Archive for the ‘Reads’ Category

Amy’s Notebook 10.30.13

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

paleo bfst bowls2

Source: Big Red Kitchen


I think these protein and vegetable based paleo (or not) breakfast bowls are such a great idea for busy weekday mornings – just one easy cook-and-layer session on the weekend and tasty bowls are ready all week long!

Oh dear, my love affair with pumpkin continues…pumpkin french toast. Yum.

This less than $400 kitchen remodel is so inspiring – love how they kept what was good and removed what was bad (literally – check out the ceiling!). Proves you don’t have to spend a lot to have a great space.

There is a lot of great ideas for out-of-the-norm lunches in 19 Easy Packed Lunches. Right about the time we may be finding ourselves in a lunch rut…

These printable halloween dog treat tags are just plain cute. Hopefully you’ll get some dog-treaters to hand them out to!

I am SO wanting to make this adorable yarn pumpkin garland! Do you think there’s still time?


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


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13 Great Books to Check Out In 2013

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

13 Great Books to Check Out in 2013 from admit it, I have fallen VERY behind on book reviewing and I am so sorry about that. I have been reading an awful lot lately so I am excited to share with thirteen books that I have enjoyed this Summer & Fall. I am just highlighting the best of the best on here so I am excited to hopefully offer a few books to your library lists that you might not have read yet this year!

Be sure to connect with me on my  Author Profile on GoodReads and you will find my book is listed there too! I would be ecstatic if you became a fan of my writing and would love to see my book listed as something you might be reading in 2013. 

As always, if you are looking for a little inspiration this year, be sure to check our MomAdvice fan page for a weekly check-in on what everyone is reading each week on our Facebook Fan Page. I hope you will swing by on Fridays and share about the books you are working on or request recommendations with one another. So far it is a huge success and I have gotten a few new ideas for my own stack!

Just as a reminder, I read many more books than are just featured here, but try to feature the ones that are my absolute best picks of the month here. If you want to read more, please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there too! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.


A Hundred Summers

 A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

Although summer is long past, if you want to feel like it is summer again pick up this divine book for a quick and wonderful escape. When the ever-so-handsome football hero Nick Greenwald joins an Ivy League campus in the uncertain days of the Great Depression he falls madly in love with Lily Dane. Lily’s family, however, is not pleased that she has found her suitor in a boy from a Jewish family. Her beautiful best friend, Budgie, ends up marrying Nick shortly after they break off their relationship, leaving Lily brokenhearted and bewildered. Seven years later, the Greenwalds turn up at Seaview, Rhode Island, the same town where Lily’s family vacations and Lily finds all the answers she has been looking for all of these years in a minefield of plot twists and turns!

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

East of Eden

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

I always try to tackle one classic each year and  I am so proud that I actually tackled this and Wuthering Heights this year, which was no small feat for me! My husband has been hounding me since high school to read this book and still had his old dog-eared copy for me in our nightstand. I finally relented and read it and I am SO glad that I did. It was definitely one of the best books that I have read this year!

The book takes place in California in the Salinas Valley, a home to two families whose lives are fatefully intertwined in many ways. Over the generations, between the beginning of the twentieth century and the end of the First World War, the Trasks and the Hamiltons replay out two of the Bible’s most memorable stories- the story of Cain & Abel and the story of Adam & Eve.

The story is so beautifully told and shockingly provocative for the time, it is said to be Steinbeck’s greatest work. After reading it, I would say that it is one of the greatest works I have ever read. I really want you to read this one too!
Editor’s Note: Adult Language & Sexuality

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

Me Before You

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

It is rare for a book to stick with me as long as this story has, but Me Before You holds a special place in my heart this year. Although I think it falls in the chick-lit vein, the story of the challenges and difficulties of becoming and living as a paraplegic made me think about those living with this challenge in a new way.

Louisa Clark is on the hunt for a job and unable to find work when she stumbles upon a job caring for a paraplegic. Although she has no medical background and feels this job isn’t really a good fit for her, she is simply asked to be a companion and keep Will Traynor company. Will is wheelchair bound after a tragic accident that has altered his entire life. A man who loved extreme sports and travel, he wonders how much longer he can live like this and if a life like this is worth living.
I absolutely loved this story and the reader will find themselves wondering what they would do if they were in these character’s shoes. Beautifully told with emotion and humor,  you just won’t be able to put this one down!

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

Eleanor & Park

 eleanor & park by rainbow rowell

Eleanor & Park was an Amazon Book of Month in young adult fiction in 2013 and once these characters weave their way into your heart, you will understand just why this book was selected.
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.
Editor’s Note: Adult Language

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

I Couldn't Love You More

I Couldn’t Love You More by Jillian Medoff

This book was, honestly, a tough read for me, but I am so glad that I read it. It has stuck with me long after I closed the pages and was one that I talked about with my husband after I finished it.

Without giving too much of the plot away, Eliot Gordon has two step-daughters and a biological child with her partner Grant. They have never gotten married, but have been together for a long time and feel solid in their commitment with each other. When Eliot’s long-lost first love appears back in her life, a truly shocking chain of events occur that will haunt their family forever. Eliot’s one split second of error is an error that any mother can make, but shadowed by this relationship, it feels almost unforgivable. I am recommending this one for a book club pick because it would lend itself to a great discussion and is one that you just want to talk about after you finish it.

Editor’s Note: Adult Language & Sexuality

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

Necessary Lies

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

I absolutely love Diane Chamberlain. Pair a Diane Chamberlain with a period piece? Well, I am there!  Necessary Lies is one of those books you just want to share with a book club because it lends itself to such a great discussion on what role our government should play (if any)  in our lives when they happen to be the system our families need to rely on in financial struggles.

Chamberlain weaves a fictional story about the very real North Carolina’s Eugenics Sterilization Program that was in effect from 1929 to 1975. In this story, 15-year-old Ivy Hart, her mentally slow 17-year-old sister, and young nephew “Baby” William all live with their grandmother who is in failing health. Jane Forrester becomes Ivy’s family’s social worker and she encounters the state program that seeks to sterilize “mental defectives,” among others with supposedly undesirable characteristics. Through every choice she makes from then on, Jane triggers an inescapable series of events that thrusts everything either she or Ivy ever held to be true into a harsh light, binding them together in ways they do not immediately comprehend or appreciate.

Although I felt this one had a slower build for me, it was worth powering through for the incredible discussion and the endearing characters that are told through this story.  I just can’t stop thinking about this one! If you love this book, be sure to check out her prequel!

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

Orange is the New Black book cover

Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman

If the television series on Netflix was too racy for you, this book is surprisingly tamer and a truly interesting read about what it would be like to be a woman prisoner.

Piper Kerman is the girl next door that we all love and admire. She has a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, but Piper also has a past that few people know about. She got herself mixed up with the wrong people  and found herself assisting a drug ring with a suitcase of drug money ten years before. As our pasts often do, her past had a way of creeping up on her and Piper is convicted and sentenced to 15 months in prison.
This book offers a closer look into the prison system and what it would be like as a prisoner and what her life was like over the course of her sentence.

I couldn’t put this book down and read it in just a couple of short days. Although I didn’t feel the story flowed as well as it could have, the content within it was absolutely fascinating to me. The friendships between these women and what a day in the life of a prisoner really would be like, is a far cry from what I had envisioned. This is a very thought-provoking book that would be a great one to share with your book club pals and will have you seeing the whole prison system in a far different light.

Editor’s Note: Adult Language & Sexuality

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

The Fault In Our Stars The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

There is so much to love about this book from John Green and the characters are just as endearing as that fabulous Eleanor & Park book that I highlighted above. In full disclosure, this is a book that you need a big box of tissues with and one that will stick with you long after you close the pages.
This is the story of an unlikely group of friends that meet through their Cancer Kid Support Group. Hazel has experienced a medical miracle and her tumor has been shrinking, buying her a few more years, but she finds that she is depressed despite the good news. Her doctors encouage her to participate in a support group which permanently alters Hazel’s path. When she meets Augustus, they quickly form a deep bond that neither could have ever anticipated.

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away on this one, but it is so beautifully told, with heart-wrenching honesty, that these kids will wedge right into your heart when you read about them.

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

The Girl You Left Behind

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

After reading Me Before You, I was dying to pick up this book, especially when I heard that it was historical fiction. I have to say that I loved this one almost as much as I loved Me Before You.

The first part of the story is set in 1916 in France. Artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his young wife, Sophie, to fight on the front lines.  When their  town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Edouard’s portrait of Sophie draws the eye of the new Kommandant. As the officer’s dangerous obsession deepens, Sophie will risk everything—her family, her reputation, and her life—to see her husband again.

Almost a century later, this same painting is given to Liv Halston by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. A chance encounter reveals the painting’s true worth, and a battle begins for who its legitimate owner is—putting Liv’s belief in what is right to the ultimate test.

Once I started this book, I just couldn’t put it down. Both stories were equally compelling and the story behind this painting is beautifully told and heartbreaking, especially the lengths that Sophie will go to to reunite with her husband.

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

The Husband's Secret

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

I am a big fan of Liane Moriarty and have to say that this is one of the best books I have read by her. When I got this book, I expected some typical chick-lit, but this one was so much more than that.  This book was selected as one of the best books of the month by Amazon this year and it is no wonder since it was a gripping page turner that I just could not put down.

Just imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Again, imagine this secret is so big that it could threaten the stability of your own life and the lives of others. But then imagine that you run across this letter when tidying your attic while your husband is still alive.

Cecilia Fitzpatrick  has it all- a successful career, she is well-respected with in her community, and she is one of those women that just seems to have it all together. This secret is about to crumble her perfect world and will forever alter the lives of others around them.

This one is another one that I just couldn’t put down and truly illustrates the point that our past has a way of catching up with us.

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

The Storyteller

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

I will admit that I have given up on the last few Picoult books that I have read. The books just didn’t have the spark that I was looking for anymore and started to feel predictable. Each week though, someone recommended this book to me on our reading thread so I decided to give in and read it. This is nothing like she has ever written before and will likely be one of my top ten books I have read this year. You really MUST read it.

Sage Singer works the night shift as a baker, preparing pastries and breads until the wee hours of the morning. She is scarred physically and emotionally and prefers to work alone, but finds that she is leading a lonely life.. When Josef Weber, an elderly man in Sage’s grief support group, begins stopping by the bakery, they strike up an unlikely friendship that will forever change both of their lives. You see, Josef has a secret that he has been living with his whole life, and he is about to ask Sage for a favor that he hopes she won’t refuse.

I wish I could say more, but this is one that I guarantee you will be thinking about and that would lend itself well to any book club discussion. I dare to say that this is the best book yet by Jodi Picoult!

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars


Wonder by R.J. Palacio

If you read one book with your kids this year, let it be this one. Wonder is truly one of the best kid’s books I have read in a long time and Augustus is the most fantastic little boy that you will want your child to emulate and look up to.

August Pullman was born with a facial deformity and thanks to his numerous surgeries he has been homeschooled by his family.  Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. 

The book is told from August’s perspective and then tells it from other kids that are around him, his sister, and even his sister’s boyfriend. When all of these stories are pieced together, it creates the perfect telling of what it is like to be someone who looks different then those around him and what it would be like to love or be friends with someone who is different.

This book is absolutely perfect in every single way from start to finish. It deals with big issues, but truly is captured in the voice of a fifth grade boy. I couldn’t put it down and can’t wait to share this book with my two children.

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

Z Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

If there is one lady that I now have mad love for it is Zelda Fitzgerald after reading this fantastic historical fiction account of her life.

Zelda Sayre is anything, but typical. Reckless and a little wild, Zelda  meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918,  when she is just seventeen years old and he is serving as a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama.  Zelda has always been determined to never settle down, but Scott’s charms wear her down despite the fact that he has no wealth to his name, no prominence, and isn’t even Southern. Her family is unimpressed, but through a little trickery of her own, Zelda manages to push Scott into selling his first novel, This Side of Paradise, to Scribner’s.  Days later, Zelda boards a train north, to marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, believing that everything will work out in the end.

This wild pair earn the fascination and adoration of the public and become a public spectacle that is reported in the papers. They partake in wild partying and drinking as Scott tries to continue writing with little success and little money coming in. Zelda, a writer in her own right, tries to find herself and who she is when she is oh-so-much-more than just F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife.

I absolutely loved this book and reading about their relationship. You know it is good if you go on an evening of reading on Wikipedia after you are done reading a book. I loved this book from start to finish!

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

Disclosure: All of the links above are affiliate links and are provided so you can locate the books quickly and easily. Feel free to order a book, but we encourage utilizing the library system and buying me a latte instead.  Then we both would be really happy and we could have our own little book club together! Wouldn’t that just be so much more lovely? Happy Reading!


Tell me, what books you have been enjoying these past few months? Anything I should 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!

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Amy’s Notebook 10.23.13

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

apple cider caramels

Source: Annie’s Eats


I think these apple cider caramels look and sound heavenly!

I really love slow cooker recipes – especially the ones that are basically “add all ingredients and walk away’ like this slow cooked three bean chili. Can you say easy?

There are so many good flavors going on in roasted butternut squash, kale, and lemon soup, I think it’s something I really need to try!

I’m loving how this Victorian English home mixes vintage and modern elements giving it a fresh, clean, and bright feeling.

This PB knockoff chalkboard art pillow is totally cool – and really looks like the inspiration photo!

And here’s another amazing knockoff – a no-sew butterfly tea towel inspired by one from Anthropologie, complete with sweet pom pom trim. Love.


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


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Amy’s Notebook 10.16.13

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Ikea curtain-art holder

Source: Design Mom


I’m loving everything about this kid-friendly house that’s still awesomely designed – especially the ideas for organizing kid’s closets, toys, and this great Ikea hack for displaying their art using curtain wire and clips.

My kids would love to have this adorable diy jack-o-lantern pinata at a Halloween Party!

These spooky snow globes are such a cute idea – they would make fun and different Halloween decorations or even a Halloween party hostess gift.

With the holidays approaching, I found these 9 tips for saving money using online coupons helpful. Oh, the allure of shopping from home, having it delivered to my house…and saving money? Yes, please.

I absolutely loved this post on 15 recipes every parent should know – mainly because it got me thinking about our family’s go-to recipes. And also because they included a Manhattan in the category “Bad Day Eraser.” Love that.

And I’m thinking this slow cooker gingerbread oatmeal will be the perfect breakfast to alternate with our slow cooker honey crisp apple oatmeal. In fact, they kinda sound good together – what do you think about a slow cooked oatmeal potluck?


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


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Amy’s Notebook 10.09.13

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

wool acorns

Source: Celebrate Creativity


Oh my goodness, these easy felted wool acorns are so adorable! And they really are easy, because the wool balls are purchased from a craft store instead of making each one!

Have a stash of wine corks cluttering a drawer? I’m loving this diy monogram letter covered in wine corks – a fun decorative piece that uses something we usually throw away.

Map-covered pumpkins are a fun twist on covering pumpkins with paper.

If you’re looking for a different Halloween party spin this year, this vintage ‘All Hallow’s Eve’ party is so unique and sweet – and comes with cute vintage printables.

My kids will flip for these pumpkin pie pop tarts in pumpkin shapes!

After reading how much Erin and her family loved her Sweet ‘n Sour Beef’n Cabbage Tacos, I just have to try them!

Oh, and since you know I love a good quinoa recipe, Quinoa with Butternut Squash, Cranberries, and Pecans is definitely making this list!


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


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Amy’s Notebook 10.02.13

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013


Source: Design Mom


I’d love these adorable Halloween garlands anyway, but the fact that they are glow-in-the-dark garlands? Brilliant!!

DIY painted glass jars with mod podge poison labels is another fun Halloween decoration and would be so cute on a buffet table for the holiday.

I love everything about this girly bedroom design – especially the colors and pom poms hanging from the ceiling!

If you’re looking for recipes that use coconut milk, here are 17 delicious ways to cook with coconut milk – I’m looking forward to trying Braised Coconut Spinach & Chickpeas with Lemon – yum!

Oooh, I know fall is all about warm comfort foods, but this spicy Thai salad with minced pork sounds SO good, I’ll have to make one little exception!

And, not surprisingly, I found another pumpkin recipe for us, and this one my whole family will flip over – Gluten Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake. Because with pumpkin and chocolate, everybody wins!


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


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Amy’s Notebook 09.25.13

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013


Source: Tatertots & Jello


Flowers, pumpkins, wreath, garland, and even a fun polka-dot rug – this porch decked out for fall is full of great ideas and tips!

Comfort-food casseroles like One Pan Unstuffed Bell Peppers full of rice, vegetables, meat and topped with cheese just seem perfect for fall. And the fact that it’s a one-dish meal means school nights just got that much easier!

I’m loving these simple, natural elements in this autumn living room – this will make it very easy to add a touch of fall to our house!

I’m happy to be reminded of Purl Bee’s classic super easy blankets – aren’t the colorful stripes so cool? I think it would be a great way to use up leftover yarn, too!

Not surprised you’d find pumpkin chocolate chip cookies on the Notebook today, are you? Yum.


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


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Amy’s Notebook 09.18.13

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Source: Skinny Taste


These healthy chocolate chip oatmeal breakfast “cookies” are amazingly made with just three ingredients – yum!

Honey chai-flavored roasted almonds just might become our new favorite snack.

I’m seeing a lot of pumpkin crafts, but this rolled-paper pumpkin tutorial was new to me and is so clever and cute!

This airplane themed boy’s birthday party is so fun and would work for lots of ages – I love the adorable favor bags and could see this with vintagey colors like grey and red as well.

Thinking of hopping on the gold bandwagon in home decor? Here’s a glimpse of 10 homes that get using gold right.



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


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Amy’s Notebook 09.11.13

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013


Source: Inside BruCrew Life


It’s no secret around here how much I love my Homemade Pumpkin Spice Lattes, so you’re probably not surprised that these Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes would catch my attention, right?

How about some easy shopping and meal planning help? 20 Meals from Costco for $150 includes recipes and printable shopping lists to make your busy weeknight menu planning go more smoothly. I love articles like this!

And 39 Ways to Use Leftover Pickle Juice? Brilliant – even if there are only a few of these ideas I’d actually use, I love having options rather than throwing it out (most interesting use: PMS remedy!).

Okay, you absolutely have to check out this $10 thrift store cabinet makeover – the before and after is truly amazing!

These DIY Wordy Hairpins are really cool – think of all the fun sayings, names or monograms  you could choose - but the fact that they’re made from alphabet pasta? Awesome!

Finally, I love this article on Choosing Cheerfulness, including this great quote: “by making other people feel good, something wonderful happens to us, too.”


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


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Amy’s Notebook 09.04.13

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

washi tape pumpkin

Source: Sugar Bee Crafts


It’s September, can you believe it? And it seems pumpkins and fall decorating are already on a lot of people’s minds from looking at my Pinterest page! This fun washi tape pumpkin is cool-looking and easy – my kind of craft!

And here are five more Simple DIY Pumpkin ideas to add to the washi tape version – I’m liking the chalkboard pumpkin the best, I think – which is your favorite?

Has your child been invited to a costume birthday party? Then you’ll want to check out this awesome 10 minute Super Hero Costume.

We’re still enjoying peaches – and a bit of warm weather – so these Fresh Peach Popsicles are really appealing to me!

Or maybe I should switch it up, use nectarines and make this Easy Nectarine Crisp with Granola?

Gooey, Crunchy, Chocolate-Filled S’mores Pie…um, drool!


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

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