February Happy List

March 4th, 2019

snag the momadvice book club shirt– another BIG happy this month!

Have you been missing the 3 little things list each week? Just so you know, this feature didn’t go away…it just moved over to my newsletters each week.

I know your time is precious and our inbox can get overloaded with a lot of newsletter junk. What I want you to know though is that I’m REALLY proud of the newsletters I craft each week and I include loads of shows, podcasts, books, and items we are loving in our home each week.

Sign up is super quick over here. I will even send you some free printables that can help your home get back on track after the holidays.

Today I wanted to share what you might have missed this past month in one big giant happy list!!

My February Happy List

Doing a Book Chat over a Puzzle

Not only was our book club book a genuine hit, we shared our discussion over a jigsaw puzzle this month. Ryan & I have been working on a puzzle while listening to a variety of podcasts and, as we headed down to our family room for our discussion, everyone started to congregate around the jigsaw puzzle instead of on my couches.

It was an unintentional relocation that got us all talking about our strategies for completing puzzles and how much we enjoy putting them together. I got to witness my girlfriends in a whole new way as the leaders came out to put everyone to task, the jigsaw genius grabbed up all the sky pieces in record time, and the shared laughter as we hunted for the nipples on all these male chests on the beach was so good for my soul.

We all agreed, this puzzle was a fun one and would be a blast to put together with your friends over a good book chat too. In fact, I’m thinking that the puzzle just might be a permanent fixture at our chats. Up next? This one!

Good Girls

I am not a big sitcom person, mainly because I hate to feel obligated to keep up with one more show. For some reason, my Netflix-watching lead me down the tunnel to the first season of Good Girls and I am so glad it did. At first look, this seemed like a pretty typical good girls gone bad storyline. Three women are down on their luck and decide to rob a local grocery store to try to get them to land back on their feet.

It is much, much more compelling that though, thanks to the incredible acting by these dynamic female leads. Their stories are ones that any mother can sympathize with and their reasoning for continuing their heists are things that you can feel sympathetic to. With all of these ladies missing that criminal background component, each episode feels like it leaves you with a cliffhanger where you just know that they are going to get caught.

I’m not sure how sustainable this storyline could be from season to season, but if you were a fan of Weeds, you know that good girls going bad can sustain quite a few seasons with the right acting. This show is definitely binge-worthy and has been a great escape.

Meal Prepping for the Week

The past two weeks we have managed to avoid dining out thanks to me designating one day a week to prepping our food. As silly as it sounds, just preparing the fruits and vegetables makes them about 100% more likely to be eaten and less likely to be thrown away. I have Instacart deliver all the groceries for our recipes and then spend one day cooking and chopping everything for our week, all while I listen to an audiobook.

The rest of the week is then spent with my feet up  and curled up with a good book. Everyone is loving the variety of options and no one has complained one bit about the lack of the formalness of a sit down dinner together. With all of us running in different directions each night, anyone who needs to stay home is now assured they have plenty of delicious food to look forward to.

Here are a few of my favorite prep-ahead dishes we enjoyed the last two weeks:

How to Make the Perfect Brown Rice
Baked Orange Chicken Meatballs
Chicken Pesto Frittata
Weeknight Roasted Turkey Sandwiches
How to Roast Chicken in Bulk
Delicious Roasted Green Beans
Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili

Gixo Fitness App

Last month I had the opportunity to review the Gixo fitness app in a partnership with the company, but now that the partnership is over I decided to buy myself a paid membership and am, truly, using this app as part of my weekly fitness routines. If you are someone who prefers working out on a treadmill, they offer treadmill workouts that you can either walk (like me!) or run. The music is all so uniquely mixed that it helps keep your motivation up the entire time.

As much as I love cardio, my biggest hurdle is strength training. I have really lost a lot of my strength routines and so I started a routine that they offer called the Daily 40 that you can snag on-demand and do whenever it is convenient for your schedule. With the additional guidance from the trainer and the ability to do these exercises as fast or as slow as I want (unlike the pressure I feel in taking a class in-person) so I can really focus on making each movement count and avoid my risk of injury, this been a healthy way to get my strength back.

A few things that have helped my at-home routines are these ankle stabilizersthis thicker matthese earbuds for listening to my workouts, and a good pair of running shoes that I had fitted at a local shop.

Pedi-Sox

One of the best parts about celebrating a birthday is getting gifts that I get to share my thoughts on with you. I went to get a pedicure with a girlfriend one day and she whipped out these pedicure socks that I had no clue had ever existed until that moment. Being the thoughtful friend she is, she gifted me a pair months later along with a gift certificate to get a pedicure.

You know what? This just might be MY new go-to girlfriend gift.

I always have cold feet, but there is nothing worse than having something so indulgent done for you and then immediately see your feet turning blue on your way out from the chill of going from hot to cold. These socks just leave your toes exposed so after your pedicure wraps up, you can put these on before they paint your toes. They are made of thick cotton and allow your feet to still climb into your flip flops for the long trip home.

Getting Back to Magazine Breaks

I was reading my magazines digitally through our local library, but I have really been missing paper magazines and being able to pull out articles for inspiration for my files. More than that, I am trying to not be on my digital devices so much so I have gotten back to magazine reading and used some of my Christmas funds (thank you, grandma & grandpa) to secure some great subscriptions.

Mail day got a heck of a lot more fun and I love getting to pay these forward in our mom circle after I finish them. Almost all of them were in the $5-10 range thanks to this website. They always offer a really great daily deal too that is handy for gift-giving!

I’m Back to My Baby Feet

I really need to write a post on the weirdest things I have bought on Amazon because this has to be one of them. The only reason I ever go get pedicures is because of how dry and awful the bottoms of my feet get, especially in the winter months. These foot peel masks had such great reviews that I thought they would be worth buying and trying for an at-home pedicure.

Just slip these plastic booties on, filled with this magic solution, and leave them on for an hour. Then, a week or so later, all of your awful dry skin just starts peeling off your feet each time you soak them. It’s both wildly weird and incredibly gratifying to have this dead skin all come off. These come with two sets of masks, which is just about how many one might need to get through these winter months. These are way more affordable than a pedicure, way less painful than having someone scrubbing with those awful graters, and I loved that I could do these masks while reading a book or catching up on my Netflix.

Wool Dryer Balls

I’ve been trying to green up some of my routines this year and decided to switch to dryer balls instead of using fabric softener. I purchased this set of 6XL Dryer Balls and started using these this week and can’t believe how beautifully these work and how fluffy and static-free our clothes are. I have been adding a couple of drops of orange essential oils to them for a fresh chemically-free scent. I highly recommend these if you are looking to green up your laundry routine too and this handy recipe for making your own detergent.

The best part?

These dryer balls can last up to 1,000 washes!

I Feel In Control of My Health Again

You may not have known that I went to school for food & nutrition, but I had every intention of becoming a dietician. It is one of the reasons that I don’t believe in diet pills or quick fixes when it comes to nutrition. Thanks to pretty good genes (and a little bit of exercise), I haven’t really had to work that hard at staying slim, but my luck changed when I started taking a particular medication to treat my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, coupled with my sluggish thyroid problems. It’s been such a blessing to finally have pills that work, but one of the side effects has been weight gain and fluid retention.  I’ve really been on the struggle bus with joy over something that finally works and despair over the weight that is creeping on.

The nurse practitioner that I’ve been seeing recommended I give this nutrition program a spin because it involved lifestyle choices that would be sustainable for me, as lifelong habits, and would teach me how to nourish my body in the right way. She said that my tactics of eating less were causing my body to want to hang on to MORE weight, the exact thing I was trying to get away from.

One day I will sit down and write a long post about this, but after a month of following their plan, I feel better than I have felt in so long. I knew very little about the importance of calculating macros, intermittent fasting, or carb cycling, but these three things have radically changed my relationship with food. There are no gimmicks and no products to purchase.

As someone with a history of disordered eating, I am finally giving my body exactly what it needs and it has improved my energy, my sleep, and my eating habits.  I only share about things like this if they are really and truly worth your time and money. This, for me, was the ticket I needed to have a healthy relationship with food again. I finally see what the hype is all about and I’m here for it.

A Board Game the Whole Family Loved

If you are looking for a board game that is easy to play, that takes about 30 minutes, and is something that even your younger kids can get the hang of…I present to you Azul! Basically, you are artisans decorating the walls of the royal Palace of Dvora (of course you are) and the object of the game is to complete a row of patterns and get as high of as score as you can in the process. It sounds rather simple, but it reminds me a lot of Blokus because you have to use strategy to try to block opponents from nailing their patterns while still trying to tile your own wall.

The scoring is a bit confusing until you get the hang of it. I recommend checking out YouTube and watching people play the game, especially since it is such a quick game. It makes a lot more sense when you see it all in action.

If you are a fan of Blokus, I think you will like this game of strategy! My kids easily got the hang of it and, since the game is shorter, they didn’t even mind going a few rounds with us. I can see this being our new drinks-and-games choice when we have our friends over too!

I Put Some Spring in My Wardrobe

Winter feels like it is never ending, over here in the Midwest, and I realized that my wardrobe has started to reflect that. I tend to go really neutral in the winter months with just the beige, and the gray, and the black, and the white. Honestly, I think that was adding to that Midwest winter doldrums.

I headed to thredup and just searched for floral and pulled up so many pretty patterns and used my birthday money (thanks, grandma!) to treat myself to a little spring.  I also made a deal with myself that I would NOT buy anything in black-and-white stripes or in these blah colors at any point during this transaction. And it was tough. Because I love me some stripes. If you are feeling the blahs too, maybe search for a little floral for your closet too. I’m planning to trade out some black for a pretty print until Spring comes.

40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge is Here

The last time I participated in the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge, I managed to carve out a very unexpected bonus room in our house. I remember how freeing it felt to get rid of the things that we did not need anymore.

The clutter has a way of creeping up on us so I’m looking forward to participating in the challenge again, hot off the heels of all my Marie Kondo watching. If you need a kick in the pants too, I encourage you to sign up for this. I am really excited to start whittling away at some of our clutter and I love the accountability that comes from a good online challenge.

Here are a few of my favorite February captures

Haven’t seen these two in awhile? We aren’t too keen on letting mom take as many photos now that we have moved into these teenage years. They did let me take a quick snap though on our unexpected staycation. The power outage on our road ended up being the good kind of family bonding stuff we all needed. How nice to have a hotel just around the corner to relocate to! Can you believe that they are 13 and 16 now???

This mug always makes me laugh. Being a book blogger is equal parts awesome and overwhelming. I am buried under the summer reads that have been coming my way and crawling out at a snail’s pace. The thing is, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Volunteering at the food bank reminded me of what a privilege it is to eat the rainbow. I shared a little bit about that on my feed this month

 

Did I mention what a joy it is to put together the Ten Laughs for Tuesday too? I love making you guys laugh and seeing your comments on these. Be sure to swing by my IG for a good laugh on Tuesday. Why Tuesday? Because nothing good happens on a Tuesday except this. 😉 

 

 

Top Ten Most Visited Articles in February

  1. Easy Burlap Wreath Tutorial
  2. 3-Ingredient Instant Pot Ribs
  3. How to Organize Board Games
  4. January 2019 Must-Reads
  5. Best Homemade Non Stick Spray in the World (always cringing when I see these old photos!!)
  6. How to Make a Blanket Scarf
  7. How to Make Quinoa in the Rice Cooker
  8. DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat
  9. DIY Minecraft Costume Ideas
  10. January Happy List

Top Ten Most Purchased Items in February

  1. Soft-Touch Foot Peel Masks
  2. Neck & Shoulder Relaxer
  3. Moroccan Pouf
  4. Azul Board Game
  5. Argan Oil (my favorite moisturizer!!)
  6. Bluetooth Headphones
  7. Ankle Brace Compression Sleeves
  8. Rainbow Unicorn Hoodie
  9. True Body Lift Bra
  10. Happy Dish Towel

Top Ten Books Purchased in February

  1. The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter
  2. Lilac Girls
  3. Brass
  4. The Air You Breathe
  5. The Animators
  6. Hum if You Don’t Know the Words
  7. The Lost Letter
  8. The Heart’s Invisible Furies
  9. My Oxford Year
  10. When They Call You a Terrorist

I hope you enjoyed this month’s round-up of February fun and I look forward to sharing more in March! I hope my month of happy brings a month of happy to you too! If this post doesn’t convince you my newsletter is fun, I’ve got nothing. Sign up over hereto get this fun weekly in your inbox.

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

Small-Budget Crushes 03.0.19

March 1st, 2019


One for me, one for you, one for me, one for you! xo

leopard belt (only $4!!)

mesh swimsuit (BOGO 50% off this week!!)

romeo & juliet vinyl

actually i can sweatshirt

one piece crossover swimsuit (so many cute colors!!)

patterned cushion covers

floral monogram wall hanging

gaucho jumpsuit

one piece ruched swimsuit (loads of colors and patterns!)

book barrette

the cleo one piece swimsuit

dressy joggers (several great neutral hues!)

striped wrap top

all in tee

wrap top

black jumpsuit

girls inc tee

soho joggers

 

lavender satchel

northface fleece men’s jackets (30% off!!)

striped dress

scalloped sports bra

high neck one piece (so many colors!!)

there is no place like home welcome mat

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

February 2019 Must-Reads

March 1st, 2019

Isn’t it crazy how January was the neverending story and we, basically, blinked through February? We had a lot going on this month including a couple of crazy winter storms, a couple of power outages, launching a new product (see below), and a bug that has had me crawling to my bed all week. It definitely made my stack this month a little smaller than usual, but I promise to make up for it next month.

Did I mention we are heading to Iceland to celebrate my husband’s 40th???

Someone please pinch me because I still don’t believe it myself.

If you have any tips for our travels next month, we are ALL EARS. I am hoping to get in a lot of vacation reading on our flights and between our excursions.

Vacation reading, to me, is always the best kind of reading.

As for that product I launched, here is the scoop on that!

This has been a big year of trying new things in my business and I’m so excited to share that we have created a tee especially for our MomAdvice readers that features all 12 of the beautiful covers of our MomAdvice Book Club this year.

My hope is to offer a shirt for you each year that you can collect as you read these books.

This shirt comes in a women’s cut, unisex, a sweatshirt, and a hoodie. I picked a rainbow of hues that you can choose from as your base.

10% of the proceeds will go to the Little Free Library to help get books in the hands of ALL the people. This shirt is available through March 20th! Your purchase is greatly appreciated and helps us keep our book club free and paying it forward to the reading community! Shop it HERE!

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 and proudly wear this shirt like a trophy. You can also friend me on GoodReads for more great book reviews!

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: 

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (read my review HERE!!)

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (read my review to this one BELOW!!)

Lot by Bryan Washington

The Municipalists by Seth Fried

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

Here are 6 must-read books I tackled in February:

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (snag it for free from Book of the Month using coupon code SPRINGFLING)

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

Queenie is one of the year’s most anticipated novels and I have to say that I enjoyed this story immensely. Described as Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah, I felt it really delivered in sharing about what it would be like to be a Jamaican British woman who is navigating the world of dating today.

Queenie is a 25-year-old woman living in London and straddling two cultures while fitting into neither. After breaking up with her white boyfriend, she begins to seek comfort in all the wrong places and puts herself into terrible situations that don’t, ultimately, validate her self-worth.

Queenie is surrounded by women who do their best to help Queenie overcome her breakup, but she can’t seem to stop chasing after the wrong things. The reader is lead down each cringe-worthy scenario from unexpectedly awful sexual encounters,  to discovering that a man who seemed like he was Mr. Right was actually married,  to even the embarrassment of having to live with your grandparents because you can’t pay your rent .

Queenie begins the long journey towards healing when she begins to see a counselor and must learn to love herself, even in her brokenness.

I loved this story for a couple of reasons.

One, I think that Carty-Williams really showcases the difficulties of dating today and how many people treat dating sites like meaningless hookups instead of striving to find one’s match. As someone out of the game, I really felt for Queenie and these terrible scenarios she found herself in.

Secondly, I love seeing characters evolve and I think Queenie really grew through this experience and it helped propel our story as she finds love within and through surrounding herself with the right people.

Carty-Williams writes with heartfelt honesty, humor, and with vulnerability. I hope we can follow more of Queenie’s adventures in the future.  I highly recommend this one for fans of Insecure. It helped me get my fix until the next season comes!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Forgotten Hours by Katrin Schumann

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

I have to say that, The Forgotten Hourswas this month’s surprise debut that I just could not put down. We all know that I’m a sucker for a good coming-of-age story and this was a compelling mystery that was perfectly timed for the #metoo movement.

At twenty-four, Katie feels like her life is really looking up. She has a great job, a supportive partner, and she is finally in a place where she can put her traumatic past to rest.

You see, a decade earlier, her idyllic summer days with friends came to a shocking conclusion when her best friend accused her father of sexual assault. Katie stood by her father throughout the entire ordeal and his imprisonment. With his release in sight, reporters have been opening up this case, once again, for reinvestigation and Katie is forced to relive this difficult portion of her past.

Told beautifully through reflection of on her friendship during that summer as well as the current state of affairs, Katie must grapple with her own conviction that her father was not guilty of the crime, as she sees her dad now through adult eyes. She also must acknowledge the glaring truth as she reexamines this adolescent summer.

This would be an EXCELLENT book for a book club discussion because it is so beautifully told and because Schumann really builds mystery around this case. I think the biggest takeaway, for me, was how we all begin to see parents are human and flawed, as we get older, and how this new viewpoint can make us question the things in our past.

This story is timely and a promising debut of good things to come from Schumann.

4 out of 5 Stars

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib

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

If you love lyrical writing, The Girls at 17 Swann Street is one you will not want to miss.

This debut novel shares the haunting story of a young woman’s struggle with anorexia and her struggle to reclaim her life.

Anne Roux was a professional dancer that followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. Upon relocating she faces her own glaring imperfections, failures, and loneliness, and she must find a way to cope. Her disordered eating habits and depression bring her down to a mere eighty-eight pounds and she is forced to seek treatment.

She is admitted to 17 Swann Street, a location where women with life-threatening eating disorders live. This unlikely community of women all must tackle their own individual demons and offer a surprising amount of support to one another as they recognize those demons in each other. Zgheib writes with raw honesty about what it is like to be consumed by this disease. Never glamorized, this really gives an eye-opening account of what it is like when each day is a struggle and when each bite feels like an affliction and loss of control.

People who have never struggled with disordered eating may be able to better understand how hard it is to overcome an eating disorder. If you have ever struggled, you will find pieces of yourself in this story.  One can’t help but root for Anne as she struggles to find her way to back to herself and to the man she loves. The poetic writing adds a gorgeously lyrical layer to this surprisingly hopeful story.

4 out of 5 Stars

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

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

Looking for a quick escape from reality? Big Little Lies fans will absolutely love Not That I Could TellPour yourself a glass of wine and get to know this cozy neighborhood and all their dirty little secrets.

The story opens with a neighborhood gathering, centered around the neighbor’s new fire pit, a heavy pour of wine, and the opportunity to catch up on what’s been happening around the ‘hood. On a rare kid-free evening, the wine flows and the women begin to loosen their guards and share more intimately about their lives.

By Monday morning though, one of the women has disappeared.

Despite feeling like they all know each other well, none of them can make sense of this disappearance. Kristin has always seemed happy, sociable, career-driven, and has weathered her impending divorce well. When the police come to investigate though, they find her soon-to-be ex-husband at the center of this case and have questions about what was really happening in their home.

Frankly, no one REALLY knows what goes on behind closed doors and, as a reader, you don’t know if Paul warrants sympathy or more scrutiny.

I don’t want to say anymore about the plot on this because half of the fun is finding out just what happened to this neighborhood mom. Strawser fleshes out each character vividly and all of their own emotions and guilt surrounding this woman’s disappearance.

I really enjoyed this one as a great escape, but also appreciated the reminder that many of our relationships are surface ones and just how important it is to build real relationships with the people we call our friends.

I couldn’t put this one down and I doubt you could too.

4 out of 5 Stars

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

This month’s book club selection was, My Sister the Serial Killer, and our bookworms really seemed to enjoy this pick. I selected it because it was a book that could be read in a day (a modest page count of just 240 pages) and because the plot was so intriguing. Lucky for us, this one will be coming to the big screen and I will be excited to see how they interpret this interesting story into film.

Korede and Ayoola are two sisters that could not be more different from each other. Korede is the eldest and is a hard worker and disciplined. Ayoola, on the other hand, is gorgeous and a serial killer.

As I said, these two couldn’t be more different except that Korede is getting tired of cleaning up after her sister’s messes. Each time she kills someone, Korede must help Ayoola dispose of the body and help with clean-up on the case.

The plot thickens though when Ayoola sets her eyes on the wrong guy. At the hospital, where Korede works, she has been harboring a secret crush on a doctor that she works with. When Ayoola comes to visit Korede at work though, the doctor can’t help but be completely captivated by Ayoola’s beauty and falls head over heels for her.

The problem?

Well, Korede’s broken heart, for one.

More importantly though, his life is now at risk because Ayoola is a sociopath and he just might be her next victim.

It’s hard to pinpoint what genre this unique book falls under, but I read it as dark satire. If you were worried about the title or weren’t on board for the gruesome world of serial killing, I think you will find that this doesn’t lean too darkly into that element and more into the complex relationships of sisters.

Overall, people seemed to enjoy this one a lot, especially for such a sparse book. She tells the story effectively without putting the reader through numerous killings or making them wade through filler to get to the meat of the story. Braithwaite also builds enough of a backstory for Ayoola that you understand where she’s coming from, even if you don’t always know where she’s going.

4 out of 5 Stars

Woman 99 by Greer Macallister

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

I received an advanced copy of Woman 99 and couldn’t wait to dive in. I’m a big fan of Greer Macallister (you can read an interview we did with her over here) and found the premise for her new novel to be so intriguing.

Charlotte’s wealthy parents commit her beloved sister Phoebe to the infamous Goldengrove Asylum, and Charlotte just knows that there is more to the story than what her parents have revealed to her. In an effort to save her sister, she fakes an attempted suicide and surrenders her real identity, as a privileged young woman, to become a nameless inmate. Within the asylum Charlotte is now known only as Woman 99.

The majority of our story is Charlotte trying to befriend people who can get her a step closer to her sister and to try to figure out a way that she can actually get to her within this asylum. She discovers that many of these women aren’t insane, but merely inconvenient- and they are able to become some of her most powerful allies as she discovers just why Phoebe has been locked away.

Macallister weaves a rich historical tapestry, but this is a slow burn at 368 pages. The first half felt very slow, but if you can hang with it, Macallister weaves a great mystery and has definitely done her research on what women would have been committed for, in this time period.

Overall, she weaves a believable and satisfying ending that I think any reader would appreciate. Once you read through the Q&A with Greer, you really discover what an undertaking the research was to really bring this fictional asylum to life. While pacing was an issue for me, I appreciate the work that went into creating this beautiful sister story.

4 out of 5 Stars

 

Read With Me This Year

January 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.

 

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Amy’s Notebook 02.27.19

February 27th, 2019

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

This chicken pesto cobb salad is going on my menu planner.

How to host a dinner party in a small space. I always need this advice!

The consumer advocate that helps us buy fewer and smarter things.

Have the talk. I just had one with my two kids this week- so important!

I love seeing other people’s morning routines.

We are going to be traveling next month so I am loving this gathering of hotel hacks.

This is what I’m reading this week (and loving!)

All the feelings.

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Bookmarking these tips for making great sticky rice in your pressure cooker.

Here are a few metabolism myths that I thought were helpful to read.

What to say when you don’t know what to say. Such great advice for polite conversation.

I loved this guide on how to hang art in your home.

How to stop overthinking everything.

Still struggling? This might help.

9 outfits you can wear to dress up your leggings.

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I love these modern house bookends made from dollar store supplies. So cute!

This was your top purchase this week. I can see that you guys are finding some amazing things in my newsletter happy lists!

Looking for a new energy bite recipe? These sure look good!!

I love these tips on avoiding the comparison trap. I am learning the mute button is a powerful tool!

We’re finally listening. What took us so long?

When kids realize their whole life is already online.

How fancy water bottles became a 21st-century status symbol.

Social media and detox tea.

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

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

Small-Budget Crushes 02.22.19

February 22nd, 2019

So many fun finds this week! Happy Friday! xo

lace trim top

initial rings

llama basket (ADORABLE!)

knotted tote bag (take extra 20% off all sale items)

block heel sandals (half off!!)

she can she will tee

shirt dress (several colors & patterns)

faux shearling throws (cannot believe the price drop on these!!!!)

knot slide sandals (so many cute colors!)

solar system necklace

faux suede jacket (so many colors!!)

black woven mules

wireless record player (so flipping cool!)

milah pouch

woven mules

the city giant coloring poster

pivot, pivot, pivot

tbr is mt. everest mug

bed tray

paper flower wreath

knot-front shirt dress

zodiac necklace

phone vase

water me plant marker

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

 

Amy’s Notebook 02.20.19

February 20th, 2019

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I love seeing how people use small spaces and this living room design is so clever. That bench is just everything!

What happens when you stop caring what other people think about you. Loved this advice!

I love this fresh spin on avocado toast.

Working on your digital habits? I found this interview to be really inspiring.

A few hacks on saving money on keeping your home warm. Be sure to read the comments!

I just finished this book today and loved it.

What the school photographer said to make your child look like that. I’m dead. SO FUNNY.

Wow, I had no idea that this show still used cue cards.

This was your favorite purchase this week. I soooo want one!

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Oh, I do love tots! I want to try these baked cauliflower tots for a healthy alternative.

I love seeing different strategies for closet organization. I always organize by color, but this method has me rethinking that.

The best frozen pizzas ranked. I was surprised by #1!

Let children get bored again.

Well, this was adorable.

Planning to watch the Oscars? Print these out for your whole crew.

Did you know you could use this handy appliance for this! It’s one of my favorite kitchen gadgets.

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Sign me up for this at-home recipe for garlic butter steak bites & frites. I think this would be great for a date night dinner option.

What a failed best friendship taught me about myself. Such a good read!

It’s time for me to reorder my favorite moisturizer. I swear by this product for surviving the drying effects of winter.

Well, this is adorable and ambitious!

Still trying to master your curling wand? This is a great tutorial on how to achieve different types of waves with your wand.

When was the last time you cleaned your beauty tools? I really need to do this!

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

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

Small-Budget Crushes 02.15.19

February 15th, 2019

Somewhere between sweater and shopping for swimsuits season. I see you, Spring Breakers!

flutter-sleeve top (so many fun colors!)

pom-pom wrap scarf

stair riser stickers

swiss dot dress

plant lady pots

backless loafers

open-front heavyweight sweater (several cute colors)

the one where i’m irish tee

typography art

shapes statement earrings

leopard bow tie slides

thermal poncho hoodie

ruth baby ginsburg bibs

pleated pull-on skirt

travel wrap (several hues)

wood tracing alphabet board

textured straw hat

one piece swimsuit (what a steal!)

moroccan pouf

ties swimsuit

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

Amy’s Notebook 02.14.19

February 14th, 2019

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I am bookmarking this sugar cookie frosting recipe because it sounds like such a smart combo for piping.

I love tips for creating better skincare routines and found this advice to be stellar.

What we don’t talk about when we talk about serial killers.

I love that this was your favorite purchase this week. I really want one too!

This is an adorable date night idea! I think I’m going to pitch this one to my hubby.

The new midlife crisis. Wow, so much to think about!

On the flip side, 9 decisions that lead to a life I loved. Such a beautiful piece.

Do you struggle with fluctuating weight too? This piece really spoke to me this week.

Speaking of that topic, let’s be frank about the fear-mongering words we use when it comes to diet.

I can admit that I have poor impulse control and this was a great read on reigning some of that in.

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4 ways to make your sweaters last longer.

How adorable is this?

Enough of the seriousness, this should give you a good giggle.

I finished this book this morning and really enjoyed it.

How Instagram is changing our living spaces.

And another piece that I found compelling about how we use other people’s property in our shots (and how that feels as a homeowner).

I’ve got plans with this book in my earbuds this week. I’ve heard such incredible things.

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Who would have ever guessed that these were pantry cupboards? I’m so inspired!

Random acts of kindness for every month of the year.

Here are the most stylish shoe trends for 2019.

Trying to keep up with everyone who is running in the 2020 elections? Here is a full list and what their platforms are.

Have you heard of the 2-4 rule? I just might make this part of my routine too!

Ways to survive and thrive in the long winter months.

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

 

How to Find the Best Valentine’s Gifts for Your Kids

February 11th, 2019

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

Do you give your kids gifts for Valentine’s Day? I know for some families, it is a gift-giving occasion; others not so much.

As I’m writing this, somewhere between Christmas and the month of love, I’m surprised to find myself leaning toward the no-gifts-necessary camp. Since I adore giving (and, obviously, getting) presents, especially to my kids, I’m blaming my feelings on the fact that in my house, our family of four has three birthdays in the few weeks surrounding Christmas.

I’m saying it’s a lot of gifting.

And that maybe my four-year-old asked me just this morning, “But on my real birthday [as opposed to the day of her birthday party a week before], you’re going to give me presents, right? I’ll get presents?”

Sigh.

Yes, of course she will. Because tired or not, I love giving presents. You might even say — and you would be right if you did — gifts are my love language. (Words of affirmation are also my love language, so feel free to include a long, detailed note in the card with my present.)

If you aren’t familiar with love languages, it’s a tool created by Gary Chapman and explained in his book, The Five Love Languages.

Chapman proposes that most of us express and receive love best in one of five ways: gifts, words of affirmation, acts of service, touch, and quality time. (To learn more about this or to take a quiz to figure out your love language, click here.)

Since Valentine’s Day is a holiday all about love, it does make sense to make plans with love languages in mind. And, whether you are a virtual Cupid who adores everything red and pink or a cynic who rolls her eyes at “that holiday the card companies made up,” considering love languages when making your Valentine’s Day plans is smart. Because either way, you want your efforts to be worth it!

Right? You want your people to feel loved and for your time and resources to be well spent communicating how much you value them.

How to Find the Best Valentine’s Gifts for Your Kids

If you know your kids’ love language, I’ve got some great, last-minute ideas for you.

Gifts

This category might seem like the easiest one, but you shouldn’t just grab the fluffiest teddy bear at the gas station on your way home!

Instead, try to remember something they’ve mentioned wanting since Christmas — perhaps something that made you roll your eyes because you don’t need that and we just had Christmas and wait until your birthday! While I definitely use Christmas and Easter as holidays to give some practical gifts, I think it’s fun to give unnecessary, frivolous, fun stuff for Valentine’s Day.

One of my daughters has picked up the habit lately of saying, “My friend has [________]. I love it and I want it!” I’ve tried reminding her that she can admire something without immediately coveting it.

But she’s five, so it’s a hard lesson to learn.

(I’m kidding. This is hard for all of us, isn’t it?!)

Still, if your kids mention things like that, it might be fun to surprise them with their own for Valentine’s Day.

Words of Affirmation

If you have a child who insists on saying, “No, I love you more!” you might have a words kid. Now, I have no scientific data to back this up, but I suspect many words people are like me and, as much as they crave the affirmation, they certainly do not want them said to their face!

Because, hello, awkward!

Instead, write your kids a love letter! If they’re younger — still in the coloring pictures stage of life — draw or color a picture to go with your words. If they’re older, send an email or text. Or make a video of yourself telling them how much and all the reasons why you love them so much.

Whatever medium you use, make it something they can absorb slowly, alone if possible, and keep to re-read or re-watch over and over again.

Acts of Service

My kids love when I help them clean their rooms. But I think they’re a little unusual in that (I remember not wanting my parents to clean my room for fear my favorite books, toys, or — let’s be honest — junk would disappear!). However, since we’ve been working on sharing household work as a family (aka, I’ve been making them do chores), I know their rooms aren’t the only things I could clean as a way to show my love.

I’m pretty sure checking any of their chores off the list around Valentine’s Day would earn me major mom points.

So, depending on which chores your kids detest most or which tasks stress them out, taking something off their plate for the day or the week might be a huge gift to them.

You could also fix their favorite meal, drive them to school if they normally walk, or finally get around to replacing batteries in their toys or hanging frames in their rooms (or whatever to-do has been stuck on your list for months)!

Touch

Just give them a hug and kiss, and call it good, right?

Well, maybe not.

For kids who crave physical touch, that’s a great place to start. But what about going a little farther for this occasion? What about…

  • Taking an exercise or dance class together
  • Trying yoga with a video from the library or on YouTube
  • Playing a round of one-on-one basketball on the driveway (or at the gym if it’s too cold)
  • Brushing her hair, massaging his shoulders, or holding a thumb wrestling tournament

Lots of physical activities result in friendly, affectionate touches. So break a sweat or get out of your comfort zone, and show your kiddos just how much affection you have for them. (Or turn on Netflix and snuggle on the couch under your warmest blanket — what one of my girls wants every day, not just on Valentine’s Day!)

Quality Time

Most of these ideas involve spending more and different kinds of time with your children.

But perhaps you want to really go all out and plan a date with your kiddo who needs quality time to feel loved.

You could send an official invitation (via letter in his lunchbox or a Post-It on her mirror) to get started. Then dress up, pick them up at the door, and eat at their favorite restaurant.

If you wanted to do more, you could use your time together to make a bucket list of activities to do together.

Or you could take a list of “get to know you” questions and ask (and answer!) a few of those together.

Or play a board game, look through old photos, or challenge them to a round of that video game they’re always talking about.

Whatever it is you do this Valentine’s Day, have fun! No matter what language you speak or what plans you make, they’ll feel cherished and appreciated by the effort you take and the memories you make together.

Looking for more great parenting ideas? Here are a few of our favorite articles!

teaching your kids the importance of failure

how to handle lying

how to find and write pen pals

diy tween self-confidence kits

How do you plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your kids?

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, MaryCarver.com. She is the author of Fast Talk & Faith: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls and co-author of Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts.She is also a regular contributor to incourage.me and MothersofDaughters.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

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January Happy List

February 7th, 2019

Have you been missing the 3 little things list each week? Just so you know, this feature didn’t go away…it just moved over to my newsletters each week.

I know your time is precious and our inbox can get overloaded with a lot of newsletter junk. What I want you to know though is that I’m REALLY proud of the newsletters I craft each week and I include loads of shows, podcasts, books, and items we are loving in our home each week.

Sign up is super quick over here. I will even send you some free printables that can help your home get back on track after the holidays.

Today I wanted to share what you might have missed this past month in one big giant happy list!!

My January Happy List

Dedicate A 30-Day Yoga Journey

One fitness routine that I looked forward to getting back to was my yoga practice. I discovered the Yoga by Adriene YouTube channel last year and loved these FREE yoga classes and her fun approach to making yoga something for EVERYONE.

She is doing a 30-day challenge to start out the New Year called, “Dedicate.” Now usually online challenges give you a free week or two and then demand charges. This one is completely free and with no strings attached…except for falling in love with your yoga practice.  In these lessons, she encourages you to practice paying attention, building muscle, cultivating joint stability, improving body function, increasing clarity of mind, stimulating stagnant energy, resolving stress tuning into your natural rhythm relaxing, and just enjoy having fun.

It’s free. All of it. No catch. No expiration date. Go to http://dedicate30days.com to read all the details, dedicate and sign up!

Sex & Love Around the World Series

Netflix makes some funny suggestions for us since we are such documentary fanatics and, Sex & Love Around the World popped up as a suggestion in our feed. We decided to give an episode a chance and were blown away by how much we learned from this.

Not like THAT, you guys! Hahaha! Cultures have such different requirements for dating, religion, and societal norms and this series has OPENED MY EYES to understanding the different traditions of different countries. I think the ones that I have really been amazed by have been the documentaires in India & Tokyo.

Amanpour manages to secure some REALLY interesting interviews from some fascinating perspectives that I would not have ever considered. Like, what it would be like to be transgender, for example, and celebrated by your culture YET considered, basically, an untouchable and unable to find employment. It is things like that which have lead to loonnnggg talks, after these episodes end, about what we think countries have done right and what we wish they could do better on.

It’s really good- I promise, I won’t lead you astray on your Netflix time.

I Finally Figured Out My Enneagram Number

I took an enneagram test years ago and it told me that I was a Type 2 (Helper!) which felt soooo right to me, BUT I think that is how I want to be perceived by others. I had a feeling if I sat down to take it again that it would yield better results if I looked at myself without that filtered lens. Sure enough, I am Type 1 ALL THE WAY. Type 1’s have STRONG FEELINGS about EVERYTHING and they usually let you know them. They can be gifted strong leaders, but they also are very nit-picky and have struggles with anger because they can’t ever let their anger out in the world.

When I started to read some of the challenges Type 1’s face, my eyes watered up.

They say if you have an emotional reaction to reading about a personality type, it is probably your type.

That one fit me so well and I’m relieved I don’t have to be a helper anymore.

JUST KIDDING!

This book is a HUGE help if you are trying to figure out what type you are. Don’t forget, it’s also really awesome to know the people’s that you are closest with. Learning about my husband and kids was just as important this year and helps me manage expectations and interact with them a little differently.

I Figured Out How to Cover Up My Grays Again

I have always colored my hair at home with a box from the drugstore or auto shipped to me on Prime. I’m hitting that age though where the gray is coming in fast and furious and it had started to change the color of my roots. Who knew 41 was going to be such a game-changer for my hair.  After playing around with several colors (too dark and then too light) I decided to give Madison-Reed a spin (DARN YOU, Instagram Ads!).  You fill out a quick questionnaire and then they send you everything you need to do a professional color job at home. You can set it to ship on auto as often or as little as you need it too.

They send everything you need to make the job a little less messy from barrier creams to a little shower cap to TWO pairs of gloves.

The best part?

They also ship a root touch-up kit in your goodies so you can keep your color looking fresh a little bit longer.

I can’t say enough good things- here’s a coupon to save you $15 if you want to give a free box a spin. I promise, you will love it too!

Trying Out New Habits

As I get older, I have felt more and more in tune with the things that derail me from what I hope to achieve out of life. This year has been about analyzing my bad habits and replacing them with better ones. Working through my issues with my health, exercise schedule, and sleep habits (with a professional)  has helped show me a few things I could be working on.

Three things that I’ve started trying are:

The S.S.S. rule- Never heard of it? It’s because I made it up. It stands for Stop Scrolling after Six. With encouragement from physicians, we all agreed that getting off the scroll-roll would be a good idea a couple of hours before bedtime. The thing is? Two hours before bedtime still leaves me two hours to think about and worry about things. I decided ending it BEFORE our dinner hour is a good idea. Once in awhile, I pop on to drop something in IG Story, but I avoid the scroll. This is helping me A LOT mentally and giving me more time to read too!

The Only Buying Wine for Weekends rule- As much as I love wine, having it THAT accessible has lead to some poor weeknight decisions and bad sleep. We decided that just buying wine on the weekend would be our new rule and it has made our wine feel more special and so fun to pick out. Not everyone needs to do this, but if wine is available, I just have to pour a glass after the kids go to bed. Now that we keep our bar cart empty, it forced me to pick up a nightly tea habit instead. When we get out (which is rare) that also feels like a major treat. I just know how much better I feel when I don’t have an unlimited supply (R.I.P. Box of Wine) and I feel better about my productivity throughout my week.

The Staying Away from Triggers on Social Media rule- We all have those people in life that we loovveee to hate (or just love to hate their viewpoint, amiright?). Although I never participated in a discussion with them, I did go there to find things to be upset about. You know, the friend who never includes you? The friend who talks political in an unkind way? The friend who has never been a friend, but you just have to know what they are doing? We ALL have these people and their feeds can be a rabbit hole to tunnel into and come out feeling bad. Life is just too short to live like that. I highly recommend the Kill Newsfeed extension and to exercise your abilities to mute people that aren’t helping you be your best self. They will never know and you will have happier days ahead.

Putting Yourself Out There is Good Stuff

Maybe it is just me, but I have gotten lazy about getting to know new people and making time for socializing. It means that I can close myself off to new people and new situations.

This year, I decided to put myself out there more and it is has been SO GOOD. From joining our town’s volunteer organization to connect with internet friends, I have broadened my circle in some beautiful ways.

Surprise, surprise, but when you broaden yourself, you have less time to do the trolling on social media you did before. Hahaha!

This month I reached out to Shannan Martin, for example, and asked if we could meet up for lunch. She lives just a couple of towns over, but making time and space has always felt like a challenge to me. We ended up having the most incredible time together and I was so glad that I put that invitation out into the Universe so that I could gab with her. P.S. If you haven’t read her books, add it to your reading list today. She’s a wildly talented writer and a heartfelt follow on Instagram. #bigfan

A Truly Comfortable Bra

I am a petite girl and have a hard time finding bras that don’t have straps that slip or gapping in the front. I ran across this company and noticed that they made a bra without adjustable straps and that offered a more seamless bra experience that looked, quite frankly, comfortable. I settled on the True Body Lift Bra and got it this week in the mail and I, truly, plan to order a few more because it is PERFECT.

I have ongoing issues with my shoulder blades and this offers a bit of comfortable compression in the spots that I normally am layering with tape. It is fitting, supportive, and lightly padded, but lacking the underwires that can poke and cause discomfort throughout the day. They come in a million colors and, according to reviews, do not stretch out over time the way other types of bras like this do. They did send me $15 coupons if I wanted to share them (no pressure) so this might be an affordable way to see if this option is right for you. Here is a $15 off coupon! I am DEFINITELY planning on making this one my new go-to this year.

Neck & Shoulder Relaxer

One thing I had my holiday wish list was this Neck & Shoulder relaxer gadget and I was so excited to get it for my birthday this year (thanks, mom & dad!!). I realize that this looks like the most unglamorous gift, but I plan to use this in lieu of a travel pillow now. This no-frills gadget, simply feels like someone holding your head for you and allows your neck to relax. My husband was baffled why I would ask for this, but he happened to have a sore neck the day it arrived, used it, and then I found myself fighting for my turn to use it.

If you read a lot in bed, you can nestle this on whatever pillow you have and it supports your head while you are reading. I have been using it a lot this week while I spent my evenings in bed catching up on our book club book. I combined this with my flip pillow and feel like my neck has been feeling so much better this week with all the support. More importantly, this will be just the gadget I need when we go on our long trips this year.

Keep in mind, this gadget is not fancy, but it is effective and worth the mere $13 price tag!

All the Fyre Festival Dramaz

Did you know that there were TWO Fyre Festival documentaries that came out this month? I spent an entire afternoon on Sunday watching both of these documentaries and REALLY recommend you do too.

Unfamiliar with the drama? Me too!

Here’s why they are interesting. Two organizers (an entrepreneur & Ja’Rule) put together a music festival on an island and invited attendees to come to this very exclusive very HIGH-END event. Millennials were DOWN for this and they put together some really flashy footage with gorgeous models that made the announcement for them. The thing is? They didn’t actually have anything in place to pull this off- not the infrastructure, not the talent, not the falsely advertised cabana/home spaces, etc… It is an absolute s–t show. So all these people arrive and it is NOT what they thought they were signed up for AT ALL. And even though this is a generation that some people kind of laugh at, as a human being you really sympathize with these people who were sold a really horrifying vacation weekend.

After watching the two, I felt the Netflix Fyre was the more compelling documentary. It really showcased the aftermath and the hardships that were endured by those assisting and the islanders who were involved. Hulu takes a more light-hearted look at it, but it does contain really smart psychological profiling and and actually interviews the guy who was in charge.

Don’t take my word for it, it is a good way to spend an afternoon and it will give you tons to talk about with your spouse!

Here are a few of my favorite captures this month! 

I can’t take credit for this capture, but my hubby snapped this of me at my birthday lunch. We dined over here and it was DIVINE. The lunch was affordable, filling, and well-seasoned. Loved the decor and a perfect place to update your FB headshot- hahaha!

This birthday cake was the sweetest surprise from my girlfriend! Her hubby & I are practically birthday twins so we got these stunning macaron cakes (check out her page of cakes– it’s jaw-dropping!) with beautiful flutes of bubbly to celebrate. We topped the evening off with Swan Lake. It was all the birthday magic a girl could stand! 

I’ve been meal prepping the past couple of weeks and feeling awwwwfulllyyy smug with myself to not be cooking every night. We have been eating quite well and I’ve had a lot more time for good books. I’m hoping to keep that streak up moving into February!

Top Ten Most Visited Articles in January

1. Easy Burlap Wreath Tutorial
2. 3-Ingredient Instant Pot Ribs Recipe
3. How to Organize Board Games
4. How to Make a Blanket Scarf
5. The Best Books of 2018
6. How to Make Quinoa in the Rice Cooker
7. DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat
8. How to Make a Yarn Pom-Pom Wreath
9. How to Cable: Knitted Ear Warmers for Those in Need
10. MomAdvice 2019 Book Club Selections

Top Ten Most Purchased Items in January

1. Shiatsu Back & Neck Massager
2. Cotton Paperless Towels
3. Reusable Produce Bags
4. Hanes Sweat-Free Bras
5. Keysocks
6. Body Lift Bras
7. Neck & Shoulder Relaxer
8. Bathing Beauty One-Piece Swimsuit
9. Old Books Soy Candle
10. Reusable Facial Rounds

Top Ten Books Purchased in January

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows

A River of Stars

The Story of Arthur Truluv

Hey Ladies!!

Moloka’i

Meet the Frugalwoods

Attachments

All You Can Ever Know

Confessions of a Domestic Failure

The Intermission

I hope you enjoyed this month’s round-up of January fun and I look forward to sharing more in February! I hope my month of happy brings a month of happy to you too! If this post doesn’t convince you my newsletter is fun, I’ve got nothing. Sign up over hereto get this fun weekly in your inbox.

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