Archive for the ‘Reads’ Category

It’s the 3 Little Things: Ramen, Proper Form, & the Scientology Scoop

Friday, December 16th, 2016

love-actually

We have a weekend filled with holiday celebrations with our family and friends over the next few days!  We are praying for the roads to be less treacherous than our last trip, but the weather reports are looking a little rough this week.

Not to mention, I am not sure if I will ever be warm again.

Prepare for a winter of whines about cold temperatures.

Hey, is Love Actually one of your favorite holiday films too? I invited my neighbor over (PAJAMAS REQUIRED) to indulge in this holiday classic with me and we had the best time.

Okay, this is an embarrassingly funny story.

We have been neighbors for eight years and haven’t hung out until this year.

WHY?

I have no clue, but this goes to show that it is NEVER too late to love your neighbors.

It turns out, she’s into books, NPR, Indian food, and independent films just like me!

Seriously, why did we wait so long?

Maybe think about the people who are living near you and see if you can form an unexpected friendship too! It’s the best, even if we did wait eight years to figure it out!

Here are a few other things that are making me happy today!

Lotus Foods Gluten-Free Ramen Noodles

Gluten-Free Ramen is THE BOMB!

OMG! Ramen is such a guilty pleasure food for me and I haven’t had it in years, thanks to this gluten-free lifestyle! A few of my friends started posting about this gluten-free ramen deliciousness and I begged my bestie to snag a bag of it for me from Costco. If you love ramen, but hate the preservatives/high sodium or are rocking the gluten-free life too, these gluten-free ramen noodles from Lotus Foods are so good, you won’t even know you are missing anything.

Unfortunately, it was a seasonal item at Costco, but I do know that they had them at Target too. Amazon has several different flavorings offers and they all look absolutely delicious.

There is nothing more comforting than a big bowl of noodles in the winter so this has made me awfully happy this winter!

Fellowes Standard Foot Rest

A Place to Prop My Feet

I spend a good deal of time at my computer and even though I have a great chair, being petite means my feet aren’t always in great proper placement. I got this no-frills foot rest (you can certainly splurge for one that is higher end!) and I have it under my desk to help give my feet a place to rest and to get my body in a better alignment while working. I can’t believe what a difference it has made on how my back and knees feel at the end of the day.

It is one of those little things that makes a huge difference in my comfort levels while working!

leah-remini-scientology-tv-show

Fascinating Documentary Series

Have you heard about the new A&E Leah Remini: Scientology & the Aftermath series that is airing? It kept popping up in my newsfeed so while I was waiting around for a plumbing estimate (the glamourous life I lead!), I decided to watch the first episode…then the second episode…then the third episode. This is one of the most fascinating documentaries I have watched on this religion, a religion that I knew very little about.  This is an eight-part documentary series which explores allegations of abuse, lies and sexual misconduct within the church that Leah and many of the other leaders experienced during their time there.

In a statement issued by A&E, Remini explained the purpose of her series. She said that she hoped to “shed light on information that makes the world aware of what is really going on and encourages others to speak up so the abuses can be ended forever.”

I am looking forward to watching the rest of the episodes in this series and wondered if you had caught it too?

3-ingredient Instant Pot Ribs

Eating: Instant Pot Ribs on repeat! OMG! If you bought one of these gadgets, you must give this recipe a try!



Loving: Mad love for Bruno, meowing revenge (LOL!), this Chris Pratt prank is hilarious, & I need to make a Wreath Witherspoon for our door (so cute!)!!

Reading: This incredible book that I read about on NPR. It is so beautifully written and I happen to think that cover is exquisite too! Have you read it?

shake-shack-2

Happy Fri-yay!

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

Quick Reads to Reach Those Reading Goals

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Quick Reads to Reach Those Reading Goals from MomAdvice.com

One of my favorite things about GoodReads is the ability to set and track your reading goals for the year! I was chatting online with a friend and she mentioned she was really determined to reach her reading goal in these next two weeks. I sent her a quick list of books that she could easily binge on in these final weeks to seal that goal.

goodreads

It got me thinking that I should probably be sharing that list with you here too.

Who couldn’t use a little escape from the stresses of the SNOW (OVER IT!), COLD (OVER IT!), and holiday craziness (ARE WE DONE YET? DID WE DO ALL THE THINGS? IS EVERYONE HAPPY? CAN I HIBERNATE FOR THE REST OF THE WINTER NOW? WHY DON’T I HAVE A BETTER ATTITUDE?)

I typically take a hiatus over the holidays so I will be sharing what I read this month next week , as well as my annual top ten list of best books too. Hopefully, these three posts will help you as you work towards your own goals this year.

Quick Reads to Binge On To Hit Those Reading Goals

Fast Paced Thrillers

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Leonora, a reclusive writer, receives a surprise invitation from an old friend inviting to her to a weekend away as one last hurrah before she gets married. Set in a glass house in the woods, the four acquaintances share revelations and begin to realize their party is not alone. Forty-eight hours later, Leonora (Nora) awakes in a hospital bed knowing that someone is dead. Nora desperately tries to piece together what happened, forcing her to revisit times in her past that she would rather leave buried.

I’m pretty picky when it comes to thrillers and this one delivers beautifully.  The pacing is perfect and reads like a great whodunit mystery. Enjoy the ride and then get ready to see this one brought to life on the big screen by Reese Witherspoon’s production team.

Check out my interview with Ruth when you are done with this awesome thriller!

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapeña

I am a sucker for a good thriller and The Couple Next Door was a really incredible keep-you-up-past-your-bedtime read. The story revolves around parents that are invited to a birthday celebration party with requests that children not attend. When their babysitter cancels, they decide to still attend the party at the neighboring brownstone, leave the baby sleeping in the crib, with an agreement to take turns checking on the baby every half hour. When they check in, later in the evening though, they find the crib empty and the baby is nowhere to be found. The reader is taken on twist after twist as the couple tries to find their baby and the motive behind it.

I was surprised the book opens right away with the baby going missing and wondered how the story would ever build out from there when such a big part of the plot happens in the opening chapter. The author crafts plausible (and not so plausible) twists though that takes you on a wild rollercoaster ride with these parents. Just the discussion alone of whether or not the couple should have left their baby would make a great one for book club discussions.

This one brings all the twists and builds great tension. This one is worthy of a reading binge-and I consumed it in a mere 24 hours!  I just loved it!

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer- do not read if you cannot handle graphic sexual abuse or violence against women!

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

As a lover of horror films and fiction, I can say that this book is the first book that has absolutely terrified me and kept me up at with nightmares at night…and I loved it. Slaughter perfectly crafts each character so well that it is as though you are watching a film. Dark, psychologically twisted, evil, and graphic, the tale is gruesome and horrific and kept me on the absolute edge of my seat from the opening page. Fans of Gillian Flynn will appreciate this twisted thriller, but be prepared for the nightmares…they will be coming!

Defending Jacob by William Landay

Defending Jacob by William Landay

I am  not interested in legal thrillers, but my girlfriend recommended this book to me and I am so thankful she did. This is one of the best thrillers I have read since Before I Go to Sleep, and left me hanging on the edge of my seat for the entire book.

Andy Barber has been a district attorney for over twenty years. He is well respected and knows how to command the courtroom. When a murder happens at his son’s school, he is among the first on the scene and is ready to help bring vindication to the murderer.

What Andy never suspects is that his own son is the one who is charged with the murder. Andy is removed from the case when all clues begin to point towards his son. Andy doesn’t want to believe that his son could commit such a heinous crime, but as mounting evidence points towards Jacob, he is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Does he hide the evidence he finds that he knows that the police might be after or let the justice system decide the fate of his child?

Part family drama, part thriller, I could not put this book down. My heart ached for this family who is now ostracized from their friends and coworkers, while the other part of me ached that Jacob would be proven guilty of the crime. The reader will be taken on a wild ride from start to finish with this book. It is a twisty ending that will leave you breathless.

Whatever you do, add this deeply moving book to your list. I highly recommend this read for book clubs because it gives readers a chance to think what they might do to protect their child.

Editor’s Note: This book contains violence and graphic language.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

If you are in a reading slump, this should pull you right on out. Behind Closed Doors will go down as my top thriller this year because of this tightly woven and finely crafted story.  I read this one in almost a single sitting and the author does not waste a single page from start to finish while building a plot that will send chills down your spine. This twisted tale is so vividly told that it is as though you are reading a movie with characters that are incredibly well-developed they practically lift off the pages.

I don’t want to give very much away because half of the fun is the discovery of what is actually going on behind these closed doors. A perfect marriage though is rarely what it seems and Jack & Grace are the perfect example of a marriage that looks beautiful on the outside, but is far different on the inside. From page one, you realize the cat-and-mouse game that Grace is in and the reader is pulled along from the first day that they met, giving you a chance to witness a rather unique marriage in a chilling way.

Just know that if you pick this one up, you are going to have a very hard time putting it down. I would recommend a weekend of binge-reading with this for a fantastic holiday escape! Please know that this one is DARK so if you prefer to keep your thrillers in the lighter mystery category, you might need to skip this intense read.

Easy Breezy Chick Lit

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I find Reid’s writing to be just the right amount of heart with just the right amount of reality and her storytelling truly shines in this beautiful story of loves found and lost. When Emma’s husband dies in a helicopter crash, she is left to rebuild her life without her high school sweetheart and you feel that devastation through Reid’s words. After years of sadness though, she finds love again with an old high school friend and begins to find that happiness she has been missing. Just before her wedding though she receives a call that her husband, Jesse, is still alive and coming home to be with her again.

A heart aching love triangle is formed and Emma must choose between the man she loved and lost or the new love of her life. I couldn’t put this one down and read it in less than a day! Check out an interview I did with Taylor in our Sundays With Writers series as she discusses her ability to write such believable and beautiful love stories!

A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan

A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan

I could not put this book book down! This was such a deeply satisfying read that tackles the struggles of every working mother who is trying to balance it all. Egan creates the perfect balance of humor and heartbreak as Alice tries to navigate the tricky terrain of being an employee, wife, mother, and daughter to her ill father.

In A Window Opens, beloved books editor at Glamour magazine, Elisabeth Egan, brings us Alice Pearse, a compulsively honest, longing-to-have-it-all, sandwich generation heroine for our social-media-obsessed, lean in (or opt out) age.

Like her fictional forebears Kate Reddy and Bridget Jones, Alice plays many roles (which she never refers to as “wearing many hats” and wishes you wouldn’t, either). She is a mostly-happily married mother of three, an attentive daughter, an ambivalent dog-owner, a part-time editor, a loyal neighbor and a Zen commuter. She is not: a cook, a craftswoman, a decorator, an active PTA member, a natural caretaker or the breadwinner. But when her husband makes a radical career change, Alice is ready to lean in—and she knows exactly how lucky she is to land a job at Scroll, a hip young start-up which promises to be the future of reading, with its chain of chic literary lounges and dedication to beloved classics. The Holy Grail of working mothers―an intellectually satisfying job and a happy personal life―seems suddenly within reach.

Despite the disapproval of her best friend, who owns the local bookstore, Alice is proud of her new “balancing act” (which is more like a three-ring circus) until her dad gets sick, her marriage flounders, her babysitter gets fed up, her kids start to grow up and her work takes an unexpected turn. Readers will cheer as Alice realizes the question is not whether it’s possible to have it all, but what does she―Alice Pearse―really want?

This book got me in the all the feels. I highlighted many a passage in this sweet story of Alice and found her to be one of the most relatable characters I have read. I also teared up at many of the moments in this story because the struggles of being in the trenches as a working parent were ones that I have experienced myself. Alice tries hard, but it’s an impossible juggle and you feel like you are spiraling a bit with her as the story unfolds.

Fans of Where’d You Go, Bernadette & Wife 22 (thanks to the hilarious correspondence between colleagues & family) will really love this one!

You can read our interview with Elisabeth Egan this month in our Sundays With Writers series!  I can’t recommend this book enough!

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

Anne Blythe seems to have everything. She has sold her first book, has a fabulous life, and fabulous friends. When it comes to being lucky in love though, she can’t seem to ever find the right guy. novel. After her best friend announces her engagement and her latest relationship ends, she decides to take a risk and contact a dating service in hopes of finding the perfect match. Upon her first appointment with the dating service though, she realizes that it is not a dating service at all, but a matchmaking service for an arranged marriage.

Once she starts the process, there is no turning back and Anne finds herself traveling to a Mexican resort where she will meet and marry (all in the same weekend) her “perfect,” guy.

This book has great twists and turns that you will really enjoy and after devouring this book in a mere day, I can’t recommend it enough for a fun reading escape!

Meaningful Short Books

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

“The main message of Jesus, I believed, is that mercy trumps justice every time,”- Paul Kalanithi

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.

This book is an incredibly moving story of the fragility of life and death told through Paul’s incredible medical career working as a neurosurgeon and then as a patient facing the end of his own life. Even after a cancer diagnosis, his ability to train and put his own needs aside while still working tirelessly in an operating room are nothing short of miraculous and his words echo the poetic strength of a life well lived.

Lucy’s closing to the book brings it all together in such a beautiful and memorable way that reminds us that all we should ever strive for in our life is to be and give unconditional love.

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

This was an absolutely beautiful story about what it would be like to come to America as an immigrant. Told from alternating viewpoints all from immigrant neighbors in one apartment complex, it gives the reader the opportunity to see America through an immigrant’s eyes. From struggling to make ends to meet, to the struggle to communicate, to finding a job, to sending your child off to school, to the sacrifices that are made when leaving your own country for something you believe will be better than the life you are leading- it looks at it all through new eyes.

The story hinges around two sets of parents who have sacrificed everything for their kids and the blooming love between their children in a beautiful coming-of-age story. Honest, human, and so moving. A must-read this year.

Read our interview with Cristina Henriquez to learn more about the immigrant stories that inspired this book!

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

If you haven’t read it yet, it is an absolutely incredible novel and offers a new take on a pandemic world captured through the storytelling of a Hollywood actor and a band of traveling actors that risk it all to perform their art during a flu apocalypse. The storytelling jumps and weaves through time making it a treat to read from start to finish about what life was like before and after a fatal flu strikes the country.

Masterfully woven characters, particularly with the use of the three wives in Arthur’s life, the author brings these stories together in a way that makes you feel like you know each character.

I’ve both read and listened to this one on audiobook and they are both a wonderful way to squeeze in this beautiful read!

Fast-Paced Historical Fiction

A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable

A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable

A Paris Apartment is a  fun summer historical fiction escape to Paris alternating between present day and the past.  It centers around, April, a furniture specialist with Sothebys,  & diary entries from the late 1800’s & 1900’s of Marthe de Florian. It weaves a beautiful story around a Paris apartment that had been shuttered for 70 years and the what lies behind the treasures in her apartment, including the relationship between her & the famous painter Giovanni Boldini, told through these diary entries.

As April becomes more & more fascinated with this woman through her diary, she increasingly becomes unsure if she wants to return to her own life back in the states or to continue living her own life in Paris, caught in the beauty of Paris and the escape from her own difficult marriage.

I would say that it is just enough fluff to pack in your beach bag and enough meat to enjoy reading the backstory on Marthe after closing those final pages. Read my interview with Michelle about her incredible debut novel.

The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman

The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman

The Two-Family House is a sweet literary escape telling the story of brothers living in a two-family house in Brooklyn in the ‘40’s. While the men are away to work, in the midst of a winter storm, both of their wives go into labor and end up delivering their babies at home, thanks to one determined midwife. It’s the birth of these two babies that begins to threaten and unravel the two families, particularly their mothers, as they carry around a family secret that begins to impact them all.

A strong debut novel rich with characters and the raw emotional impact of family secrets, it is one that you will be unable to put down, and a storyline rich with lots to chat about for book clubs. If you prefer character-driven stories, this book is for you!

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the hard years following World War Two. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis in America — to live and work in a Brooklyn neighborhood “just like Ireland” — she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind. When she falls in love, she receives some devastating news that sends her back home again where she must make painful choices about her future.

This was such an achingly beautiful coming of age story that perfectly captures the struggles of growing up and leaving your childhood home and family. The real challenge lies in moving away and then finding yourself back at home again and finding your placement in the world again when you are all that your mother has left. Do you stay or do you go?

A beautiful read, particularly on audiobook thanks to the gorgeous accents, for a great escape. I recommend this one for fans of The Book of Unknown Americans, Everything I Never Told YouAmericanah

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

There is so much to love in this story about two sisters who are separated from one another in such a sad way and how they are transformed by this experience and the war. Set in 1940’s England, the book focuses on the bombings that happened in London, following the story of Emma Downtree who ends up losing everything in the bombs including her inability to find her sister after a series of bombs occurs in the building where their apartment resides. This inevitably changes Emma’s entire life path leading her to a different career path, to find love, and uncovering some deep family secrets along the way.

The story does alternate with the past and the current day, but in a really readable way.  Sometimes those present day stories can take away from the story, but this really moved things along in a beautiful way.  The only part that lagged a bit was the ending with the letters, for me.

I am recommending this one for fans of The Nightingale, The Orphan Train,  All the Light I Cannot See.

Binge-Worthy Literary Fiction

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

 

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

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

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

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

  Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

One of my friends is a librarian (Hi, Pam!) and she said Eight Hundred Grapes had been one of her favorite summer reads. I listened to this book on audiobook and couldn’t agree with her more.

The book opens with Georgia sitting in her brother’s bar in a wedding gown. She hasn’t gotten married, but witnesses her fiancée in a moment on the street that rocks her world. Returning home to figure things out, she is shocked to discover that, not only did her fiancée have a big secret, but her entire family has been keeping secrets from her. Her parent’s marriage is failing, her mother is dating, her brothers are involved in a love triangle, and their family winery is in the process of being sold. Yeah, a lot has changed.

This story is part storytelling of how these relationships began, part understanding how wine is really made, and part family drama.

This was a fun little escape and I really enjoyed the audiobook of this one!

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Everyone has been telling me to read this book and I kept putting it off. Why in the world would I read a book about a grumpy old man? Welp. You guys were right. This book was incredible!

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

This is the most beautiful fictional book on aging that I have ever read. It really served as a reminder to me how we all have things that happen to us that shape us as we get older and how we often neglect to listen to those layered stories of our elders. I laughed and cried over this sweet story of Ove & the stray cat that claimed him.

The touching story of his beautiful bride and the difficulties of seeing your friends age and forget you just really pulled at my heartstrings.

Beautifully written supporting characters in the neighborhood just brought the whole story together for me and rounded out the beauty of finding “home.” I wish I could give this more stars than five because I would!

The Assistants by Camille Perri

The Assistants by Camille Perri

Tina Fontana works for the head honcho at her company who is swimming in money. When a technical error occurs with an expense report, Tina uses it to her advantage to pay off her student loan debt…to the tune of $20K.

Only one problem though… other people in the office have been noticing and want their loans paid off too.  More people become involved, more money is funneled, more loans paid, and more stress that Tina will get busted.

Imagine a Robin Hood story, but with a modern twist. This book is just the medicine for anyone who has struggled with student loan debt (raises hand high!). I love this book so much and found the ending to be pure perfection. It certainly was the sweetest literary escape this month for me!

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

If you are a regular reader on the blog, you know I have talked, and talked, and talked about this book. What I want to say is that you should only read my brief description below and go into this one without knowing anything. It will make the book so much more enjoyable- I promise.

This book reads a bit like a mystery as you try to solve the puzzle of a child’s unusual first years of life. The story intertwines with a doctor nearing the end of his career due to a deadly diagnosis and he could be the only one who could make Noah and his mother’s life better. What Noah is suffering from is beyond what any parent could comprehend.

Gripping, thought provoking, and and an excellent pick for any book club!

After you are done reading it, you can read my interview with Sharon Guskin as we discuss her debut novel. It’s a REALLY interesting interview and it gave me a lot to think about!

Quick & Sweet YA Lit

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

I am big on quirky characters and I’m also big on coming-of-age adventures and Mosquitoland now tops my list of incredible YA debuts with this heartfelt story of an oddly charming girl, named Mim,  who runs away from home and takes a Greyhound bus to be reunited with her mother.

After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.

So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.

I really began to fall in love with all of these well-crafted characters that Arnold created in this charming book. Each character that she encounters comes with his own set of quirky oddities as Mim’s bus ends up making an unexpected detour and she ends up on a road trip with two unlikely friends in search of her mom. I really loved this one!

I am recommending this one for fans of Eleanor & Park and All the Bright Places. Be sure to read my interview with David Arnold about the story behind this story (and the surprising spot he crafted it!) in our Sundays With Writers series.

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Please, please, please read this and come back and tell me what you think! This book is about three unlikely friends growing up in the rural South that are all fighting demons of their own.

Dill’s father is a Pentecostal preacher, known for his snake charming church, that becomes part of a town scandal that has left his family open to scrutiny and struggling financially. Travis is obsessed with a book series called Bloodfall that helps him escape into another reality away from his abusive father. And Lydia is a blogger ready to start a new life in New York while struggling to leave behind what is familiar and those she loves.

These three unlikely people bond together and end up facing a struggle none of them could have ever predicted.  This friendship is beautifully woven with humor and heart. I could not put this book down and read it in a single day.

Be sure to check out my interview with Jeff about this book. Want a fun fact? He wrote the book on his iPhone!

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

eleanor & park by rainbow rowell

Eleanor just doesn’t fit in with her peers, wild hair and patchwork outfits, do not seem to help her blend in better. When she is forced to choose a seat on the bus she ends up sitting next to Park, a quiet kid who is obsessed with comic books and an outsider himself.
When Park notices that Eleanor is reading his comic books over his shoulders, he starts sharing them with her, which later develops into a sharing of great mixed music tapes, and then develops into more than either of them can imagine.
Set in 1986, this book made me laugh out loud and made me cry. Eleanor is one of those quirky characters that you just can’t help rooting for. Although this is written for young adults, anyone who ever survived those awful days of high school will love this book.
Quick Reads to Reach Those Reading Goals from MomAdvice.com

What is a book that you found quick and satisfying that would help someone reach their goals? Speaking of those goals, where are you at right now on your goals so I can cheer you on!! Looking for more great 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.

Word of Mouse (BOOK GIVEAWAY With a $50 Visa Gift Card!!)

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

Word of Mouse for Middle Grade Kids from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Jimmy Patterson Books. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

It should come as no surprise that when I was a kid, I was crazy about reading. There was nothing I looked forward to more than library day, spent curled up in an aisle with my nose in a book. I adored Beverly Clearly and the shenanigans of Ramona Quimby or those exciting adventures with Ralph & his motorcycle.  The books were wholesome and had fun illustrations that helped bring to life the stories that I had in my head. In fact, they were so memorably illustrated, I can still recall the words and pictures that I saw from all those years ago.

Good quality middle grade books with that charm and innocence have often been a challenge for our family. I long for my daughter to have the same sweet experiences that I have recalling those adventurous stories with good messages. I have relied a lot on the books of my own youth to share with her, but I am always on the hunt for new books that offer this kind of promise and messaging that so many of my own books had.

Word of Mouse for Middle Grade Kids from MomAdvice.com

Word of Mouse for Middle Grade Kids from MomAdvice.com

Word of Mouse for Middle Grade Kids from MomAdvice.com

That’s why I am so excited to share about a new book that came out this week called, Word of Mousethat I believe has all of that old-school charm with thoughtful messages from a rather familiar author. As a reader, I’m sure you have heard of James Patterson, but you might not know about all the good books he is trying to put out in the world for kids! He happens to be a tireless champion for the power of books and reading. In fact, he has created a new children’s book imprint, JIMMY Patterson, with a very simple mission: “We want every kid who finishes a JIMMY Book to say, ‘PLEASE GIVE ME ANOTHER BOOK.'”

This sweet story, written by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein,  is about a blue mouse named Isaiah who has the ability to communicate and feel the same things as humans. He goes on a mission to rescue his mouse family and finds a clever assistant in a sweet girl named Hailey. As they partner together to help save Isaiah’s family, they find the beauty in true friendship together that transcends their own differences.

Each chapter begins with a quote from Isaiah that offers thoughtful advice for your middle grade reader to chew on.

One of the quotes we loved was, “Those who give have everything. Those who don’t have nothing at all.” 

Word of Mouse for Middle Grade Kids from MomAdvice.com

Word of Mouse for Middle Grade Kids from MomAdvice.com

We love giving to others and the happiness that comes from sharing what we have with those in need.  We all have taken up new projects this year that help benefit our community. The kids loved participating in a community project with their school to rake the yards of homes that surrounded their school’s campus. We ring bells for the Salvation Army through our church each holiday season. I picked up a weekly gig stocking and organizing food pantry shelves. I got the chance to help serve a holiday feast at a local women and children’s shelter this year.

Do you know how much this cost us?

Zero.

Do you know how much we get back?

An immeasurable amount.

It builds awareness for all the needs we could help meet.

It also builds awareness for the blessings we have.

These are the messages I like to see in the pages of my kid’s books and that is why I’m very proud to share about this new book with you.  This book is geared towards readers ages 8-12 and is beautifully illustrated by Joe Sutphin.

Today I get to host a fun giveaway where one lucky winner will receive a copy of Word of Mouse as well as a $50 Visa Gift Card! Please follow the rules in the widget below for entry!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks so much for entering and best of luck to each of you! To learn more about Word of Mouse, the author, and JIMMY Patterson Books, check out these links:

Word of Mouse

Visit JamesPatterson.com

Follow JIMMY Patterson Books on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Follow James Patterson on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Word of Mouse for Middle Grade Kids from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Jimmy Patterson Books. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

 

Amy’s Notebook 12.14.16

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

Slow Cooker Mediterranean Casserole source: foodie crush

I’m dying to make this slow cooker mediterranean casserole for a Christmas morning treat!

Packaging a book like this would certainly make the gift even more special for a bookworm.

I can’t wait to try this Japanese gift wrapping technique!

Whoa, over 55,000 of you viewed this recipe this week. I hope you are making loads of these for your gluten-free friends just trying to get through the holidays!

I love these ideas for small scale holiday decorating!

I do love a good book cover!

This is such a great reminder that mental strength often comes from the things you DON’T do.

If you need an escape from the holiday craziness, this book has me in stitches this week! I’m surprised by the negative reviews- it’s been a relatable, quirky, and light read for me.

Christmas Paper Office Decorations

source: the house that lars built

Absolutely wowed by what one ream of paper can do to make an office feel festive.

I love twinkle lights, don’t you?

These Union Square Cafe Bar Nuts look like a great holiday gift to share!

Pantone’s color of the year is getting a mixed reception. What do you think?

This slow cooker chicken and wild rice soup is going on this week’s menu plan!

Free Customizable Gift Tags from Our Best Bites

source: our best bites

Aren’t these gift tags gorgeous? Best part? Customizable to your packaging- yay!

Yes, the pajama drawer has gotten waayyy out of hand.

Are you guys picking up a new hobby too? This happened to be your top purchase this week. Can you help teach me?

I’m going to be making a birthday cake next week for my little girl. What a beautiful reminder of all that it stands for!

This slow cooker fudge recipe would be a great gift to share this year.

I love to read my friend’s favorite books of the year. Stay tuned for mine!

This list of board games for a crowd had some great picks that I haven’t heard of before!

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

It’s the 3 Little Things: Cozy Pants, Cushy Slippers, & Christmas Tunes

Friday, December 9th, 2016

Advent Calendar Wreath

I caught some wretched bug that’s been going around so most of this week has been spent in my pajamas trying to kick this sickness to the curb. It is also the kind of week where the car breaks down,  the iPhone display screen shatters, and the house is a wreck.

Wait a minute. You came here for a happy list…..

Here is that silver lining for you! Somehow I’ve powered through all of it as I close on the last couple of hundred pages of one of my new favorite reads (the writing is just epic!), listening to this beautiful (and heart wrenching!) book on audio while I catch up on laundry from our trip,  and finishing the American Horror Story Hotel season (guilty pleasure, indeed!) on my iPad.

I also slept for a six hour stretch while my kids were at school.

LIVING THE DREAM!

The kids are loving working through our advent calendar. Since we have such a wee home with few walls, I am always trying to get inventive with holiday decorations and displays. We clipped these on our holiday wreath and the kids open it over our evening meal. We ALL are learning a lot!

I have big plans this weekend to tackle the holiday wrapping, sneak in a board game or two, ringing bells for Salvation Army, and then treating our kiddos to the holiday lights with Steak ‘N Shake Peppermint Shakes (a favorite tradition!). Let’s hope this is the last of day of feeling like garbage!!

Here are three other things that are really making me happy this week.

Fleece Pajama Pants

The Perfect Pajama Pants

As a petite woman, I hate the length and width of pajama pant bottoms because they usually end up dirty and torn at the bottom. For me, leggings and jog pants are a petite girl’s dream because I have less chance of this style of pants dragging on the ground.

I ordered these fleece pants in black and this fun fair isle print (it looks like black sold out- boo!!) and I haven’t taken them off since they arrived on my doorstep. As someone who is constantly cold, these fleece pants are the perfect answer for warmth when lounging around my house. They also make going out to take the kids to their bus stop a little more bearable.

I would recommend sizing up one on these and pairing it with your favorite sweatshirt to live in for the entire winter.  I would also recommend buying these as a gift for a friend or family member who has to suffer through cold temperatures too- at that price, you can afford to buy two! These are a winter must-have!

Ugg Replacement Insoles

 

Cushy Slippers Again

My slippers were looking pretty rough this year and the inserts were disturbingly dirty. Did you know you can replace the insoles on your slippers and boots for less than $15?  I got some new inserts for my slippers and now these feel like the day that I got them.

The nice thing though is even if you didn’t splurge for an UGG product, you can still buy the inserts and make your more affordable shoe options have these cushy bottoms. Heck, if your shoes are a little too big, I can’t think of a better solution for perfect sizing in the winter.

Confession time- I have never bought a brand new pair of UGG boots or slippers. I got my slippers on eBay and my boots were found at Goodwill. I would just buy fresh inserts for these and had no qualms at all about sinking my bare feet into them. There is no need to spend a ton if you don’t want to.

I can’t recommend a fresh insole enough for a treat for yourself!

FRESH Christmas Music

One of my favorite things is to share music with you so I created a FRESH Christmas list for your eggnog sipping and hall decking. There were a lot of great holiday albums that came out this year and I wanted to showcase my favorite tracks from these.

Fun fact, I used to be a DJ in my dorm at college. I also was well-known for my mix tapes that I used to create, in fact, my husband still owns some of them from me. Being a Spotify DJ makes me really happy so I hope you will enjoy this year’s music mix. You can also follow all my other playlists over here! I hope I can introduce you to some new songs!

Pumpkin Chili

Eating: I’m working on some Instant Pot tutorials for all of you that bought this gadget for Christmas this year (or requested it as your gift)!  I am starting with some basic preparations and working my way out for you! Stay tuned for that! For now, it’s been a Pumpkin Chili week over here as temperatures plummeted in Indiana. If you haven’t tried it yet, put it on your planner!





Loving: Today’s highlights include a Very Tired Mary (bahahaha!),  Rudolph kind of Hamilton, Madonna guesting on the Carpool Karaoke (I will love her until the day I die. Amen.), Pentatonix killing it (PS- We were ORIGINAL fans when they were on the Sing Off!),  and the movie that I can’t wait to catch! Doesn’t this film look gorgeous?

Reading: Adored this piece on Flowers in the Attic being the gateway drug to a lifetime of reading. It was for me- was it for you?

Oh, Christmas Tree

pillow source: here

Happy Fri-yay!

*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 12.07.16

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Daily Goal Tracker

source: enJOY it

I love this daily goal tracker worksheet.

This Mediterranean pull-apart bread looks like a fun and easy appetizer.

The perfect person just bought the, “Full House,” house.

After hitting the art museum this past weekend, I loved this honest museum audio tour.

This is shaping up to be my dream grocery store- YES!

30 crowd-please non-awkward movies to watch with your relatives.

What it REALLY is like being an Instagram influencer. Hmmmm…?!?!

Take your salt dough ornament game up a notch.

Crispy Roasted Potatoes

source: serious eats

Great tips for nailing the perfect roasted potatoes.

I love these tips for adding completer pieces to your wardrobe.

Never accept pickle juice in your career- amen.

I love this gathering of fun holiday diy ideas.

Adding spaghetti squash to this week’s menu plan after seeing these spaghetti squash pizza boats. YUM!!!

Pom-Pom gnomes- so cute!! I love this pom-pom maker for nailing the perfect pom-poms.

Foolproof Ways to Fake an Expensive Home

source: apartment therapy

5 foolproof ways to fake an expensive home.

Reflections on a year of no-spending.

I’ve been under the weather this week so I’ve been wrapped up in my heated throw and reading one of my favorite reads this year.

Styling tips for those blanket scarves. Don’t own one? Try making one with our no-sew blanket scarf tutorial.

Did you see this year’s NPR Book Concierge? So proud that I read 12 from this list (and counting!)

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

November 2016 Must-Reads

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

November 2016 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that there wasn’t a lot of time for reading this month with all the holiday preparations going on. Being a part of a local book club and our online book club is what pushed me to keep reading this month. I will also admit, this month’s books were a bit of a mixed bag. I am not sure if it was because I was tired all the time or if they just weren’t books that would normally grab me. That said, I do have a few solid recommendations for you for this month!

For upcoming reading, I did just purchase this book for my audiobook listening while tackling my holiday wrapping. I also, once again, believe those cheap bluetooth headphones are my secret to reading success while getting stuff done. I actually loved them so much, we bought four pairs to give as gifts for the holidays this year. I think everyone should have a pair!

Also, because I can’t wait until next month to tell you about it, this book is EVERYTHING right now. I have laughed out loud until tears streamed down my face and have read entire chapters aloud to my husband. It’s a brilliantly told coming-of-age novel that I recommend you grab ASAP for your holiday reading. It’s a BIG book, but each chapter feels like its own individual story.

Here is what I tackled this month!

 5 Must-Read Books from November 2016

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

If you are in a reading slump, this should pull you right on out. Behind Closed Doors will go down as my top thriller this year because of this tightly woven and finely crafted story.  I read this one in almost a single sitting and the author does not waste a single page from start to finish while building a plot that will send chills down your spine. This twisted tale is so vividly told that it is as though you are reading a movie with characters that are incredibly well-developed they practically lift off the pages.

I don’t want to give very much away because half of the fun is the discovery of what is actually going on behind these closed doors. A perfect marriage though is rarely what it seems and Jack & Grace are the perfect example of a marriage that looks beautiful on the outside, but is far different on the inside. From page one, you realize the cat-and-mouse game that Grace is in and the reader is pulled along from the first day that they met, giving you a chance to witness a rather unique marriage in a chilling way.

Just know that if you pick this one up, you are going to have a very hard time putting it down. I would recommend a weekend of binge-reading with this for a fantastic holiday escape! Please know that this one is DARK so if you prefer to keep your thrillers in the lighter mystery category, you might need to skip this intense read.

5 Out of 5 Stars

to-the-bright-edge-of-the-world

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eoywn Ivey

The Snow Child remains one of my all-time favorite reads (a perfect winter escape if you are looking for one!) and I was so excited to see that Eowyn Ivey had written a new book that has already gotten so much buzz this year. To the Bright Edge of the World could not be more different than her first book and is told uniquely through letters, photographs, and excerpts of other books to build a unique telling of an Alaskan expedition in the late 18oo’s. When a family member comes across journals and letters from his great-uncle and great-aunt from this time, he feels compelled to submit them to an Alaskan museum. The reader then gets to read the story of Colonel Allen as he leads a group through Alaska and the story of his wife, Sophie, who is newly pregnant and left behind while her husband makes this harrowing expedition.

The amount of research that Ivey would have to do to establish this story, I am sure, would astound us. The dialect and nailing down a historically accurate account of that era alone would be insane, but she also carves a hobby for Sophie that involves photography of birds that is incredibly detailed and astoundingly well told as well.

If you are into historical fiction, definitely pick this one up. Although letter format is always a struggle for me, this book is the first book I have read about Alaska during this era, and it really gave me a lot to think about after I finished this beautiful book.

4.5 Out of 5 Stars

Arrowood by Laura McHugh

Arrowood by Laura McHugh

Arrowood  was this month’s MomAdvice Book Club selection and since I was leading it, I had high hopes this would be a good one. Luckily for me, this one turned out to be a solid gothic mystery about twin girls who go missing and their sister who is haunted and filled with guilt because their disappearance happened when she was supposed to be watching them.

When a true crime writer decides he wants to figure out the answer to this unsolved case for a book, we begin to realize that Arden’s memories of that fateful day may not be entirely accurate. McHugh then takes the reader down a winding path of suspects to answer where these children could have gone in a classic mystery format.

I will say, the ending was not as conclusive as I would have liked and if you prefer a clearly defined ending, this might be an unsatisfactory ending for you. It did serve as an excellent book for discussion as you think about your own childhood memories and what it would be like as a family to have old wounds reopened for the sake of true crime writing.

I really enjoyed this one and would recommend it for our mystery reader fans!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

This book, for me, is a hard one to review. Swing Time was one of the most anticipated books this year and I put my name on the hold list as soon as I heard about it. As a theater nerd and dancer, I could not wait to dig into this story of the friendship formed by two dancers.  The book started solid and beautifully, Smith’s turn of phrasing was so beautiful and unique that it was unlike any other book I had read before.

This is the story of two girls who begin dancing, but only one of them ends up having the talent. Tracey begins a career working in the chorus line of Broadway shows and Aimee falls into an assistant position to an iconic pop singer, getting the chance to observe how the one percent live. The tale swings from past to present as Smith builds layer upon layer in this friendship and, ultimately, if leaving home really does help to define our success.

There are profound moments in this book. An observation on race that had went unnoticed as a child, in her very opening chapter, moved me. There were moments where the writing was just brilliant and I wanted to read more. Yet, there was a lot of lag in this story where I felt if the novel had been trimmed in half, it would have been a more solid read for me. The swinging between decades, at times, also felt confusing and did not flow. I may be in the minority on those observations, but thought I would share that anyway!

I am still glad I read it and I want to read White Teeth next month since that seems to be the book that everyone loved from her.  Have you read it? For me, the brilliant moments made it worth the read, but I am not sure if this would be a good book for everyone.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Missing Presumed by Susie Steiner

Missing Presumed by Susie Steiner

Missing Presumed came out at the same time as All the Missing Girls and I decided I could only handle one missing girl story in the summer so I went with All the Missing Girls. This book was selected for our local book club and it also had received a lot of buzz from critics. I would not say this was a bad book, but I will say that I discovered that I do not enjoy police procedural books very much at all. The reason I am including it though is that I know many of you do so this might be a perfect pick for you especially if you are a fan of British mysteries.

This explores the case of a wealthy college girl who goes missing and the 72-hours that are spent trying to find where this girl went. With no signs of struggle and no real evidence left behind, the police have a case that seems almost impossible to solve. They begin with her closest friends and boyfriend, looking for any information that they can to find Edith. The reader gets to go through the case from start to finish, interview by interview, leading up to the discovery of what happened to Edith.

If you love a good British mystery, this book just might be for you! For me, not my favorite!

3 Out of 5 Stars

sundays-with-writers-1

 

Read With Me This Year:

January Must-Reads

February Must-Reads

March Must-Reads

April Must-Reads

May Must-Reads

June 2016 Must-Reads

July 2016 Must-Reads

August 2016 Must-Reads

September 2016 Must-Reads

October 2016 Must-Reads

November 2016 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

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.

Amy’s Notebook 11.30.16

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Organized Camera Gear Drawer

source: i heart organizing

This post is really inspiring me to get my camera equipment organized.

I did not know a lot behind the Fixer Upper success and found this to be a great read on entrepreneurship.

Old sweaters get a fun new purpose in holiday stockings- I love a good upcycle!

12 DIY gifts people will actually want. You can find some other great ideas over here too!

Listening to complaining is as bad as secondhand smoke for your health. I am really inspired by this complaining challenge.

Put leftover turkey and cranberry sauce to work in these delicious melts!

8 things all successful women do on Sundays.

Chicken, Sausage, & Sprouts One-Pot Meal

source: serious eats

I can’t wait to make this one-pot wonder for a family meal. It looks divine!

I was so excited to pick up this book today from my library. He has always been such a solid author for me- fingers crossed it’s a good one!

I haven’t jumped on the Gilmore Girls train yet, but fans will appreciate this analysis of the Gilmore Girls food.

This printable holiday to-do list is a good one to track everything floating around in your head in the middle of the night (or is that just me?).

Pretty and functional ways to style a bedside table. Love all of these smart solutions for wee spaces.

Brussels Sprouts and Breadcrumb Spaghetti? Um, yes please! I’d love to adapt this to gluten-free! This a great way to repurpose leftovers too.

How to DIY Oprah’s Favorite Things! I was so excited to see two of my projects featured in this incredible round-up!

Minimalist Holiday Decorating

source: my scandinavian home

I love this list of minimalist holiday decorating ideas- just think of how little you will have to put away after Christmas too!

My parents ordered this for me for Christmas and I’m so excited about trying a new craft this year!

This is great advice on choosing wardrobe essentials especially if your new year goal is to simplify that closet!

When your plate is full- what a good reminder about our choices during this busy season.

I love all these fall trends that are happening right now. They all feel very doable!

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

It’s the 3 Little Things: Boutique Workouts At Home, Netflix Binges, and Foldable Kitchen Islands

Friday, November 18th, 2016

holiday-home-tour-23

I had always dreamed of living in a big house and when we purchased our home, I knew that this would be the stepping stone we would need to get us to where we REALLY belonged. Thirteen years ago, my plans and life were laid out so very differently than they are now.

What changed?

Honestly, my own thinking about what we could make work in our space.

Only one shower?

Let’s put a corner to work in our half bath.

Always wanted a fireplace?

I’ll just make a little addition to a corner in our office.

More recently it was the desire to have a kitchen island that would require a complete renovation of our kitchen to make work. Guess who found a foldable island this week that can be brought out when needed (see below)? This girl! Sometimes small spaces require us to think outside of the box.

The real blessing of this smaller home came into fruition when my own health took a turn. My body doesn’t have the capacity it used to and this year, I realized I owed God a big thank you.

This home is just right for our needs and just right for my life.

Here are three other things that are making me awfully happy this week!

Exerpuetic Magnetic Stationary Bike

Boutique Workouts at Home

I have a membership to a local yoga studio, but I have been missing cardio a lot in my life. One type of exercise my doctor had suggested would be good for me would be biking because it would be low-impact and still give me that cardio high I had been after.

I gave a spinning class a try at a local gym and knew that I really loved it, but the reality of carrying two gym memberships and making time to use them both was making me a little anxious. There was just no way to do this with working full-time and the kid juggle.

Exerpuetic Foldable Stationary Bike

I actually found that purchasing a stationary bike was about the equivalent of a three month membership and being able to do this at home allows me to workout AND work on my own schedule rather than wasting my time at the gym. After reading a ton of reviews, I got the Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike and we were amazed at how awesome this turned out to be for its price. Our home is small so we appreciated that this bike wouldn’t intrude too much on our living room space and it would be a little quieter way to workout rather than pounding on that treadmill in the mornings. It is well-built, quiet, and does a really great job for what I was looking for in an at-home workout.

The real problem for me though was getting in a proper workout without a proper trainer. Honestly, I need guidance or I’m lazy.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cyclecast-indoor-cycling-workout/id999390082?mt=8

YOU GUYS! I found the BEST trainer app for my phone and now I am KILLING it in this little corner of our house.

Once you purchase a stationary bike, you can get the CycleCast app and have a fresh workout each week for $9.99 a month. Basically, it costs less than a single class at our gym and I have a whole month of classes with a variety of instructors every single week.

CycleCast App

With this app, you can pick the duration of your workouts and you can select an instructor whose music taste fits with your own.  Once the workout starts, you have guided training throughout to help push you to burn calories and increase your distance. The first workout I did, I burned over 500 calories and clocked in over ten miles on my stationary bike.

Actual conversations I had with my imaginary trainer…

ME: I can’t do it anymore. My legs are burning and I’m tired.

JONATHAN: I’m going to put on a little Turn Down for What to see if you can push yourself more.

ME: You got me. I’ll keep riding. I do love some Turn Down for What….you’re the best, Jonathan! 

Each week the instructors add a new workout so you don’t get bored or have to do the same thing twice. The music is awesome and the price is just right for a cheapskate!

The first month membership is free so you have 30-days to try it out. I can’t recommend it enough and I’m very excited about how I’ve been able to squeeze this into my week in a realistic way. I also love that my husband can use this in the winter and get some cardio in as well. We both need it in these long winter months.

kitchen-island-review

Foldable Kitchen Island

A kitchen island has been a dream of mine, but my small kitchen would need a complete overhaul to make it happen. I started researching to see if there were any portable kitchen islands that would work and ran across these Origami Kitchen Carts and told my husband that I thought this would make the perfect solution for our kitchen.

As you can see it’s a metal cart that comes in a variety of colors and the entire top is solid wood. It comes almost fully assembled (you only need to attach the casters) and it is easy to pop up or put down as needed. Not only does it make a great kitchen island, but it could be a makeshift bar cart, can be used for your outdoor entertaining, or a as a grilling station set-up next to the grill. Since I do a ton of food photography for our site, it’s actually the perfect solution for prepping and pulling into a well-lit corner for photos.

This folds into a very reasonable size too so it can be put away when it is not needed.

I know I’ve talked about the Honey extension for your computer on this list, but download that before purchasing. Honey will find a coupon code for you and, if you are lucky like me, it brings the cost of this baby down to just $80!  They also offer these on Amazon, but purchasing through HSN makes more sense if you have a coupon code going for you or you want some fun colors! It was my first purchase with them and I was pleasantly surprised at the quick shipping and the way it was packed.

This definitely will come in handy for holiday food prep and our many gatherings in our home.

the-crown

The Crown

I needed an escape this week and I found a breathtaking one in The Crown on Netflix. I had been waiting with bated breath for the show and asked my hubby if he might want to give this show a shot this week. Although he isn’t into period pieces the way that I am, we are both absolutely stunned by the incredible acting, costuming, sets, and stories of the Royal family in this series.

First of all, if you aren’t familiar with what it’s about, this  story  focuses on Queen Elizabeth II as a 25-year-old newlywed faced with the daunting prospect of leading the world’s most famous monarchy while forging a relationship with legendary Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill. Her father’s untimely death leaves her in a position of authority and it is a mixed blessing for Elizabeth and her family.

As a fun fact, this is Netflix’s most expensive series and they are anticipating at least six seasons of this show so it is one you can get fully committed to for awhile. They are, in fact, already shooting the second season.

If you haven’t tuned into The Crown yet, make this part of your weekend agenda. I promise you will not be disappointed!

Loving: Today’s highlights include how Christmas feels when you have a cat, a PSA for Hufflepuffs, Thanksgiving amidst a heated political climate, me when I’m listening to A Tribe Called Quest, some amazing dancing, and Enter Sandman with classroom instruments.

If you want to laugh at something a little less PC, this subway prank with book covers made me LOL repeatedly. It’s juvenile and sometimes you just need that!

Reading: My book club meets up today so I have been working through this book. It has been a good mystery exploring a missing person’s case. I would say if you enjoyed What She Knew or All the Missing Girls, this would be a good book for you!

Laughing: If Ross Geller had an IG account- so funny and loving the comments from his family below the pics. If you are a Friends fan, you will appreciate this one!!

Date night

Thankful: For a semi-annual date night with my husband this week. We shared a beer and talked our way through our feelings on politics. Blessed to be in a partnership with someone who shares many of my same views on politics and the world. It’s good to talk it through, if you can, with someone you love, respect, and trust. I got to do that this weekend and it was some good stuff for both of us!

Happy Fri-yay!

*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 11.16.16

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

Snowball Wreath  source: the happy housie

How adorable is this snowball wreath for the holidays?

Maybe success doesn’t always feel like it looks from the outside. I often doubt my own success on anything so this resonated with me a lot.

I love the idea of starting a cookbook club to help me getting out of my cooking ruts!

10 pieces, 15 outfits. I love this capsule inspiration.

If you need a little inspiration for your Thanksgiving feast, I have a slow cooker Thanksgiving turkey this year and how to make almost your entire feast ahead this year! It’s not too late!

Here are also some tips for having a Chill-giving (totally a thing!).

one-sheet-pan-honey-garlic-lemon-chicken-with-potatoes

source: diethood

This honey garlic lemon chicken with potatoes looks like a delicious sheet pan dinner to try.

I’m reading this book for my book club this week and really enjoying it!

Here are 9 fall outfit ideas to inspire your autumn wardrobe.

If you are still processing the election, Design Mom asked readers about who they voted for and I enjoyed reading through the answers with my morning coffee. My husband and I had a lot to talk about after reading this respectful comment thread. Cup of Jo shares a few things you can do now that the election is over and I couldn’t agree more with this list. Lastly, Tsh shares tips on three things she does when she is discouraged and sad. You can also read my own thoughts on the election, if you haven’t caught that post yet- I was honored to have my piece shared in our church newsletter last week.

Who is excited about this potential new service from Amazon? Crazy!

This slow cooker cacciatore looks divine!!

Organizing Sunglasses

source: graceful order (image),  apartment therapy (article)

How to get large collections of items into an organized order. I’m going to try a few of these in my house!

I want to try this pumpkin risotto recipe. Get ready, Instant Pot!

Madly in love with this idea for hanging photos on your Christmas tree (and all those colors)!

12 perfect wines for Thanksgiving- noted!

If you want to get a jump start, here are some tips for freezing that pumpkin pie this year!

This was your top purchase from our site this week- what a great gift to share for the holidays!

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