Author Archive

It’s the 3 Little Things: So American, Spot Free Dishes, & a Little Dystopia

Friday, July 25th, 2014

3_little_things

Happy Friday, friends!  If you are anything like me, I know that you are looking forward to this weekend. I have quite a few fun projects I am tackling for the site and am jetting off to Austin next week with Savings.com for a fun weekend of learning! In the meantime, it is a mad dash of laundry, deadlines, and playing catch up on the house. The usual.

Here are three things that are making me happy this week that I think you will love too!

The-Americans

Television We Both Love

As you may or may not know, we ditched cable so we either have to purchase a series through Amazon or wait for it to come through our Netflix or Hulu subscriptions. My husband signed us up for Amazon Prime this year and they have a partnership now with HBO and are offering several FX series shows that I am not able to get on Netflix or Hulu. Since we are paying for this membership, we are doing our best to get our money out of it and one way is through our television-watching.

I kept hearing great things about The Americans and we are only three shows in and I am absolutely in love with this series already. It’s a little Mr. & Mrs. Smith and a little Alias. The story is set in the ’80′s and centers around  the marriage of KGB spies posing as Americans in suburban Washington DC.  The show is set during the Reagan presidency and follows Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings, two spies who are in an arranged marriage.

The fight scenes are amazing, the acting is superb, and the plot just keeps thickening.  A marathon of this show is on our weekend agenda and that makes me very, very happy!

lemishine

Goodbye to Spotty Glassware

Summer is the season of wine glasses… oh, wait… maybe that’s just me (*ahem*).  We have hard water and by hard water, I mean miserably hard water that builds up in my coffee makers, on our shower heads, coats our sink fixtures, and makes for the world’s spottiest dishware. I didn’t know what to do other than donate our cups each year and get new ones. We got a new dishwasher and it still wasn’t helping even with vinegar in my rinse aid and running all of our different cycles.

As I researched how to get rid of spots, I ran across this Lemi Shine in a “hard water woe discussion forum,”  and it has changed my world. You add this where the dishwasher tablet usually goes and then put your dishwasher tablet in the other compartment. It boosts your dishwasher soap and makes everything shine like the top of the Chrysler building (said with my best jazz hands). Seriously, if you struggle with hard water, give this a shot and tell me what you think.

the-girl-with-all-the-gifts

A Great Summer Escape

Let me preface by saying that this book is so very far out of my genre that when I picked it up, I wasn’t sure if this was ever going to be a book I could get into. I am just done with dystopian societies, I hate science fiction, and I really am not into shows like The Walking Dead.  I got an advance reader of The Girl With All the Gifts from NetGalley and I can’t believe how much I enjoyed it.  This book is wildly imaginative, suspenseful, and leaves you wondering who you should be rooting for as the story develops. I really, really loved this book.  Unfortunately, it is just the kind of book that you shouldn’t talk about so that each reader can go on the journey with this child and find out just what makes her special.

It lagged a bit in the middle and there were times I was skimming through some of the scientific portions because they were so lengthy, but overall it was an amazing read that found me irritated every time some real-life activity had to interrupt my reading time. It’s been a long time since I have felt that way about a book like this.

I have reached out to the author for an interview, but he’s kind of a big deal… I am not sure if he will reply to my messages. I didn’t want to let this read slip through the cracks though so I am mentioning it today if you want to try something new.

It does have graphic violence and graphic language. Power through.

Don’t read the reviews, it will spoil your journey and discovery of Melanie and all her gifts! 

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

Now it’s your turn, what makes you happy this week? Feel free to share in our link up below and link back to this post to participate or share in our comments below!

Share 3 things that are making you happy today!


Freebie Friday July 25, 2014

Friday, July 25th, 2014

freebie friday Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! We would like to thank Couponing 101 for assisting us with our freebies each week for loads of deals, savings, and freebies!

This week on MomAdvice we have a fantastic craft from our DIY contributor, Sarah – DIY library tote bags with free printable designs, which are totally adorable! You’ll also find easy lunchbox solutions for the coming school year (oh, yes, I did just mention back-to-school!) and some fun dresser makeover ideas that will have you shopping at Goodwill asap. On this week’s edition of  It’s the 3 Little Things I’m sharing what’s making me happy and hope you’ll share yours, too!

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

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Health & Beauty

L’Oreal Triple Resist Hair Care Sample
Origins GinZing Face Mask Sample
Emergen-C Sample
Schiff Move Free Ultra Sample
Nivea Lotion Sample

Food & Drink

Entertainment

Family Fun Magazine Subscription
Bird Nature Study Printables
Cats Preschool Printables
The Paleo Summer Survival Guide eBook Download
Beginner Soap Making: Simple Homemade Recipes eBook Download

Pet

Fancy Feast Broths Sample

This Week’s Freebie Events: July 25 - 31
26th - Lakeshore Learning: Create a Make & Shake Noisemaker, 11 am – 3 pm
26th - Lowes: Make a Turbo Taco Truck, 10 am

 

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Amy’s Notebook 07.23.14

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

After school checklist via WhipperBerry

Source: Whipperberry

 

Print this after school checklist. Check!

Balsamic chicken caprese pasta screams summer.

These printable s’mores cubes are adorable – my kids would flip for them!

Grilled peach, honey goat cheese & spiced pecan salad? Yes, please.

15 read-aloud chapter books that everyone loves – perfect!

Chicken Skewers via Yummy Healthy Easy

Source: Yummy Healthy Easy

 

Marinated and grilled Thai coconut chicken skewers over a bed of delicious coconut rice!

A perfect housewarming gift – includes free printable wine label and hammer design.

Fascinating piece on Harper Lee- ‘Mockingbird Next Door’: A Genteel Peek Into Harper Lee’s Quiet Life

How family game night makes kids into better students- bring on the games!

Great tips for hanging party lights.

 

amys_notebook

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

 

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8 Fun Dresser Makeovers

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

8 Fun Dresser Makeovers

 

I have so much fun gathering up ideas for repurposing items on the Goodwill Tips Blog and look forward to showcasing these ideas for you each month. Today’s post is all about a furniture staple…the dresser. I have gathered 8 fun ways you can you can makeover a Goodwill dresser that I know you will want to run right out and find this thrift store gem to create a new fun piece in your home. In fact, I can’t wait to snag a dresser myself so I can implement these ideas in my own home.

Head over to the Goodwill Tips blog and discover 8 fun ideas for dresser makeovers today!

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Apron Full of Giveaways 07.22.14

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Floral apron via Etsy

Source: Gerbear Collectibles,  $9.99 (pattern)

 

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Good luck to each of you!

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Easy Lunchbox Solutions

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Easy Lunchbox Solutions from MomAdvice.com

The back-to-school season is just around the corner and today I wanted to share some easy strategies for packing those lunches this year. I have teamed up with Walmart to share three fun products that you can purchase this year for those lunchboxes: Sara Lee Soft & Smooth Whole Grain White Bread, Frito Lay Chips in their 20-count variety pack, and Danimals Smoothies 12-packs (that just so happen to be worth triple the Box Tops for Education points!). These are all affordable and easy additions for this year’s lunchboxes.

Here are some additional fun ideas for making lunchtime fun for your child this year:

Easy Lunchbox Solutions from MomAdvice.com

Get Organized- As with all things related to back-to-school, getting organized is half the battle. Our family relies on this lunchbox creation station for creating our lunches for the week.  Take advantage of those back-to-school sales and get your lunchbox station stocked with reusable containers and baggies, water bottles, drinks, snacks and chips for the year.

As my children get older, I put more of the responsibility of lunch preparation on them and our lunchbox station really helps when assembling lunches the night before school as well as packing drinks & snacks for our extracurricular activities.

Insert Fun- Every year, I feel a little melancholy about my kids going back to school especially when we have spent so much time together in the summer. This is the perfect time to add a note to let them know how much you love them or add a comic strip and joke to an older child’s lunchbox.

If your school lunch hour is anything like our lunchtime, our kids have very little time to eat. Try to keep the gesture simple so that you can be assured that they were able to tackle their lunch and not just your note.

You can also add fun details like pretty straws, washi tape flags with special messages on them, or a fun treat like Frito Lay’s Chips & a fruity Danimals Smoothie to round out the meal. I love to use Rick Rack Scissors to trim my washi tape to add a fast & easy detail.

  Easy Sushi Sandwich from MomAdvice.com

Try a Sushi Sandwich- Have you ever made a sushi sandwich? These are so fun to create and couldn’t be easier. Grab a loaf of Sara Lee Whole Grain White Bread and your favorite rolling pin. Roll the bread out thinly, but not so thin that the bread will no longer hold together. Add a few slices of your child’s favorite lunch meat and then a cheese stick in their favorite flavor (my kid’s love a swirled stick). Carefully roll this up and then slice in half with a sharp knife. For kids that don’t love sandwiches, these spin on the traditional sandwich is always a hit.

Keep Them Organized Using Their Lunchbox- Trying to keep myself organized is difficult. Keeping my kids organized too? Well, that seems even more impossible. I have found that my children rarely forget their lunches though and this is the perfect spot to clip items that they need to remember for their day. Utilize a binder clip or heavy-duty clothespin and use this spot to jot down notes of activities they need to do for the day, apparel that they need to bring for extracurricular activities, appointments they might need to be picked up for, or forms/permission slips they need to turn in to school. This has been a great system for us and helps remind us all of what needs to happen each day.

I hope you love these ideas for freshening up those lunchbox routines and wishing you easy and sweet transitions back into the swing of the school year!

walmart_mom_disclaimer

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Sundays With Writers: Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Sundays_With_Writers-1_Final

 

I have been a huge fan of Heather Gudenkauf since her first book,  The Weight of Silence and had been looking forward to her next book so very much.  When her publicist reached out to me about reviewing her new book, Little Mercies,  I jumped at the chance…and also begged for an interview with Heather for our Sundays With Writers feature. If you can believe it, Heather agreed and I quickly devoured her book on our family trip to Columbus.

I was expecting another suspense-filled thriller that would leave me guessing whodunit- a quick escape from my daily life. From the opening pages though, I began to realize that this book was a swift departure from that , although it was equally thrilling and gripping.

I was unprepared.

Unprepared for the waves of emotion I was to experience and unprepared to go on this journey with this mother in this book.  Yet, I had to see it through, and I felt like I could breathe again once I closed the pages. I also hugged my kids tightly that weekend and was reminded how easily these gifts can be taken from us.  It’s that kind of book.

It’s the perfect type of book for a robust book club discussion and you can print out this handy book club kit for your club that offers some great thought-starters for your group’s discussion. You can also sink your teeth into the prequel to this book, Little Liesalthough Little Mercies can be read on its own too.

Little Mercies

Little Mercies builds on a well-developed premise- what if you were suddenly put in the shoes of someone that you once judged? The difference in this plot is that it is a social worker, who once was the judge of other parents, who makes an honest and life-altering mistake, and is now the one who must be judged as a parent.

Told in alternating points of view from an abandoned child who is quite familiar with the social worker setting and the viewpoint of a mother who is about to lose it all in the system that she has worked so hard to uphold.

It is heart-wrenching and very real, illustrating some of my worst nightmares as a parent, weaving the two stories of these people together beautifully.

Heather Gudenkauf

Photo Credit: Morgan Hawthorne

Little Mercies seems to be a bit of a departure from your past books that I felt were more in the thriller genre of reading. That is not to say that I wasn’t on the edge of my seat the entire book, but just that this seemed like a situation that I could find myself in as a mother. How did you decide upon this idea of placing a social worker in a setting where she, herself, might be accused of child endangerment?

I got the idea for Little Mercies after hearing about a social worker who found herself on the other side of the legal system due to an overextended caseload. From there I began to ask what if? What if the social worker was a mother? What if the social worker mistakenly places her own child in harm’s way? I think the fact that anyone of us could find ourselves in Ellen’s shoes is one of the aspects of Little Mercies that makes it so compelling. As an author I am intrigued by exploring these difficult circumstances and the raw emotions that accompany them.

I also made sure to carefully research the novel by visiting with experts in their various fields. I spent quite a bit of time with a very dedicated social worker who shared the challenging task of separating home and work lives. I talked to doctors and EMTs regarding the medical complications that arose from the severe heat stroke that Avery endured. I met with an attorney who was able to describe the possible legal implications for Ellen and even took a tour of a local police station and learned about the booking process. This helped inform the novel.

When Ellen’s mother tries to comfort her by illustrating an example of something she did wrong as a mom, she says “I guess what I’m trying to say is that we all have our moments. We all have those times when we turn our backs, close our eyes, become unguarded. I don’t know why (my situation) ended up being okay and other children don’t….”

As a mom it made me reflect on a time when my son was small, had just learned to roll, and managed to roll right down the basement steps. He was fine, but I was completely a wreck, and I worried what the doctor thought of me when I took him in. Did you have any moments when you let down your guard like this as a mom, that you were able to reflect on while writing and shaping this story?

Most definitely! When my oldest child was a year old I buckled him into his high chair and gave him a handful of Cheerios to munch on. I thought I’d just dash out to grab the newspaper and ended up locking myself out the house. I could see my son chomping away happily on his breakfast through the large kitchen window but had visions of him choking on a Cheerio or slipping from the safety strap and falling to the ground. I stood there helplessly for a few minutes and then broke a window so I could let myself into the house. I felt like a horrible mother. I think as parents we all have had those close calls that make us question our own parenting abilities and agonize over what others will think of us. Fortunately, most often, when these accidents occur, all ends well.

There were many times that I had to step away from the book because the situation with Avery being left in the hot car is one of my worst nightmares as a mom. Did you struggle writing these scenes? Is there a detachment process when you write or do you dive in and experience it all?

These scenes were incredibly difficult for me to write. I’m first and foremost a mother and there is nothing worse than seeing your child in pain and suffering. As I wrote, I experienced every single excruciating moment right along with Ellen. I think that in order to write such dramatic events in an authentic, genuine manner, it was important to become fully immersed in what Ellen was going through. I often had to take breaks while writing these scenes. I would step away from the computer, go check on my own three teenagers, count my blessings and then return to work.

 Little Mercies refers to the “small kindnesses and good that comes from terrible.” Have there been any “little mercies” in your own life that have been good in spite of the terrible that they came from?

More than I can count. Just over five years ago my son was diagnosed with bone cancer. So many emotions flood over you when the doctor utters that small six-letter word. We were shocked, terrified, devastated. Never have I felt so helpless. But something amazing began to emerge from all the heartbreak—our family, friends, community and complete strangers inundated us with simple, loving gestures that carried us through a very difficult, dark time.

It was the phone calls, the emails and the handwritten notes of support that let us know we weren’t alone during a very lonely time. It was the homemade meals delivered to our home when we didn’t have the energy to cook for ourselves. It was those individuals who took my daughters under their wings and paid extra attention to them when so much focus was on their brother. It was the group of seventh-grade boys and their teachers who shaved their heads in solidarity with one young boy facing an uncertain future. All of this allowed us to witness firsthand the selflessness of others.

So often we look for the big miracles, and we don’t always realize that the small ones are just as life changing. I’m thankful that my son is healthy, happy, doing great and looking forward to everything that life has to offer him. We carry all the kindnesses people have shown with us and try to do the same for others.

Can you describe your writing process? Where do you write and how do you begin shaping your books?

I don’t have a specific place in my home where I write. I tend to take my laptop and move to a room in the house where I can be alone. Not that I need complete silence to work; I actually like background noise. I’ll listen to music, a podcast, or even a TV show as I write.

I think through a writing idea for a very long time before putting pen to paper. I always begin my writing projects by buying a brand new journal or notebook and writing the first fifty pages or so in longhand. By beginning my novels this way I find that I’m able to find the unique voices of each of my characters. I will jot down my characters’ physical descriptions, histories, likes, dislikes, hopes and fears. I live with the characters for so long that sometimes my hands hover over the keyboard and I have to decide which direction to take them—and it’s not necessarily the journey I envisioned for them. Though I must say, it’s always an adventure!

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

My favorite book of all time is My Antonia by Willa Cather. My parents always had hundreds of books on shelves and in neat stacks around the house and for a long time I passed right over the thick novel with the illustration of a woman standing in a field of tall yellow grass and holding freshly picked wildflowers. I finally pulled it from the shelf when I was eighteen and immediately fell in love with Cather’s beautiful description of turn-of-the-century Nebraska and the lifelong friendship between a farm boy and a young Czech immigrant. I reread My Antonia every single year, each time with new eyes, always finding something new within the pages. Whenever I visit a bookstore I’m always on the search for a different edition of My Antonia to add to my collection.

You can connect with Heather Gudenkauf  on Facebook or on her website or even on GoodReads!  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: World’s Best Toast, No Boys Allowed, & Crimes Against Words

Friday, July 18th, 2014

It's the 3 Little Things

Happy Friday, friends! It has been a happy week, indeed. It has been unseasonably cool here, but just perfect weather for flinging open windows and enjoying good books outside. Speaking of good books, I hope you have been following our Sundays With Writers series because you are in for a treat this Sunday with a very special book & interview! You can catch up on all of the interviews over here, if you haven’t been following along with the author series.

Here are the 3 things that are making me happy this week!

Three Bakers Whole Grain White

A Better Morning Toast

Move over Udi’s Whole Grain White there is a new bread in my freezer. Three Bakers Whole Grain White Bread was on sale at our local supermarket for $4.99 a loaf so I thought I would give it a try.  It wasn’t just the price that lured me in, but the packaging that stated there was 58% MORE in my loaf which means I could get through a whole week of morning toasts for $4.99. The real question is, would I be disappointed? Would it taste terrible? Would I be sad that I saved money this week and be forced to eat a month of terrible toasts (because I bought four loaves…hello, they were on sale!)?

I am happy to say, that this bread is AMAZING. It tastes just like homemade bread. It’s airy and light, flavorful, and sturdy enough for your toppings. If you haven’t tried this one, I highly recommend it. They also have a 7-grain that I am hoping to try soon, although my store was out of loaves.

Gluten-free bread that tastes like homemade real bread? BE STILL MY BEATING HEART.

Amy's Treehouse

My New Treehouse

I am telling you right now, that finishing our shed into a bonus room has made me a much more happy and adjusted mom.  I now have somewhere to escape in the evenings and during the day that is away from the chaos of our home.

I had been grabbing my iPad and reading and watching shows in there, but with the a/c unit kicking on, the volume was minimal on the iPad and I was struggling to hear anything when I wanted to indulge in an episode of Parenthood.

Crosley Record Player

Record Player

You may recall that my amazing girlfriends had gifted me (on the most amazing night of my entire life) a beautiful record player. This Crosley Turntable  was in my office and now is out in my “treehouse” (AKA as my shed). My husband peeked at the back of it and figured out that there was an auxiliary in so he grabbed a cord like this and now I have the sound coming out of my record player through my iPad movie theater which works perfectly for this little space.

I had my best friend over this week and we watched A Little Bit of Heaven on Netflix, with big glasses of wine, and a load of tissues. As we are sitting there crying and sipping, my husband walked in to grab a glass of wine, looked at us, shook his head, and backed out quick…

As I shrieked at him that the sign was flipped to CLOSED!

No boys allowed. Hit the road, Jack!

Every mom needs a space like this where she can play her Dirty Dancing record on repeat without any eye rolling. I wish this for each of you.

 

Crimes Against Words

This video really made me, LITERALLY, laugh out loud. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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

Now it’s your turn, what makes you happy this week? Feel free to share in our link up below and link back to this post to participate or share in our comments below!

Share 3 things that are making you happy today!

Freebie Friday July 18, 2014

Friday, July 18th, 2014

freebie friday Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! We would like to thank Couponing 101 for assisting us with our freebies each week for loads of deals, savings, and freebies!

This week on MomAdvice I’m beyond excited to share the transformation of our little shed into a super cool hangout (where you’ll probably find me over the weekend!) and a terrific Sundays With Writers interview with Michelle Gabel, author of A Paris Apartment. We’ve got two fabulous contributor articles – one from Mary Carver about creating memories to make the most of your marriage and the other from Kelly Whalen on different ways to get around for less! On this week’s edition of  It’s the 3 Little Things I’m sharing what’s making me happy and hope you’ll share yours, too!

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

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Health & Beauty
Food & Drink
Entertainment
This Week’s Freebie Events: July 19 - 25
19th - Lakeshore Learning: Create a Wiggly-Eyed Glitter Fish, 11 am – 3 pm
19th - Michael’s: Make a Paracord Bracelet, 1 – 4 pm

 

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Amy’s Notebook 07.16.14

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Gumball drink stirrers via Studio DIY

Source: Studio DIY

 

DIY gumball drink stirrers- fast & cute.

Make this fun patterned floor with…linoleum!

So inspired by this beautiful, colorful, modern work space.

This chocolate chip cookie recipe intrigues me.

Keep the kids occupied on road trips with a printable bingo game.

Penny In Yo Pants. Smartest hack ever.

S'mores dip via Hungry Brownie

Source: Hungry Brownie

 

S’mores dip: A camping treat without the campfire pit.

Love this simple painted stump with thumb tacks for a side table.

One safe way to curb a phone addiction: Lock it up. Really.

I feel differently about vinyl floors.

Loving this coffee table made into an upholstered bench.

Just bookmarking this list of genius travel hacks so I never forget them.

amys_notebook

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

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