In My Library Tote: Recent Hits (and Misses) for Mom and Toddler

Here's this month's round-up of what Jona and I have been reading lately. I hope you get an idea or two of what to check out (and maybe what to skip) on your next library visit.

{recent reads for mom}

In my library tote: recent reads |

January Clothing Budget

A few years ago I used to share my clothing purchases on a monthly basis here on the blog, and I always enjoyed looking back and seeing what I bought each month. It was also a great way to help me track both my spending and my closet inventory. I’m not sure why I got out of the habit of doing that, but I’d like to start it back up again. One of my favorite style bloggers, Fran of Franish, does a monthly budget link-up that I love reading each month. I hope you will enjoy these posts as well.

{What I bought: January 2016}

How to Wear a Bright Blazer: 3 Outfit Ideas

Thank you to all of you who took my reader survey. If you haven't I'd love for you to take it--it's short and sweet, and will help me give you more of what you want to see. Thanks! 

I’ve talked a lot about wardrobe staples recently, and I’ve come to learn that there isn’t truly a “universal list” of staples that work for everyone. Sometimes I buy something (like my black ponte pants) and know they’ll get a ton of wear, other items evolve more gradually into “staple” status.

For example, I bought an orange blazer from Target a few years ago (seen here, here, and here) because it was on major sale. Some impulse buys don’t work out for me, but as evidenced by my blog, I wore the heck out of that blazer. Therefore, when it started to show signs of wear I knew it would be necessary to find its replacement, stat.

I like to focus more on quality when I’m buying staples, so I looked to my favorite place to buy quality brands at a low cost, ThredUp. I found this tomato red Gap blazer in near-perfect condition and happily put it in my shopping cart. I’m thrilled with the quality and have found it to be just as versatile as it’s orange, worn counterpart.

This blazer is both bright and bold, but it’s also very wearable. Here are 3 looks that showcase the versatility of a bright blazer. (Tip: You can still wear blazers in the winter! Just be sure that the shoulders and sleeves of your coat are roomy enough to accommodate the added bulk underneath. You don’t want to look like a linebacker or that kid from A Christmas Story.)

2016 Reader Survey

I mentioned on my Vision Board post on Wednesday that one of my goals for this year is to grow Shea Lennon. Of course part of that growth is to attract new readers, but I also want to be sure I keep my current readers coming back. Therefore, I want to get to know you all better, and find out what you’d like to see more of (and less of) here.

I created the survey below, and I would be so grateful if you took a couple of minutes to complete it. It won’t take long, and your answers will help me create more content you want to see around here.  Your answers will be anonymous, so please be honest with me.

Thank you so much for helping me out with this, I really do appreciate your support!

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The Circle Linkup: My 2016 Vision / Mood Board

I’m so happy to be joining Kiki in co-hosting The Circle Linkup at In its Time. Today we’re talking about our 2016 goals and sharing mood boards (or inspiration boards) to showcase these goals. Be sure to check out all the beautiful mood boards and get ready to be inspired!

You know that I’m a big believer in setting monthly goals, and last year I started sharing those goals with you here on the blog. I also know a lot of people who create inspiration boards or vision boards to showcase what they want to accomplish during the year.

I’ve seen beautiful vision boards that are actual boards, but I love the idea of creating a digital “mood board”, but still putting it in a place that I will see it often. (I loved Megan’s idea of creating a vision board in PicMonkey and setting it as your desktop background.)

{Here’s my 2016 Vision Board}

Do you create vision boards for your goals? Here's my 2016 Vision / Mood Board that sums up my goals for this year.

envelopes via Dave Ramsey | living room photo via Cup of Jo

7 Items, 7 Outfits: Winter Staples

Last week I talked about my experience with capsule wardrobes, and how they helped me discover my style so that I can have a closet full of clothes I truly love. I also surprised myself by learning that having a smaller number of pieces I love actually gives me more versatility than a closet full of random bargain buys or items that aren’t quite right.

I mentioned a few of my winter staples last week, and I thought I would take a few of those (plus a few year-round staples) and show how easily remixed they are. In the fall I wrote a post where I created 7 different looks from 7 fall staples. Today I have a winter version, also with 7 looks from 7 pieces.

{7 winter staples}

Stay-in Date Night Idea: Homemade Cocktails and Board Games

Thank you so much to Maru of Fashiony Fab who did my blog redesign. I absolutely love it, and from the feedback I've already received, you love it too. Thanks Maru, you are awesome! 

One of my goals for 2016 is to spend more quality time with Aaron. Last year, between work, taking care of Jona, grad school (him), and blogging (me) we often found our relationship at the bottom of the priority list. 

I plan and schedule just about every other part of my life, so why not schedule our date nights and time together too? I plan to put on the calendar not just the "night out" date nights, but also ways we can spend time together without having to call a babysitter grandparents.

Wardrobe Building with Capsules plus 5 Things I'm Loving, Needing, and Ditching

In the fall of 2014 I did a major wardrobe overhaul and started my experiment with capsule wardrobes. The concept worked well for me, and I continued to create capsule wardrobes for two seasons after that (winter 2015, spring 2015). While I reached a point where I no longer felt the need to follow the capsule “rules” exactly, I learned a lot from the experience and hoped that those lessons would bring lasting change to my wardrobe.

Nearly two years later, I still keep some of the principles of a capsule wardrobe (less is more, quality over quantity, only buy what you love) at the forefront of my mind when I’m shopping. Because I had such a great experience doing a capsule wardrobe, I was happy when Cladwell contacted me about Capsules, a wardrobe-building tool.

Capsules wardrobe building tool |

Capsules walks you through the steps of building a capsule wardrobe, from breaking down what kinds of clothes you need most in your wardrobe, to choosing a color palette to help you streamline. I had fun playing around with it myself, and using it to help me continue to build a wardrobe that I love.

Capsules wardrobe building tool |

In using the Capsules tool, I made a few discoveries about my wardrobe. It helped me identify which items are my current “can’t live without them” staples, which items my wardrobe is missing, and which items are destined for the sell/donate bags.

{my 5 winter staples}

These are the items that I’ve been reaching for again and again this winter.

5 winter staples |

taupe ankle boots | black checked button-up | black ponte pants | plaid blanket scarf | gray long cardigan

{5 items on my winter wish list}

I don’t have a large clothing budget, so I want to make the most out of what I buy. Here are 5 items I know I would get a lot of use out of.

My winter wardrobe wishlist |

{5 things I’m saying goodbye to}

It can be hard to get rid of clothing. I may have spent a lot of money on it, or maybe it was a gift and I feel guilty giving it away. But I’m committed to having a closet that’s filled with items that I love and will wear, so I’m ditching clothing that meets the criteria below.

types of clothes I'm getting rid of this year |

{one} Clothes that don’t feel like me. (Example: my striped dress turned mini dress that I don't feel comfortable in.)

{two} Clothes I don’t love. (Example: an embellished sweatshirt that for some reason I just never loved.)

{three} Clothes that are worn out. (Example: my black pants that have permanent knee-bagginess.)

{four} Clothes that don’t fit well. (Example: my blue pants that I love the style of, but not the baggy fit.) 

{five} Clothes that are uncomfortable. (Example: a pair of jeans that got so stretched out by the end of the day I couldn't wear them without a belt.) 

I know that capsule wardrobes can be a hot-button issue in blog-land, but have you ever done or considered one? If it’s something you’re thinking about, I recommend signing up for the Capsules tool. It does cost $5/month to use, but if you’re serious about building a wardrobe you love and don’t know where to start, I think it’s money well spent.

Disclosure: I was given free access to this tool as part of this collaboration. All opinions are very much my own. 

Mom and Toddler Style: (Layered) Sweater Weather

Ooh boy winter sure has made itself known here in Kansas City! I realize that it could be worse and it could have gotten much, much colder much, much earlier, but it wouldn’t be a true winter if I didn’t complain about the weather a little. Winter for me not only means occasional grumbling, but also pulling out my warmest sweaters and layers.

On days when I can’t just sit inside all day and drink hot cocoa (why don't I have more days like that?) I put on my coziest cable knit sweater and layer it over a favorite button-up. With jeans and boots (and a coat of course) I’m ready to face the elements.

Of course, I’m getting Jona all bundled up as well. I love seeing little guys in button-up + sweater combos, and the fact that he often coordinates with me is an added bonus.

How are you bundling up this winter? 

Tried it, Spied it: Brownie Cookies

Like I mentioned on Wednesday, I've been in full-on baking mode around here. It's finally starting to feel like winter, so staying indoors near a nice warm oven isn't making me mad at all. I was looking for a dessert to take to a friend's house for New Year's, and kept seeing different versions of brownie cookies on my "For the Sweet Tooth" Pinterest board.

{spied it}

Spied on Pinterest: Brownie Cookie Recipes |

{tried it}

I'm pretty sure you can't go wrong with any of these, but I decided to try Smitten Kitchen's The Browniest Cookies. Smitten Kitchen was the very first food blog I ever read, and she can do no wrong in my book. Once again, she reigns supreme, because these brownie cookies were outstanding. 

Tried it: Brownie Cookies |

They were rich, chocolaty, and somehow both dense and airy at the same time. If you're in the mood for both brownies and cookies, you should make these for sure. Oh, and no fancy utensils or ingredients are needed--you probably already have everything you need! 

Tried it: Brownie Cookies |

Tried it: Brownie Cookies |

Tried it: Brownie Cookies |

Do you have a favorite brownie (or brownie cookie) recipe? 

Linking with Pin to Present

Currently: January

It's the beginning of the month (and the year...crazy right?!) which means it's time to join Anne and Jenna for their monthly Currently linkup. 

Here are a few things I'm currently doing.

Currently January 2016 |

{resolving} to be more confident, improve my blog, and be a better friend, among other things in 2016. Aaron got me a Day Designer planner for Christmas and I spent New Year's Day brainstorming my goals for the year. 

{reading} The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende. I just started this multi-generational love story that goes between present day San Francisco to Poland and the US during World War II. So far it's done a great job of holding my attention (measured by how much I want to procrastinate my to-do list during Jona's nap time and just read). 

{organizing} my office space. At our new house, we have a guest bedroom that's does double-duty as an office space. I haven't done much with it yet, but I'd like to give the desk area some personality. These DIY cork boards from I Spy DIY look so fun and easy to make. 

{loving} the things Jona says lately. Two has had it's share of ups and downs (hello, tantrums!) but one thing I'm constantly amused by is what comes out of Jona's mouth. Here are a few recent gems. 
  • When I tell him to come downstairs to put his shoes on so we can leave, he says "That would be perfect, mommy, that would be perfect." 
  •  When we were walking away from visiting Santa Claus (and he was too nervous to tell Santa what he wanted) he shouted "I want books!" 
  • "Put your glasses on, Aaron, so you can see!" (Lately he's taken to occasionally calling us by our first names for some reason.) 
  • "This is a very special grape, mommy. It's a very special cookie." Jona to me when he was trying to get me to remove an offensive grape from his plate. 
  • When we were walking down the stairs, he said to me "How 'bout you hold my hand?" 
  • Jona: "Are you cooking banana?" Me: "No, it's chicken." Jona (looking like he might cry): "But it's WHITE!" Me: "Well, what color is chicken?" Jona (forlornly): "Yellow." 
  • "Look at the big, big violins!" (to the mariachi band playing guitars at a Mexican restaurant). 
{craving} baked goods, as usual. I'm still in full-on baking mode and can't get enough chocolaty sweet treats. (I have one to share on Friday, so stay tuned!) Next on my to-make list are these sinful looking Nutella Stuffed Blondies I saw on A Cup of Jo. 

What have you been up to currently so far this year? 

Celebrating 6 Years: Favorite Posts, Favorite Looks

In the past I haven't really made a big deal of my "blogging anniversary," but this year I'll have been blogging for six years, which seems a bit unreal. I've seen a lot of changes over these past six years, like changing my blog's name, owning my first home, and starting a family. In keeping with my word of the year, I thought I would do a round-up of the posts and looks I'm most proud of.

{favorite posts}

Celebrating 6 Years: Favorite Blog Posts |

{favorite looks}

Celebrating 6 Years: Favorite Outfit Posts |

This was such a fun recap to put together. I realized that the majority of my favorite posts were from 2015, which to me suggests that even better things will be in store for 2016. In contrast, some of my favorite looks go way back, so I can always look at archives whenever I'm in a style rut. 

Thank you so much for reading and being a part of my blog and life for the past few years. I'm so thankful for the people who take the time to read, comment, and follow. You guys are the best! 

My Word for 2016: Confidence

Some may find the concept played out, but I like the idea of choosing a word or mantra for the year. I can't say that my easily-distracted self does a great job of staying focused on that word, but as someone who can get lost in details and has a hard time with the "big picture," it does serve as a helpful reminder.

My word for 2015 was contentment. I found myself getting caught up in comparisons, and thinking my life would be better if I had more money, more time... you get the picture, just more. My attitude needed a shift, so I made it my goal to focus on what I'm grateful for rather than what I wish I had. Sure, I found myself frequently veering from that line of thought, but I do think having that word to focus on helped me to truly feel more content.

When I think about what I want to accomplish in 2016 (stay tuned for a post on that later this month), a word that keeps coming to me is confidence. If I'm being completely honest, it's something I've wished for a long time I had a lot more of. I've never been much of a risk taker, and I let fear hold me back from pursuing new ideas more often than I'd like to admit. However, as I see others around me bravely going after their dreams, I realize that I'm my own biggest roadblock. For 2016, my goal is to let confidence take the place of perfectionism, self-doubt, and fear.

Do you have a word or a focus for the year? How did 2015 go for you?