I usually try to keep these posts short and to the point: what did I read, what is it about, and did I like it? I figured most folks are pressed for time and are looking for an opinion or a book suggestion. However – today I just MUST take more time and get chatty and talk about my dear friend Amy Clark’s new book: “The Good Life for Less – Giving your Family Great Meals, Good Times, and a Happy Home on a Budget”. Amy sent me a copy hot off the press so I could review it, and she wrote the most touching note to me on the inside – I will cherish it along with my memories of our friendship!
First some back story (if you aren’t interested in our back story, please skip this paragraph). I met Amy through community theater over ten years ago, here in Massachusetts. Amy, originally from Indiana, was a young newlywed and she and I hit it off right away. We had a lot of shared interests and had similar personalities, and we enjoyed our “girlfriend moments” together. I was going through a period in my life when I really needed a good friend and I had recently moved to a condo which just happened to be right across the street from Amy and her husband Ryan, so we saw a lot of each other and they were definitely there for me when I needed support. Amy became pregnant, which was very exciting, and I knew she looked forward to being home with their baby. Then one day Amy called me to say that Ryan had been laid off unexpectedly from his job. This was a huge blow and understandably threw them into financial crisis. Amy was pregnant and working to try to support them and worrying about the baby coming. I was dealing with my own personal crisis and trying to be a good friend to them. I remember one specific day I took Amy out to lunch and we talked about how sometimes you think you know God’s plan for you, but apparently he had something in mind for both of us that we were still discovering! In time Amy and Ryan moved back to Indiana where Ryan was offered a new job. Of course I missed her terribly but we stayed in touch and one day Amy told me she had started a “blog” for at home moms, using her experiences, focusing on budgeting, house ideas, and recipes. I had no idea what a blog was. I remember saying, “You mean a listserve or a “web log”?” (People – this was a long time ago!). She asked me to sign up for it and I was proud to be number 12 on the roster. Little did I know that this was the beginning of big times for Amy! Her site – “Mom Advice” www.momadvice.com – became huge and she has become a major blogging force. She is a spokesperson for several companies (places you’ve heard of – like Wal-Mart!) and her happy face often appears in the women’s magazines I read. Now, she has her first book, which compiles a lot of her advice from her website. I was thrilled to be able to read and post about it here on my blog (my web log – just kidding!).
At just over 200 pages, “The Good Life for Less” is not too long and gets right to the point. The chapters include making a budget, the frugal kitchen, recipes, holiday/special occasion ideas, and keeping your house clean and organized (when my nine-year-old saw that chapter she said, “hey, now there’s something we need!”). Amy shares her experience, her opinions, and her resources throughout, from how to establish and keep to a budget to her recipe for pumpkin waffles to how to make times special without blowing your bank account. This book is written in Amy’s voice and I felt like I could hear her talking to me throughout — with that touch of a midwestern twang to it! The book also has short inserts of the best tips or specific ideas that are highlighted. All in all, this was a great read and a good resource to have on hand. This is the type of book I wish I had when I was in my twenties. It’s a great gift for a newlywed and/or young parent, too. I look forward to Amy’s next book (there is a next one, right, Amy?)