Archive for March, 2015

Love Your Home Challenge

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Love Your Home Challenge

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago how much I have been enjoying Melissa Michael’s book, Love the Home You Have, and I am so excited to be celebrating the launch with her and many other bloggers today. Her blog, The Inspired Room, is truly the blog I go to for my own home inspiration and styling. In fact, I have even admitted to her that it might be awkward when she visits because I have stolen so many ideas from her home including paint colors and styling, that I could have never come up with on my own.

The journey towards loving our home has been a wild one in this last decade. When we first got married, we moved from an apartment to another apartment and then purchased a condo that we thought we could make our home for many years.  The loss of employment had us scrambling for both a job and a home we could afford when my husband accepted employment in Indiana. I stayed behind with our baby boy to pack us up and my husband headed to Indiana to pick out a house for us without me there.  With not even two pennies to rub together, we were approved for a lot and I encouraged him to get the most bang for our buck and spend as little as possible. I figured this would just be a temporary solution and we would flip the house once we added a little paint and buy something more our style. I had no idea the real estate market in Indiana was oh-so-different than our experience buying & selling a home in Massachusetts.


I am embarrassed to say that I did not weather the unemployment well or appreciate this home he picked out. It was not my dream house in the least and I cried when we walked inside.  Not only was it not our style at all, but everything needed to be replaced. The air conditioner was the size of a car and when it kicked in, the lights would dim in our entire house. A few days after we moved in, we called my husband’s parents to tell them the ceiling looked like it was caving in. Turned out, the roof was falling apart and I remember my husband poking holes with a screwdriver to allow the water to pour out into pails on our floor in the middle of a rain storm.  I sat on the floor crying that this was the best we could do. The electrical in the entire house left electricians concerned that we might have a house fire.  It wasn’t just the cosmetic stuff, but the big stuff like furnaces, a hot water heater, windows, an air conditioner, a roof. I could not wait to get out of this place.

12 years later, we are still here. That ugly eyesore is now the place we call home and every year I fall in love with it more.  This has been a long journey getting to a place where we love our space and that is why I am excited to share with you about Melissa’s new book, Love the Home You Have.

Love Your Home Challenge

This book is so inspiring and is the book that I wish someone would have handed me when we purchased our little house. It is all about making the most of the space you are in and learning to love your space… no matter what kind of space it is. Melissa lived in some spaces that definitely were not her dream homes before settling into the home she is now. She takes you on that journey and shares those real thoughts about those spaces and how she made each home her own.

Melissa’s journey towards loving her home echoes the same journey we have been on with our own little fixer upper. This book is BEAUTIFUL and filled with humor and wisdom about the journey towards loving your home. There is a Biblical slant to it, but it isn’t preachy.  If you struggle with loving the space you are in, she really shows you how to make the most of whatever your situation is. I love that this book isn’t about upgrading our buying more, but making simple switches to make your space more enjoyable. Their journey is relatable and her personality shines in this book.

I don’t promote books because people are my friends, I promote them if they are good.

This one is good.

In celebration of her book launch, here are 5 ways I have fallen in love with the home I have.

Love Your Home Challenge

1. We are constantly decluttering our space to make room for the good stuff. This year I have reduced our belongings by about 50%, but I always know that I can do more. Having a bag going at all times helps me get rid of the excess to create room for the spaces we really love. Having a smaller home really holds you accountable to your belongings because there is just nowhere to store the excess. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Love Your Home Challenge


Love Your Home Challenge

Love Your Home Challenge

2. We have made the space personal to us. One of the things that I am the most proud of in our space is that it is tailored so much to our own style. From the artwork we select to the handmade additions like wreaths, yarn-wrapped letters, and knitted centerpieces, the first thing people say when they come to our house is, “This house is so you.” I think that acknowledging our own style in the details is what adds charm to our home.

Love Your Home Challenge

3. We utilize every corner of our space.  As we have slowly been remodeling the spaces in our home, the one thing I am most proud of is our ability to use every square inch in our space. A storage shed, for example, became a beautiful bonus room that is now a retreat for our family. A never used corner in our bathroom became the perfect place for a shower.  My office once had a rarely used seating area that with the addition of a small fireplace has become my go-to spot after a long day. Looking at the corners in a new light has made all the difference in my appreciation of our space.

Love Your Home Challenge

4. We never stop dreaming of how to improve the space we are in. The nice thing about creating your home more slowly is that you have the time to save and dream of what you want to do next to your house.  Once the structural things were taken care of, we now could dream and save for the fun stuff. I keep a private Pinterest board going of home ideas and tuck them away for future projects.  Even if I know we can’t do it for years, there is so much contentment in just knowing what direction we want to take things in someday that replaces the disatisfaction of the space.

Love Your Home Challenge

5. We know now that this is right where we belong. The other night we browsed through realtor photos of homes that were on the market. We browse homes well out of our price range a lot to get ideas for our space. You know what we always discover? We could spend a million dollars on a home (which we couldn’t, but you know…) and we would STILL have to gut and renovate the space. As each corner is transformed in our little tri-level fixer-upper, we see things we love about it more than any other home on the market. That, my friends, is when you know that you love the home you have. We couldn’t be happier!

Love Your Home Challenge

Of course, the added bonus with living within our means and having less is that we can do more good stuff for others. How lucky are we?

Love Your Home Challenge

Reluctant Entertainer /Julie Blanner / Mom Advice / Sawdust Girl / Liz Marie Blog / Tidy Mom / Infarrantly Creative / Love Feast Table / Balancing Beauty and Bedlam / All Things Thrifty / Just a Girl / Emily A Clark  / My Sweet Savannah / Lemonade Makin Mama / Jones Design Company / Fieldstone Hill Design / Jenna Burger Design / DIY Show Off / Not Just a Housewife / Beneath My Heart / A Thoughtful Place / Home Stories A to Z /Southern Hospitality / My Blessed Life / Pretty Handy Girl / The Nesting Place / Shabby Nest / Funky Junk Interiors / Songbird Blog / The Shabby Creek Cottage / Miss Mustard Seed / 320 Sycamore

 Today I am joining the #LoveYourHomeChallenge with some really amazing and inspiring bloggers! To learn more about this fun challenge, head on over to The Inspired Room to see what Melissa is sharing today! I know you will leave feeling as inspired as I am.  Be sure to pick up Love the Home You Have today and be inspired to make the most of everything you have right now!

Apron Full of Giveaways 03.31.15

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Gray Floral Layered Apron via Etsy

Source: Cherry Pie Aprons,  $34.95


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

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

Good luck to each of you!

Pin It

The Ultimate DIY Bundle Flash Sale!

Monday, March 30th, 2015

*This Sale Has Ended!*

Remember this opportunity from last January to own an incredible DIY library, full of eBooks, eCourses, and bonuses? I’m happy to announce that for those of you who weren’t sure about it or who missed the buying window, the Ultimate Bundle team is bringing the DIY bundle back for a 2-day flash sale, today until Wednesday morning!

Crafts_HomeDecor_DIY Bundle

Why DIY? If you look at that bare wall in the living room or that blah tablecloth on the kitchen table and just wish you had a few hours to do something about them, I promise you will find inspiration in this bundle. If you browse through Pinterest and think to yourself that “one day” you’ll have a few more minutes to yourself so that you too can create something incredible, well you’re not alone – there’s a huge community of people out there who are feeling just as frustrated as you are!

This is where The Ultimate DIY Bundle comes in – a collection of carefully curated DIY and crafting eBooks and eCourses from the world’s leading authors and bloggers in the industry to help you quickly and easily get into (or back into) the creative projects you’ve been longing for.

Home-Garden_Holiday_eCourses-DIY Bundle

For the low price of just $34.95, you get access to a carefully curated library of over 69 eBooks and eCourses. And let me reassure you that this really is great value: the Ultimate Bundles team (who produced the resource) have spent MONTHS seeking out the most respected experts in the industry and asking them to contribute their premium-quality eBooks and eCourses. These really are the best of the best when it comes to DIY and crafting advice and information.

Topics in the bundle include:

  • Home decor
  • Furniture painting
  • Photography
  • Chalk pastels
  • Handmade gifts
  • Homemade skincare products
  • Cake decorating
  • Photography and photo-editing
  • Paint colors and interior design
  • …and a whole lot more (69 eBooks and eCourses in total) – to help you be inspired or get started with your next DIY or crafting project!

There’s no need to worry about information overload though: The Ultimate DIY Bundle comes with a complete guide to getting started, so that you can know exactly which resource to use for your specific crafting or DIY project and jump straight into it with confidence!

Hurry though! The Ultimate DIY Bundle will only be on sale for 2 daysfrom 9am EST on Monday, March 31 until 9am EST on Wednesday, April 1.

You can buy with complete confidence because you’re covered by the Ultimate Bundles 30-day money-back guarantee. That means you have a full 30 days to enjoy all the eBooks and eCourses in the bundle, and if you don’t think they provided enough value, you’ll get a full refund.

Not only that, but The Ultimate DIY Bundle comes with 4 awesome bonuses, worth over $150. That’s 4x the price of the bundle alone! So, don’t miss your chance to grab The Ultimate DIY Bundle, and get 69 incredible eBooks and eCourses for just $34.95. All you need to do is take action by 9am EST on Wednesday, April 1!

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

Scrapbook_Photog_Sewing_Business-DIY Bundle

March 2015 Must-Reads

Friday, March 27th, 2015

March 2015 Must-Reads from

I can’t believe that it is already time to share my monthly reading list with you. I read so many beautiful books in March and I am excited to share my thoughts on what I read this month. I hope that you are also following along with my Sundays With Writers series where I interview the authors about their books and try to find out more about their stories behind the stories. This series happens to be my favorite and it is such a treat to share why they created their books.

Here are six great books I tackled this month!

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

My Sunshine Away is one of those books that you just swim in the words thanks to such a gifted writer. M.O. Walsh does an incredible job of setting the typical suburban neighborhood scene in the year of 1989. It’s the summer that changes everything when the town’s golden girl, Lindy Simpson, is attacked at night near her home. Told in the eyes of another neighborhood boy, who has an extreme obsession & fixation on Lindy, he tries to set the scene and name the suspects…even when his name is included among the list.

I selected this book while browsing this past month’s selection for the Amazon Featured Debut Novel category.  I picked it up and immediately emailed the author to see if I could interview him about his book, the process of writing poetically,  the buzz about his debut novel, and some interesting insights on the town he lives in (Baton Rouge) that can be found within this book.

M.O. Walsh joined me this month for Sundays With Writers and was, perhaps, one of the most candid authors I have interviewed. I would say that the interview is just as interesting as the book so definitely check it out, even if you don’t read this one.

I think with this read you need to know going in that this is not a mystery or a thriller, this is more of a character-driven piece than anything. If expectations are aligned with that, I think you will enjoy this one. It is  graphic and there is language in this one, but it is very much plot-driven and not for shock value. Although, perhaps, not satisfying in the way that a typical whodunit mystery is solved, it is genuinely satisfying in capturing the mind of an adolescent boy, a bittersweet relationship between him and his father, and that tricky terrain of adolescent love and obsession.

4 Out of 5 Stars

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

“Men tell stories. Women get on with it. For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.”

Hannah tells a beautiful story of two sisters who fought the war in their own ways when the Nazis invade France. It is a beautiful rendering of the survival skills needed to survive during this time focusing on the missions of one sister, in particular, who joins the French Resistance and brings soldiers to safety. While her story may seem bigger, the everyday struggles of her own sister who must house a Nazi soldier are just as harrowing. The writing is brutally honest and unflinching at what women had to do to survive and she captures their journey perfectly.

For me,  this was another solid read from Kristin Hannah (much like her Winter Garden from 2010)  and a well-researched rendering of women in the war.  While there are love stories, this was definitely a solid historical fiction book and not a chick lit read. It would lend itself well to book club discussions and I had a hard time putting this one down as  I worried for the safety of these two sisters.

4 Out of 5 Stars

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

I have been trying to read one business book a month to try to help me do my job here a little better. This was a fun read about how an unlikely woman became an entrepreneur of a multi-million dollar company. I think Sophia really showcases that you don’t have to go about business the traditional way and that you don’t have to be a traditional CEO in order for people to respect you. From the nuts and bolts of crafting a resume all the way to landing investors and hiring, this book covers all the basics of business in a fun way.

I really related to Sophia and how she landed into a business she never expected, started small (with no expectation of earning money), and then grew a business with no money at all.  She did not finish school, she lacked the expected polish of a CEO, but she learned that you don’t need to always go the traditional route to be an incredible business woman. Her story really resonated with me and would be a great read if you feel unconfident in business or have always dreamed of being a self-starter, but lack the self-esteem to get started. She shows you that you can be anything you want to be.

A little raunchy and a lot of girl power, I really enjoyed this one!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Americanah by Chimamanda ngozi Adichie

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I have picked up Americanah a few times at my library, but kept returning it because I never got to it, due to the size of the book (588 pages).  When I would do our Sundays With Writers interviews, this book came up a few times as the one book that the authors interviewed thought that everyone should read. I seem to be on a kick this year with books on the struggles of immigration (another book featured below as well as The Unknown Americans) so I thought I would not let the size intimidate me anymore and sit down with this book.

This is a  beautiful read centered around love and race when a young woman and man from Nigeria face difficult choices in the countries they call home. The relationship follows two teens until they are adults as they both try to make their way to America, one succeeding and one not in reaching their destination. Adichie really writes beautifully about race in America, effectively the most in creating one of her characters as a blogger who focuses on race and racial tensions.

The length of this book was my biggest hurdle since it’s been in my pile for months, but I am so glad I made time for this one since it has come so highly recommended by so many writers.  I did feel that there were parts that were a little long on description and that the book would have been just as effective had it been shortened by a couple of hundred pages.  Regardless, I am really proud to have finally read this and would recommend this one to you if you prefer a meatier novel that really deals with race relations and the struggles of immigration. There were parts that I read out loud to my husband and sections that I really had to pause and think how I never thought about these immigration struggles and what it would be like to try to come to America. It is a very powerful read.

4 Out of 5 Stars

The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward

The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward

This is the third book on immigration that I have read this year and definitely packed a powerful punch about how hard it would be to come to America. Ward alternates two stories- one of a typical middle-class woman who is struggling with infertility and becomes a mentor to a struggling teen and the other story of a young girl and her brother who face the harshest kind of poverty and are trying to get to America where they can finally be reunited with their mother and safe. The story of her journey to America is harrowing and devastating to read. Ward doesn’t hold back on setting the scene, giving you an eye-opening look at the real struggles of coming to America. Their lives intertwine and provide a satisfying conclusion to this sad story.

I found this book disturbing in some parts and I have been carrying some of the scenes around with me this month. There is poverty and then there is POVERTY. We are talking, eating flour and water for dinner (if you are lucky), addictions to glue to feel full by small children, parents abandoning a child to take care of another child and head to America. It was really heartbreaking.

I am glad I read it, but it was just really heavy.

Ward does a great job of contrasting the struggles of a typical middle-class white suburban mother against the struggles of a child in poverty effectively without being mean about it. It made me think about how my struggles are so minor compared to the struggles of others.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

I selected this book for my local book club this month after discovering it was the #1 book of all the books on Amazon for 2014. How could you not select this after making that discovery?

This is a beautiful debut novel and Ng’s descriptive language is a treat to read. When a family’s daughter goes missing the lives of her family members begin unraveling through Ng’s beautiful storytelling. The reader is taken on a journey from the very beginning of the relationship of the parents and moving through each family member, including Lydia, their missing daughter. Everything I Never Told You is every character’s story that was never told- from the disappointment felt by parents to not fitting in due to their race to what roles they were expected to fill in the family (whether wanted or not).

This is a book that would lend itself well to a book club discussion since it tackles the big issues of parental roles/expectations as well as the heartache of youth and the challenges with fitting in. As with My Sunshine Away, I did not find this to read like a mystery or thriller, but more of a character-driven piece.

Celeste Ng will be joining me in a Sundays With Writers soon and I am so excited to share more of her story with you.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Read With me This Year:

January 2015 Must-Reads

February 2015 Must-Reads

What should I be adding to my library bag?  Leave your suggestions in the comments below! 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.




Pin It

Amy’s Notebook 03.25.15

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

DIY Typography Easter Eggs via Lovely Indeed

Source: Lovely Indeed


Super cool DIY typography Easter eggs.

DIY Easter bunny shoe clips – adorable!

Loved reading this piece since I am reading these books with my little girl.

Stop apologizing for what remains and what is still being worked on.

A great piece on Project 333!

Slow cooker quinoa enchilada bake looks healthy, yummy & easy to make!

How to find your style and create a capsule wardrobe.


2015 Spring Capsule via Elise Blaha

Source: Elise Blaha


Love peeking at other people’s spring capsules.

Jotting down these products for my beauty wish-list.

I needed this parenting reminder.

New Alzheimer’s treatment fully restores memory function- this is so exciting!

The 23 best movies on Netflix you haven’t seen yet.

Play ‘Family Feud’ against the top-ten results in Google’s autocomplete.


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!


Pin It

Apron Full of Giveaways 03.24.15

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

Black Floral Apron via Etsy

Source: Debz Doodlez,  $40.00


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

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

Good luck to each of you!

Pin It

How to Shop Secondhand for Your Fashion Capsule Wardrobe

Monday, March 23rd, 2015


Last week I was so excited to show off my Spring capsule wardrobe with you all. I got some questions and emails regarding the capsule wardrobe and one thing people wanted to know the most is how I was able to pull of my wardrobe secondhand. Today I wanted to share how I did manage to keep my capsule wardrobe 90% secondhand and how you can do the same with your wardrobe.

I have always loved to shop secondhand for clothing and the fun of that just has never ended for me. There is such a thrill in the hunt for the perfect item. When I was a girl we would visit a store in my great-grandma’s town that had barrels of clothing to dig through. I remember my mom shuddering and me clapping my hands with glee. I loved to hunt and who knew what treasure you could find at the bottom of a barrel? It could be something really exquisite and rare like J. CREW or BANANA REPUBLIC or ESPRIT or UNITED COLORS OF BENETTON. RARE, RARE, RARE. For a girl who couldn’t afford to upgrade her wardrobe, this possibility thrilled me.

When I was young though I was simply attracted to brand names that I could not afford and deals…oh, THE DEALS. What I ended up with were loads of items that didn’t look good, that didn’t work together, and things I didn’t REALLY love. If only you could have seen the label on the inside though…you might have been impressed.  As an adult, I have learned to be patient, to choose wisely, and to try to be flexible when piecing together a secondhand wardrobe.

The capsule wardrobe requires a well-edited closet, selecting pieces that work together and that can be worn many different ways to maximize your choices. You might think secondhand couldn’t work, but I will share my secret with you…consignment shopping online has transformed the impossible and multiple trips to shops into the possible.

Spring Wardrobe Classics

(source Kendi Everyday)

Start With a Really Good List

The capsule wardrobe relies a lot on wardrobe staples and I had none of these when I started.  Even though secondhand shopping is more affordable than purchasing the items retail, you still must keep your budget in mind. Make a list of items that are important to you to own this year and consider dividing your list into the different capsules. For me, items like a good pair of jeans, a crisp white collared shirt, a black skirt, a black pair of jeans, a jean shirt, and a good blazer were all wardrobe essentials. Consider this list and this list (pictured above) as a good starting point for building your wardrobe.

Build In a Few Trendy Pieces

Once you have covered the basics, you can start jotting down a few of your favorite trends this season that you would like to incorporate. I love this list of Spring trends that include adding a bit of floral, the mixing and matching of bright & bold, a nod to denim, a fresh summer scarf, and the addition of a good clutch.  Obviously, only embrace the trends that really work for you and for your lifestyle, otherwise, it ends up being a pointless task in incorporating these items if you will never wear them.

Always consider the trendy colors of the year to as a way to add a little bit of color to your capsule, while keeping it timeless with still embracing the basics.

Shop Around

There are lots of great online consignment shops out there, you just have to find the right one for you. I have had the best luck on Twice and on thredUP (both of those are affiliate links and will give you $10 towards your first purchase). Here is a list of all of the shops that I have found to do some online consignment shopping.  I have found that a lot of my happiness with a site and what they offer really relies upon their search tool since I like to shop with my list and not blindly hunt for items.

I would say after trying several different companies out for online consignment, my happiness has really been with Twice the most. I like that I have 30 days to try things on and make sure I really love it. I appreciate the convenience of being able to ship my returns without getting charged for shipping or restocking fees.  I feel like I have been able to make smarter decisions and am not keeping items just because I don’t want the expense or hassle of returning them.

Of course, consignment shopping can happen locally too and many consignment shops are on Facebook, sharing and posting some of the best offerings they have in their store. Consider following the shops you love and keeping your eyes peeled for smart purchases for your capsule.

How to Shop Secondhand for Your Fashion Capsule Wardrobe

(source Twice)

Start Shopping With Your List

Once you have a list of items that you really want, shopping for consignment online is a breeze. I begin typing in descriptions of the items I am after and let the hunting for them begin.

Start with your basics and type in the key phrases of what you are looking for.

“Black Skirt”

“Black Pants”

“Shirt Dress”


Type in the patterns of fabric you are looking for- stripes, gingham, checks, herringbone, floral, chambray…. the possibilities are endless.

How to Shop Secondhand for Your Fashion Capsule Wardrobe

Be a Brand Snob- You Can Afford To

I have become quite the brand snob with my clothing and the reason is simply because I am buying my clothes at a fraction of the cost that I used to. I don’t want to spend the money on a pair of socks from some of the brands that I have been shopping at in their stores, but I can have a whole outfit when I purchase it on consignment…and not feel one bit guilty.

I try not to be too trendy in my capsule wardrobe and so I look to brands that I know will wash well, will have longevity, and  won’t fall apart on me.

Sell It Back

Since you are keeping a well-edited closet with your fashion capsule, you will know right away what hasn’t gotten worn and won’t carry over to the next wardrobe. Consider making some money or credit for the clothes and sell them back to the retailers you purchased them from.  I have this handy resource list on how to make money organizing that closet.

How to Shop Secondhand for Your Fashion Capsule Wardrobe

(source thredUP)

Add In Your Accessories & Shoes Secondhand Too

Not only is buying secondhand great for your wardrobe, but it can be great for shoes, purses, scarves, and belts to compliment your items.  If there is a trend like, “emerald green,” or “floral print,” consider adding these into your wardrobe with accessories instead of with your wardrobe basics. A quick browse on thredUP yields a million floral scarves and at a much better price than the retail stores. These smaller items are a great way to add something trendy without deciding which trends you think will actually stick in your capsule wardrobe.

How to Shop Secondhand for Your Fashion Capsule Wardrobe

Last spring’s buttery Italian suede smoking slippers from J. Crew were available on Twice when I was putting together my capsule. Would I have spent $200 on these for myself? No way!  I can afford a little luxury when they are priced at $60, use my referral credit, and pay a mere $5. YES! This is a luxury that this cheap lady can indulge in. They are beautiful and worth all five dollars and MORE!

The same principle can be applied to that beautiful handbag you have been dreaming of.

This has always been my secret to good shopping…

You can have the beautiful things you always wanted with a little patience- someone is always editing their items and the chances are good that ONE THING you have been dreaming of will be yours one day.   

I waited a whole year for these shoes and it was worth the wait.

What are your tricks for shopping secondhand for your clothing? Feel free to leave them below!


Pin It

Sundays With Writers: Whiskey & Charlie by Annabel Smith

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

Sundays With Writers

One of the privileges of having this space has been doing our Sundays With Writers interview series. The other privilege has been getting to sneak peek books before they hit store shelves so I can share them with you. Whiskey & Charlie was provided to me by NetGalley a couple of months ago and I simply could not put it down. I even included it last month in my must-read list! This book will be hitting store shelves on April 7th, but I already read the exciting news that this one has been selected as a Target Book Club pick for April.

How exciting is that for our featured author today? 

Whiskey & Charlie by Annabel Smith

Whiskey and Charlie might have come from the same family, but they would tell you two completely different stories about growing up. Whiskey is everything Charlie is not – bold, daring, carefree – and Charlie blames his twin brother for always stealing the limelight, always getting everything, always pushing Charlie back. By the time the twins reach adulthood, they are barely even speaking to each other.

When they were just boys, the secret language they whispered back and forth over their crackly walkie-talkies connected them, in a way. The two-way alphabet (alpha, bravo, charlie, delta) became their code, their lifeline. But as the brothers grew up, they grew apart.

When Charlie hears that Whiskey has been in a terrible accident and has slipped into a coma, Charlie can’t make sense of it. Who is he without Whiskey? As days and weeks slip by and the chances of Whiskey recovering grow ever more slim, Charlie is forced to consider that he may never get to say all the things he wants to say. A compelling and unforgettable novel about rivalry and redemption, Whiskey & Charlie is perfect for anyone whose family has ever been less than picture-perfect.

This story is incredibly moving and bittersweet. The author does a great job tackling the difficulties of sibling rivalry, what it would be like to be a twin, and how even when we don’t always like our family members, they are always our family and loved.

To me though, the most ambitious element of this book is that the author uses the phonetic alphabet for each chapter that perfectly weaves into the story and adds another level of charm to this book. 

Please grab a cup of coffee and settle in for this fun interview with Annabel Smith today!

Annabel Smith

The story of Whiskey & Charlie, identical twin brothers now estranged, was such a beautiful telling of the messiness and challenges of sibling rivalry. In telling their story, you adopted the phonetic alphabet, something these two were fond of using on walkie-talkies as kids, as the chapter names for your book. How did you decide to incorporate this unique element in your book and did these names actually help to drive the plotlines of your story?

I’ve always been interested in novels which have unique structuring principles, like David Nicholl’s One Day.  When I began writing the book that became Whiskey and Charlie, I had recently learnt the phonetic alphabet. I decided to explore the possibility of structuring the novel around the alphabet. Some chapters were easy: Charlie, Juliet, Oscar and Mike all became characters in the novel; Lima and Quebec became the settings for various episodes, definitely taking the novel in directions it might not otherwise have gone! Certain chapters haunted me: how was I going to build part of the story around ‘Yankee’ for example? But it all came together in the end, and for a novel that tells the story of the communication between two brothers, the two-way alphabet feels like the perfect metaphor.

Why was there a title change from Whisky & Charlie Foxtrot to just Whiskey & Charlie with the US release of your book? How did you feel about that?

David Shafer released his novel Whiskey Tango Foxtrot in August 2014 and the team at Sourcebooks were concerned people may confuse the two books. I was disappointed at first, but the title is just one small part of a book: it’s what’s inside that counts and that hasn’t changed.

Was writing your first book,  A New Map of the Universe,  easier than writing this second one?  I think as readers we think the debut must be the hardest.

I definitely found writing the second novel easier. With my first novel, A New Map of the Universe, I had no idea what I was doing. I had never written anything longer than 8,000 words and every time I contemplated the size of the whole, I became completely paralysed. By the time I came to write Whiskey and Charlie I at least had the confidence of knowing I could write a book, because I’d already proved it to myself. Of course there were different challenges to face – each book has it’s own problems that have to be worked through, but the alphabet structure gave me a starting point for each new chapter, which helped me overcome the terror of the blank page.

How much research did you do to prepare for Whiskey’s coma and writing the medical terminology and explanations that were given to the family? What did you find most surprising about comatose patients?

I did a huge amount of research on coma, because I didn’t have any knowledge about it at the outset, either theoretically or experientially. I read medical websites, hospital information pamphlets, and coma support group message boards, as well as studying the stages of death and grief. It was important to me to understand the physical side of coma as well as the psychological implications for family and friends. The two most surprising things I learned were firstly, how many additional things can go wrong when someone is in a coma, and also, how people can emerge, relatively intact, from comas that last for many months or occasionally even years.

The Small Press Network issues the MUBA’s (Most Underated Book Awards) each year and Whiskey Charlie Foxtrot was one of the 2013 selections. How did it feel to make that list and do you think this is what helped with the book being issued in the US?

I was so thrilled to be on the Most Underrated Book Awards shortlist. It was flattering to have someone acknowledge that it perhaps deserved to have more attention than it got. But I don’t think that was a factor in the US publication. That came about because my Australian publisher showed it to Shana Drehs at Sourcebooks during Frankfurt Book fair and Shana thought it would resonate with a US audience.

What do you have in store for us in your next book?

My third novel, The Ark is quite a departure from Whiskey and Charlie. It tells the story of a group of scientists and their families who retreat into a bunker during a post-peak oil crisis, exploring human nature in desperate times. It is a contemporary version of an epistolary novel, told through emails, blog posts, text messages and memos and is accompanied by an interactive website with a fan fiction hub. However, despite its more experimental nature, it is similar to Whiskey and Charlie in the sense that it explore human relationships and how extraordinary circumstances can reveal people for who they really are.

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

My all-time favourite novel is Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, the incredible story of a prolonged embassy siege and the relationships which form between the hostages and their captors. Patchett has the most incredible insight into human behaviour and her prose is simply gorgeous. I have read this book at least half a dozen times and I get something new from it every time.

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

*This post contains affiliate links!


Pin It

It’s the 3 Little Things: Naturally Calm, Loving My House, & the Perfect Spice

Friday, March 20th, 2015

It's the 3 Little Things

Happy Friday, friends!  We are looking forward to a quiet weekend (thankfully) at home this weekend. I do have plans to take my daughter to see Cinderella though. Have you seen it yet?  We are both so excited to see it today. I hope you have lots of fun things in store for your weekend!

Here are 3 things that are making me happy this week…

Natural Calm

Natural Calm

Despite how I might portray myself on here, I can admit that I am quite the basketcase these days. The work and home life juggle has been fierce.  Some days I’m like, “WHAT IN THE WORLD?”  In some ways life does get easier with having older kids, but in other ways it gets harder. Between the daily homework grind to the endless activities to volunteering…  most days I am just trying to keep it together like any other mom out there.

Before I begin, I am NOT interested in anyone selling me anything for my nerves/anxiety. 

I take 5-HTP when I feel a dip in my moods which has really worked well for me in the past, but a couple of friends had been telling me about Natural Calm and the benefits of magnesium on the body.  I knew how good I felt after soaking in epsom salts, but the advice to take magnesium orally  went in one ear and out the other.

When I went to pick up my supplement though, the girl waiting on me said, “PLEASE try this! It has changed my life.” She pointed to a bottle on the shelf and I actually listened this time.

It was the same bottle of stuff that my friends had been raving about. If you read the reviews you can get a better picture of how much it helps people.

It is unreal the difference in my mood and calmness levels.  For me, the difference was noticeable immediately. My hardest day of the week is Tuesday. It’s the day ALL THE THINGS must happen and I am a disaster by the end of the day.

I took it in the afternoon and my husband came home and was like, “How did it go today?”

And I’m all like…”It’s cool.”

And he’s like, “No, really. Isn’t this THE HARDEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE?”

And I’m like, “Nah, man, it’s cool.”

In short, he nicknamed me Matthew McConaughey cause I’m all like, “Alright, alright, alright,” around house. Not high strung. Not crying because I can’t do ALL THE THINGS for ALL THE PEOPLE.

Do your own research, start small (or you will have the runs- trust me!) and don’t take more than what is recommended. I take a small amount in the afternoon before my children come home when they ask for ALL THE THINGS and a small amount if I am worried I will have trouble sleeping at night. I took it once in the morning and it knocked me out and I slept all day so I don’t recommend it if you want to have a productive morning. If you want to have the most glorious day of day sleeping though, it was quite lovely.  Of course, it reacts differently in everyone. For me, it makes me feel like I had a little glass of wine or a great bath.

Again, I’m not a doctor.  I don’t want to give anyone a mag addiction. Don’t take more than recommended.  Ask your doctor about magnesium. Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer!

Love the Home You Have by Melissa Michaels

Love the Home You Have

My sweet friend, Melissa (of The Inspired Room), has a book coming out and she sent me a copy of it and asked me to join a blog tour to help her promote Love the Home You HaveI’ve been so lucky to get to watch her success and I was excited to dive into this book. Melissa’s journey towards loving her home echoes the same journey we have been on with our own little fixer upper. This book is BEAUTIFUL and filled with humor and wisdom about the journey towards loving your home. There is a Biblical slant to it, but it isn’t preachy.  I started this yesterday and I can’t put it down. If you struggle with loving the space you are in, she really shows you how to make the most of whatever your situation is. I love that this book isn’t about upgrading our buying more, but making simple switches to make your space more enjoyable. Their journey is relatable and her personality shines in this book.

I don’t promote books because people are my friends, I promote them if they are good.

This one is good.

Love The Home You Have from The Inspired Room on Vimeo.

Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic Blend

Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic

Now that warmer temperatures are just around the corner (yes, they ARE, Indiana!), I have already started switching my menu plan to easier summer dishes.  I bake big batches of chicken and have discovered this Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic is perfect for baking chicken with lots of flavor. I sliced up a bag of roasted chicken and tuck this in our fridge for sandwich wraps (I love a drizzle of ranch, tomatoes, & spinach with this chicken), for topping our favorite berry pecan salad, and I even put it on top of pizza for an extra kick of protein.  This spice mix is super flavorful (and affordable)!

Capsule Wardrobe Ideas (current capsule HERE)

Spring Capsule Wardrobe Outfits Spring Capsule Wardrobe Outfits

Are you following me on Instagram? I post 4 outfits each week!

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

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

Amy’s Notebook 03.18.15

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

Chipotle Chicken Wraps via Tastes Better From Scratch

Source: Tastes Better From Scratch


Chipotle chicken wraps– get in my belly.

Success can happen at any age.

A Stay-at-Home Parent Is Not a ‘Luxury’

Oh, this is fancy.

Now THIS is a March Madness I can get behind.

I’m completely inspired by this fun Ikea hack.

How To Make Giant Paper Flowers via Julie Blanner

Source: Julie Blanner


Learn how to make giant paper flowers from tissue paper.

Princess books for smart, strong girls.

The case for lowering your expectations.

One-ingredient ice cream? Looks amazing!

13 Netflix shows worth binge-watching.

Making your corned beef and cabbage as a slow cooker soup? Yes, please!



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!


Pin It