Wine on a Boat

I hope you had another wonderful week! You may recall my high school bestie sharing her experience doing a no spend challenge on the blog awhile back. It was such a treat to have her in town this week to celebrate the upcoming arrival of her new baby with her family.  She’s doing so well and I continue to see the transformative power of simple living in her life.  I felt really lucky to get to be with her this week and we even managed to squeeze in a little hot yoga class together. If you are local, treat yourself to Hot Yoga with Frances Shavers over at this studio. The instructor is a gift and her musicality is such a treat during my vinyasa flow. I have become quite the little yoga addict.

Here are a few other  things that have been making me happy over here.

Tech Armor Anti Glare Protectors

I Can Read My iPad in the Sun

I love reading on my iPad with the Kindle app, but it can be difficult to read in the sun with this gadget. These Tech Armor anti glare protectors cost less than $10 for two and have made reading so much more enjoyable for me this summer. They are also super handy if you are watching a show in the sun because it takes that glare off your screen. Now that I have these, I am reading even more on my iPad this summer.  If you are looking for something to remove the glare, this is an affordable and easy option that I found on Amazon for better reading by the pool!

UnREAL

Another Binge-Worthy Show

I don’t watch a lot of television so it has been something really incredible to suck me in and pull me away from my book stack. If you haven’t seen UnREAL, you must watch it! The premise is a behind-the-scenes look at a reality show called Everlasting (AKA The Bachelor) and it is about the producers and the real show that is happening behind the scenes. It is is gritty, raw, and probably more real than the reality television that America keeps serving up for us.

I kept hearing about this one and one evening I decided to take the plunge and watch the first episode.

Then the second episode.

Then the third.

In fact, talking about it makes me want to get back to watching it again.

It’s on Lifetime (I know, I know- but trust me!) so I have been streaming it through Hulu (can also stream on Amazon if you don’t have Hulu!). Have you watched it yet? SO GOOD!

Room Essentials Body Pillow

A Gift to My Joints

I started getting massages for all of my joint issues and the massage therapist offered some suggestions for better sleeping including hugging a pillow between my arms and legs. I thought a body pillow might be the way to go instead of wrestling with little pillows and found this inexpensive body pillow at Target (less than $10!). The best part is that they have all these gorgeous covers that can coordinate with your bedding and I found this furry one in gray (again, less than $10!!) and it is an incredible joy to curl up with it! I’m having way better sleep curled up with this and it’s relieved a lot of pain in my achy joints.

Shrimp Boil

Reading: The Two-Family House is this month’s book club selection and I enjoyed this one so very much this week. If you are looking for a good book escape, this one is perfection. Read it and join in our book club discussion next Thursday!

Eating: Another batch of make-ahead breakfast burritos thanks to this week’s breakfast buffet post. I love these for nights I don’t feel like cooking too (which is almost every night in the summer)! Thankful for easy shrimp boils this summer when entertaining!

Laughing:  Just get online and start screaming! LOL! (PS- Totally safe for kids!)

Making: Having a blast with fabric this week thanks to a new gig this year with Waverly Fabric as a part of their Waverly Inspirations Network. I’m thankful they still want me even though I am a legitimate sewing school drop-out. Here is a sneak peek of my wreath I made from their fabrics and today’s task is to craft a pretty garland to match it. It feels good to be making things with my hands again.

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!