Archive for the ‘My Work’ Category

Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey

Monday, November 7th, 2016

Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from MomAdvice.com 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 MomAdvice.com Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from MomAdvice.com

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 MomAdvice.com   Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from MomAdvice.com   Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from MomAdvice.com

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 MomAdvice.com

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 MomAdvice.com

Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from MomAdvice.com

Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  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 MomAdvice.com

 

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 MomAdvice.com

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!

 

 

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers from MomAdvice.com

 

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.

diy-no-sew-pocket-warmers

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

Rice

Funnel

Measuring Cup

Fabric Rotary Cutter (or you can use scissors)

Rotary Mat

Pinking Shears

Waverly Inspirations Ribbon

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

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 MomAdvice.com

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 MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers from MomAdvice.com

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 MomAdvice.com

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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No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

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

There is a lot of pressure, as a mom, to capture all of these precious moments that we get to experience with our kids. I am never without my phone for this very reason. Today’s craft is something I have had brewing in my head for years, but didn’t think I could easily execute it. I am so excited because I’m showing off an EASY DIY no-sew scarf that you can create that has a hidden pocket so you have your phone with you at all times.  Since I am constantly taking pictures of my kids, I love having the Ever app for all of those moments!

 

Not only am I showing off this scarf, but I’m also showing off this INCREDIBLE (and I mean it!!) phone app called Ever that you can use to backup all your photos, saving you precious room on your phone so you never get that pesky message that forces you to remove so many of those special memories.

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

Let me explain a little bit about Ever and why you should be using it!  This app automatically (and securely) collects and organizes your photos and videos from everywhere they live. You may not realize how many places you are taking photos, but Ever does. It grabs all the photos from your camera roll, social media accounts, emails, and texts then catalogs them for you in the correct order so you can quickly make photo albums in just minutes. The best part is that it keeps all my photos safe and encrypted so that I can rest knowing that my family’s  meaningful moments are only for me!  

This year I decided to get an iPhone with less storage because I thought it would help hold me more accountable to deleting and only keeping what is precious on my phone. My minimalist attitude makes me feel passionately about things like this, but I quickly realized the error of my minimalist ways.

I constantly had messages that the storage was full and then I would have a daily Sophie’s Choice moment where I was forced to choose the images that were most precious.

It’s no way to live, friends.

Ever iPhone App

 

When Ever reached out, I couldn’t believe how much one app could help my life so much. No more warnings and  tough decisions on what to keep because this app automatically frees space on your phone and backs up all those precious moments so you don’t have to.

Ever is also like hiring a personal organizer who can make sense of all your visual clutter and package it up in a way that finally makes sense.  I, honestly, never make the time to sort and organize photos, but this app is intuitive enough that it can do it for you automatically. No more excuses to not share those memories with grandma now that Ever is doing the hard part.

It also makes adorable albums that allow you to time travel and reminiscent about the good ol’ days with your kiddos.

Ever iPhone App

Oh, and did I mention that the app is FREE? Yup, unlimited free storage with security for all of your precious photos.

Dang, that’s a lot cheaper than buying an iPhone with more storage.

I might be able to help my kids with tuition after all!

For those of you who want your pictures backed up in full resolution, Ever Plus is also available by monthly subscription for $9.99 — or you can use their optional referral program to earn free credits for this full-res storage by sending invitations to your friends. Not to worry though, you can use all the other features without signing up for Ever Plus, thanks Ever!

Ever iPhone App

Please download the app right now- it’s a game-changer for sharing, printing, and storing all of those sweet memories. I promise you won’t regret it! I know I’m looking forward to our upcoming holiday even more because I can make an album of all our memories so quickly and easily. No more excuses for not getting these printed!

In honor of this app, today’s DIY is a scarf that offers a hidden pocket so you never miss (or lose) a photo opportunity again!

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed

2 yards knit sweatshirt material (you need the material to be thick enough to hide the pocket! This price is EXCELLENT- I paid $10 a yard at my local craft store)

1-2 yards tassel trim (I find the most affordable trims over here)

Coin Purse large enough to hold your phone (this is the style I purchased. As you can see, the bottom is not completely flat, but it was the ideal size for my phone), alternatively you could purchase an all purpose zipper and craft a pocket out of the scraps from your scarf

Hemming Tape- 1 roll is plenty!!

Scissors or Rotary Cutter

Tape Measure

Thread to match material

Your Favorite Scarf as a Guide For Width & Length

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

Directions

1. First, find your favorite scarf in your closet and use this as a guide for the length and width of your scarf. The reason I am not telling you my scarf length is because I am a wee woman and my favorite scarf length might look silly on you. Do note that the width does need to be wide enough to completely hide that pocket. I actually love a wide  scarf that mimics the coziness of my favorite blanket scarves so I made mine very generous in width- it’s so wide that it can almost double as a shawl.  Cut the material to the same width and length, doubling up the fabric so that you have two pieces that are exactly the same size.

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

2. Take the two pieces of material and have the pretty side facing each other so the ugly side of the fabric is on the outside of both pieces.

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

3. Between these two pieces, you are going to be lining up your hemming tape. Use your wallet as a guide for where to start and stop the hemming tape, on one side, making sure that you have a little edge of the fabric above it (like I have show in the first picture) so you can fold it in a bit to support that pocket.

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

4. Use your iron to iron the whole side of the scarf, taking your time so that you can make sure you have a good seal on the fabric. Repeat this process on the other side, but make sure to run the hemming tape all down it, unlike the other side where we made a space for our pocket. This takes time so be patient. This material is a little thick so you may need to go over it a few times to seal it fully.

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

5. Flip the scarf out and then, slip the wallet inside. You are going to need to fold that hem back a bit to line up with where the hemming tape was so you don’t have a raw edge hanging out. Using a needle and thread stitch it into the material (I know I said NO SEW, but we do want that pocket in there nicely. Alternatively, you could try fabric glue, but I think it won’t be as secure!).

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

6. Fold in the rough edges of the scarf and slip a strip of hemming tape between these two folded sides. Take your time and seal this to finish the construction of the scarf.

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

7. Finish with a strip of trim on the front of the scarf (make sure you know where your pocket is before you are adding the trim). I am only trimming the front of the scarf so I can remember where my pocket is! You can definitely add more trim all the way around or anywhere else you would like to trim it. If you have a grosgrain trim like I do, take a lighter and pass it quickly over the two sides of the ends of your trim to seal both sides so it doesn’t come unraveled. Another alternative for sealing the edges is a little fray check- I’ll let you pick! To finish,  I slipped hemming tape under the trim and then used this, once again, to secure it by ironing it in place. Repeat on the other side of the scarf.

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

I am already dreaming up ways that I can make these for holiday gifts for others and no one will ever know that I didn’t whip out a sewing machine for this craft. Wouldn’t this be such a great gift even for your kiddos to tuck their hat and gloves in? I’m thinking of pairing one of these for my daughter with knitted ear warmers for the pocket. It could even be made more masculine in a beautiful plaid fabric, just like my DIY blanket scarves, for the men in your life.

Honestly, I can’t think of anyone who couldn’t use a scarf with a pocket. Can you?

I hope you find today’s DIY inspiring and I hope you also have a blast getting those photos organized, backed-up, and printed for your family this year, thanks to Ever.

This post is sponsored by Ever. All thoughts and opinions are my own! This post contains affiliate links that help support our website- thank you! 

 

 

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Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies from MomAdvice.com Thank you, Dunkin’ At Home, for sponsoring today’s post! 

When I lived in Massachusetts, I had a daily run over to my local Dunkin’ Donuts® to grab my morning cup of coffee. I became such a regular at it, the guy behind the corner would look up and say, “Skim Milk, two sugars?”

 

You know me so well, Sir.

Oh, those were THE DAYS when I sipped a cup of coffee on my walk from the shop to work and where I felt important because someone remembered my coffee just like I liked it.

Mornings look a heck of a lot different now and are often spent in a frantic state of panic over making sure everyone gets out the door on time with lunches packed and backpacks stuffed with everything they need. Someone making me coffee now is a rarity so I thoughtfully program a pot the night before for myself.

You deserve the best, Madam.

And since I deserve the best and still love that quiet cup, I wait until the house is empty and indulge fully in those first morning sips.

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies from MomAdvice.com

Each morning I treat myself to an hour of reading with my hot coffee and then I repeat this same little treat in the afternoon the hour before they come back.  I consider it my two favorite indulgences during the day and gives me a chance to get in some really great books.

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies from MomAdvice.com

I, honestly, rarely go out for coffee anymore and instead I invested in a great coffeemaker and make it at home. Since I drink my coffee black, I love flavored coffees and Dunkin’ (TRULY) makes some of my absolute favorites. If you haven’t tried their Bakery Series ® Coffee, you are in for a delicious treat. A couple of my favorites are Cinnamon Coffee Roll and Caramel Coffeecake that I was able to find at my local grocery store. If you happen to be a K-Cup user, you can also score a delicious Chocolate Glazed Donut flavor. You can find all of these delicious options where you buy your groceries! Check out their website for the scoop!

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies from MomAdvice.com Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies from MomAdvice.com

For my afternoon indulgence, I wanted to recreate one of my favorite treats, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies, into a gluten-free version that our whole family could enjoy. My biggest concern with modifying this recipe was that I would have a dense and dry cake when replacing the flour. I remembered though that coffee has the ability to enhance and really bring out chocolate flavoring without adding a noticeable coffee taste. To keep these brownies fudgy, I added four tablespoons of coffee to my standard recipe and replaced the regular flour with this gluten-free version.

Dare I say that these brownies are actually LIGHTER than the originals? In fact, my husband kept saying, “Are you SURE these are gluten-free? I mean, are you REALLY sure?” Yes, after our fair share of terrible gluten-free baking experiences, I couldn’t believe how much the coffee added to the flavoring and the lightness of this recipe. It is so fluffy, in fact, that you might mistake it for cake!

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies from MomAdvice.com

The other struggle I have with gluten-free brownies is getting them to hold their shape, but the coffee really made a difference in how these held together. These were a breeze to cut into squares, especially when using my favorite brownie cutting trick…a plastic knife! I always keep one in our utensil drawer to get clean (not crumbly) brownies. Lining the brownie pan with parchment paper also helps the brownies to hold their shape and cuts down on clean-up.

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies from MomAdvice.com

I hope you can give the Dunkin’ Donuts® coffee a try at home and I hope you can mix up a quick batch of these Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies for the perfect treat to accompany it. I have found that if there is leftover coffee (does this even happen?), that adding it to my brownies always enhances their flavoring.

Treat yo’self!

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Get ready for fame because these brownies will make you FAMOUS with your friends. This is a perfect treat to indulge in or to share with someone you love! You won't believe these are gluten-free!
Ingredients
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons coffee (I used Dunkin' Donuts Caramel Coffeecake)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour (see above for recommended suggestion)
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9-inch square metal cake pan with parchment paper, draping the parchment paper over the edges.
  2. In a saucepan, melt the butter with the unsweetened chocolate over very low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.
  3. In a mixing bowl begin whisking together the dry ingredients. In this bowl you will mix your dark cocoa, flour, and sugar. Once your dry ingredients are mixed together, we can begin incorporating the wet ingredients. Add your eggs, cooled coffee, and vanilla extract to the dry ingredients and mix them in with a spatula or use your stand mixer to mix these. Once these are incorporated, you can slowly add in your cooled chocolate and then incorporate that into your batter.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.
  5. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the batter. Using a butter knife, swirl the salt into the batter.
  6. Bake the brownies in the center of the oven for about 33-35 minutes, until the edge is set but the center is still a bit soft and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out coated with a little of the batter.
  7. Let the brownies cool to room temperature. Lift the brownies from the pan and peel back the parchment paper. Cut the brownies into bite-sized squares.
  8. Serve at room temperature.
  9. Side note: The salted fudge brownies can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, and frozen for up to 1 month.

Thank you, Dunkin’ At Home, for sponsoring today’s post! 

 

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Brain Food: Trail Mix Energy Bites

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

Trail Mix Energy Bites from MomAdvice.com

I’m partnering today with Workman Publishing to chat a little more about our family’s genuine love for the new Big Fat Notebooks series, perfect for your middle school child, and to share a fun brain food snack to pair with these fun books!

Trail Mix Energy Bites from MomAdvice.com

Last month I shared with you my car organizing strategies (I can’t believe it still looks REALLY good, you guys!! Miracles DO happen!) and how we have incorporated these books into our car time as a great activity to make the most of those moments. Just like I love to take in a good audiobook or a podcast while I am driving, I love that this pocket of time is perfect for some fun learning on the way for my kids. Why not make the most of all those wasted minutes?

Trail Mix Energy Bites from MomAdvice.com Trail Mix Energy Bites from MomAdvice.com Trail Mix Energy Bites from MomAdvice.com

I know I have said it before, but these books are F-U-N. I am actually going to include these in our holiday gift guide because I think they make an incredible gift for any kid. As you can see, they are adorably illustrated and even the font choice makes it not feel like a textbook, but more like a Diary of a Wimpy Kid escape.

Do you remember that show, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Since my daughter has been asking me questions about the things she has been learning from this book and reciting trivia on different subjects, I can tell you that I am, indeed, NOT.

Hey, I can’t be good at everything!

There are five books in this fun series and each is the only book you need for each main subject taught in middle school: Math, Science, American History, English Language Arts, and World History. Did I mention that they meet  Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and state history standards?

Yup, pretty awesome stuff.

You can find these fantastic books at AmazonBarnes & NobleIndiebound, or Workman.

Here are 4 fun free Big Fat Notebooks worksheets to get you started! 

Thinking Like a Scientist

How to Take Great Notes

Displaying Data

Ancient Egypt Timeline

Trail Mix Energy Bites from MomAdvice.com Trail Mix Energy Bites from MomAdvice.com

In honor of fueling our brains, I wanted to create a brain food treat that the whole family will enjoy and requires ZERO baking. Holla!  I am a big fan of energy bites and this little bite is filled with a protein-rich trail mix that is bound together with peanut butter, oatmeal, and quinoa.

I loved these plain, but I thought they could benefit from a little crunch so I toasted up quinoa in a skillet (watch out, it pops!!) and rolled these trail mix bites into the toasty quinoa for a crunchy coating that reminds me of sesame seeds or even rice cereal.

What Makes These Trail Mix Bites Good Fuel for Your Brain?

Nuts and seeds contain omega-3 essential fatty acids, a major building block of brain cells that are critical for a good memory and stable mood (AKA, they fight the HANGRY!). They are also rich in B complex vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc, and magnesium. It takes all these important nutrients to help keep your brain functioning well.

Quinoa is our binding agent and our crispy coating and it also contains vital nutrients for your noggin. Quinoa is so easy to prepare in a rice cooker (this tutorial should help!) and happens to be one of my favorite gluten-free indulgences. Quinoa, pronounced (KEEN-wah) is a very nutritious gluten-free seed that originates from the Andean region of South America. It also is a fantastic source of protein, contains all eight amino acids, is a good source of dietary fiber, contains B Vitamins, and iron. All such good stuff to help your brain!

I hope you can share this delicious brain food (both the treat AND the incredible Big Fat Notebooks with your kids. They truly make learning fun and I’m so happy our family got to share about these with you!

Trail Mix Energy Bites from MomAdvice.com

Trail Mix Energy Bites
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
Fuel your brain with these delicious energy bites that provide vital nutrients and vitamins. Packed with quinoa, these gluten-free treats are satisfying and filling!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (check the post above for cooking directions or follow packaging)
  • 1-1/2 cups quick cooking oats
  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup pistachios
  • ½ cup dry roasted peanuts
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ¾ cup uncooked quinoa
Instructions
  1. In a dry skillet, heat it to medium heat and toast the uncooked quinoa for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the energy bite to look golden. Be careful, quinoa does pop!
  2. In a large bowl mix together all the other ingredients until they are incorporated well.
  3. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and then begin scooping & rolling the balls (I like a cookie dough scooper for this).
  4. Roll each ball into the toasted quinoa, coating all sides evenly. Place on the parchment lined cookie sheet and repeat until all of the batter has been used.
  5. Place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Remove and then place them in an airtight container for snacking.

 Recipe Adapted from The Baker Mama

 This post was sponsored by Workman Publishing and Big Fat Notebooks. All thoughts and opinions are my own! Be sure to follow the Workman Blog for more great ideas!

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints

Friday, September 30th, 2016

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

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

Have you ever painted pumpkins with acrylic paints before? This was my first time painting our pumpkins this way and it could not be easier. I wanted to create a pumpkin display that would be perfect for the entire fall season and wanted to show you a cute way to display your pumpkins this year!

I am not big on decorating for Halloween and would prefer to skip right on over that part of the fall decorating. This month’s challenge was to create a Halloween display so I wanted to create a minimalistic display that would give a nod to the season, but complement our decor until it is time to deck the halls.

Let’s get painting!

How to Paint Pumpkins With Acrylic Paint

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

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

Any size you like of their faux pumpkins- the small ones are just $.98!! (you could also do real pumpkins!)

Waverly Inspirations Acrylic Paints in Elephant, Plaster, Pool, & White

Waverly Inspirations 4-piece wide brush set

Cup with water, paper towels, and something to cover the surface while painting

Wooden Crate (I got this one with a chalkboard on the side)

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

Directions for Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints

1. Remove the labels from the pumpkins and protect your surface with cardboard while painting.

2. With a clean wide brush, begin painting your pumpkins,using the stalk of the pumpkin as a handle to work around the surface. Paint the entire pumpkin and then set it aside to dry. Drying time can take anywhere between 15 minutes to one hour, depending on how thickly you applied the paint. Repeat this process as many times as you like to achieve the hue you are going for. I found the gray pumpkins only required a single coat, while the white pumpkins required two coats. Once dry,sprinkle these pumpkins throughout your house or create a crate display like I have done.
Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

I love how these pumpkins spill out onto some of my favorite childhood reads. The chalkboard side on this crate gives me the chance to make this display feel a little more Halloween and then can be replaced with a different label later in the fall.  I added my knitted leaf centerpiece to the side of the table- I can’t believe how well these branches have held up over the years!

For a corner in our home that used to have nothing, this has quickly become my favorite focal point in our living room.

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

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions

Fabric Wreath & Matching Garland

Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial

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

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How To Make Smoothie Bowls (GIVEAWAY with Mamma Chia!!)

Monday, September 19th, 2016

How to Make Smoothie Bowls Tutorial This post is sponsored by Mamma Chia.  Thank you for supporting the companies that make this site possible! 

I am always on the hunt for great post-workout snacks that can keep me fueled throughout the day.  Today I wanted to share with you how to make two delicious smoothie bowls and I am pairing them with a fun new drink from Mamma Chia, called Chia Energy Beverages,  that you can now find on Walmart shelves.  Doesn’t that sound like a delicious pairing?

Mamma Chia at Walmart

I always struggle with finding new things at the store so, in case you are on the hunt, I wanted to show you where you can find them at Walmart. These drinks can be found in the produce section at the front of the store.  Our drinks were on full display on the top shelves and come in 4 flavors: Grape Power, Cherry Charge, Blackberry Blast, & Raspberry Razz. These drinks are the first beverage that combine chia with the energy of guayusa.

For those of us with a coffee addiction (ahem!), these are a great way to get energy for the day without that caffeine crash.

Caffeine crashes are THE WORST.

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie Bowl from MomAdvice.com As you know, I have been struggling with my health and I am really committed to eating better so that I can improve how I feel. The founder of Mamma Chia, Janie Hoffman, was also struggling with many debilitating autoimmune disorders and found a great deal of relief from adding chia into her diet. Her mission was to share that gift with others so that they can experience the health benefits too. I also love that the company donates a portion of their proceeds to support farmers, community groups, & organizations that build healthy, local food systems. 

It makes you feel doubly good about your purchase!

Today I thought I would incorporate the power of chia, not only in our drink, but as a topping in a healthy smoothie bowl. Chia is actually considered a superfood because chia seeds are rich in omega-3’s, fiber, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals. They also help you to sustain energy levels naturally while helping you stay fuller longer.

Today we are topping our smoothie bowls with chia. If you haven’t had a smoothie bowl before, you are in for a treat.  I understand that many fancy-schmancy breakfast joints serve these now.

How lucky are you that you can save some money and make these at home for a fraction of the cost?

Let me share two recipes for smoothie bowsl with you and don’t forget to stick around to the bottom of this post for our giveaway with Mamma Chia- yay! 

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie Bowl from MomAdvice.com Chocolate Cherry Smoothie Bowl from MomAdvice.com

The idea is to make the smoothie thicker (make sure you have a powerful blender for this one) by using less liquid to create a thicker consistency. The fun part is the layering of delicious additions on top.

On this Chocolate Cherry Bowl, I have topped it with fresh raspberries, toasted coconut, & more chia. Try any combination of flavors you like though!

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie Bowl from MomAdvice.com

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie Bowl
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1-2 bowls
 
Smoothie bowls make the perfect snack or breakfast. Top with your favorite oatmeal toppings or try our suggestions for a healthy start to your day.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup frozen banana
  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • ¼ cup avocado
  • ¼ plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Toppings: toasted coconut, berries, chia
Instructions
  1. Combine all smoothie bowl ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a bowl and top with your favorite toppings

Raspberry Smoothie Bowl from MomAdvice.com Raspberry Smoothie Bowl from MomAdvice.com Raspberry Smoothie Bowl from MomAdvice.com

I love berry anything and I loved pairing a Raspberry Smoothie Bowl with the delicious flavor of the Chia Energy Blackberry Blast drink. I still wanted some of the chocolate flavor in this one so I topped it with a chocolate granola, and chia.  The vibrant hue from the raspberries in this one make such a pretty bowl, don’t they?

This is certainly a powerful motivator to get my workout done so I can enjoy this snack when I get home.

Raspberry Smoothie Bowl from MomAdvice.com

Raspberry Smoothie Bowl
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1-2 bowls
 
Give me all the berries! This Raspberry Smoothie Bowl is packed with berries and can be topped with crunchy granola, chia, and more berries for a fun post-workout treat.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • ¼ of an avocado
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • Toppings: granola, raspberries, blueberries, and chia
Instructions
  1. Place all smoothie ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a bowl and top with your favorite toppings.

Mamma Chia Energy Beverages

Today I’m giving away to one lucky winner a $50 prize pack from Mamma Chia that will include one each of the Mamma Chia’s new organic Chia Energy Beverages and some of their other delicious products. Please enter the giveaway in the widget below and I hope this post inspires you to give these new drinks a try!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Raspberry Smoothie Bowl from MomAdvice.com This post was sponsored by Mamma Chia.  Thank you for supporting the companies that make this site possible! 

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How to Make Elephant Toothpaste

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

How to Make Elephant Toothpaste from MomAdvice.com

This post was sponsored by Bayer. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

If we are only doing science with our kids when the science fair rolls around, I feel like we are missing the boat. Every day is an opportunity to teach something about science with our kids through simple routine moments throughout our day. From baking bread to why their bath tub toys float to how swinging at the park really works…that’s all science (and pretty amazing!).

Simple daily activities are a great way to incorporate science into our daily routines and most parents have a desire for that. In fact, in Bayer’s recent back-to-school survey, nearly all (95%) parents surveyed agree that it would be helpful to have tips for turning simple activities into science learning opportunities for their children, which is why Bayer decided to create a program to address this need.

So many of these teaching moments are overlooked in our house so I am excited to partner with Bayer as they work to improve science literacy in kids through their award-winning program, Making Science Make Sense (MSMS). In this program, Bayer creates hands-on lessons to kids to seriously think about science and fostering the seeds of science in our kids even when they are small. It inspired our family to take a science challenge of our own and gave us a TRULY fun moment with our daughter while teaching her a really important science lesson in the process.

I honestly don’t know who was more excited- my daughter or my husband.

Who doesn’t love a crazy chemical reaction?

If you don’t want to take on our experiment, you can tackle so many easy and fun experiments through the MSMS science library exploring topics like what happens when water boils, where the light from sun comes, and why do oil and water not mix. Not only are these fun things to talk through together, they could also definitely round out a homeschool curriculum.

Since we have middle school kids, we have found it takes a lot to wow them so I wanted to create some science fun that they had never seen before. Grab your safety glasses and dive into a fun science experiment with us as we make Elephant Toothpaste and learn a heck of a lot of science in the process.

How to Make Elephant Toothpaste

 

How to Make Elephant Toothpaste from MomAdvice.com

How to Make Elephant Toothpaste from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed:

1 Cookie Sheet

1 Empty 2-liter container

1 Tablespoon of Dry Yeast

3 Tablespoons Warm Water

Small Cup For Mixing

Liquid Dish Soap

1/2 cup 20-volume hydrogen peroxide liquid (20-volume is a 6% solution and not available at drugstores so make sure you get the type we are linking to)

Food Coloring

Rubber Gloves

Funnel

Safety Goggles (we bought these and they fit perfectly)

How to Make Elephant Toothpaste from MomAdvice.com

 Directions for Making Elephant Toothpaste

 Please note: We advise parents do the pouring of the hydrogen peroxide as it can irritate the skin and eyes.

1. In a clean 2-liter bottle add 8 drops of food coloring. We picked blue to look like toothpaste!

2. Next have an adult add the hydrogen peroxide to the mixture. A funnel really helps with this step!

2. Add one tablespoon of your liquid dish soap to the bottle. Have your child swish the bottle gently.

3. In a separate cup, mix together the dry yeast and warm water. Mix, mix, mix for 30 seconds.

How to Make Elephant Toothpaste from MomAdvice.com

4. Place the funnel on top and then pour the yeast mixture into the bottle.

5. Watch in amazement as this starts foaming and overflowing from the bottle. Be sure to put your gloved hands around the bottle to feel the heat that the bottle is giving off.

How to Make Elephant Toothpaste from MomAdvice.com

Doesn’t that look like toothpaste? We were all amazed at this chemical reaction.

What’s the Science Behind This Elephant Toothpaste?

Each foam bubble is filled with oxygen. The yeast acts as a catalyst to remove the oxygen from the hydrogen peroxide. Since we did this process so fast, it created lots of bubbles quickly.

How to Make Elephant Toothpaste from MomAdvice.com

 

We also created an Exothermic Reaction which means you created heat with this reaction. How cool is that? We thought that part was almost as amazing as the foam that we created!

How to Make Elephant Toothpaste from MomAdvice.com

She was absolutely miserable.

Clearly.

Science is awful.

Just look at that face!

Just kidding, she was in science heaven in our backyard lab.

Although experiments are grand, I hope the takeaway is that we have the opportunity to share science with our kids every single day. I hope this idea and the many, many ideas from Bayer’s Making Science Make Sense give you lots of chances to talk about science each and every day.

Do you have any tips on how to share science at home with your children? What hurdles do you experience in encouraging STEM learning beyond the classroom? I would love to hear them!

This post was sponsored by Bayer. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

August 2016 Must-Reads

Friday, September 9th, 2016

August Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

My reading time was limited this month with the whole getting everyone back to school, buying all the things, filling out all the things, driving to all the things. I am finding that audiobooks are my jam again as I run my kids back and forth to activities and school. If I have to be driving, it is so nice to take advantage of those pockets of time in the car!  I have so many must-read picks for you for August and am already working on my next stack for reviewing.

There are lots of projects going on over here (I can’t wait to show you)  and my cheap bluetooth headphones are the next best thing to sliced bread.

NO CORDS?

A game changer for this busy reader!

I am hoping to get back to Sundays With Writers again so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for new posts or sign up for our newsletter to get the scoop!

Sorta Awesome Show

I also had the opportunity to join the Sorta Awesome Show and share the best (and worst) in my summer reading. When I tallied up how much I read this summer it totaled 28 (!!!) books. Laura, also known as the Hollywood Housewife, is one of my own go-to resources for books so I couldn’t wait to hear what she had been reading. As soon as we got done, I put everything she mentioned on hold. She’s that good!

One thing we talked about was how the heck do I read so much. This post might be a good one to read if you want to consume more books this year!

If you want to geek out over books too, you won’t want to miss this episode! I’ll be excited to hear if you agree and disagree with our opinions.

6 Must-Read Books from August 2016

The Longest Night by Andria Williams

The Longest Night by Andria Williams

I love historical fiction, especially when that historical fiction involves a story that I had never been aware of. Williams shares the true story of the SN-L Nuclear Reactor and the only fatal nuclear attack to occur in America in her beautiful novel, The Longest Night.

When Nat & Paul Collier move to the town, Paul is not only frustrated with his immoral boss, but he has a growing concern with the safety at the plant. When an altercation sends Paul away, Nat becomes friends with a man in town and lines between friendship and attraction for one another becomes blurred.

Set in Iowa in 1959, Williams builds a beautiful tension between her characters. It reminded me a lot of Mad Men and Masters of Sex. Once you finish the book, you will be running to look up the facts of this little known tragedy to learn more.

I know I was.

4 Out of 5 Stars

All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

Fans of Defending Jacob will appreciate Walker’s novel,  All Is Not Forgottenas it focuses on what parents will do to keep their children safe.

The book opens with a teenage girl, named Jenny Kramer, who attends a party and is brutally raped. The graphic and shocking nature of the rape is laid out in detail in this story so highly sensitive readers may need to steer clear.

After the rape, Jenny is given a drug that suppresses the memory of this horrific event, in hopes that Jenny can move forward in life. Unfortunately, Jenny just can’t move forward because she has to know what happened to her.  There is one problem through.  What if the person that is supposed to be guiding her to the answers has his own ulterior motive?

It has been a long time since I have read a book told in first person minor and Walker chooses to narrate her story through the psychologist’s eyes. Unfortunately, for lack of better words, this guy is an absolute douchebag. This can be a turn off and, at times, distracts the reader from the plot. The book held my interest, but I was hoping to know more from Jenny’s perspective.

Can you believe MomAdvice called someone a douchebag on here?

Oh, you bet I did!

That said, I always love to read the books before the movies and this one will be hitting the big screen.  I will be curious what Jessica Knoll and Reese Witherspoon’s production team come up with when writing and producing this one for film.

3.5 Out of 5 Stars

The Assistants by Camille Perri

The Assistants by Camille Perri

I used this month’s Scribd audio credit on The Assistants, and I am SO glad I did. This book was such a treat from start to finish and a really enjoyable listen, should you be sitting on a little credit too.

Tina Fontana works for the head honcho at her company who is swimming in money. When a technical error occurs with an expense report, Tina uses it to her advantage to pay off her student loan debt…to the tune of $20K.

Only one problem though… other people in the office have been noticing and want their loans paid off too.  More people become involved, more money is funneled, more loans paid, and more stress that Tina will get busted.

Imagine a Robin Hood story, but with a modern twist. This book is just the medicine for anyone who has struggled with student loan debt (raises hand high!). I love this book so much and found the ending to be pure perfection. It certainly was the sweetest literary escape this month for me!

5 Out of 5 Stars

You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

Few books have brought me to tears of laughter the way that Tina Fey’s, Bossypants, book did. Lucky for me, You’ll Grow Out of It just so happens to be the kind of book that makes your sides hurt with laughter and has some of that Fey magic that I have been missing in my life.

Klein is a tomboy through and through so her book focuses a lot on the silliness of expectations on women, the unbelievable things we must do to maintain our good looks, the ridiculousness of wedding dress shopping, and even the expectations we feel deciding how we give birth to our children. From her rants about barre classes to the rudeness of being called ma’am, it made me laugh SO MUCH. There are a couple of raunchy chapters I could have done without, but the majority of the book was just incredibly honest and hilarious. I’m so glad I read this one!

4 Out of 5 Stars

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapeña

I am a sucker for a good thriller and The Couple Next Door was a really incredible keep-you-up-past-your-bedtime read. The story revolves around parents that are invited to a birthday celebration party with requests that children not attend. When their babysitter cancels, they decide to still attend the party at the neighboring brownstone, leave the baby sleeping in the crib, with an agreement to take turns checking on the baby every half hour. When they check in, later in the evening though, they find the crib empty and the baby is nowhere to be found. The reader is taken on twist after twist as the couple tries to find their baby and the motive behind it.

I was surprised the book opens right away with the baby going missing and wondered how the story would ever build out from there when such a big part of the plot happens in the opening chapter. The author crafts plausible (and not so plausible) twists though that takes you on a wild rollercoaster ride with these parents. Just the discussion alone of whether or not the couple should have left their baby would make a great one for book club discussions.

This one brings all the twists and builds great tension. This one is worthy of a reading binge-and I consumed it in a mere 24 hours!  I just loved it!

5 Out of 5 Stars

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Before the Fall has been on my summer reading bucket list so I was excited to finally make time to dive into this one. The story revolves around a plane crash and the aftermath that happens following the accident.

Many chapters are like individual short stories, sharing the real story of these eleven passengers. The main story though is focused on a down-on-his-luck painter who becomes a hero when he brings one of the plane’s smallest passengers to safety.

In many ways, these stories reminded me of Did You Ever Have a Family, with all of the individual story threads being woven together. There were many moments in the book that I enjoyed and some that dragged a bit for me. The ending, for me, was abrupt and a little disappointing.

I’m glad I read this one, but it read like a slow read for me.

3.5 Out of 5 Stars

Read With Me

Read With Me This Year:

January Must-Reads

February Must-Reads

March Must-Reads

April Must-Reads

May Must-Reads

June 2016 Must-Reads

July 2016 Must-Reads

August Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

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.