DIY Airheads Crown Cake Topper

November 17th, 2015

DIY Airheads Crown Cake Topper from

This post is sponsored by Airheads. Thank you for supporting the companies that support us! 

Are you a skilled decorator of cakes? I wish I was, but I am not!  I have never been good with fondant decorating and have always found the flavor lacking. Thankfully, there is a delicious substitute lurking in the candy aisle that you can mold & shape into whatever your heart’s desire is. Did you know Airheads candy can add that decorative touch to your cake decorating in just a few easy steps?

Today’s tutorial shows you how to transform Airheads into the perfect crown cake topper in just 5 easy steps. Wouldn’t this be a great princess cake? The best part is that, unlike fondant, it tastes sweet and delicious and will be a crown worth fighting for when those slices are dished up. For those with food allergies, it is also peanut and gluten-free! Yay!

DIY Airheads Crown Cake Topper from

Supplies Needed:

Airheads (I used Blue Raspberry, Cherry, & White Mystery for my crown)

Mini cookie cutters- metal or plastic, I used a heart with a jagged edging

Parchment Paper

Fondant Roller

Cake (we picked ours up in the bakery section of our supermarket)

DIY Airheads Crown Cake Topper from


  1. Pull out 3 cherry Airheads and line them up in one long line, slightly overlapping the edges. Place these between two sheets of parchment paper and roll with a fondant roller to smooth out your seams. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect because we will be adding a dot detail to camouflage any flaws on the crown. Set aside.

DIY Airheads Crown Cake Topper from

  1. Microwave a white mystery Airheads for 3-5 seconds and then roll them out between two sheets of parchment paper. Using a mini heart shaped cookie cutter, press the cookie cutter firmly into the white mystery Airheads and pull up. Push the heart shape out gently and then place it upside down (with your heart tip pointing up) to create your crown points. Do this all the way around, layering one heart between two hearts as pictured. Feel free to microwave and re-roll the Airheads to get as many hearts as you can out of each one.  Press these firmly into the crown and continue layering until you get to the end.

DIY Airheads Crown Cake Topper from

  1. Bring one end of the crown, to the other to create your shape. Using your fingers, gently rub the seam in a bit to create a smooth finish. Set your crown aside.

DIY Airheads Crown Cake Topper from

  1. Grab your Blue Raspberry Airheads and pull off small sections of the candy and roll between your hands until you have created a dot shape. Take the dot and press firmly into the crown, spacing it as evenly as possible to add a decorative detail to finish.

DIY Airheads Crown Cake Topper from


  1. Place the crown in the refrigerator until it is time for your cake so it can harden up a bit and to help it keep its shape. Once it is cake time, remove from the fridge and rest it on the top of your cake. How easy is that?


DIY Airheads Crown Cake Topper from


DIY Airheads Crown Cake Topper from

 For more fun ideas on how to craft with Airheads visit and follow them on Pinterest. To learn more about Airheads candy visit their website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!

This post is sponsored by Airheads. Thank you for supporting the companies that support us! 

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Teaching Kids About Giving & Gratitude

November 17th, 2015

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

Teaching Kids about Giving & Gratitude

My daughter has always been annoyingly observant. This means, first of all, that you cannot have “for grown-up ears only” conversations around her, make promises (or threats) you don’t intend to keep, or expect her to simply forget about the slightly traumatizing or embarrassing event from last week. (I know. Typical, right?) But it also means that as a two-year-old, she recognized the insanity of the suburban grocery store situation.

One day after picking her up from the babysitter, I said, “Okay, Annalyn, we’re going to go to the store now.” As we drove down the highway, she asked, “What store?” and I answered, “HyVee.”

All was well – until we pulled into the parking lot and started walking toward the store. Toddling along, holding my hand, she looked up and shouted, “NO! No, Mommy! This is the wrong HyVee!

She was just two years old, but already she was realizing that in this suburban setting, we can find a grocery store on just about every corner.

Of course, as she was also learning, not all grocery stores are created equal. For example, the big box store where we usually buy groceries is a smaller version of the big box store a few more miles down the road. When it was first converted to a superstore with groceries, I was super excited. Driving fewer miles to buy groceries was a definite plus, but I was also relieved to shop in a store slightly smaller than the Atlanta airport.

Until I couldn’t find the right peanut butter. Or deodorant. Or soy milk.

See, it turns out that we traded miles of walking for a smaller selection. That makes sense, of course, and isn’t the end of the world by any measure. But you wouldn’t have known that from my initial reaction. “What the heck? How could they have all these other salsas but not the one I want? What is wrong with this store? Stupid store.”

Talk about first-world problems! And…talk about setting a bad example!

We live in a small house in an old, deteriorating neighborhood. Nearly every room in our home is broken in some way, and my car drives like it’s one gear shift away from a failed transmission. Every holiday, date night, birthday party and new outfit stresses out my budget and me. And we carry a much higher balance on our credit card than I like to admit. However, by the standards of a huge majority of people in this world, we are wealthy. Not just comfortable, but rich.

How, then, do I teach my daughters a healthy perspective on all our blessings, as well as a grateful and giving heart?

We do it by talking about having a grateful heart, reading stories about thankfulness and sharing, praying before meals and thanking God for all He’s given us every night before bed. We send thank you notes for gifts, and when it’s appropriate, I point out how much more we have than others – and how that means we must share with others. (Okay, fine, sometimes it’s more frustration than an appropriate teachable moment. But can you blame me, when I hear the words, “Is that all?” for the umpteenth time in one back-to-school shopping trip?)

But we also fight the occasional case of the gimmes (often prompted by the arrival of an American Girl catalog…SIGH…!) by giving our time and resources to help others. The holidays bring up lots of opportunities to help others in a special way, but giving back is something we can do in our own lives, in every season:

We can make meals and deliver them.
We can order pizza or pick up chicken and deliver it.
We can send a thank you note.
We can send a gift card or a gas card.
We can proofread her resume – and explain LinkedIn.
We can take baby clothes to a friend.
We can pick up a Sonic slush on the way.
We can keep extra gloves and granola bars in the car for those in need.
We can sit and visit and listen and laugh (and maybe cry, too).
We can pack up the kitchen and the boxes and the truck.
We can unpack the truck and the boxes and the kitchen.
We can order another pizza or fill up her freezer.

Helping friends in a real, tangible way is important to me. And just as important is teaching my girls that this is what we do. We don’t just talk about it or feel bad about it; we don’t just toss out platitudes or empty promises. When we hear about a lost job, a scary diagnosis, another round of the flu, a last-minute move, a no-good, very bad, terrible day, we can do something. We can help. We can give out of our abundance; we can love.

And somehow, between a not-quite-daily gratitude journal and sponsored kids and thank you notes and meals dropped off for a sick friend, my girls seem to be learning a little bit about giving and gratitude. At least until they find the next overpriced toy catalog in the catalog…

How do you teach your kids about giving and gratitude?

Photo source

It’s the 3 Little Things: Electric Kettles, Taco Tuesday, & Fresh Eyes

November 13th, 2015

It's the 3 Little Things

I hope you guys are having another wonderful week! I hopped on a plane yesterday to head to Asheville, NC for a Type-A Parent Super Summit. Do we have any readers from that area? If so, let me know what to catch in your town! I’m rooming with Kelly from Centsible Life  and looking forward to making lots of memories with my friends while hopefully learning how to manage this business better for you. After almost 12 years writing online, this old dog could use a few new tricks!


Before I get started with the happy, I know that this is the season where we are selecting names from trees and giving gifts to those in need. The dollar limit on the names I gathered was $20 for each child. The items listed? A warm coat, shoes, pants, and shirts. How can I deny these kids good coats?  $20 wasn’t going to go very far so I actually checked thredUP for my kids this year and I got BEAUTIFUL coats and adorable tops for the amount that I was allowed to spend. If you prefer new items, you can click under Condition and select that option. I opted for barely used so I could get more for my money. If you use this link, it will give you $20 to spend on your first order- that’s about all you would need to help one kid. Consider grabbing an extra name and giving a gift to a child in need this year! I can’t wait to wrap up these beautiful Gymboree coats I scored!

Let’s get to this week’s happy!

Aroma Digital Electric Kettle

Aroma Electric Kettle

We are already almost through our first batch of diy hot cocoa mix  for the season. This electric kettle was gifted to me by Celestial Seasonings last year when I visited their headquarters. I honestly had never really considered an electric kettle before and had always been content with the good old-fashioned variety. This kettle is incredible though and makes the hottest water ever in about two seconds. I can see my kids running up to the door, put the kettle on, and have a cup in their hand in a matter of minutes. You can have the water keep warm so when one kid gets off their bus they have cocoa and an hour later, the other kid has a hot mug too.

really loved this on the world’s most miserable weather day (Halloween) and made myself a tall mug of cocoa after being the world’s best mom and visiting every house in the neighborhood.

Like I said, who knew an electric kettle was so awesome? It’s definitely bringing the happy in our house!

Spotify Dinner Music

Taco Tuesday (And Other Great Themes)

One monthly membership we splurge on is our Spotify membership. You don’t have to have pay for a membership to enjoy it, but you do have to endure the advertisements (which I didn’t love during our family meals). Regardless of the type of membership you have, I really love to listen to all of the different stations they have assembled for you for every mood you are in. We started taking advantage of all of their Dinner stations to go with our dinners and the kids absolutely love it. For Italian dining, we enjoyed our Italian station, for taco night the Taco Tuesday station was just perfect, and Sundays including A Soothing Supper (it’s good for the soul!).

As a kid, music was very important to my Dad and to me. I played the violin, sang in the choir, and did musical theater so music was such a big part of my life growing up. On occasion my Dad would find a composer or a music that would go along with the theme of the meal. I remember those as such special meals and I really want the kids to have that too.

As I prepared Taco Tuesday on Monday (hey, you can’t have everything!) my daughter came in from her dance classes with my husband and heard the music. In her leotard she started dancing around our kitchen while I made the tacos and it made my heart happy. Music is everything and I love how a little themed dinner music can make our family meals more special.

Yes to Cucumbers Eye Makeup Remover Pads

Eye Makeup Remover Pads That Really Work

I’m still sampling lots of offerings from ePantry for our feature here and I decided to give these Yes to Cucumbers Eye Makeup Remover Pads a spin. I absolutely hate removing eye makeup and my eyes flare up with everything. Waterproof makeup is a real struggle to get off and I usually end up with swollen and achy eyes. These didn’t look like they had a lot of product on them so I was doubtful that they would do a good job. After a night out with particularly gooped up eyes, I gave these a shot and they work like a DREAM! My eye makeup came off with minimal rubbing and my eyes didn’t feel awful after I took the makeup off. These worked even better than my old trick of using baby oil. You must try them- they are so good!  This link should give you $20 to spend if you want to give the ePantry thing a try, otherwise I am sure you can find them wherever you shop for your toiletries!

That’s all the happy for this week! If you want to follow me eating my way through Asheville in my stretchiest of pants, you can catch me on Instagram this weekend!

Happy 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

Now it’s your turn! What’s making you happy this week?

How to Cable: Knitted Ear Warmers For Those In Need

November 12th, 2015

How to Cable: Free Knitted Ear Warmers Pattern from

As a knitter, I am often intimidated by things that look too complex. I find myself gravitating towards things that I think will be easier and not even considering things that I think will take me out of my knitting comfort zone. Cabling was one of those things for many years. It looked far too complex and I can barely handle the basics of knitting. Here’s the thing. It is truly one of the easiest things you can do in knitting especially when you know a few of my favorite tricks for cabling quickly. Today I want to show you how to cable and how this project can benefit someone in need.

How to Cable: Free Knitted Ear Warmers Pattern from

This is the time of the year where the homeless and those in need really need us. When the temperatures drop and you are in that cold-in-your-bones zone, you are welcomed by the warmth of your home, maybe a fire, and a hot drink to settle in with when you arrive home. What if you had nowhere to escape?  Worse yet, imagine you were out in the cold without the warmth of a hat, gloves, or a scarf.  Let’s think also of the children whose family can’t afford these simple luxuries of warmth.

You can’t knit a hat? I get it! Those double-pointed needles are a pain in the rear, aren’t they? That is why I thought a simple knitted headband would be a great option for gift-giving and for a quick gift to share with those in need. In fact, I highly recommend knitting a few of these for your homeless care packages to keep in your car.

How to Cable: Free Knitted Ear Warmers Pattern from

Supplies Needed

Any Bulky Yarn (My top preferences for this project are the Lion Brand Hometown USA & Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick)

US 11 Bamboo Needles

US 10 Double-Pointed Needles (you just need one!)

Optional: Stitch Counter (to help you stay on pattern)

How to Cable: Free Knitted Ear Warmers Pattern from

(video below)

Trying to show you how to cable in a picture tutorial was a little impossible so today so I thought I would do a video. I am so terrible at videos so please forgive me. I’m off to a conference this week where I am hoping to learn more about doing these better for you all- it’s one of those work challenges I need to learn to tackle. I know how helpful it can be to show these techniques in a video.  Scroll to the end of this post to watch!

This cable is called a Shadow cable. In this pattern, we will be bringing three stitches in front with our double-pointed needle and three stitches cabled later behind our work. This cabling adds a double layer of warmth in this pattern and  I’d love for you to scroll down to the bottom so that you can see how I do this.

How to Cable: Free Knitted Ear Warmers Pattern from

Cable needles look like this and I have a ton of them. I hate them. I usually lose my stitches and I find it difficult to transfer stitches especially when it comes to bulky yarn. You can certainly buy them (this is my favorite type), but I recommend just doing a double-pointed needle one size down from the work to grab your stitches. I am a big fan of bamboo because they grip the yarn so well especially when moving stitches around. It’s the only type of needles I knit with!

How to Cable: Free Knitted Ear Warmers Pattern from

How to Cable: Free Knitted Ear Warmers Pattern from

Not only are these quick to knit (they shouldn’t take you more than two hours!), but I think they look pretty fashionable too. For gals with long hair, ear warmers are a dream for keeping your locks in place. For ponytail days,  you can just pull your hair through and still have warm ears.

I gave them a test run on the most miserable weather day which is ALWAYS, ALWAYS Halloween. My husband was freezing, but I was delightfully warm thanks to these cozy ear warmers. The cabling really adds a double warmth to them. For particularly rotten Indiana days (I know they are coming), you can layer this under your hat for extra ear protection.

How to Cable: Free Knitted Ear Warmers Pattern from

How to Cable: Free Knitted Ear Warmers Pattern from

How to Cable: Free Knitted Ear Warmers Pattern from

Can you just imagine the warmth you can give this season to someone in need? This little project is fast to memorize and easy to execute with a good audiobook (can I recommend our books section to you?) or with a great big Netflix binge (I’m sure you can find loads of recommendations on my 3 Little Things list).

Thank you to Nancy Ricci for sharing her beautiful Vanessa Headband Pattern for free with the Ravelry community- I am so honored to share her pattern with you today!

Free Pattern Download HERE: Vanessa Headband Pattern by Nancy Ricci

Check out my video below to see just how easy it is to cable with your double-pointed needle! Visit our Knitting section for more great ideas and be sure to friend me on Ravelry! You can also pick up my beautiful knitted boot cuff kit in stores RIGHT NOW!  Happy knitting!

*This post contains affiliate links! I only recommend what I truly love though! xo
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Amy’s Notebook 11.11.15

November 11th, 2015

Leftover labels via Oh Happy Day

Source: Oh Happy Day


Printable leftover labels- how great are these?

See the strategies and habits highly successful people use to make the most of their time.

Easiest pillow covers ever.

The key to simplifying your digital life.

A KonMari overhaul- impressive!

White chicken chili looks like a great one to add to the menu planner.

Simple wool candle holders- beautiful!

Outdoor space via The Nester

Source: The Nesting Place


Swooning over this outdoor space.

DIY toilet paper roll Christmas calendar – genius!

3 ways to spice up fall basics.

Listen to this piece on John Irving (or read the transcript)- I am in amazement!

10 simple strategies for saving money on food.

Awkward tweets alert- genuine LOL’s in this one!

Where the children sleep- this breaks my heart.

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


Cozy Up Your Holiday Bedding

November 11th, 2015

Cozy Up Your Holiday Bedding with

This post is sponsored on behalf of BHG at Walmart.

I just love the holidays and one of the things I love to do for the holidays is cozy up our bedding for the cooler months. I am partnering up with the BHG Live Better Network to show you some incredible bedding offerings that you can find at your local Walmart store when entertaining holiday guests.

Cozy Up Your Holiday Bedding with

Can I be honest with you and say that this is one of those purchases that snowballed? I purchased this beautiful Better Homes and Gardens Velvet Plush Reverse to Sherpa Bedding Comforter for our bed and two things ended up happening as a result of this purchase.

1. I could not get out of bed. The womb-like environment of sherpa and velvet has been incredibly awful to leave and I have found myself unmotivated to do anything except lay in this bed with a good book. My family can’t find me and they know…they just know that I am in this bed and not doing what I should be doing around the house.

2. I could not remove the children from my bed. They began to resent me and the coziness that I had and so they would join me in my bed (that I could not rise from) and so I never got any time alone to be lazy anymore.

As a treat for their report cards, I treated them (and myself, frankly!) to two more of these sherpa comforters and now we have them on every bed of our house. Let me repeat, we love them so much that every bed in our house now has them. If that is not a testament to our love, I don’t know what is.

Cozy Up Your Holiday Bedding with

I hate to be hot, in fact, I can’t stand it one bit so I debated if these would be a smart investment or not especially since our bedrooms tend to be the warmest in the house. Despite, the warmth of the sherpa, they are surprisingly lightweight and, in fact, are much lighter in weight than our previous comforter. I love that if you get tired of the pattern on one side, you can flip it and show the other side instead, creating an Anthro-feel with that ivory sherpa turned out.

I paired this plaid sherpa comforter with these quilted shams and two faux leather pillows. Last season’s minky blanket is still a big favorite. We also added two more in the Fog color to the rest of the beds and I love the sherpa stripe on them for a little added detail.

Cozy Up Your Holiday Bedding with

Although there are many great things about having me as a wife, one of the pitfalls is constantly feeling like someone in yarn bombing you. I decided to pull up my DIY Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland for the holidays and I still have my DIY Yarn-Wrapped Letters spelling LOVE over our bed. I found these adorable yarn trees on Walmart too and loved their affordable $6 price tag to nestle on top of our nightstands.

I hope these ideas inspire you and RUN, RUN, RUN to your store or online to get these sherpa comforters. As a disclaimer, I cannot be responsible for children piling up in your bed or a loss in productivity- ha!

To help your guest feel warmly welcomed,  Sarah Milne with sarah m style, has created these amazing printables that you can print and share to add that special touch to your guest room. Aren’t these BEAUTIFUL? I love a good freebie to round out this budget-friendly holiday room makeover! 

Grab These FREE Printables For Your Guest

Make a Guest Room Welcome Basket (With 5 FREE Printables)

Make a Guest Room Welcome Basket (With 5 FREE Printables)

Download this Printable HERE

Make a Guest Room Welcome Basket (With 5 FREE Printables)

Download this Printable HERE

Make a Guest Room Welcome Basket (With 5 FREE Printables)

Download this Printable HERE

Make a Guest Room Welcome Basket (With 5 FREE Printables)

Download this Printable HERE

Make a Guest Room Welcome Basket (With 5 FREE Printables)

Download this Printable HERE


In accordance with the FTC Guidelines, I am disclosing that I received compensation from BHG at Walmart for my time and participation in the BHG Live Better Network. Although we have material connection to BHG, any publicly stated opinions of BHG and their products remain my own.

How to Make a Homeless Care Package (Free Printable Supplies List)

November 10th, 2015

Note: From November 2012, this is one of the articles I’m most proud of on Mom Advice, and I’m SO happy that it’s also one of the most pinned, making me proud of YOU. I’m republishing it for our November Focus on Giving M Challenge with the hopes it will see a whole new group of people who will be inspired to give!

One thing that you may not know about our family is that we are really passionate about caring for the homeless. Creating a homeless care package can be one fantastic way that your entire family can be involved in caring for the homeless. Today we want to provide a checklist of supplies for the homeless, a local resources sheet you can print out (if you are in our area), and some tips for involving the whole family in this project.

This month Walmart let me choose a project that I was passionate about for the holidays and showcase how families could recreate it in their own homes. As I always disclose, I am compensated for my writing, BUT instead of accepting the compensation, we invested what I would have earned along with the gift card budget Walmart gave me to give back to the homeless in our community. 

These homeless care packages can be prepared for your local homeless shelters or kept tucked away in the trunk of your car for those you may see on the street looking for your help. I love feeling armed in these situations and these kits are a simple way to show how much you care.

I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t tell you that my husband inspires me every day with his giving heart. Last winter, he was coming home late from work because he would see people in need and run to stores to get them supplies and gift cards.

That is his heart.

That is why I love him.

If there is one thing I firmly believe in, it is that giving should be a family affair. We have to lead our children by our example. I want my children to remember that what made our family special is that we always gave with our whole hearts.  

My kids assisted in every aspect of this project. My son came with me and did the number crunching on a good old-fashioned calculator, my daughter helped sort and organize all of the items we bought, and both kids helped fill the bags with all of the necessary items.

Here Are My 3 Essential Elements to a Great Homeless Care Package

Feed Their Needs- One of the greatest gifts you can give to someone who is homeless is personal hygiene items and food to nourish their bodies. Begin by picking up items that will satisfy this area in their life first. Simple items like shampoo, a razor, deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, a bar of soap, and tissues are great items to keep on hand.

Food like granola bars, crackers with peanut butter, trail mixes, dried fruits, and a bottle of water are also great items to tuck into your bags. If you have the funds, small denominator gift cards (we did $5 Walmart gift cards) can also be great to give so that they can pick up a meal or item(s) they might need.

Provide Warmth- We live in Indiana and the winters here are brutal. I can’t imagine how cold it would be to stand on the streets without the proper items I need for warmth. Add items like thermal boot socks, gloves, scarves, and hats to your gift bags. Items like these may seem out of your financial reach, but I found all of these at the dollar store and the sets of gloves were a mere $.50 each.

Feed Their Souls- I am sure it goes without saying, but feeding someone’s soul is just as important as feeding their needs. You can feed their souls in a variety of ways depending on your families beliefs and resources. We created a local resources list (available for local residents to download) that they can tap into for further resources in our town. A note that lets them know that they are on your prayer list, a note of encouragement by your children, or a scripture that you find comforting can also be excellent additions.

God has been so good to us, but 10 years ago we were in a very different place than where we are now.  My husband was unemployed for almost an entire year, our financial situation was a house of cards, and my heart was in a bad place. Although I don’t like to admit it, I wondered what my purpose on this earth even was. I never have forgotten that dark place and it is why we still try to be so careful with the resources we have been given and why I have such a tender place in my heart for those who are struggling.

Being careful though doesn’t mean that you can’t be a giver. There are fantastic ways to give, both big and small, around the holidays. Be sure to check our list of ten painless ways to give back to charities to help you get started.  I call these smaller ways to give the, “scraps of life giving.”  I have talked a lot about that with my partnership with Pure Charity as well! 

We want to help you give back to your community! Here are some resources to do just that!

Grab our Free Homeless Supply Checklist for your your care packages. Don’t just click on the picture, head to this link to grab a full-size PDF version!

Grab our Local Resources List for your care packages (if you don’t live in Michiana, you can use this as a template for your own sheet)!  Don’t just click on the picture, head to this link to grab a full-size PDF version!


How do you give back in your community? How do you teach your kids to be givers?


I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. For this project, all compensation was invested in aiding our area homeless.  My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

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M Challenge: Focus on Giving

November 10th, 2015


In honor of the holidays, this month’s m challenge focus will be on giving. If you have been a reader here for awhile, you know how focused we are on the site (and in our lives) on caring for those in need. I am hoping to inspire you through some of our past posts as well as a few upcoming new ideas for giving back to your community. I am excited to show you some of the ways that I have found to give to others even in this busy season of life!

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

With this mission in mind, the book I have selected is, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. This is a religious book, but I have heard so many great things about it that I think it will resonate with many of you! 

Just like you, Ann Voskamp hungers to live her one life well. Forget the bucket lists that have us escaping our everyday lives for exotic experiences. ‘How,’ Ann wondered, ‘do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? What does the Christ-life really look like when your days are gritty, long–and sometimes even dark? How is God even here?’ In One Thousand Gifts, Ann invites you to embrace everyday blessings and embark on the transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling God’s gifts. It’s only in this expressing of gratitude for the life we already have, we discover the life we’ve always wanted…a life we can take, give thanks for, and break for others. We come to feel and know the impossible right down in our bones: we are wildly loved–by God. Let Ann’s beautiful, heart-aching stories of the everyday give you a way of seeing that opens your eyes to ordinary amazing grace, a way of being present to God that makes you deeply happy, and a way of living that is finally fully alive. Come live the best dare of all!

I look forward to embarking on another challenge this month with you and I hope that this month inspires you in big or small ways to do something for those who need your love! xo

*This post contains affiliate links!

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees

November 9th, 2015

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

I love, love, love voting on books for the GoodReads Choice Awards. If you haven’t participated before, GoodReads members can vote on their favorite books from the year in a variety of categories. I absolutely love peeking at all of the books that are listed and I use this list to gather fresh books to add to my library stack. This is the cream of the crop each year and I am rarely disappointed when reading a book from these annual gatherings.

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Today I’m listing out the GoodReads Choice Award Nominees for 2015 and including links to our own reviews and author interviews to the books that I have tackled.  Personally, I have a hard time scrolling through all of these on my phone so this post is secretly just for me.  As always, I LOVE new friends on GoodReads and would love for you to join me there so send me a friend request!

Let’s take a peek at a few of this year’s nominees from my favorite categories that we cover here on MomAdvice. For the full list head over here to check out the selections and vote! 

Best Fiction

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Badani

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal  (Be sure to check out our Sundays With Writers with J. Ryan)

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton

Inside the O’Briens (Reviewed HERE)

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

Girl at War by Sara Novic

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (Reviewed HERE)

The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

The Sound of Glass by Karen White

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

The Perfect Son by Barbara Claypole White

Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg  (Be sure to check out our Sundays With Writers With Bill Clegg)

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera

When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi

Best Mystery & Thriller

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson (Reviewed HERE)

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

The Escape by David Baldacci

Finders Keepers by Stephen King

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Gathering Prey by John Sanford

The Stranger by Harlan Coben

Lamentation by C.J. Sansom

The Cartel by Don Winslow

Memory Man by David Baldacci

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins (Reviewed HERE)

Obsession in Death by J.D. Robb

Marrow by Tarryn Fisher

The English Spy by Daniel Silva

Die Again by Tess Gerritsen

Best Historical Fiction

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran

A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (Reviewed HERE)

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell

The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

Mademoiselle Chanel by C. W. Gortner

Flood of Fire by Amitav Ghosh

Best Debut GoodReads Author

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

My Heart And Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

The Hurricane by R.J. Prescott

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Orhan’s Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Girl at War by Sara Novic

The Strongest Steel by Scarlett Cole

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

The Mason List by S.D. Hendrickson

Best Young Adult Fiction

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone  (Be sure to check out our Sundays With Writers with Tamara)

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

My Heart And Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (Be sure to check out our Sundays With Writers with Jennifer)

Wild Reckless by Ginger Scott

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Best Non-Fiction

Ghettoside by Jill Leovy

The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna

One Of Us by Asne Seierstad

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

For the Love by Jen Hatmaker

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Work Rules by Laszlo Bock

Between the World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Rising Strong by Brene Brown

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

The Unspeakable by Meghan Daum

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Missoula by Jon Krakauer

Guantanamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson

2015 GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees from

Remember there are many more categories, these are just a few our favorite categories that we share about on MomAdvice! Happy reading, friends! xo

 *this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though! 
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Sundays With Writers: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

November 8th, 2015

Sundays With Writers

Have you ever thought you read every book by one of your favorite authors and then discover that you missed one? It felt like Christmas when I found out After I Do was a book that I had not tackled and discovered it was available on audio through our library. Over a day of cooking, I laughed, cried, and loved this book so much that I reached out to Taylor to tell her how very special it was to me. It is, in fact, my personal favorite of all the books she had written.  I asked if she would mind sharing a little behind this incredible book with you and she graciously agreed to share with us today. What a treat!

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

After I Do  is a must-read author recommendation,  recommended by Liz Fenton in her Sundays With Writers interview. Like I said, somehow I had missed this one in between her other two incredible books Forever, Interrupted and Maybe In Another Life.

I can now say that I’ve read all of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books and this is, by far, her best work.  After I Do is a brutally honest portrayal of a failing marriage that gives us glimpses into our own marriage struggles that we deal with daily and how, what once was endearing, can be the things that we can’t stand about our spouse.

Lauren & Ryan take a year off of their marriage in a temporary split to see if they really are meant to be together. As they navigate the world without one another, they discover a lot about themselves and each other.

A hopeful book filled with a family of characters that feel like your own, Reid’s book makes you feel like part of the family as you root for Lauren & Ryan to find each other again. Highly recommending this one!

I gave this book 5 stars and included it in our October ’15 Must-Reads List!

Grab your cup of coffee and let’s settle in with Taylor to hear more behind this beautiful book and some new projects that she happens to have underway!

Taylor Jenkins Reid

You are one of the few writers that I have devoured their entire body of work and loved every single book! After I Do though has to be my favorite (so far) of yours! Why did you decide to explore a couple taking a year away from each other in their marriage as the premise for this story?

First of all, thank you for reading all three of my books! I came up with the idea for After I Do just as I was finishing Forever, Interrupted. I knew that I wanted to delve into a story of what happens after you’ve fallen out of love. I figured the most interesting way for me to do that was to create two people who used to be madly in love with each other find themselves on the edge of divorce. Then the question becomes, “Can they fall back in love?” Answering that was the fun of writing the book.

You chose to narrate the story from Lauren’s perspective, but one way that we really can delve into Ryan’s story is through the unsent emails that Lauren reads in his drafts folder. Why did you choose to tell the story in this way instead of a more “he said, she said,” narration with alternating voices?

Great question. I wrestled with this for a long time. There was even a draft – I think maybe it was draft three – where I worried that I needed to scrap half of the book and add in Ryan’s point of view. But I really wanted this to feel like a story of self-exploration and not a book where the reader was choosing sides. I wanted the audience to connect with Lauren and her family. So I decided to stick with her point of view and work hard at making Ryan’s voice come through.

There were moments that I laughed out loud at the minor irritations that seem so major when we are married. I love my husband, but those things like not putting your dishes in the sink or not putting clothes in the hamper can really escalate, you know? Did you channel some of your silly inner rages with your spouse in the email banter between Lauren & Ryan?

Ha! I tried really hard not to air my own dirty laundry in the book but I did tap into the feeling of,“I love you but I hate you so damn much,” in order to capture how frustrating it can be to live with another human being. I’m sure some of my own marriage snuck in there unbeknownst to me… Case in point: I have a dog named Rabbit and Lauren and Ryan’s dog is named Thumper (who was a rabbit). I didn’t even notice it until a reader pointed it out.  So there’s probably there’s more of me in there than I realize.

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

There are many beautiful moments in this book, but one line really stood out for me in particular that I highlighted. It was, “We are two people who used to be in love. What a beautiful thing to have been. What a sad thing to be.” Hello, heartstrings! So many moments really just cut me to the core. Were there any scenes that were particularly emotional for you to write about?

I’m thrilled you said that because that line was a particular favorite of mine as well! I always have certain ideas or sentiments that I try to write towards as I’m crafting my first draft. And I was most definitely writing toward that line. There were a few scenes that were very gratifying and deeply emotional to write but they are all at the end and I don’t want to spoil anything. Suffice it to say, the resolution of everyone’s storylines meant a lot to me.

Typically, I don’t really get wrapped up in the supporting characters in a book, but in this one, I was just as attached to the family as I was to Lauren & Ryan. Did you have a favorite family member? Do you ever envision writing a book about any of the other characters in this story?

I think every single character in this book has more story ahead of them. Which is why I’m super excited that I’ve signed a deal with ABC Family to adapt After I Do as a half-hour series. It’s very early stages and the development process is never a sure thing, but I’m very excited about the idea of seeing where Charlie, Rachel, Leslie, Mila, Lauren, and Ryan’s stories take them.

I know you did a lot of research on marriages as you were preparing for this book. Why did you want to research the history of marriage and what was the most interesting thing you discovered about the act of marriage?

The book is about Lauren and Ryan’s marriage, but it’s also about marriage in general. It’s about opting out of marriage, childless marriage, marriage equality, non-monogamous marriage, raising children, etc. So I wanted to learn about the many different ways humans have interpreted the word and how the definition is changing with every generation. I think the most interesting thing I learned is just how rare monogamous love-based marriage truly is. This type of marriage that we refer to as “traditional marriage,” is fairly new and not particularly common in human history.

Did writing about Lauren’s flaws and Ryan’s flaws make you hyper aware of you or your own husband’s issues? Did it bring out any of your own insecurities about marriage?

It definitely made me think about what I do in my own relationship that might one day lead to systemic problems. When you write a book about how a marriage has gone wrong, it makes you look at your own relationship and analyze whether you’re guilty of any of the things your characters are. I think writing the book was one of the best things I did for my marriage because it required me to truly ask myself what I thought could ruin a relationship. And once you answer a question like that, you have to start heeding your own advice.

Resident Advisors

One thing that I didn’t know about you, as I was researching for this interview, is that you are a triple threat! Not only do you write books, but you also have a Hulu series (Resident Advisors) and you write for magazines… and I thought I had a hard time describing my job! That’s a lot of balls in the air as a creative. How do you keep inspired and do you have a system for gathering and storing all of your ideas for these storylines?

I’m a big proponent of lists. I have To Do lists every day as well as project lists on the walls of my office. What projects am I currently working on? What still needs to be done for each one? What do I need to do today? And then I have a master list of every idea I’ve ever had, that I use as a well to draw from whenever an opportunity arises. I’ve been blessed with a neurotic, type-A working style, which means that everything is compartmentalized and controlled. That being said, I have a decidedly un-neurotic and non-type-A living style. So I never miss a deadline but I am always losing my keys.

Forever Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid

 I am so excited to hear that, Forever, Interrupted,”  (listed as one of my own personal top ten’s for 2013) is being adapted into a screenplay. Do you have any information you can share about where you are in that process or any of the casting decisions that have been made?

As announced, Dakota Johnson is attached to star as Elsie! Which is very exciting. And as I understand it, the script is being written right now. I am a big fan of the producers – and trust their vision —  so I know they are doing a great job bringing Elsie, Susan, and Ben to life.

If you could tell anyone to read one book (other than your own) what would that book be (we list it with all the recommendations over the year HERE)?

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I stumbled upon it at the used bookstore attached my library and bought a copy of it for four dollars last December. I have since recommended it to everyone that will listen to me and have bought multiple copies. It is a retelling of the story of Achilles’s life leading up to and through the Trojan War. I can’t tell you what I love most about it because I love everything about it so much. It is stunningly romantic, a pleasure to read, incredibly thought-provoking, and epically tragic, with some of the most wonderful sentences I’ve read in some time. It manages to straddle both classic literature and soap opera in one story. It’s so good (and so juicy) that I would call it a guilty pleasure except that you have nothing to feel guilty about because it’s so very beautiful and keenly smart.

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

*This post contains affiliate links!


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