Amy’s Notebook 03.15.17

March 15th, 2017

craft-room

source: sugar bee crafts

Tour this colorful craft room. Love these craft storage ideas!

Ack! This made me cry. I am finding this stage to be a hard one to navigate in my life. I hope it helps to know you aren’t alone.

Speaking of FEELINGS, I am on my second week with these supplements and I feel like a completely different person in a really good way. It seems to be the right herbal combo for me to reduce anxiety without a prescription. Did I mention it also has improved my concentration a lot for work tasks? Yup!

This is a great read on buying groceries on a budget. Thrilled to see we are meeting the thrifty government standards for our little family of 4.

Hospitality when you’re an introvert. Honestly, introverts are so quiet I always think they love hearing me talk and listening- ha! Eye-opening for an extroverted introvert!

Oh, love this little tip for making creamier scrambled eggs without adding a thing. Must try!

This instant pot roast is going on my agenda.

I’m reading this book for the first time and absolutely loving it. Glad I have it on digital format so I can highlight all the beautiful passages. Have you read it?

I’m adding this lentil soup recipe to my menu planner for my lunches. I’m on a lentil kick these days.

“The growth of incarceration rates among black men in recent decades, combined with the sharp drop in black employment rates during the Great Recession have left most black men in a position relative to white men that is really no better than the position they occupied only a few years after the Civil Rights Act of 1965.” Read this and if you haven’t caught it on Netflix yet, add this to your weekend agenda.

Roasted Chicken With Fennel and Lemon

source: the kitchn

These roasted chicken thighs with fennel and lemon look like another sheet pan dinner winner.

Sheet pan garlic butter shrimp is also on my dinner planner next week. I love giving my sheet pans a workout!

Planning to sell your home? These are some excellent ideas for staging your home.

This home remodel is my jam. Bookmarking!

Can’t wait to see this documentary. I have mad love for this band! You can catch them on my new playlist I made for you!

Please know that pictures can be deceiving.

Guinness Beef Stew

source: gimme some oven

Bring on the Guinness Beef Stew- yum!

I can’t stop looking at these book covers! Unreal awesome!

Magnolia Homes farmhouse style on a small budget. YES!

Locals, I’m going to the Civic Leadership Academy. This looks like such a fascinating and well-timed series for understanding today’s politics. I’d love you to join me!

Ordering this for my capsule wardrobe- big reveal soon! It goes so well with this necklace with a cute closure I snagged with my birthday money.

These are fantastic ideas for making a decorative and functional entryway even when you have a smaller space.

I’ve been curious about microblading so this was a great read although I’m not sure I could justify the expense!

26 pressure cooker recipes for quicker & easier dinners.

Comment of the Week: Well, we got a lot of comments on our Disney article and I will just leave the post here.

I just want you to know that I have appreciated the respectful commentary even when we don’t agree with one another. I have read lots of posts and comments that were absolutely awful on other sites and I told my husband how proud I was that our readers may not always agree with our articles, but we have always had a respectful discussion.

I asked Mary to step out bravely and share her opinions because I believe she is an incredible Christian writer and I’m a bit of a wild liberal who might not grab your ear in the same way. Her voice was important for this piece and I’m glad she shared it with you.

Over here, we will be seeing the movie and have a love and acceptance for all people. If we disagree, I want you to know that you are still loved by our family! xo

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

 

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake

March 14th, 2017

Tracking Pixel Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

Gluten-free baking has always been very intimidating to me and I did my best for a long time to avoid it all costs. Unfortunately, with three people in our house advised to eating gluten-free, I was pushed into the gluten-free baking trenches for our family. I’m not ambitious enough to spend time mixing up my own mixes and that is why I’m excited to share with you about Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-1 Baking Flour.  Today I’m sharing this easy recipe for a Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake with all the flavor minus the gluten.

Did I mention no tricky mixing of flours or trying to perfect recipes that are already in your recipe box? Yup, Bob’s Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour is perfectly formulated for baked goods with terrific taste and texture with no additional modifications on your part.

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

In our family, it is a tradition to make the birthday boy or girl a homemade cake to celebrate their day. My husband’s birthday was the perfect excuse to mix up a yummy cake with Bob’s Gluten-Free Flour. This rich batter is filled not only with a healthy dose of cocoa powder, but it gets a double chocolate whammy from the crushed gluten-free cookies and cream cookies that are folded right into it.

My secret weapon in any chocolate dessert is a little bit of coffee to enhance those rich chocolate flavors. I had my daughter taste the batter before the addition of coffee and after and we both agreed that it makes a really big difference in the smoothness of the flavor.

I know I don’t have to tell busy moms this, but coffee is certainly magic.

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

I’ve played around with a lot of gluten-free flour mixes in our kitchen, since our family’s diagnosis, and I can confidently say that this is the first blend that I’ve tried that I can taste no difference between the all-purpose flour and this gluten-free mix. There is no mealy texture or that sense that something is just off about the mix. The cake baked up as light and puffy as any cake prepared with all-purpose flour would.

For someone who lacks gluten-free baking confidence, this blend has given me the urge to bake again and I’m already dreaming of how else I can put this blend to work for our special treats. Have no doubts that you will see many of them on the site in the upcoming months!

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

Can we talk about the frosting for just one minute? MORE cookies are folded into this whipped cream cheese frosting and adds the jazz hands to this chocolate cake. Ths homemade frosting elevates and lightens the cake with it’s tangy flavor. Also, because there are not enough cookies in this, I added more cookies on top for decorating so you can have a snack in between bites.

We toted this cake to the restaurant to celebrate my husband’s birthday this year, in all her shining glory.

As we sat there eating, he leaned into me to say, “I keep thinking people are looking at me because it’s my birthday. I just realized that they are looking at your cake.”

Yup, it’s a showstopper.

A rousing song of happy birthday and slices shared with all at our table (and a few not at our table because CAKE), and we still had half a cake left once it had all been distributed. We offered the other half to the kitchen staff and it made me so happy to see it being sliced and enjoyed by everyone.

For several years, I worked as a waitress and I remember those long days worked for tips. It’s why we always try to go the extra mile when we dine out and this was just one more way we could show our appreciation for those who care for us.

Homemade cakes really do bring people together and I couldn’t stop the goofy grin on my face from seeing everyone enjoy this sweet treat, as I carried my empty cake stand home. My husband also left with the same grin, after a great meal shared with family and our new friends. He really felt celebrated this year.

Please add this cake and Bob’s Gluten Free 1-1 Baking Flour to your menu planner and grocery list. I promise, you won’t ever miss the gluten in this rich and delicious cookies and cream cake. This is a cake that’s meant to be shared so find a way to make that happen too. I bet you’ll gain a few new friends in the process!

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A gluten-free cookies and cream cake perfect for celebrating all of life's occasions!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee
  • 1½ cups finely crumbled gluten-free chocolate sandwich cookies
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3¾ cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1½ cups finely crumbled gluten-free chocolate sandwich cookies
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two (9-inch) cake pans with cooking spray and dust with gluten-free flour.
  2. In a large bowl, using a hand-held mixer combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the eggs and egg yolk, 1 at a time, and beat until well mixed, then add in the melted butter. Mix well to combine. Next, add the buttermilk and coffee and beat until smooth. Fold in the crumbled cookies with a wooden spoon.
  3. Pour the batter evenly into the cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, approximately 30-33 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool, on a rack, in the pans for 5 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto a rack and let cool completely.
  4. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, blend the butter and cream cheese until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the salt and vanilla. Add in the confectioners' sugar, ½ cup at a time, until smooth. Beat in the crumbled cookies.
  5. Once the cake has fully cooled, add a layer of frosting on the top of one cake layer and then stack the second one on top. Finish with more frosting on top. This recipe yields enough to also frost the sides of the cake, if you desire. Finish with more cookies (whole or crushed) to add decoration to the top of your cake.

Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Cake from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

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Small-Budget Crushes 03.13.17

March 13th, 2017

FitBit Bling Bracelet

fitbit bling bracelet

book-bag

custom library bag (so cool for an easter “basket”)

 

Tie Front Duster

tie front duster

gold swirl print beach tote

gold swirl print beach tote

Find Your Lobster Print

find your lobster print

afternoon cotton dress

afternoon cotton dress

Family Tree Necklace

family tree necklace

Moonbloom Apron

moonbloom apron

blue lace romper

blue lace romper

Ron Swanson Gift Wrap

ron swanson gift wrap

Elsie Blouse

elsie blouse

terrace jewelry organizer

terrace jewelry organizer

holly golightly's breakfast

holly golightly’s breakfast art

Carrie Fisher Shirt

carrie fisher shirt

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 

 

 

4 Top Authors Share Their Favorite Reads

March 12th, 2017

4 Top Authors Share Their Favorite Reads from MomAdvice.com

It’s an honor to interview all of these incredible writers for our Sundays With Writers series. Each interview, I gather a list of their favorite reads and today I’m sharing four of these author’s favorite reads with you today.  If you have enjoyed these author’s books, chances are you are going to LOVE their recommendations!

Since our book stacks can never be too high, here are a few more to add to your stack. Be sure to check out my monthly reviews on my favorite reads over here!

Miss Jane Interview

Brad Watson’s Favorite Reads

Author: Brad Watson

Book We Featured: Miss Jane

 

My Antonia by Willa Cather

My Antonia by Will Cather

After I read My Antonia, in graduate school, I read all of Cather’s other novels. It’s such a beautiful tribute to an extraordinary person, and to a place, a land. And the language is not flamboyant, but deeply beautiful with a poetic simplicity that is deceptively simple, as they say. It’s a book that seems as if it must have just come out easily, but it didn’t. You learn how much care and attention a “simple” story must receive from its writer.

Stoner by John Williams

Stoner by John Williams

Stoner is one of only four novels published by John Williams, and the books are all very different, and are all excellent. Stoner is a quiet book about a quiet man who lives a disappointing life, thwarted at just about every turn by some very unpleasant people. But his love for what he does (he’s a teacher at The University of Missouri in the early 20th century) seeps deeply into the book’s marrow and into the reader’s, as well. It is not a cheerful story, but it is one of the most beautiful accounts of a life I know of.

So Long, See You Tomorrow

So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell

So Long, See You Tomorrow won the National Book Award in I think 1981, but it was never a big hit. It’s slowly and steadily gained a strong following, especially among writers, as being one of the most emotionally powerful novels in the second half of the twentieth century. And it’s only 130 pages long. And it’s an odd hybrid of apparent memoir and quasi-novel. But it will break your heart. At 130 pages, it’s novella length, but it has the power of a great novel, distilled into not so many words.

The Death of a Beekeeper

The Death of a Beekeeper by Lars Gustafsson

The Death of A Beekeeper is also brief, and presented to the reader as fragments from three “found notebooks” kept by a dying Swedish beekeeper living alone in the country. And it’s astonishing how moving and even entertaining it is. While we have darkly droll accounts of the beekeeper’s trials with the Swedish health care system, we also have a hilarious account of him attempting to introduce his wife to his mistress, hoping to hurt his wife, and ending up the butt of both women’s jokes and jocular derision. Also, a most astounding chapter in which (in order to entertain a couple of neighbor boys who are reading what he considers to be inferior science fiction) he presents a theory of the nature of God that will blow your head off. More readers ought to know of this one, too.

Mischling Interview

Affinity Konar’s Favorite Reads

Author: Affinity Konar

Book We Featured: Mischling

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie’s stories are memorable in this very specific way, in that I don’t have to dwell on them much at all before a line or scene presents itself, unbidden. Life within and around the Spokane Indian reservation is approached through characters that feel like they’re reinventing your capacity to feel. Whenever I read Alexie, I  just get flustered because what he’s written should be  impossible–there’s just startling poetry matched by startling humanity.

The Collected Stories of Grace Paley

Collected Stories of Grace Paley

Grace Paley was my first literary heroine.  She focuses on the lives of women, and pulls a complexity out of the background hum of daily life that so often goes unnoticed. Her stories are tragicomic, but strangely warm and welcoming, with spare sentences and gut-punches that confuse my heart a little, so I don’t know whether to laugh or cry first. Whenever I’ve spent a day being too-silent, just writing and being totally non-verbal, I love to go visit one of the conversations between her characters, and just linger between her lines for a bit.

The Streets of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz

The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz

Some of Schulz’s work was lost in the Holocaust, and what remains feels very precious. His writing is dreamlike and hazy, and when I first found it as a teenager I was just awed by the fact that this was a world known only to the author, an intensely private landscape that he took care to piece into words. It’s a mythologized rendering of a merchant family, with its own language and eccentricities and sense of reality; it feels like a coded thing that you are deeply fortunate to experience.

I Liked My Life Interview

Abby Fabiaschi’s Favorite Reads

Author: Abby Fabiaschi

Book We Featured: I Liked My Life

Is it possible to highlight three writers instead?

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

Lisa See

I love how Lisa See brings history to life to learn from. Her next book, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, comes out 3/21, which is the day I plan to read it.

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

Elizabeth Strout

Every sentence Elizabeth Strout has penned is worth at least two reads. Her next book, Anything Is Possible, comes out 4/25. I always reserve a quiet weekend for her work.

Diving Into the Wreck by ADrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich

A slice of Adrienne Rich’s poetry inspired and influenced I Liked My Life: “If we could learn to learn from pain even as it grasps us.” Isn’t that a powerful thought?

This is How it Always Is Interview

Laurie Frankel’s Favorite Reads

Author: Laurie Frankel

Book We Featured: This is How it Always Is

This is a nearly impossible question because I have so, so many favorite books. How about one a year?

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Last year, I loved Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad. It’s hard to think a book that hyped isn’t overhyped, but it’s not. It’s exactly as good and heartbreaking and important as everyone said it would be.

Euphoria by Lily King

Euphoria by Lily King

The year before, I loved Lily King’s Euphoria. It’s gorgeous, brilliant, with great characters and great relationships, at once exotic and familiar, and the ending just slayed me.

A Tale for Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

A Tale for Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

And the year before that, I loved Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale For the Time Being. It’s a masterclass in storytelling and inventive novel writing and characters you cannot get enough of.

4 Top Authors Share Their Favorite Reads from MomAdvice.com

*This post contains affiliate links!

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It’s the 3 Little Things: Incredible Sleep, Lent Love, & Mail Spot

March 10th, 2017

Amy Allen Clark

photo source: grant beachy photography

Can you believe it is already Friday again? We are counting down the days until our Spring Break. Do you have any plans this year? It’s a big year for my son because he gets to go on his 8th grade Washington D.C. trip. I’m currently scouring last minute Groupons to see if we can take our girl on a small nearby adventure while her brother is off seeing the historic sites without us.

It’s a happy weekend of celebration as my hubby celebrates his birthday. It’s hard to believe I’ve gotten to witness his special day since his sixteenth birthday bash. Who would have ever thought it? It’s always been sweetly surreal.

Here are three other things that are making me happy this week!

The Body Doesn't Lie by Vicky Vlachonis

Good Sleep

Dealing with chronic pain really can do a number on your sleep and this last year my sleep has been pretty awful. Some days I would just give up and start my day at 3AM and then repeat the process the next day. As the days of terrible sleep mounted, the pain increased. It’s a vicious cycle of sleepless nights, grumpiness with everyone around me, and increased pain.

While I was at the library, I decided to check and see if I could find any books on pain management. I found and devoured, The Body Doesn’t Lie, in a single afternoon. The book promised a 3-step program to end pain and “become positively radiant.”

I know, I know…hang in there with me.

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.

Side Sleeper Pillow With Ear Hole

You are encouraged to journal a bit and think about where your pain can stem from so that you can focus your healing efforts on those things. For me, I have pain when I’m sleeping in kind of a strange place… my ears!

Weird, right?

As a side sleeper, my ears were throbbing and I have made a few trips to the doctor thinking I had earaches only to find out it is just pain from laying on my side. After reading this book about identifying pain, I went online and found this pillow that addressed my pain problem. A quick pillow switch means I’m not feeling rotten in the mornings with throbbing pain through my ear and jaw.

Guess who has slept uninterrupted all week and without any pain medication? ME!

Other habits that I have added are soaking in epsom salts with lavender oil daily after working out, starting my day with warm lemon water, dry brushing (I’ll let you know if that really does help anything- I am curious about it!), being careful about when I have my evening glass of wine (earlier not later), tea sipping before bed, and going to bed at a better time.

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

Lent Love

I didn’t grow up in a church where we were called to sacrifice anything for Lent, but this year I felt called to participate. I am going to say that I think that my sacrifice for Lent might be a new life habit because I attribute this as another reason on why I am sleeping so well.

I gave up checking email and social media after 5PM.

I have discovered that I waste a ton of time in the evenings mindlessly checking this stuff and I believe it also increases my anxiety before I am heading to bed.

What am I being left out of?

Whose career accomplishments overshadowed my own?

Oh, I’m so angry about politics..let me check and read every article that supports my own viewpoints before I go to sleep.

Now let me text my friends the things I’m reading.

Yup. Terrible.

In the morning, I feel more objective and a little more detached from it all so the scroll isn’t amping anything up for me anymore. In the end, I am discovering that this small sacrifice improves my family time, my reading time, and my sleep.

Did I mention my reading time? Yeah, I’m working on my third book this week!

perch-container-for-fridge

No More Mail On My Counters

I can’t stand having mail on my counters and my husband loves to get the mail, open it, spread it all over the counters, and then go about his day.

STOP IT RIGHT NOW. HOW DARE YOU?

Of course, there wasn’t really a great spot for mail in our house…until now. Have you seen these magnetic containers? You can attach the containers to the side of your fridge and fill them with the odds and ends in your life that you need quick access to. I thought it would be the perfect spot to put the mail. It’s off my counter, but not completely out of sight so I don’t deal with it.

Now when the kids come in with permission slips and my husband comes in to open all the mail for me, I can kindly ask them to put the mail in the mail container. Because mail doesn’t belong on the counter.

Get one of these, you won’t regret it!

Eating: Big bowls of this roasted shrimp pasta hit our menu planner this week. ALDI makes a great gluten-free spaghetti noodle that has worked as a wonderful substitute in this recipe for our family.

Reading: YOU GUYS. I’m not hearing a lot of chatter yet about this thriller, but I can’t put it down. I am almost done and it is AMAZING! It’s a definite must-read this month especially if you are an Agatha Christie fan!

Watching: We caught this incredible documentary on Hulu and it was amazing! It inspired us to try a Middle Eastern restaurant with our kids and they loved it. It’s a fascinating look at a Pulitzer Prize winning food writer and his ability to find the restaurant hidden gems in the most unlikely places. It also shows the power of a good review for small business owners and how it changes the path of their restaurant’s success. We highly recommend it! (note- adult language!)

Listening: I’m running the kids a lot so I made this mix for you..and me!

Have a lovely week, friends!! xoxo

Amy Clark

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

Amy’s Notebook 03.08.17

March 8th, 2017

Entry Closet Makeover

source: fearfully & wonderfully made by carli

If you have a small entryway closet, check out this incredible closet makeover.

Can’t wait to try this reverse sear technique for our next date night at home.

Here are a few true crime podcasts to keep your listening ears busy.

“White men who do unspeakable things to women are never kicked out of the Academy’s fold; we continually insist on separating “art from artist.”- I am thinking a lot about this piece this week.

This book was SO GOOD- I couldn’t put it down this week.

10 best thrillers of all time- be sure to spend some time surfing those comments for more!

Are you using bobby pins the right way? This was a great simple guide to pinning back that hair!

Are you a night owl? I think you will appreciate the case for going to bed at 2:30 AM.

Quote Art Free Printable

source: the painted hive

Swooning over these free printable oversized book pages. What a beautiful addition to a wall.

You may want to marry my husband- all the FEELINGS!

This Junie B. Jones party is ADORABLE!

This small kitchen makeover is something I’m bookmarking for our own kitchen renovation someday.

How real couples spend their Sunday afternoons- loads of fun ideas!

I have one of these and I have never used it to make straining stock easier. What a smart tip!

Why typography matters…especially at the Oscars.

Do you struggle with remembering people’s names? I really do and found this piece to be pretty insightful.

7 sources for finding great free art for your walls.

Comment of the Week- I’m heading on vacation in a few weeks and all the books I bought were from your January list! Excited!- Megan

Yay! I love, love, love when people read books from our must-reads list! I read some great stuff in February too and I’m trucking my way through March already. GoodReads keeps telling me I’m behind on my reading goals though and it is making me CRAZY! Does that make you crazy too?  Maybe I set my goal too high this year, but I’m determined to read 100 books this year.

I think I can, I think I can…

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

 

The Truth About Disney’s Beauty & the Beast

March 7th, 2017

The Truth About Disney's Beauty & the Beast from MomAdvice.com

I’m so thankful that Mary screened this movie for our readers and could give us her perspective on the highly anticipated Beauty & the Beast film. I ask the commentary today be kind and respectful, as always! 

Before I walked into the theater to watch an early screening of Beauty and the Beast last week, a man in a suit took my cell phone and put it in a brown paper bag. He frowned and reminded me that phones were not allowed in the theater for our special preview. Before I handed it over I took one last look at the screen to make sure my oldest daughter’s school or my youngest daughter’s babysitter hadn’t called. Satisfied I wasn’t missing anything vital, I stepped into the dark theater and found my seat.

Giddy to see the live-action version of my absolute favorite Disney movie, I had no idea that my phone was blowing up with concerns and controversy about the very film I was watching.

After retrieving my phone I immediately checked all the places I might have messages and was surprised to find notifications in nearly every one of them. As I listened to and read messages, I learned that Disney had announced that the new movie featured scenes with a gay character – and the world reacted strongly.

beauty-and-the-beast-3

I’ve read lots of rants but few reviews because, well, this is a movie that has not been released yet. Since I have actually seen the film in question, I thought I’d share with you the truth about Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

You might be wondering how to weigh my opinion or what perspective I have about this topic. That’s a fair question, so I’ll start with those facts.

• I am a Bible-believing, Jesus-following Christian.
• I am more conservative than some, more liberal than others; an objective evaluation might label me moderate.
• My husband and I have two daughters, ages three and nine. I am careful about what media they consume, sticking exclusively to programs and materials rated PG or G.
• I love Disney movies, though I’m not a Disney super-fan by any means. I do, however, unabashedly adore Beauty and the Beast, and I could probably recite most the of the 1991 movie and sing every word of the songs for you at any given time.

Now that you understand where I’m coming from, I’d love to answer your questions! Keep in mind that this post will include SPOILERS for the movie, but I’m assuming that if you are interested in this film, you’re familiar with the story.

The Truth About Disney's Beauty & the Beast from MomAdvice.com

Does the new movie include a gay character?

Maybe. Lefou, played brilliantly by Josh Gad, is a silly character. He’s over the top in his adoration of Gaston and cracks jokes throughout the movie. Is it behavior based in hero worship? Is it a romantic crush? I think you could take it either way. To me, it seemed like hero worship and extreme devotion, just like it was in the animated version. Yes, he is exuberant in his affection for Gaston, but no more than in the cartoon and no more than the adoring sidekick typically is in this kind of story.

In the Gaston song, where Lefou sings verse after verse about how no one can compare to Gaston, he has a short scene with three villagers. The men are standing at the bar, and Lefou sings to and/or near them about Gaston, eventually physically turning their heads. I interpreted that as him making sure they paid attention to the main event (Gaston), and nothing more.

Later on when the villagers attack the Beast’s castle, those same three men are caught by the wardrobe. Her defense is to throw clothing at them, leaving them wearing dresses and wigs (and possibly make-up, but I don’t remember for sure). Two of the men are embarrassed, while one lights up with a grin. As he runs away after his friends, the wardrobe sings, “Be free!”

In the final scene all the characters are seen dancing in the castle’s ballroom. The focus is on Belle and the Beast-turned-back-to-prince, but we also see Mr. and Mrs. Potts, Mr. and Mrs. Cogworth, Lumiere and Plumette, and other couples dance. The style of dance involves a lot of turning and twirling and some switching of partners, and Lefou ends up dancing with the villager who didn’t mind wearing a dress. They both look surprised but happy.

Each of those three scenes are only a few seconds long and take place in full, fast-moving acts that include stunning (even overwhelming) visual details and spirited, full-volume songs.

Will my kids notice the implications that a character is gay?

It depends on your kids. But if they’re early elementary or younger, I doubt it. As I mentioned, the scenes that imply Lefou or the villager might be gay are brief and, in my opinion, subtle. Nothing is explicit or spelled-out, and if your kids haven’t been introduced to homosexuality before, they probably won’t think about it now.

Obviously I don’t know your kids, how observant they are or what they’ve already been exposed to. I can’t guarantee they won’t ask any questions. But I am confident that when my girls (ages 3 and 9) watch this movie, they will not notice any character’s sexuality.

Should I take my kids to see this movie?

Maybe. (I know, you’re loving my definitive answers, aren’t you?!)

I can’t wait for my girls to watch the new Beauty and the Beast, but I won’t be taking them to see it in the theater. My oldest is sensitive to intense scenes, and the wolves and the attacking villagers would scare her on the big screen. My youngest is only three, and I’m afraid those same scenes would be too much for her in the theater as well. When we’re at home I can distract them, remind them that it’s make-believe, or simply hit fast-forward.

Nothing is gory or graphic in this movie, by the way. My kids are just sensitive. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t hesitate to take them to this the day it opens.

The Truth About Disney's Beauty & the Beast from MomAdvice.com

Should I go see this movie?

I think so. It’s fantastic! I shared a full review of the movie on my blog, but the short answer is that this version is incredible and I’m already plotting ways to see it in the theater again. The music, the costumes, the acting – it’s all beautiful, and I was delighted by every part of it.

If you’re concerned about a character being written as gay, this might not be the movie for you. I personally was not offended by any of the characters. But even if you believe differently about homosexuality than I do, I believe you could still love this movie. Nothing about it was in your face with any kind of agenda; honestly, Zootopia was more political than this. And as with many things, you often find what you’re looking for. If you watch Beauty and the Beast for the wonder, the magic, the truth that beauty lies within and girls should be allowed to read books and dishes should be allowed to dance and sing, then that is what you’ll find. And you will be as enchanted as I was.

The Truth About Disney's Beauty & the Beast from MomAdvice.com

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3-Ingredient Cloud Dough With WeeSchool (FREE- Limited Time!)

March 6th, 2017

3-ingredient cloud dough recipe from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with WeeSchool. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! We need this exact call to action language early in the post: Download the WeeSchool App here by June 1 and you can register for free, lifetime access to all premium WeeSchoool content and features.

Although much of the mothering I have done for my kids has felt instinctual, I found many challenges and had a lot of anxiety about them meeting certain milestones. My son, for example, had a significant delay in speech and sensory issues in his early years. I had no idea to help him and relied upon a community program that provided at-home guidance to help teach me how to help him overcome these hurdles.

I, honestly, have no idea what our life would have looked like if we had not had early intervention, and I attribute much of his academic success to these programs that intervened and helped guide us.

Now my kids are getting older, but I still recognize the importance and need for early intervention for other families. That is why I am SO incredibly and genuinely excited to share with you about a new app called WeeSchool that you must download ASAP.

It is, truly, like having a family educator right at your disposal to help guide you to help your child succeed.

WeeSchool App Milestones Month by Month

As you can see, this app gives you a quick at-a-glance look at what key milestones your child should be reaching each month. Play Plans are provided that help guide your child to reach those milestones.  These allow you to play smarter with your child with a list of recommended activities, toys, books and music.

In fact, it is the first-ever curriculum for babies from birth to age 3 that can help you learn how to play smart with your baby.

This helps you to not only track the milestones, but to support you and your baby in the process. WeeSchool wants to enrich your daily routines by creating activities you can do with your child, providing guidance on practical toys to support milestones, and even books on the different milestones you are working toward with your baby.

WeeSchool App Journal

Imagine going to the pediatrician with your child’s milestones marked and even a photo to document those moments to share with your family and friends. I can’t imagine how reassuring it would have been to come armed like this for my doctor. Could we have flagged our son and gotten him help sooner if we had something like this? I, truly, believe we could! This is a transformative tool for new parents.

Get a FREE Membership to WeeSchool Today!!

I am so excited that WeeSchool is offering our readers a free premium membership! Parents can sign up until June 1, 2017 to become a Charter Member and receive lifetime access to all Premium WeeSchool content and features!

 

3-Ingredient Cloud Dough from MomAdvice.com 3-Ingredient Cloud Dough from MomAdvice.com 3-Ingredient Cloud Dough from MomAdvice.com

If there was one thing I learned from our early childhood intervention classes that we did with our son, it was the power in creating from things you already have. In honor of today’s partnership with WeeSchool, I wanted to share with you this easy 3-ingredient Cloud Dough recipe that you can make for your kids! This fluffy dough is a great sensory activity for kids and is so fun to play with that even adults want to get on the action.

Sensory stimulation is so important to a child’s neurological development, and playing with this simple and safe flour mixture offers a pleasant (even therapeutic) sensory experience. Playing with cloud dough also encourages fine-motor development as your wee one explores and creates using tiny hands, delighting in the tactile wonderfulness of this unique medium.

Pair this with items from your kitchen drawers like measuring cups, spoons, ice cream scoops, silicone cupcake molds, or cookie cutters.

We are using Tempera Powder Paint to create the vivid hue in this dough because it blends so easily into this recipe. If you are worried about your child ingesting it, feel free to leave the color out of this one!

3-Ingredient Cloud Dough from MomAdvice.com

3-Ingredient Cloud Dough
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • A spoonful or two of Powdered Tempera Paint (order online or check a teacher's supplies store/craft store)
  • Large Plastic Container with Lid for Storage
Instructions
  1. Measure flour directly into container.
  2. Add a spoonful or two of powdered tempera paint and mix well with a wooden or metal spoon.
  3. Add vegetable oil and mix well until it is fully incorporated.
  4. Store in an airtight lidded container for up to one month.

3-ingredient-cloud-dough-recipe

 

 I hope you can take a moment to download this amazing app and mix up a little cloud dough to keep your kiddos busy! Download the WeeSchool App here by June 1 and you can register for free, lifetime access to all Premium WeeSchool content and features.

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

 

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Small-Budget Crushes 03.06.17

March 6th, 2017

Introverting Mug

introverting mug

Strappy Back Maxi Dress

strappy back maxi dress (use code NEWNOW for 40% off)

So. Much.

so much art print

Straw Tote

straw tote

Whisper Cotton V-Neck Tee

whisper cotton v-neck tee

monogrammed easter totes

monogrammed easter totes

Messy Bun Beanie

messy bun beanie

Embroidered Swing Dress

embroidered swing dress

 

shakespeare nail art

shakespeare nail art

Nina Yoga Socks

nina yoga socks

woven pendant light

woven pendant light

how's my downdog? how’s my downdog tank

Lemon Metal Stacking Chairs

lemon metal stacking chairs

 

 

not a regular mom tee not a regular mom tee (great mom’s day gift!)

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: Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

March 5th, 2017

Sundays With Writers

Is there anything more satisfying than a good thriller? I know many of you are thinking about the stack of books you plan to take on your Spring Break vacations and thrillers are usually one of those genres that make for the perfect beach read. Today’s author, Sarah Pinborough, might be a new one on your radar, but she actually has twenty published books out already. Today I’m interviewing her about her latest book, Behind Her Eyes, which I am sure is going to be one of the biggest buzz books this year. It’s the one that you finish and just have to talk to someone about it.

If you need someone to talk it through, I’m over here!

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Behind Her Eyes is a fun and highly imaginative psychological thriller. Her marketing team started the hashtag #wtfthatending that you can tweet when you finish. As a seasoned thriller reader, I thought I had it solved and then I didn’t… And then I REALLY didn’t.

It’s impossible to talk about this book without a big reveal so let’s focus on the generic plot points and say that this is a love triangle between a gorgeous wife, her dashing husband, and the slightly frumpy secretary. When the wife decides to pursue a secretive friendship with her husband’s secretary, a game of cat and mouse begins.

Here’s the thing, the reader will never guess the cat or the mouse and I told my husband, bewildered, that I was almost finished with the novel and still clueless where it is going. And then…well, #wtfthatending.

Based on the reviews of my favorite follows on GoodReads, you’ll love it or you’ll hate it. I sat in the middle for a bit, not sure what to think about it. I will say, in the end, I appreciate that this wasn’t the same old, same old, BUT a reader must set aside a bit of reality for this genre-bender.

I included Behind Her Eyes in this month’s must-reads list and couldn’t wait to share this interview with you today after that wild ride of the book.

Grab your coffee and let’s chat with Sarah today!

Sarah Pinborough

Let’s go there without going there! The hashtag that was created for your book promotion is #wtfthatending. As someone who generally can see twists a mile away, I will say that I may have, indeed, said this aloud when I finished those last few pages. Did it worry you at all that your readers would be diving into your book with an expectation for a wild twist at the end?

Yes! I love the hashtag but it did worry me that it might be setting me up to fail. But it did create a massive buzz for the book and it seems that the vast majority of people are still blinded by the ending. So, I can live with that!

Behind Her Eyes is a bit of a genre-bender, isn’t it? In a past interview I read, you answered this a bit by saying, “I’ve created my own genre of female-centric thrillers, which is writing books where you can’t say what they’re about or you’ll give it away,” Do you think saying this book is in the genre of psychological thriller is misleading for a reader? If you are a bookseller, what section of your store would you put this book in?

I would definitely call it a psychological thriller. It hits all the beats of that genre and plays out like one. Even the ‘other’ elements that are included play by the rules of a thriller – there are clues all the way through the book so it doesn’t cheat the reader. It shouldn’t anyway. To anyone who says that it was impossible to guess the ending, I say read the book again – there are clues throughout. I’m a great believer in not cheating the reader so I wanted to be sure that the book played out as a thriller.

This book had a very Hitchcock feel to it which I absolutely loved. What artists or writers have brought the biggest influence to your work?

I’m glad you said that, because with this book I really wanted to have the kind of characters and situation you get in a Hitchcock movie – an ‘ordinary’ person becomes drawn into a claustrophobic unsettled secretive situation involving beautiful glamorous people – but I wanted to add some of the paranoia and passion and madness of a Polanski film. In general though, I guess the people who have influenced me are writers like Daphne Du Maurier, John Connolly, Stephen King, John Wyndham and so many others. In fact, every book I enjoy influences me in some way or another.

I understand that movie talks are already in the works on this one. Can we expect to see this love triangle come to life on the big screen?

Big screen or little screen – lots of talks on going with several parties but as yet no decisions made. But we shall see;-)

This is my first book that I have read of yours, but you are the author of 20 novels! I know many readers are just being introduced to your work, like me, so I’d love to hear what book of yours we should read next, especially if we enjoyed this one?

If you liked this one, then I’d say the one to read next is 13 Minutes which is a YA thriller (but as twisty as any adult one and does contain a lot of adult themes) about a 16 year old girl who’s pulled out of a frozen river and when she’s revived she can’t remember the two days leading up to her ‘accident’, if it is indeed that. It’s about the dark side of teenage friendships.

Behind Her Eyes was published through HarperCollins UK and sold for six figures. As a writer, that is HUGE and such an amazing feat! Did you treat yourself to anything special after securing this advance? How has your experience with HarperCollins helped in the success of this novel?

I can’t remember if I bought anything! I’m not much of a ‘things’ person so I probably just went out for a nice dinner with friends. I’ve been very lucky but HarperCollins on had UK/Commonwealth rights and so my agent also did a very good deal for the book with Flatiron in the US (we had an 8 way auction) and we’ve also sold it to about 20 countries worldwide thus far. But all that came because of HarperCollins’ support of the book, and they’ve really gone all out with marketing and putting everything behind it. I have a great publisher. But I have to say Flatiron in the US have been equally amazing. We’re all #TeamBHE;-)

stephen-king

STEPHEN KING (!!!) tweeted about your book and said it was, “What Brits call a thumping good read.” What a surreal moment for you as a writer. What was it like to see someone so prolific speak so highly of your work?

This is going to sound so cocky, but this is the second time he’s talked about one of my books. He recommended The Death House in the New York Times a couple of years ago which was amazing. I actually cried.He then sent a blurb through for the paperback cover. So yes, it was of course brilliant when he tweeted about Behind Her Eyes and it definitely had an effect on sales. He’s one of my heroes – I think for anyone of my generation, he’s our superstar.  I grew up reading and loving all his books so it was such a touchstone moment to have him read one of mine. To have him read a second was just amazing.

I understand you are already working on your next thriller. Can you give us a little of the scoop on what you have in store for us next?

It’s another twisty thriller with female central characters and again it’s hard to talk about. It’s a straight thriller this time though – no weird elements – and I guess on some levels it’s about abusive relationships, but I can’t really say more without giving the central twist away. It’s called Cross Her Heart and should be out in the UK in May of next year.

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

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!