Favorite August Everyday Looks and #SoakUpSummer Recap

August has been a fun month, and I can't believe it's just about over. One of my favorite things this month has been joining Beth from The Beth Next Door for an Instagram style challenge, #SoakUpSummer. I love sharing my daily style on Instagram and getting style inspiration from others.

I thought I'd recap my favorite #SoakUpSummer Instagram looks from August. Thanks to all of you who joined in the challenge! 

What was your favorite outfit from August? 


{colorful stripes and floral} 


{cargo vest and printed shorts}


{pastel floral and white with bright accents}


{turquoise and neon at work} 


{a few favorite summer colors} 



From the archives: 


Project Food Budget Recap: Lessons Learned from Keeping a Grocery Budget



Over the past few weeks I joined Emily Levenson and a few other bloggers for Project Food Budget, and on every Friday's menu post I've also included my grocery budget and actual total spent. While keeping a grocery budget is nothing new for me, I've never really shared the details about it here before. Tracking my spending, along with splurges and savings along the way, has been a great learning experience. I've learned a few things about meal planning and grocery shopping that help me stay on budget.

How not to suck at grocery budgets. | www.shealennon.com


Look at the grocery store ad before you go to the store. I use the weekly ad to help me plan each week's meals. I also plan ahead to see what freezer-friendly (such as meat) and pantry staples are on sale so I can stock up accordingly.

Don't be afraid to change a recipe to suit your needs. I used to follow every recipe to the tee, but now I make the meals I cook work for me rather than the other way around. For example, pork chops and chicken breasts are easily interchangeable (you may just have to adjust cook times slightly). Also, meals like burrito bowls and stir fries are great for using up leftover vegetables in the fridge, even if they're different from what the recipe calls for. You know what you like, be creative!

Plan ahead and shop ahead. I know it's hard to find time to sit down and plan out a week's worth of meals, but believe me, going into the week with a menu and a stocked fridge and pantry really helps keep the temptation of takeout at bay.

Treat yourself. When you're shopping on a budget, sometimes it's easy to feel like you're depriving yourself. When you feel that way grocery shopping becomes no fun at all and starts to feel like such a chore. (I realize that for some of you, it feels like that regardless.) However, if you allow yourself little splurges or treats here and there, cutting back on other things seems more manageable. My favorite grocery store splurges and treats are ice cream (of course!), fancy cheese, and fresh basil. (And apparently, quinoa.)

How do you save money at the grocery store? 


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From the archives:

Jona Turns Two! Plus Tips for Stress Free Party Planning

It's a little hard to believe, but I have a two year old now. Jona celebrated his second birthday on Saturday, August 15th, and we had a small dinosaur-themed celebration. For some reason Jona has always loved dinosaurs; it was the first animal sound he said, and several of his favorite books have been dinosaur books.

toddler dinosaur birthday party | www.shealennon.com



Last year he was hesitant about trying cake and frosting. This year, he wasted no time and dove right in. Smart boy. 


His new lawn mower was a favorite gift.
And how many people does it take to put together a toy grill? Three men and two toddlers, apparently. These photos c/o my step-mom, Gail. 


Tips for stress-free party planning - toddler dinosaur birthday | www.shealennon.com


The thought of hosting a party with our house on the market made me a little bit tempted to throw my hands up in the air and say "Jona won't know the difference if we don't throw him a party this year, right?" (And honestly, he wouldn't.) However, I managed to both survive and have a great time celebrating my little dinosaur. Here are a few things that worked for me. 

{one} Don't be a hero. Buy the cupcakes. I love to bake. I love to cook. However, to keep my sanity in tact I went to Sam's Club and ordered thirty cupcakes with lime green frosting. That was $15 well-spent. I let the store help with other food prep as well; I bought pre-cut fruit, pre-made fruit dip, and donut holes from a donut shop. Yes, it cost a little more, but it saved me time in both the prep and the clean-up. No regrets. 


{two} Shop smart and decorate with what you have. Since we already had several dinosaur books, we used them as decorations on the table and on bookshelves. Rather than buying EVERYTHING dinosaur-themed, I chose simple (and disposable!) plates, silverware, and napkins in blue and lime green, my party's colors. I bought a tub of 60 miniature dinosaur figurines and used them as cupcake toppers and party favors. I did the same thing with dinosaur stickers, using some to decorate food labels, the rest to entertain sticker-loving toddlers. I also cut out dinosaur footprints from construction paper and taped them to our front steps; easiest decoration ever! 


{three} Choose a non-meal time to host your party. We had Jona's party at 10 in the morning, and we provided some light snacks and cupcakes. No one expects a full meal mid-morning (or late afternoon, etc.) so that means you have fewer snacks to plan. 


{four} Go outside. If weather permits, herd all those crazy kiddos outside. We did it after Jona opened his gifts, knowing that he'd likely get several outdoor toys. We were right, and the kids had a great time helping Jona breaking in his lawn mower, grill, and bubbles. Not only does this reduce the mess inside, but it also eliminates the need for planned kids' activities. 

{five} Keep it small. Now is not the time to send a Facebook invite to all 243 of your closest friends. Keeping it small definitely helps keep the stress to a minimum, plus you have fewer thank you notes to write. Win, win! 

Some dino-mite toddler reads (har har): 

favorite dinosaur books for toddlers | www.shealennon.com

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5


Several of these dinosaur party ideas were Pinterest finds, so I'm linking up to Pin to Present at In Residence

From the archives:


End of Summer Staple: White Jeans 3 Ways

Hi everyone, thanks for all your support and encouragement during my little blog break last week! I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s hard to give myself permission to deviate from my routine. But I’m glad I did; I feel refreshed and ready to get back to this space. (If only days off from work inspired those same feelings… )

One thing I thought about during my week off blogging was trying to find ways to improve my work-mom-blog-life balance (what a mouthful!). Starting this week I’m going to go from five posts a week to three, with posts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Mondays will be style-related, Wednesdays will have a bit of everything, and Fridays will continue to be all about food. With fewer posts each week it is my goal that my content will be more focused and organized. As always, any feedback you have is appreciated! 

Rather than breaking up my style posts into multiple days, I plan to continue my "theme" weeks but include multiple looks in one post. I chose white jeans for today, because they're such a great end of summer staple. I love how easy they are to dress up or down. Also, with hints of fall everywhere you turn right now, I like thinking about how I can wear them when the weather starts to cool down too.

3 Ways to Style White Jeans

3 Ways to Style White Jeans | www.shealennon.com


{one} Weekend casual. You may have seen this look if you follow me on Instagram. Although it's risky wearing white jeans around a toddler, I do like how easy they are to wear on the weekend. With a sleeveless button-up and bright flats, I have an easy errand-running, lunch-grabbing outfit. 

White jeans with sleeveless button up for the weekend | www.shealennon.com

Floral button-up: Gap (similar) | white jeans: Loft (similar) | necklace: Anthropologie | leather cuff: Nickel and Suede | sandals: Steve Madden (cute clog-sole pair!) 




{two} At the office. With flats and my new tulip print Stitch Fix tank, white jeans make a perfect casual Friday look. Add a black blazer and I think you could even get away with this look on a Monday.

White Jeans with Mixed Prints for Work | www.shealennon.com

Tulip print blouse: Stitch Fix | white jeans: Loft (similar) | pink necklace: Bauble Bar | polka dot flats: Madewell (loafer style at a great price)




{three} Fall transition. We've had a few cooler days this month (so crazy for August!), so the idea that fall will be here soon is actually a plausible one. I'm not ready to trade in summer days just yet, but it's fun to do a little fall outfit planning. I love the idea of white jeans for fall, and this look with a chambray shirt and leopard flats would work well for cooler weather. 

White Jeans with Chambray for Fall Transition | www.shealennon.com

Chambray shirt: Madewell (similar) | white jeans: Loft (similar) | purple necklace: Shop Mamie | leather cuff: Nickel and Suede | leopard flats: Dr. Scholl's (similar)



I found my white jeans a couple of years ago at Loft, but here are a few options if you're on the hunt for a pair.

How do you style white jeans? 


From the archives: 




Rest.


Ahh, naptime. That face = bliss. Lately I've been making myself exhausted by trying to do it all, and it's starting to take its toll. I love blogging, but I've been putting so much pressure on myself to grow, to collaborate, to respond to every comment, and to create fresh content five days a week. Well in the midst of our house selling and hunting, Jona's birthday over the weekend, and my full time job, that pressure was starting to stress me out. Therefore, I'm taking this week to rest and recharge. 

I'll be back on Monday. Have a fantastic week! 

Weekly Eats: Menu Week of August 10 and Project Food Budget


Guys, I am spent. Between the house showings, a busy week at work, and planning a certain little boy's birthday tomorrow, I am worn out. We're eating on paper plates and also eating out a lot more than we typically do, yet I still can't seem to stay on budget at the grocery store. I keep telling myself I'll get back on track, and I sure do hope I'm right! 

  • Target budget: $75
  • Amount spent: $92
  • Splurge: Well, that's a funny story. See I needed quinoa for a meal (that I didn't even end up making this week!) and I decided to buy it from the bulk bins. I tried to get a small amount, but it came out a lot more quickly than I anticipated. At that visit to the grocery store I learned what fourteen dollars worth of quinoa looks like. #themoreyouknow Good thing we like quinoa around here! 


menu



{one} sweet and spicy pork and pineapple tacos from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. This was such an easy, flavorful weeknight taco meal. I used canned pineapple because fresh wasn't on sale ($14 on quinoa is no big deal, but I balk at a $4 pineapple....) but if I make this again I'd get the real deal.  

{two} honey balsamic grilled chicken and vegetables from Skinny Taste. Grilled chicken with veggies sounds kind of boring, but this was so good! The chicken has such good flavor thanks to a marinade, and even more flavor is added with a balsamic dressing that goes over everything at the end. Great summer meal!

{three} easy lo mein from Damn Delicious. This is one I've made a few times before, and it's always good for a quick easy meal, especially when I need to use up some meat and vegetables. I added ground turkey, sugar snap peas, and red bell peppers this time.

What have you been eating this week? 

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From the archives: 

Stitch Fix Review: My August Fix

I tried Stitch Fix for the first time last month, and it was such a fun experience that I decided to try it again this month. The concept is perfect for me right now; I don't have a lot of time to go out and shop, plus I love the surprise element of not knowing exactly what I'll get in my fix. It was reading other bloggers' reviews that made me want to try Stitch Fix myself, so I try to make my reviews as detailed as possible in the hopes that it helps you decide whether it's right for you.

Here's what I got in my August fix:

{one} 41 Hawthorn - Filbert 3/4 Sleeve Popover Blouse, Small: $58


My August Stitch Fix Review | www.shealennon.com


A white blouse is actually something I've been wanting to add to my wardrobe; however, this just wasn't quite the right one. You can't tell because it's tucked in, but it's really long. That works for tucking, but I'd like to be able to wear it un-tucked as well, and that just didn't work. Also, I didn't love the sheerness of the fabric or the style of the sleeves.

Verdict: Return

{two} Margaret M - Francesca Pencil Skirt, Small: $78

My August Stitch Fix Review | www.shealennon.com


Okay, this was the only item in my fix that was an immediate "no." You know I love me a colored pencil skirt, but this one was hugging my curves in all the wrong places. Also, even if it did flatter me I just can't justify paying $78 for another blue pencil skirt (I have both a navy blue and turquoise version).

Verdict: Return

{three} Pixley - Meryl Tulip Print Sleeveless Blouse, Small: $54

My August Stitch Fix Review | www.shealennon.com


Now this one I loved right out of the box, and I hoped that I loved it as much on. The tulip print is so whimsical, and it's not one I've seen very often. The fact that it's done in a neutral gray color makes it wearable and not too cutesy looking. I love the loose, but not too loose, swingy shape, and I know it will be great over skinny jeans but just as cute tucked into a pencil skirt for work. I love this top!

Verdict: Keep (if you couldn't tell)

{four} Kut from the Kloth - Siena Cropped Pant, 6: $58

My August Stitch Fix Review | www.shealennon.com


The word I would use for these pants (on me) would be "meh." They just didn't quite fit right--the waist and thighs were a little loose, while the calves were weirdly snug. I really have the hardest time with pants; finding a pair that fits well seems to be next to impossible.

Verdict: Return

{five} 41Hawthorn - Jace Chevron Print Dress, Medium: $68

My August Stitch Fix Review | www.shealennon.com


In the box, this dress looked just okay to me. However, when I put it on I loved the pattern and the style. It's fully lined and clearly well-made, which makes the $68 price tag a little easier to swallow. However, it was just too loose in the shoulders, and it would need to be taken in there for me to feel comfortable. I'm sure it's an easy alteration, but it's just not something I have time to think about right now. I'm not sure if sizing down to a small would have made a difference, but I doubt it since everywhere else it fit great. This one made me wish I had some sewing skills!

Verdict: Return, sadly.

Do you get clothes altered? I know I should if I find something I like, but it's something I rarely take the time to do. 

Linking to Summer Style. 


From the archives: 

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this review, however I do get credit if you sign up for Stitch Fix using the links I've provided. 

A Tour of Our First Home

Since September's theme is "There's No Place Like Home," I'm linking this post up to The Circle linkup today. 

As you all know (because it's pretty much all I talk about these days), we're trying to sell our house. We're not moving far, but we knew when we bought this house we wouldn't stay long after we started a family. While I'm excited to start a new adventure in a new home, there are many things about this one that I'll miss. Especially because it was Jona's first home, it will always hold a special place in my heart. I don't share a lot of home photos here on the blog, mostly because decorating isn't my strong suit. However, I'd like to share with you this space that we've called home for the last five years.

Living room: 

I love our large, open living space with its large shelves perfect for storing toys and books. This has been a wonderful area for Jona to learn to crawl, walk, and now run. All of the windows make it such a light, bright space. 



Dining room: 

When we moved from an apartment to this house, I was so excited to have a dining room. Soon after we moved I found this table (in excellent condition!) at a garage sale, and we eat dinner there just about every night. I know there will come a day when schedules are too busy to have family dinners every night, but for now it's one of the best parts of my day, spending time with my guys. 


Kitchen: 

Honestly, this is what made me fall in love with this house. Our kitchen is huge and open, with ample storage space. In fact, in most of the homes we've looked at in our search, the kitchens are usually smaller than this one. More than the size though, what I love about this kitchen is how close it is to the dining and living rooms; I love being able to cook dinner and watch Jona play (or watch the Royal's game!) at the same time. 


Bathroom: 

Yes, this is a teeny, tiny bathroom. But there's a skylight and a high ceiling  that helps make it feel a bit larger. It's not the size of this bathroom that makes me feel ready to move, it's the fact that there's just one of them--having more than one bathroom would be nice!


Master bedroom: 

I never did get around to painting these yellow walls, but they're not my favorite. In fact, this room in general I don't love. It was the space that got a little neglected, because other rooms always took priority. I prefer it that way though--I'd much rather put time an effort into the rooms that we spend more time in. 


Nursery: 

I love this room. I remember painstakingly measuring and leveling the gray stripes we painted on the wall, and I was so happy with how they turned out. The white furniture with pops of bright green and blue make it such a light, bright space. I loved putting together this room in anticipation of Jona's arrival, and I will be sad to leave it. 




Well, there's our home! While it will be bittersweet to leave it, I do hope that someone else sees it the same way we did when we first moved in. Thanks for letting me share it with you! 

What's your favorite part of your house? 

From the archives: 

Summer Dress Remix: Knotted Stripes for the Office

Today I’m guest posting at sweet and stylish Ada’s blog, Elegance and Mommyhood. Head over there to check out how I wear print shorts two ways for summer weekends.

I’m back today with another look for my navy knit dress. With a casual blazer and sneakers, yesterday’s look was perfect for the weekend. Today’s look is something I wore to the office. My office is fairly casual, so I felt comfortable with bare arms; however, you could easily add a jacket or cardigan for more coverage.

What's your work go-to right now? 

work outfit: knotted striped blouse over knit dress | www.shealennon.com

work outfit: knotted striped blouse over knit dress | www.shealennon.com

knotted stripes over knit dress | www.shealennon.com

work outfit: knotted striped blouse over knit dress | www.shealennon.com

Striped blouse: J.Crew Factory (similar) | navy knit dress: Loft (similar) | ivory wedges: Old Navy (similar)

The versatility of this navy knit dress makes me want to find a similar version with sleeves that I can wear all fall. Here are a few options that I’m thinking about. 




From the archives: 

Summer Dress Remix: Striped Blazer + Sneakers

Around here kids are going back to school, and I saw boots (boots!) on display at Target when I was there the other day. However, it still feels very much like summer, so if you don’t mind I’ll hold on to it for just a little while longer. By this time next month no doubt I’ll be all about ankle boots, pumpkin spice lattes, and college football. Just kidding about the pumpkin spice lattes… I don’t really like them. (How un-American, right?!)

So with my feet firmly planted in summer, I thought I’d share a long-time favorite summer item, this navy blue knit dress. I found it a few years ago when I was working at Loft for the summer, and I remember buying it for an outdoor Fourth of July party. I’m so glad I did, it’s been such a versatile piece. Today I’m wearing it with a striped blazer and white sneakers for a casual weekend look. I do love my shorts, but lately I’ve been gravitating towards dresses. To me nothing is more comfortable in the heat than a breezy, lightweight dress.

What’s your most-worn summer piece? 

Summer Outfit: knit dress with striped blazer and sneakers | www.shealennon.com

striped blazer + knit dress for summer | www.shealennon.com

stripes, knit dress, sneakers - casual summer outfit | www.shealennon.com

summer outfit idea - knit dress, striped blazer, and sneakers | www.shealennon.com

Striped blazer: Gap Outlet (similar) | navy knit dress: Loft (similar) | pink belt: Old Navy (similar) | white sneakers: Converse




From the archives: 

Weekly Eats: Menu Week of August 3 and Project Food Budget

I’m behind on my food posts, which means this menu is from the days of eating on real plates with real utensils. Next week it will be paper plates all the way... I hope you’re ready. Here are my food budget totals for the week.
  • Target budget: $81 (We had a little extra left in the budget, yay!)
  • Actual spent: $90 (And I still managed to go over...not yay.)
  • Splurge: $2.99 for fresh tarragon (Hey, at least it wasn’t ice cream this week!)


Menu



{one} Pork Parmesan Burgers adapted from Parsley and PepperThis was such a fun twist on both a burger and parmesan chicken. I love how the burger was coated in the bread crumbs, I’ve never tried that with a burger before. I used ground pork instead of chicken because for some reason I couldn’t find ground chicken that day, and I also used tarragon instead of basil because I needed it for another recipe. It was delicious, but I bet it would be even better with basil.

{two} Pasta with Sausage, Corn, and Chiles from Martha StewartPasta is my favorite, but (most of the time) I stay away from the heavy sauces in the summer. This pasta is perfect for this time of year; there’s no sauce at all, just a mix of corn, jalapeno, sausage, and cilantro. A little sour cream mixed in makes it creamy and tangy, but still light. I used fully-cooked sausage links (mine were chicken sausage) and sliced and browned them, but I imagine ground sausage (what the recipe called for) would be delicious too. This was a good one!

{three} Grilled Orange Tarragon Pork Chops adapted from Oh, Sweet BasilThe recipe calls for chicken, but I’ve got pork chops for dayyyys in my freezer and decided to use those instead. Fresh tarragon is not for the timid, let me tell you! It has such a bold, strong flavor, and when it’s mixed with the orange zest, juice, and Dijon mustard it really holds up. I use a lot of parsley and cilantro in my cooking, and basil whenever I can get it, but it’s not often that I make something with tarragon. This dinner was a nice little adventure for our palates.   

{four} Thai Peanut Chicken Quinoa Bowls from Iowa Girl EatsI’m pretty sure this is one of the first dishes I ever made with quinoa. I thought it would be something I’d be able to make only occasionally, because I figured Aaron wouldn’t really love it. I was wrong; he always agrees to quinoa dishes, he really likes it! This one has become a favorite. So. Much. Flavor.

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From the archives: