Jona's Favorites: Picture Books We Loved in 2017

On Wednesday I recapped my 5 favorite books of 2017, but today's list is all about Jona (age 4). Just as I do with my own books, I keep track of the picture books we read, and this year we read 89 different books (that doesn't include books that we already owned--I just wrote down new-to-us titles). Here are the 7 that stood out as absolute favorites. Most of these he pretty much memorized because we read them so much.

{Favorite Picture Books Read in 2017}


My Favorite Books of 2017

2017 was challenging in a lot of ways, but it was an excellent reading year for me. Frequent pump breaks until October helped, and I also found other ways to prioritize reading time. I set a goal to read 50 books this year, and at the time I write this I've read 57. I track my books on Goodreads and also my bullet journal, so that made it easy to go back and recall my favorites. Here's my list of the top 5 books I read in 2017.

{my favorite books I read in 2017}


2017 Words of the Year: Home and Simplify

Do you pick a word for the year? I started doing that a couple of years ago, and I like the idea of having one thing to focus on all year. Last year I couldn't decide between two words, so I ended up choosing both home and simplify. I thought I'd share a few ways I focused on those words throughout the year. 

{2017 word: home}


What's Saving My Life Right Now

I love this time of year, but it does get to be a little hectic. Like when you think you're done with your Christmas shopping, but then you get an email from a store saying your order (pretty much the LAST gift you had to buy) is canceled. Just canceled. Can they even do that? See what I mean? Hectic.

It's nice to stop for a few moments and think about a few things that keep me from losing it in moments like that. I've seen this idea on Modern Mrs. Darcy before, and they've also been doing a mini series on The Simple Show podcast: things that are saving my life right now. Here's what's saving my life right now during this busy, festive, sometimes chaotic time of year.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Live Your Best (Holiday) Life: Week 8

We're down to just one week before Christmas! One thing I like about doing an Advent calendar is that it gives Jona an idea of how long he has to wait until Christmas day; he can just count the numbers that he has left. I'm pretty sure last year I got "is tomorrow Christmas?" SO MANY TIMES.

Despite some sickness hitting our household over the weekend, we managed to still do some fun Advent Calendar and LYBHolidayL activities. Here's this week's recap and next week's preview.


{What is #LYBHolidayL?}


Alexandra, of Simply Alexandra, and I created a challenge for the months of November and December to help us focus on self-care, contentment, and gratitude this holiday season. Each day we have a prompt to inspire creativity, organization, and a sense of peace during this often crazy time of year. 

Every Monday we'll each share the week's prompts on our blogs, with ideas for ways to incorporate them into your life. We'd love for you to join in! You can find the full list of prompts on Instagram, and also at the bottom of this post. Be sure to tag your posts with #LYBHolidayL so we can see them.

In My Library Tote: Nonfiction Addiction (or Something Like That)

I like to have a lot of variety in my reading life. Typically though I take that to mean I like to read a variety of novels. Admittedly even my variety isn't very varied. This year though I challenged myself to read more nonfiction, and as it turns out, the genre has grown on me. I always associated nonfiction with "dry" and "boring" and while there certainly are such texts (ahem, all the business texts I read in college) I found numerous engrossing pieces of nonfiction that I actually looked forward to reading. 

Here are 5 recent nonfiction reads, most of which belong in the "thoroughly enjoyed" category. 

{in my library tote: recent nonfiction reads}



Christmas Books and Activities Advent Calendar and Linkup

One tradition I wanted to start this year is making an Advent calendar to count down the days until Christmas with fun family activities and Christmas books. There are numerous Advent calendar ideas out there, from the kind you buy with chocolates inside to simple homemade varieties with a Bible verse a day to read.

{our advent calendar: important "criteria"}


I love the idea of an Advent calendar because it makes the anticipation of Christmas nearly as fun as Christmas day itself. When I was thinking about the kind of Advent calendar I wanted to make, I had three important criteria in mind. One, it needs to be simple. I work, I have two little kids... I don't have time for a complicated craft project. Two, it needs to be inexpensive. I don't want to blow our Christmas budget on a PRE-Christmas activity. Finally, it must not involve food. Special holiday food treats abound as it is, I don't need to add any more to the mix.



Linkup Reminder - Advent Calendar and Holiday Traditions

Hey there. I just wanted to remind you that Alexandra and I will be hosting an Advent Calendar and Holiday Traditions Linkup tomorrow! We would love it if you would visit either of our blogs and link up any holiday related post--from this year or from the past. I'd love to hear more about your holiday traditions, and if you do an Advent calendar I'd love to hear more about that too.

See you tomorrow!


Live Your Best (Holiday) Life: Week 7

The holiday season is officially underway. I always love this time of year, but for some reason I feel like I love it more and more every year. I don't know if it's me getting older and appreciating it more, or the kids getting older and getting into it (well, Jona at least--Violet still doesn't care). Either way, bring on all the fun Christmas things.

December's Live Your Best (Holiday) Life challenge with Alexandra and me is still going strong, and as I'm constantly mentioning, I love seeing others join in and find ways to make the challenge their own! Here's a recap of last week plus the prompts for this week.


{What is #LYBHolidayL?}


Alexandra, of Simply Alexandra, and I created a challenge for the months of November and December to help us focus on self-care, contentment, and gratitude this holiday season. Each day we have a prompt to inspire creativity, organization, and a sense of peace during this often crazy time of year. 

Every Monday we'll each share the week's prompts on our blogs, with ideas for ways to incorporate them into your life. We'd love for you to join in! You can find the full list of prompts on Instagram, and also at the bottom of this post. Be sure to tag your posts with #LYBHolidayL so we can see them.

Shop Your Closet for Holiday Style: 4 Outfit Ideas

One of the recent prompts for our Live Your Best (Holiday) Life challenge for December was to shop your closet for holiday looks. I have to say that I had a ton of fun doing this on a Saturday morning when Jona was absorbed in Lego Avengers and Violet was napping.

I put together four looks that still fit into my casual lifestyle, but feel a little more special and appropriate for holiday happenings. None of these would work for a formal Christmas soiree, but they might fit the bill for drinks with friends, a company party, or maybe Christmas Eve church service.



Currently: December

It's the last month of the year, and definitely one of my favorite times of year. I want to savor it and enjoy all the big and small moments. At the same time, I am so glad this year is coming to an end. 2017 was a challenging one in many ways, and I'm ready for that fresh calendar page-turn.

Just like always, I'm linking up with Anne and this month's co-host Catherine, to share what I'm currently...



Live Your Best (Holiday) Life: Week 6

Welcome to the first full week of December! Usually the only thing I don't like about this time of year is the weather, but it's been amazingly gorgeous around here lately. I know winter is inevitable (here anyway) but I'll appreciate these warm, sunny days while they're here!

Thanks to everyone who has been participating in the Live Your Best (Holiday) Life challenge with Alexandra and me! Not only has it been fun to see how other people are making the prompts work for them, it's also been so much fun getting to know some new to me blog friends in the process. Now, on with the prompts for this week and a recap of last week.



{What is #LYBHolidayL?}


Alexandra, of Simply Alexandra, and I created a challenge for the months of November and December to help us focus on self-care, contentment, and gratitude this holiday season. Each day we have a prompt to inspire creativity, organization, and a sense of peace during this often crazy time of year. 

Every Monday we'll each share the week's prompts on our blogs, with ideas for ways to incorporate them into your life. We'd love for you to join in! You can find the full list of prompts on Instagram, and also at the bottom of this post. Be sure to tag your posts with #LYBHolidayL so we can see them.

December Goals and November Wins

Each month I share my goals as a way to motivate myself to get things done and stay accountable. Inspired by Rising Shining, the blog written by Kelsey of The Girl Next Door podcast (a favorite of mine), instead of sharing how well I did on the previous month's goals, I'm sharing only the accomplishments to focus on the positive. 


Introducing: December LYBHolidayL and Advent / Holiday Traditions Link-up

December is on Friday, can you believe that? I know I'm a broken record over here. "Time passes. What?!?" But I feel like some months sneak up on me more than others, and December is a Big Deal as far as months go, you know?

{Live Your Best (Holiday) Life: December Edition}



As you know, I teamed up with Alexandra all November long on Live Your Best (Holiday) Life for Less, a fun challenge we created to help us focus on self-care, gratitude, and contentment during a month that tends to be busy and often stressful. Since December wrote the book on busy, stressful months, we thought it would be a good idea to continue our challenge for one more month. Our prompts feature even more ways to slow down and spend your month more intentionally. Just as we did last month, we'll be sharing on Instagram as well, so be sure to follow us (@shealennon, @simplyalexandra12) there too.

We would love for you to join in as much or as little as you want; do what works for you!

Live Your Best (Holiday) Life: Week 5

What is it about a long weekend that turns me into a completely unmotivated and unproductive person? I'm such a creature of routine; when that routine is interrupted I'm lost. I will say that it was nice to have a lot of relaxation and down time. However, I had lofty goals of getting our house decorated for Christmas and our cards mailed over the weekend. Neither one happened. I did get a lot of Christmas shopping done, but that was from the comfort of my couch.

This week brings us to our last week of November's Live Your Best (Holiday) Life challenge. It has been such a fun experience and I've really enjoyed seeing the creative ways people have been participating throughout the month. Alexandra and I have enjoyed the challenge so much that we're going to bring it back next month. Stay tuned for the December prompts on Wednesday.


{What is #LYBHolidayL?}


Alexandra, of Simply Alexandra, and I created a challenge for the month of November to help us focus on self-care, contentment, and gratitude this holiday season. Each day we have a prompt to inspire creativity, organization, and a sense of peace during this often crazy month. 

Every Monday we'll each share the week's prompts on our blogs, with ideas for ways to incorporate them into your life. We'd love for you to join in! You can find the full list of prompts on Instagram, and also at the bottom of this post. Be sure to tag your posts with #LYBHolidayL so we can see them.

$10 at Target: Advent Calendar Goodies

I've always loved the idea of an Advent calendar, but most years it's November 29 before I think about actually doing one. This year though, I vowed to plan ahead and create a fun, simple Advent calendar with fun family activities, books, and small treats.

I'll share more details about my Advent calendar next week, but for now I'll show you a few things I found at Target to get me started.


Live Your Best (Holiday) Life: Week 4

A cold took us down one by one over the weekend, but it was a blessing in disguise, because it meant extra time for rest and relaxation (albeit with lots of tissues handy). Of course no one wants to be sick, but I'll take some sniffles if it means I get a nap on Saturday. I already feel much better, and I think everyone else is on the mend too. Anyway, here are last week's highlights and this week's prompts for Live Your Best (Holiday) Life for Less.


{What is #LYBHolidayL?}


Alexandra, of Simply Alexandra, and I created a challenge for the month of November to help us focus on self-care, contentment, and gratitude this holiday season. Each day we have a prompt to inspire creativity, organization, and a sense of peace during this often crazy month. 

Every Monday we'll each share the week's prompts on our blogs, with ideas for ways to incorporate them into your life. We'd love for you to join in! You can find the full list of prompts on Instagram, and also at the bottom of this post. Be sure to tag your posts with #LYBHolidayL so we can see them.

In My Library Tote: Preschool Books on Favorite Subjects

I love to bring home a variety of books to read with Jona. I'm often surprised by the ones he loves, and the variety ensures that there are several that I love as well. However, books on certain subjects are guaranteed to please. Today's round-up features books about dinosaurs, construction vehicles, and robots, all of which are favorite subjects for my four-year-old boy.

{preschool books: favorite subjects}


Floral Swing Dress for Fall

I love dresses. Any season, they are one of my favorite things to wear. However, in the year after having Violet, most of my dresses sat in my closet, unworn, because they were not nursing or pumping-friendly. Now that my body is no longer being used to feed a child, I'm saying hello again to all my dresses.

Recently eShakti reached out to me about collaborating, and the first thing that came to mind was "Ooh, I know they have some great dresses!" I got a dress from eShakti in the past and was very happy with it. I did a little research and learned that eShakti is committed to providing a safe working environment for all employees, and at its factories in India they have a minimum age requirement of 18 and they exceed the minimum wage by 70%. Shopping more ethically has been one of my more recent goals, and one of the reasons I've been shopping secondhand for the past few months. (My secondhand challenge is still going strong--I just can't say no to a gorgeous, ethically-made, FREE dress!)

Anyway, what I love about eShakti is that they have seemingly limitless options for customization. I was drawn to this pretty print dress because of the gorgeous fall colors and swingy shape. I opted for full-length sleeves instead of the original three-quarter sleeves, because I prefer that style (cold wrists and forearms, no thank you). I also changed the neckline from a jewel neck to a scoop neck, because I think it's more flattering with the swingy shape. I absolutely love this dress and I'm happy with the customizations that I selected; it really does feel like the perfect fall dress for me.

Here are two ways to wear a floral swing dress in cool fall weather.

Live Your Best (Holiday) Life: Week 3

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is next week? That just blows my mind. For all my talk of getting started on Christmas early, I've hardly done anything. Maybe this week I'll get it in gear. In the meantime, let's talk about this week's Live Your Best (Holiday) Life prompts, shall we?


{What is #LYBHolidayL?}


Alexandra, of Simply Alexandra, and I created a challenge for the month of November to help us focus on self-care, contentment, and gratitude this holiday season. Each day we have a prompt to inspire creativity, organization, and a sense of peace during this often crazy month. 

Every Monday we'll each share the week's prompts on our blogs, with ideas for ways to incorporate them into your life. We'd love for you to join in! You can find the full list of prompts on Instagram, and also at the bottom of this post. Be sure to tag your posts with #LYBHolidayL so we can see them.

In My Library Tote: New Perspectives

I read for a number of reasons, but one such reason is to expand my worldview. I love opening a book and jumping into a world that is completely unlike my own. It's not necessarily to escape, although from time to time that is appealing, but instead I read primarily to learn. While lately I have been trying to embrace non-fiction, at the end of the day I learn best through story.

Here are five recent reads that have, for better or worse, helped me see the world through a perspective much different from my own.


{recent reads: new perspectives} 



Live Your Best (Holiday) Life: Week 2

It's Monday and it's the second week of our Live Your Best (Holiday) Life for Less challenge! Thanks to everyone who has been participating so far; I've loved seeing your posts on Instagram.


{What is #LYBHolidayL?}


Alexandra, of Simply Alexandra, and I created a challenge for the month of November to help us focus on self-care, contentment, and gratitude this holiday season. Each day we have a prompt to inspire creativity, organization, and a sense of peace during this often crazy month. 

Every Monday we'll each share the week's prompts on our blogs, with ideas for ways to incorporate them into your life. We'd love for you to join in! You can find the full list of prompts on Instagram, and also at the bottom of this post. Be sure to tag your posts with #LYBHolidayL so we can see them. 

November Goals and October Wins

Each month I share my goals as a way to motivate myself to get things done and stay accountable. Inspired by Rising Shining, the blog written by Kelsey of The Girl Next Door podcast (a favorite of mine), instead of sharing how well I did on the previous month's goals, I'm sharing only the accomplishments to focus on the positive. 


Currently: November

November, I am SO ready for you. October thoroughly kicked my butt. So I am happily turning that calendar page and welcoming the fresh start of a new month.

As always, I'm joining Anne and this month's co-host Julie for the monthly currently linkup to share a few things I've been up to lately.


{currently: november}



Live Your Best (Holiday) Life: Week 1

On Wednesday I shared about Live Your Best (Holiday) Life for Less, a challenge that Alexandra and I created for November. Our intention for this challenge is to focus on self-care, gratitude, and contentment rather than on the things that can be stressful this time of year.

Each Monday I'll share the week's prompts and ideas for how I plan to incorporate them into my week. 


{LYBHolidayL - Week 1}


    November 1 - Daily or weekly gratitude log. I've mentioned before that I try to make a practice of thinking about what I'm grateful for every evening when I take a shower. However, I like the idea of also writing down a few things each day in my bullet journal as well.

    November 2 - Read article about thankful kids. This article has some good ideas for ways of making gratitude a part of your family lifestyle. For example, they suggested starting a tradition such as going around the dinner table and each person say what he or she is thankful for. I think that's something we could do and even at Jona's age (4) he could join in. I also like the idea of getting kids involved in service projects and volunteer opportunities. That is something I'd like to do more of as a family.

    November 3 - Welcome Thanksgiving season. I've been listening to the Lazy Genius Podcast lately (and totally love it) and she talked about "opening and closing ceremonies" for the holiday season--big or small ways to welcome and say goodbye to the holidays this time of year. Thanksgiving tends to get lost in the middle sometimes, so I like the idea of doing something small, yet memorable, to welcome it. I have two things in mind. One is starting the tradition of going around the dinner table and talking about what we're thankful for. The other is baking something every year around this time, maybe pecan pie bars or homemade hot chocolate. If you have any good ideas, let me know!

    November 4 - Make pumpkin waffles. I don't like pumpkin (sorry Alexandra!) but I do love waffles, so I'll just have to put my own spin on this prompt. I have a go-to recipe for homemade waffles (thanks mom!) but maybe I'll try something new. I'm intrigued by these Raised Waffles from Smitten Kitchen, or perhaps these Pecan Pie Waffles. If you are a pumpkin lover though, make sure you head to Alexandra's blog to get the recipe!

    November 5 - Shop your closet for new outfits. Sometimes pulling out items that haven't been worn in a while make me feel like I'm wearing something new. Because I've spent the last year either breastfeeding or pumping milk for Violet, there are a few items of clothing that I haven't been able to wear. Now that I'm pretty much done, I can't wait to wear my dresses again!


            We would love for you to join in for any of these prompts for the month of November. Be sure to follow us on Instagram (@simplyalexandra12 and @shealennon) and tag your posts with #LYBHolidayL so that we can check them out. Have a great week! 

            Fall Staple: Burgundy Cardigan

            I love cardigans year-round, but I love pulling this burgundy one out at the beginning of fall. The color is just the thing I want to wear right now. I find that it's really versatile too, no matter the weather, which tends to be all over the place this time of year.

            Both of these looks are perfect for a mild fall day, but they could easily be layered up when the weather gets colder. I haven't had to break out the tights just yet, but I'm sure it won't be long.

            Is there something in your closet that you look forward to wearing at the start of fall?


            Live Your Best (Holiday) Life for Less with Simply Alexandra

            Last spring I wanted to make it a priority to get our budget in gear and stop spending carelessly. I created a little challenge, called Live Your Best Life (for Less) with daily prompts to help foster creativity and contentment.

            When I met up with Alexandra, of Simply Alexandra, in July, we talked a little bit about that challenge, and she mentioned the idea of trying to do something similar for the holidays. I thought that was a great idea, because if there's any time I need more motivation to stick with my budget it's the holiday season! She also wanted to incorporate ideas that would help minimize the stress that inevitably accompanies this time of year.


            Violet Lennon at 1 Year

            Well, I blinked and my baby girl turned one. Her birthday was Thursday, the poor thing got four shots on Friday, but hopefully we made up for it with her birthday party on Saturday. We kept it small and simple, and did another ice cream sundae party. She even got her own little dish of vanilla, which ended up pretty much everywhere except her mouth.


            $10 at Target: Happy Halloween!

            I've never been a big Halloween person, but Jona's growing excitement makes me want to get in the spirit. Over the last couple of years I've been slowly amassing a few Halloween decorations for my house, but because they're so short-lived I don't want to spend a ton of money. Enter the Target $1 Spot.

            They nailed it again this year, and last time I was there I picked up a few fun Halloween goodies for my house. For just $10, I found some jack-o-lantern string lights ($3), a spiderweb cup/vase thing ($3), and a trick-or-treat/out of candy door sign ($3).

            Do you do a lot of decorating for Halloween? 



            In My Library Tote: Preschool Books Featuring Animals

            For a kid who is mostly indifferent about real-life animals, Jona sure loves books that feature animals in the story. Maybe because he knows that the book won't spontaneously start barking, or because horses in a story are far less large and intimidating than the real deal. Either way, we do read lots of books with animals around here, and here are a few we've enjoyed lately.

            {preschool book picks: books with animals}



            In My Library Tote: Books with Secrets

            What kind of book are you drawn to? For me, I've mentioned before that fast-paced thrillers with a big plot twist tend to suck me in, but typically leave me disappointed. However, a story that involves a secret or a hidden past, with plenty of drama but not necessarily a big twist, that's more my speed. Here are a few recent reads that all involve secrets, both kept and discovered.


            {recent reads: secrets} 




            Wine Colored Pants 2 Ways for Fall

            While I own plenty of neutrals, wearing color makes me happy in a way that no amount of navy blue, gray, or black can. Most of my color comes in the form of tops and accessories, but I also love the statement that a boldly-colored pair of pants or skirt can make. When I found this wine-colored (berry? plum? hooray for hard-to-describe colors!) pair of pants from Gap on ThredUp last month I quickly added them to my cart.

            I think sometimes people are intimidated by wearing color on bottom, but I think it can be just as easy as on the top half--similarly, it's just all about balance. Here are two ways to wear this surprisingly versatile closet staple. One for the still-mostly-warm days we've had lately, and one for the cooler weather to come.


            October Goals and September Wins

            Each month I share my goals as a way to motivate myself to get things done and stay accountable. Here's this month's recap and the next month's set of goals for my home, my blog, and my family and personal life. 

            Also, I decided to change up how I share my previous month's goals. Inspired by Rising Shining, the blog written by Kelsey of The Girl Next Door podcast (a favorite of mine), instead of sharing how well I did on each stated goal, I'm sharing accomplishments for the prior month to focus on the positive. 



            While it wasn't a goal last month to take a picture with the Weiner-mobile, I'll count it as a win!

            Currently: October

            This time last year I was impatiently awaiting the arrival of Violet, and this year I can hardly believe she's almost 1. This year really has flown by. October is a month that's bursting at the seams, with lots of birthdays, fall events, and crazy work schedules. With everything that's going on, I hope to make space for some calm, quiet moments in the midst of all the fun (and chaos).

            As always, I'm linking with Anne and her co-host this month, Dana, to share what I'm currently up to.

            Favorite Mom Style Item: the Dressy Tee

            Since becoming a mom, and especially now that I work from home two days a week, my style has become increasingly casual. Pencil skirts and pumps just don't make a lot of sense anymore when I spend most days in an office with people wearing jeans, or at home on the floor trying to keep Violet out of Jona's tiny legos. However, I love finding pieces that make me feel a little more dressed up, yet are still comfortable and appropriate for my lifestyle.

            Lately, my favorite such piece is the "dressy tee", which is just as it sounds--a top with the cut and comfort of a tee shirt, but with details that make it a bit more special. In my most recent ThredUp haul, I found two more of these tees to add to my wardrobe. One with lace details and another with sequin embellishments, both are as comfortable as a tee shirt, but make me feel a little bit more put-together.

            September Clothing Budget and October Wishlist

            September was month two of my 6 month Secondhand Shopping Challenge. Not surprisingly, my clothing budget went to ThredUp, just like it did last month. I'm so addicted to that site, and they have so much to choose from that so far I don't miss shopping for new clothes at all. Here's what I bought this month.

            {September Purchases}



            In My Library Tote: Surprise (and Not-So Surprise) Preschool Favorites

            Sometimes I pick up a book for 4-year-old Jona and I know immediately that he will love it. Books about dinosaurs, construction, or anything by Mo Willems are always a safe bet. However, sometimes I bring one home thinking it might end up in the dreaded "pile of ignored books" and I'm surprised to find out that Jona loves it and wants to read it again and again. We encountered a few such surprise favorites this month.

            {Surprise Preschool Favorites}




            Violet Lennon at 11 Months

            In just one month this sweet girl will turn one! I can't even believe it. She's growing and changing so fast and has so much personality. Being her mom is the best.


            Travel Documenting: Tips for Creating an Album You Love {with Simply Alexandra}

            When we took our trip to Minneapolis this summer I wanted a photo album to memorialize our trip. I’m notoriously bad at printing photos, but I felt like creating an album for this short, specific period of time would be doable, even for me. After seeing a few posts on Simply Alexandra about her experience with Project Life, I knew I wanted to do something similar for our trip album. Alexandra and I got to meet up in person this summer, and we thought it would be fun to collaborate on a post about documenting travel.



            $10 at Target: Cozy Fall

            Just like Violet makes a beeline for tiny legos, dog food, or any other small, forbidden objects, I similarly headed straight to Target's dollar spot this month and couldn't tear myself away. Lucky for me, no one rushed over and took the precious goodies out of my cart. I can't say the same for Violet and her squirreled-away stash.

            Despite the impressive amounts of Halloween decor, I couldn't bring myself to purchase any of that just yet. However, I found a few things that would help me get in a cozy mood for fall and that's what I decided to go for.

            In My Library Tote: Top 5 Books of Summer

            What makes a book stand out as excellent to you? There are a lot of factors, but to me, I know I've found a great book when I want to talk about it all the time. Typically I encounter a book like that about once a month. This summer, I went on a great book streak, finding several that I couldn't shut up about. Here are a few of my summer favorites.

            {top 5 books of summer}




            The Perfect Blouse for Early Fall

            Kansas weather is about as fickle as Jona's tastebuds. One day I break out a sweater and fuzzy slippers, the next day I put on shorts. I'm not ready to commit to replace my sandals with ankle boots, but I can't escape that feeling in the air that makes me want to pick out all new clothes for back to school (despite the fact that I'm not actually going back to school).

            I find that lightweight long sleeved blouses, like this yellow Loft one from ThredUp, suit this time of year perfectly. The longer length is perfect for tucking into a skirt, but it also works untucked with jeans. I also like how the mustard yellow color pairs well with bright summery prints, like this drawstring-waist skirt, yet at the same time it's a color that makes me think of fall, especially when paired with warm gold.

            Here are two ways I've recently worn this blouse: dressed up a little for church, and more casually for weekend errands.



            Goals for September and August Recap

            Each month I share my goals as a way to motivate myself to get things done and stay accountable. Here's this month's recap and the next month's set of goals for my home, my blog, and my family and personal life. 



            Currently: September

            We had a lot going on in August, so I'm looking forward to September bringing a little bit of calm to the crazy. As always, I'm linking up with Anne and this month's co-host, Lowanda, to share what I'm currently up to this month.

            August Clothing Budget and September Wishlist

            This month I kicked off a personal shopping challenge to only shop secondhand for the next 6 months. I hope it will not only help me to get out of a style rut, but also help refresh my idea of what it means to blog about style.

            Here is what I bought this month. You may recognize these items from the ThredUp haul I recently posted.


            {August Purchases}


            Print Blouse for Weekend or Work and Thoughts on Style Blogging

            When I started blogging, I shared a lot more style posts than I do now. Of course, I had a lot more time back then, but lately I've been thinking about style blogging and why I haven't been feeling it as much. I still love exploring personal style and getting creative with the clothes in my closet, but recently I've noticed that I've been more hesitant to share an outfit post if I'm not wearing anything new.

            Now listen, I use affiliate links myself and I know a lot of bloggers who make pretty good money linking to the clothes they're wearing. I see nothing wrong with this, and I find that a lot of these blogs are providing both inspiration and a kind of service--I like seeing a store's clothes on a real person before I decide to purchase them. However, at some point I felt I had to keep up with that, and if I couldn't, I shouldn't bother with style posts.

            For me, sharing outfits each week featuring new clothing just isn't a reality. It's not in my budget, for one, and what's more it's not really my style. While I do enjoy shopping, I tend to wear the things I love over and over again and I don't really think about whether or not they're currently available to buy. (You know this about me--you've seen me wearing the same jacket, vest, and earrings for years!) I tend to be an under-buyer, so I typically add to my closet strategically and sometimes slowly.

            Therefore, when I do share style posts, they will likely feature lots of items you've already seen. My goal is to remix them creatively and often include new (or new to me) items as well, but if you're looking for a blog to give you specific items to go buy now, you won't find that here. However, if what you do want is inspiration for how to style what you already have, or ideas for building your wardrobe thoughtfully and on a budget, I hope that I can provide some inspiration.

            I'd love to hear from you regarding your thoughts on style blogging and why you read style blogs or style posts. What would you like to see here? 

            Thanks for reading all that! I do have a couple of outfits to share today, featuring this pretty print blouse I got from a recent ThredUp order. I love how it can easily be dressed up or dressed down. I wore both of these looks this past Sunday: the dressier one to church and the casual one for a solo Target run (can you hear the hallelujahs?) while the kids were napping.

            Jona Lee at 4 Years

            Jona turned 4 last week, something he likes to frequently remind me. "I'm 4 now, so I don't need you to help me brush my teeth/get dressed/get water/etc." I love that he's so proud of what a big kid he's become, especially since it doesn't seem like much time has passed since he wanted my help doing everything.

            Watching him grow up is always bittersweet, but I've been looking forward to this age. Honestly, because 4 means "no longer 3". This past year has been the most challenging in my life as a parent, but at the same time the best. I don't think I fully understood just how much change we'd be bringing into Jona's life (new sister, new school, no more in-home daycare, etc.) and how much, in turn, that change would really rock his little world. That, combined with all the typical challenges that come with the 3-year-old territory, made me question both my sanity and my parenting abilities on multiple occasions.

            Thankfully things have been getting better and better, and I wanted to give a little update on all things Jona right now.



            Violet Lennon at 10 Months

            This past month has sped by, and it seems like Violet is changing so quickly! Here's an update on life at 10 months for Miss Violet.


            $10 at Target: Journaling Goodies

            Although I no longer teach, nor am I a student, back to school time still feels like a fresh start in the year. Jona goes to preschool year-round, but they still make a big deal out of the start of the school year; they host a back to school night and even have a school-supply list that they require. Shopping for his supplies made me want to do a little "school supply" shopping of my own.

            I didn't need pencils and glue, however, so I decided to buy a few things for my bullet journal. I found some pretty washi tape and these Day Designer magnetic bookmarks (I'd link but I can't find them online). I hoped to find some fun stickers but my Target didn't have much to choose from, so I bought this pretty little notebook instead. I'm not yet sure what I'll fill it with, but I have a couple of ideas in mind.


            Washi tape: $2.99 + bookmarks: $3.99 + notebook: $3.99 = $10.97 (a little over, but not bad)



             Have you found any good "back to school" buys lately?

            Linking with $10 at Target