MomAdvice 2018 Book Club Selections

January 1st, 2018


Is one of your goals to join a book club this year? I’m thrilled to share that we have an AMAZING Virtual Book Club group that I’d love for you to join. I’m so excited to share with you our MomAdvice 2018 Book Club selections.

Our book club now has over 1,200 bookworms (!!!) and we would love to have you join in on the fun discussions this year. I loved last year’s selections so much that they even found their way on my Best Books of 2017 list.

How Does the MomAdvice Facebook Book Club Work?

I will be your book club hostess this year and have selected the entire year of books for 2018 to round out your book stacks.  The discussion is held on the last week of the month and posted in the group with a thread for each question.

To make finding these discussions easier (and so you can hop in at anytime!!) we have moved our discussions into the Events tab. You will receive an invitation to each discussion and can find the entire discussion in the Events, instead of searching through our VERY active page.

You can jump in to answer questions at any time throughout that week, interacting with loads of other fellow bookworms.

How fun is that?

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

The more the merrier!

How Much Does it Cost?


Well, What Do You Get Out Of It?

I want this to be fun and free for you. I post the daily Kindle book deals and I share our book club picks though through something called an affiliate link. Basically, this link gives me a few pennies on each of your purchases that help pay for the web hosting on our website. The web hosting currently costs me about $200 monthly and your purchases from this group basically help to offset that cost for our family at no cost to you.

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

In fact, I have been reading our book club picks before we get to them to make sure that not a moment of your time or penny is wasted.

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

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

I have tried to cultivate a positive environment and the group is filled with those kinds of drama-free people that you want to have filling your Facebook feed. Escape the political nastiness and join a feel good kind of space.

Here are the books we will be talking about this year!

MomAdvice 2018 Book Club

MomAdvice 2018 Book Club Selections

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood January- Alias Grace

Lucky Boy February- Lucky Boy

American Fire March- American Fire

Lilli De Jong April- Lilli De Jong

The Music Shop May- The Music Shop

Everything Here is Beautiful June- Everything Here is Beautiful

Salt Houses July- Salt Houses

Little Broken Things August- Little Broken Things

Far From the Tree September- Far From the Tree

The Hunger by Alma Katsu October- The Hunger

Steal the Stars by Nat Cassidy November- Steal the Stars

Girls Burn Brighter December-Girls Burn Brighter

MomAdvice 2018 Book Club

Join in on the MomAdvice Book Club HERE! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

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

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Small-Budget Crushes 10.15.18

October 15th, 2018

I’ll take one of each! xoxo

hey there, pumpkin mat

button-front teddy sweatshirt- use coupon code SHE10TH for free shipping

no more spoons spoonie mug

faux suede flats- so many fun colors

oversized camo sweatshirt

matte rain boots (several hues- these are my FAVORITE)

library due date maternity shirt (this is just simply awesome)

soft joggers- several hues

best cat mum card

velvet leggings- so many gorgeous hues

snail halloween costume

cozy convertible top- wear off-shoulder or as turtleneck, loads of colors

high-rise faux leather leggings

microsuede slouch boots (buy 1 get 1 50% off on boots this week!!)

jar of stars decal

classic book covers jigsaw puzzle

striped split-back sweater

leopard wool scarf

i put the lit in literature

docking station

striped cardi- use coupon code SHE10TH for free shipping

instant potter decal

bell-sleeve turtleneck

library stamp

green drop-shoulder sweater- several hues. Use coupon code SHE10TH free FREE SHIPPING

vintage camper birdhouse

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

Amy’s Notebook 10.10.18

October 10th, 2018


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

Tips for creating a spa-worthy bath in the comfort of your own home.

I would add these mixed with this and the best thing since sliced bread to this list.

I love this idea to make a sick day care kit for your home.

12 ways to be more productive– boy, do I need to read these!

Cheap and easy ways to feel better about the home you are in.

Planning to take a holiday family photo? This post has some wonderful ideas for nailing your coordinated outfits.

How to talk to the women in your life right now.

Wanting to declutter? These printables look like just the ticket.


Love this textured wreath for fall.

Speaking of wreaths, this wreath is my ALL-TIME favorite.

Oh, now this is a smart idea for an app. Loud places are a pet peeve of mine.

A short & sweet list of books to add to your fall stack.

This is what I’m reading this week and I am BLOWN AWAY. Could highlight the whole book, honestly.

Restock alert: these are back and they are as awesome as can be.


How fun is this adorably easy spider garland?

The art of Japanese funeral floral arrangements. How gorgeous!

The funny small things we avoid spending money on. I had to laugh because it is true.

What Americans say vs. what they mean. Again, SO TRUE.

Wanting to add a backyard fire pit? This is such a great tutorial.

I had no idea she was such a bookworm. What a stack!

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

Instant Pot Gluten-Free Broccoli Cheddar Soup

October 9th, 2018

This Instant Pot Broccoli Cheddar Soup will fulfill all those Panera cravings MINUS the gluten!

One of my absolute favorite soups is Broccoli Cheddar Soup and it is my ultimate Panera weakness. Unfortunately, their version isn’t gluten-free so this week I decided to break out my Instant Pot and do a little recipe-testing.  Broccoli cheddar soup is one of those cheesy comfort foods that a gluten-free girl can REALLY get behind.

Oh, I should say, if you haven’t hopped on the Instant Pot game yet, I encourage you to JUST GO FOR IT.


It is the best gadget ever and is relied heavily on throughout our week to make fast work of soups, sauces, and tender meat.

If soups are going to be in your Instant Pot rotation too, I highly recommend two tools that will REALLY improve your enjoyment HIGHLY of this gadget.

The first is this type of lid that will make it easier to serve and reheat your soups for family meals.

There is nothing more awkward than trying to open and shut the sealing lid, amiright?

The other thing I absolutely love is this gadget that allows you to store your soup right in the pot in your fridge without any messes or spills.

If you can’t wait to get your pot back for the next meal though, many people also purchase additional inserts so that they can store a soup for their week as well as continue keeping the Instant Pot dishes in their rotation.

You can bet that an additional insert is on MY Christmas list this year.

And while we are on the topic of gadgets, if you haven’t bought one of these yet, it is a workhorse in our kitchen.

I, honestly, can’t imagine making soups or sauces without it…not to mention all that frothing of milk for my lattes at home.

I promise, I only recommend what I really love and TRULY use in our kitchen.

Making gluten-free soups that are thick and creamy can be a challenge. If I can offer any advice, adding this flour to our pantry has replaced a lot of my difficulties with modifying recipes to make them gluten-free. It’s an affordable solution that doesn’t require any master mixing or extra effort. Who couldn’t get behind that?

You will want to take your time though, once you add the flour to your pot, and really work hard to keep stirring and adding that liquid gradually to prevent your soup from being riddled with clumps.  It helps to take your time with this element and, remember, you will get that time back thanks to how quickly this cooks in your pressure cooker.

I’m sure it goes without saying that freshly grated cheese will always yield a better dish, but I also live in that whole “ain’t nobody got time for that” mindset on most weeknights.


It’s survival mode over here most days.

Can I get an amen?

I hope you love this recipe as much as our family did! We paired it with my easy make-ahead chicken in bulk recipe in gluten-free wraps with a drizzle of ranch.

If you are trying to do more meat-free nights, it also goes great with a little bread for dipping and some apple slices to round out this satisfying bowl of soup.

Be sure to scroll down for some more of our family favorites after the soup recipe!

Instant Pot Gluten-Free Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
Break out that Instant Pot for this satisfyingly filling Instant Pot Gluten-Free Broccoli Cheddar Soup. Not gluten-free? No problem! Replace the gluten-free flour with your gluten-y version.
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups diced carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ¼ cup gluten-free flour (this is the brand our family prefers)
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 6 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • salt to taste
  • 1½ cups shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Plug in and turn on your Instant Pot. Press the Sauté button on the Instant Pot (you want to make sure it is set to Normal) and give it a few minutes to warm up. Add the butter. Once melted, add diced carrots and cook three minutes.
  2. Stir in the garlic and flour. Allow the flour to cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly. Next add a small amount of your vegetable stock, incorporating this in bit by bit while stirring constantly and eliminating any lumps in your soup base.
  3. Hit cancel on your Instant Pot to turn off Sauté function. Add your broccoli in the pot, seal with the lid, and set your Instant Pot to HIGH pressure for 8 minutes.
  4. At the end of your cooking time, do a quick release of pressure and open the lid. Add in your paprika, pinch of nutmeg, and salt to taste.
  5. Stir in cheeses and mix well until it has melted. Add in milk and cream. Taste again to double check your final seasonings.
  6. If you have an immersion blender, you can use it to blend the soup or you can carefully pour half of the soup in a blender and blend it well and add it back to the soup pot.
  7. Serve immediately.
  8. When reheating, you can add additional vegetable stock or milk to thin the soup back out.


Looking for more great dinner recipes? Here are a few others that are a big hit with our family (AND READERS!) You can also visit our RECIPE section of the site!

3-ingredient instant pot ribs

instant pot korean tacos

instant pot indian vegetable rice

asian turkey and green bean saute

gluten-free meatloaf recipe


gluten-free chicken noodle soup

shrimp fried rice

baked orange chicken meatballs

balsamic pork loin sheet pan meal 5-ingredient gluten-free pizza dough

one pot gluten-free mac & cheese

What is your favorite way to use your Instant Pot? Have any questions about this gadget? Leave them below and I will answer them in a future post!

this post contains affiliate links

How to Make Pumpkin Hand Pies

October 8th, 2018

When I was a kid one of my favorite treats in the world was an apple pie that they served at a fast food restaurant in town.

The flaky crust in a pocket filled with the warm apple filling was the perfect comfort food to me and it always seemed to be the perfect amount to satisfy my sweet tooth craving.

Clearly, I am no food snob when it comes to the humble pie whether it is from a box in the grocery store or a local diner.

Just give me ALL THE PIE.

It should come as no surprise that my children adore pie like their mother so I wanted to create a treat for them that would be deemed one of the coolest after school snacks I have made to date.

Of course, we are creating the only pie worth making, at least according to our household.

For us, it is the incredible pumpkin pie that truly brings together the flavors of fall in every delicious bite and makes it feel like Thanksgiving… even if it really is just another boring Monday.

Of course, I have a little secret in the refrigerator now that I am a busy mom.

These little treats couldn’t be easier to prepare thanks to store-bought pie crust that saves me a lot of time on treats (and dishes).

With a little pumpkin shape placed on top of each delicate pie and dusted with cinnamon and sugar, this treat looks impressive, but can be pulled together in a matter of minutes.

These would be just perfect for a fun Halloween lunchbox treat or to celebrate the season any other day of the week! Best of all, since the filling calls for just a cup of pumpkin puree, it is the perfect way to use up a leftover can that might be taking up space in your refrigerator.

If you haven’t made a hand pie before, it couldn’t be easier. You can use a floured cup as a circle cutter or a biscuit cutter to cut out your circles. Add a tablespoon of your filling to the tops of each of your circles and then add an identical circle on top to pull the pie together. To make sure everything is secure, I seal and add pretty scores with a fork.

Want to make it even easier? Can I recommend this handy gadget?

It’s amazing for making lunchbox sandwiches too! I promise, you will get a lot out of it!

shop seasonal pie cutters HERE (SO many fun ones!!)

To add a little decoration, I love to buy seasonal decorative pie cutters that add a little detail to the edge of my pies, decorative edible touches to a dessert table for the holidays, and happen to add the perfect detail to these hand pies.

To secure these adorable pumpkins, I brushed the pies with an egg wash and then rested this on top, brushing again lightly with the egg wash.

It adds a beautiful touch and shine to the crust and makes these pretty pies into a little work of art.

I hope you can share these treats with someone you love this month and I look forward to sharing more fun fall ideas with you on the blog. Looking for a traditional pumpkin pie for the whole gang? I can’t recommend this tried-and-true recipe enough!

Don’t want to make pie at all?

I feel you.

Check out these ideas for decorating those store-bought pies!

Speaking of more fun fall projects, scroll below the recipe for a few of my ABSOLUTE FAVES!!

Pumpkin Hand Pies Recipe
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This fun semi-homemade treat has all of your favorite pumpkin pie flavors in a single size version. Be sure to snag some fun pie cutters to really make these festive! Need to make these gluten-free? No problem! Simply switch your prepared pie crust to a gluten-free version!
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ⅜ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 2 packages prepared pie crust (make sure to bring this to room temperature)
  • 1 egg
  • Cinnamon and sugar to garnish
  • Optional: This handy tool and decorative pie cutters
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix together the pumpkin, brown sugar, spices and heavy cream. Set aside. Unroll your room temperature pie crusts. Using a 2½ inch biscuit cutter or the opening of a drinking glass as your guide, cut out your circles. Remember, however many you can cut out of your first pie crust, you will want to try to do the same amount on the next pie crust to create your toppers. The amount you can get will depend on your circle size that you are punching out.
  3. Place your first half of your circles on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  4. Add in about a tablespoon pie filling, then place a dough circle on top. Press together with your fingers to seal them. Then use your fork to seal and create a pretty edge to the pie.
  5. Whisk one egg in a small bowl and then brush on top of the dough.
  6. Finish with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with a big glass of milk or a dollop of whipped cream for a sweet treat!

here are a few of our most popular fall projects on the site right now!

autumn burlap wreath tutorial

doughnut hole ghost cake (no baking necessary!)

dollar store thumbtack pumpkins

how to make glow in the dark jell-o

19 thrillers to keep you up all night

slow cooker pumpkin spice candles

no-sew blanket scarf tutorial

this post contains affiliate links!

How to Make Pumpkin Hand Pies from

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Small-Budget Crushes 10.04.18

October 4th, 2018

give me all the plaid this week!

patterned wrap front dress

crocheted pumpkins

bookish enamel pin

fall flannels (several pattern choices)

knitting project bag

cognac backpack

memory foam slippers (amazing reviews & so many colors)

heated fur throw (HECK. YES.)

pajama joggers

northern soul dancing couple

poncho scarf (two patterns)

i love you so matcha mug

chenille cardi (several hues)

all of them witches print

jigsaw puzzle table

limelight print

plaid blazer

blanket ladders (pick your stain)

knit sweater (loads of color & pattern choices- fabulous reviews too!!)


Amy’s Notebook 10.03.18

October 3rd, 2018


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

Korean beef nachos? I’m IN!!

14 simple ways to decorate your home for fall.

Adding this dip to our next board game night plans.

A very simple rule for living. Love this!

What will you do when you age.

This was your favorite purchase in this week’s small-budget crushes. So cute!

Famous writers and their cats. This just makes me happy!

The best scary movies to watch in October. YASSS! #favoriteseason

What a creative idea- how to make a mental health shelf.


How to print large images for a gallery wall. I love this!

17 unpopular things people with chronic illnesses do. So true.

I can’t wait to hear what you have been reading from this list!

9 books to renew your activism if you’re feeling hopeless right now.

One of the best post I have seen on making the post of small space homes.

I adore the bow on the back of this.

This piece was fascinating. Since we live in a small town, I have always been curious about these places.

I want to diy a blanket ladder for our house.


Love this free printable autumn to-do list.

Planning to mix up some of these blends for my diffuser for fall.

I’m reading this book and loving it right now.

I’m wowed by these libraries from around the world.

I have some lanterns in my garage that I need to put to work for fall.

Speaking of diffusers, I love this inexpensive one that I use.

20 easy fall outfits.

Screenless Saturdays– something to think about.

Time & money wasters– these are both categories that I could use some work on.

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

7 Habits to Help Your Kids Have a Great Morning

October 2nd, 2018



From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

How’s your fall going so far? It’s felt a little chaotic at my house. For weeks now, I’ve been saying, “We’re still getting into our school year routine.” But guys? We’ve been back to school for a while. If I can’t get my people into a routine soon, I’m going to have to change my excuse to, “Well, the holidays are just messing us up.” And then it’s winter break and the new year and the flu and spring break and end of school and summer.

Because the truth is, we’re constantly entering or leaving one busy season or another. During this stage, with two busy kids and two busy adults, we just don’t have a long stretch of “normal” to look forward to. There’s no sense in waiting to get back to normal before getting organized, finding routines, or learning how to live — because I’ll be waiting forever.

The number one thing I’ve found that makes a difference in how my kids — and I — deal with busy seasons? Sleep. Our quantity and quality of sleep makes an enormous difference in everything — in our health, our attitudes, our discipline in the other things that make life easier or otherwise better. Sleep kind of makes our world go ‘round.

And sleep is a funny thing. Everyone needs it, but everyone needs a different amount. And everyone seems to need different conditions to get good sleep. So it’s a universal need but also a personal one. Therefore, rather than tell you one, laser-focused solution that works for my family, today I’m sharing several things that seem to make a difference for at least one person in my house. Hopefully something I share will work for someone in your family, and together we can stop needing excuses for being so out of sorts as we move from season to season.

7 Habits to Help Your Kids Have a Great Morning

Know the facts

When we get busy with evening activities and homework and movie nights and one more story at bedtime, we can easily cut our kids’ nights short without realizing it. That’s why it’s good to know — and then keep in mind — how much sleep is recommended for each child, based on their age. This article from the American Academy of Pediatrics lists the recommended sleep times for each age range from four months to 18 years. 

This chart was helpful for my family as it showed me that it’s not weird for my 11-year-old to need more sleep than my 4-year-old. Last year I let my older daughter stay up later than her little sister, because I assumed she could handle it. But over the past few months I’ve realized that just isn’t true. They need different amounts of sleep, and what I assumed was wrong. Now they go to bed at the same time, which feels weird — but the AAP says is acceptable and not that weird after all.

Bathe at unusual times

Sometimes it feels like I have to choose between hygiene and sleep — for my kids and for myself! But what I’ve finally realized (it only took me how long?!) is that we don’t have to bathe (or shower) at the “usual” times. I can shower before bed instead of in the morning if I have to. My kids can bathe right after school instead of getting to bedtime and realizing we’ve run out of time and skipping it…again. It seems like a little thing, but it’s made a big difference for us. (And this tip goes for any bedtime or morning task. You can have story time right after dinner, and you can make lunches at night instead of after breakfast.)

Brain dump before bed

While I don’t often struggle with insomnia, I’ve certainly spent many nights staring at the ceiling as my worries or ideas or to-do list run through my brain on a loop. I’ve learned it’s better to just turn on my lamp, grab a notebook, and write it all down. That way, my brain can rest, knowing that I’ve captured all the things and I can tackle them the next day.

Sometimes my kids need that, too. I try to make sure I don’t shut them down if they bring up a tough subject or start telling a long story at bedtime, but when possible, I will ask if it’s something we can talk about the next day. And then, to make sure they know I’m serious, I’ll let them see me make an actual note so we don’t forget to come back to that topic or story.

Set alarms!

I use the alarms on my phone to keep me on track all day long, all week long. This is especially important for making sure we all get the sleep we need without being late for school or work. I set alarms for —

    • When we need to go upstairs to start the bedtime routine
    • When my oldest daughter needs to bring her book out to the hallway (so she doesn’t stay up super late reading…like her mama!)
    • When I need to turn off the TV and start my own bedtime routine
    • When I need to get up, at the very least a few minutes before the kids
    • When I need to wake up the kids (I need to get back to setting my 11-year-old’s alarm in her room; that helped her morning attitude a lot when we did it before.)
    • When we need to go downstairs to start packing lunches and eating breakfast
    • When my oldest needs to go to the bus stop

Without those alarms, we would be lost!

Make expectations clear 

Nearly every argument my girls and I have in the morning is about whether or not they’ve completed their morning routines: making their beds, brushing teeth, brushing hair, putting on clean clothes. It doesn’t seem hard to me, but they struggle — so writing down the morning routine and sticking it on the bathroom wall has helped. I also included what times we do things, so they know if it’s close to 7:30 and they aren’t close to ready for breakfast, they’d better get a move on!

Have your own morning routine

What makes you feel awake? Do you need coffee before you can deal with people? Or perhaps it’s a tall glass of ice water or a few minutes of stretching that gets your blood moving. For me, it’s turning on all the lights, brushing my teeth, and putting on a bra. Without those things, I am a slug — and not a very nice one either. We all win when I make sure to complete my own morning routine!

Take a moment 

Look, nobody in my house likes mornings. So I’m not about to tell you to take hours of your morning to connect with your people. But! If you can take even a few seconds to look them in the face and wish them well (on a test, with a friend, in general) or perhaps play their favorite song in the car and share a smile in the rearview mirror as you do your best car dance, I guarantee it will make a world of difference. And if you have more than a few seconds? Five-minute family devotions, love notes in the lunchbox, or a blessing prayer in the carpool line will take little time and effort, but leave you feeling like you’ve got this morning thing mastered.

Those are just a few things that help us have better mornings. We aren’t perfect, and don’t do every thing every day. But when we do our best to check most these boxes? We are more rested and less frazzled, and mornings don’t seem so bad (even to my house full of night owls).

What helps your family have a great morning? Be sure to scroll down for more great parenting articles!

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.

Like this article? You might find these other parenting articles helpful too!

how to handle lying

a new way to teach your child how to tie their shoes (my kids learned in 5 minutes flat!!)

teaching kids the importance of failure

homeschooling a child with special needs

how to find & write pen pals

diy tween self-confidence kit

5 book series for kids who love harry potter

This post contains affiliate links.

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September 2018 Must-Reads

October 1st, 2018

What have you been reading lately? I’m excited to hear what was in your stack this month and hoping you have a few good recommendations for October!

This month I squeezed in 7 great reads that I think you will enjoy and was excited, in particular, to share my thoughts on two buzz books that will hit store shelves tomorrow- A Spark of Light & The Dream Daughter.

You can scroll on down to read those reviews today!

I can’t tell you how much I am loving my Paperwhite this year. I am astounded at the battery life, love how much it is has helped with my eye strain, and have the best time loading it up with books from my library and those inexpensive Kindle steals.

Since it is so lightweight, I carry it around everywhere with me now!

In fact, this is the first month I don’t have a big stack of actual library books in our book bin to return.

What a time saver!

And, also…


Let’s get chatting about this month’s books!

My Usual Reminders

If you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there!

There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there!

In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

Looking to add some variety to your stack? Feel free to join our book club!

I can’t believe we have almost 1,900 bookworms in this group now. Each month we chat about a book, but the real beauty is getting to talk 24/7 about books with people who love them as much as you.

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

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

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

join here

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s selections:

The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

In the Hurricane’s Eye by Nathaniel Philbrick

This month’s special:

New members will get a free book with code SUGARHIGH.

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

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

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

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

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

You know that magical question you get asked about who you would pick, living or dead, to share a dream dinner with? Serle decides to actually explore that in her charming novel, The Dinner List, laced with just the right amount of magical realism as she crafts a dream dinner for her main character.

If you are expecting a light read though, this one had a bit more weight to it than I had thought it would.

Sabrina arrives for her thirtieth birthday dinner and is greeted by her dream dinner attendees, all arranged by her best friend.  When we think of who would we ask to our table though, we rarely think of the dynamic that might happen between the guests and the tension that people from different sections of our past can bring with them.

Sabrina’s list includes several important people from her past…

Oh, and Audrey Hepburn.

I mean, why not?

We are talking about our dream dinner, right?

Through the alternating chapters, we really learn more about Sabrina’s love of her life, Tobias, and the struggles of staying together through the for better or worse of our relationships.

In particular, Serle does a great job exploring the resentment and difficulties that can be had when sacrifices must be made to stay together.

4 out of 5 Stars

Lies by T.M. Logan

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

It was an honor to get to partner up with St. Martin’s Press to share about this fun new thriller this month. Be sure to check out that post (along with a delicious Candy Apple Martini to pair this one with)!

If you haven’t yet heard of T.M. Logan it is because he is making his debut this month with, “Lies.”

Logan is a seasoned writer who has worked as a national newspaper journalist.

This is why, perhaps, this book does not seem like a debut at all.

In this story, our lead character, Joe Lynch, is driving home from work with his young son. He happens to see his wife’s car ahead of him and decides to follow her and ends up witnessing a secret rendezvous with another man.

This encounter threatens to tear the two families apart and Joe finds that he is being set up for a murder that he never committed.

If you are a fan of Peter Swanson’s writing, I have a feeling you are going to absolutely love this thriller.

Logan expertly weaves the plot of this story so well that you will find yourself questioning just who is innocent and who is guilty.

Even more than that though, we all know that a satisfying thriller has a twisty conclusion that we don’t see coming and Logan not only keeps the reader on their toes throughout the story, but he also manages to add smart twists that even a seasoned thriller reader just won’t expect.

The author really goes to great lengths to help us explore the question, can we ever really trust those closest to us?

I absolutely loved this thriller and finished it in a single day.

4 out of 5 Stars

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

I received an advanced reader of this novel from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Picoult’s latest is definitely one of those buzz books that many people have been looking forward to, including myself. I wanted to be sure to read this one early so I could share my thoughts with you on it!

In this novel, patients and staff are held hostage in an abortion clinic by a distraught gunman. As a hostage negotiator struggles to negotiate with this man, he later discovers that his daughter also happens to be one of the hostages. This situation becomes all-too-personal, but he refuses to allow anyone else to take the case over, especially after building trust and dialogue with the shooter.

As is her signature, the story is told through all the different viewpoints from someone who is protesting the clinic, someone who has just undergone an abortion, a doctor who performs the abortions, and a girl who just picked the wrong day to get birth control. With eight different viewpoints, the topic of pro-life and pro-choice is addressed from all different angles.

Picoult decides to tell this story in reverse chronological order which sometimes works (like this book, for example), but  can also sometimes create a bit of confusion and disconnection to characters for their readers. Since we open with the conclusion, I felt less vested in this story than I had hoped to be.

I  have no problem with the topics of pro-life or pro-choice, but in order to create a less biased slant on the topic, I felt a bit preached to, in certain sections, for Picoult to drive home that both sides have reasons for their viewpoints.

As we have come to expect with Picoult, she does weave a trademark twist, but it wasn’t enough to redeem the confusion and disconnection I had with these characters.

Even though this book was a miss, for me, I will still read anything Picoult serves up and hope to connect more with her next novel. Regardless, I appreciate and am always intrigued by her research when writing her novels and she did a lot of research, on both sides of the table, to create this story.

I can see how this one might spark a lively book club discussion though, but with such a hot button topic, you probably want to reserve it for a group that you can engage in that kind of dialogue with and still do life with later.

Curious who Picoult wishes would read this novel? You might appreciate her answer, especially after this month.

Although I find this topic a tired one, if you are looking for a fresh take on this controversial topic, I found this documentary a bit more compelling than this novel this month.

3 out of 5 Stars

Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce

Dear Mrs. Bird, is, truly, one of the most charming novels I’ve read in a long time.

Set in 1940, Emmeline Lake discovers a help wanted ad for a job with the newspaper in town and can’t believer her luck to secure a job as a reporter as she dreams of all the important stories she is going to be able to cover during the war.

When she arrives for her first day though, she realizes she is greatly mistaken about her war correspondent duties and discovers that her job is really just a typist and the person who must screen all of the letters that the advice columnist, Mrs. Henrietta Bird, receives, to be answered in a tired woman’s publication.

Mrs. Bird has a verrryyyy long list of topics she refuses to cover (referred to as UNPLEASANTNESS)  and Emmeline is required to tear these “racy” letters up into tiny pieces as soon as she realizes what unladylike topics are being asked of her.

Emmeline knows that these topics deserve responses though, although she feels too young and unqualified to always give the best responses.  She secretly begins responding to the letters under Mrs. Bird’s name and, as she becomes braver, she begins publishing  her responses too.

Emmeline quickly discovers why giving advice isn’t always what it is cracked up to be, especially as her own life begins to unravel and the consequences of war hit too close to home.

Pearce was inspired by real letter submissions from this era and topics that were explored in women’s publications around the time of World War II and, cleverly, crafted these elements into her own witty debut.

If you are a fan of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I just know you will adore this read too.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

I won a copy of this novel on GoodReads from the publishing house. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

If you haven’t read Diane Chamberlain before, you really must! She is, truly, one of the most gifted writers.

Time travel is MY JAM so I was REALLY excited to see that her newest historical fiction novel had a science fiction spin that would be focused on time travel.

Diane Chamberlain AND time travel?




Set in the 1960’s, Carly’s husband has passed away in the Vietnam War before she can even share with him the news that she is pregnant.

At her routine doctor’s visit, they discover that this baby has a heart condition that cannot be treated and that her baby will die.

It is when she gets this news that her brother-in-law, a gifted physicist, shares with her that there is actually a surgery that can be done, but this surgery won’t be available until 2001.

How could he know this?

Well, let’s just say that he has time traveled a bit…

With his help, Carly time travels so her child can be part of this experimental surgery. Nothing is guaranteed, but Carly will do anything to save her daughter.

Chamberlain creates such suspense with this story that I could not put it down. This could have quickly turned corny, given the time travel aspect, but she does it with such beauty and believability, even crafting strain on the relationships of those left behind.

I hate to pick favorites, since I have loved so many of her books, but this is definitely one of my top 5 from this author!

Fans of, The Time Traveler’s Wife, will really embrace this one and the clever plot twists that surprised even me!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

I’m not much of a romance reader, but this one came highly recommended by our online book club so I thought I would give it a spin.

I’m SO glad I did because this was an absolutely adorable read! If you can get the audiobook of it, you really should. The narration was absolute perfection and my husband found me snickering around the house a few times while I was listening to it.  I tell you, these headphones and my fanny pack are the perfect combo for listening to great books while tackling stuff around the house.

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Unfortunately, their publishing house merged and they now must work together as executive assistants to the two CEO’s of the company. Since they find each other intolerable, the two engage in passive aggressive behavior towards one another, playing mean games to pass their time.

Now up for the same promotion, the hating game has elevated…as has their frustrations with each other.

As the tension mounts, so does their attraction for one another.

The thing is, neither knows if it is still a game or if these feelings are real.

If you loved this novel, I have a feeling that you are going to be completely charmed by, The Hating Game.

Thorne really lays on the humor and creates great sexual tension in this fun debut. I giggled through so many of these two and their antics, making it the perfect little romantic comedy for any reader.

5 out of 5 Stars

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

YA isn’t for everyone, but sometimes you find that YA novel that really works for adults and for young adults. Far From the Tree is one of those kinds of books. Benway tackles the broad topic of what it means to be family through different adoption stories.

Grace was adopted and now finds herself pregnant and putting her own daughter up for adoption. After going through this heartbreaking experience, she decides that she wants to know more about her own adoption story.

It is when she begins to search for her own family  that she discovers she has both a sister AND a brother. Each of them have had very, very different upbringings and experiences with their families and Benway tells these stories with so much heart and beauty.

I don’t typically get very weepy in books, but each of these stories really pulled at my heartstrings. Grace giving her baby up for adoption and Joaquin’s struggles to find his forever family really made my heart hurt.

I loved this book and just know that you will too! I can’t wait to read more from this author!

4 out of 5 Stars

Read With Me This Year:

January 2018 Must-Reads

February 2018 Must-Reads

March 2018 Must-Reads

April 2018 Must-Reads

May 2018 Must-Reads

June 2018 Must-Reads

July 2018 Must-Reads

August 2018 Must-Reads

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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Amy’s Notebook 09.28.18

September 28th, 2018


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

Wowed by this creepy and cool diy skeleton wreath.

Note to self: start scheduling a power hour.

Chapters are not meant to be skipped. They are meant to be shared. So thankful for my book club!

DIY that pumpkin spice latte. Also, love this tutorial for making your own syrup.

This speech wowed me.

Bookmarking this list of shows for my next night in.

This was your favorite purchase this week. Still can’t believe how affordable that jacket is! #winning

How to add no need to reply to different areas of our lives. What a gift in this digital age!

Things we can do at the exact same time.

This is such a smart way to add space to your countertops in small kitchens.

Adding this recipe to our meal planner. Yum!


How adorable is this Halloween mantel? I love this so much!

We need to add a few of these to our home and that price is just right.

21 subjective rules for raising a teenage girl. I needed to read this today!

What sets you off– boy, do they have my INFJ-self pegged.

Anxiety is the number one mental illness in the U.S. & marketers are capitalizing on it.

How to style your off-the-shoulder sweaters for autumn. So pretty!


I love a well-styled bed, don’t you? Who knew I had the sheets on the wrong side in our bed?

Speaking of sheets, here are some helpful folding techniques.

What a brilliant upcycle!

Next up in my book stack! Can’t wait to read this one. I’m a sucker for time travel.

Tips and tricks for dealing with insomnia (be sure to read the comments on this one!!)

This just sounds amazing for a fun treat at home.

What happens when you quit the morning scroll.

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 09.27.18

September 27th, 2018

Who else is excited about Halloween and all-things-fall? Happy shopping!

greer plans her next adventure print

brushed fleece dress

textured cardi (several hues)

texture & thread wrap top (several hues)

custom acrylic keychains

funnel neck coat

hush puppies ballet flats (the world’s most comfortable flat and so many fun colors & patterns)

plaid poncho (several patterns)

reversible tote

all things fall tee

bicycle pannier

monogrammed halloween bucket bags

the dogs of halloween print

sweatshirt cardi (several colors!!)

moto leggings (a million colors)

distressed medallion rug

rainbow unicorn hoodie

floral dress (perfect for fall weddings with a shawl)

cowl top (two colors)


floating LP shelves

plaid scarf

tie-belt jumpsuit

mustard yellow velvet tote

little lion costume

rainbow quilt

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