March 2019 Must-Reads

April 1st, 2019

How are you? I am so excited to hear about what YOU read this past month since I didn’t get to as many book as I had hoped. March was a slow month of reading, for me, but yielded a couple of books that I can definitely see on my top ten list for 2019. Between preparations for an upcoming trip and taking some coursework for my job, I didn’t have as much free time to read as I hoped.

Next month should be a lot more fruitful now that life will be slowing down a bit after the spring break holiday. I have big plans to share about some of the most anticipated summer novels so you can start thinking about all those wonderful lazy days of summer filled with gorgeous new reads. I don’t know about you, but this Midwest girl can’t wait for that summer weather and iced tea sipping in the sunshine.

While you’re here, be sure to print out the 2019 MomAdvice reading challenge worksheet and join our free online book club! You can check out the 2019 MomAdvice Book Club picks over here!  You can also friend me on GoodReads for more great book reviews! I love connecting with you there.

Did you know Prime members get a read for free every single month? Grab your FREE book over here.

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s selections: 

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson

All That You Leave Behind by Erin Lee Carr

Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger

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

Here are 5 must-read books I tackled in March:

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

It has been a long time since I have read a historical fiction book that I was this swept away in, but The Things We Cannot Say, was incredible from start to finish. If you like your historical fiction to jump from past to present, told through alternating viewpoints, I have a feeling you will appreciate the format of this beautiful story.

Since Alina Dziak was nine, she knew that she would marry her best friend, Tomaz. At fifteen she is engaged and unconcerned about the reports of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, believing that they are her neighbors and not a threat.  She instead fills her head with dreams of the day that Tomasz will return from college so they can be married. Alina could never know though how the Nazi occupation would take over her rural village and how it had the power to destroy her relationship with her one true love.

Presently, Alice is struggling with the challenges of her special needs child, a husband who doesn’t get the work that goes into keeping their family floating, and her grandmother who is hospitalized. When her grandmother begs her to return to her childhood hometown, Alice begins to realize there is more to her grandmother’s story than meets the eye. Leaving is never easy, especially with her juggle, but she makes the promise and heads to find out more about her grandmother and the secrets she has been keeping.

This is a beautiful love story weaved in with the all-too-relatable struggle of being a modern day woman. Rimmel finds ways to weave this story very creatively that allows the slow unveiling of secrets to the reader.  This time in history is a heavy one and the shifting viewpoints really benefit in helping create a story that you can connect with in a myriad of ways. You can help but root for Alina and Tomaz through this haunting read. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

5 out of 5 Stars

I’m Fine And Neither Are You by Camille Pagán

Thank you to the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

This is just a friendly reminder to always check for those free Prime books. Lucky readers were able to score I’m Fine and Neither Are You for free this past month. Since I really loved the author’s last book so much, I was excited to dig into this next read.

Penelope Ruiz-Kar is a relatable character as she is constantly treading water at her job and with all of her duties in the family.  Meanwhile, her best friend, Jenny Sweet, seems to have everything together. She writes a popular lifestyle blog, keeps a tidy home, has a child with impeccable manners, and a perfect marriage.

It is why Penelope is genuinely floored when a shocking tragedy reveals that Jenny’s life is far from what Penelope believed. In light of this turn of events, Penelope and her husband (Sanjay) agree to each write a list of changes they want to each other to make and then commit them with honestly. The plan quickly begins to backfire though as secrets and resentment are revealed and the couple must deal with them.  This experiment changes the landscape of their relationship entirely, making Penelope question if honesty really IS the best policy.

I won’t reveal the tragedy that happens, but the narcissist in me wishes that the story was focused more on Jenny and her struggles because I think it could have been a deeper discussion to be shared in a book club than what it was. The tragedy, to me, was the most compelling part of the story, despite it being a bit controversial. The truth is, Jenny’s life is where many of our Pinterest-filled heads are and it is important people see that online life a little differently.

The marriage challenges though and Penelope’s “just keeping swimming,” life are equally relatable for many. I found a lot of vulnerability in these characters and this experiment to be one that all marriages could benefit from, in some way. I have a feeling you will love this read as much as I did!

4 out of 5 Stars

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

Once in a blue moon I run across a book that I think I could put in just about anyone’s hands and they would love it. The book this year is, FOR SURE, Finding Dorothy. I did musical theatre for years and one of my favorites is The Wizard of Oz. That said, I didn’t know a lot about the history of the book it was based upon or the behind-the-scenes events that had happened during the filming of the movie. I think that is why this book was such a treat because of the meticulous research by Letts to create this story.

The book shares the true story of Maud & Frank Baum. Frank wrote the story of Oz, but the journey to success was a long one. His wife, far ahead of her time as a feminist, leaves behind her education to marry this magical man and start a life together. Their life is what shapes the story of Oz and it is incredibly beautiful.

Later in life, Maud learns that M-G-M is adapting her late husband’s masterpiece for the screen. Somehow this seventy-seven-year-old firecracker finds a way to make it into the studio for the filming, something she really feels tasked to do. It is of the utmost importance that Frank’s story is held in the same spirit that it was written. As Maud hears Judy Garland rehearsing, she recognizes the yearning that was her own yearnings as a girl. This yearning is why Maud decides she must protect Dorothy at all costs, just like she did so many years ago.

I can assure you that this book will be in my top ten of 2019. It is magical and is recommended, in particular, for fans of The Greatest Showman. I couldn’t put it down and now see the story of Oz in such a different way than I did before.

5 out of 5 Stars

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

On the Come Up was a fantastic audiobook treat this month and powerfully narrated by Bahni Turpin. I had high expectations after devouring The Hate U Give, and Thomas delivers once again with this beautiful coming-of-age story.

Bri’s family is always desperately struggling to make ends meet, but they seem to face one hurdle after another, especially after the loss of her mother’s job. Bri decides to pour her frustrations into songwriting and writes a powerful anthem about her struggle called On the Come Up. The lyrics are a lot harder than the way she actually lives her life and when her song goes viral, she is encouraged to be the things she is not to keep riding the success.

With an eviction notice on their door, Bri has no choice but to lean into the image people have of her.  She also feels an additional pressure to be legendary because of her father and his rap career legacy. This mounting pressure is a major theme in Bri’s life and in this story’s pages.

While I don’t think the lessons were as hard hitting as the ones in her first book, Thomas still gives us a true coming-of-age story that will really make you root for Bri.

I just have to say, once again, Turpin as a narrator is just GENIUS because the girl can RAP. The rap battles that Thomas writes are unreal good and Turpin handles them like a pro. They were so good, in fact, that I had my husband grab an earbud to listen to a few of these with me.

Fans of old school rap will really dig this ode to hip hop that Thomas has crafted.  The author proves that she is no one-hit-wonder and I can’t wait to read what she comes up with next!

4 out of 5 Stars

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

One thing I’m REALLY proud of us this year is really pushing people (myself included!) outside of our comfort genres through our book club. I am not a mystery reader, but when I heard about the plot of The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, I thought this might be just the plot ticket to get me reading one.

First of all, put your wine glasses down for this one because you will need ALL those brain cells to help solve this murder mystery!

There are three rules of Blackheath House:

  1. Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
  2. There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
  3. We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.

Agatha Christie fun meets Groundhog Day in this wildly inventive debut that will keep the reader guessing from start to finish. The reader knows that Evelyn Hardcastle will die. In fact, she will die every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. Aiden finds himself waking up in a different body and repeating the day over and over again, armed with new information when he wakes.  Some of his hosts help him while others make his job very hard. Leaving clues for himself to find, he must win the game in order to leave the property…but that’s just what everyone else wants to do to. It will be a fight to the surprising finish.

Turton crafts some unlikable characters and creates beautiful tension when Aiden has to fight the impulses of the body he inhabits. His confusion though is the reader’s confusion too so that is why the story keeps the reader on their toes throughout.

Read on Kindle, I missed one of the most important elements to the story…the map and cast of characters to flip to. Although they are there, they are not easy to read on the Paperwhite so be sure to print out the pages from the sneak peek so you can keep everyone straight.

This felt a bit like Clue in book form and I would highly recommend it, in particular, for Agatha Christie fans. We had one reader who has read her entire body of work and said this is the first book she’s read that actually delivered on the Christie hype.

This book was a confusing challenge and I loved it.

4 out of 5 Stars

Read With Me This Year

January 2019 Must-Reads

February 2019 Must-Reads

What did you read this month? Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

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

Pin It

Small-Budget Crushes 03.22.19

March 22nd, 2019

Spring, we are HERE FOR YOU. xoxo

duster sweater (in two hues)

dainty triple name necklace

t-shirt dress

pom-pom kaftan swimsuit cover-up

pretty pom-pom clutch

gingham shirt dress

denim jumpsuit

oh hello doormat

striped embroidered swing tank

colorblock one-piece swimsuit

white dotted cushion

sueded block mule heels

floral pasta bowls

tonal blue dress (take an extra 25% off!!)

dot-ruffle top (two hues)

vintage style cooler

high-waisted leggings

menagerie mug (take an ADDITIONAL 25% off all sale items today!)

blue striped jumpsuit

mirror with rattan frame

up to 50% off ALL Nordic Ware baking accessories

brown-dot ruffled romper

ode to home state dish towel (what a great gift!)

ruffled tankini

elastic dotted apple watch band

yarn nest starter

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

Amy’s Notebook 03.21.19

March 21st, 2019


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

I love the clever tips for candle upcycling and getting every last bit out of your scented candles.

28 April Fools pranks for kids to create.

Coveting those shiny new organizers? Check out this hack to take drab photo boxes to fab.

How to “Marie Kondo” your personal relationships. Such great advice!

Struggle with anxiety? Here are 5 strategies that might help you.

The surprising truth about aging.

This is a great beginner’s guide to meal prep.


Holy heck! This short rib recipe sounds amazing!

Here is another gorgeous instant pot recipe that I would love to try.

Did you see who launched a skincare line? I’m intrigued.

Instagram created a monster. Honestly, I don’t know if the efforts are always worth the headspace.

Looking for a book to tuck in your bag for spring break? This list looks promising!

This is what I’m reading, I also just got this (so excited to dive in) and I’m wrapping up this fun audiobook in my earbuds.

Ah, those were the days!

This was your favorite purchase this week.

I love adding greenery to our house and this is a great gathering of real & faux plants to add green to your home.

7 more uses for your magic eraser.

This is another smart hack for organizing.


This sheet pan chicken tinga meal prep idea sounds sooo good!

Speaking of meal prep, I just discovered this archive for meal prep inspiration.

I’m trying to be more focused during my work time so this piece on balancing a work-at-home schedule was really timely.

Your surfaces declare your purposes. Such a good reminder!

I really enjoyed reading this interview.

7 big renovation mistakes to avoid.

This interview was absolutely fascinating (especially the bit about Barbara!!).

Packing a bag for spring break? Here are ten tips on how to pack lighter.

Don’t post your boarding pass on social media. Here’s why.

I have never heard of this option for treating pain, but I’m intrigued.

Here are 5 freezer meals that you don’t have to thaw for dinner.

This is a smart diy art hack for your home.

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

Please note, there are affiliate links in this post- thank you! xoxo

Herb Baked Tilapia Sheet Pan Meal

March 20th, 2019


Try this easy sheet pan meal for your next family dinner! This herb baked tilapia & asparagus bakes in under 15 minutes!

I don’t know about you, but I can never get enough sheet pan meal recipes! Today I wanted to share one of our tried-and-true family favorites  that I think you will love as much as I do. This herb baked tilapia sheet pan meal is gluten-free and can be prepared with a side of asparagus, all on one pan. This is an affordable meal that can serve a crowd and is simple enough that you could even get your kids in the kitchen to help you assemble these cheesy and crunchy toppings.

The preparation is pretty similar to my 5-Ingredient Salmon Sheet Pan recipe, but this time we will be preparing a crunchy gluten-free topping for the fish instead of a simple seasoning. If you don’t need to watch the gluten, you can substitute this ingredient with your favorite Panko or breadcrumb topping.  After trying several brands of crunchy coating, this is my favorite recommendation, if you end up needing the gluten-free version (like me!).

I also recommend splurging for the fresh tilapia, if you can swing it, because the fish is typically thicker than the frozen variety. It helps the fish to retain its moisture, while it is baking, and is also a little more filling.

If you have teenagers, you know that filling these kids up is a full-time job! #mamaisbroke

If you are trying to stay under budget though, the frozen fish does well, but will just cook up a bit quicker in your oven!

Here is what the dish looks like when it is prepared on the sheet pan. I lined my pan with nonstick foil, to help make clean-up a little easier! Underneath that layer of herbs & panko, you will find a cheesy layer that is prepared with just cheese and mayo.

Have issues with mayo?

I bet you will get over it when you mix that with cheese.

I mean, it is CHEESE!

You can also use your own substitution for mayo that works for your diet plan.

I have heard great things about this one!

Although, I know you aren’t here for my TED talk on this recipe, I have a pretty funny story about this dish.

When I was working for Kenmore, they asked me to share some of my favorite family recipes and they had them all printed up on gorgeous recipe cards to hand out at the Chicago Baby Show. Not only did they want to hand them out, but they told me that they wanted these dishes prepared for the attendees so people could eat samples as they walked through the different booths.

When I read how many people normally attend the Chicago Baby Show, I started to get spicy armpits.

I pride myself on my ability to feed many people, but what was this going to look like feeding THOUSANDS.

Also, why exactly did that think I was capable to cater this event?

The weeks leading up to the event were agonizing, but I couldn’t tell them that I couldn’t possibly do this. Our family was on the struggle bus financially so I had to do my best with this incredible job that I had been tasked with.

When I showed up, I put on my apron and was ready to go, spicy armpits and all!

That’s when they told me that the food was being prepared by someone else and I was just supposed to hand out my recipe cards.

Moral of the story?

Get the specifics on your jobs before you agree to do them and get ready to fake it until you make it!

I hope you enjoyed my TED talk on this fabulous dish.

In the end, I would prepare it for you, but not for thousands.

I hope you can give this one a spin at your house and can’t wait to hear what you think!

Herb Baked Tilapia Sheet Pan Meal
Recipe type: Main Course
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6 servings
Try this easy sheet pan meal for your next family dinner! This herb baked tilapia & asparagus bakes in under 15 minutes! If you are using a thicker cut of tilapia, you can double the topping for double the crunch!
  • 4 (4 to 6 ounce) tilapia fillets
  • ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup gluten-free panko crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning blend
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • olive oil (for drizzingling on vegetables)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley, optional
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Adjust your oven rack to the second one from the top.
  2. Using a paper towel, blot the tilapia to soak up any moisture. Place tilapia on a sheet pan lined with nonstick foil.
  3. In a small bowl, combine cheese and mayonnaise. Spread evenly over fish.
  4. In another bowl, combine panko, Italian seasoning mix, salt, & pepper. Sprinkle over fish.
  5. Trim the asparagus ends. Drizzle the asparagus with olive oil and season with salt. Arrange the asparagus next to the tilapia.
  6. Bake 12-15 minutes
  7. Turn your broiler on high and finish with 2 minutes of broiling to get a pretty golden hue on your fish and to make sure the cheese coating is cooked all the way through. Make sure you keep an eye on it so your topping does not burn.
  8. Serve immediately with a little chopped parsley on top.

Looking for more easy dinner ideas? Here are a few of our favorites!

5-ingredient sheet pan salmon meal

5-ingredient caprese pork chops

gluten-free orange chicken

3-ingredient instant pot ribs

3-ingredient instant pot pulled pork

one pot gluten-free mac & cheese

5-ingredient gluten-free pizza crust recipe

This post contains affiliate links! Thank you!




Planning a Spring Break Staycation

March 18th, 2019

Today we have gathered the best tips, easy projects, and fun activities you can play for the ultimate family staycation. Be sure to bookmark this for some of our favorite boredom busters!

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

Last year, on the Friday before our school district’s spring break began, my daughter went on a field trip with her class. It was her first experience roller skating, and all week my husband and I joked with her, saying more than once, “Don’t break your leg!”

Well, the joke was on us, because just a short hour after I dropped her off at school that morning, I got a call from the school nurse. My daughter had, indeed, broken her leg. That ordeal is a story for another time. But what I’m remembering today, as we head into spring break season once again, is how so many people reacted to the news by asking if we’d had big spring break plans.

Apparently, many families plan big trips for their kids’ spring breaks. I feel silly admitting it, but I really had no idea. I had assumed most families would be staying home, juggling work and childcare, catching up on home projects, and possibly taking a trip to the movie theater or park before sending their kids back to school.

After all, that’s about all I had planned!

After hearing about other families’ more extravagant and adventurous plans, I didn’t feel guilty that we couldn’t afford that kind of travel or time off in the spring. But I did feel bad that I hadn’t put more thought into what we would actually do instead. Last year’s spring break was consumed by pain medicine, follow-up doctor’s appointments, and begging my daughter to JUST TRY TO USE THE CRUTCHES. But this year, I was determined to make the most of our five days off school!

Here’s what I did:

Evaluate your free time. Plan your work time.

Because of the nature of my work, I can’t simply take a whole week off. (Okay, I can, but it requires a level of nose-to-the-grindstone intention that I just didn’t pull off this time.) But I also don’t want to spend five days trying desperately to finish projects while hearing my kids ask, “When are you going to be finished?” So I’m planning three half days of work (and probably a chunk of time on the weekend to catch up). That way, they know they’ll have to entertain themselves during those times and I know I will need to focus so I can maximize those times.

Now we’re left with two full days and three half days. What will we do?

Take a look at your to-do-someday list. Get something done.

I’m not the only one with a Someday To-Do list, am I? A list of house projects, inconvenient errands, or seasonal tasks that always seem to get pushed to the back burner during the regular school year?

The trick with this part of a spring break staycation is positioning your to-dos as adventures or fun projects. If your kids are anything like mine, half the fun of spring break is spending extra time together — so why not use some of that together time to accomplish something? You’ll be relieved, and they’ll be proud they helped.

At least that’s my hope for having my girls help me recover the dining room chairs. I’ll let them weigh in on the material we choose, and any project involving a screwdriver and staple gun is fascinating to them (even if they don’t actually use the tools themselves). And since we sit on those chairs every single day, they’ll see the fruit of their labor daily. (Plus, at least in my house, anything can be fun if we add loud music, funny faces, or a special snack to eat when we’re finished!)

Other chores or errands might require some incentives, of course — like shopping for new spring clothes, but only after we go through and clean out their closets, or a trip to a special ice cream shop but only after we finally return those Christmas presents you’ve had in the trunk of your car for months and drop off the Goodwill donations you packed up back in January when you KonMari’d your house like the rest of the world.

Because I want to have two full days for full-blown staycation adventures, I’m planning our “project” (chore and errand) days for the other half of those days I’ll work. Now, finally, it’s time for the fun part!

Explore your town. Connect with friends. Make memories.

Whether you have a couple full days to fill, a few hours here and there, or an entire week, planning for fun will make sure your break doesn’t slip away without doing anything to write home about. (I know, you’re already at home. You know what I mean.) Here are some ideas:

  • Does your community have a children’s museum? Or art museum? Or, really, any kind of place where your kids can let loose and have fun (while also learning something because you’re a sneaky mom like that)? Go there. Bonus tip: Look on the museum’s website to find out if they have free days or hours, coupons, or special events that you can plan around.
  • Who are the friends you keep meaning to see but haven’t been able to? Who lives too far away for a simple dinner together during a normal week? Make plans to see them! Invite them over to your house for a playdate or lunch, or meet them at a park somewhere between your homes. (Or, if you really want to mix things up, you could combine an errand with a friend date and do your errands together. Need to stock up at Costco or Trader Joe’s? Why not go with a friend? Then grab lunch somewhere with a playplace so your kids can run free while you catch your breath.)
  • What’s new? Has a big store opened up recently? Or perhaps a new restaurant? Make an adventure of checking out the new place by putting together a scavenger hunt for your kids or giving them a “mission” or mystery to solve while you’re there. Tasks or items might include eating a food they’ve never tried before, spotting specific items or colors or numbers, deciding how they’d like to spend a certain amount of money (either pretend or real), or even figuring out where the public restrooms are located.
  • Take a trip down memory lane. If you’ve lived in your city for a while, take your kids to see some nostalgic sights (like your childhood home, the restaurant you and your husband had your first date, the park you took them to when they were much younger). If you’re new to town, you can use this time to learn about your community’s history. Check out a local museum, ask a neighbor to share one of their favorite spots, or just explore an area, road, neighborhood, attraction you haven’t visited yet.
  • And don’t forget this: My city has a specific website for parents, listing out special events, fun excursions, coupons and promotional codes, and more. I always, always go there first when playing a staycation. Does your city have something similar? (Or, perhaps a local parenting group on Facebook? Or your MOPS group? Whatever source has a collection of information about activities in your city, go there!)

Put the “stay” in staycation.

Finally, you don’t have to even leave the house to have fun during your break. If you have little kids or a health condition or any reason at all that makes going out to find fun more difficult than usual, just stay home! But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with Disney Channel reruns or another week of mac and cheese lunches. You can mix it up, right from home!

Some of our favorite things to do on those days are trying a new recipe (let the kids help cook), doing simple science experiments we’ve found on Pinterest, trying to imitate the trick shots of Dude Perfect or the dance moves of Kidz Bop after we watch a few videos on YouTube, or doing one of those messy craft projects I normally don’t allow. (Hello, glitter slime!)

Whatever your staycation looks like, you can make it fun. And really? Your kids will enjoy just as much and remember just as fondly the day you let them spend hours in their swimsuits, splashing in the tub with all the toys as they would some tropical trip. Are you together? Are you doing something out of the norm? Are you laughing and letting loose, even just a little?

Then your staycation will be a success!

A few more tips for you:

  • Set a budget. Even if you’re staying home, you’ll likely spend a little more money when all your kids are home and “needing” to be entertained.
  • Plan for rest. Much as I adore schedules and lists, I know we can’t fill up every minute. Both my kids and I need downtime and quiet time, so I might as well plan for that, too.
  • Sprinkle in surprises. Even on those work or project days, you can delight your kids with their favorite dessert, a new Spotify playlist, a quick manicure, or a break to play catch in the backyard.

Want more fun activities for the perfect staycation or family getaway? Here are a few of our faves!

exploring columbus, ohio

exploring saugatuck, michigan

exploring grand rapids, michigan

printable travel games (for those of you hitting the road!)


try our diy fluffy slime recipe

mix up our 3-ingredient cloud dough

make these fun rainbow bubble snakes

make an easy dreamcatcher

make pom-pom flower bouquets

dye a pair of canvas shoes for spring

try these fun rainbow science experiments


Still bored? Here are 22 of our favorite spring break boredom busters! What do you like to do during a staycation?

Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons, but she lives because of God’s grace. Mary writes with humor and honesty about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places on her blog, She is the author of Fast Talk & Faith: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls and co-author of Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts.She is also a regular contributor and Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

Pin It

Small-Budget Crushes 03.15.19

March 15th, 2019

Here’s what I found window shopping this week! xo

striped dress (two color choices)

short-sleeve poplin top (so many gorgeous patterns and colors!)

lace-up trainers with snake detailing

tie-front cami jumpsuit (comes in petite and tall sizing!!)

desk organizer

drawstring sweatshirt (take an ADDITIONAL 50% off!!)

beadwork necKeep on window shopping by visiting all of my Small-Budget Crushes. This post contains affiliate links!! xoxoxoklace

sock dock

refresh print

meadow ruffle dress


tile tracker (never lose your keys again!)

periodic table cuff

striped spring dress

colorblock sherpa

foldable island (one of our favorite things in our house)

fell asleep here bookmark

under desk headphone hook

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

Amy’s Notebook 03.13.19

March 13th, 2019


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

Who knew you could achieve this stone texture with just a can of spray paint!

I think we should be talking about this more.

I needed a reminder to add this ingredient back into my laundry routine.

There is so much eye-candy in this Airstream tour.

Are you addicted to doing?

A perfect shirt for Spring.

We also need to be talking about this.

What a fun kid’s bedroom makeover. I’m wowed!

How I ditched my phone and unbroke my brain. This was compelling!

What a beautiful story. Gosh, we never know how we will touch people in our life.


I love seeing clever design and this smart dining table design wowed me. You’ll love the tiny house tour!

Oh, I love cheap beauty hacks like these.

Why self-checkout has always been and always will be the worst.

Halfway through this book and loving it!

These are such clever ways to customize a bookcase.

I’m all over this recipe idea.

Using Botox or considering it? Be sure to read this piece.

I‘m reading this with my husband this month. We know we can do better!


How adorable are these St. Patrick’s Day cupcake toppers?

10 habits of people who never have clutter. And these people…would not be me so I needed that.

The people who eat the same thing every day.

I’m going to have to try this unusual coffee brewing technique.

How to be less annoyed by the little things. I *may* have needed that reminder.

This system is really broken.

This is on my diy bucket list.

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

Please note, there are affiliate links in this post- thank you! xoxo

DIY Yarn Wrapped Letters Tutorial

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)


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

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



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

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.

Small-Budget Crushes 03.08.19

March 8th, 2019

Give me all the bright colors this week! Happy shopping! xo

felt purse organizer

amelia earhart print

metal bookmark

perfect tee (so many fun colors!!)

stay grounded mug

yoga pants enamel pin

beach fleece

shattered glass ceiling necklace

no ugly crying handkerchief

personalized baker stencil

linen cotton drawstring pant

peacock salt & pepper shakers

library book stamp

tropical top

house number plaque

patterned duvet cover

personalized rainbow pennant

tea towel calendar

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

Amy’s Notebook 03.07.19

March 7th, 2019


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

How delicious do these orange cauliflower bowls look?

Do you feel guilty about saying no? This article really spoke to me and reminded me about the importance of boundaries.

You don’t have to monetize your joy.

This dancer’s interview was fascinating, especially the process of dying her pointe shoes.

This piece is graphic, but this really illustrates the mental health struggle of being a Facebook moderator.

If you are looking for a great historical fiction read, my heart is all wrapped up in this one right now.

I always love seeing what makes people’s lists of top book recommendations.  There are a few on this one I haven’t read!

Well, I am DEFINITELY inspired to give this a spin on our kitchen counters.

This is a fabulous guide on what to bring with you when shopping in bulk.

This was your favorite purchase this week.


Bookmarking this post on how to regrow vegetable scraps. A fun science project AND frugal!

10 films that are coming out that are based on wildly true stories. I’m excited about several of these!

The lessons from failure– as a perfectionist, I needed this reminder.

The best cult classic beauty products you can find at Walmart.

Wowed by this cabinet makeover. It makes me want to add a little wallpaper to the back of our cabinet.

I’m obsessed with Schitt’s Creek so I thoroughly enjoyed this piece on Dan Levy.

Each year I add a colorful skirt to my wardrobe and I think this is going to be the one for spring!

Want to up your shelfie game? I loved these tips for better shelf styling.


How gorgeous are these painted stairs? Love these tips on this transformation.

Speaking of paint, I’m bookmarking this list of best white paints for interiors.

The 1-minute hack to feel more confident. So interesting!

Doing a good job bringing a sympathy meal. These are wonderful tips!

Speaking of sympathy meals, this printable is perfect for those times.

Love this little crochet project to green up your beauty routines.

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

Please note, there are affiliate links in this post- thank you! xoxo