9 Favorite Children’s Books

Whether you have a little one (or twelve) of your own and are wondering what books you haven’t discovered yet, are expecting your first child and wondering what on Earth you’ll do to entertain them, or have friends/family with little ones you might want to get a gift for at some point, this list is for YOU!

Andy has always loved “reading” (yes, we realize our #BabyGenius cannot actually read yet). The Hubs and I genuinely love reading to her. Children’s stories are so fun – I love the rhyming and excuse to get really animated while reading (#Nerd). We started reading to her in the beginning because, honestly, what else are you going to do with a newborn? Plus, we knew how beneficial talking to her is for her language development and it’s kind of hard to come up with your own stories when the listener can’t respond yet…so books are great! 😉

Before Andy was born, my sister (who is not only a Reading Coach, but also a true love of books!) stocked our nursery with more books than we ever thought we’d read (wrong…we’ve read almost all of them. Most of them over & over). If you don’t have a book-loving sister willing to dump stacks of baby reading material on you, check out your local Facebook sales groups (Moms love to hang out in these places & they sell some pretty amazing “used” things) or browse your local thrift stores (great place to find classics!).

The books below are in no particular order – we love them all equally!

 1. Cloudette

This book is about a cloud that’s smaller than all the others (as a short gal raising a fellow tiny gal, I truly appreciated this perspective!). While she acknowledges the advantages of being small, she struggles with the limitations. In the end, she shows that with hard work she was able to make the impact on the world she wanted to.

Perfect for: the vertically challenged tots on your list 😉

Buy Cloudette here.

2. Bear Says Thanks

Bear wants to throw a feast but his cupboards are empty. One-by-one his friends show up with something to contribute to the gathering. I like this book because it shows how special time together with loved ones can be (even if you have nothing to contribute but stories – like Bear).

The first time we read this book together, it was before we were heading to gather with family for a potluck lunch. It was very appropriate!

Perfect for: Because of the theme of gratefulness and the gathering of friends (with food!), it would be a great book to read at Thanksgiving. It could also be a good book to read when learning about manners (Bear thanks each of his friends as they bring food for the gathering).

Buy Bear Says Thanks here.

 3. Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon

This is a great story about embracing what makes you unique. Molly Lou encounters a bully at her new school. Because of the confidence her grandmother has instilled in her, she knows how to handle the bully and ultimately (no surprise 🙂 ) they become friends.

Perfect for: This would be a great story for a child who is moving and/or starting a new school where they will be making new friends. Also a great story for children dealing with bullying.

Buy Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon here.

 4. Olivia and the Fairy Princesses

A few books from the Olivia series arrived on our doorstep unexpectedly one day. Andy’s Aunt Olivia had sent them to her!

While I try to be cautious about Princess-y books (and clothes and nicknames…), this story is a good one! Olivia is fed up with everyone wanting to be Princesses – honestly, I really like the way her fierce personality shines through as she rants about this.

#SpoilerAlert: I do wish that in the end she decided to be something other than a Queen (sorry for giving away the ending!). Nonetheless, this is still great inspiration for being unafraid of standing out.

Perfect for: Encouraging little ones to follow their heart – there are no wrong choices on the path to discovering who they are. While the title and cover (and most of the images) are very gendered, I think this is still a good story for both girls and boys. It’s also a great book for newborns because a lot of the interior images feature red, black and white – good contrast for little ones who can’t yet see all colors.

Buy Olivia and the Fairy Princesses here.

 5. Lily the Unicorn

The author of this story also illustrated the book which I found really impressive (having the imagination to create a meaningful story + the ability to illustrate such beautiful pictures is quite an impressive pair of skills!).

The story is [obviously] about Lily the Unicorn. She loves making new friends, but her newest friend doesn’t feel quite the same way. She works hard to find ways they can connect and shows him all the fun possibilities that await him.

Perfect for: While the cover print may make you think this is a “girly” book, I assure you: it’s one for all children! The high contrast of the drawn images inside (notice the thick black lines around the images and letters on the cover) are great for newborns. This is a great book for a wide range of ages – the pages contain short sentences/few words, but are scattered with accompanying images with smaller text…a great option to incorporate more discussion/lengthen reading time as the child gets older. The story is perfect for children who are entering a phase where they will be making news friends (i.e. starting daycare or school).

Buy Lily the Unicorn here.

6. LMNO Peas

This is the Hub’s favorite book! He reads it to Andy every morning and then sings the ABC’s to her (he is literally the best, right?!). I was hesitant to read it at first because some of the ABC books are quite boring, but this one is really creative! I love how the peas are all sorts of things (as the Hubs pointed out when he was trying to convince me to read it, there’s a quilter and a weaver!).

Perfect for: Not only learning the ABCs, but also learning about all of the cool occupations and hobbies that exist!

Buy LMNO Peas here.

7. She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World

No surprise that this book is an absolute favorite. It was one of the first books I read to Andy. The nonfiction stories within the book are truly inspiring.

There’s another version of the book, She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History – it’s on our wish list!

Perfect for: Any kid! But because of the strong message of female empowerment: especially girls.

Buy She Persisted here.

8. Lily Wool

I found this book when the Hubs and I took a day trip to Greenville a few weeks before Andy was born and stopped into M.Judson Booksellers.

I love the story of Lily Wool! She is an endlessly creative sheep who doesn’t fit in. She learns to use her creativity to contribute to her herd in a positive way and becomes a creative entrepreneur!

Perfect for: Inspiring young ones to follow their passions and find ways to use their creativity for good. Also a great book for those with an entrepreneurial spirit.

Buy Lily Wool here.

 9. Beautiful

This book is so cleverly illustrated! My sister got it for Andy. I love that the statements in the book are sayings that we hear about girls all the time, but the illustrations show a spin on the saying by flipping it to show basically the opposite of the stereotype. It’s really a neat book!

Perfect for: Any and every girl! The content paired with the illustrations is really powerful, but not in a hard-to-understand kind of way. It’d be a great gift to a girl in your life to show her that beauty is defined in so many ways.

Buy Beautiful here.

*Disclaimer: For convenience, I’ve included links to the books so you can buy them online, but I highly encourage you to try to find used copies OR (better yet!) visit your local library and rent them! #SaveThePlanetOneUsedBookAtATime. Also, I don’t understand affiliate links and I’m certainly not popular enough to be bribed into a good review so you can rest-assured the statements in this post are totally unbiased.

PS: I’ve posted about several of these books on Instagram. If I did, I’ve linked the picture to the original post so you can read more there and see what others shared in the comments. Just click on the pictures and they’ll take you there!

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Saucy Summer Reads

You may have seen my recommendation for The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell in my What I’m Lovin’ in August post, but I’ve got two saucier (and much lighter) recommendations to share with you below!

Earlier this summer I did what I’d been saying I was going to do for a while now: I went to my local library with the sole purpose of finding a book to rent and read! I wasn’t going to be intimidated by the 2 week window (I’m a slow reader) because there is a such thing as renewing online (yay for the internet!).

As it turns out, my library card was so old that I’d been erased from the system.

card

But isn’t my old card so cute?!

No worries, I had a new “Where the Wild Things Are” themed card in no time!

new card

Equally as cute new card.

You see, my local library has many branches which make it super convenient where ever you happen to find yourself around town. They even let you return your book to any branch – regardless of where you rented it. They’re thoughtful like that.

Well, I’m happy to report I’ve been putting some miles on my card and I have some great summer reading recommendations for you!

To start, I’m on a saucy-summer-stories kick. That being said, when I read the back of Stephanie Evanovich’s debut novel I knew it’d be enjoyable!

big girl

Big Girl Panties was a light love story with some juicy scenes for summer.

I hinted how lovely this book was in a previous post about pillows – which by the way, you should totally sew up a pillow to go with these great reading recommendations 😉

As soon as I finished it, I started scouting out her next book which just so happened to release the Tuesday after I finished Big Girl Panties. I ran to my local library that Thursday in search of the book so I’d have it in time for my trip to Baltimore (hello airport sitting…and plane sitting..).

Well dear Stephanie didn’t let me down!

sweet spot

The Sweet Spot was just as delightful!

Although The Sweet Spot is a prequel to Big Girl Panties, you could read these books in any order and still enjoy them. There are connections made between the two stories, but they’re independent so you can easily follow without obligation of reading the other (though I do recommend it!).

These stories were so good, I didn’t even have to renew online! I finished each within the allotted two weeks and happily returned them on time.

These are just two of the saucier books I read this summer. I’m happy to report, I’m still on my “reading kick” so I’ll be sharing more book recommendations soon.

{Read my tiny collection of Book Club recommendations here.}

What did you read this summer? I’m looking for recommendations to get me through the winter 🙂

What I’m Lovin’ in August

We’re enjoying a super hot August here in the South so I’ve gladly been spending my weekends in the comfort of the air conditioning (and working on becoming a little more pasty).

But on the bright side (pun intended): I’m actually posting this What I’m Lovin’ blog during August! So cheers to being on time this month!

resliced by Jordan

 

So here we go friends! The short list of what I’m lovin’ this month:

1. April Rhodes‘ Arizona Fabric Collection

From the moment I saw the collection, I’ve been dreaming up what I wanted to make with it. I’ve tossed around every idea I could muster up and finally decided I love the collection SO much I’m willing to give quilt-making a try! Yep, you read that right: I’m working on my very first quilt! And don’t worry – I’ll definitely be posting about this! Be sure to follow me on Instagram – I’m going to start posting progress pictures soon! 🙂

[insert heart-eyed Emojis!]

[insert heart-eyed Emojis!]

2. My [first] rotary cutter

I have read over and over how great rotary cutters are, but being the cheapskate that I am I couldn’t bring myself to splurge on one…until I decided I wanted to make a quilt.

The Hubs subscribed for a free trial of Amazon Prime (what are you thoughts on this? Should we keep it?) so I used that to my advantage and ordered a rotary cutter + self-healing mat + quilting ruler kit (all for under $30!) with free shipping and it arrived in 2 days – Win!

rotary

This kit is the bomb!

Ripped it open Saturday morning and realized investing in a rotary cutter was totally worth it!

3. Racing season is upon us!

In February I conquered my very first half marathon and went on to finish a second one in March. Since then I’ve been trying to convince myself to do it again, but the summer humidity has put a damper on my training so I’ve been doing short intervals indoors (which is beyond boring…I’m the kind of runner who likes to sight see while running – I run slow enough that this is an option).

But – cool weather is just around the corner!

My original plan was to run the Governor’s Cup half marathon in November, but if this weather doesn’t cool down just a smidge, I might be doing the 8k instead. The Governor’s Cup 8k last year was my first long race (ever)! My running coach and friend, Randy, convinced me I could do it. The race showed me that I really like running (who knew?!) – and I didn’t hate training! Randy knew the bug was planted and graciously offered to train me for the half marathons. Haven’t I told you – human kindness is the best thing ever?!

race

Me & Randy at the Palmetto Half Marathon finish line in March

Now that you see the picture above, you see exactly how generous it was for Randy to offer to run with me! I’m short and slow…he is neither!

4. The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell by Loraine Despres

I’m still on my summer reading kick and I recently saw this book while plundering the shelves of my local library.

belle

I usually avoid books that involve historical references because there seems to be no way to do that without becoming incredibly boring (call me shallow), but this book sure proved me wrong!

While it’s chock full of historical references to the women’s movement, Loraine has a way of keeping the storyline light, romantic and suspenseful. The story completely engulfed me and I couldn’t put it down. My favorite part about the book were the one-liners that Belle (the main character) comes up with throughout the book as rules to live by – she calls her collection The Southern Girls’ Guide to Men and Other Perils of Modern Life.

ch16

Chapter 16 contained my favorite 🙂

I can’t recommend this book enough! I’m planning to read all of Loraine Despres’ collection now. Have you read any of those? What are your favorite summer reading books?

5. Watching the Hubs play lacrosse

It’s summer – which means one thing: the Hubs is looking for every men’s league lacrosse tournament within driving distance to play in. I can’t lie: I don’t make all of them (nor do I really try that hard…there are just so many!), but the annual Blue Ridge Classic held in Asheville is one I haven’t missed in years. I love Asheville – it’s a vegetarian’s food heaven so it’s worth the hours spent sweating on the sidelines for an evening of amazing food and chocolate in a thriving downtown with a serious appreciation of locally sourced food and handmade goods. I promise to blog soon about all my favorites!

This year, the Hubs played in 9 games with 2 different team that weekend. After all these years, I still don’t have a great understanding (ok…any understanding) of the game, but the most amazing thing happened – and I saw it!! The Hubs scored the game winning goal in overtime during the game he played with his old teammates from Presbyterian College (where he played for 2 years before we transferred to USC). It was amazing!!

lax

That’s the Hubs hidden behind #4, throwing a shot – not the game-winning-in-overtime-shot, but still a nice picture! [photo not taken by me btw]

I can’t lie, I love to shamelessly brag on the Hubs’ athletic ability mainly because I am so uncoordinated it’s a miracle I can run without injuring others (yes, others).

#ProudWifeMoment

6. My best friend is getting married! 

I’ve been friends with Caroline since what feels like the dawn of time. We’ve gone from awkward middle school girls who hung out at the school over summer break (true story…we volunteered. Total nerds) to college suite-mates and now adults with “real jobs.”

I remember when I met her fiance for the first time and I just knew. The way he looked at her and the way she talked about him, I just knew my bestie had met her soul mate. It was only a matter of time until I got that special call. Well – I got that call a few weeks ago!

Icing on the top of this whole scenario is that she adorably sent me my “invitation” to be her MOH in the cutest way. She knows my snail mail snobbery and the fact that any card not made my friend MaryAnn of MASW Designs just isn’t good enough.

So, she had MaryAnn custom make the invitations and promise not to post about it until I’d received mine. (Seriously, my friends are the cutest).

card1

Maybe I’m over-thinking it, but fingers crossed for coral dresses! {But seriously it doesn’t matter because Caroline has timeless style!}

How precious is the inside?!

How precious is the inside?!

Seriously I’m over the moon about being asked to be Caroline’s MOH. It’s such an honor and I’m SO excited for all that’s to come! I teared up thinking about my MOH speech while vacuuming the other day…I’m such a nerd!

I hope you enjoyed my list of what I’m lovin’ in August! What did you love (or are lovin’) about August?

{Catch up on all What I’m Lovin’ monthly posts here.}

What I’m Lovin’ in July

Guess what happened again?!

Yep, I’m late on July’s What I’m Lovin’ post, but I figured it’d be a good way to kick off August 😉

resliced by Jordan

Here’s my list of what I was lovin’ in July (and maybe still lovin’ in August! 😉 )

1. Inspiration from the ReFashionista! Did you see that awesome post from BuzzFeed about her?!

I had already heard about the ReFashionista from my dear friend Shanika and have been hoping to run into her around town (she’s from Columbia too!). We haven’t met in person yet, but I’m following her blog like we’re besties.

Promptly after reading the BuzzFeed post, I skipped on over to Facebook and signed up to receive notifications from the ReFashionista’s page.

Best. Decision. Ever.

Now every time she posts, I see the link and become immediately infatuated with the magic she performs on sad, deserted thrift wear. The other day she posted about a seersucker house dress refashion which has since sent me into a tizzy looking for an abandoned house dress.

refashionista

Mind blown. She’s a genius.

And this one! It’s a no sew refashion that involves her tying the sleeves around her waist — I mean, who thinks of this brilliance?! Oh yeah, the ReFashionista.

I think my favorite part about the ReFashionista’s blog is that she includes step-by-step instructions (usually with pictures) of how she performed the refashion. A girl who shares her tricks – now that’s what I love! 🙂

2. Supporting my local thrift store! This is a double whammy.

First, I love a good purge (remember that time I told you about my mission to live small?). I’ve been on a kick this summer of simplifying which apparently means reorganizing my fabric collection a billion times and going through my closet filling donation bags…over and over.

Second, I love dropping donations off at Revente’s Second Chances because the staff is always friendly and they always have the best stock! (AND their sales benefit the local Women’s Shelter! Win. Win. Win.)

Example: I have been riding around with 3 bags in my car that I’d been meaning to donate (aren’t we all guilty of this?!). On my lunch break this week I decided to swing by while I was out and alleviate my back seat. Well – some purple polka dots caught my eye and next thing I know I had found this Boden dress in perfect condition for only $15!

boden

Seriously. How precious is the collar?!

Keep an eye on my Instagram because you know I’ll post a picture when I wear it! 😉

{Confession: I didn’t even try it on because…$15 for a Boden, y’all! I figured I could pull some of my ReFashionista inspiration on it if I have to!}

3. The fact that running for even 5 minutes a day can reduce your risk of heart attack. 

You’re doubting me aren’t you? Check out the very-dreamy Brian William’s clip from NBC Nightly News.

As a Public Health grad, I know that any physical exercise is healthy. BUT our standard was always 30 minutes, 5 days per week. Alas – we can all feel fine with the sub-half-hour gym visit after a long day at work (or is that just me?).

Looking for a quick run? Try this one from my friend Alex at Work Hard Eat Harder:

run

[Click the photo for more details on Work Hard Eat Harder]

 4. Matching handmade bags!

Keep an eye out for a post about my version of Melly Sews’ Favorite Purse (which may also be my favorite purse now!) that I sewed up just in time for Baltimore (also – more to come on that trip!). The cherry on top of this bag: it matches my Noodle Head Super Tote!

favpurse

Doesn’t every gal need a full set of matching bags? Up next: a wallet! 🙂

5. Rediscovering how much I love to read!

The Hubs started a new job a few weeks ago and has to be to work at 6:00am. In addition, I’m working our “summer schedule” at the school district meaning: a 10 hour days that start at 7:00 with Fridays off. I don’t have quite enough time to get by the gym before work like usual so that’s been rescheduled to after work (which makes for a very long day, but I’m not complaining because I rest up on Fridays and sew!). All that said, I’ve been trading morning news for some quiet reading time which has been so delightful.

Even the time the cat came and sat directly on top of the dog's head peace remained.

Even the time the cat came and sat directly on top of the dog’s head peace remained.

I’ve got a few summer books to recommend so keep an eye out for those posts soon!

6. Supporting my favorite non-profit with photos!

My very favorite local non-profit who tirelessly fights for women’s reproductive rights in South Carolina (oh heyyy TellThem!) invited me to participate in their photo-a-day challenge for August via Twitter. I’m always looking for an excuse to post more photos (I’m obsessed with Instagram) so obviously I’m in!

tellthem

I’d love it if you participated with me! You can read more about the challenge on TellThem’s blog, but here are the basics: post a photo that relates to the corresponding day’s theme (ie: August 1st we’ll all post something related to “celebration”), include the hashtag #SCrahrah and tag @TellThemSC in your post (find TellThem on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest).

*AND*

for the grand finale..

7. It’s my sister’s birthday month!!

kt

Words can’t describe my infatuation with my sister. She is EVERYTHING to me and I love love love her so much!

She’s not one for big birthday celebrations, but I’ve got some great crafting planned to make up for the fact that I was out of town for her birthday…again. Keep an eye out for that too – you bet I’ll share some pictures with you!

{Catch up on all What I’m Lovin’ monthly posts here}

Playing with Pillows – DIY

I’ve been in desperate need of new couch pillows after Twitch ate my original pillows (to be fair, he let me enjoy them for a solid 3 years before he shredded them..).

My sister & I tackled Fabric 101‘s sale together over the 4th of July holiday – picked up some beautiful scraps for handbags. I also picked up a beautiful, perfectly square floral scrap with pale blue and green hues that I knew would be perfect for my couch.

The scrap was too lovely to cut so I turned it into an oblong accent pillow instead.

Isn't the fabric lovely?!

Isn’t the fabric lovely?!

I had a little extra of the brown pattern lying around so I whipped up a friend for my oblong pillow :)

I had a little extra of the brown pattern lying around so I whipped up a friend for my oblong pillow.

Kimba approves of the new pillows!

Kimba approves of the new pillows!

If you’ve never made a pillow, you must! It’s unbelievably easy and incredibly cheap.

I don’t have pictures of the steps, but here’s a quick run-down:

  1. Align 2 pieces of material that are cut identically (you can use 2 different fabric patterns for a little versatility or the same for the traditional uniform look just make sure they are the same shape) with the outside pieces facing.
  2. Pin all around the edges of the material. Make sure to mark about 6 inches (give or take a few inches depending on the size of your pillow and the weight of your fabric – heavier fabric may require a slightly larger opening).
  3. Starting at one end of your opening, sew all the way around the edges of your fabric until you reach the other end of your opening.
  4. Flip the fabric through the opening so that the sewn edges become the interior. Reach into the pillow shell and push out all four edges.
  5. Now for the fun part: start stuffing the pillow! Add stuffing until the pillow reaches your desired firmness.
  6. Fold the edges of the opening inward, pin then stitch it closed (this should be the bottom of your pillow).

Ta-da! I hope that helps for now – I’ll post a picture tutorial the next time I construct one!

I can’t lie – I’ve been putting my pillows to good use 😉

reading

Dogs, a good book and new pillows make for a great day!

{PS: I finished reading Big Girl Panties this weekend and it’s a great summer read! I definitely recommend it!}

Happy pillow making!

Bossypants Book Review

One bossy chicks review of Tina Fey's Bossypants.

One bossy chicks review of Tina Fey’s Bossypants.

As a girl who’s been called bossy more times than I care to count, I knew just by the title that Bossypants was the book for me!

It’s very rare that I actually finish a book (anyone else have this issue? I think it’s related to my undiagnosed ADHD). I’m very proud to say that I read Bossypants cover-to-cover and couldn’t get enough!

As always, Tina Fey is hilarious and real. There are so many parts of the book where she just “lays it all out” in a way that makes her seem so…human.

The book is such an easy read. The paperback version is light and small enough to stash in your purse in case you get stuck in a waiting room and don’t want to touch those germ-infested magazines.

I do warn you though: be careful where you’re reading (especially if it’s in the bed while your husband is sleeping) because you WILL burst out in random fits of laughter.

See! Bossy isn't so bad! ;)

See! Bossy isn’t so bad! 😉

I’m also in the midst of reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and I really appreciated reading the two alongside (although I did get the two story lines twisted a few times and ultimately decided to finish Bossypants as it was the shorter/easier-to-carry-in-my-purse option).

Whether your office is on the set of a hit TV show, the corner office at Facebook’s headquarters, the cubicle down the hall or behind the counter of a coffee shop, being a woman in society is a tough gig. Tina Fey’s ability to turn the work/life balance into a comical journey is sure to help give any female a new perspective: no matter how tough carving your path may be, there’s always room for humor!

In the end, remember that it’s always worth taking the leap because the journey makes for a great story!

quote

So friends: pick up a copy of Bossypants and get your laugh on!

What’s on your reading list this summer?