Live Your Best Life {for less} Week 1

As I mentioned last week, every Sunday I'm going to share the coming week's prompts for my Live Your Best Life (for Less) May calendar. I'd love for you to join me in any or all of these ideas, aimed at fostering more creativity, style, and contentment in your life.

April Clothing Budget

Before going on "budget lock-down" (see my post from yesterday about that here), I did a little bit of shopping for spring clothes. It felt a bit like indulging on Mardi Gras when you know that Lent is just a day away. Or maybe when you're going to start that diet... tomorrow. I didn't go too crazy, but I did buy quite a few items for spring. Here's what I bought.

{April Clothing Budget}

Introducing - Live Your Best Life (for Less) Calendar!

Aaron and I experienced a "budget wake-up call" this month. We knew it was coming, but when we sat down together to work on our monthly budget, as we do every month, we discovered that the savings that had been our cushion since Violet was born has all but disappeared. We realized that we need to start making some major changes if we want to remain debt free (with the exception of mortgage and student loans).

We already live fairly frugally, but starting this month we are going to implement as many small money-saving changes as we can. The biggest change for us involves food--other than mortgage and child care, that is where the bulk of our money goes. Starting now, we are resolved to eating in more and out less, as well as making smarter choices at the grocery store. Additionally, I will be doing more "shopping my closet" and less shopping in stores or online.

It's easy to get in a negative mindset when cutting back on spending, but I'm determined not to let that happen. Compared to a lot of people in the world, we are blessed with so much, and I know that we can be content, and better yet joyful, with what we've been given.

I thought it would be helpful to have a daily reminder that would encourage me to remain committed to our plan, as well as help me foster creativity, inspiration, and a sense of contentment. Therefore, I created a calendar with daily inspiration for living my best life without breaking our budget. It is my hope that this is something that will benefit you as well, whether or not you're dwelling in Budget Land.

{Live Your Best Life - for Less: May 2017 Calendar}

Here's a link to the calendar if it's not showing up correctly for you. I had one heck of a time trying to format this sucker. #notmystrength

In My Library Tote: Preschool Books for April

Before I had Jona, I had forgotten just how enjoyable children's books can be. I've come to look forward to a fresh stack of children's books from the library almost as much as Jona does. It's partly because when he finds a favorite, he wants to read it ALL. THE. TIME. and I'm ready to send it back, but it's also because I truly enjoy a lot of what we read as well. C. S. Lewist famously said, “A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest,” and I think he has a point. This month's books had a little something for everyone: creative wordplay, beautiful illustrations, and humorous storytelling.

{april picture book recommendations}

Violet Lennon at 6 Months

What is it about 6 months? I feel like this is the age when it hits me that my little baby won't be a baby forever, and it breaks my heart! Of course I want her to grow and develop and have a little personality, but it's so bittersweet, you know? Anyway, here's Miss Violet's 6 month update.

In My Library Tote: Recent Reads in April

Do you set reading goals? I don't set out to read a certain number of books each year, but I do sometimes think about the kind of books I want to read. I tend to stick to fiction, typically contemporary fiction, but this year I made it a goal to read more nonfiction. This month I made some progress on that goal: three of the five below are nonfiction picks!

{April 2017 books} 

$10 at Target: Easy Custom Preschooler Chore Chart

I remember picking up Jona from daycare one day when he was around 2, and all the little kids were picking up toys and putting them away in their bins. Like a lot of things he learned at daycare, it blew my mind a little that he was already old enough to start picking up after himself. After spending so much time picking up after many hours of "Let's Dump Everything Out", his favorite game, it was a revelation to think that he could actually be doing that himself.

So as Jona got older, we started giving him more responsibilities that were appropriate for his age. It started out with just things like picking up toys and putting his laundry in the laundry basket, but now his chores include feeding our dog and putting silverware on the table. He's a helper by nature, so he loves having little jobs that he is responsible for.

Shopping Reviews: Spring Finds at Loft and Target

I may have done a little happy dance when I put my boots and heavy sweaters away for the year. However, when I surveyed what was left in my closet I found that spring was rather underrepresented in there. So, I did a little shopping. Come along with me to the fitting rooms at Loft and Target to see what I found!

{fitting room at Loft}

Loft Vine Ballet Neck Tee - Size S 

Family Easter Traditions and Style - a Blogger Collaboration

I have fond memories of Easter growing up--finding the perfect outfit to wear to church (I would simply ask myself, "What would Claudia Kishi wear?"), hunting for Easter eggs on Easter morning, and dyeing hard boiled eggs the night before. However, I can't think about Easter as a kid without remembering one of our neighbors and their overly-extravagant Easter celebrations. 

We kept things pretty low key at my house. My biggest thrill was finding a whole dollar in one of the "big eggs," aka one of those old pantyhose containers. Otherwise it was mostly candy, quarters, and maybe a small gift or two, and I absolutely loved that. When we moved to a new neighborhood one year, we didn't know just how much entertainment we would be getting every Easter. These people staged elaborate egg hunts in their front yard, and I remember seeing GIANT Easter baskets in their tree and thinking, "How the heck did they get that thing UP there?" I remember being nearly as excited to see just what kind of stuff was "hidden" in their yard as I was to see what was in my own Easter basket. I never felt jealous, mind you, I was genuinely entertained by how much money and effort went into those festivities across the street! 

Now that I have kids of my own, I love creating new holiday traditions with them. We don't have a lot of Easter traditions just yet, but we definitely want to make the day memorable for them, even if our neighborhood doesn't offer quite as much in the way of Easter entertainment. 

I'm joining some fabulous bloggers today for a special family Easter post today, so be sure to check out their blogs to read about their Easter celebrations. 

"Our church has a special Resurrection service and is hosting a coffee and doughnut fellowship time along with family picture time (photographers will come to the church and photograph families). We will also be attending numerous egg hunts and a few family meals."
"This is our first Easter as a family of four, so I was excited to have two little ones to coordinate this year. We got family pictures taken with my husband's side of the family last weekend, so our outfits did double duty. Everyone wore denim and pastel colors for the pictures, so that worked out pretty perfectly for Easter as well. We are ready to go to Sunrise Easter service at our church, and then head home to see what the Easter Bunny brought!"

"Easter is such a special time. We're so looking forward to fun baskets full of outdoor toys, egg hunts and a fun family BBQ. Most important of all, I love sharing the resurrection story with my boys and spending the morning in church!"
"For Easter Sunday we will be going to church and then Vivian will have an egg hunt in our front yard and later will open her basket of goodies to see what Easter Bunny brought her. We coordinated our pastels together. I am wearing a dove blue+white striped cold-shoulder ruffle dress while she has on a mint sundress and blush pink suede sneakers that match the blush pink dots of her white tights. Happy Easter Ladies!"
"This Easter, Aubrey and I will be wearing everything used!  Missy A is wearing an outfit that was handed down to her by some sweet friends of ours whose daughter is a year older and have been so kind as to pass all her outgrown clothes on to us. She loves these baby doll style of shoes and gets really excited when she gets to wear them. You may recognize the dress I’m wearing from last year’s mommy & me collab! Since this year I have resolved to add nothing new to my closet, I’ll be sporting this casual favorite of mine in a new way as we celebrate the day with family."

"The girls are rocking some one-shoulder seersucker dresses handmade by their grandmother. I'm wearing a coral Altar'd State dress from my closet that works well with the floral colors of their dress. We are really looking forward to spending time with family this Easter. And while we do participate in a few Easter egg hunts, I am trying my best to keep this holiday about Jesus. Happy Easter, everyone!" 
"Although Easter is a casual holiday in my family, I do like to look put together.  I love the idea of wearing whites, pastels, and florals for the holiday, so this year I'm going with a little white dress.  To match my boys, I will be dressing them in my favorite white button down from the GAP, and finishing their outfit with jeans and sneakers.  I want them to be comfortable since I know they will be running around outside all day, and hunting for Easter eggs, so dressing up their sneakers and jeans is a perfect solution."

Currently: April

At church this weekend, I volunteered in Jona's classroom (where he goes while we're at the "big church"). A woman was leading the kids, mostly 3-year-olds, in praise and worship, and she asked them, "Do you know what month it is?" Several little voices (including Jona's) piped up proudly, "Sunday!!!" I thought that was too cute not to share.

Speaking of sharing, as always I'm talking about what I'm up to currently this month and linking up with Anne and Jess. Happy Sunday, I mean, April!

How To Use the Outfits App: My Tips for Getting the Most Out of This Styling Tool

Last week I talked about an app that has made a huge difference to my morning routine, Outfits by Cladwell. I've been using the app just about every day for the past couple of weeks, and today I wanted to share some tips that are helping me make the most of it.

Violet said she wanted in on this outfit picture action.