Archive for November, 2018

Small-Budget Crushes 11.30.18

Friday, November 30th, 2018

Hope this helps with some of your holiday shopping! xo cozy pom pom throw

dinosaur duvet set

grab & go ponytail holders

eggs & bacon socks

pleated midi skirt (SO cute for holiday gatherings!)

faux fur throw (several colors)

femiknits bag

fuzzy slippers (loads of colors and under $20!!)

blue & gold unicorn

crushed velvet throw (several colors!!)

crosley record player

waffle knit thermal loungers

nyc map ring (find a city that’s special to you!)

what do you meme game

personalized photo locket

tabletop shuffle board

ribbed poncho (several gorgeous hues!)

tartan plaid bow flats

faux leather trim leggings

knit pom pom throw (several cute colors!!)

bicycle repair kit

alexander hamilton bag

over-the-door storage

monogrammed blanket scarf

Keep on window shopping by visiting all of my Small-Budget Crushes. This post contains affiliate links!! xoxoxo

MomAdvice 2019 Book Club Selections

Monday, November 26th, 2018

Check out the 2019 MomAdvice Book Club Selections and join our FREE book club today!

Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter for more great reads for your stack!

Can you believe that I am picking our 2019 MomAdvice Book Club selections this week? This year has flown by and I have SO enjoyed sharing books and discussions with you.

If one of your goals this year is to join a book club or read more, I’d love to introduce you to our FREE book club you can join. This is  an AMAZING Virtual Book Club group filled with almost 2,000 (!!!) readers where we all share in a monthly discussion together.

The best part?

There is no commitment to participate in chats (although I love it when you do!). This is a place to get opinions about books, find out what everyone is reading, and start chats of your own about books you would just love to talk about.

I wanted to get this list up a little early so you have loads of time to make requests to your local library or read ahead on any of these selections.

How Does the MomAdvice Facebook Book Club Work?

Scroll through the book list below to see what we have in store for you in 2019.  The discussion is held on the last Friday and an Event invite is sent out at the beginning of the month to join a virtual chat. Once you RSVP, Facebook does its thing and sends out reminders to you.

Discussion questions are posted throughout the event and you are able to hop on at anytime during the day (or when you finish that book) to answer the questions at a time that is convenient for you.

How fun is that?

Feel free to join us and let your friends know about the group too.

The more the merrier!

How Much Does it Cost?


Well, What Do YOU Get Out Of It?

I want this to be fun and free for you. I post the daily Kindle book deals and I share our book club picks though through something called an affiliate link. Basically, this link gives me a few pennies on each of your purchases that help pay for the web hosting on our website.

The web hosting currently costs me about $200 monthly and your purchases from this group basically help to offset that cost for our family at no cost to you.

I promise that I try to only share the good stuff and good books.

I know I can’t appeal to everyone’s taste, but I am really trying!! 

I also would like to think I made a lot of great bookworm friends too in this group. It’s been fun to have a place to obsess about books, to share what we are reading each week, and just hang out with other people who just get you.

I have tried to cultivate a positive environment and the group is filled with those kinds of drama-free people that you want to have filling your Facebook feed.

Escape the political nastiness and join a feel good kind of space.

I’m thrilled to share these 12 selections with you from a pool of talented writers. As always, I try to keep a good mix of fiction, nonfiction, YA, memoirs, and mysteries.

MomAdvice 2019 Book Club Selections

January- A Ladder to the Sky

February- My Sister the Serial Killer

March- The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

April- Little

May- The Friend

June- The Editor

July- In Sight of Stars

August- There Will Be No Miracles Here

September- No One Can Pronounce My Name

October- The Lying Woods

November- The Library Book

December- Virgil Wander

Join in on the MomAdvice Book Club HERE! 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.

Over 350 Kindle Books On Sale Today

Monday, November 26th, 2018

Let’s talk about some of my favorite deals today for Cyber Monday 2018! As a minimalist, I found Black Friday to be underwhelming this year, but I did find a few favorites for today.

If you love to read, this is a pretty incredible deal day on Amazon with over 350 (!!!) books on sale today. I’m sharing my recommendations below, but if you just want to get right to the list, head on over here.

Also, if you have been waiting for a good deal on the Paperwhite, today is also the day to score that with a discounted price of $79.99. Get this cover and you can even read while stirring a pot on the stove (hahaha!)

Amazon Kindle Book Deals (my favorites offered today!)

The Great Alone, $2.99

The Heart’s Invisible Furies, $2.99 (my favorite book of 2017!!)

Vox, $1.99

The One, $1.99

The Child Finder, $1.99

The Ministry of Ordinary Places, $2.99

The Winter Soldier, $4.99

Need to Know, $1.99

Children of Blood & Bone, $2.99

Far from the Tree, $1.99

Every Breath, $3.99

The Three Body Problem, $3.99

Leah on the Offbeat, $1.99

Another Woman’s Husband, $2.99

Not Our Kind, $1.99

American Gods, $2.99

I’m Judging You, $2.99

Artemis, $2.99

The Truth We Bury, $1.99 (or FREE with your Prime!)

The Handmaid’s Tale, $2.99 (or FREE with your Prime!)

Outlander, $1.99

It Was Me All Along, $1.99

Love & Ruin, $2.99

Hillbilly Elegy, $3.99

Murder on the Orient Express, $2.99

The Dutch Wife, $2.99

Tailspin, $4.99

The Snow Bride, $1.99

Vicious, $2.99

The Lost City of the Monkey God, $2.99

Racing to the Finish, $3.99

1984, $2.99 (or FREE with your Prime)

Money: Master the Game, $3.99

Other Deals To Get Excited About!

Take $5 off  when you spend $20 on books (this is a rare deal- take advantage of it!)

TODAY ONLY- take an additional 15% off sitewide at Target

Get $10 credit when you order a Prime Book Box for Kids.

Hunter Boots– under $100 today!!

LOFT– 50% off sitewide plus free shipping

Ann Taylor– 50% off sitewide plus free shipping

Old Navy– 40% off sitewide

Outerwear- HUGE discounts (good time to snag winter coats for next year!!)

Instant Pots– $79.99 plus free shipping (this is my favorite kitchen appliance)

Get a FREE 5-Piece Mrs. Meyer’s Gift Set with your first order (divide this set up for hostess gifts for the holidays!!)

Take an ADDITIONAL 20% off magazine subscriptions today with coupon code BDMCYBER20!! (these make great gifts that give all year-long or fabulous stocking stuffers)

Snowed in too? Redbox has $.16 rentals today!!!

16¢ DVD Rentals– Use coupon code DVD16

16¢ Blu-rays Rentals– Use coupon code BLURAY16

16¢ Game Rentals– Use coupon code GAME16

November Happy List

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

Have you been missing the 3 little things list each week? Just so you know, this feature didn’t go away…it just moved over to my newsletters each week.

I know your time is precious and our inbox can get overloaded with a lot of newsletter junk. What I want you to know though is that I’m REALLY proud of the newsletters I craft each week and I include loads of shows, podcasts, books, and items we are loving in our home each week.

Sign up is super quick over here. I will even send you some free printables that you can put to work in organizing your home for the holidays.

Today I wanted to share what you might have missed this past month in one big giant happy list!!

My November Happy List


Baking Smells Without the Baking

Anybody else love the smell of freshly baked goods, but don’t really have the time to bake them? I moved my diffuser into my office and discovered this bakery oils set that I can diffuse while tackling things on my working to-do list.

With smells like gingerbread, coffee cake, and pumpkin pie, with my faux fireplace blazing, it is feeling deliciously cozy down in my office.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

I was a big fan of the show, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and excited to see that Netflix was revisiting the Sabrina theme.

In case you didn’t know, this is not the same story of Sabrina really at all. Archie Comics released an Archie Horror series in 2014 that was about Sabrina in the 1960’s with much darker themes.

In fact, it is so dark that they are being sued right now because some of their elements are feeling just a tad too authentic.

This show is not one I would watch with my kids, but has been a good escape in the evenings with my hubby.

He does not enjoy horror AT ALL, but he has been loving this series as much as me as Sabrina figures out if she is a good witch or a bad witch…or if she even wants to be a witch at all.

Since this series is done by the same folks who produce Riverdale, I have enjoyed finding the easter eggs they have hidden for their Riverdale fans within this season. You may also recognize the lead actress from her Mad Men days! Wasn’t she the best in that show?

Spanx Faux Leather Leggings

The one thing on my fall clothing bucket list that I REALLY wanted were these faux leather leggings that I kept hearing people rave about.

Although I’m not arguing that these make you look and feel slimmer, they were more appealing to me because of their compression aspect and how much better my whole body feels with any type of compression on it. In fact, a lot of people with my condition wear compression garments under their regular clothes for pain.

I mean, how can my husband argue with me that these are a sound investment when it helps with pain management. #iplayedthatcard

In all seriousness, I could not love these more and how much they dress up an outfit while still being, technically, black leggings.

They have a little shine to them, but not the ’80’s aerobic shine. Just a faux leather-y glimmer that makes these feel a step above the rest.

Paired with a couple of well-chosen items I got in my Stitch Fix box, I feel like these will be my holiday go-to.

Warm Matcha Drinks

I am not a breakfast eater, but I do love a warm drink in the morning. I have been combining 1 teaspoon matcha powder with a 1.5 cups of almond milk, a tablespoon of this, and a scoop of vanilla protein powder.

I just blend it all in a pot on my stove with my trusty handheld blender  for my morning pick-me-up.

Haven’t tried matcha before?

Here is why it’s such a great coffee alternative!

Salt Fat Acid Heat

Looking for a cooking show that will also get your wanderlust heart going?

I had no idea how enraptured I would be with this beautiful 4-part Netflix series and how much it would make me long to explore more dishes and places in the world.

Based on Samin Nosrat’s best-selling book, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is the essential guide to the basic elements of good cooking and the hostess couldn’t be more charming. Check out the trailer and indulge in this one with your family.

Socks For Cold People

I love ballet flats and booties, but, dang, those tiny baby socks offer no warmth at all. When fall hits, I switch to these because they do a better job of insulating my legs from the Midwest cold. Even better? They don’t slip off, thanks to their perfectly designed length.

Adam Sandler’s Netflix Special

When I was in college, Adam Sandler came to Purdue and my hubby (then boyfriend) and I got the opportunity to catch his show. I have loved this man ever since.

When it was my night to pick our show for the evening (do you take turns at your house too?), I selected Adam’s new special and laughed and laughed and laughed until I cried.

He has all new original music throughout and, at 51 (!!!),  a whole new perspective on life as a father and husband.

I didn’t expect to be so choked up at the end though, but he brought out all the tears with a touching tribute to Chris Farley and to his fans. I wasn’t the only one raving– critics are digging it too!

For those that have been turned off by so much political banter with comedians, you will find that Adam doesn’t dive into that once and just brings the laughs we need right now.

My Fall Stitch Fix Box

I had about given up on Stitch Fix because I wasn’t really loving the quality of the items that were being shipped and I didn’t think any of the items felt like they were worth the prices they were charging…well, until this month.

Here is what I have learned, you MUST be specific in the notes section to your stylist because that is what they will really use to select your box.  I made specific requests this time like, “I would like a black romper that can be worn for many seasons and is made for a petite pear-shaped girl. I would like a wool car coat preferably in a neutral or blush tone.”

Making specific requests made an enormous difference in my box and I’m having a hard time selecting items this go-round.

If you haven’t tried it before, here is $25 to spend to have a stylist select a box of pretties for your fall wardrobe. Keep in mind, they style for men, women, and kiddos now. I am thinking of giving my hubby a box for Christmas this year.

Winning Those GoodReads Giveaways

Did you know that GoodReads offers giveaways to their readers ALL THE TIME. I won the latest releases from Diane Chamberlain, Jodi Picoult, M.O. Walsh, & Taylor Jenkins Reid this past month.

Although I am able to get a lot of books for free from online review companies, I then am required to give a review back to keep receiving them.

Giveaways are a no pressure way to secure copies of books I am wanting without the pressure of getting reviews up right away.

Check the GoodReads giveaways page for current giveaways and always follow your favorite author profiles so you are notified when they share a giveaway with their readers. I am REALLY excited to be diving into this book this week.

By the way, you can follow what I’m reading over here, if you are interested!

A User’s Guide to Cheating Death

Greenwashing is such a big thing right now and I can’t tell you how many products and services I have been told to buy since I got sick that I had no clue if they really had any merit or value.

If you love Alton Brown and his food science lessons, you are going to have a big ol’ crush on Timothy Caulfield as he debunks a lot of the fake science that we are being sold in the wellness industry.

It is sure to get a few people pissed off, but we are being sold a lot of snake oil these days.  I learned so much!

RBG Documentary

I am sure it goes without saying that this has been a rough time for many when it comes to politics. I try to be a distraction from that and share my opinions around the dinner table, but I was looking for a little salve for my soul after the recent headline news.

For our family night, we indulged in the new Hulu RBG documentary.

If you are unfamiliar with the original Notorious, it is time to get acquainted with this insanely gifted woman.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has developed a legacy and icon status unlike any other judicial figure. And for good reason. This documentary follows the life, challenges, and accomplishments of everyone’s favorite 85 year old.

It is super family-appropriate and gave us a lot to chat about.

Like, um, how lazy I felt after I watched it.

This woman is IMPRESSIVE.

Burning the candle at BOTH ends and still hitting the gym like a boss.

Don’t have Hulu? No worries! Check out Hulu for free, on me for your first month. And while you have it, enjoy The Handmaid’s Tale while you have your freebie activated. It’s AH-MAZING!

Water Bottle Brush Set

In an effort to cut down on waste, I have really been pushing that the kids take reusable water bottles to school. With the stainless interior, I worried about scraping up these while washing them and didn’t feel like shaking a little water with soap in them was really getting them clean enough.

Enter this amazing gadget and our water bottles have never been cleaner.

Narrow enough to get to the bottom easily and a perfect addition to getting those wine glasses clean too without scratching the glass up. It’s a win-win for ALL the hydration in our house and under $5.

Knock-Off Halo Top Ice Cream

Did you know that ALDI is offering grocery delivery now?


I am the happiest girl in the world right now.

Although, there are some fees (obviously) with delivery, I have more time to think/plan/add/remove items so that I feel like we may actually be doing MUCH better budget-wise. You can check and see if they are delivering in your area over here.

And I have one more reason to REALLY love Aldi.

They launched a low fat ice cream line that rivals my favorite Halo Top ice cream. It is SO good and it is a mere, $3.59 a pint. You can’t beat that for a treat that feels indulgent. One spoon please!

An Addictive Podcast

I have discovered that I can enjoy podcasts while I am doing some of my busy work on the website and consumed all seven episodes of Uncover: Escaping NXIVM in a single day. If you are an HSP (highly sensitive person), I wouldn’t recommend this one, but if you can handle it…this is a REALLY fascinating one.

Cults have always fascinated me and, perhaps, that is why I was drawn to this podcast. You may have read that Smallville actress Allison Mack was arrested on sex trafficking charges as a result of being a member of this group. The original pitched intention of the group was to gather like-minded people to help them attain personal growth and fulfillment through expensive courses they sold.

Yeah, another pyramid scheme.

Yet, behind the scenes, their leader Keith Raniere was crafting courses that sought to belittle and humiliate the women in the group as much as possible. It is quite astounding the ways they are belittled especially since these women are incredibly intelligent and gifted leaders.

The series is hosted by Joshua Bloc, who happened to have a childhood friend who had been a member of this group for twelve years. She gives listeners an inside look into what attracted her to the group and how quickly it turned.

The psychological games of cults are always fascinating and one can see how these groups prey and breakdown these women.

Tunes for Autumn

I have finally got my house all decorated for fall. I’m pretty sure that I have more bins for fall than I do for Christmas. It is, really, my favorite season. While I decorated, I listened to this autumn playlist I made.

I just wanted to share it with you today because it is one of my favorites.

I happen to know that it pairs quite well with a good cup of coffee.

My New Cricut Obsession

I finally took the plunge and bought a Cricut. After looking at all the options, the original Cricut Explore Air and the newest version only had a difference in how fast it could crank out my project.

People, if it is cheaper, I will wait all day for it to crank out!

I ended up getting this one with the bundle package and that has been the best way to try out all the different materials and get to know my machine for a fraction of the price of their newer version.

It turns out that everyone in my family is moving (except us) so I have been cranking out some housewarming gifts this week. The first thing I attempted to try was making painted signs. As soon as I posted a picture of my first sign, I got SO many responses from people that they 1) never took it out of its box or 2) were too intimidated to try painting signs.

You know I was feeling REALLY smug, but also had NO CLUE that this wasn’t where people normally started. It took me two days to make this sign, there may have been cursing, but I was SO proud. I decided to pay for the access to their graphics and these two signs were made and then personalized from these files.

Once I get the hang of it, I promise to share a tutorial with you.

I spent way too many hours reading tutorials and watching YouTube to count before I actually put the paint on the signs. It has a learning curve, for sure, but I think it is going to be worth it for holiday gifts.

A Show to Fill the Parenthood Void

A girlfriend had texted me  to share about a show on Netflix she thought we would enjoy. It’s called Atypical and I have been absolutely loving it.

This story follows Sam, a boy who is on the autism spectrum, and his quest for love and dating that ends up putting the entire family on their own individual quests of self-discovery.

With a child on the spectrum, I have loved seeing how these parents work with their child and help guide him through his teen years.

I also identify with the mother who is figuring out her new place when she is not needed as much at home.

This show has heart and humor, while showing the challenges and beauty in raising a child on the spectrum.

It did receive a lot of criticism on its first season for not being as informed as it should have been with the creation of Sam’s character. It seems they tried very hard to right some of those wrongs as they approached their second season.

It isn’t perfect, but it has been a really great escape.

Bringing the Outdoors In

I posted a picture on IG and someone was like, “Where did you find a grownup papasan chair?” and I had to share that I, actually, had dragged my outdoor chair in to read.

This giant chair makes me SO happy and has been a great way to take pressure off some of my old lady joints. I only mention this because I noticed they dropped the prices considerably and this cushion makes it look like it is an indoor chair rather than for its intended outdoor use.

When I was a kid, I would have died and gone to heaven to have one of these cool chairs in my room. My sister was the same way and rushed out to get one for her new place and we both have deemed it the perfect reading chair.

My only trouble?

Staying awake in it!

Pajama Jeans

I discovered these pajama jeans and I am in HEAVEN. The online reviews were so stellar that I had to check them out and these are my new favorite go-to pant. I bought the light and dark washes and have worn them every day since I got them.

They come in a variety of colors too although, personally, I would stick with the black and jean rinses because the others seemed to highlight my figure flaws. Although I would normally wear a small, I sized up one since they are cotton and they fit me well without being too tight.

I can’t rave about the comfort of these enough so if you need a little break from your leggings this winter, these look like real jeans, but are as glorious as maternity pants and your favorite pajamas. Do get them!
And if you need to suck it up one night, these are almost as comfortable and oh-so-figure flattering.

Our personal happiness this month was two kids really rocking their report cards, working really hard on a campaign for the holidays that I’m super proud of, joining Junior League (and meeting incredible friends), my hubby discovering the South Bend tennis table club, and finally seeing someone who I’m FINALLY making some medical progress with.

High fives all around this month for that stuff.

I hope my month of happy brings a month of happy to you too! If this post doesn’t convince you my newsletter is fun, I’ve got nothing. Sign up over here to get this fun weekly in your inbox.

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

Amy’s Notebook 11.15.18

Thursday, November 15th, 2018


Love the notebook? Sign up for my free weekly newsletter with more incredible articles!!

Oh, I am loving all this holiday styling inspiration.

I loved these smart tips for getting ahead of the holiday stress this year.

Looking for a fun holiday album? I can’t stop listening to this one.

I do love a good lipstick and thought this piece was just beautiful.

This was your top purchase this week. #luckyducks

How to extend the life of your Christmas wreaths and garlands.


How cute is this donut wall display for the holidays?

I’m reading this book and absolutely loving it.

This is such a beautiful beauty uniform interview and so inspiring.


This Rudolph cake is an adorable addition to the holiday table.

I’m loving this trend of mixing generations in groups. We all can learn so much from each other.

I love this encouragement to do what inspired you when you were a girl.

What happens if you quit drinking for one year. Really good insight in this one!


I love this idea for throwing a gift wrapping party with friends.

I always loving seeing how people embrace a minimal wardrobe.

15 Instant Pot recipes for Thanksgiving. Bookmarking!

12 simple frugal challenges you could try this week.

Adding this delicious chicken dish to our menu planner this week.

Do you struggle with patience too? Here are some helpful tips!

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 in this post- thank you! xoxo

Make-Ahead & Freeze Your Thanksgiving Meal

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Make-Ahead & Freeze Your Thanksgiving Meal from

These make-ahead holiday dishes are my favorites & I love that I can have our holiday feast prepped in our freezer. These recipes, decorating ideas, and hostess gift ideas are the perfect things you need in your arsenal for a perfect day!

It’s that time of year again where I show you how incredibly awesome it is to prepare your Thanksgiving meal ahead and pack it away in your freezer for the big upcoming feast.

Over the years I have tried so many recipes to share with you and today I want to show you my foolproof technique meal for creating a delicious meal right from your freezer and to your table that will taste like you cooked it that very day.

Before we dive into all the recipes, here are a few items I recommend having in your arsenal to make your meal preparation day easier and to actually create room for all of these delicious dishes.

Make-Ahead & Freeze Your Thanksgiving Meal from

Ninja Cooker For Preparation & Buffet

This item is definitely a splurge item, but has paid for itself over and over again for me. The Ninja Cooker has two functions on it (Stovetop & Slow Cooker) that allow you to brown meat inside of it and then switch to slow cooking. It also has a Buffet setting that is perfect for using on Thanksgiving Day to keep your dishes warm.

I can’t recommend this gadget enough and consider it to be a smart holiday investment.

Did I mention it is nonstick?


Ziploc Freezer Bags For Food Storage for the Big Day

I love, love, love Ziploc Freezer Bags for their stackability for storing our food for the big day.

I use these to package up my stuffing and casseroles to help me pack more in my freezer without taking up so much space like a disposable pan would.

Make sure you reach for the freezer bags and not the regular ones though to prevent freezer burn.

When in doubt if something will hold, always double bag!

Chinet Bakeware For An Elegant Freezer Meal Spread

Since I freeze my feast for Thanksgiving Day, I love the ease of stacking (and clean-up) when it comes to disposable pans.

Chinet makes ones that are nonstick and I have found them to be a bit more durable for transporting from oven to table.

Since they are made of paper, the first time I used them I was a little scared how my food would turn out, but I have had great success with these and find them to be an affordable alternative to foil pans for Thanksgiving Day.

If you want to keep things looking nice, these casserole baskets (less than $10 each) are a clever trick I use to disguise a disposable pan.

Make-Ahead & Freeze Your Thanksgiving Meal from

Pie Cutters For Glamming Up Store-Bought Pies

If baking pies isn’t your thing, consider buying a little pie dough and adding a personalized touch with an inexpensive set of decorative pie cutters.

You simply roll out the pre-packaged dough, cut out a piece with the pie cutter and press to make a detailed impression on the top.

Transfer these delicate details to a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake as directed.

Add a glossy shine with a little egg or sprinkle sugar & cinnamon on top to add a little flavor.

Between this and a glammed up whip cream or quick topping, your store-bought pies will be a fabulous addition to the dinner table.

Carry-Out Dishes For Packing Leftovers

Sharing the leftovers is not only a nice gesture for your guests, but it makes sure that all the dishes get eaten.

I use my takeout pho containers when packaging food up for myself, but these Fitpacker containers would be lovely to share and let your guests take home food or to prepare a few lunches/dinners for your own family for the week so you can really put your feet up!

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Dishes To Try

Cheddar Apple Pie Dip from


Bacon Ranch Cheeseball– Need I say more?

Spunky Spinach Dip– A delicious combination of spinach, salsa, & cream cheese. Serve with carrots and tortilla chips for dipping

Cheddar Apple Pie Dip– Prepare until the point of baking. Freeze for the big day.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip– AKA Crack Dip, as it is so lovingly referred to in our house.

Slow Cooker Chex Mix

Gluten-Free Meatball Sub Appetizer

Gluten-Free Meatballs– Bake & prepare sauce. Freeze separately for the big day. Warm up on the stove top and then skewer with baby mozzarella balls.

Sugar & Spice Nut Mix– Would also make a great hostess gift if you aren’t making the meal!

Cranberry Spread– Tangy and a delicious dip to pair with crackers.

Make-Ahead Green Bean Casserole


Green Bean Casserole– Panko with homemade mushroom cream sauce- it’s divine!

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes– I always double batch this recipe because these are the best mashed potatoes you will ever eat.

Brandied Orange & Cranberry Sauce– This is the best cranberry sauce I have ever eaten- truly!

Buttery Bread Machine Rolls– This foolproof recipe makes storing a bread machine worth it! Be sure to read this article for lots of bread machine tips!

Make-Ahead Gravy

Make-Ahead Gravy Recipe– Finding out I could make this early last year saved me so much time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin Cranberry Cornbread– Bake & freeze for the big day!

Make-Ahead Apple, Sausage, & Sage Sourdough Stuffing

Gluten-Free Bacon, Apple, & Cornbread Stuffing follow these directions for freezing!!

Slow Cooker Turkey for Thanksgiving Turkey

This turkey isn’t a make-ahead recipe BUT did you know you can cook it in your slow cooker?? Follow these instructions to save some space in your oven for the big day!

Not having a lot of guests? Give this easy method a spin. If you only like white meat, you can double or triple one of these for about the same price (and save the hassle of carving- boom!)

Not up for cooking the turkey? Check out this easy option you can have delivered to your doorstep from Amazon Prime!!

Fancy Up Store-Bought Pies


Store-Bought Pie Tricks– Wow, your guests with a few easy details

Homemade Pumpkin Pie

All-Butter Pie Crust– Prepare and freeze discs of dough

Cranberry Crunch Pie Topping

Cranberry Crunch Pie Topping– Store wet and dry ingredients separately for the big day

Spiced Whipped Cream– Make-ahead and store in the fridge for the big day

No-Bake Peppermint Cheesecakes

No-Bake Peppermint Cheesecakes– A promise of all the good treats to come this holiday season

Not cooking? Here are a few of my favorite hostess gifts

DIY Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles

DIY Slow Cooker Pumpkin Candles

Mini Pie Hostess Favor

Mini Pie Gifts

diy trophy toppers (free gift tag printables)

Microwave Peanut Brittle

Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle

diy vanilla chai tea mix

succulent terrariums (even a sweet small one in a thrifted tea cup!)

Sugar & Spice Nuts Mix

Sugar & Spice Nuts

Knitted Sweater Cozies

Knitted Sweater Coffee Cozies

Wine Hats & Scarves

Wine Hats & Scarves

Neon Paint Dipped Spoon Set

Paint-Dipped Spoon Sets

Free Thanksgiving Printable

Thanksgiving Decor, Crafts & Entertaining

Woodland Thanksgiving Table + Free Printables

DIY Thanksgiving Centerpiece

DIY Table Runner for All Seasons

Decorating & Food Advice for the Perfect Friendsgiving

Friendsgiving Feast

Host a Friendsgiving Feast

How to Entertain the Kids on Thanksgiving Day

How to Set the Perfect Thanksgiving Table

DIY Chalkboard Food Label Frames

I hope these ideas inspire you! If you are looking for a great turkey recipe, be sure to check out this Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast or just use this simple technique for a small crowd to prepare a boneless breast! Happy holidays, friends! xo

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

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Small-Budget Crushes 11.14.18

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

Time to get our holiday shopping on!! xoxo

cross stitch coaster sets (cute stocking stuffer!!)

wubbly fleece pullover

headphones stand

the bike deconstructed book

holiday dress (loads of hues!!)

solid metallic throws (holy price drop!!!)

razor scooter (under $20!!)

mock-neck swing dress, several colors (use coupon code STYLE for 40% off!!)

red bowed heels

the giving plate (recipes transferred from someone you love in their handwriting)

plush to sherpa blanket

kid’s calligraphy starter kit

hallmark channel kind of day mug

spellbinding stories socks

monogrammed playing card sets

dinosaurs jigsaw puzzle

super mario tee

cashmere crewnecks (in a billion hues)

city tote bags

gentleman’s survival kit (great stocking stuffer!)

floral monogram cross stitch kit (choose your own letter!)

child apron

eyeglasses holder

cookie cutter set

backpack with leather detailing

Keep on window shopping by visiting all of my Small-Budget Crushes. This post contains affiliate links!! xoxoxo

6 More Ways to Date Your Husband in the Fall

Monday, November 12th, 2018

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

I met my husband in the fall. We went on our first date later that same fall. And, years later, our first daughter was born in the fall. So when the weather begins to cool down and pumpkin spice everything shows up basically everywhere, I find myself feeling a little more lovey-dovey than usual.

Not that I don’t love him in the spring. Not that we don’t try to plan date nights in the winter. But there’s just something special about the fall!

Unless we’re incredibly intentional about it, though, our autumn date nights look exactly the same as every other date night in any other season. Because unless we are careful to be creative and plan ahead, my husband and I will always default to dinner at a Mexican restaurant chain and a movie.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that! We love tacos! And movies about superheroes or spies!

We do.

And sometimes “the usual” is exactly what we need to give us space to connect and remember how much fun we can have together when we set aside the day-to-day for a while.

But other times?

We need to get out of a rut, and we need to try something different. So while we’re still in the midst of this romantic season, here are a few date night ideas I’ve come up with.

Perhaps you’ll find a new way to date your husband this fall, too!

6 More Ways to Date Your Husband in the Fall


Go back to school

Don’t worry, I’m not talking about pop quizzes or English papers! No, I’m suggesting you take a class with your husband. It’s always fun to learn something new or brush up on rusty skills — and doing it together will give you something fresh to talk about and a brand-new bond as you find hidden skills or even fail miserably together! Often, you can find classes open to the community through your local college or community college. Or just search online for classes. Depending on your interests (and level of adventure!), you could take a class in cooking, self defense, dance, woodworking, wine tasting, or even massage.

Think outside the box

Don’t tell my husband, but one thing I’m giving him for Christmas is a list of adventurous, totally new-to-us date ideas for next year. I’m hoping to get gift cards or make reservations to go along with the list, so we’ll actually have to stick to outside-the-box dates! I’m planning a taking a barbecue tour around our city, finally trying our skills in an escape room, going rock climbing, visiting a shooting range, and putting a lock on a “lovers’ bridge” in a nearby town. What new, exciting, just plain different activities does your town offer?


Try new restaurants

I’ve mentioned our tendency to eat at the same chain restaurant every time we go out. We know what to expect; we know the wait won’t be long. But we also know we won’t be surprised. So I’ve done a little research and looked up lists of the best local restaurants in our community. Some are new, some are just new to us. Some offer the type of food we always eat; some will stretch our palates a bit!


I actually made the list a couple years ago and we’re very slowly trying a new place every few months. And the last time we did? We had so much to talk about! Did we like it? What was our favorite part? What was different than we expected? Do we want to go back? I can’t wait to try another new restaurant this fall.

Ditch the kids

I know, I know, you love your kids. They’re wonderful! Your heart, walking around in the world. I know! Mine, too. However, sometimes it’s fun to do kid stuff…without the kids. Every time my husband and I take our girls to a fall festival, parade, pumpkin patch, or corn maze, I find myself thinking how lovely it would be if we could come back the next day, just the two of us. So this fall, I’m going to plan ahead and make sure we have a family day AND a date day at the fun farm.

Change up the time of your date

Dating your husband doesn’t have to happen in the evening. And since fall seems to be one of the busiest seasons our families have, a night-time date might not even be possible. Why not meet for pumpkin donuts and coffee one morning? Or sneak outside for hot chocolate under the stars once the kids are in bed? You could also go to lunch at a food truck park, a chili contest, or your favorite picnic bench. The point is that you don’t have to wait for a free Friday night. Fit in date nights whenever you can, even if it’s at 8:00 in the morning!

Get physical

Hey now, not like that! I’m talking about doing something active together, like taking a hike, going for a bike ride, or participating in a fundraising walk. Take advantage of the gorgeous fall weather, and train for a 5K together (or just take your time walking through a flea market or art show). And who knows…this fall date might shake things up in more way than one!


Need more ideas? Don’t miss 5 Ways to Date Your Husband This Fall! What’s your favorite fall date night plan?

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Amy’s Notebook 11.08.18

Thursday, November 8th, 2018


Love the notebook? Sign up for my free weekly newsletter with more incredible articles!!

I think I need to commit to one of these seasonal retreats.

One month inside L.A.’s cult of betterness.

I do love a good cup of tea. These additions to your tea cup sound delicious!

I don’t like this.

An easy way to eliminate drama from your life.

Here are three exercises to try to reduce your anxiety.


This chai-spiced pecan granola looks like a delicious fall addition to our yogurt bowls.

8 short books to help you reach your reading goals.

Reading and adoring this incredible memoir. Add it to your stack!

How buying into fast fashion affects our brains.

This sounds like a Thanksgiving cocktail a girl could get behind.

These printable desk calendars would make such a great inexpensive gift.

Love these tips for helping your Christmas tree look more pro.

I love that these were your favorite purchase this week.


A sweetly simple evergreen wreath to make for a corner in your home.

The first affordable one that I’ve seen. What a great price!

Here are some wonderful tips for caring for your sweaters.

How to help your body adjust to the cold weather.

17 Thanksgiving games for the whole family to play.

How successful women start their days.


I’m digging this pom-pom tree topper.

I finally stopped doing this. If you are on the hunt for a replacement, I LOVE this one.

Looking for a new journaling technique? I loved this idea.

Some great tips for raising grateful children– I always love the comments section too.

This is wonderful news for this budget-friendly makeup brand.

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 in this post- thank you! xoxo

October 2018 Must-Reads

Monday, November 5th, 2018

Check out this incredible list of 7 great books to add to your book stack. From historical fiction to dystopian, this list has you covered for your next night in!

Did we blink and head right into November? I apologize I’m a bit a late with this month’s reviews, but excited to share 7 incredible books I read in October with you.

I am hoping there are a few on this list that you haven’t tackled yet and these might be added to your book stacks this month.

I am happily chugging away at my GoodReads Challenge of reading 100 books this year. According to GoodReads, I’m just one book off pace, which I am hoping I will fix this month.

How are you guys doing on your goals?

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 almost 1,900 bookworms in this group now. Each month we chat about a book, but the real beauty is getting to talk 24/7 about books with people who love them as much as you.

announced our selections (here is what we will be reading in November) and you can find them pinned at the top of the group page.

Need another challenge to push you out of your reading comfort zone?

Be sure to download this year’s Reading Challenge Worksheet.

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s selections:

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

This month’s special:

New members will get a free book with code FRIENDSGIVING.

How it works: Members will pay $14.99 when they sign up for a subscription that will renew monthly.

They’ll also receive a credit for a free book at the time of this transaction (redeemable at any time). Then they’ll be renewed at the end of their second month (unless they cancel).

Here are 7 must-read books I tackled in October:

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

The first book I read this month was, The Great Believers, after hearing that it would be a great selection for, A Little Life fans.  As you guys know, I am a huge fan of this book and even scored this amazing tee from a friend after we talked about our undying love for these characters.

Shortlisted for the National Book Award, this is a beautiful story of friendship during the height of the AIDS epidemic and offers similar themes of beautiful male friendships during the thick of a crisis in the gay community.

There are two intertwining stories being told in this story. Yale Tishman is a development director for an art gallery in Chicago and, as his career begins to really flourish, his friends are dying around him, one by one.

Meanwhile, thirty years later, Yale’s younger sister is in Paris desperately trying to reconnect with her daughter who has joined a cult. While staying in Paris with an old friend, she also is forced to deal with what AIDS has robbed of her and how it affected her relationship with her estranged daughter.

While many of us can never fully understand what the AIDS epidemic looked like during this time in history, particularly for gay men, Makkai does an incredible job bringing humanity and compassion to these devastating stories. The friendships that are weaved are beautiful and believable. I loved these characters and the gorgeous writing that Makkai brings to the table. She is definitely deserving of the National Book Award and I am so glad I got to read it this month.

If you are looking for something to fill your, A Little Life void, I highly recommend this touching read. It would be an excellent book for discussion for book clubs too!

5 out of 5 Stars

Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

I can tell you now that, Fruit of the Drunken Tree, will be on my favorite reads of 2018. I was so swept away by the vivid storytelling and the poetic descriptive language in this book.

The author uses elements of her own life story (a discovery I made after reading the author’s notes at the end) to create this incredible coming-of-age story from two markedly different Columbian girls, growing up during the time that Pablo Escobar has captured the nation’s attention.

Chula & Cassandra are sisters that grow up in a more protected gated community, although they are still surrounded my unsafe elements outside of their neighborhood walls. They are well-cared for, adored by their mother, and given everything they need.

While Chula & Cassandra are carefree and curious, Petrona (who is around their same age) is folding under the burden of being the breadwinner for her family. She ends up finding a job, working as a live-in maid for Chula & Cassandra’s mother.  Living in their home is a true blessing since she has grown up in the guerrilla-occupied slums.

When Petrona meets her first love though, she finds herself in the middle of a horrible situation that threatens her safety, the safety of her family, and the safety of the family she is working for. This relationship really sets the plot in motion as you worry for each of these girls and their safety.

I am not sure why I’m not hearing more about this novel because it is a powerful and devastating read. While I have read a lot of historical fiction, this is an era and country that I have not read a lot about so it made the story even more impactful for me.

If you love a good coming-of-age story, I have a feeling you will really connect with this incredible read.

5 out of 5 Stars

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

Our story opens with eighty-four-year-old Florence who has fallen and is awaiting help in her room at the assisted living facility, where she resides.  She has kept many secrets that have been buried, but with her dementia, she is unable to always recall the exact details or why she feels a certain way about things.

Thankfully, her lifelong best friend, Elsie has retained her memory and is able to help Florence fill in those gaps where Florence needs it.

When a new resident arrives, Flo immediately becomes distressed, even though she can’t remember why. She is convinced that this man is there to punish her and has been doing things that make Flo look unstable. Flo is already on thin ice with the nursing home director and she can’t afford to look unfit because she will be shipped off to a facility for people who cannot care for themselves anymore.

Flo makes it her mission to try to remember just why this man’s presence is causing her so much distress and Elsie will be with her every step of the way.

Cannon does an incredible job showing the true struggle of dementia and  the beauty in having someone by our side who is able to fill in the gaps on our life.

Flo is an unreliable narrator and that unreliability makes the plot more interesting, especially as they go on a wild adventure to figure out more about this mystery man.

Be sure to have a tissue handy, this story is a beautiful one and worthy of being Longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction this year.  It’s a gentle reminder of how we all would love to leave the world with our dignity intact.

Fans of, A Man Called Ove, are sure to love this sweet read.

4 out of 5 Stars

A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua

Debut novelists are my favorite and Vanessa Hua comes into the writing arena with, A River of Stars, like a seasoned pro.

It goes without saying, but if Celeste Ng puts her stamp of approval on it, I will be adding that book to my book stacks.

I have loved reading so many books about immigrants this year and Hua tells a gorgeous story of Scarlett Chen, a scared girl who has been taken far from her home in China.

Scarlett worked in a factory where she met and fell in love with the owner, Boss Yeung. When Boss discovers she is pregnant with his first son, he sends her away to America where she can be cared for by the top doctors and kept on the right diet and regime to insure he will have the healthy son he has always wanted.

Oh, and he needs her to leave too because he is already married with three daughters of his own.

Unfortunately, this place that Boss has sent her to is nothing like it had been described in the brochures. The conditions are horrible, the caretaker is evil, and Scarlett would do anything to escape.

In the end, that is exactly what she does, with a surprise stowaway in the back of the stolen van she hijacked.

What Scarlett doesn’t know is that Boss needs her baby in his life to fight a battle of his own. He will stop at nothing to find Scarlett and his child, because it means life or death for him. His unrelenting hunt for her terrifies Scarlett because she knows she will be punished for running away.

Scarlett will stop at nothing to keep them both safe and Boss will stop at nothing to make sure they are found.

This book is just INCREDIBLE and, again, you will see this one on my top ten list, FOR SURE. Hua’s writing has the rich qualities of Lisa See where she is able to see a story through with these characters from beginning to end.

She also told a story that I just did not want to end.

I really hope there is a sequel in the works because it is that good.

This novel is gripping and perfectly timed for understanding more of what it is like to be an immigrant. Hua dives deep in exploring the definition of home, family, and belonging.

Add this to your stack ASAP!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Hunger by Alma Katsu

I always love to read a spooky book for October and selected, The Hunger, for our October Book Club selection. This novel has been listed as one of NPR’s Top 100 Horror Novels and was endorsed heartily by Stephen King.

Many of us are familiar with The Donner Party and their infamous trek across the trails that ended in death.

Katsu decides to use this story as the framework for exploring this story deeper and adding a supernatural twist to it.

What if these people were actually being pursued by something that inevitably caused the death and destruction of these families? How would this change the story?

Katsu didn’t just put together a supernatural telling of this story, but she dived deep into reading as much as she could get her hands on to fill out this story with facts about this journey. These elements really help round out the story, along with some fictionalized motives and characters that make the story more interesting.

If you love a good dystopian theme, I have a feeling you will enjoy, The Hunger. Fans of darker suspense novels, like Bird Box, will really enjoy this story!

4 out of 5 Stars

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

A coming-of-age story combined with a murder mystery, Where the Crawdads Sing, has the framework for a book that anyone would love.

Kya Clark is a little girl who has found herself abandoned by her family and will do anything to keep anyone from finding out, knowing she would be taken from her home. Resourcefully, Kya finds ways to secure food and clothing, with help from a shop owner who takes mercy on her. Thanks to her love of nature, Kya never feels entirely abandoned because the animals and world around her make her feel like she is surrounded by friends.

As she grows up, her beauty and the mystery around her intrigues two local boys, that both make a way into her heart.

Years later though, one of those boys is found dead and the locals immediately suspect that Kya is the suspect. Known as the, “Marsh Girl,” no one in town likes or trusts her. How could they possibly trust her though because they don’t even know her?

The story goes back and forth through time as Kya goes from a frightened young girl to a more confident author to becoming the main suspect in a murder investigation. This story begs the question, can we ever escape our past?

If you are looking for an audiobook to enjoy this month, this one is BEAUTIFULLY narrated and should be savored. The writing is exquisite, the story is heartbreaking, and the characters are so well-developed that they lift off the pages.

Each year I get asked what book someone could confidently share for the holidays. I would put this book at the top of the list this year because it is one that I could hand to my mom, grandmother, or sister and know that they would be just as swept away as me. Buy this one in multiples for all the people you want to share a book with this year.

This book has had a lot of buzz already, thanks to being picked up by the Hello Sunshine book club, but I just had to add my stamp of approval too!  This is a buzz book that REALLY delivers and I think you will love it too.

5 out of 5 Stars

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I won a copy of this book in a GoodReads giveaway. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Taylor Jenkins Reid is one of my favorite authors and I was so psyched when I won a copy of her next novel, Daisy Jones & the Six (releasing March 5th, available for pre-order). I have to say, timing this book with catching, A Star is Born, this week really could not have been more perfect. Reid has crafted a fictional band story set in the 1970’s that was so beautifully rendered that you can’t believe it is even fiction.

Daisy is the girl that every girl wants to be. She is stunning and has the ability to capture any man’s attention, sneaking out to clubs when she is just a kid, and capturing the heart of anyone her heart desires. She finds she has a knack for singing, a knack that people spend years trying to train their voices to achieve.

The Six is lead by Billy Dunne and is also getting noticed in the music world. Billy is an addict who has just discovered that he is going to be a father and he feels he needs to sow his wild oats before settling down.

When Billy & Daisy cross paths, a producer realizes that putting these two voices together could be just the ticket to make them all successful.

Told in interview format, the reader uncovers the story of Daisy Jones & the Six from their humble beginnings to their explosive endings. It’s the stuff of legends, as all good rock and roll stories are.

As a reader, don’t be surprised if you don’t find yourself thinking of these people as real people. Reid is such a wildly talented writer that it should come as no surprise that this book is just as wildy fabulous as she is.

Be sure to pre-order and read this one before you see it!

5 out of 5 Stars

Read With Me This Year:

January 2018 Must-Reads

February 2018 Must-Reads

March 2018 Must-Reads

April 2018 Must-Reads

May 2018 Must-Reads

June 2018 Must-Reads

July 2018 Must-Reads

August 2018 Must-Reads

September 2018 Must-Reads

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.