Archive for July, 2011

Amy’s Notebook 07.27.11

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

This ruffles & buttons Anthro-inspired shirt is too cute for words (@ busily spinning)

This puppet theater made from a china hutch is a genius repurpose (@ Skip to My Lou)

These fabric button earrings look like a fun way to dress up your accessories (@ a bit of sunshine)

I am dying to make these English muffins for our family (@ Dishing the Divine)

This ruffle top for a baby would make a wonderful baby shower gift (@ Tea Rose Home)

These blueberry lemon cupcakes look like a fun way to eat our blueberries this summer (@ How Does She?)

I am in love with these adorable burlap flowers for a wall display (@ sweet designs)

This modified bucket seat is a genius solution for keeping little ones busy! (@ eighteen25)

This Pottery Barn knock-off lamp made from picture frames is a fun & stylish lighting solution (@ sunset lane)

This hoop art picture display wall is so beautiful and a frugal way to fill a wall (@ take heart)

8 Inspirational Recipes for the Blueberry Season

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

8 Inspirational Recipes for the Blueberry Season

Blueberry season is upon us and today I wanted to share with you our favorite blueberry creations that you can use those fresh picked berries for. Our family is looking forward to an evening of picking this week and these are the recipes that we will be using to create our favorite blueberry dishes.

blueberry pancakes 2

A pancake laced with fresh handpicked blueberries seems the perfect occasion to break out the old griddle and spatula for a fun and inexpensive weeknight meal. These blueberry pancakes are a delicious way to use a few of those berries and I promise that they will be a hit with your family too!

I love that with this batter it is encouraged to mix the batter up ahead of time and allow it to rise for a bit on the counter. What happens is that this seemingly unimpressive batter is magical as it puffs up beautifully once placed on the griddle. Once poured on the griddle, I sprinkle the blueberries into each pancake individually as they become golden. The pancakes are then served with a little syrup and another generous handful of fresh berries on top.

Recipe:  Blueberry Pancakes

Blueberry Iced Tea Syrup

Making homemade syrups for drinks is something that I love to keep in our refrigerator to fancy up a glass of iced tea or a mug of coffee. Making homemade syrups does not take a lot of time, but it can make a regular glass of iced tea go from a standard glass to a fantastical gourmet treat.

This is a my favorite recipe for making Blueberry Drink Syrup that can be added to your iced tea, your coffee, or even your margarita! Whatever gets you going in the morning, I promise not to judge!

Recipe: Blueberry Drink Syrup

Blueberry Muffins

It is the berry season and nothing says summer to me like a big blueberry muffin. These blueberry muffins are laced with the juice and zest of one lemon, which cuts through the sweetness and makes a perfect balance of flavors. I dust these with raw sugar and they make a fantastic snack to eat and to share with neighbors and friends.

Recipe: Lemony Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Cobbler

Last year I decided to give a blueberry cobbler a try for a book club meeting and this recipe pulled together so easily that I shared it that evening and then later, as a special birthday treat for my mom. With all of the ingredients coming straight from the pantry, it was a fun and frugal dish to share and everyone I shared it with really seemed to enjoy it. If you are looking for a fast and satisfying dish to bring to your next gathering, I highly recommend this delicious blueberry cobbler for a perfect way to end any meal.

Recipe: Fresh Blueberry Cobbler

Blueberry Muffin Cake

Looking for a recipe for a few blueberry haters in your family? This is the one that is sure to convert them and just a peek inside this cake shows why anyone can eat it. The cake only has one cup of blueberries in the whole thing. This handful of berries makes a beautiful stripe down the middle and adds just the right balance of blueberries and cake instead of the overwhelming amount of berries that can be in other cakes and muffins.

The blueberries are suspended in the batter with the help of a little reserved cake mix and a quick toss to coat them. The cake mix has added flavor boosts from the addition of cinnamon, vanilla yogurt, and a little vanilla pudding mix. The resulting cake is moist and absolutely perfect. This is truly my favorite blueberry recipe and I promise it will be yours too!

Recipe: Blueberry Muffin Cake

Blueberry Pancake Syrup

It is amazing how sugar, water, a little vanilla, and fresh berries make such an incredible difference on a plain old waffle, but this blueberry pancake syrup proves that simple ingredients can create something outstanding.

The burst of flavor, the happy dance in my mouth, and the smacking of lips at the table make me so incredibly joyful when we eat this syrup over our waffles. The berries coat the waffle perfectly and add a little sweetness to my waffles without a sugary overkill.

This is really and truly a fantastic indulgence that takes about the same amount of time to cook as it does to make up a batch of waffles. Fast and delicious!

Recipe: Blueberry Pancake Syrup

Berry Trifle

One thing I have wanted to try is a trifle and for my son’s birthday this year, I had the perfect opportunity!  With berries in season and a store-bought angel food cake, this dish isn’t only affordable, but easy too!

The white chocolate pudding set this trifle apart from any other I have ever eaten because it adds a richness and unexpected layer into this berry trifle. Not only does this dish taste rich, but it is perhaps one of the lightest desserts I have ever made where I felt full and satisfied, while feeling like I indulged.  Of course anything with pudding, cake, and berries is a winner in my book.  I would highly recommend giving this recipe a try for your next get together!

Recipe: Red, White, & Blueberry Trifle

How to Freeze Blueberries

After all of this inspiration, if you still have some berries left, I highly recommend the Cook’s Illustrated technique for freezing your berries for optimal flavor. I tried this last year and last month we ate berries that tasted like they had been freshly picked after almost a year of storage.

In years past, I just threw the berries on a cookie sheet, froze them, and then tossed them into marked bags for later consumption. Cook’s Illustrated is my Bible for cooking and they claim that the best consistency for blueberries is if they have been frozen with sugar. They froze six different kinds of fruit, tried seven different methods of freezing on each fruit, stuck them in the freezer for six months, and then tasted them. I certainly don’t have the time or inclination to take on a task like that and that is why I absolutely love Cook’s Illustrated!

If you are worried about the sugar, it is just meant to help keep the fruit’s shape and texture. When you want to eat the berries, you just rinse the sugar off and enjoy the optimal taste of the fruit.

Freeze Blueberries in 3 Easy Steps

Our collection of recipes continues to grow! While I have you here, here are four more fun ideas to try this year!

Baked Blueberry Doughnuts

Baked Blueberry Doughnuts With a Lemon Glaze

Blueberry Sangria Lemonade

Blueberry Sangria Lemonade

Healthy Banana Blueberry Muffins

Healthy Blueberry Banana Muffins

Fruit Infused Water Recipes

Healthy Fruit Infused Waters

Quinoa-Berry Breakfast Bowls

Quinoa-Berry Breakfast Bowls (sub with blueberries)

What are your favorite blueberry recipes? How do you freeze your berries? Feel free to share links and recipes here for even more inspiration for our readers!

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An Apron Full of Giveaways 07.26.11

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

luluxo, $34

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

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

Please let me know if you have any questions and good luck to each of you!

Incredible Melted Ice Cream Cake with Chocolate Marshmallow Ganache

Monday, July 25th, 2011

As with all traditions in our family, it started as something simple and became something special. Last year I let my kids pick their own birthday cakes for their special days from my bookshelf of cookbooks.

Since last year, my dessert cookbooks have since become bent and worn, from bookmarking and thumbing through pictures of cakes just for them. When the kids are bored, they will run over to that shelf, pull down all the cookbooks and reminensce about what they might choose for their next birthday…as early as ten months down the road. Discussions and negotiations are made when they select the same recipe and the cookbooks return to the shelf until another rainy day of planning.

Ethan had this Melted Ice Cream Cake marked several times since his last birthday. It was this or the biscotti recipe that he bookmarked for me.

Biscotti is not really a birthday cake, sweetie,” I told him as he handed me his bookmarked cookbook.

“Well, it should be. It is delicious,” he replied.

Did I even know what biscotti was until just a few years ago? I can’t say that I did.  I fear for his wife someday.

I also had never heard of a melted ice cream cake before, but the concept is a simple one. Simply use a cake mix and replace the liquid that it directs on the box with a good quality ice cream and your eggs.  Not only is this one an easy cake to create, it can be made into a brand new flavor with a different ice cream flavor or a different cake mix. The possibilities are truly endless with this cake and the results are surprisingly delicious.

The most important thing with this cake is to not cook it too long, or it can become dried out and will lack the moistness that you want in it. Smothered in a homemade chocolate marshmallow ganache, this cake takes ice cream and cake to a whole new level.

The best part? Melted ice cream is actually encouraged. With a July birthday, that is one feat that is easy to pull off!


Incredible Melted Ice Cream Cake


1 package (18.25 ounces) plain white cake mix

2 cups (or 1 pint) good quality melted ice cream, your choice of flavor.

{Cookbook author note: The author states that it is important to use a good quality ice cream because the cheaper ice cream has more air in it, which will not equal the two cups of liquid you need for this cake. If you use a cheaper brand, melt it and then measure to create the two cups of liquid needed for this one! }

3 large eggs

Chocolate Marshmallow Ganache

For the frosting:

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

6 large marshmallows

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of butter

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist a Bundt pan with cooking spray, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour and set the pan aside. Place the cake mix, melted ice cream, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend  for three minutes. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake the cake for 38-42 minutes (mine took just 38). Remove and let cool for 20 minutes. Remove the cake from the Bundt pan and allow to to cool for 30 more minutes. Frost the cake once cooled with the Chocolate Marshmallow Ganache.

For the Chocolate Marshmallow Ganache: Sift the sugar and cocoa powder together in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Place the marshmallows, butter, and milk in a medium-size heavy saucepan over low heat. Stir until the marshmallows are melted, 3-4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Pour the confectioners’ sugar & cocoa mixture over the marshmallow mixture. Ad the vanilla and stir until the frosting is smooth and satiny. Use at once to top the ice cream cake. I was able to pour this right over the cake, and it will harden as it cools.

Prep Time: 5-7 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Serving Size: 16

Recipe Source: The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn

Looking for more cake ideas? Check out our Perfectly Pink Barbie Birthday CakeDarn Good Chocolate Cake, Oreo & Fudge Ice Cream Cake, & Blueberry Muffin Cake for just a sampling of the cakes we love around here!

MomAdvice is On the Move: Wedding Gifts, Outdooor Entertaining, Goodwill Savings, & FB Fun

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

This week on Kenmore, I am sharing a few of my favorite wedding gifts to give that are both budget-friendly and are gifts that will be long remembered.  I hope these ideas can add a little inspiration to your end-of-season shopping for just a few items to tuck in your gift closet for any weddings you might be attending. Head over to this post to chime in on your favorite gifts to give (or that you received).

Fit & Function: Go Go Shopper

Goodwill shopping is one of my favorite types of shopping to do, but I still don’t love to do it by paying full price. This week I am sharing over at the Goodwill Tips blog a few ideas for how you can save at your Goodwill store. Our store offers so many ways that you can save and I am sharing a few of my shopping strategies for getting the best bang for my buck! Chime in with your shopping strategies and way you save at your store!  (photo credit: lululemon athletica)

If there is one thing that I know how to do well it is to throw a great backyard barbecue. This month on Snackpicks I am sharing some quick and easy tips for succeeding at outdoor entertaining. You are going to love these ideas for keeping guests entertained, inexpensive ways to decorate your outdoor table, and how to make the clean-up process go smoothly.

This week we hit 7,000 fans on our MomAdvice Facebook Community page and I just wanted to say thank you all so much for joining in on the MomAdvice community. If you haven’t joined our page, you are missing out on some really fun discussions on frugality, simple living, recipe sharing, and library reading!  This week’s hot discussion was discussing what you were going to do about those Netflix subscriptions and what you do to keep your family entertained on a budget. Head on over to our page and give us a Like to grow and share more on simple living topics!

Keynote Speaker Amy Clark of

Savvy Blogging Summit 2011

Not only was my content on the move this week, but I just returned from the Savvy Blogging Summit after delivering a Keynote and sharing our Brand-Blogger relations with the attendees.

To say that this experience was life-changing would be putting it mildly. I have carried around our story in my heart for almost eight years and for the first time I shared it with the attendees of what life experiences lead us to the website and how we were able to run this site as long as we have. I promise to share the audio recording of the Keynote when it becomes available. I was so proud to be there  and how gracious and attentive everyone was when I shared our story.

The Brand-Blogger relations panel turned out to be a fantastic opportunity to discuss rates, how to begin working with brands, and how to write authentically awesome content that is sure to land you a job or two. I hope to take that show on the road and hit a few other conferences with this discussion since the majority of our income comes from working with other brands and writing content/doing spokesperson work for them. Audio recordings will also be available soon for purchase and I will be sure to let you know when they are!

I made so many new friends at the SB Summit. Lifelong friends.  Everyone wanted to help everyone and there was not a moment of anyone not sharing their knowledge. We shared into the wee hours of the morning and I know I walked away with so much valuable information on how to continue to grow my own business. It is a conference I would recommend to a newbie blogger or a seasoned pro that has been doing it for years!

(photo credit: Short and Hat)

Amy’s Notebook 07.20.11

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

I love this easy DIY laptop sleeve to customize your computer (@ tatertots & jello)

This recipe for homemade fruit leather looks delicious (@ Craft)

I want to try this s’mores popcorn for a fun summer treat (@ Nest of Posies)

This simple bow tie top would be a cute addition to the summer wardrobe (@ Sweet Verbena)

I want to try this recipe for homemade ricotta cheese (@ Made By Lex)

These butterbeer cookies would be a great treat for a Harry Potter night (@ bake at 350)

This snow cone syrup recipe makes me want to invest in a snow cone machine (@ Skip to My Lou)

I am in love with this 13 ounces or less happy mail series for cute ideas for fun things to mail (@ giver’s log)

I think cake batter pancakes would be a fun birthday tradition (@ how sweet it is)

This half table would be a great solution for small spaces (@ Salty Pineapple)

This patio box makeover is a cute way to add additional outdoor seating & I love this patio makeover inspiration (@ Random Thoughts of a SuperMom)

I want to have a picnic just to eat these picnic pies (@ The Farm Chicks)

I love this idea for a homemade slip & slide (@ The Inspired Housewife)

This smoky paprika shrimp looks like a great dish for the grill this summer (@ Simply Recipes)

Who knew a plastic spoon wreath would be so cute? (@ Nesting Place)

Soft frosted sugar cookies are my favorite thing in the world (@ Annie’s Eats)

These farm stand buttermilk donuts look so tempting (@ shutterbean)

Corn on the Cob on the Grill

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Corn on the Cob on the Grill Header

This corn recipe is the time-saving strategy you need for your next cookout. Learn how to grill corn on the cob without removing the husks. Serve this cookout side with toppings for guests to season the corn.

There are so many fun ways to prepare corn. I have been known to boil the corn, pop the corn in the cob (wrapped in aluminum foil) into my slow cooker, and have prepared tths summer side with fancy herb butters for our family cookouts.

To save on money, I have always purchased the corn in the husks.

Although I have been to many cookouts, I had no idea that you could grill your corn on the cob without any special foil preparations.

Since learning this amazing cookout shortcut, I have said goodbye to time lost, removing those silks and outer husks, and said hello to the world’s easiest method for roasted corn made on your grill.

No more cleaning up corn silk and husks?


Now you can have your guests pull back their own husks and prepare their corn with their own favorite toppings.

The best part about keeping the corn in the husk?

It can stay warm for 30 minutes, making timing the rest of your dishes around it a cinch.

Corn on the Cob on the Grill

Corn on the Cob on the Grill

Here are a few questions that I get asked about preparing your corn for the grill! 

Soaking Corn in Water With Husk On

Corn in Husks On Grill

How Do I Prepare Corn on the Cob for the Grill?

To prevent your corn from becoming burned (or catching on fire), it is important that you soak your corn (in its husk- do not remove!) in a bucket of water.

Ideally, you want the corn to soak for two to three hours. As they soak, be sure to rotate the ears so that all of the sides are properly soaked for the grill.

While you may think to only use this grilling technique at home, it is a really great one when you want to grill corn on the cob when camping.

Grilling Corn on the Cob In Foil

I Prefer Grilling Corn in Foil. Do You Have Any Tips?

If I am going to the trouble of cleaning the corn, I love to just slather the corn cobs with herbed butter BEFORE you wrap them in foil. This herbed butter grilled corn recipe is a perfect one to create.

If you are wrapping your corn cobs in foil, you just want to make sure that they are wrapped tightly (to prevent any potential grill fires from the buttered topping) and they can be grilled for 15 minutes, turning often.

I Don’t Have a Grill. Do You Have Any Suggestions On How to Boil Corn Instead?

I learned a trick for boiling corn in milk and brown sugar, to really enhance the sweetness and I can’t rave about it enough.

This combination works really well when corn isn’t in season and you are looking to\ bring a little more sweetness to your corn.

I admit, it is an usual way to do it, but the combination makes corn taste like it is in season all year long.

Another option, of course, is to boil the corn in boiling salted water.

It should take just seven to eight minutes to cook.

What Can I Do With Leftover Corn on the Cob?

It never fails that we have a few ears of corn leftover from a cookout.

Personally, I love to shave the corn and add it to a summer salad.

Shaving Grilled Corn for Salad

Looking for a unique salad combination? This Edamame & Corn Salad is always a cookout winner.

Shaved corn can also be made into a delicious roasted corn salsa, as a fun appetizer to munch on with your leftovers.

Adding a layer of roasting, to the corn kernels, really adds smoky flavor to your salsa.

Admittedly, shaving corn can be a messy affair, but these tips are genius for keeping the corn mess to a minimum.

Don’t feel like making the effort to shave corn? 

I’ve got another great recipe idea for you!

Another simple way you can use up those ears of corn are to reserve them for a shrimp boil on another night. Just add the already cooked corn cobs, at the end of your boiling time, to warm.

Corn on the Cob on the Grill
Recipe Type: Grilling
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
This corn recipe is the time-saving strategy you need for your next cookout. Learn how to grill corn on the cob without removing the husks. Serve this cookout side with toppings for guests to season the corn.
  • 6 ears of corn (or as many as you like)
  • 1 bucket of fresh water
  • Butter, Salt, & Pepper (optional) for topping
  1. Place corn (husk and all) in a bucket of cold water. Let the corn soak for two to three hours, rotating the corn in the bucket to assure that all of the ears get soaked.
  2. Preheat your grill to medium high heat. Place corn on your hot grill and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, flipping the corn after fifteen minutes.
  3. The corn husks may become charred, but the corn inside remains intact.
  4. The corn will stay hot for thirty minutes after being removed from the grill and the corn husk will peel very easily from the corn.
  5. Have guests peel back the husks and then season with butter, salt, and pepper.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Looking for more fun grilling ideas? Check out this fun recipes!

DIY grill seasonings plus free printable labels for gift giving! mix up your own grill seasoning mixes with these diy recipes


steak marinade recipe try my favorite steak marinade recipe (great for those cheaper cuts of meat)

grilled burssels sprouts grill your brussels sprouts on your grill with this easy foil packet recipe

What are some of your favorite ways to prepare corn for the grill? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy grilling!

An Apron Full of Giveaways 07.19.11

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

foodphyte, $24.50

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

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

Please let me know if you have any questions and good luck to each of you!

Welcome, Savvy Blogging Summit Attendees

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

I would like to extend a warm welcome to all of the wonderful Savvy Blogging Summit attendees. My heart beats a little fast as I am preparing to head to the beautiful Colorado Springs, Colorado to not only share about brand-blogger relations, but also serving as the Keynote Speaker for the event.  What an honor to share about my true passion of building your community authentically, transparently, and in the most balanced way that a mother can!

You are only meeting half of the MomAdvice team in our house. I tend to get all the glory, while my husband graciously does all of the hard coding, programming, and back-breaking work of our site.  Without his mad skills and his willingness to give me the chance to travel and share, we just wouldn’t have the site that we have today. We have been a team for a long time.  Eleven years of wedded bliss and high school sweethearts before we could even drive.  That is a lot of team work, friends!

My name is Amy and I am the Founder of I am a busy mom of two and live in the beautiful Midwest with my web designing husband and our two children. I love to cook, knit, drink coffee, take pictures, and am a total bookworm. I am dedicated to anything that will help make my life simpler, keep me on my budget, and that promotes family time!

We started this site seven years ago as a platform to share about all of those topics that I had been searching for when I became homemaker. How do I cook? How do I clean this house? How do I keep my children entertained without breaking the bank? How do I manage a daily routine? Most of all though…how do I do all of this on a limited income?

I love staying connected with my readers so you can find me on Facebook,TwitterGoodReads, and Ravelry…just to name a few! Chances are, if you search for someone named momadvice, you will likely find me there!

Are you on Facebook? Please be sure to Fan our Page. We would love to continue to share and interact with you! If you are on Twitter, you can find me there too sharing about our daily life and what is happening on our site. There are so many ways to connect regularly with the site and I would love to interact with you daily!

My site is powered by McD’s Diet Coke, coffee, and cute shoes.  I am going to put my heart on my sleeve today at this conference in a way that I have never been brave enough to do. I hope you brought a few tissues because it is about to get real at the Keynote.  On the flip side, it is also going to be very real in my Brand-Blogger relationships discussion. I am going to tell you how to score those jobs, a good range on what to expect for the jobs you are doing, and how to put your best foot forward when doing business. I hope there will be lots of discussion and I promise to be as open of a book as I can be about how to grow your blog into a money tree for your family.

Pretty much, everything I have learned over these seven years is in this post right here- I Did It My Way: Long-Term Blogging Success Tips. Read it. It is exactly what I would tell you if we could have coffee and if you asked my advice on how to get your business off of the ground.

For those of you not there, here are a few tips for growing that blog in a big way

Immediately Engage Your Readers- If you are featured in any noteworthy publication, site, radio show or television show, or speaking at an event create a Welcome page to those readers. Include some of your favorite posts from the archives, a bio about who you are and why you started your blog, and information on how to subscribe to your site. Imagine that someone is reading your site for the first time and gather everything they will need to navigate and find that great information.

This week I am speaking at Savvy Blogging Summit so I have created this page so you can see a little piece of what I work so hard on every single day.  Are you at the event too? Get a page up so when people are flipping through their business cards they will be able to discover what you represent and how to interact with your site immediately!

Live Authentically– My blog is like another extension of myself and because I write about my family and how we manage the day-to-day tasks of life,  I have to share about these situations authentically with my readers. I try to share the triumphs of my life and also the things that have totally bombed in our family authentically! This means sharing pictures of what is created in the kitchen, created during my craft time, the disorganized mess and then the freshly organized space, and glimpses of me as a mother and my family.

More importantly though, I am LIVING. I try to not sit at my computer all day because then I am not living an authentic life that I can share with you. I can’t share about crafts I create with my kids unless I actually did those crafts with them. You need to live your beautiful life to create an authentic blog life. The more living you are doing, the more inspiring your blog will be. THAT is what creates readers, not just sitting mind-numbingly at a computer for hours and hours on end.

Living authentically also means only taking opportunities that fit with your site and who you are. Our site promotes family, getting your family around the dinner table,  organizing solutions, and inexpensive living. Those are the opportunities that I should be seeking and sharing about. This means I turn down roughly five to ten opportunities a week. Sometimes it REALLY stinks to say no, but I know that I have to live AUTHENTICALLY to keep my readers engaged. If it doesn’t offer value to my community and if it takes me away from my #1 goal to be the best mom I can be, then I have to say no.  Don’t sacrifice your reputation for free stuff and that will give you the staying power to outlast other blogs. Believe me!

Today Transparency is Key to Your Community– The fastest way to lose your community is to not be transparent about what is happening behind the scenes. Get that Disclaimer up, make sure that product reviews fit with your site or that you are doing your best to offer those items back to your readers, and add an extra Disclaimer at the bottom of your reviews to make everyone feel right at home. For example, this is what I put at the bottom of EVERY review post.

This product was received as a review sample. The thoughts and opinions expressed will always be honest and heartfelt and no reflection on receiving a sample copy.  We promise to always do our best to also give away each of these products to our readers because it is always better to give than to receive!  Want to know more about how things are handled here at MomAdvice? Be sure to read our Disclaimer which clearly states how things work and know that we will always offer only the best reviews to our readers.

Reward Your Referrers- Without great referrals; you won’t be able to gain new readers. At the beginning of each month, thank the people that made your site great that month and what was most popular for the month on your site. I am able to see my top referrers through my web host so that is where I gather my information for compiling our top ten list at the start of the month. Here is an example of what my monthly recaps look like.

Highlight Others- Create a post weekly or monthly that will showcase others that read your site and to keep them engaged on your site.  I try to highlight weekly a round-up of great blogs that offer information that our readers will find helpful . I also try ideas that are highlighted in this round-up to further add the spotlight on these great blogs. In fact, Amy’s Notebook and our Notebook Experiments are some of the most visited and favorite posts of our reader’s week! I try to mix in people that have made our site a success (often those that are highlighted as referrers each month) because no one deserves to be highlighted more than someone who has created our community!

Here are some other great reads that I encourage you to look at for creating a community, generating revenue, and a balanced blogger life:

7 Tips for Leading a Balanced Blogger Life

The Player Scores and Silence

Five Commandments for Blogging

Gaining a Readership the Frugal Way

Simplifying Your T0-Do List

How Do I Become a Product Review Blogger

How Do I Track My Traffic

How Do I Work From Home

What in the World is Twitter?

10 Useful Tools for Twitter Users

Selling Yourself

Achieving Balance When Working From Home

If you are attending the conference this week, PLEASE say hello to me! I am looking forward to learning, networking, and loving you! I am an open book of information because it has been hard to find people who were an open book to me. I will tell you anything you want to know about blogging and if I don’t know it, I can help you network with the people who can offer you the information you need. I have had GREAT mentors in my life who have shaped who I am and family &  friends that keep me grounded and living an authentic life on MomAdvice.

If you are shy, as so many of us are, know that I am a sweaty mess at conferences too.

I want everyone to like me.

I don’t want to eat alone.

I don’t like to sit by myself.

Won’t you sit with me? Won’t you be my neighbor?

I want this experience to end with tears just like my church camp days where my poor father would stand there for hours waiting for me to say goodbye a million times to the same people over and over again.

Just one more hug.

Just one more picture.

Just one more hour, please.

I can’t wait for us to all be lifelong friends.

Just to prove how intimidating I am, here I am dressed as a pirate for my kid’s VBS program. Yes.  This is your Keynote Speaker.  I hope you will say hi to me now. I can’t wait to meet you all!

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Amy’s Notebook 07.13.11

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

The notebook is arriving a little early today! Our town was hit with a storm that has knocked down our phone/internet lines so I am publishing early this evening since I will be without internet tomorrow! I hope you enjoy the notebook this week and I am so thankful for your comments and support on the site. Email response time has slowed and I promise to get back to everyone as soon as I can!  Thanks for your patience!


I am so inspired by this outdoor move theater set up (@ the giver’s log)

This silken straw summer sweater is beautiful (@ the purl bee)

This homemade sugar cubes would be cute for a tea party (@ nifty thrifty things)

This cherry sorbet looks like a delicious summer treat (@ Gina’s Skinny Recipes)

My kids would flip for this pizza monkey bread (@ Confections of a Foodie Bride)

This birthday postcard is adorable (@ Oh Happy Day)

This knitted bike basket is adorable for a fun retro addition to your bicycle (@ craftster)

I want to make these turkey, bacon, & bleu cheese sliders (@ Cheeky Kitchen)

I want to try this tortellini pasta salad (@ Serious Eats)

My kids would love these homemade ice cream drumsticks (@ Pleasant Home)

These marinated tomatoes look like a perfect way to use those tomatoes from the garden (@ The Pioneer Woman)

These baked apple donuts look like a fun recipe to add to our donut arsenal (@ Cooking With My Kid)

These double-sided fabric headbands would be a cute hair addition for the summer (@ happy together)

This handmade ring toss is adorable for an outdoor game with the kids (@ two shades of pink)

I am making these five strand braided headbands out of the old t-shirts I have saved (@ Make It & Love It)