books for tween girls!

I asked on Instagram for your Tween girl’s favorite books to read and promised I’d share the results! SO many good ones I’ve never heard of and ALL have amazing reviews online! Check it out!

One I missed after this post was made were the “I Survived” books (boys LOVE them but there are a few about girls specifically too, not that it matters necessarily.) Also the mystery books by Blue Balliet! All steeped in art history and exciting stories to boot! I love that kids get to learn more about art while reading. Two of my favorite things! The Calder Game, The Wright 3 and Chasing Vermeer were all suggested!

Books for Tween Girls

Fish in a Tree: If you like Wonder by RJ Palacio check this one out! // Rules: I reviewed this one earlier this year and since then it’s won several awards! The story of a 12 year old girl navigating life with her Autistic brother. // “Sisters” or “Smile” Graphic Novels by Raina Telgmeier. This author has several titles with great reviews but these two specifically were suggested! // Paint By Stickers: These books are so so much fun. So great for a quiet time bag, road trips, or budding artists who want something cool to hang on their wall. // Penderwicks Series: This series comes as a box set, or individually! “No more engaging sisters since Little Women!” high praise!! // Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls: Another book I’ve reviewed with 100+ stories about awesome women in history! So well done! // Wolf Hollow: Lost count of how many awards this book has won!! We read it in my adult book club but this story about injustice and bullying will sweep you (I mean her!) away. 😉 // Walk Two Moons: I read this as a kid and love that its still so well-loved! Two stories woven together and a good challenge for a budding reader! //  Rollergirl Graphic Novel – another graphic novel that came highly recommended! // Roald Dahl Collection: This one is a selfish add, because Roald Dahl was one of my childhood favorites that sparked a love of reading in me that propelled the direction of my life forever! There’s no one like Roald Dahl! // Chronicles of Narnia Series: another series that stands the test of time! Deals heavily in symbolism which makes for good conversations! // In college I took a class on Adolescent Lit and these were two of the titles that I felt were actually age appropriate but also challenge and improve reading ability!: Watsons go to Birmingham! // Missing May //

By far the most recommended was basically anything by Kate DiCamillo butThe Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane specifically had 3000 4+ reviews! Flora and Ulysses was another multiple suggestion by the same author! She wrote Because of Winn-Dixie as well and I didn’t realize she had made such a dent! So many titles and all very highly reviewed!

kate dicamillo


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holiday best

Holiday Parties are the most fun to get dressed for IMO! You really just need ONE special piece to make it feel festive. But the best part is, you can layer on festive piece after festive piece and I don’t think anyone would look twice! Such a fun time to take risks! Here’s my favorite pieces that standalone or layer up for your next party.

holiday best

Dress // Shoes

I’ve always been the type to wear pretty classic and plain pieces for top and bottom and then add the personality with shoes and accessories. And a killer coat! Here’s my favorite pairings that you could rock at a party with the most boring basic outfit you’ve got:

Shoe + Coat Pairings for the Holidays

  1. I love the edginess of this leather bomber jacket with the ultra feminine glitter bow pumps $48.
  2. This cheetah coat $36 is a must if you dress pretty boring otherwise (me!) I love it with these modern white mules $70. White in Winter is so chic and unexpected, too!
  3. I love jackets like this where the fur is removable $31, it has so much mileage that way! You could be wearing a black sweater and black jeans and these two give the whole thing instant appeal.
  4. This is the combo I wore in family pictures. This knit coat / duster $99 is unbelievably cozy and I think I’ve sold at least 10 of you that I know of on the studded wingtips. So rad!
  5. Obsessed with this hooded full-faux-fur bomber $68 Red lip and silver booties $47, would be cozy for caroling outdoors!
  6. Pretty, tailored, plaid coat already $100 off + 40% off right now, with some wild velvet pom pom heels $38. Over a plain black dress? It sings.
  7. Another removable fur coat, with perfect tailoring and a flattering tie waist! $200I love the mesh cut outs on this flat $89. Its 20% off too!

Another easy addition would be festive earrings, a bold lip, cute ankle socks or over the knee. Linking some below!

weekend deals

Spend $50 on UGG brand items and get a $20 Zappos shopping credit emailed to you!

40% off Gap (50% if you have their card!)

GoJane – where I get super trendy shoes and sunglasses for cheap is 50% off site wide!

H&M Is 20% off $100 and free shipping!

Jcrew has their own outlet section “Jcrew Mercantile” on Amazon! It’s 50% off right now!

$74 for a full length puffer coat! //  $27 for high rise skinnies // $11 for this turtleneck // $45 for this sherpa bomber 

Target – 20% off women’s, all pajamas toy deals galore! Like legos, bikes and ride-ons, 20% off board games Guess Who always and forever.

West Elm 20% off furniture 25% off everything else! And then 50% off tons of seasonal decor! Like $12 for this tree topper?


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rendezvouz box

Get 20% off your first date with SMALLFRY!

Another awesome gift idea for you guys today! Even through our crazy year Russ and I never let date night slide and it was really the only thing holding us together at times! Even if it was just a sushi run after the kids went to bed, the TIME is the important thing. But if you’re like us and there’s definitely one person planning the dates, securing the sitter, making it happen it can start to feel like work instead of fun. Anyone in that boat?Rendezvous Box

This is where Rendezvous Box comes in! You take a quiz on their site so they know your ideal date night situation. They create the itinerary, handle ALL the details. Reservations, appointments, tickets, even down to parking. You just show up and be together! We got our itinerary in the mail a few hours before we left and it was so fun to be spontaneous and have those nervous butterflies. Where are we going? What are we doing? And since they take care of it, both parties get to enjoy without stress. Here’s our date! I’ll tag the itinerary below!

Chocolate tasting (Hi Steve!) at Hatch Family Chocolates. With a Carmel Malone for the road. 😉 Dinner at Avenues Proper – their beet salad and burger were our favorite!Then axe throwing at Social Axe. Russ said he wanted to join an axe club after that so you can guess how that went!

You can check it out here, don’t forget SMALLFRY for 20% off!


houseguest how-to

Sponsored by Quilted Northern®. All thoughts are my own!

So my sister and her family stayed with us for Thanksgiving, and our bunk room was put to full use! My older sister and I haven’t lived in the same state in 10+ years and if you’ve ever dealt with this, you know that I feel like I’m making up for lost time! All the missed playdates and sitter swapping and grocery store runs and nights out. I wanted her whole family to feel accommodated, of course, but especially her. I hoped that she’ feel pampered and that it’s a little bit of a vacation for her instead of a lot of work, like traveling with kids tends to be!

Houseguest How-ToSo, how about a grazing plate full of favorite shelf-stable snacks that you can store in their room for late night snack cravings? Plus plenty of Quilted Northern Ultra Plush® because who likes the walk of shame to ask the host where they can find an extra roll?One quick Walmart run (my closest grocery store and go-to!) and I had everything I needed.  Nuts and apples for healthy options. Chocolate-covered pretzels and foil-wrapped chocolates for a sweet treat. Nighttime teas like chamomile, peppermint or a pumpkin roobois that feel festive and timely this winter.Since her kids go down early (and so do mine God willing, ha!) I wanted to have some fun treatments to do with her! Nail polish, face masks, and peels—all found at Walmart as well! I love putting gel eye masks on ice for that extra refreshing kick and to help with tired under-eyes. I put ice in a bowl and then another bowl of the eye masks on top! You can also just keep the whole container in the fridge, but I like having a room-temperature option sometimes, too!

And don’t forget plenty of soft, fluffy towels and that 3-layered, cushiony Ultra Plush toilet paper to make everything feel luxe. Plus, their 4-in-1 Mega Roll is four times bigger than their regular roll so you can worry less about changing your toilet paper roll. Why Quilted Northern? They say it best: It’s just really nice toilet paper. Skimping on a tissue that feels like thin sandpaper is not an option for my best older sis! 😉

Anything I missed for next time? Let me know in the comments!


gift guide:

Sponsored by is a flash deal site from right here in Utah! We’ve worked with them several times over the years and always been amazed at the deals they work out for their shoppers! I got this peg doll nativity from there (it’s gone now unfortunately!) but that’s part of the adventure! Keep your eyes peeled for new deals all the time! Gift Ideas But here’s several ideas live NOW will get all those little and big presents check off the list at a screaming deal!

My fave make-up brush cleaner $3 // Thin bangles with all sorts of sayings for staking or a dainty single. $7 // A million options of on-trend earrings for $7! // Genuine leather slippers for $25! // Skinny ties for $12 // Your man or son’s favorite stadium in poster size! // Invisible Ink pens, perfect stocking stuffer! Less than $1 each. // My fave: personalized pennant banners for $15! // Slouchy beanies for kids! $12 // Henleys as tees or bodysuits $10 // Disc swing for $40 which is 30 less than anywhere I’ve seen! //

Light The World 2018

So excited to participate in church’s annual service oriented Holiday Advent starting December 1st (Saturday!) They do such a good job making the month of December more meaningful with daily ideas and tasks. I have loved doing it with my kids and feel like we need it more than ever this year. You can download it here!light the world 2018

I love that they have weekly videos to inspire and share with my family to recenter ourselves each week of the month, too! Here is the first week’s!

And now for the real story + the why!

Hunter FowlerI read somewhere that traditions give children a sense of belonging. I 100% attest to that and found it to be true not just for kids. My parents divorced when I was a young married student and it’s been so interesting and bittersweet to see how it turned my extended family life upside down. I think ultimately since both Russ and I come from split homes (I won’t speak for Russ) I have felt that grander sense of belonging missing. Of course I feel safe and secure and loved in my own home, but in that larger familial sense. Brene said
“Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging have the courage to be imperfect.”  That vulnerability, the ability to move and work through life without the paralyzing need to be perfect, all things that come from that sense of belonging. Things I see now as an adult I totally lack! I want this so badly for my kids!

My parents divorce was and, although it has improved, is ugly. I know healthy partnerships exist post-marriage and I respect the HELL out of those people. I know it’s possible and if you’re navigating that situation: don’t stop fighting for that civility and peace! I can only imagine how wonderful that must feel for everyone involved! I just know the damage the opposite can do, and it is far-reaching.

I didn’t anticipate all the adapting we’d need to do! Small things: Where do we go for holidays, who arranges the gift exchange? Or big: How do we spend time together when people can’t be in the same room together. So many relationships are strained or estranged. Sometimes it feels easier to just avoid it altogether!

Can’t we just be with our friends? That poses it’s own issues, especially in Utah where so many people have extended family nearby and they spend holidays and Sundays and special occasions and even grocery store runs together it can be hard to find that sense of belonging elsewhere. Everyone’s covered, ya know? They’ve got their people for the important days. It’s made me feel an immense need to be that place for my own kids, always. And also to be that place for others who need it, too.

Every time Russ and I talked about our house layout or made even the smallest decisions it was with this in mind. How can we be a place for others to come and feel at home. To be a place that will always fit and no one would ever feel like an imposition. We looked forward so much to hosting for the holidays and having family come stay and this first Thanksgiving felt so amazing for all of these reasons! I showed a clip of the party left-overs and sure it’s annoying to clean, but I honestly loved it. I love seeing the remnants of belonging. Of my kids and their cousins having dance parties in the loft, building race tracks in the toy room. Cuddling in blankets in front of the TV. Chatting by the crackling fire, and ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the deer in the yard or the horses in the pasture or the view. It all means so much to me.

As a mom I feel the pressure to be the creator and executor of traditions. The whole thing can be exhausting! I love simple aids like this advent to help guide the way! I have navigated A LOT of activities and ideas to see what felt right for our family. What should stick as tradition, little or grand! I think it all comes down to the feeling it creates in your home, and in your family. Here’s some of the ones we’ve tried out!

I’m challenging myself this year to have a magical Christmas without spending money. (Minus presents on the day of, of course!) As I went through our favorite traditions and saw the $$ piling up, instead of feeling dread over how to afford it without going into debt. How to fit it all in. I’m taking those stressors out of the equation. And focusing on creating the magic without extras. Using creativity, what we already have, our own sweat equity, to serve one another and those around us. I’ll be sure to share all my ideas as we go, but would love to hear yours, too!!


Riding the train to see the lights at Temple Square, or Grand America Window Display and Giant Gingerbread (train tickets are $5 each I think but worth not dealing with parking!)

Service Advent

Christmas Book Advent

Singing Carols at the Piano

Scavenger Hunt for big or exciting gifts on Christmas morning

A special breakfast or breakfast item for after presents

Family movie night with hot cocoa and popcorn

Sledding / Snowball Fights / Build a Snowman

Cousin Handmade Gift Exchange

Have kids write their own year in review and share with family or mail with Christmas card. Save each year and make a book!

Gather donations for those in need.

Go caroling, deliver treats, offer service or help with projects.


Lower Lights Hymn Revival Concert

Utah Symphony Here Comes Santa Claus

Sibling Gift Exchange – game gift exchange with game night attached

One on one dates! Let each child pick one holiday themed thing to do with just their parents. Or one parent if you don’t want to worry about childcare.

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be kind and cozy

We have had so many amazing acts of kindness from the people in our new town it really has blown me away! Even my kids can’t help but notice which made me realize we really haven’t done much to be kind and helpful others in awhile! We were so turned inward trying to get our own tasks taken care of we lost that service oriented element! As we get closer to the holidays I really want to shift our focus off of ourselves and give back! Whether it’s raking leaves, taking trash cans back for neighbors, shoveling snowy walkways, or my kids favorite: delivering treats! Abercrombie Kids was on board with our mission and they got them all decked out for our outing so they could Be Kind and Cozy! Their site is 40% off today (50% for jeans and adults!) so don’t miss those awesome deals!

Hayes: Essential Puffer // Softest Flannel Shirt // Raglan $10 // Stretch Denim //

Cal: Hooded Varsity Jacket // Tee // Chino // Hat

We’ve posted so many favorite treats over the years – pick your favorite! No fail chocolate chip cookies, Banana Bread, Holiday Beignets, Swig Cookie Dupes, Kitchen Sink Cookies, Magnolia Banana Pudding, Cranberry Bundt Cake, Mini Pumpkin Pie, or more healthy options like Oat Power Balls.They love them all and they love helping because they get to sneak ingredients.

I love asking them who has been kind to them with our move. Sometimes I am not even there for these interactions and its so sweet to hear what stays with them!Don’t let baking stop you from this fun! Store bought is just as effective and with a pretty plate they might not even be able to tell. We love these pretzels and they look pretty homemade to me!

Shop with 40% off here!


Amazon has deals on their line up of products! The Dot is 50% off and $20! // The Echo is $70, but stoked about the Dot. We’re using it as a way to communicate with the kids when they’re in the basement (#lazy #genius.) Another notable deal is this Melissa and Doug dollhouse 40% off!

Abercrombie – 50% off everything. I have been so impressed with the quality of everything I’ve ordered working with them for Small Fry.

Anthropologie – 30% off site wide!

Back Country has 50% off styles. Like $70 off the Nano Puff hooded jacket? Or this pullover I wear all Winter long for women is 30% off!

Canvas Prints are all on steep discount. $15 for a 16×20!

Cotton On – nothing on the whole site is over $20! Just a random heads up if you’re heading to Disney this year, their Disney line is stellar right now!

Crazy 8 has up to 80% off! Love shopping for my boys here.

Free People – Select items 50% off! These pumps are everything.

H&M 30% off site wide + Free Shipping!

GAP – 50% off!

GOJane – my favorite discount shoe store 50% off everything! Its where I get lots of my trendy sunglasses too!

Jcrew is 50% off!

Madewell – 25% off!

Nike – 25% off select styles which just so happens to include my favorite 270s for $95 down from $150! Unheard of for a new style that is so popular still!

Nordstrom is doing a spend and save deal and then up to 60% off markdowns as well.

Old Navy has 50% off for the first time every for cardholders. 40% for everyone else!

Uniqlo is running 12 hr deals on their fan favorites. Like this all weather jacket, such a chic fit!

Urban Outfitters – buy more save more $150 will get you $50 off!

Here’s a few ideas to click around for!

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cyber weekend shoe deals

Just some very random and selective shoe deals I stumbled on today! I’m always in the market and here are the best of the 400 pages of deals! Kids and Adults below!


Adidas Gazelle my favorite kids sneaker! Size 4 is $24 and the other sizes go up in price from there. Size 4 it is your lucky day! // Velcro Pumas for $30! Natives are my all time favorite kids shoe ever ever. The Yellow, the Green and the Navy are $24 // Pink is $20 (lowest I’ve ever seen!) // Pretty Boys Dress Shoes in black and brown 50% off for $25!

If you have been looking for Over the Knee boots these are $93! 40% off. Love the charcoal grey, so versatile! // Sorels in several colors are all under $100. The blue pair is $79! CHEAP! // These Adidas Alphabounce Running Shoes have amazing reviews and are $68! // Men’s Ultra Boost (like walking on air!) is $70 off in this color! // Dolce Vita ankle booties in several colors $58 // Superga $35, super steal. // Adidas EQT love this throw back look and its $76! // These darling plaid Sam Edelman Flats are $27 down from $100. WHAT? //


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