Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets)

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from MomAdvice.com

 

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

As you know, since starting my fashion capsule project, I have become a huge fan of thredUP. I buy everything there from stuff for my kids (especially those one-time use special occasion outfits), to my workout gear for the gym, to our outerwear, and beautiful clothing for a fraction of retail prices. Nine times out of ten, if you see us wearing something… it is now from thredUP thanks to the affordability and how great it feels to get a pretty polka dotted box on our step filled with secondhand goodness.

That is why it was such an honor that they thought of me for an exciting campaign they are launching to support teachers and their classrooms for the back-to-school season. In honor of the Raise a Hand for Teachers Program,  I wanted to share with you our nomination for a deserving teacher and also show you a fun craft you can create for back-to-school for a special teacher in YOUR life.

Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from MomAdvice.com

My daughter had a phenomenal school year this year and it was all thanks to Mr. Domonkos! I got to come in weekly to volunteer in her classroom and be a quiet observer firsthand at the kind of teacher he was and how he ran his classroom which is always a treat as a mom. I can tell you that if I had a teacher half that fun, the learning would have never felt like work. His goals were to not only teach our children the basics, but to teach them LIFE SKILLS.

Instead of just showing them math problems on a white board, he actually gave each child different roles in the classroom (like the classroom librarian or the banker) and then they would receive a salary for their jobs. They paid rent on their desks or they could save to buy their “home” and receive a deed for paying off their space.  Each week they were given the opportunity to save their money or spend it on trinkets in the classroom. They weren’t just talking about math… they were learning to use math like they will when they become an adult.

When I asked my daughter what she said that he taught her, she said it was how to manage her money. As a frugal blogger and author of my own personal finance book, this is MUSIC TO MY EARS.

Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from MomAdvice.com

The joy on my daughter’s face when she purchased her desk is the indescribable joy I hope to feel one day when we pay our own house off. 

From getting our kids signed up with Google accounts and having them design web pages to Sponge Bob theme music while writing about the sea to showing the kids YouTube segments to learn new math tricks, his classroom was filled with new and interactive ways to get our kids excited about learning.

I know there are many moments I didn’t get the opportunity to witness as well. The countless hours past his job spent preparing for class as well as those moments needed to stay after to help kids who are struggling. I am sure there were many moments sacrificed from his own family to teach our children…and we are so grateful.

The hiccuping sobs as she got off her bus on the last day of school were also indescribable as a mom. They were because of the absence of her amazing teacher and seeing him each day. 

That has never happened before. The adoration was very real.

Do you want to put a vote in for Mr. Domonkos? We would love your support of this phenomenal teacher!

Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from MomAdvice.com

Do you have a special teacher in your life? You can nominate them for a cash prize through their Raise a Hand for Teachers Program (#raiseahand) today!

thredUP.com has partnered with AdoptAClassroom.org to recognize and thank teachers for their hard work and the positive impact they make each day on our children’s lives. Why is thredUP thanking teachers? For starters, they know schools are super important to their customers. And, they discovered that 1 in 3 teachers are actually buying clothes for students (along with  school supplies) with money from their own pockets
. I have no doubt our favorite teacher has been doing this too which is why we want to nominate him for this prize today!
You can nominate your favorite teacher anytime between July 15 – August 23. Three teachers each win $2,500 for classroom supplies and $500 to thredUP. 50 runner-up winners receive $100 to thredUP.  How incredible is this? Today we nominate Mr. Domonkos for this award and we want you to help him win as well as nominate a worthy teacher of your own!  Winners will be announced on Tuesday, September 8 (following Labor Day weekend)! 
Be sure to check out thredUP for ALL your back-to-school needs. It’s a goldmine for families on a budget especially if your children have become brand-conscious or if you look for brands with longevity and that can handle your kid’s daily abuse. They have all my favorite brands including GapKids, Janie and Jack, Lilly Pulitzer, Mini Boden, Zara Kids and more! The best part is that the you save up to 90% off retail, so you don’t have to wait for the back-to-school sales to start to save a ton of money.

To support this fun campaign (and help with the school supplies problem that teachers face), we have crafted up the cutest Felted Flower Dry Erase Marker Bouquet that you can share with a teacher in your life. These felt flowers are so easy to create that even your child can make these (with a little assistance with the hot glue gun). Let’s get started!

Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed

Package of Dry Erase Markers
Felt (can match the colors in your dry erase markers)
Hot Glue Gun & Glue Sticks
Scissors
Jar for Storage (optional)
Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from MomAdvice.com

Directions to Make Felted Flowers

Begin by cutting a wavy circle out of your felt. The bigger the circle, the bigger the flower, the smaller the circle, the smaller the flower. If you want them all the same size, use the first one as your template for your other flowers.
Start cutting into the circle in a spiral motion. Around and around you go with your scissors until you get to the center. Leave the little circle at the end of your spiral intact.
It should look like this long piece of twirly felt (as we have pictured above). It will not be perfect.  Just remember that you can trim and angle everything the way you want it when you start creating your flower. It will look beautiful!
Starting with the end where you begin cutting, roll the felt back up. Keep wrapping and wrapping until you get to that little circle at the end. You can hot glue the felt as you go, but I found that the felt flower holds together well if you wrap it tightly enough.  Feel free to trim if you have any bits of felt sticking out or not laying as nicely as you like.
Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from MomAdvice.com
After you have wrapped your rose up, dab hot glue on the back and secure the little end flap of the flower to the base.
Apply hot glue around the end of the dry erase marker (make sure you are getting around the exterior and not into the base of the marker. Secure your felt flower to the dry erase marker, holding it into place until it feels secure.
Repeat the process with the other dry erase markers until you have a bouquet! Place into a jar or tie a few with twine and give your teacher a bouquet they can use for back-to-school!
Don’t forget to Raise a Hand for a Teachers today with thredUP! We hope we have inspired you to nominate someone special and to create a fun gift for them as a thank you for all their hard work!
Felt-Flower-Dry-Erase-Markers-1

Looking for more great teacher gifts? Check out this round-up of 19 Awesome Ways to Show Teacher Appreciation! Yay!

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

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Pizza Quinoa Mushrooms from MomAdvice.com *This post is sponsored by Wild Oats.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

There is not much that I miss since going gluten-free except the convenience of eating anywhere where I want without worry.

In fact, there is only one food that I really and truly miss…

Pizza.

Pizza Quinoa Mushrooms

I have blogged about our weekly pizza night together that has been a family tradition for many years. I can admit it,  I miss the days of sitting down and sharing a pizza with my kids. For awhile, our pizza nights lapsed- making pizza for everyone else and me eating a cardboard version of it just wasn’t in the cards at first. The only way that I can explain it is that it was a time of mourning for me. Others echo me when they say that they were blue to find out that they needed to make diet switches. It is like a little part of your life has changed and won’t be the same again.

Luckily, substitutions can be made with gluten-free crusts, but they often lack the flavor of that soft, doughy variety. I still make them on occasion, but I wouldn’t say gluten-free pizza is my favorite thing.

Portobello mushrooms, hollowed and inverted, can make a delicious substitute for an expensive gluten-free crust (and they also double as a mean burger!).  I love the meaty taste of these and I love how they can stand up to baking and grilling in the summer season.  When baked, a little drizzle of olive oil and a dusting of salt & pepper, creates a delicious fun base to your pizza. I would say that these trump a gluten-free crust any day and they are made with whole foods that you can be proud of!

Pizza Quinoa Mushrooms

This girl is no stranger to quinoa and we have talked about easy ways to prepare it on the Wild Oats blog. Of course, quinoa plain over and over again can be a little boring so to bring the pizza flavor into this dish, we incorporate Wild Oats Basil and add tomato flavor into the quinoa. When mixed in, it tastes like a protein-packed pizza sauce.

If you are vegan or dairy-free, the quinoa can be cooked in veggie broth and the cheese can be switched with a vegan cheese.

These are all the flavors I love about pizza without the belly ache. It’s a pizza that you can really feel good about for your whole family.

No need to be sad about that pizza night anymore- I’ve got you covered! You can snag all these fun products from Wild Oats (an affordable organic option) from Walmart!

Pizza Quinoa Mushrooms

Pizza Quinoa Mushrooms
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 servings
 
All the pizza flavor you love without the guilt! This gluten-free pizza is a fun way to get in your veggies and protein with a delicious pizza sauce.
Ingredients
  • 4 extra-large portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¾ c. uncooked Wild Oats quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
  • 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon Wild Oats dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon Wild Oats dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon Wild Oats onion powder
  • ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh Italian Parsley
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Drizzle olive oil on the tops and bottoms of your portobello mushrooms . Season well with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes.
  3. While the mushrooms are baking, cook the quinoa according to package directions.After the quinoa is prepared, stir in the tomato sauce, garlic, basil, oregano, and onion powder. Season to taste.
  4. After 10 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven and flip the mushrooms over. Make sure to remove any liquid inside that may have cooked out to help prevent having a soggy pizza.
  5. Divide the quinoa mixture into the mushrooms, then top each one with cheese. Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 10 minutes more.
  6. Finish with a sprinkling of fresh Italian parsley.

 

Get to know Wild Oats!

Check out Wild Oats on their blog,  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, &Pinterest.

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

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Picnic in a Jar: Easy Quinoa Salad With Spinach and Tomatoes

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Easy Quinoa Salad With Spinach and Tomatoes from MomAdvice.com

Summertime means a lot of eating on-the-go for our family. It isn’t the running to and from activities like the school year, but the good stuff like picnics with my people, poolside lounging and road trips to the neighboring Michigan beaches.

Thankfully, the fresh produce and deliciously grown convenience food that we all love is in season. A container of cherries shared by the pool, bunches of grapes on our car trips, and strawberries by the fistful in the sunshine until we think we might turn into berries ourselves. It’s all such good stuff, isn’t it?

Salads are my go-to in the summer thanks to their amazing portability factor. Not only do I love fresh green salads made with romaine or spinach, but I adore a healthy topping of quinoa on top for that protein punch.

Easy Quinoa Salad With Spinach and Tomatoes from MomAdvice.com

Check out this easy tutorial to make this Easy Quinoa Salad With Spinach and Tomatoes in a Jar on the Kenmore blog this month! Yay!

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MINIONS Backyard Bash & Easy Cupcake Minion Tutorial

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

MINIONS Backyard Bash & Easy Cupcake Minion Tutorial from MomAdvice.com #MinionsParty

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

We have had so much fun preparing and hosting our MINIONS Backyard Bash in honor of the film’s launch on July 10th! Today we want to show you how we decorated for our party, the fun goodie bags we got to share with our friends, and an easy cupcake minion you can create for your very own party (no decorating skills required!).

In the new film, you get to go back to where the story of the Minions all began! Starting as single-celled yellow organisms, the Minions evolve through the ages, perpetually serving the most despicable of masters. Continuously unsuccessful at keeping these masters-from T. rex to Napoleon-the Minions find themselves without someone to serve and fall into a terrible depression. Kevin, Stuart, and Bob decide to seek a new boss to follow and decide to make a journey to find their new master. This is where they meet their new potential master, Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock- yay!), the world’s first-ever female super-villain.   They travel from Antarctica to 1960s New York City, ending in London. It is here that they must face their biggest challenge to date: saving all of Minionkind…from annihilation.

We can’t wait to see this family-friendly film together and were selected to help throw a party in honor of this film’s launch. #luckyducks

MINIONS Backyard Bash & Easy Cupcake Minion Tutorial from MomAdvice.com #MinionsParty

We got an incredible package in the mail that included all the party supplies we would need to execute our backyard bash as well as fantastic party favors that included adorable beach towels, beach balls, and PlayDoh sets for all of our guests.

The only thing we really needed was Mother Nature to cooperate with our plans.

Unfortunately, it has rained for two straight weeks in Indiana so we had to move this party indoors and enjoy the fun inside instead!

Thanks, Indiana!

MINIONS Backyard Bash & Easy Cupcake Minion Tutorial from MomAdvice.com #MinionsParty

MINIONS Backyard Bash & Easy Cupcake Minion Tutorial from MomAdvice.com #MinionsParty

MINIONS Backyard Bash & Easy Cupcake Minion Tutorial from MomAdvice.com #MinionsParty

MINIONS Backyard Bash & Easy Cupcake Minion Tutorial from MomAdvice.com #MinionsParty

MINIONS Backyard Bash & Easy Cupcake Minion Tutorial from MomAdvice.com #MinionsParty

MINIONS Backyard Bash & Easy Cupcake Minion Tutorial from MomAdvice.com #MinionsParty

We weren’t going to let a little rain ruin our party though! We outfitted our table in blue and yellow to go with our theme. I let my kids do the decorating while I prepared our snacks.  The goggles, of course take center stage in this set-up. We secured a set of adorable goggles to each of the chairs with a little washi tape for each person to take home. Our centerpiece was also adorned with goggles and we even stapled some together to make a goggle banner over our table.

Lemonade, popcorn, and cupcakes were served for a little rainy day magic together.

MINIONS Backyard Bash & Easy Cupcake Minion Tutorial from MomAdvice.com #MinionsParty

The Minions are a hit with kids of all ages so we invited our friends and cousins to join us for the afternoon. We loved sharing our Cupcake Minion with them and everyone can’t wait to catch the movie this summer!

MINIONS Backyard Bash & Easy Cupcake Minion Tutorial from MomAdvice.com #MinionsParty

In honor of the film, I’d love to show you how to create this cupcake minion for your party table!  Before we begin, I want to encourage you to make this as easy on yourself as possible! If you want to make this party treat REALLY fast, call your local bakery and ask for two dozen white cupcakes with the frosting on the side. This is what we did to save some time and our local grocer only charged $14.99. 

Supplies Needed

Two Dozen White Cupcakes

Frosting, tint half of it yellow and then other half blue (I recommend these Wilton food colorings to achieve this bold shade)

1 canning jar ring

Black licorice (if you aren’t a fan of black licorice, we tried a new chocolate Twizzler variety that worked perfectly)

1 Hershey Kiss

Scissors

Cookie Sheet

MINIONS Backyard Bash & Easy Cupcake Minion Tutorial from MomAdvice.com #MinionsParty

1. Tint over half your frosting in yellow and the other portion in blue. Set one cupcake aside for your eye.

MINIONS Backyard Bash & Easy Cupcake Minion Tutorial from MomAdvice.com #MinionsParty

2. Ice as I have shown here (15 Yellow, 4 Blue, 4 Half Yellow & Half Blue, 1 Left Without Icing!!). You can pipe the icing on, if you prefer a more polished look, or you can just spread the icing on with an icing spatula, as we have shown here.

3. Cut your black licorice up in random smaller pieces and apply to the top of your Minion head to create the hair.

MINIONS Backyard Bash & Easy Cupcake Minion Tutorial from MomAdvice.com #MinionsParty

4. Trim the top off of your cupcake to expose the white cake of your cupcake for the eye (pardon our picture, we decided to do that one last minute!). Make sure to not trim it too deep, so that your canning ring will fit around on the outside of it. Place your canning ring around the cupcake top to create your goggle.

5. Invert a Hershey Kiss into the center for your eye. Place the cupcake on top of your other cupcakes in the center. Finish by tucking two pieces of licorice underneath the eye to create the glasses. Trim the licorice to fit across the cupcakes on the end. Finish by bending your licorice into a smiley face! How easy was that?

MINIONS Backyard Bash & Easy Cupcake Minion Tutorial from MomAdvice.com #MinionsParty

MINIONS Backyard Bash & Easy Cupcake Minion Tutorial from MomAdvice.com #MinionsParty

We hope these ideas inspired you for a MINION’S Backyard Bash of your own! Remember to catch the film on July 10th! We can’t wait to hear what you think about it!

Get connected with the film!

Follow on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+

Like ‘MINIONS’ on Facebook

Visit the Official Site

Minions-Poster1

 

Check out the trailer below and enjoy a fun movie night out with the whole family this month! Yay!

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

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How to Make a Closet Office For Under $200

Monday, July 6th, 2015

How to Make a Closet Office For Under $200 from MomAdvice.com.

This post is sponsored on behalf of BHG at Walmart.

If you have learned anything from my past posts, you know that my desire is to make the most of every corner in our little home. Small space living requires works especially when want you make each room as functional as possible. I love how much it challenges me and today I wanted to show how we made over a neglected closet into a closet office as a birthday gift for our soon-to-be teen son. As part of the BHG Live Better Network, I am partnering with them to show how to help someone create a new space so today we are showing off our ideas for small space office that we think would work beautifully in a closet in your home. The best part is that this makeover cost us under $200 to pull off!

How to Make a Closet Office For Under $200 from MomAdvice.com.

My son’s room is small and his closet is pint size like our’s (thus why I embraced the fashion capsule project so much).  Over time though, we have learned that these closets are just right for us and this closet wasn’t getting a lot of use now in his room. We had pulled his dresser in there to save space, but you can see how beautifully that all worked out (ahem!). Too small clothing and the piles of clothes given to this kid to put away in his drawers on laundry day had created a mountain of a mess. The first step was to weed through the pile and, with our recent growth spurt, we were able to whittle this pile down to nothing and give our great stuff to someone in need. The dresser was relocated to the end of our bed which freed the space up entirely for a new purpose.

How to Make a Closet Office For Under $200 from MomAdvice.com.

How to Make a Closet Office For Under $200 from MomAdvice.com.

The hard part with this makeover was just getting this space prepped and ready for its new purpose. We removed all the old closet hardware and trim, painted the walls in our favorite shade of Benjamin Moore Gray Owl (leftover paint from our shed makeover last summer) and sanded down the old eighties paint job on the high shelf to create a more distressed wood look to the shelf.

Here’s a fun fact! We found a little boy’s name scrawled on the side of the wood when we took it off the shelf. That is one of the best parts about having an older house…the sweet discoveries of little things like that add to its charm. We, of course, left it there for someone else to discover one day.

How to Make a Closet Office For Under $200 from MomAdvice.com.

Pictured Above: Better Homes & Gardens Traditional Task Lamp ($22.56)/ Mainstays Parsons Desk With Drawer ($53.53)/ Mainstays Contemporary Office Chair  ($45.00) /Mainstays Canvas Ironwork Curtain Panel ($11.18)/ Better Homes & Gardens Boule Bronze Curtain Rod ($25.38)

How to Make a Closet Office For Under $200 from MomAdvice.com.

How to Make a Closet Office For Under $200 from MomAdvice.com.

We hung a single curtain panel that helped frame the space and also could be a way to hide the inevitable chaos that will happen on this desk. As you can see, we hung the bar high to help prevent our chair from rolling into our curtains and also to make this tiny space feel bigger.

How to Make a Closet Office For Under $200 from MomAdvice.com.

On the side, we moved our hamper so it is tucked away for tossing our clothes into. A giant pegboard was added to the wall for odds & ends and any art we want to display.  I hung his favorite hat on top of a thumbtack that I had pushed in. This sign made him laugh so we thought it would be a cute touch (found at Hobby Lobby). A task lamp with extension cord creates a well-lit space for doing our homework in this space.

Happy 13th birthday, Ethan! We hope you create your next artistic masterpiece in this new space we have created for you! Thank you BHG at Walmart for the fun challenge this month! We couldn’t be more thrilled with our space and to create a new purpose to a once cluttered closet!

How to Make a Closet Office For Under $200 from MomAdvice.com.

Live-Better-Network-Badge

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

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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

Trampoline by Robert Gipe

Phenomenal by Leigh Ann Henion

Render: An Apocalypse by Rebecca Gayle Howell

 

 

Read It: Trampoline by Robert Gipe, Phenomenal by Leigh Ann Henion, & Render: An Apocalypse by Rebecca Gayle Howell

Recommended by: David Joy

I’m going to stay true to my neck of the woods and give you three recommendations—a novel, a memoir, and a book of poetry—from Appalachia because I think a lot of what comes out of this region is tragically overlooked. As far as a novel, everyone needs to read Robert Gipe’s Trampoline. It’s bar none the best debut released this year and it’s arguably the best debut we’ve seen from this region in decades. With memoir, I was really impressed with Leigh Ann Henion’s book, Phenomenal. I think her storytelling is brave and her insight into our relationship with the natural world is matured and beautiful. Last but certainly not least, everyone needs to be reading Rebecca Gayle Howell, especially the poems in Render: An Apocalypse, which are just gritty and raw and lovely. She’s writing scripture. So there’re three for you to get your hands on!

 

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Read It: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Recommended by: Vanessa Diffenbaugh

It is an incredibly intense book about racial inequality in our criminal justice system, but it is beautifully written and powerful, with just enough hopefulness to help you sit with the discomfort of the truth and think hard about how you can help contribute to a solution.  I recommend it to everyone I know.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Read It: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Recommended by: Jennifer Niven

The Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker

Read It: The Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker

Recommended by: Vanessa Lafaye

It’s actually 3 books: The Regeneration Trilogy, by Pat Barker.  Is that allowed?  These books were among the first, along with Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, which opened my eyes to the history of WWI.  Before that, like most Americans, I was ignorant of this period, but it’s a huge deal here in England. I finally understood what the veterans had sacrificed in that awful, stupid war.

Geek Love By Katherine Dunn

Read It: Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Recommended By: Erika Swyler

I suggest people read it because it may freak them out. It’s also what fearless narration looks like. It’s bold and bizarre in all the right ways and full of incredible visual writing. It’s a book that stays with you long after you’ve finished. It’s the book I dream about writing.

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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DIY Outdoor Movie Night

Monday, June 29th, 2015

DIY Outdoor Movie Night from MomAdvice.com

 

*This post is sponsored by Walmart. Proceeds from this post were donated to Riverbend Cancer Services.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site and our community! 

Have you ever wanted to create your own DIY Outdoor Home Theater? We have had this on our summer bucket list for years and this summer we decided to finally put together our very own DIY outdoor movie night together with our kids and are sharing it with you today! There is something truly magical about watching a movie together under the stars and I love that you can do this right in the comfort of your very own backyard. We partnered with Walmart to show you just how easy it is to host an outdoor movie night of your own.

DIY Outdoor Movie Night from MomAdvice.com

Shopping List:  1) Clothespins 2)White Sheets (King or Queen Size) 3) Projector 4) Outdoor Pillows 5) Outdoor Lights 6) Popcorn Buckets

Now that you know what to buy, here are my tips for hosting your own diy outdoor movie night:

DIY Outdoor Movie Night from MomAdvice.com

 An EASY DIY Set-Up

You don’t need a lot to create a great movie set up. A simple white sheet (we like to double ours up to get the optimum picture)  and some clothespins are exactly what we used to create our set-up. We simply draped our sheet on our clothesline out back and held it in place with a couple of clothespins. Anchor the bottom of your sheet with rocks or a brick to hold the sheet in place, particularly on those windy days.

Although there are more expensive screen options that you can purchase, I have found that sheets don’t take up a lot of storage and offer a decent picture for the price.  Make sure to iron out those creases to avoid having ripples on this DIY screen- it’s worth the extra step!

DIY Outdoor Movie Night from MomAdvice.com

DIY Outdoor Movie Night from MomAdvice.com

DIY Outdoor Movie Night from MomAdvice.com

Get a Great Picture (and Sound)

Your biggest investment in your outdoor movies will be your projector although Walmart does offer several affordable choices (check out this budget-friendly option for just $113.88)! More than likely, you already have the laptop and with the addition of small external speakers, you will have incredible sound.

We have had our projector for years and take it with us on our trips as a back-up plan for rainy days and we use it at home regularly especially in the winter months.

We were always struggling with sound on ours and we had an ah-ha moment and realized that with the right cable, we could hook the sound up to our daughter’s mini guitar amp. Now we have sound and we didn’t even have to make a speaker purchase. This goes to show that you can really think out of the box on creating your own DIY theater for a great picture and sound for your movie night.

DIY Outdoor Movie Night from MomAdvice.com

DIY Outdoor Movie Night from MomAdvice.com

Create the Mood

With the humble beginnings of a sheet and some clothespins, I am all about creating a mood. Consider stringing some outdoor lights up and around your movie screen to really create the movie magic for the night. I have always found that twinkle lights take everything up a notch when outdoor entertaining and are less than $20 a strand. It’s an affordable luxury for really creating the mood!

Comfy seating keeps your guests in their seat longer (although running around the yard while the movie is playing is totally required!).  Add some blankets to the ground and some comfy outdoor pillows (I love these from BHG at Walmart).  Consider also gathering your patio furniture around to keep things cozy for the adults in the crowd!

DIY Outdoor Movie Night from MomAdvice.com

DIY Outdoor Movie Night from MomAdvice.com

DIY Outdoor Movie Night from MomAdvice.com

DIY Outdoor Movie Night from MomAdvice.com

DIY Outdoor Movie Night from MomAdvice.com

DIY Outdoor Movie Night from MomAdvice.com

DIY Outdoor Movie Night from MomAdvice.com

Bring On the Snacks

You can’t watch the movie without POPCORN! Take your popcorn game up a level and craft up a popcorn bar for your guests. Fill trifle containers with popcorn (don’t forget your scoopers!) and then fill ramekins with candy treats, marshmallows, and other fun mix-ins for you guests.

To make the treat more interactive (while you are waiting for it to get dark), you can have a table for decorating  paper bags with stamps, markers, and decorative scissors for cutting a pretty scalloped edge. Have kids create their own popcorn bags and fill them with their favorite combination of treats. For older guests, the party section of the store offers a variety of fun containers you can use for your snacks.

I am also a big fan of the reusable insulated solo cup for outdoor drinks and a perfectly sized popcorn bucket. We found these in the outdoor section of our store.

For drinks, I am a BIG fan of using an inexpensive outdoor flower box for your soda drinks. Isn’t this a fun way to bring drinks to the table? Retro sodas and paper straws are always a hit with my kids. Center this on your picnic table for easy grabbing!

DIY Outdoor Movie Night from MomAdvice.com

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DIY Outdoor Movie Night from MomAdvice.com

Here is our movie screen once it was dark. As you can see, even with a tiny projector, you have a pretty great picture on  your sheet. We found adjusting the bricks to pull out any wrinkling, made a dramatic difference in the projection of our show. Our first movie night we caught, “Little Rascals!”  The kids ran around like crazy, catching glimpses between games of hide and seek.

At the end of the night, it ended up just being me and my Dad, sitting side by side in two chairs, finishing out the show together.

We both agreed, that was pretty darn sweet.

There is certainly something so magical about an outdoor movie and we hope we have inspired you for a night of your own!

DIY Outdoor Movie Night from MomAdvice.com

Reservations to our movie theater are highly recommended. We encourage you to dial our yellow phone to hold your seat! We would like to say a big thank you to Mallory Dzierla Schoenle of Copycat-Design for sharing her talent with the Riverbend Cancer Services.

We purchased her beautiful donation of this handmade lemonade stand to help support the cause and transformed it into a popcorn stand for the evening festivities. Mallory is a big giver in our community and as a DIY girl myself, I can see the labor of love that goes into each of her projects. You can check out her Facebook page or her website for more information about her beautiful pieces! 

For more fun summer activities, check out this page of great ideas! Have you ever hosted an outdoor movie night? Please share your tricks and tips here for a fun night with the family!

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Easy Summer Beauty Routines

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Easy Summer Beauty Routines from MomAdvice.com

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

This upcoming month we will be focusing on Beauty for our m challenge! I am giving you a sneak peek on my beauty routines today as I partner up with Walmart to share about some of their great beauty essentials. In the past I have worked as a craft contributor for their team, but I get to switch gears now and share about beauty & fashion with them this year. I am sure you have seen my obsession for these two things grow as we have talked about fashion capsules (my summer capsule reveal happens next month- stay tuned!) and as we talk about our favorite beauty products in It’s the 3 Little Things each week! This switch feels like a great fit and will give me a chance to try out some new beauty routines to share with you!

Easy Summer Beauty Routines from MomAdvice.com

As you can see, I try to keep things pretty neutral when it comes to beauty since this is my typical make-up job. I don’t know if that will appeal to you or not, but many of the routines I have had in place have worked for me for many years. I use many of the same facial washes and make-up brands that I have used since high school.  For summer beauty, my objectives are really simple- PROTECTION from the sun, WATERPROOF since I tend to be a sweaty mess all the time, and MULTI-USE products since our bathroom doesn’t have a ton of storage space.

Oh, and I’m lazy. 

Easy Summer Beauty Routines from MomAdvice.com

Based on these factors, here are my FAVORITE summer beauty products that I truly love!

Easy Summer Beauty Routines from MomAdvice.com

Neutrogena Cooldry Sport Sunscreen SPF 30 all the way up to 70! 

We hang out at the pool all summer and my kids are little fishes in the water. We look for sunscreens with staying power and fast application. This Neutrogena Cooldry Sport Sunscreen is fantastic because it is water resistant for up to 80 minutes. The best part is that it dries quickly upon application and it doesn’t leave my skin feeling greasy. I am prone to breakouts from sunscreen and this one doesn’t make me break out.  We still stick to cream application and sticks to our faces, but this is a quick one for getting everyone protected and in the pool in no time flat. I priced it out at a lot of places and Walmart really does have the best price (it was $3 cheaper than another superstore in our area). Since we live at the pool, we spend a ton on sunscreen so that savings adds up quick.

Easy Summer Beauty Routines from MomAdvice.com

Aveeno BB Cream

I’ve been experimenting with lots of different BB Creams and I have to say that I love the Aveeno BB Cream the most because it isn’t drying to my skin, the sunscreen has performed really well on my fair complexion, and it seems to offer really great coverage at hiding imperfections in my skin. I had to laugh when I was at an assembly for my daughter and my friend said, “Your skin is so beautiful. I just want to touch it.” After uncontrollable laughing, I told her that THIS is my secret. It’s almost like an airbrush to your face and it keeps my skin feeling soft and smooth. I always had a hard time finding it, but it is usually over in the facial washes/moisturizer aisle and not in the makeup area. It’s my priciest investment ($11.72), but if you compare ounce for ounce on other brands, it really is a bargain. I also save a ton by using an all-in-one product instead of purchasing several bottles.

Easy Summer Beauty Routines from MomAdvice.com

Burt’s Bees Lip Shine (in Pucker)

In the Fall & Winter months, I love a bold lip with heavy coverage. In the summer though, I just want a little tint to my lips and a lot of shine. I have always been a fan of the Burt’s Bees lip balms, but only recently discovered these lip shines for my summer routines. These smell so good, have good shine, and they do a great job moisturizing the lip. PS- If you haven’t watched the Burt’s Bees documentary on Netflix, you really must. He is such an interesting man and there is much to admire about someone that famous who chooses to live so simply.  You will love it!

Easy Summer Beauty Routines from MomAdvice.com

Revlon Colorstay Eyeliner (in Black Brown)

You will rarely catch me without eyeliner on. I could care less about mascara, but I won’t leave the house without a swipe of eyeliner on my lids. I have tried so many brands and none of them stick except for this one. It says it holds up to sixteen hours…I am going to say it stays longer than most, but sixteen hours is pushing it.  It really stays on the longest of any I have tried though and goes on smoothly. For summer, this is the one I would recommend adding to your make-up routines! Pair this with infallible eye shadow in iced latte and your eyes are set for summer!

Easy Summer Beauty Routines from MomAdvice.com

Easy Summer Beauty Routines from MomAdvice.com

TRESemme Fresh Start Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoo is EXPENSIVE especially when it comes to the salon brands. As a brunette, it is hard to find a dry shampoo that does not leave me looking like I have a white film on my hair. When this product came out originally, I looked like a mess because the residue was so bad. They switched their formula though and I purchased a trial size to try it out for a trip and it works BEAUTIFULLY now.  In the summer, I often look like I need to wash my hair. I don’t know if you saw THIS or not, but I really hate washing my hair especially now that it has gotten so long. This stuff is a year-round essential, but really perfect after a day at the pool with the kids when I could use a little freshening up and it costs less than $5!

Easy Summer Beauty Routines from MomAdvice.com

Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs

Ladies, I am the fairest of them all and I am telling you right now to RUN to Walmart and get this stuff. It used to come only in an aerosol can and I have ruined a few shower curtains and sprayed up some walls trying to get my legs tan, but now it comes in a cream so no more mess. It’s water resistant so you can tan up your legs even when heading to the pool or beach and the only way to get this stuff off is with a lot of soap and water. If you haven’t tried it, it’s like a concealer for your legs. Bumps, bug bites, skin imperfections… all that stuff disappears. If you think you are the fairest of them all, they came out with a new color called Fairest. They even have travel size, perfect for packing for your summer trips. After you try it, send me an email to thank me for changing your life!

Easy Summer Beauty Routines from MomAdvice.com

L’Oreal Visible Lift CC Eye Concealer

I have terrible circles under my eyes and never could find a concealer that could camouflage these enough for me. I also have very dry skin so these products often created more dryness and creases around my eyes contributing to my tired look. I wish I could kiss L’Oreal for making this product. It actually hides my circles and it doesn’t dry out my skin. If you have had a bad night with the kids, this stuff makes you look well-rested. I also really love the roller ball applicator on this one.

Easy Summer Beauty Routines from MomAdvice.com

Mane ‘n Tail Hoofmaker Hand & Nail Therapy

Have some hooves for feet?  Me too.  This stuff costs less than $3 and works better than any fancy foot creams I have ever bought. I keep it in my nightstand and use it at night on my hands and feet. It also helps repair your nails especially if you have indulged in one too many shellacs (*ahem*)!

Easy Summer Beauty Routines from MomAdvice.com

Secret Clinical Strength

Between my sweaty gym routines and and the days spent outside working on the yard or taking my kids to the pool, I can be one sweaty mess. This deodorant is amazing at keeping sweat at bay and has helped boost my confidence a lot this summer. If you are looking for a deodorant with staying power, give this one a spin! I promise it won’t disappoint!

I hope I haven’t given all my secrets away in my very first post, but I love sharing my favorites with you. Do you have any beauty products you think I should give a spin this summer? Let me know in the comments so I can try them out! I’m always looking for new products to add to my beauty routines! xo

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Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky (Plus GIVEAWAY!)

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky

*This post is sponsored by St. Martin’s Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I am honored to get to share about Barbara Delinsky’s latest novel, Blueprints. With 21 books under her belt (published in 28 languages!), Barbara Delinsky is a household name in literature and today I have the opportunity to share and giveaway her beautiful new book that is on store shelves now.

Pinch me, please. How can this be my job?

Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky

If you haven’t heard of Blueprints, here is a little synopsis (without the spoilers!) to share a bit more about what you can expect from this book. On Caroline MacAfee’s 56th birthday, she is told that she is too old to continue hosting the home improvement show, “Gut It!” that she has been a part of for years. Her replacement doesn’t want to tell her about the switch. I mean, how do you break it to your own mother that her replacement is…well, her very own daughter?  There is, of course, conflict knowing that the job that Caroline loves and knows so well is being taken from her and there is sadness as Jamie finds the relationship she has with her mom is slipping away from her in this new role. When a traumatic death happens in their family, not only do these two realize that they will have to work together to pick up the pieces of their loss, but their entire life has went into a different direction than either of them expect.

Since this book tells the story of Caroline, at the age of 56, and Jamie, in her thirties, it is a book that you could share with your own mother and will appeal to women of all ages. The story of friendship between this mother & daughter duo made for a beautiful read and would be a great beach read escape this summer. The story particularly shines as Jamie learns to find herself and finds love for the unexpected family she has been shouldered with. Caroline’s blossoming relationship between her and her longtime pal also builds into a beautiful love story in the golden years of life.  I would recommend this book for fans of Kristen Hannah and Diane Chamberlain, two of my favorite authors for a fun escape from the heavier books.

At the heart of it all, this story is all about how the blueprints of our life change over time. We all have plans, but let’s face it… they rarely work out the way we expect them to.

Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky

I don’t know about you, but the blueprints for my own life are so very different than the ones that I started with.  To be honest, I didn’t start with very good blueprints from the beginning and, perhaps,  more comic book illustrations of a magical land for how life would work out.   I was one of those people that just figured things out as they came to me and lived in the clouds the earlier part of my years. I had no real goals or plans after college, I married quick, and I settled into life early in our marriage back in our hometown after an unexpected job loss.

We started with our “starter home,” a house that made me weep around every corner at all we would have to do to make it livable. This was not the dream home. We figured we would improve upon it and then get the heck out of here with a fat check for all of our hard work.

Unfortunately, in Indiana that’s a rarity.

Who knew?

As we started to put the elbow grease into our space though, we found that maybe JUST MAYBE, this home had some potential.

Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky

Once we got started on the updates, we found it hard to stop. We knocked down walls, we created a patio we could love, we spray painted, we stained, we renovated bathrooms, we added mantels, we made a bonus room out a shed…the list just goes on and on. Twelve years later, I have become so proud of our little home and we appreciate the size of it (less to maintain) and the beauty in adding our own signature touches everywhere we go. It’s in the big things like gutted spaces, but in the smaller things like knitted centerpieces.

The first thing people say is, “This house is so YOU.”

And I grin like an idiot because I am so proud.

How’s that for a blueprints switch?

Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky

Instead of buying a bigger house, we decided to do something different with our money… we have decided to see the world instead! We are six years away from paying off our home and we can’t wait to say that this home is REALLY our home. With the money we save on our mortgage, we can show our kids the world.

To me, these blueprints are so much better than our original plans. To see the world with the people you love FAR outweighs the care & maintenance (not to mention that mortgage payment) for a big, shiny new home. 

That doesn’t mean we are done with the projects though. We continue to discover that there is potential around every turn.  I am so thankful that God granted us this blueprint for our life.

Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky

To learn more about Blueprints! 

Learn more at BarbaraDelinsky.com
Follow Barbara on Twitter and Facebook
Use the hashtag #Blueprints to share about this book.
Read an excerpt HERE!

Today I am giving away TWO COPIES of Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky. Follow the instructions below in our Rafflecopter widget to enter to win!  Please note that you must be a US Resident to win! Good luck, everyone! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This post is sponsored by St. Martin’s Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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4th of July Flag Fruit Dessert Tray

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

4th of July Flag Fruit Dessert Tray *This post is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

One of my favorite celebrations is 4th of July and today I wanted to share with you a fast & easy 4th of July fruit dessert platter you or your kids can make into a flag to celebrate the holiday.  Walmart partnered up with me to share a festive 4th dish and I have to say that this delivers on the red, white, & blue.

4th of July Flag Fruit Dessert Tray 4th of July Flag Fruit Dessert Tray

Since I am gluten-free, I often have to bypass the dessert trays. As an adult, it is not a big a deal. As a child, the dessert table is EVERYTHING, especially when it comes to holiday feasting. I wanted to create this cute tray just for them and I found these glutino gluten-free yogurt covered pretzels are not only a fantastic way to add the white we needed for our stripes, but they also are highly addictive and delicious. You can certainly make your own white chocolate covered pretzels, if you are feeling ambitious, but these cut down on the time invested in creating our cute tray!

4th of July Flag Fruit Dessert Tray

Flag cupcake picks can be a great way to festively pick up a berry (or ten).  I found these at a local party supplies store and they are an adorable touch to a festive spread.

4th of July Flag Fruit Dessert Tray

I think the best part about this tray is that it is not only relatively healthy, but it is also a tray that you can confidently create and know it will get eaten. After a big cookout, light desserts are a wonderful addition to the table for snacking on. Have too many desserts on your table? Save this to serve up during the fireworks. It will be gone before it even gets dark enough to see them!

Check out the instructions below on how many supplies you need to put this tray together!

4th of July Flag Fruit Dessert Tray
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
A fast & festive gluten-free fruit dessert tray your guests will flip for.
Ingredients
  • 2 pints strawberries trimmed, rinsed, and dried
  • 1 pint blueberries, rinsed
  • 2 packages of glutino yogurt-covered pretzels (or white chocolate regular pretzels, if not going gluten-free on this tray)
Instructions
  1. On a 9x13 cookie sheet, place a small clear plastic (or glass) square container of berries to create your blue flag corner.
  2. Now alternate the red berries and white pretzels in stripes until you have filled your tray.

 

While you are here, these are a few more of my favorite 4th of July ideas on MomAdvice! xo

Cupcake Pick 4th of July Wreath

Make a 4th of July wreath out of cupcake picks (world’s easiest festive touch!)

Celebrating 4th of July Heroes With Your Kids

Teach your kids about the REAL 4th of July Heroes (the reason we all celebrate!)

Diy Family-Friendly Bar Cart

Turn a tool cart into a bar cart for the 4th (adorable girl not included!)

DIY slow Cooker Citronella Candles

Keep the bugs away with DIY Citronella Candles (made in your slow cooker!)

Red, White, & Blueberry Trifle

Make a Red, White, & Blueberry Trifle (another light & easy dessert!)

3-ingredient Watermelon Granita

Wow your guests with this Watermelon Granita (just 3-ingredients!)

Watermelon Coconut Lime Smoothies #recipe via momadvice.com

Or blend up leftover watermelon into this Watermelon Lime & Coconut Ice (I love leftovers!)

Blueberry Sangria Lemonade

Make a festive Blueberry Sangria Lemonade for toasting the holiday (cheers and cheers again!)

Berry Quinoa Parfaits

Leftover berries? Turn them into a protein-packed Berry Quinoa Parfait.

Greek Quinoa Salad

Everyone loves a good salad! Greek Quinoa Salad is yummy and gluten-free (winning!)

Lemony Spinach & Tomato Quinoa Salad

Why have one salad when you can have two? Lemony Spinach & Tomato Quinoa Salad is delicious (even at room temperature!)

Caprese Pasta Salad #recipe via MomAdvice.com

I am all about the caprese so this Pasta Caprese Salad really fits the 4th of July bill! (can be made gluten-free with a pasta substitute)

5-ingredient Caprese Pork Chops

Did someone say caprese? These 5-ingredient Caprese Chops would be delicious on the grill.

The World's Best Steak Marinade

Feeling Fancy? Try the World’s Best Steak Marinade (it makes cheap cuts taste gourmet!)

Restaurant-Style Steak Recipe

Rained out? Restaurant-Worthy Steak on the stove. In your face, rain!

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