Small-Budget Crushes 04.03.17

April 3rd, 2017

Personalized Family Tree Print

personalized family tree print (great Mother’s day gift!)

Bell-Sleeve Top

bell-sleeve top

Literary Tote Bag

literary tote bag

Hanging Planter

hanging planter

Friends Peephole Decal

friends peephole decal

Acts of Insanity Card Game

acts of insanity card game

Pineapple Pajama Pants

pineapple pajama pants

Copper Boot Tray

copper boot tray (we have this and this cool insert to keep boots elevated!)

Denim Shirt Dress

denim shirt dress (use code GREAT for 40% off!)

 

Coffee Shop Tee

coffee shop tee

Hamilton the Revolution Book

hamilton book

Family Tree Necklace

family tree necklace

Flamingo Drink Holder Set

flamingo drink holder set

 

conquering mom life tee

conquering mom life tee

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 

March 2017 Must-Reads

March 31st, 2017

March 2017 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

I think I am setting a record for most pages read this month thanks, in part, to my commitment to give up social media and email checking after 5PM for Lent.  This month I managed to consume 11 (!!) books to share with you today for our March Must-Reads list. As always, I like a little variety in my stack so today’s list should have something for everyone and several 5-star books that you must, must read!

As I know many of my friends are leaving on Spring Break this week, I am hoping this list arrives just in time for a little vacation reading!

I’m still working my way through the MomAdvice Reading Challenge and tackled five categories for this month. It has really helped me to broaden a bit outside my normal genres. I hope you are enjoying working your way through it too.

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.

11 Must-Read Books from March 2017

 

Little Deaths by Emma Flint

Little Deaths by Emma Flint

Set in the summer of 1965, Flint’s novel reads like a true crime story as the author weaves the story of two missing children in Queens, New York and the story of their single mother who doesn’t fit the typical mother mold.

Ruth Malone, their mother, raises her children alone and doesn’t conform to the idea of what a good mother and wife should be. Working as a cocktail waitress, she is gorgeous with an overly done face and wardrobe. Ruth instantly becomes the suspect worth scrutinizing by the cops, the neighbors, and the press. When a tabloid reporter, intent on getting his first big story, begins covering the story of these missing children, he just can’t help but to become obsessed with her.

Much of the story is told through a series of interviews as Pete Wonicke tries to get the scoop and the reader is taken through this heart wrenching story from lost children, to found, to the agonizing building of the case.

Well-crafted and developed with a dramatic conclusion, Flint paints Ruth in such a way that she practically lifts off the pages. Although the conclusion was a bit too swift for me, I found this to be a solid read that left me guessing through much of it. I would recommend this one for fans of crime fiction, especially if you are a big fan of police procedural books since this book takes you through the case from start to finish.

3.5 Out of 5 Stars

Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Exit, Pursued by a Bear is a MomAdvice Book Club selection this year and I can’t wait to discuss this with our readers. This YA novel packs a coming-of-age punch as it examines the story of a rape and the aftermath for its victim.

Hermione is a flyer on her cheer squad and proud to be their captain. While away at cheer camp, she attends a party where someone  puts something in her drink and she is brutally raped and assaulted. When she awakes, she has no recollection of what has happened to her, but must deal with the devastating consequences of this assault.

I love that this book focuses less on being a victim and more about continuing to fight through the pain, not allowing this horrible situation to continue to define your life. Hermione is a true hero as she picks up the pieces of her life and is determined to carry on.

Heavier than a typical YA read and filled with a supportive cast of characters, Johnston deserves all the accolades she has received for this one including being listed as a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize.

Brave and unflinching, it’s a beautiful, beautiful read! Join our book club to discuss! You can also check my exclusive interview with the author this month!

5 Out of 5 Stars

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

Dead Letters is a cleverly structured mystery that I devoured in a single day. Ava and Zelda are estranged twin sisters and their names happen to be the bookends to the alphabet. Ava is summoned to come home to her wildly dysfunctional family when Zelda is said to have possibly perished in a fire.

Zelda just might not be dead, however, and decides to send her sister Ava on a scavenger hunt to unwind the mystery of where she is. This craftily drawn goose chase will remind readers of a well-developed Agatha Christie novel.

The authors turn-of-phrase and creatively written characters make this book a treat from start to finish.

Do not miss this debut and have a wonderful time trying to piece together whatever happened to Zelda.

Reading Challenge Category Completed-A book by a debut author

5 Out of 5 Stars

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime was our MomAdvice Book Club selection this month and I am quite confident this book will be on my top ten list for 2017. Although I have been a big fan of his work on The Daily Show, I have an entirely new respect for this man and the survival skills he used during his youth in apartheid South Africa.

Noah is truly, “born a crime,” because his birth is seen as a criminal act since he was born to a white father and black mother. To keep him from not being rounded up for an orphanage, he often was sidelined indoors instead of playing outside with his peers. His mother also employed survival techniques, like pretending to be his maid instead of his mother, to just be able to play at the park with her son.

The reader is taken through the story of his childhood that, even in its darker moments,  Noah manages to add heart and humor to each and every story. This brave little mischievous boy’s story will pull at every heartstring and illustrates why he is now so passionate about politics and the world.

DO get this one on audiobook to appreciate every nuance and accent that Noah can bring to the table. It’s like listening to the most polished standup comedy routine to hear him read this out loud.

As soon as I finished it, I just wanted to listen to it all over again.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book on race

5 Out of 5 Stars

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow was chosen by my local book club for our selection this month. This one happened to be on my list from last year so I definitely looked forward to reading it. I will admit though, this book was a slow burn for me.

Set in 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in Metropol, a grand hotel that happens to be across the street from the Kremlin. Due to the sentence, the entire book’s plot centers on this hotel and the unlikely friends, lover, and even child that become a part of the Count’s life.

While I appreciated the glimmers of stories throughout and the relationships that help sustain him in his time in Metropol, I really slogged through the book as this book really didn’t necessarily move plot, but was more of a study of character.  The Count was certainly a charming guy and I can see why so many are enamored with this book, but I was craving a little more action in this story.

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A historical fiction novel

3 Out of 5 Stars

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale has been on my reading bucket list forever and with the upcoming Hulu series soon to be released (watch the trailer here!), I knew I wanted to get this one under my belt before I watched it. Since the election season,  this book has seen resurgence in popularity and Atwood even shared about what her book means during the Trump era with the New York Times,  as it rocks the bestseller list once again.

This timeless dystopian novel, written all the way back in 1984, explores what the world looks like when women lose power over their own bodies and a religious totalitarian government dictates how and when they can reproduce. Women are given roles and seen as objects limiting them to roles like wives, Marthas, Handmaids, Aunts and Unwomen and everyone’s main focus is on procreation.

This book is disturbing in many ways, but I couldn’t put it down. I’m glad I waited to read this because it hit me at just the right time and gave me a lot to chew on, even if I found the ending to be an unsatisfying one.

I highlighted almost the entire book because there are so many beautifully written passages. Atwood certainly has a way with words! One line in particular has stuck with me…“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.”

I couldn’t put this one down- be sure to add it to your stack in preparation for a Hulu-binge session!

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A Dystopian novel

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel

The Stranger in the Woods shares the remarkable true story of the last true hermit. Christopher Knight, at the mere age of 20, decided to leave his home in Massachusetts, drive to Maine, and disappear into a forest to not return for almost three decades.

Yup, I said TRUE story.

Knight relied upon the neighboring homes for stealing the items he needed to survive and upon his capture, Finkel reached out to write him and to learn more of his own personal story.  Through those initial letters, Finkel formed as much of a friendship as one could with a hermit, and learned of Knight’s survival skills through brutal Maine winters and why he preferred the isolation.

With commentary from many experts, it’s a fascinating read on why some people flourish better in isolation and why humans crave relationships in the way that we do. The amount of effort Finkel goes through to carve an accurate story of Knight is admirable, but at times uncomfortable because a hermit doesn’t necessarily want to share his life story with the world. That’s kind of why he disappeared…

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book you can read in a day

4 Out of 5 Stars

 

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

The Roanoke Girls gave me flashbacks of the days of shoving V.C. Andrews books under my mattress for guilty consumption. It is that kind of twisted, dirty, and weird familial experiences that you are going to have if you decide to crack open this thriller.

This book is about a dirty family secret that has had great power over the wealthy Roanoke Girls and the power is so strong that many of them die. When one of the girls goes missing, her cousin returns to face the demons that have always haunted her.

Do a little research if you have issues with triggers because this one might not be for you.  I found the audiobook to be a great escape this week and would recommend it for people who like their thrillers dark and dirty.

Oh, you know who you are! Shame on you!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

I adored Jennifer Niven’s YA debut novel, All the Bright Places (read my interview with the author on that one over here!), so I was thrilled to hear she had a new book out called,  Holding Up the Universe. In this book, she alternates chapters between Jack, a popular teenage boy who has prosopagnosia (a neurological condition that causes facial blindness) and Libby, who enters high school after an astounding 300 pound weight loss that caused her to be a social media sensation in her town.

These two are both placed into an after-school detention program where they find solace in one another and their shared difficulties. These difficulties are just the tip of the iceberg though as they each struggle, in different ways, with the loss of a parent.

I knew very little about prosopagnosia and Niven develops the most advanced case of it in Jack where he cannot even recognize his family. It definitely sent me down a rabbit trail especially after discovering that Brad Pitt is believed to have this too (who knew?).

Written in short chapters, this is a sweet YA novel with a lot of heart and would be a great one for teens as she writes about the importance that all people feel and be seen.

3.5 Out of 5 Stars

White Tears by Hari Kunzru

White Tears by Hari Kunzru

White Tears is one of those books that I think you are really going to love and appreciate the genius of the writing or you will just be left utterly confused by the trip that Kunzru takes you on.

It is described as a ghost story, but I don’t really think that this describes it at all. This book is a deep reflection on race and what white privilege affords us and how white people often take what doesn’t belong to us.

It opens with two kids, one privileged and the other riding on his coattails, who are fascinated by recorded sound and music. When the narrator happens to pick up a blues song of a street musician, they try to pass it off as an early blues recording, adding the pops and hiss of vinyl to make this song feel authentic. Naming the unknown musician as Charlie Shaw, they set out to share and sell this music that doesn’t belong to them.

Of course the music wasn’t theirs to begin with and when they discover that there really is a Charlie Shaw out in the world, bad things begin to happen for the credit they took for music they never owned.

The second half of the novel took me awhile to really understand what was happening and I can’t even really say that I *got* it all, but I will say that the message that pulls through is brilliant and gave me a lot to think about after I finished the book.

This is a thought-provoking read and would be a good one to dive into with a book club!

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book published this year

4 Out of 5 Stars

 

The Body Doesn't Lie by Vicky Vlachonis

The Body Doesn’t Lie by Vicky Vlachonis

Vicky Vlachonis is an osteopath and musculoskeletal specialist that works with a lot of celebrities and dancers. Her holistic approach to pain management is what has made her famous among these celebrity circles and she believes that chronic pain can be managed through better habits.

The big focus on pain is, of course, on sleep. Of course, most habits in this book do feel intuitive, but I needed reminding. From creating sleeping rituals that help your body to fall into better sleep to understanding the trigger points on your body to help relieve pain to food choices that can improve digestion. These tips make you think about where your pain stems from and help you find better ways to repair it.

Intuitive, perhaps, but a year of broken sleep makes me so thankful for this book and finally getting restorative sleep. If you have broken sleep or suffer from chronic pain, this is a book worth checking out.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2017 Must-Reads

February 2017 Must-Reads

March 2017 Must-Reads 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.

Amy’s Notebook 03.29.17

March 29th, 2017

String Wrapped Jars

source: design mom

I adore this string wrapped jar display. So pretty!

I don’t know if it is an age thing, but this article really resonated with me this week.

6 Kitchn editors tried Whole30 and share their results.

I loved reading this piece on limitations. I set a lot on myself and find comfort in the boundaries.

I just finished this fascinating read and have been thinking a lot about it this week.

You can make the most of a lunch hour with this list of websites to snag a new skill.

I love that this was your top purchase this month since I got one too! Definitely size down on that one.

I’m going to have to remember this steel oats trick for my crazy mornings.

We have a double desk and love it so I loved this Ikea hack studio desk tutorial.

Milk & Honey Soap

source: one good thing

I’ve been wanting to try a little soap-making and this milk & honey soap looks like a great start!

This unforgettable party is so incredibly inspiring.

10 fundamental truths that will change your life.

Imperfection Quote

source: my instagram feed

I am discovering that being vulnerable is a good thing.

The things nobody tells you about buying and renovating an old house. Looking forward to seeing this journey unfold!

These look like some creative ways to put yarn to work without knitting or crocheting.

This was your more visited tutorial this month. It must be salad season!

Considering blogging? This is a great article on finding your niche and getting paid for it.

I loved seeing how Courtney packed for her tiny wardrobe tour.

Comment of the Week: ❤❤❤ Finished this one today and loved it. I’d love to hear more about how she chose her own “champions”. Who are the champions in your life, Amy?- Kaytee

Loved to hear that you are enjoying next month’s book club pick! I’ve been getting lots of comments on this one so I’m excited to discuss it. As for my champions, I actually have two really amazing ones in my life.

My biggest cheerleader ever has always been my Dad. There are many things I have doubted that I could ever do and he has offered incredible pep talks to push me out of my tired boundaries. When I wanted to do this website, he would go from computer to computer clicking on advertisements to help support me because he believed in my work. When I had a particularly good day, I know he had been working really hard on clicking for me. As things grew, he has continued to be my champion and believed that I was capable of becoming successful in this funny field. He’s always the first person I call to share a life highlight with. 

The second is my husband. No one could talk me up more than he does even when it isn’t entirely deserved. He’s been my foundation for much of my life and I couldn’t ask for a better champion and partner. 

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

Teaching Kids the Importance of Failure

March 28th, 2017

Teaching Kids the Importance of Failure from MomAdvice.com

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

Failure is a funny thing.  As adults, we hate to fail.  

Our mistakes look bigger than they really are.  

We think about our mistakes much longer than necessary.  

We replay situations and think about what we should have done instead.

When it comes to our children, however, we should approach failure in a completely different way.

We should want our kids to make as many mistakes as possible.  

I’ve always encouraged learning from mistakes.  Recently, our family began celebrating them.  Yes, you read correctly – we CELEBRATE mistakes.

It all started with a book.

We go to Barnes and Noble often.  We love to sit and read books and look at the games they have for sale.  I never walk out of there without buying a book for someone.  The girls in our house (me, included!) have an addiction to books – which is a good problem to have.

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

A few weeks ago, we met our close friends there and their daughter pointed out the book, Rosie Revere, Engineer.  A few people had already mentioned it to me and said we would love it.  Our girls love to build and create and often use the most random things to do so.  Once, Caroline used a knitted afghan and had it suspended from her bedroom ceiling with paperclips, yarn, and packing tape.

We read the book in the store and loved it so much we bought it immediately.  I love how the story reinforces the importance of failure and how failure is the best way to get on the path to success.

This passage reinforced for me how important it is for kids to experience failure over and over again:

She turned round to leave, but then Great-Great-Aunt Rosie

grabbed hold of young Rosie and pulled her in close

and hugged her and kissed her and started to cry.

“You did it! Hooray! It’s the perfect first try!

This great flop is over.  It’s time for the next!”

Young Rosie was baffled, embarrassed, perplexed.

“I failed,” said dear Rosie.  “It’s just made of trash.

Didn’t you see it? The cheese-copter crashed.”

“Yes!” said her great aunt.  “It crashed.  That is true.

But first it did just what it needed to do.

Before it crashed, Rosie…

before that…

it flew!”

We celebrate failure every day.

Every day, sometime after school, I ask the girls what mistake they made during the day.  It can be as simple as not paying attention in class, saying something mean to their sisters, or throwing their backpacks in the middle of the living room floor.  Sometimes it’s more serious as not speaking up for someone, being disrespectful, or hitting a sibling.

The best thing we can do is to teach our child that everyone makes mistakes.  It’s important to own up to those mistakes and try to do better the next time.  

What this looks like:

Read the book Rosie, Revere, Engineer to your child.  Talk about the feelings Rosie has throughout the book.  In the beginning, she feels embarrassed by her failure because her uncle laughs.  Her great aunt embraces the failure and shows Rosie how it will lead to finding success with her inventions.

Talk about a time you and your child has failed at something.  Talk about something in which you failed as a child or an adult.  Then the next day ask your child, “What did you fail at today?” or “What mistakes did you make today?”  They may be perplexed and not remember what you are talking about at first.  Remind them.

“Remember when we read Rosie Revere, Engineer and she became excited about making mistakes because it meant she was learning? What mistakes did you make today?”

At first, they’re going to have a hard time thinking of one.  That’s okay.  Instead, you tell your child what mistakes you made during the day.  It’s really important for adults to participate in this activity too.  We need to be modeling that it’s okay to make mistakes.

The most important part of talking about failure is…

We talk about what we’ve learned from these mistakes and how we can work to change them for the next time.  It’s important to acknowledge there’s a high chance the same mistake will be made again.  That’s okay.  People are flawed and we make a lot of mistakes, some of them over and over again.  We hope each time the mistake is a little less so we can begin to learn from it.

We should want our kids to make as many mistakes as possible.  

During these formative years, we’re available to help guide them on how to pick up the pieces and repair their mistakes, if they need it.  When they’re old enough to go out into the world on their own, they’ll be better equipped to handle mistakes and uncomfortable situations.

Here are some great books that help reinforce the importance of making mistakes.  They go in age from youngest to oldest audience.  I hope you find them helpful.

xoxo

–k

Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty

Rosie Revere, Engineer

rosie-reveres-project-book-engineers

You can pre-order Rosie Revere’s Big Project Book For Bold Engineers, which will have projects your child can work on.  I know our kids are going to love it!

Teaching Kids the Importance of Failure from MomAdvice.com

Other books to check out on teaching the importance of failure:

The Most Magnificent Thing

What Do You Do With a Problem?

What to do When Mistakes Make You Quake

Feats and Failures

How They Choked

Teaching Kids the Importance of Failure

What are some ways you have taught your children the importance of failure? Please share!

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! 

This post contains affiliate links that help our site! Thank you for supporting me! xoxo

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DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft

March 27th, 2017

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Mirum Shopper. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

Today I’m partnering up with Dannon® Danimals® Smoothies and creating the cutest craft to celebrate spring! We are making diy pom pom bunnies from a few common items you have in your craft supplies and recycling those drink containers from our Danimals® Smoothies.

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

Dannon® Danimals® Smoothies are conveniently snack-sized, sealed and ready to drink, so I love to keep these on hand especially on busy days where we are running from school straight to activities. It’s also good to know that these fun drinks do not contain high fructose corn syrup, no artificial colors or flavorings, and are a good source of Calcium and Vitamin D.

This seems to be a busy season of the school year for us as we close in on the end of the school year. It isn’t uncommon to be running from one thing to the next so I try to keep items like these on hand for days when a healthy snack is required between activities and pair it with a handful of almonds or baby carrots for an easy snack to enjoy on-the-go.

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

danimals-smoothies-2

You can find these over in the dairy cooler at Walmart and right now their 12-pack is under $5!  To save even more, take advantage of this Ibotta offer for an additional dollar off. This coupon can be used on either the 12-pack or you can really stock up for your family and snag an 18-pack for these upcoming busy days.

You can try all the fun flavors from Rockin’ Raspberry® to Strawberry Explosion® to Wild Watermelon®!

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

These containers also happen to be the perfect size for upcyclying into fun crafts so today I wanted to use these containers to make adorable Pom Pom Bunnies for Spring! This would be so fun for a classroom for a quick snack and craft time to celebrate the Easter season.

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed

1 Dannon® Danimals® Smoothies Container (make sure to rinse this out well)

White or Gray Cotton Yarn and a scrap of contrasting color for the bow tie

Wiggly eyes

Pink colored pom

1.5″ foam ball (over by the floral supplies)

Straight Pins

Glue

1 piece of white felt

Medium Pom-Pom Maker (or you can make a pom-pom with a few items around your house)

Scissors

How to Make a DIY Pom-Pom Bunny

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

1. Remove the packaging from your Dannon® Danimals® Smoothies Container carefully with scissors.

2. Place the styrofoam ball on top and push in to secure. Please note, if you don’t want the styrofoam to show, you can wrap the ball in yarn first and then place on top. Also  if you want it to stay in place you can add a little hot glue around this to make sure it is completely secure.

3. If you have never used a pom-pom maker before, you can see my pom-pom tutorial for full instructions. Using a straight pin, pin the pom-pom to the front of the styrofoam ball to make the bunny’s face.

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

4. Glue your pink nose and eyes to the front of your pom-pom.

5. Cut out your felt ears, pinch these at the bottom, and then use the pins again to pin these ears to the top of the head.

6. Finish with a bow tie around the neck.

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

DIY Pom Pom Bunnies Craft from MomAdvice.com

How cute is that? This would be such a fun preschool craft for Spring! I hope this tutorial inspires you to snag some Danimals® Smoothies from your local Walmart to keep on hand for these busy days with our kids and don’t forget to print that coupon for some additional savings!

This post was created in partnership with Mirum Shopper. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

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Small-Budget Crushes 03.27.17

March 27th, 2017

Reed Garden Top

reed garden top (use code CYBER50 for 50% off & free shipping today only!)

Should I Wash My Hair Today Print

should I wash my hair today print

Blush Tote

blush tote

Unicorn Knitting Kit

unicorn knitting kit

Tassel Earrings

tassel earrings (I got these and they are SO CUTE! Not too big!)

Mock Neck Lace Swing Blouse

mock neck lace swing blouse (I have it and it is SO CUTE! True to size!)

Antique Glass Drying Rack

antique glass drying rack

Gracelin Ballet Flats

gracelin ballet flats (just ordered these for spring- love that they come in wide!)

Printable Gift Card Box

printable gift card box

Block Heels

strappy block heels (use coupon code SPRING17 for 30% off)

Ruffle Front Tee

ruffle front tee

I Love Chicago Art Print

I love chicago art print

How to Tell Time

how to tell time rack

eyelet gingham apron eyelet gingham apron

treat-yo-self-gift-wrap

treat yo self gift wrap

Wooden Clothing Rack

wooden clothing rack

Chambray Poncho

chambray poncho

Clutch Bag

handmade vegan clutch bag

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

 

Amy’s Notebook 03.22.17

March 22nd, 2017

Honey Lime Salmon Tacos

source: two peas and their pod

These honey lime salmon tacos look like a Friday night winner!

What a beautiful gift to share- I definitely want to participate in this #feedingabrokenheart challenge!

Have your kids caught the slime bug too? Here are 14 slime recipes you can mix up!

I’ve been listening to this book on audiobook and it’s SO GOOD. Kind of reminds me of Flowers in the Attic.

This looks like a great simple garden plan for my green thumb friends!

A reviewer puts 5 top-rated sleep-tracking apps to the test. I might give a couple of these a spin!

Buy these! You will not regret it. It’s helping make cute ballet flats a lot warmer and the weight on these is perfection. I can’t believe how much comfort they add for flats!

I had no idea that a bird-based system was the inspiration for Pantone. So fascinating!

I’ve had great success braising meat in milk so this braised pork roast in almond milk would be a lovely Sunday night feast.

This also looks like a healthy nacho switch-up for a gathering with friends.

Pantry Organization source: apt. 34

This pantry design is ah-mazing!! Loving that cookbook display!

I want to try this 1-bowl vegan gluten-free cracker recipe. These actually look pretty easy to make!

This piece on self-care is everything. Also, language on this, but worth the read.

I’ve been thinking about seeing this film so this was an interesting read. Have you seen it?

I haven’t listened to this podcast yet, but this read gave me a lot to chew on this week, especially as a blogger.

This looks like a fun and healthy way to do pizza. I’m going to add these to our menu planner!

These steak salads with miso dressing are a summer date night winner!

10 ways to work on being happier this year! I couldn’t agree more.

These self-tanner tips are awesome. I’m lazy, I prefer to do this for my faux glow, but maybe someday I’ll get some motivation in me!

Jenny's Print Shop

source: little green notebook

If you need me, I’m ordering all these prints for my walls! GORGEOUS and affordable!

I loved touring Caroline’s closet and seeing how she makes it work with her capsule wardrobe.

I’m picky about sweatshirts, but I got this one and it is the softest, butteriest, cutest sweatshirt ever. I’m normally an XS, but got a S in this. Size up! I’m ordering the other colors now!

This bunny butt cake is perfect for Easter!

The idea of crying every week voluntarily is baffling to me, but here you goThis is Us fans.

Some language, but look what happened when these coworkers switched identities on emails. Crazy!

Comments of the Week: Wow, I got so many sweet comments this week on my 6 happiness strategies for a more creative life. Many messages were very personal so I will only share the public ones, but it seems that this is a struggle for many of us as we find our new place in the world.

“This is a great look at how to live our lives. There are so many “stages” in life and we are different people as we go through, and ultimately come out the other side, that we barely recognize the person we were before that point.”

I really loved this post as I feel it’s really hard to find anything blog related for parents with older kids. I was just telling my friend how bored I have been. I was embarrassed to say it since for years I was always thinking, “I will do that when he is older and I have time”! I have one child who is in 8th grade and I don’t have a job outside the home so I definitely have a lot of time. Now I just need to find some motivation and figure out how to figure out what I want to do first (which for me is the hardest part).”

“I’m in this phase of life too. It’s the first year in a decade that all of my kids are in school all day. I wasn’t expecting the mental and emotional struggle that I’ve been going through. Thanks for writing this, Amy!”

“These are great tips! As MY nest starts to prepare to be empty, I find the exact opposite things are filling my cup. I think that the high school years in particular have been so wonderfully full of DOING – I am enjoying the fact that I can sit in a chair with a good cup of coffee and a great book and just BE, guilt free! Maybe there will be a time when I want to add to my schedule, but it is also wonderful to realize that the nest is pretty darn comfortable, even if it isn’t as full as it once was.”

“Just read your post and as always SO much good information!! Really enjoyed your tips on living a happier life.  PS: giving theSkimm a try too! Thank you!!!!”

“Great post. It’s a bit bittersweet to see your kids grow, but it’s lovely when they get to the point where you can refocus on the side of you that has been living in the shadows all these years.”

There are many other comments like that coming in my inbox and I just wanted to say that I’m so glad to share that you are, most certainly, not alone in finding your new identity. The first couple of years were hard and this year has also been difficult as they are both in middle school now and require different things from me. Cue the identity crisis! 

That said, last night I went to my first Rising Tide Society (locals, over here!) meeting and it was SO GOOD for my soul.  I’m working on finding my people at this stage and surrounding myself with creatives is just what I needed as I find my new groove. I had the impression this was a group just for photographers, but I was dead wrong. It’s for anyone who does creative work. As someone with a bit of social anxiety, I felt brave going and proud doing it. I need to step out of my comfort zone more often. 

Just know, mamas, you are not alone and I am figuring it out too alongside of you. Thank YOU for your encouragement, especially those of you that are further along in your journey than me. xoxo

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 03.20.17

March 20th, 2017

ALDI Quarter Holder

aldi quarter holder (GENIUS!)

bardot-midi-dress

bardot midi dress

Knitting Bag

knitting bag

Golden Girls Forever Book

golden girls forever book

gilded-garden-top

gilded garden top

reversible seat cushions

reversible seat cushions (just got these and they are AMAZING!! SO CUSHY!)

co-sleeping art print

co-sleeping art print

Vinyl Separators

vinyl separators

a-line utility skirt

a-line utility skirt (use coupon code SPRING for 40% off)

thanks a flocking lot card set

thanks a flocking lot card set

memory foam slip-on sneakers

memory foam slip-on sneakers

Greer Plans Her Next Adventure Art Print

greer plans her next adventure print

wooden cake stand

wooden cake stand

Deuces Phone Case

deuces phone case

pom-pom lace-up sandals

pom-pom lace-up sandals

sloth running team shirt

sloth running team shirt- who’s ready for a nap?

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 

Sundays With Writers: Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

March 19th, 2017

Sundays With Writers

I’m so excited to be sharing my Sunday with E.K. Johnston today to discuss her incredible book, Exit, Pursued by a Bear.  The MomAdvice Book Club will be tackling this in our April discussion so I am hoping today’s interview will encourage you to pick it up and join us for a great discussion about this beautiful book in April.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Exit, Pursued By a Bear, packs a coming-of-age punch as it examines the story of a rape and the aftermath for its victim.

Hermione is a flyer on her cheer squad and proud to be their captain. While away at cheer camp, she attends a party where someone  puts something in her drink and she is brutally raped and assaulted. When she awakes, she has no recollection of what has happened to her, but must deal with the devastating consequences of this assault.

I love that this book focuses less on being a victim and more about continuing to fight through the pain, not allowing this horrible situation to continue to define your life. Hermione is a true hero as she picks up the pieces of her life and is determined to carry on.

Heavier than a typical YA read and filled with a supportive cast of characters, Johnston deserves all the accolades she has received for this one including being listed as a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize.

Brave and unflinching, it’s a beautiful, beautiful read!

Grab your coffee and let’s chat about this brave book from E.K. Johnston.

E.K. Johnston

Readers might not know that this book was inspired by Shakespeare’s, The Winter’s Tale. What was it about this work that made you want to retell it? What elements were the most important to you in Shakespeare’s work that you wanted to keep as elements in your own story?

Most scholars will tell you that The Winter’s Tale is the story of two boys-grown-to-men who find that friendship is a fragile construct and disillusionment is the price of adulthood. I respectfully disagree. For me, from my very early days of reading Shakespeare (the Charles and Mary Lamb prose edition), the play was about the friendship between two women: Hermione and Paulina, who loved one another more than they loved their husbands (with good reason). I loved Paulina’s steadfastness and her cleverness, faking Hermione’s death and concealing her in the king’s own castle for more than a decade and half, and I loved Hermione’s resilience and ability to survive utter betrayal from someone she trusted.

Furthermore, Hermione is persecuted by her husband for (falsely) perceived infidelity. He manipulates her actions and his own mind until he can blame her for something she is absolutely innocent of. I chose to update this as garden-variety slut-shaming in Exit, because we tend to back girls into corners and then treat them terribly for existing in the first place.

Also, I just really wanted to use the title: Exit, Pursued By A Bear.

Your fury over a Canadian Member of Parliament who was trying to recriminalize abortion also moved you to write this book. What do you hope the reader will walk away with after reading Hermione’s story?

I have two hopes for all readers of Exit, Pursued By A Bear.

  1. That they will believe women. Women. and,
  2. That they will trust women to make their own choices, particularly when it comes to bodily autonomy.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear has garnered so many awards and accolades including an NPR Best Book of 2016, Booklist Best Book of 2016, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2016, and so many more. Were you surprised by the response to this book especially since you were tackling such brave topics, particularly for the YA genre? What has been your favorite accolade so far?

YA has an extensive legacy of tackling amazing and brave topics, so I am both thrilled and honoured to see Exit join those ranks. If I may be indulgent, I was most pleased by Exit’s nomination to the Ontario White Pine list, which is a reading award program in Ontario high schools. I get to meet so many amazing students, many of them from places mentioned in the book itself, and that’s incredible.

You have shared that in your book, you imagined a world where a girl is believed and supported; a world where adults do their jobs and children are gracious; a world where a bear of a girl can heal, and then save herself. And it’s the most unbelievable thing you had ever done, even as a writer of fantasy. Why did you decide to tell your story in this way?

When I was at university for my MSc, I went to a conference and at the end of two days of people talking about bombings and logistics and mass excavations, a woman from the London Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Laboratory got up to talk to us about digital evidence collection. She was describing transmitting a fingerprint via a cell phone, and said the words “like on CSI”. There was general sighs and groans in the audience, and then she straightened and said “No, it’s a good example. Those shows tell us what we’re capable of. Where we should be trying to go.”

I was used to thinking like that about Star Trek, but it had never occurred to me that CSI might be similar. It’s an approach I tried to take when I was still studying forensics myself: this is how it should be, and that’s the approach I wanted to take with Exit.

This is how it should be.

In the author’s note, you encourage teens to find a champion in their life, as Hermione has found Polly. Who was a champion to you, in your life, and how do you think having that impacted you?

I am lucky enough to have two: Colleen, who I met in high school thanks to the seating arrangement and a pair lightsaber pens, and Emma, who I met in 2008 thanks to livejournal, Avatar: the Last Airbender, and the Naboo Handmaidens.

 Since you typically write fantasy, has writing this book given you encouragement to write more YA contemporary?

I write YA all the time. The great thing about YA is that you can write almost anything, and as long as it’s about a teenager, you’re set. So I’ve done contemporary fantasy, fairy-tale re-imaginings, sci-fi, and epic fantasy, as well as several combinations thereof. I don’t know if I’ll go back to YA contemporary, but I never say never in publishing.

Can you tell us a little about That Inevitable Victorian Thing that you have coming out in October and what else you are working on?

That Inevitable Victorian Thing is a YA near-future sci-fi. It’s a stubbornly utopi-ish vision of an alternate universe where the sun never set on the British Empire, and where a princess in disguise, a lumberjack with money problems, and a reluctant debutante are about to step onto the world stage.

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!

 

6 Happiness Strategies for a More Creative and Interesting Life

March 17th, 2017

happiness-techniques-for-creative-interesting-life
I invited my parents over for dinner one evening and my mom asked what our family had been up to that week. I shared a bit about a show that we caught at the local theater, how we attended an art gallery event for a friend, the adventure of taking our kids out (with success) to try a new cuisine they hadn’t before, and a documentary on design that we caught together.

My mom said something that really struck me.

She said, “Your family has such an interesting life. You know that?”

This is not a brag session at all because there are many, many moments in our life that are very uninteresting and basic. I have moments where I rant about having to run my children everywhere, where I find my focus is far too centered on my my health situation, I’ve often thought too much about what other people think of me, there are times where I fixate too much on keeping the perfect home, I’ve had periods where I have invested too much time on Facebook, there are moments where I am unkind and judgy to others, and MANY times where I’m just trying to put one foot in front of the other like everyone else.

Those moments don’t necessarily make for an interesting conversation, but they do make us human.

At times, I had thought the only thing that made me interesting was blogging. Blogging is certainly interesting when you are doing it as a profession and has brought interesting people and moments in my life, but I don’t think that makes me very interesting anymore. It’s just an interesting way to make money.

The thing is, as my kids get older I feel like they need me in different ways, but not in necessarily those needy toddler ways that gave me purpose. As they transitioned to middle school, I found that I needed interesting things in my life to fill my cup so that I could survive these days at home alone without boredom.  I began to seek a more interesting life than the one I had before and it has been through this that I am finding happiness and my people.

I hesitated to write these words to you today because I am far from anyone’s life coach.

I’m often a mess.

That said, I also wished for a mentor mom as I transitioned into this new role that can, at times, feel a little lonely. Building a new creative life for yourself really enables you to attract others to you because you bring something new to the table.

It makes conversations fun, it can make you feel young, and it makes you feel valued by others because you have your own things.

I don’t need to tell you it, but one day these incredible kids are hopefully going to be out there carving their own life paths. If our entire identities are just caring for them, what will we do with ourselves when they are gone? What will be our new identity?

Cue the foundation of interesting life moments you have been working on and the transition to the next chapter might feel a tad less bumpy.

Here are six happiness strategies I’m doing to live a more creative and interesting life…

food-pantry

Find an Interesting Volunteer Opportunity

Volunteering can be an incredible way to add interesting moments to your life. I started by volunteering in our school system and connected my love of reading with reading to kids who struggle with this skill. This year, I have found my place working at our church food pantry weekly, doing the behind-the-scenes work of getting the food sorted and organized for people to shop. I also am putting in my application to mentor refugee youth because I love welcoming people to our town and know they would have so much to teach me.

Volunteer Match is a great site to visit to find unique volunteering opportunities that you may not have even known existed. I never even knew about the mentor program for refugees until I went on their website. For example, some of the listings in our town include crafting with hospice patients, being a museum tour guide, working the gardens of a local museum,  becoming a crisis counselor, being a small business mentor, or caring for animals at the shelter.

Can you imagine how different your life might look if you invested in one of these things?

Not only are you helping a local cause, but you also just might be putting your foot in the door for a potential job opportunity someday.

around-the-house-2

Read Interesting Books

What a boring life I would be leading if I didn’t have such a variety of books in my book stack. Since most of you are regulars here, I know that most of you are also embracing a good stack of books in your life too. If you need a fresh one, check out the books section for ideas!

For many years, I got stuck in one or two genres of books and I wouldn’t branch outside of my comfort zone. My reading and life felt a lot more interesting though when I began to read books that were outside of my comfort zone, particularly nonfiction reading. Reading helped me understand and show compassion for people and parts of the world that I would have never known about.

Three good starter books that really helped challenge and shape me are Just Mercy, Hillbilly Elegyand Evicted

Interesting books have certainly lead to interesting conversations and created empathy in me for things I don’t always understand. If you are looking to branch out your reading this year, consider taking our MomAdvice Reading Challenge or joining our online book club!

Online Weaving Class take an  online weaving class!

Find an Interesting Class to Take

Some of the most interesting people I know take classes and embrace new hobbies in their life regularly. Your interesting class may only be interesting to you, but that does not matter one bit. This is a great time to do the things you have always talked about especially since online coursework, in particular, can be done on your own schedule.

This year I got myself a loom and found a great course on Etsy to start teaching myself to weave. I’m also taking a food photography course through Craftsy to help me to expand my food photography skills. I regularly ask for things like this for Christmas so I have a gift that can keep on giving.

I don’t always take just creative courses though, I’m trying to branch out into other terrains. Next week I’m starting a free course through our local library and college to learn about civics so that I can understand the way our government works and understand the world of politics better. I don’t want to be a person who sits and watches the news, I want to be the person that goes out and learns WHY things are happening and what my particular role could be to change them.

Now I realize that these things may be only interesting to me, but I couldn’t be more excited to learn more.

For free learning, check your library and see what they have to offer and to connect quickly with locals. This month, for example, our library is offering a papercrafting class, a brunch & book discussion, a gardening class, a genealogy course, and a musical concert. They also have a great center where people can learn technology skills to benefit their business.

If you prefer learning online, YouTube is a great free resource where you can start learning a new skill and it won’t even cost you a penny. Granted, many are teaser courses to get you to sign up for more, but even teaser courses can teach you a lot.

Rising Tide Society

Join an Interesting Organization

My early days of motherhood survival were often spent seated in a circle as we shared a cup of coffee with a side of whine. For a couple of years after, I floundered and didn’t know where I fit in. I still went to playgroups, clinging to coffee, but feeling a bit of place. I didn’t want to start over again and have to find a new group, but I’m finding that this girl thrives in clubs and organizations. I am meant to be in organized activities and it feeds that social part of me.

I discovered we have a local chapter of Rising Tide Society and I’m hopping into my first meeting next week. I love and am inspired by other creatives so I’m excited to see if this will fill that mom’s group void I’ve been missing.

Some people enjoy finding ways to assist charity through group formats like Junior League. Others can find their people in business and networking groups through their city. Churches can also offer great opportunities to become involved in helping the community and it’s members. Interesting groups, of course, bring interesting people into your life and often build new skillsets.

Embrace Something Interesting That Fosters Conversations

I love to have fun things to bring to conversations and some of my favorite parts of the day are good conversations I’ve had just with my own little family. My best conversations are when I read or listen to something interesting that I can share with others.

theSkimm

I subscribe to theSkimm and love it so much that I am a Skimmbassador which gives me access to a community of Skimm-loving folks that can talk politics and life in respectful ways. This 5-minute nonpartisan newsletter is something that I read daily so I have a clear idea of what is happening in the world each day. I read it over the morning coffee and I start the day feeling informed.

You might be surprised to know that many blog writers aren’t actually blog readers. It’s a challenge to keep up with fresh content and read blogs, but I try to keep up with what everyone is creating as best that I can and share the nuggets with you each week. These are often posts that help to fuel great conversations with others.

We try to watch a documentary each week that gives us a chance to learn about a topic or a part of the world that we know little about. Many of these are watched together as a family and we have great discussions about them after. Many evenings though are spent after the kids are gone to bed with a glass of wine in hand and a documentary ready to go for our evening.

When my eyes are feeling too tired to read, I find  I get so much out of these instead.

Source: Grant Beachy Photography

Seek Interesting People

I’m not saying to give up on your old friends, but we all evolve as human beings and, as I have aged, I am looking for different things in my friendships. Broadening your circle can sometimes bring new and interesting experiences to your life.

For example, we started a record collection and spend many weekends shuffling through stacks at antique stores or sharing a stack of our music with friends on their record players. A bit hipster, perhaps, but music has always been such a big part of my life, and I find sharing that hobby with others is a fun one.

Board games are also a fun thing to collect and share with people. Perfectly portable and pairs well with wine, it’s a party in a box. We love discovering new games through Tabletop (and figuring out these crazy complex ones we purchased!). A few that we have found to be easy to share are Ticket to Ride, Really Bad Art, Pandemic, and our friends recently taught us Settlers of Catan and we loved it!

We try to seek out our town’s local events, gallery showings, festivals, theater performances, concerts, and town celebrations because they add variation to our week and give us the chance to connect with really interesting people. Living in a smaller town, you would think we wouldn’t have much, but I’m finding that it is RICH with stuff to do and it is rare that we can’t find a local event happening to make our days in Indiana a bit more interesting.

Amy Clark-web-23

I hope you find something new to connect with today and that it brings a bit of happiness in your life too.

This stage has been a tricky one to figure out, but what a privilege it is to grow older and find that you are still learning and growing!

What do you find feeds your happiness at this stage in your life?

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