Archive for the ‘Announcements’ Category

Huge Summer Giveaway: $500 Amazon Gift Cards (2 Winners!)

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Oh, I have quite the summer giveaway for you today!! I am partnering with nine amazing bloggers to offer two lucky winners one $500 Amazon gift card each! The graphic below includes some ideas of great things you could be using this gift card towards. I’m kind of jealous. This girl would be spending it all on books to stock her library and vinyl for her record player…but I digress!

Enter to win between July 21-31, 2015 via the widget below. Basically, if you follow all 10 bloggers on Instagram (and you will want to, because these feeds are beautiful) you will have tossed your hat in the ring 10 times (x 2 since there are two gift cards to win…sometimes math is awesome!!). Once the giveaway ends, the winner will be chosen randomly and contacted via Instagram, with 48 hours to respond. Good luck to each of you!

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$500 Amazon Gift Cards (2 Winners!)

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What The World’s Top Authors Say You Should Be Reading (Updated WEEKLY!)

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

What You Should be Reading According to Today's Top Writers (Updated Weekly)

When I started the Sundays With Writers series, I had no idea how beautifully it would blossom and how happy it would make me.  I decided to have one question that I would always end with when interviewing our authors. It was this…

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

Since I started asking that, I have discovered and read books that would have never found their way into my book pile. Of course, browsing through the entire series to find their answers can be a bit tedious so I am putting all of these responses into one post that I encourage you to bookmark, pin, and share with others as this will be updated weekly as we feature the gifted writers in our Sundays With Writers interview series.

If you wanted to read more about each of the authors that have shared their recommendations, a link is provided to our interview about their incredible books. There is a reason they have been featured and you will discover why when you open their books. It has been my honor to interview each of these incredible voices.  

What I have discovered is, if I really like a book that they recommend…chances are, that author is going to be a GREAT one to read since there is usually a reason why they are in love with a writer’s words.

Without further adieu, here are the books that the world’s top authors say you should be reading!

Please note, this file will now be updated after each Sundays With Writers. The list will start moving down from now on so the latest book will now be at the top. Keep this bookmarked for your library list!

Please also note, these are affiliate links.  A small portion of your sales goes to support the work we do at MomAdvice.com. Please follow me on GoodReads for more great book recommendations!  xo

The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett

Read It: The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett

Recommended By: Greer Macallister

My favorite book is almost always the book I’ve read most recently, since it’s fresh in my mind. In this case, that’s The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett. It’s about an Arctic expedition in the 1850s, during a time where men died regularly exploring that area. The story weaves together what happens on a particular ship with the lives of those waiting back at home for the ship to return. Barrett writes so beautifully and precisely about both the emotional and physical dimensions of her characters’ lives. It’s gorgeous and brutal. I loved it.

One by Sarah Crossan

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

 

Read It: One by Sarah Crossan, The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, & Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

Recommended by: Sarah Bannan

I think that’s almost impossible for me as I read constantly, and I am forever discovering my newest favorite novel…So, I’m going to choose my novel of the moment, which is Sarah Crossan’s ONE, which will be published by Bloomsbury in August. It’s a verse novel for young adults, and it’s a beautiful story about conjoined twins.It’s completely consuming and unlike anything else I’ve ever read.

(I should also say that I reread, every summer, Meg Wolitzer’s THE INTERESTINGS and Curtis Sittenfeld’s PREP. Two completely amazing feats of literary fiction and coming of age…I know this is cheating but it’s hard for me!)

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Read It: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Recommended By: Celeste Ng

I’d go with The Bluest Eye, because Toni Morrison is one of my all-time favorite authors and that book says so much about race and culture and identity and love, and it’s beautifully written to boot.

 

Room by Emma Donoghue

Read It: Room by Emma Donoghue

Recommended By: Chris Bohjalian

What makes this novel so remarkable is not merely how authentically Donoghue captures the voice of a five-year-old boy, but the deft way she slowly conveys the horrific reality of a mother and son’s captivity. If you want a poignant, powerful novel about a mother’s desperate love for her child, it doesn’t get better than this.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

 

Read It: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Recommended by: Rene Denfeld & Kristin Harmel

Rene says- Oh, that is a tough one, because there are so many wonderful books. I just read All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It was stunning.

Kristin says-  All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I realize that’s sort of a lame response, because the book is so popular right now, but it’s truly one of the most beautifully crafted and beautifully written books I’ve ever read. I recommend it all the time!

americanah-book-cover

Read It: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Recommended by: Maggie Shipstead

I just finished reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I loved. That’s the book I’m talking up to everyone right now.

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

Read It: The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

Recommended by: Suzanne Redfearn

black-and-blue

Read It: Black And Blue by Anna Quindlen

Recommended by: Jillian Cantor

That’s a tough question! I don’t know that I can pick just one book. But my favorite author is Anna Quindlen. I read Black and Blue years ago and it has always stayed with me. Every time she has a new book out, I buy it right away!

The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

Read It: The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

Recommended by: Torre DeRoche

I don’t think I can prescribe a cure-all because books are so personal to each individual, but I’ll share with you the most important book I ever read—a book that burst open my imagination and taught me that it’s possible to create an incredible alternate reality on the page.

When I was thirteen, my older sister told me I had to read this book, giving me only the title and a pinch of her fingers to demonstrate its approximate spine width. I went to my school library to look for the book and, having no idea where to start my search, I said to a friend, “I’m looking for a book that’s about this thick.” I extended my finger to poke the spine of a random book. It was Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel: the very book my sister told me I must read. It was a bizarre, serendipitous first encounter. That book rocked my world.

Long Man by Amy Greene

Read It: Long Man by Amy Greene

Recommended by Patry Francis

It’s hard to choose only one, but Amy Greene’s,  Long Man has everything I look for in a novel: a compelling protagonist named Annie Clyde who faces impossible odds with great courage and resilience, an engrossing plot, and a setting so vivid, you really feel as if you are there.

The Stand by Stephen King

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Read It: The Stand by Stephen King, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, & Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Recommended by: Susan Crandall

When I’m asked this question, I always reach way back, looking for a book that has stuck with me so vividly that I can remember the details of the characters very clearly even after a long time. I try to pick something that isn’t a classic, those already stand out and find audiences. I’m a character writer. Suspenseful plots are enjoyable, but it’s the beauty of the character and his/her journey that touches me. So after all that rambling, I always come back to two books, very different genres: Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry and The Stand, by Stephen King. I’m also a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s, Outlander (the first book in the series is my favorite).

father-of-the-rain

Read It: Father of the Rain by Lily King

Recommended by: Michelle Gable

I recommend Father of the Rain by Lily King to everyone. It is the perfect book.

My Antonia by Willa Cather

Read It: My Antonia

Recommended by: Heather Gudenkauf

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

The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe

Read It: The Shadow of the Torturer

Recommended by: M.R. Carey

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

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

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

Read It: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien & Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

Recommended by: Mary Kubica

My favorite book of all time is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. This is one that I tell everyone to read. It’s a Vietnam War memoir, but is much more than that. You don’t need to be a history guru to fall in love with this book. When it comes to my own genre though, psychological suspense, Before I Go To Sleep is one I often recommend. I just loved this S.J. Watson novel.

Room by Emma Donoghue

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

The Bees by Laline Paull

 

Read It: Room by Emma Donaghue, Every Last One by Anna Quindlen, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, and The Bees by Laline Paull

Recommended by: Carla Buckley

Emma Donaghue’s Room, Anna Quindlen’s Every Last One and Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge. Just a few days ago, I finished Laline Paull’s fabulous debut, The Bees; I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Awareness by Anthony DeMello

The Lover by Marguerite Duras

Read It: Awareness by Anthony de Mello & The Lover by Marguerite Duras

Recommended by: Rebecca Rotert

IMPOSSIBLE. I NEED TWO AT LEAST, AMY! However, a book I have to read over and over is Anthony de Mello’s Awareness.  It’s not fiction.  It might even be called self-help (choke).  It reminds me of the troublesome human pitfalls that can really muck up our short  little jaunt on earth.  I also return to Duras’ The Lover over and over because it reminds me of longing and waking up to life. These are a few of my favorite things, as the song says.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Read It: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Recommended by: Caroline Leavitt

The Great Gatsby. I hated it in high school, but then years later, I had to teach it in a high school, and I began to realize what a perfectly structured novel it is, how moving, how sad, and how beautiful a book it really is.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Read It: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Recommended by: Anthony Doerr

Oh, gosh, my answer to this question changes all the time, but a novel I’m absolutely in love with right now is Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. It’s about family, siblinghood, memory, storytelling, and particularly about our society’s treatment of animals. It’s also structured in this beautiful, organic, perfect way—I hope a few of your readers will give it a look!

I, Robot by Iasaac Asimov

Read It: I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

Recommended by: Andy Weir

I, Robot” by Isaac Asimov. In my opinion, it’s one of the greatest sci-fi books of all time.

The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck

Read It: The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck

Recommended by: Kathryn Craft

Ah, the dreaded one book question, asked of a multiple-book lover! Since I know nothing about the reader, including why he or she reads—and given my answers to the question about critical subjectivity—I’ll assume your real question is “What book could someone read that would reveal the most about you?” You said “book,” not “novel,” for which I am grateful, since novels are such delicious slices of life it would be like asking if you could only taste one food what would it be. So I am going to go the nonfiction route and say The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. A brilliant life guide that I’ve read many times, my sensibilities are all over its pages.

Get In Trouble by Kelly Link

Read It: Get In Trouble by Kelly Link

Recommended by: Karen Joy Fowler

I’m not sure I can answer this question.  It would depend on the anyone – I don’t think books are a one-size-fits-all sort of thing.   But a current enthusiasm is Kelly Link’s new short story collection, Get In Trouble.  I will be so happy if you all buy and read it.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Read It: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Recommended by: William Kent Krueger

My all-time favorite novel is To Kill A Mockingbird. Anyone who hasn’t yet read this American classic absolutely must.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Read It: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Recommended by: Cristina Henríquez

That’s so hard. But this one has been very much on my mind lately so I’m going to say Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

Read It: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, & The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

Recommended by:  Frances Whiting

Oh My! What a hard question! I love books so much, choosing just one is almost impossible. But I’ll bite the bullet and say…no I just can’t do it! So instead I’ll say The Shadow of the Wind, The Great Gatsby, anything by P.J. Wodehouse, The Last Anniversary, anything by Mary Wesley, Nick Hornby, Tony Parsons and Clive James.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Read It: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Recommended by: M.O. Walsh

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.

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Read It: Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Recommended by: Mary Louise Kelly

I would tell my brother to read Birdsong, the 1993 novel by Sebastian Faulks. It’s about a British soldier in France during World War I, and it is the most gorgeous epic of love and war and regrets. I’ve been telling my brother to read it for twenty years now, and he keeps refusing, at this point out of sheer orneriness. C.J., consider yourself publicly challenged.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Read It: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Recommended by Annabel Smith

My all-time favourite novel is Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, the incredible story of a prolonged embassy siege and the relationships which form between the hostages and their captors. Patchett has the most incredible insight into human behaviour and her prose is simply gorgeous. I have read this book at least half a dozen times and I get something new from it every time.

Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson

Read It: Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson

Recommended By: Amanda Eyre Ward

My favorite book last year was Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson. It’s dark, riveting, gorgeous, important.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Read It: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez & To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Recommended by: Jandy Nelson

Two books: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. My all time favorite novels.

Light Years by James Salter

 

Desperate Characters by Paula Fox

Read It: Light Years by James Salter & Desperate Characters by Paula Fox

Recommended by: Molly Ringwald

Light Years by James Salter. It’s just one of those books that I keep picking up again and again. There is not a lot of fiction that I read while writing because I don’t want to be overly influenced. His writing is somebody, of course I write differently, but I just feel like he is a master. I also love, and we were recently talking about Desperate Characters by Paula Fox is a really wonderful book and Jonathan Franzen wrote the forward on it!

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara Read It: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Recommended by: Jessica Knoll

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. I’ve been tweeting about this book a ton, and I am probably starting to scare the author a little. But it’s a stunning book—gorgeous prose, and an epic and powerful tale about friendship.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Read It: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Recommended by Tamara Ireland Stone

That’s easy. Jandy Nelson’s “I’ll Give You the Sun.”

If you like Every Last Word’s message about the healing power of writing, you’ll love the way this novel celebrates the healing power of art. It’s so brilliantly crafted, told in alternating viewpoints by brother and sister twins—his story tells the past while hers tells the present. I’m simply in awe of Nelson’s ability to weave together different timelines and points of view into a beautifully written, emotionally gripping story.

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m challenge: Focus on Technology

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

the m challenge from MomAdvice.com

Welcome to our fifth month  in the m challenge series! I hope you are enjoying the series and please feel free to head to the m challenge category to get the scoop on all of the past features! This has been a labor of love for me and has been a fun exploration this year. It’s been awfully quiet out there so I hope you are enjoying it too!

the m challenge from MomAdvice.com

For this month, our site focus is on Technology- both the management of it for our families as well as some helpful tips for bloggers on managing a website, shooting photography, and growing your audience! This will be a shortened version of our typical month because my husband and I will be heading to Italy and I will be putting the blog on hiatus until I return (the site will be quiet from May 20-June 1st) so I can truly enjoy some time with my husband.   We can call it a “technology break,” in honor of our challenge this month!

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Each month I will be sharing a book selection that you can read that goes along with our theme for the month. Since this month is all about improving habits with technology, our book selection this month is The Power of Habit. I have heard great things bout this one and look forward to sharing it with you as we try to improve our habits and transform our lives through the m challenge series! Have you read this one? I can’t wait to hear what you think!

I look forward to reading along with you and exploring these topics with you and with our guest authors this month!

Baked Pecan Chicken Tenders

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Pecan-Chicken-Tenders.Header

Looking for a fresh new idea for topping those summer salads? Today I am sharing an easy recipe for Baked Pecan Chicken Tenders that you can even make-ahead and freeze for your busy week over at the Wild Oats blog!

I’m so excited to be joining as a contributor at the Wild Oats blog this year to share fresh & fun dishes for busy families. I’m not sure if you have heard of the product line before, but it is the new organic line available at your local Walmart store. I agreed to the partnership because I know that organic food is important to many of you, but I also understand how difficult it can be to eat organic on a budget. It is the two things that our family struggles with too. When Wild Oats presented at a meeting that I attended for Walmart, their enthusiasm for their products and the pride they took in them was, frankly, contagious. When they reached out to me, I knew it would be a great partnership to encourage healthy eating.  I also think you will be pleased with the price point on these products when you browse the grocery aisles and I want to show you ways to use these affordable pantry staples in a new way you might not have thought of before!

I will be sharing an idea on their blog once a month and one idea on my blog! I hope you will love these recipe creations as much as I do. The bonus is that each of these dishes will also be gluten-free! Yay!

Now that you have heard why I am so excited about this, be sure to head over this delicious Baked Pecan Chicken Tenders recipe!

 

 

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The Ultimate DIY Bundle Flash Sale!

Monday, March 30th, 2015

*This Sale Has Ended!*

Remember this opportunity from last January to own an incredible DIY library, full of eBooks, eCourses, and bonuses? I’m happy to announce that for those of you who weren’t sure about it or who missed the buying window, the Ultimate Bundle team is bringing the DIY bundle back for a 2-day flash sale, today until Wednesday morning!

Crafts_HomeDecor_DIY Bundle

Why DIY? If you look at that bare wall in the living room or that blah tablecloth on the kitchen table and just wish you had a few hours to do something about them, I promise you will find inspiration in this bundle. If you browse through Pinterest and think to yourself that “one day” you’ll have a few more minutes to yourself so that you too can create something incredible, well you’re not alone – there’s a huge community of people out there who are feeling just as frustrated as you are!

This is where The Ultimate DIY Bundle comes in – a collection of carefully curated DIY and crafting eBooks and eCourses from the world’s leading authors and bloggers in the industry to help you quickly and easily get into (or back into) the creative projects you’ve been longing for.

Home-Garden_Holiday_eCourses-DIY Bundle

For the low price of just $34.95, you get access to a carefully curated library of over 69 eBooks and eCourses. And let me reassure you that this really is great value: the Ultimate Bundles team (who produced the resource) have spent MONTHS seeking out the most respected experts in the industry and asking them to contribute their premium-quality eBooks and eCourses. These really are the best of the best when it comes to DIY and crafting advice and information.

Topics in the bundle include:

  • Home decor
  • Furniture painting
  • Photography
  • Chalk pastels
  • Handmade gifts
  • Homemade skincare products
  • Cake decorating
  • Photography and photo-editing
  • Paint colors and interior design
  • …and a whole lot more (69 eBooks and eCourses in total) – to help you be inspired or get started with your next DIY or crafting project!

There’s no need to worry about information overload though: The Ultimate DIY Bundle comes with a complete guide to getting started, so that you can know exactly which resource to use for your specific crafting or DIY project and jump straight into it with confidence!

Hurry though! The Ultimate DIY Bundle will only be on sale for 2 daysfrom 9am EST on Monday, March 31 until 9am EST on Wednesday, April 1.

You can buy with complete confidence because you’re covered by the Ultimate Bundles 30-day money-back guarantee. That means you have a full 30 days to enjoy all the eBooks and eCourses in the bundle, and if you don’t think they provided enough value, you’ll get a full refund.

Not only that, but The Ultimate DIY Bundle comes with 4 awesome bonuses, worth over $150. That’s 4x the price of the bundle alone! So, don’t miss your chance to grab The Ultimate DIY Bundle, and get 69 incredible eBooks and eCourses for just $34.95. All you need to do is take action by 9am EST on Wednesday, April 1!

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

Scrapbook_Photog_Sewing_Business-DIY Bundle

You CAN DIY!

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

You CAN DIY!

When I look back on my life, I can honestly tell you that never in a million years would I believe that I would be sharing tutorials on craft or DIY. I always had crafty ambitions, but seemed to lack that creative gene and talent to take my projects to the next level. My skill set was minimal, but the desire was  always there. When we had to be serious about penny pinching, after the loss of my husband’s job, that is when I knew that I needed to be serious about making the most of our home and to get serious about DIY-ing in our life.

There is nothing like a lack of money that can force you into getting creative.

You CAN DIY!

Each day I am a little prouder of the the things that we have crafted for our home. The comments that I get make me feel so good about the space we have created. My favorite thing people say is, “This house is just so YOU.” Making a house with lots of personality and individuality has always been a big goal of mine and it has been created with an awful lot of crafting over these years. Our house really is just *us* and it was achieved with hot glue, a lot of yarn, plenty of paint, and a strong desire for a house with individuality.

No sewing skills required!

Which is why I am so thrilled to share that I am selling my first eBook called, Easy DIY Crafts for Every Season, in The Ultimate DIY Bundle to help inspire you – from crafting for your home, to creating the perfect hostess gift, to celebrating all of life’s holidays. As someone as un-crafty as I was, this feels like a really big milestone paved with a lot of awful burn marks from poor hot glue planning. :)

Ultimate DIY Bundle

Ultimate DIY Bundle

The resources in this bundle are just the kind of resources that I wished I would have had at my fingertips when I was learning to decorate and craft for my home. It is the kind of resource that would have helped me achieve all that I really wanted to do on my small budget.

Ultimate DIY Bundle

For me, the photography books included really make this bundle special and worth the investment. Kristen Duke is one of my favorite photographers and I have been dying to learn from her. How awesome that Say NO to Auto is included in this bundle so that I can start taking better pictures of my crafts…and my kids?!  There is also Birthday Party Printables from Amy Locurto, The Ultimate Tassel Guide by Myquillyn Smith (aka, The Nester), Thrifty Decor Chick’s DIY Handbook by Sarah Saucedo, A Summer of Stories by Tsh Oxenreider, Easy Mod Podge Decor for Your Home by Amy Anderson, Infarrantly Creative Printable Collection by Beckie Farrant and SO much more!

You’ll gain access to a library full of 75+ eBooks and eCourses (like Photography 101 from the guys at Shoot, Fly, Shoot), PLUS free bonuses which include a Craftsy class worth up to $60! So, DIY + Freebies? You can see why I’d be excited to share this with you all, right?

*Sorry, this sale has ended!*

 

The Ultimate DIY Bundle, is a collection of carefully curated DIY eBooks and eCourses from the world’s leading authors and bloggers in the industry! For just $34.95 you’ll get access to over 75 eBooks and eCourses – and let me reassure you that this really is great value: the Ultimate Bundles team (who produced the resource) has spent MONTHS seeking out the most respected experts in the industry and asking them to contribute their premium-quality eBooks and eCourses. These really are the best of the best when it comes to DIY and crafting advice and information on topics like:

  • Home decor
  • Furniture painting
  • Photography
  • Chalk pastels
  • Handmade gifts
  • Homemade skincare products
  • Cake decorating
  • Photography and photo-editing
  • Paint colors and interior design

There’s no need to worry about information overload though: The Ultimate DIY Bundle comes with a complete guide to getting started, so that you can know exactly which resource to use for your specific crafting or DIY project and jump straight into it with confidence!

 

Welcome to The m Challenge!

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

m-challenge-big

With a new year upon us, I am finding the need to change directions. I can’t believe that I have had the privilege of blogging for a decade. What a wild, & crazy ride this has been. Many of my fellow bloggers have been making changes or have given the blog scene up  recently.

I feel that pull too.

Instead of feeling sad or wondering why they would do this, I admire their bravery.   It is hard to stay motivated,  to keep pursuing all of this while juggling my family and home life. I have spent a lot of time thinking and praying how to continue this or if I should continue.

What have I said that you haven’t heard already?

How can I continue to create value while honoring my own life?

I don’t feel like I am ready to give up on you, but I have decided to switch the direction of our site this year and see where that takes us. I am so excited about this that I am finding I am already motivated and restored just knowing that I have a direction to take you. Are you ready?

Welcome to the m challenge. This year will be all about challenging you to live a focused life that you can truly be proud of.  One thing I hear a lot of from you is that you struggle with balance and organization. Guess what? I do too.  This will be a year-long exploration brought to you by a panel of experts that can help guide us a on a path toward a better life.  I am calling it “the m challenge,” in honor of our site name and the three areas of focus.

The m challenge will consist of three key ingredients:

m-challenge-min

MINIMIZE- Each month we will minimize one area in our life or in our home. We will declutter our homes, slim down our closets, slow down on obligations, streamline our menu plans, and minimize technology & social media time.

m-challenge-max

MAXIMIZE- Each month we will maximize by bringing the good things back in. This can be by maximizing our time, making smart purchases, adding great new dishes to our family table,  making the most of small spaces, making time for creativity, making the most of our money, discovering our passions, and exploring volunteerism opportunities that align with our passions.

m-challenge-morph

MORPHOSIS- Each month we will feature one expert to help us from life coaches, to financial advisors, to fitness gurus, to counselors, to ministers. These people will further the conversation towards a richer life and give us strategies to achieve it. I also would love for you to be a storyteller and share your journey towards minimizing, maximizing, or sharing about someone who has been a muse to you and helped you make positive changes in your life. Under this category, we will explore books that can help you be a better parent, money manager, minimalist, and creative.

I want this experience to be interactive for you. If you have a passion for one of these topics and would like to share with our readers, please let me know!  I will be reviving our MomAdvice Book Club and featuring a nonfiction selection that will help you as you work through your month. At the end of each month, we will provide a syllabus that has all of the features here for our month as well as supplemental reading materials that will help you explore each topic further.

I like to be transparent about money with you. This year-long exploration will be FREE to you.  For me to provide all of this for you, sponsored posts will have to happen. I don’t have another way to do this. If I did TRUST ME, I would.  This is the only way that I can pay everyone for their time to give advice to you.  My commitment to you is that the opportunities I take will also align with these three categories. I won’t waste your time pursuing the things that won’t benefit you. I also am committed to exploring this journey with you. I am doing these things right along with you because my life needs it too.

Here are our chosen topics for the m challenge 2015! 

January- Health & Fitness

February- Money Management
March- Fashion
April- Home Organization
May- Technology
June- Travel
July- Beauty
August- Meal Planning
September- Better Mornings
October- Transforming Your Space
November- Giving
December- Self-Care

I can’t wait to go on this journey with you and am excited to see this year unfold. Check back on Monday for our first post for our brand new year together!

 

 

 

It’s the 3 Little Things: Holiday Shopping, a Ghostly Tale, & a Tired Eye Cure

Friday, December 12th, 2014

It's the 3 Little Things

Happy Friday, friends! I can’t believe that I am taking a real vacation from the blog! I really need to get back to center with my people so I will be out of the office December 13th-28th! I have a date with this book (have you read it? I can’t put it down!!) and an ambitious stack of library books that I checked out for the week. I hope you caught my annual list of the best books of 2014- it was a good year of reading!  I can’t wait to have a little quiet time before we ramp up for the holidays.

Before I check out of the social media world though, here is my happy list for the week!

Flourish Boutique Holiday Shopping

Stocking Stuffers Galore

I love a good statement necklace and last night I got the VIP treatment at Flourish Boutique to take a peek at their holiday offerings this year. Since I have some special ladies in my life, I I got some really pretty statement pieces for them that I can’t wait to give them for Christmas. If you are as big of a fan of costume jewelry as I am, you really should check out their store (online or in-person!) They had a ton of fun new arrivals, but my eye always gravitates towards their cozy leggings and shapewear offerings that I wear so much in my fashion capsule.  You can always use our web code MOMADVICE  to take 25% off of your purchases when doing your own holiday shopping!

Don’t worry- I was good! Although I had hoped to take a few photos this week for you, I am seriously in crazy mode for the holidays so you will have to trust me that I am absolutely loving my capsule wardrobe and continuing to learn so much from it about my purchasing habits. I will get back to sharing from it after the holidays although I am sure you can catch a picture or two on Instagram!

The Dead Files

The Dead Files on Netflix

I am just going to say it. Netflix has really been rocking lately. My husband and I picked up The Blacklist (did you know Netflix paid $2 million per episode just to secure that show? CRAZY!), The Mind of a Chef (craving noodles all day, everyday after watching this), and now The Dead Files which originally aired on the Travel Channel.

My sister-in-law shared this gem with us and I think we have watched ten episodes already because it is so fascinating. They send a private investigator into a home that is haunted and they send a medium in to the same scene, but each of them doesn’t get to meet with each other or share evidence until the end of the show. The detective spends time gathering the real fact about the house (meeting with town historians and local folks) while the medium runs around and talks to ghosts and works with a sketch artist to draw one of the ghosts that she sees that is bothering the family. Then they sit down and share their evidence and it is crazy awesome.

I’m not sure if you are into the ghost-hunting thing or not or believe in it, but just finding the true history of the homes is some seriously fascinating stuff. The show isn’t scary, just super interesting. I find the editing to be a little too tightly perfect and I’m not sure I believe all of it (she is never wrong!?), BUT I LOVE IT.  If you have a marathon of present-wrapping and need a little escape, this is a pretty good one.

If you have any other Netflix recommendations for me, let me know in the comments because I am going to have lots of stuff to wrap this week with a birthday and Christmas in one week!

L'Oreal Visible Lift Eye Concealer

L’Oreal Visible Lift Eye Concealer

I have terrible circles under my eyes that seem to be getting worse as I age. I haven’t been able to find a concealer that really does a good job covering these up until I got this gem at the drugstore. It is like a little deodorant roller that you just roll right under your eye and then pat in. It covers everything and makes you look well-rested when you are exhausted from yarn-bombing your home for the holidays. If you want to look five years younger, this stuff is amazing and super affordable.

3 Things YOU Loved This Week (you, lover of MomAdvice things, you!)

How to Make a Blanket Scarf

How to Dye a Faded Pair of Jeans

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland

Happy Birthday, Emily!

Bonus Happy

Happy 9th birthday, my beautiful and fabulous daughter! You forever changed our world for the better. I couldn’t be prouder to be your mama! I can’t wait to eat snickerdoodle cake with you-xoxo

Bonus Happy Two- the happiest of the happy!

Happy Holidays from The Clarks

Happy Holidays, friends! Thank you for your love and support this year! See you in two weeks!

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

Now it’s your turn! What’s making you happy this week?

The MomAdvice Top Ten of 2014 (Some Behind-the-Scenes Hilarity Too)

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Amy Allen Clark

Friends, I just want to say a quick thank you for another year of great fun. Next month I celebrate my 11th year in this business and it is still incredible to me that a job I made up (I mean, I really did!) had such staying power. Did I ever think I would still be doing this? No way! Am I thankful every day? Absolutely! I can’t imagine living our life in any other way now.

Thank you for your visits, comments, and support over the years- I am so thankful for each of you!  Each day that I get to be creative and share it with you is a precious gift.

Let’s take a look at what your favorite posts were this year and let me spill the beans on a little behind-the-scenes stuff on these that I usually reserve just for my girlfriends. I love to end the year on a light note so I hope you will appreciate the true stories behind some of these crazy projects.

How to Teach Your Child to Tie

1. A New Way to Teach Your Child to Tie Their Shoes

I feel a little guilty that our #1 post is actually not even really my idea or video. Come on, did you really think I was that smart? A huge thank you to my amazing friend, Nancy Lary, for sharing her amazing shoe tying technique. As soon as she showed me how to work on this with my kids, I knew that it would be an instant hit on the blog. I was right. Everyone is always looking for a new shoelace tying technique and this post being ##1 just proves it.

How to Dye a Faded Pair of Jeans

2. How to Dye a Faded Pair of Jeans

A couple of years ago, I was working on a project for my job with Goodwill and thought it might be fun to purchase some thrift store jeans and restore the color. After I did it and it really worked, I was like…”Nah. I think I will keep it for my own blog.” I told my husband that it was going to be a huge hit and he was like, “Sure,” but shaking his head no at the same time. I’m like, IN YOUR FACE.  This project has been our most pinned project and, thanks to being picked up on some Reddit male fashion board, it is still going strong and holding steady in our #2 most visited spot.

Fashionable men, you can totally dye your jeans. Keep coming here for the scoop!

Easy Sushi Sandwich

3. Easy Lunchbox Solutions

This was one of the craziest and coolest things that happened this year. Walmart hired me to showcase a quick sandwich that moms could do for the back-to-school season. I decided to create a little sushi roll out of a cheese stick, turkey, and rolled out bread.

Fast forward to a month later and our site is getting a weird traffic spike from sites like People.com, TMZ, Perez Hilton, and a bunch of other sites. I brought it up with my husband and he thought it was some type of spam thing. As I sat at the bus stop with my son in the car, I was scrolling through Perez Hilton to catch up on an awards show that I missed on television and see my image there.

At first, I thought it was some weird targeted ad (you know, those strange ones on Facebook that just know you were browsing the Anthropologie site when you have no money at all).

Nope, it was my image EVERYWHERE showing moms how to make this simple little sandwich. Between that and the pin from Walmart, this quick lunch idea sits in our #3 spot.

As an aside, holy relief that I am on Perez for a sandwich and not anything else. Can I get an amen?

How to Make Glow In the Dark JELL-O

 

4. How to Make Glow in the Dark JELL-O

I have had many a dream where I am featured in an amazing food magazine like Bon Appetit. Did I believe it would ever be for a science experiment we did with our kids for Glow in the Dark JELL-O? Um. No. Of course, that is what happened.  This idea didn’t even come to me, but came from my real-life friend Ashley who spied the project in her daughter’s American Girl Doll Magazine. She sent it to me and said, “Hey, I think this would be a good one for your blog.” Boy, was it!  It’s always a hit at Halloween times.

If you read our lengthy review, you know it doesn’t taste awesome at all.

People don’t care.

They love stuff that glows.

Truth be told, half the time this is pinned as a glow in the dark shot.

Hey… I wonder if that tastes better? Watch for that tutorial next year and I will be sure to test the shots for you! I do it for the people.

How to (or how NOT to) Spray Paint Furniture

5. How to Spray Paint Furniture

This table is almost fifteen years old so I knew that if my idea for spray painting this didn’t work, it would be okay. It ended up being one of my favorite pieces I have ever made over in our house and is one of our most searched for projects on the site.  Sadly with the addition of our new fireplace, we donated her this week because of the new spacing of our layout. I hope she gets lots of love in someone else’s home though because she was certainly a favorite of mine.

I continue to embrace spray paint projects almost weekly and I am pretty sure that our bus driver thinks I am huffing because I am covered in spray paint at least two days a week getting my daughter off the bus. You can hang my mom of the year plaque inside my newly spray painted frame.

DIY Minecraft Costume Ideas

6. DIY Minecraft Costume Ideas

Not only did I earn cool mom points for making a Minecraft costume with my son last year, but it also is one of our top ten projects on the site.

My son is still into Minecraft.

I still don’t get it.

6-Stitch Ruffled Scarf Tutorial

 

7.  Knitted Ruffled Scarf with Sashay Yarn

I find it intriguing that this is our top post in the knitting category, but I also found this yarn intriguing too when I worked with it. It makes a beautiful ruffle with just six stitches and people are always trying to figure out how to use it when they buy it at the store.

I ended up giving this scarf to my mom for her birthday. What’s the saying the cobbler’s children have no shoes? Yeah, it’s a lot like that.

How to Make a Care Package for the Homeless

8 How to Make a Homeless Care Package

Seeing this is still in our top ten posts makes me so very happy and is proof that I have such awesome readers. I did so much research on making the perfect bag and pricing out items so that we could serve as many people as possible with these bags and my husband spent so much time creating great resources and a checklist to make it easy for people to replicate this project for others.

I still get feedback from people that they are using it for their Girl Scout troops and even heard from one non-profit that used it as a template for serving people in their community. I’m so happy that this post made a difference and is impacting people in other regions.

There is nothing funny about this post- it’s just awesome.

DIY Knitted Boot Cuffs

9. Quick & Easy Knitted Boot Cuffs

It’s funny how a quick project like this can become so unexplainably popular. I try to submit my craft projects over to Craftgawker (you can view what has made the cut here) and this was one that I had submitted ages ago. People must be on the hunt for these because suddenly it shot to first place in our referral traffic these past couple of months. I headed over to see the views on it and it has already been viewed by 12,300 people (and counting!).

Guess how many pairs of these cuffs I have?

None.

My best friend got them for Christmas and I hear they are keeping her very cozy.

Now what was that saying again…?

How to Make a Blanket Scarf

10. How to Make a Blanket Scarf

Since I made this project just a couple of weeks ago, you can imagine how viral this has gone if it is already in our top ten posts of the year. I originally was going to execute this project for a client, but then I had the same thought as I did with those jeans, “Maybe I should keep the best stuff for me.” I am so glad I did and I have no doubt that this will be in our top ten even next year.

Why?

Who the hay wants to pay $60 for a blanket scarf?

Nobody.

I did find this image pinned in someone’s Mary Kate & Ashley pin board though and I was the only one who wasn’t Mary Kate or Ashley.

#longlostsister

Well, that was fun! What has been your favorite project on MomAdvice? I would love to hear if you have tried anything from the site for your family!

 

It’s the 3 Little Things: Easy Bun Makers, Perfectly Airbrushed, & Blueberry Happiness

Friday, December 5th, 2014

It's the 3 Little Things

Happy Friday, friends! It was another busy week of crafting and decking the halls at our house. I also stayed up far too late watching Peter Pan Live last night. I thought the cast and the sets were simply phenomenal. What did you think?

We had new furniture delivered for our kids rooms last night so I am in a frenzy of cleaning out their rooms and drawers to make room for furniture that offers a little more small space function. Drawers are tucked underneath beds and bookcases tucked in headboards- the kind of furniture you really need when your bedrooms are shoebox size. I even cleared out an entire closet in my son’s room and have dreams of how I can make that a smart functional space for him.

Just as a heads up, I want to let you know that I am putting the blog on hiatus from December 13th-28th. I am VERY MUCH looking forward to a little peace and quiet after such a busy year with the site.   I am also putting myself on a social media hiatus and try to get back to center for the holidays and be present with my family.  I know you understand.  

I just snagged an ambitious amount of library books that I plan to read over my time off. I am looking forward to being creative just for the sake of being creative and not documenting anything for awhile. I’m so thankful for my job, but I am very run down.  That said, I have a VERY exciting reveal for 2015 that I am hoping you will love as much as me. Stay tuned for that as we take the site in a new direction!

 

Let’s talk about the happy  this week. This one is  a few new beauty tools I discovered!

Perfect Bun Maker

Finally a Perfect Bun Maker

I know everyone is crazy about the sock bun, but I have discovered a bun making tool that has saved us many a headache from bobby pins for my daughter’s ballet class. These foam bun makers are amazing and I actually paid $5 for  a single one at Target, but found this set of four for less than $5 on Amazon. All you do is throw your hair up in a ponytail, open the bun maker and slide it up so the end of your pony tail is sticking out, and roll upwards to the top of your ponytail, and bend into a bun shape. We secure it with just a couple of pins and it holds her heavy glossy hair all day long. It was so easy that I think my daughter could even do it herself.

This little tool came in handy this past weekend as she danced in her first Nutcracker which was so incredibly special to see. Here is a little shot I took of her backstage peeking at herself in the mirror at her dress rehearsal.

Nutcracker

Perfect buns and a perfect mom moment all rolled into one- that definitely is at the top of this week’s happy list!

Revlon Photoready Skinlights

Perfectly Airbrushed Skin

I picked up some Revlon Photoready Skinlights this past week. I have heard so many good things about this product and now I can see what the fuss is all about. You can mix this right into your foundation and it adds that airbrushed quality to your face and a little glimmer and dewiness that you see all the celebrities rocking.  As my skin is aging, I find that it gets more and more dry, and this being mixed into my foundation helps add that dewiness that I have been trying to achieve. You can also just add a touch to places you want to highlight like your cheekbones.   You only need a touch of it so a bottle will last a long time. I am really loving this stuff and highly recommend you pick some up to try it!

Yes to Blueberry Wipes

Yes To Blueberries Brightening Facial Wipes

I am big on washing my face every night, but since we have been running around like crazy, I have gotten out of the habit of a good facial routine. I purchased these Yes to Blueberries Brightening Facial Wipes from ePantry last month and I absolutely love them to get my make-up off before I head to bed. I love the smell of these and they do a great job getting my make-up off without drying out my skin. I am not sure if you saw or not, but we are running a deal with ePantry this week giving you $10 to shop, free shipping, a free Method Soap & they are giving $15 for each sign-up to my local food pantry for Giving Tuesday.  You could try this product out for free this week and help a great cause in the process! I hope you like these as much as I do!

Three Things I Wore From My Fashion Capsule. Get inspiration and earn money cleaning out your closet with my tips! You must!  Grab more inspiration on my Fashion Capsule Pin Board and minimize that wardrobe!

 

camel tunic + burgundy leggings + brown & black accessories

Camel Colored Cowl Tunic Top Sweatshirt (Target)/Burgundy Knit Leggings (Ann Taylor Loft)/Naturalizer Boots- (6PM)/Brown Belt (owned- Maurices)

felt & wool sweater + burgundy tank + skinny jeans + boots

Last minute switch in the capsule because this shipped- pulled my emerald green shirt out. Anthropologie Wool Sweater (purchased second-hand from Thredup)/Burgundy Tank Top (Flourish Boutique)/Seven Skinny Jeans (owned- Flourish Boutique)/Naturalizer Boots- (6PM)

black dress + gray seamless shirt + black boots & tights + red belt + tassel necklace

Sushi Day Date With My Hubby- swoon! I even borrowed that bun maker from my daughter! Seamless Perfection Long Sleeve Tunic in Gray (Flourish Boutique)/ White House Black Market Knit Black Dress  (purchased second-hand on Twice)/ Red Skinny Belt (Target)/ Black Fleece Tights (Walmart)/Naturalizer Boots- (6PM)/Gray Tassel Necklace (Ali Oesch Jewelry)

3 Things YOU Loved This Week (you, lover of MomAdvice things, you!)

How to Make a Blanket Scarf

Make Money Organizing Your Closet

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland

 

Bonus Happy

Christmas Tree

 Our first real Christmas Tree. I’m in love!

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

Now it’s your turn! What’s making you happy this week?