Book Review: Bucket of Awesome + A Giveaway

Bucket of Awesome: this is journaling with a twist!  Tell your life story from a positive and uplifting perspective.

For many years I’ve used writing as a way to help me work through and remember things.  I have poems written after a challenging break-up.  A stack of diaries and journals from elementary school all the way through today detailing whatever I was/am going through at the time.  Even this blog is a way for me to put my thoughts down and organize them in a way that makes sense.  Writing helps me unlock memories and remember details in a way that nothing else can.  I wonder, how often do we take the time to think back on the experiences in our life that shaped us and made us who we are today?  Are they positive or negative?  Which would you rather focus on?

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are 100% mine.  This post contains affiliate links, which if clicked on and a purchase is made I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

When I was presented with the opportunity to review the book Bucket of Awesome, I wasn’t completely sure what to expect.  As I opened it up to the introduction and started reading, I became excited.  Kathryn Thompson, the author of the book, explains that choosing to tell your life story from a perspective of joy, triumph, love, growth and overcoming will help you shift your focus.  This is not to say that we should only focus on the happy moments.  She suggests that we can find the good even in the bad experiences because many times those are the same things that help us become who we are today.  I love this quote: “You get to decide if your mistakes were dismal failures or learning opportunities.  You choose to focus on how you grew from your trials or how they hurt you.”

Bucket of Awesome: this is journaling with a twist!  Tell your life story from a positive and uplifting perspective.

There are many days when I feel like one day just melts into another.  I’m doing the same things, having the same conversations or arguments with my kids, taking the same routes as I run errands.  It all feels very boring and mundane and I wonder why I’d want to record that.  Who in the future is going to want to read about that?  Bucket of Awesome is laid out in a way that allows you to see things from a different perspective.  Kathryn points out that “your unique life has something worth sharing with the world, whether it’s a world of your thirty grandchildren or a neighbor or a friend who needs to hear what you have to say.”  Have you ever had someone come up to you and tell you about a time you said or did something that made a huge impact on them and you don’t remember it at all?  We all have the ability to influence others, whether we know it or not.  I would even say that we might even influence our future self with words that seem common at the time we write them, but come to mean something special later on in life.

Bucket of Awesome: this is journaling with a twist!  Tell your life story from a positive and uplifting perspective.

When I started working through the book, it felt a little awkward.  Some of the questions I didn’t have anything to write about.  Others I could have gone on for a couple of pages once the memories started flowing.  The book is designed for you to go through it at your own pace and to be flexible.  If you want to skip a question, skip it.  Come back later, or don’t.  Kathryn reminds the reader throughout the book that if writing about a certain question or topic added negativity, then don’t include it in your Bucket of Awesome.  Again, the purpose of the book is to shift focus to the positive.

I haven’t made it all the way through the book yet.  I think that is something that is going to take a little bit of time.  But I believe that by sticking with it, I’ll get in a more positive mindset both about my life in the past, my present and also my future.  I don’t want that to sound cliche or that I’m trying to be deep.  I know from personal experience that the more I focus on the positive or things that are going right, the more I see of it and the less I see the negative. 

If you’ve been feeling like you should write your life story down, but feel totally overwhelmed, Bucket of Awesome is for you.  It’s divided up into sections and takes the guesswork out of what to include.  This could also be a great gift for the journal writer in your life, or even something you could go through with a parent or grandparent to help them get their own life story written.

The author finishes the introduction with these words: “You are about to embark on an amazing journey to uncover the best of what makes you who you are.  Your journey is unique.  Tell it with patience.  Tell it with love.  Tell it with Awesome.”

Bucket of Awesome: this is journaling with a twist!  Tell your life story from a positive and uplifting perspective.

Lastly, I have one copy of Bucket of Awesome up for grabs to one lucky winner!  To enter, you will need to do the following:

  • Visit Sunshine & Munchkins on Facebook (required)
  • Follow Sunshine & Munchkins on Pinterest (required)
  • Comment below on what interests you most about Bucket of Awesome (required)
  • Follow Sunshine & Munchkins on Instagram (optional, extra entry)

The giveaway will run from today, March 8, 2017 thru Sunday, March 12, 2017 at midnight MST.  The winner will be announced on Facebook on March 13, 2017.

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Please feel free to share this post with anyone you think would be interested in learning more about Bucket of Awesome or entering the giveaway.

Using Natural Light In Your Photography (Plus a Giveaway!)

Learn how to use diffused light in your photography to instantly improve your pictures.

In today’s world, cameras are only an arm length away (or less!).  Like many people, I keep my phone nearby during the day in order to check my texts or emails, but more than anything, I want a camera close by to capture pictures or videos of my kids.  But how many times have I taken a picture thinking it’s going to turn out so great, only to be disappointed because of a lighting issue?  Let me tell you, the answer is a lot.  And it’s frustrating!  But the good news is, using light to your advantage is a skill you can learn, especially with the help of a good teacher.

Meet Kendra from Kendra Leigh Photography and Video.  If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you might remember the guest post she did last spring about how to choose colors for family pictures.  It’s a fantastic post and I highly recommend it if you’re considering taking family pictures any time in the near future.  In addition, Kendra is the person behind many of my more styled shoots (the ones where I’m in the picture), such as this and this as well as one coming up this Friday. She is a very talented photographer and I’m so lucky to have her as my friend.

Today, Kendra is going to be sharing an important tip on how to use light to capture those beautiful images on your camera that you see with your eyes.


Learn how to use diffused light in your photography to instantly improve your pictures.

I am Kendra Hill of Kendra Leigh Photography and Video; I’ve been a professional photographer for three years, and have a Bachelor’s degree in Film from UVU.  Because I take pictures all the time, and I love what I do, I’ve been able to learn many tips and tricks on how to use different qualities of light to capture beautiful images.  The mastery of light is something everyone can learn, and I will teach you how to create beautiful images regardless of what camera you have!

One of the best ways to improve the quality of your photography is to ‘see the light.’  Light is the most powerful tool we have when we take a picture.  It can make the ordinary look absolutely extraordinary.  There are quite a few kinds of light, which we will talk about during the Snap Happy Course (see details below).  One of the best types of light for photography is diffused light.

What is diffused light?

When using natural sunlight, it can be very harsh when shining directly on your subject.  But, it can be diffused by cloud cover, a doorway, garage, window, tree overhang, etc.  By using an object to diffuse harsh front light, it becomes a softer, more flattering light.

Learn how to use diffused light in your photography to instantly improve your pictures.
Sheer curtains diffuse the light in this photo

If at all possible, you want to avoid harsh front light as it creates dramatic shadows, and often leaves your subject squinting to protect their eyes.  We don’t always have a choice on what time of day we take our pictures, and it is important to capture your memories regardless of the light you have to work with.

Learn how to use diffused light in your photography to instantly improve your pictures.
Trees diffuse light in this photo

However, if you can find a tree, door, sheer curtains, or other way to soften that harsh light it will help you to create more beautiful images.  This is only one natural lighting technique.

Learn how to use diffused light in your photography to instantly improve your pictures.
Edge of wall diffuses the light in this photo

Coming in March is a photography class you don’t want to miss.  It’s called Snap Happy and in this class, I’m teaching you how to take the best photos possible, in any kind of light, whether it is noon or dusk.  This is a local, hands-on class on March 4, 2017 from 2-5 PM in Springville, UT.  (Sorry to those of you out of state or not within driving distance!)

This beginning photography class will cover:

  • Equipment
  • Protecting your Memories
  • The 5 Steps to Happy Snaps
  • How to Lose 10 lbs in the Camera
  • And a Q&A

The Snap Happy class is $60 for a 2-hour technical course, followed by a photoshoot with a child model, or we can take photos of each other if you want, so you can practice what you’ve learned.  When I have received your class fee, your spot is secured. I have a limited number of seats and they are filling up, so sign up quickly.  This is a class you will not want to miss!  To give another person the opportunity to transform their snaps, Shani and I have teamed up to do a giveaway and present one of our followers on social media a chance to win one of our remaining spots!  If you send in your class fee to secure your spot and happen to win our contest, your fee will be refunded.

A DSLR is not a requirement, however, portions of the class which discuss manual functions may not be applicable on other cameras.

If you have any further questions, please email me at, or call/text me at 385-221-8849.

I’ve got to tell you that I have made the mistake of taking pictures of my kids outside, knowing that light is important for good pictures, only to end up with squinty eyes or hands over the face because I put them directly in the sun.  Have you been there too?  
The giveaway for (1) Snap Happy class will run from Wednesday, February 15 to Tuesday, February 21 ending at midnight MST.  The winner will be announced on both my and Kendra’s Facebook page on Wednesday, February 22.  If you’d like to enter the giveaway, see the requirements below.  Good luck!
  • 14 years or older
  • Ability to come to the class in Springville, UT on March 4, 2017 from 2-5pm
  • Have a camera (any kind!)

To enter the giveaway, you will need to:

  • Visit Sunshine & Munchkins Facebook page (1 entry)
  • Visit Kendra Leigh Photography and Videos Facebook page (1 entry)
  • Leave a comment below about a photography technique you’d like to learn (1 entry)
  • Follow Sunshine & Munchkins on Instagram (optional: extra entry)
  • Follow Kendra Leigh Photography and Video on Instagram (optional: extra entry)

I am signed up to take Kendra’s class next month and I am so excited to be able to learn from a professional and then try out what I learn on my poor, unsuspecting kids.  Good luck and if you know someone who would be interested in signing up for the class or entering the giveaway, send them my way!

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First Annual Gingerbread House Competition

Christmas is in full swing here at my house.  We started our countdown to Christmas with the kids unwrapping a book each night for us to read before bedtime, as well as our 25 Days of Christ.  We all look forward to the time spent together each night sharing in the fun and excitement of the holiday, while also remembering the reason for the season.

I’ve always been a huge advocate for traditions.  In college, I did a semester project on traditions where I had to put together a class and then teach it, complete with feedback from the people who attended.  It hardly even felt like a project because it is something I love so much!  Creating traditions in connection with a holiday is a great way to help family bond together over shared experiences.  It gives meaning and enhances our enjoyment of the holiday.  I’ve teamed up with At Home (who has also gracious sponsored this post) to talk about Christmas traditions and #MyReason for incorporating them into our holiday.

This post contains affiliate links which if you click on and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

As I’ve considered what new traditions I want to incorporate into our family Christmas celebration, I decided that my kids were old enough to decorate their own gingerbread “person”.  Each kid got their own giant sized gingerbread person, 3 colors of frosting and some candy to decorate with.  My son, who is turning 3 in March, needed a little help from dad, but my almost 5 year old daughter totally took control over her decorating and needed no help from me.  The kids ate at least half the candy while the other half ended up on their gingerbread person.

My favorite thing my daughter said when I asked her about the yellow Nerds: “It’s corn.  They just got back from the pumpkin patch.  The gingerbread pumpkin patch where they played in the corn pit.” Haha!  I love how creative kids are.  Both kids were extremely proud of their creations and loved the whole activity.  We’ll definitely be doing this again next year!

My husband and I decided to take it to another level and decorate gingerbread houses.  We put the kids to bed, set up our gingerbread house decorating stations and pulled my laptop over to the table where we turned on Pitch Perfect and laughed ourselves silly!  We did cheat a little bit and put the frosting in these cool frosting decorators to make it easier to control (see fourth picture in series below).

It was so fun to relax and do something together.  Although, maybe relax isn’t the best word to use.  Our decorating turned into a competition, complete with smack talk.  We spent the full hour and 52 minutes and then some working on our houses and evaluating before adding more.

And this is where you come in!  We want to know which gingerbread house YOU like better.  The prize for the winner is yet to be determined, but it’s probably something along the lines of not having to do the dishes for a week and nightly shoulder rubs.  I told my husband I was totally going to win but he’s giving me a run for my money!

The top picture is Contestant A and the bottom picture is Contestant B.  You can vote for your favorite and I’ll announce who won between my husband and I next week on Facebook.  (Come on friends!  I’m counting on you to help me win this!  I really want to hand over dish duty for a week!  *me sending positive brain waves*)

Which gingerbread house do you like better?


B free polls

In addition to voting for your favorite gingerbread house, you can also enter a giveaway below for $100 gift card to At Home!  Each entry is worth 1 point.  The giveaway ends Tuesday, December 13 at midnight CST.

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Lastly, I want to invite you to check out the amazing posts of these 8 other bloggers who are also sharing about their own Christmas traditions.  You are guaranteed to find tons of great inspiration and maybe even want to incorporate a new tradition or two this holiday season!

Bellissimo Bebe Bracelet Winners!

Hello everyone!  I hope you had a great Labor Day weekend.

Thank you so much to everyone who entered the Bellissimo Bebe giveaway!  Maranda is such a talented lady and I was so happy to be able to introduce you to her cute Etsy shop.  If you haven’t read about her and how she started her shop, jump over to this post and then go visit her shop.  Her bracelets are darling and so reasonably priced you’ll want to grab a bunch for your daughters, nieces, baby shower gifts or just because.

And now for the winners of the giveaway:

Congrats ladies!  I have sent your contact information to Maranda and she will be in touch with you for mailing addresses.

Guest Post: Bellissimo Bebe + A Giveaway

Bellissimo Bebe + A Giveaway!

It’s been a couple of months since I did an official guest post here on the old blog and I decided it was time I get back into that.  I love being able to collaborate with other bloggers and business owners and then introduce them to you so you can love them too!

Today, I’ve got Maranda on the blog.  She owns a darling little Etsy shop called Bellissimo Bebe.  Maranda and I have known each other for a couple of years.  We live in the same neighborhood, go to the same church and are in the same book club so we see each other pretty regularly.  Maranda is super talented when it comes to all things crafty and home decor and you should see their house during Halloween through Christmas!  She totally puts the rest of the neighborhood to shame. *wink* I’ll let her take it from here!

(p.s. There’s a giveaway opportunity at the end so read about Maranda and then go enter!)

Bellissimo Bebe + A Giveaway!

My name is Maranda Crop and I am the owner of Bellissimo Bebe.  I believe in yoga pants, hard work, lip gloss, and chocolate chip cookies.  I grew up in Provo, Utah and I am married to my best friend and we have two boys and a little girl.

I have always enjoyed crafting and making jewelry and once I had my baby girl in January I dusted off my tools and went to work.  🙂  I wanted her to have a special bracelet for her blessing and that grew into a bracelet for every outfit. 🙂  People kept asking where I bought them and the idea hit me that maybe I should start my own little business.
Bellissimo Bebe + A Giveaway!

Right now my business focuses mainly on bracelets and necklaces for little girls and some matching Mommy and Me sets.  I wanted to create something that was different than what was already out on the market.  I wanted to offer more variety but still maintain that sweet, vintage feel.  I am a perfectionist and am known for starting all over if it doesn’t look exactly right. 🙂  I love making these and I am so proud of my products!

See what I’m talking about?  Maranda is amazing.  Be sure to check out her Etsy shop for baby shower gifts, birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, blessing gifts or just because they are so darn cute gifts!
So I teased you a little at the beginning about a giveaway and here’s what it’s all about.  As part of Maranda’s guest post today, she has offered TWO of her darling bracelets from her Etsy shop to be given away to TWO lucky ladies!  (Or maybe the lucky ladies are the little girls who get to wear them!)  Just look at these sweet bracelets: the Pink Pearl and the Precious Lavender.
Bellissimo Bebe + A Giveaway!
To enter, simply follow the instructions below.  The giveaway will run from today, August 31st 2016 through Tuesday, September 6th 2016, ending at 12AM MST.  The winners will be announced on Wednesday, September 7th 2016 at 8AM on Facebook and the blog and each winner will be contacted by Maranda for mailing addresses.

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Good luck!

My Little Sunshines 2 Year Blogiversary Giveaway

My friend, Britt Hanson, who blogs over at My Little Sunshines is celebrating her 2 year blogiversary!  Britt and I actually met about five or six years ago through my younger sister.  We were at my sister’s apartment for her birthday party and she and I were the only married ladies there so we immediately bonded.  Since then, we’ve mostly kept in touch through social media, watching each others pregnancies and kids growing up and life in general.

Britt is teaming up with me and two other awesome bloggers in celebrating her 2 year blogiversary by giving away some of her favorite things! 

You can check out more about the giveaway HERE on her blog and to find out more about the rules for entering the giveaway.  You can also enter below.  The giveaway will run for 1 week from today and the winner will be announced next Wednesday, June 15.  Good luck and I hope you win!

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Giveaway! *CLOSED*


Happy Leap Day everyone!  I’m so excited to host my first giveaway on Sunshine and Munchkins!  I want to thank all of you for taking time out of your day to check out my blog.  It means so much to me.  I recently hit 100 followers on my Facebook page and as a thank you I am offering a $25 Amazon gift card!

And now…on to the giveaway!

To Enter:

  1. Visit and ‘like’ my page on Facebook.
  2. Share this post.
  3. Leave a comment below with what you’d buy if you win.
  4. *Bonus Entry* Subscribe to my email list.
  5. Comment on the original Facebook post when you have finished all entries.  For example: “liked”, “shared”, “commented” and/or “subscribed”.  (These do not have to be separate posts.)


  1. I’ll be leaving the giveaway open for one week, starting today (2/29/16) and ending on Saturday (3/5/16) at midnight.  
  2. You can only enter once and you must do all the entries.
  3. This giveaway is only open to U.S. citizens (must live in the U.S.).
  4. Must have a valid email address.
  5. The winner will be randomly chosen.
  6. I will announce the winner on my blog and on Facebook on Monday, March 7 @ 8am.
  7. This giveaway is available to anyone who completes all the entries.

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Good luck!