February Favorites

I had so much fun rounding up my favorite things for January that I think I'm going to make this a regular thing. Here's a list of what I loved in February.

{february favorites}

A favorite pic from February

Easy Date Night Style

There seem to be very few occasions in my life that require dressing up these days. My workplace is pretty casual, as is my church, although I do like to dress nicely for both when I can. So when Aaron and I have a date night, it gives me an excuse to put a bit of extra effort into getting ready. I still rarely get too fancy; going to dinner in Kansas City is far from a black-tie affair.

This is what I wore when we went to dinner a couple of weeks ago, and while it's still comfortable enough for a night of good eating (priorities, right?), I felt a little more glamorous than usual. This blouse, a ThredUp score, is one of my go-tos, and with a pretty cardigan, my favorite over-the-knee boots, and statement-making jewelry, I felt just dressy enough.

Is your lifestyle on the dressier side or the more casual side? Do you have to dress a certain way for work everyday? 

Burgundy cardigan: Gap Outlet (similar) | navy print blouse: Loft via ThredUp (similar) | jeans: Loft (similar) | earrings: Nickel and Suede | necklace: Bauble Bar (similar) | over-the-knee boots: Target (similar)

Last 10 Photos from My Phone

I remember seeing a post like this last year on Anne's blog and mentally filing it away as a fun blog post idea. After planning a food post and then failing to take photos of said food, this idea came to mind as one I was already prepared for.

Looking at my phone's camera roll, it's a pretty good representation of the things I love: lots of photos of my kids, some book-related shots, and an outfit here and there. If Aaron didn't hate being photographed I'd probably have more of him in that mix as well.

Here are the last 10 or so photos on my phone (with the exception of duplicates and soon-to-be-deleted blurry pics).

A Day in the Life: Working at Home with a Preschooler and Toddler

Last time I shared a day in the life post I was still pumping milk and Violet was drinking bottles and just starting to eat solid food. Now that I have a big kid and toddler on my hands, I thought I'd do another one to show what our life looks like these days. Just like last time I'm sharing photos from a day I'm working at home (my days at the office look pretty boring). Here is one photo every hour from a couple of weeks ago on Friday.

{5:15 am} I usually wake up at about 5:00 and read for 20-30 minutes before I need to get up and ready. I usually read on my Kindle so I don't have to turn the lamp on and wake Aaron. On this day I was reading The 5 Love Languages, which I've since finished. 

$10 at Target: Weekly Budget Date Treats

Last month's $10 at Target post was all about healthy snacks. So very January of me, right? This month I kept the food theme but veered in quite a different direction. I've mentioned before that I'm doing a Happiness Project this year, and each month I focus on something different. Last month was all about health, but February has been dedicated to marriage.

Among my goals this month are to plan regular date nights and to take time to connect daily. Last Thursday evening when Aaron and I were sitting down to do our weekly budget check-in, it occurred to me that we could make these feel more like mini dates and less like a chore.

In My Library Tote: January Picture Book Reviews and Recommendations

Just as I'm sharing all books read the previous month for my own reading recaps, I'm going to start doing the same for the picture books we read. For background if you're new here, I have a son who is four and in preschool, so I choose picture books that are age appropriate for him. My daughter Violet (15 months) also loves books, but will happily read the same four board books every day. Unless you want to read about how many times a person can read Moo Baa La La La in one day, I'll spare you from her book reviews and stick with what Jona and I have enjoyed.

{january recommended picture books}

How I Use a Bullet Journal as a Reading Journal

Happy Valentine's Day! Do you know the way straight to my heart? Books, all things planning/tracking-related, ice cream, and chocolate. And if I've just finished a book and I'm recording it in my reading journal while eating a bowl of chocolate ice cream? Well, I'm pretty much in heaven.

Inspired by a new linkup from my friends Alexandra and Lauren all about planning and documenting (so my jam), I thought I'd share the way I'm using a bullet journal in 2018. Last year I kept a bullet journal instead of a traditional paper planner. You can read all about my experience with it here. It worked pretty well for me, and I liked how it combined the organizational aspects of planning with journaling and memory keeping.

However, what I enjoyed most about my bullet journal was using it to record all things book related. This year I decided to go back to a traditional planner, but create a separate bullet journal as a reading journal. So far I love it! Here's how I use it.

{how I use my bullet journal as a reading journal}

Valentine's Day Mommy and Me Style

After having several busy weekends in a row, it was nice to finally have one with not a lot planned. It was freezing cold, so apart from the necessary running around, I stayed indoors. And what does one do when stuck inside on a cold winter Saturday? Bake cookies of course! I tried these Soft Chocolate Chip M&M Cookies with Valentine M&Ms with my favorite baking sidekick. (They were delicious by the way.)

Then, with my favorite style sidekick, we did a little Valentine's Day dress up. Violet got this adorable heart dress for her birthday, and I'm glad that it still fits since it's perfect for this month. My dress isn't nearly as cute, but you can't go wrong with classic black and white stripes. I added a cozy red scarf for warmth and a subtle hint of Valentine's Day.

In the past I've gone bolder with my Valentine's Day style, mixing red and pink to really have fun with the holiday's color palette (see these two looks and this still favorite look). However, this year I'm much more drawn to classic color combinations.

Do you like to wear red or pink (or both) for Valentine's Day? 

In My Library Tote: January Book Reviews and Recommendations

I've been trying to find the best way to share my monthly book round-ups. After having a few months where I read five books each month, I got hung up on sharing five books per month. It seemed like a nice number and made my graphic look nice and Pinterest-y. However, I don't always read five books a month, and as a result I ended up with a lot of unblogged books in 2017. (Oh, the tragedy!) I'm going to go back to sharing what I actually read each month, no matter the number. I also share my books on Instagram using #shealennonreads so you can follow me there as well.

{what I read in January}

Currently: February

Happy February! We're one month closer to spring. Right? As always, I'm joining Anne for the monthly currently link-up. Here's what I've been up to currently.

TBB Asks: All About Love

I had originally planned a style post for today, but I wimped out due to snow and cold weather. Luckily I saw that the ladies at The Blended Blog posted their questions for this month's TBB Asks for today, which is all about love.

February Goals and January Wins

Being one month down in a new year feels kind of exhilarating, doesn't it? I'm still feeling motivated and ready to take on 2018. I really think that having a word for the year, as well as something specific to focus on each month is helping me keep goals at the forefront of my mind. I'm trying to weave my word, intention, and my monthly focus into every aspect of my life.

Photo by Jasmine Waheed on Unsplash

{january wins}

- I took a walking break nearly every day I went in to the office. The only days I didn't do this were days I was already busy and walking around a ton. I consider this a win for sure and plan to continue all year. It was especially nice on days that the weather cooperated and I could take my walk outside.

- I stopped adding (additional) sugar to my coffee. The coffee creamer I use, CoffeeMate Natural Bliss (or the Aldi equivalent if they have it) has sugar in it, so I didn't eliminate it completely. However, I used to add the sweet creamer AND sugar.

- I made healthy snack choices using my go-to snack list. This little list has been a game-changer for me. It has taken the decision making out of snacking (and especially bringing snacks to work); I just grab something off my list. Sure I still indulge occasionally, but I eat WAY fewer chocolate covered almonds than I did before, that's for sure.

- I ate more fruits and vegetables. I still struggle with this, especially vegetables, but I did make a conscious effort to get more fruits and veggies in my diet, mostly by keeping fresh produce on hand and storing it in a place where I can see it every day. (Those crisper drawers are great in theory, but in my fridge they're where vegetables go to die.)

{non-health related wins}

- I read eight books this month. Two were on audio, one on my Kindle, one borrowed from my dad, and the rest from the library. I will share a reading re-cap next week.

- I had a date night "in" with Aaron. We had fun asking each other the questions from this cute "Spouse Speed Dating" date. (We didn't print anything out, just asked the questions. We're not really date night printable kind of people.)

- I had two girls nights. One was a quick happy hour get-together with a close friend (and my 2-person book club buddy), and the other was a nice dinner out with three of my gals. Those were wins for sure!

{February goals}

I hope to continue to keep up my health goals, but this month my focus is on my marriage. Here's how I plan to focus on that.

- Give freely; stop keeping score. This is one of my personal "happiness commandments", but it is something I struggle with. I tend to feel like I take on more than my fair share of housework and parenting responsibilities, but I often forget all the things that Aaron does for our home and family. Also, with his busy schedule as a golf coach and grad school, his plate is already overflowing. I really want to give more freely, and not grumble about always having to do something or thinking it should be "his turn" to take care of some task.

- Have a "week of extreme nice". This one comes straight from Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, and it's like the goal above, but going above and beyond for an entire week. Not only will I try not to grumble or nag that week, but I'll also do whatever I can to make Aaron's life easier. While ideally I should make that effort all the time, the reality looks much different. I think taking a week to really focus on Aaron will remind me that it really does feel good to serve others.

- Connect daily. With kids, work, grad school, and other responsibilities, there are days when it feels like Aaron and I barely see each other. I like to relax in the evenings by reading and I tend to go to bed early, while Aaron is a night owl who prefers Netflix or sports for his down-time. Sometimes we're not even in the same room after the kids go to bed! I'd like to make more of an effort to connect--have a real conversation, not interrupted by kids--at least once a day.

- Have a date night and plan to have one per month. We already have dinner reservations one night this month, so this is a goal we will definitely accomplish. I would like to make date nights a priority and have at least one a month, going out or staying in as budget and schedules allow.

- Read The 5 Love Languages.

What are your goals for this month? 

Linking with Writes Like a Girl and Coffee Until Cocktails