May 2017 Must-Reads

June 5th, 2017

May 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

We are in the final week of our school year which means this month has been CRAZY and my reading time has felt limited.  I am looking forward to camping out in a lounge chair at our community pool with a big stack of books and nothing to do this summer. I have so many advanced readers coming in to share with you and can’t wait to work through my stack and share some more reviews with you on what is hitting the shelves this summer.  For today, I have seven more recommendations to share with you of must-read books that I tackled in May.

Are you working through our MomAdvice Reading Challenge? I am loving the added challenge it is bringing to add more diversity to my book stacks. I managed to tackle a few more categories this month again and love checking those little boxes off as I finish my books.

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!

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I fell in love with this wildly original novel that explores a work partnership between two women animators that are trying to be successful in a male-dominated industry. The two best friends, Mel & Sharon, bond in college and then decide to work together on an adult animated movie.

The yin and yang in this partnership is what makes it work so well. Sharon is steady and reliable while Mel brings a chaotic wildness to her work. When Sharon becomes ill though, they find their roles must be reversed and work has to be on pause until Sharon can return. It is through Sharon’s private journal that their next animated film takes shape and brings them back to Sharon’s hometown for answers.

Will everyone love this? Probably not! It’s crass and dark and, perhaps, the story goes on just a tad too long. However, all readers should have an appreciation for such an ambitious debut as Whitaker not only writes the book, but the animated movie plots that unfold for these animators. It is unlike anything I’ve read and I love the exploration of a female partnership carving their place in this artistic field.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book about art

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Bandit by Molly Brodak

Bandit by Molly Brodak

I have been trying to add more memoirs to my stack and I have a feeling that if you were a fan of The Sound of Gravel you will find this book to be similar in nature and the emotions it brings.

Brodak’s father is a convicted bank robber and was arrested for robbing eleven banks when she was just thirteen. He served time for seven years, was released, and began robbing more banks just a few years later.

His daughter documents the two sides of her father as she tries to understand his motives and habits. His charisma is so charming that he easily manipulates those around him, including his children. With raw honesty, Brodak just wants to make sense of her childhood and what qualities she has that are her father’s.

The story is raw and real. This isn’t someone who has necessarily made peace, but it is the story of someone trying to heal.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A memoir from someone you have never heard of

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Into the water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Let’s just say that Into the Water was the book I was most excited to read and was my least favorite in this month’s stack. I feel bad saying this, but this book will be easily forgotten by me. I should say that it REALLY will be forgotten since Hawkins tries to incorporate a million characters into a rather weak plot about a river that has killed many of the town’s residents. I am including it in today’s round-up though because I know many of you were curious about it.

Here is what I will say. The mystery does get solved, but Hawkins lost me in the process.  I plowed through hoping that the plot would pick up, that there might be a dramatic twist and big reveal…yeah, nope.  Police procedural books aren’t usually my favorite, but I had hopes she could weave a compelling story that would hook me.

I will still give Hawkins another try on her next book, but this one just didn’t do it for me. Reviews seem to be pretty mixed on this- people love it or they hate it so you might not want to take my word for it especially if you are a fan of police procedural books. I would love to hear your thoughts though either way on this one!

3 Out Of 5 Stars

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear & the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

If you are looking for the next The Snow Child, then I’d love to suggest this book as something you might enjoy. Arden’s debut novel is a Russian fairytale that about a little girl named Vasilisa and her family. They live in the wilderness where the winters are cold and she loves the story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears to claim unware souls.

When Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father brings home a bride who forbids their family to continue honoring the household spirits. This lapse causes many bad things to happen and Vasilisa must defy everyone she loves and use the gifts she has long concealed.

This book is a beautiful escape for any fairytale lover.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Beartown is one of the most anticipated books this year from Fredrik Backman. If you are looking for another Ove novel, this one is not it and is very different than anything Backman has written before. I love it when a novelist take risks and Backman does just that with this new novel.

Beartown is set in a small forest town obsessed with hockey.  The Bears of Beartown win and they have their strongest team yet and a true possibility of winning the national semi—finals. Just as they approach their biggest game of the season, a violent act occurs that threatens the reputation of the strongest player on the team. To make matters worse, the family involved in this act also happens to be in charge of the hockey team. A father is then placed in a position he could have never conceived especially when an entire town is ready to demonize anyone who would ever speak against their star player.

Much like Into the Water, Backman has taken on a large cast of characters and the first half of the book feels mostly like introductions to each person to set the stage for the turning point in the plot. Although I love Backman’s writing, the first half felt sluggish. As so many other readers had promised, when reading other reviews, the second half was much better once the plot actually got moving.

This is still a solid read, but you have to have the patience to power through the first half to get to the meat of the plot.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I have read every single book that Taylor Jenkins Reid has written and I have loved each of them in their own way. This book is markedly different than anything she has ever written and is an absolutely spellbinding book filled with old Hollywood glamour, celebrity secrets, and the power of real and true love.

Evelyn Hugo is an aging starlet who has decided to hire a magazine reporter to write her biography. As someone who has been very private, it is the chance of a lifetime for a virtually unknown writer to be given the story that is worth millions of dollars.

Evelyn’s love life has been something that Hollywood has often been speculated on, but no one could ever guess who captured Evelyn’s heart and how she was able, at times, to make her relationship work with the love of her life. Unfortunately, living in the spotlight often gets in the way of real living. This couldn’t be truer in Evelyn’s life and she is ready to divulge all of her secrets to Monique, in exchange for her writing her biography and publishing it upon her death.

I cannot rave enough about Reid’s ability to write real and relatable love stories. Each of her love stories has connected with me in some way and this book is no exception. I was swept away in Evelyn’s retelling of her life and Reid weaves smart plot twists in the end that I have a feeling you will really enjoy. In fact, I’m still thinking about them.

You must add this book to your book stacks stat!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Want to snag this one for a steal? This one was one of the incredible selections available in the Book of the Month Club! You can join for just $10 a month for the first three months and then cancel at anytime! 

The only disappointment, for me, is the fact that I have to wait for her next book.

Be sure to read my interview with Taylor in our Sundays With Writers series to learn more about how she crafts her beautiful love stories.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

Many moons ago, my husband and I watched an incredible documentary on PBS called The Poisoner’s Handbook. Radium was one of those things that we discovered that had been an additive to many household products because people thought radium had health benefits. In this book, Kate Moore does an incredible exploration of the women who were most affected by the use of radium in a radium-dial factory and how corporate greed became more important than the safety of its employees.

Women often had to start working in their teen years, since educating women wasn’t a worthy investment in the 1920’s, and many soon discovered that the job that was paying the most was working in a radium-dial factory. These women were in charge of painting the faces of watches with this glow-in-the-dark paint and the quicker and more they could produce the work, the more valued they were as an employee. They found by licking the tips of the paintbrushes (as was even encouraged by their supervisors) they could paint much quicker and do a better job in the details of these watches. Since radium was heralded as being healthy, the girls had no problems ingesting it and even were known to paint their teeth, lips, and eyes with it for a fun night on the town.

When the girls began becoming ill and dying, doctors could not figure out why their patients were dying in such horrific and painful ways. When they began to suspect that their factory jobs may have something to do with it, the corporations continued to ignore their concerns and did not change their safety standards, putting more women at risk every single day.

This story documents these girls and their stories as well as the court battle that they endured after they were convinced that radium was to blame. It is a heartbreaking read that I had a difficult time with, but am so thankful I read. These women were true heroes and Moore’s writing is captivating and compassionate as she tells their stories.

If you are planning on reading just one nonfiction book this year, let it be this one!

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A nonfiction book

5 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

May 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.

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Amy’s Notebook 05.31.17

May 31st, 2017

Summer Reading Bookmarkers

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I love these summer reading challenge bookmarks.

Have you heard of temptation bundling? What a great approach to tackling the to-do list.

Speaking of to-do lists, I can’t wait to try this out!

I’ve been wanting to experiment with wallpaper in our home and love these ideas for how to use it.

I had never heard of this lawn game before, but it looks like a blast!

This is going to be me someday, I just know it.

Awwww…I never knew this. This is so sweet!

10 ways to put your slow cooker to work for summer potlucks.

“We’re throwaway people. Nobody cares about us…” Wow, this was a powerful piece.

Copycat Shake Shack Burgers

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Copycat Shake Shack Burgers? Um, heck yeah! Can’t wait to try this recipe!

This recipe also looks like a winner for the grill!

Loving this simple door makeover- gorgeous!

You must be embracing the slip-on sneaker craze since these were your top purchase this month!

Adding this mixed berry sangria recipe and this beautiful punch to my arsenal for summer.

When self-improvement becomes self-destruction. I need to work on some of these!

3 Hummus Recipes

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I can’t wait to try these three hummus recipes for a fun appetizer spread with friends.

Can’t wait to dig into this book this week. Have you read it yet? She’s always a favorite of mine.

I’d love to make a grown-up summer bucket list.

These double braids are such an easy summer style.

15 things book-lovers do better than anyone else. Agreed!

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

Small-Budget Crushes 05.30.17

May 30th, 2017

Straight Outta Dad's BBQ Cutting Board

straight outta dad’s bbq cutting board

Whisper Cotton Stripes Tee

perfect stripes tee

Softspun Flutter Shorts

softspun flutter shorts (use coupon code WKND for 40% off)

Rattan Accent Chair

rattan accent chair

Teacher Bookmark

custom teacher bookmark

Instant Water Balloons

instant water balloons

Kona BBQ Mats

kona bbq mats

Julia Straw Sun Visor

julia straw sun visor

Slouchy Cap Sleeve Top

slouchy cap sleeve top (use coupon code WKND for 40% off!!)

Polka Dotted Dress

polka dotted dress

Saltwater Sandals

Salt Water Sandals (my favorite sandal for summer!!)

Mid-Rise Soft Pants

mid-rise soft pants

Caftan Beach Cover-Up

caftan beach cover-up (40% off today- no coupon needed!)

Tees Please Holder

tees please holder

Wrap Belt Midi Dress

wrap belt midi dress  (use coupon code WKND for 40% off)

Bessie Shower Curtain

bessie shower curtain (33% off today!!)

Sunshine Appreciation Society Bag

sunshine appreciation society beach bag

Dressy Shorts

dressy shorts (several colors/patterns)

Harry Styles on Vinyl

harry styles vinyl album

Solid Wood Chess Board Set

solid wood chess board set

Wooden Wine Trough

wooden wine trough (33% off today!!)

Tie Back Tiered Sleeve Top

tie back tiered sleeve top

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 

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

May 26th, 2017

sister

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

Yeah, INSANE.

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

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

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

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

Congratulations, sissy!!

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

Urpower Handheld Steamer

No More Ironing

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

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

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

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

levo-corner-table-clamp

An Ergonomically Correct Way to Read

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

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

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

Dr. Scholl's Arthritis Pain Relief Orthocis

Better Support

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

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

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

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

Shrimp Boil

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

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

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

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

ice-town-mayor

Loving the Interwebz Because of This:

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

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

ALL THE FEELINGS.

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

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

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

Have a lovely week, friends!! xoxo

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

Amy’s Notebook 05.24.17

May 24th, 2017

Patio Tile

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This patio makeover is stunning. I am especially loving the tile in this space!

These are wonderful tips for capturing your teen through photography.

Who knew reading was so dangerous?

Speaking of reading, looking forward to diving into this book and this book this week!

Wow, what a powerful photography project this was.

What a smart gift to give yourself when coming home from vacation.

If I had one Hollywood crush, it would be this guy.

Gluten-Free Bread for One

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I had no idea you could make gluten-free bread for one. I can’t wait to try this recipe!

This was your top purchase this month. I hope you are scratching a ton of states off!

Slower reader? That’s okay- here’s a minimalist summer reading guide.

These recipes look amazing to get your diet back on track.

This trailer looks so good- two of my favorites in one film!

This fulfills all my tiny house dreams.

I am afflicted with this and it drives me crazy sometimes (warning, language!)

Chicken Pesto Bake

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Definitely adding this chicken pesto bake to our menu planner. Yum!

How adorable is this mail holder? I will say, I’m still REALLY loving this solution we found!

Dying laughing- avoid the crescent rolls.

I really want to try this to help quiet my mind. I’ll keep you posted on if I can actually do it!

When the gospel of minimalism collides with daily life.

I am pretty sure that this is going to be my new favorite show when it hits television.

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

 

The Real Santa Story

May 23rd, 2017

The Real Santa Story from MomAdvice.com

From our Parenting Contributor, Kristina Grum, from Thriving Parents.

This past December it finally happened.

All 3 kids asked the question every parent dreads during this time of year.

“Is Santa real?”

Over the years, they had occasionally asked this question.  It had always been easy to pacify them with a question in return.  I always asked them the infamous questions every parent uses:

“What do you think?”

Except it was no longer working.

It was late afternoon while I was getting dinner ready and all 3 kids came and sat at the kitchen island. Our 9-year-old led the conversation.

“Mommy, we have something important to ask you.”

Our 6-year-old followed her.

“Is Santa real?”

Before I could respond, our 8-year-old said, “We know you’re going to ask us what we think, but we want to know the truth.  The real truth.”

The 6-year-old then started in with questions:

“How can one person get around the entire earth AND deliver presents in one night?”

“Reindeer are real but can they really fly?”

“If elves make toys, why do they look like the Lego company’s toys?”

“How can a fat man get down a skinny chimney?”

“Why would it be okay with you to have a stranger come in our house in the middle of the night?”

Ouch.

Are we here already? Weren’t they just babies and we decided what Christmas traditions we wanted to have as a family?

We never put a lot of focus on Santa around the holidays.  We tried to focus more on Jesus since he was the reason we celebrate Christmas.  Most of what they know was learned from friends at school, books, and Christmas movies.

I wasn’t prepared.  I had no plan.  

I thought I’d feel cornered when this moment came but honestly, I felt relief.

“No,” I said. “Santa, the person who wears a red suit and has a white beard isn’t real.  At one time there was a man who delivered presents to children on Christmas but this was hundreds of years ago.”

I told the girls the story of St. Nick and how its earliest origins were of a man who brought presents to children on Christmas and how his story has evolved over the years.

The Real Santa Story from MomAdvice.com

I explained how we all have the spirit of Santa in us and told them it was our responsibility to continue giving presents and doing Random Acts of Kindness for others.  As a family, we do Random Acts of Kindness once a month.  It’s really taught them the importance of giving to others and being more selfless.  Because of this, it was easier for them to see the correlation between giving gifts to celebrate Jesus and being a light in someone else’s day.  

I asked the girls if they could think of some of our Christmas traditions that resemble the spirit of giving.  

They needed some prompting but were able to list a few.  

  • We sponsor a family each year
  • We give the kids Advent boxes at the beginning of the season
  • We bake cookies and deliver them to other people’s mailboxes
  • We pay for the car behind us when we go look at our local light show
  • We donate toys
  • We collect coats and hats and gloves to donate

I was worried our kids would be devastated with this news.  I was especially worried they feel betrayed and lied to.  They didn’t – thank goodness!

I’ll be totally honest, I always felt a little icky about not being truthful with our kids about Santa.  We loved how much fun it was for them but it never sat well with me.  I was more than happy to finally come clean with them and felt Christmas became, even more fun, for them this year.  We did more special surprises and when they wrapped everyone’s gifts, they signed Santa’s name to them.

I think every parent gets to the point where they know they can’t continue to avoid answering questions.

Here are some tips for finally having the real Santa discussion:

  1. Don’t avoid the topic if they’re directly asking about it.
  2. Answer their questions honestly.  
  3. Talk about the importance of gift giving: finding the perfect gift for someone, making people feel special and important, etc.
  4. Ask them if they have any questions.
  5. Be empathetic if they get upset with you.  
  6. Try to find things you can do as a family to make others feel special and to embody the spirit of Santa.
  7. Ask them to not discuss this topic with their friends.

I asked our kids to not discuss this topic with friends at school.  Our kids know children from different cultural and religious backgrounds so it was easy to explain to them.  “Different families have different beliefs and it’s not our responsibility to talk about it with friends.  They can discuss it with their own parents.  If anyone asks you, tell them to talk to their own parents.”

Ending the belief in Santa almost feels like it will be the end of childhood.

I assure you, it isn’t.

Our kids still wake up and crawl into our bed in the middle of the night, still get scared by bad dreams, and still need us to help reach things in the kitchen cabinets.  They still cry when they fall and still want us near by when they’re upset.

There’s plenty of childhood left in them.  

xoxo

–k

Kristina Grum is a Certified Parent Educator who has over a decade of experience working with children, including being a classroom teacher. She took the (very) long route to loving motherhood. These days she strives for ways to connect with her kids, while using shortcuts to manage and organize her home. She is a postpartum mood disorder survivor who thrives on helping others find the joy in parenthood that is just lurking around the corner. She currently teaches positive discipline parenting classes in her local area and she believes that every parent can shift from barely surviving to thriving in Parenthood. Visit her on Thriving Parents today! 

 

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Small-Budget Crushes 05.22.17

May 22nd, 2017

Blush Tote

blush tote

Printed Shift Dress

printed shift dress (under $30!!)

Taupe Medallion Pillows

taupe medallion pillows

 

2017 Planner

2017 planner (less than $10!!)

Beach Twist Tankini

beach twist tankini

Too Fond of Books Cuff

she is too fond of books cuff

Cold Shoulder Stripes

cold shoulder striped tee

 

Bye Felicia Doormat

bye felicia doormat

Seersucker Sailor Short

seersucker sailor shorts (deep discounts this week!)

Jane Austen Mug

jane austen mug

White Jeggings

white jeggings (size up one size!!)

Cotton V-Neck Tee

basic cotton v-neck tee (many colors!)

Keysocks

no-show keysocks (my favorite sock to wear with my ballet flats and booties)

Racerback Shift Dress

racerback shift dress

Basic Black Romper

basic black romper

V-Neck Sweater

v-neck ribbed top (several colors!)

Lace-Up Pom Pom Sandals

lace-up pom pom sandals

 

Crochet Jogger Pants

crochet jogger pants (under $30!!)

Reversible Tote Bags

reversible tote bags (many color combos!)

Tea Organizer

tea organizer

Linen-Blend Jumpsuit

linen-blend jumpsuit (less than $20!)

 

Flamingo Round Beach Towel

flamingo round beach towel

Slim Sleeper Jog Pants

slim sleeper jog pants

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 

 

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

May 19th, 2017

Italy

passport

running

grilling

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robot

 

wedding

prom

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

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

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

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

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

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

It has become something I really look forward to.

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

I mean, I must REALLY love it.

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

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

Master of None

Italy Nostalgia-Fest

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

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

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

Allora…

Black Box Rose

image source

Rosé All Day

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

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

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

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

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

I hope you love it as much as we do!

Infallible Pro-Glow Foundation

Makeup That Sticks

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

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

Garlic Rosemary Balsamic Pork Loin

 

image source

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

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

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

UnREAL Season 2

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

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

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

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

Master of None Season 2

Have a lovely week, friends!! xoxo

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

Amy’s Notebook 05.17.17

May 17th, 2017

Tiny Bathroom Makeover

source: little house of four

Since we have wee bathrooms, I love seeing how people make the most of their tiny bathrooms. This makeover was so inspiring!

My hubby has been encouraging me to learn some keyboard shortcuts so this article was really helpful!

What an incredible reminder to not crowd the happiness in your life. I’m so very guilty of this!

I added this and this to my capsule for the warmer weather. Here is why I had to make a few wardrobe switches this month- good stuff!!

These mocktail recipes look like a lovely afternoon treat especially for a mama-to-be.

17 books everyone will be talking about this summer- any you are excited to dig into this summer?

It’s so easy to get stuck down the rabbit hole if you use your phone as an alarm clock. Love this idea of throwing it back to 2007!

Thinking about buying a set of these for our upcoming summer trips. Have you used this system before- looks like it might help me stay more organized?!

“Go where it doesn’t feel comfortable because it’s the only way you’ll make it through to the other side of acceptance, love, and healing.” If you are feeling a little lonely in this world, I think you will appreciate this beautiful piece on how to be lonely. (note- language!)

I’d love to prep some of these chicken burrito bowls for a filling lunch for my week.

Knotted Tee

source: un-fancy

I love this simple styling trick to knot your tees to add visual interest and shape.

What a genius idea for sprucing up tile you don’t love.

I’ve been reading this fairytale this week- a good one for fans of The Snow Child.  

Still listening to this book on audio and have a feeling that one will be in my top ten this year!

I can’t wait to try this simple blow drying technique and see if it makes a difference on my hair.

I struggle with jet lag so these tips were pretty amazing. Pedialyte? Who knew?

Did you grow up watching this show with your mom too? Congrats on the Hollywood Star!

I love this tip for considering outdoor rugs for your indoor spaces. With kids and a pet, this makes perfect sense to me!

Have you jumped on the bullet journal wagon yet? I’m looking forward to digging into these tutorials linked on this post.

Still on the fence about 13 Reasons Why with your teen/tween? Maybe read this!

Simple Hairstyle

source: oh happy day

This simple hairstyle looks like it would be a winner for the upcoming celebration seasons of summer.

What a cute grad gift idea! I’m all about useful gifts and who couldn’t use one of those?

“I would say to anyone who is struggling with addiction you are lovable, you are needed, and you are wanted.” This was a very honest piece on being an alcoholic and what a recovery experience looks like when you have an addiction.

The best and worst things to consume before a workout- noted!

“I am the person who notices we are running out of toilet paper, and I rock.”- what our Mother’s Day card really SHOULD have said.

I am taking a break personally from Facebook (still there for business though- would love to have you!) and this is a big reason why. It’s been anxiety-relieving for me!

Words that breathe life into the little girls around you- ohhhh, so good! I want to do more of this for my daughter, don’t you?

My life has no meaning anymore- bahaha! Seriously, this has been a huge debate over here at our house!

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

 

The Life-Changing Device I Found For My Chronic Pain

May 16th, 2017

Quell for Ehlers Danlos

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

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

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

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

You will try anything at this point.

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

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

That jerk is still there.

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

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

Amy Allen Clark

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quell Pain Relief Device Review

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

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

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

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

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

I was so very wrong. 

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

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

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

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

 

Quell Review

What is Quell?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quell Review

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

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

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

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

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

 

Quell Review

 

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

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

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

Quell Review

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

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

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

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

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

Who Can This Device Help?

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

dance-recital

What Are the Negatives With This Device?

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

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

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

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

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

Quell for Ehlers Danlos

What Are the Positives With This Device?

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

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

I’m sleeping better.

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

I feel like I can manage this again.

I am grateful.

Technology, you can be a beautiful thing sometimes!

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

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

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

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