{reading} backlist fiction

Over the summer I read a lot of books published this year, mostly because that is primarily what was on the Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide. (Anne Bogel rarely lets me down.) However, new books often mean longer wait times at the library, and recently I wanted a book and I wanted it NOW (just call me Veruca Salt), so I hit up my Goodreads for some backlist.

I picked up Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler, a “big buzzy book” (as they say on the Reading Glasses podcast) from a few years ago. I remember hearing mixed reviews at the time, but it was a win for me.

Tess is a young college graduate who decides to shake up her life and move to New York, and lands a job as a “backwaiter” at a ritzy restaurant in the city. From the restaurant staff she learns all about food and wine, with a hefty side of drugs and partying mixed in. Simone, a long-time server, takes Tess under her wing and educates her on the restaurant and its patrons, cuisine, and fine beverages. However, when Tess falls for Jake, a bartender who has a known history with her new mentor, her laissez-faire restaurant life begins to get complicated.

I worked as a hostess and a server at a few restaurants in my younger days, and while my experience was far different from Tess’s, her story made reminisce about that part of my former life. I liked Tess. She was flawed and made some poor choices, yet I liked her earnestness and honest observations. It was a book I enjoyed getting lost in. I recommend reading this book with a glass of wine.

Have you enjoyed any backlist titles lately? 


Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link. 

{wearing} tie-waist pants

I can't say that I love to shop, but I do enjoy finding pieces to update my wardrobe. It's the process that I don't always enjoy, especially for certain items, like pants. Now a new pair of shoes I like, I swear I can blink them into existence. But pants? Pants shopping is a slog.

I took a chance on this tie-waist pair from Old Navy when I was ordering some clothes for Violet recently, and I was pleasantly surprised. I'm loving this trend and how wearable it is--no buttons or zippers, just pull these on and go. The downside is they wrinkle so easily, but that's a price I'm willing to pay for comfort and style.

I love the polish that the fun tie-waist detail gives a look. The rest of my look is simple: just a striped tee, neutral sandals, and colorful jewelry. Are you a fan of this style of pants? 

{shop} similar pieces + more tie-waist pants

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. 

{eating} caprese pasta salad

While summer is not my favorite season, it does have the best produce, so I’m soaking it up while I can. Tomatoes are delicious right now, so I made a caprese pasta salad over the weekend. We had friends and family over for a barbecue, and I wanted a light, fresh side to balance the pork and ribs that Aaron smoked.

I followed a simple recipe I’ve been making for years from Iowa Girl Eats. I did leave out the arugula, only because I wasn’t sure if everyone would like it. Also, since I use regular pasta (she calls for gluten free because she is a GF blogger), it lasts for a few days in the fridge without getting soggy.

Our basil plant actually grew this year, so between that and the constant supply of tomatoes in my house since Violet LOVES them, a caprese salad may have to happen at least once more before fall.

What is your go-to summer side dish? 

{reading} Literary Mysteries

I love sharing what I read, but I was starting to get overwhelmed trying to recap all the books I read every month in one post. Instead, I'm going to focus on one or two that I loved and would recommend each week.

I am often drawn to thrillers, but too often I walk away feeling disappointed by them. I like the idea of a page-turner, and yet sometimes I find myself turning those pages just to get to the end already. With these books--both of which I would put in the literary mystery category, although Never Have I Ever did have a thriller vibe as well--I couldn't put them down, and at the same time I found them to be well-written along with being all kinds of compelling.


Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson. The neighborhood book club has quite a shake-up when Roux, the new tenant in a run-down house down the street shows up at Amy's door. She gets the women to spill their secrets, yet when Roux hints that she knows things about Amy's past, things Amy has never shared, a game of cat and mouse begins. Roux soon realizes that blackmailing Amy wouldn't be as simple as she thought, and Amy learns that if she wants to beat Roux at her game, she has to face her past.

This was a bit of a departure from the other Joshilyn Jackson novels I've read, but I really enjoyed it. She is such a fantastic storyteller.

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth. Lucy has always had a strained relationship with her mother-in-law Diana, yet from the outside they appear to be a perfect family. When Diana is found dead, with a suicide note nearby, everyone wonders what made her want to take her own life... if that is really what happened. 

Wow, this one drew me in from the very beginning and kept me guessing the whole time. The characters were incredibly well-written, and I didn't want to stop reading until I had the mystery of Diana's death figured out. 

The Mother-in-Law: A Novel

Have you read anything good lately? 

{wearing} animal print + I'm back!

Hey there! I'm dipping my toe back into blogging waters, but like my apprehensive six-year-old, I'm not too sure what will come of it. My blogging break was long and complete. Other than one guest post, I didn't do anything blogging-related since my last post in May. (I didn't even respond to comments. I'm sorry.)

Anyway, I'm going to try to get back into the groove, but keeping posts shorter and more focused. Each week I hope to what I've been wearing, reading, eating, and/or loving. I may not get to all of these each week, but having this limited focus will help me, and I hope you enjoy it as well.

I shopped a few Labor Day sales this weekend, and something I saw everywhere--even more than usual--is animal print. I feel like they say it's a trend every fall, but it really is out in full force right now. The leopard blouse I'm wearing today is old (it was a big "trend" when I bought it no doubt), but I have my eye on a few other leopard print items this season as well.

{what I wore}

{shop similar pieces below}

{on my wish list}

I have quite a bit of animal print in my wardrobe already, but I could be tempted to add some more. My wish list includes a leopard-print sweatshirt, leopard ankle booties, and a leopard midi skirt.

What's your favorite way to wear animal print right now?

Summer Post at In Residence

Hey there! I know it's quiet here, but I wanted to let you know that today I'm over at In Residence sharing a few summer favorite things while Anne is traveling. I'd love for you to read it, and while you're there check out some of Anne's other great posts. She always has excellent book reviews, recipes to try, and style inspiration.

Summer Break

Hey. Thank you so much for coming by this little space and letting me share it with you. Lately I've been feeling like my life is lacking margin. I'm hurrying from one to-do to the next, with little space in between. Without realizing it, somewhere along the line this blog started to feel like an obligation rather than a creative space that brings me joy and connection.

Fortunately, it is not an obligation. I'm going to step away for a little while, to gain a little bit of breathing room back in my life. I'm not sure how long I'll be, a summer break, longer, I don't know.

I'll still be around on Instagram, and visiting blogs when I can. Thanks for reading. I feel incredibly blessed to have gotten to know so many of you, albeit virtually, over the last several years.

In My Library Tote: April Book Reviews and Recommendations

I took an unintentional blog break this week thanks to strep throat, which for some reason has been my nemesis lately. I got it for the first time since childhood at the end of last year, and then again this week. Luckily this time I recognized it right away and went to the doctor, who told me that my tonsils may have to go if I get it again this year. Yikes!

Anyway, I couldn't stay away for long, I had to share my reading round-up for the month of April. Here are my April books--quite a few good ones, I might add.

Special Birthday Post for Ada

I just wanted to stop in to share that I'm over at Ada's blog today for a special birthday post! She is celebrating her birthday with a bunch of bloggers this weekend, so head over and wish her a happy day!

We're all wearing shades of coral, red, or pink, so to see how I style these oldies-but-goodies coral shoes for a night out, be sure to head to her blog. Happy birthday Ada!

Join the link-up below! 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

April Wins and May Goals

This year, along with my word of the year, I am focusing on a theme each month and creating goals around that theme. Similar to my happiness project last year, I hope to cumulatively build on the habits I create with each monthly theme. Every month I’m sharing my goals, along with a few wins and things that brought me joy from the previous month, since joy is the word I’m focusing on in 2019. In April, my goals centered around parenting, while in May I'm tackling my closet.

Currently and a 35 at 35 Conclusion

It's the last day of my favorite month... sniff. April was pretty great, and I admit that I want spring to stretch on for as long as possible. I'm hoping that May continues with beautiful spring weather and doesn't hurry too quickly to summer. Because tomorrow is May first, I'm joining in Anne's monthly Currently link-up, as well as sharing how I did on my 35 at 35 list I created on my 35th birthday last year.

{currently: almost May}

April Daily Style: Spring Colors

After a few months of soft muted colors and neutrals, I was drawn to brighter colors for the start of spring. It started with my "accidental lavender" purchase, and from there I shopped my closet for the rest of my color palette. I settled on bright orangey-red, yellow, and lavender, adding a couple of new items along the way.

I don't think these colors work so well all together, but I found a way to incorporate them, mostly separately, all month. Here are my daily looks from April, most of which you may have seen on Instagram.

{yellow + classic prints}

Spring Family Style: Floral, Stripes, and Plaid

I'm in a season of life where convenience trumps everything when it comes to shopping. It's not the greatest place to be--I'd love to have more variety in brands, more ethically made items, and even more second-hand pieces, but right now that's just not where I choose to put my time. The result is I find myself at Old Navy (either the actual store or online) way more often than anywhere else, and dang it if they don't keep coming out with cute styles!

I was in there last weekend because Violet needed some spring clothes in a bad way, and EVERYTHING was on sale. Her little toddler belly was busting out of the few short-sleeve shirts she had. While there I decided to peruse the women's section to see if they had anything I could wear for Easter, and I stumbled on this yellow dress. 

You know I have a thing for yellow right now so after I tried it on I knew I found a winner. I'm happy to report that I did wear it for Easter, and for the first time in years I didn't have to wear tights (which wouldn't have looked quite right anyway with such a springy dress)! We had a lovely, relaxing Easter weekend. How about you, how was your weekend? 

What's your shopping style right now? 

On Violet: ruffled dress: OshKosh Genuine Kids, Target | sandals: Cat and Jack, Target
On me: lavender cardigan: Old Navy | yellow floral dress: Old Navy | earrings: Nickel and Suede | sandals: Catherine Malandrino, Marshall's
On Jona: plaid shirt: Cat and Jack, Target | navy pants: Old Navy | shoes: Old Navy (similar)

Sweet Peas Meals Review

At the end of February I signed up to try Sweet Peas Meals meal planning service. I love to cook and I actually do enjoy looking through recipes and choosing what to make each week, but it takes quite a bit of time (at least for me) and it was starting to become stressful. After reading Janssen's review on Everyday Reading, I thought Sweet Peas Meals may work for me as well.

Casual Spring Look with a Yellow Striped Top

My plan was to post our Easter outfits today, but I was a little late getting my shopping done. I finally did find something to wear, but not before writing this blog post. Next week I'll share our Easter outfits, but today I have something at the opposite end of the spectrum, a very casual spring look.

I complained about this top on Instagram, how I buy these tops with cute sleeves and then always cover them up because I'm cold! While I inevitably did put a jacket on later, I wanted to show off the sleeves here, otherwise it's just an ordinary yellow striped top. I've really been into sunny yellow lately, and I love how it instantly brightens up any look.

Speaking of brightening up, I got my hair freshly cut and colored over the weekend. It had been a while so it felt really good to get it done. Plus the wait time under the warm dryer with my book wasn't too terrible either. ;)

Do you usually get something new to wear for Easter (if you celebrate Easter)? 

Yellow striped top: Old Navy | jeans: American Eagle | earrings: Nickel and Suede | white sneakers: Converse

In My Library Tote: March Children's Book Reviews

I’m thankful that Jona enjoys being read to, because I have so much fun choosing picture books to read together. Sure, for every library book we read we also read one or two Lego/superhero books as well, but thankfully he accepts my “only one superhero book per read-aloud” rule. I keep telling him that once he’s reading on his own he can read about whatever he wants, but he remains reluctant about the whole concept (despite flying through his reading homework). Sigh. And Violet isn’t quite ready to graduate to non-board books yet, but hopefully soon I’ll be able to share the joys of library books with her as well. For now, I’m crossing my fingers that eventually I’ll have an enthusiastic reader plus a child who can be trusted not to use a book as a weapon/chair/coaster.

Lavender Cardigan + Chambray Dress

A couple of weeks ago I talked about the pitfalls of online ordering, and how I thought I ordered a pink striped shirt and got a lavender one instead. Old Navy's mix-up (because despite the shirt being called "pink stripe" it is VERY CLEARLY purple) turned out to be a blessing in disguise--I can't get enough of this color! I ended up going back to Old Navy and buying a lavender cardigan.

I'm going bright and bold with my color palette this month, mixing shades of lavender, poppy red, and bright yellow. I may not wear them all at once but something about the start of spring made me want to pull out all the colors.

What colors are you wearing a lot of this spring?   

Lavender cardigan: Old Navy | chambray dress: Gap (similar) | earrings: Nickel and Suede | gingham sneakers: Target (similar)

In My Library Tote: March Book Reviews

How do you track your reading? I mentioned in this month’s Currently post that I have been considering changing up how I track the books I read as well as those I read to my kids (mostly Jona at this point). In the past, I’ve used Goodreads to track my reading, although I use it strictly to track what I want to read, what I finish, and the star rating. I don’t post any reviews to Goodreads.

I also have a “book bullet journal” where I record more details about the books I read, such as the number of pages, genre of book, how I read it (e.g. audiobook, Kindle version, etc.) and more. In that same journal I also keep track of books I want to read to Jona (and sometimes Violet) as well as the books we read together.

If that sounds like a lot, it is, but in the past I have genuinely enjoyed this type of manual tracking. However, lately I’ve noticed that it’s felt more like a chore, and I’ve been thinking about a digital--yet not social--approach to my tracking. I created a Google Sheet with multiple tabs for my reading and kids books, and am going to test the waters there.

I’d love to hear about how you track your reading!

{what I read in march}

Currently: April

Happy April! I can't deny that this is one of my very favorite months of the year, which I'm sure is mostly because it's my birthday month. But I think even if I didn't have a birthday this month I'd be a fan of this first full month of spring. March is unpredictable, you never know if it will feel like winter or spring, but by this time, at least around here, it's finally starting to reach that ideal "light jacket and flats without socks" weather that I adore.

The beginning of the month also brings Anne's Currently linkup, so once again I'm sharing a few things I'm currently up to.

March Wins and April Goals

This year, along with my word of the year, I am focusing on a theme each month and creating goals around that theme. Similar to my happiness project last year, I hope to cumulatively build on the habits I create with each monthly theme. Every month I’m sharing my goals, along with a few wins and things that brought me joy from the previous month, since joy is the word I’m focusing on in 2019. In March I focused on health and wellness, while April's focus is all about parenting.

Striped Tie-Waist Tee and Classic Trench

I ordered a couple of spring tops during a recent Old Navy sale, and I've been debating on whether to keep them. Online shopping is about all I have time for these days, and yet I'm often disappointed when what comes in the mail is different from what I was expecting. This shirt for example, online appeared to have blush pink stripes. When it came in the mail the stripes were pretty, yet clearly lavender.

I thought about returning it since lavender isn't in this month's blush and olive palette, but because I like the style, fit, and even the color, I'm going to hold on to it. So a bit of lavender is sneaking into my closet this month, and I'm okay with that. I love the tie-front style, and I feel like that little detail, along with the pretty-hued stripes, instantly refreshes a few older items in my closet.

Do you mostly shop in store or online? Do you often get surprised by the way something looks at home vs online? What do you do? 

Trench jacket: Gap Factory (similar) | lavender striped tie-front top: Old Navy | jeans: American Eagle | earrings: Nickel and Suede | perforated sandals: Universal Thread, Target

Olive and Blush: March Daily Looks

Time for another round-up of workweek looks that I share on Instagram. It feels a bit like blog-cheating (ridiculous I know) to post photos I've already shared here, but I love seeing the month's looks all together like this. Especially since I've been working with monthly color palettes, it's nice to see how cohesive--or not--each month's closet feels.

This month my colors were olive and blush, along with a healthy dose of neutrals. I love these soft, somewhat muted colors for a month that feels so transitional. As the month goes on we've been getting some spring-like weather and it's been wonderful.

Here are my March daily looks.

Camo and Blush for Spring

I’m kidding myself that it’s spring, because it’s totally not yet, but we have had some nice weather lately. I will take it while I can get it! We even spent some time outside over the weekend--we went to the zoo--which was wonderful because I think the kids were starting to feel a bit like caged up zoo animals themselves. Would that make me the zookeeper?

I mentioned last fall that I was slow to adopt the camo trend, feeling like it just wasn’t “me,” but after I bought this camo jacket I was sold. Since then I’ve also added a camo tee to my closet, and I’ve definitely found a way to make this trend work for me. For me to embrace camo, I need to pair it with something more feminine. Since my color palette this month is olive and blush, that idea works perfectly.

For a casual weekend look, I wore my camo tee with white jeans and a cardigan. I added my favorite blush sneakers, and I like the relaxed feel and color contrast. Confession: I wore nearly the same outfit on Friday of last week, swapping out the camo tee for a plain olive one, and the white jeans for a regular denim pair. I love a good outfit formula.

How do you feel about camo, and how do you like to style it?

Gray cardigan: Loft via ThredUp | camo tee: Target | white jeans: Old Navy | earrings: Nickel and Suede | blush sneakers: Target

In My Library Tote: February Children's Book Reviews

You would think that with as many days as Jona was off school for snow days in February, the stack of books we read together would be high. We did read a few, but I admit that there were probably more movies watched than normal, rather than books read. Part of that was because it was mostly Aaron home with the kids, and he’s not as excited about read-alouds as I am, and partly it was because veering from the normal schedule is a challenge. I’m looking forward to some normalcy around here. Anyway, here’s what we read in February.

Olive Jeans with Gray and Blush

For the past couple of months I've been trying out sticking to a color palette each month and it's been really fun so far. Surprisingly I don't get bored even though my selection is more limited, instead I've found that getting dressed is easy and mostly fun.

Last month I wore neutrals with burgundy and blush pink, and for March I wasn't quite ready to let go of the blush. So instead of burgundy I'm pairing it with olive green--a combination I've come to love over the past couple of years.

I found these olive jeans last year and since I wear jeans almost every day (thanks casual office dress code!) it's been nice to have a little color to add to the rotation. I picked up this twist-front tee at Target recently; it is so soft that I couldn't pass it up. It's the perfect weight too: a bit warmer than a tee shirt, but not a thick sweater either.

What colors do you like to wear in the spring?

Gray twist-front top: Target | olive jeans: Old Navy (similar) | blush earrings: Nickel and Suede | necklace: Target | leopard flats: ThredUp (similar)

In My Library Tote: February Book Reviews

Do you read more print books, audio books, or eBooks? Typically I prefer print books, for me it’s a more enjoyable experience to hold a “real” book in my hand and physically turn the pages. However, I’ve increased the amount of audio and eBooks I read in the past few years because you can’t beat the convenience of either. When I was looking at my books read last month, I was surprised to realize that only one of the seven is a hardcover print book--the rest are either audiobooks (checked out from the library) or eBooks (purchased via Kindle deals). Anyway, here’s what I read.

Currently: March

Where I live, March feels like the month where we pretend it's spring. Schools have their spring breaks in March, and everyone is usually so sick of winter that we're hopeful this will be the month it finally ends. Spoiler alert: it never does. This winter has been especially brutal, and yet another snowstorm kicked off this month. At the rate it's going, I'm setting my sights on April and not even entertaining a hope that March will feel remotely spring-like.

I'm sorry, I feel like that's all I talk about these days--the winter, how terrible it's been, and how much I'm over it. Thank goodness for Anne's Currently link-up to help me focus on some other things. Here's what I'm currently up to in March.

Plane photo - Leio McLaren (@leiomclaren) on Unsplash

February Wins and March Goals

This year, along with my word of the year, I am focusing on a theme each month and creating goals around that theme. Similar to my happiness project last year, I hope to cumulatively build on the habits I create with each monthly theme. Each month I’m sharing my goals, along with a few wins and things that brought me joy from the previous month, since joy is the word I’m focusing on in 2019. In February my goals were all about strengthening my marriage, and in March I'm moving on to wellness.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

90s Flashback Flannel and Rain Boots

I'm writing this post on the heels of a lovely weekend, and I'm struggling to find the inspiration to talk about my outfit--an outfit I wore Saturday for errand-running in the rain and family hang-out time. Instead, I thought I'd list a few things that are currently making me happy, and I'd love to hear some of the things on your happy list as well.

Making me happy right now...

  • This crazy soft flannel shirt from American Eagle. It's called "ahh-mazingly soft" for a reason! I almost returned it because I wasn't sure a flannel shirt was my style, but I'm glad I kept it; it's been the perfect cozy layer for weekend days. 
  • A date day! Aaron and I got our previously canceled date day in thanks to my dad and step-mom watching the kids. We had fun going to brunch and then having a cocktail or two while enjoying some rare, uninterrupted conversation. We didn't have to answer any questions about Legos, Spider-Man, or whether anyone could have a snack. Wonderful. 
  • Having a go-to Friday restaurant. We don't go out to eat every Friday, but when we can there's a pizza place nearby that has a great happy hour. It's a bar so we don't have to worry about the kids being too loud, and we can all enjoy pizza (and a glass of wine or a cocktail for the grown-ups) and relax, all without spending too much money. 
  • These rain boots from Target. Heck, I'm just happy to need rain boots instead of snow boots right now! I have a feeling the snow isn't over, but I do like these boots for both rainy days and that slushy period when the snow is a melty mess. These were inexpensive, comfortable, and look a lot like regular ankle boots so I don't feel awkward wearing them to work. 
  • More muffins! I can't seem to get enough muffins for breakfast--it's such an easy crowd-pleaser. I made a batch of these Power Muffins over the weekend (a few without chocolate chips for Violet... hard to believe we're related) and now we have breakfast all week. Yum. 

Burgundy long-sleeve tee: American Eagle | gray plaid flannel shirt: American Eagle | jeans: American Eagle | earrings: Nickel and Suede | necklace: Universal Thread, Target | rain boots: A New Day, Target

Blush and Burgundy for February: Everyday Looks

Last month I shared a round-up of my everyday looks that I share on Instagram, and I thought it was fun to see all my (mostly) work outfits together in one place so I'm doing it again. Last month's wardrobe was all about neutrals with small pops of color. This month I chose a color palette around a couple of current favorite hues: burgundy and blush. I also have lots of neutrals thrown in for good measure.

Here are my February looks.

Burgundy sweater: American Eagle | jeggings: Old Navy | black rain boots: A New Day, Target

Burgundy Cardigan + Blush Floral Top: Winter Meets Spring

I know some people include coats in their winter style posts, but for me I don't really consider my coat part of my outfit. I only have a couple I wear regularly, so it's not like it's a carefully selected accessory that I deem an "outfit completer." It's mostly there for function. So once I'm done freezing my butt off for these photos, I put my coat on before I spend any more time in this yuck of a winter.

I wore this on Sunday to church, and also the top half to work on Valentine's Day, but I was only there a few hours because Violet was sick (but all better now). I really liked this combination of blush floral top and burgundy sweater, so I wanted to wear it again as soon as I could. The top hints at spring, and I need as many hints as possible these days. Another snowstorm rolled through on Friday and with it came school cancellations. Between that and Violet's sickness, the day date Aaron and I planned was canceled. I'm sure we'll reschedule, but still, my frustration with winter only grows.

Do you consider your coat part of your outfit? Also, how has your winter been (if it's winter for you where you are that is)? I feel like it's been pretty bad for a lot of people this year.

Burgundy cardigan: Gap Factory (similar) | Blush floral blouse: Harlowe and Graham via ThredUp (similar at a great price) | black ponte pants: Gap | earrings: Nickel and Suede | cognac over-the-knee boots: Target (similar)

In My Library Tote: January Children’s Books

I’ve always kept an ongoing list of picture and early chapter books I’d like to read with Jona (and eventually, Violet) in my book bullet journal so I never run out of things to check out at the library. Because my old job was right across the street from one of the branches of our local library, I could easily stop by on my way home, or during lunch, to pick up a few books. These days it’s a lot less convenient, so I have to be more strategic with my holds. I'm trying to get into a regular routine so I can keep our library stack refreshed. Do you have a library routine? Are you a browser or do you run in, grab your books, and go? (I'm usually the latter.)

Here’s what we read together in January.

Cozy Burgundy Sweater and Jeans: My Weekend Uniform

Over the weekend I KonMari'ed my clothes. I love clothes but I'm an "under-buyer" by nature, so I wasn't working with over-stuffed drawers or closet space. Yet I still managed to fill two garbage bags with items that no longer spark joy. I may have some shopping to do come spring, but for now I'm happy with what I'm left with.

Luckily most of my cozy sweaters made the cut, because I really need them this winter. Lately my weekend uniform has been a cozy sweater, jeans, and boots. Nothing too exciting, but fortunately I've found some sweaters in fun colors or featuring interesting details (like the side lace-up detail of this one that I failed at getting a picture of...). 

I may have to hide my sweaters though once spring finally does start, because I have a feeling that--like a new mother who just can't with her maternity clothes anymore--I will want nothing to do with all winter-weather wear. 

What is your weekend uniform right now? Also, how often do you purge your closet? 

Burgundy sweater: American Eagle | jeggings: Old Navy (similar) | blush earrings: Nickel and Suede | ankle boots: Fergalicious via ThredUp (similar)

In My Library Tote: January Book Reviews and Recommendations

January has been a busy month, and along with the ridiculous winter weather, it also brought some good books. Here's what I read in January.

Currently: February

February sometimes feels like the consolation prize of a really long January. Oh, January seems super long? Well February only has 28 days! Unless the average temperature for February exceeds 50 degrees, this consolation is not enough. Regardless, we are one step closer to spring and a few days into a new month. With that, as always, comes the Currently linkup at In Residence, and here are a few things I’m currently up to.

January Wins and February Goals

This year, along with my word of the year, I am focusing on a theme each month and creating goals around that theme. Similar to my happiness project last year, I hope to cumulatively build on the habits I create with each monthly theme. Each month I’m sharing my goals, along with a few wins and things that brought me joy from the previous month, as joy is the word I’m focusing on in 2019. In January, I focused on clearing clutter, while February is all about marriage.

Can you believe I couldn't find a more recent GOOD picture of Aaron and I?? 

Black and White Striped Sweater Dress

I mentioned at the beginning of the month that I'm doing an all-neutrals mini capsule for the month of January. I set aside the more colorful items and instead choose to wear shades of black, white, and gray (with some colorful accessories).

I already had quite a few neutrals to work with, but with some Christmas money burning a hole in my pocket I did a little shopping to fill in some gaps in my closet. One thing I wanted was a sweater dress, and when I saw this one (on sale!) at Gap my "add to cart" finger made its move like *that*.

So far this challenge has been really fun, and I haven't felt limited at all in what to wear. I think part of that is because I do own a lot of neutrals, so I haven't yet had that "I'm wearing the same thing all the time" feeling.

Do you reach for more neutrals or brighter items this time of year? 

Striped sweater dress: Gap | ankle boots: Universal Thread, Target | earrings: Nickel and Suede

January Neutrals Wardrobe: Everyday Looks

If you follow me on Instagram you know I share weekday outfits of the day for what I wear to work. I always enjoy seeing other people's everyday looks there, and it's a fun way to give and get style inspiration.

With my new job it's been more of a challenge to take photos. I no longer have a space to do it while I'm at work so I'm forced to take them in the morning. Because winter is awesome, it's dark both when I leave for work and when I get home. All that to say the lighting isn't spectacular.

Crappy lighting and all, I thought it would be fun to share a round up of my daily outfits, all from my January neutrals palette. As you can see I'm not completely without color, but for the most part my color scheme consists of black, gray, white, and tan. 

Where do you get your outfit inspiration?

{L} tan cardigan: Old Navy + white tee: BP via Nordstrom + black ponte leggings: Gap + ankle boots: ThredUp + leopard scarf: Loft via ThredUp
{R} striped tunic sweater: Old Navy + jeggings: Old Navy + snow boots: Sorel 
all earrings Nickel and Suede

Layered Stripes and Cozy Textures with Over the Knee Boots

Last week I talked about all the snow we got, and at the time they predicted another snow storm heading our way over this past weekend too. Luckily we dodged the big snow bullet and only got a couple of inches, but the cold weather didn't miss us. I went to Target on Saturday to pick up a car seat I'd ordered and my trunk was actually FROZEN SHUT. Here I am with this giant carseat box and I have to put it in the front seat because I can't open my trunk. I'm sure it was a sight--it was pressed up against the side of my face and shoulder like an overly friendly passenger. 

Anyway, enough about those good times. Because of the cold I've been all about the layers and cozy sweaters lately. Since I'm working the neutrals this month, one way I like keeping my outfits interesting is by playing with texture. I love the cable-knit texture of this sweater mixed with its black and white marled look. I added this soft striped tee underneath for warmth, and also because I like the look of the patterns together. 

I chose my over-the-knee boots for function as much as anything. I do like the way they give a little bit of polish to this look, but I was mostly interested in the extra layer of leg insulation. 

Since I can't avoid the cold weather completely unfortunately, I guess I'll make the most of it by wearing as many layers as possible. How do you dress for warmth in the winter? 

Cable-knit sweater: Gap | striped tee: American Eagle | jeans: American Eagle | earrings: Nickel and Suede | over-the-knee boots: Target (similar)

Books, Movies, and Podcasts: Spotlight on Entertainment Favorites

I love The Blended Blog’s monthly TBB Asks series, but I rarely join these days because I typically share goals and currently at the beginning of the month, and simply can’t squeeze in one more post. However, when I saw this month’s entertainment-themed questions, I made a note to myself to share a post even if I’m well past the linkup date. I talk quite a bit about books around here, but these questions go beyond that and got me thinking about entertainment as a whole.

Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash 

Buffalo Plaid and Snow Boots

After quite a warm start to the month, we received a little reminder about what season it really is in the form of 11 inches of snow over the weekend. The timing was a disappointment to Aaron--a teacher. What good is snow without a snow day?

I'm not one who gets exited about snow; instead I grumble about it messing up my plans. (You know, my really exciting agenda that included taking donations to the thrift store and returning some clothes to Old Navy.) However, remembering my word of the year, joy, helped put me in a less grumbly state of mind.

I decided to enjoy the gift of a cozy Saturday morning at home, and then get nice and bundled up to play outside with the kids for a bit, and finally go watch the Chiefs game at a friend's house later that day. I'm not much of an NFL fan, but since the Chiefs are in the playoffs I'll happily attend the watch parties. Mostly for the food.

This is what I wore for a day of cozying, braving the snow, and pretending to care about football. I found this top at Target after returning a similar one I got for Christmas from American Eagle. Tops like this are everywhere right now, and I can see their appeal. It's very soft and warm, and the cute knot in front is a fun detail, and all the while it has that perfect bum-covering length in the back.

My snow boots are super old, but since we don't get a ton of snow around here, I only wear them a few times a year. They have held up superbly though the years, so if you're looking for warm snow boots I highly recommend Sorels. Watch for them on sale too!

What's your favorite thing to do on a snowy day? 

Tie-front top: Wild Fable, Target (similar) | jeans: American Eagle | buffalo plaid scarf: Aldi! (similar option) | earrings: Nickel and Suede | snow boots: Sorel (similar but tall, red version

Style Rut Project: Cool Neutrals for January

In the spirit of a new month and new year, I decided to try out a closet challenge. I always get into a bit of a style rut about this time of year, so I wanted to do something to combat the winter style blues. I'm making a "mini capsule" for myself this month, based on a color palette. If this month goes well, which it has so far, I'd like to choose a new color scheme for each month. I'll see how it goes though.

Lately I've been in the mood for neutrals, so I pulled items in shades of black, gray, and a few other neutrals or mixed colors to the front of my closet. I'm creating outfits around those items, but occasionally adding in colorful accessories.

This is a look I wore to run errands over the weekend, although the weather was so warm I ended up swapping out the turtleneck for a different top.

How do you get out of a style rut?

Gray turtleneck: Amazon (similar) | jeans: American Eagle | earrings: Nickel and Suede | sneakers: Adidas

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. 

Linking with Thursday Moda, Thursday Fashion Files

In My Library Tote: December Book Reviews and Recommendations

With my enthusiasm for all things fresh and new in January, it feels a little weird to go back and talk about something I did in December. Yet December was a great reading month for me, so there's no way I'm going to skip my reading recap for last month. I gave myself a word for the holiday season: "slow," and reading became a part of how I slowed down and enjoyed the season.

{What I read in December}

2019 Word of the Year, Currently, and Goals

Happy New Year! I always get ridiculously excited for the start of a fresh year. 2018 treated me pretty well, but nothing beats the thrill of starting a brand new calendar, and turning to the first page of my new planner. For the last few years, I've chosen a word to focus on for the year. Last year, my word was intention, and I talked a little about that in my 2018 recap post.

This year, I chose the word joy. Sometimes I get so caught up in what I feel I should be doing, that I miss the joy of the present moment. This year I'm going to make an effort to make joy just as much of a priority.