Archive for November, 2017

Small-Budget Crushes 11.30.17

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

please hide packages from husband doormat please hide packages welcome mat

ruffle poncho sweater ruffled poncho sweater

bath book tray bathtub book tray (I have had this exact one for over a decade and it still looks brand new! Great holiday gift!!)

bliss plush throw bliss plush throw (on sale & in loads of colors!)

what's on your mind embroidery personalized what’s on your mind embroidery (I want one that says BOOKS!!)

volume sleeve circle hem sweater volume sleeve circle hem sweater

monogram bar glass monogram bar glass

men's record shirt men’s record shirt

ruffled sweater dress ruffled sweater dress

fitzgerald serving cart fitzgerald serving cart

mouse in a box mouse in a box

drying rack drying rack

vegan clutch purse vegan clutch purse

jane austen perfume collection jane austen perfume collection (packaged in book covers!)

tea organizer tea organizer

navy camo print midi dress navy ruffled midi dress (use coupon code BRPLUS for an ADDITIONAL 50% off all Sale items!)

carry on cocktail kits carry on cocktail kits (great gift for travelers!)

fit and flare holiday dress fit and flare holiday dress

faux leather duffel bag faux leather duffel bag

crystal ring holder crystal ring holder

puff sleeve velvet dress puff sleeve velvet dress

crocheted booties crocheted booties

shawl collar cardigan shawl collar cardigan

velvet pleated skirt velvet pleated skirt (in two hues- that price is amazing!)

geo block ruana geo block ruana

gold dot apron gold dot apron

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



Amy’s Notebook 11.29.17

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

snowball bath bombs source

These snowball bath bombs look like a wonderful gift to share this holiday season.

Are you a podfaster too?

Looking forward to digging into this promising series next week.

Here is a list of 101 books you can look forward to in 2018!

Speaking of books, this book is absolutely incredible. Historical fiction fans won’t want to miss this one!

I’ve also listening to this one– it is pretty darn cute!

Did you know you shouldn’t store your cheese in plastic? I will have to try this tip!

Who else is excited about this second season?

The 13 questions that lead to divorce– hahaha!

“All those years, telling you not to speak Navajo, and then to turn around and ask us for help with that same language…. It still kind of bothers me.” I was unaware of the Navajo code talkers until recently- this is a great piece on all they did for our country.

The only ways to stop haters from ruining your life.

leather & dowel ladder source

This diy leather ladder would be perfect for getting organized in the morning.

I’ve got my eye on this faux fiddle leaf plant for our home.

I couldn’t believe how awesome this was and all the people involved. What a great birthday gift!

A bit morbid, but a lot to think about- the act of death cleaning.

Hoopla users will be happy to hear about their expansion.

A few great audiobooks for your upcoming holiday drives.

“True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.”- THIS!

Stranger Things + Sesame Street– this had my kids rolling!

What a gorgeous free holiday printable.

You know what season it is? It’s the month of nonstop listening to this.

Looking for some FRESH Christmas music? Try this playlist!

at-home-gel-manicures source

Have you tried doing an at-home gel manicure before? This had some great tips!

Print out our FREE Advent Calendar! These were such a hit last year with our readers!

Speaking of nails, I bought this (don’t forget the top coat!) and it held up almost an entire week with zero chips.

11 signs you have been abused by a malignant narcissist.

Did you see that this was back?

I always find her holiday decorating so inspiring.

Speaking of fake trees, we bought this one (it already dropped $20 this week!!) and I’m IN LOVE! I took a pic if you want to take a peek!

What an adorable family tradition.

22 books on Reese Witherspoon’s must-read list. So proud to have 10 of these under my belt!

I can’t wait to make these for a gluten-free holiday treat!

Are you going to any fancy holiday parties? I found this styling post helpful.

I’ve decided I need to dig into this show.

For the brow obsessed!

A quick way to spot fake news.

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

Caprese Quinoa and Meatball Casserole

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

Caprese Quinoa and Meatball Casserole

This post is sponsored by Honeysuckle White. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving season with your families!  I don’t know about you, but after hosting a Thanksgiving, I felt a bit uninspired trying to put together meals for these next busy upcoming weeks. There is nothing that makes me feel worse than dining out night after night so I tried to put together an easy dish that our whole family will love.

Did you think turkey season was behind us? The good news is that turkey season doesn’t need to wind down after the holidays thanks to a few new ready-to-go products that are on store shelves now.

The even better news? These items help to eliminate a little of the prep work for your meal so you can spend more time unwinding.

I have gotten the opportunity to partner with Honeysuckle White again this year as they launched a new line of flavored meatballs, burger patties, and cutlets to help make the dinner hour easier and more affordable for busy families.

Did someone say easier AND more affordable?

I’m in!

Caprese Quinoa and Meatball Casserole

As a gluten-free girl, I’m thrilled that these meatballs are gluten-free and stuffed with one of my favorite foods…cheese! I wanted to create a dish that would really compliment these, while also continuing my gluten-free theme, so I made these into a Caprese Quinoa and Meatball Casserole that can be topped with additional fresh mozzarella cheese and a little fresh basil (and an optional balsamic drizzle), to finish.

If you haven’t tried quinoa, you are in for a treat! It was one of the first foods that I added to my diet, when making my own dietary switches, and it has become something I now eat almost weekly now. It is a fun switch from rice and stands up well to a reheat in the microwave.  Be sure to read this article so you can learn more about this ingredient and how you can prepare quinoa in your rice cooker.


Caprese Quinoa and Meatball Casserole

Everyone in our family REALLY enjoyed this casserole and I can see us adding this one into our weekly rotation. The meatballs were light and the topping of mozzarella added a little indulgence to this, otherwise, entirely healthy dish. The quinoa was delicious and cooked in spaghetti sauce and chicken broth, my favorite combo for cooking consistency for quinoa and pasta dishes.

Also, if you haven’t reduced a little balsamic for drizzling, I know you will find this extra step to be worth the flavor it brings to the completed dish. It is something that only takes a couple of minutes, but certainly brings the WOW factor!

The best part about this dish is that it is quick to prepare, will probably leave you some leftovers (if you are lucky), and feels like a rich comfort food dish to this gluten-free eater!

Be sure to give these new dinner options a spin in your house! I hope you love this recipe as much as I do!

Caprese Quinoa and Meatball Casserole
Recipe Type: Gluten-Free
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Italian comfort food receives a healthy weeknight spin with prepared meatballs and quinoa for our base. Add a balsamic reduction drizzle and basil for an elegant touch.
  • 2 cups uncooked quinoa (rinse this really well with water- [url href=”” target=”_blank”]read more here[/url])
  • 1- 16 ounce jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 pounds Honeysuckle White Cheese Stuffed Italian Style Meatballs
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Handful of thinly sliced basil
  1. Preheat your oven for 375 degrees.
  2. Begin by rinsing your quinoa thoroughly (read instructions in the ingredient list if you have not prepared quinoa before).
  3. In a greased 9×13 pan, add the rinsed quinoa to the bottom of the pan.
  4. In a sauce pan, heat the spaghetti sauce and chicken broth until hot. Remove from the stovetop and pour the liquid over the quinoa, until it is fully covered.
  5. Sprinkle meatballs on top of the quinoa and finish with thin slices of mozzarella (you can put them over the meatball or just dabble on top of the dish). Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes. During the last 5-10 minutes, remove the foil to melt the cheese fully.
  6. While the dish is baking, our balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan. Turn heat to medium high and bring vinegar to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to simmer and let simmer for about 10 minutes until vinegar has reduced down. Stir occasionally. When it begins to coat the back of a spoon, you will know that it is fully reduced. Set aside to cool while the casserole bakes.
  7. Once your dish is done, finish servings with thinly sliced basil and your balsamic reduction.

Caprese Quinoa and Meatball Casserole

Honeysuckle White turkey products are available in select states. For those on the East Coast (CT, DE, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, NC, RI, SC, VT, VA, WV), look for Honeysuckle White’s sister brand, Shady Brook Farms!

This post is sponsored by Honeysuckle White. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

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My Favorites for Cyber Monday

Monday, November 27th, 2017

cyber monday

Let’s talk about some of my favorite deals today for Cyber Monday 2017!!

If you love to read, this is a pretty incredible deal day on Amazon with over 400 selections discounted!

Amazon Kindle Book Deals

RABBIT, $2.99
LESS, $3.99
SAPIENS, $4.99
QUIET, $3.99
LEAVE ME, $1.13
Want to give Book of the Month (BOTM) a spin? Today is also the day!
KitchenAid Cyber Monday Deal As a minimalist, I tend to shop simple or only for those big ticket items that dip today.  I’ll just share a few things I have found as a smart buy today!

KitchenAid Artisan Mixer

JCP has a great deal on the KitchenAid Artisan Mixer. Use coupon code SHOPNOW8 to bring the price down to $260.09. Combine this with this mail-in rebate for $60 off  and it should bring your price down to $200.09. Woot, woot!


Ninja Mixer


The Ninja Mixer is also really dropped on the site to just $59.49, if the Vitamix is out of the budget! Just use coupon code SHOPNOW8!

If the Vitamix is in the budget, here is the lowest price that I have seen!

Other Random Goodies

20% OFF ANTHRO (the books section is great for gift-giving!)




15% OFF COUPON FOR TARGET (some fine print on the coupon)









thredup One last thing, you can score 20% off thredUP today! Use coupon code GONUTS to get 20% off!

I mention this one because we got the kid’s holiday clothes last year from this site! The other bonus is cocktail dresses,clutches, dress shoes, & jewels for any upcoming parties! If you haven’t shopped before, this should give you an additional $10 towards your holiday purchase!

What deals did you find today?

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 

Small-Budget Crushes 11.14.17

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

mock neck tunic mock neck tunic (several colors)

woven scarf woven scarf (only $7.99- great stocking stuffer!!)

metallic block heels metallic block heels (use coupon code STYLE for 40% off)

superhero dress-up capsule superhero dress-up capsule (ADORABLE!!)

college town pint glasses college town pint glasses (find your college town HERE)

letters to santa mailbox letters to santa mailbox

sherpa bomber sherpa bomber (use coupon code STYLE for 40% off)

crosley snap record player crosley snap record player

striped cape scarf striped cape scarf

cable knit hat cable knit hat (less than $15!!)

the location of the library print the location of the library print

llama socks llama socks (use coupon code STYLE for 40% off)

coziest throw coziest throws ($19!!)

the most wonderful time of the year pillow the most wonderful time of the year pillow cover (only $5.99!!!)

floral dress tulip-hem dress (perfect for a holiday party!)

champagne apron champagne apron

indiana return address stamp indiana return address stamp (or find your own state HERE)

hooded pocket poncho hooded pocket poncho (use coupon code SOGOOD for 40% off!!)

city tote bag city tote bags

petite yarn bowl petite yarn bowl

book print skirt book print skirt (SWOON!)

ho ho ho pour the merlot ho ho ho pour the merlot

zodiac trinket dish zodiac trinket dish

hand embroidered necklace hand embroidered initial necklace

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 





It’s the 3 Little Things: Better Than a Pedicure, Happy Light, & Artsy Podcast Love

Friday, November 10th, 2017

thank you instead of i'm sorry follow me on instagram

Facebook can be such a beautiful thing for reconnecting with people in your life. One of my sweet friends, dealing with her own health difficulties, posted something that I just keep turning over and over in my mind.

She said:

“I have been cocooning…

An awkward, isolating, and many times, unpretty chapter in our evolution.

However, you know what happens when it’s over….

I will have wings to fly!

And to soar, as my Creator would have me do…

I must wait patiently while my wings are fashioned and matured enough to break free from my shell, and to carry me beyond heights I have not even begun to imagine.

But, these things take time.”

I have been in a place of cocooning this month, a time of unpredictability and a longing for a prettier chapter. The spiraling can feel fast and furious, as can the frustration with the new normal.

This is what I will say that I have learned though.

I am stronger than I think I am.

I have the right and perfect support system in the wings anytime I need them.

I will no longer apologize for the mess I am.

I will, instead, say thanks for loving me and caring about me unconditionally!

Thank you, Marsha, for the Facebook status that reminds me of the beauty that comes after the waiting.

Here are 3 other things that are making me happy this week:

verilux happy light

Happy Light for the Winter Blues

Seasonal depression is no joke and the Midwest winters can be brutal on a girl’s happiness levels. I bought a tabletop happy light that is supposed to help remedy the winter blues, give you more energy, and regulate those sleep cycles.  I read a lot of articles about it (I found this one to be really straightforward on tips) and it is recommended that the light should be 10,000 lux. When browsing, you will find ones in a cheaper price bracket, but they aren’t offering the 10,000 lux that are recommended for effective treatment so I went for the big guns.

I use this for an hour in the morning with a good book and a tall cup of coffee. It is super important to be consistent and so I aim for around the same time and duration each day. I love that this is so small that it could be taken on trips, when we travel, and doesn’t take up a lot of storage in our home.

If you struggle with the seasonal blues or regulating those sleep cycles, this is a great low-risk drug-free investment to try!

let's spa gel lined booties

Better Than a Pedicure Food Treatment

Do your feet get dry in the winter?

Should we even be talking about this?

Anyone else with a foot phobia? (*cringe*)

I hate how dry my feet get so when I ran across these gel socks, I thought they might be worth a try. YOU GUYS! These socks are AH-MAZING!! I can’t believe how much they have helped my tired feet. They are geared towards treating and hydrating callused feet and contain a gel lining with Jojoba Oils & Vitamin E.

The best part? They last SIX MONTHS.

You can wear them for thirty minutes or overnight. They require no messy lotions and have been way more moisturizing than any pedicure treatment or lotion I have ever bought.

I feel like I am giving myself a pedicure just walking around my house in my pajamas. In the words of Ina, “How bad could that be?”

They also cost less than one pedicure so I consider these a wise winter investment. I hope you love them as much as me!

a piece of work podcast A Piece of Work Podcast

As raunchy as it is, no show has made us laugh more than Broad City. I have become a HUGE fan of the stars and was so excited to see that Abbi Jacobson  (a star & show writer) was partnering with MoMA on a podcast called, A Piece of Work.

The premise of the show is tapping into experts, curators, and some of her personal friends (like Questlove!) to ask all the things you have ever wanted to know about art. Abbi was an art major (I had no idea!) and she dives deep into the stories behind modern and contemporary pieces of art. The podcast is insightful and has a behind-the-scenes feel as Abbi gets to explore the inner workings of MoMA.

This is such an incredibly smart podcast that you will want to binge on in one sitting!

PS- language, so not one of the kiddos!

Reading: I started this book and am loving it. Ironically, I found out that the author is a neighbor of an old friend of mine! #smallworld! I would recommend this one for Picoult or Chamberlain fans. The price is nice too at just $4.99.

Playing: We had friends for another game night last weekend. This board game is becoming quite the hit with our visitors. I can’t wait to play it again!

Contemplating: I thought I would share this article with you. It gave me a lot to think about!

iphone i glitch funny

LOL’ed: Tired of talking like Cookie Monster? Get it together, iPhone!

Also, LOL’ed through Bad Moms 2. I didn’t think it was as good as the first one, but it was just what I needed after a stressful week!

If you are into being obsessively punctual- you’ll love this piece. Dim the lights and cue the mood music!

This update made me LOL- can’t wait to show my kids! Enjoy shopping for supplies for your new hipster job offerings.

Got Loads of Compliments:  On this. I’m pretty sure it is the best thing in my fall capsule and makes even jeans and a tee look polished.

Have a wonderful weekend! xo

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

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from

This blog was sponsored by Simon & Schuster. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

It feels so strange to be talking about our baby hitting the tween years, but we recently hit this milestone age and all that comes with it. Today I am partnering with Simon & Schuster to celebrate girl power with the launch of the incredible series, “The Littlest Bigfoot,” written by Jennifer Weiner. If you are an avid reader like me, you may know Weiner from her fun chick lit novels and now she is penning a trilogy for girls that encourage self-love, positive body image, and friendship between girls.

DIY Self-Confidence Kit from

“The Littlest Bigfoot,” and “Little Bigfoot, Big City,” are the first two books that are out in the planned trilogy. These books explore the good old-fashioned themes of friendship and belonging through this modern day fairytale.

The lead character, Alice Mayfair, twelve years old, is ignored by her family and is being shipped off to her eighth boarding school. She longs to have a friend and when she rescues Millie Maximus from drowning in the lake one day, she finds the friend she has always been looking for.

Millie happens to be a Bigfoot though, a part of a clan who dwells deep in the woods. Most Bigfoots believe that people—NoFurs—are dangerous, but Millie is fascinated with this human world and feels that they understand her own dreams and aspirations better. Alice protects Millie’s secret, but they must face a league of Bigfoot hunters who are trailing them.

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from

The story then continues into the next novel where the friends sneak off to the Big Apple in search of Millie’s stardom. Unfortunately, they end up getting trailed by a shadowy government organization and are finding cryptic clues that force them to confront their history, choices, and find out what it means to be a true hero and friend.

At this in-between stage of life, I love finding books like this that are filled with positive messaging and heartwarming dialogue about inclusion and belonging. Definitely pick up these two books for your tween and keep your eyes peeled for the third book, coming in 2018! This series is just perfect for your middle grade readers, between the ages of 8-12!

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from

I remember how much I struggled with self-confidence at this age and also remember all the new territory that came with all of these changes. My parents wanted to encourage me to embrace good hygiene habits and to help me understand all the upcoming changes that would be happening in my body. As the oldest of three children, I felt that I had to share everything with my siblings so anything that I got that was just for me (not for them!) was really special. It could have been something as simple as not sharing my french fries or as grand as getting a date with just one of my parents, these simple moments made me feel special because they were mine alone.

Instead of just talking about good hygiene and caring for my body, my mom put together a pail of items that I would need to start implementing good habits of self-care and explained why and how to use these items. This pink pail housed my new face washes, a loofah with body soap, and deodorant. All I could think about though was that all this stuff was JUST FOR ME and I didn’t have to share it.

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from

This week I gave my daughter a Tween Confidence Kit of her own and I could see that sheer delight she had to have items that were just for her. Truth be told, many of my own items were starting to magically disappear from our bathroom, and after this came up, she explained how she wanted to wear or add some of these things to her own routines.

This kit of supplies had everything she needed to get started implementing her own big girl routines! We talked about implementing a good skincare routine (daily wash and moisturizer, weekly exfoliation scrub), the importance of washing our body and deodorant, and dry shampoo for days when we need fresh locks, but don’t have the time. A few things to make the routines more fun included her own little scrubber, a shower cap for busy days, and a quick absorbing towel to wrap her hair in after she hopped out of the shower.

We also dipped our toes into some of the things that might be coming up and how to prepare for those circumstances too. She had lots of great questions and this was a great way to open up the dialogue about what we might need to know for the future.

She also expressed a desire to start wearing makeup and I gave her a set of her own blush, lip gloss, and a little concealer as her first starter kit into that. I worked with her to apply the makeup and shared the importance of keeping her face natural and just enhancing the beautiful girl she already is. I loved working with her on this together and hope that she feels confident coming to me in the future because it means a lot to me to get to be a part of these new stages with her.

I hope that these ideas to help build tween self-confidence too. Each stage has been such a gift and I love being a part of the process with her.

To learn more about these incredible books, follow Simon Kids on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram or visit them on their website!

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from

This blog was sponsored by Simon & Schuster. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!


Small-Budget Crushes 11.09.17

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

long sleeve boyfriend tee long sleeve boyfriend tee

paivley bootie paivley bootie (on sale!!)

flannel shirt dress flannel shirt dress

new balance fresh foam cruz new balance fresh foam cruz

chunky sweater chunky sweater

v-neck cami v-neck cami (use coupon code HAPPY for 40% off!!)

multistrand pearl necklace multistrand pearl necklace

coziest throw coziest throws (on sale for under $20- great holiday gift!!)

felted pom pom slippers felted pom-pom slippers


raisa bow flat raisa bow flat

thankful mama tee thankful mama tee

cable knit cardi cable-knit cardi (use coupon code MORE for 25% off)

geo trees pajama pants geo trees pajama pants

knitting bag knitting bag

over the knee boots over the knee boots

wild cotton wreath wild cotton wreath

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 

Katie’s Notebook 11.08.17

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

Easy Honey Mustard Baked Chicken picture source

Note from Amy-  This month has been a particularly challenging one with my health. I, honestly, hate that this is a thing.  It is annoying, taxing, and makes my heart hurt to talk about it. Can we just move on? Seriously. Ugh!

I am so thankful for my friends who step up in these moments and offer their precious time to me. My amazing friend, Katie, is sharing what she’s been bookmarking this week to free up some headspace for me this week. Please do visit her blog– you will not be disappointed! If you would like to help with the happy list this month or guest spot on the notebook, shoot me an email at amy(at)momadvice(dot)com! xoxo

I’ve been reading MomAdvice since 2008 and always LOVE Amy’s weekly Notebooks. I’m so excited to be guesting for this week’s notebook edition; thank you for having me, Amy!

This Easy Honey Mustard Baked Chicken is what’s for dinner tonight and it is always a winner in our house!

We just got over a super busy week. Every time this happens I am reminded how important self-care is. I loved this article’s perspective on why self-care is so important.

I spend a lot of time shuffling our 4 kids around, so I really appreciate these 12 TED Talks for Women to listen to in the car. I added all of them to my TED app playlist immediately.

the head and the heart

Signs of Light by The Head and The Heart has hardly left my “now playing” lately.

This Wood Butter will be so good to add life back to my many very tired looking wooden cutting boards and spoons. It could make a great homemade gift, too.

alias grace

Have you watched Alias Grace, the new Margaret Atwood adaptation, yet?

Why should you focus on happiness and personal growth? I definitely plan on getting another Happiness Planner for 2018.

I’ve maxed out my library hold list. I’m currently waiting for this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and this (plus a few for the kids).

Just finished: Station Eleven. Currently reading: The Book of Joy.

Spiced Pomegranate Apple Cider Mulled Wine Sangria recipe and photo fall cocktail source

I’m going to be drinking this Spiced Pomegranate Apple Cider Mulled Wine the entire holiday season.

I’ve tried a couple of different subscription services in the last few months and been happy with the wines I’ve received from Winc. It is always fun to try something new without the stress of picking it out myself! Might be a fun holiday gift idea for someone!

How Each Myers-Briggs Personality Shows They Care. Spot.On.For.Me.

create-space source

These 5 Daily Practices are something I’ve really been thinking about lately.

Bookmark these Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Balsamic for Thanksgiving.

Has it really been 23 years since Amazon was founded? Amazon founder shares his secret for lasting success.

I don’t know if it gets any more odd than hiring fake friends and family.

After reading Sleep Should be Prescribed, I feel totally justified in my need for 8+ hours of sleep each night.. Matthew Walker has recently been featured in: NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Time, and tons more. Now I either want to take a nap or read his book Why We Sleep.

Also? Prolonged Exposure to Sweet, Blessed Silence Benefits the Brain.

This looks like the perfect place for a peaceful, relaxing girls weekend.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon and Sage picture and recipe source

We recently had our builder in to fix some things on our master shower tile work. I was cooking this Roasted Butternut Squash with Bacon and Sage that day and the supervisor could not stop raving about how good the house smelled.

I’m basically crushing on all things Hearth and Home. These measuring cups are the cutest.

Kids Whose Parents Make Them Do Chores Are More Successful. Take that, kids!

I’ve been wanting a pair of tan booties. After hearing Amy gush about this pair, I finally bit the bullet and bought them. so I finally bought them. They are a dream. SO COMFORTABLE.

I am obsessed with these Vintage Style No Show Socks. I had been looking for cute no show socks to wear with booties and bought 2 packs of these. They came adorably packed in a little gift box – perfect for the upcoming holiday season!

Simplest Easy Fudgy Brownies source

If you need a sweet treat, these are the Simplest Easy Homemade Fudgy Brownies. They take 1 pot to prep and I bet you have all the ingredients in your kitchen right now.

Find Katie at her blog Good Life Eats or follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or Twitter.

October 2017 Must-Reads

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

October 2017 Must-Read Books

Well, hello! I hope you guys are having a wonderful week. Can you believe it is NOVEMBER? Yeah, me either! It means the blog will be back in full swing as I prepare for the holidays and hopefully I can squeeze in a few good books. Speaking of good books, I’m excited to share eight great books I enjoyed in October.

A couple of long books slowed my pace this month. That said, I’m happily chugging away at my GoodReads goal of 100 books.

I think I can, I think I can.

How is it going with your reading goal for 2017?

Oh, don’t forget if you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

Looking to add some variety to your stack? Feel free to join our book club! This month we will be reading this book (you can see the full list over here). It’s totally FREE!

Not enough variety? Print out our Reading Challenge Worksheet! I’m having a blast working my way through it! I have quite a few more that I need to check off, but I’ve made a good dent in these categories.

I’m excited to share a wide variety of books for you to check out this month. I did tackle a couple of big buzz books this year and tried to weave in a few older ones that have been in my to-be-read pile for a LONG TIME!

Here are 8 must-read books that I tackled in October!


Stay With Me

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo

This enthralling novel is set in Nigeria and shares the story of a marriage that has been threatened by infertility and polygamy.

Yejide & Akin met, fell in love, and looked forward to welcoming many children in their home. Unfortunately, the couple is heartbroken that after four years of trying, they have been unsuccessful in bringing a child into the world. In their culture, this is of the utmost importance and their entire family is disappointed in this turn of events.

When their family finally loses its patience though, they insist that Akin take another wife. The problem? They both agreed that polygamy would never happen in their marriage. This sends Yejide spiraling into a deep depression and loneliness.

The reader is taken on each heartbreaking turn for Yejide & Akin as they struggle through this difficult chapter in their lives and deal with a third person in their relationship.

Equally heartbreaking and captivating, this is a fantastic debut that you won’t be able to put down.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Tipping the Velvet

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

Fingersmith is one of my all-time favorite reads and had been the only book I had read by Waters.  I was so excited to dive into another story by her and this one did not disappoint. This is Waters debut novel that was published in 1998 and a strong introduction into the love stories that Waters writes for and about women.

This story is about a young girl named Nan who becomes obsessed with a young female performer, named Kitty, who performs in a local show. The thing that makes this woman so very different is her male costuming that intrigues Nan so very much. A relationship blossoms between the two and Nan eventually becomes a part of the act…on and off the stage.

What makes it all so risqué is that this story is set in the 1890’s London when women were really exploring the boundaries of gender roles during this era. Many women bucked the system and challenged these roles in some pretty shocking ways and Waters doesn’t shy away from the scene.

In short, this is a steamy read that should come with a pack of smokes. Waters definitely pushes the envelope in this one. While I found it more shocking in passages, I felt it lacked the story depth as my beloved Fingersmith.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Stolen Marriage

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

I love that Chamberlain has decided to stick with writing in the historical fiction genre. This gifted storyteller is back again with a twisty love story with a few well-developed twists that should keep you up late at night.

Set in 1944, Tess has a promising future with the love of her life and is just getting ready to take her final exams to become a nurse. Frankly, it is a life that any girl would envy.

Unfortunately, after a fun night on the town, she finds herself pregnant with another man’s child. This encounter comes at an even higher cost though when she shares the news with the father and he feels it necessary to marry her to, “protect the family name.”

Guess what?

Terrible family.

Terrible town with terrible people.

Terrible husband.

Yup, terrible life.

Tess and her loveless marriage are the least of the town’s problems though when the polio epidemic strikes and they must provide medical care to the victims. Relationships are challenged and a surprise guest adds a fantastic twist on this riveting story.

Chamberlain always delivers a solid plot and The Stolen Marriage, is another winner. You definitely will want to add this one to your book stack and do a little Googling to read more about the real-life polio epidemic!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Braving the Wilderness

Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown

“True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.”

I will be honest and share that I have not drank the Brené Brown Kool-Aid until now, but this book made me so excited to dive into her other books. This well-timed piece explores a lot of the disconnection we are feeling thanks to technology and the current political climate.

This was not a feel-good-about-yourself book and that is why it resonated with me. It challenges us to look at our own rhetoric about politics and also at how we are dehumanizing people in the process.

She asks us to explore braving the wilderness alone and what it feels like when we find we don’t belong… even among our own families. She shares her own vulnerable stories of trying to belong and sage advice on what we should be looking for from the people in our lives.

A smart acronym aids in who we should seek to be a part of our life’s story. It is a great checklist on what makes a good friend and how we need to get in a place where we are okay being alone.

At a place in my life where I have felt so much of this, Brown’s words ring true and challenge me to rethink my abilities of being alone in the wilderness.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

All the Ugly & Wonderful Things

All the Ugly & Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

This is, perhaps, one of the most controversial and challenging books I have read. I have very mixed feelings about the story, but marvel in Greenwood’s abilities to write such captivating characters.

Let me be clear, I do not think this book is for everyone- it is an emotionally disturbing read and often felt like an attempt to normalize or empathize with criminal behavior.

This is the story of Wavy who is neglected and unloved by her parents.  Her whole world changes though when her meth-dealing father’s wingman, Kellan, becomes a fixture in her life. Kellan provides the things she and her brother need like food, and helping her with school, and making sure she has shoes…

You know, the stuff your parents are supposed to do.

Lines become quickly blurred though when Wavy develops a crush on Kellan and the two become inseparable. She is a CHILD though and Kellan goes along with Wavy’s story for a while, until it is no longer a story, but the truth.

It is interesting though that I had very strong convictions about it being about pedophilia and my friend called it an unconventional love story. I think it has, perhaps, a lot to do with what you have witnessed or experienced in your own life and your own personal triggers.

If you are looking for a controversial read, this would be it. As a parent though, one can’t help but think of your own children and how heartbreaking Wavy’s story is. This child was robbed of a childhood by everyone in her life and the scenes are brutal to even read.

Overall, a solid story, even with the triggers.

Trigger warnings- pedophilia, child sexual abuse 

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

I finally read, The Things They Carried, since it was selected as a book selection for a local book club.  This book reads like a collection of short stories about the Vietnam War and opens with the captivating story of what each of the soldiers are carrying with them as they go into war (both emotional and physical).

What really captured my attention wasn’t O’Brien’s support of the war, but rather his own grappling with war when he didn’t want to serve or believe in the war. It reminded me that there were many that felt that way and still had to serve. His decision to not participate in the war and heading to Canada, only later to return and serve, made his storytelling even more real for me.

O’Brien shares the soldier’s stories, but points out that no story about the Vietnam War should be a beautiful one with a good ending. The stories are gritty, raw, and real. You can’t help but connect to these men and feel compassion for them. I can see why so many say that this should be required reading. It gave me a lot of food for thought and made this war tangible to someone who has not served.

Trigger Warnings- graphic violence

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book recommended by an author (you can see author recommendations over here! This suggestion was made by Mary Kubica!)

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Heart's Invisible Furies

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

This book was just EVERYTHING and reminded me a lot of one of my all-time favorites , A Little Life. At almost 600 pages, I was worried if this book would hold my attention, but Boyne crafts the perfect boyhood friendship as it sprawls decades of time in this gorgeous and gripping saga.

You may be familiar with Boyne’s work, but I was not.  I picked this book up on a whim and devoured it in just a few days.

A faithful Catholic Irish family casts out their daughter when they discover she is pregnant.  Knowing she is not in a position to raise a child alone, she gives him up for adoption to his new parents…

That love to remind him that he is not their real son.

He is their adopted son.

This dark humor is layered so beautifully as the boy, Cyril, becomes dear friends with a boy named Julian. The problem is, as Cyril gets older, he realizes he has a deep and undying love for his best friend. Cyril must keep his sexuality under wraps and keep his affection for him a secret which ends up costing him a lot.

The book follows these two through the decades, beginning in 1945 and ending in Cyril’s elderly age. It finishes in the present day while tackling everything from being closeted to the AIDS epidemic to what it really means to be family.

I laughed and got a little teary-eyed following Cyril as he goes through this identity crisis and finds love. I was really swept away in this story and Boyne builds a beautiful supportive cast.

I know this one will be going in my top ten list of best books of 2017.  Be sure to add this one to your reading list!

Reading Challenge Category Completed- A book over 500 pages

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Sing, Unburied, Sing

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

The big buzz book this year is definitely Ward’s latest novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing! This was a MomAdvice book club selection this month so I was really looking forward to reading it. Sing, Unburied, Sing vividly tells the story of  Mississippi’s past and present and shares some of America’s ugly truths that many are not aware of (including myself!).

This story is told in alternating viewpoints  from a thirteen-year-old boy named Jojo, to his unstable mother Leonie, to the ghost of a dead inmate who carries some of these deep and awful truths from the South in haunting prose.

Ward does an excellent job sharing the story of the Parchman Farm (the state’s penitentiary) in heartbreaking and vivid detail through the voice of the prisoner. She also does an excellent job creating family dynamics, particularly, with his imperfect mother’s story.

I enjoyed this book, but struggled to connect with it, in the ways that I had hoped I would. I’m not sure if it was because I didn’t enjoy portions of it because of the narrators of the audiobook or if it is because I’ve been reading so many heart wrenching books like it and couldn’t connect because of that. That said, her writing is poetic and her words felt lavish for the characters they were portraying, not always fitting the voices of the mother & son.

I will say that I learned a lot though, particularly about the dark history of the Parchman Farm and the inmates that were housed there. As I gathered our questions for our discussion, I felt like I connected with the story more through the articles about those true stories and the interviews with Ward about her new novel and why she felt called to tell this story.

Overall, our readers really seemed to love this one!  I definitely think it would be a good one to pick up, but would recommend this one as a book and to skip the audiobook.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

BOTM November Selections

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

Starting now, anyone who purchases a 1-month BOTM subscription will get 1 month free! That’s two months for the price of one––two brand new hardcover books for only $14.99!

Here’s how it works:

❃ Get your first month free (just put in your credit card details).

❃ The second month, pay $14.99 for one book of your choice.

❃ Cancel anytime after your second month.

❃ Skip any month free of charge.
BOTM November Selections

November Selections:

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Artemis by Andy Weir

Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

Join today and get a free book with code FREEBIE

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2017 Must-Reads

February 2017 Must-Reads

March 2017 Must-Reads

April 2017 Must-Reads

May 2017 Must-Reads

June 2017 Must-Reads

July 2017 Must-Reads

August 2017 Must-Reads

September 2017 Must-Reads

October 2017 Must-Read Books from

What did you read this month? Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

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