2018 in Review

Happy last day of 2018! I can't believe this year is almost over. I'm always excited for the start of a new year, but I don't want to start thinking about 2019 before I take some time to reflect on 2018.

Favorite Books Read in 2018

Things have been pretty quiet around here this month, but despite the hustle and bustle of Christmas I had to join the Show Us Your Books linkup to share my favorite books of the year. Since I read a mix of new and old books, this list includes all the books I read this year, not just books published in 2018. Also, since I've been reading a lot of both fiction and nonfiction, I split up my list and picked favorites for each.

Olive Jeans with Neutrals

It's hard to believe that Christmas will be here in just a week! I feel a bit more last minute this year, but I think I'll have everything done in time. Things have been quieter on the blog this month, but I decided not to make blogging one more thing to add to a list of so-called obligations. I want to focus on the holiday season and on family right now, so I gave myself permission to slow down a bit everywhere else.

It's been a minute since I've shared a style post, but I wanted to share this look from a day off spent with errands and appointments. I hadn't planned this as a "blog look"--it's nothing special, but despite the casual pieces I really liked how it came together.

The grey peplum tee and the olive jeans are two recent favorite purchases. The grey tee especially I've been wearing a ton--it is the perfect laying piece that is perfect under just about every cardigan and jacket I own. And the long sleeves give a bit more warmth, which is nice. I've also had olive jeans on my wish list for some time now, and when Old Navy did a promotion on all their jeans recently, I picked these up. They are perfectly soft and stretchy, and I like the darker olive shade.

Are there any recent buys you've been enjoying? Any other fun things you've been up to this month? 

Black cardigan: Gap Outlet (similar) | grey peplum tee: Caslon, Nordstrom | olive jeans: Old Navy | earrings: Nickel and Suede | scarf: J.Crew via ThredUp (similar) | slip-on sneakers: Loft (similar)

In My Library Tote: November Book Reviews and Recommendations

I am so glad to be back to blogging, normal life, and talking about books! I mentioned last week that I caught a bug, well the "bug" ended up being strep throat and let me tell you, it knocked me out! I haven't had that since I was a little kid, but getting it as an adult was not fun. Thankfully I am healthy now and crossing my fingers that no one else gets it. Anyway, here's what I read last month. I'm happy to report that I enjoyed almost everything I read, only one dud in the bunch!

{November books}

Currently: December

Happy December! While I feel like November went really fast, with Thanksgiving falling on the early side I've been ready to kick off the holiday season for a while now. I'm joining Anne to share a few things I'm Currently up to for the month. I had planned to share my goals as well, but I've been taken down by a not-so-fun bug and this was the only part of the post I'd planned ahead.

{currently: december}

Live Your Best {Holiday} Life: November Update

I'm joining Alexandra again this year for our Live Your Best Holiday Life challenge. It is something that we created to help make the holiday season a little less stressful and more focused, by intentionally making time for activities that are budget-friendly, self-care centered, and festive.

Since we're one month into the challenge--and the holiday season is in full swing--I wanted to provide a little update with how things are going so far.

My Updated Fall Uniform with Ethyl Clothing

My style is pretty classic, and most of my wardrobe consists of staple pieces. I don't like to spend a lot of money on trends, but I do like to find ways to update classic pieces so I don't feel like I'm wearing the same thing all the time. In the fall and winter I pretty much live in some variation of jeans and a cardigan, but luckily there are countless ways to make that classic combination feel fresh.

Recently I had the opportunity to work with Ethyl Clothing and choose a couple of pieces from their collection. They have a lot to choose from, but surprising no one, I decided to choose jeans and a cardigan. These dark wash jeans are a classic style that I'll never get tired of. I love my skinny jeans, but I've been wanting some straight leg options, and these are perfect. They also have some stretch and are so soft and comfortable to wear.

Speaking of comfortable, the cardigan I'm wearing is the epitome of cozy. I keep seeing chenille sweaters around, so when I spotted this one on the Ethyl website I knew it had to be mine--the soft texture and bold dark red color are so perfect for this time of year too.

I didn't know much about Ethyl Clothing before, but I've since learned that they have been in business for over thirty years, and the same couple has been designing the clothes from the start. Based out of Seattle, they began by selling their clothes to small boutiques across the U.S., but in recent years they have expanded their business to include online sales. I love supporting small businesses, and a company like Ethyl Clothing, dedicated to providing quality and fit, is one worth supporting.

Are you a jeans with a cardigan devotee as well? What's an update you'd like to make to your cardigan collection?  

Red cardigan: c/o Ethyl Clothing | gray tee: Madewell via ThredUp | jeans: c/o Ethyl Clothing | earrings: Nickel and Suede | scarf: Target (similar) | blush mules: Target

Bundled Up Winter Look

It may still be fall, but we've had a few days lately that required the full winter getup. Luckily, the cozy coat I recently ordered arrived in time for the chill. It's from Abercrombie and Fitch, a brand I haven't shopped since high school, but they had a great sale and this coat got great reviews. It's cozy and warm, and I love how the longer length works well with the longer sweaters and cardigans I've been loving lately.

During another online sale I couldn't resist, I picked up this striped sweater from Old Navy. At first I wasn't sure about the tunic length--I'm usually not much of a tunic person--but with the right jeans or leggings I really like it. For even more warmth, I added this cute hat that was a recent Amazon find.

I don't like the cold, but with the right winter gear my whining decreases significantly. Are you experiencing winter coat weather yet? What kind of winter coat are you reaching for this year? 

I hope you have a great week and a happy Thanksgiving (for those of you in the U.S.)! I'm taking a break until next week, but come back then for another style post.

Parka: Abercrombie and Fitch (similar) | striped sweater: Old Navy | jeans: American Eagle | hat: C.C. via Amazon | ankle boots: Fergalicious via ThredUp (similar)

In My Library Tote: October Children's Book Recommendations

If you follow me on Instagram, every Monday I try to share a favorite thing or something that's saving my life in my Stories. Adding to that list, something saving my--child transporting--life is audio books. The trek from Violet's daycare to Jona's school feels long. It's not actually that far, but because of school traffic and the multiple school zones we pass, it takes a good 20 to 30 minutes. During Jona's days of drop-off anxiety, audio books helped to relax him. Now the days of morning tears are gone, but audio books still help make that long drive a lot more fun. Here are a few books (and audio books) we loved last month.

{what we read in October}

Cozy Fall Stripes with Plaid

Lest we forget, winter wanted to remind us she is coming, so she sent snow last Thursday, then again yesterday. I wish I were more like Lorelai Gilmore and found the snow magical, but unfortunately I'm a bit more scrooge-like about it. I can appreciate the snow, but only when I'm inside, under a blanket, with nowhere to go. Since the snow rarely fits into those schedule openings, it's more of a pain than anything else.

Winter weather grumblings aside, it warmed up a bit on Sunday when I wore this to church. Tights were necessary of course, but at least I didn't have to wear snow boots. I visited some outlet stores a couple of weeks ago and found this striped tee and sweater vest at Gap Outlet. I can't say no to a great striped tee, and I also wanted another layering piece that's a bit different from my utility vest and puffer vests. I paired them together for this look, and added the scarf for warmth--also because I liked the colors and prints together.

Is it starting to look like winter where you live or are you still enjoying fall? How do you feel about snow?

Striped tee: Gap Outlet (similar) | denim button-down skirt: J.Crew via ThredUp (similar) | navy sweater vest: Gap Outlet (similar) | fuchsia earrings: Nickel and Suede | scarf: Talbots via ThredUp (similar) | taupe ankle boots: Fergalicious via ThredUp (similar)

In My Library Tote: October Book Reviews and Recommendations

Cool fall temperatures had me craving cozy reading time, so I managed to get a lot of reading done in October. I was all over the map genre-wise too, which made for an interesting month. Here are the eight books I read last month.

{what I read in October}

November Goals and Currently

This year, inspired by Gretchen Rubin's book, I've been doing a Happiness Project, focusing on one important aspect of my life every month. Last month, my focus was mindfulness, while November's goals center around contentment. The idea is that the months should build on one another and the habits formed in one month should continue into the next and so on. Each month I share my wins from the previous month, as well as goals that fit the theme of the current month.

I'm also joining Anne for her monthly Currently linkup to share what I'm up to at the start of this month of thankfulness.

The picture of contentment right here :) 

Live Your Best {Holiday} Life 2018 with Simply Alexandra

Does anyone else have that day-after-Halloween post-candy and post-late-night-with-small-children hangover? Ugh. I think they should make a rule that the day after Halloween should be an automatic holiday. Anyway, I'm so excited to share that Alexandra from Simply Alexandra and I are starting an all new Live Your Best (Holiday) Life (#LYBHolidayL) for this year. We're doing it a little differently this year, so keep reading for all the details. We'd love for you to join us to help you make your holiday season even better.

Mom and Toddler Girl Fall Floral

Dark floral prints have become as ubiquitous for fall as their bright counterparts are in spring, but they still feel very fresh to me. I have a long-sleeved version from Old Navy that's a few years old and nearly worn out, so my closet was due for a fall floral upgrade. I found this blouse during a recent Loft sale, and while the short sleeves make it difficult to wear on its own right now, it's just right for layering under sweaters and jackets.

I did a little shopping for Violet recently, and some dark floral was in order for her as well. Her version--a long sleeve tee shirt from Old Navy--coordinates quite perfectly with my own I think. Looking at these photos, I'm pretty sure her shirt was on backwards, but if a toddler can't pull off a backwards top then who can?

It can be a challenge to get pictures taken with my mile-a-minute Violet these days, but I love it when she cooperates. It will be nice to look back and have these moments frozen in time of her at this adorable age. I asked her what's on her shirt and she said, "flowers on there!" and then she noticed my shirt and she said "mommy's shirt has flowers too!" I love her excitement.

Do you enjoy floral prints year round?

On me: faux suede jacket: H&M (similar) | floral top: Loft | jeans: American Eagle | earrings: Nickel and Suede | black ankle boots: JC Penney (similar)
On Violet: floral tee: Old Navy | leggings: Old Navy | boots: Carter's 

Violet Lennon at Two

Two! My sweet, sassy Violet has graduated (overnight it seems!) from the baby stage and is in full toddler-hood now. Watch out world! She is full of energy and never sits still, and challenges my parenting skills by being a completely different child than her brother. I'm so glad I get to be her mom. Here's an update of miss Violet at two years.

{Violet Lennon at Two}

Fall Trunk Club Review

I tried Trunk Club for the first time in the spring (review here), and although I only purchased one item, I enjoyed the service. It's similar to Stitch Fix, but they send a lot more items; I had twelve items in my trunk this time. There is a $25 styling fee, but that fee goes towards anything you purchase. I figure that with the number of items they send, the odds are good that there will be at least one thing I want to keep.

This time I requested layering pieces for fall and sweaters, but didn't have any other specific requests. I also asked my stylist Katy to try to work with my budget as much as possible--that was my biggest complaint about my last trunk. Everything in it was so expensive! I only had a short window of time when I was able to take photos, and I'm not happy with the quality of these. Regardless, here's what I got in my fall trunk.

In My Library Tote: September Children's Book Recommendations

September brought the first full month of school, and with it the beginnings of a good routine. I'm thankful that reading is still a part of both kids' bedtimes, because without that I'm not sure when else I would fit in read-aloud time. I can't go to bed myself without reading, so I hope it's a habit Jona and Violet continue even when they can read on their own. Here's what we read last month.

{children's books we read in September}

35 at 35 Update

This year on my birthday, I decided to create a bucket list of 35 things I would like to do in my 35th year. It's not a list of things I feel I should do, rather it's a list of fun things that will hopefully make this year more enjoyable. Since I'm approaching my half-birthday this month, I thought I'd give an update on how I'm doing so far on my list.

In My Library Tote: September Book Reviews and Recommendations

Is there anything better in the fall than a glass of red wine and a good book? Okay, maybe if there's also a bonfire and some s'mores involved (although, wash your hands before picking your book back up... sticky fingers). It was cool and rainy all weekend here, so I pretty much wanted to read and do nothing else. Here are the books I read last month.

{what I read in September}

Easy Print Mixing: Leopard and Stripes for Fall

It was chilly and rainy all weekend, so I'm glad I thought ahead (for once!) and took outfit photos on Friday before the rain started. That day also started out cold so I'm glad I had this cozy sweater, although by afternoon I didn't need it anymore. That's fall though; thank goodness for layers.

I find myself repeating this outfit formula fairly often: cardigan, print tee, jeans, fun shoes. A cardigan is definitely my go-to layer and I love how easy it is to change up the look with a different top or tee underneath. I found this one during a recent Old Navy sale and I love the thick (but not itchy!) fabric and longer length.

Shoes are another easy way to add more color or mix prints, like I did here. Leopard is everywhere right now (not that it ever really went away) and I love it, particularly mixed with stripes. It's such a fun, yet classic, combination.

What outfit formula have you been repeating lately? 

Cardigan: Old Navy | red striped tee: Loft | jeans: Gap via ThredUp (similar) | earrings: Nickel and Suede | necklace: Universal Thread, Target | leopard flats: Merona via ThredUp (similar)

October Goals and Currently

This year, inspired by Gretchen Rubin's book, I've been doing a Happiness Project, focusing on one important aspect of my life every month. Last month's goals were all about blogging, while October's focus is mindfulness. The idea is that the months should build on one another and the habits formed in one month should continue into the next and so on. Each month I share my wins from the previous month, as well as goals that fit the theme of the current month.

Also to welcome the month I'm joining Anne for her monthly Currently linkup to share what I'm up to at the start of this fresh new month and season.

Photo by Kenrick Mills on Unsplash

Blush Pink for Fall

There was a time when I considered blush pink to be a color I only wore in spring and summer, the same way I tend to pigeonhole burgundy and rusty orange as fall and winter colors. However, my obsession with blush has grown over the past few years (as has the world's, it seems) and it's become a color I wear year-round.

In the fall and winter though I gravitate towards slightly darker, dustier versions of blush, so when I spied this cardigan on Cents of Style I knew it would be perfect for fall layering. It is so cozy, soft, and warm, which was surprisingly necessary this weekend. It got pretty chilly!

I also love the gamut of colors that pair well with blush: olive (like my earrings), navy blue, burgundy, plum... the list goes on. What's your favorite way to wear blush pink? 

Cardigan: Cents of Style | twist-front tee: BP, Nordstrom (long sleeve version) |  jeans: American Eagle | earrings: Nickel and Suede | necklace: Universal Thread, Target (similar) | ankle boots: Fergalicious via ThredUp (similar)

A Day in the Life: Working Mom of Kindergartner and Toddler

A lot has changed since my last Day in the Life post. I have a new job (although it's with the same company, in the same office), I now work from home only one day a week, and I now have a kindergartner on my hands! Here's a little glimpse into my busy but happy life.

Classic Fall Look: Plaid Shirt and Denim Skirt

When I put this outfit on over the weekend I realized that both my shirt and skirt are secondhand items. In fact, as I was looking over my fall closet options, I saw several items that I scored during my "secondhand shopping challenge" last year during this time. Several of the items I found then are still favorites now.

I haven't done much secondhand shopping since then, unfortunately. While I would love to browse the thrift stores, I admit that it's not something I make time for. I love the option of shopping secondhand online, which is why I've always loved ThredUp. I've done quite a bit of browsing there lately, but I haven't done any purchasing.

It's not the selection that's holding me back; I consistently find several things I love at a great price. However, more and more it feels like the convenience they offer has its own price tag. I noticed they started adding a "restocking fee" to their items, which means if you return it you have to pay $1.99. One thing I always loved about ThredUp is the ability to shop secondhand from home and then return if an item didn't work out; not being able to try on an item in person is one of the risks of online shopping, especially thrift shopping. Two dollars isn't a lot, but if you are purchasing multiple things (which you have to do if you want to qualify for free shipping at $75!) it really adds up. I'm just not sure it's worth it anymore. Am I being too cheap?

I hope to find time to do some in-person secondhand shopping this fall. Are you a secondhand shopper? What are your thoughts on buying secondhand online? 

Plaid shirt: J.Crew via ThredUp (similar Factory option) | denim skirt: J.Crew via ThredUp (similar, lighter wash) | earrings: Nickel and Suede | ankle boots: JC Penney (similar)

In My Library Tote: August Children's Book Reviews and Recommendations

Superhero and Lego books are on (heavy) repeat around here, but I managed to sneak in some variety in Jona's reading life as well. I also found a few superhero-themed stories that play on the idea of a superhero without being overly commercial. I need a break from Hulk, Iron Man, and Black Panther every now and then.

{children's books we read in August}

Fall Hair Care with Beauty Brands

As you know I've been working with the hair experts at Beauty Brands, and I went to see my stylist Ame over the weekend. Despite the decidedly un-fall-like weather, I've had fall on the brain lately. (I bought a wreath for our door, some fall hand soap, and I even made soup on Sunday!) So a trim and style freshen-up for fall sounded perfect as well.

Camo Jacket with Bright Pink for Fall

I could hardly believe I had to pull out my jacket over the weekend. It's back to summer-like temps now, but over the weekend we got a true taste of fall (plus rain galore). As I've mentioned before, I am okay with weather that requires some light layers, so I was happy to wear this camo jacket that I picked up earlier this year at Old Navy. (And, inspired, I also may have ordered a matching version for Violet from BabyGap. #canthelpmyself)

It took me a while to embrace the camo trend, but I'm fully on board now and hope to add some more to my closet (like maybe this tee or these slip-on sneakers). I especially love mixing it with more feminine pieces, like these bright pink mules that were a recent Target find. I wore this to church on Sunday, and while our church is very casual, I wanted to dress up this jeans + jacket combo just a little with fun shoes and bright lipstick.

Jona, who has reached the age of "if there's not a superhero or a sports team on my shirt I'm not interested," did agree to match me in his camo shirt so I couldn't help but get a few photos with him too. Check out his awesome superhero Vans!! Courtesy of his very cool Aunt Jenny.

Have you embraced the camo trend? How do you like to style it? 

Camo jacket: Old Navy | sleeveless chambray shirt: Who What Wear, Target (similar) | black jeans: J.Crew via ThredUp (similar) | olive earrings: Nickel and Suede (camo pair!!) | pink mules: A New Day, Target

In My Library Tote: August Book Reviews and Recommendations

Inspired by the Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide, I made a list of 20 books I'd like to read over the summer, and by September I checked off fifteen from that list. I abandoned one, and the other four I simply didn't get to. I don't really read seasonally--I like variety in my reading life year-round--but I do feel like summer is an extra special time for reading and having a "summer reading list" makes it even more fun. However, there's something to be said for cozy-ing up and enjoying a book on a cool fall day, so I look forward to that as well.

{what I read in august}

September Goals and August Wins

This year, inspired by Gretchen Rubin's book, I've been doing a Happiness Project, focusing on one important aspect of my life every month. Last month, my focus was on spirituality, while September's goals are all blogging-related. The idea is that the months should build on one another and the habits formed in one month should continue into the next and so on. Each month I share my wins from the previous month, as well as goals that fit the theme of the current month.

Photo by Rachel Moenning on Unsplash

Currently: September

Hey there September! The older I get the more I embrace the changing of seasons, so I've come to love September. It still feels like summer yet there are hints of fall all around as well. (Target, I am NOT ready for Halloween decorations though. Why???) I'm ready to start thinking about cardigans and fall shoes and making the switch from white to red wine. At the same time, I don't want to wish away the long days or delicious summer produce. September is a month of in-between, and I'm learning to appreciate its in-between-ness.

As always, I'm joining Anne for her monthly currently linkup. Here's what I'm currently up to.

August Favorites

While a few of my favorite people were born in August--Jona plus two of my nieces--I'm not sad to see this month go. August goes from summer to crazy in a hot minute, and frankly I'm ready for everything to settle into a predictable routine. Predictable routines are my jam. I'm an exciting person.

Here are a few favorites from crazy August.

Little Black Dress with Blush

The last time I wore this dress, I fancied it up with bold jewelry and bright shoes for a wedding. For church on Sunday, I wanted to give it a more laid back feel, so I added my denim jacket and blush pink mules. Adding the jacket and swapping sandals for mules also gives it a "fall transition" vibe as well, although my thought was more "AC survival" since it's still a sweltering 95 plus degrees here.

After being gone for most of the week last week, I spent the weekend trying to catch up on rest and family time. I also decided to drop the class I was enrolled in, because my plate just felt overloaded. I'm normally the type to put my head down and power through, but usually all that ends up getting me is stress. I'm not sure where I stand now regarding my in-process library science master's, but I do know that my sanity thanks me.

Do you keep your schedule pretty busy or do you like to leave plenty of room in the margin? 

Denim jacket: Gap (similar) | black dress: Loft | gold earrings: Nickel and Suede | necklace: Jane (similar) | blush mules: Target

Striped Skirt with Embellished Tee and Bright Slides

I wore this to church this weekend, which felt like the calm before the storm. We had a nice, relaxing weekend, but this week is jam-packed full of crazy. I'm traveling to Rhode Island for work, then I come back for my first in-person library class of the fall semester, which meets Friday night and all day Saturday. Poor Aaron is going to need a break too after solo parenting all week. Usually Jona and Violet balance each other out; their challenging times don't often overlap. Right now though, our house is a circus. Jona is taking out all his feelings about the newness of kindergarten on us at home, which means, among other things, bedtime has once again become a battle zone. Not to be outdone, Violet has fully entered the stage of tantrums. You tell her no and see smoke coming out of her ears. And she is a button-pusher through and through. Yep, Aaron will be more than ready for me to be back.

Anyway, that's my life story. On to the clothes...  My go-to look for the skirt I'm wearing is how I styled it in this post, but I felt like changing it up a little this weekend. I added my favorite coral slides and an embellished tee for a slightly more dressed up feel, but with no loss in comfort. This skirt is so comfortable and versatile, I'm hoping to be able to make it work this fall too. I can't even believe that it's time to start thinking about that!

A quick PSA: things may be a bit quieter/less frequently updated around here as I try to get through this crazy week and also figure out a new normal with a new job, grad school, and kindergarten (I realize that I'M not in kindergarten but I swear it's been harder on me!).

Navy embellished tee: J. Crew via ThredUp (fun fringe tee for a steal) | striped midi skirt: J. Crew Factory | earrings: Nickel and Suede | coral slides: Target (these are SO comfy)

Jona Lee at 5 Years

August has been quite the month! Lots of big days and new beginnings, which is exciting but also an emotional roller coaster. Jona turned 5 yesterday, and that day also happened to be his first day of kindergarten. What a day! I wanted to share a little update and interview about Jona's life as a big 5 year old.

In My Library Tote: July Book Reviews and Recommendations

Life has been busy and it only seems to get busier, so I am more thankful than ever for books. Although I haven't had as much time to read as I'd like (I mean really, that will never happen unless someone just pays me to read books all day!) the time I've had was well spent.  Let's get to it and talk about July reads, shall we?

{what I read in July}

In My Library Tote: July Children's Book Recommendations

Between my children's lit class and the kids being home all summer, we visited the library a lot in July. You just can't beat the library for free, air conditioned entertainment on a hot summer day. I found that taking even just 30 minutes out of my work-from-home day to get them out of the house for a bit paid off; they were usually more content to play on their own the rest of the day. Life saver! Thanks to the frequent visits, we read a lot in July.

{what we read in July}

Casual Summer Look: Black, White, and Blush

I may be cutting back a bit on blog posts right now, but I want to continue to make style posts a regular thing. Style is still one of my favorite things to read about, find inspiration for, and share about. Yet (as I shared in my last style post) I find a lot of my summer looks to be, well, kind of boring. Or at least pretty formulaic and repetitive.

In an effort to keep it real around here, I'll share a recent less-than-exciting summer look. I wore this to help in Jona's classroom at church over the weekend, although I've worn some combination of this look pretty often all summer. I love skirts and dresses, but sometimes (especially during kid-centered activities) only pants will do. These white jeans have been on repeat since spring, I just swap out one printed top for another, and another.

For me what makes this look a little more interesting is the shoes. I just love the color combination of black and white with a pop of blush pink. Violet, my budding fashionista, chose the necklace when rummaging around (yay!) in my closet. "Necklace, mama!" I have to admit, the girl has good taste--she picked one that really does work. It's possible that it was one on her eye level and a familiar one that I let her wear/play with, but I'll choose to believe that she just has an eye for style. ;)

What's one of your go-to outfit formulas this summer? 

Black striped tank: Target (fun twist-hem option) | white jeans: Old Navy | earrings: Nickel and Suede | necklace: Mama and Little | blush sneakers: Target

August Goals and July Wins

This year, inspired by Gretchen Rubin's book, I've been doing a Happiness Project, focusing on one important aspect of my life every month. Last month my goals were all about money, and August's focus is spirituality. The idea is that the months should build on one another and the habits formed in one month should continue into the next and so on. Each month I share my wins from the previous month, as well as goals that fit the theme of the current month.

Photo by Denisse Leon on Unsplash

July Favorites and Currently

July has been a whirlwind! I know that there is still plenty of summer left in August, but for us July feels like the last summer month. Aaron starts work on August 1, and the kids start daycare and school pretty soon afterwards. Here are a few favorites from the month of July.

Hair Care as Self Care with Beauty Brands

My mom is a (now retired) hairstylist, so growing up I had the luxury of having my hair done as often as I liked. I went through the gamut of styles, from the shiver-inducing 80s perm to a failed attempt at the iconic "Rachel" 'do.

Once I became a mom, and both my time and access to a salon became more limited, taking care of my hair became more of an afterthought. I stopped taking the time to get it colored regularly, and I chose hairstyles based on maintenance level (hint: low) over anything else.

Lately though, I've been feeling the desire to step up my game when it comes to my hair. Self care has always been important to me, yet for the longest time I had a narrow definition for how I implement self care in my life. To me, self care was nourishing my mind and soul with books and podcasts, indulging in the occasional (okay, frequent) bowl of ice cream, and prioritizing sleep. However, I'm starting to see that self care can mean the fun stuff too, like trying out a new lipstick, going on a solo shopping trip, or even visiting the hair salon for a spruce-up. Many people already view that "fun stuff" as self-care, but for some reason I saw these things as indulgences rather than ways to care for myself.

I'm so glad I decided to shift my perspective, because my visit to Beauty Brands earlier this week for a cut and color felt like self care at its finest. First of all, the idea of going to a salon for an hour or two of pampering is gratifying enough, but from start to finish my visit felt perfectly tailored to me.

How to Layer in the Summer: Kimono with White Shorts

I hate to pooh-pooh simplicity, but does anyone else ever get bored with summer clothes? It's been full-on, blazing heat, forget spring, summer weather here since early May and I'm a little sick of it. If summer is your favorite and you kind of want to punch me right now, I get it, I do. But I want LAYERS. Give me a nice spring day where a denim jacket is required in the evening and I'm a happy gal. Unless I'm dressing specifically for the AC (see this post), I'm just not all that excited to get dressed anymore.

However, there is one summer-friendly layer that is helping me get out of my style rut, and that is the kimono. The one I have is made from very light, sheer material that adds no weight to this summer look. Yet, I feel like it adds SO MUCH to the outfit. White shorts and a gray tee on their own sum up my current feelings about summer clothes pretty well: sure, I like this outfit fine. It's fine. Yawn. But add the kimono and I have a LOOK. Why yes I did get dressed today, thank you very much. It may be all mental of course, but what isn't?

How do you keep your summer outfits interesting? Or do you think I'm crazy and love summer clothing because no layers are necessary? 

Floral Kimono: Olrain c/o Wikibuy | gray tee: Target (similar) | white denim shorts: Old Navy | earrings: Nickel and Suede | necklace: Target | sandals: Old Navy

In My Library Tote: June Children's Book Reviews and Recommendations

Since summer started, Jona and I have been making weekly trips to the library to attend the evening storytime. It's a fun way for us to spend time together, and Jona is like a kid in a candy store picking out new books to take home each week. So this month's list has a few titles that I may not have chosen, but ended up being hits for him.

{June children's books}

Floral Tie-Front Top with White Jeans

In May I decided to treat myself and try out Nordstrom's Trunk Club service, a clothing delivery service similar to Stitch Fix (see my review here). I ended up only keeping one item, this floral print tie-front top from Gibson. Fast forward a few months and I've rarely had a chance to wear it, as Kansas decided to skip over the month of spring completely.

It was in my closet staring at me over the weekend, begging to be worn. While I knew I'd be sweating when I ventured outside, I put it on for church on Sunday. Our sanctuary is notoriously cold, and I knew I would be thankful for the sleeves. Surrounded by women shivering in their sleeveless dresses, I found myself glad I'd decided to opt for more coverage.

Paired with white jeans and peep-toe sandals, this top works well for spring or (overly AC'd) summer. I also think this top will work well in the fall as well, with jeans and ankle boots. My feet start to sweat just thinking about that right now though.

Do you ever buy a piece you're super excited about, just to stow it away until weather cooperates, or you have the right occasion to wear it? 

Floral tie-front top: Gibson via Trunk Club | white jeans: Old Navy | peep-toe sandals: Universal Thread, Target

Family Vacation: Our Long Weekend in Dallas

Last month my family and I traveled to Dallas for a long weekend getaway. It's about an eight hour drive, which is a long time to be in the car with young kids, but still doable. We stopped to visit family on the way there to break up the trip, but the way back we did all in one long, long day.

I wish I had great ideas for entertaining children in the car for that length of time, but it was kind of a crap shoot keeping them happy. Two things did work well, however. Violet didn't care about this, but I put in an audiobook on CD for Jona, which, as I mentioned in my June Favorites post was Sideways Stories from Wayside School. He could have listened to that nonstop. The other thing we did was move their car seats right next to each other. On the way there, I found myself constantly turning around to hand Violet things she dropped (and therefore shouted about LOUDLY until I could grab them). On the way back, half of what she dropped ended up on Jona's lap and he could easily give it back to her. Plus I think they liked having each other nearby, especially since Violet is still rear-facing so this set-up makes it easier for them to see each other.

The car ride was only part (albeit the seemingly longest part) of our trip, so I'll move on to what we actually did in Dallas.

{where we stayed}

{testing out the hotel bed}

In My Library Tote: June Book Reviews and Recommendations

June was an excellent reading month for me. There wasn't a bad book in the bunch; in fact, there were several really good ones. The majority of this month's books came from Modern Mrs. Darcy's Summer Reading Guide, and--for me at least--she truly does know how to pick 'em. Here are my June books.

{what I read in June}

Red White and Blue Summer Style for the Family

I took full advantage of the fact that Jona will still happily match Violet, and bought these coordinating red, white, and navy checkered outfits. The rest of the week he's all about the superhero or sports tee, but for church and other special occasions he knows that mom gets to pick. He started to complain about wearing this button up (the outrage!) until I told him Violet would be wearing the same pattern, and then he cooperated fully. Violet, on the other hand, doesn't seem to care much what she wears. She goes non-stop though, so getting her dressed is like wrestling a monkey.

I hadn't planned on taking blog photos of my casual look, but when I saw the kids together in their coordinating outfits, I had to make it happen. My look is less overtly patriotic--just navy and white, but still feels fun and summery. I picked up this top on a recent Target run and can't get enough of the cute sleeves. It's a little shorter than I'd prefer, but with higher-waist jeans or a skirt I like it.

If you have kids do you like dressing them alike or coordinating them with you? Did your parents do that to you as a child? 

On me: striped tee: Target | jeans: American Eagle | earrings: Nickel and Suede | gingham sneakers: Target
On the kids: all Old Navy

Currently: July

Happy July 4th to all, and happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans! I may not love the direction we're moving politically, and I may question the decision-making of our current administration, but I do feel very thankful to live where I do.

Since it's the first Wednesday of the month, I'm joining Anne and her co-host this month Shelly to share what I'm currently up to now that we've flipped the calendar to a new month.

{currently: july}

July Goals and June Wins

This year, inspired by Gretchen Rubin's book, I've been doing a Happiness Project, focusing on one important aspect of my life every month. Last month I focused on friendship, and July is all about money. The idea is that the months should build on one another and the habits formed in one month should continue into the next and so on. Each month I share my wins from the previous month, as well as goals that fit the theme of the current month.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

June Favorites

June has been such a fun month. It definitely felt like summer all month, so thank goodness for sprinklers and slip and slides. June also meant our summer vacation, a road trip to Dallas for a Texas Rangers game. I'll share more about our exploration of the city in an upcoming recap post. Here are a few favorites from the month of June.

Break Time

I wanted to let you know I'm taking a short blogging break, but I'll be back on Friday, June 29 to share my June favorites. See you then!

Be sure to follow me on Instagram (@shealennon) for more regular updates.

Have a great weekend!