My Favorite Online Resources for Pretty Much Everything

When it comes to living in this digital age, it can feel like a modern-day Dickens novel:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness … we had everything before us, we had nothing before us …”

We have access to so much information (The best!), and yet how do we sift through all of it to get what we need? (The worst!) How do we figure out which resources to trust and which are full of nonsense? We have everything at our fingertips, and yet when we really need help, answers, advice or inspiration, it can feel like nothing quite fits.

The internet is obviously not one-size-fits-all, and I can’t claim that I’ve got it all figured out. However I do feel as if over the years I’ve been able to curate a list of trusted sources on the internet. I’m able to rely on these sites for the areas of my life in which I most often seek information. I recommend them so often to so many different people I thought it would be handy to have them all in once place.

As a reader, I hope you find at least one resource in this post that makes your information-loaded life just a little easier or brighter. I’ve included a brief description of why I love the particular site, as well as a link to an example of the kind of useful information that makes them so wonderful. And if you happen to stumble on this post and you’re responsible for creating the great content on the resources listed below? Thank you so very much! You make my life easier and brighter! Enjoy.

The best online resources for media, travel, fashion, food and home. These are my favorite places to turn online for advice and inspiration.


Movies, Shows, Apps & Media for Kids

Common Sense Media: I’ve been using this site for years, and it’s never let me down. Wondering if that latest release in theaters is too scary for kindergartners? Have fond memories of The Goonies, but wonder if language could be an issue? Search movie titles on Common Sense Media and they’ll give you detailed information on it all: consumerism, sex, violence, language and more. I’ve also used it to check out video games before purchasing them for Eli. Beyond reviews, the site is also a wealth of information and inspiration for how you can use media wisely in your family. I don’t subscribe to many newsletters, but I do receive the newsletter from CSM and almost always find something relevant and useful.

Example: The New Guide to Managing Media for Tweens and Teens

Books (For Kids)

Brightly: This lovely site, launched last year in partnership with Penguin Random House, is another bright spot in my inbox. The site is full of advice, inspiration and book recommendations to help parents grow lifelong readers. Whether you’re the parent of a toddler or a teen, you’ll find something of interest here. I’m always finding titles, old and new, to add to Elena and Eli’s reading lists. I especially enjoy the Brightly newsletter. Not only does it link to new content on the site (and you can tailor the newsletter for the age and stage of your own readers), but they always include some interesting links from around the web.

Example: 10 Books for Kids Who Only Want to Read Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Books (For Grownups)

Modern Mrs. Darcy: I’m relatively late to the MMD bandwagon, but now that I’m on it I wonder how I lived without her! I’m a big fan of Anne Bogel’s book recommendations for sure, but I love her writing about life and motherhood as well. Her site is very well organized, and her reviews are thorough and extremely helpful. I also highly recommend her new podcast, What Should I Read Next? It’s always entertaining and down-to-earth, and it never fails to send me to my To Be Read List to add yet another title.

Example: 11 Books That Are Better in the Spring

MomAdvice: You can find all kinds of great content on Amy Allen Clark’s blog, but for years she’s been my go-to resource for book recommendations. If she gives something 5 stars I know I need to read it! Amy reads lots of new releases, many before they’re published, so if you like to stay on top of the latest reads you’ll especially appreciate her reviews. I also enjoy her interviews with authors and tips for getting more reading time in a busy life.

Example: February 2016 Must-Reads


Pinterest: I know that it seems as if Pinterest would be a classic information-overload trap, however I find it extremely useful in planning trips. I can’t think of any other online resource where you can find so many unique resources for travel, whether it’s across the world or in your own city. My tip is to use keywords judiciously when searching. For example, instead of typing in “New York City,” type “New York City with Kids,” or “3 days in New York City,” or “Where to eat in Chinatown.” That will help both narrow down your results as well as home in on what’s most important in your travel experience. I always advise that you search as specific as possible, and if that doesn’t get the results you want then broaden your search.

Example: My Pinterest boards, of course! (I recently organized my travel boards to make them easier to search.)

Trip Advisor: I always turn to Trip Advisor when researching hotels and restaurants. I love all the filters: you can search by location, amenities, best for families, cost and more. Once you have your search parameters set you can sort them by their ranking or price. I don’t typically book my hotels through the site (I’ve always been able to get the same deal or better by calling the hotel directly), but it helps narrow down the choices to my top few and then I go from there. You can also search your destination for top restaurants and things to do. I find the reviews on Trip Advisor to be very thorough and helpful.

Fashion Advice

The Mom Edit: Fashion blogs are tough, and so very personal. Everyone’s style, life circumstances, age, budget and body size are so different, making it impossible to say one fashion site is THE one for you. I’ve subscribed to dozens, and this is the only one that’s stayed. I think that’s because Shana uses a team of moms as contributors, meaning you’ve got several different body types and styles to pick from. Sure, there’s plenty of stuff on here I would never wear, but the Mom Edit team often gives me ideas for ways to wear what I already have or ideas of a few pieces I could add that would take my style up a notch. The Dressing Room Selfies posts are my absolute favorites. (FYI, if you’re looking for Capsule Wardrobe inspiration, Mom Advice has that covered really well.)

Example: Athleta Dressing Room Selfies


America’s Test Kitchen: I wrote a round-up post last year about why I make dinner and how I use different resources to make meal planning and meal prep easier. These suggestions were featured in that post, along with some others. I did want to post a quick update on America’s Test Kitchen. I recently received a full subscription to the website (Disclosure: I’m an affiliate.) and it’s been a game-changer. I still love and will never give up my cookbooks, but having the entire ATK archive in one place? Fantastic. If you’re looking for a huge resource of well-researched recipes in just about every category you can imagine, ATK is your one-stop shop. Consider me a life-time subscriber.

The Kitchn: The recipes on The Kitchn are top notch as well, but I also appreciate the extras on the site: tips on kitchen organization, meal planning, and just general advice on all things food related.

Example: How I Use Google Sheets for Grocery Shopping

Serious Eats: Serious Eats, despite the name, doesn’t take itself as seriously as ATK or The Kitchn. That doesn’t mean I don’t pin at least 20 recipes a month from their site! As I mentioned in my New York City post, their city food guides are fantastic, too. I especially love anything written by J. Kenzi Lopez-Alt for The Food Lab Series. Many of his well-researched recipes have become Meal-Plan All-Stars.

Example: Bar-Style Tortilla Pizza

Home Management and Design

Apartment Therapy: Apartment Therapy is also the home of The Kitchn, and I love them both for their clean, concise articles. There’s a ton of content on AT, and I probably only read less than 25% of it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not adding value to my home life. They’ll often run a series of posts that are helpful in cleaning and organizing your home, such as the January Cure. I appreciate that they feature real homes that people of all walks of life live in, which gives me practical and useful inspiration for my own home.

Example: Living Room Geometry: the Basics of a Well-Balanced Room

Design Mom: I mentioned Design Mom in one of my book review posts, after reading Gabrielle Blair’s book How to Live With Kids: a Room-by-Room Guide. Like Mom Advice, Gabrielle’s blog is so much more than one thing (in this case, design), but this is an area where her content really shines for me. Her weekly series “Living With Kids” is always so interesting! I hate to pigeonhole this blog into one category, as I save and use the information from so many of her posts in my daily life … it’s a good one.

Example: Living With Kids

It’s your turn! Tell me about a resource you consistently turn to on the Internet and how it’s most helpful in your life.


Same Old Song, Different Dance

Last week Elena and I found ourselves sitting across from a cheerful fellow. Eager to shake my hand, he introduced himself as the man who would see us through to Elena’s graduation from high school. He’s her high school counselor, and we were there to schedule her freshman classes. He must be completely immune to the look of panic in parent’s eyes at this first introduction. I can assure you it was there, and it didn’t phase him one bit.

Preparing for high school as a parent

I’ve long been a fan of the mantra “The days are long and yet the years are short.” Lately, however, I feel a strong urge to change it up a bit: “The days are short and the years are even shorter.” I’m not upset to find myself here, in my 40s with a high schooler. It’s how this parenting thing works, after all, and it’s much better than the alternative of not making it to this point in one piece. I just want to make sure we get through this next phase in one piece, too. I want to do it well, ensure smooth sailing, and make sure we don’t want to claw each other’s eyes out when it’s all said and done. Basically, I want complete and utter control of the situation, which isn’t how this parenting thing works.

Parenting a teenager feels like learning choreography to a dance where the moves keep changing. Up up left back. Repeat. No! It’s up up left front! God, mom! (Cue eye roll and annoyed sigh.) Even when you get it right, you’ll end up wrong a few beats later. When you get the moves right you’re elated. We’re doing it! We’re making it look so easy – isn’t this fun? And then you say something in the wrong tone, or they do something super boneheaded, and you’re stepping on each other and falling on your asses.

Parenting teenagers

I was enamored with parenting books when my children were small, and then they all but disappeared from my nightstand. Now they stack up and tumble over, their titles an insight into what’s plaguing my soul and turning my hair grey: How to Hug a Porcupine, The Secrets of Happy Families, Unspoiled, Untangled. I used to be obsessed with picky eating and crafting the perfect sleep schedule. Now I want to shout at my old self: It doesn’t matter!!! Who cares if they eat peas or took good naps? It matters that they don’t end up in jail or dancing around a pole. Where’s that book, hmm?

But there is no book that will magically get me through these years. Nor is there a magic formula, a sure-fire method or a guarantee. She’s her own person, who will make her own choices. We’re her parents, who are doing the best we know how. There’s only one guarantee: she’ll screw up and so will we. We’ll love her and embarrass her and remind her that we have her back. She’ll love us and embarrass us and say awful things about us to her friends behind our backs. That’s how this parenting thing works.

I hated junior high and truly enjoyed high school. It’s where I found friendships that still endure, first love, and opportunities to pursue passions that still bring me joy. Elena’s face lit up when the counselor suggested an alternate class for her, one that speaks to her love of creating and performance. She’s a good kid, and I feel pretty sure that she’ll find her own way in high school. I also feel pretty sure that it will be completely unlike the way Mike and I experienced high school, or what we imagined for her.

Parenting teenagers

By the time I walked out of that meeting with the counselor, my panic was gone. I can’t believe we’re here, for sure, but at the same time I’m so glad we’re here. When we’re not tripping over each other, we’re having a good time. I enjoy her company and she makes me laugh. She’s going to be leaving us sooner, rather than later, and that will probably suck. And then we’ll move on to the next phase and wonder if we’re doing it right. Same partner, different song, completely different moves. That’s how this parenting thing works.


What We’re Doing in 2016

Mike was the first person to notice them. Walking by the printer, he spied them fresh off the press.

“This year I will” he read … “Oh no, are these for us?”

They were indeed! Cute New Year’s resolution printables courtesy of Pinterest, one for each of us. Sigh.

“You’re going to make us do those, aren’t you?” Elena was the next to notice, after I’d cut them out nicely and arranged them on the kitchen counter. Sigh.

Eli lived in New Year’s resolution ignorant bliss, until I whipped them back out later that evening as we waited in a barbecue restaurant for our food to arrive. He stared at the blank page and grimaced, as if we’d told him we were all having the ribs and he could have some tofu. Sigh.

So maybe they don’t enjoy self-reflection as much as I do, but in an attempt to humor me they rallied and reflected. And I have to say, they all put great thought into their resolutions. I’m hit or miss when it comes to making big changes when the new year rolls around. For me, I feel more compelled to make changes when the school year starts. That feels like the beginning of a new year to me. Still, I thought it would be fun for us to try coming up with some resolutions together and to share some individual goals with each other. As an Obliger, I know how important it is to have outer accountability when it comes to meeting inner goals. I suspect I’m not the only Obliger in this little family. Here’s what the members of the Six family would like to accomplish in 2016:

This Year Angie Will:

Start a new habit: Aim to get 10,000 steps at least 5 days a week
Read a good book: Harry Potter (finally!)
Learn a new skill: Periscope
Go on a visit to: My niece’s house. We’re always talking about visiting, but are terrible at making it happen.
Break a bad habit: Failure to floss on a regular basis
Look forward to: Our trip to California
Try something new: Cooking ahead and doing meal prep at the beginning of the week

This Year Mike Will:

Start a new habit: Walk Gus more often
Read a good book: Finish the Harry Potter series with Eli
Learn a new skill: Household DIY projects
Go on a visit to: Hocking Hills, Ohio (Our friends went last fall and it looks like a fun and quick family getaway)
Break a bad habit: Skipping family meetings (we’re all guilty)
Look forward to: Going to see Twenty One Pilots as a family (we have 4 tickets to the Indy show this summer)
Try something new: New food (It’s going swimmingly so far, can’t you tell based on Mike’s helpful editorial comments on my suggestions?)

Getting to Yum seasonal new food suggestions for winter

This Year Elena Will:

Start a new habit: Draw every day
Read a good book: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Learn a new skill: Something art related
Go on a visit to: California
Break a bad habit: Going to Taco Bell (cut down to no more than twice a week)
Look forward to: Hopefully going to a Ryan Ross concert
Try something new: Skydiving (!)

This Year Eli Will:

Start a new habit: Brush teeth in the morning without being asked
Read a good book: Finish Harry Potter with Dad
Learn a new skill: BMX tricks
Go on a visit to: California
Break a bad habit: Leaving lights on (praise Jesus if just one kid could figure this out)
Look forward to: His first concert (Twenty One Pilots in July)
Try something new: The ukulele

This Year Gus Will:

Start a new habit: Letting my owners clip my nails without freaking the freak out
Read a good book: The Ultimate Guide to Dog Training
Learn a new skill: Wipe his own muddy paws before coming in
Go on a visit to: Barkefellers without getting kicked out for “aggressive mounting”
Break a bad habit: Chewing the most expensive socks we own while overlooking the cheapo Target ones
Look forward to: Finally catching those squirrels
Try something new: Watching the nice old lady walk in our cul-de-sac instead of barking as if she’s an ax-murderer

Just kidding, Gus can’t write … yet.

We also came up with a few family resolutions. We’d like to start having family meetings again once a week. We fell out of the habit over the summer, but have missed that valuable connection and opportunity for communication. We want to work on a big jigsaw puzzle – the kind you get started on a table and leave out for people to work on as they please until it’s finished. And finally, we have a goal to play each and every game we own. We’ve amassed quite a collection, some of which the kids have either outgrown or that we don’t enjoy as much as we thought we would. We’re on a game buying hiatus until we complete this fun task.

Did you or your family make New Year’s resolutions this year? If so, do you talk about them together or keep them private? I promise to report back at the end of the year and let you know how we did with ours!

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