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!

Little Black Dress for a Summer Wedding

Does your summer include a lot of weddings? Several years ago it seemed like I had multiple weddings to attend each summer, but now it's trickled to about one per year. Since the last one I went to was during the winter, my closet was under-prepared for the recent summer wedding on my calendar.

Naturally, when I was shopping for wedding-guest apparel, I started with the shoes. Makes total sense, right? Target, who is having quite a shoe moment right now, had a 40% off shoe sale, and these bright orangey-red beauties I've had my eye on went straight into my cart (along with these fake Birks because I couldn't help myself).

I wanted a neutral dress so the shoes would stand out, so I found this little black dress (also on sale!) at Loft. I love the pretty sleeves, and I know I'll get a lot of wear out of it beyond the wedding. I added a colorful necklace, bright lips, and my signature earrings (which I forgot to put on for pictures, but luckily remembered before heading out the door).

I felt dressy enough, but also quite comfortable, which is essential for me at a wedding. Some people go for the love. Others go for the free food and booze (not going to lie, I like that part too). For me though, I am 100% there for the dancing. And these shoes are dance-floor READY let me tell you. In fewer years than I'd like to think, I will for sure be that middle-aged lady who is out there shaking her booty and being snickered at by "the young folks." I do not care. My days of going to clubs are long gone, but give me a wedding and a dance floor and I will party like my college-self, and love every minute of it.

What's your favorite thing about weddings?

Black dress: Loft | necklace: J. Crew Factory (similar) | shoes: Target

$10 at Target: Dollar Spot Haul

Do you like to write handwritten notes? I'd like to send more snail mail just for fun, but don't normally think to unless I have a purpose. I do try to send thank you notes though, and I noticed that my stash of cards was running a little low.

During my last Target run I thought I'd cruise the dollar section for a few more notes to add to my supply. While I was there I found a few more things I couldn't pass up.

In My Library Tote: May Picture Book Reviews and Recommendations

At my house, you can judge a successful library haul for Jona when library books beat out superhero books in the regular reading rotation. It used to be rare, but it's happening more and more. Could it be that the superheroes are losing their powers? Or am I getting better at picking good books? Or, is it just like most everything else Jona develops an interest in: the passion is strong for about a month and then he's ready to move on to the next thing. Except Legos. The Lego-love is still intense.

Anyway, here are the picture books we read in May.

{May picture books}

Colorful Striped Shorts

How do you feel about shorts? It seems like many people have strong opinions about shorts: when they should be worn, with what, and how long they "should" be. I don't love shorts, but where I live it gets too hot in the summer to not own at least a few pairs.

Since my shorts selection was lacking, I've been on the hunt for a new pair or two lately. I have my own opinions about shorts, especially on length, and it's hard to find a pair that isn't too short or too long. I went on a little shopping trip with my mom over the weekend, and stumbled on this pair at Loft. I wasn't sure about the colors in the pattern at first, but when I tried them on I loved them. And after looking at the colors more closely, I realized that I have a lot of those colors in my closet already: blush pink, dusty blue, yellow.

I wasted no time in giving them a spin. It was HOT this weekend, so they were perfect for a day of playing outside with the kids and running errands on Sunday.

In My Library Tote: May Book Recommendations and Reviews

In May, I worked on finishing up my Spring Reading Wishlist. With the exception of An American Marriage (which I finally picked up, after a super long holds queue) and Big Magic (reading now) I was able to complete it. May also meant that I started my summer reading list. As I've done for the last couple of summers, I used the Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide to help me make my selection. The rest of the year, I compile my TBR from a variety of sources. But for summer, I trust in Anne Bogel. She hasn't yet let me down.

Anyway, here's what I read in the busy month of May.

{what I read in may}

How to Dress Comfortably in the Summer

I aim to look stylish and put-together, yet I consider myself practical above all else. If I know I'm going to be cold, I'll bring a sweater. If I know I'll be doing a lot of walking or standing, I'll wear comfortable shoes. If an item of clothing is too fussy or too uncomfortable, I'll banish it to the donate pile (or at the very least to the back of my closet).

In the summer, when it's hot and sticky, the last thing I want is to be walking around in uncomfortable clothes. I live for casual tees and tops made of comfortable, breathable fabrics. I love this one I found at Old Navy recently because while it can be worn in an off-the-shoulder style, it doesn't have to. My lifestyle is better suited to on-the-shoulder tops, no pulling or adjusting required.

I also adore skirts and shorts in a lightweight material with an elastic waistband. When an item of clothing feels like pajamas but looks like workwear, it's a win-win. This skirt is from Loft last spring, but they have several options in a similar style this season as well (tropical version, pink floralblue floral border).

How do you dress comfortably in the summer? 

Blue off- or on-the-shoulder top: Old Navy | skirt: Loft (similar) | earrings: Nickel and Suede | sandals: Target

Currently: June

Can summer be both laid-back and busy at the same time? That's how it's felt so far. Other than my work schedule and summer class deadlines, the timeline for most of our summer activities has been "whenever we feel like it". At the same time, we've already fit in a lot of activities and adventures, so summer feels plenty busy, without feeling rushed. So far, I like it, as long as I get quiet days regularly. I definitely need time to recharge.

I'm joining Anne and her co-host this month Sarah to share what I'm currently up to in June.

Summer Survey: TBB Asks

What's your summer like? My work schedule doesn't change during the summer; I keep the same hours and schedule year-round. Regardless, my mentality does make a shift this time of year; I feel more laid back and often relax our routines and schedules a bit. Especially since having kids, I try to embrace summer and make it feel special.

I'm joining The Blended Blog's TBB Asks questions that are all about summer today.

June Goals and May 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 was all about home, while June's focus is friendship. 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.

May Favorites

May was a hot month cram-packed with things to do. Between preschool graduation, traveling to visit family, and lots more activities and events, the month went by very quickly. It pretty much felt like summer, weather-wise, all month, but it's hard to believe that summer is officially just about here. Here are some of my favorites from the month of May.

My favorite picture this month - look at that cute face! 

Updating a Dress with a Kimono

This navy blue knit dress is one of the oldest items in my closet and dates back to my early blogging, pre-kid days. Sometimes I'm tempted to put it in the donate pile because it's so old, but when I ask myself if I still like it, my answer is always yes.

It's soft and comfortable, easily styled for work and weekend, and the neutral navy color goes with everything. When I ordered this kimono (found from a great Wikibuy deal!) I decided that it would be the perfect thing to give this dress a fresh, dinner-date worthy feel. And that's exactly where I wore this over the weekend, on a kid-free dinner out with some friends. (Hooray for that!)

I've had a kimono on my wish list for an embarrassingly long amount of time, and I'm not sure why it took me so long to finally get one. I've seen them on a lot of bloggers, but it's been seeing all the ways that Mica styles her kimonos that finally made me decide that I must have one.

Do you hold on to your clothes for a long time or do you refresh your closet more frequently? I consider myself somewhere in between. There are some items, like this dress, that I do keep for a long time, but other things I keep for a season or two and then sell or donate. I do try to be conscious of waste and only purchase items that I know I'll get plenty of wear out of.

Dress: Loft | kimono: Olrain c/o Wikibuy | earrings: Nickel and Suede | necklace: Nordstrom | sandals: Target

Neutral Cardigans with Green for Spring: Mommy and Me Style

Does the season affect your mood? I've been feeling so much more happy and relaxed lately and I think it has a lot to do with the beautiful weather and longer days. I wouldn't consider myself an outdoorsy person (like, AT ALL). Yet the past few weeks I've been outside a lot and it's put me in a great mood, and I've noticed an increase in my energy. So maybe I'm more outdoorsy than I originally thought? Just please don't ask me to go camping.

We had a rare day this weekend that was cooler (still FAR from cold, thank goodness) and I needed a cardigan for both outdoors and indoors. This gray Loft cardigan from ThredUp has been my go-to lately, since it goes with just about everything. Violet's cardigan is also a ThredUp find, from Baby Gap, and I love how soft and lightweight the fabric is.

Unfortunately we had a bit of a photo fail for today's post. Aaron didn't realize at first the ISO needed to be adjusted and the photos were too bright, and by the time he did the camera battery died. Trying to get photos with Violet is hard enough, so I wasn't about to try the whole production again after the battery charged, so we're labeling these photos "artistic" and just going with it. Live and learn.

$10 at Target: Inexpensive Home Spruce-Up

Since learning about the $10 at Target linkup, hosted by Becky of byBMG and several other lovely bloggers, I have loved the idea of giving myself a bit of "fun money" to spend there on whatever catches my eye. However, by nature I am a terrible decision maker and am paralyzed by too much choice. Give me $10 and ALL of Target and I'll wander the aisles for hours, picking things up and setting them down until people (specifically, my family) start to question my sanity.

To make this little challenge work for me I try to stick with a theme every month, and this year I've been letting my Happiness Project be my guide. Since this month I'm focusing on my home, I accepted the challenge of finding a couple of things to spruce up my house for just $10.

Well. Target is a budget shopper's paradise, but it is not easy to find home decor for less than ten bucks! Not one to be easily defeated though (I'm a stubborn Taurus), I did manage to find a couple of things to refresh my house while sticking with the $10 budget.

My Bookish Life: Reading Habits Survey

I've seen this fun survey for bookworms floating around on a few different blogs (here and here), and since I'm a lover of both books and surveys, of course I had to join in. Here are my thoughts on books and reading habits.

Photo from Unsplash

Spring Trunk Club Review

One of the things on my 35 at 35 list was to try Trunk Club, which is Nordrom's answer to a style subscription box. I'd heard of it before, but it was seeing the review on Whitney's blog that made me take the plunge and give it a try.

Despite Nordstrom's prices typically being above my budget, what sold me was the sheer number of things they send. My trunk had 12 items in it. 12! That is more than double what you get from a similar service like Stitch Fix. You pay a $25 non-refundable deposit, which goes toward anything you decide to keep. I don't have to tell you that I'm typically a bargain-hunting budget-conscious shopper, but I treated this shopping experience as a little birthday treat. Plus, I knew from the outset that I would only buy one or two items. Keep reading for a full review and to see what I kept.

Knotted Chambray with a Striped Midi Skirt

I must have complained a little too much about the cold weather, because after about a week of spring weather, we've skipped straight to summer. I'm happy to finally be able to put away my boots, but I miss layers.

This is what I wore to church and brunch for Mother's Day yesterday, and I had planned to wear a different top and a jean jacket. However, we're not even in the cool mornings stage right now, it's just plain hot. So sleeveless chambray shirt it was. It turns out, I really like the combination, and I felt cool and comfy all day (although I did bring a cardigan to wear indoors).

Sleeveless chambray: Who What Wear, Target (similar) | striped midi skirt: J. Crew Factory | earrings: Nickel and Suede | necklace: Jane | bag: Amelie Galanti c/o Wikibuy | sandals: Target (similar)

In My Library Tote: April Picture Book Reviews and Recommendations

This post is a round-up of picture books I read with Jona last month, but in the spirit of entertainment, I had to share the TV show that he's been into lately. It's not a cartoon and it's (surprisingly) not superhero-related; instead, it's a show called Chasing Monsters, about a guy who travels all over to catch giant, often dangerous, fish. I think Aaron watched it once when Jona was around, and since then he's been hooked. (See what I did there?)

I'll let Aaron influence Jona's screen-time experience, as long as I get free-reign over his reading life for now. (Because dear Lord, what would he be reading under Aaron's guidance? Sports Illustrated Golf?) Without further ado, here are our picture book picks for April.

{picture books we read in April}

All About Entertainment: TBB Asks

I'm a couple days late to the party, but I wanted to join The Blended Blog ladies' TBB Asks for this month's questions, which are all about entertainment. I'd love to hear your thoughts as well--answer in the comments or join the linkup here!

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

In My Library Tote: April Book Reviews and Recommendations

Do you participate in reading challenges? I've been doing Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2018 Reading Challenge so far this year, and I also created a little Spring Reading Wishlist to check off a few books I've been meaning to read this season. While I would read regardless of such challenges, it's nice to have a little direction so I don't get lost in my endless to-be-read list. Here are my April reads, many of which come from these little challenges.

{what I read in april}

May Goals and April 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 centered around parenting, while May's focus is home. 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 Irene van der Poel on Unsplash

Currently: May

While I wasn't in a hurry to leave my favorite month behind, I'm looking forward to what's in store for May. Boys golf season winding down means that Aaron will be home more (and I won't be outnumbered during the dinnertime crankies). I'm also starting my online library science class this month: Resources and Services for Early Learners. Finally, Jona has his preschool graduation this month, and although it's a little silly how much of a "thing" they make it, it's exciting (and bittersweet) to think that in the fall he will be starting a brand new stage of school-age life.

That's what I'm looking forward to, but as always I want to share the things we've been up to lately. I'm joining Anne and Carrie today to talk about all the things I'm currently up to.

{currently: may}

April Favorites

Well, it may have started out feeling more like January than April, but my favorite month of the year sure ended on a beautiful note. The past week or so has been gorgeous, and I'm hoping that May will bring even more sunny spring weather. Here are my favorites from the month.

Violet Lennon at 18 Months

I love that my birthday month is Violet's half birthday month. My sweet, sassy little lady turned 18 months old this month, so I thought it was time for an update.

{Violet at 18 Months}

35 at 35: A Year's Worth of Fun

I can almost hear Aaron's eyes roll when I start a sentence with, "So I heard on a podcast..." It's pretty clear that I'm a podcast junkie and I get way to much inspiration these days channeled through my earbuds. But if you're also a podcast-lover, I'm sure we're in the same boat. It's no surprise then that today's post was inspired by a long-time favorite, Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

At the beginning of the year, Gretchen and Elizabeth shared their 18 in 2018 lists: 18 things they want to accomplish in the year 2018. On another episode they shared an idea for celebrating a milestone birthday: create a list of things you want to do in that year so you can look forward to it.

Today I turn 35. It's not really a milestone, but it feels a bit like one to me. I haven't been dreading it, but I do like the idea of making a list to make the year feel more joyful and less "oh boy I'm getting old." Inspired by the podcast, I created a list of 35 things I'd love to do in my 35th year. This isn't a to-do list and it doesn't include things that I feel like I should do. Instead, it's a fun list. I'm only including things that I truly want to do and that would bring more joy to my life. Things that, if I do them, will make me happy, and if I don't, I won't feel any guilt about.

{35 at 35: my want-to-do list}

Photo by Wout Vanacker on Unsplash