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.