The 2019 MomAdvice Summer Reads Guide

June 1st, 2019

For many years, I have wanted to do a reading guide for you all, but each year the days would slip away and I would think, “Maybe next year!”

Well, not today, Satan!

I am thrilled to share my first Summer Reading Guide with you! This has been a true labor of love and I’m incredibly proud how this turned out.

Within this 15 page guide you will find:

  • A huge list of great books to read over the summer. I have included some new (and upcoming) novels, but I also weaved in some older favorites that might be easier to snag at your local library.
  • Tips for reading more this summer including a few of my own tried-and-true formulas for reading.
  • A bookworm gift guide filled with fun finds from Etsy sellers.
  • 10 of my all-time favorite books
  • 5 summer selections curated by the Currently Reading Podcast.

All you need to do to access the free guide is be an email subscriber! Upon signing up for our mailing list, you will receive a link to the reading guide.

If you decide to read any of these selections, I’d be honored if you used the #momadvicesummerreading hashtag and tag me on Instagram!

Happy reading, bookworms! xo

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MomAdvice 2019 Book Club Selections

November 26th, 2018

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

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

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

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

The best part?

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

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

How Does the MomAdvice Facebook Book Club Work?

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

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

How fun is that?

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

The more the merrier!

How Much Does it Cost?


Well, What Do YOU Get Out Of It?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MomAdvice 2019 Book Club Selections

January- A Ladder to the Sky

February- My Sister the Serial Killer

March- The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

April- Little

May- The Friend

June- The Editor

July- In Sight of Stars

August- There Will Be No Miracles Here

September- No One Can Pronounce My Name

October- The Lying Woods

November- The Library Book

December- Virgil Wander

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

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

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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Teaching Kids About Giving & Gratitude

December 12th, 2019

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

Teaching Kids about Giving & Gratitude

It’s hard to teach our children about giving and gratitude in everyday life, but when the busy holiday season arrives, we can find some special ways to express gratitude for what we have. Spend time this month teaching kids that an attitude of gratitude and giving feels good.


My daughter has always been annoyingly observant.

This means, first of all, that you cannot have “for grown-up ears only” conversations around her, make promises (or threats) you don’t intend to keep, or expect her to simply forget about the slightly traumatizing or embarrassing event from last week. (I know. Typical, right?)

But it also means that as a two-year-old, she recognized the insanity of the suburban grocery store situation.

One day after picking her up from the babysitter, I said, “Okay, Annalyn, we’re going to go to the store now.”

As we drove down the highway, she asked, “What store?” and I answered, “HyVee.”

All was well – until we pulled into the parking lot and started walking toward the store.

Toddling along, holding my hand, she looked up and shouted, “NO! No, Mommy! This is the wrong HyVee!

She was just two years old, but already she was realizing that in this suburban setting, we can find a grocery store on just about every corner.

Of course, as she was also learning, not all grocery stores are created equal.

For example, the big box store where we usually buy groceries is a smaller version of the big box store a few more miles down the road.

When it was first converted to a superstore with groceries, I was super excited.

Driving fewer miles to buy groceries was a definite plus, but I was also relieved to shop in a store slightly smaller than the Atlanta airport.

Until I couldn’t find the right peanut butter. Or deodorant. Or soy milk.

See, it turns out that we traded miles of walking for a smaller selection.

That makes sense, of course, and isn’t the end of the world by any measure.

But you wouldn’t have known that from my initial reaction.

“What the heck? How could they have all these other salsas but not the one I want? What is wrong with this store? Stupid store.”

Talk about first-world problems!

And…talk about setting a bad example!

We live in a small house in an old, deteriorating neighborhood.

Nearly every room in our home is broken in some way, and my car drives like it’s one gear shift away from a failed transmission.

Every holiday, date night, birthday party and new outfit stresses out my budget and me.

And we carry a much higher balance on our credit card than I like to admit.

However, by the standards of a huge majority of people in this world, we are wealthy.

Not just comfortable, but rich.


How, then, do I teach my young kids a healthy perspective on all our blessings, as well as a grateful and giving heart?

We do it by talking about having a grateful heart, reading stories about thankfulness and sharing, praying before meals and thanking God for all He’s given us every night before bed.

We send thank you notes for gifts, and when it’s appropriate, I point out how much more we have than others – and how that means we must share with others. (Okay, fine, sometimes it’s more frustration than an appropriate teachable moment. But can you blame me, when I hear the words, “Is that all?” for the umpteenth time in one back-to-school shopping trip?)

But we also fight the occasional case of the gimmes (often prompted by the arrival of an American Girl catalog…SIGH…!) by giving our time and resources to help others.

The holidays bring up lots of opportunities to help others in a special way, but giving back is something we can do in our own lives, in every season:


We can make meals and deliver them.

We can order pizza or pick up chicken and deliver it.

We can send a thank you note.

We can send a gift card or a gas card.

We can proofread her resume – and explain LinkedIn.

We can take baby clothes to a friend.

We can pick up a Sonic slush on the way.

We can keep extra gloves and granola bars in the car for those in need.

We can sit and visit and listen and laugh (and maybe cry, too).

We can pack up the kitchen and the boxes and the truck.

We can unpack the truck and the boxes and the kitchen.

We can order another pizza or fill up her freezer.


Teaching Kids about Giving & Gratitude


Helping friends in a real, tangible way is important to me.

And just as important is teaching my children that this is what we do.

We don’t just talk about it or feel bad about it; we don’t just toss out platitudes or empty promises.

When we hear about a lost job, a scary diagnosis, another round of the flu, a last-minute move, a no-good, very bad, terrible day, we can do something.

We can help.

We can give out of our abundance; we can love.

And somehow, between a not-quite-daily gratitude journal and sponsored kids and thank you notes and meals dropped off for a sick friend, my girls seem to be learning a little bit about giving and gratitude.

At least until they find the next overpriced toy catalog in the mail…


How do you teach your kids about giving and gratitude?



Teaching Kids About Giving & Gratitude

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2019 MomAdvice Favorite Things List

December 11th, 2019

MomAdvice Favorite Things List


Looking for a gift for yourself? This holiday gift guide lists all of my tried-and-true gifts that I have received and why I think you will love them too. Check out the MomAdvice Favorite Things list for a great gift for any lady in your life!

I have enjoyed putting together our holiday gift guides SO MUCH this year. To close out the shopping guides, I wanted to share with you what topped *my* favorite things this year.

A few of these were acquired more recently, but most of these items are things that I use use daily in our home.

I love a good gift guide with a personal testimonial, don’t you?

Of course, I have a few items on my wish list (that I don’t own)  too so I’ll share that with you at the end! 

2019 MomAdvice Favorite Things List

ABEO Halifax Slippers ABEO Halifax Slippers

I was such a big fan of my UGG slippers and wore them so much that I completely wore them out. 

I participate in a lot of Facebook groups for my chronic pain and went through an entire list of recommendations for the best slippers for people with joint pain.

So many people raved about the ABEO Halifax Slippers so I thought I’d give them a try for my next house slippers.

I have to say, I’ll never go back to the UGG slippers again.

The biggest difference is the orthotic support that has been built into these. These slippers actually feel like they are holding and supporting each part of my foot. 

I, honestly, didn’t know what I had been missing until I put these on my feet.

Although this is a pricier item on the list, these are worth every dang dollar.

Mainstays Sherpa Throw Mainstays Sherpa Throws

If I could, I would be wrapped in sherpa for the entire winter.  My favorite thing, in fact, is a sherpa sleep robe that I snagged from Walmart last year. 

Sadly, they didn’t bring the exact jacket back, but they did bring along this nice substitute.

If you weren’t able to snag that sleep robe, I found a sherpa blanket that comes in a close second place to my favorite garment.

There is rarely a year that I’m not giving (or getting) a blanket and these sherpa blankets are my pick for cozy winter comfort.

They are surprisingly lightweight, feel like a warm hygge hug, and will cost you just, $8.88.


I am sure you had to guess that there would be a couple of great bookish gifts that made the list.

Honestly, Scribd is one of my absolute favorite things and is a monthly membership that I would have a REALLY hard time giving up.

Scribd is best described as Netflix for book-lovers. Instead of charging per book, Scribd offers an unlimited membership at one flat rate. 

There is an unbelievable selection of audiobooks and books that you can check out.

Not only do I love it for all my reads, but they also have other great features like subscriptions to magazines and you can even get sheet music on their platform.

All of that is a mere, $8.99 a month! 

Keep in mind, this service does not work with the Kindle, but will work with your tablet or phone! 

Conair Infiniti Blow Dryer Brush Conair Infiniti Pro Spin Air Brush

I have never been very good at the whole holding a blow dryer and a brush at the same time thing.  I bow down to hairdressers who have mastered this coordination.

Years ago I discovered this Conair Infiniti Pro Spin Air Brush and it has been a game changer.

This brush spins in both directions, with a simple button push! It comes with two different size brush options that you can use,  depending on your hair length.

People usually ask me if I’ve been to one of those fancy blow dry bars when I use this because you get that perfect shiny bounce.

Unfortunately for others, I have to jump into my infomercial for this gadget when I get asked about my hair. 

Exerpeutic Folding Stationary Bike

Exerpeutic Foldable Stationary Bike

I am laughing that this made the list after all the controversy with the Peloton commercial

Honestly, some of us really DO want exercise equipment for Christmas.

While I would love a fancy spin bike, we don’t have the space or the funds to designate to one of those. 

Instead, I opted for this inexpensive foldable bike and pair it with the Cyclecast app for my workouts. 

This folds so easily and takes up very little space in our home.

Pairing it with an Apple gift card (check out this discount spot) would definitely make a great gift.

Full Body Bath Pillow Full Body Bath Pillow

I have to say that one of my favorite gifts I’ve received is this incredible full body bath pillow

This is, honestly, a plush cushion and it has durable suction cups that help hold it in place. 

I believe this gift pairs awfully well with a bath tray, a good book, and a bottle of wine. 

The biggest question I get asked is how to keep it clean.

This has a little hook at the top that you can hang it, after your bath and it dries quickly. The fabric is mildew resistant though so you don’t have to worry about the mold issue, especially if you properly let it air dry.

It also can be put right in your washer on a gentle cycle, to make sure the germs are really gone.

They even provide a laundry bag for you to roll it into, to prevent the suctions from getting stuck in your washer.

Five stars- highly recommend.

Political Pottery

My Political Pottery

I am leaving Mr. Rogers here instead of my pick for President….just to keep you clicking.

In all seriousness, I discovered a local potter (Rothshank Artworks)  that makes incredible political pottery and had to have a mug of our Mayor Pete.

Yay, South Bend!

I am completely aware that these are expensive, but they are one of those one-of-a-kind gifts that you will treasure forever. The workmanship is just unbelievable.

Sipping coffee in this beautiful piece makes me so dang happy and has been one of my favorite finds this year. 


Shaker Stitch Sweaters

Shaker Stitch Sweaters

This year I discovered just how much I love shaker stitch sweaters. 

My obsession started with this sweater (that has almost sold out), but there is a new shaker stitch sweater in town that I’m excited to wear this winter.

This chevron sweater comes in so many fun colors, is made with a breathable cotton yarn, and has that adorable puffer sleeve that is so trendy right now. 

I found that this runs true to size, but if you are between sizes, I would go up one. 

The best part? It is under $13 and feels VERY high end. 



Anytime I wear my Keysocks, I get questions about them. I am obsessed with these no-show socks because they don’t fall off.

I prefer the kind that go to your knees, because it adds a double layer of warmth, but they also now make these in short lengths too.

If you love a good pair of ballet flats or booties, you will definitely want to add these to your wish list.

Contour Flip Pillow

The Contour Flip Pillow

I don’t even remember how I stumbled upon the flip pillow, but I’m SO glad that I did. 

Honestly, if you read a lot in bed, this is one gift that I think you will absolutely love.

The way this pillow is made, it allows you to position it in ten different ways, offering incredible neck and back support.

It comes without a cover so be sure to buy one if you want to keep it clean.

Not a reader?

No problem!

It also makes a great couch potato pillow too for those Netflix binges.


Cozy Fleece Leggings

I am obsessed with fleece leggings in the winter and love  to wear big oversized sweaters with them in the winter. 

If you can believe it, my favorite fleece leggings are $10 for TWO pairs. 

These are lightly fleece lined, come in tons of colors, and are high waisted.

Keep in mind, they do not have compression in them, but they do hold their shape. 

My one caveat with these is that they run REALLY small. 

Size up two sizes for a comfortable fit for winter.

Can you tell I live in Indiana by my choices? #socold

Origami Folding Kitchen Island Origami Entertaining Cart

The Origami company offers products that are a small space lover’s best friend. 

Everything is high quality and FOLDABLE. 

I REALLY needed a kitchen island, but I REALLY didn’t want to pay for a kitchen remodel.

My Origami Entertaining Cart has become my new best friend when I entertain and one of my favorite gifts.

This island folds completely flat and can be stowed in a corner until I need an extra counter space.

Although this might not be beneficial to you, it has been a BIG help with food photography.

I am able to put my surfaces on top and style dishes really easily, thanks to these little wheels.

Honestly, anything from this company would be a win in your home. 

Corala Weighted Blanket Review Corala Weighted Blanket

I got a Corala Weighted Blanket and now I refuse to sleep without it. This blanket has transformed my sleep (and my husband’s).

The reason I am highlighting this one is because it comes with TWO duvet covers- a warm fleece one (for winter) and a linen one (for summer). 

While there are a lot of blankets that are cheaper, I’ve yet to find one so cleverly designed and beautifully made. 

This queen size blanket settles my body down at night and is wide enough to share with my husband.

It is weird how calm it makes you feel when you are under it.  Restless sleepers really would benefit from this purchase. 

I, personally, love that the covers can be removed and washed on this version. 

The box itself was just as beautiful  and we use it for storing all of my clutches/purses in my closet now.

What Made My Wish List? 

The Matte Makeup Organizer

Mealthy CrispLid

Stack ‘N Cook Stackable Inserts

LED Book Light

PowerLix Milk Frother

Cozy Puffer Sleeve Sweater

Sagely Smart Pill Organizer

Yarn Boss Yarn Bag

Blue Light Blocking Glasses

Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker

Looking for more great gift ideas? Check out this year’s gift guides!

100 Unique Stocking Stuffers Everyone Will Love 100 unique stocking stuffers for everyone on your list

Unique Gift Ideas for Kids of All Ages unique gift ideas for kids of all ages

Unique Gift Ideas for the Man Who Has Everything from unique gifts for the man who has everything

Unique Gift Ideas for Tweens & Teens unique gift ideas for tweens and teens

I hope that this inspires your gift-giving this year! Let me know if you got anything and what you thought!

Honest truth: I am always thankful to be a part of ANYONE’S holiday!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

This post contains affiliate links from RewardStyle. Thank you for supporting our website through your purchases.

MomAdvice Favorite Things List


How to Make a Homeless Care Package (Free Printable Supplies List)

December 10th, 2019

How to Make Homeless Care Packages from

Blessing bags for the homeless are such a beautiful act of kindness for those in need. Today’s post will show you how to make homeless kits for those in need. These hygiene kits are handy to keep in your car, for those that live on the street, or can be given as gift bags for your local homeless shelter. Be sure to print out our free printable supplies list for your homeless care kit.

One thing that you may not know about our family is that we are really passionate about caring for the homeless.

Creating a homeless care package (also known as a Blessing Bag) can be one fantastic way that your entire family can be involved in caring for those in need.

Today we want to provide a checklist of supplies for the homeless bags, a local resources sheet you can print out (if you are in our area), and some tips for involving the whole family in this project.

After all, homeless gift bags are a great idea to help teach your children kindness.

These homeless packs have been replicated by so many people and are the perfect activity for volunteer organizations you may be part of.

By involving others, you can alleviate some of the expenses by asking everyone to bring the materials to craft these bags.

Distribute the list and allow each attendee to bring travel size items, food, socks or bags to help the homeless in your area.

How to Make Homeless Care Packages from

I also appreciate that these homeless care packages can be prepared for your local shelters or kept tucked away in the trunk of your car for those you may see on the street looking for your help.

I love feeling armed in these situations and these kits are a simple way to show how much you care.

Over the past couple of years, I have also had the opportunity to work at our local food bank and food pantry. What many people don’t realize is that many of these items cannot be purchased using food stamps.

Items that are not food (like toothpaste, paper products, deodorant, shampoo, toothbrushes, etc…) are not eligible and that is why these items are often in high demand at church community pantries.

It is why these are the items that I choose to donate to our shelter each year.

How to Make a Homeless Care Package from

I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t tell you that my husband inspires me every day with his giving heart. Last winter, he was coming home late from work because he would see people in need and run to stores to get them supplies and gift cards.

That is his heart.

That is why I love him.

If there is one thing I firmly believe in, it is that giving should be a family affair.

We have to lead our children by our example.

I want my children to remember that what made our family special is that we always gave with our whole hearts.

My kids assisted in every aspect of this project.

My son came with me and did the number crunching on a good old-fashioned calculator, my daughter helped sort and organize all of the items we bought, and both kids helped fill the bags with all of the necessary items.

Here Are My 3 Essential Elements to a Great Homeless Care Package

Feed Their Needs

One of the greatest gifts you can give to someone who is homeless is personal hygiene items and food to nourish their bodies.

Begin by picking up items that will satisfy this area in their life first.

Simple items like shampoo, a razor, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, a bar of soap, and tissues are all great items to keep on hand.

Food like granola bars, crackers with peanut butter, beef jerky, trail mixes, dried fruits, and a bottle of water are also great items to tuck into your bags.

If you have the funds, small denominator gift cards (we did $5 Walmart gift cards) can also be great to give so that they can pick up a meal or item(s) they might need.

How to Make Homeless Care Packages from

Provide Warmth

We live in Indiana and the winters here are brutal for homeless people.

I can’t imagine how cold it would be to stand on the streets without the proper items

I need for warmth.

Add items like thermal boot socks, gloves, scarves, and hats to your gift bags.

Items like these may seem out of your financial reach, but I found all of these at the dollar store and the sets of gloves were a mere $.50 each.

Feed Their Souls

I am sure it goes without saying, but feeding someone’s soul is just as important as feeding their needs.

You can feed their souls in a variety of ways depending on your families beliefs and resources.

We created a local resources list (available for local residents to download) that they can tap into for further resources in our town.

A note that lets them know that they are on your prayer list, a note of encouragement by your children, or a scripture that you find comforting can also be excellent additions.

If these are not enough ideas, I encourage you to spend a bit of time browsing through the comments on this post.

Many people regularly volunteer at their shelters and food banks and have some great ideas to help.

Please also know, that we are real people (sometimes that doesn’t seem that way on the website, am I right?) and we did OUR personal best to put these together so we appreciate your KIND words on this post and definitely encourage you to share your own must-have items in a care package while being respectful of others in these comment threads.

How Do I Order My Homeless Care Package Supplies in Bulk?

Did you know that you can purchase items from Dollar Tree IN BULK.

Looking to save even more? Consider using this incredible rebates app to get cash back on ALL your holiday purchases.

We were able to place a bulk order with Dollar Tree and pick up the items we needed for these kits from our local store.

Don’t have room in your car?

No worries!

They can ship all the items directly to you.

How cool is that?

What Our Readers Suggest Adding to Your Hygiene Kits for the Homeless

I love seeing what contributions YOU recommend for these packs! Here are some of my favorites you shared!

“My husband and I travel a lot when he’s working on contract.

I save all the little complimentary shampoos, conditions, soaps, etc and when I have quite a few saved, I sew up pretty drawstring bags, divide the items I’ve save between the bags and then donate them to our local women’s shelter.

I’ve also started adding toothpastes and toothbrushes that I purchase to the bags.

Many times women arrive with nothing but the clothes on their back and this way they can be given their own personal care kit. I make each bag different so that they don’t feel like they are getting something that is assembly line, but something that was made just for them.”

“Many homeless also have dogs.

Perhaps you could add some things like treats, small pouches or pop-top cans of food, grooming supplies and toys.

And with the winter months coming, both owner and pet need to stay warm and dry…some large trash bags to put on the ground to keep from getting wet and even colder.

And I have seen fleece throws just recently at Walmart for like $2!”

“I currently make and deliver hot chocolate to a few homeless people I see on my way home from work (I work in downtown Chicago) and I pass out cold cans of pop in the summer.

I also make plates of food from leftovers after work luncheons and pass them out after work. (I don’t consider this stealing because I know that by 4:30 anything left in the kitchen will be thrown away.) I

know it isn’t not much, It won’t make a huge difference in the world, but it might make a world of difference to the person I’m helping.

Thanks for the list. I’m glad to see there are others out there who are concerned for the homeless and actually do something about it.

I hope the care package(s) I pass out, make the receiver(s) feel loved, thought of and cared for.”

“This is a wonderful idea! I got so excited when I saw this-I immediately began to think of other items that might be added, such a bar of soap or bottle of body wash, plastic glass and mug, plastic cutlery and plate, tissues, pen and notebook, small clock, personal wipes, instant oatmeal packets, instant soup packets, hot chocolate packets, instant noodle packets, towel, facecloth, thermal blanket, and in the summer, a sun hat, sunscreen, inexpensive umbrella and a fly swatter!

Many of these things can be found on sale, at Walmart, and the dollar store. They don’t have to be bought all at once and do lend themselves as a project for a family, like yourselves, or amongst a group of friends, a Sunday School class, a school class or a Brownie troop.”

“You might also check with your school district if they have children.

All our local schools have a homeless liaison who works to get food, clothing and housing for homeless families.”

“I regularly carry around coupon books from various restaurants, but this goes even further.”

“As truck drivers, my husband and I see many people standing on the exit ramps of the interstate highways.

We give ziplock bags with toiletries, (in a separate bag) and foods like you mentioned, plus single serve packages of oatmeal, grits, hot cocoa, ect. I add pack of sugar, jelly, peanut butter, plasticware, napkins, whatever we get from the take out and fast food restaurants.

I also pick up dollar store gloves, hats, socks, ect. We have added stamped postcards, Christmas cards and candy canes in season.

Notepads and pens are welcomed as are throws we get at thrift stores.

We were giving the gift books from the fast food places, but now they’ve gone to gift cards.

Chapstick is a good idea, as are deodorants, comb, sanitary items for the women, (yes, we see homeless women and children too).

We give small toys, stickers and tattoos for the kids. We stay in motels a lot and always ask housekeeping for extras.”

“I love this post. I am in the middle of coordinating a SOCKS party here in Nashville.

We are getting the big, thermal socks, and filling them with different items for the homeless.

We’ve been fortunate to have my dentist donate the toothpaste and floss, and McDonald’s donated 1,000 Cards for a free dollar menu item.

We also have tons of shampoo, conditioner, and soaps from hotels.

We’ll stuff it with snacks, hand warmers, and other items (many on your list).

We are getting together for our SOCK party and letting the kids stuff the socks and make the tags, which will say “I care”.

The kids are excited and I love what it’s teaching them. Thanks for inspiring others to give back!”

Aren’t my readers incredible? Just think of the possibilities with this one!

God has been so good to us, but 10 years ago we were in a very different place than where we are now.

My husband was unemployed for almost an entire year, our financial situation was a house of cards, and my heart was in a bad place.

Although I don’t like to admit it, I wondered what my purpose on this earth even was.

I never have forgotten that dark place and it is why we still try to be so careful with the resources we have been given and why I have such a tender place in my heart for those who are struggling.

If you would like to read more about it, I encourage you to read my book where I share how we recovered from this difficult financial period in our life.

Being careful though doesn’t mean that you can’t be a giver.

There are fantastic ways to give, both big and small, around the holidays.

Be sure to check our list of ten painless ways to give back to charities to help you get started.

I call these smaller ways to give the, “scraps of life giving.” I have talked a lot about that with my partnership with Pure Charity as well!

We want to help you give back to your community! Here are some resources to do just that!

Grab our Free Homeless Supply Checklist for your your care packages.

Don’t just click on the picture, head to this link to grab a full-size PDF version!

Grab our Local Resources List for your care packages (if you don’t live in Michiana, you can use this as a template for your own sheet)! Don’t just click on the picture, head to this link to grab a full-size PDF version!

Looking for more great ways to give back? Here are a few other great ideas!

diy no sew hand warmers

cabled ear warmer pattern diy cabled ear warmers

diy chunky knit blanket pattern

How do you give back in your community? How do you teach your kids to be givers?

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How to Make a Homeless Care Package from

How to Make Homeless Care Packages from

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11 Sitcoms to Help Get You Into the Holiday Spirit

December 9th, 2019

11 Sitcoms to Get You in the Holiday Spirit from

Here’s a guide for every episode you need to stream on television get into the holiday spirit! These 11 tv shows, with hilarious holiday episodes, prove that this season really is all about family – no matter how dysfunctional. Be sure to pin this post so you can remember this list of holiday episodes for a new family Christmas tradition.


From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, as we all know, but also the most hectic time of the year. 

From shopping to baking to figuring out what to wear to the fancy party that sounded so fun when you agreed to go, most of our lives are nonstop chaos from about October through New Year’s.

With that in mind, it might seem silly that we’re bombarded with so much holiday programming on TV. 

Who has time for that this holiday season when we have gifts to wrap and end-of-semester or end-of-quarter deadlines to meet and family dysfunction to navigate?!?

Well, nobody, I guess. 

But while we may not have time to sit back and watch fictional characters and their holiday hijinks, I believe we might just need it.

Because sometimes we need a break. 

Sometimes we need to laugh. 

Sometimes…well, sometimes we need to watch a family way crazier than our own to regain our perspective on these people driving us nuts in real life!

Fortunately, in addition to the onslaught of holiday movies (of which I am a giant fan) and Christmas specials (of which I have made an exhaustive list), our favorite tv series are HERE FOR US with their very special holiday episodes.

Now, I won’t deny that some of our most beloved dramas have given us so much at holiday time. 

From Chrismukkah (The O.C.) and winter festivals (Gilmore Girls) to the most romantic proposal in the snow (Downton Abbey) to even the most dark and twisty characters getting into the holiday spirit (Grey’s Anatomy), these shows can really do a number on our already seasonally fragile emotions. 

There’s a time and place for all that, but right now, I’m leaning more toward the fun and funny type of holiday episodes. 

That is what I think is going to help us not just get through the holidays, but actually enjoy them.


11 Sitcoms to Get You Into the Holiday Spirit


Blackish Christmas


What other family sitcom addresses real family life and serious societal issues with so much humor and heart? 

Making us think (and sometimes tear up) while laughing so hard is a Black-ish specialty, and that’s no different during the holiday.

Stream on Hulu.

  • Black Santa/White Christmas – season 1, episode 10
  • Stuff – season 2, episode 10
  • Just Christmas, Baby – season 3, episode 10
  • Christmas in Theater Eight – season 5, episode 8


Bob’s Burgers

I’m new to this show (thanks to Amy’s recommendation on my podcast!), but I can already tell I’m going to love this bizarrely lovable (or is it lovably bizarre?) family’s holiday shenanigans.

Stream on Hulu.

  • Bob Rest Ye Gentle-Mannequins – season 3, episode 9
  • Christmas in the Car – season 4, episode 8
  • Father of the Bob – season 5, episode 6
  • Nice-Capades – season 6, episode 5
  • The Last Gingerbread House on the Left – season 7, episode 7
  • The Bleakening – season 8, episodes 6-7
  • Better Off Sled – season 9, episode 10

Community Christmas


Though I always enjoyed the times the Community gang simply sat around their study table in the library, the themed episodes where the whole show goes off the rails are really the best.

Two of the Christmas episodes fit that bill to a T, one being filmed in stop-motion animation and one a musical send-up of the TV show, Glee. 

If you like your holiday shows on the absurd side, Community has got you covered.

Stream on Hulu.

  • Comparative Religion – season 1, episode 12
  • Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas – season 2, episode 11
  • Regional Holiday Music – season 3, episode 10
  • Intro to Knots – season 4, episode 10

Happy Endings

This group of friends always makes me laugh so hard with their ridiculous antics focused on outsmarting each other in some competition or another, while also caring for one another with the most outrageous (and often back-firing) gestures imaginable. 

Also, as a fellow December baby, I’m all for friends who go overboard trying to make their friend’s Christmas birthday special.

Stream on Hulu.

  • Grinches Be Crazy – season 2, episode 9
  • No-Ho-Ho – season 3, episode 7


How I Met Your Mother

How I Met Your Mother is better known for its Thanksgiving (or, Slaps-giving, if you will) episodes, but it had some great Christmas episodes, too. 

And while this show is based on an outrageously unrealistic premise (“Kids, let me tell you every sordid detail of my exploits as a young single guy in the big city…”) and had that ending we all agree was major disappointment (*salutes* Major Disappointment), it also really did address issues many of us face as young (and not-so-young) adults. 

Navigating friendships in the fallout of a breakup, dealing with homesickness, going through life changes like pregnancy and moves: somehow How I Met Your Mother makes “adulting” hilarious, especially in these holiday episodes.

Stream on Hulu.

  • How Lily Stole Christmas – season 2, episode 11
  • Little Minnesota – season 4, episode 11
  • False Positive – season 6, episode 12
  • Symphony of Illumination – season 7, episode 12

New Girl Holiday

New Girl

Every character in this ensemble is intense — but in the super funny, strangely quirky sort of way. 

And like in real life, the holidays just amplify what’s already there, turning everything about them, good and bad, individually and collectively, up to an 11. 

But in the very best sort of way.

Stream on Netflix.

  • The 23rd – season 4, episode 9
  • Santa – season 2, episode 11
  • LAXmas – season 4, episode 11
  • Christmas Eve Eve – season 6, episode 10

Parks & Recreation Christmas

Parks and Recreation

Does anyone even come close to possessing the enormous amount of genuine (and productive) holiday spirit as Leslie Knope? 

Nope. (See what I did there?) 

She outdoes us all, and darn it! 

We love her all the more for it. 

Despite serious political distractions in these holiday episodes, Leslie and friends give us even more feels than normal, even when we’re not invited to Jerry’s Christmas party!

Stream on Netflix.

  • Christmas Scandal – season 2, episode 12
  • Citizen Knope – season 4, episode 10
  • Ron and Diane – season 5, episode 9


The Goldbergs

Who can rock a hideous Christmas sweater while also turning Hanukkah into a competitive sport better than Beverly Goldberg? 

Nobody, that’s who.

Stream on Hulu.

  • A Christmas Story – season 3, episode 10
  • Han Ukkah Solo – season 4, episode 10
  • We Didn’t Start the Fire – season 5, episode 10
  • Yippee Ki Yay Melon Farmer – season 6, episode 10

The Mindy Project Holiday

The Mindy Project

If a wine bra and a dancing Danny Castellano aren’t enough to convince you to watch the holiday episodes of The Mindy Project, then I just don’t know what to tell you. 

The holidays might be for spending time with the ones you love, but in this show, they’re also for planning and scheming and so many silly twists and complications we can barely keep them straight. (But we totally can, because sitcom complications are rarely all that complicated, and we are smart people.)

Stream on Hulu.

  • Josh & Mindy’s Christmas Party – season 1, episode 9
  • Christmas Party Sex Trap – season 2, episode 11
  • Christmas – season 3, episode 11

The Office Christmas Party

The Office

The holiday party planning committee and all its many, many problems is one of my favorite parts of The Office. 

Michael Scott going overboard in a ridiculous manner for a ridiculous reason? 

Not so much my fave. 

But somehow, these holiday episodes combine these two show ingredients into something stupid funny and great examples of what made The Office so popular.

Stream on Netflix.

  • Christmas Party – season 2, episode 10
  • A Benihana Christmas – season 3, episode 10
  • Moroccan Christmas – season 5, episode 10
  • Secret Santa – season 6, episode 13
  • Classy Christmas – season 7, episode 11
  • Christmas Wishes – season 8, episode 10
  • Dwight Christmas – season 9, episode 9

Will & Grace

If decking the halls includes donning our gay apparel, then obviously the foursome on Will & Grace are the right ones to help us do the holidays right. 

I’m hoping we get one last holiday episode this year, but even if we don’t, we have plenty of classics to choose from.

Stream on Hulu.

  • Jingle Balls – season 4, episode 12
  • All About Christmas Eve – season 5, episode 11
  • Fanilow – season 6, episode 10
  • Christmas Break – season 7, episode 12
  • A Little Christmas Queer – season 8, episode 9
  • A Gay Olde Christmas – season 9, episode 7

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What’s YOUR favorite holiday TV episode? 


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7 Ways to Stay Connected During Busy Seasons

December 9th, 2019

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

7 Ways to Stay Connected During a Busy Season


While we are in the middle of the busy holiday season, it is hard to stay connected and schedule time to be together. We’ve learned some simple ways to spend time together that won’t increase your stress levels!



I told someone the other day that my husband and I aren’t even ships passing in the night right now. We’re more like ships in completely different oceans.

Thankfully, we do live in the same house.

My husband isn’t deployed or traveling extensively for work.

But he does work incredibly long hours on the night shift, which means our time together – as a couple and as a family – is extremely limited.

Recently we’ve been attending a marriage class at our church, and one of the topics we’ve covered is connection.

In our particular group it felt like my husband and I have a unique struggle, but I know that’s not the case in general.

I have many friends whose husbands are gone at either unusual or unpredictable times or for extended time (and sometimes both).

When one or both spouses are away from home a lot, staying connected can be difficult.

If you or your husband work an odd shift, work more than one job, work in law enforcement or medicine, own or run a business, serve in the military, or any other number of things that keep you busy, connecting with him may take what feels like a superhuman effort.

And, of course, if you’re already running on steam because of that exhausting schedule, that make seem impossible!

But it’s not.

Staying connected to your husband doesn’t mean you need to plan (and pay for – ugh!) a weekend getaway every month.

You don’t need to schedule walks on the beach or candlelit dinners, or fear the consequences. (Although, let’s be honest. If you live near the beach or own candles, those things never hurt!)

Staying connected to your husband during super busy, crazy chaotic seasons can happen with a few simple, intentional moves.

First, maybe we should define “staying connected,” though.

When I use that phrase, I mean that both spouses maintain a warm feeling about one another, showing each other kindness and attempting to make the other one feel loved on a regular basis.

What keeping that loving feeling looks like, tangibly and practically, in YOUR marriage?

That’s up to you (and your husband)!

Now, on to the tips!


7 Ways to Stay Connected During a Busy Season


7 Ways to Stay Connected During Busy Seasons


Date Nights: I know, I know – big surprise! Date nights = everyone’s solution for improving your marriage! But seriously, you guys. Finding time to spend together, alone, is crucial. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. Last week we had our monthly date night scheduled but I couldn’t find a babysitter. So I reserved a movie rental and made sure we had popcorn in the pantry, and we still had time together after putting the girls to bed.


Stay Connected During Busy Season

Eat a Meal Together: Since we’re already talking about busy seasons, it’s obvious that eating dinner together each evening may be difficult or even impossible. But if you can’t eat dinner together, can you eat breakfast at the same time? Meet for lunch? Feed the kids at the normal time and eat with your husband later? Skype while you eat your meals in completely different time zones? However you arrange it, something about sharing a meal creates a closeness that can’t be duplicated with other food-free interactions.


Send Him a Message: I send my husband a text message each night before going to bed. It’s the end of my day but the middle of his work day, and I just want to make sure he knows I’m thinking of him. We’ve also started using Voxer, a voice message (and text message) app on our phones that allow us to leave messages for each other when we’re thinking about it – without waking each other up (a problem since our schedules are opposite). Maybe those things would work for you, or perhaps you need nightly phone calls or morning Skype dates. The point is to keep communicating so you can stay on the same page, even if you’re not in the same room.


Watch a Show Together: One of the perks to having a husband who works nights is that I don’t have to share the remote or negotiate the shows we watch. However, it also means that we’ve picked a handful of shows that we record and watch together on the weekend. And when “our” shows aren’t on, we watch something together on Netflix.

Others might say that watching TV together isn’t spending quality time together. But for us, it is. It’s something we only do together and it’s something we have in common. And though you might not think deep conversations could come from watching an episode of Castle or catching up on all five seasons of Friday Night Lights, you would be wrong.


7 Ways to Stay Connected During a Busy Season


Share a Hobby: If TV isn’t your thing, maybe you could read a book together and discuss it when you finally have time together. Or plant a garden together or refinish furniture together or train for a 5K together. (Or train for a 5K separately and then run the race together.) As long as you’re doing something together that you both enjoy, you’re connecting!


Write Him a Letter: My husband doesn’t know it, but on the rare occasion he leaves a note for me (“Don’t forget toilet paper at the store,” “Please wake me up at 4:30,” “Here’s that check to deposit.”), I keep them. There’s something special about seeing his handwriting and his words written just for me – even if they are about mundane, everyday things. It reminds me of the days when we dated and exchanged notes and letters, the days when the most serious thing we had to discuss was our feelings for each other.

Today I’m more likely to send that nightly text or scribble a sentence or two in a birthday card than write him a love letter. But I do think about it sometimes. I wonder if I could convince him to share a journal where we left each other notes. I wonder if I could make time to actually write him a letter. On paper. With a pen. I can’t say I have experience with this tip, but after all my wondering, I’m certain that doing this – even every once in a while – would amp up my connection with my husband.


Think Happy Thoughts: Even before my husband worked nights, he worked evenings. And before that, he worked two jobs. So we’ve had lots of practice fighting the drift of missed connection. For many years I spent that time alone, annoyed and resentful. I’ve learned that strategy is NOT the way to stay connected with your husband, in case you were wondering.

I’ll be completely honest: I still struggle with resentment sometimes. A schedule like ours is super annoying and can be super frustrating, too. But when I maintain a good attitude, focusing on the good parts of our life, remembering all the many reasons I love him, and expressing gratitude instead of grumbling, it’s a whole lot easier to connect with my husband when he finally gets home.


How do you stay connected to your husband during busy seasons?

Photos by Richard Min, bigbirdz, and Natalie Lucier.


Stay Connected During Busy Seasons


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November Happy List

December 5th, 2019

Thanksgiving 2019

How the heck are you?

It is that fun time of the month where I get to share what’s been making me happy this month.

I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families. I know we had a more relaxed holiday this year and that was SO very welcome.

Thankful list

Thanksgiving get the tutorial for my table runner for the holidays

There, honestly,  has been a lot going on at our house these days.  Not only did what we celebrate the holidays with my husband’s family, but my sister also got married this month too. 

I am so excited to see the next chapter of her life unfold and got her this as a wedding gift to celebrate those new milestones with their new family members. 

Isn’t that the best little gift? 

I was also thankful to see my daughter’s thankful list this year (which then topped MY thankful list). Anyone with a teenage daughter knows how special these little things are right now.

diy chunky knit blanket pattern

Speaking of my sweet girl, we are celebrating her FOURTEENTH birthday this month.

Her birthday request was one of my diy chunky knit blankets

I have a feeling another girl in our house would like this for a gift too.

Paper Poppies Pattern

Paper Poppies get the paper poppy pattern

This has also been my first time being a part of the annual holiday ball committee for our local Junior League and the festivities are happening this weekend. 

Our theme is, “A Night in Emerald City,” and we are adorning each of the bouquets with paper poppies for the centerpieces. This is  a sweet little nod to Dorothy’s nap in the flowers, in the film. 

It was so fun to make these with our new members this year and I’m excited to lead the committee next year.

I have, definitely, learned a ton about event planning through this experience. 

Before I share the happy list, I would also love to say a special thank you to each of you for doing your holiday shopping through our site this year.

Our family has appreciated your support so much and shopping our affiliate links helps us keep the lights on at MomAdvice. 

Before we dig into my happy list, here is what made the cut on YOUR happy list for November!

Top Ten Most Visited Articles in November

  1. Easy Burlap Wreath Tutorial
  2. Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies
  3. How to Make a Blanket Scarf
  4. The Ultimate Make-Ahead Gravy Recipe
  5. 3-Ingredient Instant Pot Ribs
  6. Unique Gifts for the Man Who Has Everything
  7. The Best Kindle Book Deals (updated daily)
  8. DIY Chunky Knit Blanket (FREE Pattern)
  9. How to Make a Pom-Pom Wreath
  10. Unique Gifts for Kids of Any Age

Top Ten Most Purchased Items in November

  1. Neck LED Book Light for Kids
  2. Rocketbook Reusable Notebooks (we are obsessed over here!)
  3. Magnetic Wrist Bands
  4. Groopdealz Daily Deals (lots of UGG Gloves & YETI Tumblers for the holidays)
  5. Bluetooth Beanies for Men
  6. Smartphone Mini Projectors
  7. The Book Lover’s Journal
  8. Ticket Stub Diary
  9. Ew David Coffee Mugs
  10. Shiatsu Back & Neck Massager (I love this thing so much!)

Top Ten Amazon Purchases in November

  1. A Woman is No Man
  2. Facial Hair Remover for Women
  3. Fruit of the Drunken Tree
  4. CLOVER Pom Pom Maker
  5. Light Therapy Lamps
  6. Goodthreads Women’s Boucle Cardigan
  7. Thompson Tees
  8. Korean Skin Care Snail Repair Cream
  9. Beard Comb
  10. Stuffed Animal Storage Bean Bag Chair

My November Happy List Fun and Reviews


My New “Fauxse” Recipe

I don’t know the proper spelling for a fake rose, but I’m going to call my recipe the “Fauxse” fix that I needed to unwind with in the evening.

I’m trying to slow my roll with wine, but definitely crave a little something fun after a long day of work. That’s how I came up with this super easy recipe for a drink that seems to help me get my wine fix.

Take one can of La Croix (plain or lime flavor) and add one Nuun Strawberry Lemonade Tablet. Add crushed ice and serve in a copper mug.

It is DELICIOUS and is a great way to hydrate. My husband says it is nothing like wine, but I think it works as a great alcohol-free option.

I always try to keep a roll of these electrolytes in my purse too, especially if I am going to be drinking.

Adding one of these tablets to a glass of water (or sparkling water) really helps reduce wine hangovers, especially during the fa-la-la season.  (shop for Nuun Tablets)

Dolly Parton's America

Dolly’s America Podcast

You don’t need to be a big Dolly Parton fan to appreciate the new podcast, Dolly’s America. I did happen to be a huge fan though, but am learning SO much more about Dolly through the interviews that are within this podcast.

The big exploration of the podcast is how Dolly was able to rise to fame, when so few women in country were, and why she has such wide appeal with EVERYONE. 

You could be a gay liberal or a religious conservative and show up to a lovely Dolly concert together because Dolly has an uncanny ability to find common ground among all her fans.

What is this magical quality and how do we unlock it when we ALL need it more than ever?

My husband and I have been listening to this one in the evenings and it is absolutely fascinating and such a great way to look at such a well-loved icon in country music.

I have gotten chills through moments, cried, and laughed through her incredible story.

I think you will love it too. (listen to the podcast)

Ugg Rain Boot Socks

My Cozy Boot Socks Are Back On

If you haven’t heard me rave about my UGG rain boots, I am here to tell you that they are my FAVORITE rain boots. I have wide feet and these fit perfectly, with room to put on thicker socks. 

It also has the cozy UGG insert (PSSST- even if you don’t have these boots, I bet you could add these cozy inserts to your current boots!!) so my feet are always warm.

These boot socks though REALLY make the boots adorable and I get more compliments on those than any other shoes I wear.

I wear them so much that they could probably stand on their own and walk themselves to the washer. 

I’m also already bookmarking these adorable additions for a fun holiday gift to myself. Merry Christmas, to me!

I can’t recommend them enough especially because they are MUCH more affordable than the ol’ Hunter Boots! (shop the bootsshop the knitted boot insertshop the faux fur insert)

The Kanopy App Through My Library

When I was doing research on how to check out library books for free on your Kindle, I stumbled upon a resource for something that I didn’t know existed at our library.

Have you heard of Kanopy? The Kanopy app can be used through your phone, laptop, or even your Roku. 

On Kanopy’s about page, this is how they define their service: “The films that truly resonate with us do more than just entertain. They inspire us, enrich us, and challenge our perspectives. Kanopy ensures that these films reach viewers around the world.”

If you love a good documentary or indie film, you can check out (up to) ten movies for free monthly with your library card.

A lot of the award-winning indie films don’t make it to my small town so this has been a dream come true to be able to stream so many great films that I would not have known about. (check out the free Kanopy app here)

Two Movies I Loved Through Kanopy

Of course, I can’t just tell you about the app, I wanted to share two great recommendations for you to stream!

Hearts Beat Loud

Single dad and record store owner Frank (Nick Offerman) is preparing to send his hard-working daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons) off to college, while being forced to close his shop.

Hoping to stay connected through their shared musical passions, Frank urges Sam to turn their weekly “jam sesh” into a father-daughter live act.

After their first song becomes an Internet breakout, the two embark on a journey of love, growing up and musical discovery.

I find Nick Offerman to be incredibly charming and he plays this part in such a beautiful and vulnerable way that it made my eyes well up.

This beautifully shares how hard it is to let our children go off to college and also how hard it is for people to leave their loved ones behind to grow up.

This is just the sweetest story and I can see why it was an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival & the SXSW Film Festival. 

Tell It To the Bees

If you are looking for a beautiful historical fiction film, I absolutely loved, “Tell It To The Bees.” 

In 1952 Dr. Jean Markham (Anna Paquin) returns to her Scottish hometown to take over her late father’s medical practice. 

She soon becomes ostracized by the community when she begins a passionate romance with a young mother named Lydia (Holliday Grainger). 

This movie is just BEAUTIFUL and the acting is incredible.

It is a coming-of-age story too for Lydia’s son. He has to decide who he must side with (his community or his mother) and they show these challenges in such a real way. 

This was an Official Selection at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Verilux Happy Light

My Happy Light

I do feel like I need to mention again how thankful I am for this happy light gadget, especially after the time switch!

Seasonal depression is no joke and the Midwest winters can be brutal on a girl’s happiness levels. 

I bought a tabletop happy light that is supposed to help remedy the winter blues, give you more energy, and regulate those sleep cycles. 

I read a lot of articles about it (I found this one to be really straightforward ) and it is recommended that the light should be 10,000 lux. 

When browsing, you will find ones in a cheaper price bracket, but they aren’t offering the 10,000 lux that are recommended for effective treatment so I went for the big guns.

I use this for an hour in the morning with a good book and a tall cup of coffee. 

It is super important to be consistent and so I aim for around the same time and duration each day.

I love that this is so small that it could be taken on trips, when we travel, and doesn’t take up a lot of storage in our home.

If you struggle with the seasonal blues or regulating those sleep cycles, this is a great low-risk drug-free investment to try!

Book Clamp Stand

The Book Table Clamp That Saves My Neck

I have been REALLY excited (and swamped) with screening all 12 of our book club selections for 2020.

That means, my head is in a book all day and that causes me a ton of neck and back issues.

You don’t need to be a book blogger to benefit from having your books at eye level. 

Originally, I bought this book clamp (shown above)  because I was having shoulder and hand issues.  What I discovered though was the enormous relief there was when I didn’t have my head in a bent position to read. 

The company took these off the market for awhile, but I’ve been faithfully checking to see if they brought it back because I get asked about it a lot. 

LEVO carries two different varieties and it really depends on your budget and your own physical needs on which option works best for you.  

I mention this today because this would make an incredible holiday gift to yourself.

I use it every dang day.

I recommend it for any power reader or anyone who struggles with holding a book or suffers from neck/back issues.

This is the more expensive version, but you can roll it. That’s really awesome if you are a senior or if you picture yourself walking it around your house and need the extra wheel help.

The less expensive version is this clamp stand. Keep in mind, this would be only for digital devices (like, if you read a lot on an iPad or Kindle). If you want to secure a printed book, you just buy this add-on (which is freaking amazing) and switch it out.

They both are amazing and have made a big difference in my reading life.

Electric Kettle

The Electric Kettle Makes The Whole Family’s Happy

Years ago, I got the opportunity to take a tour around Celestial Seasonings to share with our readers (have you been? you can read more here).

They gave us all electric kettles, as a gift, to brew our teas at home and I never realized how amazing it is to have hot water ready in seconds and to keep warm all day for tea and cocoa sipping. 

It has also come in handy for a quick bowl of oatmeal or for a cup of noodles. 

It feels downright luxurious to have hot water at the ready in the winter months.

They have a lot of varieties- just pick a model with good reviews and that fit your family budget.

Looking for something to mix up for sipping? We made our first batch of cocoa mix (the secret ingredient is instant pudding!) and our first batch of vanilla chai mix. 

Wouldn’t this make the best gift idea too? An electric kettle, a homemade drink mix, and a fun mug So easy and thoughtful!!


Affordable Holiday Cocktail Dresses

If you have any holiday events coming up, don’t forget to check thredUP for your fancy frocks. I scored an INCREDIBLE cocktail dress for $19.98…NO JOKE.

Here is my trick to finding EXACTLY what I need when shopping consignment through thredUP.

Search for Dresses and then narrow down your categories to what cuts fit you best and what length you are looking for. Select the type of dresses you need (Formal or Cocktail) and then you can even sort by color.

Also, this is my first stop for accessories. If you need a clutch, pretty jewels, or a new pair of dancing shoes, check here! 

You have FOURTEEN days to return the items. 

If you haven’t shopped before, this is where 90% of my wardrobe comes from. I feel good about giving these clothes a new home and I also love the savings. It’s a win for being eco-friendly and a win for my wallet too. Here is $10 to put toward your own holiday frocks.

A quick word on their return policy-

    • As soon as you know that you are returning it, go ahead and get your return labels printed so you don’t forget.
    • These items are used so read those descriptors carefully so you can reduce your returns. I look for items with tags, that say they look like new, or gently used. I also avoid dry cleaning because it will never happen- I have no time for one more errand.
    • Make sure that no item you are getting says FINAL SALE. That means that you don’t have the option to return it if it doesn’t fit or ends up not being your style.
    • They do charge a restocking fee ($1.99). They give you a full store credit if you return an item, or you can opt for a cash return, but they charge $8.99 to give you cash. Obviously, I always go with the store credit.
    • If you receive multiple orders, you can condense your carbon footprint and just return everything in one box. No need to make it complicated.

Brittany Runs a Marathon

If you are looking for a good movie to watch this weekend, I can’t recommend, “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” enough. 

This movie is based on the truly transformative story of a woman who changes her life through running. 

Brittany is down on her luck in every way- she’s broke, she surrounds herself with toxic people, and she sabotages her life with booze and food. 

When a neighbor challenges her to join a running club, Brittany decides to train for the New York City Marathon.

She starts with just running around the block, but it builds into an INCREDIBLE transformation that no one (including herself) could ever expect.

She finds love and community through the hobby and it takes her on a path she never knew she could explore. 

I can’t recommend this one enough- it was endearing, real, funny, and beautiful. This is available free through Prime!  


Skillshare Classes

My husband gifted me a Skillshare membership for Christmas one year and I can’t recommend it enough for giving as gifts (or as a gift to yourself).

This is an affordable way to take courses on anything you might be interested in.

I’ve taken classes on loom weaving, marketing courses, photography classes, how to take better Instagram photos, understanding SEO, and courses on home decorating. 

I love to do these classes during my lunch hour.

It’s a great way to learn a skill and I love that I can do this from the comfort of my own home.

Here are two free months of a premium membership, if you would like to give this one a spin too. It would make such a fun stocking stuffer!

Memory Foam Chair Cushion

My New Desk Chair Cushion

As we ramp up towards the next round of holiday fun, I have been working long hours at my desk. I decided to get one of these memory foam desk seat cushions for my office chair to see if it would help make these hours a tad easier on my body.

Not only does this make the seat more cushy, it also helps force your body into better alignment so that you don’t suffer from so much back pain after a day at the desk. I can’t believe the difference this makes in my posture and in how I feel after a long day of work.

This would make a great gift for anyone who has a desk job or as a gift to yourself to help your body feel better after a day of work. (shop it here)

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

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

My Picks for Your Best Cyber Monday

December 2nd, 2019

Best Cyber Monday Picks from


Don’t miss this carefully curated list of the best Cyber Monday Deals for 2019. This list shares the top deals on tech gadgets, toys, clothing, kitchen, and home items. Learn how you can get cash back on all your purchases for the holiday season from


Happy Cyber Monday, friends! I wanted to put together a list of the best deals I’ve found today for shopping today’s steals.

Cyber Monday yields HUGE discounts and this year is no different. 

Just as a reminder, MomAdvice participates in various affiliate marketing programs and we are paid commissions through the links to retailer sites. Items purchased through our links are always greatly appreciated.

Don’t Forget- You Can Get Cash Back On Your Purchases!

If you are on a budget, I DO recommend that you sign up with Rakuten to do your shopping. This app gives you cash back on all your qualifying purchases (almost everything on today’s list will qualify!!).

If you want to read more about this shopping app, head here for an in-depth review of what Rakuten offers.

If you just want $25 and plan to get shopping, this should automatically deposit $25 in your account for your purchases(sorry- new customers only!).

My Picks for Your Best Cyber Monday


Keurig K-Cafe Coffee Brewer (45% off)

YETI Tumblers Just $17.99

Instant Pot Sous Vide, $54.99

Rachel Ray 5-Piece Bakeware Set– $19.99

5-Piece Nautica Luggage Set– $105.13

5-Piece Protocol Luggage Set– $29.95

Incredible Discounts on Hydro Flask Today!!

Instant Pot 7-in-1– $49

80% off Blackout Shades

Dyson V7 Stick Vac– $179

KitchenAid Artisan Mixer– $219

Hamilton Beach 2-Way Brewer– $39

Farberware Air Fryer– $39

Ninja 4-Quart Air Fryer– $99

Fortnite Gaming Chair– $109

Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush– $17.94

Braun Electric Foil Shaver– $59.94 (regular price $139.99)

Shark Rocket Vac– $99

Tech Gadgets

Ancestry DNA Kits– $49

JBL Waterproof Clip-On Bluetooth Speaker, $29.95

Straight Talk Apple iPhone 6s (this is a great first phone option!)

Echo Dot Kids Edition– $39.99

Sharper Image Instant Camera– $24.99

Razer Gaming Mouse– $24.99

FitBit Versa Smart Watch– $129.95 (plus get $30 in Kohl’s Cash)

Apple Watch– $229

Cricuts & Supplies 50% off

August Smart Lock Keyless Home Entry (up to 63% off!!)

All-New Kindle– $59.99 (bonus $5 e-book credit)

Fire 7 Tablet– $29.99

Kindle Paperwhite– $84.99

Echo Show 5, $49.95

Tripod Projector Screen– $50

Nintendo Switch Bundle– $299.99 (includes 2 games)

Chromebooks– $279

14″ Chromebook– $119

Mopping Robot Vac– $189.99

Shark Ion Robo Vac– $229

Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer– $288

65″ Television– $359

Animal Charging Cord Protectors, $4.99



Fleece Lined Leggings, $6.99

UGG Luxury Gloves– $24.99!!

Columbia Winter Coats 60% off

Buy 1 Get 1 Free on Sperry Duck Booties

Cole Haan Winter Car Coats (gorgeous!), $59.99

50% off plus free shipping at Puravida

Cozy Sherpa Pullovers for the Whole Family– $10

Big Chill Parkas for Kids, $19.99

HUGE Discounts on Puffer Jackets for the Whole Family

Gorgeous Sweaters (love the leopard print)- $26.95

Children’s Fleece Tops & Pants– $4.99

Rockstar Jeggings– $10

Converse Chucks– $25

Eddie Bauer– 50% off EVERYTHING!!

J. Crew Factory– 60% off EVERYTHING plus an additional 10% off your orders!!

Spanx– $14.99



ExOfficio Give ‘N Go Boxer Sets– $19.95

Men’s Suit Pants– $29.50 (jackets are just $69.50!)

Banana Republic– 50% off EVERYTHING plus free shipping!!

Isotoner Slippers 40% off plus free shipping!

Cozy Suede Boots– $22.99

Take Shape Bras– $19

Simply Strappy Bralette– $9

Huge Discounts at Nordstrom


All New Kindle with FREE 3-Months Kindle Unlimited Subscription– $59.99

Spend $20, Save $5 (plus 15% off book prices!)

4 Months of Amazon Music for $.99

Victrola Record Player– $35.99

HUGE Discounts on Hardcover Books

Hulu for just $1.99 a month for a year!

3 Movies Just $9.99

$50 iTunes Gift Cards for $40

15% Off Movies

Buy One Get One 50% Off Nintendo Switch Games

Hasbro Games (over 50% off)

Play-Doh Sets (up to 50% off)

50 Matchbox Cars Box Set– $29.95

Up to 40% off LEGO sets

LOL Surprise 2– Pack, $8.99

Monopoly Frozen Edition– $9.99


Deep Discounts on Kindle Books Today

Today holds HUGE book discounts on over 350 Kindle Books. I have curated the best book steals on our daily deals list.  Don’t miss these incredible book deals today! Don’t forget, Amazon is still running their spend $20 on eBooks, get $5 in eBook credits deal so this is a great time to stock up!

Be sure to get your FREE Kindle First Reads book, if you are a Prime member! They have all new picks up for the month of December!

Happy shopping!

Looking for more great gift ideas? Check out this year’s gift guides!

100 Unique Stocking Stuffers Everyone Will Love 100 unique stocking stuffers for everyone on your list

Unique Gift Ideas for Kids of All Ages unique gift ideas for kids of all ages

Unique Gift Ideas for the Man Who Has Everything from unique gifts for the man who has everything

Unique Gift Ideas for Tweens & Teens unique gift ideas for tweens and teens

I hope that this inspires your gift-giving this year! Let me know if you got anything and what you thought!

Honest truth: I am always thankful to be a part of ANYONE’S holiday!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

This post contains affiliate links from RewardStyle. Thank you for supporting our website through your purchases.

Best Cyber Monday Picks from

What I Earned From One Month Investing With Ellevest

December 1st, 2019

What I Earned From One Month With Ellevest from


Are you looking for an easy way to start investing? Robo investing might be the perfect option for you and I am sharing the scoop on what I learned from investing with Ellevest.  Today I’m sharing what I really earned and about the process of getting an account started as we explore passive income money making opportunities for moms. Be sure to visit our entire Passive Income Ideas for Moms Series all year long as I challenge myself to find new ways to earn money for our family. 

I can’t believe that we have another month behind us in our Passive Income Ideas for Moms series.  I have been SO thrilled to get so many messages and comments from women who have been taking this challenge with me and are feeling empowered to start investing in themselves.

Today I get to reveal the results from my month of investing with Ellevest.

Honestly, as exciting as it was to share with you about Rakuten, I was ten times more excited to start my first portfolio with some of my earnings from MomAdvice. 

If you have been intimidated by the investment process (*raises hand*) I think you will be really happy to hear how easy this was and how incredibly thankful I am that I started doing this.

What I Earned From One Month Investing With Ellevest from

(click here to get $20 to start your Ellevest portfolio today)

What I Earned From One Month Investing With Ellevest

What is Ellevest?

Ellevest is a woman-owned company that focuses on building investment portfolios. What makes it unique is that they have something called an, “Impact Portfolio,”  that allow you to invest in stocks that support women in business.

This is a robo advisor tool that makes investing easy and also doesn’t cost the consumer an arm and a leg.

Robo advisors (also known as automated investing services or online advisors) use computer algorithms and advanced software to create an investment portfolio for you.

They are referred to as robo because this is mostly an automated process that requires little to no human interaction.

This translates into cost-savings for you because they are using these automated tools to build your portfolio.

The biggest difference between this company and other companies is that their focus is on wealth-building for women by investing in other women.

They call these portfolios, “Impact Portfolios,” because you are making a positive impact on women.

Pretty cool, right?

For an Impact Portfolio, they use these three key criterias in selecting your investments:


Funds investing in companies with more women leaders and policies that advance women.


Funds investing in companies working to meet  for sustainability and ethical practices.


Funds providing loans to support women-owned businesses and companies that provide community services – child education, performing arts, and housing and care for seniors and individuals in need.

They also realize that women have different life spans than men and they adjust your retirement requirements accordingly.

Want to learn even more about Ellevest? Be sure to read this introductory article to Ellevest that includes a really awesome interview with the Ellevest CEO, Sallie Krawcheck!

How Much Did I Invest This Month with Ellevest?

Just as a reminder, there is no minimum balance to open your account!

I decided to set up a one-time deposit of $2,000 into this account and then set up automatic deposits of $300 monthly into my wealth-building account. 

I also wanted to create a little vacation fund for us so I have $50 going into a one-time splurge account that we will be able to earn some money on while we save. 

Just as a reminder, I did work one month ahead so I could walk you through the process of setting up an account.

Technically, I invested $300 in my wealth-building account and $50 into our splurge account for the month of November.

Investment Goals with Ellevest

What Types of Accounts Did I Invest in With Our Money?

Ellevest is set up in a simple goal-oriented format that, basically, allow you to set up buckets for investing. 

Anyone who has been a fan of the envelope system for savings will appreciate this. Basically, it is a virtual envelope system to invest in yourself.

I selected their Impact Portfolio over their Core Portfolio because my goal is to have a great retirement…while lifting up other women.

Choosing this portfolio allowed me to do both those things. 

I also created a splurge fund to put towards a future family vacation.

Was It Easy to Earn Money Through Ellevest?

YES, this is SO easy because you are putting your investing on automatic. 

Once you set up those goals for your account, you tell Ellevest what day of the month you would like your automatic withdrawal to happen and that’s it.

I haven’t had to think about investing at all because it all has been done for me automatically.

If there is anything I’ve learned through this wealth-building series it is how important it is to automate these investments in myself.

What I Earned From One Month Investing With Ellevest

What Was the Outcome of My Ellevest Portfolio?

In October, I earned $56.89, in net returns, after opening my account with $2,000. 

In November, I deposited an additional $300, earning me $71.64 (for the month of November).

In total, I’ve earned $128.53 with Ellevest in two months.

I don’t know about you, but that’s a heck of a lot more than what I was earning with my money sitting in my bank account.

For my modest $50 splurge fund deposit, I earned $2.80 on my monthly investment.

What Did It Cost Me to Invest With Ellevest?

This tool is much cheaper than hiring a financial advisor because a more personalized services can charge you a whopping 1% annually.

With Ellevest, your annual management fee is .25%.

If you saved $5,000, for example, you would pay $12.50 for the entire year. 

For the amount that is within these accounts, my charge was $1.80.

This amount will shift as more money is invested, of course.

Ellevest Impact Portfolio Example

Did I Really Support Women By Investing With Ellevest?

Earning money is great, but did I make any impact on women in business?

Good news… I did!

How do I know this?

If you look at my Impact Portfolio (see the image above) you will see these green circles with icons that tell me why they picked these stocks and how it impacts others.

This icon tells me that I’m supporting Women in Leadership. These funds invested make an impact on women leaders and policies that advance women.

This icon tells me that I’m supporting Sustainable, Accountable Companies.

These funds invested make an impact on companies that are working to meet higher standards for sustainability and ethical practices.


What I Earned From One Month Investing With Ellevest from


As you can see, 53% of my portfolio really goes into those impact funds. Impact funds are the ones that are distributed to women in leadership, sustainable companies, and to community development.

Why am I not 100% invested in women though?

As a fiduciary, Ellevest prioritizes the appropriate mix of investments to help you reach your goals.

This means a low-cost, globally diversified portfolio invested across many asset classes.

At this time, there are not sufficient impact investments to meet their fiduciary criteria for all of their asset classes.

They do continuously monitor the marketplace for new impact investments that they believe are suitable for your Ellevest Impact Portfolio.

In a nutshell, they research each impact investment in your Ellevest Impact Portfolio to ensure it meets their fiduciary standards.

Then they make it even greater by investing to make a positive impact in the world.

Did I Really Earn Money on Referrals Through Ellevest?

Ellevest does have a referral program (open to everyone) that you make a referral credit for each person that signs up and have created an actual account. 

That means, the accounts must be fully funded for you to receive a referral credit. 

Credits are then applied to your highest-priority funded goal.

If it’s a taxable account (not an IRA), the credit is applied as a one-time deposit and you’ll see it as a pending transaction in your goal.

The major complaints about Ellevest had been about the referral program.

If people haven’t went through the process of establishing the account and making a deposit though, you don’t get credit for that.

For example, I have 13 pending accounts that just might be waiting for this results post before they go through the process of setting that up with their bank.

For now, I have earned $100 on referrals that are being added to my account.

Not only that, but once you refer two friends (that have fully vested) you are considered an Elle Raiser Ambassador.

The title “ambassador” just tells the world about the leadership role you’ve taken on in the Elle Raiser community: talking the talk, walking the walk by bringing their friends, family, colleagues — fill in the blank — into the movement of supporting women through your investments.

If you didn’t know,  MomAdvice is all about empowering women and I’m proud to be doing exactly what I set out to do over sixteen years ago.

Will I Continue Investing With Ellevest?

YES!  This has been such an easy thing to automate in my life and I’m so proud to be investing in myself.

November ended up being our most profitable month on the site and once that money deposits, I’m moving it right on over to my retirement.

I can’t imagine not investing in myself now.

If you want to start investing in yourself too, here is $20 to get your account started!! Don’t hold me to this, but I noticed they are now giving you $50 to start an account so don’t be surprised if you get a $50 deposit instead!! 

What I Have I Earned So Far With Ellevest?

I have earned $130.22 with Ellevest and an additional $100 through their referral program.

Earnings totaled: $230.32

What Have I Earned So Far With the Passive Mom Income Series (started in October 2019)?

In an effort to be completely transparent with this series, I will share with you what the outcome is each month and how much was earned from a year of dedicating my time to this project. 

Rakuten- $601.47 (read more about this passive income opportunity)

Ellevest- $230.22 (read more about this passive income opportunity)

Total Earned So Far With the Passive Income series- $831.69

See you on the blog tomorrow for our December Passive Income For Moms Challenge!!

This post contains affiliate links. 

Love this post? Here are a few others you might love!

Passive Revenue Ideas for Busy Moms from passive revenue ideas for busy moms

Earn Money With Rakuten Cash Back Offers from earn money through rakuten cash back

Real Rakuten Results Cash Back Earnings Report from do you really earn money with rakuten?

how to invest in yourself with ellevest

Don’t forget to follow along on our Passive Income Challenge series. You can head here to see all the posts in one place. Did you sign up for to invest with Ellevest? What was your experience with this passive income money maker for November?

What I Earned From One Month With Ellevest from

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October and November 2019 Must-Reads

December 1st, 2019

November 2019 Must-Reads from

Looking for your next great read? MomAdvice has 6 new books you can check out and cozy up with this winter. This fall book list has everything you could ever want- a mystery, a fascinating thriller, an Irish ghost story, a nonfiction exploration on books, and so much more! Be sure to bookmark this list for your next library visit!

I hope you all had an incredible holiday and are enjoying some much needed R&R after all the festivities.  We had a very laid back holiday this year which was just what we needed. 

This past month I’ve been plowing through as many book as I can and selecting our next 12 selections for our MomAdvice Book Club. I am unbelievably excited about what I have picked for you and I am hoping that I may have found a new favorite book for you too!

I want these selections to be a surprise so you will see all the book reviews appear next month, but I didn’t want to leave you hanging for another month.

How awful would be?

For you, but also for my poor brain to remember everything.

Instead, I’m sharing some of the books that I *CAN* share about today! 

MomAdvice Book Club 2020

follow me on Instagram for more book picks

Did you know Prime members get a read for free every single month? The Kindle First Reads program is so much fun and a great way to sample a book before it hits the store shelves. Grab your FREE book over here. 


Book of the Month Selections Announced!

December 2019 Book of the Month Selections

December Book of the Month Selections!

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher (Domestic Suspense)

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano (Contemporary Fiction)

Long Bright River by Liz Moore (Mystery)

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey (Historical Fiction)

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (Romance)- this was a 5-star read (for me!!)

This month’s deal: Use coupon code FAM5 to get your first box for $5, and code PERFECT10 to get $10 off a 6 or 12 month gift! SHOP HERE!

Prefer YA? Here are this month’s YA Book of the Month Selections!

December YA Book of the Month Selections!

Reverie by Ryan La Sala (Fantasy)

Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen (Historical Romance)

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black (Fantasy)

Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean (Historical Fiction)

Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins (Romance)

This month’s deal: Use coupon code YES5 to get your first box for $5, and code PERFECT10 to get $10 off a 6 or 12 month gift. SHOP HERE!

Here are 6 must-read books I tackled in October & November:

Speaking of Summer


Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon

I will admit that I was attracted to this book because of its vibrant and creative cover, but I was also intrigued by the description of the mystery within its pages.

Autumn’s twin sister, Summer, walks to the rooftop of their shared Harlem brownstone and is never seen from again. 

As a woman of color, she knows how many women go missing and society and police can be complacent in these missing person cases. She meets often with the detective to talk through the clues and concerns, in Summer’s case, hoping that she can help find her sister.

As time progresses, Autumn does her best to hold it all together, but begins to unravel as her obsession grows to try to solve the disappearance. What happens though when no one seems to care about a woman of color?

This started out so strong and the answer to the mystery was done incredibly well. Buckhanon uses this book to shed light on bigger themes like race, mental health, and addiction. It, truly, sucks the reader in.  I was stunned by the twist and talked about it for days afterwards.

This one missed the mark, for me, at times with consistency and keeping the plot moving once Summer’s whereabouts are revealed. 

Despite the inconsistency, I really loved the creativity that went into this novel and Buckhanon’s beautiful writing.

I can’t wait to see what she writes next!

4 out of 5 Stars

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd (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.

I fell in love with Jess Kidd’s writing after listen to, “Himself,” on audiobook (full review here) last year. There was something so unique about her storytelling that blended a great Irish ghost story with an incredible amount of heart and humor.  This is why I knew that I was in for something good when I snagged an advanced reader of, “Things in Jars.”

Kidd takes a darker turn with a female detective, Bridie Devine, who is trying to solve the kidnapping of Christabel Berwick, the secret daughter of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick. 

The child has been kept away in secret from society because of her peculiarities and supernatural powers. At this time, in Victorian London, peculiarities are displayed as marvels in traveling circuses (or worse) children are killed to display these oddities in jars for collectors and for profit. 

Bridie is determined to find this girl even if it means putting her own past at risk. 

She isn’t alone though, she is aided through this story by a tattooed ghost who doesn’t leave her side as she investigates. 

Kidd does a great job adding her signature humor into this dark story and weaves in history and folklore that anyone can appreciate. Fans of magical realism will love this Dickensesque story that finds great beauty in the oddities.

This is much darker than her previous work and is a very macabre telling of our curiosities with collecting and displaying the peculiarities of others for profit.

For me, this one leaned a little too heavy into the magical elements that made the story feel a lot less grounded toward the end.

Overall, I was still completely swept away and would still recommend this one for your stack! 

4 out of 5 Stars

The Family Upstairs

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

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 an excellent thriller, I can’t recommend, “The Family Upstairs,” enough. The only reason this wasn’t selected for our book club is because there is already SO much buzz around it that I had a feeling that many of you may have already read it. 

In this story, Libby returns home from work to find a letter written to her on her 25th birthday. Truth be told, it is the letter that she has been waiting for all her life.

Within the note, she learns the identity of her birth parents and that she is the sole inheritor of an abandoned mansion, in one of London’s most fashionable neighborhoods, that is worth millions.

Twenty-five years ago, the police were called to this very house because there were reports of a baby crying. This baby, healthy and happy, was found in her crib- safe and sound.

Downstairs though were three dead bodies, all dressed in black and the other four children all had mysteriously disappeared.

I am, admittedly, fascinated by cults and the power of charismatic leaders to manipulate people to do to unthinkable things.

The man that lives with this family ends up taking complete control over their lives requiring strict exercise, changing their attire, restricting food, manipulating people, abusing them, and alienating them from everyone in their lives.

It is especially impactful on the children who are witnessing all of this in their house and we get to see this story through their eyes too. 

I was sucked into the story from the very first page and finished it in a single day. 

If you were a fan of, “The Haunting of Hill House,” I have a feeling you will love this one too. 

This was another Lisa Jewell home run for me!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Lying Woods The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston

Our October MomAdvice Book Club selection was, “The Lying Woods,” and I have to say that this one exceeded all of our expectations this year.

Owen Foster grew up wealthy and has never wanted for anything in his life.

That is why it is so surprising when his mother shows up to his boarding school and tells him that his privileged life has been funded by stolen money. 

Owen’s father had been embezzling millions and had been draining his employees’ retirement accounts for years. When his father vanishes, he leaves behind Owen and his mother to deal with the fallout in their town. 

No longer able to afford the pricey school he attends, Owen is forced to come back to his small town and deal with the aftermath at his high school.

Even though this has nothing to do with Owen, it is hard to not be resentful of the fancy life he had lead and how angry everyone is about their money being stolen from them. 

What’s worse is that someone is desperate to get revenge on them.

Owen’s only refuge is the pecan orchard he works at, with Gus, who seems to know an awful lot about Owen’s family.

It is here that he begins to unravel the mystery of his dad, his mom, and the secrets that were covered up to protect him so many years ago.

This was such a solid novel and yielded such a great discussion too. I listened to this one, on audiobook, and thought the narration was just incredibly done.

If you are looking for a satisfying YA mystery, I highly recommend checking this one out! 

4 out of 5 Stars

The Age of Light

The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer

The Age of Light,” was on my historical fiction reading bucket list this year after discovering that is was about a female photographer making her mark on the world in the 1930’s.

As a person who is fascinated by photography and by the hidden women of our history, I had a feeling that this would be a favorite of mine. 

Lee Miller was an accomplished model before she made her way to Paris in the 1930’s. 

She wasn’t content just being in front of the camera though, she aimed to be behind it instead. 

Lucky for her, she met a famed Surrealist photographer, Man Ray, who gives her the opportunity to assist him. This role soon shifts though when the two fall in love.

What happens when your work and your love collide? 

Well, it’s complicated and Man Ray, for sure, doesn’t like being showed up in his own field.

Lee’s life in photography (and as Man Ray’s partner) end up taking her from the cabarets of bohemian Paris to the battlefields of war-torn Europe during WWI. 

As a war correspondent, she begins documenting the liberation of the concentration camps as one of the first female war correspondents, utilizing radical new photography techniques to document the liberation of the concentration camps as one of the first female war correspondents. 

Overall, Lee’s life was fascinating and Scharer builds a believable strength and curiosity in Lee. 

This was a strong debut from Scharer, although the story would have benefited from some trimming (at 485 pages!). 

I am so glad to have learned about Lee Miller’s life and am thankful historical fiction has been a great avenue for learning about stories like these.

Want to see some of Lee’s war photos? Look at these amazing images!

4 out of 5 Stars

The Library Book The Library Book by Susan Orlean

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

The Library Book was chosen as our MomAdvice Book Club selection for November. As someone who is crazy about the library, I thought this would be a great nonfiction pick as it explores the history of the establishment and a mystery surround the 1986 fire in the Los Angeles Public Library.

Didn’t know there was a fire there?

Neither did most people! 

Orlean shares the story of a library fire that reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time the fire was extinguished, it had consumed over four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more.

For thirty years, investigators have been baffled by how this fire started and the mysterious reason why it happened.

Orlean is, clearly, a big fan of the library and she weaves in a lot of fun facts and a bigger story about the role that the library plays in our lives. 

There is a wide cast of characters as she shares the stories of people from libraries past and present.

Overall, this should have been a really enthralling read. The fire and how the community rallied together was, definitely, the most fascinating part.

No one can understand the aftermath of what that looked like or, frankly, how it would impact the people who worked there. 

This is one of those cases though where I felt like the author could have benefited from an editor. I listened to this one on audiobook and found myself zoning in and out as Orlean tried to pack in every detail about libraries past.

While well-researched, it was a little dry and I found myself wanting to fast forward to the bits about the the Los Angeles Public Library.

3 out of 5 Stars

Read With Me This Year

January 2019 Must-Reads

February 2019 Must-Reads

March 2019 Must-Reads

April 2019 Must-Reads

May 2019 Must-Reads

June 2019 Must-Reads

July 2019 Must-Reads

August 2019 Must-Reads


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Don’t miss these other great reads on MomAdvice:

9 cozy books for winter reading

19 thrillers to keep you up all night

quick reads to reach those reading goals quick reads to reach those reading goals

53 historical fiction novels to escape with 53 historical fiction novels to escape with

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

November 2019 Must-Reads from

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UPDATED: 2019 Black Friday and Cyber Week Sales

November 29th, 2019

2019 Black Friday and Cyber Week Deals

Don’t miss this carefully curated list of the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals for 2019. This list shares the top deals on tech gadgets, toys, clothing, kitchen, and home items. Learn how you can get cash back on all your purchases for the holiday season from

Looking to score some great Black Friday and Cyber Week Sales? Lucky for us, many of the retailers have already rolled out major discounts to their customers so you can take advantage of the savings  before the holiday rush. 

I have went through all of the ads and curated the best deals that I’m seeing for our readers.

If I’m missing anything, please leave me a comment and I will add it to this week’s list.

This list will be updated as new deals pop up.

Just as a reminder, MomAdvice participates in various affiliate marketing programs and we are paid commissions through the links to retailer sites. Items purchased through our links are always greatly appreciated.

Don’t Forget- You Can Get Cash Back On Your Purchases!

If you are on a budget, I DO recommend that you sign up with Rakuten to do your shopping. This app gives you cash back on all your qualifying purchases (almost everything on today’s list will qualify!!).

If you want to read more about this shopping app, head here for an in-depth review of what Rakuten offers.

If you just want $25 and plan to get shopping, this should automatically deposit $25 in your account for your purchases(sorry- new customers only!).

I hope you can find some beautiful and personal gifts to give to your friends and family this year! More importantly, they will be useful, unique, AND affordable.


2019 Black Friday and Cyber Week Sales


Book Deals

Shop the Black Friday Book Steals

Get Your Kindle First Read FREE!!

Shop my daily deal book list

Spend $20 on eBooks, get $5 in eBook credits

Family Board Games

Settlers of Catan, $24.99 

Pandemic, $21.49 (we love this one!)

Carcassonne, $17.49 (we love this game!)

7 Wonders, $24.49

Ticket to Ride Europe, $26.99

Exploding Kittens, $12.99

Watch Ya Mouth, $10.39

On a Scale of One to T-Rex, $12.99

Unstable Unicorns, $12.99

50% off Hasbro Retro Games

Home Deals

Vitamix Blender– $259.95

Contigo Travel Mugs, $9.99

Macy’s Top Starter Glassware Sets $10

KitchenAid Artisan Mixer (47% off!!)

Ninja Blender (with Cup Set), $69.99

Bella Air Fryer– $14.99 (70% off)

PowerXL 7 Quart Air Fryer– $69.99 (57% off)

Instant Pot 6 Quart– $49

Instant Pot Stainless Steel (colors)  6 Quart– $54.99

Ninja Foodi 5-in-1– $169.99

13-piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set– $29.99 (regularly $119.99)

12 Pound Weighted Blankets– $30 if you use your RedCard

Coway Air Purifier– $116.32 (savings of $113.67)

6-Foot Pre-Lit Artificial Christmas Tree– $30 with your RedCard

Luggage– $39.99

Dyson Slim Ball Animal Upright Vacuum, $199.99 with your RedCard

12 Pound Weighted Blankets– $30 if you use your RedCard

Fun Frozen , Harry Potter, and Super Mario Weighted Blankets for Kids– $25

Phillips Sonic Rechargeable Toothbrush– $15.99 (use coupon code GIVETHANKS)

Etsy Cyber Week Sales

Sur la table– huge houseware discounts

Society6– 30% off plus free shipping

Get $15 in Kohl’s Cash for every $50 you spend

Apparel Deals

$5 Kids Christmas Pajama Sets (or snag the adult sets for just $10!)

$1 Cozy Socks (perfect stocking stuffer!)

HeatKeep Luxe Fleece Jackets– $12.74

Fleece Footed Pajamas– $7

HUGE Discounts on UGG Boots

32 Degrees  Women’s Cloudfill Maxi Puffer Coat– $34.99 (use coupon code BRAD35)

Style & Co Leggings (huge discounts!)

Matching Family Pajama Sets –huge discounts!

Women’s HeatKeep Packable Down Jacket– (use coupon code GIVETHANKS)

Hunter Boots– $99.90

Cuddl Duds Stretch Fleece Sleep Wrap

Floopi Women’s Indoor/Outdoor Slippers, $14.99 (regularly $100)

Old Navy– 50% off EVERYTHING!!

Ann Taylor– 50% off EVERYTHING!!

Eddie Bauer– 50% off EVERYTHING!!

J. Crew Factory– 60% off EVERYTHING and use coupon code YAYDEALS to get an EXTRA 50% off clearance

Gap– 50% off EVERYTHING!!

Banana Republic– 50% off EVERYTHING!!

Loft– 40% off EVERYTHING with coupon code BESTWEEK

UGG Toddler to Adults– Up to 60% off UGG for the whole family

Tech Gadgets

Get Hulu for just $1.99 a month (this is the lowest price of the year!!)

Relay Screenless Phone Walkie Talkie– $24.99 (50% off- perfect if you aren’t ready to transition to a phone yet)

Nintendo Switch Games– $29.99

Xbox One Star Wars Bundle– $199.99

DualShock 4 Wireless Controller for PlayStation– $38.99

Microsoft Wireless Controller for Xbox– $39.99

Apple iPad 5th Generation Refurbished– $199.99

Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones– $129.99 if you use your RedCard

Beats Powerbeats Wireless Headphones (refurbished)- $59

Toshiba Air Pro 2-Pack– $99.99

Roku Streaming Stick– $29.99

Fire Stick– $19.99

Cricut Explore Air 2 with Essentials Bundle– $229.00 (normally $419.44)

All-New Kindle– $59.99 (bonus $5 e-book credit)

Fire 7 Tablet– $29.99

43” Roku Smart TV- $200 off!!

Kindle Paperwhite– $84.99

3-Month Free Subscription to Pandora On-Demand Premium

Xbox Live 3 Month Gold Membership– $12.99 (use Coupon Code EMCUUVB32 to get $2 off)

MyQ Smart Garage Door Opener– $19.98

Google Home Mini– $25

Ultimate Ears Boom 2– $69.99 (this is HONESTLY one of our favorite things)

Lenovo Smart Clock with Google Assistant– $39.99

Miscellaneous Deals

Razor Scooters– Only $18!!

Revlon One Step Hair Dryer, $37.49 (this is the lowest price I’ve seen!)

Ergobaby 360 All Carry positions Ergonomic Baby Carrier, $79.99 with your RedCard

Ozark Trail 22-Piece Camping Combo– $79

Incredible Deals on Magazine Subscriptions

LEGO City  Great Vehicles Kayak Adventure 60240 Building Kit, $5.99

Huge Discounts on Basketball Hoops– up to 70% off

Smashbox Makeup Brushes (half off!!)

Fuji Instax Mini with Film & Sleeve– $35 for new customers (use coupon code NEW20)

Victrola Vintage Suitcase Turntable– $39.99 (55% off)

Just Dance 2020, $24.99

Looking for more great gift ideas? Check out this year’s gift guides!

100 Unique Stocking Stuffers Everyone Will Love 100 unique stocking stuffers for everyone on your list

Unique Gift Ideas for Kids of All Ages unique gift ideas for kids of all ages

Unique Gift Ideas for the Man Who Has Everything from unique gifts for the man who has everything

Unique Gift Ideas for Tweens & Teens unique gift ideas for tweens and teens

I hope that this inspires your gift-giving this year! Let me know if you got anything and what you thought!

Honest truth: I am always thankful to be a part of ANYONE’S holiday!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

This post contains affiliate links from RewardStyle. Thank you for supporting our website through your purchases.

2019 Black Friday and Cyber Week Deals

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