National Puzzle Month ft. Melissa and Doug

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It is National Puzzle Month! I love puzzles, and one of these days I’ll post about my favorites, but today it’s all about kids puzzles. Melissa and Doug is an all-time favorite in our house and they are having a sale now through January 17th. Click the link below to shop at their site:

Celebrate National Puzzle Month with 15% Off Puzzles at Melissa & Doug. Use Code Puzzle15

I recently learned that Melissa and Doug began as a puzzle company, with the goal of bringing a new creative twist to puzzles, and they’ve certainly succeeded. Here are some of my boys’ favorites (they are all about cars and trucks so that will be heavily represented):

We like the chunky puzzles for our little ones.

These are nice transition puzzles for something a little more difficult.

My two-year-old learned his numbers from this puzzle. We love the hide-and-seek style!


They have multiple storage rack options and in my opinion, they are a must.

There are several cute alphabet puzzles; we like the one’s that have a surprise behind the letter.
These are my three-year-old’s favorite. They have shapes on the back of the pieces so you can keep track of which puzzle pieces go together.



A lot of the puzzles we own are pretty traditional, but there are latch puzzles, sound puzzles, even touch-and-feel puzzles!




There are so many great options, from puzzles for really young kids to older kids. See them all here! Let me know your favorites in the comments below.

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Favorite Memories: Snow White

I was a really shy kid. I think I actually liked attention just as much as the next kid, but under very specific circumstances like don’t laugh at me unless I’m trying to be funny. One time my siblings and I put on the play “Snow White” with our friends. I always thought Dopey was the best dwarf because he was the funny one, and since I was the shy, quiet kid, I got to be Dopey. I didn’t have lines, I just got to be all cute and silly–it was perfect.

And that was the beginning of my acting career.

 

Not really.

 

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I’m the one holding my hat on my head in every picture.

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Favorite Books that have been made into Movies

-This post isn’t sponsored by anyone. It’s all just my humble opinion.-

One of my New Year’s Resolutions (well, really my only solid resolution) is to read more classics. I minored in English and have read an embarrassing few classics. I’ve seen a lot of the movie versions, but I haven’t read them. So in honor of that goal I wanted to share some movies based on books that I’ve actually read and that I actually liked both versions*. For each item, I’ve included a link to goodreads and to imdb so you can learn more about the book or movie.

Life of Pi (goodreads | imdb)

Hunger Games trilogy (goodreads | imdb)

Harry Potter –all of them– (goodreads | imdb)

Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea (goodreads | imdb)

The Help (goodreads | imdb)

The Notebook (goodreads | imdb) Though I think the best part of the movie was the home renovation…

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (goodreads | imdb)

A Town Like Alice (goodreads | imdb)

The Book Thief (goodreads | imdb)

The Giver (goodreads | imdb) One of my favorite books of all time!

The Secret Life of Bees (goodreads | imdb)

A Walk to Remember (goodreads | imdb)

The Secret Garden (goodreads | imdb)

Bridge to Terabithia (goodreads | imdb)

The Maze Runner (goodreads | imdb)

Divergent (goodreads | imdb)

The Glass Castle (goodreads | imdb)

Austenland (goodreads | imdb)

Unbroken (goodreads | imdb)

And here are some where I’ve liked the movie and need to read the book:

Gone with the Wind (goodreads | imdb)

Pride and Prejudice (I know, I know) (goodreads | imdb – so many versions of this-)

All of The Lord of the Rings (goodreads | imdb)

Les Miserables (goodreads | imdb) But really, everyone needs to see the play…

The Princess Bride (goodreads | imdb)

The Great Gatsby (goodreads | imdb)

A Man Called Ove (goodreads | imdb)

Little Women (I’ve read about half of the book…) (goodreads | imdb)

Little Men (goodreads | imdb)

The Jungle Book (goodreads | imdb) (or the cartoon version)

A Little Princess (goodreads | imdb)

Freedom Writers (goodreads | imdb)

Pollyanna (goodreads | imdb)

…the list goes on…

*If you want to know others that I’ve read or seen and didn’t like, go ahead and ask me. I try to keep my public comments positive but there are things out there I don’t recommend. ūüėČ

My Favorite Crochet Books: Toys Edition {+GIVEAWAY CLOSED}

The reason I wanted to learn to crochet was so I could make those cute toys I started seeing all over Instagram and Pinterest. My husband actually knew some of the basics already so he and my mom taught me. (And really I just love that I can say my husband taught me to crochet). Over the years I’ve gathered my absolute favorite crochet toy books, but I’m always on the hunt for a good craft project, so comment with your favorite if it’s not up here!

First and foremost, I love Edward’s Menagerie: Over 40 Soft and Snuggly Toy Animal Crochet Patterns

by Kerry Lord. Her company, TOFT, is one of my favorites to follow. I love the classic style of her designs and just want to make all of them.*GIVEAWAY details at the bottom of the page* Here are some more TOFT books that I have my eye on:

I definitely recommend getting these books in print rather than e-book format, because you have to flip between the standard instructions and instructions for specific details for each toy. In fact, I almost always recommend print for craft books.

If you know a literature lover, Literary Yarns: Crochet Projects Inspired by Classic Books

is the go-to for a cute, creative gift. I recently gave my dad Hamlet and even though he’s not into dolls, he still thought it was a clever gift. So there you go, even dads like them.

A lot of crochet toys are dolls and animals, and so far my boys just haven’t been really interested in those things. So I was so excited to find this book

! You can make big or small versions of the vehicles. They are quite a lot of work (the wheels actually turn) but they are totally worth it.

I also just found Construction Vehicles to Crochet: A Dozen Chunky Trucks and Mechanical Marvels Straight from the Building Site

while browsing and you better believe that’s going straight in the shopping cart. So my review will follow shortly. ūüėČ

The reason I learned all this in the first place was so I could make that cute little Yoda from the Star Wars Crochet

kit. Since then I have tried projects from many other kits and these also have my stamp of approval:

I just found this one

while browsing and it’s going in the shopping cart…. So another review will be coming and if you try these projects before I do then please tell me how it goes!

Here’s a little slideshow of some of my makes:

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*For a chance to win a copy of Edward’s Menagerie, enter here. Winner will be chosen at random. Giveaway closes on January 8th.

Favorite Calendars and Planners feat. Rifle Paper Company

New Year, New Planners! I am absolutely in love with pretty much everything Anna Bond creates for Rifle Paper Co. so I may have bought more than one calendar for this year…. Here are some of my favorites (click on the image for product details):

CALENDARS

PLANNERS



I really could go on and on about these products because everything is just so pretty, so I’m trying to limit myself to the calendars and planners. I had to add this meal planner though because I love it. The grocery list is perforated so you can tear it off and bring it grocery shopping. Ours is hanging on our kitchen wall and it’s the prettiest convenience in the kitchen!

My Favorite Ways to Exercise at Home

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Ever since I’ve stopped going running (joint problems) and had small children who wake up at the crack of dawn, I’ve tried to find good ways to exercise at home. If you struggle working out at home, but you don’t want to pay for a gym or classes, invite a friend to come try these with you! These are my favorite videos that I have tried and love:

  1. Yoga with Adriene [FREE!] There are so many videos to choose from and they’re all free. Her 31 day challenges are a fun way to kick off the new year, or you can choose a video for when you just woke up, or to wind down before bed, or if your knees hurt, or your back, the list goes on. All you need is YouTube and a yoga mat (I like this one).
  2. Jillian Michaels: Yoga Meltdown [DVD] This yoga is very different from the yoga we do with miss Adriene, but that Jillian Michaels can whip you into shape. There are two levels, and it all uses your own bodyweight to tone you up.
  3. Jillian Michaels Р30 Day Shred Another favorite from Jillian is the 30 day shred. This workout hurts in the best ways. You need hand-weights for this one (1 or 2 lbs is a good place to start, trust me).
  4. BarreAmped Sleek & Toned Prenatal Workout¬†When I was pregnant with my second child, my first was still really little, so working out at home was pretty much my only option. That’s when I found Suzanne Bowen’s prenatal workouts, which I love. All you need is a mat and a chair!

Most of these are good muscle-toning workouts. On top of these, I’ll try to get a good walk in every day.

Let’s be honest, walks are really my favorite workout…

Best Books for Getting Organized in the New Year

I love a good book about organization and what better time to get organized than January 1? These are my go-to home reference books:

  1. The Complete Book of Home Organization by Toni Hammersley  First of all, this book is beautiful. I have hunted down some of the products in the pictures because I love it that much. I love reading through a page and seeing how I can incorporate the tips in the correlating room. Not all advice works for the space you live in, hence, the other recommendations below:
  2. The Complete Book of Clean: Tips & Techniques for Your Home by Toni Hammersley¬†A gorgeous companion to The Complete Book of Home Organization, sometimes I wonder if I bought it just to daydream about the day when my house can stay clean for ten minutes (I have toddlers). I love the recipes for homemade cleaners in this book. I started making homemade laundry detergent a while ago to help with my son’s eczema, and now I love making as many cleaning supplies from scratch as is realistic for us. I like using this book hand-in-hand with Simply Clean (see below).
  3. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo¬† Our latest move was a downsize, so this book came in handy and we are still finding things we can part with. I’m not the strictest KonMari type, but I loved the idea of going through things by category instead of room (but with two little ones, I vote breaking it down into categories within a room…)
  4. Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo  This book is handy because it goes into way more detail than The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and helps show you how to break the decluttering up into smaller projects. With kids around, smaller projects is basically a necessity.
  5. Simply Clean: The Proven Method for Keeping Your Home Organized, Clean, and Beautiful in Just 10 Minutes a Day by Becky Rapinchuk Ten minutes a day is pretty ambitious in this house because my boys can undo all that cleaning just as quickly. But I love a good to-do list and this book has got lists covered. There are suggestions for weekly, monthly, daily, etc. tasks, as well as more of those homemade cleaning recipes. Because of those handy checklists, I highly recommend a physical copy over digital for this book.
  6. Design Mom: How to Live with Kids: A Room-by-Room Guide by Gabrielle Stanley Blair  I read this book cover-to-cover, which is a little odd for a reference book, but I was soaking up all the tips from this mom! The pictures are beautiful, and I found so much great advice for making my house adult and child friendly (and still stylish!).