Archive for the ‘Reads’ Category

Amy’s Notebook 11.25.15

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Bacon Wrapped Sweet Potatoes via Design Mom

Source: Design Mom


A Thanksgiving – or any time – side dish: Bacon-Wrapped Sweet Potatoes with Herbed Goat Cheese

I’m inspired to go leaf hunting in the backyard now!

Beautiful Thanksgiving placemats- I’m in love!

3 ways to make mornings rock.

11 comfort foods to eat while crying to the Adele album.

How to want very little.

Girls apron pattern via 5 Minutes for Mom

Source: Design Mom


How cute is this free pattern for a little girl’s apron? Perfect for the holidays!

I have a crush on this simple modern wreath.

Be wowed by this beautiful closet.

Beautiful scrappy trees.


I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!


It’s the 3 Little Things: Cozy Bras, Virgins, & a Taser

Friday, November 20th, 2015


Hey, did the title get your attention? It’s been so quiet around here that I thought I would lighten the mood and bring you in before the holidays. I miss your comments, friends! I have been considering starting a private Facebook group where we can chat. Would you be interested in something like that? Let me know in the comments today and I will try to execute that before our new year!

This week included a rather surreal moment of seeing a product I designed in a real store for the first time.  It’s been such an honor to be a part of the Hazel & Ruby team for the holidays and my Holiday Knitted Boot Cuffs Kit has been flying off the shelves. Don’t forget it’s available at Jo-Ann’s nationwide I hope you can snag one before they run out. This would make a lovely holiday gift for yourself or for a friend.

You can read a fantastic post from Kim (from Everything Etsy) on what she thought about it as well as read Crystal’s (from Money Saving Mom) experience with knitting in the round for the first time. I’m so proud to know these ladies and thankful for their support on this adventure!

This week I just started this book that you all have been raving about and I plan to listen to this one on audio while I tackle my Thanksgiving feast today. I want to give it a listen before I see the film which looks INCREDIBLE! Have you read either of these?

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

Coobie Bras


I was in Asheville this past week for a conference and popped into a boutique that was selling a bra called the Coobie Bra. I decided to buy two since they looked super comfortable and I am IN LOVE with these bras and their affordable price tag!  What makes these so special? Well, I can’t wait to tell you!

Coobie Bras

So here is what the bra looks like all on display which, to me, looks just like a tank top or a camisole when it is peeking out of other layers, but it doesn’t add a lot of bulk under bulkier clothing items. The reason I love them is that they have no wire, no hooks, no clasps, and are perfectly lightly padded. I mean, what more could a girl ask for?  It comes in the plain version (like I am showing here- these are the ones I purchased) or you can get ones with a lace detail if you prefer a lacy cami look. They are intended to fit women from a 32A to 36D, but they also make a full-size version for  just a few dollars extra if you need a little more support.

I am LIVING in these and intend to buy a few more as a treat to myself. It’s the next best thing to no bra all! Am I right, ladies? Ha!


Jane the Virgin- Acting Perfection

Netflix secured the first season of Jane the Virgin and I thought I would give the show a watch since I had heard it was so highly rated. You guys, have you watched this? It is AWESOME! The story is about a girl named Jane who comes in for a routine Pap Smear and is accidentally inseminated by her doctor when she mixes up the patient’s procedures. Jane is a virgin, thus her name, and finds out that she is pregnant which is just what she has avoided her whole life. Newly engaged and ready to start her life with her boyfriend, she is faced with a pregnancy with a man who just so happens to be her handsome boss. Delightfully campy coupled with incredible acting, it is so dang good and I am loving every minute of it. The first season is available for streaming on Amazon if you don’t have a Netflix membership! You must watch it!

Infini'Silk Pro

Taser Tuesdays (Laser Hair Removal At Home)

My dream is to never shave my legs again, but the treatments are not cheap and I am also very bad about escaping work to make any appointments and there are many to get rid of body hair.  I did a ton of research on at-home laser hair treatment options and this Veet Infini’Silk Pro was rated the highest and seemed to have the best results from reviewers. I went ahead and bought it for myself and once a week, I spend about an hour doing this one evening a week. This night has been lovingly nicknamed Taser Tuesday by my husband. Isn’t he such a funny guy?

Is it painful? Well, I was using an epilator so this feels like sunshine & roses in comparison. Sensitive areas like the backs of thighs, the bikini line, and a little under the underarms can be a little painful, but not unbearable…just maybe a tad uncomfortable.

After three treatments, I am down to shaving about once a week so I do feel like it is working, but I am an ideal candidate for this. Fair girls with dark hair are exactly who they recommend to give this a try.

I will keep you guys posted on this one, but for now I am seeing results that make this girl very happy and fit into my price range. Have you ever tried laser treatments or the DIY kits for at-home? I would love to hear your experience.

No Soliciting Unless You Are Justin Timberlake

Final happy- this sign made me laugh in Asheville.  I thought you would get a kick out of it too! I hope you have a wonderful weekend! xo

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

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



Amy’s Notebook 11.18.15

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

Mug pumpkin pie via Shutterbean

Source: Shutterbean


Pumpkin pie in a mug- genius.

What an elegant Thanksgiving centerpiece.

Up your productivity with these 10 apps.

How to host “Friendsgiving”- one of my favorite things to do with good friends!

Day to night in 5 minutes flat. Inspired!

A framework for gratitude- such a beautiful way to honor your family.

The best foods to donate to food banks during the holidays.

Oh, how I love Charlie Brown.

Simple Living via No Sidebar

Source: No Sidebar


Be inspired with these 11 simple living resources.

This is my kind of Guns ‘n Roses.

Perfectly plaited.

Or try a two-minute twist.

I printed this for my home and it is perfect.

4 uses for drapes other than windows.

Fall packing mini capsule wardrobe- inspired!

Do you love a highly creative person? Check out these 20 things to help you better connect with them.

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!


It’s the 3 Little Things: Electric Kettles, Taco Tuesday, & Fresh Eyes

Friday, November 13th, 2015

It's the 3 Little Things

I hope you guys are having another wonderful week! I hopped on a plane yesterday to head to Asheville, NC for a Type-A Parent Super Summit. Do we have any readers from that area? If so, let me know what to catch in your town! I’m rooming with Kelly from Centsible Life  and looking forward to making lots of memories with my friends while hopefully learning how to manage this business better for you. After almost 12 years writing online, this old dog could use a few new tricks!


Before I get started with the happy, I know that this is the season where we are selecting names from trees and giving gifts to those in need. The dollar limit on the names I gathered was $20 for each child. The items listed? A warm coat, shoes, pants, and shirts. How can I deny these kids good coats?  $20 wasn’t going to go very far so I actually checked thredUP for my kids this year and I got BEAUTIFUL coats and adorable tops for the amount that I was allowed to spend. If you prefer new items, you can click under Condition and select that option. I opted for barely used so I could get more for my money. If you use this link, it will give you $20 to spend on your first order- that’s about all you would need to help one kid. Consider grabbing an extra name and giving a gift to a child in need this year! I can’t wait to wrap up these beautiful Gymboree coats I scored!

Let’s get to this week’s happy!

Aroma Digital Electric Kettle

Aroma Electric Kettle

We are already almost through our first batch of diy hot cocoa mix  for the season. This electric kettle was gifted to me by Celestial Seasonings last year when I visited their headquarters. I honestly had never really considered an electric kettle before and had always been content with the good old-fashioned variety. This kettle is incredible though and makes the hottest water ever in about two seconds. I can see my kids running up to the door, put the kettle on, and have a cup in their hand in a matter of minutes. You can have the water keep warm so when one kid gets off their bus they have cocoa and an hour later, the other kid has a hot mug too.

really loved this on the world’s most miserable weather day (Halloween) and made myself a tall mug of cocoa after being the world’s best mom and visiting every house in the neighborhood.

Like I said, who knew an electric kettle was so awesome? It’s definitely bringing the happy in our house!

Spotify Dinner Music

Taco Tuesday (And Other Great Themes)

One monthly membership we splurge on is our Spotify membership. You don’t have to have pay for a membership to enjoy it, but you do have to endure the advertisements (which I didn’t love during our family meals). Regardless of the type of membership you have, I really love to listen to all of the different stations they have assembled for you for every mood you are in. We started taking advantage of all of their Dinner stations to go with our dinners and the kids absolutely love it. For Italian dining, we enjoyed our Italian station, for taco night the Taco Tuesday station was just perfect, and Sundays including A Soothing Supper (it’s good for the soul!).

As a kid, music was very important to my Dad and to me. I played the violin, sang in the choir, and did musical theater so music was such a big part of my life growing up. On occasion my Dad would find a composer or a music that would go along with the theme of the meal. I remember those as such special meals and I really want the kids to have that too.

As I prepared Taco Tuesday on Monday (hey, you can’t have everything!) my daughter came in from her dance classes with my husband and heard the music. In her leotard she started dancing around our kitchen while I made the tacos and it made my heart happy. Music is everything and I love how a little themed dinner music can make our family meals more special.

Yes to Cucumbers Eye Makeup Remover Pads

Eye Makeup Remover Pads That Really Work

I’m still sampling lots of offerings from ePantry for our feature here and I decided to give these Yes to Cucumbers Eye Makeup Remover Pads a spin. I absolutely hate removing eye makeup and my eyes flare up with everything. Waterproof makeup is a real struggle to get off and I usually end up with swollen and achy eyes. These didn’t look like they had a lot of product on them so I was doubtful that they would do a good job. After a night out with particularly gooped up eyes, I gave these a shot and they work like a DREAM! My eye makeup came off with minimal rubbing and my eyes didn’t feel awful after I took the makeup off. These worked even better than my old trick of using baby oil. You must try them- they are so good!  This link should give you $20 to spend if you want to give the ePantry thing a try, otherwise I am sure you can find them wherever you shop for your toiletries!

That’s all the happy for this week! If you want to follow me eating my way through Asheville in my stretchiest of pants, you can catch me on Instagram this weekend!

Happy weekend, friends! xoxo

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

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

Amy’s Notebook 11.11.15

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Leftover labels via Oh Happy Day

Source: Oh Happy Day


Printable leftover labels- how great are these?

See the strategies and habits highly successful people use to make the most of their time.

Easiest pillow covers ever.

The key to simplifying your digital life.

A KonMari overhaul- impressive!

White chicken chili looks like a great one to add to the menu planner.

Simple wool candle holders- beautiful!

Outdoor space via The Nester

Source: The Nesting Place


Swooning over this outdoor space.

DIY toilet paper roll Christmas calendar – genius!

3 ways to spice up fall basics.

Listen to this piece on John Irving (or read the transcript)- I am in amazement!

10 simple strategies for saving money on food.

Awkward tweets alert- genuine LOL’s in this one!

Where the children sleep- this breaks my heart.

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!


2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees

Monday, November 9th, 2015

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

I love, love, love voting on books for the GoodReads Choice Awards. If you haven’t participated before, GoodReads members can vote on their favorite books from the year in a variety of categories. I absolutely love peeking at all of the books that are listed and I use this list to gather fresh books to add to my library stack. This is the cream of the crop each year and I am rarely disappointed when reading a book from these annual gatherings.

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Today I’m listing out the GoodReads Choice Award Nominees for 2015 and including links to our own reviews and author interviews to the books that I have tackled.  Personally, I have a hard time scrolling through all of these on my phone so this post is secretly just for me.  As always, I LOVE new friends on GoodReads and would love for you to join me there so send me a friend request!

Let’s take a peek at a few of this year’s nominees from my favorite categories that we cover here on MomAdvice. For the full list head over here to check out the selections and vote! 

Best Fiction

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Badani

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal  (Be sure to check out our Sundays With Writers with J. Ryan)

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton

Inside the O’Briens (Reviewed HERE)

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

Girl at War by Sara Novic

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (Reviewed HERE)

The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

The Sound of Glass by Karen White

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

The Perfect Son by Barbara Claypole White

Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg  (Be sure to check out our Sundays With Writers With Bill Clegg)

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera

When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi

Best Mystery & Thriller

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson (Reviewed HERE)

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

The Escape by David Baldacci

Finders Keepers by Stephen King

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Gathering Prey by John Sanford

The Stranger by Harlan Coben

Lamentation by C.J. Sansom

The Cartel by Don Winslow

Memory Man by David Baldacci

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins (Reviewed HERE)

Obsession in Death by J.D. Robb

Marrow by Tarryn Fisher

The English Spy by Daniel Silva

Die Again by Tess Gerritsen

Best Historical Fiction

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran

A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (Reviewed HERE)

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell

The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

Mademoiselle Chanel by C. W. Gortner

Flood of Fire by Amitav Ghosh

Best Debut GoodReads Author

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

My Heart And Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

The Hurricane by R.J. Prescott

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Orhan’s Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Girl at War by Sara Novic

The Strongest Steel by Scarlett Cole

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

The Mason List by S.D. Hendrickson

Best Young Adult Fiction

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone  (Be sure to check out our Sundays With Writers with Tamara)

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

My Heart And Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (Be sure to check out our Sundays With Writers with Jennifer)

Wild Reckless by Ginger Scott

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Best Non-Fiction

Ghettoside by Jill Leovy

The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna

One Of Us by Asne Seierstad

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

For the Love by Jen Hatmaker

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Work Rules by Laszlo Bock

Between the World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Rising Strong by Brene Brown

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

The Unspeakable by Meghan Daum

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Missoula by Jon Krakauer

Guantanamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Remember there are many more categories, these are just a few our favorite categories that we share about on MomAdvice! Happy reading, friends! xo

 *this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though! 
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Sundays With Writers: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

Sundays With Writers

Have you ever thought you read every book by one of your favorite authors and then discover that you missed one? It felt like Christmas when I found out After I Do was a book that I had not tackled and discovered it was available on audio through our library. Over a day of cooking, I laughed, cried, and loved this book so much that I reached out to Taylor to tell her how very special it was to me. It is, in fact, my personal favorite of all the books she had written.  I asked if she would mind sharing a little behind this incredible book with you and she graciously agreed to share with us today. What a treat!

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

After I Do  is a must-read author recommendation,  recommended by Liz Fenton in her Sundays With Writers interview. Like I said, somehow I had missed this one in between her other two incredible books Forever, Interrupted and Maybe In Another Life.

I can now say that I’ve read all of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books and this is, by far, her best work.  After I Do is a brutally honest portrayal of a failing marriage that gives us glimpses into our own marriage struggles that we deal with daily and how, what once was endearing, can be the things that we can’t stand about our spouse.

Lauren & Ryan take a year off of their marriage in a temporary split to see if they really are meant to be together. As they navigate the world without one another, they discover a lot about themselves and each other.

A hopeful book filled with a family of characters that feel like your own, Reid’s book makes you feel like part of the family as you root for Lauren & Ryan to find each other again. Highly recommending this one!

I gave this book 5 stars and included it in our October ’15 Must-Reads List!

Grab your cup of coffee and let’s settle in with Taylor to hear more behind this beautiful book and some new projects that she happens to have underway!

Taylor Jenkins Reid

You are one of the few writers that I have devoured their entire body of work and loved every single book! After I Do though has to be my favorite (so far) of yours! Why did you decide to explore a couple taking a year away from each other in their marriage as the premise for this story?

First of all, thank you for reading all three of my books! I came up with the idea for After I Do just as I was finishing Forever, Interrupted. I knew that I wanted to delve into a story of what happens after you’ve fallen out of love. I figured the most interesting way for me to do that was to create two people who used to be madly in love with each other find themselves on the edge of divorce. Then the question becomes, “Can they fall back in love?” Answering that was the fun of writing the book.

You chose to narrate the story from Lauren’s perspective, but one way that we really can delve into Ryan’s story is through the unsent emails that Lauren reads in his drafts folder. Why did you choose to tell the story in this way instead of a more “he said, she said,” narration with alternating voices?

Great question. I wrestled with this for a long time. There was even a draft – I think maybe it was draft three – where I worried that I needed to scrap half of the book and add in Ryan’s point of view. But I really wanted this to feel like a story of self-exploration and not a book where the reader was choosing sides. I wanted the audience to connect with Lauren and her family. So I decided to stick with her point of view and work hard at making Ryan’s voice come through.

There were moments that I laughed out loud at the minor irritations that seem so major when we are married. I love my husband, but those things like not putting your dishes in the sink or not putting clothes in the hamper can really escalate, you know? Did you channel some of your silly inner rages with your spouse in the email banter between Lauren & Ryan?

Ha! I tried really hard not to air my own dirty laundry in the book but I did tap into the feeling of,“I love you but I hate you so damn much,” in order to capture how frustrating it can be to live with another human being. I’m sure some of my own marriage snuck in there unbeknownst to me… Case in point: I have a dog named Rabbit and Lauren and Ryan’s dog is named Thumper (who was a rabbit). I didn’t even notice it until a reader pointed it out.  So there’s probably there’s more of me in there than I realize.

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

There are many beautiful moments in this book, but one line really stood out for me in particular that I highlighted. It was, “We are two people who used to be in love. What a beautiful thing to have been. What a sad thing to be.” Hello, heartstrings! So many moments really just cut me to the core. Were there any scenes that were particularly emotional for you to write about?

I’m thrilled you said that because that line was a particular favorite of mine as well! I always have certain ideas or sentiments that I try to write towards as I’m crafting my first draft. And I was most definitely writing toward that line. There were a few scenes that were very gratifying and deeply emotional to write but they are all at the end and I don’t want to spoil anything. Suffice it to say, the resolution of everyone’s storylines meant a lot to me.

Typically, I don’t really get wrapped up in the supporting characters in a book, but in this one, I was just as attached to the family as I was to Lauren & Ryan. Did you have a favorite family member? Do you ever envision writing a book about any of the other characters in this story?

I think every single character in this book has more story ahead of them. Which is why I’m super excited that I’ve signed a deal with ABC Family to adapt After I Do as a half-hour series. It’s very early stages and the development process is never a sure thing, but I’m very excited about the idea of seeing where Charlie, Rachel, Leslie, Mila, Lauren, and Ryan’s stories take them.

I know you did a lot of research on marriages as you were preparing for this book. Why did you want to research the history of marriage and what was the most interesting thing you discovered about the act of marriage?

The book is about Lauren and Ryan’s marriage, but it’s also about marriage in general. It’s about opting out of marriage, childless marriage, marriage equality, non-monogamous marriage, raising children, etc. So I wanted to learn about the many different ways humans have interpreted the word and how the definition is changing with every generation. I think the most interesting thing I learned is just how rare monogamous love-based marriage truly is. This type of marriage that we refer to as “traditional marriage,” is fairly new and not particularly common in human history.

Did writing about Lauren’s flaws and Ryan’s flaws make you hyper aware of you or your own husband’s issues? Did it bring out any of your own insecurities about marriage?

It definitely made me think about what I do in my own relationship that might one day lead to systemic problems. When you write a book about how a marriage has gone wrong, it makes you look at your own relationship and analyze whether you’re guilty of any of the things your characters are. I think writing the book was one of the best things I did for my marriage because it required me to truly ask myself what I thought could ruin a relationship. And once you answer a question like that, you have to start heeding your own advice.

Resident Advisors

One thing that I didn’t know about you, as I was researching for this interview, is that you are a triple threat! Not only do you write books, but you also have a Hulu series (Resident Advisors) and you write for magazines… and I thought I had a hard time describing my job! That’s a lot of balls in the air as a creative. How do you keep inspired and do you have a system for gathering and storing all of your ideas for these storylines?

I’m a big proponent of lists. I have To Do lists every day as well as project lists on the walls of my office. What projects am I currently working on? What still needs to be done for each one? What do I need to do today? And then I have a master list of every idea I’ve ever had, that I use as a well to draw from whenever an opportunity arises. I’ve been blessed with a neurotic, type-A working style, which means that everything is compartmentalized and controlled. That being said, I have a decidedly un-neurotic and non-type-A living style. So I never miss a deadline but I am always losing my keys.

Forever Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid

 I am so excited to hear that, Forever, Interrupted,”  (listed as one of my own personal top ten’s for 2013) is being adapted into a screenplay. Do you have any information you can share about where you are in that process or any of the casting decisions that have been made?

As announced, Dakota Johnson is attached to star as Elsie! Which is very exciting. And as I understand it, the script is being written right now. I am a big fan of the producers – and trust their vision —  so I know they are doing a great job bringing Elsie, Susan, and Ben to life.

If you could tell anyone to read one book (other than your own) what would that book be (we list it with all the recommendations over the year HERE)?

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I stumbled upon it at the used bookstore attached my library and bought a copy of it for four dollars last December. I have since recommended it to everyone that will listen to me and have bought multiple copies. It is a retelling of the story of Achilles’s life leading up to and through the Trojan War. I can’t tell you what I love most about it because I love everything about it so much. It is stunningly romantic, a pleasure to read, incredibly thought-provoking, and epically tragic, with some of the most wonderful sentences I’ve read in some time. It manages to straddle both classic literature and soap opera in one story. It’s so good (and so juicy) that I would call it a guilty pleasure except that you have nothing to feel guilty about because it’s so very beautiful and keenly smart.

You can connect with Taylor Jenkins Reid on Facebook or through her website!  I’m always thankful for these moments with writers and I hope you will pick up this amazing book! You can always connect with me on GoodReads,through our books section of our site, and you can read our entire Sundays With Writers series for more author profiles. Happy reading, friends!

*This post contains affiliate links!


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It’s the 3 Little Things: At-Home Facials, Halloween, & Soup Deliveries

Friday, November 6th, 2015

It's the 3 Little Things

I hope you all are having a wonderful week! Gosh, so much has happened this week that it is impossible to put it in a list of three. Obviously, top on the list is having my Knitted Boot Cuff Kit out in the world. I have been working on that since the summer (if you can believe it?) and I am really proud to have something I designed in a craft store.

Hazel & Ruby Holiday Crafternoon Knitted Boot Cuff

I woke up this morning and it’s me- IN STORES. So I have a field trip planned now that it says there are three available in my town! They also happen to be on sale so be sure to snag one!!

Other little things that brought me joy this week was the unexpected warmer weather we had where I got to share an evening with my girlfriends around my picnic table in November (unheard of) by the twinkle of candlelight, I’m having our ’60’s home painted professionally for the first time (ceilings, windows, cupboards, walls…) so it feels like I am walking around in a new house, and I spent last night seeing The Avett Brothers put on a spectacular show!

This number, in particular, made me just weep. It is one of my favorite hymns.

See what I mean? Really good stuff!

Here are a few other things that made me happy this week!


Skin Authority 3-in-1 Cleansing Brush

Affordable Facials At Home

I had been debating on purchasing a Clarisonic Mia because I have heard so many good things about it and what it can do for your skin. The thing is, I am too cheap to shell out $150 to wash my face, no matter how good it is. Skin Authority reached out to me to see if I might like to try some of their products and I noticed that they had a 3-in-1 Skin Cleansing System that cost only $59!! I told them I would love to try it out so I could share a cheaper alternative to the Mia with you and I am LOVING it.

I have super sensitive skin and was a little worried that my skin would flare up with this, but it doesn’t at all and I feel like the products that I use on my face are absorbing so much better, giving me a healthier glow. I can’t believe the difference in the texture and fine lines in my face even after one week.

There is also a microdermabrasion brush that I plan to use once a week for exfoliating, once my skin adjusts to the brush, and it has a makeup applicator to help airbrush your foundation. I love that it can do all of this for a third of the price of the one I was considering.  Between that and my new argan oil addiction, my skin is looking awesome!

In lieu of a charging station, it uses batteries, which is great since our bathroom is so small so this fits my budget and my home!

Halloween Hermione Costume


Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and this year was no exception. This was the first year my husband and I took our daughter, just us two, out to trick-or-treat. My son has outgrown the tradition and prefers to hand out candy, but Emily could not wait to loop through the neighborhood in her wizard robe. We have been on fire for Harry Potter since our trip to Universal and the Harry Potter Illustrated Edition came out.

I know our days are numbered with trick-or-treating so I drank in all of the sweetness this year. It poured rain and the weather was miserable, but nothing a big mug of homemade cocoa and pumpkin pancakes couldn’t fix around our kitchen table. Her rosy cheeks and watching her run full force for candy through the ‘hood as my husband and I held hands was a memory I hope I get to treasure forever.

Where's Waldo & Carmen Sandiego Couple Costume

My hubby & I also hit a costume party this year so we had to come up with a couple’s costume for the occasion. You know we always take this task very seriously. He purchased a Where’s Waldo costume and busted out his messenger bag to complete the look. I happened to already have a red trench and got a floppy hat from Target (sadly, no red in stock!), and a yard of yellow fabric to tie in Carmen Sandiego’s signature yellow scarf. We were pretty proud for pulling this last minute costume together rather affordably this year. It was such a fun night!

Spoonful of Comfort

Comforting Soup Deliveries When You Are Low On Time

It seems to be a difficult season in life for so many people we know. Unfortunately, it is also a difficult season to make time to care for everyone that I want to help thanks to the holidays ramping up and my kid’s activities.  My friend Jessica, from The Mom Creative, told me about this great company called Spoonful of Comfort that is just great if you are wanting to go in on a group gift for someone in need. The concept is a half gallon of homemade soup, rolls, and cookies that arrive through a doorstep delivery to someone you want to help with a note to let them know you care. Whether is a mom on bed rest, a family member that is ill, a college student who could use a little homemade TLC, or a housewarming gift- I can’t think of a better concept for people to go in on a group gift than this. For $70 for their most popular package, it’s a great one to have everyone throw in $10-15 for a gift that will really help someone. I love the mission of the company and I love this sweet gesture that you can offer for a busy family!

PS- I have found loads of coupon codes so be sure to Google those before you place an order to take off shipping or a percentage on your order!

Happy weekend, friends! xoxo

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

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


Amy’s Notebook 11.04.15

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Thanksgiving dessert toppers via Oh Happy Day

Source: Oh Happy Day


Adorable Thanksgiving dessert toppers.

The plot twist: e-book sales slip.

Nancie McDermott soups and stews meal plan.

Making your web content game way strong.

I practice simple living but I still love my stuff.

Rotini with butternut-sage sauce. Yum!!

Horseshoe braid- beautiful & looks easy!

8 memoirs to read.

Brown-bag lunch strategies for grown-ups.

Why successful people are adopting capsule wardrobes.

DIY painted cat nails- adorable!

Books to Inspire via Shutterbean

Source: Shutterbean


Books to inspire you.

24 productive things successful people do with the first hour of their day.

27 moms who are trolls at heart- made me laugh!

On a plate.

How to get over comparing yourself to other creatives.

An average Saturday morning: with kids vs. without kids.

Could you live on half your income? These people do.


Netflix is reviving ‘Gilmore Girls.’

4 artists you need to know.

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!


October 2015 Must-Reads

Friday, October 30th, 2015

October2015MUST READS

I can’t believe another month is behind us and hope you guys have a fun & safe Halloween weekend. This month I have eight new books to share about for this month of reading, but more importantly than that, I have a big ol’ braggy announcement.


It looks like I met my reading goal for 2015! I’m feeling SO proud that I have got sixty books under my belt and I certainly have YOU to thank for that!

If I didn’t have this space to share in, I certainly would have more time to read more books..

Wait a minute…

Now that I think about it YOU hold me back from dream of accomplishing 100 books.

Just kidding!

In reality, I love having lots to share with you each month and these monthly round-ups serve as motivation to read a lot and to read a diverse amount of books. Thank you for motivating me and I can’t wait to see how many more books I can share with you before the year is over.

Let’s dig into a fresh stack, shall we?

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

I have been working my way through the list of must-reads by the authors featured in our Sundays With Writers series and this book was recommended by Elisabeth Egan as a must-read. I picked it up from the library and the way the book was set up was so different than anything I had read before. I was having a hard time digging into it and kept putting it aside, but I just didn’t want to give up on this one because it had come so highly recommended.

That is why I want to say that there are cases where an audiobook can bring an entirely different reader experience and that was the case with Dept. of Speculation. The narration by Jenny Offill is pitch perfect as you dive almost into one’s stream of thoughts about marriage and parenting. It’s not the pretty stuff, but the meat of marriage and the difficult moments of parenting that are so raw and real. It was, in fact, the kind of book where sentences made the hairs on my arms stand up from their beauty.

Jenny Offill’s heroine, referred to in these pages as simply “the wife,” once exchanged love letters with her husband postmarked Dept. of Speculation, their code name for all the uncertainty that inheres in life and in the strangely fluid confines of a long relationship. As they confront an array of common catastrophes – a colicky baby, a faltering marriage, stalled ambitions – the wife analyzes her predicament, invoking everything from Keats and Kafka to the thought experiments of the Stoics to the lessons of doomed Russian cosmonauts. She muses on the consuming, capacious experience of maternal love, and the near total destruction of the self that ensues from it as she confronts the friction between domestic life and the seductions and demands of art.


Although I muddled through it in book format, the audio version really helped me navigate the story in a really beautiful way. I am going to be thinking about this one for a long time!  This would be a really great one for a first-time audiobook user too since the audiobook is just over three hours of listening time, a quick & satisfying listen! 

5 Out of 5 Stars


This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance by Jonathan Evison

There is so much beautiful layering in this book that I just couldn’t put it down! 78-year-old Harriet discovers that her husband had won an Alaskan cruise before his passing and, with an expiration date looming on the prize, she decides to take that cruise with her best friend. When her best friend unexpectedly bails on her, Harriet finds herself on a boat out to sea, but she isn’t alone thanks to her husband’s visits.

We grow to know Harriet in a unique way as chapters alternate with a,“This is Your Life,” game show theme and we jump along the timeline of Harriet learning more about all of the life experiences that have shaped her, the people who have betrayed her, how she was treated when she was a child, how she felt as her marriage and parenting were failing, and what it was like for her to care for a husband who mentally was no longer there.

The book twists and turns, secrets are revealed and an unexpected guest joins Harriet on the cruise. It was a beautiful story that makes you consider what your own, “This Is Your Life,” show might look like- with all the good and the bad moments in it.

Jonathan Evison joined me on Sundays With Writers so when you are done with the book, be sure to read his interview to learn more behind this incredible book! This book has been optioned for screenplay so be sure to read it before catching it in the theaters! 

5 Out of 5 Stars

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This book was another must-read author recommendation, this one was recommended by Liz Fenton in her Sundays With Writers interview. Somehow I had missed this one in between her other two incredible books Forever Interrupted and Maybe In Another Life.

I can now say that I’ve read all of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books and this is, by far, her best work.  After I Do is a brutally honest portrayal of a failing marriage that gives us glimpses into our own marriage struggles that we deal with daily and how, what once was endearing, can be the things that we can’t stand about our spouse.

Lauren & Ryan take a year off of their marriage in a temporary split to see if they really are meant to be together. As they navigate the world without one another, they discover a lot about themselves and each other.

A hopeful book filled with a family of characters that feel like your own, Reid’s book makes you feel like part of the family as you root for Lauren & Ryan to find each other again. Highly recommending this one!

Taylor Jenkins Reid will be joining us this month in an upcoming Sundays With Writers- stay tuned!

5 Out of 5 Stars

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Once again, I hit the must-read list and Vanessa Diffenbaugh had recommended this one saying, 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.”

It is true. It is impossible to read this book and not think differently about our broken court system and those on death row. Bryan Stevenson founded an organization called the Equal Justice Initiative whose sole purpose was to defend those who were most desperately in need. His cases include people suffering from mental illness, addiction, poor, the wrongly condemned, and women & children and his stories illustrate case by case how these people wound up on death row and how they worked to defend them.

At the center of it all is Walter McMillian who was wrongfully accused of murder and Bryan’s efforts to redeem this incredible man before he is executed. I flipped the pages as quickly as I would a legal thriller hoping for redemption for Walter and his family.

Bryan is a masterful storyteller, offering heart and humanity to the wounded, and is a true American hero. Everyone should read this book.

5 Out of 5 Stars


7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

With her signature wit, Jen Hatmaker takes a year-long fast for Jesus, tackling one excess after another in the average American life. From whittling down her closet to seven items, to eating only seven foods, to reducing her waste, to trimming her spending; she documents her daily struggles and triumphs through the lessons learned.

What really pulled through for me most was how much we take for granted and how, with a bit of trimming, we have the ability to transform the lives of the poor. If we are to love Jesus, we are to love the poor like He did. Not only are we reminded about our own individual choices, but she really sheds light on the excessive spending of churches, money spent only on themselves when it could be better served for the greater needs of the world. This comes up often in the book as Jen’s church has chosen to spend on those in need rather than their own building and selves.

It would be impossible to read this book and not feel moved to give more. Although I would consider myself a minimalist, there is ALWAYS room for improvement and this gave me a lot of food for thought. I shed many tears through this one for those in need and unwanted. While expecting a light read, Jen delivered a life-changing practice that we could all be challenged to try.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One will be hitting the theatres in movie form thanks to the direction of Spielberg (no biggie!). I selected this book to work for my local book club and planned an outing to the Secret Door Games store to pick up some holiday gifts for our kids. I thought this book would be just perfect for the event.

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the  OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

Ernest Cline wasted a lot of ’80’s references on this poor girl who apparently knows nothing about the era, but it didn’t take away from the unique concept that he developed in this story. Following Wade Watts as he works to discover the ultimate lottery ticket in a virtual world was such a treat as a reader and felt as though, you too, were in the world with him. The twists at the end really brought it all together beautifully!

Although this was out of my typical genre, I really loved the unique concept and think it just might be a bit of the foreshadowing of what might be to come in 2044.

4 Out of 5 Stars


The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

No one can ever believe that I have never read a Kate Morton book, but I think the covers to her books have always kept me away. I decided to not judge a book by its cover and to dig into my first book this month by her. I guess you guys were right, she really IS good! 

During a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy—her vivacious, loving, nearly perfect mother.

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress living in London. The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this may be her last chance, Laurel searches for answers to the questions that still haunt her from that long-ago day, answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past.

All I can say is, holy plot twists, Batman! This book was a SLOW build for me and I wasn’t sure at all where the story was going. Since this was my first Kate Morton novel, I had no expectations of where the story was heading or how her writing works, but in the last hundred pages there were about three plot twists that completely shocked me. It ended up making the whole slow build thing a little more worth it.

Overall, really happy I added this one to my book stacks this month! If you are a Kate Morton fan, please let me know which of her books is your favorite so I can be sure to add it to my next stack!

4 Out of 5 Stars

The Life & Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North

The Life & Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North

This book is dark and unusual as the reader dives into the life of Sophie Stark, an eccentric and unusual filmmaker, beginning from her very first college documentary and on.

“It’s hard for me to talk about love. I think movies are the way I do that,” says Sophie Stark, a visionary and unapologetic filmmaker. She uses stories from the lives of those around her—her obsession, her girlfriend, and her husband—to create movies that bring her critical recognition and acclaim. But as her career explodes, Sophie’s unwavering dedication to her art leads to the shattering betrayal of the people she loves most.

Told through a chorus of voices of people who know her, the reader discovers more about the creative genius that she was and the lengths that she will use people to achieve the films she wants. The reader never really understands Sophie Starks, neither do these sea of voices, but the intrigue about her holds you until the final page.

Disturbing and raw, this reads more like a documentary than a piece of fiction.

4 Out of 5 Stars



Read With Me This Year:

January 2015 Must-Reads

February 2015 Must-Reads

March 2015 Must-Reads

April 2015 Must-Reads

May 2015 Must-Reads

June 2015 Must-Reads

July 2015 Must-Reads

August 2015 Must-Reads

September 2015 Must-Reads

October2015MUST READS

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.