Small-Budget Crushes 05.02.17

May 2nd, 2017

 

Please Don't Die Pots

please don’t die pots

pompom-clutch

pompom clutch

custom-bookplate-stamp

custom bookplate stamp (great teacher gift!)

Off-the-Shoulder Shift

off-the-shoulder shift (comes in black too!)

Ruffle Sleeve Shift

ruffle sleeve shift

been-there-scratched-that

been there, scratched that watercolor scratch map

Photo-Print Flamingo Beach Towel

flamingo beach towels (under $10!!)

mongrammed ring dish

monogrammed ring dish

Bar Necklace

bar necklace

Ikat Maxi Dress

ikat maxi dress (half off!!)

Bookcase for Kindle

bookcase for kindle

Flamingo Pool Drink Holder

flamingo pool drink holder

Standing Figure Art

standing figure art

ombre-tassel-earrings

ombre tassel earrings

Custom Name Rings custom name rings (cute baby shower gift!)

 

Lush Cross-Front Blouse

cross-front blouse (runs large, size one down!)

Leather Yoga Mat Strap

leather yoga mat strap

Keep on window shopping by visiting all of my Small-Budget Crushes. This post contains affiliate links that help our site! Thank you for supporting me! xoxo 

 

 

 

Living in the Gray

May 1st, 2017

living-in-the-gray

Last week I had another little health setback. My body has been unreliable so I often feel like I am moving two steps forward and then five steps back. One of my big pain issues stems from my elbows and if my elbows are hurting then the hand pain worsens to the point that sitting at a desk and typing hurts with each keystroke.

I couldn’t do my usual ALDI route since I needed to rest my arms so I took advantage of the groceries-to-go instead so I didn’t have to lift bags. In a total God moment, a girlfriend pulled up next to me to pick up her groceries too.

First of all, steroids are THE WORST so I was a big sobby mess when I saw her, but the conversation I had with her was the stern-I-love-you-but-this-can’t-continue conversation that I needed to hear. As a nurse, she talked me through changes that I needed to make in my life.

I needed to acknowledge that this disease is not going away and that it may be progressive.

I needed to go to physical therapy and not talk about doing it someday.

I needed to structure my workday in a way that makes sense for my body and for my business, utilizing the hours that I feel best.

I needed to save my typing hands for the important stuff and let social media be more for my business.

I needed to start finding shortcuts for work, speech recognition programs on days that are hard, an assistant for the site, and just being okay that someone else might need to help me.

I needed to make rest a priority and not push myself through pain when I shouldn’t.

She’s good, right?

The next day, I started putting in calls to get lined up with physical therapy, I put my phone on do not disturb so I could work in the daytime hours when my hands felt their best (it is a quick decline), and I made one other call…

To a counselor.

He actually suggested that I open up a bit more to you because being vulnerable is a lot more attractive sometimes than being perfect.

We shall see!

I felt like I had worked through these health issues, but I haven’t. I can’t seem to ride the wave of setbacks and chronic pain in the way I want to. I want to put this BEHIND me because I don’t even want to talk about this anymore. I don’t want to be a burden to the people that love me so, frankly, I’d rather pay this guy to listen to my whining for an hour and have a better time with the people I love.

I actually had no idea how all pent-up this was until I started hiccup-sobbing in his office before I even sat down.

There was a lot of blubbering and personal stuff, but I will try to give you a less exciting example of one thing that upset me to demonstrate what we talked about.

“I can’t even go to the (hiccup) gym because of my elbows.”

“Why not? Did you talk to your instructors and see if you could modify? Do you think they would understand if you needed to take a breather or skip the things you couldn’t do? You see things as black-and-white, but they don’t have to be that way.

Living in the gray is not something that I can naturally do. I’m a go-getter, a perfectionist, a people pleaser, a goal setter, and an overcommitter (not a word, but it should be!)

Today I started making a list of the things that I do where a gray hue could exist.

Black- I make a fantastic meal to wow my whole family.
White- We eat cereal and I feel like garbage.
Gray- I start stocking up on a few convenience food items so I have a few nights off from cooking.

Black- I manage my time really well and feel productive.
White- I don’t work and watch Netflix, stressfully doing my deadline on the day of the project due date.
Gray- I work for a few hours and then let my body rest. I can come back to it the next morning because I plan ahead.

Black- I maintain a pristine home.
White- I let it go to hell in a handbag.
Gray- I try to pick up, but hire someone to help me clean every other week.

Black- I do everything because I am the only one who does everything the right way.
White- I can’t do everything so nothing gets done. I resent all the sloths in my home.
Gray- I make a list and ask everyone to help me. It isn’t the way I do it, but I have to be okay with that. THIS ONE IS HARD!

Black- I spend my week socializing with friends and get behind on my work.
White- I spend my week working at home alone feeling isolated.
Gray- I schedule more meaningful times with friends having coffee and still manage my work.

Black- I push through my pain so I can have an incredibly productive week.
White- I don’t do anything because I’m having a bad day.
Gray- I do what I can, but I don’t push through creating another setback for my life.

Black- My body feels great and I go to the gym.
White- My body doesn’t feel good so I sit on the couch all day.
Gray- My body doesn’t feel good, but I plan walks with family and friends. I get fresh air and keep my old joints moving.

You get the idea!

Pulling back the curtains is always humbling.

It also, I hope, makes me more human.

I share this because maybe I’m not the only one with black-and-white vision.

Perhaps, there is a whole new world waiting for you too in the gray.

 

April 2017 Must-Reads

May 1st, 2017

April 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

Can you believe it is already May? This past month really flew by and I’m so excited to share ten books that I read in April. As a book reviewer, this tends to be a really busy season so I have a large stack of advanced readers to still get through in preparation for all that summer reading that will be happening. Summer, to me, means thriller season so I’ll be sure to add a few of those to my stack for next month.

I’m still working my way through the MomAdvice Reading Challenge and tackled six categories this month! It has, truly, diversified my reading this year. This month, in particular, I read some books that I would have not normally have picked up in order to complete certain categories.

Just as a reminder, I read many more books than are just featured here, but try to feature the ones that are my absolute best picks.  If you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there too! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

PS- Don’t forget to join our FREE book club! It’s so awesome!

10 Must-Read Books from April 2017

Setting Free the Kites by Alex George

Setting Free the Kites by Alex George

If you haven’t read Alex George’s first book, please do add it to your reading list- it’s beautiful! In his second novel, George weaves a gorgeous coming-of-age story, set in the late 70’s, that chronicles the life and friendship of two boys that find each other in their eighth grade year. This friendship blossoms as a tragic event unfolds in each family’s life and brings them closer together.

It’s hard to say more about this so you can be surprised by these tragic twists, but the setting and characters are so beautifully written that your heart will quickly be wrapped up in this sweet story.

This book reminded me a lot of Ordinary Grace, in what appears to be a simple story, but is told with such beauty, heart, and soul that you can’t help but fall in love with this book . Be sure to have a box of tissues as you read this one as this book dives deep into heartbreak and loss.

5 Out of 5 Stars

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

I don’t read as much chick lit as I used to, but Sophie Kinsella books are always like curling up with an old friend. In My Not So Perfect Life, Katie Brenner looks upon the life of everyone else with a lot of envy as she is broke, sharing a flat with some terrible roommates, and struggling at her job. When she is fired, she has to return home, but can’t bear to tell her parents the truth about her failure  so she tells them that she is on sabbatical instead.

What unfolds is adorably sweet as Katie helps her family launch a glamping bed and breakfast and secretly hunts for a new job on the side. The only problem is, her former boss shows up as a guest and Katie decides to teach her a lesson or two, but ends up getting a lot of lessons of her own.

In a social media obsessed world, Kinsella showcases how those Instagram photos aren’t always the reality of life and few lives are as perfect as they seem. Written with some really smart characters, it was a fun escape this month and, truly, made me laugh out loud.

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give is one of those books that everyone has been talking about this year. This YA novel was riveting and a definite must-read this year.

Starr Chase has a double life at a mostly white prep school while living in a poor neighborhood. On the way home from a party, her friend is pulled over and fatally shot by a white officer.

The death becomes a national headline and Starr has to decide where her loyalty lies especially when it means risking her safety and the safety of her family.

This is a book that has made me feel ALL THE FEELINGS and this story has so many great lessons in it that it would be impossible to not have your viewpoint shift as you see the story from Starr’s perspective.  I can’t recommend this one enough.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book that challenges a viewpoint

5 Out of 5 Stars

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zetner

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

I became a huge fan of Jeff Zentner after reading his incredible book, The Serpent King (check out my interview with him on that one!) so I couldn’t wait to dive into his next book.

Goodbye Days opens with a tragic accident that claims the lives of three teens when their best friend, Carver, texts to ask if they are on their way. When the driver tries to answer the text, they are killed in a collision with another vehicle leaving Carver without his dearest friends.  An investigation unfolds as the families decide if they will be pressing charges against him and Carver must forge a new life without three of the people that have been such a big part of him.

In an effort to bring closure to the families, he has a Goodbye Day where they share a day to share memories of the person they lost. The Goodbye Days don’t go always as expected as feelings of anger and blame are placed upon Carver’s role in the accident and Carver must work through these guilt-filled days with his therapist.

Zentner has a way of writing friendships that feel authentically real. As an adult,  I truly appreciate the message from this book and think it would be a great one to share with your teen to warn of the dangers of texting and driving.

More than that though, it showcases the power of forgiveness over our lives.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia

Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia

If you are looking for another solid thriller, I have to say that Everything You Want Me To Be was excellent and had me guessing up until the final pages!

Hattie Hoffman has always spent her life dutifully doing exactly what she is supposed to.  That is why it shocks the town when Hattie is found brutally stabbed to death since no one could ever imagine something like that would happen to someone who is so perfect.

Ah, but things aren’t what they seem and Hattie has a few secrets up her sleeve that include a scandalous relationship that leave the reader guessing just who would have wanted Hattie dead more.

I really enjoyed this one and Mejia carves a few smart twists that I think you will really enjoy. I couldn’t put this one down and finished it in a single day!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Kindred by Octavia Butler

I have always been a fan of time travel novels and selected Kindred as my time travel book for the MomAdvice Reading Challenge.  I can’t believe this book had never been on my radar before because it completely blew me away.

Dana is a black woman married to a white man in the late sixties. After becoming dizzy one day, she finds herself transported to the South in 1815 when a little boy, named Rufus, is drowning in a river. Dana saves him and this begins the first of many visits where he risks his life and Dana is pulled back into the 1800’s. Her role as a black woman is not a free one though and she must work as a slave at the house and witnesses the true brutalities of an unkind slave owner.

Butler layers a great dimension by giving Dana a white husband and when they are transported together, he must act as her slave owner in order to keep her safe. The dynamics in these roles causes stress and doubts between the two.

If you are highly sensitive, this book is brutal in the telling of the treatment of slaves. It unsettled me a lot to read these horrific accounts, yet I know that I need to know them too.

The ending was a little strange to me, but reading through the reader guide helped me understand better the dimensions that Butler was hoping to achieve through this ending.

Overall, this was a riveting read that I could not put down!

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book about time travel

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve

The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve

Thank you to the publisher for sending an ARC of this novel- all thoughts and opinions are my own! 

I finished Anita Shreve’s latest book in less than a day and really enjoyed this story of a marriage set in the late ‘40’s.  Shreve uses Maine as her backdrop and in October of 1947, a summer-long drought caused fires to breakout all along the Maine coast that killed many and destroyed their homes.

The book opens with the telling of a really loveless marriage. When the fires break in Maine, Grace is able to save herself and her two children, but has no idea what has happened to her husband. Without money, a home, a husband, or even clothing on her back, she takes her children back to her deceased mother-in-law’s home and waits for her husband to return.

It’s through this experience of independence that Grace must find herself from getting a job to learning to drive to managing money. Of course, as she finds her footing, she knows that her husband may return at any moment to take it all away from her.

It was a really great escape and would be an ideal one for your beach bag this summer!

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book about marriage

4 Out of 5 Stars

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

This sparse novel, mostly set in the 1970’s, documents the story of a friendship as they grow up in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn they know is a dangerous place where these girls can quickly lose their innocence and Woodson paints her story in almost a stream of consciousness that makes you feel as though you are in the mind of these characters, from past to present, presented in a lyrical prose format.

Despite its short length, this book packs a powerful punch as it examines coming-of-age in a dark place and the realities of poverty without a mother.  This quote says it all about this book-

“Everywhere we looked, we saw the people trying to dream themselves out. As though there was someplace other than this place. As though there was another Brooklyn.”

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book written by a woman

3 Out of 5 Star

How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell

How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell

I picked up Cat’s memoir on a whim not knowing anything about her or her work. Marnell had a promising career working as a beauty editor for Lucky magazine, but struggled with many addictions that prevented her from delivering on that promise.

Her addictions started with a prescription for ADHD medication, as a teen, and it spiraled out from there. The reader is taken on each cringe-worthy moment as she self-destructs on pills, binges on food, and gets involved with some shady people sabotaging relationships and her various writing gigs.

She chronicles the realities of rehab and the differences between treatments when treated at a higher end facility and then what a real rehab experience looked like. She also shares her own confusion over being celebrated for her raw honesty in writing about her addictions, yet being chastised for her drug abuse by her coworkers.

This book circles and circles repeating the same abuse cycles again and again. The writing feels manic at times and you just want Marnell to get her crap together.

But, it isn’t that kind of book

And it isn’t that kind of ending.

It’s real, unflinching, and showcases the truly ugly side of drug addiction.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book on mental illness

3 Out of 5 Stars

Desperation Road by Michael Farris Smith

Desperation Road by Michael Farris Smith

I’m surprised that I haven’t heard a lot of buzz about Desperation Road, a beautiful Southern Gothic novel that is gorgeously written from start to finish. Fans of Ron Rash are sure to love this haunting story of redemption and the unlikely companionship that blossoms, particularly when they realize the way that their two lives intertwine.

Maben & her young daughter are trying to escape their life and the mother must use her last dollars to provide shelter for them through the night at a hotel. In order to earn money to get them through the next day, Maben finds herself involved in the murder of a police deputy and they must flee before she is caught.

She pulls over Russell, a man who has just finished his prison term for a crime he committed,  by gunpoint. When he picks up Mabel & her daughter he finds that he is now involved in a crime he did not commit.

Michael Farris Smith certainly has a way with words and I was sucked into this book from page one. If you are just in the mood for a good story, this book is beautiful and satisfying!

Reading Challenge Category Completed- Southern Gothic

4 Out of 5 Stars

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2017 Must-Reads

February 2017 Must-Reads

March 2017 Must-Reads

April 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

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

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

Pin It

Amy’s Notebook 04.26.17

April 26th, 2017

Maple Bacon Grilled Cheese

source: joy the baker

Hello, heavenly grilled cheese combo! I want to try this sticky finger maple bacon grilled cheese for our next sandwich night!

I loved these suggestions for a social media diet. Who couldn’t use one of those?

How to read a whole damn book every week. Couldn’t agree more with these suggestions!

If you are watching 13 Reasons Why with your teen, these are 13 great conversations to have with them about the show.

We are going to have to try some of these drink suggestions for our next board game night.

I started this memoir and it has been such a welcome escape this week.

DIY Bouquet Tips

source: the house that lars built

These tips for how to diy your own bouquets are so great and perfect for a beautiful  Mother’s Day gift.

Do you struggle with anxiety too? I love these tips for cultivating calmness and understanding your own triggers.

This cheesy bruschetta chicken is going on my menu planner!

I spent my Etsy gift card on one of these beauties for my kitchen. Can’t wait to use it!

5 ways to teach your kids about consent- such great reminders for parents!

I love these ideas for making Alexa your sous chef. Lots of things I would have never thought of.

Easy Messy Top Bun

source: a beautiful mess

I love this twist on an easy messy top bun.

Bookmarking this post since the comments are full of great suggestions for my next beach read.

You must be stocking up on your summer staples because this was your top purchase this month! I love these (PS-size up one!)

Do you find yourself fighting the crazy this time of year too? I loved the suggestion to under-react to the crazy- that’s definitely one I need to work on!

Here is the mental trick you need to maintain your focus. I loved all of these suggestions especially the one about starting your day in a positive way!

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration! Please note, there are affiliate links that do help support our site- thank you! xoxo

5 Reasons I Let My Kids Watch TV

April 25th, 2017

5 Reasons I Let My Kids Watch TV

From our parenting and marriage contributor, Mary from Giving Up on Perfect

Anyone who knows me knows I love television. I also love my family and cats and mysteries and queso and long drives by myself, but it’s often more fun to talk about TV. (And, let’s be honest, less divisive than the never-ending debate of cats vs. dogs.)

Given my love for TV I have struggled as a parent, acknowledging and respecting the frequent (and valid) advice from pediatricians and other parenting professionals to limit my children’s screen time. When I had my oldest daughter, I was determined to keep her away from all screens for her first two years. Yes, I was a typical first-time parent that way. And my good intentions and determination did not last for long.

Kudos to those of you who adhere more strictly to the screen-time guidelines than I do. I don’t judge or criticize your choices by any means; I’m sometimes even envious of them. But I’ve found that, while we do try to keep screen time to a couple hours a day, it actually has great benefits for our family.

And I’m not just talking about the fact that I would hire Daniel Tiger to babysit my preschooler in a heartbeat.

Much more than mindless entertainment or free babysitting, watching television with my kids has turned out to be an active and, I believe, healthy part of our relationships. Here’s what I mean:

5 Ways Watching TV Together Benefits Our Family

1. It gives us special time together. After I put my youngest to bed, my nine-year-old and I slip back downstairs for some together time. Our days feel rushed from the first alarm to the bedtime prayers, and my daughter’s love language is quality time – so this pocket of time is high on her (and my) priority list. Sometimes we go through her papers from school, and sometimes we work together to finish some chores or clean up dinner. But most often, we settle into the couch for an episode of Girl Meets World, Just Add Magic, or Project MC2.

I’m super selective about the shows that my kids watch, steering clear of the ones with sarcastic tweens and clueless parents. And when my younger daughter is with us, it’s all-cartoons, all-the-time. But a few nights a week, my older daughter is able to watch a “big kid show” (or the occasional American Girl movie) while she also scores time with her mom. And as long as she wants that, I’m going to give it to her!

2. It creates inside jokes just for our family. Because my girls are young, we don’t have a whole lot of pop culture-related jokes yet. We do have an entire catalog of Daniel Tiger songs and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse cheers that we repeat, but I am sure more quotes and jokes are coming soon. I know that because my brother, parents and I still quote TV shows we watched together, and that was twenty (or more) years ago! I also know this because my daughter already loves processing and remembering plot lines and dialogue after a show is over, which is likely to lead to inside jokes someday.

3. It brings up tough topics and promotes open communication. While I anticipate inside jokes becoming part of our family’s language, I’m already seeing this one happen. Even when I’m selective (or protective, whichever word you want to use) about which shows my kids watch, serious issues are addressed in most every program these days. (I had to laugh when we watched episodes of Doc McStuffins and Girl Meets World in the same day that both dealt with being jealous of your friends. So many struggles are universal through the ages!)

Often, when I’ve needed to discuss tough topics with my oldest daughter, I’ve turned to picture books. But as she’s getting older I’m learning that TV shows are a better medium for raising subjects that we need to talk about. The characters are more relatable than two-dimensional characters in a “kid book” and less threatening or embarrassing than an unexpected lecture from me. Watching a TV show together and letting the conversation develop more naturally has allowed both of us to warm up to some hard things that led to heart-to-hearts.

4. It plays a big part in our holiday traditions. Singing songs, making crafts, eating special food. Serving others, spending time with family, wearing matching sweaters. All these things and so many more are part of our family’s holiday traditions. But so is It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and the Claymation Christmas Special (not to mention Christmas Vacation and other classics we’re saving for when the kids are a bit older!). Watching the Grinch’s heart grow every year is as much a part of our holiday celebration as drinking Grandma’s green punch, singing Silent Night, and exchanging white elephant gifts.

5. It teaches us valuable lessons about life. I used to feel guilty about my love of television. But I’ve realized that those stories we watch aren’t simply entertainment. If we pay attention, they can also teach us something – about the world, about family dynamics, or about social situations. (After all, which of us doesn’t remember the dangers of abusing caffeine pills, courtesy of Jessie Spano and Saved by the Bell?!)

That’s not all. My family also learns about history or the world from all the History Channel shows my husband insists on watching, and we have lots of animated conversations when we watch DIY shows and make up plans for our next home project. And, of course, we also bond over a shared love for sports teams (or shared dismay when they lose!)

Now I want to hear from you! Does your family watch TV together? What are some benefits you get from family screen time?

Fast Talk Faith

If you enjoy learning lessons from your favorite TV shows, you might be interested in FAST TALK & FAITH: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls. Available on Amazon, this devotional offers relatable messages of hope and encouragement with humor and grace, based on stories about our favorite friends from Stars Hollow.

 

Pin It

Small-Budget Crushes 04.24.17

April 24th, 2017

striped-peplum

striped peplum tee

microwave-coffee

if found in a microwave mug

eyelet-lace-top

eyelet flounce top

http://rstyle.me/~9UG3N

ceramic bloom vase charging station

floral-wrap-jacket

indigo floral wrap jacket (use code GETMORE to take 50% off)

puffin-in-bloom

puffin in bloom book collection

yarn-and-coffee-mug

yarn & coffee happy mommy mug

metal-patio-chair

metal retro patio chairs

waverly-dress

waverly dress

bookmark

handmade bookmark

denim-jacket

denim jacket

crochet-one-piece

crochet one piece swimsuit

joules-rain-boots

joules rain boots

hi-rise-jeggings

hi-rise jeggings (half off!)

floral-gardening-tools

floral gardening tools

not-a-regular-mom

not a regular mom tote bag

Keep on window shopping by visiting all of my Small-Budget Crushes. This post contains affiliate links that help our site! Thank you for supporting me! xoxo 

Amy’s Notebook 04.19.17

April 19th, 2017

Flat Iron Curls from A Beautiful Mess

source: a beautiful mess

My sister was raving about using her flat iron to curl her hair. I loved this picture tutorial this week. I wonder if I have the coordination to do it though- ha!

Thinking about downsizing your wardrobe? Check out this post for some inspiration!

This made me laugh so hard. I TOTALLY would do that!

This is a great read for newbies to cooking and purchasing chicken thighs. These are my favorite these days!

Adult friendships are tough aren’t they?

Boho Top

source: ali on the boulevard

I hate to pick favorites in my capsule wardrobe, but I couldn’t love this top more and have gotten so many compliments on it!

I’ve been under the weather which gave me plenty of time to curl up with this book this week. What an incredible read! You MUST read it!

Some great tips for making a great pressure cooker chicken stock!

DIY Painted Floors

source: old brand new

I would never think to diy a painted tile floor, but this patio floor is stunning!

5 women run podcasts to listen to- girl power! I’d also love to tackle this great list of episodes worth discussing.

This was a pretty fascinating read on the immoralities of being wealthy. I am definitely going to be chatting about this one at the dinner table tonight!

You must be preparing for Mother’s Day because this was your top purchase this week. So sweet and I love supporting Etsy makers!

Eight powerful habits that can make your more successful. I really need to get motivated this year and this is a great start! I also REALLY enjoyed this piece on how to make it easier to be awesome.

An underrated places travel bucket list is happening after reading these highlights from each state!

I have a pile of these under my sink and I never knew all the things I could do with them!

Books to read that will soon be movies! Yay!

If you need me, I’m over here reading this book. I loved his first book so much, I can’t wait to dig into this next one!

Comments of the Week:  In response to my piece on S-town“Catching up on my blog reading since were on spring break as well! We went from Ohio to Orange Beach, AL and you know I totally stared down Woodstock, AL as we drove past. The deep dive into John B. McLemore’s life was fascinating and haunting and addicting. Brian Reed is a master storyteller, and his ability to thoroughly investigate this scenario was amazing. It’s stayed with me for quite some time…and I don’t see it leaving any time soon.”- Beth

I could not agree more, Beth! I even convinced my Dad to give it a listen and he’s loving it. I can’t wait to have a daughter-father chat about that.

I have loved reading what you all are up to in the summer months to enter our Brain Quest giveaway this week. This was one of my favorites- “Baking and cooking competitions are a big hit here! Lots of researching and concocting a plan and recipe hunting beforehand to extend their learning (and time ).”- Abbie

Isn’t that so fun? What a great way to get your kids engaged and off their electronics. Hope you all are having a wonderful day! xo

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration! Please note, there are affiliate links that do help support our site- thank you! xoxo

DIY Fluffy Slime Recipe (GIVEAWAY With Summer Brain Quest!!)

April 17th, 2017

DIY Fluffy Slime Recipe from MomAdvice.com

I’m partnering with Workman Publishing today to share about (and giveaway!!) their beautiful new Summer Brain Quest workbooks to help with the summer slump that always seems to inevitably happen in our house.  I am so excited to share these with you and showcase a fun new DIY recipe for Fluffy Slime that will DEFINITELY be on our summer craft agenda this year multiple times.

Summer Brain Quest Workbooks

Summer Brain Quest Workbooks

Summer Brain Quest workbooks are officially on sale on April 18th and are meant as a tool to help kiddos (and their teachers) to prevent “summer slide.” Did you know that most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in math, and many also lose reading achievement, during the summer?  Now Brain Quest joins the fight against it with workbooks targeting each summer between kindergarten and 6th grade. As my own child is approaching her 6th grade year, we are so excited to get to work in these.

These smart books include a pull-out map that guides kids on a learning quest. They fill in their route on the map by earning stickers for completing workbook pages as well as pursuing outdoor activities. The map offers a choice of routes, allowing kids to customize their learning path and pursue what excites them most (extra math problems? more hands-on science?), and also encouraging them to jump around within the book to follow their curiosity.

I love that this structure helps them learn yet feels like a game! They even hired the  video game artist, Edison Yan, to  make every book feel fresh and fun for kids!

I’m so excited to be giving a set of these away to one lucky reader. Scroll down to enter today’s giveaway with Summer Brain Quest!!

DIY Fluffy Slime Recipe from MomAdvice.com

In honor of this launch, we thought we’d launch a little something of our own and create some Fluffy Slime to celebrate. Slime is quite exciting at our middle school and I have heard there are even slime trades going on when kids mix up a batch. There has been so much slime-making that there has even been a reported glue shortage throughout certain areas of the country.

Who knew slime was so dang cool?

We wanted to mix up some fluffy slime with you today that would be the perfect summer activity to do together and another fun way to break your kids out of that summer slump!

How to Make DIY Fluffy Slime

DIY Fluffy Slime Recipe from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed

Elmer’s Washable Glue (this size is the best bet so you don’t run out!)

Borax (make sure a parent supervises and assists with this ingredient)

Shaving Cream (the cheap foaming kind, not the gel variety!)

Water

Measuring cups, spoons, and bowl

Food coloring (optional)

DIY Fluffy Slime Recipe from MomAdvice.com

DIY Fluffy Slime Recipe from MomAdvice.com

Directions for Making Fluffy Slime

1. Measure one cup of hot water and mix this with 1 tablespoon of Borax. Mix until these two ingredients are fully incorporated and the water turns clear. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT- reports of reactions to Borax are because it has not been properly diluted. I recommend that the parents do this step to insure the safety of the slime. Set aside.

DIY Fluffy Slime Recipe from MomAdvice.com

2. Add one cup of glue to a large bowl and mix this with a 1/2 cup of water until it is fully incorporated.

DIY Fluffy Slime Recipe from MomAdvice.com

DIY Fluffy Slime Recipe from MomAdvice.com

3. Add 3 1/2 cups of shaving cream to the bowl and mix together well. Next, add a few drops of food coloring (we used red in our version) to add a pretty hue to your slime. Once this is all mixed well, add a tablespoon of your Borax mixture and mix well. Keep repeating tablespoon by tablespoon until your slime pulls away from the bowl and starts to form into a ball. Our slime only required three tablespoons of our diluted Borax mixture before it pulled away into a ball!

DIY Fluffy Slime Recipe from MomAdvice.com

DIY Fluffy Slime Recipe from MomAdvice.com

DIY Fluffy Slime Recipe from MomAdvice.com

DIY Fluffy Slime Recipe from MomAdvice.com

We are so excited to share our fluffy slime with our friends and to also share these Summer Brain Quest workbooks with you! Yay!

Giveaway Time

Summer Brain Quest Prize Pack

Enter below for our fun giveaway so you can fight the summer slide in academics with your kids!

One (1) winner receives:

  • Complete set of 6 Summer Brain Quest workbooks (grades K-6)
  • Branded colored pencils
  • Branded Frisbee
  • Branded swim goggles
  • And a branded drawstring backpack to hold it all!

Please follow the widget below to enter to win! I hope this post inspires you to get organized. As always, feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below! Good luck, everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can learn more about Summer Brain Quest in the links below:

Visit their Official Site

Hang out on their blog Workman Blog

Follow @WorkmanPub on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest

Like @WorkmanPublishing on Facebook

diy-fluffy-slime-recipe-with-borax

This post was sponsored by Workman Publishing and Big Fat Notebooks. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

 

Ground Turkey Gyro Burgers

April 13th, 2017

Ground Turkey Gyro Burgers from MomAdvice.com This post is sponsored by Honeysuckle White. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

With the hope of warmer weather on the horizon in the Midwest, I am looking forward to breaking out the grill and making dinner time simple again. In our house, I’m the grill master and I love the ability to cook in bulk on the grill for our week with a lot fewer dishes.

Today’s recipe is inspired by one of my absolute favorite foods… GYROS.  Before I went gluten-free, my favorite treat to indulge in at the airport was one of these. Now I appreciate making this dish just right for my own diet needs at home. I wanted to make a healthier version of of this and am partnering up with Honeysuckle White turkey because they offer a variety of products from turkeys (raised without growth promoting antibiotics!!)  perfect for upcoming barbecue parties and family nights around the grill.

Ground Turkey Gyro Burgers from MomAdvice.com Ground Turkey Gyro Burgers from MomAdvice.com

When making turkey burgers, I like the 93% lean option because it helps yield a more juicy burger. To lighten up the texture even more, I folded in some cooked quinoa (here are my tips for making quinoa in your rice cooker) along with the traditional gyro flavorings of oregano, garlic, and onion from my spice cabinet.

Ground Turkey Gyro Burgers from MomAdvice.com Ground Turkey Gyro Burgers from MomAdvice.com Ground Turkey Gyro Burgers from MomAdvice.com Ground Turkey Gyro Burgers from MomAdvice.com

I have found that many people are avoiding the hamburger bun these days so I’m showing off this burger piled on a bed of quinoa with sliced cucumbers and tomatoes and drizzled with our star ingredient, tzatziki sauce that I’ve blended up in my food processor.

I’ve managed to convert my ground beef loving family almost exclusively over to turkey burgers, but it took a little experimenting on the grill to figure out how to get a burger that retained it’s juices. For me, before I heat up the grill, I like to spread out foil on the grill and lightly spray it with nonstick spray. Turkey patties can be more delicate than ground beef and I find resting them that way yields a better burger. Always cook turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit and treat yourself to a really good grilling thermometer to help make it easier, especially if you and the grill are just getting acquainted!

The second requirement is making sure to add lots of spices to them to build the level of flavor on these. Now is a great time to make sure your spices are fresh and to reorganize that spice cabinet. You can even download some beautiful free printable labels on our site to help get you motivated.

Honeysuckle White certainly makes it easy to host like a grill master! Test new flavor combinations with wholesome, flavorful turkey products, including turkey breast cutlets, ground turkey and turkey brats, perfect for tossing on the grill!

I hope you love this recipe as much as our family. Now get out there and grill!

Ground Turkey Gyro Burgers from MomAdvice.com

Ground Turkey Gyro Burgers
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
All the flavors of your favorite gyro in a healthy turkey burger. These gyro burgers can be served on top of a bed of quinoa or on your favorite gluten-free bun!
Ingredients
  • 1 (8 ounce) container plain yogurt
  • ⅓ cup chopped seeded cucumber
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onions (I did omit since we don't like onions)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Filling: 1 pound Honeysuckle White 93% lean ground turkey
  • ¼ cup cooled cooked quinoa (plus more for serving)
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. n a bowl or your food processor, combine first 5 ingredients.
  2. Cover and refrigerate. In separate bowl, combine ground turkey and seasonings. Mix well.
  3. Shape into 4 patties.
  4. Grill, covered, over medium to high heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until meat is no longer pink, turning once. Allow burgers to rest for five minutes before cutting.
  5. On a plate, pile your cooked quinoa, tomatoes,and lettuce. You can cut the patties into thin slices and serve over the quinoa or just serve the burger whole with knives and forks. Serve with the sauce.

 

Honeysuckle White turkey products are available in select states. For those on the East Coast (CT, DE, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, NC, RI, SC, VT, VA, WV), look for Honeysuckle White’s sister brand, Shady Brook Farms!

This post is sponsored by Honeysuckle White. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

Pin It

The Importance of S-Town

April 10th, 2017

minneapolis-2

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

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

minneapolis-1

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

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

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

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

s-town-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

It made me thankful we had taken that trip.

They were precious hours that filled my cup.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who is John B. McLemore

Pop Culture Happy Hour’s Take On S-Town

Sorta Awesome’s Thoughts On S-Town

Longform Interview with Brian Reed

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

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