Author Archive

Amy’s Notebook 11.09.16

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

source: good cheap eats

How comforting does a big bowl of this creamy chicken noodle soup look right now? I love the tips for prepping and freezing for soup season!

I love getting to peek behind-the-scenes on how magazine covers are made.

A clever way to add style to your cabinets without breaking the bank.

This pumpkin pie green smoothie looks like a great way to start the morning.

Bookmarking this holiday decluttering guide- I always need these reminders.

I can always use a new Brussels Sprouts recipe- the addition of cider and bacon sound divine!


Peruvian Shrimp Recipe

source: gimme some oven

I’m drooling over this easy Peruvian Shrimp recipe. What a great weeknight meal idea!

Gluten-free pumpkin pie? YES, PLEASE!  Here is also another gluten-free option if you want to attempt pie-crust making!

Speaking of pie, these pie box toppers are so cute!

I cannot put this book down. You guys were right! It’s a fantastic thriller!

A beautiful lesson in letting go of objects connected to grief.

30 days of fall outfit inspiration- I can always use that!

Fur Pom Pom Wreath source: centsational girl

This fur pom-pom wreath is EVERYTHING!

A little tip to remember when signing off on those holiday cards.

I’d love to implement this bookshelf idea in our home!

I am adding a couple of these budget-friendly meal ideas from celebrity chefs to our meal plan!

Here are some great strategies for decluttering your digital life.

Drooling over these soy sauce eggs!

I needed these mindset reminders for decluttering.

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration! Please note, there are affiliate links that do help support our site- thank you! xoxo


Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey

Monday, November 7th, 2016

Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from This post is sponsored by Honeysuckle White. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

For many years I have been dreaming about creating a Thanksgiving turkey that could be prepared in the slow cooker. I have a small kitchen and my oven doesn’t offer a lot of room for multiple dishes so my frustrations often mount when it is time to figure out timing of the bird and all the sides. If you are struggling too, I have come up with a slow cooker Thanksgiving turkey that looks beautiful AND saves you some space in the oven.

I’m partnering this year with Honeysuckle White and, believe me, it isn’t a stretch at all. Our bird every year has been from their company because it always cooks up beautifully. I was so excited to give my dream of slow cooking a bird a spin and wanted to share with you how I did that.

Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from

As you can see from these early morning shots, I got this started first thing in the morning so that it would be ready for our dinner hour. You are going to want to aim for an eight to nine pound bird to make sure that it can fit into your slow cooker. The slow cooker that I have is called the Ninja Cooker. Since we are finishing the bird in the oven to give it a golden skin, I love that I can just pop this insert right into the oven without transferring the bird.

One year I did a beautiful turkey using Ina Garten’s herb roasted turkey breast recipe and our family absolutely loved it. I wanted to recreate that delicious flavoring, packed with fresh herbs while swimming in wine, and make it using the slow cooker method.

Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from   Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from   Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from

I am not flashy with my turkey and usually have it already sliced before our guests arrive, but I know that many love to have a beautiful golden bird to carve right by the table. Maybe I saw National Lampoon’s turkey scene too many times and that may be why I am so scared.

Anyone else?

Rest assured, a slow cooker bird can still be beautifully displayed and you can even achieve a golden skin. As I’ve gotten more familiar with pressure cooking, it has opened my eyes that it is possible to start something in your gadgets and finish it somewhere else. The slow cooker turkey can be started in the slow cooker and finished under your broiler, but WATCH CAREFULLY. I found that it needed to be moved around quite a bit as it broiled to achieve an even color and to avoid burning the skin.

Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from

Although I have always loved the flavor of the Honeysuckle White Bird, I am ashamed to say that I did not know very much about their company until I had the opportunity to work with them.  I know that knowing where our food comes from is such an important thing and that’s why it’s good to know some of their business practices better. Honeysuckle White turkeys are raised on 700 independent family farms by farmers trained on animal handling practices that meet or exceed industry standards.  They even have a spot on their site where you can virtually meet the farmers- how cool is that?

They also realize that good quality food shouldn’t cost a fortune and believe everyone should be able to access it. They try to offer their products at a price point that would be comparable to other products, but with higher quality standards.

I hope this post inspires you to give slow cooking your Thanksgiving turkey a try this year and to look for a Honeysuckle White turkey (available in most states) or for the Shady Brook Farms turkeys, Honeysuckle White’s sister brand, available over on the East coast.

Don’t forget to visit this post to find out how to make ALL your side dishes ahead for your Thanksgiving feast

Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from

Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from

Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
  • 1 Honeysuckle White whole bone-in turkey, 8-9 pounds
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (5 cloves)
  • 4 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  1. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, mustard, herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice to make a paste. Loosen the skin from the meat gently with your fingers and smear half of the paste directly on the meat. Spread the remaining paste evenly on the skin. Pour the wine into the bottom of your slow cooker.
  2. Place the turkey carefully over the wine and cook on LOW for 5-7 hours. The turkey has a pop-up timer on it that you can watch for gauging when the turkey is done. Turkey is done when breast meat is 165˚ F and dark meat is 175˚ F.
  3. Once the turkey is done, remove and put in an oven-safe dish (unless your slow cooker insert is oven-safe). Broil under your broiler for 3-5 minutes, watching the turkey carefully to make sure not to burn the skin.
  4. When the turkey is done, cover with foil and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Slice and serve with the pan juices spooned over the turkey.

This post is sponsored by Honeysuckle White. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

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How Capsule Wardrobes Build Confidence

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

Fall Capsule Wardrobe Ideas from


This post is sponsored by thredUP. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

In 2014, I discovered the world of Project 333 and decided that I wanted to give a capsule wardrobe a try. It had a way of impacting not only my closet, but impacting my entire life. I realized the beauty in the editing, the simplifying, and the high that comes from discovering how much fun it is to make one piece work in multiple ways.

I also began to realize the importance of investing in good quality pieces since they work so much harder than they used to. The items I have in my closet are primarily from J. Crew, Madewell, Anthropologie, and Banana Republic. You might be surprised to know that I have rarely (if ever) shopped in any of those places though. My discovery of an online consignment resource called thredUP enabled me to make the finer things a part of my life on a Target-sized budget.

Over 80% of my capsule wardrobe has come from this store and I love the company’s mission to not only share great quality clothing for a fraction of the price, but they also love to inspire women with their #badassmoms series. This month, for example, they profiled journalist, Megan Alexander, on how she manages the mom juggle while tackling front-line reporting for Inside Edition and even the Super Bowl. “Hard work, hustle, flexibility, and a positive attitude. It sounds simple but it works,” is her motto for life. These profiles are meant to inspire and encourage women to be their very best.

You really get a sense of the hustle in this piece and the hustle of so many other moms that are making the world a better place while caring for their family.

I love each of these pieces, but Brandi Riley’s story, in particular, resonated with my own journey It isn’t just because she is a blogger, but it is because she is a blogger doing big things for others in her community. She founded a program, Courage to Earn, that lends support to female digital entrepreneurs. It inspires me so much to think outside-the-box with my own business and how I can help support other people around me to reach their own goals.

One of the things that has helped me gain confidence and feel like a #badassmom has been learning to live with less so that we can give more to others. Having a wardrobe that really looks like me and that is easy to pull together adds so much confidence to my life and cuts the clutter in our home.

I get a lot of questions about my capsule wardrobe and what pieces I would recommend so I shopped thredUP to show you some of the beautiful deals I found that would make perfect capsule wardrobe additions to help build your confidence and feel like a #badassmom too!

Must-Have Fall Capsule Wardrobe Basics

white blouse + polka dot scarf + tan bag + tan booties + dark denim

A Good White Blouse

A good collared white blouse is worth its weight in gold, BUT it took me many, many tries before I found the perfect version of it for myself. Ideally, this shirt is wrinkle-resistant, buttery soft, and fits your frame well.  Not only is it a beautiful item on its own, it is the perfect piece to layer over dresses, worn under blazers, can be worn over other shirts in your capsule, can be belted, can be tied, or can hang loose like a jacket. I consider it a must-have for my wardrobe, but you need to find one that feels like YOU. This top is Maeve (from Anthropologie) and was purchased for $32.99.

Remember, stark white blouses aren’t for everyone (something I learned in the Adore Your Wardrobe series) so be sure you pick the right shirt color for your skin tone.

peplum burgundy sweater + mint statement necklace + leopard print belt + ivory shirt + dark denim + tan booties

peplum burgundy sweater + mint statement necklace + leopard print belt + ivory shirt + dark denim + tan booties

A Good Cardigan

In the Midwest, it is all about layers and one of my favorite items for layering are cardigans. Finding the perfect cardigan can be tough and, I have learned, not all cardigan cuts are flattering.  This Fall, I got a J. Crew cardigan from thredUP that became my go-to cardigan. I loved it so much that it is constantly on my radar when I am shopping on thredUP. If you find one you love, you want it in all the colors, and the way I can tell this is my favorite is that the material that is listed is Cotton instead of Wool. Always check the fabric description to ensure a cozy (and not itchy) option for layering.

I love a good flare on anything or any fun details that seem a little out of the ordinary on a sweater. This Free People option ($24.99)  had beautiful buttons and a figure-flattering flare that I loved.

ivory shirt + kimono + tassel necklace + dark denim + tan booties

Although this isn’t a cardigan, a kimono can also be a smart layering piece and this inexpensive offering from Merona has an embroidered detail that can work well with your fall wardrobe basics ($7.99). I added a tassel necklace to break up that neckline and love that this looks pulled together without feeling too fancy for my usual errands.

gray cardigan over gray shirt + black leggings + tan boots + mustard accessories

I also loved this wool option to wear over my fall basics (Banana Republic $22.99). This is still a cardigan, but a completely different shape than the typical boyfriend cardigan I would normally reach for. I slipped a gray shirt underneath to keep this cozy and neutral. These boots are also, in fact, a thredUP find from last year. I get so many compliments on them and they are a brand I would have never been able to afford otherwise.

military jacket + gray shirt + statement necklace + black leggings + tan booties

military jacket + gray shirt + statement necklace + black leggings + tan booties

A Military Jacket

The military trend is still going strong and a good Military jacket can be another great layering option instead of a blazer this year. Pretty much anything olive green makes my short list of smart fall wardrobe basics this year and I found this practically brand-new Banana Republic jacket for a mere $39.99! What a dream! Don’t feel limited to just a jacket though, this same trend can be replicated in vests, pants, and button-down shirts.

flannel shirt + striped dress + statement necklace + nude booties

A Flannel Shirt

There is nothing cozier than flannel and this is one 90’s trend that I can get behind again and again. I remember being a kid and borrowing my dad’s flannel shirts to follow that Nirvana-inspired grunge trend. Did you do that too?  Now I prefer a more tailored look and love flannel options from J. Crew, Old Navy, & Madewell. These button-downs can be tied over a dress, added over a t-shirt, and layered under this year’s sweaters and vests. This cozy Madewell option was just $22.99!

pleated patterned top + leggings + tan booties & bag

Add a Little Pattern

Patterned shirts can add so much to a basic wardrobe and I definitely recommend adding just one shirt to make your wardrobe more interesting. This Mave top ($32.99), has a tie and gorgeous pleated details on it. You can still sit in your comfort zone of neutral tones while still adding a fun pattern to your basic wardrobe style.

Fall Capsule Wardrobe Ideas from

I hope these tips inspire you to feel confident and give a capsule wardrobe a spin. For more confidence-building pep talks, be sure to visit thredUP’s #badassmoms series for inspiration!

This post is sponsored by thredUP. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!



Small-Budget Crushes 11.06.16

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

Rustic Wooden Ladders

rustic wooden ladders for your blankets

Monogram Mugs

monogram mugs

Vintage Camper Birdhouses

vintage camper birdhouses


heeled mule

Canvas Anorak

canvas anorak

Mini Reversible Tote

mini reversible tote

Wooden Bottle Caddy With Opener

wooden bottle caddy with opener

Antler Doormat

antler doormat

Classic Tote

classic tote

Suede Mid-Heel Pump

suede mid-heel pump

Multi-Strand Beaded Necklace

multi-strand beaded necklace (lots of cute colors!)


Men's iPhone Case

men’s iphone case

Go-Dry Ear Warmers go-dry ear warmers


cake-stand cake stand in gold

Striped Turtleneck

striped turtleneck

Perfect Knit Blazer

perfect knit blazer (I want one in every color!!)

wake. pray. slay.

wake. pray. slay.


Keep on window shopping by visiting all of my Small-Budget Crushes. This post contains affiliate links that help our site! Thank you for supporting me! xoxo 

It’s the 3 Little Things: Good People, Tea Organization, & Key Lime Dreams

Friday, November 4th, 2016


The weather has been lovely this week and I switched my reading spot to sit under this beautiful tree in our backyard with a big stack of books. The fall here is nothing compared to our New England falls, but I think Indiana still provides a great display of colorful beauty too. Don’t you?

This has also been the first week of high school shopping for our son. Our kids have to pick an area of focus for their schooling which can be a difficult task at 14 to figure out. Can you imagine where your focus may have been at that age? I’m sure I would have felt the stage was where my career destiny was! I definitely never could have dreamed up this wildly weird job.  It feels strange to even be thinking about something that has always felt like a distant land when it comes to parenting my children. It feels monumental and, honestly, brings me a lot of melancholy as a mom. Everyone said it went by fast, but this feels just too soon for me. It’s a happy bittersweet moment to be moving into this realm as a mama.

I guess I feel conflicted about this next stage. Proud we kept him alive this long (kind of touch and go in those toddler years- hahaha!). If you have kids this age, do you feel that way too? I’m open to your advice on high school!

Here are a few other things that are making me happy this week.


The Good Place

I’d love to hear if you have gotten into any of the new shows this Fall television season!  It takes a lot to suck us into a show, mainly because we have far too much on our agenda to watch already, but we have gotten majorly sucked into, The Good Place. When I saw the trailer for this show, I told my husband I thought this was one we could really get into it. Eight episodes within two days confirms that, yes, this show is a real winner. With Kristen Bell and Ted Danson leading the cast, it comes as no surprise that it would be a good one.

The Good Place is a town where those who have been good throughout their life go to once they have passed away. Michael (Danson) is the architect who oversees the town, but this is the first time he has ever created one of these communities. He begins to realize that he made a few missteps, although he doesn’t know what they are, that include allowing a few people in who shouldn’t have been there. These people have to find a way to blend in or they risk destroying the good place for everyone.

It is laugh out loud funny, surprisingly sweet, and has some really smart writing. It’s also an enjoyably short show, perfect for tired moms and dads who can’t seem to commit to a full hour anymore. We have been watching it through Hulu!

I hope you love it as much as we do!


An Organized Tea Spot

I love seasonal teas for the cooler seasons, but I don’t love how much space all of the boxes take in my small kitchen. I found this beautiful tea organizer, while out doing my shopping, and knew it would be the perfect addition to my kitchen. It also happens to be a great way to share your tea on the table with a guest.

Each of the drawers is glass and holds an entire box of tea bags. I cut the names off of the boxes to slip inside of the drawers so I knew what I was grabbing without covering up this pretty display. The drawers have a small wooden peg that keep them from slipping out and breaking. It’s surprisingly well-made especially for that price.

Pioneer Woman Tea Organizer

I love that it matches all the other patterned bowls that we have in our kitchen and it has freed up a ton of space in the drawer where I store all my coffee mugs! How cute is that?!?

Chobani Key Lime Yogurt

Chobani Key Lime Greek Yogurt

This week our grocery store had Chobani Key Lime Yogurts on sale for their 10 for $10 deal. It happened to be the only flavor that was on sale so I got ten and crossed my fingers that they would be a hit.

If you haven’t tried these RUN and get them RIGHT NOW. It tastes just like the filling in a key lime pie, but with a protein punch and less sugar. I put this in a bowl with this chocolate granola from ALDI and I feel like I get to have pie in the morning. Who wouldn’t be happy about pie in the morning?  Since I hate the crust anyway, this is my perfect idea of pie eating!

If you love key lime, you will love these!


Reading: Find Her by Lisa Gardner and it is a good pick if you are drawn to darker plot themes like Pretty Girls or anything by Gillian Flynn. I am about halfway through and loving every minute of it.

Browsing:  The GoodReads choice nominees for this year. I can’t pick a favorite this year. It’s like choosing your favorite child. So many incredible books happened in 2016 and I was so proud to see several of the authors I interviewed this year were featured. Which books are you voting for? I will try to put together a post for you for the library again like I did for you last year!

Laughing: I hear you like the laughs each week so I thought I would keep them coming. Today’s highlights include hilarious misspellings, a Stranger Things Christmas, a raccoon cooking tutorial, and a hilarious skit on congress to encourage you to vote. Don’t worry, it doesn’t endorse any particular candidate- I’m pretty sure you can guess who I’m voting for anyway!  Please note,that last one does have some language, but definitely compels a girl to get out there and do her civic duty!

I’m hoping to get my vote in early this weekend and dodge the crowds.

Stripes & Polka Dots

Loving:  The tiny scarf trend! Have you tried it? I got this scarf and now I want a million more. It is a perfect trend for petite girls and I love it with my favorite striped top! I’m also loving the large barreled curling wand I scored for waves for longer locks. Beach waves without a lot of work are definitely my jam!


Snag Some Great Book Deals Today (join the MomAdvice Book Club for More!)

A couple of FYI’s on today’s deals! FIRST WOMEN & GIRL IN THE BLUE COAT are GoodReads Choice Award Nominees and THE GOOD GIRLS REVOLT is actually a new Amazon series that I’m hoping to catch!!

MAUD’S LINE, $1.99

Happy Fri-yay!

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

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers from


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

One of my favorite gifts I have ever received was a rice pillow that was handmade by my mother-in-law. Rice is such a surprisingly incredible conductor of heat and I loved that this gift could be reheated in the microwave to be used over and over again for warmth and comfort for all of life’s aches and pains. For today’s craft project, I wanted to create mini rice warmers perfect for keeping in your pocket for chilly days. Per usual, this project is completely no-sew (mic drop!) so you don’t even need to have a sewing machine to make these DIY hand warmers.

Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I wanted to create an easy hostess gift that would be perfect for sharing to thank someone for their hospitality. Not only do these diy no-sew hand warmers make a perfect gift, they also add beauty to your home when displayed in a pretty bowl!

How to Make DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers

Rice can be a little pokey if it is sandwiched between thin fabric so these no-sew hand warmers are being made with a heavier home decorator fabric from the Waverly Inspirations line. Using this saves time cutting because these little hand warmers don’t need an interior lining. Thanks to this thick fabric, it also makes it far easier to pull together with our hemming tape.


Supplies Needed (all of these supplies can be found at Walmart!)

Waverly Inspirations Fabric (I used the 100% cotton duck fabric available at the store)- each hand warmer needs two 5×5″ pieces

Hemming Tape and (optional) fabric glue

Cardstock for Template

Iron & Ironing Board



Measuring Cup

Fabric Rotary Cutter (or you can use scissors)

Rotary Mat

Pinking Shears

Waverly Inspirations Ribbon

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers Tutorial from

Directions for No-Sew Hand Warmers

1. Using cardboard or heavy-duty card stock, cut a 5×5″ template for cutting your fabric squares. Using this as your guide, begin cutting two squares for each each hand warmer. You will need four squares for each set. Don’t be afraid to mix and match fabrics, using different fabrics for each side.

2. With the print side facing OUT, line the almost the entire square with the hemming tape, leaving a small opening for your funnel to pour your rice in. Place the second fabric square on top (again, print side facing OUT), and iron the square on both sides, until the pocket has sealed.

3. Using a funnel, funnel in a 1/2 cup of rice into the pocket. Once all the rice has been added, take a small piece of hemming tape and put it in the hole that has been left open or you can finish with a dab of fabric glue to seal. Carefully iron it shut and then shake the pocket over a bowl to make sure all sides have been sealed.

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers Tutorial from

4. Finish by trimming the hand warmer with pinking shears to give it a finished edge. If giving as a gift, tie these with pretty ribbon for packaging.

5. To use these hand warmers, simply heat these for 30 seconds in your microwave. Tuck these in your pockets to help warm those hands in the colder months.


DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers from

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers from

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers from

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers from

This craft takes about fifteen minutes which is just about how much time I have to craft these days! We love these so much and they also happen to be fantastic for my kids as they head down to the bus stop. I love that they can be used over and over again and that these attractive fabric choices make such a pretty display in our home!  I have them nestled next to my new tea organizer for a little warming station from the cold- how cute is that?

I also thought these would be such a great addition for carrying around in my no-sew hidden pocket scarf. If you haven’t caught that tutorial yet, it is probably my proudest craft moment this year!

Happy crafting, friends!

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers from

Do you want more craft inspiration from Waverly? Try these!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions

Fabric Wreath & Matching Garland

Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints

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

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Amy’s Notebook 11.02.16

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Dyed Fringe Pillows

source: centsational girl

I’m so inspired to try dying my fabric and fringe to match after reading this tutorial.

Life gets real when the television goes off- very interesting observations!!

Check out these responses for a fresh book list.

Bookmarking this channel for my kids to watch!

I love a good playlist so I am excited about listening to  this playlist for Thanksgiving.

No-Sew Passport Cover

source: inspired by charm

What a gorgeous no-sew passport cover for your travels. Love the masculine touches on this one!

The best career advice (and so much more in the comments too). My husband and I read these together and gained a lot.

How to set a simple and elegant table- I love the unfussiness of this spread!

Oh, this Pressure Cooker Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake looks divine!

I just bought this cute little scarf this week and I can’t wait to mix it into my capsule wardrobe.


Navy Fower

source: lark & linen

Design mistakes almost every home makes- these tips are invaluable!

Swooning over the art in this gathering of the best online art resources.

Here are three unique ways to use your craft supplies- love the reminder to donate what you aren’t using!

This book is keeping me up WAY past my bedtime. Have you read it? I’m on edge!

I have never heard of an etiquette dinner party, but I am feeling inspired after reading about one.

I enjoyed peeking at what people carry in their purses- note to self, add dry shampoo to my purse!

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration! Please note, there are affiliate links that do help support our site- thank you! xoxo

October 2016 Must-Reads

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

October 2016 Must-Reads from

This was one of those reading months that really flew by for me and I didn’t even have time to sit down and really jot down my thoughts on all the books I read this month until today. I did some traveling this month and spent a couple of days curled up with some really great books on our little Michigan getaway so it gave some time to dive into some books that have been on my radar for awhile.

I also discovered that I really enjoy listening to audiobooks on flights which is something that I haven’t tried before. My eyes were so tired on my flight home, but I wanted to read so bad that I decided to download a book to listen to while flying. Once again those cheap bluetooth headphones pulled through for me and I enjoyed listening to a book on my flight. What a great way to sneak in another book!

I’m really excited to share with you this month’s list because I got in some REALLY incredible reads that I think you should check out. I tried to add a little variety to my stack this month so I read a couple of great memoirs along with some excellent fiction. 

7 Must-Read Books from October 2016

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

I heard about Hillbilly Elegy when I got the chance to share about my favorite summer reads on Sorta Awesome awhile back. Laura, who will always be Hollywood Housewife to me, mentioned that this was one of the best reads she read over the summer so I knew I needed to add this to my stack. This book is incredibly compelling and gave me so much to think about as it explores Vance’s life growing up in a hillbilly family. He writes in a very real and unflinching way about the difficulties growing up in poverty and how the hillbilly mentality seems to force people to continue living in poverty even when opportunities are presented that could enable them to finally get ahead.

There are many moments in this book that helped illustrate a few of my own life moments that helped me understand my own Southern family better. Vance’s life was far more extreme, but I still could identify with a few of his stories that I hope help me feel more compassion for my own roots.

I would highly recommend this one for a book club because you would have so much to discuss and I think anyone who reads it will be able to understand this pocket of America better.

5 Out of 5 Stars

I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows

I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows

I am always thankful for historical fiction because of how much it teaches me about times in history I was not aware of. I Will Send Rain was an absolutely phenomenal book on one family’s survival when the Dust Bowl storms hit their community in the 1930’s. Through alternating viewpoints, Meadows dives deep into what it would be like to live through these storms from eating, to farming, to raising your children, to growing up as a child, to the impact of a marriage during this difficult time in history.  My hard days pale in comparison to the survival of this poor family’s daily existence as this dust covers their land and home, impacting their lives forever.

This book is so well-researched and so beautifully told that I have been thinking about it ever since I finished it. It is heartbreakingly sad, haunting, and achingly beautiful. I know you will be thinking about this one as much as I do when you finish it. If you are looking for a good historical fiction escape with a great coming-of-age story, make sure you add this one to your book stack. If you like this one as much as I did, be sure to read Mudbound. It reminded me so much of that beautiful read!

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

I absolutely LOVED What She Knew and I even had Gilly join me for our Sundays With Writers series. I was so excited to read her next book, The Perfect Girl, after enjoying her first novel so much. This thriller is about a teenage girl, named Zoe, that is involved in a tragic car accident that kills three of her classmates. They relocate their family, her mother marries a wealthy guy, and they try to start a brand new life.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to escape a past like that and Zoe’s secret comes to life in a very public way at a piano concert she is doing. That same evening, her mother is murdered after the secret is revealed to the family, and everyone looks like a suspect. The reader gets the chance to try to solve who killed her and what other secrets this family might be carrying as the story unfolds.

This was a solid thriller, but the big reveal of who killed the mother was a bit of a let down after the length and build-up of the story. It just didn’t seem to have the same magic for me as I found with What She Knew, but I still enjoyed the story. Macmillan is a gifted storyteller and I can’t wait to read what she brings to the thriller table next!

3 Out of 5 Stars

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

One of the most buzzed about books this year is, The Mothers. The author, Brit Bennett,  is only 25 years old and was named to the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 this year so I have been anxiously awaiting this book’s appearance.

“The Mothers,” refer to the elderly women in a conservative congregation and their observations about their fellow church members, including observations about a girl named Nadia who is the main character in this story.

Nadia falls into a romantic relationship with the pastor’s son and their relationship ends when a secret that they carry becomes the primary focus of their relationship. Nadia continues to hide the secret, even from her dearest friend Aubrey, and ends up moving away to start fresh elsewhere. When she comes home though, she discovers that her feelings are still there for the man she left, but he has moved on with her best friend who has never known the secret past they carry.

This was a great read if you go into it knowing that this is more of a character piece than anything else. I really enjoyed Bennett’s writing and the unique viewpoint that, “the mothers,” offered to this.

I was excited to find this at the library, but if the wait list is too long, this was one of this month’s selections from the Book of the Month Club which is a great way to get great selections for a great price on books! Take 30% off 3 months plus a free BOTM tote with this coupon code: 30TOTE.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

I’m not a big fan of books about animals so as soon as I see if a book is about an animal, I promptly dismiss it. I asked Sasha, from Pathologically Literate, to lead our book club discussion this month though and she selected, Lily and the Octopus, as her pick for us to read because she loved it so much she wanted to read it again.

I can’t tell you how much I love book clubs for this VERY reason because it pushed me to pick up this book, a book I would have dismissed,  and it is one of my new favorite books. I just can’t stop thinking about this sweet story that had SO MUCH humor and heart.

Teddy is a single gay man who has found the love of his life in his sweet little dog, Lily. Sounds basic, right? It isn’t though, it is rich and laugh-out-loud funny and heartfelt and gorgeous from start to finish. Rowley writes from Lily’s perspective in the most wildly unique way that it makes your heart hurt with its sweetness. When the two of them face a big challenge together, the story really begins to build.

The ending? Sheer perfection.

If a book moves me to tears, it’s a treasure. Get those tissues ready because it’s a tearjerker!

As soon as I finished it, I wanted to pick it right back up and read it again. I’m so thankful for this gentle nudge from our book club hostess to read this beautiful book. It was, truly, my favorite read of the month!

5 Out of 5 Stars

It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell

It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell

I read about, It Was Me All Along, ages ago when Kristen from Dine & Dish recommended it on one of her reading round-ups. I was not familiar with Andie’s blog and this was not a memoir I would have typically grabbed, but Kristen never leads me astray. It also happened to be chosen as one of Amazon’s Top 100 Books of 2015, picked as People Magazine’s Book of the Week, one of Amazon’s Best New Books of January 2015, and a finalist in the 2015 GoodReads Choice Awards.

It Was Me All Along chronicles Andie’s lifelong difficulties with healthy eating and her transformative journey of losing 135 pounds and finally finding the balance she was missing with food.

Andie really illustrates what so many struggle with and how often our best memories and our greatest comfort comes from food. She writes in a raw and honest way about how difficult it was to have a healthy perspective on eating and why so many of her hurdles with her food addiction were deeply rooted in her childhood.

I have had issues of my own with food and my weight and recognize how difficult it is to not fall back into bad behaviors. Andie’s honesty with her journey makes this a compelling read and I look forward to now being a follower of her beautiful blog too.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

I received an advanced reader copy from NetGalley- all thoughts and opinions are my own!

I have always enjoyed Leavitt’s books (you can read an interview that I did with her over here), but this book…this book is EXCEPTIONAL and, I believe, her best book yet. The Girls had a lot of hype (I still need to read this one), but I think this is the book that should have received the hype as Leavitt explores this era in such a beautiful and compelling way.

When I interviewed Caroline she was working on this book and she had said, “Cruel Beautiful World was sold on the basis of a first chapter and a thirty page synopsis. It’s set in the 60s and early 70s, the time when all the free love movement was starting to turn ugly, with the Manson murders and Altamont. It’s about a 16 year-old girl who runs off with her 30 year-old hippy teacher to join the “back to the land” movement that began in the 70s, a so-called-paradise that turns into a nightmare for her.”

Who better to describe it than the author herself? What I would like to say about it is that she carves such incredible dynamics between the sisters and the fear that she creates in Lucy, as she worries for her safety during the Manson murders, is so poignant as she is being held captive herself by the man she thought she was in love with. These characters are written in a way that they feel so real and you can’t help but worry for each of them after Lucy disappears from their family.

If you are wanting to step back into that crazy time in history, this book is a perfect way to do it!

5 Out of 5 Stars

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Read With Me This Year:

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

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

11 Ways to Naturally Relieve Joint Pain

Monday, October 31st, 2016

11 Ways to Naturally Relieve Joint Pain from


Since my diagnosis this year with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, I have received so many emails from readers who have suspected they were struggling with the same disorder (or their family members are) and asking how I am managing my pain. In the beginning, I was on a variety of medications for my joint pain from anti-inflammatory medications to steroids to even anti-epileptic medications to help control the pain. I am now (mostly) pain medication free, but it took meeting with an incredible specialist and doing my own experimentations on what worked best for my body to finally kick my prescription habit.

Joint pain, of course, isn’t limited to just EDS. So many people I know have a variety of issues like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, chronic fatigue syndrome, or fibromyalgia that cause joint pain for them as well. Chronic pain, with any condition, makes doing routine tasks difficult. It is frustrating when doing simple routine tasks cause pain and it is more frustrating when that pain is invisible to others.

You might look like a million bucks, but internally you are somewhere curled up in a fetal position just trying to get through your day.

It’s a frustrating feeling.

I am sure I will be updating this post as I find new things that work for me so be sure to bookmark this post for more ideas! In full disclosure, I am not a doctor and have no medical background. What works for me is not guaranteed to work for you. These suggestions are ones that should be reviewed with a trusted physician! 

Please also note, I have purchased ALL OF THESE THINGS WITH MY OWN MONEY. I know that people often feel mislead by bloggers about false claims on products. I can tell you that everything I promote on my site is always legit, but I can also tell you that no one has paid to be in this spot or is giving me a freebie so I will write about it. Just ask my husband about the bank alerts when I start buying this stuff… ;) 

There are four things that I have found that really help my joint pain- Warmth, Good Sleep, Supplements, & Gentle Stretching. If any of these categories are off (even just a tad), I am usually in a lot of pain by the end of the day. 

Here are 11 products that I have found help me in each of these categories.

11 Ways to Naturally Relieve Joint Pain



Not only do I have EDS, but I also have a disease called Raynaud’s that causes my fingers and toes to be cold, losing feeling, and change colors. For me, one of my best defenses against Raynaud’s and my joint pain is to stay warm. A simple thing like an extra sweater layer, warm socks, warm slippers, and even having my little fireplace going in the summer all help my joints so much.

When I spoke with my doctor about what I could do to help my Raynaud’s he suggested UGGS in the summer.

Basically, bundle up.

Stiff joints, for me, require the same kind of bundling. Winter is my worst enemy and I am dreading the cold days that are coming in Indiana. Luckily, I have found a few things that help warm my joints and relieve some of my pain.

Here are a few products that I use to help in this category:

Sunbeam Heated Blanket

A Heated Throw

With all these weird joint issues I have going on, I am absolutely miserable in the mornings and I am also cold all the time. I treated myself to a Sunbeam Sherpa Electric Throw and it has been such a game-changer for me throughout the day. It has three settings and the Low setting is warm without getting hot and the sherpa interior and velvety exterior make it a treat to snuggle with. The sizing is perfect for two or one really cold woman who wraps herself like a burrito in it.

If you struggle with joint pain in the morning, having one of these to plug in while you have a cup of coffee is a great way to warm up those joints for your day. I even plop it on my lap while I am working on the computer so I can keep the warmth in my toes.  Although this is a pricier investment, it has been my go-to on my bad days with my joints.

Epsoak Epsom Salts

Epsom Salt Baths (in Bulk!)

One thing I also started doing in the mornings (post workouts or on those mornings that I can’t seem to get my joints moving) is indulging in an epsom salt soak to help with my joint pain. Going to the store to stock up on salts every week got a little ridiculous so I was excited to discover that I could get almost 20 pounds in bulk on Amazon and have it shipped right to my door (thanks, Prime!)

The scented soaks are my favorite so I soak in these with a few drops of this lavender oil. Thank God for that epic bath tray so I can make the most of my bath with a good book.

In a 2004 study, conducted by the School of Biosciences at the University of Birmingham, researchers concluded that prolonged soaking in an Epsom salt bath raises magnesium levels without any adverse effects. The ideal concentration for using Epsom salt baths to raise magnesium status, according to the study, is approximately 500 grams, or 2 cups, of Epsom salt dissolved in 15 gallons of water — the amount that can fit in a standard-sized bathtub. The ideal amount of time spent soaking is 12 minutes, two to three times per week.” (source)

Although I will share this in the supplements section later, epsom salts are a fantastic way to get in a dose of magnesium and magnesium is a great thing for joint pain. I am a bit of a mag addict these days.

Did you know that most people are deficient in this?

You can read more about why magnesium is such an important and vital nutrient, even if you don’t suffer from joint pain.

Fingerless Arthritis Gloves

Fingerless Arthritis Gloves

Although not fashionable, I discovered fingerless arthritis gloves are a GREAT way to improve the circulation in my fingers and to reduce joint pain, particularly when I am working. The mild compression in each glove helps to relieve stiffness in your hands and can be extremely beneficial if you work at a desk job like I do.

Not only are these fantastic indoors, but they are also wonderful to be worn outdoors too underneath your usual layers. My son has Raynaud’s too and he wears these as a layer underneath his gloves to help keep his fingers warm. It is incredible how much relief they can bring and they are an easy thing to slip on while doing routine tasks thanks to their fingerless design.

Deep Blue Rub

Deep Blue Rub

I am one of those people that is a disbeliever when it comes to the oils craze (don’t throw rotten tomatoes please!). That is to say that I am NOT a distributor and also don’t always believe in the claims that are made about these. Several friends recommended trying this cream and even shared tubes with me when I was first diagnosed.

This Deep Blue Rub cream is magic and has helped a lot with providing a little pain relief. It also happens to smell way better than the heavy-duty stuff I had been using that made my eyes water!

I am putting this under the Warmth category because it begins with a cool tingle and then offers a comforting warmth when the coolness wears off.

Keep in mind, it’s pricier than the stuff at the drugstore, but I’m finding just a little goes a long way. I wish it never wore off, but the moments of relief it provides have helped me a lot, particularly in the evenings! They do offer smaller packages for purchase that can help you decide if this is a good pain relieving option or not!

Good Sleep

Sleep with joint pain has felt almost impossible this year. I have never struggled with insomnia until I started experiencing pain like this. I can tell you that few things help my joints more than a good night’s rest though. If I have a miserable night of sleep, it makes for a very difficult day for me (and for my family!).

Here are a couple of things that I have found improve my sleep and reduce my joint pain:

Body Pillows

A Body Pillow

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

I should note, I do couple this body pillow with a proper pillow for my head. Many, many years ago I got a Tempur-Pedic pillow that ended up saving me hundreds of dollars visiting a chiropractor. I couldn’t believe how much this pillow cost, but we often remark that these pillows are one of our most valued possessions. You know, the kind you would grab if there was a fire. It’s right up there with precious pictures.

If you can’t swing one of those though, give this inexpensive body pillow option a try and see if it helps!

sleepytime extra tea

Sleepytime EXTRA Tea

When I was struggling with some stomach issues, the dietician I saw suggested making the switch over to tea to help calm stomach (instead of that red wine habit- ahem!). I have difficulty unwinding in the evenings and still needed something that would help me with that. I had been taking melatonin, but seeing this piece on it kind of freaked me out about that.

I found this Sleepytime Extra Tea and I don’t know what voodoo is in this stuff, but it makes me feel sleepy and relaxed at night. I actually do know what voodoo it is… it is valerian and it seems to work like a charm for me. I sleep good and I have no problems getting up and around in the morning. This has replaced my melatonin hangover and I have been really happy about this little life switch.

I add a splash of almond milk and honey to it for an evening treat with my book. It was also a treat, after discovering it and becoming a genuine fan, to get to head to the headquarters and see where this tea was made and learn more about their company.

Driftoff Natural Sleep Aid


Sometimes Sleepytime Tea just doesn’t cut out and so I tried a variety of different natural sleep aids to help me get some zzz’s so my joints would feel better. Of the things I have tried, DRIFTOFF is the one that has brought me the most success recently. It does contain melatonin, but only 2 mg (within the range of appropriate dosage according to the experts). This sleep aid combines the powers of valerian root with the powers of melatonin to help you sleep better and more soundly.

This has really helped me a lot and I’m considering trying their product for anxiety relief too because I have had such good success with this one.

Natural Calm

Natural Calm

Hey, there anxiety! You sure cause me a lot of sleepless nights.

Several of my friends had been telling me about Natural Calm and the benefits of magnesium on the body even before my joint issues had started.  I knew how good I felt after soaking in epsom salts (see above), but the advice to take magnesium orally  went in one ear and out the other.

When I went to pick up my supplement though, the girl waiting on me said, “PLEASE try this! It has changed my life.” She pointed to a bottle on the shelf and I actually listened this time.

It was the same bottle of stuff that my friends had been raving about. If you read the reviews you can get a better picture of how much it helps people.

It is unreal the difference in my mood and calmness levels.  For me, the difference was noticeable immediately. My hardest day of the week is Tuesday. It’s the day ALL THE THINGS must happen and I am a disaster by the end of the day.

I took it in the afternoon and my husband came home and was like, “How did it go today?”

And I’m all like…”It’s cool.”

And he’s like, “No, really. Isn’t this THE HARDEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE?”

And I’m like, “Nah, man, it’s cool.”

In short, he nicknamed me Matthew McConaughey cause I’m all like, “Alright, alright, alright,” around house. Not high strung. Not crying because I can’t do ALL THE THINGS for ALL THE PEOPLE. And I’m sleeping better (a huge bonus on the joints).

Do your own research, start small (or you will have the runs- trust me!) and don’t take more than what is recommended. I take a small amount in the afternoon before my children come home when they ask for ALL THE THINGS and a small amount if I am worried I will have trouble sleeping at night. I took it once in the morning and it knocked me out and I slept all day so I don’t recommend it if you want to have a productive morning. If you want to have the most glorious day of day sleeping though, it was quite lovely.  Of course, it reacts differently in everyone. For me, it makes me feel like I had a little glass of wine or a great bath.


Since I have EDS, one of my main defenses against joint pain is supplements. The other (although I am not getting into it here) is eating gluten-free to reduce the inflammation in my joints. Both are a pain in the patootie, to be honest. I miss eating real pizza and I hate taking pills.

I’m not going to dive into my supplements, but if you have EDS too, Dr. Collins has a great guide on eating and supplementation.

There are a couple of things that I would recommend though (from my personal experience) that are helping.

Pill Box Organizer

A Big Guns Pill Organizer

Three people in our family are following the supplement guidelines recommended by our doctor to help with our joints and that means A LOT OF FREAKING PILLS. I was getting really overwhelmed getting everything organized and the volume we need to take don’t fit in a traditional organizer. I got one of these large pill box organizers for sorting and I love it. Each of us has our initials on the outside, I do all the sorting once a week, and then each person pulls out the drawer for the day and takes their pills.

This one offers an AM & a PM side on each day. It has helped me stay on track with the supplement routine and I credit the regime with bringing a ton of joint pain relief.

I would also say, getting these supplements set up on Prime Pantry has helped a ton with keeping us stocked each week. There are two things that arrive on my doorstep regularly through Prime Pantry- supplements and my hair color, friends. It’s WILD over here!

artnaturals Magnesium Oil

Magnesium Oil

Can you tell that I’m obsessed with magnesium? Magnesium oil was a recommendation from the specialist I saw and has been the latest discovery for me to help relieve my joint pain. The one that I use is this one from artnaturals (you can definitely explore other options though- I went by reviews!)

This stuff is amazing!  It works INCREDIBLY well for joint pain, but it also says that it helps a ton for people with migraines too. I don’t suffer from migraines, but I know many of you do and wanted to mention that.

There is 100 mg elemental magnesium per 1 ml (approximately 8 sprays) in this oil. Since I was recommended to double my current magnesium intake, this is helping me achieve that without taking more supplements.

I spray it on all my achy joints and it has helped me to skip my pain medications this week because it helps so much!  If you have migraines, you just spray your temples to help with your pain management, usually easing pain within just a couple of hours. It has helped so much I actually stopped taking my second dose of pain relievers without a great deal of discomfort in the evening.

It does leave a bit of a residue, but not too bad for this white, white woman. I’ve also found it stings a bit so not a good thing to spray shortly after shaving!  I’m planning to mix up a lotion she recommended soon (I’ll share that recipe later!), but in the meantime this is an effortless way to increase my magnesium.

Gentle Stretching

This cardio queen has had to make a lot of changes to her exercise routines. The advice I was given was to do what I had been doing, unless it was causing me pain. I knew, in my heart, pounding on my joints actually was doing more harm than good. I switched to a yoga routine (never taking things too far!!) and it has been one of the best things for my body. If you are local, this studio and their instructors have brought a lot of joint pain relief to my life. If you are not a local, check Groupon to see if you can score a few classes on a budget.


If I could make any recommendations, it would be to consider getting a thicker yoga mat to protect your achy joints. I bought an expensive one and I wouldn’t say paying a ton more was worth it. You can even find good quality thick mats at places like Marshall’s or TJ Maxx.  I also found this affordable option that should help protect your knees while working out. If you are determined to keep to a thin mat though (it really does help with balance), I love this knee pad offering that would be perfectly portable for protecting your knees.

I also advise keeping warm especially until your joints warm up. I use thredUP (new customers can get a $10 credit using that link) for layering my workout apparel (they carry a lot of those pricier activewear options) and I found that the yoga socks on Amazon work just as good as the pricier yoga socks that were being sold at my studio.

A gentle stretch always helps me feel better and has been a great way to avoid relying on prescription medication.

PHEW!! I think that is it for now. I REALLY and TRULY hope this helps someone else with their joint pain. So much of this is your own trial and error and I hope someone else trying a few things out (and spending a gazillion dollars on stuff that didn’t work!) will help you in your journey towards joint pain relief.

11 Ways to Naturally Relieve Joint Pain from

If you have any of your own suggestions or questions, I’m happy to answer them! I hope I can pay forward all that I have learned from so many! xo

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

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Small-Budget Crushes 10.30.16

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

Just Handle It T-Shirt

just handle it t-shirt


Oversized Flannel Scarf

oversized flannel scarf

Modal Joggers

modal joggers (loads of prints/colors)

Flannel Fleece Pom-Pom Throw

flannel fleece pom-pom throw

Personalized Starbucks Cups

personalized reusable starbucks cups

Faux Fur Slippers

faux fur slippers

Pintucked Swing Dress

pintuck swing dress in yellow

Marbled Vase

marbled vase

Rubber Boots With Removable Liner

rubber boots with removable liner

Taco Rack

taco rack



If You Can Read This Socks

if you can read this, bring me a glass of wine socks

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