Archive for the ‘It’s the 3 Little Things’ Category

It’s the 3 Little Things: Business Advice, Fresh Planner, & A Great Read

Friday, August 11th, 2017

vacation

Taking time off and stepping away from the grind of work this summer has given me time to reflect on how I have been running my business.

Blogging doesn’t always look like business, does it?

Actually, if I’m honest, I have no idea what it looks like to you.

This is my life’s work though and lately I have been reflecting on my business mistakes that have occurred these last few years.

At one point in my career, I got in over my head with my job and refused to allow anyone to help me because I didn’t think they could do the job as good as me (even though I was doing a terrible job). My email inbox was in the 50K region of UNOPENED messages, I wasn’t posting consistently, I had lost a sense of community, and I was doing a terrible job diversifying my income streams.

A magical assistant (here she is- she’s amazing!) swooped in and made all these issues disappear. My inbox was clutter-free, she helped me to get back to consistency, it freed up time to carve out community, she got my newsletter going again, and she encouraged me to find new avenues for income streams.

And then she needed to move on to a new chapter in her own life.

Yup, I lost this incredible person who was doing all the things for me and I was back to my old habits.

Here is what I am discovering though:

The mistake wasn’t in handing everything off to someone to help me manage my time better.

My mistake?

I didn’t know how to do many of these tasks for myself.

I didn’t know how to send out a newsletter, I didn’t understand the changes and new strategies I needed to implement to keep up with my social media platforms, I had no ideas on how to continue cultivating my work here. Basically, I have felt a little lost at sea and I worried about the time and effort it would require to get back in the game.

I’ve decided this new school year is a new school year for me too. I started taking online courses to help manage different aspects of my business this week

Would it still be good to hand things off?

Absolutely!

Will I know how to do these tasks though and train the next person who takes the reigns moving forward?

Yes, yes I will.

This week, I’m thankful for a new mindset for my business.

This is the year of not working harder, but working smarter.

I’d love to talk about what goals you have for yourself as your children return to school! What do you hope to achieve this year?

Here are 3 things that are making me happy this week!

The Defiant Ones

The Defiant Ones

HBO has sucked us in with another incredible series. The Defiant Ones is an incredible 4-part documentary that explores the careers of Dr. Dre & Jimmy Iovine and their remarkable business relationship that ended up landing them a 3 billion dollar deal with Apple.

What I loved about their story is that they were two very unlikely business moguls that didn’t have the background or education to have had such successful careers. Iovine, for example, was known for flaking out on jobs and seems to be lacking the ability to follow through on tasks. Dre couldn’t even get the time of day with a local club owner to deejay in the evenings. What they didn’t end up lacking was a passion for music that, ultimately, ended up bringing the two together on some incredible deals.

This isn’t a feel-good story, this is gritty and honest story about the business mistakes they made and how they almost lost it all. It’s incredibly inspirational though to see that if you play your cards right, even the most unlikely people can become the most successful.

I really think you’d love this one- give it a watch!

Get to Work Book

A Fresh New Planner

I’m so excited to have a fresh new planner for the year! I can’t think of anything more motivating than a new start to getting back on schedule.  I asked what planners people were loving in our MomAdvice Book Club Chat Group and was reminded just how much I wanted a Get to Work Book last year, but never got around to purchasing it.

I’m not saying that this year though because I finally have one. I love that this allows space for goal setting and intentions (both for personal and professional). Each month has a great tear-out motivational print as a fun bonus. The pages are spacious and have thoughtful prompts to help you dream big. I can’t wait to get planning in this.

Also, if aren’t following Elise on Instagram, it’s quite the treat! She’s been a big source of creative inspiration for me.

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

A Great Read

It’s been a busy week, as we start preparing for the new school year, but I managed to squeeze in a great book this week. Ginny Moon was such an enjoyable read from debut novelist, Benjamin Ludwig. Ludwig shares in his bio that he is the foster parent of a teen with autism and it is through his own experience (and fellow parents of autistic children) that helped him carve his character, Ginny Moon.

Ginny Moon had been taken from her neglectful mother and has been living with her new Forever Mother and Forever Father. When her birth mother starts creeping back into her life, Ginny will stop at nothing to get back to her mom and goes to shocking lengths to make that happen. When a new baby then is added to her Forever Family, Ginny becomes increasingly more of a burden to her strained foster parents and they must decide if this is the forever family THEY want. Ginny will stop at nothing though to get back to where she believes she really belongs and there is a pretty surprising reason why. It’s a real page-turner!

Ludwig really sheds light on the difficulties of finding adoptive families for teens of special needs and your heart just breaks for Ginny over the confusion of who her real “forever family,” is.

I won’t blab too much more about it, but I have a feeling you will really enjoy this one!

That’s what is making me happy this week- what’s been making your week?

This week I am…

women rise

Reading: I started this book and I am LOVING it!

Prepping: It’s time to prep the capsule wardrobe for fall. I ordered one of these skirts and I can’t wait to put it to work. I also have a box of goodies coming in from this shop- woohoo! Here’s ten bucks towards your first order, if you haven’t tried it before.

Netflix Binge Plan: Have you watched this yet? I can’t wait to dig in!

Can’t Wait: For this movie (!!!)

Inspired By: This list of intentions, especially the two hour phone break!

Throwing it Back:  Which one are you? Totally, Claudia! I’m all about that unicorn life, are you?

Listening: To this podcast over the weekend. They always have the best book recommendations.

Have a wonderful weekend! xo

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

It’s a Whole Lotta Happy This Month

Friday, July 21st, 2017

20th high school reunion

dress/clutch/necklace (similar)

I hope that July has been treating you good! We had an amazing time at my hubby’s 20th high school reunion this month. Since we went to high school together, I am always just as excited as he is. The night, for me, ended in far too many gin and tonics, karaoking until four in the morning, and a really killer headache in the morning.

But, damn, WORTH IT!

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My husband also started a new job this month (that’s always exciting!) and they had given him a five day weekend for the 4th of July so we spontaneously decided to take a trip to Ferndale. I found this super cute house to rent and we had the best time eating our way through this artsy hipster town and I especially enjoyed soaking in the beauty of their front porch with my books. If you are looking for a great getaway location, this is it! Such thoughtful owners that made everything feel so special for us.

To top it off, I am FINALLY seeing the light at the end of this struggle of a year with my health! My pain had been through the roof again last month with one of my shoulder blades falling out after hanging onto a barre in my barre class. I had burning pain for a week that made me want to crawl the walls and I was leaning heavy into my Vicodin bottle without relief. I was really in the dumps because I’m trying SO HARD to get strong and then stuff like that happens and I find myself back to square one. It was a “poor me” week that I had felt entitled to.

A late night Facebook session lead me to a comment on my Ehlers-Danlos support group board that mentioned something called The Cusack Protocol. This mother (with the last name of Cusack) had three little girls that were all in debilitating pain that required bracing and wheelchairs. She started doing her own research on this disease and developed a protocol that was focused on increasing polysaccharides in the body. With this supplement protocol they are all completely fine and having zero pain- no wheelchairs, just normal little girls.

What helps? Weirdly, this.

I drink two ounces in the morning every day along with a few additional recommendations like this & this (which has helped my brain fog and helps with nerve function) and this (which improves my muscle recovery after exercise). Since I was already on a heavy supplement routine, recommended by our specialist, what is a few more additions?

I have been on this regime for about a month, but even after just two weeks I felt an ENORMOUS difference in my body. The aloe juice seems to be acting like a glue for my joints and my bones are no longer shifting. I know it isn’t a placebo because my husband has even remarked how he doesn’t hear my body when I go up and down the steps with the snap,crackle, pop noises. It is as though someone took a hot glue gun through my body and was like, let’s see…this piece goes here, this piece goes here, this piece goes here…

I visited my physical therapist, who had just returned from a class on reducing pain for her patients, and explained that if I could just get my elbow pain under control that it would help with my hands and I would be almost back to my old self. After diagnosing the source, through the training she had went through, she did some abracadabra thing to my shoulder blade and my pain was immediately gone. My hands are functioning, my elbow feels better, and my body is held together.

I’m at about 90% and the other 10% I can make up with my Quell!

I am back to the gym and I am even back to dance class with no pain! I’m sleeping for twelve hour stretches after many sleepless nights waking with bones popping in and out and feel so much better mentally to have good rest and a good gym routine back in my life. My face hurts from smiling when I get to go to dance.

Isn’t that the best pain ever?

I’m so thankful! That’s what is making me happy this week- what’s been making your week?

This week I am…

Eating: I recreated a favorite restaurant dish on the grill. Do you have one of these? I’m LOVING it for grilling fish and it makes clean up a breeze too!

Reading: I started this book yesterday and I’m already halfway through because it is SO good! I can’t put it down and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be my favorite book from this author.

Adoring: This video (caution- language) and adored it so much that I watched it four times in a row! What a great grandson!

Watching: Yeah, so we never cancelled HBO (I can’t quit you HBO)  and now we are devouring this four part documentary. It is absolutely riveting!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, friends! We are headed to Napa next week so it might be a little quiet here! It’s our last hurrah before school starts again. 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!

It’s the 3 Little Things: Target Clearance, New Cleaning Gadgets, & A New App to Love

Friday, June 16th, 2017

she-shed

I hope you are having an incredible week this week! I am so happy that summer is in full swing at our house. For us, that means loads of time in the she shed with big stacks of library books. I find this room is quite magical in the evening hours and have a hard time luring myself out of it in the summer. If there was a bathroom and a coffeemaker, I’m pretty sure I could exist for at least a week without coming in.

Have you guys caught Wonder Woman yet? We went with friends and it was SO good! I’m not really into the superhero movies, but every girl has to feel like a superhero after seeing that one. These thoughts from kindergarteners after seeing it made me tear up. I’m all about that girl power these days.  It is definitely worth the splurge to see it in 3D thanks to the amazing action sequences. Here is a grainy selfie we took in our glasses at the bougie theater in town.

I’m also celebrating that we hit 1,000 members in our MomAdvice Facebook Club this week. I have more on joining (scroll down) if you are feeling a little anti-Facebook these days. This little tech tip came courtesy of my physical therapist (thank you, Tammy!!).  I hope it encourages you to join the club, even if you want to avoid the FB status drama.

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Target Clearance

Goodness, if you haven’t headed on over to Target, I really hope there is some stuff left this week! I ran to my store to shop for supplies for a client and wanted to walk out of there with four carts of stuff out of their housewares department. This is the time to stock up on their furniture items, baskets, throws, and pillows.  This ottoman, for example, was only $35 at our store and it is the coziest ottoman ever made. Looks a little cheap in the image, but it is BEAUTIFUL in person. I also got this stool because mama needs somewhere to prop a wine glass. That baby was also only $35!!

I had a hard time not buying this bar cart (marked down to half off!!) because I already have this cart and this one, but can there ever be enough bar carts?

I think not.

Hopefully, you can snag a few things you have been needing for your house too. If you live in my hood though, you better get their fast because these ladies were holding two carts, a baby on their hip,  and a Starbucks all at the same time while chucking in all the things. I hope they didn’t clear the shelves before you can check!

New Favorites I’m Loving From Grove

Thanks to a major stock-up on supplies last year, I haven’t been getting as many Grove boxes anymore. I am sure you have heard of it before, but if you haven’t, it is a convenient way to mail yourself green cleaning supplies from your favorite brands (you can learn more over here and this should give you $10 credit and a free Mrs. Meyer’s soap too!!) I decided to visit the site though and mail myself some things to try and was SO excited to see some of the new cleaning gadgets they are offering.

e-cloth-kitchen-pack

I ordered the E-Cloth Kitchen pack and LOVE these. One was made for just getting those fingerprints off your stainless steel and the other for kitchen surfaces and scrubbing. The corner on the end does surprisingly well on stuck on gunk and has been awesome for cleaning up splatters on my stovetop without the streaks. The two pack was $14.99 and says it will last up to 300 washes. I’ve been using mine for a few months now and they look like the day that I am got them.

crystal-clear-2-glass-cleaner

I also got the Grove Crystal 2.0 Glass Cleaner and love it so much that I gifted it to a friend for her birthday. Since we have hard water, we struggle with spotty glasses and getting glasses clean in our dishwasher. This tool gets in the nooks and crannies of your glasses and gets them sparkling with no scratches or streaks. The head on this device can be replaced unlike the other scrubber that I bought that would just need to be completely thrown out.

I keep these stored upright in this weird and wonderful thing (the one I linked to is similar to mine, but cuter!) that I was planning to donate when it wouldn’t fit in our new medicine cabinets. It’s great because I can throw it in the dishwasher when it gets gunky!

Basically, if you haven’t check out Grove in awhile (like me), they have added some great things to your cleaning arsenal.

facebook-groups-app

There is A Facebook Groups App- Yup, I’m a Little Behind…

I have a hard time keeping up with Facebook these days, but one of my biggest hurdles is managing our MomAdvice Book Club and participating in other groups that I am part of. I was aware that they had a Pages app that I could use to manage our MomAdvice Page, but I had no clue they had an app just for groups. This gives me a much better visual of what new things are happening in my groups without getting sucked down the newsfeed rabbit hole (although I have shared with you how I turned that off!)

A lot of our members have no desire to be part of Facebook except for the group and community aspects. This means that you can create a FB profile and just participate in the fun discussion groups that are happening. We have many people that ask to be added that don’t even have a profile picture, but I can see that they are part of 30 groups so I know exactly how they are using Facebook.

Pretty cool, huh? I’m hoping it will help me manage my moderator duties a bit better as well as my time management spent on social media.

Chicken Pesto Open-Faced Flatbread Sandwiches

Eating: Bring on the chicken pesto open faced sandwiches. Basically, if it is chicken and it is pesto, you can just go ahead and sign me on up!

Reading: Excited to dig into this book that just came through on my library loans this weekend. Have you read it? Looks so good!

Thinking About: This piece today and wondering how you feel about it as a reader? Would you feel duped? I’m not talking about necessarily celebrity bloggers, but just a mom blogger that you thought was writing things for you… This will be a good discussion for our dinner table tonight. Speaking of blogging, this article also was a pretty eye-opening piece on a few accounts I have been following. I love pulling back the curtain a bit and reassessing what I might be longing for in my business.

Oh, and if you are wondering. It’s all 100% me, unless I let you know otherwise. I mean, who else could write up this crazy crap?

Watching: We have weekend plans to watch this movie- have you seen it? It looks so good! Note to self, we still need to cancel our HBO…

Loving: If only we could all glow like radioactive swans. Also, did you think this sounded amazing too when you read the book? I totally did! Can I also say how wildly cool this was?

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If you need me, you can catch me outside how bout dat?

I’ll be enjoying a good glass of vino and a few late nights with this thriller! Have a wonderful weekend, 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!

It’s the 3 Little Things: Fantastic Television, Beautifully Styled, & Back in the Saddle

Friday, June 9th, 2017

Last Day of Middle School

Our son said a bittersweet farewell to middle school this week. Do you ever look at your kids and think, “I’m not old enough for this!” Yet, here we are! We celebrated the occasion as we celebrate many of our biggest milestones…by stuffing ourselves with sushi. Frankly, there is no better way to celebrate!

I hobbled to the finish of the school year once again. I am so glad we all get some time off to relax. We have a whole lotta nothing planned and I am welcoming it.

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

The Handmaid's Tale

Fantastic Television

I’m not usually much of a television junkie, but between the new season of Master of None (it is EVERYTHING especially the Thanksgiving episode),  The Keepers (watched the entire season in a single day- phenomenal), and The Handmaid’s Tale, I’ve become a couch potato.

In preparation for the series, I read The Handmaid’s Tale this year. Since the election season,  this book has seen resurgence in popularity and Atwood even shared about what her book means during the Trump era with the New York Times,  as it rocks the bestseller list once again.

This timeless dystopian novel, written all the way back in 1984, explores what the world looks like when women lose power over their own bodies and a religious totalitarian government dictates how and when they can reproduce. Women are given roles and seen as objects limiting them to roles like wives, Marthas, Handmaids, Aunts and Unwomen and everyone’s main focus is on procreation.

This book is disturbing in many ways, but I couldn’t put it down. I’m also really glad I waited to read it until this year because it hit me at just the right time and gave me a lot to chew on, even if I found the ending to be an unsatisfying one.

I highlighted almost the entire book because there are so many beautifully written passages. Atwood certainly has a way with words! One line in particular has stuck with me…“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.”

I really couldn’t put the book down and I was hopeful that Hulu would be able to do the book justice.

The Handmaid's Tale

I am happy to say, this series REALLY delivers. It’s perfectly cast, the costumes are phenomenal, the music is perfection,  and it has done so well that they are expanding it into a second season. I find myself holding my breath through the entire show because it is so dark and suspenseful. I can’t begin to tell you how incredible it is and I can’t wait to see how they expand upon the book.

People ask me if they should read the book first and I say, do it! I didn’t feel like it took away from the show at all and I haven’t found myself comparing the book and show. They are both incredible and I enjoyed each of these experiences with this story.

Stitch Fix

Beautifully Styled

It has been a long time since I have requested a Stitch Fix box, but my new pain relief device I’m wearing is a bit bulky and can be a challenge to work around. I am learning that being more specific with my requests and sizing issues has really improved the offerings in my box. In fact, I kept everything in my box this time.

Stitch Fix Box

Here is what was sent in my box. Being petite means most maxi dresses and skirts require altering or wearing heels. I am so excited that nothing I got required alterations and even the simple bracelet they included fits my wrist. The dress on the right was my least favorite item, but they always get me with the 25% off if you keep everything so I kept it. Although pricier than making a dress run at Target, I loved knowing that I wasn’t going to have to take everything to the seamstress for altering. All in all, REALLY happy with Stitch Fix.

I also discovered they have Stitch Fix for men now too. I think that would make for a pretty incredible Father’s Day gift. Here is my referral link for some savings on your first box!!

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Back in the Saddle

After putting it off forever, I have finally started physical therapy and I am kicking myself for not doing this sooner. I am finding that a lot of my problems are just not being aware of how to use my body in the proper way.  Now that I am starting that, I figured it would be a good time to get back to exercising so I’m back in the saddle again.

I can’t tell you how much I love my foldable stationary bike and using my CycleCast app for motivation. This week my odometer crossed over 100 miles! I like to do a 20 minute routine with the instructor volume on and then I do the routine again minus the instructor and just catch up on my email and such while I’m biking. It’s such a great way to workout and I love how tiny this bike folds up.

barre

I also picked up some barre classes over at this studio and I am loving it. I am still figuring out the best ways to modify for my body, but I love that I’m not the only one making modifications in these classes which gives me a little more confidence. I’m really proud that I’m working out again and I’m learning that it is better to go slow and modify then push myself into another setback.

Cheers to getting strong and feeling good again! If you need a little motivation for summer, here is a free fitness tracker printable!!

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Eating: 5-ingredient Caprese Pork Chops are on the menu this week. My chops are marinating right now for tonight- yum!

Reading: I started this book on audiobook and it is beautiful! I’m also still working my way through this book. I was sucked in from page one!

Loving the Interwebz Because of This:

Love that they made this.

Oh, the talent!

This is my mayor- way to go, Mayor Pete!

This is just all kinds of fantastic.

Things millennials are accused of killing this year- the comments are hilarious too!

Have a lovely week, 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!

 

It’s the 3 Little Things: No More Ironing, Hold My Book, & a Little Support

Friday, May 26th, 2017

sister

It was a happy month for our family because my little sister graduated with her nursing degree this month! A single mom is a hard job to have, but add on to that supporting your family with a full-time job and going to nursing school on top of it…

Yeah, INSANE.

I have always admired her endurance and ability to see things through even when her path was a hard one. I’m a fizzler so I would have given up about three weeks in. Isn’t it funny how different two sisters can be?

Selfishly, it is quite exciting to talk to her every day and have, like, unlimited time with her now that she has finished her program. I’m sure you can imagine how happy that makes me to have my best friend back. It is like every day is now a seester day over here!

I am so proud of her success. Sometimes I feel like I get a lot of undeserved glory with this funny job. While I’m out tooting my own horn all over the interwebz, this girl was buckled down in an intense program and cranking out incredible work every single day (while juggling everything else in her life). I couldn’t admire her success more.

Not only that, there are going to be so many patients blessed by her incredible compassion and giving heart. Everyone should have a nurse like her!

Congratulations, sissy!!

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

Urpower Handheld Steamer

No More Ironing

I hate ironing so I am really selective about the clothing I purchase and have even been known to return things if it is shipped to me and has wrinkles. Ironing requires a level of commitment that I just can’t swing. I’m not sure why I have never considered purchasing a small garment steamer before, but this gadget is LIFE CHANGING for someone who hates ironing. Basically, I just fill this thing up with water, give it a couple of minutes to start steaming, and blow the steam in front of the garment and watch those wrinkles just fall out of my clothing. Detailed areas around armholes, tricky spots around buttons, that tight spot under the arms….all those wrinkles just fall right on out when you have one of these.

This is so much smarter than using my hair straightner. While I am wearing the garment. Oh, you’ve never burned your stomach because of this before?

For less than $25, this one comes with a little bag so you can pack it for trips and freshen up your clothes when you arrive to your destination.

If you don’t have one, I can’t recommend this inexpensive gadget enough for feeling freshly pressed every dang day!

levo-corner-table-clamp

An Ergonomically Correct Way to Read

As I’m sure you know, the book section of the site takes quite a bit of reading time. Since I have had some issues with joint pain in my hands, it made holding a book quite uncomfortable. It also wasn’t good to have my arms constantly in a bent position or have my neck bent down all the time. For Mother’s Day, I got this Levo Corner Table Clamp Book Holder for my gift and it is awesome if you spend a lot of time reading and are looking for something that will be easier on your hands and body.

You attach the book cover with velcro to the stand and then the page holders hold the pages down for you. It has a quick guide on one-handed flipping and the book holder can swing out of the way when you aren’t using it. I took this out to my little she shed and have been using it to hold my iPad too (minus the velcro)  although they do have another product that might work better if you are looking for just a holder for your electronic devices.

I can’t tell you how great this has been to have my books at eye level and the convenience of clamping this wherever I might need it. This was such a great gift this year and I know I will get many years of use out of it!

Dr. Scholl's Arthritis Pain Relief Orthocis

Better Support

I’ve learned that supportive shoes are always a smart investment so I never skimp on buying good quality shoes anymore. That said, I noticed that even with this smart investment that I had a bit of heel and knee pain going on so I picked up a pair of these arthritis pain relief inserts, from Dr. Scholl’s,  for my shoes.

Yes, I realize this went to an old lady happy really fast, but I think most people could benefit from a good quality insert in their shoes.

These have a shockguard that helps absorb the impact of your steps and I have decreased the pain in my knees with just a pair of these slipped in my shoes. I paid about $5 more for these at our drugstore so I found them even more affordably priced over here.

I love that they offer a money back guarantee if they don’t work out for you too! If you struggle with knee, hip pain, or any type of joint instability, give these a try!

Shrimp Boil

Eating: As soon as the weather starts warming up, I start arming myself with ingredients for a Shrimp Boil with the family. This weekend’s project is to get that picnic table stained again for another season of shrimp boil eating with our friends. Yum!

Listening: I’ve been listening to this playlist a lot this week on the way to the various appointments and such. I also loved hearing NPR’s take on Master of None.

Reading: I have been swept away in this fabulous read this week. It’s very different than her past books and has such a beautiful love story.  I think you would love it too!

Watching: This has become our new favorite family night show together. Are you addicted too?

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Loving the Interwebz Because of This:

You will only get the image above if you are a Parks & Rec junkie. Do you remember the Ice Town scandal? LOL!!

We call this a Taco Bell night. (warning- language)

ALL THE FEELINGS.

The Dirty Dancing Roast- oh, snap! Totally did not watch it. Did you?

I’m obsessed and now I’m more obsessed.

If this doesn’t make you smile, you aren’t human.

Have a lovely week, 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!

It’s the 3 Little Things: Italy-Loving, Rosé All Day, & Makeup That Sticks

Friday, May 19th, 2017

Italy

passport

running

grilling

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prom

Tomorrow we celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary- bring on the nostalgia and flipping through old photos of our 22 years together.

The first comment from my husband… “Please, just not our prom picture.”

So sorry, my dear, it’s one of my favorites! Look at us! We are BABIES!

We have weathered a lot recently and illness certainly brings on a new dynamic in a relationship. The stress and strain of learning your new normal could challenge any marriage. Now that our kids are older, we decided to pick up a weekly date night together to try to combat this stress.

Once a week we do something together and, trust me, this hasn’t been an elaborate or a costly investment. Sometimes we go out for a glass of wine, other evenings we play a board game together, we have curled up on the couch and listened to podcasts, we’ve walked loops through our neighborhood, and we have watched interesting documentaries about parts of the world we are unfamiliar with. This isn’t a mind-blowing technique for marriage building, but a simple commitment that even in the midst of crazy, in the midst of stress at our jobs, in the midst of these health issues… we will try to put each other first.

With the kid’s schedules, it has been difficult to remain consistent on our night each week, but we do consistently talk about which night will work that week around whatever the week has in store for us.

It has become something I really look forward to.

You guys, I love it so much I wash my hair.

I mean, I must REALLY love it.

This anniversary dinner we’ve decided to skip going out, I’m making filets at home, we have a great bottle of red, and an awesome hideaway to travel to and watch a flick. I’m looking forward to this so much I might wash my hair AND style it- ha!

Here are a few other things that are making me happy this week (as if THIS couldn’t have been the whole dang list this week!)

Master of None

Italy Nostalgia-Fest

I absolutely have adored Master of None and was so excited that the show was back with a second season on Netflix. If you haven’t watched it, prepare for a Netflix binge because once you start, you won’t be able to stop.

This season the first two episodes we watched are shot in Italy and it is just absolutely BEAUTIFUL. From font choice, to music, to the beauty of the black-and-white captures… it is absolutely exquisite. My husband and I could not stop grinning and feeling nostalgic for our own time in Italy. Warning, if you haven’t been to Italy, this will have you looking up flights and vacation packages.

This second season we are trying to pace ourselves so we can enjoy it a little longer since it felt like such a long wait between seasons. I can’t recommend this show enough.  If you are looking for a lovely escape, I don’t even think you need to watch the first season to appreciate these first two episodes in season two.

Allora…

Black Box Rose

image source

Rosé All Day

Last summer I got hooked on rosé as my new favorite summer wine. I admit, it took a little convincing since I hate fruity wines and the color can be deceiving. It actually reminds me more of a crisp chardonnay with a little hint of fruit to it.That is why I was so excited to see that Black Box has a limited edition rosé to enjoy all summer long.

According to the company, “Black Box Rosé is built around Syrah and its flavor profile and is made using the traditional saignée method. In this process, the grapes are crushed and the juice stays in contact with the dark red skins for a short time, allowing a small amount of red color to come through. The purpose of allowing the skin contact is not only to impart the beautiful rosé color, but also to provide tannins and red fruit flavors, which enhance the wine’s body and give it more structure.”

At our market it is $16.99 for this four bottle box. Since we were paying about $8-13 per bottle, I was really excited to give this a spin. It actually is quite comparable in flavor to the moderately priced bottles and oh-so-drinkable. Perhaps, TOO drinkable.

Since it is limited edition, I am guessing this one will only be around for the summer months so give this one a spin for your summer entertaining.

I also loved it so much that I dropped a box off with a bow for my favorite rosé partner-in-crime for her birthday. Who wouldn’t love that for their birthday? I am one classy lady, I tell ya!

I hope you love it as much as we do!

Infallible Pro-Glow Foundation

Makeup That Sticks

I have been on the hunt for a foundation that would stay on all day without any reapplication and I have finally found it. L’OReal Infallible Pro-Glow (I wouldn’t go with the matte- it tends to be really drying!). This foundation claims to have up to 24-hour coverage and I’m here to say, it REALLY does. This makeup has a built in SPF 15 and goes on easily. I do have dry skin so I apply a little argan oil (I order it through this company)  before I put on the makeup to help it look less heavy. At the end of the day, it comes off easily with my favorite cleanser and it is so nice to not have to reapply when going out in the evening since it looks as good as it did when I put it on in the morning.

I’m really impressed at the sticking power of this and since it doesn’t require a repeated application, the bottle lasts a lot longer!

Garlic Rosemary Balsamic Pork Loin

 

image source

Eating: I have been making this garlic & rosemary pork loin for our Sunday dinners and it is so good. It’s hard to believe that something simple like rosemary, balsamic, and garlic can be so flavorful, but it really is and doesn’t even require any marinading time. Since the potatoes get a good coating of it too, they have become the new favorite potato in our house. Leftover potatoes are warmed back up in a skillet as a side with eggs on lazy weekend mornings. You must try this recipe!

Listening: I never thought I would be such a big fan of this album, but it has been such a treat to listen to, particularly this track. I can’t recommend it enough. Would love to score this one on vinyl!

Reading: I am finally digging into this book this week and I am really enjoying it. I don’t know anything at all about hockey so this has been a fascinating look at this sport and beautifully written (as I have come to expect from this author). We are reading it for our book club this month (would love for you to join in!) and I’m looking forward to discussing this next Friday.

UnREAL Season 2

Watching: I have been binging on the second season of UnREAL since I enjoyed the first season so much. If you have Hulu, you can binge on both seasons with your membership. I am not finding it as compelling as the first season was, but I still find it to be one of the most enjoyable shows to watch while folding my laundry. It is one of those guilty pleasure shows that make household tasks bearable!

Shopping: Had such a great time shopping over here for a few new things to camo my new gadget I’m wearing on my leg. It looks like I’ll be modifying my capsule quite a bit for summer.  I got some really cute things that stretch and hide this since I’m feeling a little self-conscious about it. The ladies spent a ton of time helping hunt and gather for me which was so helpful. There is nothing like shopping local. Also, if you are just looking for a great necklace, this is the one I am wearing almost every single day from their shop. It seems to work with every neckline I throw at it.

I also decided to put a Stitch Fix stylist on finding a wider legged pant for a petite girl. I love letting someone else figure out that stuff for me especially for these short legs. Finding wide legged pants for a petite girl seem impossible that aren’t dragging ten feet on the floor. For a similar look, I opted for a gorgeous petite jumpsuit (really similar to this) and I’m excited to put that baby to work this summer.

Laughing Hysterically: My girlfriend sent me this video and it made me bust a gut. I thought you might enjoy it too. Warning, a little language, but worth it!

Master of None Season 2

Have a lovely week, 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!

The Life-Changing Device I Found For My Chronic Pain

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Quell for Ehlers Danlos

It is hard to explain what a day looks like with chronic pain, but I will do my best to try. Imagine that you are in a quiet and pleasant room and you begin to hear the buzzing of a fly. You are trying to read a book, but all you can hear is this soft buzz and it is distracting you from this beautiful story. You try to deal with it, but can’t locate where the heck it went and it continues to buzz all day long.

You try a variety of homeopathic methods of ridding yourself of the fly, but it has found its way in somewhere and it won’t go away.

You go about your day and the fly is still buzzing along while you are trying to concentrate on your job. Instead of focusing and producing good work, you find yourself on Google trying to find a solution AGAIN.

If you could just find the source, you could swat it out of your life.

You will try anything at this point.

Tonight you are supposed to have friends over and you have this lovely evening built up in your mind, but you are afraid that they will notice the fly too. Why can’t you just have one normal evening without this annoyance? You enjoy your company so much so the buzzing deadens a bit, but that fly is still in the room.

You go to bed and it is now it has followed you to your bedroom. You lay there tossing and turning and praying for this thing to get the hell out of your life, but you wake up and guess what?

That jerk is still there.

Yeah, chronic pain is like that annoying fly that will never leave.

In an answer to many a prayer though, I finally have found relief and a solution that I can live with. You see, I was at the end of the interwebz when I happened upon a device called Quell that has been transformative for my day-to-day existence and I am SO excited to share about it with you.

Amy Allen Clark

Before I begin sharing my story,  I should probably let you know a few things (especially if you are new here!):

1. I am in no way affiliated with this company at the time I am writing this. That means I purchased this product with my own money and all of these thoughts are my own personal experience with it. As always, I write from an authentic place, but I think it is important to share that today especially because most of the reviews that I read were from bloggers that were given the device by the company. I will say since I love the product so much, I’d love to reach out for their ambassadorship to see what new features they decide to test launch so I could be a part of that process as they develop it. Fingers crossed on that!

2. I am not a doctor and I don’t even play one on television! You guys, bloggers are awesome, but doctors are a better source for medical information. If you are considering using this device than please discuss this with a medical professional for your own personal pain relief needs.

3. My chronic pain is linked to a condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Type 3. Due to my joints being overly flexible, it causes a great deal of pain and discomfort since the joints  are loose and unstable. This means they are prone to frequent dislocations and/or subluxations and that I don’t always have a normal range of motion since my joints are hyperextensible and can move beyond those normal ranges. If you want to learn more about my diagnosis, I shared about it over here.

4. I am 39 (!!!) and was relatively healthy before diagnosis last year.  I also had tried EVERYTHING including OTC meds, Vicodin, steroids, and prescription anti-inflammatories all with little success. I also tried homeopathic things with mild relief, particularly from CBD oil, massage, and acupuncture. Most options were expensive as were the co-pays for all these doctor visits and fancy massages.

Let’s also note, I was probably doing a bit of damage to my bones and organs to be taking so much medication and I was getting less relief on the lower dosages that were prescribed.

Quell Pain Relief Device Review

Basically, I was at the end of my pain rope when I went searching on Google for pain relief that wouldn’t involve drugs. Thanks to my most recent joint issues, I was down to typing with just my middle finger because all my other fingers hurt too much. My elbow pain also had increased to an uncomfortable level so sitting at my desk was unbearable. I even had to order a device to hold my books for me because it hurt so bad.

It was a late night search (pounded out with that poor middle finger)  that lead me to a pain relieving device called Quell.

Specifically, I watched this video on YouTube and thought maybe this device might be able to help me too. Although the person in this video is dealing with different issues, she is young and dealing with widespread pain throughout her body that causes joint pain.

I am lucky to know several doctors and nurses (including my incredible sister!) and asked their opinion and if this device might be worth a try. The consensus was…it could work or not. Basically, there was no guarantee it would help with MY pain or how my body would respond to this type of pain relief. The company even shares that it has helped 81% of people manage their pain and 67% reported a reduction in pain medication use. That means it doesn’t work for everyone.

I just knew with my luck, I’d be the one that it didn’t help with. 

I was so very wrong. 

Fifteen minutes after I slipped this device on my leg, my pain levels went from an 9 to a 3. Was it because I wanted it to work so bad or was it real? After a few weeks of wearing it, I am telling you it is real and it has been life-altering.

I am sitting here typing with all my fingers while this little gadget is doing pain therapy and I haven’t taken any meds since I got it.

I am in awe of this technology and how much it has changed my day.

I want to dive deep for those of you that are struggling with pain and explain what Quell is, how I am using it, and a few hurdles I have had with the device.

 

Quell Review

What is Quell?

Quell is a newer technology, a wearable intensive nerve stimulation device, that is clinically proven to help manage chronic pain. It is 100% drug free, doctor recommended, and FDA cleared for 24/7 use, during the day while active and at night while sleeping, so you can get relief when and where you need it.

This device is worn just below the knee and activated by simply clicking a button. This position (on the calf)  is where a lot of the sensory nerves are located so the pain can be blocked at the spinal cord, which helps you feel widespread relief from your pain and not just relief in a specific part of your body.  These sensory nerves send neural pulses to your brain that then trigger a natural response that blocks pain signals, leading to widespread pain relief for many people.

The company refers to it its intuitive abilities as “OptiTherapy” technology that can automatically adjust therapy and dose to ensure you receive optimal pain relief.

The best part is that you can start and stop therapy sessions, as well as adjust the intensity of therapy from the Quell app on your smartphone (app works for both iOS and Android). You can also review therapy and sleep trends over time. Advanced sleep insights allow you to monitor 8 important dimensions of sleep such as sleep quality and time asleep as well as your body movement and position during the night, giving you even more insight into your chronic pain management.

If you aren’t a smartphone user, they also have ways that you can manage your device just from the button on the side with instructions on that too.

What does the Quell App Look Like & What Does It Tell You?

Let’s take a peek at a few things I took a screenshot of from the app on my phone…

Quell Review

Here is a screenshot of a session that I was in the middle of when I was grocery shopping. I have my settings set so I can visually see the level of intensity instead of just a plus or minus for intensity.

Going along the bottom of the screen, the far left is the battery life. The battery has lasted four days for me before I had to plug it in for a charge. It is easy to do and takes a couple of hours to fully charge with a cord, kind of like your phone!

The person icon is telling me that I have completed five sessions that day. Most days I am averaging about seven sessions. The sessions are for one hour on and then one hour off. They say that the positive effects of the therapy usually carries over for about 40 minutes so there are about 20 minutes where I start to feel like crap. Every single time, I look and it says 20 minutes ON THE DOT. It’s manageable though because I know relief is coming in 20 more minutes.

The bandage icon is telling my pain levels. It also has lots of other things you can input in the tracking screen that can help you analyze the good and the bad days. On this day, I was at a level one so that’s pretty incredible for someone who has been between a 7-9 on a pain skill.

The last icon is how many more days I have on the electrode I am using. We will talk about that a little later because that is one thing you do have to maintain.

 

Quell Review

 

Here is that tracking screen I was telling you about. I can look at this and tell you why my levels were this way.

Thursday I drank too much wine with my husband (hahaha!) so I slept like crap. We also had a lot of family stuff going on that day. The next day was my daughter’s dance recital which was beautiful, but tiring. Sunday was MY DAY (yay for Mother’s Day!) so I took a nap and felt awesome because I did nothing. Monday was back to the grind and another family thing came up so I was tired.

This documentation tells me 1) stop drinking so much wine 2) that would have been a hard week for any mom 3) Every day should be Mother’s Day.

Quell Review

You can customize it a lot and one of the things you can do is put it on Sleep Mode and set it up to the intensity levels you need. I tried sleeping with it and it drove me crazy since I sleep on both sides and I found the device to be too bulky for sleeping. The analytics didn’t really tell me enough or help my quality of sleep enough to wear it so I slip it off at night and this is when I can charge it if needed.

What Is the Cost of Quell and Is It Covered By Insurance?

This device is not covered by insurance. The starter kit comes with everything you need for one month and costs $249. The electrodes last for two weeks each and come with a reusable liner that you can also jot down the date of when you started to use the liner so you know how many days, particularly if you aren’t using the app. I have found the durability on these to be great, BUT I am not sleeping in mine and I also have adjusted my wardrobe a bit to accommodate the device.

I would imagine if you sleep in it, the electrodes might pull a bit and the same would be the case in a tight pair of skinny jeans so to help these last the full two weeks, I choose to do neither.

It is important to register your device because the company does offer a sixty day return policy. That means if you discover this device does not work for you, you can contact customer service for a refund. Please don’t send your requests to me, I cannot help you!

Who Can This Device Help?

They clearly state that it will not help migraine sufferers so I am sorry if that is the type of pain challenge you are dealing with. On the site it says it helps with chronic nerve pain, chronic joint pain, leg and foot pain, lower back pain, and widespread pain for people like me!

dance-recital

What Are the Negatives With This Device?

Well, as streamlined as it is, for a girl who lives in skinny jeans and short a-line dresses this has been a bit of an adjustment. As you can see, it is peeking out on the right of my leg in our family photo. Yes, this is a complete vanity thing, but that’s also a dose of honesty. I ended up buying a couple of midi skirts and am looking at pants a little differently to accommodate the side bulk of this device.  I know at some point I will feel more confident with wearing it out, I just need to get used to it.

You do need to move the device around and the app will let you know that it is “time to air out,” those electrodes.  I did skip it on the recital day and I got a little rashy under those spots where the electrodes were. It’s important to heed their advice on that to avoid a skin reaction.

It has a light-up display that I didn’t realize you could disable that flashes as a session is happening. At my daughter’s recital, it looked like a disco globe going off, under my dress, when the stage went dark. Now that I know I can turn off that display, I’ll feel a little better about going to the movies- ha!

I wish there were no maintenance things to buy, but the electrodes must be replaced every two weeks. Broken down the maintenance cost is roughly over $7 a week and I know I was paying a lot more than that and would have continued to pay more to treat the pain with doctor visits and medications.

This does not cure the pain, it just breaks the pain cycle so you your body can rest and do what it needs to do for the day. It doesn’t mean that I am healed, but it means that I can function. I don’t want to give anyone any false hope that this will rid you of what is ailing you, it just helps you manage and reduce the pain in a drug-free way.

Quell for Ehlers Danlos

What Are the Positives With This Device?

I have broken the cycle of pain. This weekend I sat through a beautiful graduation, watched with tears in my eyes as my daughter danced, and was present for a family member when they had surgery. I couldn’t have done that if I was still at that level of pain I was in.

Going off medication is rough. I felt blue and foggy before and now I feel like me again.

I’m sleeping better.

I am clear-headed and present again in my daily life with my family.

I feel like I can manage this again.

I am grateful.

Technology, you can be a beautiful thing sometimes!

I don’t know if this will help you, but I pray that if you are dealing with chronic pain that you can find the right answer for YOU.

Please feel free to ask me any questions and I will try to answer them for you!

Please note, this does contain affiliate links that help maintain our site. Thank you so much! 

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The Importance of S-Town

Monday, April 10th, 2017

minneapolis-2

We rolled in last night after the most lovely little getaway to explore Minneapolis. Things have felt a bit off this month with our family’s rhythm that I can’t really explain right now, but that have made our down time feel a little more stressful and less enjoyable.  As I surfed Midwest adventures on Groupon, I came across a deal for a cute hotel and we decided to just head on over there for a little escape.

For us, this trip was just WILD. Unplanned, poorly packed, and flying by the seat of our pants. A need to get the heck out after a gloomy, freezing, and dreary week in Indiana.

minneapolis-1

One of the coolest things about this job is the ability to find and connect with someone just about everywhere we go and my dear friend, Kelly Whalen, offered to spend a day with us and take us on a tour of the city. Since we had no plan, this sounded like heaven.

It was a magic-making kind of day where the kids hit it off like crazy, we ate incredible food,  the conversations never dwindled, and we explored areas in her town that she hadn’t even got to do yet. Magic, I tell you!

Each of our trips end up having some kind of theme to them where we dive into something and just binge the heck out of it. Our fall trip, for example, was the trip of Hamilton that ultimately lead to our Christmas gift of tickets for our kids.

This trip ended up being the S-Town trip where my husband & I listened to seven hours of the most fascinating podcast I had ever encountered in my lifetime that has had my brain going nonstop since I finished it.  (please note, no, this podcast is not for the kiddos- headphones were on them with something else going!)

s-town-1

If you haven’t heard of S-Town, it is a history-making podcast from the producers of Serial & This American Life where host, Brian Reed, leads their investigative team into a small town in Alabama to investigate a murder. John B. McLemore of Woodstock, Alabama, had emailed the producers of This American Life saying he had a story to tell about a covered-up murder that happened in his town. He calls his town, Shittown (thus the podcast name) and begins a year-long conversation with Reed that leads him all the way out to Woodstock to investigate McLemore’s claims. The series takes an immediate sharp turn that, honestly, shocked me to my core and the podcast becomes something entirely different than a true crime story.

They wisely released the show in it’s entirety which allows you to binge listen to this whole series without the usual Googling that I might have been doing between episodes, like I unapologetically did between episodes of Serial. Since the story develops and evolves so quickly, each chapter feels like almost its own unique listening experience and is almost like taking in a short story audiobook collection that come together in wild ways.

I don’t want to spoil anything if you haven’t dove into it, but I will say that the themes are dark, sexually graphic at times, and the language could be bothersome to some. The last two episodes, in particular, were unsettling on many levels, in what John might have wanted to have kept private and the fact that I don’t think much of it really added to the story of John.

What I will say is that this moved me in ways that I had not expected. It is a portrait of a tortured genius who desperately wanted love in his life. It’s about the cyclical nature of poverty, mental illness, frustrations with world issues that we cannot change,  the struggles about leading a life that is true to you for fear of perception by those in a small town, and the rich layering of all people. Reed’s compassion flourishes even through, in my opinion, some of its more dicier moments.

Since John B. McLemore was a horologist, one of the most poignant moments in it were McLemore’s own reflections on time and how we use our time. He reflected on how many hours we actually have in our life to make use of.  It was very mathematical and analytical, but so very rich.

Our time on earth is so fleeting and we are all gifted only so many hours in our day. How am I using this precious time and how can I make those moments really and truly count? Why are so much of my efforts and anxieties focused on things that just don’t matter and how can I make a better use of these hours given? 

It made me thankful we had taken that trip.

They were precious hours that filled my cup.

There is much that I found to be profound in S-Town and there are far more thoughtful commentaries to read than I what I can share with you. What I can say though is that it moved me and made me think about a lot of things in new ways and it challenged me in ways that only the best documentaries and nonfiction books have.

I plan to relisten to this one to see what new nuggets I can get out of it and what I will hear in the story now that I know where Reed is leading me.

Once you finish the show (and not before!), you can head down the rabbit trail of articles and podcast commentary like I did:

S-Town Host Brian Reed on True Crime Podcasts and That Major Twist

Brian Reed, maker of S-Town: ‘People’s minds go to paranoid places very easily’

What does the song at the end of S-Town mean?

Who is John B. McLemore

Pop Culture Happy Hour’s Take On S-Town

Sorta Awesome’s Thoughts On S-Town

Longform Interview with Brian Reed

10 Podcasts You Need in Your Life After ‘S-Town’

Have you listened to S-Town? What did you think about this podcast?

 

 

 

6 Happiness Strategies for a More Creative and Interesting Life

Friday, March 17th, 2017

happiness-techniques-for-creative-interesting-life
I invited my parents over for dinner one evening and my mom asked what our family had been up to that week. I shared a bit about a show that we caught at the local theater, how we attended an art gallery event for a friend, the adventure of taking our kids out (with success) to try a new cuisine they hadn’t before, and a documentary on design that we caught together.

My mom said something that really struck me.

She said, “Your family has such an interesting life. You know that?”

This is not a brag session at all because there are many, many moments in our life that are very uninteresting and basic. I have moments where I rant about having to run my children everywhere, where I find my focus is far too centered on my my health situation, I’ve often thought too much about what other people think of me, there are times where I fixate too much on keeping the perfect home, I’ve had periods where I have invested too much time on Facebook, there are moments where I am unkind and judgy to others, and MANY times where I’m just trying to put one foot in front of the other like everyone else.

Those moments don’t necessarily make for an interesting conversation, but they do make us human.

At times, I had thought the only thing that made me interesting was blogging. Blogging is certainly interesting when you are doing it as a profession and has brought interesting people and moments in my life, but I don’t think that makes me very interesting anymore. It’s just an interesting way to make money.

The thing is, as my kids get older I feel like they need me in different ways, but not in necessarily those needy toddler ways that gave me purpose. As they transitioned to middle school, I found that I needed interesting things in my life to fill my cup so that I could survive these days at home alone without boredom.  I began to seek a more interesting life than the one I had before and it has been through this that I am finding happiness and my people.

I hesitated to write these words to you today because I am far from anyone’s life coach.

I’m often a mess.

That said, I also wished for a mentor mom as I transitioned into this new role that can, at times, feel a little lonely. Building a new creative life for yourself really enables you to attract others to you because you bring something new to the table.

It makes conversations fun, it can make you feel young, and it makes you feel valued by others because you have your own things.

I don’t need to tell you it, but one day these incredible kids are hopefully going to be out there carving their own life paths. If our entire identities are just caring for them, what will we do with ourselves when they are gone? What will be our new identity?

Cue the foundation of interesting life moments you have been working on and the transition to the next chapter might feel a tad less bumpy.

Here are six happiness strategies I’m doing to live a more creative and interesting life…

food-pantry

Find an Interesting Volunteer Opportunity

Volunteering can be an incredible way to add interesting moments to your life. I started by volunteering in our school system and connected my love of reading with reading to kids who struggle with this skill. This year, I have found my place working at our church food pantry weekly, doing the behind-the-scenes work of getting the food sorted and organized for people to shop. I also am putting in my application to mentor refugee youth because I love welcoming people to our town and know they would have so much to teach me.

Volunteer Match is a great site to visit to find unique volunteering opportunities that you may not have even known existed. I never even knew about the mentor program for refugees until I went on their website. For example, some of the listings in our town include crafting with hospice patients, being a museum tour guide, working the gardens of a local museum,  becoming a crisis counselor, being a small business mentor, or caring for animals at the shelter.

Can you imagine how different your life might look if you invested in one of these things?

Not only are you helping a local cause, but you also just might be putting your foot in the door for a potential job opportunity someday.

around-the-house-2

Read Interesting Books

What a boring life I would be leading if I didn’t have such a variety of books in my book stack. Since most of you are regulars here, I know that most of you are also embracing a good stack of books in your life too. If you need a fresh one, check out the books section for ideas!

For many years, I got stuck in one or two genres of books and I wouldn’t branch outside of my comfort zone. My reading and life felt a lot more interesting though when I began to read books that were outside of my comfort zone, particularly nonfiction reading. Reading helped me understand and show compassion for people and parts of the world that I would have never known about.

Three good starter books that really helped challenge and shape me are Just Mercy, Hillbilly Elegyand Evicted

Interesting books have certainly lead to interesting conversations and created empathy in me for things I don’t always understand. If you are looking to branch out your reading this year, consider taking our MomAdvice Reading Challenge or joining our online book club!

Online Weaving Class take an  online weaving class!

Find an Interesting Class to Take

Some of the most interesting people I know take classes and embrace new hobbies in their life regularly. Your interesting class may only be interesting to you, but that does not matter one bit. This is a great time to do the things you have always talked about especially since online coursework, in particular, can be done on your own schedule.

This year I got myself a loom and found a great course on Etsy to start teaching myself to weave. I’m also taking a food photography course through Craftsy to help me to expand my food photography skills. I regularly ask for things like this for Christmas so I have a gift that can keep on giving.

I don’t always take just creative courses though, I’m trying to branch out into other terrains. Next week I’m starting a free course through our local library and college to learn about civics so that I can understand the way our government works and understand the world of politics better. I don’t want to be a person who sits and watches the news, I want to be the person that goes out and learns WHY things are happening and what my particular role could be to change them.

Now I realize that these things may be only interesting to me, but I couldn’t be more excited to learn more.

For free learning, check your library and see what they have to offer and to connect quickly with locals. This month, for example, our library is offering a papercrafting class, a brunch & book discussion, a gardening class, a genealogy course, and a musical concert. They also have a great center where people can learn technology skills to benefit their business.

If you prefer learning online, YouTube is a great free resource where you can start learning a new skill and it won’t even cost you a penny. Granted, many are teaser courses to get you to sign up for more, but even teaser courses can teach you a lot.

Rising Tide Society

Join an Interesting Organization

My early days of motherhood survival were often spent seated in a circle as we shared a cup of coffee with a side of whine. For a couple of years after, I floundered and didn’t know where I fit in. I still went to playgroups, clinging to coffee, but feeling a bit of place. I didn’t want to start over again and have to find a new group, but I’m finding that this girl thrives in clubs and organizations. I am meant to be in organized activities and it feeds that social part of me.

I discovered we have a local chapter of Rising Tide Society and I’m hopping into my first meeting next week. I love and am inspired by other creatives so I’m excited to see if this will fill that mom’s group void I’ve been missing.

Some people enjoy finding ways to assist charity through group formats like Junior League. Others can find their people in business and networking groups through their city. Churches can also offer great opportunities to become involved in helping the community and it’s members. Interesting groups, of course, bring interesting people into your life and often build new skillsets.

Embrace Something Interesting That Fosters Conversations

I love to have fun things to bring to conversations and some of my favorite parts of the day are good conversations I’ve had just with my own little family. My best conversations are when I read or listen to something interesting that I can share with others.

theSkimm

I subscribe to theSkimm and love it so much that I am a Skimmbassador which gives me access to a community of Skimm-loving folks that can talk politics and life in respectful ways. This 5-minute nonpartisan newsletter is something that I read daily so I have a clear idea of what is happening in the world each day. I read it over the morning coffee and I start the day feeling informed.

You might be surprised to know that many blog writers aren’t actually blog readers. It’s a challenge to keep up with fresh content and read blogs, but I try to keep up with what everyone is creating as best that I can and share the nuggets with you each week. These are often posts that help to fuel great conversations with others.

We try to watch a documentary each week that gives us a chance to learn about a topic or a part of the world that we know little about. Many of these are watched together as a family and we have great discussions about them after. Many evenings though are spent after the kids are gone to bed with a glass of wine in hand and a documentary ready to go for our evening.

When my eyes are feeling too tired to read, I find  I get so much out of these instead.

Source: Grant Beachy Photography

Seek Interesting People

I’m not saying to give up on your old friends, but we all evolve as human beings and, as I have aged, I am looking for different things in my friendships. Broadening your circle can sometimes bring new and interesting experiences to your life.

For example, we started a record collection and spend many weekends shuffling through stacks at antique stores or sharing a stack of our music with friends on their record players. A bit hipster, perhaps, but music has always been such a big part of my life, and I find sharing that hobby with others is a fun one.

Board games are also a fun thing to collect and share with people. Perfectly portable and pairs well with wine, it’s a party in a box. We love discovering new games through Tabletop (and figuring out these crazy complex ones we purchased!). A few that we have found to be easy to share are Ticket to Ride, Really Bad Art, Pandemic, and our friends recently taught us Settlers of Catan and we loved it!

We try to seek out our town’s local events, gallery showings, festivals, theater performances, concerts, and town celebrations because they add variation to our week and give us the chance to connect with really interesting people. Living in a smaller town, you would think we wouldn’t have much, but I’m finding that it is RICH with stuff to do and it is rare that we can’t find a local event happening to make our days in Indiana a bit more interesting.

Amy Clark-web-23

I hope you find something new to connect with today and that it brings a bit of happiness in your life too.

This stage has been a tricky one to figure out, but what a privilege it is to grow older and find that you are still learning and growing!

What do you find feeds your happiness at this stage in your life?

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

It’s the 3 Little Things: Incredible Sleep, Lent Love, & Mail Spot

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Amy Allen Clark

photo source: grant beachy photography

Can you believe it is already Friday again? We are counting down the days until our Spring Break. Do you have any plans this year? It’s a big year for my son because he gets to go on his 8th grade Washington D.C. trip. I’m currently scouring last minute Groupons to see if we can take our girl on a small nearby adventure while her brother is off seeing the historic sites without us.

It’s a happy weekend of celebration as my hubby celebrates his birthday. It’s hard to believe I’ve gotten to witness his special day since his sixteenth birthday bash. Who would have ever thought it? It’s always been sweetly surreal.

Here are three other things that are making me happy this week!

The Body Doesn't Lie by Vicky Vlachonis

Good Sleep

Dealing with chronic pain really can do a number on your sleep and this last year my sleep has been pretty awful. Some days I would just give up and start my day at 3AM and then repeat the process the next day. As the days of terrible sleep mounted, the pain increased. It’s a vicious cycle of sleepless nights, grumpiness with everyone around me, and increased pain.

While I was at the library, I decided to check and see if I could find any books on pain management. I found and devoured, The Body Doesn’t Lie, in a single afternoon. The book promised a 3-step program to end pain and “become positively radiant.”

I know, I know…hang in there with me.

Vicky Vlachonis is an osteopath and musculoskeletal specialist that works with a lot of celebrities and dancers. Her holistic approach to pain management is what has made her famous among these celebrity circles and she believes that chronic pain can be managed through better habits.

The big focus on pain is, of course, on sleep. Of course, most habits in this book do feel intuitive, but I needed reminding. From creating sleeping rituals that help your body to fall into better sleep to understanding the trigger points on your body to help relieve pain to food choices that can improve digestion. These tips make you think about where your pain stems from and help you find better ways to repair it.

Side Sleeper Pillow With Ear Hole

You are encouraged to journal a bit and think about where your pain can stem from so that you can focus your healing efforts on those things. For me, I have pain when I’m sleeping in kind of a strange place… my ears!

Weird, right?

As a side sleeper, my ears were throbbing and I have made a few trips to the doctor thinking I had earaches only to find out it is just pain from laying on my side. After reading this book about identifying pain, I went online and found this pillow that addressed my pain problem. A quick pillow switch means I’m not feeling rotten in the mornings with throbbing pain through my ear and jaw.

Guess who has slept uninterrupted all week and without any pain medication? ME!

Other habits that I have added are soaking in epsom salts with lavender oil daily after working out, starting my day with warm lemon water, dry brushing (I’ll let you know if that really does help anything- I am curious about it!), being careful about when I have my evening glass of wine (earlier not later), tea sipping before bed, and going to bed at a better time.

Intuitive, perhaps, but a year of broken sleep makes me so thankful for this week of restorative sleep. If you have broken sleep or suffer from chronic pain, this is  a book worth checking out.

Lent Love

I didn’t grow up in a church where we were called to sacrifice anything for Lent, but this year I felt called to participate. I am going to say that I think that my sacrifice for Lent might be a new life habit because I attribute this as another reason on why I am sleeping so well.

I gave up checking email and social media after 5PM.

I have discovered that I waste a ton of time in the evenings mindlessly checking this stuff and I believe it also increases my anxiety before I am heading to bed.

What am I being left out of?

Whose career accomplishments overshadowed my own?

Oh, I’m so angry about politics..let me check and read every article that supports my own viewpoints before I go to sleep.

Now let me text my friends the things I’m reading.

Yup. Terrible.

In the morning, I feel more objective and a little more detached from it all so the scroll isn’t amping anything up for me anymore. In the end, I am discovering that this small sacrifice improves my family time, my reading time, and my sleep.

Did I mention my reading time? Yeah, I’m working on my third book this week!

perch-container-for-fridge

No More Mail On My Counters

I can’t stand having mail on my counters and my husband loves to get the mail, open it, spread it all over the counters, and then go about his day.

STOP IT RIGHT NOW. HOW DARE YOU?

Of course, there wasn’t really a great spot for mail in our house…until now. Have you seen these magnetic containers? You can attach the containers to the side of your fridge and fill them with the odds and ends in your life that you need quick access to. I thought it would be the perfect spot to put the mail. It’s off my counter, but not completely out of sight so I don’t deal with it.

Now when the kids come in with permission slips and my husband comes in to open all the mail for me, I can kindly ask them to put the mail in the mail container. Because mail doesn’t belong on the counter.

Get one of these, you won’t regret it!

Eating: Big bowls of this roasted shrimp pasta hit our menu planner this week. ALDI makes a great gluten-free spaghetti noodle that has worked as a wonderful substitute in this recipe for our family.

Reading: YOU GUYS. I’m not hearing a lot of chatter yet about this thriller, but I can’t put it down. I am almost done and it is AMAZING! It’s a definite must-read this month especially if you are an Agatha Christie fan!

Watching: We caught this incredible documentary on Hulu and it was amazing! It inspired us to try a Middle Eastern restaurant with our kids and they loved it. It’s a fascinating look at a Pulitzer Prize winning food writer and his ability to find the restaurant hidden gems in the most unlikely places. It also shows the power of a good review for small business owners and how it changes the path of their restaurant’s success. We highly recommend it! (note- adult language!)

Listening: I’m running the kids a lot so I made this mix for you..and me!

Have a lovely week, friends!! xoxo

Amy Clark

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