Archive for the ‘Reads’ Category

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

Friday, December 12th, 2014

It's the 3 Little Things

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

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

Flourish Boutique Holiday Shopping

Stocking Stuffers Galore

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

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

The Dead Files

The Dead Files on Netflix

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

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

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

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

L'Oreal Visible Lift Eye Concealer

L’Oreal Visible Lift Eye Concealer

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

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

How to Make a Blanket Scarf

How to Dye a Faded Pair of Jeans

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland

Happy Birthday, Emily!

Bonus Happy

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

Bonus Happy Two- the happiest of the happy!

Happy Holidays from The Clarks

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

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

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

Amy’s Notebook 12.10.14

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Inspired Stairways via The Inspired Room

Source: The Inspired Room

I love a Christmas staircase with style.

Reasons to run your slow cooker at night.

14 health & fitness gadgets worth giving.

3 ways to DIY dough ornaments.

Things to do before before the holidays that you’ll thank yourself for later.

How to make cheap wine taste good. Noted.

An inspiring minimalist home.

Moscow Mule Drink via CamilleStyles

Source: Camille Styles

My new favorite drink- The Moscow Mule

Love this twist on an Elf on the Shelf- don’t you?

Buy once, give twice this holiday season.

Completely geeking out over the NPR Book Concierge selections this year.

Frozen-inspired braid tutorial- cute for the holidays!

Best beauty products for 2014.

How living with less can give you more.

Cable Hat via Purl Bee

Source: Purl Bee

Traveling cable hat in soft merino- so beautiful!

Good reasons to clean out the freezer this winter.

15 tips to turn your finances around in 2015- love this advice.

Charts for people obsessed with Serial – I’m OBSESSED.

Sarah Koenig can’t promise a perfect ending to ‘Serial.’ What??

How a school teacher helped create the first black Peanuts character- fascinating!

amys_notebook

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 then to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

 

Pin It

My Top Ten Books of 2014

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Best Books of 2014 from MomAdvice.com.
I still have one more month of reading to go, but I always like to deliver my top ten reads to you for holiday giving and for you to enjoy reading over your holiday break. I have read 47 books so far this year and I read so many incredible books that it is a difficult task to narrow it down to just ten. Since it is so hard, I will be sharing some honorable mentions as well as my top picks this year from what I have read. One special feature that I added to our site this year has been our Sundays With Writers. Many of the books on this list also include a discussion with the writer where I get to ask them my most pressing questions about their stories. My heart always pitter-patters like crazy when I send out an interview request, but even the most seasoned writers have been gracious and generous to share on our site. I haven’t had a single writer turn me down yet and it adds another element to these stories for me and for you.

As always, if you are looking for a little inspiration this year, be sure to check our MomAdvice fan page for a weekly check-in on what everyone is reading each week on our Facebook Fan Page. I hope you will swing by on Fridays and share about the books you are working on or request recommendations with one another. So far it is a huge success and I have gotten a few new ideas for my own stack!

Just as a reminder, I read many more books than are just featured here, but try to feature the ones that are my absolute best picks of year.  If you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there too! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

In no particular order, here are My Top Ten Books of 2014:

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Do you ever pick up a book completely outside of your normal genre and find yourself completely swept away in a world you never dreamed you would escape to? It happened a couple of times for me with The Hunger Games series and Twilight series, just to name two types of books that I never thought I would love.  If you would have asked me if I would have fallen head over heels in love with a book with a plotline firmly planted in science fiction with a zombie apocalypse theme or even just another dystopian thriller ( a genre I had grown very tired of), I would have probably laughed at you.

No, this is not your typical recommendation on here and I loved it because it was so different and so awesome.

All the descriptions of this book state that Melanie is simply a special girl. You don’t know what makes her special until you dive in and discover the girl and all her gifts.

This book is wildly imaginative, suspenseful, and leaves you wondering who you should be rooting for as the story develops. I really, really loved this book.  Unfortunately, it is just the kind of book that you shouldn’t talk about so that each reader can go on the journey with this child and find out just what makes her so unique. It’s a book that you will want to finish and share with friends. It reads like a movie and is just the type of literary adventure I would recommend if you have been in a reading slump.

After you finish this one, dive deep into our exclusive interview with M.R. Carey about his amazing book. It was one of my favorite interviews I got to do this year!

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Two books slipped into my top ten of the year just this week and one of them was Station Eleven. This book was absolutely incredible and finally a new take on a pandemic world captured through the storytelling of a Hollywood actor and a band of traveling actors that risk it all to perform their art during a flu apocalypse. The storytelling jumps and weaves through time making it a treat to read from start to finish about what life was like before and after a fatal flu strikes the country.

Masterfully woven characters, particularly with the use of the three wives in Arthur’s life, the author brings these stories together in a way that makes you feel like you know each character. The ending was abrupt, but perhaps leaves it open for a sequel story.

I really enjoyed this one and can’t wait to read more from this author!

All the Lights We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Although I hate to rank my books, I must say that this was my favorite book of the year.

I can be the first to admit that sometimes the size of a book can be intimidating to me.  All the Light We Cannot See has been in my book stack several times this year, but at over five hundred pages, I just didn’t think I had the time to sit down and really dive in deep with a heavy book.  It had been recommended to me by some of my most respected fellow readers and I knew I would love it, but it being named our local book club selection for the month was finally what pushed me to just sit down and read.

And read.

And read.

And please leave me alone, I AM READING THE BEST BOOK IN THE WORLD.

I could not flip the pages fast enough. What will happen to these beloved characters? How will my life go on when this book ends?

Most of all, why did I wait so long to read this?

I wish I could give this book ten stars on GoodReads. I was held captive by it and could not put it down. The storytelling is superb, the characters vividly created, and the words read like poetry. My heart was in my throat for much of it and I could not turn the pages quickly enough so I knew what would happen with Marie-Laure & Werner. I loved how their stories weaved together and how the author created such striking details that made you feel as though you were witnessing it all firsthand.

In this story, Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

I can’t recommend this one enough- it will be, perhaps, in my top ten books ever read. 

Once you finish this beautiful book, be sure to read my author interview with Anthony Doerr. I was so incredibly honored that he took time out to answer my questions when he has had such a busy year with this endeavor. The interview is just as captivating as the book!

Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall

Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall

I read this beautiful book, Whistling Past the Graveyard,  in just a couple of short days and absolutely fell in love with it. It was the kind of book that I thought about for many days after.  I would say that if you are a fan of, “The Help,” or young narrator’s with lots of spunk, you will want to get this book right away. If you don’t fall in love with these characters, I fear for you. It’s that endearing.

In the summer of 1963, nine-year-old Starla Claudelle runs away from her strict grandmother’s Mississippi home. Starla’s destination is Nashville, where her mother went to become a famous singer, abandoning Starla when she was three. Walking a lonely country road, Starla accepts a ride from Eula, a black woman traveling alone with a white baby. Now, on the road trip that will change her life forever, Starla sees for the first time life as it really is—as she reaches for a dream of how it could one day be.

This book is so  beautiful your heart aches. A coming-of-age story about what it means to be family and how the most unlikely people can be a part of that despite all racial and societal barriers. Set in the ’60′s, the spitfire child narrator captured my heart. This story is a perfectly satisfying read that I believe anyone would love. 

Once you finish the book, grab a cup of coffee and settle in with my interview with Susan Crandall- it is a fun one!

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

In this novel, two doctors risk everything to save the life of a hunted child named Havaa.  Havaa is just eight years old when her neighbor Akhmed finds her hiding in the woods, watching her house burning down. Akhmed knows getting involved means risking his life, but her father is an old friend, and he risks it all deciding to take her to an abandoned hospital where a woman named Sonja Rabina runs a hospital almost single handedly.

Sonja does not love kids…at all. Akhmed convinces her to keep Havaa for a trial, and over the course of five extraordinary days, Sonja’s world will change in ways she never imagined. The reader is taken on a journey through each of these character’s past on an extraordinary journey of love, loss, and ultimately what it means to be human.

I found myself completely swept away into each of these characters and what they had to overcome.  Although the book was about war and suffering, the book was also all about love and what we do for love.

This entire book was so beautiful that I found myself rereading scenes and even saying them out loud because Marra’s words read like poetry to me. The writing is just unreal and it is impossible to not get swept away into the story.

Be sure to read my interview with Anthony Marra once you finish it. I was so honored to get a chance to interview him this year and to learn more about how he developed this storyline.

Love With a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche

Love With a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche

Not sure if you can get on board with a non-fiction pick? Just picture me laughing until tears are rolling down my cheeks ever since I picked this book up. Then picture me reading aloud almost the entire book to my husband, while trying to read it to him, still laughing with tears rolling down my cheeks and trying to catch my breath so I can read every word to him. It is that funny and that awesome.

City girl, Torre DeRoche,  isn’t looking for love, but a chance encounter in a San Francisco bar sparks an instant connection with a soulful Argentinean man who unexpectedly sweeps her off her feet. The problem? He’s just about to cast the dock lines and voyage around the world on his small sailboat, and Torre is terrified of deep water. However, lovesick Torre determines that to keep the man of her dreams, she must embark on the voyage of her nightmares, so she waves good-bye to dry land and braces for a life-changing journey that’s as exhilarating as it is terrifying.

It is hilarious, harrowing, and a true story of what it would be like to sail around the world.  I could not put this book down and loved every moment of it. I really think you would love this one too!

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

If there is one thing I love it is a well-written thriller. There is nothing  better  than a book that you can rapidly flip through and sit in suspenseful moments as the story unfolds. Those kinds of books that your eyes can’t read fast enough because you just HAVE to know what is going to happen.   If you have been waiting for the next-big-thing since Gone Girl, then I have the just the book for you!

The book opens with the following words, “I’ve been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don’t know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.”

Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia is unlike her parents in every way, content with her life as an inner-city school teacher. When she finds herself at a bar one night alone, after being stood up by her boyfriend,  she meets a guy. Her plans for a one-night stand turns into the worst mistake of her life.

I don’t want to say anymore because the beauty in this book is those plot twists you never see coming! If you have been looking for something to capture your thriller-lovin’ heart, this is the book for you. Be sure to read my author interview after you are done. It is a particularly moving story of a writer who didn’t give up on her dreams of being published- super inspiring!

The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis

The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis

This book is absolutely stunning from start to finish. It was filled with words that begged to be read again because they felt like poetry to me.  It is a  beautifully woven story with big moral messages about love, forgiveness, and redemption. The plot twists? I never saw them coming, which happens rarely when you are an avid reader like I am. 

Set in the close-knit Portuguese community of Provincetown, Massachusetts, The Orphans of Race Point traces the relationship between Hallie Costa and Gus Silva, who meet as children in the wake of a terrible crime that leaves Gus parentless. Their friendship evolves into an enduring and passionate love that will ask more of them than they ever imagined.

On the night of their high school prom, a terrible tragedy devastates their relationship and profoundly alters the course of their lives. And when, a decade later, Gus—now a priest—becomes entangled with a distraught woman named Ava and her daughter Mila, troubled souls who bring back vivid memories of his own damaged past, the unthinkable happens: he is charged with murder. Can Hallie save the man she’s never stopped loving, by not only freeing him from prison but also—finally—the curse of his past?

Told in alternating voices, The Orphans of Race Point illuminates the transformative power of love and the myriad ways we find meaning in our lives.

The author is just as fabulous as this book so be sure to read my interview with her after you finish it- her story of becoming an author is REALLY inspiring and made me appreciate this beautiful book even more!

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

This book slipped in at the tail end of the year when I thought that I had chosen my list of ten. It was charming and a book for a true book lover.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore that changes his life forever…

This story is enchanting from start to finish. This book is a must-read for book lovers as it references so many of my favorite books and centers around a little bookshop in a seaside town. I could not put this one down and, truly, did not want the story of these beautiful characters to end. If you need a little winter escape, check this book out. I may just read it again, it was that simply that perfect.

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

If you haven’t read The Girl You Left Behind or Me Before You, you must reserve them at your library because they are amazing. I don’t know how she does it, but this book made me laugh, cry, and connect with every character in this book. Moyes weaves an endearing story of a mother who is down on her luck and can barely make ends meet when her daughter is offered the chance of a lifetime to receive a scholarship for her excellence in mathematics that will cover 90% of her daughter’s education. Coming up with the other ten percent seems impossible, but she is determined to make this happen for her daughter. When she hears of a math contest happening in Scotland that offers a cash prize, she must do everything she can to get her there… including hitching a ride with the most unlikely man who could ultimately change their entire world. 

Anyone who has ever struggled financially or who would sacrifice it all to give their kids everything they need will appreciate this extraordinary book that, I hope, will be adapted to movie one day. It is that good! It’s one of those that just reminds me of a really great Hugh Grant romantic comedy film. It’s just perfect.  Amy Allen Clark- Best Books of 2014

If that isn’t enough books for you, here is my lengthy list of Honorable Mentions that you should check out this year!

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (get ideas for a book club around this one here)

Rooms by Lauren Oliver

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

The Martian by Andy Weir (read my interview here)

Last Night at the Blue Angel by Rebecca Rotert (read my interview here)

Life Drawing by Robin Black

We Were Liars  by E. Lockhart

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf (read my interview here)

Close Your Eyes Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian (read my interview here)

A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable (read my interview here)

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead (read my interview here)

Hush Little Baby by Suzanne Redfearn (read my interview here)

The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld (read my interview here)

A White Wind Blew by James Markert (read my interview here)

Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

The Bear by Claire Cameron (read my interview here)

Best Reads of 2013

Need More Book Ideas? Here are my top ten lists from the past four years!

My Top Ten Books of 2013

The Best Books Read in 2012

My Top Ten Books in 2011

The Top Ten of 2010

For more great suggestions, check out the NPR Book Concierge- swoon! It is heavenly stuff!   Tell me, what your favorite books were in 2014 or share your links to your own round-ups! Anything I should 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!

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

Pin It

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

Friday, December 5th, 2014

It's the 3 Little Things

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

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

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

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

 

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

Perfect Bun Maker

Finally a Perfect Bun Maker

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

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

Nutcracker

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

Revlon Photoready Skinlights

Perfectly Airbrushed Skin

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

Yes to Blueberry Wipes

Yes To Blueberries Brightening Facial Wipes

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

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

 

camel tunic + burgundy leggings + brown & black accessories

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Make a Blanket Scarf

Make Money Organizing Your Closet

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland

 

Bonus Happy

Christmas Tree

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

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

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

Amy’s Notebook 12.03.14

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Modern Nutcrackers via Up To Date Interiors

Source: Up To Date Interiors

 

Modern nutcrackers made from dollar store supplies.

50 great dark books for the dark days of winter.

I am floored by this oversized holly garland to dress up a staircase.

Can’t wait to try this perfect grilled cheese with an unexpected ingredient.

Five steps toward a more meaningful holiday season.

Slow cooker apple cider via Gimme Some Oven

Source: Gimme Some Oven

 

Slow cooker apple cider – easy & from scratch.

Holiday decorating inspiration is here.

Great tips on what to buy when rebuilding your wardrobe on a budget.

How to get those glowing, lighted christmas tree pictures.

Two simple winter fashion projects, DIY polka dot tights & easy DIY boot socks- so cute!

And…raise your hand if you relate:

Listening to Mindcraft via Buzzfeed

Source: BuzzFeed

 

What it’s like listening to your kid talk about Minecraft:

Of course, I’m listening. Go on.

 

amys_notebook

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 then to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

 

Pin It

The MomAdvice Unique Holiday Gift Guide

Friday, November 28th, 2014

The MomAdvice Unique Holiday Gift Guide

 

I have been jotting down ideas for this holiday gift guide over the year since each year I aim to create a really useful gift guide that you really will use and love when selecting your gifts. This list is a compilation of my favorite things that have made me very happy and I believe they are the perfect gifts to share with someone you love.

I did not set a dollar limit this year on the gifts because I don’t get the opportunity to share some of the pricier things that I really have used and loved, but the list will offer a range of ideas for your own Christmas budget. I also try to share if I have found them somewhere cheaper or where to snag a coupon to make these gifts more affordable.

Magicbox Speaker

Magicbox Speaker ($29.99)

I absolutely love my Magicbox Speaker for listening to podcasts and music through my iPhone or iPad. This little guy is Bluetooth-enabled so it can connect with your device and charges with a little USB cable that it comes with. The sound is really good- not Sonos quality, but really perfect for my laundry/making dinner/cleaning house needs. I am one happy girl now that I don’t have to hold my phone to my ear to keep up with all my stories and to hear my music.  I really think this is a sweet little gift and I love the price tag.

Blanket Scarves

Blanket Scarves ($15 or less)

Blanket scarves are very trendy this year and are the perfect gift to give for the holiday season. These are also an ideal gift for someone who travels a lot since they fit perfectly in your carry-on luggage and can be wrapped around you when you get cold on the plane or at the airport.  I have an easy tutorial to create a blanket scarf  for gift-giving this year for the crafty and the not-so-crafty.  Head over here and check to see if flannel fabrics are on sale. If not, that same link will provide you a 40% off coupon. You will DEFINITELY want to use this because it makes these scarves budget-friendly for the holidays.

UGG Slippers

UGG Slippers ($55 on eBay)

I wish I could give everyone in the world a pair of UGG slippers because these make me that happy. Every year I buy a cheap pair of slippers from Target that I trash and then have to buy another pair, usually mid-season. I discovered that UGG makes slippers (I know, I am so behind on the times!) and I decided to hunt on eBay to see if I could find a pair of slippers for myself.  I wanted something that looked like a shoe and not yo grandma’s slippers. I found these Gray Suede Driving Moccasins that were brand-new (just missing their box) and bought them for $55. Considering I am probably spending that much on two cheap pairs every year, this is a worthy investment. The best part is that they have leather inserts for warm days and then they have that delightful furry insert for freezing days. UGG Slippers bought from UGG might be out of the budget, but checking eBay might be a great option for brand new slippers at a fraction of the price for someone you love!

Fitbit Flex

Fitbit Flex ($74.89)

I am one of those people that is slow to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to technology and gadgets. Before the Fitbit Flex even launched, my husband knew about it and wanted to buy it for me. Now that it has been enough time for the trend to pass, I figured I would look into getting one and I absolutely love it for motivating me to stay fit and hit the gym.

Several of my girlfriends have these and I tend to have an annoyingly competitive streak so being in a competition for the most steps has been pushing me to hit the gym and go on an evening walk so I can compete against my athletic friends.

The other thing that I love, not fitness related, is the silent alarm feature on the Fitbit Flex. I have to be the first one up in our house and when my alarm goes off, it triggers my husband to wake up and our cat to start the annoying meowing baby cry reserved for the morning alarm. You can set a silent alarm on the app and the bracelet vibrates to wake you in the morning.  I wake up happier,  my husband continues to sleep, and the cat doesn’t start her annoying meowing baby cry until she realizes I am up. Winning all around!

If you are gifting this, consider making a little DIY Fitbit Flex Leather Cuff to go with it- this has been one of my favorite things this year!

Logitech Keyboard

Logitech iPad Keyboard ($49.46)

I used to carry around my laptop when I traveled, but when I got my iPad, I knew that I wouldn’t need to carry that around with me anymore because HELLO…BROKEN BACK. How many pounds is a laptop? Ouch!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stand trying to type on the touch screen, particularly when sending lengthy emails or trying to conduct anything for my business. I found this Logitech iPad Keyboard and it has been one of the best tech investments I have ever made. It instantly turns your iPad into a mini-laptop that you can carry in your purse. The battery life lasts forever before it requires a charge with a small cord, making it perfect for me to take to my conferences. The outside of it is metal and durable, helping protect your iPad screen and it latches together magnetically, as though they weren’t meant to be together from the start.

The best part is that it holds my iPad up for me while I am laying in my hotel bed watching Parenthood episodes so that I can hold my Kleenex and cry without having to hold the screen at the same time. Can you just imagine how hard that would be?

But it is also very important for business. Yes, for business.

This American Life

This American Life App ($2.99)

An iTunes gift card makes the perfect little stocking stuffer for the holidays and may I offer a suggestion on how to spend it?  I am an NPR junkie and if  you haven’t discovered it yet  This American Life is mostly true stories of everyday people, and the best way I can describe it is that the show is like listening to a movie about these people.  It is typically told in three acts that all interact around the same theme. It is the best kind of storytelling and usually leads to a beautiful discussion about your own viewpoints after the show. The app is wonderful for listening to all of the Staff Picks and the best of the best in This American Life offerings.

My husband and I sit in our respective chairs and hang on every word. Every. Word. It’s become one of our favorite things to do in the evenings, further solidifying the exciting type of senior life you might expect from us in the future.  If you aren’t listening to NPR, you are missing the boat. And I can say this because I missed the boat for years and now I can’t imagine my life without it.

Faux Fur Throws

Faux Fur Blankets ($15.88)

I was hoping these blankets would be back from Better Homes & Gardens and spotted these faux fur throws back on the shelves this week at Walmart. This is MY FAVORITE blanket and a great gift to give for the holidays.  It is cozy fleece on one side and then the other side is a glorious faux fur.  They even had a free Better Homes & Gardens Magazine subscription attached to it which made the deal even sweeter.  Who wouldn’t love a cozy throw with a gift card to select a few favorite books to read.

Barnes & Noble Collectible Edition Books

Barnes & Noble Collectible Editions ($18 or less)

Every year I ask for one Barnes & Noble Collectible Edition to read.  These books are so beautifully bound and I try to read one classic each year so these beautiful books add a lot of motivation to read them since they are such a treat to page through. This year I have my eye on this Ernest Hemingway collection or to dig into this Laura Ingalls Wilder collection to read with my favorite little girl in the evenings. You will never regret these purchases for our bookshelf. I love all of the Barnes & Noble Collectible editions and even treated myself to The Giver collection this year (which I can’t wait to read!) that I found in my local store. (PS- Check here for coupons!)

Sorel Boots

Sorel Boots ($110 or more)

Five years ago I got my first (and only) pair of Sorel Boots and they still look just like the day that I got them. They have a cozy layer of Thinsulate inside of them that keep my feet toasty and each year a little polishing and waterproof spraying helps them to go strong from year to year. I have never spent a lot on shoes, but after the fifth year of these going strong, I can honestly say that they are a worthwhile investment especially if you live in the Midwest. I am planning to ask for Sorel gift cards to put towards my next pair of boots from my family members so I can pool them together to get another pair.

Royal Fox Print

Royal Fox Print

Royal Fox Print ($45)

My brother is an artist in NOLA and when I came to visit we had the best time checking out all of the art that the street vendors offered as well as the galleries full of unique art. I only brought home one souvenir from my trip and it was this sweet little Royal Fox print that I found  at the Gallery Burguieres in NOLA. The artist was as sweet as could be and has recently had a little drama going on with this fox that has made him rather famous in the Taylor Swift world. This shop is a little NOLA treasure and was one of my favorite galleries we visited and this print makes me smile every time I see it.

Janet Hill Studios

Janet Hill Studios

Janet Hill Prints ($26 or more)

My home is filling quickly with Janet Hill prints and every single piece just speaks to my soul in a way no other artist has ever spoken to me. Each print tells such a beautiful and unique story that I think would resonate with just about anyone. These beautiful prints would be lovely to share with someone you love particularly if you frame them with an inexpensive frame. I took mine to Hobby Lobby to get a matte that would make each one stand out. Of course, Janet Hill is just one of many talented artists that share their wares on Etsy so you if you are unsure of your recipient’s taste, consider a gift card to Etsy to make gift-giving easy and unique.

Knitted Boot Cuffs

Knitted Boot Cuffs ($5)

Our most popular project on the site right now are these knitted boot cuffs that you can whip it up in a mere two hours. I gave these to my best friend Christmas last year and you can make them for about $5 in materials. These are such fun toppers to your boots and would also make a sweet little stocking stuffer. If you are new to cabling, this is an easy project to tackle to master cabling and you can’t beat that these can be created in such a short amount of time.

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

 

I hope this little list helps as you plan your holiday shopping. You can also find a great list of 54 handmade gifts you can make for those special people in your life!  What are your favorite gifts you have given or received?

 

Pin It

Amy’s Notebook 11.26.14

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

DIY-Felt-Christmas-Wreath-Pillow via An Oregon Cottage

Source: An Oregon Cottage

 

This adorable pillow knockoff had me at glue gun.

Free printable Elf on the Shelf calendar and checklist- do you do an Elf on the Shelf?

Compound butter party favors- genius.

Our ‘Mommy’ problem.

Would you ever think about a side-dish-only Thanksgiving?

When kids have too much stuff.

Wowed by this dresser makeover.

DIY Cardboard Pie Box via A Joyful Riot

Source: A Joyful Riot

 

DIY cardboard pie box- how cute is this?

Awed by this knitted gradient cowl.

Love a little faux fur detail.

13 genius tips for decorating a small space.

We’ve seen almost every single one of these- have you?

Getting back to holiday simplicity.

Sparkle confetti garland- simple and sweet.

amys_notebook

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 then to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

Pin It

It’s the 3 Little Things: Magicbox, Chipotle Really Fast, & Blanket Scarf Heaven

Friday, November 21st, 2014

It's the 3 Little Things

Happy Friday, friends! I hope you are having a good week!  I am so excited for tomorrow because I get to dig into my new fashion capsule. I have so many cozy sweaters for this one and, boy, does a girl need a cozy sweater in the Midwest.  I am just finishing up this lovely book (I can’t put it down!!! Have you read it?), listening to this book on audio, and this book with my husband over vino in the evenings. This is the first time I have tried working on three books simultaneously. It’s not confusing at all. Nope.

Here is my happiest of lists this week!

Magicbox Magicbox Speaker

Can you believe I had never purchased a speaker for my iPad/iPhone listening? I can be quite the cheapskate. Since I am getting addicted to audio books while I tidy the house/tackle my laundry piles and my latest obsession with Serial (did you hear episode 9?! Any thoughts on who did it?)  I decided it was time to get a speaker. I bought the Magicbox Speaker after reading all of the reviews and I love this little guy so much. It is Bluetooth-enabled so it can connect with your device and charges with a little USB cable that it comes with. The sound is really good- not Sonos quality, but really perfect for my laundry needs. I am one happy girl now that I don’t have to hold my phone to my ear to keep up with all my stories.

Blanket Scarf

Blanket Scarf Heaven

Since the temperatures have been so brutally cold here, I am really loving my blanket scarfs I made for myself this week. It feels weird to not be knitting scarves this year, but also a little liberating. I started a new poncho and I think that is going to be occupying my knitting time for awhile. I have been wearing these around the house as wraps when I get chilly and am so addicted to making these, I just might have to make a few more. No-sew crafting definitely makes this girl happy.

Chipotle Fast Food

Chipotle FAST & a Runner

I have been really busy here behind-the-scenes working on our bedroom reveal. My project ran into a snafu this week that I don’t want to talk about (this is a happy list, after all!) so it has been a busy week with me and a couple of paint brushes. Since I am gluten-free it is hard to find really good food that I can eat that doesn’t cost a fortune when I can’t make dinner. I have become a big fan of Chipotle for our family for those busy nights and discovering their online ordering process has made my week. We have our whole family set up with each of their orders in our account and it saves it for us. This makes it easy on my husband when I say, “Can you help me tonight and pick up dinner?” DONE.  The best part? SKIPPING THE LINE. Just go right to the front and grab it. If that doesn’t change your life, I don’t know what will.  I also am a proud owner of one tween boy who is a fantastic runner for me and runs in to pick up my order when it is ready. I love this kid to pieces especially when he brings me an orange soda.

Three Things I Wore From My Fashion Capsule (last week in my Fall capsule- aren’t you proud of me?).  Did you read what I am learning from this project? You must!  Grab more inspiration on my Fashion Capsule Pin Board and minimize that wardrobe!

all black + blanket scarf

Seamless Perfection Long Sleeve Tunic Dress in Black (purchased- Flourish Boutique)/The Essential Leggings in Black (owned- Flourish Boutique)/ Plaid Blanket Scarf (make one here!)/Brown Boots (6PM- Naturalizer)/Frames (Coastal)

stripes + chambray + black jeans + black boots

H&M Black & White Striped Top (owned- Goodwill)/Chambray Shirt (owned- Flourish Boutique)/Old Navy Rock Star Skinny Jeans in Black (owned- Old Navy)/Black Boots (6PM- Naturalizer)/Chevron Necklace (Charming Charlie)

LBD styling

Girl’s Night Out: Little Black Dress (owned- Flourish Boutique)/ Rosette Belt  (owned- Flourish Boutique)/Black Tights/ Heeled Black Boots (6PM- Naturalizer)/ Red Clutch (Francesca’s)/Gold & Black Bracelet (Forever 21)

LBD Styling 2 Ways

See this? SAME DRESS! I just wanted to show you how far I have come with my first capsule wardrobe. I felt like the woman on this one!

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

9 Ways to Spice Up a Goodwill Lamp

Gluten-Free Orange Chicken

Easy 4-Row Snowflake Scarf

Bonus Happy! Anybody else half as excited as me?!?

*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 11.19.14

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

Thankful Printable Placemat via Ella Claire

Source: Ella Claire

 

A thankful printable placemat- how perfect.

20 stores that refuse to open on Thanksgiving- do you shop them?

Recipes for a gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free holiday feast.

Have you tried making bread in the slow cooker?

A typeface designed to help dyslexics read- so awesome!

Have you visited any of these 10 intriguing small towns everyone should visit?

I love a good stripe project.

How can you not help when you read these?

Africa without Ebola via Washington Post

Source: Washington Post

 

The Africa without Ebola is eye-opening.

Do you know the 5 life stages of a roast chicken?

11 jobs where an honest day’s work earns you…poverty.

Finding a uniform- could you do it?

5 fun & creative ways to wrap small gifts.

15 quick and easy productivity super-hacks for busy bloggers.

The top 12 weekend habits of highly successful people.

amys_notebook

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 then to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

Pin It

It’s the 3 Little Things: Podcast Binge, A Classic, & Friendsgiving

Friday, November 14th, 2014

It's the 3 Little Things

I’m sorry I am coming out with this a little late today. I was at my real-life book club discussing this amazing book this morning. I hope your weekend is off to a lovely start over there too!

Here is what is making me happy this week!

A Charlie Brown Christmas Record

A Charlie Brown Christmas Album

Yes, I am one THOSE people that listens to Christmas music waayyy too early and I don’t care what you think about it. We purchased  A Charlie Brown Christmas Album at Urban Outfitters in the collector’s edition red for our Christmas vinyl collection. I was preparing a holiday feast this week (more about that in a few) and listened to this while I got ready. I openly admit that I was pretty teary-eyed while listening to it over my coffee. There is something magical about hearing this album and hearing it on vinyl is like the twinkle lights on the whole affair.  I may have listened to it six times over the course of the day and I loved every moment of it.

Serial Podcast

Serial Podcast

Have you heard of Serial? My girlfriend shared it with me and I started listening in and I quickly became a Serial addict. This podcast, from the producers of This American Life (another addiction of mine) is about the murder of Hae Min Lee, who disappeared in 1999 when she was a senior at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County, Maryland. She was found strangled to death in a city park about a month later. Her ex-boyfriend, a fellow Woodlawn student named Adnan Syed, was convicted of killing her and sentenced to life in prison. He says he didn’t do it and Sarah Koenig is trying to figure out if he did it or not by interviewing the previous witnesses and piecing together all of the clues from the case that was established against Adnan. You can even view all of the evidence online- it is really incredible.

When I was a kid my parents watched Unsolved Mysteries and it reminds me of that except you get to feel like a detective as you analyze the clues on the site and listen to the interviews with a convicted murderer who says that he did not do it. There is a bit of controversy surrounding this podcast, but I hope it doesn’t overshadow the brilliance of this show and the idea behind it. I am hooked and I think you will be too.

Friendsgiving

Friendsgiving

Truth be told, I am a little late to the 3 Little Things game because of all the fun I had last night with my girlfriends. Did you see that I hosted my first Friendsgiving Feast? It was so much fun that I plan to do it every year for my girlfriends. I couldn’t have been happier to open my home to such a great group and writing that check today to provide 187 people a turkey dinner too is the icing on the cake. I feel so blessed to know these women and to share a meal with them, when our lives have become so busy, is a precious gift.

Three Things I Wore From My Fashion Capsule.  It’s my last week in my first capsule- I am SO PROUD. Did you catch my next capsule reveal? I hope you can join in on the fun!

pinstripes + big belt + rolled black jeans + driving moccasins

 

White House Black Market Blue Striped Collared Top (purchased second hand on Twice)/Old Navy Rock Star Skinny Jeans in Black (owned- Old Navy)/Belt (FOUND when I cleaned out my closet!)/Leather Driving Moccasins (owned- Target)

maxi skirt + tassel necklace + jean jacket + booties

The Must-Have Maxi in Burgundy (purchased- Flourish Boutique)/Not Afraid of the Dark Denim Jacket (purchased- Flourish Boutique)/Suede Booties (Old Navy)/ Tassel Necklace (owned- Groopdealz)

white shirt + rolled black jeans + camel booties + statement necklace

Converse White Collared Shirt (purchased- Target) (owned- Target)/ Old Navy Rock Star Skinny Jeans in Black (owned- Old Navy)/ Fitbit Cuff (handmade- read here!)/Mustard Beads (owned- Goodwill)/ Camel Suede Booties (Madden Girl- DSW Shoes)

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

Quick & Easy Knitted Boot Cuffs

Homemade Peppermint Mocha Recipe

How to Make Quinoa in the Rice Cooker

*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?