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

Favorite dinner - Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup. I made this to take to a friend's house and adapted the recipe a bit to work in a slow cooker. I did the steps of browning the sausage and deglazing with wine in a pan, then transferred everything to the crock pot and put on low for a few hours. I added the tortellini in the last 20-30 minutes of cooking so they wouldn't get overdone. This soup had so much flavor and everyone loved it!

Favorite snack - Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Bites. Energy balls, granola bites, whatever you want to call them I love this type of snack. This version uses honey (and mini chocolate chips) and I thought they were perfectly, but not overly, sweet. The recipe calls for flavored peanut butter but I just used the regular stuff I had on hand. Eating these makes me feel like I'm getting a special treat but with no guilt attached. 

Favorite sweet treat - Nutella-Stuffed Blondies. This isn't a new recipe (I've made it before), but I made it again this month and remembered how delicious and decadent these were. The cookie bar itself has such a rich flavor thanks to brown butter, and adding Nutella in the middle just makes them sinful. In the best way.

Favorite skincare product - Nivea In-Shower Lotion. I'm fairly lazy when it comes to skincare, so when I find a product that helps me take better care of my skin and saves me time, I love it. It's probably not as effective as slathering on a rich body butter after a shower, but I do like the way my skin feels when I use it. For some reason I find it easier to remember and take the time to put on lotion in the shower rather than afterwards.

Favorite podcast episode - The Lazy Genius Spring Cleans. I absolutely HATE cleaning, but listening to a few of the The Lazy Genius podcasts on the subject makes me feel a little better equipped to tackle even my most dreaded chores. I like this episode in particular because it helps me think about cleaning my house in a way that will work for me rather than trying to find the perfect schedule on Pinterest that I'll follow for a week and then quit.

Favorite book - The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe. This YA novel is based on the true story of a teenager who risks her life to maintain a small library within the family camp of Auschwitz, where books are banned. It's a novel about Auschwitz, so of course it is heartbreaking and horrifying, even more so knowing that the horrors described actually happened to real people and their families. However, the hopeful message about the importance of books, art, and beauty even in, rather, especially in, hard times, came through strongly.

Favorite picture book - Valensteins by Ethan Long. The monsters are all curious about what Fran K. Stein is making. A mask? A big nose? A paper butt? Bunny explains that it's a heart and it's even more scary than what they had imagined: Fran is in love! Jona thought this book was hilarious, and I thought it was pretty cute too. (Let's face it, any book with the word "butt" in it is an instant hit around here.)

Favorite date night - dinner at Garozzo's in Kansas City. Aaron and I treated ourselves to dinner out this month and we got the works: a delicious garlic olive oil dip as an appetizer, giant plates of chicken spiedini, as well as our preferred beverages: wine for me and whiskey for Aaron. I even had some boozy coffee as dessert. Yum!

Favorite social activity -  restarting a two-person book club. I mentioned this idea last year, and my friend Becky and I attempted it by reading This Is Where You Belong together. However, we never had a chance to get together without the kids, so our dedication to the book club soon fizzled. However, this year we decided to try again, and after finishing The Street of a Thousand Blossoms we met for lunch at a local Japanese restaurant, Sama Zama. We had a great time discussing the book and just chatting in general, so we agreed to keep it going. Next up we're going to read Gretchen Rubin's The Four Tendencies.

Favorite new tradition - turning our weekly budget meeting into a mini date night. I shared about this here, and so far it's gone really well. Talking about bills and budgets is a lot more enjoyable when it's followed by ice cream or a freshly baked cookie.

Favorite post on Shea Lennon - How I Use a Bullet Journal as a Reading Journal.

Favorite memory - Jona reading. When Jona came home from preschool a few months ago with a sheet of words to practice sounding out, I got really excited about the idea of him learning to read. However, he wasn't making the connections between the sounds letters make and putting those sounds into words. I fell into an internet rabbit hole of ways to teach kids to read, and found a blog post that recommended the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I checked it out from the library to see if Jona would be interested, which he wasn't right away. However, we tried the short lessons for a week or two and he started to enjoy it. So I bought a copy to keep and we're now about halfway through. He is now sounding out words and reading sentences! Someone gave us a set of Bob Books (early readers) and he's read his way through the first four or so of those. I have no doubt that he would have picked this up just fine in school, and I didn't feel like he needed to learn this now. I really just wanted to be a part of the process as it's something I feel so passionately about--reading has always been such an important part of my life. I'm so glad for this experience; seeing the connections he makes as he figures out words right in front of me has blown my mind! I'm so proud of this big kid of mine.

What were some of your favorite things this month? 

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