Archive for March, 2018

March 2018 Must-Reads

Friday, March 30th, 2018

March 2018 Must-Reads from

I have been a little out of my reading groove this year, but I read so many great books this month that I’m feeling back in the game again.

My biggest challenge?

Beating my readers to books and getting to share about them before they have read them.

I am really hopeful though that I have made a few discoveries that you haven’t explored yet and I have several 5-star reads in this month’s stack that I think you will love.

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I’m looking forward to enjoying our Spring Break in the sunshine this year and I’m, perhaps, a little TOO ambitious with how many books that I’m hoping to tackle. I’m guessing next month you will definitely want to stop by to see what I enjoyed over the break.

My Usual Reminders

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! I can’t believe we have over 1,500 bookworms in this group. Our discussion this month was AMAZING and it is so much fun to have so many participating (and enjoying) the books that I selected to share. I announced our selections (here is what we will be reading in March) and you can find them pinned at the top of the group page. These will be added in a blog entry for January, but book club participants get the list a little earlier. It’s just one more perk to enjoy with this free club!

Need another challenge to push you out of your reading comfort zone? Be sure to download this year’s Reading Challenge Worksheet.

April BOTM

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s special:

Get your first month of BOTM free with code YESPLZ

April Selections:

From a Gillian Flynn-approved thriller (trust her: it’s nasty) to a showdown on Mount Olympus, the selections this month are fast, fun, and full of adventure. Get excited.

❃ Circe by Madeline Miller—recommended by BOTM Judge Liberty Hardy

❃ The Oracle Year by Charles Soule—recommended by author and blogger Samantha Irby

❃ Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall—recommended by BOTM Editorial Director Siobhan Jones

❃ The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya—recommended by BOTM Brand Ambassador Etaf Rum

❃ Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell—recommended by BOTM Readers Committee member Laura Whitelaw

Here are 9 must-read books I tackled in March:


Brass by Xhenet Aliu

Brass explores a beautifully complex mother and daughter story as the duo go on their own parallel journeys. Elise, our mother in the story, is working as a waitress when she meets and falls in love with the diner’s line cook, Bashkim.

What Bashkim failed to share with her is that he was already a married man.

He promises her the moon, but delivers on nothing and Elise must make the difficult decision to stay and raise their child together or leave.

Seventeen years later, Luljeta has a very complex relationship with her mother. She has never understood why she has left and she decides to go find the answers herself and the father she never knew.

This story is told in parallel narrative and Aliu does such a great job weaving the complexities of mother daughter relationships into these two characters. If you like your family stories a little messy, like me, I have a feeling that you will really enjoy this read.

3.5 Out Of 5 Stars

The Immortalists

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

The Immortalists has been on many must-read lists this year and I was absolutely engrossed in this incredible book, told from four sibling’s perspectives.

The premise of this book is that the four children visit a fortune-teller who is able to tell them the exact date of their death. Each sibling keeps this information a secret from one another and the story explores how knowing when you will die (young or old) impacts your decision-making. Do you engage in risky behaviors because you know you know when you will die anyway? How does knowing your final date shape your own patterns of behavior?

The book is broken into four sections following each of their lives and how they live them with this forecasted information. Each of the characters was so well-written that I found myself escaping into each story easily.

I, honestly, couldn’t put this one down. I highly recommend it for yourself or to share with your book club!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Every Note Played

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

If you are looking for a tear-jerker to add to your book stack this month, then be sure to add Genova’s latest novel, Every Note Played.

I have read everything that Genova has written and this has been my favorite of all her incredible books.  This story explores the disease ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and the swift decline that occurs when someone is faced with this illness.

Richard is a world-renowned pianist that has chosen to make playing music the focus of his life, even over his family. Divorced and estranged from his daughter, he bounces from one relationship to the next. When he begins having difficulties playing piano, particularly with his right hand, he sees a doctor and is faced with the devastating news that he has ALS and will soon see paralysis throughout the rest of his body.

Unable to afford the care that he needs, he must ask his ex-wife to help care for him, someone he had cast aside and cheated on during their marriage. This dynamic is quite toxic as Richard and Karina must learn to live together again and face the horrific and heartbreaking decline of Richard’s health.

Richard is an unlikable character from beginning to end and I do think that this makes Karina’s sacrifice even greater because he is so ungrateful. Some readers may struggle with a connection to him, but you definitely won’t struggle to sympathize as you see the gravity of this illness and how quickly it takes over the body.

I cry about once a year over a book, thanks to a hardened soul and reading so much.

This book WRECKED ME.

I was crying reading it and then two days later I was still crying about it. It moved me emotionally, in ways that books rarely do.

Once I came to the end and saw all of the people that Genova lovingly mentions that shared their journey with ALS with her, you see how much thought and research went into this project. Genova’s compassion in telling this story is, truly, a gift.

Be sure to add this one to the top of your book stack this month!

5 Out Of 5 Stars


Himself by Jess Kidd

(ON SALE right now for just $1.99!!)

It is hard to categorize this read, but I found myself moved and completely laughing-out-loud through this beautifully told story.

Mahony was abandoned at an orphanage as a baby and has always assumed his mother did not want to be a part of his life. When he receives an anonymous note though, it implies that she might have been forced to give him up and that there might be more to this story. Mahony sets off to his hometown to try to find out what exactly happened to his mother.

The whole town starts talking the minute that Mahony shows up. The ladies want him, the people who never liked his mother want him to leave, and he also happens to have a gift for talking to ghosts who would love to tell him a few stories of their own.

If you love a good Irish accent, be sure to listen to this one on audiobook because it really is a treat. Even with such a potentially heavy topic, this book is thick with humor and heart. All the villagers practically lift off the page. Kidd definitely has a knack for storytelling and I’m sure we will be seeing a lot more from her in the future.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

American Fire

American Fire by Monica Hesse

American Fire was this month’s MomAdvice Book Club pick so I really got to dive deep into this one as I prepared for our monthly discussion.

This is a fast and easy-to-read true crime novel about a series of 70+ fires that happened in Virginia’s Accomack County. The love affair of Charlie Smith and Tonya Bundick apparently needed a little more spark (I had to do it-sorry!) and they decided that setting fires to local abandoned buildings would be a great way to spend their time together.

This isn’t a whodunit story, it is a whydunit story. If you prefer your true crime with some mystery, you won’t get that in this one. Hesse reveals exactly who set these from the start and then unfolds their motivations for attention. You follow these two all the way to the courtroom and also, as a reader, get to understand the unbelievable time and effort that were involved in putting these fires out.

I listened to this one on audiobook and thought it was very well-written. Hesse really did her research and I enjoyed hearing more about this twisted love story and how these arsons brought the town together in some really unlikely ways.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Mrs. Fletcher

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta

Looking for a little spice in your book stack? Mrs. Fletcher explores sex, love, and identity in America through the story of Eve, lonely and divorced, and her college-aged son.

Eve begins exploring her sexuality through porn because her life has felt boring and mediocre, inspired by an anonymous text calling her a MILF. When she joins a Gender Studies course, she finds an openness in her co-workers and also discovers that the message has become a fixation for her that she just can’t let go.

Meanwhile, her son lacks the smooth charm with the ladies and embarrassingly embraces his frat-bro style in his relationships (*cringe*). When he takes things a bit too far with a girl, he is forced to see the confusion he has had with what he thinks girls want and what they really do want.

I told ya, this book has some spice and it won’t be for everyone. It was like watching two train wrecks unfold and definitely examines today’s culture and how we explore our sexuality. What’s okay now? What’s not?  It held my attention, even when I felt the plot took some strange and disturbing turns.

3 Out Of 5 Stars

Dear Fang With Love

Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe

I always like to walk around the library and pick up one book that isn’t being talked about and that is no longer on the new releases table. Dear Fang, With Love had such a gorgeous cover that it immediately grabbed my attention and I enjoyed this book so very much that I’m surprised that I haven’t heard more about it.

Vera is seventeen and has recently suffered a psychotic breakdown and is being treated for bipolar disorder. She has been estranged from her father her whole life, but he decides to take her on a trip to the city of Vilnius, his grandmother’s homeland, after her recent diagnosis. The two go on a group tour where they make unlikely friendships, learn about the Holocaust, explore a mystery around their grandmother being granted an escape from the Nazis, and begin finding beauty in rekindled relationships with those we love.

Vera writes to her boyfriend, nicknamed Fang, with some laugh-out-loud letters about what has been happening as she mentally feels better and better being in this new environment. Thorpe explores the tricky terrain of mental illness through very beautiful writing and I have a feeling you will fall in love with Vera and her father as much as I did.

This coming-of-age story was a wonderful surprise this month. I hope you can snag it at your library too!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Losing Brave

Losing Brave by Bailee Madison & Stefne Miller

Losing Brave is a haunting YA novel about a year-old mystery surrounding the disappearance of Payton’s twin sister, Dylan. Payton was there when Dylan disappeared, but has holes in her memory about what has happened. Although the case is still open, she knows that she might be the one to hold the key into uncovering Dylan’s reasoning for her absence in their family.

When another missing girl’s body is discovered by the lake, with similar features to Dylan, the police begin to believe that these two disappearances may be linked. As Payton begins to uncover some of her memories around this moment, she has no idea the danger she is putting herself in. To make matters worse, she has begun to have feelings for Dylan’s boyfriend as the two become closer and closer through their mutual sadness over the loss of Dylan.

This mystery is well-paced and kept me guessing throughout. Madison builds believable motives and adds a real rawness to Payton’s character. Better yet, the story takes some really shocking twists that I don’t think you will see coming at all… at least, I didn’t.

The audiobook is beautifully narrated and really adds another layer to the story that I think you will appreciate. This was another beautiful surprise in my book stack this month that I think even people who aren’t as into YA will really love because of the maturity of these characters, the writing, and the thriller-style mystery!

4 Out Of 5 Stars


Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Looking for a really quick page-turner that you won’t be able to put down? Allegedly had me up until waayyyy past my bedtime because I was so wrapped up into this story.  Described as, Orange Is the New Black meets Walter Dean Myer’s Monster, this story is about a teen who had been accused of killing a baby when she was just nine-years-old….allegedly.

Mary B. Madison has been written about in many, many books as people tried to understand the motivation behind this child-murderer. Now that Mary is pregnant with her own baby, she has decided to come clean with what really happened that night and has begged her mother to tell the true story so her baby is not taken away from her. Living in a scary group home and without money,  she decides to see an attorney, who has volunteered her time to this intriguing case,  and has asked that the case be reopened so she can keep her child.

The story unfolds for the reader through newspaper and book clippings of speculations and through Mary’s own eyes as she slowly shares about her heartbreaking childhood and her mentally ill mother.

Get ready for a BUMPY ride, folks. I don’t want to reveal too much more beyond this because half the fun is your own discoveries as a reader.

I’m so thankful for our book club and the recommendations that they make. This book came highly recommended and I would have never picked it up on my own. It’s free to join in on the fun- I think you’d love the recommendations too.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Amy Allen Clark

Read With Me This Year:

January 2018 Must-Reads

February 2018 Must-Reads

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

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though.

March 2018 Must-Reads from

Amy’s Notebook 03.28.18

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

Instant Pot Cheat Sheet source

Download this free Instant Pot Cheat Sheet for your kitchen.

Speaking of the Instant Pot, this dish is going a little bonkers on Pinterest (and it couldn’t be easier!).

This piece on class anxiety within a family was really compelling. That idea of, “too much happy,” troubles me too. Is there such a thing?

13 brand new books to read in April.

After spending a couple of days in the airport last week, I CAN’T STOP LAUGHING.

4 things we think we need today, but won’t matter in the long run. So much yes!

I’m curious about this reboot and like that they stayed true to character development. I’ll be tuning in!

Amazon skincare products with a cult following. I am going to have to give a few of these a spin!

This speech was heartbreakingly beautiful.

I also found this article quite compelling. This next generation inspires me in so many ways!

Hopping on the plant trend for your home? Here are 14 that are potentially harmful to your pets.

Speaking of books, I stayed up way to late last night with this one. It’s so good! (all my book reviews on Fri-yay!)

Wondering how Marie Kondo does it? Take a peek at her typical day. I’m loving the spreadsheet idea!

Sconces How to Add Light source

Sconces without any hardwiring? WHAT?! Genius.

I love these ideas for putting your clutter to work.

My cow game extracted your Facebook data.

Being authentic is so important to me. I love seeing this list of traits on how to spot an authentic person.

Here are 15 ways to save on a home renovation.

I’m crazy about this woman’s work and I absolutely loved this piece on her.

Untouchable days sound like a productivity game-changer.

It was a good mail day on Monday.

How do you organize your bookcase? I’m a colored spine girl these day and this made me laugh.

refill plugin with essential oils source

Switch out those plugins with this smart essential oil hack.

What happens when you stop wearing deodorant– so interesting!

What a delicious way to use up leftover rice.

This is on my spring break plans list….please scare the crap out of me, Netflix!

I’m trying to savor this book.

The top sale this month wasn’t even something I planned to promote (just a pic in my IG feed). I hope you love your small homes as much as me!

Like your chicken skin crispy? Who knew you had the tool to achieve it already in your house.

As I prep my spring capsule, I found this piece to be really helpful on the closet cleanout process.

I added this addition to my smoothie routine and I’m so surprised how much a tablespoon of this helps keep me full during the day. Here is my make-ahead slant on my smoothie game.

This week’s album share below! Even if you hate country, (*raises hand*) this artist is an absolute treat.

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

Small-Budget Crushes 03.27.18

Monday, March 26th, 2018

Small-Budget Crushes from

This week’s faves! xoxo

plant lady shirt plant lady shirt

fit and flare midi fit & flare midi (take 40% off everything with coupon code STYLE)

cheese plate bunny cheese platter

polka dot henley polka dot henley (now 30% off!!)

warrior girl print warrior girl print

the office stitch markers the office stitch markers

ruffled sleeve dress ruffled sleeve dress (I have this dress and LOVE IT- can’t beat the price!)

nude ballet flats nude ballet flats (several colors- all shoes BOGO 50% off!!)

pixie floral ankle pant pixie floral ankle pant (use coupon code STYLE for 40% off!!)

forever more love art forever more love art

striped cactus tee striped cactus tee

marble pendant necklace marble pendant necklace

womens convertible bag women’s convertible bag (all accessories BOGO 50% off!!)

succulent planter knitted succulent planter (so cute- tons of adorable animals!)

wrap top wrap top (use coupon code HISUNSHINE for 25% off)

denim jacket denim jacket

softspun sleeveless top softspun sleeveless top (everything 40% off using coupon code STYLE)

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 

5 Book Series for Kids Who Love Harry Potter

Monday, March 26th, 2018

Book Series for Kids Who Love Harry Potter

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

My daughter loves to read. I mean, the girl LOVES reading.

I mean she refuses to leave the house without a book. I’m talking about a kid who stays up way past her bedtime reading, every night, unless I remove all books from her room. I’m saying she burns through books like…I don’t know, but something that doesn’t last a long time. Even all the resources of both her school library and our city library cannot keep this kid in books.

Please know I don’t say this as a criticism. I’m not mocking her. Oh no. Because my book-obsessed child is basically a mini-me in this regard. The bookworm does not fall far from the bookworm tree.

She’s also a teensy bit obsessed with Harry Potter. She was Hermione for Halloween. She began planning her Hogwarts-letter 11th birthday party the day after she turned 10. She has a Harry Potter-themed shirt for every day of the week. And last week? I registered her for a Harry Potter day camp coming up this summer. She’s a big fan.

But my daughter is also sensitive. And innocent. And, much to her great dismay (and the fantastic combination of tween attitude and gnashing of teeth), she was not ready to read the fifth Harry Potter book after devouring the first four.

Despite her protests that she was the only kid in the fourth grade who hadn’t read all the Harry Potter books, I know I’m not alone in navigating the challenge of a tween who loves books and can read at a higher grade level than she’s in – or ready for. So just in case you have a kid who loves Harry Potter (but has already read them all or isn’t ready for the next book in the series) in your life, I’ve got a few other series that might keep your bookworm busy.

Book Series for Kids Who Love Harry Potter

5 Book Series for Kids Who Love Harry Potter

The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer – Twins are transported to a fairytale land through a mysterious book. The stories are more Grimm than Disney, but still suitable for my fourth-grader who is reading the fifth book in this series (and loves giving me a play-by-play WHILE SHE READS. It’s fine. It’s great. It’s FINE.).

Reportedly, a movie based on this series is in development. But since no cast, release date, or other news has been announced yet, you and your kids still have plenty of time to read the books first.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan – It may be sacrilegious to Harry Potter fans, but this is my favorite middle grade series of all time. So when my daughter finally showed interest in this book about a boy who learns his father is Poseidon, an actual Greek god, I was super excited! And nervous. Would she love them as much as I do?

Well, I won’t keep you hanging – she did. Because it’s the best series ever, said the totally unbiased and definitely cool mom. It really is a great series, though, with funny, complex characters who go on incredible adventures. And readers learn a whole lot about Greek mythology along the way.

Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley – This nine-book series about two sisters whose parents have disappeared and who learn that fairy tales are true begins light and gradually grows darker. Like with Harry Potter, parents may want to set the pace for their kids’ progress through these books. But also like Harry Potter and the other series I’m recommending, parents may enjoy them just as much as their kids! So reading them together may be a great option, as the messages of girl power and the strong bond between sisters enhance the clever nature of these fractured fairy tales.

Story Thieves by James Riley – Life was pretty boring for Owen until he discovered his classmate Bethany could jump inside books and interact with the characters. The two students go on adventures in different types of books over what is so far a five-book series, and while reviews call these books more simplistic and clichéd, my daughter loves them. I legitimately just requested the fourth book in the series for her from the library.

 My 10-year-old still enjoys these books but they are geared toward a younger audience than these other series (which makes them a great alternative for kids who aren’t quite ready to advance to the next Harry Potter book!).

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – It may be experiencing a resurgence in popularity because of Disney’s recent movie release, but this series has been captivating and inspiring kids for decades. I wasn’t sure how my daughter would respond to this book, with its old-fashioned roots and sometimes complicated syntax and vocabulary. I shouldn’t have underestimated either my daughter or this series. She was hooked from the beginning, as I read to her, “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Significantly different than the 2018 movie, this book captures readers and encourages them as well. I’m thrilled that my daughter wasn’t content to wait for me to read another chapter each night and has finished the first book on her own and begun the second.

I looked up each of these books on, and they are all suggested for readers ages 9 and above (except for Story Thieves, which is appropriate for kids 8 and up). This site also has a great guide for both the Harry Potter books and movies, if you’re unsure about what age is best for each of the installments in this series. You can watch a quick video here and read a more detailed guide here.

It can be hard to hold our kids back from books that may be too intense for them, but it’s worth it. Reading the books when they can truly comprehend the storylines and handle difficult situations emotionally will protect their love of these books so they can enjoy them for years to come.

And if taking a break from one series leads to interest in reading another, well, that’s just an added bonus as our kids grow into great readers who love all sorts of stories.

reading harry potter

Harry Potter Illustrated

Isn’t Mary so great?

As I was titling these images, I ran across these photos of our Harry Potter fans.  They look so little, don’t they?

The days are long, but the years are short.

I can’t believe how quickly time has been passing.

Savor these reading moments with your kids because they, truly, are gone in a blink of an eye.

What to Read After Harry Potter Book Series from

If you want to explore a couple more authors and where to go next, check out these two posts from Mary:

What to Read After You’ve Finished the Latest Kasie West Novel

What to Read After You’ve Finished the Latest John Green Book

Do you have any recommendations for a great kid series after Harry Potter? Feel free to drop your suggestions in this comments below!

Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons, but she lives because of God’s grace. Mary writes with humor and honesty about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places on her blog, She is the author of Fast Talk & Faith: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls and co-author of Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts. She is also a regular contributor to and Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.


DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from

The queen of no-sew projects is back and I’m excited to share this EASY DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkin tutorial with you today.

That’s right, even if you can’t sew, it’s no biggie!

Can’t cut a straight line?

Me either!

No need to even have a skill in that!

Each diy no-sew napkin should take a mere ten minutes to make and can be used for many a dinner with your family and friends. Not to mention, these would make a gorgeous gift for a newlywed or the holidays.

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from

I had a set of cloth napkins that got a lot of love in our house because of their easy-to-wash material and their perfect size. I was never a fan of the colors though and so I measured my current set and headed to the fabric store where I discovered (GLORY BE!) that the fabric bundles, at our local fabric shop, just so happened to be the EXACT same size.

What luck for someone who can’t cut a straight line.

I have always loved the beauty of these color-coordinating fabric bundles (just so perfect for quilters) and thanks to their prepackaged coordination, it makes creating a reversible set of napkins oh-so-easy for those of us born without the gift of pattern-matching.

Here’s my quick tutorial AND scroll down for my system for washing and storing these beauties!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins Tutorial

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins

diy-no-sew-reversible-cloth-napkins (2 of 23)



18×21 inch fabric bundle in coordinating colors- I LOVE these options or you can check here too for a more affordable option (the bundle I purchased had 5 pieces so to create an even number of cloth napkins you will need to purchase two bundles. You will need 2 pieces for each napkin you would like to make). I chose Cotton & Flannel materials for my napkins.

Stitch Witchery or similar fusible bonding web (I swear by Stitch Witchery for the majority of my no-sew projects- it really washes well!)

Chopstick or pointy object to push out your corners

Iron & ironing board


DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from


1. Select two coordinating colors and place the first one with the pattern up, facing you, and then flip the other one with the wrong side of the fabric out. Basically, you want the two patterns to be BFF’s and be facing each other.

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from

2. Going all the way across the fabric, lay down your Stitch Witchery all the way across, leaving a little room on each side of the edges, as pictured.

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from

3. Grab you iron (I crank mine to the highest setting on that dial) and iron over the tape until the two fabrics are fused together. This will take several passes and you can additionally spray the fabric with a little water to produce steam and help the tape bond to each side of the fabric. Repeat this process on two more sides.

Leave one side without tape and follow the next steps to finish the cloth napkin.

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from

4. On the final side, we are going to run the tape along like the other sides, but stop to leave a pocket so we can turn this napkin right side out.

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from

5. Using your scissors, cut all four corners so we don’t have excess fabric in the corners. CAREFULLY, turn the napkin right side out and use your chopstick to CAREFULLY poke out those corners. If the tape comes loose while turning this right side out, don’t worry! You can easily reseal that tape again when finishing that edge!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from

6. Tuck the last of the ends under, to match the rest of the side that has been fused.  Finish with another round of Stitch Witchery and a final press. Once the ends are all sealed, finish with a spray of water to take out any final wrinkles and to give it a good press on all four sides to make sure they are secure.

TA-DA!  That’s it, folks!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from

I had already received some questions, when I posted these beauties on IG, on how I planned to implement these in our home. I got a container for these and have them on our hutch, next to our silverware. Underneath the sink is a container for tossing the dirty napkins.

I got a small napkin holder that perfectly holds four of these (something like this) for the tabletop and each person gets one napkin per day.

I did request darker colors for messier meals and lighter colors for meals that less messy.

Each person is responsible for tossing their napkin in at the end of the day.

All of this feels REALLY doable to me.

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from

Obviously, I am IN LOVE with these feminine patterns, but I wanted to make some that were more masculine too.

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from

I found some flannel and did some of our napkins in this fabric too.

The best part was that the print was on both sides so the warmer side of the flannel would be perfect for the winter months while the flipside of the flannel was perfect for all seasons (and, honestly, I had less worries about lint issues). I can picture just how beautiful these would be to dress up the table for the holidays.

The best part?

You can’t buy this at Target. You get to be totally unique.

Go ahead and gloat!

Do you love NO-SEW projects? You hit the lottery over here! Check out a few of my favorite no-sew tutorials!

Fabric Flower Wreath Fabric Flower Wreath for Spring

No-Sew Kitchen Cushions DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions

Fabric Wreath & Garland Fabric Wreath & Matching Garland

Fabric Bulletin Board Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial

Painted Pumpkins Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints

diy-no-sew-pocket-warmers-10 DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers

Diy Ottoman Serving Tray DIY Ottoman Serving Tray

Scrappy Fabric Trees 15-Minute Scrappy Fabric Trees

DIY Jigsaw Puzzle Mat DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat

Told ya, queen of the no-sew life!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from

Have you made the switch to cloth in your home? I’d love to hear what systems work best for your family?

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March: No Spend Challenge Results (Week 2)

Friday, March 16th, 2018

march no spend challenge

I can’t believe I have already breezed through the second week of this No-Spend Challenge and things have been going so well.  I am really recognizing my spending impulses and a lot of it seems to have to do with the power of suggestion (helloooo, Instagram)  and when I have pockets of free time that have me heading over to my computer to do a little online shopping.

no-spend challenge

no-spend challenge (the birthday boy’s favorite cake- snickerdoodle cake!)

It was my husband’s birthday week and I had disclosed at the beginning of the challenge that I wouldn’t be skipping his celebration dinner just because I wanted to save a little money. We went to his favorite fancy spot and had a wonderful meal that we savored together. I never take for granted what a good life it is when you get to spend your life with your best friend.

When I began really getting the hang of cooking, we have found that we really don’t enjoy dining out anymore, unless it is somewhere really spectacular. I wouldn’t say our dining out budget has been cut down necessarily, but that we now would rather pay for one really incredible meal rather than four disappointing inexpensive meals.

It was a fabulous night and there was no need to buy anything special to wear thanks to that well-equipped capsule wardrobe.

red sparrow

I have a MoviePass, but I always am trying to coordinate with other people to go and see a movie. I have never gone to the movies by myself, but I was dying to see Red Sparrow (my husband was not) so I decided to have an impromptu movie date by myself.

You know what? It was awesome!

My INFJ heart was very happy AND I absolutely loved the film.

I packed a snack in my car to enjoy on the way home and avoided the concessions stand to hold to my challenge.

Boy, that popcorn smell almost had me caving!

no-spend challenge

Dining at home is never a biggie, but I have gotten in a bad habit of just buying groceries impulsively and not really looking in our pantry and freezer. These chicken breasts became this delicious dish and a forgotten bag of potatoes made the perfect side dish.

We enjoyed this with some belly-laughs over this new Netflix series. It made me thankful to see other people #nailingit like me when it comes to baking.


Do you follow bloggers because you love seeing all the new things they have gotten? I know that there are certain accounts that I follow because it seems like they always have the latest thing.

I realized this week that creatively, it is MUCH more challenging to inspire people WITHOUT buying things.

I have to think a little harder about what I have been putting out in the world and how to inspire people without spending money. I have always been committed to good living on a small budget, but am I always sharing in these ways?

I needed a little Spring for our mantle, for example, and shopped the house to create a cute little rainbow of books for the mantle.

My hubby declared this the MOST Pinterest-y thing I have ever done and I am not ashamed.

We have so much here- why do I feel I need to buy things to inspire other people?

no-spend challenge

This week I have been more busy than usual and haven’t been sitting at my computer and instead found myself with three wonderful dates (at my house- #nospendchallenge, you know!) with three amazing women that inspire me so much.

I love entertaining, but sometimes it feels more convenient to just go out rather than clean up our messes (or, heck, let people witness our messes) and open our home up…warts and all. We remodeled our home with the intention of sharing our home with others and we should be doing just that.

What a blessing to have the space to do it in and to share it with others.

One friend brought me this book (I can’t wait to dig in), another brought me this beautiful plant, and another brought all the appetizers and wine for a fun night in my little shed. Hostess gifts were savored so much more this month!

California Typewriter

We ended the week with a pajama-date today and watched this phenomenal documentary on typewriters (available on Hulu).

If you have a free afternoon this weekend, it is such a good one. I will admit, it had me feeling a little melancholy about my love/hate relationship with technology. I love sharing here, but I struggle with too much technology in my life.

I am sure I will have lots to learn when I detach from social media a bit next month!

Next week I am traveling for business so I will have some expenditures with business travel, but I’m hoping to continue the mindful approach to spending, just as I have been doing these past two weeks.

Follow My No-Spend Journey

No-Spend Month Intention
Week 1

Money Spent- $299 (groceries) $140 (birthday dinner for my hubby- an approved expenditure)

Memberships Used During Week 1-

Scribd- 0

Gym- 2 classes

CycleCast- 1 session

MoviePass- 1 movie

March: No Spend Challenge Results (Week 1)

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

march no spend challenge

Haven’t you always wanted to read someone’s diary?

Oh, wait…is that just me? In all seriousness, I’d love to share with you my weekly reflections from my month of intentions.

Since March was designated as my no-spend challenge month, I thought it would be a great one to share with you as I embrace this month of getting my spending habits back on track. Truth be told, the savings will be used for our Spring Break trip and I’m hoping that we won’t feel the pinch at all from taking a vacation.

The first week is no big deal because, honestly, how hard is it to do for one week?

Here is what I learned from week 1:

No-Spend Challenge Results

Week 1 of the No-Spend Challenge

Day 1- I’m going to be honest and tell you that I had expected the launch of this challenge to start with an expense. I had planned to take my neighbor out for her birthday dinner (after she had taken me for a fantastic birthday meal where I claimed I had coupons, but actually did not) and I was going to add this feast to my monthly expenses since it had been planned.

I received a text though that said she would prefer just meeting for a glass of wine and had been eating out a lot lately.

She suggested that it might be better to just hang out in my She Shed.

I offered to make her a birthday dinner though and discovered three sweet potatoes, a bag of Brussels Sprouts, a bag of spinach, and just enough arborio rice to make a risotto dish. Balsamic roasted veggies, risotto cooked in white wine and vegetable broth, and a cranberry & almond salad were all birthed from the pantry that had nothing.

It was delicious and, upon a generous amount of wine, she did confess that she saw I had planned this challenge and refused to sabotage my first day out of the gate.

What a great friend, right?

Surprise, surprise, I made it through day 1 without an expense after all.

Day 2- I am at the gym and get a peek at my girlfriend’s amazing boots she is wearing.

“Where did you get those?”

“TJ Maxx! Can you believe they are water resistant and everything?”

“Oh, I need those.”

I begin to contemplate how I can swing by TJ Maxx on the way home from the gym and then remember my no-spend commitment.

I arrive home and glance at the dusty basket filled with oodles of boots…

Three pairs, just for me, that are water resistant.

No Spend Challenge

Day 4- I know a lot of people get buried in weekend spending, but my homebody nature really pulls through on the weekend.  I have been discovering I had quite the stockpile in our freezer so a night of mussels was on our agenda for our usual pizza night.

It’s been ages since I made spaghetti sauce, relying upon the jar for convenience, and I was reminded the beauty in a homemade sauce for a spaghetti side.

It really is the little things.

A couple of months ago, I had splurged on this expandable coffee table and it is now our favorite weekend spot to have dinner and watch a show together.


When We First Met

Date nights were spent catching up on Netflix- yes, we are that fun!

The original programming from Netflix has really been delivering so it was easy to do a movie night at home together and this one was adorable. Many times I find myself running over to Redbox or the library for movies when we have PLENTY to watch already at home.

Seriously, you should see how long my list is.

No Spend Challenge

Day 5- Since we were eating our way through our pantry, I thought I’d give gluten-free pizza dough a try to see if I can’t replace that take-out pizza moving forward. I wasn’t willing to chance it on two pizzas because gluten-free flour is expensive.

Surprise, surprise, I NAILED IT! I was so proud of myself that I made several more, just to make sure I could share a really good recipe with you.

It must be elastic pants weekend.

Day 6-7- It was really fortunate timing that I figured out a supplement that could help with my pain management just as this challenge was beginning. (P.S.- I promise to share more tomorrow!) so I was able to keep to a consistent gym routine which gave me the opportunity to socialize and to get in some good endorphins.

I dusted off my stationary bike and got back to using my CycleCast app so even in moments I was working out a lot, I still felt like I was a part of something.

Overall, week one was AWESOME and I can’t wait to what else I learn in the next three weeks!

Money Spent- $0

Memberships Used During Week 1-

Scribd- 1 audiobook

Gym- 3 classes

CycleCast- 1 session

MoviePass- 0 movies

Amy’s Notebook 03.08.18

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

Creamy Chicken Marsala Soup source

Sign me up for a big bowl of this creamy chicken marsala soup!

If literature’s complicated men were on Tinder– I die, I die!

Instagram observations (comments are gold). This comes up a lot with my IRL friends and it is fascinating to me how others view IG when it isn’t their work.

How to fall asleep amazingly fast by worrying on purpose. I never thought of this before, but it makes sense!

I think this is a great conversation to read about guns.

I want to make these for our next movie night– yum!

I loved this article on what an out gay Olympian could mean to another child. It’s a beautiful piece!

Meet the designers behind your favorite book covers.

I’m loving this book this week. I’m a sucker for a good coming-of-age story.

I’m a bit of a Home Goods junkie so I loved these strategies for saving at the store.

sweet potato wraps source

Oh, I definitely want to try these sweet potato wraps!

This piece was just incredible and now, as a grown-up and mom, I think about this all in such a different way.

People chime in on how to overcome SAD. My three favorite remedies? I got one of these, one of these (I’m in heaven!), & I take this. Oh, and LOTS of exercise #bringontheendorphins.

Do you get tech neck too? These stretches might help reduce the strain.

Wow, this is kind of crazy! Uber is certainly changing the auto landscape!

pom pom rainbow source

This pom-pom rainbow is so cute and would be a fun craft to do with my daughter!

I can’t wait to see this movie today– I had no idea how rigorously she had to prepare for this part.

16 brilliant bed hacks– loving these tips.

Here’s what’s going in my earbuds (I can’t believe the Kindle version is just $1.99 since it is a new release!!).  So good and I am loving the Irish accent from the narrator too.

Can’t afford the pricey balsamic vinegar? I love these smart hacks for your grocery store vinegars.

Want to try making your own dairy-free yogurt? This looks like a simple recipe.

Did you see this exciting news?

This week’s album share below- enjoy!

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

5-Ingredient Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Recipe

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

5-ingredient gluten-free pizza crust recipe from

I have been gluten-free for years, but I have only really jumped into gluten-free baking this year. The one recipe that I just couldn’t seem to master was a delicious gluten-free pizza crust. This week I decided to try to crack the code on a simple, one-bowl dough that could be made from a gluten-free mix and that had simple ingredients that I always keep in my pantry. Does this seem like too steep of a request to make from myself? You bet!

You could say this no-spend month has been quite motivating!

I am SO excited to share with you a foolproof gluten-free pizza crust recipe that is as easy to put together as your standard crust. The thing that I need to stress though is that you MUST, MUST, MUST follow my advice on which flour to purchase and the steps that I have outlined to create it. If you use another flour mix I can’t guarantee these results for the perfect airy crust that will rival any pizzeria you have been to.

It’s worth it to take the time to buy the right product, amiright?

Are you ready for this EASY recipe?

Let’s get baking!

5-ingredient Gluten-Free Pizza Crust from

A Few Quick Suggestions for the Perfect Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

The Best Flour Blend for This Recipe

To nail this perfect crust, you MUST use this gluten-free flour mix.


I’m linking to the best price on this that I’ve found (at least in our area). The cost (currently) is $3.97 and this will yield two large pizza crusts for your family.  It has to be the cup-for-cup so make sure that the label says that since other gluten-free blends exist. Although I am telling you it yields TWO crusts, this recipe below is for ONE crust. Double it if you are wanting to make two pizzas.

And you will want to make two pizzas. I just know it!

Anyone who eats gluten-free knows what a steal this on two large crusts. I can’t tell you how much money I have spent on tiny terrible pizzas that left me hungry.

A little over two bucks per large pizza crust is unreal awesome.

The Yeast Must Be Active

Do you know the best way to check if your yeast is active? Sprinkle your yeast and a pinch of sugar over the top, give it a stir, and let it stand for a few minutes. If the yeast is still active, it will dissolve completely into the water and the liquid will start bubbling. If your yeast isn’t active, it will yield a dense and heavy crust.

I buy a large jar of yeast because it is cheaper than buying the yeast packets. This is the jar that I purchase for our family.

You want to make sure you don’t grab the bread machine yeast, just the regular ol’ active yeast.

Parchment Paper Makes Everything Easier

This crust shouldn’t be too sticky (if it is, add a little additional flour until it comes together without the stickiness factor), but I prefer to press out my crust on a parchment paper lined pizza stone. I buy these squares (awesome stuff for easy clean-up on sheet pan meals) and place it on a diagonal across my stone.

Speaking of pizza stones, they are such a wonderful family investment. I bought mine about twelve years ago and it has paid for itself over and over and over again. This size stone is perfect for all your pizza needs.

5-ingredient gluten-free pizza crust recipe from

5-ingredient gluten-free pizza crust recipe from

I have a feeling you are going to love this recipe because of its ease.  Mix it up, let it rise, and then pat it out on parchment paper.

Yup, that’s pretty much it.

I like to brush the crust edges with olive oil because it helps the edge to crisp up a bit more.

Once you press the crust out, bake it for a bit, add your toppings, and then finish your baking.

That’s it!

The best part is that you can make a few crusts at the same time and place them in the freezer for your future pizza nights. Simply allow the crust to rise and then place the dough ball in a freezer-safe plastic bag. Once you are ready to use it, let it thaw overnight in the fridge, and then prepare as usual. These crusts can be kept frozen for up to four weeks.

Another make-ahead option is to to mix all the dry ingredients and store them in a bag or jar to make preparation a little easier.

Or, heck, just wing it!

You got this!

5-ingredient-gluten-free-pizza-crust-recipe (7 of 8)

5-Ingredient Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Recipe
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 large pizza
An easy 5-ingredient one-bowl gluten-free pizza crust recipe. I dare you to say that three times fast.
  • 2 1/4 cups [url href=”″ target=”_blank”]Bobs Mill Cup-For-Cup Baking Flour[/url] [u]NO SUBSTITUTIONS[/u]
  • 2.25 teaspoons active yeast (if purchasing in packet form, it will be one packet)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup warm water
  1. Please Note- This yields enough for ONE crust for ONE large pizza.
  2. In a large mixing bowl mix together flour, yeast, and salt.
  3. Add honey, olive oil, and warm water (you want this warm, but not SO hot that it kills your yeast).
  4. Mix well until the dough pulls away from the bowl. If your dough feels too sticky, you can add a little additional flour to it until it pulls into a ball.
  5. Knead the ball of dough a few times and then cover with plastic wrap.
  6. Let rise for 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  8. On a parchment paper lined pizza stone, turn out the dough and shape into a pizza.
  9. Once it is patted out, brush with olive oil on the edge of the crust.
  10. Bake for 12 minutes.
  11. Remove and add sauce and toppings. Place back into the oven and finish baking (approximately 7-9 minutes). If you like your cheese bubbly on top, you can finish the process by broiling for a couple of minutes. Be sure to keep your eye on it so your crust doesn’t burn.
  12. Slice and enjoy!


Not gluten-free? I’ve got you covered with this easy Bread Machine Pizza Dough! You can also use my pizza sauce recipe (all the way at the bottom of the post!) for both types of pizzas.

I can’t wait to hear what you think of this recipe and hope it is as big of a hit at your house as it has been at our home!

This post contains affiliate links.




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How Podcasts Saved My Marriage

Monday, March 5th, 2018

How Podcasts Saved Our Marriage from

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

For weeks I had the article open in one of the many tabs on my internet browser. “How to Increase Intimacy in Your Marriage,” it read – and it wasn’t about sex. The article addressed the same old, same old feeling we can get in a long-term relationship, the lack of connection that creeps in while you’re shuttling kids to soccer practice and piano lessons, taking turns buying groceries or changing laundry or making sure someone is home to sign for that FedEx package.

The article seemed to hold the secret to fixing what felt off in my own marriage, a cure in five simple steps – if only we could find the time to read it.

I’d originally kept the article open with intentions to print it out and take it to our next counseling session. Our counselor had been kind and helpful over many months of healing and growth, but when I mentioned a lack of connection he leaned back on his old faithful, the date night. As we’ve discussed before, date nights are great but not always possible. So though I was grateful to leave crisis and emotional chaos behind, I was worried that we’d overcorrect into apathy and boredom. And this article had more practical solutions than the tired advice of going on more date nights.

However, before we returned to counseling, life got increasingly crazy with a move, an overseas trip, and a job change – so counseling, steps for creating connection, and date nights got lost in the shuffle for a while. Eventually I bookmarked that article and closed out, intending to come back to it soon.

I never did.

And, sure enough, as life settled down again and we adjusted to a new home, a new town, and a new schedule, I began feeling disconnected from my husband again. With his long hours and our family’s full calendar, we were ships passing in the night, sharing little more than instructions, urgent questions, complaints, or solutions for the day-to-day management of a family and home.

In the midst of feeling frustrated over the struggle to connect, I mentioned in passing that I thought my husband might enjoy a podcast I listened to regularly. He’s a truckdriver who’s on the road for hours at a time, so over the years I’ve suggested audiobooks and podcasts frequently. He’d never been interested (which annoyed me to no end and baffled me as well!) – but this time he was.

Before he could change his mind and revert to his stance that listening to the radio was just fine, I downloaded a podcast-listening app to his phone and then subscribed him to a dozen podcasts I thought he might like.

Then, I waited. Would he like the same podcasts I did? What about the others I found for him? Would he give them a chance? Would he be bored or fascinated? Would he even tell me what he thought about all of this?

I shouldn’t have worried. It didn’t take long before every other sentence out of his mouth seemed to be, “So I was listening to this podcast, and they said…”

How Podcasts Saved My Marriage from

He began sharing stories and fun facts and interesting news he thought I might like to hear. He told me about books he’d learned about that sounded like something I might want to read – and even a book that he wanted to read, too. (Though I’m a big reader he is not, so that one was a big deal!) Before long, we had lists of things to talk about, things that weren’t basic household decisions or weekend plans, things that didn’t revolve around our kids or the daily frustrations of our jobs.

I know couples who have weekly date nights, daily downloads, frequent coffee dates. Though our schedule prevents any of that for now, I admit that any time those practices came up, I felt a little nervous. If we had the chance for more quality time together, would we even have anything to say? Last year, we might not have, to be honest. If you take kids and jobs off the table, we don’t always have a lot of conversation starters left.

But now that we’ve started sharing things we’re hearing on podcasts (and, for me, on blogs and online magazines), running out of things to say is the last thing on my mind.

Perhaps it’s an exaggeration to say that podcasts saved my marriage. After all, wasn’t it the counseling and work we’d done prior to this connection crisis what did that?

Yes, that’s true. We weren’t in danger of divorce when I first read the article about increasing intimacy, but we were getting awfully close to boredom and becoming strangers. And that’s a risk I don’t want to take. Therefore, I stand by my declaration: podcasts saved my marriage (from becoming boring and stale and completely without connection).

If you’d like to know which podcasts my husband subscribed to, I’d be happy to share. Click here to receive 15 Podcasts Perfect for the Man in Your Life for free!

Do you listen to podcasts? How do you stay connected with your husband?

Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons, but she lives because of God’s grace. Mary writes with humor and honesty about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places on her blog, She is the author of Fast Talk & Faith: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls and co-author of Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts. She is also a regular contributor to and Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

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