Archive for May, 2020

Don’t Miss Today’s Book Steals

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

If you are planning to load your Kindle up for summer, today’s the day to do it! 

Every day I post the best of the best deals and today’s was exceptional enough to mention it on the blog. 

Just a couple of notes on today’s list:

  1. Make sure to activate your ebook coupon before shopping.  Activate the $5 off of $20 coupons that are linked at the top of Tuesday’s list. Once you spend $20, you will receive a $5 credit that you can apply towards more books!
  2. Every month, Prime members are entitled to a FREE Kindle First read. The freebies available will expire at the end of the month so be sure to get your free book this week. Not sure how that works? I wrote a great guide on how to check out Kindle library books and more on understanding your free Prime offers.
  3. Join my free book club and be notified daily of any Kindle steals. I spend a couple hours, each morning, curating the best-of-the-best so you always have a great book on your Kindle. 

Head HERE to Shop Today’s List!

Happy Reading!

Amy’s Notebook 05.15.20

Friday, May 15th, 2020

one pot chocolate sheet cake source- head here for the recipe

This one bowl chocolate sheet cake looks like a great end-of-school-year celebration cake.

How to care for your mind right now. Loved the first tip a ton!

One little cooking trick for canned beans. I’m going to have to try that! 

Ina is queen, even in quarantine. I couldn’t agree more.

I finished this book, on this rainy morning, and it was perfection.

If you are unemployed, Headspace is offering a free one year subscription to help you.

We just ate this again last night and my husband declared this, “the most addictive,” thing I’ve made.

12 new Netflix shows to binge on this week

Not sure what stage you might be in, but these tips on how to avoid burnout in the middle of a pandemic are gold.

9 indie films to consume this weekend. That Booksellers movie caught my eye!

How cute is this reading nook?

I can’t wait to dig into this memoir this month.

These are some incredibly genius bathroom cleaning hacks. (yup, I’ve reached that level of quarantine)

Good news! My favorite quarantine pants are back in stock.

How to do eyebrow shaping and tinting at home

What it’s like living alone during quarantine.

As a planner, I felt this deeply.

How to teach children to stay six feet apart.

How wildly amazing is this craft project?

What pediatricians want parents to know about the COVID-related illness that’s making the news.

Have a great weekend!

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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!

Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup Header

This pressure cooker homemade chicken noodle soup recipe is the comfort food recipe you need right now. Learn how to make this made-from-scratch recipe starting with a budget-friendly whole chicken.

Over the past couple of years, I have been working on perfecting my chicken noodle soup recipe in my Instant Pot.

I realize that May might seem like an odd month to post a chicken noodle soup recipe, but I have to say that this is the comfort food dish you need during this chaotic time in history.

After a particularly difficult day, on social media, I decided that I needed to socially distance myself from Facebook to protect my mental health and limit my news consumption.

I was feeling a little blue about all of this and decided that a bowl of soup was just what I needed to practice some nourishing self-care.

If you are on the struggle bus too, I’d love to point you to this beautiful image that I found today that I have shared with my own family and friends.

It reminded me that certain things are in my control (like limiting my time on social media, setting good boundaries, implementing healthy routines) and certain things are out of my control right now (like other people’s social distancing, other people’s social media, other people’s motives, and how other people feel).

Isn’t that such a good reminder today?

One way we can practice self-care is by nourishing our body. 

Just in case you missed it, I have linked to the two images that my physician shared with me on how we can build our own immunity right now.

Some of it may seem pretty basic, but I think many of us are out of sorts and need a little nudge in the right direction.

It also, just so happens,  that this chicken noodle soup is the perfect remedy for treating yourself well today.

Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

A Quick Note About Instant Pot Accessories I Recommend For Your Soups

I’m not big on telling you to buy stuff right now so if I share anything, I really stand behind it.

First, make sure that you have a good sealing ring on your Instant Pot.

Over time, the seal can become stretched out and take longer to come to pressure because it isn’t fitting as tightly.

This is the replacement set I bought and I love that you can assign a color to your sweet dishes and a color to your savory ones.

The other recommendation is for you to purchase a glass lid for your pot.

It is really hard to serve a soup supper without a lid that every family member can easily take on and off.

You will also love having this lid when you are doing anything with that sauté function or when you are back to entertaining again.

The last accessory is one that will save you time spent on dishes.

This plastic storage lid is essential for a big pot of soup or stew. 

Once you are done cooking, just pop this lid on and store it in your fridge.

I’m still campaigning for an additional insert, over here, so I can still use my pressure cooker when I’m storing dishes with this lid, but for now I just try to rotate our menu accordingly.

Let me show you how I make this homemade soup that’s made with incredible speed thanks to the pressure cooking process.

Once you try this great recipe, I have a feeling that it will be your new soup go-to when you are sick or feeling run down.

Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

Pressure Cooking Chicken For Chicken Noodle Soup

This recipe starts with a whole chicken that I simmer in two cups of chicken stock.

You will seal your Instant Pot and cook the chicken on HIGH for 25 minutes.

While it cooks, chop three medium-sized carrots (or the equivalent in baby carrots) and three stalks of celery. I also chop parsley (the flat-leaf Italian parsley is my favorite) and set that aside while your chicken cooks.

If you are gluten-free, you can prepare your favorite gluten-free noodles (this noodle company is my favorite for a great soup noodle that has the right taste and consistency) on the stove top.

For everyone else, prepare your favorite egg noodles on the stovetop.

Want to switch up your soup game? Try ramen or rice noodles instead! 

I always store my noodles separate from my broth because it helps the noodles not get mushy or take the integrity away from that delicious broth.

Cooked Chicken for Pressure Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

Once the chicken is done cooking, no need to wait for a natural release, just CAREFULLY release the steam after it beeps.

Remove the chicken and set aside.

Skim the fat, if you would like, and remove any bones or skins that might have fallen off your bird.

Cooking Vegetables on High Pressure For Chicken Noodle Soup

To the hot broth, add your chopped celery and carrots.

Put the lid back on (make sure that your pressure cooker seal is back in place if it has come off) and then cook these veggies on HIGH pressure for 2 minutes.

Diced Chicken for Pressure cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

While these cook, dice up your chicken (or do shredded chicken if that’s how you prefer it!).

If you like only white meat in your chicken noodle soup, you can set those chicken thighs and wings aside for another meal (I usually make chicken salad sandwiches or fancy paninis with pesto & provolone out of them).

Once the pressure cooker beeps, quickly release the pressure again.

Switch to the low sauté setting to keep your soup broth warm.

At this point, I add the rest of the box of chicken stock (you should have two cups left) and then two more additional boxes.

Squeeze in a lemon and add your chopped parsley. 

Season and taste, season and taste, season and taste.

Now that the noodles are cooked, you can add the noodles to each individual bowl.

Pour your warmed delicious chicken noodle soup base over the top and sprinkle with a little more fresh parsley.

While that seems like a lot of steps, this is quick and easy. I’ve made this so many times that, I swear, I could make this in my sleep.

Over time, I am sure you will adapt this to your own personal tastes and preference. 

Your bowl, definitely, doesn’t need to be identical to mine.

I can usually have a huge pot of soup that we can enjoy all week, ready in less than an hour of preparation and cook time.

gluten-free chicken noodle soup don’t have a slow cooker? try this recipe with a rotisserie chicken instead!

Don’t have an Instant Pot?

No worries!

You can try this quick stovetop chicken noodle soup made with vegetables cooked in olive oil (to add a deeper flavor) and a grocery store rotisserie chicken.

It has been such a joy to hear from so many of you that you are making my recipes in your kitchens right now. In some weird way, it makes me feel so much closer to each of you to know that you think of my site when caring for your family.

For now, consider this recipe the virtual hug that I am giving each of you today. I can’t wait to hear what you think of this week’s recipe!

Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
Recipe Type: Main Dish
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12 servings
All the slow cooked flavor, made in under an hour with your pressure cooker. This Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup is the recipe needed for anything that ails you. This can be made gluten-free with gluten-free noodles.
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pound organic chicken
  • 3 (32-ounce) box low-sodium chicken broth (4 cups)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice (from one lemon)
  • 8 ounces extra-wide dried egg noodles (should be half a package)
  1. Place your chicken inside your pressure cooker. Generously season with salt and pepper. Add two cups of chicken stock for the chicken to cook in.
  2. Lock on the lid and make sure your pressure cooker valve is set to seal. Cook on HIGH pressure for 25 minutes.
  3. While the chicken cooks, dice your carrots and celery in ½” thick rounds and chop your parsley. Set aside.
  4. On your stovetop, prepare your noodles. Do not overcook (undercooked is better so they don’t get mushy). After they have cooked, drain and set aside.
  5. When the cook time is up, quick release (QR) the valve.
  6. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and set aside.
  7. Carefully, add the celery and carrots to your pressure cooker. Make sure your pressure valve is back in place. Lock on the lid again and cook on HIGH pressure for 2 minutes.
  8. While the vegetables cook, dice or shred your chicken.
  9. When the cook time is up, again, quick release (QR) the valve. Add the rest of the box of chicken stock (you should have two cups left) and then two additional boxes of chicken stock. Squeeze a lemon into the broth and add fresh chopped parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Switch to medium or low saute and warm up the finished broth.
  10. To each bowl, add noodles, chicken soup, and fresh parsley.
  11. Follow my advice in the post for storage. Leftover soup, without the noodles, can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or frozen for several months.


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Looking for more great pressure cooker recipes? Here are a few other MomAdvice favorites!

The Best Instant Pot Risotto Step-by-Step from this instant pot risotto recipe is a momadvice reader favorite. it is as easy as making a box of mac & cheese and requires very little stirring.

3-Ingredient Instant Pot Ribs Recipe from these 3-ingredient instant pot ribs happen to be my most pinned recipe. once you try this method, you’ll never make them any other way again.

Best Instant Pot Wings from missing your favorite restaurant wings? these instant pot chicken wings are the affordable recipe you need for BBQ at home.

Pressure Cooker Italian Beef Roast from my favorite sunday roast can be prepared in the pressure cooker. this saucy roast, that can be piled on top of mashed potatoes or pasta.

vegetarian? try this instant pot indian vegetable rice for a big bowl of veggie comfort food.

this pulled pork is my instant pot summer go-to recipe. shredded on top of sweet potatoes is an unexpected gluten-free twist.

Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Meal Prep From prep shredded chicken for your entire week with this easy beginner recipe.

Happy pressure cooking, friends!

Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Shawarma Sheet Pan Meal

Monday, May 11th, 2020

Chicken Shawarma Sheet Pan Meal Header


Put boneless skinless chicken thighs to work with this oven roasted shawarma recipe. Marinated baked chicken is the perfect pairing with pita bread and fresh veggies for an easy weeknight meal your whole family will love.

As we have settled into our quarantine lifestyle, I’ve been trying to make time and space for trying some new recipes in our house. The recipes that I’ve been picking have become some of my favorite restaurant classics, but replicated in my little home kitchen. Not only does it save a ton of money, it also can be doubled or tripled for a week of lunches.

I have never attempted a chicken shawarma recipe before, but had a craving for this delicious Middle Eastern dish.

What better opportunity to try this recipe out while we are practicing a little social distancing.

whisking the chicken shawarma marinade

Marinating Chicken Shawarma

This is such an easy dish to prepare because it requires simply marinating it in garlic, lemon juice, and spices. Then go about your typical work day and tuck this  in the refrigerator until the dinner hour.

Once you are reading to eat, line a baking sheet with foil and cook the chicken until it is cooked through.

Finish by thinly slicing the chicken pieces and placing them on a large platter.

Chicken Shawarma can be stuffed into a pita or served alongside fresh veggies and hummus, if you are trying to keep your carbs down.

If you haven’t had chicken shawarma before, you are in for a treat. 

Here are a few commonly asked questions about this classic chicken dish.

Chicken Shawarma Sheet Pan Meal Finished

Chicken Shawarma Sheet Pan Meal

What is Chicken Shawarma?

Chicken Shawarma is a garlicky poultry dish that is served on pitas.

Typically, the chicken is marinated in warming spices (cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, cumin, etc..) and then cooked on a rotisserie.

To adapt this recipe for the home cook, we are preparing it on a sheet pan instead.

While the spice combination remains the same, the ease of preparation is infinitely easier since everything can bake in the oven while you chop up your veggie sides.

If you are gluten-free or on a low-carb diet though, you can serve your shawarma on a bed of greens instead.

Another dipping option, that we rely upon, is purchasing mini naan instead.

This size seems perfect for getting just enough fun carbs for our family while keeping to our lower carb lifestyle.

Prepping Chicken Shawarma on a Sheet Pan

Why Does This Dish Use Chicken Thighs Instead of Chicken Breasts?

Chicken breasts are leaner, but they dry out quickly, especially if you plan to reheat this dish.

I do recommend using the boneless skinless chicken thighs instead because they hold up so much better to the marinade and the baking.

Chicken Shawarma Sheet Pan Meal Baked

Can I Add a Sauce to My Chicken Shawarma?

While I feel like this dish stands up on its own, you can definitely add a delicious tahini sauce to drizzle on your shawarma.

In a small bowl, mix together a ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons of tahini, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, ½ a teaspoon of salt, and a minced garlic clove.

You can drizzle this yogurt sauce in your pita or on top of your salad as a light dressing.

Chicken Shawarma Sheet Pan Meal Finished

What Side Dishes Are Good With My Chicken Shawarma?

If you haven’t made your own hummus before, you have to try this easy food processor hummus. I love to serve this with fresh red peppers, cucumbers, and mini naan for a side.

Other great options?

How about this Greek Quinoa Salad or try making these easy bread machine pitas for a fun little quarantine project with the kids.

How Can I Make Vegetarian Shawarma?

If you are looking for a plant-based shawarma, I recommend giving this sheet pan veggie shawarma a spin in your kitchen. It has all the flavors of the chicken shawarma without the meat.

Chicken Shawarma Sheet Pan Meal
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Author: Adapted from New York Times
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8 servings
Put boneless skinless chicken thighs to work with this oven roasted shawarma recipe. Marinated and baked chicken is the perfect pairing with pita bread and fresh veggies for a restaurant-worthy night at home.
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 4 tablespoons fresh parsley
  1. In a large bowl, prepare your marinade for your chicken. Whisk together the juice from the lemons, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, onion powder, turmeric, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes. Add chicken and marinate for at least one hour or up to twelve hours.
  2. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with tin foil. Spray the foil well with cooking spray.
  3. Remove the chicken thighs and place on the prepared sheet pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until the chicken is crisp at the edges and cooked through.
  4. Allow the chicken to rest for ten minutes and then slice into bite sized pieces.
  5. Scatter parsley over the top and serve with fresh veggies, pitas or naan, and white sauce.


As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Looking for more great sheet pan meals? Here are a few other MomAdvice favorites! 10 Minute Fish Tacos Recipe header these ten minute fish tacos couldn’t be easier for a weeknight meal

 these sheet pan ranch chops and veggies are always a hit and get their flavor from a ranch dressing packet.

this balsamic pork loin sheet pan meal is elegant enough to entertain with. stuff leftover pork in slider rolls and top with pesto for a second night of great meals.

this lemon paprika chicken with vegetables is another easy sheet pan dish made with a lemon marinade. it’s a great one to package up for easy work lunches too.

want something fast and healthy for a weeknight meal? I make this 5-ingredient salmon sheet pan meal every week for my family.

Happy cooking, friends!

Chicken Shawarma Sheet Pan Meal

Amy’s Notebook 05.08.20

Friday, May 8th, 2020


I could, definitely go for a big bowl of this pasta tossed in a vegetarian bolognese sauce.

Looking for a meat-based bolognese? This one caught my eye

Did you see that Lululemon is offering free workout classes?

Sign me up for this show– what a fun escape!

“Irrationality loses power in the face of reason.  Fear diminishes in the presence of calm. Conflict eases in the light of compassion.” I don’t know about you, but I’m writing these statements down.

Can’t wait to make this takeout dish at home. Yum!

I’ve got this on my weekend baking agenda.

What does the good life look like now

Everything new on Netflix this week– I’m so excited about a television-filled weekend.

How to talk to your friends and family when they aren’t taking COVID seriously. Stellar advice!

This book kept me up waaayy past my bedtime this week. I bet you won’t be able to put it down!

Next up? I’ll be devouring this one.

A Ramadan like no other– these images are a stunning time capsule.

12 books that will take you on a literary vacation.

Not enough reads for you? Here are 22 other summer reads that are catching my eye.

How to be friendly while wearing a mask

10 micro-habits that will transform your life.

Now THIS is a fun twist on tacos– yum!

Have a great weekend!

Sign up for my newsletter to get more great reads!

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!

April Happy List

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

Hi! How are you? It seems a strange time to share a happy list, but a necessary thing too. April was a challenging month, but I’ve been so thankful for so many ways I can connect with my loved ones and for the many welcome joyful distractions. 

Did you know that I send you a happy list every dang week? It’s a huge labor of love, but your feedback has made it SO worth putting in the effort.

If you would like to receive my happy list newsletter, just sign up over here!

Want to see more posts like these? Check them all out over here!

Before I share MY list, let’s check out YOUR favorite things on MomAdvice!

these kool-aid slushies are getting a lot of love this month

Top Ten Most Visited Articles in April

  1. Homemade Sidewalk Chalk Paint
  2. The Best Kindle Daily Deals Book List
  3. No-Sew Jigsaw Puzzle Mat
  4. How to Make Slushies With Kool-Aid Mixes
  5. How to Stain a Picnic Table
  6. DIY Reusable Floor Pads for Your Swiffer Mop
  7. How to Organize Your Board Games
  8. Buttery Bread Machine Rolls
  9. DIY Fluffy Slime Recipe
  10. 33 Copycat Starbucks Drinks

Top Ten Most Purchased Items in April

  1. Paint By Numbers Kits
  2. My Favorite Jigsaw Puzzle spot (they shipped these so quick!)
  3. $3 Manicure Sets
  4. Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour (you must be making my favorite 5-ingredient gluten-free pizza crust!)
  5. Mainstays Washcloths (to make those diy swiffer pads)
  6. Amy’s Quarantine Pants (these sold out, but these are very similar)
  7. Over-the-Door Mirror
  8. Bernat Blanket Big Yarn (you must be making my favorite diy chunky knit blanket!)
  9. Spray Paint Gripper (this article on how to spray paint furniture is also going bonkers right now!)

Top Ten Amazon Purchases in April

  1. The Mother-In-Law (this one is sooo good!)
  2. Miracle Creek (loved it so much)
  3. The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell (this is my favorite book of 2020, so far!)
  4. Followers (this one is excellent)
  5. Tell Me Three Things (one of my favorite YA reads- would be great to do a mother & daughter book club)
  6. The Girl He Used to Know (this is such a great contemporary fiction romance)
  7. The Scent Keeper
  8. The Sound of Gravel (this is one of my favorite memoirs)
  9. How to Walk Away (adorable start to finish)
  10. Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe

April Happy List

Did you know that I’m a professional homebody? When my health took a turn, it really forced me to stay home more, conserve my energy, and make my life as easy as possible.

Just so you know, this was one of the hardest things that I had to adapt to so I just want to acknowledge that if you aren’t adjusting well to quarantine, I do understand. 

Honestly, I felt very lonely and isolated for a long time. 

In my newsletter, I shared my favorite homebody resources so I wanted to share that here as well. 

These are the things that made my life feel normal and have also saved us a ton of money.

My resources for the Best Homebody Life EVER!

love grows best in little houses pillow cover

SAVE MORE MONEY BY USING YOUR RAKUTEN APP– ALMOST ALL OF THESE HAVE CASHBACK OFFERS FOR YOU! Learn more about how this can give you cash back in this article I wrote.

this pilates wheel is my weekly PT appointment with myself

Working Out At Home:

Support a local gym owner and take advantage of their online memberships to support a small business. 

Online Workout Options-

If you don’t have a gym, but feel like you need to burn some steam, my favorite apps for at-home workouts are Cyclecast (for spinning classes) & Openfit (for barre, pilates, & yoga).  

I also have a Pilates Wheel (ideal if you were doing Pilates Reformer classes) and access to their on-demand classes.

Also, YouTube has tons of great FREE full-length online classes to get you moving. Try Yoga With AdrienePopSugar Fitness, or The Fitness Marshall.

In light of what is going on in the world, Down Dog and Peloton apps have been offering free trial memberships too.

Self-Care At Home:

Madison Reed (this link should give you $15 towards your first purchase)– 

Interested in coloring your hair at home?

I have been using this company’s products for a year and it is an idiot-proof way of picking the right color, having the right stuff to do it, and is always salon quality. The color is thicker (so it doesn’t drip) and it doesn’t have heavy smells. 

As someone with mast cell disorder, it also has not caused any weird scalp reactions like other hair coloring products do.

In fear that I might not get my orders for awhile, I went ahead and stockpiled this when all this started.

Bonus, if you are struggling, they have stylists that can help you navigate doing this at home (via online chat) and have video instructions for the first time.

Personally, the bowl & brush make it easier (for me) and I love their salon cape that saves my clothes from dye mishaps. We got to use the cape again when I gave my hubby a quarantine haircut so it has come in handy.

$3 Manicures– 

Many women get regular shellacs, but I never liked to spend the money unless we had special occasions.

I opted for nail stickers instead and love that I can get $3 manicures at home now.

My nails are so much stronger especially since my top (and bottom) coat is this nail strengthener.

I will say, they take some time to get the hang of and pattern helps disguise any wrinkling a lot more than a plain color. 

If you are still dealing with shellac removal, I couldn’t believe how good this worked when removing my holiday shellac.

Hair Remover-

So rude that our body hair persists amidst all this- hahaha! Try this for your lady mustachethese strips for body hair (warm with your blow dryer), and this defuzz tool that are helpful until you can get back to your salon.

this $28 tracker is amazing

Health Concerns:

Anxiety? Cha, cha, cha! Here’s what’s helping me over on my struggle bus.

Heart Monitor

Before things really heightened, my physician stressed the importance of baseline numbers so I knew if I was healthy or sick. When he asked about how high I’ve been getting my heart rate up (when working out), I admitted that I could only assume that I was hitting the suggested number. Having baseline numbers lets you know when your body is “off” and minimizes mental stress when it is anxiety-driven. 

I do not have a fancy watch or tracker so I got this $28 tracker and am loving it. Now I know what my resting heart rate is, if I am hitting the heart rate zone for fitness, and I can make sure I’m moving enough.

As we are changing our routines, step count and activity levels do become more important to me. I find this tracker to be a help and love the reminders to move, the vibrating alarm (that doesn’t wake up the whole house while we are different schedules right now), and being able to monitor my sleep is really important right now.

Pulse Oximeter

My physician sent out a letter on how we were to handle our symptoms if we were worried about COVID-19. He is one of those, “knowledge is power,” people and advised purchasing a pulse oximeter as one way to minimize anxiety or to assess whether you should puruse treatment or testing.

In his words, “I recommend that those at risk get a pulse oximeter that you can buy for $30-50 at Amazon or any drug store. It clips on your finger and tells you your oxygen percentage, normal is usually 96-98%.  You do not need a prescription for it. Get a baseline. If you do get sick and feel short of breath it is an objective way to see if there really is a lack of air—those below 93% consistently should get evaluated. It helps to take the worry and guesswork out.”

While we are on the subject of this, I have never been MORE thankful that I went the direct patient care route this year.

Getting an immediate response from a physician and staff have been invaluable.

Here is where you can read more about that how that works and see if it is available in your area.


This is a mail delivery option if you need to get your birth control delivered to your doorstep. They also offer other women’s services that might be helpful to you.


A $5 membership will give you a $10 store coupon every month and gives you access to prescription delivery (can’t be controlled substances though like ADHD or opioids). Please note, it takes 1-2 days to process your prescriptions.


I have talked non stop about how much this app has helped me. Did you know that your pain increases during stressful times like these?

They are offering their app for half price and making many of their premium resources available to you for free right now.

Talkspace or Betterhelp– 

If you need to talk things through with someone, these apps allow you to have virtual counseling sessions.

If you have already established a relationship with a therapist, see if they are willing to connect via Zoom or Facetime for a session.

Keep these options in mind if you have a child/teen that is struggling with their new normal.


As grocery stores struggle to stay stocked, try to think about places that aren’t usually on your radar.

We were able to get a lot of necessities “off hours” at a local gas station. We don’t usually separate out meat purchases, but Shelton Farms (local) had fresh daily deliveries so we could stock our freezer.

We rounded it out with these options below:


I could not be more thankful for Instacart right now.

Not only does this service shop ALDI, they also handle my Costco runs too.

In our town, they are able to shop Kroger, Target, Petco, Meijer, Gordon Food Services, Sam’s Club, CVS, and Fresh Thyme too.

With so many people shopping, these aren’t the typical two hour deliveries that I’ve come to expect.

I advise making your list a day prior (at least) and picking the first slot. If you know when your grocer stocks (or can call and ask), you can time this to their delivery.

I ask that they leave everything on our front step so we don’t come in contact with any unnecessary germs.

Walmart Grocery Delivery or Pick-Up

Walmart Grocery Pick-Up is free, but they also offer a similar service for grocery delivery. This link should give you a 15 day free trial. Memberships are running, roughly, the same price as Instacart.


I have been using Grove for years for all our cleaners, hand soaps, cleaning tools, beauty products, toothpaste, and paper products. If you are struggling to find toilet paper, for example, this is a great way to get it without battling the crowds.

If you haven’t used it before, this link should give you a free 5-piece gift set on your first order

We did have help cleaning our house (physically hard on my body) and now that we are under self-quarantine, we will be responsible for keeping up with stuff.

I got two caddies with necessary cleaning items (microfiber towels, cleaners, grout brush, tub cleaner, tc..) so we can divide and conquer around our house. 

Groupon For Wine 

I am not about to compromise my health for booze so we decided to order online.

Instacart will not pick up wine for us, in Indiana, so I ordered a box of wine from Groupon

Yes, desperate times call for desperate measures. 

Wine Insiders is usually one that is offered everywhere and I’ve been really happy with how it is shipped and how quickly it arrives. We did a mixed box of white and red so everyone is happy over here. 

Keep in mind the shipping prices, look for coupon codes, get that Rakuten cashback offer, and I hope it saves you tons of money (and germs).

just zooming around schitt’s creek with my best pals

Online Meeting & Connection Options:

Most of my friends have been meeting up on Zoom, but without a premium membership your meeting times are shortened. 

Google has made premium memberships to Google Meets free though so you can do your conferences at home with no fees. I rely a lot on Zoom, but you can’t beat a free premium membership.

Marco Polo

This is my favorite app to stay in touch with people (locally and far away) It’s a video walkie talkie app that allows you to send a video message to someone you love and they can reply with a video message back when it is convenient for them.

It’s a REALLY cool tool, that has improved so many of my relationships.

Netflix Party

Missing your friends? SAME. My friends and I decided it would be fun to pick up a show together now that Netflix is offering the coolest app (or extension- depending on how you view shows) to throw a virtual Netflix party.

Basically, you can watch a show or movie together and chat together about it while you are watching.


Reading Resources:


This is an online app if you are a big reader or just need something to escape with.

You don’t even need to own a Kindle- it is one you can do on an iPad or even your phone.

If you have tweens or teens, this service has SO many great books and the rates are super affordable.

They offer unlimited audiobooks, books, and magazines. This link should give you a free 60 day trial membership to help you escape.

Library Online Services- 

There are SO many great partnerships that you can look into that are available with your library card. 

Love indie films? See if your library is partnered with Kanopy so you can stream a great flick.

Looking for a great audiobook but don’t want to pay a membership fee? HooplaLibby, or Overdrive are all great options that you can access with your library card. 

Love magazines? Check if the library is partnered with Flipster for digital browsing.

Digital Courses (For You or Your Kiddos!):

Skillshare (this link should give you two free months)  or Bluprint are two of my favorite resources.

These sites have classes that you can take that can be a great boredom buster for tweens/teens or even for yourself. Crafting and cooking are always a go-to therapy for me. I’ve had a Skillshare membership for about three years and have taken so many amazing classes.

More Happy List Fun

Making the Cut

Available on Amazon Prime, this reality series is similar to, “Next in Fashion,” and features a slew of amazing clothing designers that are tasked with making over-the-top fashion and wearable fashion for the everyday consumer.

Hosted by Heidi Klum & Tim Gunn, it is one of those reality series shows that showcase how makers bond together on projects and true creativity.

It’s perfectly mindless, set in Paris, and has been a welcome escape from headline news.

Creating a Weekly Cleaning Routine (Free Printable Charts) grab a free blank printable

Newly Divided Household Duties

I realize that  one of the reasons that I have had a hard time keeping track of my days is because my day didn’t have a rhythm anymore.

As I struggled to keep up with our house (and food prep and e-learning and work) I realized that no one else was on the struggle bus with me.

Everyone could see that I was stressed, but directing everyone on what to do was another stressor. How can I get people to help me though if I don’t know what I need?

I decided to sit down and divide all of the household tasks to make things easier on myself.

I made charts for each family member (yes, including my husband, we are all in this together).

Copies were made and hung on a kitchen cabinet and each person is responsible for helping. 

I am sharing how we are divided  the chores and a blank printable for making your own routines. The daily routines sheet has been a helpful reminder to get moving and to end the day as a team (with cleaning up after dinner).

My kids did remark that this is helping them keep track of their days better and they DO want to help their mom and dad right now.

I’m calling this one a win!

read this article on how to create your own care budget

Creating a Care Budget

Taking care of everyone else in our lives can feel really overwhelming right now and it can be really stressful when you have divided yourself in so many ways. It is overwhelming when so many in our lives are hurting. 

The care budget helps you decide what you need to prioritize and how to conserve your energy so you can take care of yourself too.

I plan to take pen to paper and figure out what needs to make this list while conserving our own resources (money, energy, time, etc..) in the days ahead. 

Knowing that I have a clearly outlined plan does contribute to my overall happiness right now.

watch this movie on hulu

The Female Brain

Last weekend, my husband and I decided to have a she shed date night and it was just the pick-me-up with both needed. We ordered a little food from our favorite Italian place, popped popcorn, cracked a bottle of Groupon wine (pinkies up!), and curled up for a movie. 

I’m not sure how this rom-com movie never made my radar, but if you have Hulu, it’s a must-see date night flick.

It has multiple stories (similar to Love, Actually) and it is just the kind of feel good, laugh-out-loud date night movie you need. 

It is a bit like a documentary as it explores the reason why we have certain attractions to the opposite sex.

It also explores why our brains does the the things it does and how this impacts our relationships that we create. 

This won’t change your life, but it was a really fun distraction for a date night at home and you can’t beat that right now. (see the trailerwatch the movie on Hulu)

check out this incredible resource while you practice your social distancing

The “Stay Home Take Care” Care Package You Need

We are all looking for different things right now and Girls’ Night In wanted to create a little care package to help address whatever you might be needing this month.

Looking to stay connected? Trying to be useful? Looking for ways to entertain your kids? Looking for ways to stay entertained? How about caring for yourself?

This virtual care package allows you to click on what you need the most and spits out ideas to make your life just a tiny bit better.

There are loads of ideas that will fill your cup while waiting out this pandemic storm. I hope it entertains you as much as it has entertained me this week.  (check out your virtual care package here)

This Tiny Desk Concert

Any Harry Styles fans out there?

You must, must, must watch this beautiful concert.

It  blew me away. I also have a not-so-secret crush on this guy.

If you do too, be sure to read this steamy romance that just might be based on my not-so-secret crush.

Be warned, this one is HOT, HOT, HOT.

I Am Not Okay With This

My daughter is a HUGE Stranger Things fan so I had a feeling that she would flip for this series..and I was right.

Disclaimer, this series is much more adult than Stranger Things and is recommended for kids ages 16 and up, according to Common Sense Media.

That said, we are in a time where we just want to see our teen daughter having joyful moments with us so we bended our usual standards to watch this with her. 

Produced by the same people that made Stranger Things, it is a coming-of-age story that has just 7 short episodes, with a heck of a cliffhanger ending.

It has the same kind of sci-fi feel we have come to expect with these producers, as the main character discovers she has some superhero powers that can uncontrollably erupt when she gets angry.

As she learns more about herself, she realizes that her dad’s death also may be connected to her own daily struggles to control the consequences of her anger. 

This has a very Breakfast Club feel, a killer soundtrack, and it sucked us in within just a few minutes.

My only disappointment is that we completed it in two days and now have to wait for season 2.

Again, use your best judgement on parenting with this one or devour it for your next couch date with your partner. (watch the trailerwatch the show)

Together Apart Podcast

Looking for a new podcast?

Although there are only a few episodes, I am already madly in love with this sweet podcast.

Since gatherings and celebrations in groups are temporarily put on hold, this podcast focuses on ways to celebrate when you can’t physically be together.

It isn’t just the specific answer to these celebrations that makes this one so sweet, it has tips and tricks that I plan to apply to real life celebrating when we can be together again. 

There are a million nuggets of wisdom on making people feel special and seen that I had to pause and take notes. I also had to look up the podcast’s hostess and just discovered she has a book out that I now am dying to read

One gorgeous idea, that was shared, was the idea of sharing a playlist of songs that are special to you with your friends.

Each person listens to their friend’s playlists and then get to tell their stories over a Zoom chat about why those songs are special to them.

Personally, I think this would be a great date night OR a fun option to do with your teen or tween that gives you a chance to learn about what music is important to them. (check out the podcast)

Quarantine Pants (noted above- these pants did sell out, but this is a similar style and by the same company)

I remain committed that I do not want you to spend your money right now unless you really need something.

So, please skip this one if you have a closet full of comfy pants right now.

Personally, I live in jeans, but that is not what I have been wanting to wear at all.

Poorly timed, I had been working on my capsule wardrobe (before the pandemic) and had been looking for a dressy jogger that I planned to wear out and about this spring.

These joggers are now the thing that I have been reaching for every day and I’m so glad I had added them to my wardrobe. 

They don’t pill or wrinkle, they washed up with no shrinking, fit true to size, and are lightly fleece lined (warm, but not too warm). They are the perfect jogger and, unknowingly, became the official quarantine pants of 2020. They look perfectly business appropriate, but are actually sweatpants. (shop them only if you need them please- true to size)

follow history cool kids on instagram

History Cool Kids on Instagram

Looking for a great distraction? I am not sure how I stumbled on this Instagram account, but I’m so glad that I did.

Be prepared, this is quite the Instagram tunnel, but you will learn so much.

The account gathers images from the past and puts together all the research behind the photo.

My husband and I spent an entire evening going through the account and learning all sorts of interesting things. I’ll pick out three that I can’t stop thinking about.

This is an image of the only man ever who was born a little person and ended up a giant because of a medical condition

Did you know that they tried to make a motorcycle communication device so that the biker could talk to their passenger behind them? So wild!

This woman became a legit library. Like, strapped it to her back and sold books for twopence each. I feel a Halloween costume for next year coming on!

If this account doesn’t offer you a distraction for an evening, I’ve got nothing. Looking back at history is one of my favorite things to do these days.

check out the trailer for this true crime documentary

My New True Crime Addiction

Have you seen, “How to Fix a Drug Scandal,” yet?

In 2013, Massachusetts State Police arrested a 35-year-old crime drug lab chemist,  named Sonja Farak, for tampering with evidence, but it ended up being only the beginning.

Over time, details emerged that Farak had been in fact using the drugs that she was tasked with testing.

Many people ended up going to jail for drug-related crimes and were sentenced to years in prison, without having a fair trial.

This is an incredibly thought-provoking documentary and has so many layers to unpack. I’m trying not to rush through it. (watch it on netflixwatch the trailer)

check out my sexy date night playlist- cha, cha, cha

A New Date Night Playlist  

I’m putting my college dorm DJ skills to work and made a fun playlist for our date night.

Titled, “Closer Than Six Feet,” these are the steamy songs I’m loving.

I made a fancy dinner for us and we got a bit of a dance party going on thanks to these fun songs. 

As a disclaimer, this is not a playlist for everyone because LANGUAGE.  

If language bothers you, here is your Earbud Escape from COVID-19 that I think you will just love and is more censored. 

Unfortunately, Spotify doesn’t offer a lot of the radio cleaned-up versions of the songs. If you want a steamy, fun playlist that has LANGUAGE (hahaha!), then check out, Closer Than Six Feet.

Also, if you aren’t following me on Spotify, you are missing such a gorgeous collection of music.

All of the playlists (minus this one) are clean! I love every kind of music so I’m confident there is a playlist for you.

I love music as much as I love books and I hope that shows in these playlists.

One of my biggest joys is so many artists reach out to me now to be included and I get to introduce songs that people would have never heard. 

I hope you enjoyed this month’s round-up of February fun. My goal is that my 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.

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This post contains affiliate links.

Love this post? You might enjoy these!

April 2020 Must-Reads from here all 11 incredible books that I devoured in april

Best Easy Granola Recipe this month I’m sharing our family’s favorite granola recipe

17 Movies From the 90's You Must Share With Your Kids have a fun night with the kids and watch these ’90’s movies together

Easy Crafts for Kids to Keep Them Entertained Header this month we rounded up some easy crafts you can do with your kids to keep them entertained

I hope my happy brings you some happy too this week. What topped your April happy list?

Easy Homemade Granola Recipe With Lots of Crunch

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

Best Easy Granola Recipe

Skip buying boxed cereal and make my easy homemade granola recipe at home with just a few simple pantry ingredients. This simple oat mixture can be layered with dried fruit and baked on a sheet pan for your week.

Being home more means we are spending more money on groceries and I’ve had a hard time keeping up with the inventory required to feed four people.

One of those items, we always run out of, is boxed cereal.  In our house a bowl of cereal can be eaten for breakfast, snacks, lunch, or dinner.

Can you relate?

Even buying our cereal at a wholesale club isn’t enough to keep up with this family.

This difficult season that we are in right now has reminded me a lot of our leaner years and the tasks that I used to regularly do for our family.

For me, time felt more abundant then and pinching pennies was a requirement to pay our bills.

Lately, I have been dusting off some of my older recipes and am reminded just how many things I had no problem making before.

Granola, for example, requires a minimal amount of effort and is a dish that just keeps on giving throughout the week.

Today I wanted to share with you my favorite easy basic granola recipe that we make at our house. It’s been a relied upon recipe because it is made from standard pantry ingredients that we usually keep on hand.

Before I share that, here are a few questions you might have about making your own granola.

Mixing Oats and Nuts

What Are Some Ways I Can Save Even More Money On Making Granola at Home?

The best way to keep this recipe super frugal is to buy your ingredients in bulk.

I rely on my wholesale club membership for the best prices on these ingredients.

Rolled oats, vanilla, honey, oil, spices, nuts, and dried fruit can all be purchased at our local wholesale club.

I do shop at ALDI (you can read my best ALDI shopping tips in this article) for slivered almonds.

You can find these almonds over in the baking supplies aisle of the store.

Keep in mind, nuts do freeze well so if you find a great sale on them, you can stock up and store them in your freezer.

Here are some tips for freezing nuts and recommended lengths for freezing times.

Baking Granola on a Sheet Pan

What Fruit & Nut Granola Combinations Can I Try If I Don’t Like Your Suggestions?

This basic recipe is one that I have found anyone will love, but you can make it your own with a different fruit and nut combination.

Remember, this recipe is only limited by your own imagination.

While raisins are super affordable, you can pick any dried fruit for this recipe. Dried cherries, dried blueberries, and craisins all make incredible substitutes.

Not a fan of dried fruits?

Try mini chocolate chips, cacao nibs, or fold in flaky coconut or unsweetened coconut (finely shredded).

For nuts, I do rely on slivered almonds, but you can pick your favorite seed or chopped nuts.

Try salted pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, pepitas, pecans, cashews, peanuts, walnuts, or pine nuts for a different granola recipe mix-in.

Just make sure the nuts are bite-sized or coarsely chopped.

The possibilities are endless and I can’t wait to see what combination you create!

Saucepan of Sugar and Honey

How Can I Make This a Healthy Granola Recipe?

Feel free to substitute the vegetable oil with your favorite oil, like melted coconut oil or olive oil, instead.

Honey can also be substituted with real maple syrup as your sweetener.

Is Granola Gluten-Free?

Homemade granola can easily be made gluten-free by selecting certified gluten-free rolled oats instead.

The Best Easy Granola in a Jar

Easy Homemade Granola Recipe With Lots of Crunch

(read instructions here or scroll down to the recipe)

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl mix together your oats, nuts, cinnamon, and salt.

Then in a saucepan, add your oil, honey, and brown sugar. Warm this and whisk until your sugar is completely dissolved.

Remove it from the heat and add in the vanilla.

Pour the mixture into your oats and nuts and stir well with a wooden spoon.

Stirring Oats and Slivered Almonds

Then you will bake your sheet pan granola for thirty minutes.

Keep an eye on it and stir it occasionally as it is baking.

The Best Easy Granola On a Sheet Pan

The Best Easy Granola Baked

If you forget to stir it, no big deal!

Personally, I prefer the granola to clump together into clusters so I usually don’t disturb it too much.

Allow it to cool to room temperature and then fold in your dried fruit.

I find that a large glass jar is a great storage option for our countertop.

This is the exact jar that we have and it fills the jar with a little in a container for the chef!

Of course, this never lasts long so you will find me in the kitchen baking granola again today.

I can’t wait to hear what you think of this recipe!

The Best Easy Granola Recipe
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 14 cups
An easy granola recipe that can be personalized with your favorite fruit and nut combination. Make this gluten-free by purchasing certified gluten-free oats. This money-saving recipe is our family’s tried-and-true.
  • Parchment Paper
  • 8 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2 cups slivered almonds
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups raisins
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine oil, honey, and sugar in a pot. Whisk and heat on low heat until sugar dissolves.
  3. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
  4. Pour the hot liquid over the oat mixture and stir well.
  5. Spread granola on the two prepared baking sheets.
  6. Bake until golden brown, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and allow it to cool completely.
  8. Add any dried fruit and transfer to an airtight container. I layer my dried fruit as I add it to the jar.

this post contains affiliate links

Love this recipe? Check out these other money-saving ideas!

try this easy recipe for no-bake granola bars

make your own smoothie bowls for a fun breakfast treat

Meal Prep Breakfast Sandwiches Recipe from meal prep these breakfast sandwiches to tuck in your freezer

meal prep my favorite freezer breakfast burritos

Make-Ahead Smoothie Packs for Your Freezer from make these easy smoothie packets with ripe or frozen fruit and any greens you need to use up in your crisper

Happy baking!

April 2020 Must-Reads

Monday, May 4th, 2020

April 2020 Must-Reads from

Looking for your next great read? Today I’m sharing 11 incredible books I read in April. In this stack you will find great mysteries, thrillers, romance, and contemporary fiction with plenty of great book selections for your next book club discussion. Be sure to bookmark this post for your next library day!

Have you been struggling to get into reading lately? I just want you to know that you are not alone. 

In case you didn’t notice, I was struggling so much that I did not have book reviews for you, in the month of March.

I, honestly, can’t remember a time where I have ever missed a month of reading for you.

I have been referring to my lack of reading as my, “pandemic brain,” and it has really disrupted my concentration for books. Instead, I have found myself gravitating towards fluffy television shows and horrific headline news for my escape.

It’s all about balance, right?

I can’t tell you what finally flipped the switch, but I do know that slowing down on my news consumption, trying to get back to some form of consistent routines (did you see how we are managing the household chores over here), and getting back to a regular work day seem to be key for my brain. 

If you aren’t there yet, it is completely normal.

There is no right way to handle all of this and your books will always be there when you are ready to come back.

Before we start, here are a few things that might help you out of your reading rut!

Join Us for Our May MomAdvice Book Club Discussion

Dominicana by Angie Cruz snag the incredible may book club book for just $2.99 today!

Did you know that I offer a free virtual book club? Be sure to join the MomAdvice Book Club and you will never be without a book again!

This month we will be discussing, “Dominicana,” by Angie Cruz!  You can get this month’s book for just, $2.99!! 

This is one of my favorite reads this year and I really don’t want you to miss this phenomenal book OR participating in our discussion.

You can check out the 2020 MomAdvice Book Club picks over here

Don’t forget to send me a friend request over on GoodReads for more great book reviews.

here is what is on sale today- don’t miss it!

Check Our Daily Book Deals List– HUGE DEAL DAY TODAY!!!

I try to post a daily book deal list for you to keep your Kindle fully stocked while we wait for our libraries to reopen.

This list is curated with only the best books and nothing will ever be over $4.99. 

Check this list daily here or you can sign up for my daily deal newsletter and I will send them right to your inbox!

May Amazon First Reads pick your free book for may

Get a Free Book Just for Being a Prime Member

Did you know Prime members get a read for free every single month? 

Yup, I always try to remind you of this amazing little Prime perk!

Grab your FREE books over here.

May 2020 Book of the Month

Check out the May Book of the Month Club Selections:

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
Happy & You Know It by Laura Hankin
A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight
The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon
The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe
May Coupon Codes:

Mother’s Day is right around the corner! Use promo code, MDAY10, which gives you $10 off a 6 or 12-month gift card!

Get your first hardback book for just $9.99 with code MAY5 at checkout.
Personally, I snagged The Knockout Queen this month- Rupi Thorpe is one of my faves! 
Now let’s talk about this month’s stack!

April 2020 Must-Reads

Here are 11 must-read books I tackled in April!

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

This is one of those times where I went into something expecting a thriller, but I felt like the book had been categorized incorrectly and should have been labeled a mystery.

Sarah meets Eddie and they seem to, almost instantly, fall madly in love with each other. Although the relationship is fast and fierce (they have only been together for a week), they both know that they were destined to be together.

When Eddie heads off, on a previously planned vacation, he promises to call her from the airport and says that he can’t wait to get back to her.

This is why she is so surprised when he never calls and seems to just disappear.

She calls, contacts his friends, gets a bit stalker-y, and is completely hung up on why he would exit her life when they were just getting started.

Sarah knows that Eddie wouldn’t just ghost her after they have found each other, but other people in her life feel like maybe that is just what has happened.

Dating right now is tricky and they think it is quite possible that he has moved onto someone else. 

Sarah is determined to find out where Eddie has gone and this is where they both begin to realize that they each have been keeping secrets from each other.

The secrets they each hold complicate their relationship and they learn their lives overlap in some challenging and surprising ways.

I found this to be a really great mystery even if some of the plot twists seemed a bit too coincidental and contrived.

The first half had a really strong start, but this one requires the reader to suspend reality when it comes to the planned twists. 

As a book idea though, in the age of online dating, I think this was such a creative concept.

For that reason alone, I can see why at it was a Book of the Month selection.

I look forward to seeing what Walsh comes up with next, even if her debut didn’t hit all the marks.

3 out of 5 Stars

If you like Ghosted,  you might like these titles:

The Wives

Speaking of Summer


The Other Family


The Other Family by Loretta Nyhan (priced at just $4.99!!)

Thank you to the publishing house for providing a review copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Ally’s young daughter is struggling with some health problems that her doctors just can’t seem to identify. 

Typically, in cases like these, an exploration in her genetics would provide the clues, but Ally happens to be adopted and doesn’t have any information for her.

Since Ally grew up in a happy home, she has never felt the need to look for her birth mother or had the desire to learn more about her family tree.

To better understand Kylie’s health issues though, she’s encouraged to take a DNA test to find out more so that they can fill in the holes on her medical case.

It is when she receives the results that she finds she has a biological aunt that she has never known. 

Since Ally’s adopted mom seems hurt that Ally is curious about her family roots, she decides to keep her out of the loop and see if she can learn more about her mom, on her own.

What she doesn’t realize though is that opening this box helps them discover information that can help her daughter AND can help her in ways that she never knew she needed. 

This is a quick and adorable read that I ended up really enjoying. Nyhan’s exploration of what it means to be family and how complicated families can come together was a fun escape that would be great for your summer stack.

3 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Other Family  you might like these titles:

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler

Matchmaking for Beginners

Where the Forest Meets the Stars

The Sun Down Motel

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

I selected this as a Book of the Month selection and I’m so glad that I did. If you are looking for a spooky ghost story, you will love this latest novel from Simone St. James. 

What could be creepier than a rundown motel?

Carly Kirk finds herself applying for a position there because this is exactly where her Aunt Viv had worked and then suddenly disappeared.

Carly wants to find out what happened to her and she has a feelings that the answers just might lie in this motel.

In 1982, Viv moved to New York and snagged a job as a night clerk at a motel.

She soon discovers that there are regular guests visiting, but she isn’t always sure if these guests are real or ghosts. 

As if being a night clerk wasn’t scary enough, amiright?

As Viv battles these creepy visitors, she disappears and her family never hears from her again. 

Carly is intent on finding out what happened to her aunt so it is seems fitting that she snags the same position at this rundown motel that her aunt did. Not much as changed since 1982 and Carly soon discovers just what might have scared her aunt off all those years ago. 

This mystery had a very Hitchcock feel to it and I loved the layering of all the guests stories and how they intertwined with Carly & Viv’s story.  This ghost story isn’t too scary, but has just the right kind of creepy vibes that made it a perfect escape this month. 

I really loved this one and have a feeling you will too!

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Sun Down Motel you might like these titles:

Bird Box

Things in Jars

All Things Cease to Appear

How to Save a Life

How to Save a Life by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke (pre-order for just $3.99)

Thank you to the publishing house for providing a review copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This book will be available on July 14th!

As a treat to myself, I thought it would be fun to read a couple of the advanced readers that I have received to share for your summer stacks. 

Over the years, I’ve grown really fond of Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke and what they have crafted together. 

In fact, I loved this duo so much that I did an interview with them to learn more about their writing process.

Magical realism is something that I absolutely love, especially if it is done right. In this fun Groundhog Day novel, the reader is asked to explore just how far you would be willing to go to save the life of someone you love.

When Dom bumps into Mia, his ex-fiancée whom he hasn’t seen in almost a decade, he believes that he has been gifted a second chance to ask her out.

Sadly, the evening ends when Mia tragically dies on their date.

More than anything, Dom wishes that they could give this second chance…well, a second chance. 

Lucky for him (or unlucky for him), when he wakes up the next day he realizes that he is reliving the day again and will get that opportunity.

Over and over and over, Dom tries to change the fate of Mia by changing their date and what happens that day.

Helplessly, the scenario keeps repeating itself, but he just can’t seem to escape her fate or reliving the day again. 

It is only when Dom starts to confront his own truth that he realizes that he finds that he really can change his own fate.

Done wrong, this type of story can feel tedious because so many elements have to be repeated and I worried that this novel was going to fall into that trap.

Fortunately, Fenton & Steinke find a way to deliver a repeated day in such beautiful ways that you can’t help but root for Mia & Dom to be able to have a different kind of day together.

This has all the right ingredients for the perfect summer read- a great romance, a dash of magic, and truth bombs that are easy to devour.

Priced at just $3.99, you can’t go wrong with this one for a great summer escape…even if you might feel like you are trapped in a Groundhog Day plot yourself in quarantine.

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like How to Save a Life you might like these titles:

The Life Intended

Time of My Life

I Liked My Life

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing a review copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

If you are looking for a, “feel good,” read right now, I wouldn’t recommend this one.

If you are looking for a layered family drama that tries to take on big book club themes, then this book would be for you! 

Valerie Alston-Holt is raising her biracial son, Xavier, and is so proud of the young man is becoming.

Xavier is destined for great things and is headed to college in the fall.

Their life has been fairly idyllic, but all of that changes when the Whitmans move next door. 

I am sure we all can roll our eyes at people with, “new money,” that flaunt their wealth excessively.

The father,  in this family, is as obnoxious as they come.

As a self-made man, he is flashy and over-the-top with everything in his life. 

The conflict starts when the two are at odds over a historic oak tree that is on the property line of their house.

Valerie is a professor of forestry and ecology so the tree has great importance to her.

When the family begins making renovations to their property, the tree starts to suffer and Valerie can’t let it go. 

Brad Whitman uses this dispute to fuel his anger and it is amplified when Xavier and his daughter fall in love. 

This is a Romeo & Juliet story where neither parent is thrilled with the relationship and this dispute ends in a tragedy that neither family would expect.

The neighbors, in this novel, observe the happenings within the neighborhood and narrate the tale. Fowler uses their voice to help foreshadow what is happening and to guide the reader through each moment of the drama.

This would be a meaty pick for any book club, even if the ending might not lead where the reader wants the story to go.

It has big themes that explore race, entitlement, and wealth. 

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like A Good Neighborhood you might like these titles:

Little Fires Everywhere

Ask Again, Yes

Did You Ever Have a Family?

Open Book by Jessica Simpson

If you would have told me that I would have found Jessica Simpson’s memoir to be one of the most compelling reads this month, I don’t know if I would have believed you.  

Well, guess what?

This memoir is incredible! 

I do think memoirs are best savored in audiobook format, especially when they are read by their author.

This memoir, in particular, lends itself well to this format because there is so much emotion behind so many of these passages that allow you to connect with her writing so much more. 

Simpson’s title says it all because she unashamedly shares her story from the beginning of her career to her current successes. 

Her life has definitely not been all roses and sunshine and this book is quite dishy.

The meat of this doesn’t lie in learning about her past marriage with Nick Lachey though.

It lies within her own internal struggles.

Originally slated to write a self-help book, she realized that the way that she could people more is by being open and honest about what she has had to overcome to reach success and happiness. She was not prepared to give advice, but she could share the challenges within her own story.

Within these pages is the power struggle with her parents, the tragic death in her family, the sexual abuse she endured, her struggles with healthy body acceptance, the toxic relationships she gravitated towards, her struggles with addiction, and her continued body dysmorphic disorder after having kids.

I think many people will come to hear Jessica Simpson spill the tea, but I was surprised to find so much more within this story than I had expected.

While often thought of as a dumb blonde, she now runs a successful billion-dollar global fashion brand that proves she has more brains than Hollywood had ever expected. 

I really enjoyed this one for its refreshing honesty and smartly layered truth bombs within its pages. 

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like Open Book you might like these titles:

Wild Game

High Achiever

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni (priced at just $1.99 today!!)

I had a feeling that this was going to be my favorite read this month and it, absolutely, was!

This coming-of-age story is GORGEOUS and just what you need to escape with this month.

In fact, I would say that this is my favorite book (so far) this year.

Sam Hill is born with a rare condition called ocular albinism that make him look different from his peers. His red pupils are the subject of ridicule, at his Catholic school, and his classmates refer to him as the, “Devil Boy.” Although his last name is Hill, the bullies at school refer to him as, “Sam Hell,” instead.

Despite his differences, his mother believes that this is God’s will and that this difference is what makes Sam so extraordinary. 

She will stop at nothing to help Sam pave his path in the world and is thrilled when Sam finds his first friend in Ernie, the only African American kid at his school. The two form a fast friendship and both find the same magnificent friendship in a little girl, named Mickie, who his willing to stand up for Sam more than anyone. 

The book is told from Sam’s adult perspective, now working as an opthamologist, and his boyhood journey towards acceptance. Dugoni, masterfully, brings this coming-of-age story together so beautifully that I was enchanted from the very first page.

In fact, I found myself NOT wanting to finish this because I didn’t want it to be over. 

Dugoni’s inspiration came from his own brother, who had Down Syndrome, and his mother’s tireless fight to make sure he was always cared for. He paired this inspiration with a newspaper story he read about a little boy who couldn’t get into a Catholic school because of a condition called, ocular albinism. 

I can’t rave enough about this beautiful read and how much it touched my heart. It is everything that a satisfying read should be and would be a fantastic pick for any book club. 

Add this one to your stack today! 

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell you might like these titles:

Ordinary Grace

Setting Free the Kites

The Book of Harlan

What You Wish For

What You Wish For by Katherine Center (available for pre-order)

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing a review copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Katherine Center has become my go-to comfort food, for literature, and I needed that a lot this month. This novel will hit store shelves on July 14th and I highly recommend pre-ordering this phenomenal little escape. 

Did I mention that it stars a school librarian? 

What more do I need to say?

Samantha loves her job as a librarian and is devastated when their beloved principal passes away.

When she discovers that a guy she used to have a crush on, Duncan Carpenter, is the next principal she is thrilled for her school… and maybe, a little secretly thrilled for herself too.

She remembers Duncan as a hilarious jokester that any kid would love and any woman would find charming. 

The Duncan Carpenter that arrives at their school though is nothing like the man she remembered. 

This guy is the opposite of fun and he seems determined to remove any element of it in their school.

He eliminates their school’s fun traditions, implements strict school rules and guidelines, and even strips color from the walls of every room. 

Sam is bewildered and dismayed by Duncan’s behavior, as is the rest of the staff at school. 

What Sam doesn’t know is how Duncan has gotten to this point and that, folks, is where the meat of the story lies. 

Center delivers another pull-at-your-heartstrings story with quirky characters, believable depth, and a focus on finding strength in community.

Her love stories are always solid and this is another winner that I think you are really going to love this summer!

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like What You Wish For you might like these titles:

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

The Girl He Used to Know

The Unhoneymooners

High Achiever

High Achiever by Tiffany Jenkins

Fun fact, Tiffany Jenkins shows up in my Facebook feed selling FabFitFun boxes all the time and one day I bought her book.

These two facts are, remarkably, unrelated because I had no clue who she was or ever made the connection until I read her bio at the end of the book.

If you are looking for a really compelling memoir and loved, Orange is the New Black memoir, you won’t be able to put this one down! 

Tiffany was an opioid addict who ended up getting caught and heading to jail. What makes her story so compelling though is that her boyfriend was a Deputy Sheriff and unaware that she had been buying and selling drugs while they were living together. 

No addict’s story is as straightforward as that though, is it?

Although Jenkins was struggling with addiction, lying, and stealing from those around her, she never intended to sell drugs.

She ended up being blackmailed and forced into selling drugs because someone had threatened to tell her boyfriend. 

As we all know, being an addict isn’t ideal if you are trying to sell drugs and she ends up getting high on her own supply. 

When she gets caught, her experience in jail is far different than anyone else because everyone works with her boyfriend and is angry about what she has done to him. She becomes the target of abuse and mistreatment until she is able to enter a recovery program, trying to begin the next chapter of her life.

Tiffany’s story reads like fiction and is as good as any movie that I’ve watched. She owns up to her mistakes, even when they are are embarassing and hurtful to those around her. She does not gloss over a single moment of what it would be like to be an addict or the journey towards her new start. 

Who knew that the lady’s ads that made me LOL (and stopped me in my scroll) were connected to someone who lived such an incredibly difficult life story?

I guarantee that you won’t be able to put this one down! Check out Tiffany’s blog to follow more of her story!

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like High Achiever you might like these titles:

Orange is the New Black (the memoir)

The Mars Room


Get a Life, Chloe Brown

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

If you are looking for a steamy escape this month, I think this pick just might be for you!

This romance is the first in a series of love stories told from the different sister’s perspectives in the Brown family.

It makes a great one to read if you want to keep following along with their Brown family story or can just be read as a standalone.

As someone who deals with chronic pain, there might be a reason why I adored this a little more than the average reader.

Chloe Brown has fibromyalgia and struggles daily with pain that have sidelined her from a lot of the activities in her life. 

She has decided though that she’s tired of letting her illness stop her from doing everything she wants to do in life and that’s why she has made a, “get a life” bucket list that will motivate her to try new experiences that are out of her comfort zone.

She realizes that if she wants to accomplish these things on her list though that she needs someone to help do them with her. 

It turns out, Redford ‘Red’ Morgan just might be the ticket.

The fact that he is obnoxious has to be put aside so that she can accomplish her list.

You see, Chloe has observed that her apartment’s handyman is more than meets the eye because he also happens to be an artist who paints at night. 

How would she know this?

Oh, maybe because she spies on him a little and just might find him a *teeny* bit attractive.

When I say this is steamy, it is like reading a bit of soft porn so I’m just putting that out there before you pick it up.

I adored it because I love a love-hate romance and because it was refreshing to read about a sexy heroine who is battling a chronic illness.  

I would love to see more books like this in the future because, let’s be honest, chronic illness warriors are sexy as heck! 

4 out of 5 Stars

If you liked Get a Life, Chloe Brown, you might like these titles:

The Hating Game

The Kiss Quotient

Red, White, & Royal Blue

Pretty Things

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing a review copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Want a thriller that you will not be able to put down?

Add this to your stack TODAY- it is INCREDIBLE!

First of all, Nicole Kidman & Amazon will be adapting this so you will want to read it before you watch it.

Secondly, who couldn’t use an escape from reality right now?

I loved Watch Me Disappear so I was anxious to get my hands on this one. Brown is such a gifted thriller writer and I had heard a lot of early buzz on this being the next thriller must-read.

The story is told from alternating perspectives of two women whose lives are intertwined in ways that they would never expect.

Nina’s mom is a con artist who does the best she can to keep Nina in a good school and has given her the best childhood she can, despite her profession.

When Nina finds friendship with a wealthy boy at school, they find comfort in being outcasts together. They spend afternoons hanging out, smoking weed, and feeling a deep freindship with one another.

As their friendship blossoms into something more, they get busted by his father and Nina is removed from the school and taken away from the one boy who loves her.

Now Nina works as a high-end con artist herself, in partnership with her boyfriend, Lachlan. She scopes social media accounts for the fabulously wealthy, drugs them up, and then takes all she can from their home.

It’s okay though- she’s doing it to pay for her mom’s cancer treatment.

When the two hit a rough financial patch, she remembers the boy she fell in love with…oh, and the passcode to the family safe that holds millions.

They discover there is a cottage they can rent, on the old family property, and try to become fast friends with Vanessa (the sister) who now owns the place.

Vanessa is a bit of a “con” herself because she has been leading a fake heiress Instagram life online. 

The question is, who is going to con who?

This is SO TWISTY and SO DELICIOUS that I stayed up hours and hours past by bedtime to finish it. 

The best part?


The endings in thrillers often are disappointing, but this one does not disappoint in a single way.

I was captivated from start to finish, loved the intricacy that Brown was weaved, and her dialogue is smart and addictive.

Move this one ot the top of your stack and I can’t wait to hear how much you loved it too! 

5 out of 5 Stars

If you liked Pretty Things, you might like these titles:

The Other Mrs.

Necessary People

The Turn of the Key

Read With Me This Year

January 2020 Must-Reads

February 2020 Must-Reads

March- SKIPPED (pandemic brain)

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Happy Reading!