Author Archive

Apron Full of Giveaways 08.12.14

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Mommy and Me Pink Flamingo Aprons via Etsy

Source: Mchughties,  $52.00

 

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!

Pin It

Take Better Phone Photos (And Grow Your Business)

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Take Better Phone Photos (And Grow Your Business) from MomAdvice.com.

Today I am so excited to share with you some easy tips to improve your phone photos. Phone photography has been a fun hobby of mine ever since I got my iPhone. There is so much that you can do with your phone photos to capture the beauty and moments in your life on-the-go. I wanted to share with you a list of my favorite apps, some easy tips for taking better images, and show you how to grow your business with phone photography and Instagram. Our food photography article has been one of our most popular articles on our site so I thought I would apply the same in-depth info to this one and focus on phone photography. The SAME PRINCIPLES that I share in that food photography post apply here so please read it even if you aren’t a food photographer.

I do own this iPhone so some of these apps may not apply for your device, but many do so I am sharing only what I have found to be worth the money or worth the time using.

MomAdvice on Instagram

Before we get started, I would love for you to follow me on Instagram. You can find me over here: MomAdvice on Instagram!  I really, really want to connect with you and this is one of the most personal ways I have found to connect with my readers. As you can see, my profile name is easy to remember- “momadvice.” I really want to be your friend!

Let’s go ahead and go through a few frequently asked questions about phone photography! 

Afterlight

What App Do You Use the Most For Photo Editing?

This question should be, “What App Do You Use the Most THIS WEEK for editing? Honestly, I am always open to trying new apps and I am constantly looking for new ways to manipulate my photos into a work of art. I would say that the app though that I have been relying the most on this year is an app called, Afterlight. This app only costs $.99 and is what I use most frequently for taking phone photos.

There are a couple of reason I really like this app. One, it offers really great and easy to use tools for making tweaks to your photo. Basically, everything I am now doing in Lightroom with my digital images, I am able to do through my phone. I use it to add in color, to increase brightness, to crop images, to add contrast, and to adjust exposure. The toolbar is very user-friendly so you can make gradual or dramatic tweaks.

I find this app to be killer in the black-and-white image category. Every picture I take with it and transfer into black-and-white is absolutely fantastic. I am also a fan of their Dreamy effect (which adds pretty pink tones to your photos) and their Brightfire effect for a burst of brightness.

Let me show what a typical photo editing session looks like for me.

Take Better Phone Photos (And Grow Your Business) from MomAdvice.com.

You never want your flash on, if at all possible, so for most of my images, I am doing my best to bring the brightness and color back into my images.  You will look at the bottom of your toolbar and the second icon with the lines is where you click to begin making your adjustments.  Click on each icon to get familiar with what tweaks are offered. If at any time you get nervous and want to start over, the first icon that looks like a circle…that takes you right back to where you started. Phew!

The tweaks I am making are not large (as you can see in the slider scale above), but they add a little pop to the image.  I usually am bumping up Brightness, Contrast, Exposure, Saturation, and then many times I am cropping the image to cut out anything that might have gotten in the shot (in this case the corner of my dress) that I don’t want in there.  You can also adjust your white balance using the temperature dial if you are not in ideally lighting (another feature I rely upon). You can add filters if you want,  but for the most part I prefer my images unfiltered or just very slightly filtered. The slider scale is your best friend and know that whatever filter you add, it will be on full blast. Typically, you want to slide that way down to get a natural image with a little bit of tone in it.

before-after

As you can see, this is not a dramatic difference, but it definitely showcases the power of small tweaks to your photos. This should only take a few moments to achieve and the more beautiful the photos…the more followers to gain and share with!

Take Better Phone Photos (And Grow Your Business) from MomAdvice.com.

What Other Apps Do You Recommend?

The apps I am listing are the ones that I use and have had the most success with. I actually have a lot of apps that I am not going to mention because they aren’t worth your time or money. Here are the ones that are frequently used by me and what I use them for!

Fuzel

 

Fuzel (FREE)

I apologize that my screenshot is showing the old Fuzel icon- I think I have two versions on my phone.  I use this one for collaging a group of photos because I think it offers the most flexibility with framing and it’s very easy to use. If we go to the blueberry patch, for example, and I have sixteen photos of my kids picking berries, it’s best to select a few and use a collage app of these photos in one photo for your followers.  It has cute borders and multiple framing options. It also offers a few text options for captions which can be handy too. I don’t do a ton of text on my photos, but I love that you can add caption on this app.

The best part is that they now offered animated slide shows where you can add music from your phone or use one of their pieces of music to animate your photos using your collaged photos. How fun is that?

saugatuck_review_3

PicTapGo ($1.99)

I love, love, love PicTapGo for editing, but I love it even more because you can share a full-frame image in Instagram using this app. If you have a beautiful story to tell and don’t want to crop it down to the standard Instagram size, once you are done utilizing all the fun editing tools on it, just click GO and you can instagram your image full size or float the image for a landscape portrait. I’m telling you, it is a fantastic thing to know when you have taken too close of an image or you need all of the image to add to the drama of your photo.

This one has great filters on it too and utilizes terminology that makes editing simple. Instead of Exposure, for example, it says, “Lights On.” Instead of a temperature dial, it says “Warm It Up,” or “Cool It Down.” Seriously, this couldn’t be more user-friendly.

It has great black-and-white options and I’m a big fan of their “Air” filter.

Take Better Phone Photos (And Grow Your Business) from MomAdvice.com.

Camera+ ($1.99)

This app can do a lot, but I need to be honest with you, I really use this app only for one thing. It’s the self-timer feature. If  you are at home by yourself and want to be in a shot (couple shots with your spouse, fashion pictures, or in-action foodie shots, etc…) this app has a self-timer option on it that you can set for 15 seconds to jump and pose into a shot without needing an extra set of hands to shoot it. I balance it on countertops, we have shot from the dashboard of my car with my purse holding it up, and every other kind of weird shooting scenario.

This shot I am sharing here was actually taken using the self-timer. I had my phone on the ground, flipped my phone upside down, and shot it from there.  The quality of the image will be better if you don’t shoot it with the front camera (what you might be using for selfies)  so do your best to figure it out like someone else is shooting it, fire the self-timer off once you get your placement, and shoot it the other direction.

That selfie camera usually has around 1.2 megapixels versus 8 megapixels from the rear camera. That’s a big difference in what you can achieve with photo quality, especially if you want to print something.

The timer is available through the icon next to your center shooting button.  It also has a stabilizer (perfect for shaky hands like me) and you can shoot it in burst modes if you need to fire off a lot of shots.

Rhonna Designs ($1.99)

If you like to add text to your photos, catchy phrases, or doodles… I have the app for you. This app is my go-to app  because the fonts are beautiful and you can do so much with it. For my blogging friends, you can use this to create beautiful banners for your blogs! You know our, “It’s the 3 Little Things,” feature? That banner was made all with the Rhonna Designs app.

I find that my scrapbooking friends are big fans of this app. You could spend all day on it and never get tired of it. Bundles of seasonal additions are also offered so once you get tired with what is provided in the app, you can build upon it.

Flipagram (FREE)

If you don’t want to collage your photos and just want to set them to a slideshow with music, I adore Flipagram. I actually have utilized this one in sharing on my blog too. This video I had created out of images for a project for Walmart.  The challenge was a fun winter activity and we decided finding a pen pal would be a great one. The supplies were purchased from the store and then we shared all about our experience doing that.  This was a great way to put all of that together into a fun concept for our readers and IG followers without it being spammy.

If you don’t have the songs stored on your phone, sometimes you can get the thirty second preview for free (which is usually an option) or you can purchase the song for your project.

This app also has an adorable Photo Booth option and Stop Motion option that you could play around with!

Snapseed

Snapseed (FREE)

I learned about this app while I was at the SNAP! Conference and was so impressed at what you can do with it. If I am being honest though, I really use it for the HDR Scape for taking landscape photos that really bring out the clouds and sky particularly with sunrises, sunsets, and on stormy days.  Touch the image and go back and forth to increase or decrease filter strength.

There are a lot of advanced tools on this one that I haven’t really delved into except for the practice session at the conference that can add even lighting to your photos. It was really cool, but I will be honest and say it isn’t really something I have used regularly!

Picfx ($1.99)

I recommend this one simply for light leaks and bokeh. They have a few fun filters, but I wouldn’t say this is my go-to filter spot. If you want a rocking heart bokeh though, this is the app for you. They have simply the sweetest bokeh effects and the light leaks are more natural and fun to play with then some of the other apps.

Now I am going to share two apps that are for my bizness people that I love!

Latergramme (FREE)

Do you want to schedule your photos like everything else in your social media life? It is actually possible. Download this app and set up your contest, photo, or whatever you need to do  in your Instagram feed. Set the day and time that you would like it to air. When it is time to post your photo, it will send a notification on your homescreen of your phone. Open it and then submit to have your photo go live.  It helps so much when you have a contest to have it all ready to go.

TagsForLikes

I am not a big hashtag fan because I am not always sure that this is the best way to grow an audience. That being said, hashtags can be a great way to get more likes to your images and potentially more followers. This app provides popular tags for popular categories. I tested it with a cup of coffee with their default tags  yesterday and got twenty new followers from the provided tags.

My one caveat with this is that if you tag vegan, for example, and your next picture is a delicious pulled pork sandwich, you are likely going to lose your vegan follower. I wouldn’t say it is the most consistent tool for growth, but you can create your own custom tags in the app to attract who you want to pull into your feed.

For consistent growth of an IG following, I have found to share beautiful images, not to overshare too many images (2-3 per day is typically my maximum), interacting with others and commenting on photos, and not spamming my readers with only blog promotion is a great way to begin building a great following.

 

Now please, please, follow me- I’d love some new friends! xo

*This post contains affiliate links- I only link to what I love!

 

Talk to me! What’s your best phone photography tip? Feel free to leave a link to your Instagram profile so I can find you!

Pin It

It’s The Three Little Things: Tiny Homes, Messy Buns, & the Best School Uniforms

Friday, August 8th, 2014

3_little_things

Happy Friday, friends!  I had a whirlwind of a trip in Austin with Savings.com (where I ate my fair share of BBQ and even line danced)  and am leaving again, if you can believe it, for a quick trip to the Better Homes & Gardens headquarters for their BHG Style Showcase to learn about their beautiful line-up of products they are going to be carrying this year. I will be sharing those finds with you all this upcoming year as a BHG Live Better Blogger which I am so excited about.  You may recall, that I participated in a cook-off with Better Homes & Gardens. You will be happy to know that the pots that they gifted me are still being used by my dear buddy, Ed, which still makes my heart happy.

Continuing with our happiness theme…

Tiny-A-Story-About-Living-Small

Small Space Living Inspiration

I caught this documentary Tiny on Netflix this past week and it was absolute perfection. I have talked before about our commitment to stay in our home despite the pressure to go bigger around us.  I was so proud of our tiny shed renovation and how we made it into a livable and functional space for our family. We continue to try to improve upon our existing space and not take on more than what we really need.  I have to say that regardless of the size of the home you live in, there is so much to learn in this documentary about loving what you have and whittling away at what you don’t need in your life.

There is no preachy tone in this and very little talk about global footprints, but this documentary is more about giving up the constant maintenance of your home and embracing a smaller space. You get to follow a man with no construction background for a year while he works on building his own tiny house and hear the testimonials of others who have embraced really small spaces. When I say small spaces, I am talking SMALL spaces.

This one is family friendly and one of the best documentaries I have seen this year!  If you are looking for more ideas for a Docu-Pizza Night with your family (that’s what we call it!), head over to my Reality Bites Pinterest board for some fun suggestions!

double-bun-tutorial-2

double-bun-tutorial-1

Mastering a Messy Bun Updo

I have been growing my hair out simply because it seems easier at this stage in my life. I would also like to say that if you want to do anything cool with your hair at all and replicate the stuff you see on Pinterest, you gotta grow it out.  Now that I finally have some length, I have been Kate, from The Small Things, new #1 fan because she has the best hair tutorials in the world.  The second picture is blurry (hold it STEADY, 8 year-old child, geesh!)  and her Double Bun Tutorial is my new favorite updo. And when I say new favorite updo, I mean I haven’t wore my hair in any kind of updo since prom which was last year…so it has been a year since the last time…it feels like ages though.

The double bun technique is seriously genius for people who don’t have enough length to get all their hair up in one bun. You have to watch her tutorial and then head to her blog and just suck in all the hair goodness. For this updo, I swung by CVS and snagged some bobby pins and clear elastics. I like that she doesn’t make things complicated or perfect (a skill I am working on).

If you like the dress, you must follow Whoorl’s Closet Tumblr. I am kind of a Sarah James groupie so be sure to follow her beautiful blog too.  I snagged this Mossimo dream of a dress for a mere $20. I liked it so much, I bought one in Coral & Black too. I really wowed my hubby with these dresses and the new hair. I get to feel like Sarah James for a day- it’s quite grand!

dockers-uniforms

Uniforms that Don’t Wrinkle or Pill

Ugh! Talking about preparing for back-to-school does not make me happy, but we are in that mode right now. My mother-in-law purchased uniform skirts for my daughter for a holiday gift and these Docker skirts are seriously the best thing since gluten-free bread. These uniform skirts don’t wrinkle, they don’t pill, they always look amazing, and they are practically dry when you pull them out of the washer.  This year we skipped our yearly Old Navy run and just headed over to Sears and bought all Docker uniforms this year. The jumpers are made from the same material too although I haven’t washed the pants yet, but they look promising. Did I mention they are running a half-off sale? It made it the same price (or less) than the Old Navy prices!  You can utilize this code: DOCKERS9  (which I did not and now I’m upset!) for $10 of a $75 purchase and free shipping.

I have lots more making me happy this week- it’s one of those weeks where my cup is running over with goodness and gratefulness. I hope your cup overfloweth too!

 

*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!

 

Amy’s Notebook 08.06.14

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Peach Iced Tea Popsicles via Paper N Stitch

Source: Paper & Stitch

 

Peach iced tea popsicles- yes.

I’m in love with this outdoor painted rug.

This NPR junkie is excited about this streaming option.

13 tips for getting more reading done.

Madly in love with this nursery.

Green beans with warmed feta? Yes please!

Reading Embroidery Hoop Art via Thirty Handmade Days

Source: Thirty Handmade Days

 

Time to learn embroidery.

Love these popsicles turned into cakes with these candle printables for summer birthdays.

A short PSA: using caution and care with essential oils

Mini meatball minestrone salad- um, where’s my fork?

Rethinking my refrigerator purchase after this article.

30 of the best parents in literature.

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!

Pin It

DIY Personalized Stamped Pencils

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

How to Make DIY Personalized Stamped Pencils from MomAdvice.com.

How to Make DIY Personalized Stamped Pencils from MomAdvice.com.

I hate to say it, but we are heading back-to-school in just a couple of short weeks! It’s always bittersweet for me. I have enjoyed this summer with them so much and love the lazy days, but I also look forward to fresh starts and routines.  In honor of the season,  I created these cute DIY Personalized Stamped Pencils for the first day of school to remind your kiddos just how much they mean to me.

I always try to do one special thing for my kids on their first day of school to remind them how much they are loved. When my daughter started Kindergarten, I made hair bows that had a heart center, reminding her that my heart was with her on her big first day. For my son, it was always lots of jokes and comics tucked away in his lunchbox to share with his friends.

This week’s craft is inspired by one of my favorite books, “The Help,” and I am sharing all of the details for this project on the Kenmore Blog today! Find out how to make a set of your own personalized pencils and learn more about the inspiration behind this sweet craft!  You can also visit here to view all my fun projects for Kenmore- I really have so much fun creating for them!

Pin It

Apron Full of Giveaways 08.05.14

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Retro drink apron via Etsy

Source: Swizzlestix,  $28.00

 

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!

Pin It

Sundays With Writers: The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

Sundays With Writers

Do you ever pick up a book completely outside of your normal genre and find yourself completely swept away in a world you never dreamed you would escape to? It happened a couple of times for me with The Hunger Games series and Twilight series, just to name two types of books that I never thought I would love.  Last week if you would have asked me if I would have fallen head over heels in love with a book with a plotline firmly planted in science fiction with a zombie apocalypse theme or even just another dystopian thriller ( a genre I had grown very tired of), I would have probably laughed at you.

No, this is not your typical recommendation on here and that is exactly why I had to feature it today. It is different and it is awesome.

the-girl-with-all-the-gifts-2

 

I fell head-over-heels in love for The Girl With All the Gifts. I can tell you now that this will be on my top ten reads of 2014 because I can’t stop thinking about it and have the urge to reread it all over again. It is a true adventure of a read that grabbed me and did not let me go until the final pages.

My husband is not a big reader like me, but when I finished the book and described it to him, he picked it up one evening after my encouragement. I did not see or speak to him for two whole days. He was just as swept away in this book as I was. For this reason, I would definitely recommend this one as a great couple’s book selection and definitely not limited to our female audience.

After I finished it, I emailed Mike Carey (who is using the pen name M.R. Carey for this book) and never in a million years expected a response. You see, Mike is quite a big deal. He is an established British writer of prose fiction and comic books. He has written for both DC and Marvel, including critically acclaimed runs on X-Men and Fantastic Four, Marvel’s flagship superhero titles. His creator-owned books regularly appear in the New York Times graphic fiction bestseller list. He also has several previous novels and one Hollywood movie screenplay to his credit.

And he answered my message and said he would love to share his book with you all.

I have taken my fangirl status to another level entirely after this interview and can’t wait to see this book adapted into a screenplay.

All the descriptions of this book state that Melanie is simply a special girl. You don’t know what makes her special until you dive in and discover the girl and all her gifts.

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 so unique. It’s a book that you will want to finish and share with friends. It reads like a movie and is just the type of literary adventure I would recommend if you have been in a reading slump this summer.

Grab your coffee and let’s have a chat with the amazing Mike Carey about his book…

mike-carey

I loved this book so very much and it is unlike anything that I have ever read before or will ever read again. Thank you for such a fantastic escape this summer. I discovered that it was based upon the Edgar-nominated short story, Iphigenia in Aulis that you had written.  Why did you decide to take this short story and expand it into The Girl With All the Gifts?

Thanks!  I’m really glad you enjoyed it.

The story had an unusual genesis – or unusual for me, at least.  I’d been invited to contribute to a themed anthology edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni Kelner.  They do these books every year, and the theme is always something deceptively innocent and everyday – home improvements, family holidays or whatever.  This particular year the  theme was schooldays.

And I said I’d do it, but then I had no ideas whatsoever.  Inspiration didn’t strike.

Until about three weeks before the deadline, when suddenly I woke up with this image in my mind of a little zombie girl writing an essay in an abandoned classroom. “What I want to Do When I Grow Up”.  The whole story grew from that – from Melanie, and her situation.  I wrote it in four straight days and sent it in, and Charlaine and Toni said it fitted the bill perfectly.

But I had the sense as soon as I hit SEND that Melanie’s story wasn’t finished yet.  It felt as though the ending, in which she and Sergeant Parks fight back-to-back against an army of Junkers in order to cover the evacuation of the base, wasn’t really earned.  And it felt like there needed to be much more a pay-off for Melanie’s relationship with Miss Justineau (who in the short is called Miss Mailer).

So I pitched it to Orbit as a novel, and they commissioned it – even though that meant amending my contract in some complicated ways.  And at the same time I pitched it as a movie concept to a producer I was already working with.  The two version of the story grew up side by side.

You make a very conscious decision to never use the word, “zombie.” Why did you not want to use this word in your book? Was this meant to lead the reader into their own conclusions when they begin the story?

It’s partly that – although the reveal comes quite early, really.  It’s also a question of trying to make the reader keep an open mind.  I was conscious that zombies for a lot of people are an overworked trope and a fairly limited one.  I was coming at it from what I thought was a new angle, and I hoped that if I held off on the Z word readers would stay with it until they were emotionally invested.

It’s rebounded against me in some ways.  I’ve read a few reviews where the reviewer has said “you know, this is reasonably realistic in some ways, but if you’ve got a zombie apocalypse going on why wouldn’t you just call it one?  That doesn’t ring true at all…”

In one scene, Dr. Caldwell says to Mrs. Justineau, “You should ask yourself why you’re so keen on thinking of me as the enemy…Which weighs the most, Helen? Which will do the most good in the end? Your compassion or my commitment to my work?” Which of these characters do you think was doing the most good? Did you relate to Dr. Caldwell or Mrs. Justineau more when writing this?

Oh, I’m with Helen Justineau all the way!  But I wanted readers to understand where Caldwell was coming from.  Nobody sees themselves as evil.  They explain away the things they do as being forced on them by circumstances, or serving a greater good, or whatever it might be.  Caldwell is trying to save humanity.  She’s also trying to earn a sort of personal immortality through her work, and to prove that she’s better than the scientists who were promoted over her, but she genuinely believes she’s doing good – and that the ends absolutely justify the means.

There’s a beat near the end of the book that really only works if you can empathise with Caldwell at least a tiny bit.  It’s when she and Melanie have their conversation about the infection, and Caldwell realises that if anything of her work is going to survive it will be through her being able to explain it to Melanie now.  The child she was going to sacrifice is the last slender reed she can grab hold of.  If you don’t care about Caldwell at all that’s just ironic.  I wanted it to have a little touch of tragedy to it.

Where are you in development of the screenplay of The Girl With All The Gifts? Do you have anyone in mind for your dream cast?

The screenplay is written and we have a deal in place.  I’ve never been this far along with a film project before – well, once a long time ago when I wrote the screenplay for an animated version of Tristan and Isolde, but I generally avoid talking about that.

This time around it’s been an amazingly rewarding and enjoyable process.  The movie and the novel grew up together and kept swapping DNA.  We went a slightly different way in the movie, especially when it came to point of view.  Where the novel moves between the five main characters and lets us see what’s going on in all of their heads, the movie sticks with Melanie all the way.  And there are no Junkers in the movie.  The base falls to a hungry attack.  But it’s a case of two different paths through the same narrative space.  The ending is absolutely faithful to the book.

I’m going to duck the question about casting if you don’t mind.  That’s where we are at the moment, and I’m crossing every finger and toe I’ve got that we get the Justineau and Caldwell who are currently reading the screenplay.

 The science in this book is quite astounding.  Can I admit that my own brain may have exploded at times from all the scientific detail that you developed in it? Was there a lot of research on your end to develop these portions of the book, particularly developing the plotline with the infection that is based upon the ants?

A fair bit, yes.  In the short story I glibly described the hungry pathogen as a virus, probably with 28 Days Later at the back of my mind.  But when it came to writing the novel I had to put my money where my mouth was and I realised very quickly that a virus wouldn’t do.  They have very simple, linear life cycles.  I wanted something more baroque and multi-staged that would provide a plausible puzzle for Caldwell and would also allow for the events of the climax.

Enter Ophiocordyceps unilateralis.  To be honest, I’d already seen the David Attenborough footage of the zombie ants, so I was rediscovering this weird parasite rather than reading about it for the first time.  But it was obviously perfect for my needs.  And once I’d made the decision that the infectious organism should be a fungus, it just kept on giving.  It made for some visuals that I’d never come across in the post-apocalyptic fiction I’d read and that had the potential to be very powerful.

There were also other things I had to look into, like how you take a brain out of a skull.  That was one of the hardest scenes to write.

Without giving it away, the ending that you create was just perfection. Is this where you always knew Melanie’s journey was heading or did it develop as you developed the story?

I always knew that Melanie was going to face that choice.  She’s Pandora, after all.  She has to find the box and make the decision whether or not to open it. And the box has to be full of monsters and terrible evils, but it also has to contain at least the promise of hope.

But the details were quite vague, and they firmed up as I wrote the story.  I’m not sure that Rosie was in the original pitch.   The feral children were, but they were just a placeholder.  I had no idea how Melanie’s fight with them would play out, beyond the vague feeling that she would have to use the environment in intelligent ways that they didn’t see.

It’s always a mixture of planning and serendipity.  You know where you’re going in the broadest sense.  But you don’t know what you’re going to gather along the way and so the ending, when you get there, is both familiar and surprising.

Did you ever have a teacher like Mrs. Justineau? What teacher inspired you the most in your own career?

This is going to make me blush.  When I was seven years old, my teacher was Miss Bimpson.  I had a huge crush on her.  She was clever and funny, her lessons were great, but she was also most extraordinarily kind.  One day when I was crying my eyes out about something – a totally mundane something that seemed like the end of the world to me – she sat me  on her lap and hugged me until I stopped sobbing.  That’s probably the origin of the scene in which Miss Justineau strokes Melanie’s hair.

But probably the most inspiring teacher I ever met was George Lucy, who taught English at the comprehensive school I attended from age eleven.  George was one of those teachers who thinks the curriculum is something that happens to other people.  Boring people.  He taught whatever he was most passionate about, and I learned from him to interrogate limits and push past them if they’re not real.

He also tutored me for my Oxford entrance exam.  I come from a solid working class background and there were a lot of holes in my academic knowledge.  George lent me books – dozens of them – from his own collection and generally gave me the tools I needed to sit those papers.  He changed my life in a lot of ways.

Since you are also a comic book writer, can you picture this book being developed into a comic book or even a comic book series? Who would be your dream illustrator for this?

I would love to write a Girl With All the Gifts comic book.  The only possible artists for a project like that would be Peter Gross or Mike Perkins.  And Mike has already covered the whole post-apocalyptic genre with his epic version of Stephen King’s The Stand, so he might well say no.

Will there be a sequel for Melanie?

I don’t think so.  There are other stories to be told around her story, and I could imagine going back to tell one of those.  Perhaps a story with an entirely different cast, taking place at the exact same time as GIRL.  Or perhaps a story from a generation later.  But I don’t think Melanie would be the protagonist in either of those.

You reach a point, with most characters, where you feel that their story has been told.  I’d love to revisit the world of Lucifer, but I wouldn’t dream of bringing Lucifer himself back into it.  It’s the same with Melanie.  I’d be wary of weakening her story by adding extra beats to it.

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

So many possible answers to that!  You could ask me a couple of dozen times and get a different answer each time.  Today I’m going to say The Shadow Of the Torturer, by Gene Wolfe.  It’s the first volume in a tetralogy, so if you read it and liked it you’d have to read the other three.  But they’re so worth it. It’s a story of a far future Earth where the sun is dying.  Humanity has spread to the stars but that was long ago.  Now there are other galactic empires, other non-human civilisations that call the shots.  What’s left of humankind is back on an old, old planet that hasn’t got much time left to it.  But there’s a Messianic religion that preaches that the New Sun, sometimes known as the Conciliator, will be born on Earth as a man and rekindle all our hopes.  Reborn, rather, since he’s been here once before.  And Severian of the Torturers’ Guild believes this to be true since he’s found a holy relic, the Claw of the Conciliator, that heals all wounds.

It’s a very hard book to describe, and there’s no denying that it goes to some very dark places.  But Wolfe’s imagination is vast.  He creates a world and peoples it.  And he has a very serious purpose which takes in faith, physics and the importance of storytelling.

You can connect with Mike Carey on GoodReads and on Facebook!  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!
Pin It

It’s the 3 Little Things: Are You Sure, New Music Tuesday, & An Altered Lifestyle

Friday, August 1st, 2014

It's the 3 Little Things

Today I am in Austin with Savings.com and I wanted to be sure to still get my happy list of three up for you all! There is a lot that is personally making me happy this week.  My husband actually dove into a book and absolutely loved it  (don’t miss this week’s Sundays With Writers for a book unlike anything we have ever read), the temperatures have been cool and ideal for spray painting (which just makes me about the happiest girl in the whole world), and I’ve been enjoying hibernating at home with my family this week.

Oh, and I also did an interview with Mint.com- definitely check that out!

Here are three things that are making me happy this week.

 

New Music Tuesday

New Music Tuesday

There is nothing that makes me happier than good music and Tuesday has become my favorite day of the week thanks to the Spotify New Music Tuesday playlist.  Each Tuesday they have this epic playlist of great music to check out for the week and I listen to it while I work on Tuesdays. I always find a new artist to add to my playlists and I love hearing new releases from old favorites. You don’t need to pay for a membership to access it, but we pay for the membership since I listen all day and in my car to Spotify.

If you are accessing it from Spotify- just click Browse, then Top Lists, then click on New Music Tuesday.

It’s a great mix of mainstream and hipster awesomeness.  This week I am obsessed with this Kanye West cover that was on the New Music Tuesday playlist. It’s a musical narnia, I tell ya!

Seriously, you must check out the selections each Tuesday. There is always something delightful to listen to!

 

Sure Deodorant

Feeling Sure- Raising My Hand High

 

The only deodorant that works and perfect for sensitive skin is this Sure Deodorant. Call it hormones, call it global warming, call it old age…this girl is a sweaty mess. After trying a million different kinds, this is the only thing that works for me.  If global warming has you down, see if this helps. The best part is that it costs a lot less than the expensive brands I have tried and works twice as good.

 

Stitch Fix Alterations

Clothes That Truly Fit

I feel very blessed to have a closet of clothes that I love.   Unfortunately, none of them fit anymore after all my stomach issues the last couple of years.  I don’t want to buy new things, but when I swung by Flourish Boutique last week to pick out a dress for a speaking engagement this week, I found out that you can get your clothes altered right at their store. You can have them pin your items right there and the seamstress will pick them up, alter them, and then drop them to the store for you. It’s like a world of maxi dresses opened up to this five foot woman. The possibilities are endless now.

Since I had a closet full of stuff, I snagged the card for the seamstress at the front desk and  took in a handful of stuff to have her take a peek and see what was worth altering. Her prices were so affordable ($11 to hem jeans with the seam intact- say what?) and she had great ideas so we didn’t have to move zippers and to keep the shape of my items at an affordable price.

This skirt was from my first Stitch Fix box, but I was swimming in it. This is the first thing I had altered and they charged me FORTY DOLLARS at the dry cleaners to do it. I have had a closet of stuff that I was spacing out monthly for alterations so I would have things that fit.   I love this skirt so much that, in the end, it was worth it. This lady I found though will do it for just $5-10 so no more of that expensive alteration business.

I dropped off my winter coat, many dresses that I love that look ridiculous on me, and just about every skirt in my closet to her home.  I look forward to wearing clothing that fits and that looks just like me. I love my things and I don’t want to part with them because of sizing issues. I also am tired of waiting to see where my weight ends up landing once I am fully on the mend. By that time, they will be out of style so… Cease the day.

Seriously, visit Flourish Boutique and ask about their awesome alterations that they offer and get yourself things that you can feel confident in.

*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 August 1, 2014

Friday, August 1st, 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 think you’re going to love this refreshing summer salad from our food contributor, Diana. I’m also sharing a gluten-free lemon cake that’s to die for and how I transformed a corner of a room in our home with lots of tips you can use, too. 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

Nivea Lotion Sample
Emergen-C Sample 
Garnier Clean+ Sample

Tums Ultra Chewable Tablets Sample
Suave Professionals Natural Infusions Sample
Hugo Boss Men’s Fragrance Sample
Hugo Boss Women’s Fragrance Sample
Schiff Move Free Ultra Sample

Food & Drink

Truvia Natural Sweetener Sample

Entertainment

Free Natural Beauty Mini Magazine

Pet

Timberwolf Organic Dog Food Sample

This Week’s Freebie Events: August 1 – 7

1st - Barnes & Noble: Enjoy Storytime, Sing-Along, Crafts, and Activities with Olaf, 7 pm.

2nd - Long John Silvers: Free Fish and Fries, 11 am – 3 pm.

2nd - Home Depot: Build a Mini-Crate Pencil Holder, 9 am – 12 pm.

2nd - Lakeshore Learning: Create a Personalized Door Hanger, 11 am – 3 pm.

2nd - Barnes & Noble: Celebrate Marvel Day with activities and giveaways.

2nd & 3rd - National Museums: Free Entrance to Museums for Bank of America Card Holders.

 

Pin It

Amy’s Notebook 07.30.14

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

DIY Lightbulb Terrariums via CladandCloth

Source: Clad and Cloth

 

I don’t think I can kill these diy lightbulb terrariums.

LOVE this family tree wall.

Four things to help you say no with confidence.

I’m wowed by this grill upgrade.

I simply love this dining room makeover.

Quinoa Cakes via A Beautiful Mess

Source: A Beautiful Mess

 

Baked quinoa falafel is a new recipe I am dying to try.

Can’t wait to try DIY natural disinfectant wipes.

These beautiful quotes with watercolor look inexpensive & easy to create.

24 hours in Paris is on my anniversary trip bucket list.

What I Instagrammed vs. what was really happening, or my entire life is a lie…busted!

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!

 

Pin It