September Reading Wrap Up!

Today I am sharing a few of the books I read this month – I’ll be honest, I am obsessed with reading and read way more than three books a month, but these three were my favorites.

First up, a Colleen Hoover book. I really have been loving her books lately, they are usually love stories with a mystery or a bit of a twist. Sometimes a big twist!

This one is called It Ends With Us.

This is a powerful read about a girl who falls in love with a homeless boy while in high school. Their relationship ends and years later she runs into him whilst engaged to another man. This isn’t the typical love triangle and has some surprises and twists along the way.

Next up is a historical fiction novel called The Alice Network by Kate Quinn.

This book is set in the 1940’s, and uses the perspectives of two different characters, Eve, a woman who worked as a spy during the war, and Charlie, a young, pregnant girl who is searching to find her lost cousin who vanished during the war. Eve’s story as a spy is fascinating and Charlie’s story is interesting as she is pregnant and will stop at nothing to find her lost cousin. The shocking ending pulls both of their stories together. It’s really good.

Last, a book by Chevy Stevens, called Never Let You Go.

This book is a suspenseful mystery about a girl named Lindsey who escapes from her abusive husband and now lives a new life with her daughter. Years later, her ex-husband is released from prison and she fears will come looking for her. When he moves to the same town, she blames him for her home being broken into, and she feels as though she is being watched. She doesn’t know if it is someone else, or if it is him, even though he tells her he has changed.

That’s it for my reading wrap up!

Do you have any books that you would recommend?

Thanks for reading!

xx amy

LET’S BUDGET |Spending Spreadsheet

Hello! Today we are talking about SAVING money and budgeting! Yay!

We are a one income family, and have been for 9 years. Even though my husband makes the money, it is my job to manage it. I pay the bills, I budget, I save, and let’s face it, I’m the one doing the swiping. He’s at work all day.

I create a SPENDING SPREADSHEET each month, and it’s changed my life!

A spending spreadsheet is basically just writing it down every time you make a purchase. You will be SHOOK at how much you are actually spending. The month is half over, and I’m still in the first column. You should have seen this when I first started doing it. I was in the second column by day 10. Swipe, swipe, swipe.

First, make your key according to what categories you spend. Bills like mortgage, phone, water, electric, etc. come out of our bank account. This is for our credit card. Every time I actually make a purchase, it goes here.

Gas – I use orange for this – I document both my husband’s and my gas purchases.

Bills – these are things that are necessary items that I have to purchase. Things like school pictures, prescriptions, lunch money, things like that. That’s yellow. The non-negotiables.

Groceries – I try to spend $100 or less on groceries each week. This goes in blue.

So, seeing a lot of orange, yellow, and blue on your spreadsheet is ok.

We don’t want a lot of green and pink.

Food – fast food or eating out goes in green.

Fun/Other – this is unnecessary spending; things that you don’t need. Amazon, Target…you know what I mean. Goes in pink.

Here’s ours for September so far.

As you can see, I’m not perfect! I went ham at target on the first of the month, and we have definitely eaten out a lot.

This spreadsheet just makes me way more aware of what I was spending. At the end of the month, add up the green and pink. You will be shocked, and you will think twice before you swipey swipey.

I hope this is helpful to you!

Let me know if you want more budgeting tips!

Thanks for reading 🙂

xx

August Reading Wrap Up

Do you guys love to read? I have loved to read ever since I was little. The first books I ever remember reading on my own were the Babysitter’s Club Little Sister books, which my 8 year old is now reading- we have a whole box of them; my mom saved them. I love reading so much, I even majored in English Literature in college. Getting lost in a book is one of my favorite things to do.

My favorite types of books to read are mysteries, psychological thrillers, and I also like reading historical fiction. I love books with a twist or a strong message at the end. I LIVE for a good twist.

Today I’ll be reviewing some really good books that I’ve finished recently. I have a library very close to me, so I prefer checking books out versus buying them- but sometimes they don’t have all of the current books that I want. I also love to keep track of books I have read and want to read on the app Goodreads. You can read reviews and leave reviews, and it’s a really good resource if you need help finding a book. You can also follow people and see what they’re reading.

I read at least 3 books a month, sometimes more. I enjoy reading more than TV or movies, so I usually read when I have free time at night after the girls go to bed.

Here are the books I’ve picked out to review today.

So, I just checked my app, and I’ve read 22 books so far this year. My favorite so far this year is this one. I read it in January but I still wanted to mention it.

This was the first book I had ever read by this author, and I loved it so much, I read the other two that she has written.

So, this book is about a young couple, Finn and Layla, and the book begins with them stopping at a rest stop late at night. Finn needs to use the restroom so Layla stays in the car. When he returns, she’s gone. She’s never seen again. A few years later, he is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen, but never loves her as much as he loved Layla. After they get engaged, weird things start happening, like a phone call from someone claiming they have seen Layla, and some long lost items that were Layla’s start turning up. Finn believes that Layla may still be alive and tries to find her.

This book will keep you on the edge of your seat and is full of twists. The ending was the biggest twist ever for me, and one that I didn’t see coming! It was a really suspenseful read.

Colleen Hoover is an author I really love. She has a lot of books, and most of them are love stories. They always seem to have some kind of twist or surprise at the end that is interesting.

This book is about a girl named Fallon, who is preparing to move across the country to begin a new life after being burned badly at her home in a fire. She is having lunch with her Dad when she randomly meets this guy, Ben, and they really hit it off. Since she is moving away, they agree to meet every year on November 9th, the day that they met. They live their separate lives, but always come back to each other on that day. Ben starts writing a novel about Fallon and her life, and when Fallon finally reads it after falling in love with him, she finds out a shocking surprise.

A huge twist at the end, one that kind of made me mad to be honest! You won’t be able to put this one down.

The last one to review is by Shari Lapena, and this style is very similar to B.A. Paris. This is also a very suspenseful mystery.

Anne and Marco seem to have the perfect marriage and life. They have a baby, Cora, who they leave in the house one night while they go to their next-door neighbors house for a dinner party. They check on the baby every so often throughout the night, but the baby is nowhere to be found when they return home for the night. The police point immediately to the parents but Anne claims to know nothing, and she suspects the neighbors.

This novel is full of deception and suspense, and of course a huge twist at the end!

Well, that’s it for my reading wrap up! Let me know if you like these kind of posts and if you can recommend a good book! 🙂

xx amy

New Blog Name | Back to School Lunch and Snack Ideas!

Hello! Welcome to my new (ish) blog! I recently changed the name from Amy’s Beauty Diary to its new name, The Hustlin’ Homemaker. I did this because I want to create content that is not just exclusive to beauty. While I love doing beauty posts, I want to be able to post about anything, whether it be kids, home, books – things that I think you guys would be interested in! So, thanks for sticking w me 🙂 I also created a new Instagram page, so give me a follow at @thehustlinhomemaker! I’ll be posting on there a lot. 🙂

Alright, so let’s get on with today’s post.

My two girls just went back to school- today, just as I type this. My older daughter, Allie, has started 3rd grade, and my baby, Ashley, has just started kindergarten. While I am sad and will miss them, I am so proud of them and will always cherish these past years of them being with me. I haven’t been without a kid for about 8 years, so it’s a big change for me as well.

Anyway, this post is about school lunch! My girls love to bring their lunch, and also like to buy their lunch at school. I have a lot of ideas that I am excited to share with you all!

First off, their lunchboxes. These came with their backpacks as matching sets. I like the shape of these because they can fit the lunch containers perfectly.

I have two types of lunch containers, these bigger ones with 3 compartments and then the smaller ones with four compartments that look like the containers Lunchables come in. I love to use these because they save money and reduce waste- and I can actually see how much of their lunch they eat.

Here are some examples of what I pack in them.

A Lunchables type meal with pepperoni, cheese and crackers, blueberry skewers, celery, some goldfish crackers, and an Oreo for dessert.

A unicorn shaped pb&j, some strawberries, carrots, some vanilla yogurt that i put a few sprinkles on, and a rice krispy treat.

A turkey and cheese sandwich on a Hawaiian roll, some cherry tomatoes, strawberry applesauce, wheat thins, and a pink sugar cookie.

Here I have a ham and cheese sandwich on a crescent roll, some pineapple, pretzel sticks, an oatmeal raisin granola bar, and some Barbie fruit snacks. 🙂

The little containers are what I use for Ashley, as she can’t eat as much as Allie.

Some string cheese and crackers, a hard boiled egg, carrots, and some blueberries.

And lastly, we have some turkey and cheese roll ups, strawberries, a granola bar, and some goldfish crackers.

The biggest tip for lunch making is just to do it the night before so you don’t have to rush in the morning. It really doesn’t take long at all.

Some other things I like to use for their lunches are these little Thermos Jars.

You can pretty much pack anything in these, mac and cheese, soup, spaghetti, chicken and rice…any leftovers, and it keeps it hot in the lunchbox, even if there’s an ice pack inside.

Also, the Thermos cups. These are so durable and keep their water cold all day. We have a bunch of these.

These silicone baking cups and toothpicks add a little bit of a colorful touch and just something extra that I know makes the girls happy to eat their lunch. Also, cutting a sandwich out with a cookie cutter is really fun for them- we’ve got a drawer just for cookie cutters.

I got these super cute Lunch Notes for them just to put inside their lunch. These are thick cardstock and have cute little sayings and pictures on them, and there is space to write something. They will love these.

Lastly, just a few snack ideas. I made these cinnamon roll apples for them for the first day of school- they were super easy!

Make up some cinnamon rolls, and wait until they’re completely cooled.

Add some red food coloring to your icing. Count out 8 pretzel sticks for the stems, and cut up some sour candy belts to make the leaves. It’s ok if they’re not perfect; all leaves are different!

I leveled the cinnamon rolls to make them flat, and then iced them and stuck the pretzel and the leaf into the top.

How cute are these?!

Super quick and easy! I made them the night before the first day of school.

The next idea is a little pencil wafer cookie. Just cut the top of some sugar wafers into a point.

Add icing to the top and bottom, and add a mini chocolate chip to the top.

These are such a cute afternoon snack! I gave these to the girls when they got home from school, and they loved them.

I hope you liked these ideas and will try them! Thanks for reading!

xx amy

MOMMIN’| What To Do With Your Kids This Summer

Summer break is officially here and I am so excited! I get to hang out with my two little BFF’s every day and do fun things with them.

Sometimes it’s hard to come up with ideas and creative ways to entertain these little bears, so I thought I would share some ideas with y’all!

I am all about the free/cheap activities, and my kids are pretty easy to entertain. Usually a can of play doh or a coloring book is all they need, but they also really enjoy being outside and playing.

LIBRARIES

This is a big one for us. The girls love to read, Allie loves chapter books, Ashley loves books about babies. They can check out books every week, attend story time, pack a lunch and eat it on the patio, and play in the toy room. Check out your local library if you haven’t, the girls love it, and it’s totally FREE.

PARKS

We have four parks that we regularly go to, we love to fly kites, bring sidewalk chalk, play basketball, and play on the playground equipment. Some parks even have splash pads, so you they can bring their swimsuit and have fun in the water. We always pack snacks or a picnic lunch so we can make a day of it. Again, FREE.

MORE GOING OUT ACTIVITIES

Children’s Museums

My little one and I have a yearly membership to our Children’s Museum, and so we just have to pay for Allie when we go in the summertime. The museum has things for all ages of kids, and they have different activities and crafts set up each day. Most of the things are educational and fun.

Movies

If you have older kids like me, a movie might be something your kids like to do! Sometimes you can find theaters that show kids movies in the mornings at a discounted price. Plus, you can sneak in your own snacks. 🙂 My girls love it when I make them up a snack bag for the movie.

Malls

Going to the mall is a nice air conditioned option for the really hot days. Walk around, do some window shopping, have lunch, and a few of the malls around me have little play areas. My girls love going to the mall.

Trampoline Parks, Bounce House Places, Open Gyms

These are indoor places where your kids can go to burn off their energy. These are good to do on really hot or rainy days. Most of the time, they aren’t too expensive.

Pools

In our neighborhood, we have a complex with three pools, a playground, and a huge pavilion with bathrooms. If your neighborhood has this, JACKPOT. If not, you can find a pool around you or go over to a friend’s pool. Sometimes YMCA or other gyms will offer memberships for their pools.

Play dates/ Visiting Family / Lunch w Daddy

We like to visit family, schedule play dates with friends during the summer, and we also like to go over to my husbands work and bring lunch to him. I know he loves to see us when we come.

Other

Other activities we like to do are go to water parks or theme parks, aquariums, zoos, bowling, or places like Chuckee Cheese. These places can get expensive so we don’t do them often, but a few times in the summer. We also like to take a beach vacation a few times since we are only about 3 hrs away.

Summer Camps/ Extra Curriculars

Summer camps are really good for the kids and help them to make new friends while doing something different. Allie is going to be doing Summer Art Camp for a week through her school, and Ashley is going to be attending her Summer Camp Days through her preschool that she will start attending in the fall. Also, I plan on putting the girls in either swim lessons again or dance class to give them something else to do each week.

HOME

Ok, so now for the hard part. The AT HOME part. The time when the day can tend to drag a bit. You went somewhere in the morning, you had lunch, and now what? You’re gonna be home for the rest of the day.

This is where my activity jar comes in.

I wrote down 50 activities that I could think of that my girls like doing, and some new surprise ones.

I wrote them on popsicle sticks and added some paint on the tips to make them look cute.

I put them into a jar, and each day, one of the girls gets to pick one out and we do that activity for the day.

THEY LOVE THIS.

Some of the activities are indoor, some are outdoor, but they are all fun and keep the girls entertained.

Some examples of things outdoors:

  • play in the sprinkler
  • have a treasure hunt
  • ride bikes
  • blow bubbles
  • fly a kite
  • have a toy car car wash
  • sidewalk chalk
  • set up an obstacle course
  • collect wildflowers
  • make pet rocks
  • make leaf rubs

And indoors:

  • have a dance party
  • scrapbook
  • make jewelry
  • have storytime
  • have a tea party
  • make slime
  • make paper airplanes
  • build a fort
  • play Play Doh
  • paint
  • play hide and seek

The options are really endless, just be creative with it and your kids will have a really fun summer.

Thanks for reading!

xx