Archive for the ‘Reads’ Category

It’s the 3 Little Things (GIVEAWAY!): New Glasses, Apple Scented Luxuries, & Fitbit Glam

Friday, October 24th, 2014

It's The 3 Little Things

Happiest of Fridays, friends! It is a happy Friday, indeed, because I get to share a giveaway today of one of my favorite things! I have been hearing a lot from people that this is their favorite feature. I am so happy that this is loved by you as much as I love sharing it.

Here is what is making me happy this week!

Method Honeycrisp Apple

Honeycrisp Apple Method Fun

I don’t know how I got on the magical Method mailing list, but I am always so excited when I spy one of their boxes on my front step. This week’s mailing included some items from their new Honeycrisp Apple line of products for the Fall season. I can’t tell you how good these smell and, as always, they look beautiful on my countertops and sink too. You must find this and then spray everything in your home with it. In typical Method fashion, it smells delightful, but isn’t overpowering.

DIY Fitbit Flex Bracelet

My New Fitbit Leather Cuff

Ask anyone that has seen me this week and they will tell you that I have been wearing this cuff every single day. I REALLY did not like the look of the plastic bracelet and had been searching on Pinterest for something that I could use to hide my Fitbit away when I wanted to look a little more polished. On a girl’s trip to Chicago with my friends, we started brainstorming an idea for this and then my friend, Andy, offered to help me create this project and let me photograph her tutorial.

First of all, it was a crafting match made in heaven although such hard work. It is really terrible to go to your friend’s house, drink coffee, take pictures, and craft together. What a DRAG! Secondly, I came home with my bracelet and haven’t taken it off unless I head to the gym and need my utilitarian version.

I told you how crazy I am about my Fitbit, but I am afraid I am taking it to another level. If you haven’t read David Sedaris’ essay on the Fitbit, I am pretty much like that. I even demonstrated to my husband how I can loop around our house three times while I microwave my lunch for a few extra steps. I started walking on the dusty old treadmill to catch up on my shows and get in my steps- no more couch potatoing over here. If I feel like the number should be rounded up, I might pace a bit in front of my bed.

One more thing for me to get obsessed about. Yay!

Coastal Derek Cardigan Glasses

New Glasses (For Me AND You)

I absolutely love Coastal and shared how much I love my frames that I snagged from them earlier this year. You can always spy them in our Sundays With Writers series as my header.  They saw that they were on the happy list and asked if they could send me another pair of my choosing and wanted to give away a pair to one lucky reader. I got to select one pair from their Exclusive Collection (and you can too!) to update my look. I settled on these Derek Cardigan 7039 Glasses in black. I love the bamboo arms on these, that adds a unique modern touch. I have gotten so many compliments on these and they couldn’t have fit my face better.

The company always includes a really nice case and a little eyeglass kit to care for them. I am, most of all, impressed by their affordability.

Scroll down below to enter to win a pair from Coastal’s Exclusive Collection and see for yourself what a treat their glasses are!

Three Things I Wore From My Fashion Capsule. I will unveil the next capsule on November 3rd to hopefully inspire you on your own fashion capsule journey. After going through my stuff, I am debating on the number of items I will have in this one since it is just one cold season- stay tuned.   Did you read what I am learning from this project? You must!  Grab more inspiration on my Fashion Capsule Pin Board.

stripes + moto jacket + scarf + boot socks + brown boots

H&M Black & White Striped Top (owned- Goodwill)/ Seven Skinny Jeans (owned- Flourish Boutique)/ Brown Belt (owned- Maurices)/ Brown Boots (6PM- Naturalizer/ Subtle Chevrons Scarf in Rust (purchased- Flourish Boutique)/ Faux Leather Jacket (purchased- Marshall’s)/ Love a Little Lace Boot Socks in Mustard (purchased- Flourish Boutique)

stripes + belt + utility jacket + rolled jeans + booties

H&M Black & White Striped Top (owned- Goodwill)/ Seven Skinny Jeans (owned- Flourish Boutique)/ Brown Belt (owned- Maurices)/ Eyewear (Coastal)/ Black Suede Booties (Madden Girl- DSW Shoes)/ Utility Vest (owned- Groopdealz)/

green loose cardigan + black dress + tassel necklace + burgundy tights + camel colored booties

Forest Fairy Cardigan (owned- Flourish Boutique)/ Little Black Dress (owned- Flourish Boutique)/ Burgundy Tights (owned- Target)/ Tassel Necklace (owned- Groopdealz)/Leopard Print Belt (owned- Target)/ Camel Suede Booties (Madden Girl- DSW Shoes)

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

Homemade Playdough Recipe

14 Free Home Management Binder Printables

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipe Series

Giveaway

Enter below to win one pair of glasses from Coastal’s Exclusive Collection of frames. One lucky winner will receive a free pair of glasses. This giveaway ends on October 31st! Happy browsing!!

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Amy’s Notebook 10.22.14

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

DIY Mona Lisa Halloween Costume via The House That Lars Built

Source: The House That Lars Built

 

Isn’t this Mona Lisa Halloween costume brilliant?

Sound of Music costume that makes me wish I could still make my daughter wear what I wanted her to wear for Halloween.

Free spooky Halloween art decor – quick and easy.

Netflix fright flicks you probably haven’t seen.

Wonderful DIY idea for a folding screen using bifold doors – especially love the graphic floral print!

Pumpkin Spice tea latte – can you have too much pumpkin spice? I think not.

The 60 second bouquet.

Best Cuts for Pot Roasts via The Kitchn

Source: The Kitchn

 

The best cuts of beef for pot roast.

Smart ideas for making money while decluttering your home.

10 best pumpkin goods at Trader Joe’s – must.get.to.TJs.

50 of the best DIY gifts.

Could you go one year without buying anything new?

How to easily make an antiqued wood photo backdrop.

Loot Bag for Girls via 5 Minutes for Mom

Source: 5 Minutes for Mom

 

Love this candy-free loot bag idea for girls.

With our future kitchen remodel on the brain, this all-white kitchen reveal is inspiring.

I love the pops of color in this white and grey kitchen makeover, too, with fun before and after shots.

I survived a weekend with the cult of Oprah- hilarious.

Learn a new knitting technique: purling the Eastern way.

Down Syndrome & sibling relationships- so beautiful.

amys_notebook

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

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Sundays With Writers: The Martian by Andy Weir

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

Sundays With Writers

This year one of my reading goals was to branch out into different genres than I typically reach for.

I blame you.

I want our Sundays With Writers to be a well-rounded selection of great books and authors and I want to challenge you to read something you might not normally pick up.  My first leap into science fiction this year was The Girl With All the Gifts and I wasn’t going to stop there. After reading about The Martian, I knew that this would be my next science fiction book for the year.  Can I be honest and say that after starting it, I started to wonder if my tiny brain could process all of this science?  This book, my friends, is heavy on the science in the science fiction. And it was geekily good. So geekily good, in fact, that this is the next book my husband wants to read.

Did I mention it is being adapted into a film starring Matt Damon?

I finished this amazing book and emailed Andy Weir to see if he might like to do an interview. He graciously agreed.

And then I wondered what in the world I could ask this genius that wouldn’t sound completely stupid?

Hello, anxiety attack.

I hope this interview does this great mind justice and I hope you will want to snag his book too. Let me tell you a little about it!

The Martian by Andy Weir

 

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

This is a suspenseful survival story of an astronaut who finds himself stranded on Mars and what he must do to survive. Science geeks will love this story of survival from the astronaut, Mark, from his ingenious ideas of how to grow food for himself to how he keeps his limited equipment running to stay alive until he can be rescued. Loads of unexpected humor in his logs, even in the most challenging situations, and a character you want to root for. I really enjoyed this one immensely and can’t wait to see it on the big screen!

Grab your coffee and let’s settle in for a chat with Andy Weir about his debut novel The Martian!

Andy Weir

When your short story The Egg hit the front page of Reddit, you said that you were a little sad that The Martian wasn’t as popular as the short story you wrote in an evening. Now that The Martian is finally getting the attention it deserves are you finding this project to be more rewarding than you expected?

Oh definitely. That was before The Martian really took off. Since then, it’s become more well-known than The Egg. It’s been a very exciting ride.

Some of my favorite scenes in your book are when Watney discovers what fills his crewmates USB drives. I love that they brought disco music and fabulous shows like Three’s Company. What would you put on your USB drive to take with you to Mars?

Probably a bunch of 1980’s music. And I’d bring the entire archive of Doctor Who. You may not have noticed, but I’m a nerd.

 Any thoughts on commercial space flight? Any plans to purchase a ticket?

It feels like it’s just around the corner. The trick is getting the price down. Most people can’t pay $200,000 for a trip to space. But if that were brought down to $10,000 it would probably have millions of customers. As for myself, I’m afraid to fly in ordinary planes; I certainly wouldn’t be able to go to space.

Do you see us putting a man on Mars in your lifetime?

That’s a tough one to predict. With our modern technology, we can make extremely effective rovers. It makes people ask why we should risk human life. There are lots of solid reasons to send people instead of robots, but that fundamental concern, and the tremendous cost increases associated with manned spaceflight, will always be a factor. Considering we haven’t gone back to the moon yet, I’m honestly not sure if we’ll see anyone on Mars soon.

Which do you think is a more technical challenge- the first time we put a man on the moon or putting a man on Mars?

Putting a man on Mars is definitely the larger challenge. Even when you account for the technology level of the Apollo era compared to now. The Moon is just so much closer and easier to work with.

I know that not many of our readers have explored as much science fiction and that is why I wanted to share about your book. Do you have any other great suggestions for readers just jumping into the science fiction genre?

Yes, I recommend “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline. It’s my favorite book of the decade so far, and it has excellent crossover appeal. You don’t have to be a “sci-fi person” to enjoy it.

Do you think you would survive if you were stranded on Mars?

I doubt it. It would require great bravery and fortitude, and exceptional strength of character. I’m just a normal guy.

John Young

If you could dine with one astronaut, living or dead, who would you invite to dinner?

John Young. He’s the consummate astronaut. He was on numerous spaceflights including Apollo 16, when he walked on the Moon. Fun fact: Apollo astronauts wore bio-monitoring equipment, so their heart rate was recorded throughout their missions. As you can imagine, during launch, their heart rates tended to spike. Usually to around 140 or 150 beats per minute. John Young’s heart rate never got above 70 during the Apollo 16 launch. Nerves of steel.

I understand that you started your computer programming career at the age of 15. What came first, your love of computers or your love for space?

Definitely my love of space. I grew up with it. I can’t remember any time when I wasn’t interested in space travel.

I am trying to build a passion for science in my children. Do you have any suggestions for how to foster that passion in them whether it’s books, places to visit, or shows/movie recommendations?

First, find their passion. Whatever it is. Art? Music? Fast Cars? Doesn’t matter. Then show them how science makes those things possible. Because in the modern era, everything is a science. If they like art, show them the science of computer modeling. If they like Music, show them how musical instruments are made with modern machinery and precision. If they like cars, well you get the idea.

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

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

You can connect with Andy Weir on GoodReads or on Facebook! 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: How You Doin’, My People, & an Ice Cream Fix

Friday, October 17th, 2014

It's the Three Little Things

Happy Friday, friends. It was one of those weeks that I am just thankful we got through it. Each day was overflowing with commitments and activities. It was one of those, “I can’t believe I did all of that,” kind of weeks. I’m ready to collapse on my couch and have a me day this weekend. Let’s see if I can get my kids to go along with that. Ahem. Without further adieu, here is my happy fix!

Friends

Friends Is Coming to Netflix

There is no greater show on television than Friends.  I will delete any comments that challenges this statement.  When I read that the entire series is coming to Netflix in January I was all like, “How you doin’?” Since we got rid of our cable, some of those shows that are on television all the time don’t make it to our home so I couldn’t be more thrilled. I had considered asking for the DVD set for Christmas, but now I am just going to hold out and watch a marathon of Friends anytime I want to through my Netflix membership. Between that, my new Gilmore Girls addiction, and diving into Season 2 of The Following, I am one happy little television addict.

Just in case you missed it, HBO is finally letting us stream their shows too without a subscription to their channel later this year.  This is a big year, TV addicts, a big year, indeed!

Feel free to reminisce and cry like I did. Best. Show. Ever.

Family Photo 2014

My People

We attended my nephew’s thirteenth birthday party (say it ain’t so!) and my people looked so good and unknowingly coordinated that I grabbed a patio table, a big stack of library books, and my camera to set up a sad little tripod in the backyard that yielded one of the best pictures of our family that we have taken in a long time.  If you haven’t had a family picture in a long time, hire someone to capture your beautiful family or read your camera manual and get the scoop on how to set up that timer on the back of it and make a sad little tripod for yourself so that you can have a family picture too.  I can’t wait to print this one out.

Pumpkin Patch Corn Maze

Pumpkin Patch Apple Cider Doughnuts

I took my people to the pumpkin patch and the weather was just perfect for it.  Since every step counts now that I have a Fitbit Flex (wait until you see what I have for you next week with that!), we took the really long corn maze with the kids and then immediately consumed all the calories we burned right back into our bodies with piping-hot apple cider doughnuts.  It was one of those days that I wonder how many more we will have like that with the four of us together. They are getting so big so very fast that I had a couple of teary-eyed moments while we were there as I saw they were too big for certain things and reminiscing on what captured their little hearts in the years before that held no interest this year.

 

Pumpkin Patch

You guys have seen this boy grow up and I just want to stand eye-to-eye to him and say-

“JUST STOP IT. This is not acceptable.”

I treasured our day at the pumpkin patch even more this year than I realized I would.  I love my people and I love these precious, precious moments with them.

Extra Dessert Delights Gum

Gum That Tastes Like Ice Cream

What more can I tell you? I buy a package weekly.  This Extra Dessert Delights in Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream is, seriously,  the best gum ever invented.

 

Three Things I Wore From My Fashion Capsule. Did you read what I am learning from this project? You must!  Grab more inspiration on my Fashion Capsule Pin Board.

sweater dress + petticoat slip + tights + boots + statement necklace

Anthropologie Gray Print Dress (purchased second hand on Twice)/ Lace Slip Extender (owned- Flourish Boutique)/  Seamless Perfection Long Sleeve Tunic Dress in Black (purchased- Flourish Boutique)/ Black Tights (owned- Target)/Necklace (owned- Charming Charlie)/ Black Boots (6PM- Naturalizer)/ Glasses (Coastal)

owl sweater + tunic + leggings + boot socks + camel boots

STEAL OF THE MONTH!!  Wool Gray Owl Sweater (owned- Flourish Boutique)/ Seamless Perfection Long Sleeve Tunic Dress in Black (purchased- Flourish Boutique)/  The Essential Leggings in Black (owned-Flourish Boutique)/ Gray Boot Socks  (owned-Flourish Boutique)/ Camel Sorel Boots (so very vintage and loved- Sorel)

utility vest + statement necklace + black tunic + black leggings + booties

Went out that evening- same exact stuff as the owl sweater, just a quick switch-up! Seamless Perfection Long Sleeve Tunic Dress in Black (purchased- Flourish Boutique)/  The Essential Leggings in Black (owned-Flourish Boutique)/ Utility Vest (owned- Groopdealz)/Old Navy Booties (owned- Old Navy)

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

Easy 4-Row Snowflake Scarf

Seven Easy Scarves & Cowls to Knit This Fall

Homemade Salted Caramel Mocha

*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 10.15.14

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Hard Cider Pumpkin Float via Dine and Dish

Source: Dine and Dish

 

Hard cider ale and a pumpkin pie gelato float? Genius.

David Fincher’s thriller ‘Gone Girl’ as a solid case as to why nobody should ever get married.

14 absolutely free ways to improve your cooking.

5 unmissable, easy to implement tips on how to finally say no.

Pick the brains of intellectual giants – here is a list of 31 best TED talks that will transform your life.

These hipster costumes make me laugh.

DIY Halloween Glassware via Sugar and Cloth

Source: Sugar and Cloth

 

Use cute non-permanent DIY Halloween glassware decals for quick and easy budget friendly party decor on cups you already own.

How to keep your toddler busy for an entire hour with free items.

50 cultural icons on their favorite books.

Looking for a new mascara? Check out these new mascaras for fall.

73 answers from Reese Witherspoon- I love her more.

11 hard ciders that are better than beer.

Parenting as a Gen Xer in a world of iEverything.

Abundance Quote via Be More with Less

Source: Be More With Less

 

Redefining abundance.

A good list of the best shows to watch as a family.

8 things you haven’t tried to make using cauliflower as a substitute – or have you?

Do you hate Facebook, or do you hate your life?

Easy leather bracelet DIY – 3 different ways.

Ebola is more than a news story to me – such a perfect reminder.

amys_notebook

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

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Sundays With Writers: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

Sundays With Writers

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 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.

All the Lights We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

 

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. I want you to set aside the size of it and just dive in like I did. 

I sent an email to Anthony, firmly believing that I would not get a response. At that time, he had been on the New York Times best seller list for twenty weeks. He certainly doesn’t need to do an interview with me to spread the word about his book.  I was shocked when I received the kindest response and so honored that Doerr would take time out of his busy schedule to answer his new #1 fan and her silly questions.

I hope you will love this interview and book as much as I love sharing about it. I already know this one is in my top ten for the year and, perhaps, forever.

Grab your coffee and let’s share a virtual cup with Anthony Doerr and his literary tour de force.

 

Anthony Doerr

I understand that this beautiful book took a decade for you to write which really speaks to your commitment to this novel. Tell me what it is like to devote ten years to a book like this and did you ever find yourself discouraged during the process of fleshing out this story? Did you ever dream that it would take that long to complete it?

Oh, I was crazy with doubt almost of the time. You invest so many months into a single project—shelves stuffed with WWII books, three separate trips to Europe, dozens of notebooks full of scribbled notes—and the terror that you won’t be able to pull it all together keeps you up at nights. I worried that if I abandoned the project I’d let down my wife, my kids, my editor, myself. And I never dreamed it would take so long—a quarter of my life!

At the heart of this story is the communication via radio that brings unlikely people together in beautiful ways. As an NPR junkie, I absolutely loved picturing Werner & his sister huddled beside the radio (as I may or may not do that myself while tuning in to my favorite shows) and others who were enchanted by radio broadcasting through this story. Why did you decide to explore radio and did you have to do a lot of research on the older models and how they worked in order to develop this plotline?

I adored radios as a boy and would often stay up late listening to baseball games under my covers while my parents thought I was sleeping. But that passion had waned a bit, until ten years ago, when I took a train from Princeton, New Jersey into New York City. I had just completed a novel and was searching around for a new idea, and had a notebook in my lap. The man in the seat in front of me was talking to someone on his cell phone about the sequel to The Matrix, I remember that very clearly, and as we approached Manhattan, and sixty feet of steel and concrete started flowing above the train, his call dropped.

And he got angry! He started swearing, and rapping his phone with his knuckles, and after briefly worrying for my safety, I said to myself: What he’s forgetting, what we’re all forgetting, is that what he was just doing is a miracle. He’s using two little radios — a receiver and a transmitter — crammed into something no bigger than a deck of cards, to send and receive little packets of light between hundreds of radio towers, one after the next, miles apart, each connecting to the next at the speed of light, and he’s using this magic to have a conversation about Keanu Reeves.

Because we’re habitualized to it, we’ve stopped seeing the grandeur of this breathtaking act. So I decided to try to write something that would help me and my reader feel that power again, to feel the strangeness and sorcery of hearing the voice of a stranger, or a distant loved one, in our heads.

That very afternoon, ten years ago, I wrote a title into my notebook: All the Light We Cannot See—a reference to all the wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum (like radio waves) that are invisible. And that night, I started a piece of fiction in which a girl reads a story to a boy over the radio. I conceived of her as blind, and him as trapped in darkness, and the sound of her voice, carried by radio waves – light we cannot see — through walls, as his salvation.

 My heart ached for Werner so much especially his time in the Hitler Youth and what he must do to survive. Death, war, sadness, poverty…it is all there in this book, despite the hope that so much of your story brings in the end. I imagine that this was a very difficult time period in history to write about as an author. What scene was the hardest for you to write?

Yes, lots of the research for this novel was excruciating. The destruction of human beings during WWII, especially on the Eastern Front, occurred on a scale that is almost too large for the human brain to comprehend. So sometimes the source material would send me to dark places, and I’d have to take breaks by working on other projects.

As for scenes that were hard to write, there are many kinds of difficulty a writer faces: technical difficulty, emotional difficulty, syntactic difficulty. In terms of emotions, probably all the scenes involving Frederick were the most difficult, because he reminds me of one of my sons.

It is hard to say who my favorite character is because I found each one so endearing. The relationship between Marie-Laure and her father brought tears to my eyes though because it was so special. The books that he gives her for her birthday are so treasured and one in particular, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, turns out to be a very special one. Was this a childhood favorite of your own? What was it about this book that made you want to use it in such a unique way in your story?

Thank you, Amy. Yes, 20,000 Leagues was indeed a childhood favorite. The book is about wonder and technology, and it uses narrative to excite a reader’s interest in the natural world. This is so similar to the kind of projects I try to make with my own fiction, that – one day, when I started re-reading it — I decided Verne’s text might serve as an effective book-within-a-book.

The intricate puzzles that Marie-Laure’s father creates add so much beauty to your story. It made me wish I could find a puzzle for my kids to solve.  How did you come up with this concept?

A friend of our family’s once gave me a Japanese puzzle box as a present. It was a wooden cube that looked like an ornate, solid block of wood. No visible doors, no knobs, no handles, no buttons. But, as our family friend showed me, if you knew what side to push in on, then various panels would start to slide down, and by manipulating all the panels in clever ways, you could eventually slide open the top and discover a hidden compartment inside.

I played with that thing for hours, showing it off to friends, examining its construction, etc., then eventually put it on a shelf and forgot about it. A couple of decades later, working on this novel, the puzzle box came back to me, along with my fascination with it, and I decided to try writing a couple of scenes in which Marie-Laure’s father fashions puzzle boxes.

Which character do you identify the most with in your book?

I do my best to identify with all my characters, even the bad actors—I think that’s probably part of the job description for any novelist, isn’t it?

This novel has 187 chapters, but they are beautifully segmented and sectioned for the reader in small doses, which created a lot of suspense for me, as a reader, and kept me pushing through your story so I could find out what would happen in the next chapter. Why did you decide to structure your story this way?

Obviously, there are an infinity of ways to write a novel, but for me “plotting it out” has always sounded scary and programmatic. I have to compose, revise, and re-revise scenes just to understand what should happen in them.So my process involves a lot of trial and error. I write hundreds of paragraphs trying to figure out where the story is going, and I usually end up cutting most of them. I knew early on that I wanted the two narratives to feel like two almost parallel lines that inclined toward each other very gently.

The structure was a big mess for a long time. It probably had 250 or 300 chapters at some points. All I knew early on — and wanted a reader to intuit – was that Marie’s and Werner’s lives would intersect. But it took me a long time to figure out exactly how that would happen.

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

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

You can connect with Anthony Doerr on GoodReads or on Facebook! 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: FitBit, Workout Gear, & Gilmore Girls

Friday, October 10th, 2014

It's the 3 Little Things

Happy Friday, friends!  I hope you are having a wonderful week this week. I am happy to have a quiet weekend ahead since that has been such a rarity these days.  I can’t wait to share the happy with you this week!!

Fitbit Flex

I Joined the Fitbit Club

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. I scored one for $70 off of eBay and this thing has changed my life.  One reason is related to fitness and the other is just related to my mornings as a whole .

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.  Two evenings I have walked with my daughter, just us two, and one night I challenged both kids to a Just Dance dance-off to try to increase my steps.  I scored bonus points for looking like a fun mom (which I typically am not!) and have been trying to aim for 10,000 steps a day.  I am sure the newness will eventually wear off, but I really love having a step goal each day.

The other thing that I am loving, 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!

Danskin Performance Jacket

New Workout Apparel for Cheap

Since I am at the gym every day so I can get my steps in (OBSESSED!), I needed to get a few workout jackets for my morning workouts. I am madly in love with these Danskin Now Women’s Performance Jackets that I found for less than $15 at Walmart! Since I write for Walmart, I have gotten to see behind the scenes on how they create some of their workout gear, and I can attest to the quality of the items now that I have heard first-hand about some of their reverse engineering that they do to replicate that expensive athletic apparel right down to the thread counts.  Since hearing more about that, I have abandoned fancy workout gear and embrace my frugal side which is really not hard for a girl like me to do. Since I am a wee woman, I was thrilled to see that they are making X-Small apparel (something I haven’t been able to find before at the store) and am heading back to my store since I got so many compliments on these pullovers I scored.

They also have the coziest Danskin fleece jacket displayed right by these (I can’t find them online, but they look a lot like this) and I highly recommend them for Midwest winters. Again, $15! What do you have to lose?

Gilmore Girls

Gilmore Girls- #winning

Usually my work trips have me on and running from the time I arrive until the time I get on my plane. I hope you caught the Celestial Seasonings post I shared (I’m giving away over $100 in fun tea prizes!) where I talked about my trip last week. One of the best parts about this trip was they said we could arrive any time and to just “enjoy our day in Boulder.” Say what?! I should have been running all over the city to see everything, but I have been feeling so tapped out that I spent an entire day and evening laying around in my hotel room and it was GLORIOUS.

I happened to see that Kelly, from The Centsible Life,  had posted that Gilmore Girls was available on Netflix starting that day so I soaked in the deepest tub I have ever been in and watched episodes of Gilmore Girls on my iPad in the tub. And it was perfect. I mean, PERFECT.  Don’t judge me, but I had never watched Gilmore Girls before. I wish my daughter was a little older so we could watch it together, but until then..I am really enjoying having a new show to watch. Between that and Big Little Lies (downloaded for FREE on Overdrive through my library), I was one happy little traveler this past week!  Thank you, Celestial Seasonings! What a treat!

Three Things I Wore From My Fashion Capsule. Did I mention I traveled? I didn’t even make a steal- so proud!  Grab more inspiration on my Fashion Capsule Pin Board.

tunic + lace slip + tights + boots + large belt

Down With Damask Tunic (similar & owned- Flourish Boutique)/ Lace Slip Extender (owned- Flourish Boutique)/Brown Belt (owned- Maurices)/ Black Tights (owned- Target)/ Black Boots (6PM- Naturalizer)

bow shirt + long sleeve seamless shirt + track pants + boots + skinny belt

Ann Taylor Loft Pink Print Collared Shirt (purchased second hand on Twice)/ Mint Belt (owned- Target)/ Seamless Perfection Long Sleeve Tunic Dress in Black (purchased- Flourish Boutique)/ Black Boots (6PM- Naturalizer)/Mossimo Black Track Pants (purchased- Target)

black leggings + black dress + jean jacket + large belt + oxfords + large scarf

 Seamless Perfection Long Sleeve Tunic Dress in Black (purchased- Flourish Boutique)/ The Essential Leggings in Black (owned- Flourish Boutique)/ Not Afraid of the Dark Denim Jacket (purchased- Flourish Boutique)/ Wine Scarf (owned- Forever 21)/ Tan Belt (owned- boutique)/ Oxford Shoes (Owned-Naturalizer)

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

Slow Cooker Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

How to Spray Paint Furniture

Knitted Sweater Coffee Cozies

*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 10.08.14

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Pom Pom Bat Cupcake Toppers via Oh Happy Day

Source: Oh Happy Day

 

Adorable pom pom bat cupcake toppers.

How about a cheese graveyard with Brie cut in a coffin shape for your Halloween party?

Five things your teen wants you to know.

Who knew flu shots could be so hilarious?

DIY Crow Halloween Wreath via Darice Blog

Source: Darice Craft Blog

 

Go outside the norm for Halloween with a black crow wreath.

How to make the perfect sweet potato fries.

Are you navigating the eternal screen-time debate with Minecraft?

Top 10 tricks for shopping at Amazon.

Beautiful words on marriage.

Apple Chip Burbon Cider via A Subtle Revelry

Source: A Subtle Revelry

 

Bourbon apple chip cider – sounds just about right for the fall, doesn’t it?

You won’t believe this wedding dress made for $30 during the crafty bride’s commute!

33 books to read to celebrate banned books week – or any time of the year.

World’s best parenting tumblr.

This is what brave means.

amys_notebook

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

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It’s the 3 Little Things: Shiny Pots, Cozy Throws, & Beautiful Books

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

It's the 3 Little Things

Happy Friday, friends! This week I have had the unique opportunity to head to the Celestial Seasonings headquarters and learn all about their teas which is, seriously, one of the coolest opportunities ever for a super fan like me. If you recall, I raved quite a bit about my Sleepytime Extra tea that helped me break my melatonin habit and I even included their teas in a gift guide this past year for the holidays. I am a tea enthusiast so I feel so lucky to get to see how they create their products and share that with you in the upcoming week! Yay!

I am writing this on Tuesday night for you since I will be in Boulder this week and hopefully I am having a magical flight where I get upgraded for no reason, my suitcase is incredibly light since I have a mere fashion capsule wardrobe that I can make four million outfits out of a mere one or two pieces,  and I will be reading the world’s best book.  Let’s just pretend all of those things are happening right now!

Without further adieu- here’s the abbreviated happy today!

All the Lights We Cannot See

World’s Coziest Throw

As if the world’s coziest slippers were not enough, I could not wait for the temperatures to drop so I could spend my day curled up in the happiest shed on earth and read my library books! Last year I scored this throw on clearance for $10 and it has made my world so much cozier. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for it again as they seem to put these back out seasonally at the store and this is one to watch for. 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.  I promise that it instantly makes all your reading time better- keep those eyes peeled for something similar at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, or Walmart!

A Beautiful Book

My book club read ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr this month, picked by my sweet friend Carrie. Everyone has been raving about this one and I am just going to have to agree that this is one fine piece of literature.  I loved it so much that I immediately emailed Anthony to see if he might do our Sundays With Writers with us and he graciously agreed!  If you want to read it before the interview, you will be so happy you did. I wish I could give this ten stars on GoodReads, it was that good.  I was held captive by this book 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. I can’t recommend this one enough- it will be, perhaps, in my top ten books ever read.

Don’t be intimidated by the length as the chapter are short and help to keep the story moving.  It is one you will be glad you picked up and also will take you on a little Wikipedia narnia when you are done to learn more behind this beautiful piece of work! Stay tuned for a fun interview with Anthony soon!

Bar Keepers Friend

Shiny Everything

Tell me I am not the only one addicted to this stuff- Bar Keepers Friend is the best cleaner ever! You want shiny pots? A shiny sink? A shiny tub? Well, shine, shine, shine. I can think of very little that could not benefit from this cleaner! If you haven’t tried it, prepare to be amazed. My pots look like the day I bought them and I use this every night on my sink.  I can’t imagine my life without this little cleaner and if you have rust issues, this is a great one to have on hand.  A shiny home definitely makes this girl happy.

Three Things I Wore From My Fashion Capsule. Grab more inspiration on my Fashion Capsule Pin Board.

tiny-bangs

Did I mention it is Tuesday when I am typing this? I’ve got nothing to share this early in the week, but I did get my bangs chopped and I feel like a brand new woman.

There is that.

If you want to see what I’m wearing you can check my trip highlights on my Instagram feed! :)

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

Quick & Easy Knitted Boot Cuffs

Easy Knitted Ruffled Scarf with Sashay Yarn

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

*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 10.01.14

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Folded Leaf Garland via A Subtle Revelry

Source: A Subtle Revelry

 

Folded leaf garland – sometimes a simple seasonal update is just enough.

Have you ever wondered where to start when your style starts changing?

I love a good hollywood makeup trick!

An inspiring home tour that celebrates family.

Tips for getting organized, of which I can never have enough.

An amazing barn renovation.

7 foods you can cook straight out of the freezer for those busy weekday nights.

What to say to Mean Girls via We Are That Family

 

Source: We Are THAT Family

 

What we need to say to the mean girls.

Pumpkin pie spice…popcorn? Um, yes.

I want to try this 7-day smartphone detox.

Anthro-inspired mugs would make beautiful gifts for friends & teachers.

When blogging becomes a slog.

Breakfast hacks – ways to make breakfast easier.

amys_notebook

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

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