favorite books

Favorite Finds Spring 2019

I can’t believe we are a week into April already.  This year is going fast and shaping up to get crazier as we get closer to leaving for China (I just got happy butterflies typing that).  There have been several products I have been loving lately and I haven’t done a Friday favorites post all year (shake my head) so today I am going to recap some of my favorite finds from the first quarter of 2019.



Favorite Beauty Products

Smashbox Liquid Lipstick

My sister introduced me to Sephora (read all of the insider tips here) and so when I was in need of a new lip color I knew they would be able to help me.  I wanted it to go on like lipgloss but to be matte and not flake off or wear off. This liquid lipstick delivered!  I got the color babe alert.

Natural Deodorant

About a year ago I switched to natural deodorant after reading about all the nasty ingredients found in regular.  I was skeptical because I wore men’s deodorant because women’s didn’t work for me.  Have I lost you yet ;)?  I got the Lavanila brand deodorant. in my Influenster box about 8 months ago and thought I would give it a whirl since I hadn’t found a natural alternative I loved.

I love it.  It didn’t make me rash out and I love the smell!  Now, I will say I missed a major step in my transition so I started to smell a bit.  After some research, I found it’s good to detox so I ordered this from Amazon and made myself a pit paste and let it sit based on the directions.  It’s been easy breezy ever since.

Batiste Dry Shampoo

You are probably sick of me talking about training my hair to go longer between washes but you guys I am up to going 4 days between.  This is from a girl who used to wash her hair every single day. You can read more about my top hair tips here.  One of the ways I have been able to stop washing my hair every day has been dry shampoo.  My favorite is Batiste. 



Favorite Fashion Finds

Utility Coat

I love this jacket.  I have had to stop myself from wearing it all the time.  It looks cute over a crewneck sweater or a silk blouse.   It’s a lighter material and has cuffed sleeves.  I did size up so I had more room for layers!

Loft Polkadot Tank

Speaking of pieces to wear with my utility coat, Loft is my go-to for cute feminine tanks I can layer with a cardigan or coat.  I fell in love with this navy polka dot tank with a delicate ruffle on the shoulder and lace detail.  It’s cute as a layer now and will be darling paired with my white jeans later this spring.

Amazon Swimsuit

Before Arizona, I was on the hunt for one more swimsuit.  I purchased this swimsuit two years ago from Amazon and it’s held up great.  I love reading the Amazon reviews because generally, they will pinpoint what size I need based on real women reviews.  I sized up per the instructions and I love the full coverage on the backside with the playful one shoulder ruffle and of course, I got this swimsuit in navy!  They have tons of colors and it’s under $30.  It’s washed up great too!


I kept seeing the platform white sole pop up everywhere for spring sandals so I was excited to find this pair at Target. to try.  I love them.  They give me a little bit of height without being a heel and a wedge plus the blush/nude color goes with everything. I have worn them with a dress and with my jeans!  I tried them out traveling home from Az and they got two thumbs up!



Favorite Book Finds

Non-Fiction Favorite – Eat Cake, Be Brave by Melissa Radke

This book is about owning who you are and surviving some of the worst possible things life can throw at you from marital problems, infertility, adoption, and self-doubt.  Melissa is so funny and relatable.  I laughed, I cried and I seriously wanted to be her friend.  As an aside, their family is going to have their own reality series on the USA channel.  It looks FUNNY!

Fiction Favorite – Wonder by R. J. Palacio

I know I am late to the game but everyone should read this book.  It’s about a little boy named Auggie with a facial deformity.  The book recounts his first year in public school.  It again made me laugh, cry and my momma bear came out too!  It would be a good book to read with your older elementary kids too.  The takeaway was “always be kinder than necessary.”


One more thing…

Did you know Simple Purposeful Living has products?  Our spring launch is April 22nd and our shop will close on April 28th for the SUMMER!   If you dread what’s for dinner or your weeknight’s are so busy, you think it only leaves time for fast food – I can help you master meal planning to make fast food at home and know what’s for dinner!

Sign-up here so you won’t miss all the spring launch details and get a free printable with 50 meal ideas to get you started!


Whooooo there you have it…

My favorite finds from the first quarter of 2019.  Since I waited so long I had some time to think hard and these things are seriously making my heart sing.  I want to go give them a hug and let them know the joy they are sparking in my life right now ;)!  So, now tell me what’s one thing you can not stop telling everyone about? Have you tried natural deodorant?  What good book have you just read?  Sharing is caring, tell me in the comments.


Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life.
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Linking up with Becky and Andrea – check out her blog!

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Harry Potter Helped My Son Fall in Love with Reading + 17 Books Series to Read After Harry Potter

Harry Potter Helped My Son Fall in Love with Reading

When my son started second grade, he didn’t love to read.  I was the same way as a kid so I totally got it however as a grown-up I knew how important it was for him to become a proficient reader.  Just like anything in life the more you practice, the better you become so it was essential I helped him fall in love with reading but how?

I was talking with my sister who also didn’t love reading as a child and she told me that Harry Potter made her fall in love with reading.  I knew my son at the time might not have the reading stamina it would take to read it independently (hello 700+ page novels) but as a trained early childhood educator, I knew the value of reading to your children for as long as they would let you.  So, I started reading Harry Potter to my son.

It’s been 18 months and we have read almost every night together before bed.  It not only has proved to be a simple but purposeful way to spend time with my growing son but Harry Potter, indeed, helped my son fall in love with reading.  This past weekend we wrapped up the series and the next day, we both said, “I miss Harry.”

So, what do we read after Harry Potter?

I don’t mean to sound dramatic but I don’t believe any book series can quite compare to Harry Potter.  It’s been 20 years since he first appeared on a bookshelf and the series produced several blockbuster movies, a dedicated theme park, and lines of products like legos, clothes, games – you get the idea.

However, I needed some ideas so I did the only logical thing and I went to social media. I did some crowdsourcing and my community (Facebook & Instagram) delivered some great recommendations.  Of course, sharing is caring so I am going to share the top picks for what to read after the Harry Potter series.

Psst…I also have a fun printable you can get in case you want to print it and take it to the library with you and you pint-size reader!  You can sign-up to get access to it and my printables library here.

Top 17 Series to Read After Harry Potter

The number one recommended book series to read after Harry Potter was Percy Jackson.  Author Rick Riordan wrote the book series when his son didn’t like to read to help him learn about mythology and fall in love with reading.  Let me know what books or series you would recommend in the comments. Don’t forget to download your printable booklist by signing up here.

Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan

Land of Stories by Chris Colfer

The Magic Thief Series by Sarah Prineas

Diary of a Wimpy Kid By Jeff Kinney

Dogman by Dav Pilkey

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson

Prince Warrior Series by Priscilla Shirer

Chronicles of Narnia Series by C. S. Lewis

Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Treasure Hunter Series by James Patterson

Magic Misfits Series by Neil Patrick Harris

Swindle Series by Gordon Korman

The Wild Robot Series by Peter Brown

Fablehaven Series by Brandon Mull

Complete Roald Dahl Series

Ramona Series by Beverly Cleary

More Recommended Books to Read After Harry Potter

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

What would you recommend?

Now, we know nothing will compare to the Harry Potter series and if you are reading this and haven’t read it yet, stop right now and order it (HERE)!  Seriously, I don’t love fantasy or Star Wars (sorry!) but I loved Harry Potter!

Then, when you are finished come right back here for some more great recommendations.  Now, go snuggle up with your kids and help them fall in love with reading one book at a time read together!

Pin this for later!


Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life.
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Linking up with Becky and Andrea

October 2018 Favorite 10

Oh my word, I can’t believe it’s October 26th, I spent yesterday with a group of MOPS moms in Fort Dodge, Iowa and today I am with another group of MOPS moms.  Both days, I am sharing about how to cultivate a heart of gratitude.  You can read a blog post on the subject here.  I just love speaking with women, it truly is one of my favorite things to do.  If you need a speaker, you know where to find me.  I am booking for January and February now!

Since it’s the end of the month though I wanted to share with you a few things I have been loving in the month of October.  Per usual, it’s a mod podge of apps, books, products, podcasts, and more.  I always love a good recommendation and you have said you do too!  So, let’s get to My October Favorite 10!

1. Simple Purposeful Living Shop

You read that correctly!  Simple Purposeful Living is launching 2 signature products.  My email list is going to get a sneak peek today so if you aren’t on the list, there’s still time to sign up!  After listening to so many of you and pain points in your life we developed two tools we hope will help you to be more purposeful and make your life more simple!

The products launch for pre-order on November 14th, with guaranteed delivery before Christmas!  I will be sharing more on Instagram, Facebook, the blog and of course my email newsletter.  Sign-up today!

2. Land of Mae Doll

You might have seen yesterday on Instagram, we received a very special gift.  A handmade, personalized doll for our son.  We still haven’t been matched and we covet your prayers we do before December.  We also gave a little hint about his name.  Many of you caught it :).  See the post here.

3. Halloween Activities

This weekend we are carving pumpkins! We always share the pumpkin parable (read about it here) and the kids like to use the power drill to help in the carving.  We also like to read the book, Pumpkin Parable.  We also plan to boo our neighbors which is a perfect way to complete this week’s Simple Purposeful Living kindness challenge – a random act of kindness.  You can read more about boo-ing people here, it’s a good thing I promise ;)!

4. Favorite Worship Songs

I cannot stop listening to What a Beautiful Name, It Is Well, I Am Who You Say I Am and Reckless Love.  They all have such amazing lyrics and just singing along and meditating on the words helps me to right my attitude and place my focus back on Jesus.  What songs are you loving right now?

5. Egg Nog

My husband LOVES eggnog and when he saw it was back on store shelves, he not so subtly hinted I should get some.  It’s a weekly grocery staple from now until Christmas.  My favorite way to drink it is as a creamer in my coffee. You don’t need much and it’s so delicious!  Any other eggnog lovers out there?

6. Thieves Household Cleaner & Laundry Detergent

I have been using the Thieves household cleaner for about a year.  It lasts forever so even though it seems expensive on the onset, I still have a 1/3 bottle left after a year and I use it for every surface of my home!  I just got the laundry detergent after I heard it is amazing just like the cleaner.  You barely need any soap and it smells so good!  Click here to take a look at the products.

7. Crystal Paine Show Podcast

I love Crystal from The Money Saving Mom and Your Blogging Mentor.  She has a new podcast.  She covers a range of topics and I just love listening to her as I drive my kids to all their millions of activities!

8. Everybody Always by Bob Goff

I downloaded the audiobook and listened to it on the way to Pittsburgh for the Steelers game.  I seriously had to rewind about a hundred times and write down quotes.  I wish I had gotten it in print because there were just so many good takeaways about loving people really well. (Find the book here)   Here are a few of my favorites —

Instead of telling people what Jesus meant they just loved people the way he did.

We are all rough drafts of the people we are becoming.

The sad fact is many of us have lost our way helping people find theirs.

9. Healed Sneakers

I posted this picture and y’all went nuts over my favorite healed sneaker.  I just checked and they are on sale.  I love the neutral color and they are so cute and comfy!

10. Marco Polo App

It’s my new favorite way to keep in touch with friends near and far.  My bestie and I are in a very busy season of life and we can’t spend hours each week with one another as we have in the past.  This app allows us to leave video messages to one another and then respond when we can.  I talk to my mom, sister, sister-in-law, and friends using it every single week.  Bonus, it’s free!  Have you tried it out yet?

BEST OF SPL – October Blog Posts

This month I especially loved sharing about how we can be more grateful.  You can read that post here.  I also loved helping you all overcome feeling unlikely and pursue your purpose.  You can read that post here.  The simple chicken tortilla soup recipe is always a hit and so yummy. You can pin that recipe here.  Speaking of which, do you follow Simple Purposeful Living on Pinterest?  You should here.  Finally, we loved having the girls shared bedroom finished.  Read that post here.


So, there you have it some of my favorite things from the month of October.  I also have lots of favorite memories too so you better believe I will be back next Wednesday to share our October life lately recap!  Until then, have a great weekend and get out there and do a random act of kindness!  Don’t forget to comment and tell me something you are loving in October!


Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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Linking up with AndreaBecky



Best Kid’s Picture Books to Read Aloud

Some of my favorite moments as a mom are snuggling in with my kids and reading books.  Lucy often signs more and says “more books”.  She knows before nap and bedtime, we will read books together.  We have several favorites around here that we read over and over and over again.  I just love seeing my older two read to each other and pick up a book and enjoy the story for themselves.
We love to gift books around here for every holiday – birthdays, school celebrations and Christmas included.  I love getting recommendations from others, especially those that their kids read on repeat. So today, I am sharing 16 of our current favorites.  These rarely make it back on to the bookshelf before getting pulled right back out again.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 

1.  Dance

We love Matthew Van Fleet books and the fun ways he makes his books come alive by pulling or pushing a tab.  By far, this is Lucy’s very favorite book about a group of animals that’s trying to teach a little chick to dance.

2.  Mercy Watson to the Rescue

This is great for your older readers to read to you.  It’s a chapter book with plenty of illustrations for those readers still building their reading stamina with longer books.  I read this to Vera and Solon read a chapter to me a night.  Mercy, the pig, “saves” the day or does she mean to?  It’s up to you to decide.

3.  Owl Diaries

My friend Karie let us borrow these sweet little chapter books about these little owl friends.  They are super cute and really fast to read through.  Your kindergartner – 2nd grade girls would love these books.  We will be getting more when we complete this first set.

4.  He Came with the Couch

This is a funny book about a little “friend” that came with the couch and how they try to get rid of him.  Our kids love this funny book, the illustrations make the story!

5.  Dinosaurs Love Underpants

Need I say more beyond underwear in the title?  Our kids love seeing all the printed undies on the dinosaurs in this funny read on how dinosaurs came to love underwear.

6.  Tickle Monster

If your kids love to be tickled, they will love this book that prompts the reader to tickle throughout.  We have the deluxe version that includes the tickle mitts.

7.  The Good for Nothing Button

This is part of a 4 book series from Elephant and Piggie Like Reading.  It has the same humor as the Elephant and Piggie and Pigeon books we love (and also read over and over and over again).

8.   Dragons Love Tacos

Our kids love tacos and so do dragons.  This is a funny read about how dragons like their tacos.

9.  Press Here

This is another fun interactive book for kids.  They press different circles and when you turn the page something happens as a result.  This book is falling part, we have read it so many times.

10.  The Berenstain Bears 

We love, love, love the Berenstain Bears at our house.  They were my favorite as a kid so I love reading them to my kids too.

11.  Peek-A-Moo

Our beloved child librarian reads this every week at baby storytime and Lucy loves lifting the flaps to see which animal is beneath based on the sound they make!

12.  The Book with No Pictures

This book will make your kids laugh.  It makes the reader say different things as you read and as the title suggests there are no pictures.  Don’t let that deter you, this will quickly be a book your kids read again and laugh every time.

13.  Ribbit!

This is a sweet story about friendship and being kind.  It will warm your heart!  It’s one of Lucy’s favorites.

14.  The Whale in My Swimming Pool

This is another book that the illustrations make the story.  It’s a cute and funny read.  There is a whale in the little boy’s wading pool.  Lucy laughs overtime and now has parts memorized ;).

15.  Barnyard Dance

We love Sandra Boynton.  Every single book of hers is great.  We especially love Barnyard Dance and Snuggle Puppy.

16.  Toes, Ears and Nose

We also love Karen Katz.  If you kid loves lift the flap books, you need some of these books.


So now that I shared, will you share a favorite author or book with me?  I am collecting ideas for Christmas this year.  Scott and I will gift the kid’s new slippers and a new book to open on Christmas Eve and I would love to get them one they each love!  Don’t forget to pin and share this with others!

You might also like…

Best Family Board & Card Games

Book Series Like Harry Potter

Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life.
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Best Back to School Books to Read

Calm Nerves Reading Back to School Books

Back to school time is around the corner.  We are all anticipating the start of another school year and with that comes both enthusiasm and a few nerves at what the year will hold. Today I am sharing 12 back to school books that are favorites around here and will enable you to start a conversation with your kids about what school is like and what they can expect.
 As you read, start a conversation with them and ask them what they are excited about, what they want to see when you go to back to school night and what they might be nervous about. Most of the nerves around here are reserved for momma ;).  A great way to start a conversation with your kids about school is to read books about going back to school.

Best Back to School Books

Do you have a case of the worries?  Wemberly does!
Grab your tissue as you read this sweet book about feeling your love with a kiss kept in the palm of your child’s hand.
This is a great book as he explores all the different places in a school.
Follows the theme of The  Night Before Christmas.  It makes a cute read the night before your child goes to Kindergarten.  We plan to read it at our house!
This book has a cute twist, you might not see coming!
A sweet tale about loving the name you have been given and the special person you are.
Wishing you a great start back to school.  You might find the posts below helpful as you prepare for going back to school!

Check out these Back to School Posts – 

Ways to Beat the Back to School Jitters
The Ultimate Guide to Going Back to School for the 1st Time
10 Back to School Essentials
back to school picture book Pinterest pin graphic

Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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Awesome Books for the Reluctant Reader

We recently went to conferences and our son, a fine reader, filled out a self-evaulation that he would not choose reading as a choice over other things. #notsurprised  The only time on the survey he picked reading was bedtime reading with mom and dad #browniepoints.  
He comes by his reluctance to read for fun naturally.  Neither his dad or I loved reading as kids so we have been on a mission to find enticing books!  I am happy to report we have rounded up some tried and true favorites!
While on our hunt, we did share our picks with our local librarians and there were a few they didn’t have and ordered. So if you have some good ideas, share them with the librarians, ours said they are always on the hunt for good reading to add to the collection.  Solon was so proud they ordered his recommendation too!

Pin This!
8 – The Bad Guys**
**Amazon recommended with an Easter basket arrival 😉
Nobody Wants a Ball Hog is part of a Sports Illustrated Kids series.  This particular book is about a standout basketball player who does not share the ball.  It’s a graphic novel and has a good moral to the story.  There are a variety of reading levels within the series, the ones that look like this are on the easier side!
Captain Underpants and Dog Man are graphic novels by the same author.   Full disclosure — as a mom these are not my favorite books. There is a whole lot of boy humor and a little too much mischief but my son LOVES them.  Dog Man is a new spin-off to the Captain Underpants series. 
We love all Mo Willems books around here.  When I taught, the Pigeon series came out and my first graders loved them as much as my kids do now.  The Elephant & Piggie series is quite witty like all of Mo Willems’ books with a plot twist at the end that leaves everyone laughing!  These are great to read with your child.  You can each be a character as you read!

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea and it’s sequel (releasing in May).  My sister found this book and it chonicles the friendship of Narwhal and Jelly!  It’s a graphic novel similar in nature to Elephant and Piggie.  We have #2 on pre-order thanks to Grandma!
Press Start & it’s sequel (releasing in May).  Solon spotted this one at the book fair.  It’s about a bunny in a video game that has to save the day.  It’s another graphic novel.  Solon can’t wait for the next installment to release in May.  If your kid likes video games, this is a cute read!
We read our fair share of non-fiction books around here!  Everything from NFL teams to transportation, animals and planets.  Solon has pretty much memorized every fact in this book.  He loves non-fiction and reading to learn!  
The great thing about non-fiction books is we don’t read them like fiction books.  You can skip around and read what you want!  As adults most of our reading is non-fiction so its great for kids to learn how to read non-fiction at a young age!  #blogsarenonfiction 😉
So there you have it a round-up of our favorite books right now for our guy.  Now its your turn, what are your recommendations?  Please share. 
Do you have a reluctant reader? You are not alone.  
We have to find what excites them!  It might not be the classics, but we can read those to them at bedtime ;).  Reading is an invaluable skill and the more they practice, the more progress they make!  Getting books in their hands that get them excited is key to success with reading.
Until next time keep smiling and keep on keeping on! 
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I am linking up today to ErikaNarci, and Andrea.  Check out all the Friday Favorites.

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