Archive for the ‘Reads’ Category

Amy’s Notebook 02.01.17

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Orange Avocado Kale Quinoa Salad

source: two peas & their pod

One giant spoon please for this orange, avocado, & kale quinoa salad! Yum!

Lessons learned from a social media fast.

Still struggling through the political mess? Don’t forget to take care of yourself.

If you feel like  the other side is CRAZY, you might be living in a feed echo chamber.  I’m giving this site a try this week to understand both sides.

After a lot of debating on brands, I went ahead and ordered some rainboots and I can’t wait to get them. Fingers crossed they fit well!

I can’t wait to try this fun chicken wing spice and dip combo. It sounds divine!

Painting Countertops from In My Own Style

source: in my own style

I’ve been talking to my husband for awhile about painting our countertops and this post is so inspiring! Have you tried it?

Big things happening for a trendy new clothing line. SO excited for my pals!

My kids would flip for these black bean breakfast tacos!

Speaking of breakfast, I’d love to try this technique when cooking eggs for a crowd.

Staging Your Home To Sell from Emily Henderson

source: emily henderson

Tips for staging your home to sell.

I got up really early this morning to read this book. It’s gorgeously written and a relationship I knew nothing about! You can see what I read this month over here!

Choosing minimalism is a privilege- have you thought of it that way?

10 celebrity narrated audio books for your commute. Adding these to my wish list!

 

Looking for something new to read this month? Be sure to join our Book Club group to get daily deals. Today’s deals were too good not to share here too!!

THE PARIS WIFE, $2.99
WHILE MY EYES WERE CLOSED, $1.99
MONSTER, $1.99
BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK, $1.99
THE MASTER, $2.99
THE SISTERS BROTHERS, $1.99
EVA LUNA, $2.99
OXYGEN, $1.99
JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL, $1.99
THE BOOKSELLER, $1.99
A MOMENT ON THE EDGE, $.99
THE IMAM’S DAUGHTER, $.99
THE GOOD LIAR, $1.99
THE THIRTEENTH TALE, $2.99
A MOVEABLE FEAST, $2.99
THE POISON ARTIST, $3.99
THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS, $1.99
SUGAR CRUSH, $1.99
THE ACHIEVEMENT HABIT, $1.99
GODS WITHOUT MEN, $1.99
WOMAN IN BLUE, $1.99
GHOSTS IN THE WIRES, $1.99
THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYONE, $.99
THE WRONG UNIT, $.99
WITNESS TO A TRIAL, $.99

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

 

January 2017 Must-Reads

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

January 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

I hope that you are off to a great start with your year of reading. I’m over here furiously flipping pages between the MomAdvice Reading Challenge, our online book club, local book club, and reviving our Sundays With Writers series. Of course, there is no other way I’d rather spend the day then curled up with a good book, especially in the winter. I’m excited to share eight great reads that I tackled this month with you.

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.  If you want to see more of what I am reading,  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.

8 Must-Read Books from January 2017

Mischling by Affinity Konar

Mischling by Affinity Konar

I have read so many books about the Holocaust over the years, but I never feel like I am informed enough about the horrors and struggles that were faced during this time in history. Once again, I find myself oblivious to those who suffered as Konar unfolds the story of twins, Sasha & Pearl, who became a part of the experimental population of twins that were known as Mengle’s Zoo, based in Auschwitz.

Many begged and falsely claimed that their children were twins to be part of Mengle’s Zoo because they believed they had been saved from certain death. Unfortunately, these children were far from safe and became a part of tests to separate the twins from one another, both physically and psychologically. Konar explores this through these sisters, told from alternating perspectives, as they are brutally experimented upon.

How something so horrible could be written so beautifully is a true tribute to Konar’s writing.  Her writing style reminded me a lot of Eowyn Ivey’s writing in her beautiful book, The Snow Child, an almost magical quality even to the harshest of moments. It’s impossible to read Konar’s words and not feel deeply moved and surprised by her well-crafted language.  Beautifully told and based upon the stories of real victims of these crimes, Konar’s debut is strong and promising!

Affinity will be joining us this month for our Sundays With Writers series- stay tuned!

Reading Challenge Category Completed-  A book that takes place during a war

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner

The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner

Laura Tremaine shared about this beautiful memoir when discussing her favorite books of the year on Sorta Awesome. I listened to this book, read by Ruth, and was so moved by her story that I can’t stop thinking about it. This book is haunting!

Ruth is the 39th child in her polygamist family of 42 children. Ruth’s father was brutally murdered by his own brother and Ruth’s mother later marries another polygamist who cares little for these children or providing for his family. He is the epitome of a deadbeat dad with little to offer to his family.

This is also a true survivor story as Ruth becomes sexually abused and the people who should love and believe her the most are not there for her in her life. It’s about what it is really like to grow up in poverty, the true challenges of being just one of many wives, the challenges of disability, and how Ruth has had to learn to stand up for herself.

Well-written and hard to put down, the tragedy that unfolds left me stunned and in awe of Wariner’s strength and resilience.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- An audiobook

 

5 Out of 5 Stars

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson

I received an ARC from the publishing house in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions on this book.

Swanson’s last thriller, The Kind Worth Killing, was so solid that I could not wait to get my hands on his latest thriller.

In this story, Kate and her cousin Corbin, decide to apartment swap so that Corbin can conduct some business in London while Kate is given the chance to escape to take art classes in Boston. Kate has had some trauma in her life and struggles with anxiety and is using this trip to prove to her friends and family that she is stronger than they think she is. Of course, the neighbor next door gets murdered and contributes to Kate’s uneasy feelings.

Not knowing her cousin well or anyone in the area, Kate begins to try to piece together what has happened to Audrey, although she could never guess how deep Corbin is involved and the cat and mouse game that is now mounting for him and for her.

This was entertaining for a light escape between my heavier books and I would recommend it for The Girl on the Train fans!

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A thriller

3 Out of 5 Stars

Evicted by Matthew Desmond

Evicted by Matthew Desmond

I am, admittedly, not much of a nonfiction writer, but when I read about Evicted, I knew that it was a book that I should read this year. If you are looking for a compelling nonfiction read that explores an issue that is not talked about enough, this is the one for you.

Desmond threw himself wholeheartedly into learning more about the eviction process and follows eight families struggling with the basic necessity of home. He sheds light on a very broken system from poor wages to the ramifications of eviction on a family’s life to living in neighborhoods filled with crime and drugs. There are so many survival tactics needed to just keep a roof over one’s head that you find yourself, as the reader, hoping and praying for a better outcome for so many in this book and marveling at the tricks of the trade to just get by.

As an ethnographer, Desmond pulls himself completely out of the equation until he shares how he built his book at the very end. It’s an incredible testament to his great writing and documentation that he is able to build the story in a way that you feel like you are with these people as they struggle with basic needs and necessities.  He, in fact, lived in a trailer park to fully immerse himself into the daily life, even struggling with issues in his own home while writing.

I doubt you could read this and not feel a new sense of compassion and gratefulness or to not feel compelled to explore how our country could develop a better system for those in need. This is a must-read!

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book you will be proud to share you finally read this year

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule

The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule

Another pick from Laura Tremaine that I wanted to dive into this year was, The Stranger Beside Me, as my true crime selection for the MomAdvice Reading Challenge. Ann Rule worked at a crisis clinic, answering calls on a suicide hotline, and it is there that she met the charismatic Ted Bundy.  The book builds as Rule begins to suspect and then comes to grips with the fact that her kind and sensitive friend is the prolific serial killer that confessed to killing thirty-six young women.

Ann Rule keeps to basic facts and stays away from many of the horrific details of these killings, making it a, perhaps, easier to digest story than it should be. Although this case was extreme, it does make one think how we can know someone and not really know them.

Those wishing to dive deep into Bundy’s psyche will be disappointed as Ann honestly shares that she is no expert and can only go on her own feelings that Bundy was rejected and went out to seek women he could kill and, ultimately, reject them. Rule definitely wasn’t gullible; she just was charmed as so many others by the presentation that Bundy was able to pull off.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A true crime book

4 Out of 5 Stars

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

I love when readers reach out and ask me if I have read certain books (feel free to do that anytime!) and the book I was asked about this month was, The History of Wolves. I hadn’t read it, but decided to put it on my stack after reading that Fridlund had won the McGinnis-Ritchie award for its first chapter and then decided to expand upon that story for this book.

I know as soon as I began reading her words that I would love this book. Even something as monotonous as swinging becomes a thing of beauty when told by Fridlund.

“Later, I could get that drizzle feeling just about any time I saw a kid on a swing. The hopelessness of it—the forward excitement, the midflight return. The futile belief that the next time around, the next flight forward, you wouldn’t get dragged back again. You wouldn’t have to start over, and over.” 

Coming-of-age stories are often my favorite each year, but can feel predictable at times. Fridlund’s book, however, is anything BUT predictable and that is why I enjoyed it so much. Without giving too much away, a teenager begins babysitting for a local family and a mystery builds around this child and these parents that the narrator reflects upon from her youth. Her need to belong to someone is so strong that it overrides, perhaps, how one might normally respond to a situation.

If you like neat and tidy stories,  skip it! There is nothing tidy about this tale and the ending feels as confused as the narrator probably feels at the end.

If you like depth, meat, and uniquely told stories though, this book is for you!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Hoffman’s novel has been in my stack forever and I’m not sure why it took me this long to finally settle with it. I was an avid reader of all her books for many years and I must say, this is one of her sweetest stories of all.

The main character, Shelby, is a teenager who has been involved in a tragic car accident that leaves her best friend in a coma. Unable to forgive herself, she finds herself on a downward spiral.  Motivational messages are being sent to her from an anonymous sender though telling her to keep fighting and going. These act as  an important catalyst as Shelby’s life begins to find new purpose.

Heartbreakingly real, this redemption story of finding you are loved, even in your darker moments, is surprisingly hopeful. If you like a good love story, you’ll really enjoy this book.

4 Out of 5 Stars

I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi

I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi

I received an ARC from the publishing house in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions on this book.

If I was going to pick a book that surprised me the most this month, I Liked My Life would be it! The idea for this story sounded horribly depressing. A mother commits suicide and her family is left to pick up the pieces… but it is so much more than that!

Fabiaschi writes this story in a way where the mother, Maddy, is still there and able to manipulate her family members into doing what she needs them to do by speaking to them through their thought streams. From helping them find better solutions to deal with her death, to guiding friendships, and even finding her replacement. Her presence and voice is one of the alternating chapters in this novel, along with the voices of her husband and teenage daughter.

Each character reflects back on the good and the bad that has happened in their lives in real moments that mimic your own. The petty fights, the difficulty as a mom to make every day special for your family (while no one makes the effort for you), and the struggles of mother and daughter relationships. I could see so many of of my own struggles in this character, making Maddy real and relatable.

Heartbreaking at times, laugh out loud funny at others, I doubt you would pick this one up and not get something out of it. I am committed to no spoilers, but want you to know the ending is quite satisfying as a reader!

Abby will be joining us next month for our Sundays With Writers series- stay tuned!

5 Out of 5 Stars

January 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

What did you read this month? Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

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

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Sundays With Writers: Miss Jane by Brad Watson

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

Sundays With Writers

I am so excited to be sharing my first interview for 2017 with such an incredible and talented author. Miss Jane ended up making my top ten list, for my 2016 reading, right at the very tail end of the year. I just knew that it would be such a treat to share an interview with the author, Brad Watson,  in our series. The sincerity and assuredness in his writing give the reader the feeling of reading a timeless classic and I appreciate Brad’s vulnerability in sharing the challenges of writing this book.

I am always astounded and thankful that even when a work is so incredibly challenging that it takes over a decade to write, he kept at it because they know this story must be told.

As a reader, it makes me appreciate a book so much more.

I had been dying to talk about this book with someone so I had the MomAdvice Book Club read it and then I read it with my local book club too. It’s one of those kinds of books that you want to research more when you finish. In fact, I’d love to chat with you in the comments when you finish it too!

Miss Jane by Brad Watson

If I was going to pick a book that surprised me the most, it would be, Miss JaneWatson pens the story of his great-aunt, Miss Jane, and her struggles with a genital birth defect that alters Jane’s life path greatly. Set in the early twentieth century in rural Mississippi, Jane knows that she is not like other girls. Her struggles with this defect every moment of her day are told in ways that often feel unfathomable.

Her kind doctor takes her under his wing and has honest discussions with her about limitations and continuing research to try to help her. He becomes her confidant in a time of true loneliness. As she ages, she knows that her biggest hurdle will be having her own love story and Watson writes poetically of Jane’s love for a boy. Yet, in a time when a woman’s most useful task is to bear children, Jane knows that her love story must be a different one and she bravely accepts what this path looks like.

Her kind doctor takes her under his wing and has honest discussions with her about limitations and continuing research to try to help her. He becomes her confidant in a time of true loneliness. As she ages, she knows that her biggest hurdle will be having her own love story and Watson writes poetically of Jane’s love for a boy. Yet, in a time when a woman’s most useful task is to bear children, Jane knows that her love story must be a different one and she bravely accepts what this path looks like.

The peacock design on this cover is beautifully woven into this story and brings together all the beauty in this gorgeous book. It reads like a well-versed literary classic. I doubt you won’t fall in love with Miss Jane too.

Grab your coffee and let’s chat with the wildly talented, Brad Watson!

Brad-Watson

First of all, your book is absolutely beautiful from start to finish and one of my very favorite reads in 2016. I am so incredibly honored to share your story with our readers.

I understand that the story for Miss Jane was based upon your great-aunt, but you had very little information to go on to carve out her story. Did you find not having a lot of information created more freedom as a writer or did you find it more challenging that so much needed to be imagined for her life?

Thank you, Amy. I didn’t have much to go on, it turns out. My great aunt died in 1975, long before I decided to write a story inspired by hers – then I found out her story was mostly unknown. Most who’d really known her were gone, and those remaining hadn’t know her that well. My mother remembered generalities about her condition, but no one knew what it was, specifically. There were no surviving medical records or nursing home records. And the more I looked into probable conditions, the more of them didn’t make sense. It took me several years to settle on a plausible condition, and only then could I really make any progress on the novel. I couldn’t imagine her life, daily or long-term, without deciding on the condition that would have so defined her – initially, and after she decided how she was going to live with it.

After much research, you concluded that the diagnosis that would have fit best for Miss Jane would have been persistent cloaca. As readers, we get to experience the smallest fraction of her continued pain, discomfort, and difficulties that she would have struggled with. Did you also imagine these experiences or did you read about other people’s experiences, with this disorder during this time?

Whether my lack of talent at research or a real lack of information out there, I simply could not find accounts of people with that condition, living in that time. I read whatever I could find, but there wasn’t much literature about it because of the condition’s relative rarity. And perhaps there was too much shame. And perhaps a lot of babies died soon after birth. But I found nothing about it in Hugh Young’s seminal book on urogenital disorders, published around the time my character would have been a teenager.

Nature plays such a large role in Miss Jane understanding her own body and sexuality. From the stinkhorn, to how the animals mate on the farm, and even to the beautiful peacock that graces the cover of the book, these moments help bring understanding for Miss Jane. Why did you want to use nature to help guide her toward a better understanding of herself and how did you build this element of discovery for her? Was it through your own observations as a child or was it witnessing things later when visiting the land she grew up on that shaped this important element?

Visiting the land where she (and my mother, in the next generation) grew up was part of it. Being a loner child who loved roaming the woods was part of it. But necessity finally drove me to take her in that direction, finally. What is this girl, isolated physically and socially by her secret condition, to do with herself when she’s not working, doing chores for her mother? She tried school and couldn’t do that. So she took walks, and in the woods she found a world that was accepting, the natural world, because the natural world is a place where some of the strangest, oddest things are no more unnatural than anything else. A stinkhorn mushroom belongs in the forest as much as does a wildflower. A possum is as much as a deer or bobcat or bird or a bat or a toad. Nothing is alienated or reviled or ostracized in the forest. The possum is not ugly in the forest. In the woods, Jane is just another variation on the innumerable creations in the world.

Each of your characters are so beautifully developed that I found myself attached to each one. I know Miss Jane must hold the sweetest spot in your story, but who happened to be your other favorites to write? Were any of these special characters based on real people in your family?

Dr. Thompson, of course, was a favorite; in fact, at one point I worried he was going to take over the story, which forced me to find ways to allow Jane and the other characters to become more interesting than they were at the moment. He rose the bar. But then I began to find the deeper, more complex and interesting parts of Mrs. Chisolm, Mr. Chisolm, and Jane, herself. But he was the first one who really opened the door to the novel’s narrative voice.

For those that don’t know, you really poured your heart and soul into this book for over a decade. What do you think you have gained the most from the process of writing this particular book and how did you power through this difficult moments of creation when it ended up taking longer than you thought it did?

It was the hardest story and character to get a grip on I’ve faced so far. For a long time I really worried I would not be able to write it. But I’m pretty stubborn, and also whenever I would try to work on something else, Jane stayed lodged in the back of my mind, providing interference. It was finally something I had to finish, one way or another, in order to move on. It took too long, really. And I really emptied the well. There was nothing left in me when I finally turned Miss Jane in for good. I’m embarrassed I had such a hard time writing what turns out to be a pretty simple story. But it was not only understanding someone so foreign to me, personally, but also figuring out how to tell such a person’s story. I’d read very little fiction about characters so alienated from society, from other human beings, in a way that could not really be overcome, that must be instead accepted and bent to that person’s advantage in whatever small ways possible. It was very much a line-by-line, word-by-word effort. And in the end I had more drafts, trying to get it just right, than I’d ever put down on anything, short story or novel. Once I knew what the story should sound like, feel like, what its limitations were and where it could go that other stories might not, it was a backing up and very careful proceeding once again into the whole of it, language, people, world around them and in them. Some novels need as much care and attention as a short story or a poem. This seemed to be one of them.

In a time where women find value and worth from having children and marriage, Jane has to find her value in other ways. Do you think your aunt would have been proud of the way you told her story? What is the message you would love your readers to take away from sharing this story?

I never met my great aunt. I saw her once, when I was very young, and thereby caught the first inkling of her mystery. From what my mother and a cousin or two told me, I gathered that she was strong, private, and kept herself in good spirits, at least in public or among others. She kept her condition a secret, and people didn’t talk about it. I don’t think she would have wanted this book out while she was alive. I felt good about it because I was writing a story about someone with a very strong character, resilience, determination to live a life as full and as dignified – as as free – as was humanly possible for her. I was writing out of admiration – and, later, wonder.

miss-jane

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

*This post contains affiliate links!

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It’s the 3 Little Things: Never Let ‘Em See You Sweat, Sabbaticals, and Tension Taming

Friday, January 27th, 2017

find-the-good

If your week was anything like mine, you are probably quite thankful it is Friday!

This week our family adopted a new focus on our little lightbox sign…Find the Good.

It is easy to find the bad right now and several things have felt frustrating in our life whether it be job-related, a challenging task, or the discourse that is happening right now in our country. Instead of focusing on the bad, we are working to focus on the good.

For me, it had to change with my own behaviors so I went back to killing my news feed on Facebook and only use it for my business and a few well-selected groups. Just this little switch has changed my week dramatically. I did not realize how much of my time was boredom scrolling and how much that seemed to spiral me emotionally.

Many can read with great detachment, but as an HSP, I FEEL ALL THE FEELINGS and not always the good kinds of feelings.

When my husband was grumbling about something this week he said, “I know, I know…find the good…So…”

When we sit down at our dinner table to discuss roses and thorns, we gently remind the kids, yes, that stinks! Thorns in our life are terrible. How can we find the good though?

Such a simple and needed switch for this crew.

I hope you can find the good this week too!

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

Thompson Tees Review

No More Embarrassing Sweaty Lady Stories

I don’t know if it is hormonal or what, but I am one sweaty lady these days. I have avoided wearing things I love or have avoided certain colors and fabrics for fear of that sweat seeping through under my arms. I’ve tried every deodorant that I can, but there just is no stopping this embarrassing situation…

UNTIL NOW.

I started searching the interwebz and ran across these Thompson Tees. Basically, they feel like a soft bamboo undershirt, but under the pits are extra protective layers to stop your sweat from seeping out onto your beautiful clothing. I ordered two for me and two for my husband (he also struggles in tough business meetings and such!) and told him that I just knew this was going to be a game-changer.

If you don’t believe me in how effective these are, definitely watch this news team give these a spin in 150 degree weather.

Isn’t that CRAZY?

If you are struggling, I can’t recommend these enough. They would also be great for nervous moments like first dates, uncomfortable social situations, business meetings, interviews, speaking engagements… or just being a dang mom and running your kids every flipping place.

Let me know if you give these a try and if they change your life too!

Facebook Sabbatical

A Peaceful Facebook Sabbatical

I told my husband that I was considering a Facebook Sabbatical to give myself a break from some of the ugliness I had been reading (from both sides!) regarding the political climate right now. When I went to look up Facebook Sabbatical (a retreat I thought I might have invented), I found this great site that actually supplies signs for different durations of time to let people know you are taking a break.

Leaving and not saying anything would be weird, at least for me, so this was the perfect way to let people know to still stay in touch, but that wouldn’t be the format I was using to keep updated anymore.

Although I’m only in my first week, I feel so much better! I slept better this week, got in more reading time, had more real-life moments with friends, and actually had a lot to talk about since I had no clue what was going on. That constant interrupter that I had allowed in my life isn’t there so I feel a lot more focused. I will be curious if I feel this way at the end of the month or if I will start to feel out of the loop.

Only time will tell!

Tension Tamer Tea

Two New Tension Taming Routines

My evening unwind is looking a little different, without the scroll, and I’m trying to start some better stress-relieving habits than a big glass of wine and Facebook. Tension Tamer Tea is, by far, one of my favorite tea blends and I really do find it is a quite calming beverage. Whether that is psychological or not, I’m not sure, but I have found it be a wonderful evening drink with a good book. It smells so good that you can’t help but feel calmed.

Theanine is something that I have relied upon successfully, in the past, for anxiety and I am back at it again and loving it! Depending on how much you need, I find one in the morning and one in the afternoon, of this supplement, helps tone down my sharp edges of anxiety a lot. Do your own research, of course, but I have always had great success with this supplement over the years. Here is an article that explains how it works!

Chicken & Veggie Sheet Pan  Stir Fry

Eating: I made this chicken and vegetable sheet pan stir-fry for my lunches this week and it is phenomenal. I packaged it in containers of quinoa and it has been a great way to get my veggies and protein in for the afternoon!

Reading: Oh, my heart is all wrapped up in this book this week. You must, must, must read it!

Geeking Out: Over my new laundry basket system! It is saving our laundry area so much space and I love the handles for the kiddos. Unfortunately, not online so you have to head to your store to snag these budget-friendly organizers!

Spending: My birthday money! Thank you, LOFT, for the incredible sale. Several super cute items will be in my capsule for less than $15 each. You can browse their sale over here! This is one of my favorite purchases and how I styled it for winter.

birthday

Happy Friday, my friends! xoxo

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

Amy’s Notebook 01.25.17

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

Football Food Stadium from Foodie Crush

source: foodie crush

Now this is a game day spread- WOW!

I love a good foreign flick so I can’t wait to check out a few of these recommendations.

So many great lessons learned from a year without spending.

I cannot stop laughing at these obituaries. Don’t worry, I’m not awful (or am I?)! Read them!

I’m feeling inspired to paint a wooden bead garland for my mantle- this looks so fresh and modern!

This is your brain on poverty. So thought-provoking!

“It’s a scary thought, all the letting go that must happen. But it must happen consciously, and if we never get around to it, there will never be enough time….

I’m really pumped about this new small space collection. The pricing is better than their typical rates!

One Dress Five Ways

source: unfancy

Get inspired to minimize your wardrobe with this 10×10 challenge. It is making me excited about my next capsule wardrobe!

Do you struggle with digital clutter too? I love these ideas for minimizing that!

I always love a good binge-worthy series! Bookmarking this for our next binge session!

How to detox from social media without deleting your accounts- love these tips!

This article on high-functioning anxiety definitely strikes home. Do you struggle too?

Adding Greenery

 source: jones design company

I need to bookmark this list of the best indoor plants to add to your home. I need more greenery in the winter months!

I finished this book yesterday and absolutely loved it! Have you read it?

These gadgets look like they could really step up my phone photography.

These ideas are inspiring me to get our laundry area more organized.

So much style inspiration in this beautiful living room.

28 books to read in 2017- can’t wait to tackle a few on this list!

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

Amy’s Notebook 01.18.17

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Sheet Pan Chicken & Veggie Stir Fry

source: gimme some oven

I want to make this easy sheet pan chicken and veggies stir fry for some healthy lunches to enjoy at my desk!

A black female Astrophysicist explains why Hidden Figures isn’t just about history. Thinking about taking your kids? Check out our review on the site!

This budget-friendly kitchen makeover is so inspiring! I had no idea they made Formica counters that beautiful!

I spent a little of my birthday money on this cute item for my capsule! I am already seeing it in a million combos for this year!

I really wouldn’t mind doing laundry if I had this adorable room to do it in! That wallpaper gets all the heart eyes!

60 things to toss out in the next 60 days- I LOVE this challenge (and need to to do it!)

I’m going to have to try this chunky beef, cabbage, and tomato soup recipe in my Instant Pot!

Living With Kids

source: design mom

Wow! Such a beautiful family story in the Living With Kids series and, I’m sure, an encouragement to many. And that bookshelf is making me awfully happy too!

Organized entryways minus the closet- I’m inspired!

No, this is not just the way it is. Beautifully said!

Bookmarking this list to dig into more great movies this year.

Here are some new ways to use your Evernote account. I love that tip for not cluttering up your inbox!

I always feel like I am getting ripped off so this piece on cell phone plans was a good read!

DIY Message Board

source: apartment therapy

I love this diy felt message board- I think this is going to be a weekend diy project over here!

I’m listening to this adorable memoir, for the MomAdvice Reading Challenge, and laughing out loud often. It reminds me a little of Sedaris!

I am wowed by this home exterior makeover!

6 podcasts to add to your listening schedule!

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: Sock Storage, Fighting Hard Stuff, & Welcome Escapes

Friday, January 13th, 2017

la-la-land

It’s become a bit of a joke around here that whenever my husband takes a day off for my birthday the kids figure out a way to ruin it. God bless them. Two years in a row we got the dreaded call from the nurse’s office. One year we felt like we finally pulled it off and a child burst through the door puking off the bus. This year we patted ourselves on the back because everyone was healthy and we were FINALLY going to get our day date that we had been dreaming of.

That is, until my son looked at my husband bewildered last night and said, “It’s teacher record day tomorrow. Didn’t you know that?”

GOD BLESS THEM.

We are proceeding as planned without the enjoying the whole lounging in our quiet house thing together. I’m off to see La La Land, stuff myself silly with sushi, and antique with my handsome fella today!

Happy birthday to me a couple of days early because the kids are off for the holiday on my actual day too.

I mean, GOD BLESS THEM.

To show you how old I am, you will appreciate my old lady happy list today! I mean, only old ladies get all the feels about sock storage, amiright?

Here are 3 things that are making me happy today!

Under the Bed Shoe Organizer for Sock Storgage

Organized Sock Storage

We don’t have a lot of drawer space so I have been using an under-the-bed organizer for my sock storage. Our bed sits low so these inexpensive risers allow me to make the most of the storage underneath the bed.  I feel like risers on beds are a small bedroom requirement- it’s amazing how much you can organize under there.

I’m not sure why I had not thought to use an under-the-bed shoe organizer for sock storage, but when I saw these organizers at the store, I grabbed one for my socks. The compartments allow me to separate the types of socks I need into groupings. One has my short gym socks, one for long, one for my boot socks, one for furry pajama socks, one for tights, and two hold my belts and smaller scarves. The top is clear and it has handles on each side for picking up and grabbing.

This inexpensive little tweak is making getting ready for the gym in the mornings so much easier!

Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner Tablets

A Clean Dishwasher

Hard water issues plague us and my dishwasher has been looking rather disgusting. The vinegar cleaning jobs that I had been doing became no match for whatever was gunking up this dishwasher and so I researched cleaners that could clear the gunk better so I wouldn’t have to replace our appliance. These Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner Tablets cleaned it out in a single normal cycle and it is even safe to run it through with your dishes. For the first round, I used two tablets, but typically a single tablet should get your dishwasher looking like new again.

My gunky dishwasher looks like new and I plan to run a cycle with these once a month to keep things humming along in our home! I highly recommend them if your dishwasher is looking a little sad too!

It’s Gonna Be OK Playlist

I am really glad I subscribed to theSkimm for my morning news especially this week. It does not mean, however, I am living in complete oblivion of what everyone is talking about on Facebook. Shortly after the election, my husband made a playlist as a lyrical form of encouragement. My husband has a real talent for picking meaningful music and he says that this playlist was meant to be listened to in order (turn off that shuffle, yo!) to encourage the listener.

I wanted to share it with you this week if you are not feeling okay about all of this. Even if you are like, “I FEEL JUST FINE, LADY” you still might enjoy it.

I hope this is a bright spot in your Friday as it has been for me.

Namaste.

Reading: I am loving working through our first MomAdvice Reading Challenge! This week I started this book and I am so thankful for what it is teaching me. Much like, Just Mercy, I am finding myself frustrated with this broken system as the story follows eight families that are struggling to keep the roof over their heads. This was my selection that I will be proud to have said I read this year and I am finding I already feel that way in just these first 100 pages.

Eating: This green bean & turkey saute on repeat for a healthy version of takeout at home. I feel like this dish is going to be our new easy weeknight jam!  

joy-movie

Watching: This is the last week of my free 30-day HBO trial and it has been so much fun to catch up on movies and shows I’ve wanted to see. This week I finally watched the movie, Joyand I loved it so much, I watched it two times in a row (once by myself and once with my husband). I think this would be a GREAT movie to watch with your tween or teen daughter because it’s about a woman entrepreneur and how she never gives up on our dream of designing and manufacturing a product.

It also is a great discussion builder on how much of your success is built around your team and those who support you. It’s a feel good flick of a truly successful business woman.

La La Land

I’m off for a little La La Land magic! I hope you have a wonderful weekend, friends! xo

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!

MomAdvice 2017 Book Club Selections

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

2017-MOMADVICE-BOOK-CLUB

I hope your year of reading is off to an incredible start this month!  Between my two book clubs and our MomAdvice Reading Challenge, every surface and moment is book-filled over here!

How obsessed have I got with my reading this year? Totally figured out my wireless headphones are perfect for soaking in the bathtub with a book in my ears (just avoid sliding down into the water!) and I bought a $10 plant stand for my coffee propping so I can soak until the water gets cold every single day.

I do it for you guys. You need my recommendations!

Just kidding!!

Last year our MomAdvice Book Club on Facebook really began to take shape for our readers. I envisioned a place where bookworms could gather, a good spot to share the daily book deals that happen on Amazon, and a monthly book club discussion. It’s grown SO MUCH and last week we grew to over 700 bookworms last week.

Do you want to join my book club? Let me explain how it works!

How Does the MomAdvice Facebook Book Club Work?

I will be your book club hostess this year and have selected the first seven books to get you started on a fun journey of reading.  The discussion is held on the last week of the month and posted in the group with a thread for each question. You can jump in to answer questions at any time throughout that week, interacting with loads of other fellow bookworms.

How fun is that?

This post will be updated with our monthly selections so you can join in at any time with our group! Feel free to join us and let your friends know about the group too.

The more the merrier!

How Much Does it Cost?

Nada.

Well, What Do You Get Out Of It?

I want this to be fun and free for you. I post the daily Kindle book deals and I share our book club picks though through something called an affiliate link. Basically, this link gives me a few pennies on each of your purchases that help pay for the web hosting on our website. The web hosting currently costs me about $200 monthly and your purchases from this group basically help to offset that cost for our family at no cost to you.

I try to only share the good stuff and good books.

In fact, I have been reading our book club picks before we get to them to make sure that not a moment of your time or penny is wasted.

For example, one of the books I selected, I did not enjoy. It has been removed from the list and replaced with a better selection. I want to make sure this book club is an enjoyable thing and that you don’t feel ripped off if you are purchasing books.

I know I can’t appeal to everyone’s taste, but I am really trying!! 

I also would like to think I made a lot of great bookworm friends too in this group. It’s been fun to have a place to obsess about books, to share what we are reading each week, and just hang out with other people who just get you.

I have tried to cultivate a positive environment and the group is filled with those kinds of drama-free people that you want to have filling your Facebook feed. Escape the political nastiness and join a feel good kind of space.

Here are the books we will be talking about this year!

MomAdvice 2017 Book Club Selections

Miss Jane by Brad Watson

January

Miss Jane by Brad Watson

Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam

February

Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

March

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

April

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

May

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Darktown by Thomas Mullen

June

Darktown by Thomas Mullen

All the Birds in the SKy by Charlie Jane Anders

July

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

August-December TBA!!

2017-MOMADVICE-BOOK-CLUB

Join in on the MomAdvice Book Club HERE! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

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

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Amy’s Notebook 01.11.17

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Chicken Pesto Bowls

source: damn delicious

I want to dive into one of these chicken pesto bowls face first.

Here are 10 books to read before they hit movie theaters!

A 31-day healthy comfort food planner- these dishes look so good!

Understanding the line between frugality and deprivation- what a great piece to read as you recommit to your financial goals for the year!

I’m in love with this happiness jar idea. What a great reminder of the best moment of your day!

Follow 6 people as they tackle real 2017 resolutions- could you take one of these on?

Customized Turntable

source: a beautiful mess

I’m in love with this customized turntable!

Entitlement is optional.

I dug into this book for my reading challenge this year. It’s incredible and important!

If you have always wanted to learn to knit, this looks like a great series to follow!

I’m all for a hygge marathon to get me through this winter.

Okay, it’s official. Getting hygge obsessed.

Empty Drawers after Kon Mari

source: thrifty decor chick

This is just the declutter post I needed.

I’d also like to embrace digital minimalism this year.

A 4-step wardrobe edit for the new year!

I find making new friends as an adult very challenging!

“I started to look at the other people I was trusting to know what was best for me. Maybe they didn’t know after all.” I needed to read this today!

The most anticipated books of 2017- what are you excited to read?

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: 5-Minute News, Getting a Weave, & the Fanny Pack Life

Friday, January 6th, 2017

christmas-decorations

Well, hey, there! Have you missed your Friday happy? So good to be getting back in the swing of things this week. We are concluding a rather lazy and lovely holiday break. It was filled with documentary marathons, board game nights almost every night, trying new recipes for our family meals, and pajamas.

A lot of pajamas.

Before I forget, I was VERY honored to be featured in Design Mom’s Living With Kids series to share a holiday home tour last week. It is always a little scary to open your home and life up for critique, but it has been really incredible to receive emails from parents who are struggling with similar health issues and feel like they just might have their answer.

If you were one of the people that emailed me, I have thought of you a million times and prayed that you are down a better path too.

We have so many unfinished projects here and I have put off for years sharing this house because of that. Guess what? There will ALWAYS be unfinished business in our home though so I put aside my doubts and opened it up anyway.

I am so glad I did.

Enough about me, let’s talk more about ME! I love a good narcissistic post so enjoy! (wink, wink!)

theSkimm

5-Minute News Without the Angry Stomping (Sort Of)

Turns on news, gets super angry, and stomps around the house shouting headlines at husband with hands in the air, “CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE THIS?”

What a great way to start the day!

batman

Obviously, this news listening is not helping me start my days in a healthy way so I switched my routine and became a subscriber to theSkimm. Have you heard of it? So many of my friends are subscribers so I thought I would jump on the bandwagon after my NPR listening was causing undue stress during my mornings.

Each morning, I have a 5-minute email to read that breaks down the important news I need to know including references to the back stories on each of those headlines. theSkimm was founded by 2 friends who are former NBC News producers and has a polished wit about the headlines that is sure to make you feel smarter just to read it. It’s intention is to deliver an unbiased look at the news with a healthy dose of snark. It’s kind of like having your best friend share the headlines with you!

They also share quick and lovely book reviews, an important note for my fellow bookworms.

It gives you everything you need to know to remain informed and hold conversations, but delivers it in a funny way so you don’t have to be stomping around your house maybe as much.

theSkimm

Like the idea of someone else skimming your news and you getting the important stuff? You can sign up to receive the free daily newsletter over here.

 

Namaste.

Basic Loom

Learning to Weave

My mom and dad got a loom for me for my Christmas gift and it has been SO MUCH fun to start learning to weave. Per my usual crafting routines, I get SUPER obsessive when I learn something new and it consumes me. This has been my new relaxing evening routine as I try to figure out the world of weaving.

One of our top selling items on the site last month was this loom set that I had linked to when sharing that I had asked for this for the holidays. If you happened to have bought a loom for the holidays too, here are a few things I am finding helpful as I teach myself how to use it.

Weaving for Beginners Series from Creative Bug- This free 5-part YouTube course was great for learning some of the basics on my loom.  If you don’t want to purchase a loom, she also shows you a way to make one yourself. The big takeaway I got from this series has been that many of the tools needed can be made from inexpensive things we already have around our house. This is such a solid intro to weaving and it is beautifully shot.

DIY Woven Art Book- This book on weaving offers great step-by-step instructions for beginning weavers. Although I find videos are a better medium for me for learning, I have found that I am enjoying seeing the materials and ideas for construction that this book offers.

Modern Weaving Book- This book is another beautiful one that offers step-by-step tutorials. I love how this one breaks down each of the stitches.

So far I have figured out how to set my loom up, how to do basic weaving, how to add tassels, and how to remove it from the loom. I have just been practicing with some scrap yarn in the evenings and I am finding it so calming. The best part is that I can pair this with a great audiobook to stay on track with my reading goals.

I look forward to figuring out how to do more with my loom!

My Tagalongs Fanny Pack

The Yardwork/Housework Fanny Pack

I didn’t want to pay anyone to help up with our leaves this fall, but ended up paying for it when my phone fell out of my pocket, shattering my screen. These giant phones are annoying to carrying around, but I found this fanny pack is PERFECT for wearing my phone around the house to listen to my audiobooks or music. Since my headphones are wireless, I almost forget that it is there and it protects my phone from another inevitable drop.

Did I ever think I would sing the praises of fanny packs?

Nope.

Do I now realize how dang practical they are?

You bet.

As a side note, the phone I have is the iPhone 6, just in case you are wondering what I’m able to fit in this! I also love that this is washable so if I wear it for a workout, I can run it through the washer and air dry it to remove my perfume-smelling gorgeously sweet sweat smell.

family

Reading: I am loving working through our first MomAdvice Reading Challenge! I just finished a really heavy book so I needed to break up my reading a bit. Late last night, I started this thriller and I’m already intrigued. His last book was so solid for me so I am hopeful this one is just as good!

Eating: 7-Minute Risotto is always a winner over here in our Instant Pot! I served it up with baked salmon topped with pesto and lemons. Whenever I make it, I feel like we are back in Italy again.   floyd-norman-an-animated-life

Watching: We caught Floyd Norman: An Animated Life this week on Netflix. If you haven’t seen it, it shares the story of the first black animator for Disney and his incredible career as an artist. Portions of it are animated (with true hilarity) by Floyd and it is really an eye-opening look at what it was like to work for Walt as well as his blossoming career for lots of other animation companies.

We watched this one with our kids and there were a couple of things that could have been bleeped for little ears, but other than that my kids both felt really inspired to take up a drawing class at our local museum after watching this one.

I HIGHLY recommend this documentary for your weekend plans!

Writing Down: My intentions for fitness this week, with our free printable fitness tracker,  and I can’t believe what a difference it has made in my motivation levels. I have one more workout to do and I will have reached my goal this week. Go me!

Well, I’m off to make birthday magic happen for my daughter this evening with an epic sleepover party.  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

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!