Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets)

July 15th, 2015

Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from MomAdvice.com

 

*This post is sponsored by thredUP. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

As you know, since starting my fashion capsule project, I have become a huge fan of thredUP. I buy everything there from stuff for my kids (especially those one-time use special occasion outfits), to my workout gear for the gym, to our outerwear, and beautiful clothing for a fraction of retail prices. Nine times out of ten, if you see us wearing something… it is now from thredUP thanks to the affordability and how great it feels to get a pretty polka dotted box on our step filled with secondhand goodness.

That is why it was such an honor that they thought of me for an exciting campaign they are launching to support teachers and their classrooms for the back-to-school season. In honor of the Raise a Hand for Teachers Program,  I wanted to share with you our nomination for a deserving teacher and also show you a fun craft you can create for back-to-school for a special teacher in YOUR life.

Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from MomAdvice.com

My daughter had a phenomenal school year this year and it was all thanks to Mr. Domonkos! I got to come in weekly to volunteer in her classroom and be a quiet observer firsthand at the kind of teacher he was and how he ran his classroom which is always a treat as a mom. I can tell you that if I had a teacher half that fun, the learning would have never felt like work. His goals were to not only teach our children the basics, but to teach them LIFE SKILLS.

Instead of just showing them math problems on a white board, he actually gave each child different roles in the classroom (like the classroom librarian or the banker) and then they would receive a salary for their jobs. They paid rent on their desks or they could save to buy their “home” and receive a deed for paying off their space.  Each week they were given the opportunity to save their money or spend it on trinkets in the classroom. They weren’t just talking about math… they were learning to use math like they will when they become an adult.

When I asked my daughter what she said that he taught her, she said it was how to manage her money. As a frugal blogger and author of my own personal finance book, this is MUSIC TO MY EARS.

Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from MomAdvice.com

The joy on my daughter’s face when she purchased her desk is the indescribable joy I hope to feel one day when we pay our own house off. 

From getting our kids signed up with Google accounts and having them design web pages to Sponge Bob theme music while writing about the sea to showing the kids YouTube segments to learn new math tricks, his classroom was filled with new and interactive ways to get our kids excited about learning.

I know there are many moments I didn’t get the opportunity to witness as well. The countless hours past his job spent preparing for class as well as those moments needed to stay after to help kids who are struggling. I am sure there were many moments sacrificed from his own family to teach our children…and we are so grateful.

The hiccuping sobs as she got off her bus on the last day of school were also indescribable as a mom. They were because of the absence of her amazing teacher and seeing him each day. 

That has never happened before. The adoration was very real.

Do you want to put a vote in for Mr. Domonkos? We would love your support of this phenomenal teacher!

Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from MomAdvice.com

Do you have a special teacher in your life? You can nominate them for a cash prize through their Raise a Hand for Teachers Program (#raiseahand) today!

thredUP.com has partnered with AdoptAClassroom.org to recognize and thank teachers for their hard work and the positive impact they make each day on our children’s lives. Why is thredUP thanking teachers? For starters, they know schools are super important to their customers. And, they discovered that 1 in 3 teachers are actually buying clothes for students (along with  school supplies) with money from their own pockets
. I have no doubt our favorite teacher has been doing this too which is why we want to nominate him for this prize today!
You can nominate your favorite teacher anytime between July 15 – August 23. Three teachers each win $2,500 for classroom supplies and $500 to thredUP. 50 runner-up winners receive $100 to thredUP.  How incredible is this? Today we nominate Mr. Domonkos for this award and we want you to help him win as well as nominate a worthy teacher of your own!  Winners will be announced on Tuesday, September 8 (following Labor Day weekend)! 
Be sure to check out thredUP for ALL your back-to-school needs. It’s a goldmine for families on a budget especially if your children have become brand-conscious or if you look for brands with longevity and that can handle your kid’s daily abuse. They have all my favorite brands including GapKids, Janie and Jack, Lilly Pulitzer, Mini Boden, Zara Kids and more! The best part is that the you save up to 90% off retail, so you don’t have to wait for the back-to-school sales to start to save a ton of money.

To support this fun campaign (and help with the school supplies problem that teachers face), we have crafted up the cutest Felted Flower Dry Erase Marker Bouquet that you can share with a teacher in your life. These felt flowers are so easy to create that even your child can make these (with a little assistance with the hot glue gun). Let’s get started!

Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed

Package of Dry Erase Markers
Felt (can match the colors in your dry erase markers)
Hot Glue Gun & Glue Sticks
Scissors
Jar for Storage (optional)
Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from MomAdvice.com

Directions to Make Felted Flowers

Begin by cutting a wavy circle out of your felt. The bigger the circle, the bigger the flower, the smaller the circle, the smaller the flower. If you want them all the same size, use the first one as your template for your other flowers.
Start cutting into the circle in a spiral motion. Around and around you go with your scissors until you get to the center. Leave the little circle at the end of your spiral intact.
It should look like this long piece of twirly felt (as we have pictured above). It will not be perfect.  Just remember that you can trim and angle everything the way you want it when you start creating your flower. It will look beautiful!
Starting with the end where you begin cutting, roll the felt back up. Keep wrapping and wrapping until you get to that little circle at the end. You can hot glue the felt as you go, but I found that the felt flower holds together well if you wrap it tightly enough.  Feel free to trim if you have any bits of felt sticking out or not laying as nicely as you like.
Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from MomAdvice.com
After you have wrapped your rose up, dab hot glue on the back and secure the little end flap of the flower to the base.
Apply hot glue around the end of the dry erase marker (make sure you are getting around the exterior and not into the base of the marker. Secure your felt flower to the dry erase marker, holding it into place until it feels secure.
Repeat the process with the other dry erase markers until you have a bouquet! Place into a jar or tie a few with twine and give your teacher a bouquet they can use for back-to-school!
Don’t forget to Raise a Hand for a Teachers today with thredUP! We hope we have inspired you to nominate someone special and to create a fun gift for them as a thank you for all their hard work!
Felt-Flower-Dry-Erase-Markers-1

Looking for more great teacher gifts? Check out this round-up of 19 Awesome Ways to Show Teacher Appreciation! Yay!

*This post is sponsored by thredUP. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!
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Amy’s Notebook 07.15.15

July 15th, 2015

Roman Caprese salad via Camille Styles

Source: Camille Styles

 

This Roman Caprese salad looks divine.

4 People, 500 square feet. INSPIRING!

I want to try this cauliflower pizza crust recipe.

What an incredible life (and gift to read her words!)

Summer reading list: 23 Books to Read About Money

A little girl’s swan party- PRECIOUS.

TED Talks to watch instead of shopping.

DIY wildflower soap via Kelle Hampton blog

Source: Kelle Hampton

 

What a fun rainy day activity (Lord knows we have enough of them right now!)

The happiest of news.

A budget-friendly deck makeover. So lovely.

How this guy made seeing the world happen- really inspiring!

Bring on the lobster rolls.

One day I would love one of these.

amys_notebook
amys_notebook

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!

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Pizza Quinoa Mushrooms

July 14th, 2015

Pizza Quinoa Mushrooms from MomAdvice.com *This post is sponsored by Wild Oats.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

There is not much that I miss since going gluten-free except the convenience of eating anywhere where I want without worry.

In fact, there is only one food that I really and truly miss…

Pizza.

Pizza Quinoa Mushrooms

I have blogged about our weekly pizza night together that has been a family tradition for many years. I can admit it,  I miss the days of sitting down and sharing a pizza with my kids. For awhile, our pizza nights lapsed- making pizza for everyone else and me eating a cardboard version of it just wasn’t in the cards at first. The only way that I can explain it is that it was a time of mourning for me. Others echo me when they say that they were blue to find out that they needed to make diet switches. It is like a little part of your life has changed and won’t be the same again.

Luckily, substitutions can be made with gluten-free crusts, but they often lack the flavor of that soft, doughy variety. I still make them on occasion, but I wouldn’t say gluten-free pizza is my favorite thing.

Portobello mushrooms, hollowed and inverted, can make a delicious substitute for an expensive gluten-free crust (and they also double as a mean burger!).  I love the meaty taste of these and I love how they can stand up to baking and grilling in the summer season.  When baked, a little drizzle of olive oil and a dusting of salt & pepper, creates a delicious fun base to your pizza. I would say that these trump a gluten-free crust any day and they are made with whole foods that you can be proud of!

Pizza Quinoa Mushrooms

This girl is no stranger to quinoa and we have talked about easy ways to prepare it on the Wild Oats blog. Of course, quinoa plain over and over again can be a little boring so to bring the pizza flavor into this dish, we incorporate Wild Oats Basil and add tomato flavor into the quinoa. When mixed in, it tastes like a protein-packed pizza sauce.

If you are vegan or dairy-free, the quinoa can be cooked in veggie broth and the cheese can be switched with a vegan cheese.

These are all the flavors I love about pizza without the belly ache. It’s a pizza that you can really feel good about for your whole family.

No need to be sad about that pizza night anymore- I’ve got you covered! You can snag all these fun products from Wild Oats (an affordable organic option) from Walmart!

Pizza Quinoa Mushrooms

Pizza Quinoa Mushrooms
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 servings
 
All the pizza flavor you love without the guilt! This gluten-free pizza is a fun way to get in your veggies and protein with a delicious pizza sauce.
Ingredients
  • 4 extra-large portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¾ c. uncooked Wild Oats quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
  • 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon Wild Oats dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon Wild Oats dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon Wild Oats onion powder
  • ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh Italian Parsley
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Drizzle olive oil on the tops and bottoms of your portobello mushrooms . Season well with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes.
  3. While the mushrooms are baking, cook the quinoa according to package directions.After the quinoa is prepared, stir in the tomato sauce, garlic, basil, oregano, and onion powder. Season to taste.
  4. After 10 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven and flip the mushrooms over. Make sure to remove any liquid inside that may have cooked out to help prevent having a soggy pizza.
  5. Divide the quinoa mixture into the mushrooms, then top each one with cheese. Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 10 minutes more.
  6. Finish with a sprinkling of fresh Italian parsley.

 

Get to know Wild Oats!

Check out Wild Oats on their blog,  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, &Pinterest.

 * This post is sponsored by Wild Oats. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

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Apron Full of Giveaways 07.14.15

July 14th, 2015

Vintage floral half apron via etsy

Source: Annie’s Attic,  $45.00

 

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Good luck to each of you!

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Summer 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project

July 13th, 2015

Summer 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project from MomAdvice.com

Is it okay to admit that I fell off the fashion capsule wagon for a bit? After our trip to Italy this summer, I lacked the motivation and time to get my wardrobe planning back on track. I can honestly say that I have felt a little out of sorts without the structure. If I thought that this was just a silly routine to get myself to stop shopping, it was evident after an explosion from my closet every morning and the urge to spend again (when I had plenty) that helped me realize how much I benefit from it. Today I am revealing my summer fashion capsule and putting myself back on the wagon.

Since this month is all about beauty in our m challenge, I thought this was the perfect time to reveal my summer wardrobe.  I really do consider my capsule wardrobe a big part of my beauty routine. I have found that simplifying my wardrobe helps me feel beautiful and put together for my week. I can’t recommend this enough and in just a couple of short months, I will have implemented this in my life for an entire year! Who would have thunk it?

Let’s dig into this month’s capsule!

Summer 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project from MomAdvice.com

This project was inspired by Project 333 & the Unfancy fashion capsule challenge, but I am making a few of my own rules for my own personal challenge.

33 Piece Wardrobe- The wardrobe can have 33 pieces  in it. This wardrobe does not include pajamas, workout gear, undergarments, or camisoles (something that is a necessity for me).  The capsule is made from items I already own, some purchased to be workhorses in my wardrobe (since I fail in this department greatly), and purchased second hand at thredUP or Twice. All of the items I am not wearing and still love are being tucked in storage for the next fashion capsule.  I have created a Fashion Capsule Pinterest Board to help inspire me with the pieces I am using.

Choose 3 More for Rotating- You may choose three additional items and put them aside in your closet. You may rotate these items in during the next three months, but three other items have to be rotated out. Consider donating those items.

No Shoe Shopping- I am not including my shoes for this challenge, but I am challenging myself to not buy any more shoes and use what I already have.

One Steal Per Month- Things and events come up and I am allowing myself one steal per month from items that I already own. I may find I don’t need this, but I think it might help with the shopping bug.

No Shopping For Clothing- I will wear the clothes I have selected and not shop for three months and only shop two weeks prior to the next capsule for items for the next season if needed. This is going to require a lot of discipline for me and I am planning to unsubscribe to shopping newsletters and avoid the shops as much as possible.

Below is my wardrobe for the month. I am at 32 pieces this month! Since the weather has been wonky in Indiana, I will save one piece for  another jacket (what the hay, Indiana?!). The items with an asterisk are new to this capsule (purchased for our Italy trip!)

Summer 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project from MomAdvice.com

 

Row 1:

* White Anthro Summer Dress (gently used, purchased from thredUP)

* Matilada Jane Out & About Romper (purchase from Amanda Petit, Matilda Jane Independent Trunk Keeper)

Old Navy Vintage V-Neck T-Shirt in Dark Gray- (Old Navy)

Ann Taylor Loft Pink Print Bow Collared Shirt (gently used, purchased on Twice)

Floral & Lace Top (Golden Tote)

Row 2:

* J. Crew Denim Dress (gently used, purchased from thredUP)

Anthropologie Scarlet Swing Skirt

Neverending Romance Top (Flourish Boutique)

* J. Crew Gray Knit Sleeveless Top (gently used, purchased from thredUP)

J. Crew Polka-Dotted Silk Sleeveless Top (gently used, purchased from thredUP)

Row 3:

Kelly Green & Royal Blue Sleeveless Dress (Flourish Boutique)

Palm Tree Skirt (Anthropologie)-  (gently used, purchased from Twice)

White Eyelet Lace Top (Mossimo)- Target

* Free People Peasant Top (gently used, purchased from thredUP)

* Black & White Striped Short Sleeve Shirt (The Limited)

Black & White Long Sleeve Top (gently used, purchased from thredUP)

Denim Shirt (GAP)

Black Crocheted Cardigan (Flourish Boutique)

* Black & White Maxi Dress (Ann Taylor Loft)

*Black Swing Skirt (Ann Taylor Loft)

White Linen Blazer, Nordstrom (gently used, purchased from thredUP)

J. Crew Navy & White Striped Blazer-  (gently used, purchased from Twice)

Not Afraid of the Dark Denim Jacket (Flourish Boutique)

Summer 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project from MomAdvice.com

Row 1:

Peach Shorts (TJ Maxx)

Floral Shorts (TJ Maxx)

* Yellow Shorts (The Limited)

Row 2:

* Green Bow Skirt (Ann Taylor Loft)

Black Lace Tuxedo Shorts (The Limited)

Denim Shorts (TJ Maxx)

Row 3:

Seven Skinny Jeans (Flourish Boutique)

Black Pants (Ann Taylor Loft)

Old Navy Vintage Gray T-Shirt (Old Navy)

Summer 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project from MomAdvice.com

Banana Republic Red Halter A-Line Dress – (gently used, purchased from Twice)

Coupons That Might Help If You Are Making a Capsule Too

Current Coupons for Old Navy (I am a big fan of their jeans and basic t-shirts)

Current Coupons for Target (their wardrobe is on the smart minimalist side this season- yay!)

Current Coupons for Gap (blazers, chambray shirts, collared shirts, jeans- oh my!)

Get $10 for your first Twice purchase (this is one of my favorite online consignment resource)

Get $10 from thredUP (a new obsession for me AND my kids)

Golden Tote- a fun resource for budget-friendly shopping for your capsule

Use web code WEB25 for 25% off your purchase at Flourish Boutique (this is our site sponsor and where I get the majority of my clothing). You can also catch a sale daily on the Flourish Boutique Facebook Page)

Stitch Fix can be a fun resource for shopping for smart basic wardrobe pieces if a stylist might benefit you!

Don’t forget to clean out your closet! Here is a list of resources to help you make money while organizing this corner! Here are some tips for creating the perfect capsule wardrobe and feel free to browse my fallwinter , and spring capsule selections while you are gathering ideas for your own capsule! Follow me on IG for fresh outfit ideas each week! xo

*this post contains affiliate links! 

Summer Beauty Tips with Hollywood Housewife

July 13th, 2015

Summer Beauty Tips from Hollywood Housewife

I would like to extend a warm welcome to one of my dear blogging friends, Laura from Hollywood Housewife.  If you are looking for great advice for books and beauty, she is my go-to girl! Today Laura is sharing a few of her favorite summer beauty tips for our m challenge and I’m so incredibly honored to share her tips with you today! xo

I am so honored to be posting at Mom Advice today! I’ve long been a fan of what Amy makes of this space, it’s such a good combination of practical and interesting.

Today I want to share with you a little bit about summer beauty routines. On my blog Hollywood Housewife, we talk a lot about lazy beauty. I confess to a certain amount of vanity – I care about the way I look, who doesn’t? – but I don’t want to invest too much time or energy into it. So I focus on finding products that give you a lot of bang for your buck, or are multi-use. The goal is to look (and feel) your best, with the minimum amount of steps required.

In the summer especially, “lazy beauty” is paramount. I don’t want to spend one extra minute in front of a mirror, but it’s also the most social time of the year.

Here are my favorite beauty tips and products for easily looking your best during the warmer months:

Sunscreen & Moisturizer

We should all be wearing sunscreen year ‘round, but of course this is the time of year when your risk of sun damage increases exponentially. I look for SPF in my face products, but beware not to get it too close to your eyes. For daily, no-makeup days, I use Aveeno Positively Radiant daily moisturizer. It evens out my skin tone more than pricier versions, and it really protects your skin. The Positively Radiant moisturizer is available in both SPF 15 and SPF 30. I trekked through Sri Lanka and Haiti wearing only this lotion and was shocked at how well it held up through the hot days.

Summer beauty tips sunscreen moisturizer

For the face

If I’m going to wear a little makeup, I prefer tinted moisturizer in the summer instead of traditional foundation. It doesn’t do the heavy lifting that either a true moisturizer or foundation does, but it’s a great compromise between being bare-faced and being made up. It will give you a subtle glow, and hides imperfections. If I was going to splurge on one single product for my summer routine, it would be a good tinted moisturizer.

Summer beauty tips tinted moisturizers

My favorites are Laura Mercier oil-free tinted moisturizer with SPF 20 and NARS Pure Radiant tinted moisturizer with SPF 30. The Laura Mercier has a bit of a sheen to it, while the NARS finishes on the matte side. The key is not to apply too much. You should use a much lighter hand than you would with regular moisturizer or foundation. I dot just a bit on both cheeks and the forehead, then use a brush to even it out. It’s fine to use your fingers if you’re on the go, or if you want just a little more coverage.

Eyes, Cheeks, & Lips

I don’t have the patience for an involved eye shadow routine in any season, but especially not in the summer. For the most natural look, I don’t use shadow at all, but just swipe a bit of concealer on the eyelids, because mine look slightly blue without it. If I want just a shimmer of something, I use my finger to apply a transparent shadow like Cover Girl Eye Enhancer in champagne or a cream like MAC’s longwear paint pot in chilled ice.

Summer beauty tips eye makeup

Typically when it’s hot, I forego blush altogether. It tends to melt in an unflattering way, and most of us have a pretty natural flush in the summer anyway. If you want to look more sun-kissed, apply a bronzer underneath the cheekbones, and just a touch down the middle of the face, lightly grazing the forehead, nose, and chin. Never apply bronzer all over like you would with regular face powder. Look for the places the sun naturally hits your face, and dust those areas.

Summer beauty tips lip gloss

I’m a big fan of lipstick (and contend that ANYONE can wear red lipstick, no matter their coloring or their personality), but it mostly bleeds when it’s too hot outside. Shiny lip gloss is more forgiving than colors with a lot of pigment, and can look surprisingly festive. For the added benefit of a protecting balm, I like the feel and gloss of Kiehl’s #1, and for a pop of color I like the Lancome Juicy Tubes.

Summer beauty tips mascara

Even if I apply nothing else, I never skip mascara. I look disturbingly like I’m about to fall asleep if I don’t highlight my lashes. I’ve experimented with expensive mascaras and drugstore brands, and I just keep coming back to L’Oreal Voluminous Original mascara. The waterproof version is too bulletproof for me (it’s really hard to get off!), but if that’s what you need near the water, then it does the job. Otherwise, mascara is the best and cheapest way to look instantly awake and polished.

Hair

Chasing my kids around the pool, the last thing I want to worry about is my hair. (Sensing a theme here?) I recently grew my bangs out (again), so I see a lot of messy ponytails in my future this summer. To keep from being really boring with your hair, try an embellished headband (like this one) or a colorful scarf (like this gauzy one). You can also add a sweet detail like a small braid near your hairline.

Summer beauty tips hair accessories

Or just embrace the beachy, messy look! My hair is fine and stringy, so when I’m not in the mood to fuss with a straightening iron, I spritz Bumble & Bumble Surf spray all over, and give my hair a little shake. Voila! Low maintenance is always the best policy.

I hope these few ideas help you find a no-fuss summer beauty routine. You can find all of my lazy beauty posts here. I’m always tweaking the products I use, so if you have any of your own suggestions about looking your best, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

Thanks for letting me share here today!

 This post contains affiliate links! We only share what we love and for things we think you will love too! 

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Sundays With Writers: Weightless by Sarah Bannan

July 12th, 2015

Sundays With Writers

I have been so blessed to have such a great Sundays With Writers line-up this month. I hope you are enjoying this series half as much as I am!  I have another incredible writer to feature today and I think her book should be mandatory reading for parents of teens and also a great book for older teens to read.

Today I am sharing a virtual cup of coffee with Sarah Bannan to talk about her debut novel WeightlessThis book was an eye-opener for me about bullying today and how different it is from when we were kids… and, yet, in many ways how it is still the same. This is not a feel-good book today, but an unsettling look at how teens bully one another. I find her use of narrators (read more in our interview below) is what makes this book so compelling.

Weightless by Sarah Bannan

When Carolyn Lessing moves from New Jersey to Alabama with her mother, she rattles the status quo of the juniors at Adams High. Gorgeous, stylish, a great student and gifted athlete without a mean girl bone in her body Carolyn is gobbled up right away by the school’s cliques. She even begins dating a senior, Shane, whose on again/off again girlfriend Brooke becomes Carolyn’s bitter romantic rival. When a make-out video of Carolyn and Shane makes the rounds, Carolyn goes from golden girl to slut in an instant, with Brooke and her best friend responsible for the campaign.
Carolyn is hounded and focused on, and becomes more and more private. Questions about her family and her habits torture her. But a violent confrontation with Shane and Brooke in the student parking lot is the last attack Carolyn can take.

Bannan sheds light on how bullying happens now that kids have access to social media and creatively utilizes an undisclosed narrator who acts as an observer and participant in the bullying of a new girl at their school. Well-written and unflinching, it would be a great read for your older teen or for parents who want to see how bullying occurs today. I highly recommend this one! 

Grab your cup of coffee and let’s settle in with Sarah Bannan to learn more about the story behind this story!

Sarah Bannan

What prompted you, as a writer, to tackle the topic of bullying? Were there any real-life cases that were an inspiration to you when telling the fictional story of Carolyn?

When I was thirteen, my family moved to a small town in Alabama. I was in eighth grade at the time, and the move was something of a culture shock. My school was full of football and cheerleaders and cliques and the high school had an honest-to-god beauty pageant. We voted on class favorites and our cheerleaders and homecoming court. Everything seemed like a looks or personality contest, and that was a contest I knew I would never be in the running for, let alone win.

I had fantastic friends, and a great experience all through my time in Alabama, but I think I always knew that there was something in the town and the atmosphere of my high school that might lend itself to fiction. I’ve also found that my high school years and my friendships from that period still stick in my mind, all these years later. I’ve done a lot of reading about this – our obsession with our teenage years – and apparently it’s a time when you make some of your most lasting memories, in large part because this is the very time in which you are shaping and determining your sense of self, your individual identity. It’s also a time of firsts – first kiss, first drive, first break-up, first time away from home. And firsts are always a little easier to remember than second and third and fourth times. It’s one of the things about WEIGHTLESS that’s worth remembering, the degree to which it’s a document of memory: the narrators are looking back and trying to cobble together a shared truth of what happened over one school year. But they’re being really careful in the way that they do it, as they’re paranoid about accepting culpability or blame. Or defining themselves by what happened during the year.

Phoebe Prince

When I started writing WEIGHTLESS, I had my high school in the back of my mind. But I was also reading a lot about bullying, and cyber-bullying, in the news. I was very much haunted by the story of Phoebe Prince, the young Irish girl who moved to South Hadley, MA when she was 15. She was bullied, and ultimately took her own life. I read a great deal about her story, and the complexities that surrounded it, and also about similar, less high profile cases back in Ireland, and I started to get a picture of what it looks like to be a teenager now, in the age of social media. This frightened me, to a significant degree, but it also made me feel that this was exactly the story I should be telling.

The narration in your story is told in first person plural.  If that wasn’t unique enough, you don’t ever know the names of these narrators as they observe (and participate) in the bullying of Carolyn. Why did you choose this type of narration and why do you think this angle was the best way to capture the story?

I’ve said before that WEIGHTLESS began as a voice in my head that I just couldn’t shake. And that’s totally true. I had this chorus, in my head: a group of girls, sitting back, watching cheerleaders perform in front of them. They’re obsessed with the girls – with their childhoods, their appearances, their sex lives – and they seem to want to be them as much as they want to tear them down.

I tried, when I was first drafting the novel, to put it in first and third person voices – but it just didn’t work or, perhaps, I just didn’t have access to any voice else except this group of girls. They are watching from the outside, and passing comment on what they’ve seen, what they’ve heard, what they think they know.

It was only after I finished the novel that I realized what an effect the voice actually has and I think that’s why I felt I had to keep it, sustain it. Why I felt like it was the right way to go. The voice underlines the role of gossip in a town like this. Group-think. Rumor. Memory. Dissipation of responsibility. Avoidance of guilt.

Readers will notice when reading the book that it’s intercut with other forms of narration: Facebook feeds, newspaper articles, transcripts, committee reports. This was all in an effort to layer the narrative (the “we” can be awfully claustrophobic!) and highlight how the way in which what we hear often contrasts to what is reported. I wanted readers to feel as if they were picking up a kind of unofficial scrapbook for the year.

 There are so many moments in this book that feel like you are inside the head of a teenager; in fact, I had a few flashbacks of my own moments when I was young. For example this line: “We sat outside Sbarro’s and ordered cheese pizza and we took off the cheese and blotted it with our napkins. We would eat frozen yogurt later, topped with Oreos and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and M&Ms.” I REALLY remember doing this as a teen and had completely forgot about it.  How did you capture these teenage voices so perfectly?

It’s sad: it was eerily easy for me to access the actual teenage mentality, as I have not entirely matured, despite being 37 years of age! I don’t know. I mean, I just remember the boredom and contradictions of that time very clearly, and the same insecurities that plagued me then, still plague me today, but they are (thankfully!) not so pronounced or life-consuming.

In terms of some of the detail, one of my sisters is a high school English teacher in California and very kindly gave me advice around some technical things: brand names, technology in schools, cultural preoccupations. My other sister lives in Connecticut is the mother of two teenagers, and she was also able to give me insight into those matters – and her daughter kindly helped me with a number of important details, as did a cousin of mine. In some earlier drafts there are a few clangers – I think I may have even referenced a Nokia ring tone somewhere!

Raising compassionate kids is a really big thing for me as a mom. After all your research on cyberbullying, could you offer just one piece of advice for parents on how we can help our kids stand up to bullying?

Well, this is advice coming from a fiction writer…but I think we just need to encourage kids (and adults!) to be kinder to one another. When I went to school, I feel like there was a huge emphasis on self-confidence and achievement, and not much on character or empathy. I’m not saying we need to drop the first two, but we need more attention to the latter…and I think the best way to do this is to… read more literary fiction. I’m sure you’ve seen the countless studies about how reading literary fiction increases empathy and I know this to be true. It’s one of the few ways in which we can really get into somebody else’s shoes, imagine things from somebody else’s perspective. So…my advice is, surprise, to get kids to read more!

Were you ever bullied as a child or did you ever feel like you contributed in some way to the bullying of another? Was there one character in the story, in particular, you really related to?

I think there’s a distinction between bad behavior – or meanness – and bullying, and I was both the victim and the perpetrator of the former, but not the latter. I think this is the case, at least. I’m not sure that makes it better, but I think it’s worth making the distinction, and one of the things in WEIGHTLESS that emerges is the way in which we are sometimes a bit too quick to point fingers and apply labels of ‘bully’. And then ‘bullies’ end up being bullied and round and round and round it goes.

As I mentioned, I moved around a lot growing up, and every place we lived seem to contain these rituals and traditions that were almost designed to make kids, especially girls, compete against one another. And not in a healthy, esteem-boosting kind of way. In retrospect, it’s shocking to me that more shocking things didn’t happen, that there wasn’t more bullying. Kids, by and large, tried to be kind to one another, but only within our set little cliques. There wasn’t much mixing.

I love Carolyn the most, of course, of all the characters, but I was nothing like her in school: I was awkward and nerdy and of zero interest to guys. In many ways, in retrospect, I can see that this was a blessing. I wasn’t a threat to anyone at my school or in my town.

I suppose I identify with the narrators the most, and I’m sure this will make readers think I’m a horrible person, but I think young people, and adults, can be scarily lacking in empathy. And I was probably happy in the fact that I was rarely outwardly mean to anybody, but I also wasn’t in a position of power within my high school to do so. The narrators are neither as cool as they’d like to be, nor as lame as they think they are. They occupy this very important place in the middle of high school hierarchies, and I’m pretty sure it’s the place I occupied myself. I was never bullied, or not really, and I never bullied anyone, or not really. But I watched a lot of things happen. And I talked about it. And, in retrospect, I wish I had done more.

If you could tell anyone to read one book (other than your own) what would that book be?

I think that’s almost impossible for me as I read constantly, and I am forever discovering my newest favorite novel…So, I’m going to choose my novel of the moment, which is Sarah Crossan’s ONE, which will be published by Bloomsbury in August. It’s a verse novel for young adults, and it’s a beautiful story about conjoined twins. It’s completely consuming and unlike anything else I’ve ever read.

(I should also say that I reread, every summer, Meg Wolitzer’s THE INTERESTINGS and Curtis Sittenfeld’s PREP. Two completely amazing feats of literary fiction and coming of age…I know this is cheating but it’s hard for me!)

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

*This post contains affiliate links!
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It’s the 3 Little Things: Addictive Shows, A New Way to Consume Books, & Distraction-Free Days

July 10th, 2015

It's the 3 Little Things

Happy Friday to you all! After so many fun guest posts for the 3 Little Things, it’s so great to be back sharing with you today! On this weekend’s agenda? Host a sleepover for my son in honor of his THIRTEENTH birthday (hold me!). Luckily, the only request is video games and takeout pizza- I would say that is completely doable!

This is 13

I started this site when he was just one- barely, toddling around and filling up his mama’s days chasing him. I know many of you have witnessed him growing up online over the years. He is now bigger than me and I keep turning around and thinking, “Who is this man in my house?”

I feel blessed to call this sweet boy mine and I know God has BIG things planned for him. We hosted a family cookout to celebrate where we consumed this chocolate cake again, big buckets of fried chicken, and grilled corn on the cob. It was a sweet celebration! I still can’t believe I am OLD ENOUGH for this. So crazy! When they say that time with your kids goes by fast, it’s really true. I blinked and here we are.

Let’s get on to the happy list this week!

Orphan Black

Orphan Black

If you are looking to get sucked into  a series this summer, I can’t recommend Orphan Black enough. When browsing through what was available with our Amazon Prime membership we found this show on there. I suggested we watch it one night and it was one of those…How about one more? Well, maybe one more. Okay, seriously, last episode tonight….I mean it…Okay, just one more.

If you are late to the party like me, this series has everything in it it. It’s about a girl who is down on her luck financially. When a woman jumps in front of a train and commits suicide in front of her she happens to leave her purse behind.  The girl decides to go through it to grab some money, yet, the picture on her identification looks just like her so she decides to use her identity to break into her apartment. What she doesn’t know is that the lady was a cop…and that she isn’t the only one who looks like her.

What is amazing is that the same actress plays ALL the roles (I was counting them on IMDB and it’s about a dozen) and every single one feels like a completely different character. It is absolutely incredible how they shoot it and how amazing this actress is.

Get sucked into this one if you haven’t already! Luckily, Season 1 & 2 are on Prime so we should be set for about three days! (FREE-ish, With Amazon Prime)

Scribd Membership

Scribd

My Scribd membership had lapsed and I went to dig into another book and realized that I need to update my account information. I lasted about one day without it. I learned about it through working with them on a campaign, but now I am just an enthusiast for myself.  You can read my review of the services over here, but one new thing they now offer is unlimited audiobooks with your membership.

I have started utilizing my membership to listen to business books while I tackle the business of running this house (that sounds a lot better than cleaning toilets, doesn’t it?) and working on photography for our site.

I’m also challenging myself to dig into some books that might not be current, but should be on my radar. Next on my reading agenda is Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín. It is coming out in a film this fall (check out this trailer below- I’m in love already!) so I want to read this one before it hits the big screen.

If you haven’t tried Scribd, I can’t recommend it enough. As you put together your book lists of things you love, your preferences on the page for recommendations really begin to shape and it’s a lot like Netflix where you learn and discover new things based on what you like. Even more awesome is this kid’s selection which has helped keep my little bookworms busy this summer. Series books that are never available for my daughter have the entire series listed on Scribd (hundreds of Nancy Drew books!!) and you can read as many books and listen to as many books as you want all month long for about the price of one Kindle book.  We are loving it! (8.99 per month)

Kill News Feed Extension

Distraction Free Facebook

I can’t give up Facebook since most of my work relies upon social media sharing, but I found myself trying to update my Facebook page and I would be down a downward spiral of emotion trying to update my page. I felt like I should like and comment on EVERYTHING which is absolutely impossible and I was losing valuable hours of my day, oftentimes on things that no one would have noticed if I said anything or not. I was also losing out on time with my kids and my work was falling behind.

Enter Kills News Feed extension (available on all the different browsers- I’m just linking to Chrome). This throws up this message (see above) on my Facebook feed now and I don’t see anything at all. I can work, update, share on my pages and see comments on my own stuff, but I’m not being bombarded by the newsfeed anymore. Now when I have moments at appointments, downtime at the pool, or time to kill while running errands…I can see the newsfeed on my phone and like things, but it isn’t interfering with my day.

This is a WAY better idea for someone like me and WAY better for our family too. My productivity skyrocketed (well, sort of…) and I do feel a lot better without the weight of the world running in my head all the time. (FREE!)

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

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

 

 

Freebie Friday July 10, 2015

July 10th, 2015

freebie friday Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! As always, we would like to thank Couponing 101 for assisting us with our freebies each week for loads of deals, savings, and freebies!

This week on MomAdvice we introduced our July M Challenge Focus on Beauty, and I’m SO excited for you to see the wonderful, real-life beauty tips we’ve got lined up from guest posters! Summer is moving right along with a closet office makeover to create a spot for our son to study, a super fun Minions backyard bash, and a delicious, easy jar salad that’s perfect for picnics and lunches. And please don’t miss my interview with Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You for our Sundays With Writers series.

Check out this week’s edition of It’s the 3 Little Things to get your weekly dose of happy,  find lots of inspiring DIY, food, decorating and craft ideas in our popular Notebook, and be sure to take a look at all the contests you can enter on our weekly round-up of great giveaways, too.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Food & Drink
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Picnic in a Jar: Easy Quinoa Salad With Spinach and Tomatoes

July 9th, 2015

Easy Quinoa Salad With Spinach and Tomatoes from MomAdvice.com

Summertime means a lot of eating on-the-go for our family. It isn’t the running to and from activities like the school year, but the good stuff like picnics with my people, poolside lounging and road trips to the neighboring Michigan beaches.

Thankfully, the fresh produce and deliciously grown convenience food that we all love is in season. A container of cherries shared by the pool, bunches of grapes on our car trips, and strawberries by the fistful in the sunshine until we think we might turn into berries ourselves. It’s all such good stuff, isn’t it?

Salads are my go-to in the summer thanks to their amazing portability factor. Not only do I love fresh green salads made with romaine or spinach, but I adore a healthy topping of quinoa on top for that protein punch.

Easy Quinoa Salad With Spinach and Tomatoes from MomAdvice.com

Check out this easy tutorial to make this Easy Quinoa Salad With Spinach and Tomatoes in a Jar on the Kenmore blog this month! Yay!

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