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

It’s the 3 Little Things: Ping Pong, Entryway Dreams, & Pokemon Mania

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

mary-visit

Well, hey there! I hope you are having a wonderful summer! So much good stuff has been happening over here that this happy list is a genuine one. I headed to Nebraska Medicine for a second opinion on my health issues and the doctor added a pill to assist with the pain I have been experiencing and I FINALLY feel like my old self again. I am virtually pain-free after six months of unbelievable pain.

I truly feel like it is a miracle to feel this good.

Lucky for me, we got in great visits with friends while we were there, I ate my way through Omaha (and I mean it- hello, pajama jeans!), and drank far too much wine…but, hey, worth it!

I hosted a gathering for my girlfriends, once we rolled back into town, in our backyard and in our little she shed. I am always thankful that we had this beautiful table made to be extra long so we always have room at our table for our friends. We had a Salad Bar night for our evening meal (someday I will do a post on it!). I provided the greens, roasted chicken, and dressings for the group. Then everyone came with toppings and drinks to round out our meal. Such a fun and easy night in the backyard without stress on the hostess or the guests.

Here are three other things that are making me happy (and I think would make you happy too!)

Boot Tray Insert

My Boot Tray Got More Awesome

When I did my house tour, one of the most clicked on items in that was our boot tray and I don’t blame you. It is one of my favorite Target finds that we have gotten for our home. That said, anytime we had wet or dirty shoes, they would just sit in the tray in the puddle of water and dirt…

Well, that is, until now.

I was wandering around Target (always a dangerous pastime) and saw this incredible boot tray insert that fits right over my existing boot tray. It gives a place for wet shoes to drip, it’s black so it doesn’t show everything, and it actually looks decorative too. SUPER happy with this purchase!

Narrow entryways will bask in functional glory with this fun addition!

Joola Outdoor Ping Pong Table

 

We Have Been In Ping Pong Heaven

My husband loves playing ping pong and although I love our little house, things like ping pong tables just don’t fit in our tiny spaces.  This guy of mine has been working his tail off and needed a stress reliever that wasn’t in front of a screen and more than anything I wanted to give him a ping pong table to enjoy.

This summer it came time to break down our swing set (how bittersweet is that?) and I had to figure out something we could do in the backyard together that we would all enjoy.

In honor of Father’s Day we splurged on this JOOLA Outdoor Ping Pong Table. Yup, an outdoor table! Who knew?

I had been waiting to talk about it, in our favorite things list,  until we really used it (I hate sharing something we don’t REALLY genuinely love). This table is incredibly made, comes almost fully assembled, and is a breeze to put up and down. We got an outdoor cover (kind of like a grill cover for it) and we have enjoyed many evenings together playing ping pong in our backyard. My husband also discovered they make ping pong balls that are made for outdoor tables even since a windy day can sometimes be an issue. It’s been an incredible addition to our backyard.

In full disclosure, we had an awful surprise storm that knocked half of our table over due to some really crazy winds. One of the wheels broke off and I worried that we would have a broken table forever within the first week of purchase. I contacted the company and a REAL PERSON talked to me, he sent me extra wheels in case it happened again, and they emailed me a shipping notification so we could track our wheels until they arrived on my doorstep.

It was incredible customer service and our table is now happily repaired and awaiting many games together.

Want an inspiring ping pong documentary to share with your whole family? Watch Top Spin (on Netflix!!).  You can watch kids compete for the Olympic team and be wowed. This one is approved by our family for all ages! Yay!

After we watched that, we were all fighting over our turn at the ping pong table!

pokemon-go

I Love Pokemon Go (Even Though I Have No Clue What I’m Doing)

My kids are at a stage where they just want to sit in front of devices and do nothing. It takes a lot to motivate them so I was genuinely excited about the Pokemon Go app (FREE!!). You would have to be buried under a rock to not know about it, but here is a little more info if you haven’t tried it out yet.

My kids are MOTIVATED for evening walks and explorations at parks. Just in our neighborhood alone, we caught 5 of these critters looping the mile through the ‘hood.

Do I know a thing about Pokemon?

No.

I don’t give a flip, but my kids do and they are MOVING.

And they are HANGING OUT WITH ME.

And for the caption on this photo:

“Mom, why would you pose with that? It’s not even a good one. It evolves and won’t even look at you straight. It’s just a goldfish.”

Me: “But, I’m really proud of my goldfish. I worked hard for it. Take my picture with my goldfish.”#pokemonposeur

Sometimes finding something you all love with big kids is hard so I am thrilled we have found something we can do together… even if I don’t understand it!

Advanced Readers for July

Reading: All the Missing Girls and it is incredible! If you are looking for a gripping psychological thriller, you should give this one a try for your summer reading!

Pictured above are some advanced readers for books that should be on your reading radar! I have a lot of reading to do and am looking forward to enjoying these on a family vacation!

LOST STARS

HER EVERY FEAR

THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10

SAVING ABBY

BABY DOLL

SISTERS ONE, TWO, THREE

Eating: We fired up the grill and enjoyed Chicken Pesto Burgers this week and I even baked french fries to go with them. I hope to share that recipe soon!!

Watching: I can’t stop watching this- it’s absolutely incredible and one of the best Adele covers ever made. Amen.

Making:  My hands are finally working again so I am knitting up some Chemo Caps for a special girl- lift her up in prayer for me, won’t you?

Happy Friday, friends!

*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: Today We Sit

Friday, July 1st, 2016

Happiness Challenge: SITTING

When we bought the furniture for our home, all I wanted were comfortable places to sit.  Years of uncomfortable furniture had created a wanting in my heart for the biggest and comfiest couch we could fit in our space. Although the aesthetics were important, it was far more the depth and the sinking-in-of-it all that was the most important to me.

We recently had some new (and old) friends to our home and took them on our little renovation tour of our very own fixer upper. The remarks often were regarding the comfortability of our spaces that I had worked so lovingly to create to help our guests feel welcome. Often the remarks were, “How do you get any work done when you have this cozy place to sit?” 

These were the places they said they couldn’t resist.

Yet, I resist them.

What might look, at times, like a cushy job (and believe me, cushy moments do exist), is a lot of sweat and hustle to create. I am not complaining, but sometimes that glamour shot you see is nothing like my life.  Many moments are spent hunched over the computer and in some state of frantic panic over a post that, honestly,  I’m lucky if people might scan briefly through with their morning coffee.

What there isn’t a lot of, for me,  is… well, SITTING. The corners that people might envy are rarely enjoyed by me so I challenged myself to SIT in every one of those corners this week because I deserve to rest.

I am worthy of that.

I soaked in a good book on my giant leather chair, I snuggled up with my cat and watched a television show, I knitted in my shed sanctuary, and I curled on my bed in the evening to browse my blog reader. It sounds so silly, but for the first time in probably a few years, I just enjoyed sitting in the places I had made for myself.

All the places.

If you don’t do a lot of sitting at your house either, consider this a challenge to sit in those beautiful and cozy corners you created. They aren’t just for company, they are for YOU. 

I thought it might be fun to creatively explore a bit on this post so today might seem different than usual.

I’m glad.

I want you to enjoy the REAL over in blogland and that can never be cultivated if I’m not honest with you. I want to explore how I’m working towards the happy in my life. As always, I am a big work in progress.  

Tell me, do you struggle with being still too?  

Here are 3 other things that make me happy.

Hania Sandals from Naturalizer

Amazingly Comfortable Gladiator Sandals

Oh, I am loving this year’s sandal trends, BUT I have stupidly wide feet so I am not always able to embrace the trends. I had to break my rule of not buying shoes during my capsule challenge because a joint fell out of the side of one of my feet (I kid you not) and it hung off the side of my sandal in a really uncomfortable way. I totally demoed it for my husband to justify said shoe purchase.

Come on. You would too.

I found these gorgeous, gorgeous sandals from Naturalizer (the Hania Sandals in Gingersnap)  and they are PERFECT in every way.  This has a comfortable wedge on the bottom that gives a petite girl some height without compromising her balance. If you are looking for a gladiator shoe that you won’t have to break in, these fit the bill perfectly!

Although you may not have a joint falling out, my sister remarked that only I would find a way to make bracing this travesty fashionably. What can I say? I’m an EDS warrior these days.

PS- if you have NARROW feet, they make this one in a narrow too, lucky ladies!

SYTYCD Next Generation

Kids Dancing Gives Me ALL THE FEELS

This seasons SYTYCD is all about the kiddos and it is absolutely epic this year.  If you want a great show to watch with your kids that will inspire them (especially if you have a tiny dancer on your hands too!), you MUST watch the show this year, SYTYCD Next Generation

Not only are the kids amazing dancers, but they have some compelling stories. Not to mention how hard their parents worked (ahem!).

The only UN-happy about this happy is that when a kid gets cut, I start weeping.

EVERY. TIME.

I mean, you can’t cut kids. Seriously. It’s awful.

That said, my whole family is just loving this season. Since we don’t have cable (you should cut it, you guys!!) we watch this through Hulu! Use this link (if you like) to sign up. Yay! That is one subscription we get our money’s worth out of.

a-murder-in-time

Participating in My First Big Library Read

My book club site is growing every day and I tell you, these ladies know their stuff. It’s totally free so join us and participate!  They told me about the Big Library Read and I jumped on the bandwagon this week to participate.

The Big Library Read is an opportunity for those with a valid library card to read the same digital title at the same time without any wait lists or holds. Participating in this event allows your library to offer a new simultaneous use title for community-wide access from your library at no cost. It’s a worldwide digital version of a local book club! 

Big Library Read

It’s not too late to join in so check and see if your library is participating and take advantage of another fun (and free!) book club opportunity. So cool!

I’m not going to tell you a ton about it because I want you to discover this one yourself. The book is called,  A Murder in Time and it is about a gal from the FBI that ends up time traveling into the 1800’s and helps work on a case of a serial killer on the loose. Unfortunately, she can’t use any modern day anything to solve the case so you can imagine it’s a tough case to crack.

Oh, and did I mention she’s a woman who is a servant in a castle?

Yeah, you can imagine how receptive people are. (wink, wink!)

Now go snag this book and join in over the weekend!

Happy Friday, friends!

*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: iPad Summer Shields, Binge-worthy TV, & Pillow Love

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Wine on a Boat

I hope you had another wonderful week! You may recall my high school bestie sharing her experience doing a no spend challenge on the blog awhile back. It was such a treat to have her in town this week to celebrate the upcoming arrival of her new baby with her family.  She’s doing so well and I continue to see the transformative power of simple living in her life.  I felt really lucky to get to be with her this week and we even managed to squeeze in a little hot yoga class together. If you are local, treat yourself to Hot Yoga with Frances Shavers over at this studio. The instructor is a gift and her musicality is such a treat during my vinyasa flow. I have become quite the little yoga addict.

Here are a few other  things that have been making me happy over here.

Tech Armor Anti Glare Protectors

I Can Read My iPad in the Sun

I love reading on my iPad with the Kindle app, but it can be difficult to read in the sun with this gadget. These Tech Armor anti glare protectors cost less than $10 for two and have made reading so much more enjoyable for me this summer. They are also super handy if you are watching a show in the sun because it takes that glare off your screen. Now that I have these, I am reading even more on my iPad this summer.  If you are looking for something to remove the glare, this is an affordable and easy option that I found on Amazon for better reading by the pool!

UnREAL

Another Binge-Worthy Show

I don’t watch a lot of television so it has been something really incredible to suck me in and pull me away from my book stack. If you haven’t seen UnREAL, you must watch it! The premise is a behind-the-scenes look at a reality show called Everlasting (AKA The Bachelor) and it is about the producers and the real show that is happening behind the scenes. It is is gritty, raw, and probably more real than the reality television that America keeps serving up for us.

I kept hearing about this one and one evening I decided to take the plunge and watch the first episode.

Then the second episode.

Then the third.

In fact, talking about it makes me want to get back to watching it again.

It’s on Lifetime (I know, I know- but trust me!) so I have been streaming it through Hulu (can also stream on Amazon if you don’t have Hulu!). Have you watched it yet? SO GOOD!

Room Essentials Body Pillow

A Gift to My Joints

I started getting massages for all of my joint issues and the massage therapist offered some suggestions for better sleeping including hugging a pillow between my arms and legs. I thought a body pillow might be the way to go instead of wrestling with little pillows and found this inexpensive body pillow at Target (less than $10!). The best part is that they have all these gorgeous covers that can coordinate with your bedding and I found this furry one in gray (again, less than $10!!) and it is an incredible joy to curl up with it! I’m having way better sleep curled up with this and it’s relieved a lot of pain in my achy joints.

Shrimp Boil

Reading: The Two-Family House is this month’s book club selection and I enjoyed this one so very much this week. If you are looking for a good book escape, this one is perfection. Read it and join in our book club discussion next Thursday!

Eating: Another batch of make-ahead breakfast burritos thanks to this week’s breakfast buffet post. I love these for nights I don’t feel like cooking too (which is almost every night in the summer)! Thankful for easy shrimp boils this summer when entertaining!

Laughing:  Just get online and start screaming! LOL! (PS- Totally safe for kids!)

Making: Having a blast with fabric this week thanks to a new gig this year with Waverly Fabric as a part of their Waverly Inspirations Network. I’m thankful they still want me even though I am a legitimate sewing school drop-out. Here is a sneak peek of my wreath I made from their fabrics and today’s task is to craft a pretty garland to match it. It feels good to be making things with my hands again.

Happy Friday, friends!

*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: Mojitos, Disney, & Another Reason Not to Wash My Hair

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

pool-days

Today is the last day of school for my kiddos and our last day having children in elementary school. I can’t believe how the time is flying so I am looking forward to really slowing down this summer.

What did we sign up for them to do to keep them preoccupied all summer?

Nothing.

I am one of those moms that force them to be bored and entertain themselves all summer long.

My days will be spent in a lounge chair at the community pool with a stack of books and I can’t wait to make that a part of our daily summer routine! My health is forcing me to embrace a slowed down routine and to let some things go until I feel better. It was fortunate that I usually have that summer mindset, but now it has become more necessary than usual. I’m thankful I have the freedom to do that with this job. I know it is an enormous blessing.

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

hello toothpaste

Mojito Freshness

This past year we made the switch to natural toothpaste and have been using Tom’s as our brand of choice. I liked it, but I felt like it lacked that tingling feeling that makes your mouth feel fresh, like you would experience with brands like Crest and Colgate. Hello sent me a big bag of adult and kid toothpastes for our family to try and I will admit that I was a little skeptical. I am a traditionalist when it comes to toothpaste flavors, but I decided to try their Mojito Mint and now I can’t imagine using anything else. It is the tingly freshness that I have been missing in my toothpaste and it is all natural. They have a ton of different flavorings to choose from.

My daughter also tried some of their different toothpastes and was nuts about the Bubblegum kid’s toothpaste they offered. She said it tasted like Extra gum and has been wanting to brush her teeth. If you have a tween, you know the struggle is real when it comes to daily hygiene.

It is a natural toothpaste line that is free of sweeteners, dyes, and preservatives. As a creative, I also really love the packaging on these.  You can find this line of toothpaste now at Walmart stores. I highly recommend checking them out!

American Experience: Walt Disney

American Experience: Walt Disney

I didn’t know a lot about Walt Disney, but now I feel like an expert after indulging in the American Experience: Walt Disney that had premiered on PBS and is now available for streaming on Prime. This two-part documentary explored the life of Disney from his childhood until his final days. It shares his successes and failures in a very real way with testimonials from colleagues and family. Historians round out the commentary with their takes on his film career.

This was so fascinating that both of my husband couldn’t wait to settle in for the second part after watching the first.  It was inspiring to hear the things he accomplished, but also really showcased the missteps in business that got us really talking together about what we could learn from it in our own work. I’m not a Disney nut like some of my friends, but I can still appreciate the legacy that he built and that our family has enjoyed on our vacations there.

I highly recommend this one if you haven’t seen it yet!

Dove Dry Shampoo

My New Favorite Dry Shampoo

Dove happened to be a sponsor at Mom 2.0 and they are always generous with the offerings in our hotel rooms to give us a chance to try their products. As a girl with sensitive skin, I have always appreciated their skincare line, but hadn’t really tried their shampoos and conditioners before. As someone who hates to wash her hair (and I have the art in my bathroom to prove it) I was excited to try out their dry shampoo.

This dry shampoo is the closest I have gotten to feeling like I have truly clean hair without the washing. It smells amazing and leaves zero residue on my dark brown locks. I could be a sweaty mess at the gym and use this stuff and my hair smells like I just washed it. It’s also at a very affordable price point so as soon as I got home from my trip, I stocked up for the summer! If you are on the hunt for a good dry shampoo, I REALLY love this stuff!

Shed Makeover

Reading: Girls on Fire has been on my summer bucket reading list so I started with this one this week. Raunchy, dark, twisted. I don’t think this one would be for everyone (all the mature content warnings for this one!!), BUT I am really sucked into this twisted friendship and the mysterious suicide of a fellow classmate. This one is set in the ’90’s so I am appreciating the nostalgia of reliving a little of my youth.

Enjoying: An evening this week with my book club out in the She Shed. We read this book and you can catch my interview with the author on Sunday- yay!!

Addicted: To Blood Orange Candles from Grove. I just placed another order for a couple more because they make me so happy and my house smell so good!

Laughing: At your responses on this- so funny!

Happy Friday, friends!

 *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: Best of Summer

Friday, May 20th, 2016

little-things

Whoa, this was a rotten week. How’s that for beginning a happy list? I am trying to live in a truthful place on the web and my health is just awful these days. For those just joining my Debbie Downer train, I have a connective tissue disease and am in a health slump right now. I got to spend this week getting a foot x-ray after worrying that I had slipped a bone out of joint. Turns out I did and that I should have surgery to fix the side of my foot, but can’t get it repaired since I’m feeling so bad these days. Pain killers and taping are all I can do while this silly bone is floating in and out of place while I’m trying to sleep at night. Can you imagine waking up periodically like that- it’s awful.

The good news is that I have an appointment with a rheumatologist and I booked a massage for today to work on relieving the pains in my joint. I also ordered some of these (too tired to type that long name today!) because I read that many runners that struggle with knee issues take these and they help. Have you ever taken anything that has helped with your joints, particularly for arthritic issues? Have you heard of this stuff?  I’m so open to anything right now- ANYTHING. I hate feeling like I am 100.

stripes + denim jacket + nude heels + statement necklace

(anniversary outfit for tonight- shop this look!!)

Did I mention it’s our 16th anniversary today? I would say we are living in the, “in sickness,” and “for worse,” part of our wedding vows. He still loves me though and I’m thankful every day for that.

Since I’m in a mood, I thought I would share some of my favorite things for the summer. Here are 10 things I love that are worth sharing again this season!

Liner That Stays

 

 

Revlon Colorstay Eye Liner

Ever since I first started wearing make-up, I have always worn Cover Girl Eye Liner.  I have found though that in the summer, within hours it had faded or had moved under my eyes in other places.  I decided to try to find a new eyeliner to help remedy that and discovered Revlon ColorStay Eye Liner. It is the first eyeliner that I have tried that stays on until I go to bed. It goes on creamy, stays on all day, and is easy to remove with a little eye make-up remover.  I can’t recommend it enough. Perfectly lined eyes in the summer months are definitely making this girl happy!

Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs

Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs

I don’t want to brag, but when I was a kid the kids at school used to call me Casper. Well, who is laughing now, friends? This girl. Because I am TAN…on my legs… with make-up. So.

In all honesty, Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs is heaven-sent for a really white girl like me. It now comes in a liquid form instead of the aerosol. Squeeze a little on your hands and spread on your lightly moisturized (but dry) legs. Then just use your hands to spread the make-up on your legs and it all air dries in one minute. It is truly an airbrushed leg experience and, provided you blend well and pick the right shade for your own coloring, it gives a beautiful finish to your legs. It has a little shimmer to it too, but not overly noticeable.

The best part is that it is waterproof so if you are even at the beach, you will be fine. You need soap to get it off, otherwise it stays right where you put it. Since it has good staying power, one bottle usually gets me through the entire summer!

feedly

Feedly

Is it bad to be a blogger and share that you don’t read blogs? My own blog had taken over my life and I started to feel separated from my own community.  I decided to get back to blog reading and I started using Feedly as my reader. I absolutely love it and I think it has been so good to get back to blog reading again. While I eat lunch, I bookmark items to save for later that I think would fit well with our weekly notebook and I also have started bookmarking them for our Facebook community. Each day at 2:30 (eastern time), I post things to talk about. I think it has added so much more to both my life and our community and I am proud to be supporting people that make me think differently about life. We won’t always agree on these pieces, but I love the conversations that flow from these shares. It has been pretty dead over there so this is how I am working to restore that sense of community.

I can read all my blogs from my phone, my iPad, or from my computer.  Instead of scrolling endlessly through Facebook at piano lessons, for example, I am reading, learning, and bookmarking things to share with you. It’s a much better use of my time.

Although I don’t want to plug myself here, you can also subscribe to our site through Feedly. We need to change the title because it is listed under The MotherLoad, but you can find me over here.

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, 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.

Nads_Wax_Strips

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.

Don’t forget, I also found this awesome cream for those with sensitive skin. It’s AMAZING!

Clinique-Almost-Lipstick-Black-Honey

Great Summer Lips

I love a fresh summer lip and this year my new favorite is an oldie, but goodie called Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey.  If you haven’t tried this lip color it is universally flattering and beautiful and I promise does not look anything like what is in its tube. You can pick it up at your favorite Clinique counter in the department store or they have it at Sephora. I absolutely love this shade for summer and I think you will too. It goes on like a gloss and moisturizes the lip. It’s the one you will want to buy extra tubes of so you can grab it and keep in your purse so you can touch them up while you are out and about.

logitech-keyboard

Turning My iPad Into a Laptop

I used to carry around my laptop, but when I got my iPad, I knew that I wouldn’t need to carry that around with me anymore because HELLO…BROKEN BACK. How many pounds is a laptop? Ouch!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stand trying to type on the touch screen, particularly when sending lengthy emails or trying to conduct anything for my business. I found this Logitech iPad Keyboard and it has been one of the best tech investments I have ever made. It instantly turns your iPad into a mini-laptop that you can carry in your purse. The battery life lasts forever before it requires a charge with a small cord, making it perfect for me to take to my conferences. The outside of it is metal and durable, helping protect your iPad screen and it latches together magnetically, as though they weren’t meant to be together from the start.

The best part is that it holds my iPad up for me while I am laying in my hotel bed watching Parenthood episodes so that I can hold my Kleenex and cry without having to hold the screen at the same time. Can you just imagine how hard that would be?

But it is also very important for business.

Yes, for business.

Pop_Culture_Happy_Hour

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!

L'Oreal Sleek It Iron Straight Heatspray

I Finally Have Frizz-Free Locks

I have the coarsest hair and in the summer months, it frizzes up in the heat and humidity. NO ONE BELIEVES ME. I decided to document some proof for you! YOU’RE WELCOME!  :)

Monica in Jamaica

I bought this awesome L’Oreal Sleek It Iron Straight Heatspray and I finally have frizz-free locks. It was one of those things that I picked up on a whim and decided to give it a try, but had no expectations that it would work well because it was only around $5.  The first day I used it, my girlfriend asked if I had done something different with my hair. It works that good.  Although I have never been able to go three days without washing my hair, it holds for that long and does a great job straightening your hair with just a blow dryer or can be used dry with your hair straightener. I highly, highly recommend this for your arsenal of hair tools.

Love,

Monica in Jamaica

Braun Silk Epilator

Taking Care of a Hairy Situation

Have you ever tried a new beauty routine that absolutely terrified you? Let me tell you, friends, using an epilator for the first time was the scariest thing I have ever done.  I may have lead you astray in my post about a hairy friend who needed wax strips. This is probably going to shock you, but I am the person who needed them. I know.  This happiness project goes out to all my brunette friends. The ladies who struggle with an armpit shadow even after they have shaved, the ones with the coarse unmanageable leg hair, the ones who have stray chin hairs that have suddenly cropped up since they hit their 30’s, the ones who get razor burn 24/7, whose skin becomes rashy from just seeing a razor, and the girl’s whose lily-white skin tells tales of painful hair removal routines.

I am fist bumping you right now.

I bought this Braun Silk Epilator and it has a million attachments which you can use to remedy whatever your hair situation. It rips the hair out by the roots. It feels as good as it sounds. It has forty tweezers that do it at the same time and can lift hair that is as small as a grain of sand. It really can because I felt every last pull.

The first time was really excruciating because I didn’t do a lot of research beforehand. Here’s what I advise- drink a gallon of wine,  soak in the shower for five minutes, exfoliate well with a loofah, shave so you aren’t grabbing long hairs out, hold it at a ninety degree angle right up close in the shower under the water,  and go all out with the highest setting. The legs are not terrible and the bikini line was a piece of cake since I wax.

The underarms…I almost passed out.  Probably the worst beauty pain of my life.

Now that I am over the first three times of doing it, I love it and am addicted.

Probably the same way people are addicted to tattoos.

It’s kind of sick, really.

I absolutely love how my legs and underarms look. My face is fuzz free.

I am living the blonde girl dream life!

around-the-house-6

(around our house- bucky)

Reading: Rare Objects and it is incredible! I had no idea she had another book out. I loved this book from her so much that diving into her words again has been such a treat! I love a good historical fiction escape and this one is delivering.

capsule-outfit-ideas

(follow my new account!!)

Enjoying: The creativity of putting my outfits together for my new Instagram account. I made a commitment that whatever I lay out for you, I must wear. I promise you, I’m really wearing this stuff. Not only is it good for my creativity, but it helps me feel good to feel put together and to get dressed each day. I’m also getting familiar with Like to Know which can send you an email about each outfit and ideas for replicating it. I have fun putting those together each day.

Sharing:  For my fellow Sweet Valley High friends, enjoy this imagined life for Elizabeth & Jessica when they are 40. Made my day!

Laughing: Since I’ve been down in the dumps, this could not have been timed more perfectly. No bad language and so hilarious that I bet your kids will be busting up too. I had tears rolling down my face watching this. Her laughter is contagious.

 

Happy Friday, 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: Perfect Stripes, Cooling Creams, & a Little Red

Friday, May 13th, 2016

Recital Day

If this picture doesn’t say happiness, I don’t know what does! Our daughter performed in her recital this past weekend and we were so proud of her.  This was her first year trying modern dance and the joy I see in her is inexplicable. She admitted to us, after her performance, that she was supposed to have a serious face during her modern routine. If you saw her on stage though, it’s like the happy was just bursting out of her little face. I looked over at my husband and we both had the goofiest grins while she danced- it was contagious. I’m so happy she has found something she loves that much!

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

Stripes + Mustard Accessories + Driving Loafers

(follow my capsule wardrobe on IGperfect stripes/yellow belt, j. crew/shoes (similar)/jewels (goodwill!!)/jeans)

The Perfect Stripes (FINALLY!)

I had this perfect striped shirt that was just perfectly perfect that I got for Goodwill for $2.50 and I wore it until the little threads began to separate and it became a muddy color from so many washes. A few items that I had ordered for my capsule (two striped dresses & a jacket from thredup & this baby right here!)  trickled in and I’m not denying myself the pleasure of wearing them because I forgot to announce their arrival in my capsule wardrobe (ahem!).

I have been on the hunt for the perfect replacement shirt, I have tried on a million at the mall, I ordered four from thredup over the year (no joke!) and I couldn’t find THE ONE. Well, friends, this is it. It is 3/4 length sleeves, light in weight (for spring, summer, & fall), & the price is awesome too for this frugal shopper.  I would recommend sizing one down (this one pictured is an XXS and not tight at all!) for the perfect fit on the PERFECT shirt. I promise! I’m the one wearing it with the goofy grin at the top of this photo. I paired it with these amazing pants that never wrinkle ever. Perfect.

Also, how many times can I say perfect?

Noted.

doTerra Deep Blue Rub Cream Review

A Tool for Chronic Pain Management

Chronic pain is the worst! I want to openly admit that I am working on better pain management strategies. Pain pills and a heavy pour of wine are not ideal solutions for pain management in the evening hours even though they sounded like it (NOT!). I may have been in a bit of a slump.

This month I have started some new routines to help with the pain in my joints in the evening hours. I started taking a hot yoga class that is offered in the evening, soaking in the tub at night with these salts (with a good book on the ol’ book bath tray, of course!), and using this Deep Blue Rub cream on the sore spots before collapsing in bed. Way better, right?

I am one of those people that is a disbeliever when it comes to the oils craze (don’t throw rotten tomatoes please!). When I shared about the awful pain my joints my girlfriend sent me some samples of this cream and I fell absolutely in love with it and the relief it provided (thank you, Shawnda!). Then I came out in the afternoon one day and another girlfriend had left a tube of it on my doorstep as a gift because it had helped her mom so much with her arthritis (thank you, Andy!).

I don’t know what voodoo magic is in this tube, but it really has helped a lot with providing a little pain relief and it smells way better than the heavy-duty stuff I had been using that made my eyes water! It’s pricier than the stuff at the drugstore, but I’m finding just a little goes a long way. I wish it never wore off, but the moments of relief it provides have helped me a lot! Between these new routines and my favorite heated throw, I’m finding that I feel a lot better than my old pathetic “poor me” routines.

Salt Water Sandals in Red

A Great Birkenstock Alternative

I could never really get into the Birkenstock craze, but I can embrace a good comfortable sandal. ModCloth ran a flash sale on Salt Water Sandals and I decided to take the plunge this year since I have been coveting them forever. Of course, I got red, because RED. Have you heard of these shoes?

Fun fact, Saltwater sandals actually originated in the early 1940s as an alternative to traditional children’s leather sandals as a way to cope with leather shortages in World War II. The sandals were made primarily from scrap leather left over from making men’s shoes. More recently they expanded the line for Women so now you can enjoy these adorable shoes too.

Here is what I will say! These are ideal for those of us with WIDE feet. When you receive them the packaging shows how to fit your Salt Water Sandals for your giantly wide foot. You can stretch the leather out on the sides for an ideal fit and even bend the base of your shoe to mold around your feet. They are SO comfortable and I think a little more feminine than a Birkenstock for the summer. I had a hard time choosing between the Red & Tan, but I love a good red shoe so that’s what I went with.

I loved them so much that I ended up finding a good deal for my daughter this summer too in a pretty baby pink.

Around Our House

(oh, happy day print/yellow chair- they stack for small spaces!!)

Reading: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys and I just can’t put it down. Thanks to my amazing readers for recommending this one!  If you love historical fiction as much as I do, you won’t want to miss this incredible read. I’m on a huge reading frenzy right now for our SWW series so LOTS of great stuff coming up!!

Eating: These gluten-free pancakes are becoming a weekly favorite again. I love an easy weeknight meal that the kids can enjoy in the mornings too!

Sharing:  It is Ehlers Danlos Awareness Month and that’s what I have! Read about what it’s actually liking living with an illness or disability from these heroic people. Thrilled to see that EDS was shared here!

Laughing:  Alanis Morissette updates her lyrics to Ironic and it is hilarious! No bad language so you are good to watch without headphones!

Watching: Big Love- my girlfriend recommended this series to me and I’m LOVING it. I also love coming to the Big Love party a little late so I can binge on several episodes at a time. Have you seen it? I had no idea Tom Hanks produced this series!

Happy Friday, friends!

*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: Coffee Pot of My Dreams, Glam For a Night, & Sensitive Skin Relief

Friday, May 6th, 2016

Spring throw pillows

It is so good to be home and with my people again. I had a blast at Mom 2.0, saw so many amazing friends, ate way too much good food, and indulged in a lot of wine (*ahem*). My husband also gave me the best Mother’s Day gift ever which was upgrading me to a first class seat. I had so much room for my awful knees, ate a good lunch, and got in some quality reading time. It was the best gift ever and I am incredibly thankful.  What are your plans this Mother’s Day weekend?

This week was a busy one on the site! SO MUCH GOOD STUFF! Get my must-reads list for this month (7 books picked just for you!!), find out about the fashion course I am taking and loving, make some funny faces with your kiddos,  and see what our community is reading right now.

GIVE ME ALL THE BOOKS.

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

hamilton-beach-12-cup-brew-station

World’s Best Drip Coffee

We have hard water so I am constantly fighting that problem on our appliances and the hard water build-up on the glass items in our home. After many bad inexplicable batches of coffee, we realized something was wrong with our coffeemaker. I went online and decided to research our next best option  and came across this Hamilton Beach BrewStation. It was half the price of most drip coffee makers, had INCREDIBLE reviews, and didn’t have a dirty looking carafe to deal with. You see that little bar on the back? You lean your mug on it and the coffee comes out like you are dispensing at the 7-11 or something.

It is so easy to program and brew and the smart design couldn’t be better. Your coffee brews inside the machine and offers the option of holding your coffee at the warm temperature for up to four hours. I can program it still for my mornings and just slide my giant cup under there to load up with my morning book.

No fancy mugs necessary, no cleaning a glass carafe, and with the purchase of a reusable coffee filter, this coffee couldn’t be better or more affordable. I had doubts that anything this cheap would be that great…I was wrong.

If you are in the market, this is my latest obsession for coffee!

Rent the Runway

(dress- Rent the Runway Dress,  shoes- comfy dexflex nude pumps, similar match)

My First Rent the Runway Purchase

They had the IRIS awards ceremony at my conference. It was such an honor to be nominated for Best Personal Blog after 12 years of writing. I didn’t want to wear the same old dress or waste precious space in my closet so I decided to give Rent the Runway a spin. Have you heard of it?

Basically, you can rent clothing, fancy dresses, and accessories for a fraction of the price. They send it all in a cloth bag with a return address label tucked inside and you return it within the designated time.

When I posted about it, people told me that they sometimes use it for their family photos. GENIUS! I am thinking this might be a fun investment for headshots as a business owner too. I am also thinking events like high school reunions, charity galas, weddings, and work trips might be worthy of a rental. Did you know that they even offer a monthly wardrobe service? It’s a little out of my price range, but I know many people spend more than that shopping each month.

If you haven’t tried Rent the Runway before, here is $20 towards your first purchase! If you have and love this dress, here is a link! It ran a little small and I am wearing a size zero (5’2, 106 pounds for reference!), but it felt more like a double zero. I would recommend this one for notsobusty girls.

Gigi Hair Removal Cream

Facial Hair Removal Cream (I don’t have any. I tested it for you. You’re welcome.)

Just in case you thought I was TOO glamourous in the last picture, I tested out a hair removal cream for people with sensitive skin and it is AH-MAZING! Being fair and reactive to everything, there is nothing a welted upper lip to let your hubby know what you have been up to in the bathroom for the last half hour. Especially, when said lip is welted for hours on end. THE SHAME!

Well, I finally found a hair removal cream that doesn’t hurt, didn’t make my skin red, and is more effective than the Sally Hansen stuff. Meet your new best friend- Gigi Hair Removal Cream. This stuff is amazing and works in five minutes. It causes no skin reddening or reaction (on me- test at your own risk!)  and costs just $4.50. I bought it on Amazon and it is the best hair removal cream I have ever used. A little goes a long way. Can’t wait to hear what you think of this stuff!

Teacher Appreciation Gift Idea

 

Reading: A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold. It is heartbreaking, raw, and open about her son and his struggle with mental illness as she recounts his involvement in the Columbine shooting.  Within the first chapter it was a book I would recommend to any parent- the awareness she brings is important. We are reading it this month for our MomAdvice Book Club. Feel free to join us!

Eating: Lemon Paprika Chicken & Veggies Sheet Meal on repeat this week. I am double batching it since my daughter’s dance rehearsal & recital is this weekend. I can’t wait to see my tiny dancer perform!

Enjoying: This thoughtful piece on aging and why Botox can be a gateway drug to elective procedures. So much of what she said echoes what is on my own heart as I grow older.

Appreciating: Our teachers this week! It’s never too late to say thank you! Here is a sweet & simple idea we did this year!

Pretending: To be a fashion blogger. See what I’m up to in my capsule by following me here! xoxo

Happy Friday, friends!

 *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: Spiced Tea, Music With History, & a New Family Member

Friday, April 29th, 2016

It's the 3 Little Things

I am so thrilled we have another fun guest post today from one of my longtime readers, Renee! I had to email her to tell her to share more about her favorites because I actually own none of these! Don’t you love discovering new things?  I love when I find a new favorite thing right along with you! Thank you, Renee, for making my wish list a little longer this week.

Here’s a few of Renee’s favorite things today!

Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea

Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea

I fell in love with Harney and Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea when I tried (and miserably failed) to give up coffee.  Even though I still love my cup of joe, I adore this tea.  It is so warm and comforting and smells divine. Every time I have a cup at work, people comment on how good it smells.  My administrative assistant has even started stocking it in the teacher’s lounge for my faculty.  It may seem like a winter drink, but I will drink it year round.  I get mine on Amazon.

Hamilton Soundtrack Free on Prime

Hamilton Soundtrack

I taught US History for 19 years before becoming a HS Principal.  One of my favorite history fellas to teach about was Alexander Hamilton.  He was an unstoppable force and now the musical about his life is impossible to see because it’s sold out for the foreseeable future.  Thanks to the awesome Amazon Prime, I have the Hamilton soundtrack to try to memorize (so many words!!!!!!).  Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius!  What I wouldn’t give to see the musical… I guess I’ll be reading the 1000 page book soon that inspired Miranda to write the musical.

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

My whole family has fallen in love with the Amazon Echo.  A total luxury item, but Alexa has become a member of the family.  She’s especially good at playing the Hamilton soundtrack while I “dance-clean” the house.  I’ve never felt more organized because of Alexa’s voice activated lists and handy app.  She even reads my Kindle books to me while I cook.  My son loves to ask Alexa to tell him jokes and I get my news updates from Alexa while having my morning coffee.  Alexa is a great addition to our household.

This Week I’m…

ethan

Reading: Don’t You Cry, by Mary Kubica. I always love her thrillers! I can’t wait to read another one of her incredible books on my flight to California this week!

Eating: Far too many s’mores after discovering gluten-free graham crackers. We also are grilling up some of these easy chicken tenders for busy weeknights!

Playing: Loads of Exploding Kittens. A sleepover for his sister led to a lovely night with our teen boy. I am just documenting that he wanted to hang out with us (a rarity when you are that cool!)

Staining: My picnic table for another round of summer gatherings. I am thrilled with this deep rich stain I picked this year (leftover stain from this DIY project. Cost this year? ZERO!)

Drinking: Hopefully load of mojitos poolside with my blogging bestie, Kelly from Redefined Mom at our “work conference” (ahem!). If you can’t be poolside with me, check out this easy DIY mojito recipe!

Happy Friday, friends!

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

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It’s the Three Little Things: Colors of the Rainbow, A Blast Into the Past, and Protein Bars

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

It's the 3 Little Things

Oh, I love it when we have a guest post for our 3 Little Things list. You guys always have the best stuff to share and it is so great to get a little variation to our happy list. Today Lori joins us from Wool Gathering Designs to share a few of the things that make her so happy! Thank you, Lori!!

Paper Mate Flair Pens

Colors of the Rainbow

When my third grader came home begging me to buy him a set of colored pens, I fell in love with him all over again! I am a die hard lover of all things office supply and am excited he is starting to get as giddy about them as I do!  The writing utensils the third graders were raving over are Paper Mate’s Flair Pens.  They come in a million colors and are a great, no bleed felt tip pen.  I found the best selection and price at our local Sam’s Club, and he was able to purchase them with a gift card from his birthday.
(Admission: I bought a set for me too!)

A Blast Into the Past

I have been a hard core Stephen King fan since high school, when I picked up my first book in emulation of my dad.  It’s been quite a few years since I’ve read SK, but I have not been disappointed at all so far with 11/22/63! It’s a true to form mix of SK writing and themes, tied into one of the biggest “watershed moments” in US history.

I have always been intrigued by the conspiracies surrounding JFK’s assassination, and it is fun to indulge in this historical fiction.  I’ve stayed up way too late, many a night turning pages.  I’m a bit behind on the 11/22/63 hoopla, and just realized that there is an eight part 11/22/63 mini series on Hulu! I know what’s in the queue when I close that back cover!

Zbar-Protein-Bars

Protein Bars

In January, I hired a personal trainer and began weight lifting and eating better, to try to lose the few pounds that I couldn’t shake on my own.  One of the things she advocates is a good balance of daily “macros”, which include protein, fat and carbohydrates.  As I began better balancing my own diet, I realized that my kids’ diet wasn’t as balanced either.  We were all low on protein.
Then I ran across the Clif Kid ZBAR Protein.  They come in three yummy flavors and have 5 grams of protein in each bar.  What really gets me about these protein bars is that they don’t have a lot of sugar in them (9g). A lot of time bars like this are loaded up with sugar; the “non-kid” Clif Builder’s Protein Bar has 22g of sugar!  My kids inhale them, and I have no problem getting them to take these bars as a school or after sports snack! Plus, I know it is doing them good.

This week I’m…

Reading: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum.  I was such a big fan of her first two books, After You The Opposite of Loveand then I haven’t read anything of her’s for years. I am so excited she just released her debut YA novel. I am already loving it and happy to be reading her words again.

Eating: Roasted Turkey Sandwiches- these are still such a big favorite over at our house! ALDI still is selling my favorite turkey breasts in the frozen section of their store!

Watching: Enjoy these 73 questions with Taylor Swift. #bigfan

Excited:  About this book coming to life- doesn’t this trailer look SO GOOD?

Happy Friday, friends!

 *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: Perfect Petite T-Shirt, Laughs, & More Laughs

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Ramona Books

What a special week to know that one of my favorite childhood author’s turned 100! Happy birthday to Beverly Cleary.  If you haven’t dug into the Ramona books with your little girl, it is one of those moments you will always treasure. There were a lot of articles about Beverly Cleary this week, but my favorite was this interview. You can just tell she’s still got that wonderful sense of humor.

Hey, if you have a moment, I’d love to invite you to Like Us On Facebook. I have a little personal goal to see that grow to 20,000 this year so I am working really hard to keep it fresh and funny for you. I would be honored for you to be a part of that! 

audible

A Happy For YOU (and me!)

I was SO excited to see that Audible is giving THREE months FREE this month instead of their normal 30-day trial membership. It gives you one audiobook a month and I am totally cashing in on this freebie. I hope this makes YOU as happy as it makes ME!!

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

Petite Dolman T-Shirt

(sources: black t-shirt, black leggings, necklace, & booties)

Perfect Petite Girl Dolman Top

I am working on showing off my spring/summer wardrobe for my next capsule wardrobe. I am keeping the wardrobe almost all gently used (thanks thredUP!), but one thing I needed was a white & black t-shirt. Those were two of the things I thought might be worth investing in since I tend to wear those the most in the summer.

I am IN LOVE with the oversized t-shirt styles, but I am petite (short and small framed) so oversized tees can quickly gravitate towards the nightgown look on me. The boxy style never seems to work out for me, but this week I found THE loose t-shirt that doesn’t look all wrinkly, can be dressed up or down, can be worn with leggings since it is just a little longer in the back, and it was on sale! Yay!

FYI, this is the XS. I could have sized down, but I really wanted the looser fit. It’s a little sheer so I have a cami underneath! It looks almost like linen in the front with a great draping and t-shirt feel on the back.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

My Favorite Show is Back

Today is THE DAY that I have been waiting for because the second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt begins and I am going to do all I can to really settle into a Netflix binge with my hubby for this next season. If you haven’t watched it, you must! As a good old-fashioned Midwestern girl, I can relate to a girl like Kimmy and her adventures in New York.

This awesome show is a Tina Fey-produced comedy featuring a young woman who’s trying to build a life for herself in New York City after escaping a doomsday cult.

Based on this description alone, you should watch it.

This is one of those shows that makes me laugh until I cry (repeatedly!).

Are you adding season 2 to your agenda too?

lol

Photoshopped Book Covers- One Big LOL

ADULT humor, friends, adult humor. Or not.  Kind of childish, but adult language. These photoshopped book covers are absolutely hilarious. Is it sad that this caption reminds me of my first kiss? It was pretty awful.

Look at these and have a good laugh without your kids. The Taco Bell title and the Exploding Sun are two of my favorites!

This week I’m…

The Nest

Reading: The Nesand so far I’m really enjoying it. In a way it reminds me of Jonathan Tropper’s, This is Where I Leave YouThis one has received a lot of mixed reviews. I am hoping it is a 5-star rating for me. Have you read it?

Eating: Surprising my kids with a Shrimp Boil tonight. It’s finally beautiful in Indiana and I look forward to their favorite feast on a gorgeous day.

Watching: Tiny House Hunters & Tiny House Builders came to Netflix. There are only a few episodes of each. Is it because they only had a few because only that many people would do that or was it a really short season? Let me know, HGTV subscribers! Regardless, I am dreaming of a tiny house again!

Laughing: These brothers are awful. And funny. Another crying laugh (no adult language- it’s one you can laugh at with your kids!)

Happy Friday, friends!

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