Author Archive

25 Best Wardrobe Planning Printable & Tools

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

25 Best Wardrobe Planning Printables and Tools

As I’ve been upping my fashion game over the past year by becoming intentional with my wardrobe and shopping – and embracing the capsule wardrobe concept – I’ve come across some amazing tools. These printables, guides, and tips have helped me whittle my once out-of-control closet into one that makes sense and helps me feel fashionable every day. So for our M Challenge Focus on Fashion, I thought it would make a great resource for us to bundle these together with even more of the best wardrobe planning printables and tools that are available.

So whether you’re looking to build a wardrobe from scratch, whittle what you have into a capsule closet, or even get ideas for packing smartly for a trip, you’ll find some great tools here to help you! (note: please pin any photos below from the original source)

General Wardrobe Tips & Printables

Build a perfect wardrobe via Into-Mind

Source: Into Mind


How to build the perfect wardrobe: 10 basic principles @Into Mind

Building a Grown-Up Wardrobe :: purging, planning, and the perfect shopping list @AJ Wears Clothes

Building a Basic Wardrobe @Living on the Chic

How to Build a Wardrobe + Basic Wardrobe Checklist @ Jo-Lynne Shane

Infographic decision tree for wardrobe editing @Modern Eve

How to build your best spring wardrobe yet @Into Mind


101 fashion tips via StyleCaster

Source: StyleCaster


101 Fashion Tips and Tricks Every Girl Should Know @StyleCaster

My favorite source for fashion on a budget: Twice

My other favorite source for my fashion capsule on a budget: ThredUp

Which Fashion App Is Right for You? @Brit + Co

How to Maintain your Wardrobe throughout the Year @Into Mind

Essential Work Wardrobe with Printable Shopping List @tixeertne


Capsule/Minimalist Wardrobe Tips & Printables

Capsule planner via Unfancy

Source: Unfancy


Free Capsule Wardrobe Planner Tool @Unfancy

Project 333 Start Guide @Life Your Way

5 Things that do not Belong in Your Capsule Wardrobe @The Project 333

All Seasons Capsule Wardrobe Plan @The Lovely Laura Life

The 40 Hanger Closet- minimize your wardrobe for maximum style @Living Well Spending Less


Capsule guide via Inside Out Style

Source: Inside Out Style


How to create a wardrobe capsule: 12 garments = 72 outfits + printable guide @Inside Out Style

Rule of Three: add variety with this trick @Unfancy

The Bare Minimum 30 Piece Wardrobe @The Everyday Minimalist

Capsule Wardrobe Checklist @The Fitenessista

A 30-piece wardrobe with sample wardrobe pics, tips, and free printable shopping list @House for Five


Travel & Packing Tips & Printables

Travel fashion planner via Travel Fashion Girl

Source: Travel Fashion Girl


How to Plan your Travel Outfits: 5 Style Tools Show You How @Travel Fashion Girl

Packing Checklist and Outfit Planner @Pretty & Fresh

How to Plan a Travel Capsule Wardrobe for Vacation @Lady Light Travel


Gluten-Free Shrimp Scampi

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Gluten-Free Shrimp Scampi from *This post is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site! 

Last month I shared with you that I have been on a quest to replicate some of our favorite restaurant dishes in our kitchen to help cut down on our dining out budget. Shrimp Scampi is one of those dishes that I absolutely love when I go out for seafood, but I don’t always love the price tag that comes with it. Today I wanted to share with you an easy Gluten-Free Shrimp Scampi that is a delicious dish you could share during this Lent season for a Friday night feast that the whole family will love.

Gluten-Free Shrimp Scampi from

The shrimp can be dredged in a gluten-free flour to add a little bit of coating to the shrimp or they can just be quickly sauteed in the delicious wine and butter sauce, then tossed with fresh Italian parsley. I love to put the shrimp scampi on top of some gluten-free pasta and serve it all with a side of roasted green beans. Thanks to the garlic in the scampi, it coats and adds flavor to your pasta beautifully.

In case you have been on the hunt for the gluten-free products at Walmart, I actually have found the section at the end of the candy aisle. They have a section dedicated specifically to gluten-free eating that includes a lot of my favorite snacks, pastas, cake mixes, and even loaves of gluten-free bread. I have found the prices really do beat out the ones at other supermarkets and specialty shops so I stock up when I go.

Gluten-Free Shrimp Scampi from

Slice up a few lemons and dress the plates with a sprig of flat-leaf Italian parsley to really make it feel like restaurant dining. This isn’t the only dish that we have here that would be perfect for a meat-free evening or to be enjoyed on your Fridays during the Lent season.  In fact, I have quite a gathering on the site.

30 Fish & Meat Free Meal Ideas from

If you are on the hunt for more delicious dishes, be sure to check out this link for 30 Fish & Meat-Free Meal Ideas! I have tried to include a big variety so that you are never bored for your evening meals. I hope these dishes inspire you and that you can give this easy shrimp scampi a spin for a quick weeknight meal!

Gluten-Free Shrimp Scampi from

Gluten-Free Shrimp Scampi
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
  • ½ cup (2½ oz./75 g) all-purpose gluten-free flour (found the gluten-free section of the store), can omit if you prefer to not have a crispy exterior to your shrimp
  • ½ tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1½ lb. (750 g) jumbo or extra-large shrimp, peeled and
  • deveined, tails intact
  • 12 Tbs. (1½ sticks) (6 oz./185 g) unsalted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) dry white wine
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Lemon wedges for serving
  1. In a shallow bowl, stir together the flour, the ½ tsp. salt and the ¼ tsp. pepper.
  2. In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the 2 Tbs. olive oil.
  3. Toss half of the shrimp in the flour mixture to coat evenly, shaking off the excess. Add to the pan and cook, turning occasionally, until opaque throughout, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Repeat with the remaining shrimp, adding more olive oil to the pan as needed.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add 2 Tbs. of the butter and the garlic to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic softens and is fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the wine, lemon zest and lemon juice, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to very low. Whisk in the remaining 10 Tbs. butter, 1 Tbs. at a time, letting each addition soften into a creamy emulsion before adding more. It will become very creamy, like a sauce.
  6. Return the shrimp to the sauce and mix gently to coat well. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and gluten-free pasta.

Walmart Mom Disclaimer

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Amy’s Notebook 03.11.15

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

Foyer via Pink Little Notebook

Source: Pink Little Notebook


Wowed by this foyer makeover.

I love this article on how punctuation has changed.

A great list of apps to check out for your phone.

A few words on passive influences, social media envy and the downside of inspiration.

This: adopted as a child, now a mother, finally ‘Lucky.’

Simple guidelines (and printables!) for allowing kids to stay home alone.

I love this new mama care package.

What a beautiful way to photo journal. I’m inspired.

How to see more of what you want to see on Pinterest.

Smoothie Kits via The Kitchn

Source: The Kitchn


How to stock a smoothie drawer.

I want to read all of these before I see the movies!

How to make flying coach feel like first class.

Sex IS tricky.

Finally, we have an answer on how much Joey owes Chandler.

Oils can save us from the zombie apocalypse.

I need this extension for my email.

How to banish FOMO from your life.


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!

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Spring 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Spring 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project from

Spring is knocking on our door in Indiana, I just know it, and today I’m sharing my 2015 Spring Fashion Capsule Wardrobe with you. I pushed this capsule out a few weeks after having a false start with my Winter wardrobe and then feeling that March would be better timing with a Spring wardrobe switch. I wore the last capsule almost four months and I was still finding new ways to wear things, even up until the final week. It is amazing what you can do when you are forced to really think about how to make the most of the items in your closet.

 I am really excited to share this new capsule wardrobe with you and am really proud that 90% of this wardrobe was purchased secondhand through Twice & Thredup. The rest of the items were smart investment piece purchases from our site sponsor Flourish Boutique and a t-shirt update from Old NavyMy big investment with this capsule was having a few pieces altered to fit me better. Jeans were shortened, waistlines were taken in, hems raised, and shoulders were adjusted on items that needed it.  I am really thrilled with how these items fit me and I know it will add to my happiness and longevity of the pieces I selected.

Spring 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project from

What is a Fashion Capsule & Why Should You Do One?

A capsule wardrobe is a collection of clothing which is designed using only interchangeable items, in order to maximize the number of outfits which can be created. The aim is to have an outfit suitable for any occasion without owning excessive items of clothing. This is usually achieved by buying what are considered to be “key” or “staple” items in coordinating colours.

The reason I think capsule wardrobes are worth exploring is that you realize when you have LESS in your closet you can do MORE with what you have. My closet used to be bursting at the seams with clothes and, what I like to call, one-trick-pony apparel. I felt put together after tearing up my room and trying to build outfits in the process, but it took me so long to get ready in the mornings and I never felt like I had a truly seamless style. Narrowing my wardrobe down to 33 items as outlined in Project 333 was just what I needed to make mornings less stressful and finding a real rhythm to getting dressed for the day. It’s been a beautiful shift in my life and I don’t think I could ever go back to the old ways of bursting closets and pointless purchases.

I tend to be a pretty colorful person so you will find color mixed in with basics in my wardrobe. Monochromatic isn’t my thing, but can be yours if you are trying to simplify your wardrobe. Many people begin their capsule experience very monochromatic and then find they are comfortable branching out into color after figuring out how to make everything work together.

Why My Capsule Shouldn’t Be YOUR Capsule

I show you my capsule mainly as some sort of accountability, but not necessarily for you to copy it. My style is probably not your style and that is okay. Your capsule can look nothing like my capsule.  Your body shape could be different from mine and none of these cuts of clothing or ideas will work for you.  When creating your capsule, create it around what you feel most confident in. I suggest peeking in your closet and selecting what makes you feel beautiful and start your planning around those pieces. That’s been the best place to start for me.

Why This Capsule Will Be a Challenge

Weather changes are always a challenge in the Midwest. Today the high is 41 degrees which feels like summer after the negative temperatures, but I know the weather is just going to get warmer. I have weaved in sweaters in preparation and items that will transition well between the seasons. I will be attending my first conference in my capsule wardrobe and….we are going to ITALY in May, all in this wardrobe.  It is a lot to think about, but I love that Project 333 allows me switch out an item each month so as the months progress I picture some of these trousers turning into shorts and sweaters into tank tops. I’m hoping I am prepared for all of this with these pieces.

Spring 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project from

I am planning to show you how I am wearing these items on here as well as through my Instagram account so you can see how I am putting my outfits together with these pieces. Here is an example of what I will be doing in IG each week. I’m no stylist though, this is just how I am dressing throughout the week with my edited closet! I was modeling them, but THE STRESS.  I just don’t have time to do that, but I am happy to piece together a template on my floor for you! Ha!

Do You Count Accessories As Your 33 Items?

One question I get asked is if I count accessories and shoes as my items. I do not, but feel free to do that if you like. For me a scarf, belt, or great jewelry really do add to the enjoyment and experience of my wardrobe. I am, however, more selective about the accessories I am choosing and really making sure that they are worth the space in my drawers and the money that is spent.

Spring 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project from

This project was inspired by Project 333 & the Unfancy fashion capsule challenge, but I am making a few of my own rules for my own personal challenge.

33 Piece Wardrobe- The wardrobe can have 33 pieces  in it. This wardrobe does not include pajamas, workout gear, undergarments, or camisoles (something that is a necessity for me).  The capsule is made from items I already own, some purchased to be workhorses in my wardrobe (since I fail in this department greatly), and purchased second hand at Goodwill or through Twice. All of the items I am not wearing and still love are being tucked in storage for the next fashion capsule.  I have created a Fashion Capsule Pinterest Board to help inspire me with the pieces I am using.

Choose 3 More for Rotating- You may choose three additional items and put them aside in your closet. You may rotate these items in during the next three months, but three other items have to be rotated out. Consider donating those items.

No Shoe Shopping- I am not including my shoes for this challenge, but I am challenging myself to not buy any more shoes and use what I already have.

One Steal Per Month- Things and events come up and I am allowing myself one steal per month from items that I already own. I may find I don’t need this, but I think it might help with the shopping bug.

No Shopping For Clothing- I will wear the clothes I have selected and not shop for three months and only shop two weeks prior to the next capsule for items for the next season if needed. This is going to require a lot of discipline for me and I am planning to unsubscribe to shopping newsletters and avoid the shops as much as possible.

This month’s Project 333 Wardrobe is listed below. The ones with an asterisk are carrying over from my last capsule. To me, these are the best pieces to buy since they are making a reappearance!

Spring 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project from

1. Kelly Green Cardigan (Gap)- Purchased secondhand from Twice

* 2. Not Afraid of the Dark Denim Jacket (Flourish Boutique)

* 3. Utility Vest With Faux Leather Details  (Groopdealz)

4. Navy & White Striped Blazer (J. Crew)-  Purchased secondhand from Twice

Spring 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project from


*5. Old Navy Vintage V-Neck T-Shirt in Gray- (Old Navy)

*6. Old Navy Vintage V-Neck T-Shirt in White- (Old Navy)

7. Old Navy Vintage V-Neck T-Shirt in Dark Gray- (Old Navy)

8. Polka-Dotted Sleeveless Silk Blouse (J. Crew)-  Purchased secondhand from Twice

9. Striped Navy & Cream T-shirt (J. Crew)- Purchased secondhand from Thredup

Spring 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project from

* 10.  Scarlet Swing Skirt (Anthropologie)

11. Palm Tree Skirt (Anthropologie)-  Purchased secondhand from Twice

* 12. Black A-Line Skirt (Gap)- Purchased secondhand from Twice

* 13. Black Pleated Maxi Skirt (Flourish Boutique)

Spring 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project from

14. Black Shirt Dress (White House Black Market)- Purchased secondhand from Twice

15. Chambray Shirt Dress (Anthropologie)- Purchased secondhand from Twice

16. Navy Jersey Tunic (J. Crew)- Purchased secondhand from Twice

17. Black & White Patterned Tunic (White House Black Market)- Purchased secondhand from Twice

18. Out of the Woods Floral Tunic- Flourish Boutique

Spring 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project from

19. Denim Jean Shirt (Express)- Purchased secondhand from Thredup

20. Black & White Boat Neck Striped Shirt (Banana Republic)- Purchased secondhand from Twice

*21. Blue Striped Top (White House Black Market)- Purchased secondhand from Twice

22. Black & White Sweater (White House Black Market)- Purchased secondhand from Twice

23. Navy Open Knit Sweater (White House Black Market)- – Purchased secondhand from Twice

Spring 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project from

24. White Long-Sleeve T-Shirt (Ann Taylor Loft)-  Purchased secondhand from Twice

* 25. Mossimo Short Sleeve Coral Shirt (Target)

26. Comfy in Crochet- Flourish Boutique

27. Western Adventure Tunic- Flourish Boutique

Spring 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project from

28. Black A-Line Dress (J. Crew)- Purchased secondhand from Thredup

29. Red Halter A-Line Dress (Banana Republic)- Purchased secondhand from Twice

30. Gray Striped Green Dress (Target)

Spring 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project from

* 31. Matilda Jane Willow Tree Rider Pants (purchase from Amanda Petit, Matilda Jane Independent Trunk Keeper)

*32.  Dark Wash Skinny 7 Jeans-  Flourish Boutique

33. Black Skinny Pants (Ann Taylor Loft)

Coupons That Might Help If You Are Making a Capsule Too

Current Coupons for Old Navy (I am a big fan of their jeans and basic t-shirts)

Current Coupons for Target (their wardrobe is on the smart minimalist side this season- yay!)

Current Coupons for Gap (blazers, chambray shirts, collared shirts, jeans- oh my!)

Get $10 for your first Twice purchase (this is my favorite online consignment resource)

Use web code WEB25 for 25% off your purchase at Flourish Boutique (this is our site sponsor and where I get the majority of my clothing). You can also catch a sale daily on the Flourish Boutique Facebook Page)

Stitch Fix can be a fun resource for shopping for smart basic wardrobe pieces if a stylist might benefit you!

Don’t forget to clean out your closet! Here is a list of resources to help you make money while organizing this corner! Here are some tips for creating the perfect capsule wardrobe and feel free to browse my fall & winter capsule selections while you are gathering ideas for your own capsule! Follow me on IG for fresh outfit ideas each week! xo


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


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Apron Full of Giveaways 03.10.15

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Gardening Half Apron via Etsy

Source: Aprons N Bows,  $25.00


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!

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m challenge: What’s in Your Closet? 6 Wardrobe Essentials

Monday, March 9th, 2015

As part of our March m challenge: Focus on Fashion, I’ve asked a number of fabulous fashion bloggers to share their wisdom with us, and I’m so happy that Jo-Lynne Shane is letting us peek into her closet today, sharing with us the six most important wardrobe pieces every woman should have in her closet! We have been friends for many years and I have always appreciated her smart sense of style that she is so generous to share with us all. I hope you enjoy peeking at her closet today! xo

Six Wardrobe Essentials

As a professional blogger and mom of three, I spend most of my days working from home and running the kids around, but I also attend enough events that I need to have a complete wardrobe so I’m not frantically shopping when I get a last minute opportunity. The trick is to find a few key pieces that you love. Then you can work out from there. Here are 6 pieces every mom needs in her closet.

1. Great Fitting Jeans

I don’t think a modern woman should be without a pair of good fitting jeans. This is an item for which I recommend making in investment if it is at all in your budget. Even if you’re on a tight budget, if you’re patient you can find great designer jeans at off-price stores such as Marshalls and T.J. Maxx or even at your local consignment store. A great pair of jeans is appropriate for {almost} any occasion. You can dress them up or down. I wrote a post on How To Find the Perfect Jeans if this is something that challenges you. If you can only have one pair, go for a dark wash in a straight leg style. That is the most versatile and the most universally flattering. I also feel that having a pair of skinny jeans that you can tuck into boots is essential, but that depends on your shoe wardrobe and the climate where you live.

2. & 3. Layering Tees and Tanks

It is essential to have a few basic tees and tanks to layer under cardigans, denim jackets, or blazers. You can also wear them under a pullover sweater that is a bit too short to add interest and also to help balance out your proportions.

4. Denim Jacket or ​Structured ​Blazer

Depending on your lifestyle, a denim jacket or fitted blazer is a great piece to have. (I like to have both.) You can throw it on over a dress, or layer it over a t-shirt and wear it with jeans or pants.

​5. Versatile Dress

It may be a LBD (little black dress) or something in a pretty print, but most women need at least one go-to dress. Again, something that can be dressed up or down depending on occasion is ideal. You can change up your look with accessories and make several outfits out of one basic dress.

6. Nude Pumps

You can wear nude pumps with jeans, pants, or dresses. Every woman should have a pair. They go with everything. Of course you will need other shoes in your wardrobe, but this is one pair that every woman should own.


What would you add to this list?

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Our Bathroom Makeover Reveal

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from

This post is sponsored on behalf of BHG at Walmart.

Spring is in the air and with it comes my urge to continue creating a beautiful space in our home that we will love for many years. Today I wanted to show off a space that we recently renovated and how we brought our ideas to life  in this space.  As part of the BHG Live Better Network, I am partnering with them this month to showcase how you can add a new color into your home utilizing the products from BHG that are available at Walmart.  For me, the color that we are working to add into our home happens to be gray and so this month’s feature is all about that beautiful hue and how I was able to accessorize my new space with their help. Before we accessorize though, let’s take a look at some before and after pictures of our space.

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from

Here are a few before pictures of our basement bathroom that we planned to renovate. This was actually the first room that we did ourselves when we moved into our home eleven years ago. When we purchased the home the original room actually had about four layers of wallpaper on it that we attempted to remove and then discovered mildew had been residing between the layers making all of that drywall unusable. The previous owners had used it as a laundry room,  but it lacked the ventilation needed to keep mildew at bay. We had one of my husband’s uncles and his father help us rip all of the walls and put in new ones which was a really big job for these newbie homeowners. We were on a tight budget so we added sticky tile flooring and my husband added this wainscoting detail on the wall with a ledge. With a coat of paint, we were satisfied with this space.

As our kids get older (and the sticky tiles began to shift beneath our feet), I started dreaming about how we could transform this half bath into a full bath so that we could have two showers in our home instead of one. I have never had two showers in one space in my entire existence so entertaining this idea was, seriously, exciting for me. I began to put together my vision boards for this space. After all, if we can turn our old storage shed into the bonus room of my dreams, why couldn’t we do the same in this little space? If there is one thing I have learned about renovating our tri-level home, it is that every corner must be looked at with potential. Why shouldn’t this empty bathroom corner become a fully functional shower for our family?

My inspiration came from this photo on Houzz. After putting together a million idea for my husband, we sat down one night and both agreed that this is the style of the bathroom we wanted. The best part was that the Hilton Head Island Architects & Building Designers took the time to answer everyone’s questions about the materials that were used in this room. I jotted down some notes and took these ideas to All Pro Renovations to see if we could make something like this happen in our space.
Bathroom Makeover Reveal from


Here were the original ideas that I wanted for this space. You will see that I rethought some of this (even frantic texts as close to midnight on the paint color). The initial ideas though of a ceiling with a 1×8 v-groove pine with fresh trim were painted in Benjamin Moore White Dove, the standard (3×6) subway tile on the walls, additional lighting was added, and the standard hex tile with a gray grout all ended up being implemented in our space.

To save on cost, we ended up just using a shower purchased from our local hardware store, ditched the sconce lighting (since we added additional lighting in our fan), and gave up the idea of raising the ceiling since it was going to be another $1,500 or so just to reroute some of the heating & ventilation that were all funneling through this room.

In an effort to interject a little color, I ended up painting the walls in Benjamin Moore Gray Owl which kept things fresh and modern, without looking unfinished or the fear of a dirty white walls and white flooring/tile.


Bathroom Makeover Reveal from

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from

Can you believe this corner was just sitting there unused and now houses a pretty generous stand-up shower? Although we had talked about making this a custom unit, I am so happy with this unit we purchased that was all ready to go from our hardware store.


Bathroom Makeover Reveal from

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from

How gorgeous is this new space? Would you ever guess that this is in the lower level of our home? Although the ceiling is slightly lower with the addition of the pine planks, you really don’t feel closed in due to the lines of the boards and the fresh white paint. We left our existing fixtures and lighting in, but did add a light that looked almost identical to our original that added a fan in the space. We had a medicine cabinet installed that helped add additional storage and also provided extra mirrors for getting ready in the morning.

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from

To add more pops of gray and to organize our space, I headed to Walmart to snag some new additions to the space. These included some beautiful plush towels in gray flannel,  some modern chevron print towels for our hand towels,  new jars to organize the odds & ends in our storage unit, and the perfect cushy chevron bath mat for our feet. This brought more of the gray in and added those modern touches that I wanted for our space.

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from

I’m so proud of our new space and love the fresh new colors that we are bringing in to our home! Thank you to All Pro Renovations for the beautiful workmanship they did in this space!


In accordance with the FTC Guidelines, I am disclosing that I received compensation from BHG at Walmart for my time and participation in the BHG Live Better Network. Although we have material connection to BHG, any publicly stated opinions of BHG and their products remain my own.


Sundays With Writers: My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Sundays With Writers

Sundays are just made for curling up with a great book and today I am excited to feature an interview with a new author that has created a lot of buzz with his debut novel, My Sunshine AwayI selected this book while browsing this past month’s selection for the Amazon Featured Debut Novel category.  I picked it up and immediately emailed the author to see if I could interview him about his book, the process of writing poetically,  the buzz about his debut novel, and some interesting insights on the town he lives in (Baton Rouge) that can be found within this book.  I simply love his responses to my questions and the honesty with which he writes.

Before we begin,  I know you like me to disclose this in our book reviews and interviews so the book featured today does have sex and language in it.  This doesn’t make me shy away from a book unless it is simply for shock value and that is definitely not the case in this book.  I really liked this post from Modern Mrs. Darcy that can help explain why I choose the books I do (I echo her sentiments completely).

I also loved what M.O. Walsh, our author today, says about his writing.  He says, “If a writer is concerned about the reception of their work more than the creation of it, then they are likely to mitigate this honesty in a way that makes for a weaker book.  And, if their unmitigated honesty eventually upsets people or disturbs them, then I think that’s ok.  We can only understand what we cherish by recognizing what it is that unsettles us.  I think that’s a large part of the function of art, actually, to be unsettling.”

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

My Sunshine Away is one of those books that you just swim in the words thanks to such a gifted writer. M.O. Walsh does an incredible job of setting the typical suburban neighborhood scene in the year of 1989. It’s the summer that changes everything when the town’s golden girl, Lindy Simpson, is attacked at night near her home. Told in the eyes of another neighborhood boy, who has an extreme obsession & fixation on Lindy, he tries to set the scene and name the suspects…even when his name is included among the list. Although, perhaps, not satisfying in the way that a typical whodunit mystery is solved, it is genuinely satisfying in capturing the mind of an adolescent boy, a bittersweet relationship between him and his father, and that tricky terrain of adolescent love and obsession. I really enjoyed this read and I look forward to sharing more about the author behind the story.

Grab your coffee and let’s settle in for a chat with M.O. Walsh today!

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh


Congratulations on your debut novel and I am so excited to see that it was selected as Amazon’s Featured Debut Novel for the month of February along with being a New York Times Bestseller, Entertainment Weekly’s “Must” for 2015, an Indie Next Pick, and a Library Journal Essential Debut. How long did it take you to write this incredible book and what has it been like to have it so well received once it has been released into the world?

Thanks!  I really appreciate all of your support and excitement.  I worked on this novel for about 7 years, so it has been really gratifying to see it actually make its way out into the world.  All of the really generous reviews and press have been humbling, to say the least.  I think when you write a novel, you focus so much on trying to make it as good as you possibly can that you become, undoubtedly, your own toughest critic.  So, when people say nice things about your writing, at least for me, it’s kind of surprising.  It’s not surprising in that I thought it was a bad book, it’s surprising in terms of me thinking, “Wait, you read my novel? That’s been sitting on my computer for 7 years.  How did you get a copy of it?” Ha.

Was the story of Lindy Simpson based upon any events that happened in your own life or was this just a story that you wanted to explore creatively?

Both, actually.  I grew up in a neighborhood similar to the one in the novel and can remember overhearing a story about a young girl on our street being attacked one night. I was way too young, however, to understand what this meant when I originally heard it (I was just a kid who wanted to play outside and nothing else).  So, I kind of stashed the story away in the back of mind like people do.  Then, the older I got, the more I couldn’t help thinking about how strange it was that a place that I thought of so nostalgically and wonderfully could have possibly been so horrible to another child my age.  So, instead of asking my mom about it, or doing any research into the actual event, I decided to explore it creatively through fiction.

Your story takes place in Baton Rouge, which is a town that I understand you are quite familiar with since you live and teach there.  There are sections of your book that are really devoted towards the feelings of the people of Baton Rouge after Hurricane Katrina strikes and the struggle with supporting the people of New Orleans through that. There is also a lot about how the town felt in the aftermath of the storm.  Were these just feelings of your character or do you feel like these are your feelings and you are echoing the sentiments of people of Baton Rouge as a whole? Do you feel like the town is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina?

I think a lot of places are still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans is the obvious example, and deservedly so, but there are also smaller coastal towns that have never recovered and larger cities like Baton Rouge and Shreveport and Houston who saw some real shifts in their demographics as a result of the Katrina refugees. I think many of these cities simply had to come to grips with a new reality in the wake of this population growth.  I can’t speak for them, nor can I speak for Baton Rouge as a whole. However, since I’ve spent most of my life in Baton Rouge, and since it’s where the narrator is from, and since the narrator is very aware of the differences between New Orleans and Baton Rouge and the differences between him and the main character Lindy Simpson, I felt it was a subject ripe for exploration.  The truth of the matter is that not many people have told Baton Rouge’s side of the Katrina story. And, since this narrator got an opportunity to do so, when telling his own personal story, he went for it.

The narrator of your story is also a potential suspect in the rape of Lindy Simpson.  Why do you think it was important to tell it from his perspective, a neighbor boy obsessed with Lindy himself?

This is a hard question for me to answer because I never really conceived of the novel in any other way.  I think a large part of what attracted me to the story as a whole was the narrator’s compulsion to confess to something.  I’m definitely not a crime writer or mystery writer, have never really read many books in those genres, so I was operating only under the simple premise that the narrator had something he desperately needed to tell the reader.  That, I think, drives much of the story.  Looking back at it now, I can see other reasons why the perspective is important but, again, it’s hard to quantify because the entire book would be different, I think, if the perspective changed.

Writing about rape and sexuality has to be a tough and ambitious first topic to tackle in a debut novel. Were you scared how this story would be received? Were the more graphic & messy scenes difficult for you to write as a writer or do you just go in that place and let the words go?

I never thought of myself as writing about rape.  I’m definitely not qualified to do that.  I was just trying to tell this one person’s story.  In that way, I was never really scared about what the reception might be.  The only thing that makes fiction work, I think, is honesty.  Pure, raw, you-can’t-tell-anyone-else-I-told-you-this honesty. If a writer is concerned about the reception of their work more than the creation of it, then they are likely to mitigate this honesty in a way that makes for a weaker book.  And, if their unmitigated honesty eventually upsets people or disturbs them, then I think that’s ok.  We can only understand what we cherish by recognizing what it is that unsettles us.  I think that’s a large part of the function of art, actually, to be unsettling.  That said, I did not set out to accomplish anything as grand as that.  I just wanted to tell a good story with good sentences, and I find that plenty challenging enough.

You Are My Sunshine

Why did you title your book, My Sunshine Away and what is the significance of this title in telling your story?

This is taken from the song You Are My Sunshine, made famous by two time Louisiana governor Jimmie Davis. This is also the state song of Louisiana.  So, when kids grow up here, they learn to sing this song at a very young age.  You’ll often hear classrooms of kindergarteners singing this at Grandparent’s Day or the like, and it is a great big happy sound.  However, once I got older and learned the verses to the song, I realized that they were full of sadness and, some might argue, even menace. So, the song made a lot of sense to me in the way the narrator looks back at his youth.  The overall impression of his youth and neighborhood is a happy one, like the chorus, but the details are as sad and troubling as the verses to the song itself.

It is no surprise to me that you are the Creative Writing Workshop director at the University of New Orleans because your words practically sing off the page and have a poetic nuance that reminds me of Anthony Doerr’s poetic phrasing in,  All the Lights We Cannot See. Who are your biggest influences in your writing and is this something that you are just born with or does writing poetically take a lot of practice?

I’ve actually just read Doerr’s book and so I understand what a tremendous compliment this is. I think that novel is amazing. So, thank you!  My own literary influences are really all over the place.  I learned a lot from sentence writers like Barry Hannah.  I learned about setting from people like William Faulkner and Willa Cather.  I also greatly appreciate the imagination of people like Italo Calvino. I think every writer has kind of a grab bag of people they learn from. However, my main influence is definitely a writer named Lewis Nordan. He was a guy from the Mississippi delta whose books Music of the Swamp, Wolf Whistle and Sharpshooter Blues absolutely recalibrated the way I thought that people could write about the South. In a literary tradition so full of gritty and violent men, Nordan’s main characters are often highly sensitive and whimsical boys trying to navigate the odd terrain they’ve been born into. His enormous sympathy for his characters really resonated with me and I feel I would be a different person in life, not just as a writer, if I’d never read him.

I definitely think that some people are born with sort of a writer’s eye.  They inherently see connections and potentials for stories where others don’t.  However, I think that actually learning to write fiction well takes a tremendous amount of practice and dedication. I’ve basically been doing nothing else for the last twenty years of my life and I still don’t feel like I have a full grasp on the craft.  I don’t know that anyone does. It’s an incredibly difficult and puzzling process, writing fiction. I think that’s what ultimately makes it a worthwhile pursuit.  It’s an honor for me to try and help other writers get their vision out into the world. I’m happy to do it.

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

This answer would likely be different on any day you asked me. There are so many great books out there!  Right now, however, I will say Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. I’ve found myself missing that book lately, sort of yearning to go back and re-read it for maybe the 12th time.  Who knows why?  This is the great mystery of beautiful fiction; it speaks to us in fundamental ways that we ourselves don’t always understand. It’s a glorious thing.


You can connect with M.O. Walsh on Facebook and through his 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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Freebie Friday March 6, 2015

Friday, March 6th, 2015

freebie friday Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! As always, 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 kicked off our m challenge for February, Focus on Fashion and shared how to Bring a Touch of Gray to Your Spring Wardrobe. I also shared a sweet gift using vintage spoons – How to Make Chocolate Coffee Spoons and a 5 Minute Treat: Shamrock Pretzel Pops. Be sure, too, to check out this week’s edition of It’s the 3 Little Things to get your weekly dose of happy.

You can find lots of inspiring DIY, food, decorating and craft ideas in our popular Notebook, and be sure to check out all the contests you can enter on our weekly round-up of great giveaways, too.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Food & Drink

2 Free Drinks When You Join My Starbucks Rewards

Hormel Rev A.M. Wraps at Kroger with eCoupon

Breakfast at IKEA on March 7th

Health & Beauty


This Week’s Freebie Events: March 7 – March 13

7th – Barnes & Noble: Join story time featuring Once Upon a Cloud, 11 am
7th – Home Depot: Build Bookends, 9 am – 12 pm
7th – Lakeshore Learning: Create a Hold-It-All Buggy Clip, 11 am – 3 pm
7th – Pottery Barn: Make Superhero Wristcuffs or an Owl Habitat, 11 am
7th & 8th – National Museums: Bank of America Cardholders get free admission all weekend long
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5 Minute Treat: Shamrock Pretzel Pops

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

5 Minute Treat: Shamrock Pretzel Pops from

5 Minute Treat: Shamrock Pretzel Pops from

5 Minute Treat: Shamrock Pretzel Pops from


St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and today I wanted to share with you a sweet little treat idea that is no-bake, made in just five minutes, and can be customized to your child’s own dietary needs.

Do you know why we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Every year on March 17, the Irish and those of us that are Irish-at-heart across the world observe this day together, but many don’t know the origin of the holiday. What began as a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland has become an international festival celebrating Irish culture with parades, dancing, special foods and a lot of green food.

Each year I try to come up with a sweet treat for my kids to celebrate the holiday and I can’t wait to share this super easy and adorable treat with you. The best part? This one can be made gluten-free! Yay!

Head to the Kenmore Blog today to see this fun 5-minute St. Patrick’s Day treat tutorial!

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