Archive for the ‘Reads’ Category

Amy’s Notebook 04.22.15

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Nacho Party via Camille Styles

Source: Camille Styles

 

What a fun party idea!

I need to add a few of these apps to my life.

Wow, it’s easy to see the differences in this picture review of 100 mascaras.

33 writers share the books that inspired them to write.

The first yes is the deepest.

ALDI is a growing menace to America’s grocery retailers – and I’ll just keep saving…

Some thoughts on living on $29 a week for food.

25 simple lifehacks- I really love #2!

Fit Volunteering in Your Life

Source: Life Hacker

 

How to fit volunteering into your packed schedule.

10 things you should know about your dishwasher.

Since the 1980s, Jeff Bridges has done something incredible on the set of all his movies.

7 ways Mad Men obsessed over historical details.

Paying off the mortgage early- yay or nay?

Your dose of house inspiration: an old hospital becomes a home.

A list of new podcasts to try- any favorites?

Shorts for Mom via JoLynneShane

Source: JoLynne Shane

 

Shorts for moms.

DIY blowout tutorial.

The more you know- all about estheticians.

3 bright lip colors for spring.

I’m inspired to do a projects update.

Isn’t it ironic? No, it’s coincidence.

This report is not surprising at all.

amys_notebook

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

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It’s The 3 Little Things (With Ashley): Mad Money Skills, Pearly Whites, & Gluten-Free Pancakes

Friday, April 17th, 2015

It's the 3 Little Things

Happy Friday, friends! It’s a happy Friday, indeed, for this girl as I am preparing for an overnight with my two best friends from my church camp days in Chicago. I get to travel a lot for work, but a trip just for me is a rarity and I’m so excited. I’m also happy that our bathroom renovations are finally done!  This week has been a mad scramble to get back on track with my work since my kiddos were on Spring Break. I am sure, just like every other mom, you understand the juggle struggle that happens as the school year comes to a close. Every day my mantra is, “I think I can, I think I can.”

Today we have Ashley from A Little Something Wonderful sharing a few things that are making her happy this week! Ashley is a frequent commenter on here and also a 3 things enthusiast. How lucky am I to get to share her list today? VERY lucky! 

If you are interested in being a guest poster on the 3 little things, send over a list of your 3 favorites and why to amy@momadvice.com and I will share them in the upcoming weeks!

Let’s peek at Ashley’s favorites today!

Cash Envelope System

Cash Envelope System Wallet

My husband and I recently took Dave Ramsey’s course, Financial Peace University.  In addition to doing a monthly budget, we now also follow his recommendation for paying cash for many purchases.  While paying for cash has really transformed our budget and allowed us to save money and pay off debt every month, I was not a fan of the envelopes.  There was no place to keep change and they were flimsy.  Enter my favorite new wallet from Melissa’s etsy shop, A Time for Everything.  This wallet has amazing tabs to help divide and organize your cash into categories of spending (groceries, gas, etc.).  There is a separate zipper pocket for change, and pockets for cards, a driver’s license, and receipts.

Essential Oxygen Brushing Rinse
I have a serious phobia of the dentist that causes me to take fanatical care of my oral health.  I recently found this amazing mouthwash that I have been loving lately.  Essential Oxygen Brushing Rinse is described as part mouthwash, part toothpaste.  It works to repair and prevent a whole host of oral issues including gum pockets and receding gums, tooth sensitivity, bad breath, tartar, canker sores and toxic morning mouth.  It does all of this while also naturally whitening your teeth.  Free of harmful chemicals this brushing rinse also contains essential oils (which I love!).  This mouthwash is not overpowering and does not leave a weird aftertaste in your mouth.  After using it, your mouth just feels clean.
Birch Benders Pancake & Waffle Mix

Birch Bender Gluten Free Pancake and Waffle Mix 

My husband loves pancakes on the weekends.  I was always so grouchy about making them because it meant mixing up a gluten free flour mix and creating pancakes from scratch.  I wouldn’t mind this except the pancakes often weren’t very good–either a weird flavor or a strange consistency–the joys of gluten free baking!  Last weekend while shopping at Whole Foods we saw this new to us product on the shelves and decided to give it a try–all you do is add water and cook up your flap jacks.  These were so delicious that I actually went back to double check the bag to confirm that they were in fact gluten free.  I can not recommend this mix enough!!!

 

How fun was that list this week? I am so excited to share more great ideas from you all in the weeks to come! Thank you, Ashley, for generously sharing the happy today!

 

In my world… Capsule Wardrobe Ideas (current capsule HERE).  The April switch is one sweater out and silky floral pants in for the month. I think all sweaters are officially out of the wardrobe now. Did you get the memo, Indiana?  Are you following me on Instagram? I post 4 outfits each week!

Capsule Wardrobe Outfits

Capsule Wardrobe Outfits

*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 04.15.15

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

How to Write a Thank You via The Morning News

Source: The Morning News

 

Fabulous advice on giving thanks.

Love these dresser details.

How to start running.

50 great genre-bending books everyone should read.

Could you do a work uniform?

My husband said this museum would be perfect for me.

8 secrets happy couples know.

50 wonderful things from 2014- bookmarking for anything I missed.

How not to Raise a Narcissist via NY Post

Source: New York Post

 

How not to raise a narcissist in 9 easy steps.

In love with this.

Reading this – and loving it. (noteaffiliate link)

Very excited to see this book turned into a film.

Yelp reviews of newborn babies.

Haven’t laughed this hard in a long time- if you have Netflix, it’s a good one!

The secret language of girls on Instagram.

amys_notebook

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

 

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It’s the 3 Little Things (With Lisa): The Bubbliest of Baths, Highlighting the Good Stuff, & Dark, Dark Chocolate

Friday, April 10th, 2015

It's the 3 Little Things

I am overwhelmed with the response from opening up our 3 Little Things to you all and can’t wait to start sharing all of these fun lists from some of my favorite people! If you are interested in being a guest poster on the 3 little things, send over a list of your 3 favorites and why to amy@momadvice.com and I will share them in the upcoming weeks!

Today I have a guest happy list from one of my favorite commenters and supporters of MomAdvice, Lisa Whitney! She doesn’t  have a blog but reads several  with her morning cup of coffee and she says that this is one of her favorite parts of the day. She is a wife, mom of the sweetest 7-year old little boy and a Registered Dietitian in Reno, NV. She also happens to leave the BEST lists each week in our comments section so I am thrilled she offered to share another one today! 

Let’s peek at a few of Lisa’s favorites today!

Lush Brightside Bubble Bar

Brightside Bubble Bar (from Lush)

I don’t have a Lush nearby so when we travel and see a store I can never resist picking up a bath bomb or my favorite facial (chocolate cupcake!). This time we decided to try something new, the brightside bubble bar. The salesperson suggested I use half the bar on one bath. I cut mine in thirds and one section made a massive amount of bubbles. I cut back even more to make the bar last longer when I realized that breaking off just the smallest bit is still just as luxurious. The smell is like an orange creamsicle and it leaves the bath a beautiful bright orange (without leaving an awful film on the tub).

Mary-Lou Manizer

Mary-Lou Manizer 

I am more into makeup now than I was as a teenager and love discovering new things. This highlighter is so beautiful, it gives my face a shimmery sun-kissed glow. Bonus, I ordered mine from Amazon and it came with the softest brush for just a couple dollars more.

Trader Joe's Pound Plus Dark Chocolate Bar

Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Dark Chocolate Bars

Trader Joe’s sells these huge bars for only $4.99. The bar is broken into several thick little blocks, one is the perfect after-meal treat. They come in several flavors, my favorite being the 72% dark chocolate. Since a high-quality single dark chocolate bar sells for $3-5 this is a bargain which amazingly lasts for a very long time. You can bake with it also although I have not done so. I don’t live near an Aldi anymore but I used to and remember they had something similar.

How fun was that list this week? I am so excited to share more great ideas from you all in the weeks to come! Thank you, Lisa, for generously sharing the happy today!

In my world… Capsule Wardrobe Ideas (current capsule HERE).  The April steal is my white blazer in the lower right corner from thredUP. Are you following me on Instagram? I post 4 outfits each week!

Capsule Wardrobe Outfit Ideas

Flourish Boutique Accessories

Flourish Boutique Accessories

 

I had so much fun shopping at our site sponsor’s shop, Flourish Boutique, this past week for some accessories to update the wardrobe. If you are looking for some fun new Spring accessories, I can’t recommend them enough for cute and affordable costume jewelry. MomAdvice readers can get 25% off any of their regular priced merchandise using the code WEB25!

Happy Easter 2015 from the Clark Family

We hope your family had a Happy Easter! I’m pretty proud of my little crew this year. I don’t know about you, but I was scrambling until the last minute gathering Easter finery for the kids and stuff for their baskets. After some last minute shopping and a heck of a lot of ironing (oh, and a lot of leg make-up…ahem), I was so proud how we shined up this year.

As a side note, the doctor confirmed that my son is now beating me by an inch, confirming that he is now officially taller than me. As many of you have seen him grow up from the age of 1 on this site and now (almost) 13 (STOP IT), this is pretty darn shocking to me. I am now rocking the heels and bossing him around the house like usual!

Finally, here is a little LOL that I was busting up over (hat tip to Whoorl for finding this one).  What?  People don’t care when you leave FB? No way! Ha!  Happy Friday, friends! xoxo

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

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

 

Amy’s Notebook 04.08.15

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Home Tour via Design Sponge

Source: Design Sponge

 

I’m swooning over this beautiful home tour.

Best online fabric sources.

World’s most adorable growth chart.

A great piece on the power in minimizing.

One of the best articles I have read on how to not over schedule your family.

This sounds promising.

A new way to look at giving- hat tip to Hollywood Housewife for this great find!

10 things productive people do before bed – oh, I want to be one of them.

The home I have is enough.

Travel Tips with Google Maps via Kelly Purkey

Source: Kelly Purkey

 

Everything I didn’t know about Google maps.

I love invisible jokes.

An inexpensive kitchen refresh.

Where did the litter box go?

I need to learn the art of jewelry stacking.

Design Mom goes blonde.

If you wouldn’t do it for free, don’t do it for money.

An interesting perspective on my new favorite show.

Yoga pants are ruining women.

amys_notebook

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

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Sundays With Writers: The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

Sundays With Writers

Happy Easter Sunday! I hope that you are all enjoying celebrating this season with your family! Today I am excited be interviewing Amanda Eyre Ward, in this week’s Sundays With Writers, about her beautiful and haunting book, The Same Sky. It made my must-read list for last month’s round-up of great reads and today I am learning a little bit more about the story behind the story.

The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward

 

Ward alternates two stories in The Same Sky- one of a typical middle-class woman who is struggling with infertility and becomes a mentor to a struggling teen and the other story of a young girl and her brother who face the harshest kind of poverty and are trying to get to America where they can finally be reunited with their mother and safe. The story of her journey to America is harrowing and devastating to read. Ward doesn’t hold back on setting the scene, giving you an eye-opening look at the real struggles of coming to America. Their lives intertwine and provide a satisfying conclusion to this sad story.

I found this book disturbing in some parts and I have been carrying some of the scenes around with me this month. There is poverty and then there is POVERTY. We are talking, eating flour and water for dinner (if you are lucky), addictions to glue to feel full by small children, parents abandoning a child to take care of another child and head to America. It was really heartbreaking. I knew after reading it that I had to reach out to Amanda and see if she could share why this story was so important to tell and what we, as readers, can learn from this book.

Ward does a great job of contrasting the struggles of a typical middle-class white suburban mother against the struggles of a child in poverty effectively without being mean about it. It made me think about how my struggles are so minor compared to the struggles of others.

Grab your morning coffee and let’s settle in with Amanda about her hauntingly beautiful book!

Amanda-Eyre-Ward-Headshot

Can you share a little bit about the research you had to do on immigrant children and children at the Mexico/US border to start shaping this book and the story of Carla?

Yes. When I first became obsessed with the children who ride the Beast to find their parents in the US, I had no idea how on Earth I would research the topic. (I actually have an almost magical belief that the right topics come to me at the right time…as do the people/books/travels I need to understand the topics…but that’s another question entirely!)

It turns out that another mom at my children’s school runs many of the shelters at the US border for unaccompanied minors was apprehended trying to enter the US. She was kind enough to bring me to Brownsville and San Diego to talk to the kids about being a writer. I was also able to ask the children about their journeys to the US. To a one, their stories were harrowing and amazing and brave and sad…their voices all combined to create Carla’s voice.

I hope it is okay to say that I have been carrying the story of Carla and her brother around for the last few weeks and I can’t stop thinking about the horrific poverty they faced. First, how hard was it for you hearing these stories and then shaping this story into a book and, secondly, how do you think your readers could help change the real story of immigrant children?

Of course it is OK! It’s one of the reasons I wrote the book, in fact. It was incredibly hard to hear these kids’ stories…especially being a mom myself. I had a hard time turning off the kids’ voices. I still struggle with holding the knowledge that every night, as I tuck my children into bed, there are children sleeping on cardboard boxes by train tracks…and there are kids clinging to the tops of trains, or trying to sleep after another day with no food and no hope, or unable to sleep because they are terrified that the local gang will come for them. The list goes on. But crafting the novel helped me make sense of one girl’s story…I was able to bring Carla to safety.

There are many practical ways to help these children–some on my website. But I tell readers (and friends) that the most important thing is to remember that these are children–like our children, like we were children. It is a humanitarian crisis, and these kids need and deserve asylum, kindness, care, and the ability to dream of a safe life. It is all too easy to turn away from the “surge” or “waves” of kids (as they are portrayed in the media). But you must try to remember that these are sweet, individual children. Then it’s harder to turn away.

There is a really effective use of contrast in creating Alice, a relatable middle class white woman, in this story. Why do you think this contrast is so necessary in the telling of this story?

Father Alejandro Solalinde

Source: CUSLAR

In the course of my research, I watched talks given by Father Alejandro Solalinde, who runs a shelter for migrants in Ixtapec, Mexico. He said that these kids have the spiritual capital the US is lacking. This struck me, and became one of the major themes of the book: though Carla has no material goods, her faith and spiritual capital is something Alice (who quite literally has achieved The American Dream) is lacking. I wanted to show that these kids have so much to teach us about the power of faith and courage.

Whose voice was harder for you to craft- Carla’s or Alice’s? Why?

I am currently working on a book with two voices (though 3rd, unlike Alice and Carla’s 1st) and it’s funny: some days I want to write one character, and some days, another.

I wrote Carla’s section very fast…I couldn’t bear to have her linger along her journey, and was obsessed with getting her to safety. Then I inserted Alice’s sections later.

Almost every morning on NPR, I hear stories about immigration from both points of views, regarding immigrants in the US and immigration laws. Although this book is not political, do you hope people might walk away with a different viewpoint by crafting Carla’s story?

Yes–I want readers to open their minds and hearts and listen to one child…then they might find they have different views on many issues. (I did.)

In this novel you paint so many heartbreaking scenes that pulled at my heartstrings. I am wondering, as a mother, what was the hardest scene for you to write?

The scene after Carla leaves the hospital, when her mother is bathing her in their tub in the Ace Motel. I still cry thinking about that scene.

I have read so many great books this year about the struggles of immigrants like Americanah, The Book of Unknown Americans, and your beautiful book. Do you have any other book or film recommendations (fiction or non-fiction) for people interested in learning a new viewpoint on this topic?

Enrique’s Journey and The Beast are two amazing nonfiction books…I also adored the movie Sin Nombre.

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

My favorite book last year was Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson. It’s dark, riveting, gorgeous, important.

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

*This post contains affiliate links!
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It’s the 3 Little Things: Touching Things Up, Marriage Right Side Up, & Wearable Red Lips

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

It's the 3 Little Things

Happy Friday, friends! Today begins our Spring Break and we have nothing planned for the week. I can’t decide if this is a good idea or not yet.  I will keep you posted.  In the meantime, we are renovating our other bathroom (as we speak) and are finally getting a small taste of Spring weather. I am so thankful for both of these things finally happening.  When you see the before pictures of my bathroom you will understand the sheer delight that I am experiencing at making the space actually functional.  Is it also okay to say that I have been in a complete winter rut on my happy list? I hope so!

I thought it would be fun to share the 3 little things of some of my favorite friends and bloggers in the upcoming weeks. Sometimes your comments below are the highlight of the whole list. You guys have some amazing lists!  In fact, if you want to be a guest poster for the happy list on Fridays, send me a list like these to amy@momadvice.com and I will feature your list for the week! You need NOT be a blogger to share your happiness.  In fact,  if you are a regular reader here, it is the least I can do.

Here is what is making me happy this week!

Nice & Easy Root Touch-Up

Root Touch-Up Kit

I don’t know if it makes me happy to know that my gray is now sprouting up between color jobs BUT I am happy to know that there is a quick solution for this busy mama. I decided to give the Nice & Easy Root Touch-Up kit a spin between my at-home coloring.  I am going to say that if you want to get more bang for your buck out of this product, read the first review and you will see that you can really get a lot for your money with this one. I wish I would have read that before I did my hair so you can learn from my mistake.  This kit made my hair look better in ten minutes flat and (the majority) of my gray disappear. I highly recommend it for a quick touch-up between colorings or appointments.

Almay Smart Shade in Red

A Perfect Summer Red

I am always on the hunt for new colors once the weather warms up and this Almay Smart Shade Lipbutter in Red is just the perfect summer red.  Usually lipstick dries my lips out and don’t get me started on how hard it can be to find an ideal red that doesn’t scream Cabaret.  This one is lovely and natural looking. The lipbutter (that’s how they have it labeled on their packaging although it feels like a typo smooshed together) is supposed to adjust to your skin tone. Bolder than a gloss, it’s a good one if are just jumping into lipstick or embracing the reds.

Head Over Heels Screenshot

Marriage Right Side Up

Oh, you must take a few moments to watch this incredible award-winning short film that completely captured my heart. Head Over Heels is one of the most beautiful little short films I have ever seen and brought a little tear to my eye thanks to its sweet story & beauty.  This Oscar-nominated film was recently unleashed online and it couldn’t have made me happier. This is one you can watch with your kids and would be particularly appreciated by any budding artists or directors in your house.

HEAD OVER HEELS from Timothy Reckart on Vimeo.

 

Capsule Wardrobe Ideas (current capsule HERE)

Capsule Wardrobe Outfit Ideas

Capsule Wardrobe Outfit Ideas

Are you following me on Instagram? I post 4 outfits each week! You could also win a $500 American Express gift card for you AND for your friends this week- head here to find out how!

*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?

Love Your Home Challenge

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Love Your Home Challenge

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago how much I have been enjoying Melissa Michael’s book, Love the Home You Have, and I am so excited to be celebrating the launch with her and many other bloggers today. Her blog, The Inspired Room, is truly the blog I go to for my own home inspiration and styling. In fact, I have even admitted to her that it might be awkward when she visits because I have stolen so many ideas from her home including paint colors and styling, that I could have never come up with on my own.

The journey towards loving our home has been a wild one in this last decade. When we first got married, we moved from an apartment to another apartment and then purchased a condo that we thought we could make our home for many years.  The loss of employment had us scrambling for both a job and a home we could afford when my husband accepted employment in Indiana. I stayed behind with our baby boy to pack us up and my husband headed to Indiana to pick out a house for us without me there.  With not even two pennies to rub together, we were approved for a lot and I encouraged him to get the most bang for our buck and spend as little as possible. I figured this would just be a temporary solution and we would flip the house once we added a little paint and buy something more our style. I had no idea the real estate market in Indiana was oh-so-different than our experience buying & selling a home in Massachusetts.

birthday

I am embarrassed to say that I did not weather the unemployment well or appreciate this home he picked out. It was not my dream house in the least and I cried when we walked inside.  Not only was it not our style at all, but everything needed to be replaced. The air conditioner was the size of a car and when it kicked in, the lights would dim in our entire house. A few days after we moved in, we called my husband’s parents to tell them the ceiling looked like it was caving in. Turned out, the roof was falling apart and I remember my husband poking holes with a screwdriver to allow the water to pour out into pails on our floor in the middle of a rain storm.  I sat on the floor crying that this was the best we could do. The electrical in the entire house left electricians concerned that we might have a house fire.  It wasn’t just the cosmetic stuff, but the big stuff like furnaces, a hot water heater, windows, an air conditioner, a roof. I could not wait to get out of this place.

12 years later, we are still here. That ugly eyesore is now the place we call home and every year I fall in love with it more.  This has been a long journey getting to a place where we love our space and that is why I am excited to share with you about Melissa’s new book, Love the Home You Have.

Love Your Home Challenge

This book is so inspiring and is the book that I wish someone would have handed me when we purchased our little house. It is all about making the most of the space you are in and learning to love your space… no matter what kind of space it is. Melissa lived in some spaces that definitely were not her dream homes before settling into the home she is now. She takes you on that journey and shares those real thoughts about those spaces and how she made each home her own.

Melissa’s journey towards loving her home echoes the same journey we have been on with our own little fixer upper. This book is BEAUTIFUL and filled with humor and wisdom about the journey towards loving your home. There is a Biblical slant to it, but it isn’t preachy.  If you struggle with loving the space you are in, she really shows you how to make the most of whatever your situation is. I love that this book isn’t about upgrading our buying more, but making simple switches to make your space more enjoyable. Their journey is relatable and her personality shines in this book.

I don’t promote books because people are my friends, I promote them if they are good.

This one is good.

In celebration of her book launch, here are 5 ways I have fallen in love with the home I have.

Love Your Home Challenge

1. We are constantly decluttering our space to make room for the good stuff. This year I have reduced our belongings by about 50%, but I always know that I can do more. Having a bag going at all times helps me get rid of the excess to create room for the spaces we really love. Having a smaller home really holds you accountable to your belongings because there is just nowhere to store the excess. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Love Your Home Challenge

janet-hill

Love Your Home Challenge

Love Your Home Challenge

2. We have made the space personal to us. One of the things that I am the most proud of in our space is that it is tailored so much to our own style. From the artwork we select to the handmade additions like wreaths, yarn-wrapped letters, and knitted centerpieces, the first thing people say when they come to our house is, “This house is so you.” I think that acknowledging our own style in the details is what adds charm to our home.

Love Your Home Challenge

3. We utilize every corner of our space.  As we have slowly been remodeling the spaces in our home, the one thing I am most proud of is our ability to use every square inch in our space. A storage shed, for example, became a beautiful bonus room that is now a retreat for our family. A never used corner in our bathroom became the perfect place for a shower.  My office once had a rarely used seating area that with the addition of a small fireplace has become my go-to spot after a long day. Looking at the corners in a new light has made all the difference in my appreciation of our space.

Love Your Home Challenge

4. We never stop dreaming of how to improve the space we are in. The nice thing about creating your home more slowly is that you have the time to save and dream of what you want to do next to your house.  Once the structural things were taken care of, we now could dream and save for the fun stuff. I keep a private Pinterest board going of home ideas and tuck them away for future projects.  Even if I know we can’t do it for years, there is so much contentment in just knowing what direction we want to take things in someday that replaces the disatisfaction of the space.

Love Your Home Challenge

5. We know now that this is right where we belong. The other night we browsed through realtor photos of homes that were on the market. We browse homes well out of our price range a lot to get ideas for our space. You know what we always discover? We could spend a million dollars on a home (which we couldn’t, but you know…) and we would STILL have to gut and renovate the space. As each corner is transformed in our little tri-level fixer-upper, we see things we love about it more than any other home on the market. That, my friends, is when you know that you love the home you have. We couldn’t be happier!

Love Your Home Challenge

Of course, the added bonus with living within our means and having less is that we can do more good stuff for others. How lucky are we?

Love Your Home Challenge

Reluctant Entertainer /Julie Blanner / Mom Advice / Sawdust Girl / Liz Marie Blog / Tidy Mom / Infarrantly Creative / Love Feast Table / Balancing Beauty and Bedlam / All Things Thrifty / Just a Girl / Emily A Clark  / My Sweet Savannah / Lemonade Makin Mama / Jones Design Company / Fieldstone Hill Design / Jenna Burger Design / DIY Show Off / Not Just a Housewife / Beneath My Heart / A Thoughtful Place / Home Stories A to Z /Southern Hospitality / My Blessed Life / Pretty Handy Girl / The Nesting Place / Shabby Nest / Funky Junk Interiors / Songbird Blog / The Shabby Creek Cottage / Miss Mustard Seed / 320 Sycamore

 Today I am joining the #LoveYourHomeChallenge with some really amazing and inspiring bloggers! To learn more about this fun challenge, head on over to The Inspired Room to see what Melissa is sharing today! I know you will leave feeling as inspired as I am.  Be sure to pick up Love the Home You Have today and be inspired to make the most of everything you have right now!

March 2015 Must-Reads

Friday, March 27th, 2015

March 2015 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

I can’t believe that it is already time to share my monthly reading list with you. I read so many beautiful books in March and I am excited to share my thoughts on what I read this month. I hope that you are also following along with my Sundays With Writers series where I interview the authors about their books and try to find out more about their stories behind the stories. This series happens to be my favorite and it is such a treat to share why they created their books.

Here are six great books I tackled this month!

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

My Sunshine Away is one of those books that you just swim in the words thanks to such a gifted writer. M.O. Walsh does an incredible job of setting the typical suburban neighborhood scene in the year of 1989. It’s the summer that changes everything when the town’s golden girl, Lindy Simpson, is attacked at night near her home. Told in the eyes of another neighborhood boy, who has an extreme obsession & fixation on Lindy, he tries to set the scene and name the suspects…even when his name is included among the list.

I selected this book while browsing this past month’s selection for the Amazon Featured Debut Novel category.  I picked it up and immediately emailed the author to see if I could interview him about his book, the process of writing poetically,  the buzz about his debut novel, and some interesting insights on the town he lives in (Baton Rouge) that can be found within this book.

M.O. Walsh joined me this month for Sundays With Writers and was, perhaps, one of the most candid authors I have interviewed. I would say that the interview is just as interesting as the book so definitely check it out, even if you don’t read this one.

I think with this read you need to know going in that this is not a mystery or a thriller, this is more of a character-driven piece than anything. If expectations are aligned with that, I think you will enjoy this one. It is  graphic and there is language in this one, but it is very much plot-driven and not for shock value. Although, perhaps, not satisfying in the way that a typical whodunit mystery is solved, it is genuinely satisfying in capturing the mind of an adolescent boy, a bittersweet relationship between him and his father, and that tricky terrain of adolescent love and obsession.

4 Out of 5 Stars

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

“Men tell stories. Women get on with it. For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.”

Hannah tells a beautiful story of two sisters who fought the war in their own ways when the Nazis invade France. It is a beautiful rendering of the survival skills needed to survive during this time focusing on the missions of one sister, in particular, who joins the French Resistance and brings soldiers to safety. While her story may seem bigger, the everyday struggles of her own sister who must house a Nazi soldier are just as harrowing. The writing is brutally honest and unflinching at what women had to do to survive and she captures their journey perfectly.

For me,  this was another solid read from Kristin Hannah (much like her Winter Garden from 2010)  and a well-researched rendering of women in the war.  While there are love stories, this was definitely a solid historical fiction book and not a chick lit read. It would lend itself well to book club discussions and I had a hard time putting this one down as  I worried for the safety of these two sisters.

4 Out of 5 Stars

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

I have been trying to read one business book a month to try to help me do my job here a little better. This was a fun read about how an unlikely woman became an entrepreneur of a multi-million dollar company. I think Sophia really showcases that you don’t have to go about business the traditional way and that you don’t have to be a traditional CEO in order for people to respect you. From the nuts and bolts of crafting a resume all the way to landing investors and hiring, this book covers all the basics of business in a fun way.

I really related to Sophia and how she landed into a business she never expected, started small (with no expectation of earning money), and then grew a business with no money at all.  She did not finish school, she lacked the expected polish of a CEO, but she learned that you don’t need to always go the traditional route to be an incredible business woman. Her story really resonated with me and would be a great read if you feel unconfident in business or have always dreamed of being a self-starter, but lack the self-esteem to get started. She shows you that you can be anything you want to be.

A little raunchy and a lot of girl power, I really enjoyed this one!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Americanah by Chimamanda ngozi Adichie

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I have picked up Americanah a few times at my library, but kept returning it because I never got to it, due to the size of the book (588 pages).  When I would do our Sundays With Writers interviews, this book came up a few times as the one book that the authors interviewed thought that everyone should read. I seem to be on a kick this year with books on the struggles of immigration (another book featured below as well as The Unknown Americans) so I thought I would not let the size intimidate me anymore and sit down with this book.

This is a  beautiful read centered around love and race when a young woman and man from Nigeria face difficult choices in the countries they call home. The relationship follows two teens until they are adults as they both try to make their way to America, one succeeding and one not in reaching their destination. Adichie really writes beautifully about race in America, effectively the most in creating one of her characters as a blogger who focuses on race and racial tensions.

The length of this book was my biggest hurdle since it’s been in my pile for months, but I am so glad I made time for this one since it has come so highly recommended by so many writers.  I did feel that there were parts that were a little long on description and that the book would have been just as effective had it been shortened by a couple of hundred pages.  Regardless, I am really proud to have finally read this and would recommend this one to you if you prefer a meatier novel that really deals with race relations and the struggles of immigration. There were parts that I read out loud to my husband and sections that I really had to pause and think how I never thought about these immigration struggles and what it would be like to try to come to America. It is a very powerful read.

4 Out of 5 Stars

The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward

The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward

This is the third book on immigration that I have read this year and definitely packed a powerful punch about how hard it would be to come to America. Ward alternates two stories- one of a typical middle-class woman who is struggling with infertility and becomes a mentor to a struggling teen and the other story of a young girl and her brother who face the harshest kind of poverty and are trying to get to America where they can finally be reunited with their mother and safe. The story of her journey to America is harrowing and devastating to read. Ward doesn’t hold back on setting the scene, giving you an eye-opening look at the real struggles of coming to America. Their lives intertwine and provide a satisfying conclusion to this sad story.

I found this book disturbing in some parts and I have been carrying some of the scenes around with me this month. There is poverty and then there is POVERTY. We are talking, eating flour and water for dinner (if you are lucky), addictions to glue to feel full by small children, parents abandoning a child to take care of another child and head to America. It was really heartbreaking.

I am glad I read it, but it was just really heavy.

Ward does a great job of contrasting the struggles of a typical middle-class white suburban mother against the struggles of a child in poverty effectively without being mean about it. It made me think about how my struggles are so minor compared to the struggles of others.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

I selected this book for my local book club this month after discovering it was the #1 book of all the books on Amazon for 2014. How could you not select this after making that discovery?

This is a beautiful debut novel and Ng’s descriptive language is a treat to read. When a family’s daughter goes missing the lives of her family members begin unraveling through Ng’s beautiful storytelling. The reader is taken on a journey from the very beginning of the relationship of the parents and moving through each family member, including Lydia, their missing daughter. Everything I Never Told You is every character’s story that was never told- from the disappointment felt by parents to not fitting in due to their race to what roles they were expected to fill in the family (whether wanted or not).

This is a book that would lend itself well to a book club discussion since it tackles the big issues of parental roles/expectations as well as the heartache of youth and the challenges with fitting in. As with My Sunshine Away, I did not find this to read like a mystery or thriller, but more of a character-driven piece.

Celeste Ng will be joining me in a Sundays With Writers soon and I am so excited to share more of her story with you.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Read With me This Year:

January 2015 Must-Reads

February 2015 Must-Reads

What should I be adding to my library bag?  Leave your suggestions in the comments below! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

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

 

 

 

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Amy’s Notebook 03.25.15

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

DIY Typography Easter Eggs via Lovely Indeed

Source: Lovely Indeed

 

Super cool DIY typography Easter eggs.

DIY Easter bunny shoe clips – adorable!

Loved reading this piece since I am reading these books with my little girl.

Stop apologizing for what remains and what is still being worked on.

A great piece on Project 333!

Slow cooker quinoa enchilada bake looks healthy, yummy & easy to make!

How to find your style and create a capsule wardrobe.

 

2015 Spring Capsule via Elise Blaha

Source: Elise Blaha

 

Love peeking at other people’s spring capsules.

Jotting down these products for my beauty wish-list.

I needed this parenting reminder.

New Alzheimer’s treatment fully restores memory function- this is so exciting!

The 23 best movies on Netflix you haven’t seen yet.

Play ‘Family Feud’ against the top-ten results in Google’s autocomplete.

amys_notebook

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

 

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