Archive for February, 2019

Amy’s Notebook 02.27.19

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019


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This chicken pesto cobb salad is going on my menu planner.

How to host a dinner party in a small space. I always need this advice!

The consumer advocate that helps us buy fewer and smarter things.

Have the talk. I just had one with my two kids this week- so important!

I love seeing other people’s morning routines.

We are going to be traveling next month so I am loving this gathering of hotel hacks.

This is what I’m reading this week (and loving!)

All the feelings.


Bookmarking these tips for making great sticky rice in your pressure cooker.

Here are a few metabolism myths that I thought were helpful to read.

What to say when you don’t know what to say. Such great advice for polite conversation.

I loved this guide on how to hang art in your home.

How to stop overthinking everything.

Still struggling? This might help.

9 outfits you can wear to dress up your leggings.


I love these modern house bookends made from dollar store supplies. So cute!

This was your top purchase this week. I can see that you guys are finding some amazing things in my newsletter happy lists!

Looking for a new energy bite recipe? These sure look good!!

I love these tips on avoiding the comparison trap. I am learning the mute button is a powerful tool!

We’re finally listening. What took us so long?

When kids realize their whole life is already online.

How fancy water bottles became a 21st-century status symbol.

Social media and detox tea.

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

Small-Budget Crushes 02.22.19

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

So many fun finds this week! Happy Friday! xo

lace trim top

initial rings

llama basket (ADORABLE!)

knotted tote bag (take extra 20% off all sale items)

block heel sandals (half off!!)

she can she will tee

shirt dress (several colors & patterns)

faux shearling throws (cannot believe the price drop on these!!!!)

knot slide sandals (so many cute colors!)

solar system necklace

faux suede jacket (so many colors!!)

black woven mules

wireless record player (so flipping cool!)

milah pouch

woven mules

the city giant coloring poster

pivot, pivot, pivot

tbr is mt. everest mug

bed tray

paper flower wreath

knot-front shirt dress

zodiac necklace

phone vase

water me plant marker

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


Amy’s Notebook 02.20.19

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019


I love seeing how people use small spaces and this living room design is so clever. That bench is just everything!

What happens when you stop caring what other people think about you. Loved this advice!

I love this fresh spin on avocado toast.

Working on your digital habits? I found this interview to be really inspiring.

A few hacks on saving money on keeping your home warm. Be sure to read the comments!

I just finished this book today and loved it.

What the school photographer said to make your child look like that. I’m dead. SO FUNNY.

Wow, I had no idea that this show still used cue cards.

This was your favorite purchase this week. I soooo want one!


Oh, I do love tots! I want to try these baked cauliflower tots for a healthy alternative.

I love seeing different strategies for closet organization. I always organize by color, but this method has me rethinking that.

The best frozen pizzas ranked. I was surprised by #1!

Let children get bored again.

Well, this was adorable.

Planning to watch the Oscars? Print these out for your whole crew.

Did you know you could use this handy appliance for this! It’s one of my favorite kitchen gadgets.


Sign me up for this at-home recipe for garlic butter steak bites & frites. I think this would be great for a date night dinner option.

What a failed best friendship taught me about myself. Such a good read!

It’s time for me to reorder my favorite moisturizer. I swear by this product for surviving the drying effects of winter.

Well, this is adorable and ambitious!

Still trying to master your curling wand? This is a great tutorial on how to achieve different types of waves with your wand.

When was the last time you cleaned your beauty tools? I really need to do this!

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

Small-Budget Crushes 02.15.19

Friday, February 15th, 2019

Somewhere between sweater and shopping for swimsuits season. I see you, Spring Breakers!

flutter-sleeve top (so many fun colors!)

pom-pom wrap scarf

stair riser stickers

swiss dot dress

plant lady pots

backless loafers

open-front heavyweight sweater (several cute colors)

the one where i’m irish tee

typography art

shapes statement earrings

leopard bow tie slides

thermal poncho hoodie

ruth baby ginsburg bibs

pleated pull-on skirt

travel wrap (several hues)

wood tracing alphabet board

textured straw hat

one piece swimsuit (what a steal!)

moroccan pouf

ties swimsuit

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

Amy’s Notebook 02.14.19

Thursday, February 14th, 2019


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

I am bookmarking this sugar cookie frosting recipe because it sounds like such a smart combo for piping.

I love tips for creating better skincare routines and found this advice to be stellar.

What we don’t talk about when we talk about serial killers.

I love that this was your favorite purchase this week. I really want one too!

This is an adorable date night idea! I think I’m going to pitch this one to my hubby.

The new midlife crisis. Wow, so much to think about!

On the flip side, 9 decisions that lead to a life I loved. Such a beautiful piece.

Do you struggle with fluctuating weight too? This piece really spoke to me this week.

Speaking of that topic, let’s be frank about the fear-mongering words we use when it comes to diet.

I can admit that I have poor impulse control and this was a great read on reigning some of that in.


4 ways to make your sweaters last longer.

How adorable is this?

Enough of the seriousness, this should give you a good giggle.

I finished this book this morning and really enjoyed it.

How Instagram is changing our living spaces.

And another piece that I found compelling about how we use other people’s property in our shots (and how that feels as a homeowner).

I’ve got plans with this book in my earbuds this week. I’ve heard such incredible things.


Who would have ever guessed that these were pantry cupboards? I’m so inspired!

Random acts of kindness for every month of the year.

Here are the most stylish shoe trends for 2019.

Trying to keep up with everyone who is running in the 2020 elections? Here is a full list and what their platforms are.

Have you heard of the 2-4 rule? I just might make this part of my routine too!

Ways to survive and thrive in the long winter months.

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


How to Find the Best Valentine’s Gifts for Your Kids

Monday, February 11th, 2019

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

Do you give your kids gifts for Valentine’s Day? I know for some families, it is a gift-giving occasion; others not so much.

As I’m writing this, somewhere between Christmas and the month of love, I’m surprised to find myself leaning toward the no-gifts-necessary camp. Since I adore giving (and, obviously, getting) presents, especially to my kids, I’m blaming my feelings on the fact that in my house, our family of four has three birthdays in the few weeks surrounding Christmas.

I’m saying it’s a lot of gifting.

And that maybe my four-year-old asked me just this morning, “But on my real birthday [as opposed to the day of her birthday party a week before], you’re going to give me presents, right? I’ll get presents?”


Yes, of course she will. Because tired or not, I love giving presents. You might even say — and you would be right if you did — gifts are my love language. (Words of affirmation are also my love language, so feel free to include a long, detailed note in the card with my present.)

If you aren’t familiar with love languages, it’s a tool created by Gary Chapman and explained in his book, The Five Love Languages.

Chapman proposes that most of us express and receive love best in one of five ways: gifts, words of affirmation, acts of service, touch, and quality time. (To learn more about this or to take a quiz to figure out your love language, click here.)

Since Valentine’s Day is a holiday all about love, it does make sense to make plans with love languages in mind. And, whether you are a virtual Cupid who adores everything red and pink or a cynic who rolls her eyes at “that holiday the card companies made up,” considering love languages when making your Valentine’s Day plans is smart. Because either way, you want your efforts to be worth it!

Right? You want your people to feel loved and for your time and resources to be well spent communicating how much you value them.

How to Find the Best Valentine’s Gifts for Your Kids

If you know your kids’ love language, I’ve got some great, last-minute ideas for you.


This category might seem like the easiest one, but you shouldn’t just grab the fluffiest teddy bear at the gas station on your way home!

Instead, try to remember something they’ve mentioned wanting since Christmas — perhaps something that made you roll your eyes because you don’t need that and we just had Christmas and wait until your birthday! While I definitely use Christmas and Easter as holidays to give some practical gifts, I think it’s fun to give unnecessary, frivolous, fun stuff for Valentine’s Day.

One of my daughters has picked up the habit lately of saying, “My friend has [________]. I love it and I want it!” I’ve tried reminding her that she can admire something without immediately coveting it.

But she’s five, so it’s a hard lesson to learn.

(I’m kidding. This is hard for all of us, isn’t it?!)

Still, if your kids mention things like that, it might be fun to surprise them with their own for Valentine’s Day.

Words of Affirmation

If you have a child who insists on saying, “No, I love you more!” you might have a words kid. Now, I have no scientific data to back this up, but I suspect many words people are like me and, as much as they crave the affirmation, they certainly do not want them said to their face!

Because, hello, awkward!

Instead, write your kids a love letter! If they’re younger — still in the coloring pictures stage of life — draw or color a picture to go with your words. If they’re older, send an email or text. Or make a video of yourself telling them how much and all the reasons why you love them so much.

Whatever medium you use, make it something they can absorb slowly, alone if possible, and keep to re-read or re-watch over and over again.

Acts of Service

My kids love when I help them clean their rooms. But I think they’re a little unusual in that (I remember not wanting my parents to clean my room for fear my favorite books, toys, or — let’s be honest — junk would disappear!). However, since we’ve been working on sharing household work as a family (aka, I’ve been making them do chores), I know their rooms aren’t the only things I could clean as a way to show my love.

I’m pretty sure checking any of their chores off the list around Valentine’s Day would earn me major mom points.

So, depending on which chores your kids detest most or which tasks stress them out, taking something off their plate for the day or the week might be a huge gift to them.

You could also fix their favorite meal, drive them to school if they normally walk, or finally get around to replacing batteries in their toys or hanging frames in their rooms (or whatever to-do has been stuck on your list for months)!


Just give them a hug and kiss, and call it good, right?

Well, maybe not.

For kids who crave physical touch, that’s a great place to start. But what about going a little farther for this occasion? What about…

  • Taking an exercise or dance class together
  • Trying yoga with a video from the library or on YouTube
  • Playing a round of one-on-one basketball on the driveway (or at the gym if it’s too cold)
  • Brushing her hair, massaging his shoulders, or holding a thumb wrestling tournament

Lots of physical activities result in friendly, affectionate touches. So break a sweat or get out of your comfort zone, and show your kiddos just how much affection you have for them. (Or turn on Netflix and snuggle on the couch under your warmest blanket — what one of my girls wants every day, not just on Valentine’s Day!)

Quality Time

Most of these ideas involve spending more and different kinds of time with your children.

But perhaps you want to really go all out and plan a date with your kiddo who needs quality time to feel loved.

You could send an official invitation (via letter in his lunchbox or a Post-It on her mirror) to get started. Then dress up, pick them up at the door, and eat at their favorite restaurant.

If you wanted to do more, you could use your time together to make a bucket list of activities to do together.

Or you could take a list of “get to know you” questions and ask (and answer!) a few of those together.

Or play a board game, look through old photos, or challenge them to a round of that video game they’re always talking about.

Whatever it is you do this Valentine’s Day, have fun! No matter what language you speak or what plans you make, they’ll feel cherished and appreciated by the effort you take and the memories you make together.

Looking for more great parenting ideas? Here are a few of our favorite articles!

teaching your kids the importance of failure

how to handle lying

how to find and write pen pals

diy tween self-confidence kits

How do you plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your kids?

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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January Happy List

Thursday, February 7th, 2019

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 can help your home get back on track after the holidays.

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

My January Happy List

Dedicate A 30-Day Yoga Journey

One fitness routine that I looked forward to getting back to was my yoga practice. I discovered the Yoga by Adriene YouTube channel last year and loved these FREE yoga classes and her fun approach to making yoga something for EVERYONE.

She is doing a 30-day challenge to start out the New Year called, “Dedicate.” Now usually online challenges give you a free week or two and then demand charges. This one is completely free and with no strings attached…except for falling in love with your yoga practice.  In these lessons, she encourages you to practice paying attention, building muscle, cultivating joint stability, improving body function, increasing clarity of mind, stimulating stagnant energy, resolving stress tuning into your natural rhythm relaxing, and just enjoy having fun.

It’s free. All of it. No catch. No expiration date. Go to to read all the details, dedicate and sign up!

Sex & Love Around the World Series

Netflix makes some funny suggestions for us since we are such documentary fanatics and, Sex & Love Around the World popped up as a suggestion in our feed. We decided to give an episode a chance and were blown away by how much we learned from this.

Not like THAT, you guys! Hahaha! Cultures have such different requirements for dating, religion, and societal norms and this series has OPENED MY EYES to understanding the different traditions of different countries. I think the ones that I have really been amazed by have been the documentaires in India & Tokyo.

Amanpour manages to secure some REALLY interesting interviews from some fascinating perspectives that I would not have ever considered. Like, what it would be like to be transgender, for example, and celebrated by your culture YET considered, basically, an untouchable and unable to find employment. It is things like that which have lead to loonnnggg talks, after these episodes end, about what we think countries have done right and what we wish they could do better on.

It’s really good- I promise, I won’t lead you astray on your Netflix time.

I Finally Figured Out My Enneagram Number

I took an enneagram test years ago and it told me that I was a Type 2 (Helper!) which felt soooo right to me, BUT I think that is how I want to be perceived by others. I had a feeling if I sat down to take it again that it would yield better results if I looked at myself without that filtered lens. Sure enough, I am Type 1 ALL THE WAY. Type 1’s have STRONG FEELINGS about EVERYTHING and they usually let you know them. They can be gifted strong leaders, but they also are very nit-picky and have struggles with anger because they can’t ever let their anger out in the world.

When I started to read some of the challenges Type 1’s face, my eyes watered up.

They say if you have an emotional reaction to reading about a personality type, it is probably your type.

That one fit me so well and I’m relieved I don’t have to be a helper anymore.


This book is a HUGE help if you are trying to figure out what type you are. Don’t forget, it’s also really awesome to know the people’s that you are closest with. Learning about my husband and kids was just as important this year and helps me manage expectations and interact with them a little differently.

I Figured Out How to Cover Up My Grays Again

I have always colored my hair at home with a box from the drugstore or auto shipped to me on Prime. I’m hitting that age though where the gray is coming in fast and furious and it had started to change the color of my roots. Who knew 41 was going to be such a game-changer for my hair.  After playing around with several colors (too dark and then too light) I decided to give Madison-Reed a spin (DARN YOU, Instagram Ads!).  You fill out a quick questionnaire and then they send you everything you need to do a professional color job at home. You can set it to ship on auto as often or as little as you need it too.

They send everything you need to make the job a little less messy from barrier creams to a little shower cap to TWO pairs of gloves.

The best part?

They also ship a root touch-up kit in your goodies so you can keep your color looking fresh a little bit longer.

I can’t say enough good things- here’s a coupon to save you $15 if you want to give a free box a spin. I promise, you will love it too!

Trying Out New Habits

As I get older, I have felt more and more in tune with the things that derail me from what I hope to achieve out of life. This year has been about analyzing my bad habits and replacing them with better ones. Working through my issues with my health, exercise schedule, and sleep habits (with a professional)  has helped show me a few things I could be working on.

Three things that I’ve started trying are:

The S.S.S. rule- Never heard of it? It’s because I made it up. It stands for Stop Scrolling after Six. With encouragement from physicians, we all agreed that getting off the scroll-roll would be a good idea a couple of hours before bedtime. The thing is? Two hours before bedtime still leaves me two hours to think about and worry about things. I decided ending it BEFORE our dinner hour is a good idea. Once in awhile, I pop on to drop something in IG Story, but I avoid the scroll. This is helping me A LOT mentally and giving me more time to read too!

The Only Buying Wine for Weekends rule- As much as I love wine, having it THAT accessible has lead to some poor weeknight decisions and bad sleep. We decided that just buying wine on the weekend would be our new rule and it has made our wine feel more special and so fun to pick out. Not everyone needs to do this, but if wine is available, I just have to pour a glass after the kids go to bed. Now that we keep our bar cart empty, it forced me to pick up a nightly tea habit instead. When we get out (which is rare) that also feels like a major treat. I just know how much better I feel when I don’t have an unlimited supply (R.I.P. Box of Wine) and I feel better about my productivity throughout my week.

The Staying Away from Triggers on Social Media rule- We all have those people in life that we loovveee to hate (or just love to hate their viewpoint, amiright?). Although I never participated in a discussion with them, I did go there to find things to be upset about. You know, the friend who never includes you? The friend who talks political in an unkind way? The friend who has never been a friend, but you just have to know what they are doing? We ALL have these people and their feeds can be a rabbit hole to tunnel into and come out feeling bad. Life is just too short to live like that. I highly recommend the Kill Newsfeed extension and to exercise your abilities to mute people that aren’t helping you be your best self. They will never know and you will have happier days ahead.

Putting Yourself Out There is Good Stuff

Maybe it is just me, but I have gotten lazy about getting to know new people and making time for socializing. It means that I can close myself off to new people and new situations.

This year, I decided to put myself out there more and it is has been SO GOOD. From joining our town’s volunteer organization to connect with internet friends, I have broadened my circle in some beautiful ways.

Surprise, surprise, but when you broaden yourself, you have less time to do the trolling on social media you did before. Hahaha!

This month I reached out to Shannan Martin, for example, and asked if we could meet up for lunch. She lives just a couple of towns over, but making time and space has always felt like a challenge to me. We ended up having the most incredible time together and I was so glad that I put that invitation out into the Universe so that I could gab with her. P.S. If you haven’t read her books, add it to your reading list today. She’s a wildly talented writer and a heartfelt follow on Instagram. #bigfan

A Truly Comfortable Bra

I am a petite girl and have a hard time finding bras that don’t have straps that slip or gapping in the front. I ran across this company and noticed that they made a bra without adjustable straps and that offered a more seamless bra experience that looked, quite frankly, comfortable. I settled on the True Body Lift Bra and got it this week in the mail and I, truly, plan to order a few more because it is PERFECT.

I have ongoing issues with my shoulder blades and this offers a bit of comfortable compression in the spots that I normally am layering with tape. It is fitting, supportive, and lightly padded, but lacking the underwires that can poke and cause discomfort throughout the day. They come in a million colors and, according to reviews, do not stretch out over time the way other types of bras like this do. They did send me $15 coupons if I wanted to share them (no pressure) so this might be an affordable way to see if this option is right for you. Here is a $15 off coupon! I am DEFINITELY planning on making this one my new go-to this year.

Neck & Shoulder Relaxer

One thing I had my holiday wish list was this Neck & Shoulder relaxer gadget and I was so excited to get it for my birthday this year (thanks, mom & dad!!). I realize that this looks like the most unglamorous gift, but I plan to use this in lieu of a travel pillow now. This no-frills gadget, simply feels like someone holding your head for you and allows your neck to relax. My husband was baffled why I would ask for this, but he happened to have a sore neck the day it arrived, used it, and then I found myself fighting for my turn to use it.

If you read a lot in bed, you can nestle this on whatever pillow you have and it supports your head while you are reading. I have been using it a lot this week while I spent my evenings in bed catching up on our book club book. I combined this with my flip pillow and feel like my neck has been feeling so much better this week with all the support. More importantly, this will be just the gadget I need when we go on our long trips this year.

Keep in mind, this gadget is not fancy, but it is effective and worth the mere $13 price tag!

All the Fyre Festival Dramaz

Did you know that there were TWO Fyre Festival documentaries that came out this month? I spent an entire afternoon on Sunday watching both of these documentaries and REALLY recommend you do too.

Unfamiliar with the drama? Me too!

Here’s why they are interesting. Two organizers (an entrepreneur & Ja’Rule) put together a music festival on an island and invited attendees to come to this very exclusive very HIGH-END event. Millennials were DOWN for this and they put together some really flashy footage with gorgeous models that made the announcement for them. The thing is? They didn’t actually have anything in place to pull this off- not the infrastructure, not the talent, not the falsely advertised cabana/home spaces, etc… It is an absolute s–t show. So all these people arrive and it is NOT what they thought they were signed up for AT ALL. And even though this is a generation that some people kind of laugh at, as a human being you really sympathize with these people who were sold a really horrifying vacation weekend.

After watching the two, I felt the Netflix Fyre was the more compelling documentary. It really showcased the aftermath and the hardships that were endured by those assisting and the islanders who were involved. Hulu takes a more light-hearted look at it, but it does contain really smart psychological profiling and and actually interviews the guy who was in charge.

Don’t take my word for it, it is a good way to spend an afternoon and it will give you tons to talk about with your spouse!

Here are a few of my favorite captures this month! 

I can’t take credit for this capture, but my hubby snapped this of me at my birthday lunch. We dined over here and it was DIVINE. The lunch was affordable, filling, and well-seasoned. Loved the decor and a perfect place to update your FB headshot- hahaha!

This birthday cake was the sweetest surprise from my girlfriend! Her hubby & I are practically birthday twins so we got these stunning macaron cakes (check out her page of cakes– it’s jaw-dropping!) with beautiful flutes of bubbly to celebrate. We topped the evening off with Swan Lake. It was all the birthday magic a girl could stand! 

I’ve been meal prepping the past couple of weeks and feeling awwwwfulllyyy smug with myself to not be cooking every night. We have been eating quite well and I’ve had a lot more time for good books. I’m hoping to keep that streak up moving into February!

Top Ten Most Visited Articles in January

1. Easy Burlap Wreath Tutorial
2. 3-Ingredient Instant Pot Ribs Recipe
3. How to Organize Board Games
4. How to Make a Blanket Scarf
5. The Best Books of 2018
6. How to Make Quinoa in the Rice Cooker
7. DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat
8. How to Make a Yarn Pom-Pom Wreath
9. How to Cable: Knitted Ear Warmers for Those in Need
10. MomAdvice 2019 Book Club Selections

Top Ten Most Purchased Items in January

1. Shiatsu Back & Neck Massager
2. Cotton Paperless Towels
3. Reusable Produce Bags
4. Hanes Sweat-Free Bras
5. Keysocks
6. Body Lift Bras
7. Neck & Shoulder Relaxer
8. Bathing Beauty One-Piece Swimsuit
9. Old Books Soy Candle
10. Reusable Facial Rounds

Top Ten Books Purchased in January

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows

A River of Stars

The Story of Arthur Truluv

Hey Ladies!!


Meet the Frugalwoods


All You Can Ever Know

Confessions of a Domestic Failure

The Intermission

I hope you enjoyed this month’s round-up of January fun and I look forward to sharing more in February! 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 hereto 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 02.06.19

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019


I’m always craving Indian food so I can’t wait to make this slow cooker chicken tikka masala.

75 motherhood tips from real moms. I was so honored to get to be interviewed for this piece.

Tired of the same old eggs? I can’t wait to try adding these simple additions.

This blew me away– she’s only 12!

I won’t lie, these are some of my favorite tacos and I can’t wait to try this recipe.

I loved reading this interview. I have seen the film three times and it never gets old!

Wow, this piece feels poignant.

This is what I’m reading this week and it is achingly beautiful.

What a fun addition to a wall. I’m inspired!


How to give yourself a flawless at-home manicure.

Bookmarking these Instant Pot tips and hacks.

I finally found the perfect black jumpsuit. It feels like I’m wearing pajamas and is true to size.

A perfect gift for any occasion.

Wow, this pool house was amazing!

Here is where you can stream the current Oscar contenders.

How to look awake and refreshed when you aren’t. Boy, do I need this tutorial- hahaha!

This was your top purchase this month and I don’t blame you one bit. It is my new favorite thing.


How cute are these vinyl additions to your stand mixer?

If people talked to other professionals the way they talk to teachers.

I am going to have to snag some of this cleaner!

I have seen a couple of pieces on this and it still fascinating to me.

Everything you ever wanted to know about buying vintage jeans. I’m intrigued!

I just discovered this page and can’t wait to explore.

How to spend way less time on email every day.

A list of the best television shows to watch as a couple.

What would you tell your younger self about decorating your home? Loved reading these thoughts!

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

Small-Budget Crushes 02.05.19

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

When you are in the depths of winter, but dreaming about spring! xo

welcome until 9

soft cowl pullover (so many colors and HALF PRICE!)

hibernation mug

the knitter print

blush coat (use coupon code SWEET for 20% off!!)

shower wine glass holder

floral and stripes suit (great reviews & you can’t beat that price!!)

out and about crop pants (great to dress up or down)

up to 60% off boden apparel (!!!)

photo storage containers

snow-tipped jacket (several cozy hues)

ruffle hem romper

romper swimsuit

flounce suit

true body lift bra (my new absolute favorite!!)

tv marathons are my cardio (over half off!!)

sweater blazer (this is my favorite piece in my closet & it is 59% off!! several colors)

quilted gym tote



wooden hand earrings

orange toddler swimsuit

custom pet photo necklaces

red circle skirt

game of phones

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

January 2019 Must-Reads

Monday, February 4th, 2019

How are you? I hope that you had a great month of reading in January and, as always, I’m excited to share a few great reads with you this month. I felt like January was a slow reading month for me, mostly because I was sweating my way to my 100 reads in 2018 goal. In case you weren’t around for all the fun last year, be sure to check out my best books of 2018 for some great book ideas for your year ahead.

Looking to step outside of your usual comfort genres? Be sure to print out the 2019 MomAdvice reading challenge worksheet and join our free online book club! You can check out the 2019 MomAdvice Book Club picks over here. You can also friend me on GoodReads for more great book reviews!

Did you know Prime members get a read for free every single month? Grab your FREE book over here. P.S.- One of those freebies is reviewed below if you are having a hard time making your decision this month!

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s selections: 

The Winter Sister by Megan Collins

Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

A Woman is No Man by by Etaf Rum

This month’s special: Using code LOVEISLOVE, new members can get a free book when they join today.

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

Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah

I received an advanced review copy of this novel from the publishing house. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This selection is currently available for FREE for Prime members so definitely scoop it up! This is a heartwarming debut about how a child teaches two strangers to find love and trust again.

The story opens immediately with a child showing up at a woman’s temporary home where she is residing while studying research on nesting birds . Dirty and sickly looking, she says that she is an alien who has taken over the body of a dead girl and has been granted access to Earth to witness five miracles before returning to her country.

Have I lost you yet?

I almost put the book down, but Vanderah’s eloquent writing pulled me in to find out where this girl really was from and Joanna reluctantly lets her stay so so she can figure out more about her story. She recruits her reclusive neighbor, Gabriel, to help her solve this mystery. What they don’t realize about one another though is that they are both very broken in some way and the child, Ursa, really does have the power to bring out the miracles and can mend these two together through each other.

Of course, the girl was never theirs, but they become swept away in the magic and set aside the nagging responsibility of returning Ursa to her real family. These consequences loom while the reader wishes for a miracle themselves that will pull them all together.

The cover compares this to The Snow Child, which I can see in this story’s themes, but it doesn’t have that storybook quality that I think you can find in that story. That said, it delivers beautifully! I doubt you will be able to put it down!

4 out of 5 Stars

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

A Ladder to the Sky was our MomAdvice Book Club selection for January and, boy, did this book get people talking. I run a small local group and an online group and had several people tell me that they hadn’t read a book in years and joined in for this one and could not put it down.  I loved this novel by Boyne so much that I count it among my top 5 books I’ve ever loved, so I had big hopes for his next novel.

Boyne writes, perhaps, the most unlikable character ever and we all know how difficult that can make reading when you are cringing in scene after scene. I think it is a real tribute to Boyne’s clever writing that he can craft someone so darn unlikable that you just have to keep reading. This novel achieves this by telling this story through different narrators that can, at times, be confusing and keep the reader on their toes.

Maurice has always wanted to be a writer, but he just can’t come up with a good story. He will do all he can though to achieve his fame and fortune by stealing the stories of others, by any means necessary, and calling them his own.

Maurice has zero remorse for any of his actions and the reader gets to witness how he manipulates and coerces stories out of others and receives the fame he has always been dreaming of.

Adding to the shifting viewpoints, we can also see Maurice age and lose his charm over others. It is when he gets older that the truth really begins to unfold to a student who wants to write a piece on him for college. No longer feeling the need to tell any lies anymore, he reveals his truth in all its glory, leading to some really smart plot twists that lean heavily into the realms of good dark satire.

I loved this story for its unique viewpoint and also found it fascinating that Boyne did craft Maurice from someone he encountered in his own life. You just knew that Maurice couldn’t have been completely fabricated, but I love the lengths Boyne takes to make him so darn despicable.

5 out of 5 Stars

Maid by Stephanie Land

If you are looking for an incredible memoir to add to your stack, I can’t recommend Maid enough.  After reading through the reviews of this one on Amazon, I am surprised to see that so many people gave it a low rating and it seems to sway into either the 1-star realm or the 5-star realm.

I think anytime there is a book though that challenges us to examine what it would be like to be among the working poor, we either lean into the world of sympathy or the world of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and quit whining.”

*Even typing that made me cringe.*

Land’s story isn’t pretty. She is a smart girl who falls in love with the wrong guy and ends up pregnant. Rather than going to college and pursuing her dream as a writer, Stephanie finds herself in an impossible situation where she can never get ahead financially and now must find a way to feed herself and her child while keep a roof over their heads.

Land takes a job working for a cleaning service as a maid and really spells out what it is like to hold this position and not feel seen by others.

Bigger problems arise as she needs a vehicle to get back and forth, childcare that won’t put her in the negative, and to also do what she can to keep her abusive partner happy.

Have you ever had to drink coffee all day to stave off your own hunger so you can feed your child? Have you ever lived in a home that was infested with mold that continuously made it difficult for your child to breathe? Have you ever had to stay with someone who hurt you just a little longer so you wouldn’t have to worry about having a home?

Most of us have not.

Land tells her story through her own journal entries of this time and it is heart wrenching. The story does hit a lag towards the last portion, but simply because being part of the working poor is a never ending saga of just trying to get ahead. It is a cycle that few can break out of and we see how broken our system is from cashing in government-funded food credit to the lack of support in the healthcare system.

I am so happy that her story was published and it made me think about my own feelings about these issues and how I could do better in my own interactions and kindness towards others in our community. It would make for a fantastic book club discussion if you are on the hunt for a pick!

5 out of 5 Stars

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao

This book was absolutely brutal and has scarred my heart a lot as I have thought about this brave debut novel.

Poornima & Savitha are poor and ambitious girls. After Poornima’s mother dies, she is left to care for her siblings until her father can find another suitable match to raise them. Savitha ends up coming to work for their family and she and Poornima fall into a fast and beautiful friendship. Poornima finds herself inspired by Savitha’s bravery and independence and the two begin to imagine a life that is beyond arranged marriages.

Unfortunately, something terrible happens to Savitha that suddenly drives her away, leaving behind a heartbroken Poornima. Poornima will stop at nothing to find her friend and her journey leads her on one heartbreaking turn after another, living in the underbelly of India’s darkest corners.

This book is not for the highly sensitive reader as it explores human trafficking in the most brutal of ways. Rao is unflinching in her storyline and doesn’t give her reader a single moment of glossed over happiness within this heartbreaking world of sex trafficking.

I can read just about anything without reservations, but I had to step away from this novel at points and even had nightmares regarding this storyline.

That said, my belief system is that we should know and talk about this stuff, perhaps, not to the brutal lengths this story went, but it lead me to really read more into human trafficking and try to understand this issue more. This novel gave me a deeper understanding of how easy it is to get into and how impossible it is to get out.

My main complaint with this novel wasn’t the horrific story, but the unsatisfying ending that Rao chose to end the story with.  As a reader, I felt owed a simple two sentence conclusion that would have brought me more peace of mind with these characters. I am still stumped why Rao left this story so open ended unless it was to lead to a sequel.

Overall, I’m glad I read it and I will be thinking about Poornima & Savitha for a long time.

4 out of 5 Stars

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny

After reading such heavy books this month, I needed a lighthearted escape and that is just what I found in, Standard Deviation

This book is a book that, to me, didn’t have a real plotline that was going anywhere, but instead just a fun relatable adventure that made reading it a laugh-out-loud treat.

Thankfully, that is just what I was craving!

Graham divorced his first wife to marry his girlfriend, Audra. Audra is a hilarious chatty busybody that keeps Graham on his toes and seems to know what is happening around town at all times. For Graham, a private introvert, this can be quite exhausting. Audra throws him into situations where he is forced to be social with the oddest group of characters, like the strange members of his son’s origami club,  leading to one awkward moment to the next.

When Audra decides it is time to be friends with his ex-wife, Elspeth, she throws Graham’s world into a tailspin as he begins to acknowledge the contrasts between these two women and wonder why he let Elspeth go. It is in these moments when he must face his own choices and if he made the right ones.

I laughed out loud through soooo much of this book and found Audra to be wildly relatable (for the record, my husband found Graham to be- hahaha!). I really enjoyed this story, even if the plot felt a bit thin at times.

4 out of 5 Stars

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Fantasy is, admittedly, not my favorite genre, but I had heard so many good things about Spinning Silver that I decided to snag this one with some of my book-of-the-month credit.  Named a best book of the year by many outlets, I had big hopes and dreams that this one was going to make a fantasy lover out of me.

Sad to say, but no, that didn’t happen.

In this story, Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her dad has been far too kind to those he has loaned money to and Miryem decides to step up on his behalf. Due to her ability to bring in the riches, she soon becomes known as the girl that spins silver into gold.

When her boasting leads to the attention of the king of the Staryk- grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh- she unwittingly spins a web that draws in a pasant girl whose father plans to wed her to the tsar.

But the Tsar isn’t who he seems and the secret he has threatens to consume them all. Torn between these choices, Miryem, along with two unlikely allies, embark on a quest to save the world.

Initially, I loved the story, but I found the story was very choppy and the switching of narrators pulled in so many different voices that I was confused whose point of view I was hearing the story from. At times, you even have two different narrators in single sections that lead to my deeper confusion. At over 460 pages, I was ready for the story to wrap up about halfway through and then slogged through the second half of this novel.

This girl is not a quitter.

I realize I am in the minority, but after talking with a couple of my fantasy loving friends, I heard that I should have read Uprooted instead because it was a better book from this author. I will keep that advice in my pocket for now, but am proud that I can say I at least attempted a love for fantasy this month. This one just didn’t grab me because of the changing narration and drawn out storyline.

If you have better fantasy recommendations for me, I am all ears!

3 out of 5 Stars

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Can you believe I read TWO fantasy books in a month? Well, I did and I’m happy to say that I could not put down The Hazel Wood. If you are looking for an excellent audiobook, the narration on this one absolutely BLEW ME AWAY. I really don’t think I would have enjoyed this half as much in book format so be sure to add this one to your earbuds for a really wonderful escape this month.

Seventeen-year-old Alice & her mother have always lived their life on the road and always seem to be just one step ahead of the bad luck that seems to follow them. When Alice’s grandmother, a reclusive author of cult-classic dark fairytales, dies alone in her Hazel Wood estate, Alice realizes just how bad her luck really can get. Her mother is stolen from her by someone from the Hinterland, a cruel supernatural world where Alice’s grandmother’s stories are set. The only message her mother has left behind is that she is to stay away from the Hazel Wood.

It is then that she is forced to hit the road to try to find this magical Hazel Wood (who really listens to their mother, especially when she has been kidnapped?)  and she has the perfect guide…a classmate named Ellery Finch who has been a superfan of her grandmother’s work for years. Alice quickly begins to realize though that Ellery may have his own agendas for wanting to find Hazel Wood and they just might not be noble ones.

This is a rolicking adventure and so much fun to create a world around the dark fairytales. Since I listened to this one, it felt like someone reading ME a fairytale and I was completely swept away in this fun adventure story of Alice and Ellery. I loved absolutely every minute of this one!

4 out of 5 Stars

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.

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