Archive for the ‘My Work’ Category

How To Host or Join a Reading Retreat

Thursday, July 25th, 2019

Have you ever dreamed of going on a reading retreat? Check out this post for reading retreat ideas and discover how you can participate in one!

This past week was a whirlwind of excitement as I hosted my very first MomAdvice Reading Retreat.

I, honestly, still can’t believe that this actually happened. 

The first time I uttered the words, “reading retreat,” I was met with a lot of confusion. 

As soon as I began to explain my idea for this though, almost everyone said that they could use a retreat like this in their life.

Let’s be honest, it seems that there has been a retreat for everything including writing retreats, yoga retreats, retreat centers for wellness, and even social media retreats.

With all these types of retreats offered, I began to wonder why I couldn’t find a reading retreat for bookish people or an introvert retreat that catered to people like me.

Today I wanted to share some book club retreat ideas and strategies for how to host a retreat. More importantly, I would love to invite you to join the next one. The quickest way to stay in the loop is to join our book club and retreat mailing list. Please note, the retreat mailing list is separate from your weekly happy newsletter.

Should history repeat itself these spots go REALLY fast and that just might be one reason why I think the bookish retreat is going to be the next big thing for our community. 

I could not have done it without these two ladies- thank you, Meg & Symbol!!!

Personally, I have felt like blogging is just not filling my cup the way it used to. I have missed the feelings of connectedness that we used to have through comments and interactions.

The book club has been my way of coping with these changes and figuring out how my path might look moving forward.

The idea for a reading retreat really was hatched when I read about retreats happening in other parts of the country.  Although they were hosted much differently than mine, I began to brainstorm a different type of reading retreat that would build better connections within our book club community.  Keep in mind, I began the research and planning in January to execute this in the summer.

We also surveyed our book club members to see if they were even interested in the retreat, what part of the country they were in, what the best price point would be, and also what months worked best.


Once that data was collected, I scouted midwest retreat rentals, set an attendee amount, and established an application process for these spots. I read through all of the responses and tried to gather a group that I thought would mesh well together,  as well as support the most active members in our community. 

Catering to introverts (not to say that ALL readers are introverts, but many are) helped me make the decision to keep the group more intimate.

Each of our attendees received a copy of, “The Masterpiece,” by Fiona Davis,  for our discussion, in the mail.

Have you read it?

I am pretty sure that every person walked away with a brand new impression of the Grand Central Terminal.  For example, not many of us knew that an art school was tucked away in this historic building or the woman who made history streamlining the interior design of the Studebaker. 

You’ll have to read this one to get the scoop on these exciting times in history.  

thank you, gae, for joining our book club- check out her books here

I also encouraged everyone to dig into, “In Sight of Stars,” so that we could have a great chat with this month’s author, Gae Polisner. It was so fun to chat with our author this month and to better understand her writing process.  

As expected, Gae was amazing and we all loved being able to connect with her in this way.  I am hoping that we can offer more chats like these in the future!

Out of Print shared these adorable book totes for our reading retreat. 

Aren’t these the cutest? They even have a library card holder!  I put my Cricut to work and made name tags for each of these bags so the ladies could pick these up on the way to their room. 

Thank you, Out of Print, for making these bags so darn special!

I designed another custom shirt with Bonfire (you can view our book club shirt here too!) and had these camp shirts made with our retreat name and date on the back! 

I wanted each of the retreat attendees to feel special and for this to feel like a true getaway experience so I requested the women share their favorite drinks, dietary restrictions, shirt sizing, and morning beverage choice before they arrived.

It was so fun to surprise them with a fridge full of their favorite things. 

I also reached out to many authors and publishing houses to see if they had any books they might want to share with our retreat attendees. We had so many generous authors who shared their work with our group. 

Want to see who shared their books? Here are a few pictures of what books the reading retreat attendees received. Thank you to ALL who donated!! 

evvie drake starts over by linda holmes

keeping lucy by t. greenwood

the buddha at my table by tammy letherer

i’m fine and neither are you by camille pagan

i’ll never tell by catherine mckenzie

bare by susan hyatt

We spent the entire weekend doing loads of bookish things like talking about books, book swapping, movies based on books, and reading time. 

I just loved coming into a room and seeing everyone curled up with their books and Kindles.

Is there anything better than being surrounded by YOUR people?

thank you to Best Hair Days With Carolyn for providing our hair care products for the event- what a treat!

look how cute Dine & Dish and Good Life Eats are!

These incredible women came from all over the United States and Canada to spend a weekend with me. I could not be more grateful.

On a personal (and selfish) level, it was an incredible experience to meet people who have been reading the site for years and years. I was so honored that they would make this trip to connect with me and with each other IN REAL LIFE.

We did our best to spoil all these special ladies with homemade meals and snacks (all day and all night long!), lots of wine, quiet time for reading, and EVERYTHING BOOKS.

Organizing a retreat came with some important lessons for the next gathering.

Here’s the thing, no one becomes an expert by doing something only once and I have lots to learn.

I do plan to extend the retreat by a day so people have a quiet day of reading when they arrive (and to hopefully weather those flight delays better), I have a better grasp of retreat expenses now that I have done this, and I need to continue working on solidifying great partnerships for our attendees for the future to keep the expenses down.

All in all, I couldn’t be prouder how this event turned out!

If you are interested in connecting with our book club, I’d love to have you!

What would you like to know about the MomAdvice Reading Retreat? I am happy to answer any questions!

This post contains affiliate links

 

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5 Ways to Save Money When Facing a Chronic Illness

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

This post is sponsored by RxSaver by RetailMeNot and includes tracking links. For more information about tracking links and how to opt out, please visit All About Do Not Track prior to clicking any links found in this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

If there is one thing I have learned since my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome diagnosis, it is just how expensive having a chronic illness can be. The daily maintenance of medications, supplements, therapeutic services, doctor visits, medical devices, and dietary requirements can be extremely taxing on our budget. 

That is why I’m excited to partner today with RxSaver by RetailMeNot to share their online tool that helps you find the lowest prescription prices available. You can shop right at your own nearby pharmacy and save tons. 

As a budget-conscious person, I also wanted to share with you some strategies I have been using to save money to help offset some of our medical expenses. While we can’t always do financial planning for a chronic illness, we can learn better strategies for managing your money with your chronic illness.  

Here are 5 easy ways we saved while not compromising on the care I need to treat my condition!

Get Familiar with Your Health Insurance Plan

If you are fortunate enough to have health insurance, it is SO important to read what benefits are covered under your plan. With a brief scan, you may discover potential savings that allow you to explore services you thought you would have to pay out of pocket for. Many plans can offer coverage for items like medical equipment, home health agency services, physical or occupational therapy, and even your chiropractic care. 

Two appointments I have been regularly booking, for example, have been for acupuncture (to help treat my TMJ symptoms) and massage therapy (to also work out issues around my jaw and neck).  

Those typically sound like spa services, don’t they? 

Can you believe they are covered at my chiropractor’s office? I’m able to have these services processed under the umbrella of chiropractic medical care through my health insurance company.  

Isn’t that so great?

If you are unclear if a particular service is covered, contact the number on the back of your insurance card to request an associate look at your policy and help you walk through your benefits.  This is also a great time to ask about potential discounts for healthy and wellness like discounts on a gym membership, nutritional counseling, or mental health services.  

Save Time & Money By Researching Prescription Prices

Did you know there are ways to save on prescription drugs whether you have insurance or not? If you can’t afford your chronic disease medications, you can take advantage of apps that save you money on your prescription needs. 

Simply head to the RxSaver website (or download the app) to comparison shop the pharmacies near you and evaluate which store offers the best deal for your money.

The nice thing about this service is that they don’t require any personal information to use it and you don’t have to have a membership to take advantage of the savings. Simply enter your prescriptions in, compare prices, and choose the best price and location for you.

When I typed in my own medications, for example, I was surprised to find $20-50 savings on one of my medications thanks to this tool finding the lowest prices for me. Check your own prescriptions right over here.

This quick price check can yield your family up to 80% off at pharmacies nationwide!

Find Ways to Earn Money & Trim Your Current Expenses

When you become diagnosed with a chronic condition, you may find that your days look a lot differently than they did. Honestly, I found that my day was really structured around appointments and squeezing in a little rest.

As we all know, when our days look different our spending can also look different.  

This is a great time to reevaluate your monthly subscription services to see if they are being used enough to justify the expense.  If they no longer fit with your new lifestyle, consider reducing or dropping services to save money to pay for your future medical expenses.  

A monthly gym membership, for example, could be reduced down to a class pass instead that can work with your new daily schedule. 

Small switches like this can free up funds for future medical expenses.

Also, consider tweaks that can help you earn money to help offset costs. Moving your savings to a high interest earning online bank, for example, can yield up to twelve times more interest than what you may currently be earning.

As you explore your financial systems, I would also encourage you to get advice from a trusted financial planner to discover ways you can earn more from interest or strategies for investing wisely to help cover any unexpected expenses. 

Discussing what your new normal looks like, with your financial advisor, can impact lots of future decisions. This is a great time to go over things like estate plans, life insurance, and strategies for covering your medical costs.  The more transparent you are with your financial advisor, the better dialogue you will have to prepare for your future.

Take Advantage of Wholesale Club Prices Without the Membership (or Heavy Lifting)

Wholesale club memberships can be expensive up front, but can yield great money-back rebates and savings on items or services needed for your health. Just think of all the potential savings on things like vision, supplements, or medical care equipment needs. 

Now that I use Instacart for grocery delivery, I discovered that you don’t need a wholesale club membership card to have a grocery delivery service gather your groceries for you. This workaround on the Costco membership means that I can take advantage of all the store has to offer online and have these heavy items delivered to my door.

If you do have a card, you can input your membership number for them to use, securing more in your future rebates without the hassle of shopping for it all yourself.

Keep in mind that the grocery service does not typically purchase a lot of the over-the-counter medications you need though and that section of the store can save hundreds on your health expenses.

No grocery delivery in your area? 

As a small town girl, I feel your pain!  

You may consider doing a grocery pick-up service and having someone at home to assist you with the heavy lifting. 

Single? 

I have found a rolling shopping cart saves me time and energy on my grocery days.  #stillwinning 

Ask About Patient Assistance Programs

Lastly, if I learned anything from my Dad, it is that it never hurts to ask for a discount!  Many places I visit offer a discount card for repeat visits, a reduction on medical bills if paying out of pocket, or can share samples of prescription medication that can help offset a bit of your day to day expenses. 

I highly recommend asking too if there are discounts for students, seniors, military, long-term disability, or being low income discount. I have often been surprised what discounts I had at my disposal that I would have never known about if I had not asked.

Not only is asking about a patient assistance program at your various appointments beneficial, but it is also something you should look for when shopping for items you may be purchasing online.

In fact, many expensive medical devices or medical supplement sites may have a page dedicated to Assistance Programs, on their website. These programs allow you to apply for a set discount on your purchases that can save you a lot of money or can be covered by your health savings account.

Just like being transparent with your financial advisor, I encourage you to have transparency with your physician about your budget too.  When our son’s medication skyrocketed hundreds, we set up an appointment to discuss alternatives that wouldn’t be as costly. By having this conversation, we were able to switch our son to a higher milligram pill that could be split into two doses, giving us twice the amount of pills for a lot less.

Don’t forget though, you have a patient assistance program right in the palm of your hand. The RxSaver app can help you narrow down who has the cheapest prescriptions in your area and get you back to resting in no time flat.

This post is sponsored by RxSaver by RetailMeNot. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

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Let’s Talk About Books and TV!

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

I had the honor of being a guest on The Couch Podcast with Mary Carver this week! Mary asked if I would join her to talk about TV and books and it was such a blast. My homework to prepare was to take a list of great television shows people are loving and share them a couple of books I think they would like, based on their taste in television.

When I got done piecing together my notes, I sent them off to Mary so she could create a giant reading guide for you that you can take to your local library for some books you just won’t want to put down!

We chatted about Arrested Development (bring on the quirky characters), Outlander (you know I love a good time travel story!), The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (I love female characters that buck the system), Friends (specifically, Ross & Rachel), The Handmaid’s Tale (fight the power!), & Stranger Things (the weirder the better).

We ran out of time to talk about The Crown, but I managed to squeeze in my recommendations in today’s reading guide. Phew!

Head HERE to grab your free reading guide and to listen to this fun podcast! 

Thank you, Mary, for giving me a space to share about my favorite books!

 

Looking for more great books? Here are some posts you might want to visit!

53 historical fiction novels to escape with

19 thrillers to keep you up all night

the best books of 2018

join our FREE MomAdvice Book Club

grab you free reading challenge worksheet

I hope these posts inspire you to curl up with a great book this week! Happy reading!

 

DIY Yarn Wrapped Letters Tutorial

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

Create a beautiful wall display with letters and scrap yarn. This Anthropologie-inspired craft really adds a beautiful element to any home. This tutorial will show you step-by-step how to achieve a wall display of your own!

There are a few decorations in our home that have stood their test of time and the wall display in our bedroom remains one of those tried-and-true craft projects that I still love today.

I love to create projects that can be great stash-busters for the knitter AND a great yarn project for someone who doesn’t knit, but would love to have those textures in their home. Today’s project requires zero knitting skills and is simple enough that you could yarn-wrap those letters with your child.

I can’t wait to show you how easy it is to make this yarn display for a wall in your home.

Additions to my home, like these, really bring that Anthropologie shopping experience right in my home. It is, in fact, a lot of the inspiration for the crafts I try to do around here!

Let’s get started!

How to Yarn-Wrap Letters


Supplies Needed

23.5” paper mache letters that spell LOVE  (or your word of choice)

6 skeins of bulky yarn (the back of the packaging should tell you the weight of the yarn)

Scissors

Hot Glue/Tape, or even a Thumbtack for securing yarn in place

Large Package of clear 3M hooks for damage-free mounting

 

Directions

To begin, grab a skein of yarn and begin wrapping your letters in one direction (I started going up and down first).

Do your best to cover the letter in that direction and feel free to cut and secure yarn on the back as you go to cover the entire letter.

You can begin and end the securing of your yarn with a thumbtack, a piece of clear tape, or a little dab of hot glue.

Once you have covered the letter to the best of your ability, now begin wrapping the yarn in the other direction.

Navigating around detailed corners will be tricky. Don’t be afraid to stop and start the yarn to wrap the letters. I found that the corners were a bit bulkier to try to cover, but no one will notice that.

For the last letter, utilize all the ends of each of your skeins to create a scrappy letter from the three colors used in your L,O, and V.

I tried to layer the colors in places, securing again with a little hot glue, tape or thumbtacks for starting and finishing these wrapped places.

I also added a few knitted accessories to my last letter. The same idea could be achieved with fabric, interesting buttons, or purchased accessories. The possibilities are limitless and can fit your own style.

To mount them, I used clear 3M hooks, and used a razor blade to cut an “X” in the back of the cardboard letter to create a spot to hide the hook internally. Some of the letters could be mounted with just one hook (like the O) while others require d two or three hooks to secure.

The best part is that you can move your letters around or remount the hooks if you struggle with getting everything level.

These won’t damage your walls and when you get tired of this display, you can remove them and try something else.

bed from overstock (if you can believe it!!)

DIY Yarn Wrapped Letters Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

As you can see from my giant display, I tend to go all out when I tackle projects like this, but you could definitely use smaller letters and thinner yarn to make this display of LOVE on a smaller scale.

Anybody else want to curl up and read Little House with me?

Love this yarn project? We have SO many more fun ways to use yarn on the site!

check out this viral sensation- how to make a pom-pom wreath

diy yarn trees (make in different colors for different seasons!)

6-stitch knitted ruffle scarf

knitted leaf centerpiece (made from scraps and twigs!)

quick & easy knitted boot cuffs

knitted sweater coffee cozies

how to make a pom-pom flower bouquet

 

This is one of those projects that you can make all your own and I hope you share your interpretation with us! xo

This post contains affiliate links.

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat from MomAdvice.com

 

This no-sew felt puzzle mat is the perfect foundation to build your puzzles on, allowing you to relocate your puzzle when you need to. Check out this fun DIY in honor of National Puzzle Day! 

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

What shows your love for someone more than something handmade by you?

Today I am sharing a tutorial for an easy no-sew DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat that I created for my family.

This mat makes it easy to relocate your puzzle projects when you need to use your table and it’s made with just a few inexpensive materials!

Are you addicted to jigsaw puzzles like us?

My kids are at a fun age right now where we are really enjoying playing board games and assembling puzzles together.

Right now we are tackling 1,000 piece puzzles which feels so ADULT. We haven’t had the courage to go beyond that size yet, but I’m sure we will get there.

Even after our kids have headed to bed, the hubby and I spend time together listening to podcasts or good music, while piecing together puzzles. I find it be quite therapeutic after sitting in front of a screen all day. It helps me decompress in the evening while giving my brain a break from my to-do lists.

To maximize our jigsaw puzzle collection, a couple friends and I trade puzzles after we finish them which has been great because we always have something to work on, while keeping it rather frugal in the process.

Trading puzzles has been a great way to keep our collection fresh and continue to keep our kids interested in putting these together with us.

My only gripe with puzzles is where to relocate them when we need to eat at the table.

We also happen to have a, “helper,” in our house who likes to flip puzzle pieces when her mother is ignoring her (we love you, Lulu the Cat!). I thought a mat might be a great way to discourage our helper and could be a quick way to clear the table for the dinner hour!

Let’s create this easy no-sew roll-up jigsaw puzzle mat!

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat Tutorial

 

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed (all of these supplies can be found at Walmart!)

1 yard of Waverly Inspirations Fabric  (check out the fresh new Valentine’s Day prints,  I picked a classic pink gingham!)

1 yard of felt fabric (any coordinating color)

1 package of Waverly Inspirations Ribbon (any coordinating color)

Cardboard tube (you can use a durable mailing tube, gift wrap roll, or even use plastic PVC pipe)

Razor blade (if cutting to size)

Hemming Tape or fabric glue

Scissors

Waverly Chalk Paint in a coordinating color  and paint brush (optional, but you can paint the cardboard roll to coordinate- I decided to leave mine in its natural state!)

PUZZLES!! (check out my suggestions below for a few of our faves!)


How to Make a DIY Jigsaw Puzzle Mat

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat from MomAdvice.com

1. Much like our reversible seat cushion project, we are going to begin by lining up the two fabrics with the right-side of the fabric facing INSIDE towards each other. That means the wrong sides will be facing out!

Trim your fabric and felt to the same size.

Remember, this mat can be ANY size that you want.

If you want it be the size of your kitchen table, for example, measure that first and use this as your guide for creating your mat. I created a generous mat for our large puzzles!

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat from MomAdvice.com

2. Once your fabric has been trimmed, use your fabric tape and line all the sides , making sure to leave an opening so that you can turn the mat out once you have sealed all the seams.

Using a very hot iron, carefully and slowly, begin ironing to seal the seam (you can see another example of what sealing this seam looks like over here!).

Typically doing this requires pinning, but I did find that the felt held the tape in place and made it an easy project to do without pinning.

Do this along all the sides (make sure you left that opening to turn it out!!) until the two pieces are fused together.

Carefully, turn the right sides out and then finish by sealing that last opening with fabric tape or a little fabric glue.

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat from MomAdvice.com

3. Trim your cardboard tube to the length of your finished mat.

If you want to paint this, you can! I finished each end with a little tied ribbon that can be used to tie the entire mat up when we are storing it.

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat from MomAdvice.com

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat from MomAdvice.com

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat from MomAdvice.com

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat from MomAdvice.com DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat from MomAdvice.com

DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat from MomAdvice.com

As you can see, you can roll up those puzzles (take your time and roll carefully!) when not in use.

Please keep in mind, it is not recommended for  long-term storage since it can damage your puzzle pieces, but it is recommended for a quick relocation so you can use your table when you need it.

I am so excited to break this in and I’m guessing it is going to be a smart item to take when we rent our summer cottages too!

Looking for a few great jigsaw puzzles? Here are a few of my favorites!

I had one of those puzzle

great classic books puzzle

story time puzzle

nancy drew puzzle

harry potter puzzle

nevertheless she persisted puzzle

harry potter puzzle

 

video games collection puzzle

old bookstore puzzle

color me puzzle

 

 

 

PS- Seriously, start a puzzle exchange with your friends. You won’t regret it!

Looking for ways to store those jigsaw puzzles? This strategy works so well at our house!

Happy crafting!!

diy-jigsaw-puzzle-mat-9

Do you want more craft inspiration from Waverly? Try these!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions

Fabric Wreath & Matching Garland

Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray

15-Minute Scrappy Fabric Trees

Kid Craft: Easy Technique for Painting Gift Wrap

DIY Phone Charging Station

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

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Gixo Fitness App for the New Year (GIVEAWAY!!!)

Thursday, January 10th, 2019

This post is sponsored by Gixo. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting our sponsors!

When my health challenges started to make my gym routines difficult, I began to realize that a gym membership just couldn’t be in my cards anymore. I had no idea from day to day if my body was going to cooperate and there were months that I paid for a full membership and only was able to make a class or two.

That, my friends, was not a good return on investment.

That is when I REALLY began to realize the beauty in online month-by-month memberships and how affordable they were. Online apps typically cost less than a single class at my gym and pay for themselves rather quickly. Even more than that, I am able to use these apps around my busy work schedule!

Haven’t tried a gym app before?

Well, today I wanted to show off a new-to-me app called Gixo! Gixo is designed for busy schedules with 15, 25 or 40-minute workout classes and include offerings like:

Cardio: walking, running (all treadmill compatible)

Strength training: core, glutes, total body

Yoga and pilates

 

Stretching and mobility

You are able to exercise wherever you are (at home, outdoors, traveling, at the gym, or on the go) and ZERO equipment is required.

 

Here are a few other reasons why I REALLY love this app!

The accountability factor- One of the reasons many people gravitate towards gym memberships is that accountability factor. Although many classes are available as on-demand options, you can sign up for class times just like you would with a traditional gym membership. Signing up for a class means that you will receive a text reminder that you have a class coming up (and what equipment you might need), and then a text that reminds you when your class is starting. Scheduling a class requires you to commit and then follow through on what you set out to do for the day.

The fun coaching- When you sign into class, you take a quick selfie to check in, and your coach has access to your screen to help guide you through your class. Having this view, they are able to help you make adjustments that help reduce the risk of injury.  I loved that when I checked in for class, I even got a shoutout from the coach, all the way in London,  to thank me for joining in. It makes the experience feel more intimate than just a recorded class and it gives you a personal trainer experience.

The incredible music- Workouts, for me, are ALL about the music and each of their classes has awesome music mixes curated by Gixo’s in-house DJ. I also appreciate that you can make adjustments to coaching and the music levels so if I want to just do my own workout to their amazing mixes, I can do that by turning down the volume on the coaching.

When would I do this?

Oh, how about when I am KILLING IT around my house or doing my laundry.

How fun is that?

They Add Variation to My Winter Treadmill Workouts- It is hard to make a treadmill workout fun, but Gixo manages to do it. Thanks to this app, I’m able to hit my goals with steps and they weave in strength routines, like a series of pushups, that make this more fun and more beneficial to your body.

It is affordable- Memberships start at just $14.99/mo (billed at $179.99/year) or $19.99/mo. This cost means that it is less than the cost of a single studio class and that you are able to get A LOT for your money. You also aren’t put into one gym class type category. I can do a strength class, yoga, run or walk (outside or on my treadmill), 

Want to try it out? How about some coupons AND a giveaway today?

Use code momadvice on the Gixo app to get a 7-day free trial and 20% off either a monthly or one-year subscription!

Follow the instructions below to enter to win a 1-year subscription to Gixo! Good luck, everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is sponsored by Gixo. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting our sponsors!

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Simplifying Your Holiday Gatherings

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

You will love these strategies for hosting memorable gatherings without the stress.

I’ve got everything from cooking shortcuts to decorations that transition through the seasons to your perfect playlist! 

This post is sponsored by Honeysuckle White. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

Now that Halloween is behind us, it is time to start thinking about all of those upcoming holiday gatherings. Hostess duties can often feel stressful and overwhelming, don’t they? That is why I’m excited to be partnering today with Honeysuckle White to share some fresh ideas for hosting your next gathering without the stress.

I learned that if I wanted to connect with my friends and family that I often had to be the one to step up to bat and offer to host. I have discovered, over the years, that so many people feel intimidated by hosting and are often self-conscious of things like undone house projects, their limited cooking abilities, or not feeling like they have that perfectly sized space for the ideal gathering.

The thing is, our own intimidations rob us of precious moments with those we love and the people that REALLY and GENUINELY love us will always, always be thankful to you for creating space in your home and day for them.

That is, truly, why I am excited to share that Honeysuckle White recognizes how precious our time is and wanted to take out that intimidation factor by providing a brilliantly easy turkey product that will make gatherings so much easier on busy moms.

Even better?

You can order it right through Amazon.

And, ladies, I KNOW we all have Amazon ordering down pat! (*ahem*)

Say hello to the world’s easiest holiday dish, the NEWS Honeysuckle White Bacon Wrapped Turkey Breast “Turketta”, inspired by the flavor profile of porchetta!

I gave ordering one of these a spin and really was surprised how well-seasoned and easy this was to execute for my Friendsgiving gathering this week.

In your package (that arrives right on your doorstep!)  you will get one of these beautiful roasts that serve approximately 4-6 people.  The packages arrive frozen and you can thaw it for an ASAP gathering or you can tuck this in the freezer for a future meal.

The bird is perfectly seasoned, boneless (no carving- woot, woot!), and requires just a simple quick sear on the bottom and baking.

This isn’t the only option you can have delivered. They also are offering Hickory Smoked Turkey Breast, a Honeysuckle White Fresh Traceable Whole Bird Turkey, & the Honest Turkey Whole Turkey.

Even better, for a limited time offer, MomAdvice readers can get 15% off using my coupon code 15MOMADVICE.

I can really get behind this company and the work they do with farmers, especially after having the opportunity to tour one of the farms.

The company is committed to raising their turkeys without growth-promoting antibiotics and no added hormones or steroids.

They also are committed to supporting independent family farmers to provide family farm-raised turkeys.

I don’t know if you know this, but my great-grandpa was a farmer and that is why that commitment and their true love for these families really warms my heart.

Now that you have the turkey covered, here are a few other ideas for a simple gathering of great friends and great food!

Send Out a Small Invite

I have done loads of large gatherings, but I find the best gatherings are often the intimate ones with just a couple of close friends so you can really catch up.

A friendsgiving need not be a large gathering and the invitation does not need to be a formal one.

Text invitations are perfectly acceptable, especially during such a busy season.

Also, allowing mamas to bring kids is a blessing to the mom (who won’t have to cook) and to you (to get to love on your friend’s beautiful kiddos especially since your kids are tweens/teens and you now have to FORCE YOUR LOVE on them).

 

Keep the Sides Simple

Roasted vegetables are an easy side that can be prepared a day in advance.

In fact, storing your carrots and potatoes in water overnight will yield a much crisper roast than if you cut them up immediately.

Toss your prepared vegetables in olive oil, kosher salt, and your favorite dried seasoning (I’m a thyme girl!) and roast them at 450 degrees for 25 minutes.

Love perfectly roasted potatoes?

Cut baby potatoes in half and put the cut side down on a cookie sheet that’s been lined with aluminum foil and is lightly greased. You will get a perfect roast every time AND they are so good that my kids call them mom’s french fries.

It goes without saying, but lining the cookie sheets with tin foil or parchment paper squares is also an excellent way to cut down on dishes!

Skip the Baking

Thankfully, there is no need to bake since we have so many delicious options for desserts that are already made and available for purchase at our local markets.

You can still make these purchased desserts feel really special though with quick homemade touches.

Spicing up your whipped cream, adding crunchy toppings, or adding details with pie cutters or an embossing rolling pin (made from refrigerated pie dough) are all fun ways to make pies feel special and more homemade.

This post offers 5 strategies for making store-bought pies feel special that I think you will find REALLY helpful for the holidays and even an idea for packaging up mini pies as a parting gift at the end of the night.

replicate my table with this easy tutorial

Think Evergreen When It Comes to Home Decorating

In the blog world, evergreen content is king. It means that we really focus on creating timeless pieces that can be shared over and over again and always feel relevant.

This is the SAME WAY we can approach our decorating. Purchase or DIY things that are neutral and can be used over and over again throughout the seasons. A bit of faux greenery, a roll of kraft paper (DO buy this– it’s such a affordable investment for decorating and gift wrapping), white plates, and loads of candles are perfect for ANY occasion.

Adding simple seasonal touches, like the small bundles of sage I gathered with cotton twine feel very Martha-y, but cost only a couple of bucks to pull off.

Stop pulling out and storing seasonal bins and buy a few items that you can use over and over and over again.

You can’t imagine the stress you will relieve yourself of!

Set the Mood

Before I go, I have one more fun fact for you…I used to be a glorified D.J. for my college’s radio station.

Music is essential to me like breathing and food.

Growing up, I played the violin, sang in the choir, did musical theater, and had parents who were crazy about music too.

I am also the one that hogs the microphone if you karaoke with me.

To me, a solid playlist for special occasions is oh-so-necessary.

Don’t have time to make one?

How about if I shared mine with you!

Also, as a thoughtful introvert, I have included three goodbye songs at the end that you can feel free to boot those up after the meal when you just need to retreat to your Snuggie and Netflix.

Hopefully they catch on..I know, “CLOSING TIME,” is a very, very subtle exit song!

I have embedded it here for you so be sure to bookmark this awesome post and give me a follow for more fabulous dinner music.

Now hurry on over to order your turkey and don’t forget to use my coupon code 15MOMADVICE to snag your 15% off!

this post contains affiliate links

This post is sponsored by Honeysuckle White. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

How to Make Pumpkin Hand Pies

Monday, October 8th, 2018

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

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

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

Just give me ALL THE PIE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t want to make pie at all?

I feel you.

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

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

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

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

autumn burlap wreath tutorial

doughnut hole ghost cake (no baking necessary!)

dollar store thumbtack pumpkins

how to make glow in the dark jell-o

19 thrillers to keep you up all night

slow cooker pumpkin spice candles

no-sew blanket scarf tutorial

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How to Make Pumpkin Hand Pies from MomAdvice.com

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Candy Apple Martini and a New Chilling Thriller

Monday, September 24th, 2018

This post is sponsored by St. Martin’s Press. Thank you for supporting our sponsors! 

Are you looking for a way to escape the back-to-school chaos?

Lucky for you, I have the perfect thriller and cocktail to escape with this fall.

Today I’m sharing about the new twisty thriller from T.M. Logan called, “Lies,” and I’m pairing it with a new Candy Apple Martini recipe to sip while you are indulging in this suspenseful read

If you haven’t yet heard of T.M. Logan it is because he is making his debut this month with, “Lies.” Logan is a seasoned writer who has worked as a national newspaper journalist. This is why, perhaps, this book does not seem like a debut at all.

In this story, our lead character, Joe Lynch, is driving home from work with his young son. He happens to see his wife’s car ahead of him and decides to follow her and ends up witnessing a secret rendezvous with another man. This encounter threatens to tear the two families apart and Joe finds that he is being set up for a murder that he never committed.

If you are a fan of Peter Swanson’s writing, I have a feeling you are going to absolutely love this thriller. Logan expertly weaves the plot of this story so well that you will find yourself questioning just who is innocent and who is guilty.

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

Logan really goes to great lengths to help us explore the question, can we ever really trust those closest to us? I absolutely loved this thriller and finished it in a single day. It was the perfect way to unwind from the craziness of back-to-school season.

I know as moms it can be difficult to carve out time for ourselves, particularly during this time of year. The thing is, more than ever it is important to incorporate self-care activities that fill your cup too. Reading, for me, has always been my self-care outlet.

In busy seasons, I gravitate more towards the thriller genre because these tend to be fast page-turners and offer a much-needed escape during difficult parenting seasons.

This novel hit stores on September 11th and is available now for purchase. You can read the first 27 pages of the book over here.

I guarantee, you will be hooked.

 

I wanted to pair this book with a fall cocktail so today’s recipe is for a Caramel Apple Martini that you can sip while furiously flipping those pages.

This drink is a combination of butterscotch schnapps, sour apple schnapps, vodka, and cranberry juice. These flavors, once shaken together in a martini shaker or mason jar, taste just like a delicious candy apple.

To fancy this drink up, dip the rim in water and then dip it in a little cinnamon and sugar mixed together. It can then be garnished with a fresh apple to bring it all together.

I can’t think of a better pairing than a great thriller and a delicious martini.

Happy reading, friends!

Candy Apple Martini
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 martini
 
A delicious combination of butterscotch schnapps, sour apple schnapps, cranberry juice, and vodka make the perfect martini that tastes just like a candy apple. Dip the rim in cinnamon & sugar and garnish with an apple, to add those special finishing touches.
Ingredients
  • 1 ounce butterscotch schnapps
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 2 ounces cranberry juice
  • 2 ounces sour apple schnapps
  • Cinnamon & sugar mixture
  • Apple slice
  • Martini shaker or mason jar
Instructions
  1. Dip rim of glass in a shallow bowl of water.
  2. Next, dip it in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Add your apple garnish to the rim.
  3. Add ice to a mason jar or martini shaker.
  4. Pour the butterscotch schnapps, vodka, cranberry juice, and sour apple schnapps over the ice.
  5. Shake for thirty seconds.
  6. Pour strained drink into prepared martini glass.
  7. Sip while reading, "Lies," by T.M. Logan

 

Purchase, “Lies,” HERE. You can follow T.M. Logan on  Twitter and Facebook!

This post is sponsored by St. Martin’s Press. Thank you for supporting our sponsors! 

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DIY Decorative Thumbtack Pumpkins

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

DIY Thumbtack Pumpkins from MomAdvice.com

These gold pumpkins are the perfect craft for autumn, even if you aren’t crafty. You will love these DIY Thumbtack Pumpkins for your home!

I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for new ways to decorate the holiday table that are festive while staying easy on the budget. The gold trend has really been catching my eye this year so I wanted to create something beautiful and gold that anyone can do, no matter what your craft level.

Today’s tutorial is for a decorative thumbtack pumpkin that requires just two items for a fun and festive touch to your table.

DIY Thumbtack Pumpkins Tutorial

Decorative Thumbtack Pumpkin Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed

700 (or more!) gold or silver thumbtacks– these can be purchased in a package of 300 at your local dollar store

Small Faux Styrofoam Pumpkin (look for one with a fun stem detail like the glittered stem on this one)

DIY Thumbtack Pumpkins from MomAdvice.com

Directions

  1. Going along one of the ridges of the pumpkin, begin inserting thumbtacks, starting at the very top and working your way down. You will want to make sure that they overlap just a bit to create a feathered effect on your pumpkin. You do not need to go to the very bottom, just enough to cover it so that if the pumpkin is placed on a pedestal or candlestick holder that you can’t see the plastic bottom. This row helps to anchor your ridge as you place the thumbtacks in.
  2. Right next to that row, again overlapping from the side and down the row, begin placing thumbtacks in the same way, repeating this process until you have covered the entire ridge. Once the ridge is filled, just check and make sure there aren’t any holes in any places and fill, as necessary, with additional thumbtacks.
  3. Begin in the next ridge, just as you did with the first, giving just a little room between those ridges so you can still see that pumpkin shape. Now repeat this process again and again, until you have filled the entire pumpkin. This small pumpkin took 700 thumbtacks, but you may need more or less depending on how tightly you are overlapping your thumbtacks.

DIY Thumbtack Pumpkins from MomAdvice.com

DIY Thumbtack Pumpkins from MomAdvice.com

DIY Thumbtack Pumpkins from MomAdvice.com

DIY Thumbtack Pumpkins from MomAdvice.com

Isn’t this absolutely beautiful? Who would ever have guessed that it costs around $5 to make! I made two of them and wanted to show you a fun way to dress up your holiday table with these.

I spray painted two other faux pumpkins and then roughed them up with a little sandpaper. I filled a glass bottle with branches from our backyard to center these and then purchased these faux logs from my local craft store in two different heights to place my gold pumpkins on. I love all the variations on height and the different textures in this budget-friendly centerpiece.

I hope you find this idea easy and inspiring! Use your own creativity to create a few beautiful pumpkins of your own.

Speaking of autumn crafts…here are a few tutorials you might enjoy!

how to make a blanket scarf how to make a blanket scarf

Painted Pumpkins painted pumpkins tutorial

woodland art download FREE autumn printables

cabled earwarmer pattern cabled ear warmers (free pattern)

easy burlap wreath easy burlap wreath tutorial

Fall Burlap Wreath fall burlap wreath tutorial

how to paint laminate painted laminate fireplace to cozy up by

she shed make a she shed (best investment EVER!)

doughnut-hole-ghost-cake doughnut hole ghost cake

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