Archive for the ‘Reads’ Category

It’s the 3 Little Things: Spiced Tea, Music With History, & a New Family Member

Friday, April 29th, 2016

It's the 3 Little Things

I am so thrilled we have another fun guest post today from one of my longtime readers, Renee! I had to email her to tell her to share more about her favorites because I actually own none of these! Don’t you love discovering new things?  I love when I find a new favorite thing right along with you! Thank you, Renee, for making my wish list a little longer this week.

Here’s a few of Renee’s favorite things today!

Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea

Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea

I fell in love with Harney and Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea when I tried (and miserably failed) to give up coffee.  Even though I still love my cup of joe, I adore this tea.  It is so warm and comforting and smells divine. Every time I have a cup at work, people comment on how good it smells.  My administrative assistant has even started stocking it in the teacher’s lounge for my faculty.  It may seem like a winter drink, but I will drink it year round.  I get mine on Amazon.

Hamilton Soundtrack Free on Prime

Hamilton Soundtrack

I taught US History for 19 years before becoming a HS Principal.  One of my favorite history fellas to teach about was Alexander Hamilton.  He was an unstoppable force and now the musical about his life is impossible to see because it’s sold out for the foreseeable future.  Thanks to the awesome Amazon Prime, I have the Hamilton soundtrack to try to memorize (so many words!!!!!!).  Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius!  What I wouldn’t give to see the musical… I guess I’ll be reading the 1000 page book soon that inspired Miranda to write the musical.

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

My whole family has fallen in love with the Amazon Echo.  A total luxury item, but Alexa has become a member of the family.  She’s especially good at playing the Hamilton soundtrack while I “dance-clean” the house.  I’ve never felt more organized because of Alexa’s voice activated lists and handy app.  She even reads my Kindle books to me while I cook.  My son loves to ask Alexa to tell him jokes and I get my news updates from Alexa while having my morning coffee.  Alexa is a great addition to our household.

This Week I’m…

ethan

Reading: Don’t You Cry, by Mary Kubica. I always love her thrillers! I can’t wait to read another one of her incredible books on my flight to California this week!

Eating: Far too many s’mores after discovering gluten-free graham crackers. We also are grilling up some of these easy chicken tenders for busy weeknights!

Playing: Loads of Exploding Kittens. A sleepover for his sister led to a lovely night with our teen boy. I am just documenting that he wanted to hang out with us (a rarity when you are that cool!)

Staining: My picnic table for another round of summer gatherings. I am thrilled with this deep rich stain I picked this year (leftover stain from this DIY project. Cost this year? ZERO!)

Drinking: Hopefully load of mojitos poolside with my blogging bestie, Kelly from Redefined Mom at our “work conference” (ahem!). If you can’t be poolside with me, check out this easy DIY mojito recipe!

Happy Friday, friends!

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

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Amy’s Notebook 04.27.16

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Small kitchen update via A Beautiful Mess

Source: A Beautiful Mess

 

Small kitchen inspiration- love the idea of painting that backsplash.

I love ALDI wine and I’m adding a few of these to my shopping list!

Here are four performances of a man gone far too soon.

I adore Tina Fey.

100 must-read memoirs.

Baked chicken fajita roll-ups look amazing!

Tween Girl books via Modern Mrs. Darcy

Source: Modern Mrs. Darcy

 

12 terrific books for tween girls.

I am a HUGE Kazdin fan. He suggests for problem behavior, spanking and even time-out are a waste of time. Try this instead.

I’m inspired to meditate after reading this.

This is on my summer bucket list.

40’s- a time for many a risky affair. What do you think?

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!

 

Sundays With Writers: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

Sundays With Writers

I love discovering debut novelists and today’s guest, Jeff Zentner, is joining me today to talk about his first book, The Serpent King. I wanted to post this interview right away because it is on sale this month for just $1.99. Make the purchase. I promise you, it will be one of your favorite reads this year! It’s a gripping YA read that had me laughing and crying (sometimes simultaneously) and I was so sad when this book ended.  It’s as epic as, The Fault in Our Stars.

It’s that good.

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

The Serpent King 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. I had to know what would happy with these three and I couldn’t wait to chat with Jeff about his incredible writing. 

Grab your coffee and let’s chat today with Jeff Zentner about the story behind his story!

Jeff-Zentner-Headshot

I know that many of us feel like we have a book in us, but we also feel like we don’t have the time. I understand that you managed to write your book on your commute on your phone. Can you tell us a little about that process and how big that screen was on that phone because I’m trying to picture this? I’m so impressed!

It was a process born of simple necessity! I had almost two hours of bus commute each day, round trip, a day job, and a family. I had to squeeze the writing in whenever I could. So I’d try to write 500 words on my iPhone 5S on the way into the office, 500 words at lunch, and 500 words on the way home. Yes, my right thumb would get very tired. After I’d put my son to bed at night, I would try to write another thousand words or two (on my laptop) if I could.

Before writing, my primary creative outlet was music, and what makes writing wonderful is that I can whip out my phone at all sorts of random times and get a little work done on something. I couldn’t do that with music, because even in Nashville, bringing your guitar on the bus and trying to work out a new song is frowned upon.

I grew up in a very conservative religious home, not exactly like Dill’s, but I could relate to that need to not disappoint God or your parents. Even though Dill has so much thrown at him, he seems pretty steadfast in his faith through it all. Did you want your readers to take away that message and why do you think it was important for Dill not to turn away from God?

I also grew up in a conservative religious home, although my parents were much more supportive and loving than Dill’s. Still, I was able to glean insights about what growing up with less supportive and loving religious parents would look like. Through my life, I’ve had my struggles with faith and I’ve had to come to my own view of God because I don’t always believe everything I’m told about him. Faith is a thing not easily abandoned, and I think it would have been dishonest of me to depict it as something one can simply walk away from. It felt more honest to me to have Dill wrestle with it until he could come to know a God who was more concerned with his joy than putting him to constant tests that could harm him.

Tavi Gevinson

Lydia was my favorite character because I could relate to her humor and to her job as a blogger. I understand she was loosely on Tavi Gevinson and her fashion blog Style Rookie. I know, as a blogger, I am concerned a lot about my brand and I related to Lydia’s struggle with not sharing photos of her friends to stay consistent to her brand’s message. Do you think it was wrong of her to do that and how did you come up with this all-too-true blogger struggle?

I actually don’t believe that it was wrong of her to do that. It’s her blog and her persona and her brand and I think she’s entitled to craft those things as she sees fit. But even though I think she wasn’t wrong to exclude Travis and Dill, I think she was right to include them once she felt brave enough to do so. I think at that point she was correct that no one would think less of her for associating closely with the fashion-challenged.

But ultimately what I think about the rightness or wrongness of Lydia’s actions is in no way authoritative. I lost all power to dictate how people felt about her behavior once I published the book with her in all of her flaws. So if anyone else thinks she was wrong to exclude Dill and Travis, who am I to say otherwise?

I came up with this struggle sort of by intuition. I’d read Tavi’s blog and it looked like she associated exclusively with people with equally amazing style. I thought it unlikely that she only knew and loved people with exceptional fashion sense. So I figured there was some image control going on there. Also, I’ve maintained Internet presences for years for various musical projects, so I knew that part of crafting an image and persona was selectivity in what you reveal about yourself.
Snakehandling

Dill grows up in a Pentecostal church that believes in snakehandling. What type of research did you do to create your church scenes?

I’ve long been fascinated with the practice of snakehandling, so I’ve done a fair amount of reading on it. The definitive work is a beautiful book called Salvation on Sand Mountain, which I highly recommend. I also interviewed friends who have attended worship services at snakehandling churches.

The nice thing, though, is that there’s no central authority for snakehandling sects. There’s no pope of snakehandling. So I invented the church in the book and therefore no one can say I got it wrong!

One line in your book is, “And if you’re going to live, you might as well do painful, brave, and beautiful things.” I really loved it because it is so true. I would imagine that it took a lot of bravery to put your book out into the world. Do you feel like this is one of the bravest things you’ve done? Have you always dreamed of writing or was this something you discovered you enjoyed later in life?

I do think it’s one of the bravest things I’ve personally done, but that doesn’t mean it’s one of the bravest things that can be done. I think it takes more courage to do what Dill does in the book, which is to survive bleak circumstances, including bullying. unloving parents and poverty, and not allow them to define him.

I haven’t always dreamed of writing because for most of my life, it wasn’t something that I allowed myself to dream. It just seemed too impossible; too daunting. I thought books were things that floated down from ivory towers, clutched in baskets held by doves. It’s only been in the last few years, and becoming personally acquainted with several published authors, that it’s come to feel like something I was capable of doing. It helped too that I had a day job that required rigorous, intensive writing on a daily basis. That was the final element that gave me the courage to try my hand.

Jeff Zentner at Penguin Random House

(follow Jeff on Facebook!)

You signed a two book deal with Crown/Random House & Tundra/Random House Canada which is awesome and (for me as a writer) a little terrifying too. Did you have to immediately get to work on the second book after this book was published? Has your writing process changed with this book or are you still writing on a bus?

It was terrifying for me too! I had no idea what my second book would be, and yet I needed to deliver my editors something she loved as much as The Serpent King, a story I’d thought about for years. I ran several ideas past them until finally, on idea ten or eleven, something clicked. So I got to work on book two and now it’s finished and on track for a spring 2017 release. It’s not a companion or a sequel to The Serpent King, but it does feature a cameo from one of The Serpent King’s gang.

My process for this book was a little different. While I was writing The Serpent King, I did nothing but write it. No outside reading, no TV, no movies, nothing. And I decided I wasn’t going to try to write again so devoid of my creative inputs of information. So with book two, I made sure to leave plenty of time to consume the books and shows that I loved while I was writing. I did write almost all of it on the bus. I wrote even more of it on the bus than The Serpent King, in fact, because I reserved my evenings for reading and shows.

I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone, but I felt like it left it wide open for a sequel. Do you see this story continuing or do you feel like you have closed the chapters on these friends?

I can’t envision writing a sequel. I’m happy with where things end and I think I gave my readers enough for them to write their own lovely sequels in their heads. I even used to have an epilogue that I cut because I was unsatisfied with how neatly it tied everything up with a bow. I didn’t leave enough room for imagination.

I’ve had the unique opportunity to interview a few musicians turned novelists over the years and I understand you are a musician (as well as an attorney & youth camp volunteer!) as well. Are you still writing music too? Do you find these processes to be similar?

Sadly, I find that the music-writing muse has left me. But hopefully only for a time. I’m starting to make friends with my guitar again. I went a long time without even playing it. I’m just trying to renegotiate my relationship with music now. It feels like we broke up and we’re just learning how to be friends again.

There is, truly, the best prom date ever written in your book. Please tell me your high school prom was that cool?

I wish I could tell you that! I barely even remember prom. I remember we got rained on and my date’s hair was still wet for our pictures. That was pretty funny. And pathetic. So I guess we had kind of a pathetic prom.

Lastly, what is one of your all-time favorite books? (This will be added to one of our most visited posts of must-reads from the authors featured in Sundays With Writers)

I’m going to cheat and do two.

On the adult side, my all-time favorite book is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It’s so brutal and unsparing yet beautiful and filled with ferocious love. I feel like I can survive anything with that story in my mind.

On the young adult side, my favorite book is The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter. It’s so incredibly lyrical and gorgeous and filled with wisdom. It inspires me asa writer to work harder.

Jeff Zentner

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

*This post contains affiliate links!

 

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It’s the Three Little Things: Colors of the Rainbow, A Blast Into the Past, and Protein Bars

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

It's the 3 Little Things

Oh, I love it when we have a guest post for our 3 Little Things list. You guys always have the best stuff to share and it is so great to get a little variation to our happy list. Today Lori joins us from Wool Gathering Designs to share a few of the things that make her so happy! Thank you, Lori!!

Paper Mate Flair Pens

Colors of the Rainbow

When my third grader came home begging me to buy him a set of colored pens, I fell in love with him all over again! I am a die hard lover of all things office supply and am excited he is starting to get as giddy about them as I do!  The writing utensils the third graders were raving over are Paper Mate’s Flair Pens.  They come in a million colors and are a great, no bleed felt tip pen.  I found the best selection and price at our local Sam’s Club, and he was able to purchase them with a gift card from his birthday.
(Admission: I bought a set for me too!)

A Blast Into the Past

I have been a hard core Stephen King fan since high school, when I picked up my first book in emulation of my dad.  It’s been quite a few years since I’ve read SK, but I have not been disappointed at all so far with 11/22/63! It’s a true to form mix of SK writing and themes, tied into one of the biggest “watershed moments” in US history.

I have always been intrigued by the conspiracies surrounding JFK’s assassination, and it is fun to indulge in this historical fiction.  I’ve stayed up way too late, many a night turning pages.  I’m a bit behind on the 11/22/63 hoopla, and just realized that there is an eight part 11/22/63 mini series on Hulu! I know what’s in the queue when I close that back cover!

Zbar-Protein-Bars

Protein Bars

In January, I hired a personal trainer and began weight lifting and eating better, to try to lose the few pounds that I couldn’t shake on my own.  One of the things she advocates is a good balance of daily “macros”, which include protein, fat and carbohydrates.  As I began better balancing my own diet, I realized that my kids’ diet wasn’t as balanced either.  We were all low on protein.
Then I ran across the Clif Kid ZBAR Protein.  They come in three yummy flavors and have 5 grams of protein in each bar.  What really gets me about these protein bars is that they don’t have a lot of sugar in them (9g). A lot of time bars like this are loaded up with sugar; the “non-kid” Clif Builder’s Protein Bar has 22g of sugar!  My kids inhale them, and I have no problem getting them to take these bars as a school or after sports snack! Plus, I know it is doing them good.

This week I’m…

Reading: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum.  I was such a big fan of her first two books, After You The Opposite of Loveand then I haven’t read anything of her’s for years. I am so excited she just released her debut YA novel. I am already loving it and happy to be reading her words again.

Eating: Roasted Turkey Sandwiches- these are still such a big favorite over at our house! ALDI still is selling my favorite turkey breasts in the frozen section of their store!

Watching: Enjoy these 73 questions with Taylor Swift. #bigfan

Excited:  About this book coming to life- doesn’t this trailer look SO GOOD?

Happy Friday, friends!

 *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 04.20.16

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

Plum painted master bedroom via The Inspired Room

Source: The Inspired Room

 

Master bedroom inspiration- love the color in this room.

Glee fans will tear up over this one- so sweet!

5 great podcast episodes to listen to.

We need to try this pancake trick!

Try this! Frame a wallpaper sample.

Back during the Harlem Renaissance, he swept the lindy hop of its feet and transformed big-band dance. More than sixty years later, Frankie Manning got a renaissance of his own.

Airbnb Tiny Houses via Thrillist

Source: Thrillist

 

How fun to rent a tiny house!

Spring capsule wardrobe inspiration.

Oh, this looks really good!!

Best drugstore products for summer skincare.

21 brilliant books you’ve never heard of.

Chinese chicken salad spring rolls- yum!

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!

 

Sundays With Writers: Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

Sundays With Writers

I love how book clubs can stretch me into books or genres of books that I might not have ever explored on my own. This month our local book club read Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan. It was such an incredible read that I knew I had to share it with you. When preparing for this interview, as with most of these interviews, I discovered the author was just as intriguing as the book. I’m so excited to share an interview with Shawna today and how she prepared for her incredible new book.

Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan

I just love when a book educates you on a time in history that you have been completely unaware of. Ryan pulls off a magnificent literary feat by tackling six decades set in Taiwan over the course of the twentieth century. It is horrific what so many endured during this time and begins with the story of the unnamed narrator’s father being captured because he is suspected of Communist activities. He is kept for over a decade in brutal and inhumane conditions. It then follows his return home, the unkindness of others, the stress of feeling watched, and the other generations that continue to struggle through the decades with their own issues. It’s far too much to go into in a quick review, but you will learn a lot along the way!

There are a couple of things I would note when you dig into this great read.  First, I wish I would have educated myself a bit before diving into it. I knew nothing about the Chinese nationalists or the history of Taiwan and there is no real introduction into the history of that.  After a browse through Wikipedia, I was able to understand better, but it was a confusing time in politics and reading that first would have helped me through the book. I also found this one moves at a slower pace at times, but I felt it was worth the journey to really build out these characters.

Now grab your coffee and let’s chat with Shawna Yang Ryan this morning!

Shawna Yang Ryan

I understand that Green Island took fourteen years to write. What an incredible moment to finally see your book out in the world after all that time! What was your biggest challenge you faced when writing this book and how did the challenges compare to writing your debut novel, Water Ghosts?

I still have to pinch myself—I still can’t quite believe it’s out! The biggest challenge was managing all the information and figuring out how to tell the story in a way that was responsible to the people who had lived through the events. I felt much more free to be inventive and less beholden to the facts of history with Water Ghosts, which is set much further in the past and depends more on magical realism than history.

Chiang Kai-shek(蔣中正)

As an American, I was blindly unaware of this time in history for Taiwan and I am sure I echo many other Americans who were unaware as well. What do you think are some common misconceptions that are held about this time in history? What do you hope people will come away with after reading your book?

Thank you for saying that. I too was largely unaware of this history before I did this project. The biggest misconception is that Taiwan somehow “broke away” from China, rather than seeing the story as Chiang Kai Shek fleeing to Taiwan and then using it for his own purposes. The supposed “China/Taiwan split” is really about an old conflict between two Chinese political parties and not about Taiwan. Taiwan is separate from the Chinese Nationalists (or Kuomintang/KMT) but the two get conflated. I hope that after reading the book, people will understand Taiwan’s distinct history, and why the island rightly should be considered and recognized as an independent country, and not a “renegade Chinese province.”

Green Island Taiwan Prison

(green island prison, source: Taiwan Adventures)

In 1987, martial law was finally lifted in Taiwan. Did you find that people were still hesitant to talk to you when you were conducting interviews for your book or did you get the impression that they were finally unafraid? What was your favorite interview that you did while gathering your research?

I started interviewing in late 2002 and a few people were still afraid, though many more were relieved to speak out. One woman told me that her colleagues did not believe the story of the massacre and had called it a lie, so she was glad that more and more people were starting to talk about their experiences. The more time went on, the more comfortable, eager even, people were to talk. Every interview was so intense, so interesting and so moving that I really don’t have a favorite. I do have a fondness for one interview that I hadn’t planned for—I was interviewing someone else and she said, let’s go find So-and-So and we walked over to his shop and talked him right then. I liked that it was spontaneous, and I liked sitting in his little shop on an old street in a small mountain town outside of Taipei and hearing him talk. The setting and the conversation together were a beautiful experience.

I have read that your own mother is Taiwanese and the daughter of Chinese immigrants who had fled the mainland in 1949. Did any of your own relatives share or aid in crafting your story for Green Island?

I based some of the story of Ah Zhay’s husband on my grandfather, who, as you note, fled to Taiwan in 49. My aunt’s husband’s father was also a 49er, who married a local woman, and I borrowed a little from their unique story too. And I thought about my parents’ romance in Taichung in the 70s for the narrator’s experiences in that period. I also had a conversation with my dad about motorcycles and who rode what—it was fun to think of all the nuances embedded in something as simple as that.

fulbright

You had the unique opportunity to come to Taiwan through the Fulbright program and then ended up staying in Taiwan for three years. What was just as impressive as your book to me was that while you were there you took Mandarin daily and tried to do many household tasks only speaking Mandarin.

Not only does the language have 20,000 Chinese characters, tones in your voice can mean completely different things. How difficult was it to learn for you and how do you think knowing this shaped and improved the quality of your writing?

It was extremely difficult and it’s still difficult! I get tongue-tied so often! Though I have learned so many characters by now that when I read something, I think, My god, how did I do it?  How do I know that character, I don’t recall studying it—since every single one took countless repetitions to memorize. After all that, it was only last summer when I was visiting my family that I had what I guess must be the experience of fluency. I found myself listening to their conversations and not translating in my head. I even forgot they were speaking Mandarin. I was just in it. It was amazing! I guess twenty years of study gets you somewhere eventually!

Language study has made me more aware of grammar, so I think my sentences have a lot more formal transitions—more subordinators and conjunctive adverbs than before. I’m also more aware of the roots and connotations of words. I think about how metaphors might make sense in Mandarin.

What do you miss the most about living in Taiwan now that you are teaching in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Hawai’i?

I definitely miss my family. I also miss the feeling of being slightly not-at-ease with myself—feeling foreign and working through the day in another language. Lastly, Taiwan may be the most convenient place on earth to live. You can even do your dry cleaning at 7-11!

I loved reading that you had a really unique experience landing your literary agent. Can you tell us a little bit about your road to landing an agent with your first book?

I had been sending my first novel out for years and receiving rejections. One rejection stated that it sounded like a story, not a novel!  I found that my former professor had started a small press, so I queried them, and his editor liked the manuscript and they ended up publishing it. Somehow, a copy found its way into the hand of Marilyn Dahl of “Shelf Awareness,” and she wrote a rave review. An agent saw the review and emailed me. It was out of the blue, and I had given up on going the traditional publishing route, so I was very surprised. My path was circuitous, but it worked out in the most ideal way.

If we want to learn more about Taiwan and their history, can you share books or documentaries that might help us understand more about what the Taiwanese people faced?

Julie Wu has a lovely novel called The Third Son that came out a few years ago. A few books by Taiwanese feminist author Li Ang have been published into English. Hou Hsiao Hsien, considered by some to be one of the best filmmakers in the world, has two films that are particularly historical: A City of Sadness, about the 228 Massacre, and The Puppetmaster, which is part narrative and part documentary about the life of puppeteer Li Tian-lu. Lastly, for nonfiction lovers, George Kerr’s Formosa Betrayed is a classic.

Lastly, what is one of your all-time favorite books? (This will be added to one of our most visited posts of must-reads from the authors featured in Sundays With Writers)

Toni Morrison’s Beloved is a perfect novel. The perfect novel? The language is dense and poetic, and it strikes the ideal balance between personal level intimacy with the characters and broad, historical importance, as it tackles the trauma of American slavery. And it has magical realism! This book is everything.

Watch this interview to learn more about why Shawna decided to write about Taiwan!

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

*This post contains affiliate links!
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It’s the 3 Little Things: Perfect Petite T-Shirt, Laughs, & More Laughs

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Ramona Books

What a special week to know that one of my favorite childhood author’s turned 100! Happy birthday to Beverly Cleary.  If you haven’t dug into the Ramona books with your little girl, it is one of those moments you will always treasure. There were a lot of articles about Beverly Cleary this week, but my favorite was this interview. You can just tell she’s still got that wonderful sense of humor.

Hey, if you have a moment, I’d love to invite you to Like Us On Facebook. I have a little personal goal to see that grow to 20,000 this year so I am working really hard to keep it fresh and funny for you. I would be honored for you to be a part of that! 

audible

A Happy For YOU (and me!)

I was SO excited to see that Audible is giving THREE months FREE this month instead of their normal 30-day trial membership. It gives you one audiobook a month and I am totally cashing in on this freebie. I hope this makes YOU as happy as it makes ME!!

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

Petite Dolman T-Shirt

(sources: black t-shirt, black leggings, necklace, & booties)

Perfect Petite Girl Dolman Top

I am working on showing off my spring/summer wardrobe for my next capsule wardrobe. I am keeping the wardrobe almost all gently used (thanks thredUP!), but one thing I needed was a white & black t-shirt. Those were two of the things I thought might be worth investing in since I tend to wear those the most in the summer.

I am IN LOVE with the oversized t-shirt styles, but I am petite (short and small framed) so oversized tees can quickly gravitate towards the nightgown look on me. The boxy style never seems to work out for me, but this week I found THE loose t-shirt that doesn’t look all wrinkly, can be dressed up or down, can be worn with leggings since it is just a little longer in the back, and it was on sale! Yay!

FYI, this is the XS. I could have sized down, but I really wanted the looser fit. It’s a little sheer so I have a cami underneath! It looks almost like linen in the front with a great draping and t-shirt feel on the back.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

My Favorite Show is Back

Today is THE DAY that I have been waiting for because the second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt begins and I am going to do all I can to really settle into a Netflix binge with my hubby for this next season. If you haven’t watched it, you must! As a good old-fashioned Midwestern girl, I can relate to a girl like Kimmy and her adventures in New York.

This awesome show is a Tina Fey-produced comedy featuring a young woman who’s trying to build a life for herself in New York City after escaping a doomsday cult.

Based on this description alone, you should watch it.

This is one of those shows that makes me laugh until I cry (repeatedly!).

Are you adding season 2 to your agenda too?

lol

Photoshopped Book Covers- One Big LOL

ADULT humor, friends, adult humor. Or not.  Kind of childish, but adult language. These photoshopped book covers are absolutely hilarious. Is it sad that this caption reminds me of my first kiss? It was pretty awful.

Look at these and have a good laugh without your kids. The Taco Bell title and the Exploding Sun are two of my favorites!

This week I’m…

The Nest

Reading: The Nesand so far I’m really enjoying it. In a way it reminds me of Jonathan Tropper’s, This is Where I Leave YouThis one has received a lot of mixed reviews. I am hoping it is a 5-star rating for me. Have you read it?

Eating: Surprising my kids with a Shrimp Boil tonight. It’s finally beautiful in Indiana and I look forward to their favorite feast on a gorgeous day.

Watching: Tiny House Hunters & Tiny House Builders came to Netflix. There are only a few episodes of each. Is it because they only had a few because only that many people would do that or was it a really short season? Let me know, HGTV subscribers! Regardless, I am dreaming of a tiny house again!

Laughing: These brothers are awful. And funny. Another crying laugh (no adult language- it’s one you can laugh at with your kids!)

Happy Friday, friends!

 *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 04.13.16

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Crochet Market Bag via Left in Knots

Source: Left In Knots

How cute would this bag be to take to the farmer’s market?

My book list gets longer (be sure to check out those comments!)

DIY hard lemonade looks like a great summer treat.

Free pattern to make your own crochet buntings.

Avoid those spring spending traps!

Spring capsule wardrobe inspiration! I’m putting mine together this week!!

Still my favorite show on television.

Treats that Aren't Shopping or Eating via Yes and Yes

Source: Yes and Yes

Treat yo’ self without spending money. YES!

A tip for wearing maxi dresses in cooler weather- genius!

What a beautiful breakfast!

Painted bricks- so cute.

I swear by my earlier morning routines. It helps so much!

Could you embrace a 10-piece wardrobe?

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!

 

It’s the 3 Little Things: Werewolves, Trips to Spain, & Forensics

Friday, April 8th, 2016

vail

I hope you are having a wonderful week. It is Spring Break in Indiana and my daughter and I went on a trip to see our BFF’s out in Colorado. We managed to squeeze in plenty of deer sightings, a trip to Garden of the Gods, antiquing, a day in Vail, and an afternoon in Breckenridge. Did I mention we did this in the matter of two days? We had some incredible tour guides! While we were doing all that, our son was having the time of his life with his grandma & grandpa catching the sites in Indy. What a memorable year this will be.

Here are a few other things I am enjoying this week!

One Night Ultimate Werewolf

One Night Ultimate Werewolf

Our friends invited us to join them and and another couple, who are really into board games like us, for a delicious dinner and game night. How lucky are we? They brought One Night Ultimate Werewolf to play and after we got done playing, Ryan got to ordering it the next day. Yup, it was that fun. I had never heard of it. Have you?

This is a great group game (ideally six or more people)  and the game is composed of two people, werewolves and townsfolk. The objective of the werewolves is to kill off all the villagers without themselves being killed. The objective of the townsfolk is to figure out who the werewolves are and kill them. One of the townsfolk is a seer, who has the ability to tell whether other players are werewolves or not.

The game works with an app that will tell each player what to do, for example, “Werewolves open your eyes,” so that you know who the other werewolves are.  Other things that can happen are that different roles may be required to switch cards or peek at cards, as directed by the app while everyone’s eyes are closed. Once everyone opens their eyes, you share why you aren’t the werewolf, defending your case that you are a townsfolk. The better the liar, the stronger the game. At the end, you decide who you think the werewolf is.

Each round takes about ten minutes and it is a BLAST. It can be played with kids although every time my daughter said, “I’M NOT THE WEREWOLF. I’M THE DRUNK,” it made me laugh (which she did not appreciate).

I also rediscovered that all those years of lying as a kid REALLY pay off in this game.

If you are looking for a fun, easy, and quick group game, I can’t recommend it enough. We are so happy our friends shared this one with us!

 

Vina Fuerte Tempranillo La Mancha Wine

A New ALDI Wine to Love

I love trying out the new wine offerings from ALDI. As you know, one of my favorite bottles is their Chianti. Well, Chianti, there is a new sheriff in town, and it is this Spanish red wine, Viña Fuerte Tempranillo Crianza. It is $4.99 a bottle, making it an affordable weeknight splurge. The wine is dry and has notes of black cherry and plum with a hint of clove and spice.  If you are looking for a new red to try, this is a great one for the price point!

The Poisoner's Handbook

The Poisoner’s Handbook

We are still trying to make the most of that Prime membership and, thankfully, there are plenty of fun documentaries to watch. We started watching, The Poisoner’s Handbook, which is a documentary about the first dive into forensics. It’s an exploration of how forensics was used to explain murders that happened in the 20th century. I can’t rave enough about this because they do such a great reenactment of what happened along with forensic experts that share the process. Of course, prohibition and no regulations on what you can add to household products and cosmetics, made it so much harder to figure out if death were caused by murders or by the items that everyone was using in their home.


Here is the trailer for it! It’s really well done and I learned so much about the pioneers of forensics. Hope you can use your Prime membership for this one too and learn a lot like I did this week!

This week I’m…

Reading: This book for my local book club. Have you read it yet? It looks really good!

Eating: We are testing Indian recipes this week for the blog. Fingers crossed for our gluten-free naan tonight!

Toms Leila Booties

Wearing: My only souvenir from Colorado in a little shop that had ONE pair of these for a mere $49. Be still my beating heart. They feel like slippers inside. I can’t rave enough. Did I mention they mold to your feet and I wore them all day as a tourist and never had a sore foot or blister. YES!!

Laughing: Enjoy the hilarious Pocahontas number. I’m still laughing!

Happy Friday, friends!

 *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 04.06.13

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

Palette Play House via A Subtle Revelry

Source: A Subtle Revelry

 

A playhouse made from pallets- WOW!

A real struggle with living in excess- oh, how I can relate.

No More Sandwiches! 20 non-sandwich lunch recipes.

Joanna Goddard’s mother shares her beauty uniform & it is perfect.

The best pinners to follow- lots of eye candy in these pin boards!

50 books every modern teenager should read.

What a brave piece to share. This is more than a home tour, more of a heart tour.

Egg-Ham and Greens Cups via Design Mom

Source: Design Mom

 

These baked ham and egg cups with dressed greens look like a fantastic breakfast!

Eek! I am so excited- we are IN LOVE with this illustrated series!

11 WiFi network names that put yours to shame.

Happy mail inspiration- what a sweet exchange!

DIY yarn wall hanging- you know I love this!!

The internet is not real life- a glimpse at how creatives approach Instagram.

REALLY loved this short film on the creator of The Oatmeal.

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!