Archive for the ‘Reads’ Category

Amy’s Notebook 06.04.14

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Cobb-Salad-To-Go-Tumblers via The Chic Site

Source: The Chic Site


What a great way to repurpose tumblers- cobb salad to-go!

Here’s a fun idea: a printable conversation starter for your and your children to anticipate summer.

Find 17 things you should avoid doing if you want to be happy.

Copycat chipotle burrito bowls – don’t these sound just right for summertime eating?

I’m loving these ideas for throwing a beautiful grown-up baby shower!

Pom-pom shadow boxes? Be still my beating heart.


Free-Printable-Watermelon-Icecream-Cone-Wrappers via Design Eat Repeat

Source: Design Eat Repeat


Watermelon printable ice cream cone wrappers- these are too cute!

Looking for something new and interesting to read? Here are five of the best book recommendation sites, services, or groups (of course you always have MomAdvice’s BookClub and Sundays with Writers series for great recommendations, too!).

Love this idea for creating a family swing area under a tree. How fun would that be?

22 DIY tricks to make parenting easier- who couldn’t use these?!

Organize a home bar with lacquer trays- so chic!

And finally, here’s a perfect example of scraps-of-life giving! So inspired to do a garage sale for those in need!



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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Sundays With Writers: The Orphans Of Race Point by Patry Francis

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

Sundays With Writers

I am so excited to be interviewing our next MomAdvice Book Club author today. In case you missed my unofficial announcement on Facebook, I decided to add one more summer selection since I am assuming we will have more time to read in the summer.  The first reason is because I read this book, shut it, and immediately wanted to share it with you. The second reason is because Patry Francis is such an intriguing and inspiring woman that I know you will be just as swept away in her words and life as I was.

The Orphans Of Race Point by Patry Francis

For our July selection for the MomAdvice Book Club, we will be discussing The Orphans Of Race Point.  This book is absolutely stunning from start to finish. It was filled with words that begged to be read again because they felt like poetry to me.  It is a  beautifully woven story with big moral messages about love, forgiveness, and redemption. The plot twists? I never saw them coming, which happens rarely when you are an avid reader like I am. I will say now that you will see this book on my top ten books I read this year list and I have no doubt it will be in your top ten too! 

Set in the close-knit Portuguese community of Provincetown, Massachusetts, The Orphans of Race Point traces the relationship between Hallie Costa and Gus Silva, who meet as children in the wake of a terrible crime that leaves Gus parentless. Their friendship evolves into an enduring and passionate love that will ask more of them than they ever imagined.

On the night of their high school prom, a terrible tragedy devastates their relationship and profoundly alters the course of their lives. And when, a decade later, Gus—now a priest—becomes entangled with a distraught woman named Ava and her daughter Mila, troubled souls who bring back vivid memories of his own damaged past, the unthinkable happens: he is charged with murder. Can Hallie save the man she’s never stopped loving, by not only freeing him from prison but also—finally—the curse of his past?

Told in alternating voices, The Orphans of Race Point illuminates the transformative power of love and the myriad ways we find meaning in our lives.

When I finished the final pages on this book, I contacted Patry to ask if she would participate in a discussion of her book with you and if I could interview her about her life. After doing some research on her, I knew that this is the kind of writer whose backstory was just as fascinating as her book. Patry graciously agreed to talk to me and you this summer! 

Our book club discussion will be held on July 29th so be sure to order a copy of the book or put one on hold at your library. If you are anything like me, you will want this one for your bookshelf because it is a book worth rereading! Let’s dive in and learn more about the author behind this beautiful book! 

Patry Francis

Many moms put on hold their own ambitions to support and raise their families. You are a mom of four that supported them through a waitressing job and used pockets of time to write. What would you tell another mom who has put her dreams on hold to support her family?

My oldest son was born when I was just nineteen so children and the necessity of physically caring for them, learning what they needed most to develop their gifts, helping to support them financially–and just enjoying them– has always been woven into my story. However, writing was also a dream I’d nurtured since childhood, and I always believed that my commitment had to be as big as my dream. Though my priority was my family for many years, there was rarely a day when I didn’t find a stray hour, or even fifteen minutes, to devote to my goal. Since writing usually requires a a long apprenticeship, it’s not something that can be put off till “someday”–at least, not entirely. I was fortunate to have a husband who believed in me and demanded that the family take “Mom’s work” seriously.

Your words in your book, The Orphans of Race Point, read like poetry to me and you have such a beautiful way of weaving words that I found myself repeating the phrases out loud. Do these moments just flow out of you or is this something a writer has to develop and practice to achieve?

First of all, thank you for saying that! I wrote poetry in my early years, partly because I loved reading it, but also because it was easier to complete a draft in an hour, which gave me a sense of accomplishment. With fiction, I began like most writers do, by imitating writers I admired. At the time, I was reading a lot of novels about sophisticated singles living in urban settings. I emulated their style and even their subject matter, even though my own life and preoccupations couldn’t have been more different. It took practice before I trusted myself enough to write about characters who were more like people I knew, and issues that were really important to me. When my own voice finally emerged, it was like finding my wings.

I want to save our discussion of The Orphans of Race Point for this summer’s book club, but I loved the character of Gus, in all of his beauty and brokenness.  How much of your husband’s work as a minister helped to shape the role of Gus in your book? Did he also help you with what he thought Gus might think, feel, or do in those pivotal moments?

I love this question because it allowed me to ponder something I hadn’t previously considered. (My husband,Ted, appreciated it, too! ) Gus, who is the heart of the novel for me, came in the mysterious, almost inexplicable way that the characters who haunt me most appear. The only way I could get to know him was by listening to his voice as I wrote. So in that sense, the answer is no. Neither my husband, nor anyone else could really help me.

However, the subconscious is another matter! In the childhood section of the novel, there is a scene in which Gus deliberately picks the weakest player for his baseball team because he feels the other boy’s shame at always being chosen last. When my husband, who was also very athletic as a kid, came upon that passage, he asked if I knew he had done that, too. I didn’t, but I can’t say it surprised me!

Ted has also done a lot of work in hospitals, and undoubtedly many of his stories about the patients he met, his openness to hearing their stories and offering them comfort helped me to understand Gus’s gift for working with the sick and the reason he found so much satisfaction in it.

I have witnessed the power of community & friendship through online writing and I know you have too. During the publishing of your very first book, you were diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, which should have been a true time of celebration for you and that moment. Your community of writers/bloggers came together (300 of them!) to encourage you and the sale of your book since you were having surgery and recovering during its release. Did that help you gain strength during that time? How are you feeling now?

When I first received my diagnosis, I planned to keep it private. But the connection I felt with my online community was so real and vital that eventually I decided to share my experience and how I was dealing with it on my blog in a post I called “Two Ounces of Bliss”. I knew my online community would be supportive–they always were–but I never could have predicted the incredible outpouring of kindness and generosity I received.  Organized by my friends, Susan Henderson, Amy MacKinnon, Jessica Keener, and Tish Cohen, it swelled to include novelists like Khaled Hosseini and Neil Gaiman, who had never met me, but who took to the internet to promote a fellow writer who couldn’t do it for herself. Though I was pretty sick at the time, it was one of the most extraordinary days of my life, and it still lifts me up whenever I think about it.

I spent the next two years in and out of  hospitals, but I’m currently in good health. If anything positive came from the experience (aside from witnessing the goodness of my communities, both real and virtual) it was that that I no longer take anything for granted.  Whether it’s sharing a cup of tea with a friend, enjoying a family milestone, or bringing the novel I began twelve years ago to readers, I’m keenly aware of how lucky I am to be here.

What is a book other than your own which you would recommend?

It’s hard to choose only one, but Amy Greene’s, LONG MAN has everything I look for in a novel: a compelling protagonist named Annie Clyde who faces impossible odds with great courage and resilience, an engrossing plot, and a setting so vivid, you really feel as if you are there.

 I look forward to discussing The Orphans of Race Point with you in July! A huge thank you to our featured writer, Patry Francis, for sharing her heart this Sunday with us!


*This post contains affiliate links! Love our Sundays With Writers series? Check out all of our past interviews!  
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It’s The 3 Little Things: It’s All About the Hair (or Not) & Happy Hour

Friday, May 30th, 2014


I have had such great feedback from you all on this feature and nothing makes me happier than getting your comments sharing what you have been trying from my happy list each week. So far I have heard that people have tried my favorite sleep-inducing tea, that you have been rocking tan legs, that you got some beautiful new-to-you clothes, and that you are having a blast with the Waterlogue app. What could make me happier than that?

Let’s get started with today’s list.


Coloring My Hair At Home

I have only had my hair professionally colored a couple of times because I am 1) Too Cheap 2) Too Type-A about roots and feeling like I look trashy if my color grows out and 3) Too dang busy.  Unfortunately, I am advancing in age (*ahem*) which means that my gray is pulling through at lightning speed and requires real coverage, unlike my 8th grade hair color experimentation of my youth.

This is the color I swear by, if you are dark brunette like me. It is the Nice ‘N Easy Natural Medium Golden Brown and I can usually catch a sale on it for between $4-6 per box.  The coverage is good for disguising my gray roots and it doesn’t look flat and one dimensional like the other boxes of color I have tried. It adds a hint of red, it has a nice shimmer, and every time I tell someone that I color my hair at home, they do not believe me.  My color typically lasts about four to five weeks.

If you don’t want to forget to order your hair color when you need it, you can have Amazon auto-ship it to you every four weeks. When it arrives on your doorstep, you know it’s time to do a little touching up for the month.

The best part is that you can do lots of multitasking while coloring your hair. You know, reading a good book, sipping wine, eating chocolate. REALLY important stuff.  I mean, how would you do all of that at a busy salon?


Keeping Things in Check

Look, I’m not going to get into this kind of discussion because some of you barely know me.  I, personally,  don’t have weird body or facial hair at all, but this gal that I know has to keep things in check and she told me these Nad’s Body Wax Strips & Nad’s Facial Wax Strips might work really good to help resolve some issues you might be having.  She said that the best way to use these is to warm the strip a bit with a hair dryer and then follow the directions from there. If the strips leave behind any residue, a little baby oil does the trick to remove it.  If you need to keep things in check too, take some advice from my hairy friend. My hairy friend is super happy she doesn’t have to pay someone else to work this out for her.





Happy Hour + Yard Work

I really loathe yard work. My whole thing is, you have to make a choice. There is no way that I can have a beautiful lawn and a clean home. If I am working on the lawn, my house looks like a tornado hit it. If I work on the house, people have no clue if the house was abandoned or not.  How do people have pretty lawns and pretty houses? That just baffles my mind. I think we should all just make choices and not judge each other on which one is more important.

My cardio routine on Fridays is to mow our enormous lawn and work on tidying up the sad beds. I started listening to NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour and (as if my neighbors weren’t already less than thrilled with us), I find myself busting up laughing randomly while listening to this show in the yard.

It is everything you might want to know about books, movies, the arts, and celebrities, but SMART. This not a junky entertainment blog, this is well-curated and thoughtful discussion on what is happening in pop culture with a lot of humor. I finally feel a little more with it about what is happening in the world and I am getting my terrible yard shaped up in the process.

And since I know you guys like happy lists, at the end of every episode they share what is making them happy each week and you want to have a notepad out to jot it all down to go out and find everything they are talking about.

Did I mention the NPR app is FREE? Seriously, you have nothing to lose!


And for a bonus happy, our grandma retired! We are so happy for her. And let’s keep it real here, we are so happy for US because we get more time with our grandma after all of her years of serving in the school system. We got to go to her retirement party and I got to walk down the hallways of my old elementary school. Isn’t it funny how it is so much smaller than we remember it as children?  As my kids ran like wild banshees down the hallway, you can’t help but feel like life is coming full circle.

And, just to make you smile, I hope you have seen this baby dancing because this will make you happy. If you don’t laugh, then you should get that checked out. I have this sad friend  who can help you with that… :)

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

Now it’s your turn, what makes you happy this week? Feel free to share in our link up below and link back to this post to participate!

Share 3 things that are making you happy today!

Amy’s Notebook 05.28.14

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Crochet Sun Wreath via Repeat Crafter Me

Source: Repeat Crafter Me


How adorable is this crocheted summer sun wreath?

These 7 tips for living on one income or less are not only helpful, they work for everyone – married, single, or even living with two incomes. So really,  just plain good advice!

I love this drop your digital device here free printable – perfect for encouraging our family to take breaks from our devices.

A slow cooker recipe series for the summer? Yes, please!

Wouldn’t this DIY ombre Jenga game be the cutest wedding gift?

Meditertanean Flatbread Salad via A Happy Food Dance

Source: A Happy Food Dance


These Mediterranean flatbread salads look like an easy weeknight meal!

This is my kind of decorating: how anyone can change up a room in one hour.

Facebook timeline bugging you? Here’s how to find ‘Most Recent’ newsfeed in Facebook 10.0 for iOS.

How to style bangs if you have a pesky cowlick – love!


I hope you enjoyed this notebook 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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Sundays With Writers: Love With a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

Sundays With Writers

Sunday means it is time to soak in the words of another amazing writer and I am particularly enthusiastic about our writer today, Torre DeRoche because Love With a Chance of Drowning has been chosen as our Summer Book Club selection!  Although I am interviewing her today, we will still be doing an additional interview with her where you can ask your own questions and we will dive deeper (pun intended!) into this month’s book. Torre has graciously offered to speak to me twice, once to get you excited about her and this book, and the second time to really discuss what this experience was all about and any questions YOU have.

Here is what you need to know about our discussion and this book.

1. I am moving our MomAdvice Book Club discussion up to June so that we can hopefully squeeze in two books this summer.  Plan on this discussion happening on June 24th!  If you want to submit a question for Torre to me directly, you can email me at amy(at)momadvice(dot)com and I will add it to our list. You can also join our Facebook group and either message me through there or you can wait for the request to go up the week before to list any of your questions. I also recommend subscribing to our newsletter (see that box on the right with my mug shot!?!)

2. You will love this book and you will love the author even more after you read this discussion.

Love With a Chance of Drowning

Here is a book synopsis for what book we will be discussing!  I will reserve my own thoughts for you until our discussion next month! 

Love can make a person do crazy things…

Torre DeRoche is a city girl with a morbid fear of deep water. She is not someone you would ordinarily find adrift in the middle of the stormy Pacific Ocean aboard a leaky sailboat – total crew of two – struggling to keep an old boat, a new relationship and her floundering sanity afloat.

But when she meets Ivan, a handsome Argentinean with a humble sailboat and a dream to set off exploring the world, Torre has a hard decision to face: watch the man she loves sail away forever, or head off on the epic watery journey with him. Suddenly the choice seems simple. She gives up her sophisticated city life, faces her fear of water (and tendency towards seasickness) and joins Ivan on a year-long voyage across the Pacific.

Set against the backdrop of the world’s most beautiful and remote destinations, Love with a Chance of Drowning is a sometimes hilarious, often moving and always breathtakingly brave memoir that proves there are some risks in life worth taking.

An engaging storyteller, Torre is also author of The Fearful Adventurer, a blogsite where she posts honest accounts of her deep fears and daring adventures hoping to inspire others to follow their dreams. Film rights for Love with a Chance of Drowning have been optioned and the script adaptation is currently underway.

Torre DeRoche

Torre is daughter to American parents who moved to Australia before she was born. At age 24, Torre decided to make the most of her dual nationality and leave her safe life in Australia for a year of independent fun in San Francisco. A former Graphic Designer, Torre ran her own business in Melbourne before giving it all up to become a Fearful Adventurer.

When she’s not at home in Melbourne, Australia, DeRoche is at large in the world, exploring, writing, painting pictures, and snapping photos, as she faces her fears one terrified step at a time. Stories of her adventures can be found at the The Fearful Adventurer. You can also follow her on Facebook and her travels on Instagram!

Go ahead and grab your coffee and dive into one of the most interesting interviews I have done on here!

As a blog writer to book writer, I went about things in a roundabout kind of way for securing my book deal. You were a graphic designer, turned self-published author, turned published author through a publishing house, and have also been blogging your journey.  What did you feel that a publishing house offered you beyond what you were able to accomplish through self-publishing?

My publisher gave me an incredible marketing push, placing enormous backlit billboards of my cover in airports around Australia and giving the book prime positioning in various stores. Love with a Chance of Drowning was reviewed in a lot of major publications, and my publicist landed spots for me on primetime radio and television. You’d need to invest some serious cash if you wanted this level of publicity for a self-published book.

As you mentioned, I have a background in design and my sister is a talented editor too, so I have all the tools I need to self-publish. But when you self-publish, you need to wear 1,000 hats and it’s difficult not to burn out. A good publisher will streamline everything for the author so that she’s left with only one job: to write.

With your graphic design background, did you get a say in the final look of the cover of your book?

I have two covers: one that was designed by Penguin Australia and one designed by Hyperion in the US. The designers at Penguin were inspired by an illustration of a map that I created for the middle of the book. They did the cover artwork, but it matched beautifully with my own illustration. Hyperion came up with a different concept and I wasn’t in love with the typography, so I reworked that myself.

This past week we got to talk to John Green about the film adaptation of The Fault In Our Stars which was really interesting to hear the process from book to film. I understand that Love With a Chance of Drowning may be coming to the big screen!  Where are you at in the making of this and do you think you will find this process hard because it is, in fact, your own life story?

I’m so jealous that you got to speak with John Green! I’m a huge fan of his. Love with a Chance of Drowning is currently in script development, and yes, it’s certainly frightening to sign the characterized version of yourself over to filmmakers. It requires a leap of faith to let go and trust that they’ll be respectful of your name, your art, and all the people involved. Admittedly, when I was signing the contract for the option, I paused to question if I really wanted to give someone else the right to butcher my name and art if they so pleased. In the end I thought: You only live once, so why be precious about it.

Let’s just say that you could pick anyone, ANYONE to play you and Ivan. What is your dream casting of this film?

I think Gabriel Garcia Bernal would play Ivan perfectly because they’re both soulful Latin types. Bernal would be great in a role as a man who is fed up with society and longs to escape to wild places. I’d pick Mia Wasikowska for me because she’s an insanely talented Australian actress.

Writing a memoir really puts your life out there for scrutiny and, I would think, a very vulnerable place to be writing from.  Was anyone unhappy with how they were portrayed in the book and did you have any moments that you wished you could include, but guarded because you were protecting people in your life or were worried how they would be perceived?

Strangely, one-dimensional, perfect characters end up being more unlikable on the page than those who have flaws, because readers like real people with dilemmas they can relate to. Flaws endear a character to the reader because they offer a precious gift of insight and therefore an opportunity for learning and growth. That’s powerful.

It’s important to tell warts and all stories for this reason, and it does indeed put me in a tricky position as the writer. I run the risk of damaging a relationship every time I write about someone I know, even when it’s buried in fiction. Writing is an incredibly risky pursuit for this reason and many others, and there is no way around that.

So I write the truth and then, with sweaty hands, I seek approval from the person involved before I publish. If someone hates how I’ve portrayed them on the page, I respect that and find way to work around it. Most often, people have no issues or they want small tweaks. Like, my Grandma asked me to remove the word “affair.” I think I used “fling” instead and she was fine with that. (She told me I could say anything at all after she died, and since she has now passed away I can say: Grandma had an affair.)

One thing you have to overcome in your journey is your fear of deep water. This is truly a fear of my own and I really can’t picture having the bravery to even get on that boat to start this journey.  It seems like you overcame many, many fears though in your book. Now that you have overcome one of your biggest fears, what fears could possibly be left?

I’m still kind of scared of the dark.

I was heartbroken to read that your father recently passed away, as we can read in your book that he is such a special part of your life and offered so much encouragement to you in this journey. The fact that he flew from Australia to spend a week on a sailboat with you speaks volumes. What is one thing you wish you could share with the world about your Dad?

Thank you, I appreciate that. My dad made a career out of scriptwriting, supporting six daughters and my mother with his craft. He was the most successful scriptwriter in Australia and he was always my creative hero. When he came to visit us on the boat in Tonga, he brought along a DVD that he couldn’t wait to show us. It featured unedited footage for a documentary called Not Quite Hollywood, about Australian genre film, including my dad’s. On the DVD, there’s an interview with Quentin Tarantino during which he confesses:  “Almost everything that Everett DeRoche wrote is one of my favorite films.” That’s my dad. I’m so proud of him. I’m sad to have lost him, but he certainly lived a rich life.

Since you have traveled the world, what is one place you wish everyone could travel to in the world and what is one place that was surprisingly amazing just in the little ol’ United States?

As for my favorite place in the United States, I was really taken by Nashville. I had gone in expecting fanny packs, ill-fitting jeans and huge country hairdos, but it was so young and hip and inspiring. My parents immigrated to Australia from the US before I was born, and brought with them several cultural quirks, like country music. I grew up with bluegrass and country, which made me an anomaly in Australia. So I felt kind of at home in Nashville.

And where do I wish everyone would travel to? To the protected world heritage sites so that there can be a broad understanding of what we need to fight for. I recently went to Tasmania and stood in ancient forests that were breathtaking and humbling and throbbing with life. These areas are constantly under threat because the wood there is so valuable. But we let these places get defiled forever because a tiny newspaper headline at the bottom of page 12 that reads Tasmania’s Forests to Undergo Logging means nothing to us.

If you could tell anyone to read one book (other than your own) what would that book be?

I don’t think I can prescribe a cure-all because books are so personal to each individual, but I’ll share with you the most important book I ever read—a book that burst open my imagination and taught me that it’s possible to create an incredible alternate reality on the page.

When I was thirteen, my older sister told me I had to read this book, giving me only the title and a pinch of her fingers to demonstrate its approximate spine width. I went to my school library to look for the book and, having no idea where to start my search, I said to a friend, “I’m looking for a book that’s about this thick.” I extended my finger to poke the spine of a random book. It was Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel: the very book my sister told me I must read. It was a bizarre, serendipitous first encounter. That book rocked my world.

And here’s where it gets really weird: Jean M. Auel’s manuscript was discovered by a New York Literary agent named Jean V. Naggar, and was published in 1980 (the year I was born). Why is this amazing? Because my agent is Elizabeth Evans from the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency.

I told you, one of the most fascinating authors we have featured here! Let’s give Torre a warm welcome and I hope you will be reading along with us this month and picking up a copy of Love With a Chance of Drowning! I look forward to another discussion with you all!

*This post contains affiliate links! Love our Sundays With Writers series? Check out all of our past interviews 
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It’s The 3 Little Things: Carting Around Town, Pool Days, & Cheap Drinks

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

It's The 3 Little Things

Happy Friday, friends! I hope you are having a fabulous week and are looking forward to this long holiday weekend! I know I am!  This weekend starts the beginning of our community pool membership so I thought I would share a few of our favorite things about our summers at the pool!

Pool Membership

Opening Weekend At the Community Pool

After lots of swim lessons, I finally have two kids that can swim which is a total win for me this year and is making me enormously happy.  For the last couple of years, we have joined this community pool for the summer and I absolutely love it. We are the type of family that try to get every dollar out of our pool membership so we are there every day that we can be there and pack enough snacks & books to stay all day.  The kids love having a destination to go to each day, they burn off a ton of energy, and I enjoy some summer reading while I am there.  Dreaming of warm days at the pool are making me very happy and we are looking forward to the pool’s opening weekend this week!

My favorite part about this pool- the giant shaded area where really white people like me can sit. I pretty much park myself in a chair under there and if there are no chairs under there, I scoot a chair under there next to someone else sitting there and sit uncomfortably close to them.

Collapsible Rolling Cart

My Favorite Pool Accessory EVER

My best friend got these collapsible rolling carts one year when they were on sale at a local hardware store.  You may not have thought of a Rolling Cart as the world’s best pool accessory, but it really is. I load our entire cart up with our lunches (still in love with my favorite to-go salad containers), towels, pool toys, reading materials, sunblock, hats, and snacks. I throw them all in this cart and we wheel all of our stuff out to the pool, saving my back from breaking trying to lug all of our stuff out there.

The best part is that this cart is great in the off-seasons for library visits.  And, yes, we do horde that many library books when we go that we need a rolling cart to bring everything home. If you are looking for a book at our library and can’t find it, chances are it ended up in this cart.

Coleman Drink Dispenser

Cheap Drinks

You know I am all about the drinks since I have to feature something to drink for you each week! One of the best investments I made for our summer was buying one of these little half gallon containers for our drinks. My kids were looking for constant refills and buying tiny juice boxes for them was expensive. I can fill this up with lemonade, or some of our favorite fruit-infused waters, or just plain water and they can refill if they want to. I bought a stack of cheap cups that are for the pool and a quick name written on them with a Sharpie or having everyone pick a color helps cut down on throwing out packaging too.


Wedding Anniversary

My bonus happy this week was celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary with the love of my life.  On Instagram I posted this little Throwback Thursday image of the day we got married. These two kids had no idea what they were getting into.  My caption speaks to what marriage has really been like for us…

“There were hard years and easy ones. There were lean years and fruitful ones. Some years felt like longer than years and others felt like days. But they were always together and for that I’m thankful. 14 married years with my best friend this week!”

Wedding Anniversary

Flourish Boutique Dress

Zing! Sushi

It’s very a special occasion when I get to go out on a date with this guy too. We are so lucky that grandma and grandpa offer us the gift of a night out for our anniversary each year. I love getting to dress up and hit the town with this guy!

I found this beautiful dress & necklace from our site sponsor, Flourish Boutique, for the occasion. I went to the store and was overwhelmed with the dress choices. If you are looking for a special occasion dress, I highly recommend checking there- you can use WEB25 as a coupon code towards your dress.  I found a gold clutch at Old Navy and put my nude heels and fake tan legs to work for a night on the town.

A power outage hit our downtown that weekend though and our plans for all of our favorite places was derailed. After a lot of FB input and a long visit on Yelp, we settled on Zing! for a sushi night and it was absolute perfection! If sushi makes you as happy as it makes me, check out this documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi and tell me if you don’t love sushi even more!

Lastly, if you are a Michael Jackson fan, please enjoy this talent show performance of Billie Jean with a flawless moonwalk (starts at minute 1:11, if it doesn’t start at the right spot)! Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone!

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

Now it’s your turn, what makes you happy this week? Feel free to share in our link up below and link back to this post to participate!

Share 3 things that are making you happy today!

Amy’s Notebook 05.21.14

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Vintage Book Tablet Case at Stamped in His Image

Source: Stamped In His Image


Oh, I want one of these vintage book tablet cases so bad!

This is such a BEAUTIFUL piece: Could the Internet Have Saved My Mother? by Meagan Francis at The Happiest Home.

I must add these 36 books becoming 2014 movies that I haven’t read yet to my book list.

We’re SO enjoying the return of grilling season, and I’m anxious to try this real food homemade BBQ Sauce on ribs…yum.

I love these easy tips for arranging supermarket bouquets of flowers!

For those who never want to stop learning, plan your free online education at Lifehacker U: Summer Semester 2014.

29 Things You Only Understand If You’re A Geocacher is just one more reason that we would love to try geochaching someday!

And I really want to work on a better way to say sorry with my kids and this article is a great reminder with how-tos.



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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Sundays With Writers: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (The Movie)

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

Sundays With Writers

I have a confession to make about today’s interview. I was all set to be on the call with John Green and was beside myself with excitement.  I couldn’t even sleep, that was how excited I was. I also bragged A LOT to my book club which I should be ashamed about.  When the interview time got rescheduled,  I had to make the hardest decision of my life…

Well, perhaps not the hardest decision, but it felt like it at the time because I am a drama queen.

I could attend the retirement celebration dinner for our Pastor OR talk to John Green about The Fault In Our Stars movie.

If you knew my Pastor, you would understand why I begged for a transcript of the call, and soaked in my Pastor’s big day! I am so sad I missed hearing John’s voice and passion for this film, but it does not put a damper on the fact that I get to share this interview with you today and read John’s words.

If you haven’t read, “The Fault In Our Stars,” I hope you will pick it up before the movie comes out.  In full disclosure, this is a movie that you will need a big box of tissues with and a story that has stuck with me since I read it.

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 encourage 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.

This is the first time we have featured an author whose book is being transformed into a movie, but I definitely hope it isn’t the last time.  It’s amazing to hear the process of book adaptation into film, the casting, and what it would be like as a writer to watch your book evolve into this format.

Grab your coffee and let’s chat with John Green (only one of Time’s 100 MOST Influential People this year- no biggie!) about the movie, “The Fault In Our Stars,” that hits theaters nationwide on June 6th!

John Green

I know you were nervous to give over the rights to the film because the book was just so personal to you. What was your biggest fear in doing so?

Well, I think it’s really hard to make a movie that’s serious or about serious topics without sentimentalizing it. And so, I guess my fear was that it would become a sentimental story, which is what I most didn’t want. I was trying really hard to write as unsentimental and straightforward a story as I could.

I was also worried that the characters would be defined by their disability, instead of having disability be part of their lives but not the defining feature of their lives.

But, the people who ended up getting the rights at Fox 2000 and the producers, Wyck Godfrey and Isaac Klausner, they just promised me that they wouldn’t do that. That was the first thing they said to me when we met, and I believed them. I took it seriously, and they kept every promise. They really did.

The Fault In Our Stars Movie

What ultimately changed your mind about selling the rights to the film?

Well, I didn’t have a lot of fun in some of my previous movie experiences. And there is something really magical about a book that doesn’t become a movie.

There’s something magical about the fact the Holden Caulfield is always going to belong to us, that we’re never going to–you know, for the rest of my life, when I close my eyes and think about Harry Potter, I’m going to see Daniel Radcliffe just because the power of the image is such that it overwhelms text, you know?

And I thought that would be great. I thought that would be okay. I thought I was okay with that.

I passed on some initial kind of interest in the idea of making it into a movie just because just I didn’t want to go through it. This is such a personal story for me. It felt very close to me and it just felt hard to let it go. And I didn’t know really what would be gained by letting it go.

But, these producers, Wyck Godfrey and Isaac Klausner, came to this event that I was doing with my brother in Los Angeles. And, they talked to me backstage before our event for about 10 minutes, and everything that they said was everything that I wanted to hear. They were absolutely 100 percent committed to making a movie that would honor the story and that fans of the story would care about and respond to.

And I believed them. They just made me believe them. I don’t really know why I believed them, because lots of people say lots of things in Hollywood, like I said earlier, but I really believed them. And they did–the whole time, every decision that they made, every hire that they made, they hired people who cared about the book, that cared about the story, who wanted to make sure that it was preserved, not just the story but the tone, the themes, the ideas in the novel, everything.

And I think they did a really good job, and I think that’s why, for me, at least, it’s such a special movie, because it’s so hard to do that well. It’s so hard to take a tone that’s in a novel and put it into a movie. It’s such a different format. They were just so committed to doing that that I think it worked. I think that was their priority, and it really–at least for me, it really did work.

I wish I could tell you about all the things that I’m unhappy about, but I’m really not.

Many times  when books get made into movies  really important passages don’t always make it into the script. Where there any passages that you were adamant about staying in for the movie?

No. I was so lucky. Mike Weber and Scott Neustadter, who wrote the script, have such a deep love for the book. They were really passionate about the book. They wanted to preserve not just the tone and themes of the book but as much of the actual words of the book as possible, and I think they did an amazing job.

Almost every line of dialogue is from the book. If anything, I was like, “Guys, don’t feel so married to the book.” But, they were. They were also very conscious of what lines were important to readers, thanks to the gifts of Tumblr and Twitter and everything else. They saw what people were responding to, making art about, and it was important to them to keep it in.

There were a lot of lines I wanted to preserve if we could make them sound movie-ish and, you know, normal. But I think they did an amazing job. I think everything that fans want to hear they’re going to hear.

The Fault In Our Stars Movie

Was there anything in the book, like a character or a scene, that the film adaptation made you see in a different light?

Yeah, that’s a great question. There was a lot, really.

When I was writing the book, I saw the world through Hazel’s eyes. I didn’t imagine the world through Gus’s eyes or the world through Hazel’s parents’ eyes as much. I mean, I guess I connected a lot to Hazel’s dad, so maybe there was some empathy there. But, I was trying to stay narrowly in Hazel’s mind and seeing the world as Hazel would see it.

And so, seeing the movie, I thought very differently about Augustus and about Hazel’s parents, and even about Van Houten. Each of those actors brings to their performance a realness, a sense that they are the center of their own story, just as anyone is.

It helped me to think differently and I guess more broadly about Gus, the challenges that he’s been through before the story begins, how that’s given him confidence but how also that confidence is real and it’s earned because he has integrated this disability into his life. But, it’s also a way of protecting himself. It’s also a way of protecting himself against the things that are harder for him now, or the way that his life has been changed, physically and emotionally by his disability.

How  involved were you in the casting process? And did you envision anyone playing these roles when you were writing the book at all? Did you see it as a film?

I did not see it as a film. I couldn’t imagine a world in which this movie would get made. I never–it’s not something I think about when I write, really, to be honest with you. I mean, they never made a movie out of any of my other books, so I certainly didn’t think they’ve make a movie out of this one.

I don’t really see–this sounds weird and I don’t know how to explain it, ’cause I think most of my friends do see specific faces. I’m really bad at looking at faces and understanding faces, I think. So, I don’t really see faces that clearly when I’m writing.

Almost immediately, even when she was auditioning, Shailene became Hazel for me. Hazel just looked like Shailene and talked like Shailene talks as Hazel. In terms of casting, I had a voice. You know, I’m not a casting director. I didn’t direct the movie, so it wasn’t my decision, certainly.

But, I definitely got to share my opinion, and I was lucky that, in the end, the cast that I dreamt of is the cast that we got. I think Gus was the hardest role to cast for. When Ansel was with Shailene, he just became Augustus to me.

The Fault In Our Stars Movie

Were you there through most of the filming and what your role was when you were there?

I was there for almost every day. I would say at least 80% of the time. I usually went home on Thursday night so that I could spend a few days with my family.

But, yeah, I was there most of the time.

I didn’t have a role. But, I think it’s nice to have somebody on a movie set who’s not doing anything, because everyone else is so busy and they’re working so hard and they’re talking about, “Did we get this coverage or that coverage,” and, “Did we get it this way? Did we get it that way? Did the light change?” And I could just be like, “Hey, everybody, hold on for a second. This is awesome. Let’s take a step back and realize how ridiculously awesome this is.”

And, Shailene and I would be chatting and she would be like, “I don’t know if I did this” or “I don’t know if I did that.” And I would be like, “Shai, that was amazing. This is incredible.”

So, I was professionally excited on the set. And it’s such a crazy thing, because to be honest with you I always thought of movies as a kind of dilution, that when all these collaborators come in, the thing inevitably weakens and softens. And I think that’s often the case.

But, what I found is that, when people come in and they’re passionate and they really care about the story, it can add to it. It can bring new things to it. So, every day it just felt wonderful on the set. It really did. I mean, I just felt like I was being given such a tremendous gift just to be able to be there and watch them make this movie, make it so carefully and thoughtfully.

I am so happy we got to share this interview with you and am excited for the film, produced by Twentieth Century Fox, to hit theaters at June 6th! Want to learn more about the film? Here are some fun ways you can connect!  Be sure to watch the trailer below, get your ticket, and prepare to laugh & cry along to this beautiful movie! 

Official websites – #TFIOS

Visit the official website

Like TFIOS on Facebook

Follow @TheFaultMovie on Twitter

Follow on Google+ & Instagram

*This post contains affiliate links! Love our Sundays With Writers series? Check out all of our past interviews here

It’s The 3 Little Things: The Perfect T-Shirt, Popcorn Popping Heaven, & My Passion Drink

Friday, May 16th, 2014

It's The 3 Little Things

Happy Friday, friends!  I enjoyed a much quieter week than usual and I am so excited to end our week on a high note with another happiness list!  Let’s go ahead and get started since I am excited to share!

Perfect White T-Shirt

The Perfect T-Shirt

Can I just say that it is so hard to find a good quality t-shirt that fits properly and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? Over the Fall I found these Old Navy Vintage Wash T-Shirts and promptly took home a gray v-neck to wear with all the things in my closet. I loved it so much that I was wearing it almost every day. It is one of those staple pieces you can dress up or down. When summer rolled around, I was thrilled to find that these also come in white and black so I stocked up for the summer to wear with all of my maxi skirts, summer skirts, and shorts this year.

Perfect Grey T-Shirt

Perfect Grey T-Shirt

You might remember spying that v-neck when I did our coverage of our site sponsor, Flourish Boutique. Honestly, I wear these t-shirts almost every day and they are under $10 each. The white is a little on the thin size, but with nude undergarments (like my favorite ones) or a full-coverage tank that covers your bra straps (these are my favorite), they are perfectly modest.  They are long, v-neck (but not too v-neck), and they fit true to size. This one shown here is an X-Small as I am a very wee woman on top. Not to be fooled, I am very Sir-Mix-A-Lot-Y on the bottom.

I wouldn’t pay full price for these- do a little hunting and you are bound to find some coupon codes or catch them on sale. I wouldn’t wait too long though-the best stuff always goes quick! ($8.50 each)

Nooch Popcorn from Gimme Some Oven

 Addictive Butter-Free Popcorn 

I happened upon this corn popping technique from Gimme Some Oven and it has now become our families favorite popcorn ever. The kernels are popped in coconut oil and then receive a liberal shaking of nutritional yeast. In our family, it also receives a generous handful of sea salt to top it all off. My kids now call it my homemade popcorn and beg for it on our weekends while we are tackling an evening of board games or Just Dance. You must try it- it’s a popcorn game-changer and healthy too!

TAZO Passion Fruit Tea Bags

Iced Passion Fruit Tea

I think we should just start a section of the site called, “Things Amy Drinks.” I am pretty sure every edition of this feature I have done so far included something to drink. I am so addicted to Passion Fruit Tea and was so thrilled to find that they have these iced tea bags at our local supermarket. For less than the price of one drink at Starbucks, I can make these at home and sweeten it just like I like to sweeten it. You can also mix in lemonade for a Passion Fruit Tea Lemonade, although I love it on its own.

I’ve priced these babies out all around town, in our town the best price is at Walmart, but buy them wherever the price is best around you. For $3.48, you can get SIX PITCHERS of tea. Holy heaven!

This drink helped me break my Diet Coke cravings and is the perfect thing to sip outside while enjoying the warmer temperatures!


Bonus Happy

And this week’s bonus happy, courtesy of my Instagram feed.  “You always bring a sun over my rainy cloud.”  To be loved like this? It’s the stuff that dreams are made of!

I also am excited my favorite band, Nickel Creek, has come out with a new album. This song is everything I love about that group! It’s been stuck in my head all week and oh-so-worthy of it.

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

Now it’s your turn, what makes you happy this week? Feel free to share in our link up below and link back to this post to participate!

Share 3 things that are making you happy today!

Amy’s Notebook 05.14.14

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Small corner office - Sarah M Style

Source: Sarah M Style


This small corner office space is so fresh and bright – and shows how you can create a cheerful space in a small area with no natural light!

This reminder to not lose your real life to the online world really resonated with me.

Being a coffee lover, I love these 5 essential tips for serving good coffee to a crowd.

I’m definitely adding these 21 female authors you should be reading to my book list!

Here’s a printable ‘cheat sheet’ for cooking vegetables so that you’ll never have limp, overcooked veggies again.

Ever think that bobby pins could be life-changing? Check out these bobby pin tricks to see if they are for you.

This garlic-butter shrimp is drool-worthy AND done in 20 minutes!



I hope you enjoyed this notebook – a 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!


Pin It