Archive for the ‘Reads’ Category

Amy’s Notebook 04.26.17

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Maple Bacon Grilled Cheese

source: joy the baker

Hello, heavenly grilled cheese combo! I want to try this sticky finger maple bacon grilled cheese for our next sandwich night!

I loved these suggestions for a social media diet. Who couldn’t use one of those?

How to read a whole damn book every week. Couldn’t agree more with these suggestions!

If you are watching 13 Reasons Why with your teen, these are 13 great conversations to have with them about the show.

We are going to have to try some of these drink suggestions for our next board game night.

I started this memoir and it has been such a welcome escape this week.

DIY Bouquet Tips

source: the house that lars built

These tips for how to diy your own bouquets are so great and perfect for a beautiful  Mother’s Day gift.

Do you struggle with anxiety too? I love these tips for cultivating calmness and understanding your own triggers.

This cheesy bruschetta chicken is going on my menu planner!

I spent my Etsy gift card on one of these beauties for my kitchen. Can’t wait to use it!

5 ways to teach your kids about consent- such great reminders for parents!

I love these ideas for making Alexa your sous chef. Lots of things I would have never thought of.

Easy Messy Top Bun

source: a beautiful mess

I love this twist on an easy messy top bun.

Bookmarking this post since the comments are full of great suggestions for my next beach read.

You must be stocking up on your summer staples because this was your top purchase this month! I love these (PS-size up one!)

Do you find yourself fighting the crazy this time of year too? I loved the suggestion to under-react to the crazy- that’s definitely one I need to work on!

Here is the mental trick you need to maintain your focus. I loved all of these suggestions especially the one about starting your day in a positive way!

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration! Please note, there are affiliate links that do help support our site- thank you! xoxo

Amy’s Notebook 04.19.17

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Flat Iron Curls from A Beautiful Mess

source: a beautiful mess

My sister was raving about using her flat iron to curl her hair. I loved this picture tutorial this week. I wonder if I have the coordination to do it though- ha!

Thinking about downsizing your wardrobe? Check out this post for some inspiration!

This made me laugh so hard. I TOTALLY would do that!

This is a great read for newbies to cooking and purchasing chicken thighs. These are my favorite these days!

Adult friendships are tough aren’t they?

Boho Top

source: ali on the boulevard

I hate to pick favorites in my capsule wardrobe, but I couldn’t love this top more and have gotten so many compliments on it!

I’ve been under the weather which gave me plenty of time to curl up with this book this week. What an incredible read! You MUST read it!

Some great tips for making a great pressure cooker chicken stock!

DIY Painted Floors

source: old brand new

I would never think to diy a painted tile floor, but this patio floor is stunning!

5 women run podcasts to listen to- girl power! I’d also love to tackle this great list of episodes worth discussing.

This was a pretty fascinating read on the immoralities of being wealthy. I am definitely going to be chatting about this one at the dinner table tonight!

You must be preparing for Mother’s Day because this was your top purchase this week. So sweet and I love supporting Etsy makers!

Eight powerful habits that can make your more successful. I really need to get motivated this year and this is a great start! I also REALLY enjoyed this piece on how to make it easier to be awesome.

An underrated places travel bucket list is happening after reading these highlights from each state!

I have a pile of these under my sink and I never knew all the things I could do with them!

Books to read that will soon be movies! Yay!

If you need me, I’m over here reading this book. I loved his first book so much, I can’t wait to dig into this next one!

Comments of the Week:  In response to my piece on S-town“Catching up on my blog reading since were on spring break as well! We went from Ohio to Orange Beach, AL and you know I totally stared down Woodstock, AL as we drove past. The deep dive into John B. McLemore’s life was fascinating and haunting and addicting. Brian Reed is a master storyteller, and his ability to thoroughly investigate this scenario was amazing. It’s stayed with me for quite some time…and I don’t see it leaving any time soon.”- Beth

I could not agree more, Beth! I even convinced my Dad to give it a listen and he’s loving it. I can’t wait to have a daughter-father chat about that.

I have loved reading what you all are up to in the summer months to enter our Brain Quest giveaway this week. This was one of my favorites- “Baking and cooking competitions are a big hit here! Lots of researching and concocting a plan and recipe hunting beforehand to extend their learning (and time ).”- Abbie

Isn’t that so fun? What a great way to get your kids engaged and off their electronics. Hope you all are having a wonderful day! xo

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration! Please note, there are affiliate links that do help support our site- thank you! xoxo

The Importance of S-Town

Monday, April 10th, 2017

minneapolis-2

We rolled in last night after the most lovely little getaway to explore Minneapolis. Things have felt a bit off this month with our family’s rhythm that I can’t really explain right now, but that have made our down time feel a little more stressful and less enjoyable.  As I surfed Midwest adventures on Groupon, I came across a deal for a cute hotel and we decided to just head on over there for a little escape.

For us, this trip was just WILD. Unplanned, poorly packed, and flying by the seat of our pants. A need to get the heck out after a gloomy, freezing, and dreary week in Indiana.

minneapolis-1

One of the coolest things about this job is the ability to find and connect with someone just about everywhere we go and my dear friend, Kelly Whalen, offered to spend a day with us and take us on a tour of the city. Since we had no plan, this sounded like heaven.

It was a magic-making kind of day where the kids hit it off like crazy, we ate incredible food,  the conversations never dwindled, and we explored areas in her town that she hadn’t even got to do yet. Magic, I tell you!

Each of our trips end up having some kind of theme to them where we dive into something and just binge the heck out of it. Our fall trip, for example, was the trip of Hamilton that ultimately lead to our Christmas gift of tickets for our kids.

This trip ended up being the S-Town trip where my husband & I listened to seven hours of the most fascinating podcast I had ever encountered in my lifetime that has had my brain going nonstop since I finished it.  (please note, no, this podcast is not for the kiddos- headphones were on them with something else going!)

s-town-1

If you haven’t heard of S-Town, it is a history-making podcast from the producers of Serial & This American Life where host, Brian Reed, leads their investigative team into a small town in Alabama to investigate a murder. John B. McLemore of Woodstock, Alabama, had emailed the producers of This American Life saying he had a story to tell about a covered-up murder that happened in his town. He calls his town, Shittown (thus the podcast name) and begins a year-long conversation with Reed that leads him all the way out to Woodstock to investigate McLemore’s claims. The series takes an immediate sharp turn that, honestly, shocked me to my core and the podcast becomes something entirely different than a true crime story.

They wisely released the show in it’s entirety which allows you to binge listen to this whole series without the usual Googling that I might have been doing between episodes, like I unapologetically did between episodes of Serial. Since the story develops and evolves so quickly, each chapter feels like almost its own unique listening experience and is almost like taking in a short story audiobook collection that come together in wild ways.

I don’t want to spoil anything if you haven’t dove into it, but I will say that the themes are dark, sexually graphic at times, and the language could be bothersome to some. The last two episodes, in particular, were unsettling on many levels, in what John might have wanted to have kept private and the fact that I don’t think much of it really added to the story of John.

What I will say is that this moved me in ways that I had not expected. It is a portrait of a tortured genius who desperately wanted love in his life. It’s about the cyclical nature of poverty, mental illness, frustrations with world issues that we cannot change,  the struggles about leading a life that is true to you for fear of perception by those in a small town, and the rich layering of all people. Reed’s compassion flourishes even through, in my opinion, some of its more dicier moments.

Since John B. McLemore was a horologist, one of the most poignant moments in it were McLemore’s own reflections on time and how we use our time. He reflected on how many hours we actually have in our life to make use of.  It was very mathematical and analytical, but so very rich.

Our time on earth is so fleeting and we are all gifted only so many hours in our day. How am I using this precious time and how can I make those moments really and truly count? Why are so much of my efforts and anxieties focused on things that just don’t matter and how can I make a better use of these hours given? 

It made me thankful we had taken that trip.

They were precious hours that filled my cup.

There is much that I found to be profound in S-Town and there are far more thoughtful commentaries to read than I what I can share with you. What I can say though is that it moved me and made me think about a lot of things in new ways and it challenged me in ways that only the best documentaries and nonfiction books have.

I plan to relisten to this one to see what new nuggets I can get out of it and what I will hear in the story now that I know where Reed is leading me.

Once you finish the show (and not before!), you can head down the rabbit trail of articles and podcast commentary like I did:

S-Town Host Brian Reed on True Crime Podcasts and That Major Twist

Brian Reed, maker of S-Town: ‘People’s minds go to paranoid places very easily’

What does the song at the end of S-Town mean?

Who is John B. McLemore

Pop Culture Happy Hour’s Take On S-Town

Sorta Awesome’s Thoughts On S-Town

Longform Interview with Brian Reed

10 Podcasts You Need in Your Life After ‘S-Town’

Have you listened to S-Town? What did you think about this podcast?

 

 

 

Amy’s Notebook 04.05.17

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

carrot-greenery

source: camille styles

This is an adorable way to wrap a little greenery for Spring!

I love these tips on ways to curb your phone addiction. I’m going to be playing in my settings this week to make some adjustments!

Are you a fan of the audiobook trend too? Here are some great suggestions for books to listen to!

As a crafter, I couldn’t be more excited about this show!

This is the season of overcommitment- this was a great advice on what to do when you find yourself with too many obligations.

Speaking of overcommitted, I shared this reminder this week.

As summer approaches, I needed this reminder on managing screen time. We also have a free printable for tech & chore tickets that should come in handy!

Birthday Pancake Tradition

source: dinner: a love story

Don’t let Pinterest fool you, traditions need not be grand to be appreciated by our kiddos.

I’m spending my spring break with this thriller and I’m really enjoying it!

How motivating is this to turn off your television? #goals

What a great way to think about comparison. Compare up versus down.

I’m a big fan of these online classes too and loved peeking at what other people are taking.

Whoa Wait Walmart Lace Swing Top

lace swing top

This was your top purchase this week- so proud of my friends who launched this adorable line!

I’m going to work on under-calendaring my life.

This is one smart money tip for takeout purchases. I’m going to have to remember that one!

A couple of quick tricks to improve your Instagram shots. I’m an Afterlight lover myself!

Sheet Pan Salmon Recipe

source: cookie rookie

I definitely want to give this sheet pan honey mustard salmon recipe a spin!

Looking for a cute spring wreath for your door? I love this inexpensive idea!

I just was talking to our school staff about this one- here is some advice on social media in middle school. For now we are exercising the right to delay as long as we can!

How to make bacon, eggs, and hash browns with one eye open. This looks like a great way to do breakfast!

I’m scooting off for the week to spend some time with my family while we are on spring break! I hope that you all have a wonderful week and I’ll be back in the ol’ office on Monday to share more with you on the blog- xoxo

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration! Please note, there are affiliate links that do help support our site- thank you! xoxo

 

March 2017 Must-Reads

Friday, March 31st, 2017

March 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

I think I am setting a record for most pages read this month thanks, in part, to my commitment to give up social media and email checking after 5PM for Lent.  This month I managed to consume 11 (!!) books to share with you today for our March Must-Reads list. As always, I like a little variety in my stack so today’s list should have something for everyone and several 5-star books that you must, must read!

As I know many of my friends are leaving on Spring Break this week, I am hoping this list arrives just in time for a little vacation reading!

I’m still working my way through the MomAdvice Reading Challenge and tackled five categories for this month. It has really helped me to broaden a bit outside my normal genres. I hope you are enjoying working your way through it too.

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.  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.

11 Must-Read Books from March 2017

 

Little Deaths by Emma Flint

Little Deaths by Emma Flint

Set in the summer of 1965, Flint’s novel reads like a true crime story as the author weaves the story of two missing children in Queens, New York and the story of their single mother who doesn’t fit the typical mother mold.

Ruth Malone, their mother, raises her children alone and doesn’t conform to the idea of what a good mother and wife should be. Working as a cocktail waitress, she is gorgeous with an overly done face and wardrobe. Ruth instantly becomes the suspect worth scrutinizing by the cops, the neighbors, and the press. When a tabloid reporter, intent on getting his first big story, begins covering the story of these missing children, he just can’t help but to become obsessed with her.

Much of the story is told through a series of interviews as Pete Wonicke tries to get the scoop and the reader is taken through this heart wrenching story from lost children, to found, to the agonizing building of the case.

Well-crafted and developed with a dramatic conclusion, Flint paints Ruth in such a way that she practically lifts off the pages. Although the conclusion was a bit too swift for me, I found this to be a solid read that left me guessing through much of it. I would recommend this one for fans of crime fiction, especially if you are a big fan of police procedural books since this book takes you through the case from start to finish.

3.5 Out of 5 Stars

Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Exit, Pursued by a Bear is a MomAdvice Book Club selection this year and I can’t wait to discuss this with our readers. This YA novel packs a coming-of-age punch as it examines the story of a rape and the aftermath for its victim.

Hermione is a flyer on her cheer squad and proud to be their captain. While away at cheer camp, she attends a party where someone  puts something in her drink and she is brutally raped and assaulted. When she awakes, she has no recollection of what has happened to her, but must deal with the devastating consequences of this assault.

I love that this book focuses less on being a victim and more about continuing to fight through the pain, not allowing this horrible situation to continue to define your life. Hermione is a true hero as she picks up the pieces of her life and is determined to carry on.

Heavier than a typical YA read and filled with a supportive cast of characters, Johnston deserves all the accolades she has received for this one including being listed as a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize.

Brave and unflinching, it’s a beautiful, beautiful read! Join our book club to discuss! You can also check my exclusive interview with the author this month!

5 Out of 5 Stars

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

Dead Letters is a cleverly structured mystery that I devoured in a single day. Ava and Zelda are estranged twin sisters and their names happen to be the bookends to the alphabet. Ava is summoned to come home to her wildly dysfunctional family when Zelda is said to have possibly perished in a fire.

Zelda just might not be dead, however, and decides to send her sister Ava on a scavenger hunt to unwind the mystery of where she is. This craftily drawn goose chase will remind readers of a well-developed Agatha Christie novel.

The authors turn-of-phrase and creatively written characters make this book a treat from start to finish.

Do not miss this debut and have a wonderful time trying to piece together whatever happened to Zelda.

Reading Challenge Category Completed-A book by a debut author

5 Out of 5 Stars

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime was our MomAdvice Book Club selection this month and I am quite confident this book will be on my top ten list for 2017. Although I have been a big fan of his work on The Daily Show, I have an entirely new respect for this man and the survival skills he used during his youth in apartheid South Africa.

Noah is truly, “born a crime,” because his birth is seen as a criminal act since he was born to a white father and black mother. To keep him from not being rounded up for an orphanage, he often was sidelined indoors instead of playing outside with his peers. His mother also employed survival techniques, like pretending to be his maid instead of his mother, to just be able to play at the park with her son.

The reader is taken through the story of his childhood that, even in its darker moments,  Noah manages to add heart and humor to each and every story. This brave little mischievous boy’s story will pull at every heartstring and illustrates why he is now so passionate about politics and the world.

DO get this one on audiobook to appreciate every nuance and accent that Noah can bring to the table. It’s like listening to the most polished standup comedy routine to hear him read this out loud.

As soon as I finished it, I just wanted to listen to it all over again.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book on race

5 Out of 5 Stars

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow was chosen by my local book club for our selection this month. This one happened to be on my list from last year so I definitely looked forward to reading it. I will admit though, this book was a slow burn for me.

Set in 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in Metropol, a grand hotel that happens to be across the street from the Kremlin. Due to the sentence, the entire book’s plot centers on this hotel and the unlikely friends, lover, and even child that become a part of the Count’s life.

While I appreciated the glimmers of stories throughout and the relationships that help sustain him in his time in Metropol, I really slogged through the book as this book really didn’t necessarily move plot, but was more of a study of character.  The Count was certainly a charming guy and I can see why so many are enamored with this book, but I was craving a little more action in this story.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A historical fiction novel

3 Out of 5 Stars

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale has been on my reading bucket list forever and with the upcoming Hulu series soon to be released (watch the trailer here!), I knew I wanted to get this one under my belt before I watched it. Since the election season,  this book has seen resurgence in popularity and Atwood even shared about what her book means during the Trump era with the New York Times,  as it rocks the bestseller list once again.

This timeless dystopian novel, written all the way back in 1984, explores what the world looks like when women lose power over their own bodies and a religious totalitarian government dictates how and when they can reproduce. Women are given roles and seen as objects limiting them to roles like wives, Marthas, Handmaids, Aunts and Unwomen and everyone’s main focus is on procreation.

This book is disturbing in many ways, but I couldn’t put it down. I’m glad I waited to read this because it hit me at just the right time and gave me a lot to chew on, even if I found the ending to be an unsatisfying one.

I highlighted almost the entire book because there are so many beautifully written passages. Atwood certainly has a way with words! One line in particular has stuck with me…“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.”

I couldn’t put this one down- be sure to add it to your stack in preparation for a Hulu-binge session!

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A Dystopian novel

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel

The Stranger in the Woods shares the remarkable true story of the last true hermit. Christopher Knight, at the mere age of 20, decided to leave his home in Massachusetts, drive to Maine, and disappear into a forest to not return for almost three decades.

Yup, I said TRUE story.

Knight relied upon the neighboring homes for stealing the items he needed to survive and upon his capture, Finkel reached out to write him and to learn more of his own personal story.  Through those initial letters, Finkel formed as much of a friendship as one could with a hermit, and learned of Knight’s survival skills through brutal Maine winters and why he preferred the isolation.

With commentary from many experts, it’s a fascinating read on why some people flourish better in isolation and why humans crave relationships in the way that we do. The amount of effort Finkel goes through to carve an accurate story of Knight is admirable, but at times uncomfortable because a hermit doesn’t necessarily want to share his life story with the world. That’s kind of why he disappeared…

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book you can read in a day

4 Out of 5 Stars

 

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

The Roanoke Girls gave me flashbacks of the days of shoving V.C. Andrews books under my mattress for guilty consumption. It is that kind of twisted, dirty, and weird familial experiences that you are going to have if you decide to crack open this thriller.

This book is about a dirty family secret that has had great power over the wealthy Roanoke Girls and the power is so strong that many of them die. When one of the girls goes missing, her cousin returns to face the demons that have always haunted her.

Do a little research if you have issues with triggers because this one might not be for you.  I found the audiobook to be a great escape this week and would recommend it for people who like their thrillers dark and dirty.

Oh, you know who you are! Shame on you!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

I adored Jennifer Niven’s YA debut novel, All the Bright Places (read my interview with the author on that one over here!), so I was thrilled to hear she had a new book out called,  Holding Up the Universe. In this book, she alternates chapters between Jack, a popular teenage boy who has prosopagnosia (a neurological condition that causes facial blindness) and Libby, who enters high school after an astounding 300 pound weight loss that caused her to be a social media sensation in her town.

These two are both placed into an after-school detention program where they find solace in one another and their shared difficulties. These difficulties are just the tip of the iceberg though as they each struggle, in different ways, with the loss of a parent.

I knew very little about prosopagnosia and Niven develops the most advanced case of it in Jack where he cannot even recognize his family. It definitely sent me down a rabbit trail especially after discovering that Brad Pitt is believed to have this too (who knew?).

Written in short chapters, this is a sweet YA novel with a lot of heart and would be a great one for teens as she writes about the importance that all people feel and be seen.

3.5 Out of 5 Stars

White Tears by Hari Kunzru

White Tears by Hari Kunzru

White Tears is one of those books that I think you are really going to love and appreciate the genius of the writing or you will just be left utterly confused by the trip that Kunzru takes you on.

It is described as a ghost story, but I don’t really think that this describes it at all. This book is a deep reflection on race and what white privilege affords us and how white people often take what doesn’t belong to us.

It opens with two kids, one privileged and the other riding on his coattails, who are fascinated by recorded sound and music. When the narrator happens to pick up a blues song of a street musician, they try to pass it off as an early blues recording, adding the pops and hiss of vinyl to make this song feel authentic. Naming the unknown musician as Charlie Shaw, they set out to share and sell this music that doesn’t belong to them.

Of course the music wasn’t theirs to begin with and when they discover that there really is a Charlie Shaw out in the world, bad things begin to happen for the credit they took for music they never owned.

The second half of the novel took me awhile to really understand what was happening and I can’t even really say that I *got* it all, but I will say that the message that pulls through is brilliant and gave me a lot to think about after I finished the book.

This is a thought-provoking read and would be a good one to dive into with a book club!

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book published this year

4 Out of 5 Stars

 

The Body Doesn't Lie by Vicky Vlachonis

The Body Doesn’t Lie by Vicky Vlachonis

Vicky Vlachonis is an osteopath and musculoskeletal specialist that works with a lot of celebrities and dancers. Her holistic approach to pain management is what has made her famous among these celebrity circles and she believes that chronic pain can be managed through better habits.

The big focus on pain is, of course, on sleep. Of course, most habits in this book do feel intuitive, but I needed reminding. From creating sleeping rituals that help your body to fall into better sleep to understanding the trigger points on your body to help relieve pain to food choices that can improve digestion. These tips make you think about where your pain stems from and help you find better ways to repair it.

Intuitive, perhaps, but a year of broken sleep makes me so thankful for this book and finally getting restorative sleep. If you have broken sleep or suffer from chronic pain, this is a book worth checking out.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2017 Must-Reads

February 2017 Must-Reads

March 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

What did you read this month? Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

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

Amy’s Notebook 03.29.17

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

String Wrapped Jars

source: design mom

I adore this string wrapped jar display. So pretty!

I don’t know if it is an age thing, but this article really resonated with me this week.

6 Kitchn editors tried Whole30 and share their results.

I loved reading this piece on limitations. I set a lot on myself and find comfort in the boundaries.

I just finished this fascinating read and have been thinking a lot about it this week.

You can make the most of a lunch hour with this list of websites to snag a new skill.

I love that this was your top purchase this month since I got one too! Definitely size down on that one.

I’m going to have to remember this steel oats trick for my crazy mornings.

We have a double desk and love it so I loved this Ikea hack studio desk tutorial.

Milk & Honey Soap

source: one good thing

I’ve been wanting to try a little soap-making and this milk & honey soap looks like a great start!

This unforgettable party is so incredibly inspiring.

10 fundamental truths that will change your life.

Imperfection Quote

source: my instagram feed

I am discovering that being vulnerable is a good thing.

The things nobody tells you about buying and renovating an old house. Looking forward to seeing this journey unfold!

These look like some creative ways to put yarn to work without knitting or crocheting.

This was your more visited tutorial this month. It must be salad season!

Considering blogging? This is a great article on finding your niche and getting paid for it.

I loved seeing how Courtney packed for her tiny wardrobe tour.

Comment of the Week: ❤❤❤ Finished this one today and loved it. I’d love to hear more about how she chose her own “champions”. Who are the champions in your life, Amy?- Kaytee

Loved to hear that you are enjoying next month’s book club pick! I’ve been getting lots of comments on this one so I’m excited to discuss it. As for my champions, I actually have two really amazing ones in my life.

My biggest cheerleader ever has always been my Dad. There are many things I have doubted that I could ever do and he has offered incredible pep talks to push me out of my tired boundaries. When I wanted to do this website, he would go from computer to computer clicking on advertisements to help support me because he believed in my work. When I had a particularly good day, I know he had been working really hard on clicking for me. As things grew, he has continued to be my champion and believed that I was capable of becoming successful in this funny field. He’s always the first person I call to share a life highlight with. 

The second is my husband. No one could talk me up more than he does even when it isn’t entirely deserved. He’s been my foundation for much of my life and I couldn’t ask for a better champion and partner. 

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration! Please note, there are affiliate links that do help support our site- thank you! xoxo

Amy’s Notebook 03.22.17

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Honey Lime Salmon Tacos

source: two peas and their pod

These honey lime salmon tacos look like a Friday night winner!

What a beautiful gift to share- I definitely want to participate in this #feedingabrokenheart challenge!

Have your kids caught the slime bug too? Here are 14 slime recipes you can mix up!

I’ve been listening to this book on audiobook and it’s SO GOOD. Kind of reminds me of Flowers in the Attic.

This looks like a great simple garden plan for my green thumb friends!

A reviewer puts 5 top-rated sleep-tracking apps to the test. I might give a couple of these a spin!

Buy these! You will not regret it. It’s helping make cute ballet flats a lot warmer and the weight on these is perfection. I can’t believe how much comfort they add for flats!

I had no idea that a bird-based system was the inspiration for Pantone. So fascinating!

I’ve had great success braising meat in milk so this braised pork roast in almond milk would be a lovely Sunday night feast.

This also looks like a healthy nacho switch-up for a gathering with friends.

Pantry Organization source: apt. 34

This pantry design is ah-mazing!! Loving that cookbook display!

I want to try this 1-bowl vegan gluten-free cracker recipe. These actually look pretty easy to make!

This piece on self-care is everything. Also, language on this, but worth the read.

I’ve been thinking about seeing this film so this was an interesting read. Have you seen it?

I haven’t listened to this podcast yet, but this read gave me a lot to chew on this week, especially as a blogger.

This looks like a fun and healthy way to do pizza. I’m going to add these to our menu planner!

These steak salads with miso dressing are a summer date night winner!

10 ways to work on being happier this year! I couldn’t agree more.

These self-tanner tips are awesome. I’m lazy, I prefer to do this for my faux glow, but maybe someday I’ll get some motivation in me!

Jenny's Print Shop

source: little green notebook

If you need me, I’m ordering all these prints for my walls! GORGEOUS and affordable!

I loved touring Caroline’s closet and seeing how she makes it work with her capsule wardrobe.

I’m picky about sweatshirts, but I got this one and it is the softest, butteriest, cutest sweatshirt ever. I’m normally an XS, but got a S in this. Size up! I’m ordering the other colors now!

This bunny butt cake is perfect for Easter!

The idea of crying every week voluntarily is baffling to me, but here you goThis is Us fans.

Some language, but look what happened when these coworkers switched identities on emails. Crazy!

Comments of the Week: Wow, I got so many sweet comments this week on my 6 happiness strategies for a more creative life. Many messages were very personal so I will only share the public ones, but it seems that this is a struggle for many of us as we find our new place in the world.

“This is a great look at how to live our lives. There are so many “stages” in life and we are different people as we go through, and ultimately come out the other side, that we barely recognize the person we were before that point.”

I really loved this post as I feel it’s really hard to find anything blog related for parents with older kids. I was just telling my friend how bored I have been. I was embarrassed to say it since for years I was always thinking, “I will do that when he is older and I have time”! I have one child who is in 8th grade and I don’t have a job outside the home so I definitely have a lot of time. Now I just need to find some motivation and figure out how to figure out what I want to do first (which for me is the hardest part).”

“I’m in this phase of life too. It’s the first year in a decade that all of my kids are in school all day. I wasn’t expecting the mental and emotional struggle that I’ve been going through. Thanks for writing this, Amy!”

“These are great tips! As MY nest starts to prepare to be empty, I find the exact opposite things are filling my cup. I think that the high school years in particular have been so wonderfully full of DOING – I am enjoying the fact that I can sit in a chair with a good cup of coffee and a great book and just BE, guilt free! Maybe there will be a time when I want to add to my schedule, but it is also wonderful to realize that the nest is pretty darn comfortable, even if it isn’t as full as it once was.”

“Just read your post and as always SO much good information!! Really enjoyed your tips on living a happier life.  PS: giving theSkimm a try too! Thank you!!!!”

“Great post. It’s a bit bittersweet to see your kids grow, but it’s lovely when they get to the point where you can refocus on the side of you that has been living in the shadows all these years.”

There are many other comments like that coming in my inbox and I just wanted to say that I’m so glad to share that you are, most certainly, not alone in finding your new identity. The first couple of years were hard and this year has also been difficult as they are both in middle school now and require different things from me. Cue the identity crisis! 

That said, last night I went to my first Rising Tide Society (locals, over here!) meeting and it was SO GOOD for my soul.  I’m working on finding my people at this stage and surrounding myself with creatives is just what I needed as I find my new groove. I had the impression this was a group just for photographers, but I was dead wrong. It’s for anyone who does creative work. As someone with a bit of social anxiety, I felt brave going and proud doing it. I need to step out of my comfort zone more often. 

Just know, mamas, you are not alone and I am figuring it out too alongside of you. Thank YOU for your encouragement, especially those of you that are further along in your journey than me. xoxo

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration! Please note, there are affiliate links that do help support our site- thank you! xoxo

 

Sundays With Writers: Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Sundays With Writers

I’m so excited to be sharing my Sunday with E.K. Johnston today to discuss her incredible book, Exit, Pursued by a Bear.  The MomAdvice Book Club will be tackling this in our April discussion so I am hoping today’s interview will encourage you to pick it up and join us for a great discussion about this beautiful book in April.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Exit, Pursued By a Bear, packs a coming-of-age punch as it examines the story of a rape and the aftermath for its victim.

Hermione is a flyer on her cheer squad and proud to be their captain. While away at cheer camp, she attends a party where someone  puts something in her drink and she is brutally raped and assaulted. When she awakes, she has no recollection of what has happened to her, but must deal with the devastating consequences of this assault.

I love that this book focuses less on being a victim and more about continuing to fight through the pain, not allowing this horrible situation to continue to define your life. Hermione is a true hero as she picks up the pieces of her life and is determined to carry on.

Heavier than a typical YA read and filled with a supportive cast of characters, Johnston deserves all the accolades she has received for this one including being listed as a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize.

Brave and unflinching, it’s a beautiful, beautiful read!

Grab your coffee and let’s chat about this brave book from E.K. Johnston.

E.K. Johnston

Readers might not know that this book was inspired by Shakespeare’s, The Winter’s Tale. What was it about this work that made you want to retell it? What elements were the most important to you in Shakespeare’s work that you wanted to keep as elements in your own story?

Most scholars will tell you that The Winter’s Tale is the story of two boys-grown-to-men who find that friendship is a fragile construct and disillusionment is the price of adulthood. I respectfully disagree. For me, from my very early days of reading Shakespeare (the Charles and Mary Lamb prose edition), the play was about the friendship between two women: Hermione and Paulina, who loved one another more than they loved their husbands (with good reason). I loved Paulina’s steadfastness and her cleverness, faking Hermione’s death and concealing her in the king’s own castle for more than a decade and half, and I loved Hermione’s resilience and ability to survive utter betrayal from someone she trusted.

Furthermore, Hermione is persecuted by her husband for (falsely) perceived infidelity. He manipulates her actions and his own mind until he can blame her for something she is absolutely innocent of. I chose to update this as garden-variety slut-shaming in Exit, because we tend to back girls into corners and then treat them terribly for existing in the first place.

Also, I just really wanted to use the title: Exit, Pursued By A Bear.

Your fury over a Canadian Member of Parliament who was trying to recriminalize abortion also moved you to write this book. What do you hope the reader will walk away with after reading Hermione’s story?

I have two hopes for all readers of Exit, Pursued By A Bear.

  1. That they will believe women. Women. and,
  2. That they will trust women to make their own choices, particularly when it comes to bodily autonomy.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear has garnered so many awards and accolades including an NPR Best Book of 2016, Booklist Best Book of 2016, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2016, and so many more. Were you surprised by the response to this book especially since you were tackling such brave topics, particularly for the YA genre? What has been your favorite accolade so far?

YA has an extensive legacy of tackling amazing and brave topics, so I am both thrilled and honoured to see Exit join those ranks. If I may be indulgent, I was most pleased by Exit’s nomination to the Ontario White Pine list, which is a reading award program in Ontario high schools. I get to meet so many amazing students, many of them from places mentioned in the book itself, and that’s incredible.

You have shared that in your book, you imagined a world where a girl is believed and supported; a world where adults do their jobs and children are gracious; a world where a bear of a girl can heal, and then save herself. And it’s the most unbelievable thing you had ever done, even as a writer of fantasy. Why did you decide to tell your story in this way?

When I was at university for my MSc, I went to a conference and at the end of two days of people talking about bombings and logistics and mass excavations, a woman from the London Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Laboratory got up to talk to us about digital evidence collection. She was describing transmitting a fingerprint via a cell phone, and said the words “like on CSI”. There was general sighs and groans in the audience, and then she straightened and said “No, it’s a good example. Those shows tell us what we’re capable of. Where we should be trying to go.”

I was used to thinking like that about Star Trek, but it had never occurred to me that CSI might be similar. It’s an approach I tried to take when I was still studying forensics myself: this is how it should be, and that’s the approach I wanted to take with Exit.

This is how it should be.

In the author’s note, you encourage teens to find a champion in their life, as Hermione has found Polly. Who was a champion to you, in your life, and how do you think having that impacted you?

I am lucky enough to have two: Colleen, who I met in high school thanks to the seating arrangement and a pair lightsaber pens, and Emma, who I met in 2008 thanks to livejournal, Avatar: the Last Airbender, and the Naboo Handmaidens.

 Since you typically write fantasy, has writing this book given you encouragement to write more YA contemporary?

I write YA all the time. The great thing about YA is that you can write almost anything, and as long as it’s about a teenager, you’re set. So I’ve done contemporary fantasy, fairy-tale re-imaginings, sci-fi, and epic fantasy, as well as several combinations thereof. I don’t know if I’ll go back to YA contemporary, but I never say never in publishing.

Can you tell us a little about That Inevitable Victorian Thing that you have coming out in October and what else you are working on?

That Inevitable Victorian Thing is a YA near-future sci-fi. It’s a stubbornly utopi-ish vision of an alternate universe where the sun never set on the British Empire, and where a princess in disguise, a lumberjack with money problems, and a reluctant debutante are about to step onto the world stage.

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!

 

6 Happiness Strategies for a More Creative and Interesting Life

Friday, March 17th, 2017

happiness-techniques-for-creative-interesting-life
I invited my parents over for dinner one evening and my mom asked what our family had been up to that week. I shared a bit about a show that we caught at the local theater, how we attended an art gallery event for a friend, the adventure of taking our kids out (with success) to try a new cuisine they hadn’t before, and a documentary on design that we caught together.

My mom said something that really struck me.

She said, “Your family has such an interesting life. You know that?”

This is not a brag session at all because there are many, many moments in our life that are very uninteresting and basic. I have moments where I rant about having to run my children everywhere, where I find my focus is far too centered on my my health situation, I’ve often thought too much about what other people think of me, there are times where I fixate too much on keeping the perfect home, I’ve had periods where I have invested too much time on Facebook, there are moments where I am unkind and judgy to others, and MANY times where I’m just trying to put one foot in front of the other like everyone else.

Those moments don’t necessarily make for an interesting conversation, but they do make us human.

At times, I had thought the only thing that made me interesting was blogging. Blogging is certainly interesting when you are doing it as a profession and has brought interesting people and moments in my life, but I don’t think that makes me very interesting anymore. It’s just an interesting way to make money.

The thing is, as my kids get older I feel like they need me in different ways, but not in necessarily those needy toddler ways that gave me purpose. As they transitioned to middle school, I found that I needed interesting things in my life to fill my cup so that I could survive these days at home alone without boredom.  I began to seek a more interesting life than the one I had before and it has been through this that I am finding happiness and my people.

I hesitated to write these words to you today because I am far from anyone’s life coach.

I’m often a mess.

That said, I also wished for a mentor mom as I transitioned into this new role that can, at times, feel a little lonely. Building a new creative life for yourself really enables you to attract others to you because you bring something new to the table.

It makes conversations fun, it can make you feel young, and it makes you feel valued by others because you have your own things.

I don’t need to tell you it, but one day these incredible kids are hopefully going to be out there carving their own life paths. If our entire identities are just caring for them, what will we do with ourselves when they are gone? What will be our new identity?

Cue the foundation of interesting life moments you have been working on and the transition to the next chapter might feel a tad less bumpy.

Here are six happiness strategies I’m doing to live a more creative and interesting life…

food-pantry

Find an Interesting Volunteer Opportunity

Volunteering can be an incredible way to add interesting moments to your life. I started by volunteering in our school system and connected my love of reading with reading to kids who struggle with this skill. This year, I have found my place working at our church food pantry weekly, doing the behind-the-scenes work of getting the food sorted and organized for people to shop. I also am putting in my application to mentor refugee youth because I love welcoming people to our town and know they would have so much to teach me.

Volunteer Match is a great site to visit to find unique volunteering opportunities that you may not have even known existed. I never even knew about the mentor program for refugees until I went on their website. For example, some of the listings in our town include crafting with hospice patients, being a museum tour guide, working the gardens of a local museum,  becoming a crisis counselor, being a small business mentor, or caring for animals at the shelter.

Can you imagine how different your life might look if you invested in one of these things?

Not only are you helping a local cause, but you also just might be putting your foot in the door for a potential job opportunity someday.

around-the-house-2

Read Interesting Books

What a boring life I would be leading if I didn’t have such a variety of books in my book stack. Since most of you are regulars here, I know that most of you are also embracing a good stack of books in your life too. If you need a fresh one, check out the books section for ideas!

For many years, I got stuck in one or two genres of books and I wouldn’t branch outside of my comfort zone. My reading and life felt a lot more interesting though when I began to read books that were outside of my comfort zone, particularly nonfiction reading. Reading helped me understand and show compassion for people and parts of the world that I would have never known about.

Three good starter books that really helped challenge and shape me are Just Mercy, Hillbilly Elegyand Evicted

Interesting books have certainly lead to interesting conversations and created empathy in me for things I don’t always understand. If you are looking to branch out your reading this year, consider taking our MomAdvice Reading Challenge or joining our online book club!

Online Weaving Class take an  online weaving class!

Find an Interesting Class to Take

Some of the most interesting people I know take classes and embrace new hobbies in their life regularly. Your interesting class may only be interesting to you, but that does not matter one bit. This is a great time to do the things you have always talked about especially since online coursework, in particular, can be done on your own schedule.

This year I got myself a loom and found a great course on Etsy to start teaching myself to weave. I’m also taking a food photography course through Craftsy to help me to expand my food photography skills. I regularly ask for things like this for Christmas so I have a gift that can keep on giving.

I don’t always take just creative courses though, I’m trying to branch out into other terrains. Next week I’m starting a free course through our local library and college to learn about civics so that I can understand the way our government works and understand the world of politics better. I don’t want to be a person who sits and watches the news, I want to be the person that goes out and learns WHY things are happening and what my particular role could be to change them.

Now I realize that these things may be only interesting to me, but I couldn’t be more excited to learn more.

For free learning, check your library and see what they have to offer and to connect quickly with locals. This month, for example, our library is offering a papercrafting class, a brunch & book discussion, a gardening class, a genealogy course, and a musical concert. They also have a great center where people can learn technology skills to benefit their business.

If you prefer learning online, YouTube is a great free resource where you can start learning a new skill and it won’t even cost you a penny. Granted, many are teaser courses to get you to sign up for more, but even teaser courses can teach you a lot.

Rising Tide Society

Join an Interesting Organization

My early days of motherhood survival were often spent seated in a circle as we shared a cup of coffee with a side of whine. For a couple of years after, I floundered and didn’t know where I fit in. I still went to playgroups, clinging to coffee, but feeling a bit of place. I didn’t want to start over again and have to find a new group, but I’m finding that this girl thrives in clubs and organizations. I am meant to be in organized activities and it feeds that social part of me.

I discovered we have a local chapter of Rising Tide Society and I’m hopping into my first meeting next week. I love and am inspired by other creatives so I’m excited to see if this will fill that mom’s group void I’ve been missing.

Some people enjoy finding ways to assist charity through group formats like Junior League. Others can find their people in business and networking groups through their city. Churches can also offer great opportunities to become involved in helping the community and it’s members. Interesting groups, of course, bring interesting people into your life and often build new skillsets.

Embrace Something Interesting That Fosters Conversations

I love to have fun things to bring to conversations and some of my favorite parts of the day are good conversations I’ve had just with my own little family. My best conversations are when I read or listen to something interesting that I can share with others.

theSkimm

I subscribe to theSkimm and love it so much that I am a Skimmbassador which gives me access to a community of Skimm-loving folks that can talk politics and life in respectful ways. This 5-minute nonpartisan newsletter is something that I read daily so I have a clear idea of what is happening in the world each day. I read it over the morning coffee and I start the day feeling informed.

You might be surprised to know that many blog writers aren’t actually blog readers. It’s a challenge to keep up with fresh content and read blogs, but I try to keep up with what everyone is creating as best that I can and share the nuggets with you each week. These are often posts that help to fuel great conversations with others.

We try to watch a documentary each week that gives us a chance to learn about a topic or a part of the world that we know little about. Many of these are watched together as a family and we have great discussions about them after. Many evenings though are spent after the kids are gone to bed with a glass of wine in hand and a documentary ready to go for our evening.

When my eyes are feeling too tired to read, I find  I get so much out of these instead.

Source: Grant Beachy Photography

Seek Interesting People

I’m not saying to give up on your old friends, but we all evolve as human beings and, as I have aged, I am looking for different things in my friendships. Broadening your circle can sometimes bring new and interesting experiences to your life.

For example, we started a record collection and spend many weekends shuffling through stacks at antique stores or sharing a stack of our music with friends on their record players. A bit hipster, perhaps, but music has always been such a big part of my life, and I find sharing that hobby with others is a fun one.

Board games are also a fun thing to collect and share with people. Perfectly portable and pairs well with wine, it’s a party in a box. We love discovering new games through Tabletop (and figuring out these crazy complex ones we purchased!). A few that we have found to be easy to share are Ticket to Ride, Really Bad Art, Pandemic, and our friends recently taught us Settlers of Catan and we loved it!

We try to seek out our town’s local events, gallery showings, festivals, theater performances, concerts, and town celebrations because they add variation to our week and give us the chance to connect with really interesting people. Living in a smaller town, you would think we wouldn’t have much, but I’m finding that it is RICH with stuff to do and it is rare that we can’t find a local event happening to make our days in Indiana a bit more interesting.

Amy Clark-web-23

I hope you find something new to connect with today and that it brings a bit of happiness in your life too.

This stage has been a tricky one to figure out, but what a privilege it is to grow older and find that you are still learning and growing!

What do you find feeds your happiness at this stage in your life?

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

Amy’s Notebook 03.15.17

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

craft-room

source: sugar bee crafts

Tour this colorful craft room. Love these craft storage ideas!

Ack! This made me cry. I am finding this stage to be a hard one to navigate in my life. I hope it helps to know you aren’t alone.

Speaking of FEELINGS, I am on my second week with these supplements and I feel like a completely different person in a really good way. It seems to be the right herbal combo for me to reduce anxiety without a prescription. Did I mention it also has improved my concentration a lot for work tasks? Yup!

This is a great read on buying groceries on a budget. Thrilled to see we are meeting the thrifty government standards for our little family of 4.

Hospitality when you’re an introvert. Honestly, introverts are so quiet I always think they love hearing me talk and listening- ha! Eye-opening for an extroverted introvert!

Oh, love this little tip for making creamier scrambled eggs without adding a thing. Must try!

This instant pot roast is going on my agenda.

I’m reading this book for the first time and absolutely loving it. Glad I have it on digital format so I can highlight all the beautiful passages. Have you read it?

I’m adding this lentil soup recipe to my menu planner for my lunches. I’m on a lentil kick these days.

“The growth of incarceration rates among black men in recent decades, combined with the sharp drop in black employment rates during the Great Recession have left most black men in a position relative to white men that is really no better than the position they occupied only a few years after the Civil Rights Act of 1965.” Read this and if you haven’t caught it on Netflix yet, add this to your weekend agenda.

Roasted Chicken With Fennel and Lemon

source: the kitchn

These roasted chicken thighs with fennel and lemon look like another sheet pan dinner winner.

Sheet pan garlic butter shrimp is also on my dinner planner next week. I love giving my sheet pans a workout!

Planning to sell your home? These are some excellent ideas for staging your home.

This home remodel is my jam. Bookmarking!

Can’t wait to see this documentary. I have mad love for this band! You can catch them on my new playlist I made for you!

Please know that pictures can be deceiving.

Guinness Beef Stew

source: gimme some oven

Bring on the Guinness Beef Stew- yum!

I can’t stop looking at these book covers! Unreal awesome!

Magnolia Homes farmhouse style on a small budget. YES!

Locals, I’m going to the Civic Leadership Academy. This looks like such a fascinating and well-timed series for understanding today’s politics. I’d love you to join me!

Ordering this for my capsule wardrobe- big reveal soon! It goes so well with this necklace with a cute closure I snagged with my birthday money.

These are fantastic ideas for making a decorative and functional entryway even when you have a smaller space.

I’ve been curious about microblading so this was a great read although I’m not sure I could justify the expense!

26 pressure cooker recipes for quicker & easier dinners.

Comment of the Week: Well, we got a lot of comments on our Disney article and I will just leave the post here.

I just want you to know that I have appreciated the respectful commentary even when we don’t agree with one another. I have read lots of posts and comments that were absolutely awful on other sites and I told my husband how proud I was that our readers may not always agree with our articles, but we have always had a respectful discussion.

I asked Mary to step out bravely and share her opinions because I believe she is an incredible Christian writer and I’m a bit of a wild liberal who might not grab your ear in the same way. Her voice was important for this piece and I’m glad she shared it with you.

Over here, we will be seeing the movie and have a love and acceptance for all people. If we disagree, I want you to know that you are still loved by our family! xo

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration! Please note, there are affiliate links that do help support our site- thank you! xoxo