Archive for the ‘Reads’ Category

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

 

I Hope You Brought a Second Piece of Luggage

Friday, November 11th, 2016

America

Our son is preparing for high school this year and, in our district, that means choosing a field of interest he might want to explore at college and selecting what option might fit his needs best. It was quite the process because it was really important to us that we pick the right thing for him. We went to hours and hours of meetings, we poured over the information that was sent home and spent lots of time talking to parents about how it all worked and their experience with the school. After all that time vested this year, we were relieved to find a school that would fit his needs perfectly. We can’t wait for this next chapter with him!

For me, the election season was like that. I never go into voting lightly and this year, I believe, was my most informed voter decision that I had ever made. I took unbiased quizzes to try to figure out what issues aligned with me most, I watched each of the debates, I spent hours reading articles from both sides of the coin, and I talked endlessly with my husband about what we were looking for in this presidential election. I was very vested when I placed my vote, as I know many of you were, and the person that I thought would do a good job did not win.

I expected what I saw on social media, but it’s been an awful scroll from both sides.

I hope you will humor me for a moment and envision the voting process a little differently than maybe the way you did before. I want you to imagine that when each person went to vote they carried behind them their luggage of issues. Maybe you came with an overnight sack of a couple of things that were important to you and placed your vote or you just had a week’s worth of stuff that was easier to roll and to manage while you were voting.

Others though were backing up moving vans of issues and trying to haul that in with them when they voted. That van was loaded, heavy, and packed to the brim.

When we got home, maybe your overnight bag was easy to unpack and you felt good about the outcome of the day. Even if it didn’t go your way, you felt good about unpacking and moving on to the next chapter.   You went about making your coffee, feeling good, and you gazed out your window and saw your neighbor with all this stuff just strewn all over the lawn.

It was a mess over there.

They looked overwhelmed and they were just sitting in the middle of it looking bewildered at how they were ever going to put all this crap away.

What is your knee jerk reaction to this view?

Do you roll your eyes and tell them to declutter? You laugh and head to your computer to make a hilarious meme on hoarding- your friends are going to LOVE this!

Do you head into the house and message them a helpful article that outlines why they should have hired a moving service? They should have known this was going to happen. You always saw it coming and had shared with them lots of articles before they moved about outsourcing this. I guess they did not read them.

Do you yell out the window, “Get up and put it away! You look emotional and you need to get over it and make your lawn look like mine!”

Do you put your coffee down, get your coat on, and tell them you want to help? You’re overwhelmed with their mess, but you know it might lighten the load if you did something. You know you are good at praying, listening, and organizing. You know they are hurting and and you are good at many of these things. You can’t do the unpacking, but wouldn’t it be nice to tell them that you are their friend.

What I worry about is that some of us may have forgotten a second piece of luggage in baggage claim. It was the bag with the empathy in it that helps you see your neighbor with love. Some people unpacked those bags and used them, but I fear that others of us forgot them. That second piece of luggage was really important for both sides to be able to work together. That second piece was the key to helping unpack the first one.

I’ll admit, this family still has some stuff on their lawn so I apologize for the view. We are hoping the view will change, but we haven’t gotten everything put away yet. We will get there, but we are trying to distribute that second piece of luggage to our friends while still unpacking our own. It wasn’t a moving truck size, but it wasn’t an overnight bag.

The silver lining to this story is that I know that we ALL want this country to succeed and this is the common theme that I am choosing to focus on.  I love our people and our country. I am praying that the transition is a good and hopeful one. We need it!

If you are feeling in the dumps right now, I hope that this will be an enjoyable scroll as I highlight the good in the world.

Good In Action

Amy’s Notebook 11.09.16

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

source: good cheap eats

How comforting does a big bowl of this creamy chicken noodle soup look right now? I love the tips for prepping and freezing for soup season!

I love getting to peek behind-the-scenes on how magazine covers are made.

A clever way to add style to your cabinets without breaking the bank.

This pumpkin pie green smoothie looks like a great way to start the morning.

Bookmarking this holiday decluttering guide- I always need these reminders.

I can always use a new Brussels Sprouts recipe- the addition of cider and bacon sound divine!

 

Peruvian Shrimp Recipe

source: gimme some oven

I’m drooling over this easy Peruvian Shrimp recipe. What a great weeknight meal idea!

Gluten-free pumpkin pie? YES, PLEASE!  Here is also another gluten-free option if you want to attempt pie-crust making!

Speaking of pie, these pie box toppers are so cute!

I cannot put this book down. You guys were right! It’s a fantastic thriller!

A beautiful lesson in letting go of objects connected to grief.

30 days of fall outfit inspiration- I can always use that!

Fur Pom Pom Wreath source: centsational girl

This fur pom-pom wreath is EVERYTHING!

A little tip to remember when signing off on those holiday cards.

I’d love to implement this bookshelf idea in our home!

I am adding a couple of these budget-friendly meal ideas from celebrity chefs to our meal plan!

Here are some great strategies for decluttering your digital life.

Drooling over these soy sauce eggs!

I needed these mindset reminders for decluttering.

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: Good People, Tea Organization, & Key Lime Dreams

Friday, November 4th, 2016

reading-space

The weather has been lovely this week and I switched my reading spot to sit under this beautiful tree in our backyard with a big stack of books. The fall here is nothing compared to our New England falls, but I think Indiana still provides a great display of colorful beauty too. Don’t you?

This has also been the first week of high school shopping for our son. Our kids have to pick an area of focus for their schooling which can be a difficult task at 14 to figure out. Can you imagine where your focus may have been at that age? I’m sure I would have felt the stage was where my career destiny was! I definitely never could have dreamed up this wildly weird job.  It feels strange to even be thinking about something that has always felt like a distant land when it comes to parenting my children. It feels monumental and, honestly, brings me a lot of melancholy as a mom. Everyone said it went by fast, but this feels just too soon for me. It’s a happy bittersweet moment to be moving into this realm as a mama.

I guess I feel conflicted about this next stage. Proud we kept him alive this long (kind of touch and go in those toddler years- hahaha!). If you have kids this age, do you feel that way too? I’m open to your advice on high school!

Here are a few other things that are making me happy this week.

the-good-place

The Good Place

I’d love to hear if you have gotten into any of the new shows this Fall television season!  It takes a lot to suck us into a show, mainly because we have far too much on our agenda to watch already, but we have gotten majorly sucked into, The Good Place. When I saw the trailer for this show, I told my husband I thought this was one we could really get into it. Eight episodes within two days confirms that, yes, this show is a real winner. With Kristen Bell and Ted Danson leading the cast, it comes as no surprise that it would be a good one.

The Good Place is a town where those who have been good throughout their life go to once they have passed away. Michael (Danson) is the architect who oversees the town, but this is the first time he has ever created one of these communities. He begins to realize that he made a few missteps, although he doesn’t know what they are, that include allowing a few people in who shouldn’t have been there. These people have to find a way to blend in or they risk destroying the good place for everyone.

It is laugh out loud funny, surprisingly sweet, and has some really smart writing. It’s also an enjoyably short show, perfect for tired moms and dads who can’t seem to commit to a full hour anymore. We have been watching it through Hulu!

I hope you love it as much as we do!

tea-organizer

An Organized Tea Spot

I love seasonal teas for the cooler seasons, but I don’t love how much space all of the boxes take in my small kitchen. I found this beautiful tea organizer, while out doing my shopping, and knew it would be the perfect addition to my kitchen. It also happens to be a great way to share your tea on the table with a guest.

Each of the drawers is glass and holds an entire box of tea bags. I cut the names off of the boxes to slip inside of the drawers so I knew what I was grabbing without covering up this pretty display. The drawers have a small wooden peg that keep them from slipping out and breaking. It’s surprisingly well-made especially for that price.

Pioneer Woman Tea Organizer

I love that it matches all the other patterned bowls that we have in our kitchen and it has freed up a ton of space in the drawer where I store all my coffee mugs! How cute is that?!?

Chobani Key Lime Yogurt

Chobani Key Lime Greek Yogurt

This week our grocery store had Chobani Key Lime Yogurts on sale for their 10 for $10 deal. It happened to be the only flavor that was on sale so I got ten and crossed my fingers that they would be a hit.

If you haven’t tried these RUN and get them RIGHT NOW. It tastes just like the filling in a key lime pie, but with a protein punch and less sugar. I put this in a bowl with this chocolate granola from ALDI and I feel like I get to have pie in the morning. Who wouldn’t be happy about pie in the morning?  Since I hate the crust anyway, this is my perfect idea of pie eating!

If you love key lime, you will love these!

Find-Her

Reading: Find Her by Lisa Gardner and it is a good pick if you are drawn to darker plot themes like Pretty Girls or anything by Gillian Flynn. I am about halfway through and loving every minute of it.

Browsing:  The GoodReads choice nominees for this year. I can’t pick a favorite this year. It’s like choosing your favorite child. So many incredible books happened in 2016 and I was so proud to see several of the authors I interviewed this year were featured. Which books are you voting for? I will try to put together a post for you for the library again like I did for you last year!

Laughing: I hear you like the laughs each week so I thought I would keep them coming. Today’s highlights include hilarious misspellings, a Stranger Things Christmas, a raccoon cooking tutorial, and a hilarious skit on congress to encourage you to vote. Don’t worry, it doesn’t endorse any particular candidate- I’m pretty sure you can guess who I’m voting for anyway!  Please note,that last one does have some language, but definitely compels a girl to get out there and do her civic duty!

I’m hoping to get my vote in early this weekend and dodge the crowds.

Stripes & Polka Dots

Loving:  The tiny scarf trend! Have you tried it? I got this scarf and now I want a million more. It is a perfect trend for petite girls and I love it with my favorite striped top! I’m also loving the large barreled curling wand I scored for waves for longer locks. Beach waves without a lot of work are definitely my jam!

Listening: NEW MUSIC FROM HAMILTON!!! OMG!!


Snag Some Great Book Deals Today (join the MomAdvice Book Club for More!)

A couple of FYI’s on today’s deals! FIRST WOMEN & GIRL IN THE BLUE COAT are GoodReads Choice Award Nominees and THE GOOD GIRLS REVOLT is actually a new Amazon series that I’m hoping to catch!!

FIRST WOMEN, $1.99
GIRL IN THE BLUE COAT, $1.99
THE NEVER LIST, $1.99
AN ATLAS OF IMPOSSIBLE LONGING, $1.99
COURTING GRETA, $1.99
MAUD’S LINE, $1.99
THE WHITE TIGER, $1.99
UNDER THE BLACK FLAG, $1.99
QUEEN SUGAR, $1.99
THE TYPEWRITER GIRL, $1.99
A CERTAIN SUMMER, $1.99
THE IMPERFECTIONISTS, $1.99
THE GOOD GIRLS REVOLT, $1.99
DOUBT- $2
GHOST MONTH, $1.99
AMARYLLIS IN BLUEBERRY, $1.99
LOVE WATER MEMORY, $1.99
THE BOOKSTORE, $1.99
WHEN SHE WAS GONE, $1.99
ANGELINA’S BACHELORS, $1.99
CROSSING ON THE PARIS, $1.99
DELANCEY, $3.99
TO FIND A MOUNTAIN, $1.99

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 11.02.16

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Dyed Fringe Pillows

source: centsational girl

I’m so inspired to try dying my fabric and fringe to match after reading this tutorial.

Life gets real when the television goes off- very interesting observations!!

Check out these responses for a fresh book list.

Bookmarking this channel for my kids to watch!

I love a good playlist so I am excited about listening to  this playlist for Thanksgiving.

No-Sew Passport Cover

source: inspired by charm

What a gorgeous no-sew passport cover for your travels. Love the masculine touches on this one!

The best career advice (and so much more in the comments too). My husband and I read these together and gained a lot.

How to set a simple and elegant table- I love the unfussiness of this spread!

Oh, this Pressure Cooker Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake looks divine!

I just bought this cute little scarf this week and I can’t wait to mix it into my capsule wardrobe.

 

Navy Fower

source: lark & linen

Design mistakes almost every home makes- these tips are invaluable!

Swooning over the art in this gathering of the best online art resources.

Here are three unique ways to use your craft supplies- love the reminder to donate what you aren’t using!

This book is keeping me up WAY past my bedtime. Have you read it? I’m on edge!

I have never heard of an etiquette dinner party, but I am feeling inspired after reading about one.

I enjoyed peeking at what people carry in their purses- note to self, add dry shampoo to my purse!

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

October 2016 Must-Reads

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

October 2016 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

This was one of those reading months that really flew by for me and I didn’t even have time to sit down and really jot down my thoughts on all the books I read this month until today. I did some traveling this month and spent a couple of days curled up with some really great books on our little Michigan getaway so it gave some time to dive into some books that have been on my radar for awhile.

I also discovered that I really enjoy listening to audiobooks on flights which is something that I haven’t tried before. My eyes were so tired on my flight home, but I wanted to read so bad that I decided to download a book to listen to while flying. Once again those cheap bluetooth headphones pulled through for me and I enjoyed listening to a book on my flight. What a great way to sneak in another book!

I’m really excited to share with you this month’s list because I got in some REALLY incredible reads that I think you should check out. I tried to add a little variety to my stack this month so I read a couple of great memoirs along with some excellent fiction. 

7 Must-Read Books from October 2016

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

I heard about Hillbilly Elegy when I got the chance to share about my favorite summer reads on Sorta Awesome awhile back. Laura, who will always be Hollywood Housewife to me, mentioned that this was one of the best reads she read over the summer so I knew I needed to add this to my stack. This book is incredibly compelling and gave me so much to think about as it explores Vance’s life growing up in a hillbilly family. He writes in a very real and unflinching way about the difficulties growing up in poverty and how the hillbilly mentality seems to force people to continue living in poverty even when opportunities are presented that could enable them to finally get ahead.

There are many moments in this book that helped illustrate a few of my own life moments that helped me understand my own Southern family better. Vance’s life was far more extreme, but I still could identify with a few of his stories that I hope help me feel more compassion for my own roots.

I would highly recommend this one for a book club because you would have so much to discuss and I think anyone who reads it will be able to understand this pocket of America better.

5 Out of 5 Stars

I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows

I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows

I am always thankful for historical fiction because of how much it teaches me about times in history I was not aware of. I Will Send Rain was an absolutely phenomenal book on one family’s survival when the Dust Bowl storms hit their community in the 1930’s. Through alternating viewpoints, Meadows dives deep into what it would be like to live through these storms from eating, to farming, to raising your children, to growing up as a child, to the impact of a marriage during this difficult time in history.  My hard days pale in comparison to the survival of this poor family’s daily existence as this dust covers their land and home, impacting their lives forever.

This book is so well-researched and so beautifully told that I have been thinking about it ever since I finished it. It is heartbreakingly sad, haunting, and achingly beautiful. I know you will be thinking about this one as much as I do when you finish it. If you are looking for a good historical fiction escape with a great coming-of-age story, make sure you add this one to your book stack. If you like this one as much as I did, be sure to read Mudbound. It reminded me so much of that beautiful read!

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

I absolutely LOVED What She Knew and I even had Gilly join me for our Sundays With Writers series. I was so excited to read her next book, The Perfect Girl, after enjoying her first novel so much. This thriller is about a teenage girl, named Zoe, that is involved in a tragic car accident that kills three of her classmates. They relocate their family, her mother marries a wealthy guy, and they try to start a brand new life.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to escape a past like that and Zoe’s secret comes to life in a very public way at a piano concert she is doing. That same evening, her mother is murdered after the secret is revealed to the family, and everyone looks like a suspect. The reader gets the chance to try to solve who killed her and what other secrets this family might be carrying as the story unfolds.

This was a solid thriller, but the big reveal of who killed the mother was a bit of a let down after the length and build-up of the story. It just didn’t seem to have the same magic for me as I found with What She Knew, but I still enjoyed the story. Macmillan is a gifted storyteller and I can’t wait to read what she brings to the thriller table next!

3 Out of 5 Stars

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

One of the most buzzed about books this year is, The Mothers. The author, Brit Bennett,  is only 25 years old and was named to the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 this year so I have been anxiously awaiting this book’s appearance.

“The Mothers,” refer to the elderly women in a conservative congregation and their observations about their fellow church members, including observations about a girl named Nadia who is the main character in this story.

Nadia falls into a romantic relationship with the pastor’s son and their relationship ends when a secret that they carry becomes the primary focus of their relationship. Nadia continues to hide the secret, even from her dearest friend Aubrey, and ends up moving away to start fresh elsewhere. When she comes home though, she discovers that her feelings are still there for the man she left, but he has moved on with her best friend who has never known the secret past they carry.

This was a great read if you go into it knowing that this is more of a character piece than anything else. I really enjoyed Bennett’s writing and the unique viewpoint that, “the mothers,” offered to this.

I was excited to find this at the library, but if the wait list is too long, this was one of this month’s selections from the Book of the Month Club which is a great way to get great selections for a great price on books! Take 30% off 3 months plus a free BOTM tote with this coupon code: 30TOTE.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

I’m not a big fan of books about animals so as soon as I see if a book is about an animal, I promptly dismiss it. I asked Sasha, from Pathologically Literate, to lead our book club discussion this month though and she selected, Lily and the Octopus, as her pick for us to read because she loved it so much she wanted to read it again.

I can’t tell you how much I love book clubs for this VERY reason because it pushed me to pick up this book, a book I would have dismissed,  and it is one of my new favorite books. I just can’t stop thinking about this sweet story that had SO MUCH humor and heart.

Teddy is a single gay man who has found the love of his life in his sweet little dog, Lily. Sounds basic, right? It isn’t though, it is rich and laugh-out-loud funny and heartfelt and gorgeous from start to finish. Rowley writes from Lily’s perspective in the most wildly unique way that it makes your heart hurt with its sweetness. When the two of them face a big challenge together, the story really begins to build.

The ending? Sheer perfection.

If a book moves me to tears, it’s a treasure. Get those tissues ready because it’s a tearjerker!

As soon as I finished it, I wanted to pick it right back up and read it again. I’m so thankful for this gentle nudge from our book club hostess to read this beautiful book. It was, truly, my favorite read of the month!

5 Out of 5 Stars

It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell

It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell

I read about, It Was Me All Along, ages ago when Kristen from Dine & Dish recommended it on one of her reading round-ups. I was not familiar with Andie’s blog and this was not a memoir I would have typically grabbed, but Kristen never leads me astray. It also happened to be chosen as one of Amazon’s Top 100 Books of 2015, picked as People Magazine’s Book of the Week, one of Amazon’s Best New Books of January 2015, and a finalist in the 2015 GoodReads Choice Awards.

It Was Me All Along chronicles Andie’s lifelong difficulties with healthy eating and her transformative journey of losing 135 pounds and finally finding the balance she was missing with food.

Andie really illustrates what so many struggle with and how often our best memories and our greatest comfort comes from food. She writes in a raw and honest way about how difficult it was to have a healthy perspective on eating and why so many of her hurdles with her food addiction were deeply rooted in her childhood.

I have had issues of my own with food and my weight and recognize how difficult it is to not fall back into bad behaviors. Andie’s honesty with her journey makes this a compelling read and I look forward to now being a follower of her beautiful blog too.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

I received an advanced reader copy from NetGalley- all thoughts and opinions are my own!

I have always enjoyed Leavitt’s books (you can read an interview that I did with her over here), but this book…this book is EXCEPTIONAL and, I believe, her best book yet. The Girls had a lot of hype (I still need to read this one), but I think this is the book that should have received the hype as Leavitt explores this era in such a beautiful and compelling way.

When I interviewed Caroline she was working on this book and she had said, “Cruel Beautiful World was sold on the basis of a first chapter and a thirty page synopsis. It’s set in the 60s and early 70s, the time when all the free love movement was starting to turn ugly, with the Manson murders and Altamont. It’s about a 16 year-old girl who runs off with her 30 year-old hippy teacher to join the “back to the land” movement that began in the 70s, a so-called-paradise that turns into a nightmare for her.”

Who better to describe it than the author herself? What I would like to say about it is that she carves such incredible dynamics between the sisters and the fear that she creates in Lucy, as she worries for her safety during the Manson murders, is so poignant as she is being held captive herself by the man she thought she was in love with. These characters are written in a way that they feel so real and you can’t help but worry for each of them after Lucy disappears from their family.

If you are wanting to step back into that crazy time in history, this book is a perfect way to do it!

5 Out of 5 Stars

Sundays With Writers

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 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.

It’s the 3 Little Things: Puzzle Fun, Hamilton, & a Netflix Must-Watch

Friday, October 28th, 2016

fall-break

Well, hey there! Fall Break with the fam was another good one on the books.  I won’t lie. It did also contain bickering, irritation with everyone’s laziness, and a lot of TOGETHERNESS, but we were TOGETHER, even in those grumpy moments.

It’s funny, something that has come up a few times over this past month have been comments about my marriage and what kind of marriage I must be putting out there in the social media world. Since my husband doesn’t read my blog (no, it’s totally cool, I don’t care at all..really, it’s fine…) I know that he will probably never see this, but I’ve gotten a few questions about how we seem really happy and have a lot of fun together after all these years.

And there have been a lot of years- I’m not even forty and we have been together over 21 years! Wild, isn’t it?

No marriage is perfect and mine certainly isn’t. I won’t tell you that it is. We weathered some hard stuff- moving away from our family, transitioning into parents, unemployment, health issues…the list could go on and on.

I’m sure we all have difficult lists like this.

There are many people that I have met that portray their marriage online in a good way and then you find out that there is a different truth to that story. We can show off whatever we want to on social media and that highlight reel can be REALLY GRAND.  I have found in blogging, a “perfect” family is what you are after and, yet, I know very few of us that actually have it.

I can’t give you the secret sauce on this marriage, but I can tell you my adoration for him is genuine and I often wonder how this lottery life moment happened.  We had the perfect set-up for a divorce. We were young and blindly in love with no real plan, we married far too soon, we dropped out of college without diplomas,  and we are completely different people than when we met in high school.

In fact, I don’t even recognize myself from that teenage girl who had never left home and held those rigid life views.

I actually wouldn’t even like her.

It shouldn’t be this good and I can’t say why that is except that we evolved into people we both really like. No one makes me laugh this hard, no one talks me up like I’m the Queen of England, and no one feels like home more than him.

If I wasn’t with him, my biggest hope would be to still get to hang out with him as a friend.  Because he is that. He’s the best thing I got and he’s my friend.

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

I Had One of Those! Puzzle

I Had One of Those! Puzzle

We are addicted to the White Mountain puzzles and purchase one for each of our trips for something to do. I usually pick out the puzzles, but my husband picked this one out for this trip and it was SO FUN!! Everyone contributed to this one and worked on different sections throughout the day.  If you haven’t put together one of their puzzles before, our favorite has been this one and we also really loved this one too.

Now that I’m trading puzzles with my friends, we are able to really extend our collection to keep us busy this winter!

Hamilton's America

Hamilton’s America

Our family has recently caught the Hamilton bug and that soundtrack became the soundtrack of our trip (I listened through Spotify or you can listen through Amazon Unlimited Music with a free 30-day trial) as we put together our puzzle and drove from Granger to Grand Haven- singing all the way. We have even been talking about ditching presents again this year (check out our Choose Your Own Adventure! travel idea we created!) and getting tickets to Hamilton in Chicago as our holiday gift. But, dang. $$$!!

PBS offered a documentary, Hamilton’s America for Hamilton fans that you can stream on their site and our family watched this together. The documentary is filmed even before the show hit Broadway just as Lin-Manuel Miranda is in the beginning stages of writing this. The film chronicles the success of the show and a little behind-the-scenes of these actors that made it so successful. Dictation of lines for each of these characters and rap artists that helped inspire Lin-Manuel were really interesting to me, as someone who geeks out on stuff like that.

If you haven’t watched it yet or listened to the soundtrack, you must! Such good stuff (although racy in parts for little ears- I have a tween & teen) for the whole family. My son said he would be WAY more into history class if it was taught like this and we all learned a lot more history through watching the PBS documentary together!

Did you catch it? What did you think?

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game

Netflix recently added, The Imitation Game, to their roster and this was a movie that both my husband and I had been wanting to see. For those of you that love period pieces, this is a beautiful one and the acting is just incredible.

Set during WWII, this story chronicles the real-life story of Alan Turing, a gay mathematician, who invented a machine that saved thousands of lives and had the power to shorten the length of the war. He is one of those unsung heroes in history who only received true accolades after his sad death.

The punishment for being homosexual, at that time, was unknown to me and resulted in a very sad ending to this man’s story. That said, incredible acting and so much meat to this movie that you will have lots to ponder after those final credits are rolling.

If you don’t have Netflix, stream this one on Amazon. We gave it 5 out of 5 stars- definitely worth the price of streaming!

The Mothers

Reading: I finished this book on my trip and really loved the way the book was told through “the mothers” eyes- the elderly women of a congregation. I wouldn’t say this is a fast story at all. This is a slow telling of a secret and how it impacts the people involved. It definitely held my interest!

Giggling:  I’m not normally one to enjoy commercials, but these three got me! The first two had me in stitches and the last one is all the AWWW!!

Planning: Our next Halloween couple’s costume with my hubby for a weekend party. I don’t want to say too much, but ELEVEN is a good hint! ;)

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 10.26.16

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

Yarn Pumpkin Inspiration

source: eighteen25

I just got all sorts of pumpkin decoration inspiration from this post.

What a sweet dinner ritual to try with your family.

Do you do date nights at home? We love them!

Pumpkin Spiked Lattes? Yes, please!

Swooning over the sneak peek of this kitchen makeover.

How creative is this pumpkin hack? I would have never thought to use an app to animate one.

Here are a few tips and reviews on shapewear options.

Pumpkin Butter Pull-Apart Bread

source: baking bites

Pumpkin butter pull apart bread made from a tube of biscuits. Dang, I wish I wasn’t gluten-free!! HEAVEN!

Two more great uses for the instant pot- pumpkin puree made easy in the pressure cooker & a pressure cooker tomato sauce. I freaking love that gadget!

Decorating ideas for parents of differently-abled children. So many things I would have never thought of!

I can’t wait to try out some of these sweater-weather recipes.

Just finished this read and it was a good one! Definitely add that one to your reading list!

Inspiring Gallery Wall

source: design mom

A beautiful thrifted home interior- inspiring for small budget decorating!

This looks so cute and easy- turn a summer chambray dress into a vest. Adorable!

I love this basket upcycle! It makes me want to head to the thrift store to recreate it.

I was pretty cozy on my flight thanks to this! I love it so much, I’m thinking about getting another one!

This might make you think differently about peel & stick flooring- I know it did for me.

The coolest book covers of 2016- I completely agree.

I love this advice to consider dressing in levels.

I don’t know if we could pull this off, but I’m loving this diy storage shed and how it flows with the rest of the home. We need a shed for storage now that our shed has been taken over by this.

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