weekly highlights {8}

Happy Leap Week! Is that a thing? I just find it so bizarre that we get an extra day in February every four years. I'm sure it will feel like any other Saturday, but still... the calendar is weird. Here are a few highlights from the past week. 

Violet from 2 years ago! I love Timehop sometimes.

{watching}

  • Cheer - I heard about this Netflix documentary series about a Texas college cheer squad on the Sorta Awesome podcast. I haven't yet finished it, but it is fantastic so far. 

{eating}

  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Balls - I love these for a snack (or even breakfast!) that feels like a treat but is actually packed with pretty healthy stuff. They are plenty sweet so I'm not putting them in the "health food" category, but I think they're a good balance. 
  • Thai Chicken Quinoa Bowls - I hadn't made this for a long time but tried it again last week and we love it! I'm down for anything with a peanut sauce, and I like occasionally changing up our household staple of rice for some healthy quinoa. 

{reading}

  • No Bad Kids - The author of this book, Janet Lansbury, is the host of one of my favorite parenting podcasts, Unruffled. This book pretty much sums up all her great advice in one place, and although it's aimed at toddlers it is still very relevant to my struggles with Violet. 
  • Searching for Sunday - I listened to this on audio, and I loved Rachel Held Evans' wise, honest story of her faith journey. 

{listening}


What were some of your highlights of the week? 

How I Use My Planner and Bullet Journal

I have always loved having a paper planner. Even the free school planners they gave out at my high school brought me a ridiculous amount of joy. I remember getting my first Franklin Covey binder with refillable planner pages when I was in college, and shortly after that discovering that there was a whole world of planning systems out there to explore.

In the past several years I've tried out many different versions, from the Erin Condren Life Planner to the Day Designer. I find myself always searching for a new planner each year, hoping to find the planner holy grail I suppose.

However, one system that has stuck around is the bullet journal. I started using a bullet journal in 2017, and have used one on and off for the past few years. A couple of years ago I experimented with using both a "regular" paper planner and using my bullet journal as a reading journal. This year I'm once again trying out a hybrid planner + bullet journal method.

It happened by accident. I bought the Cultivate What Matters PowerSheets Goal Planner for 2020 after a lot of planner research, only to discover that yes, it is a goal planner, but not a daily planner. Not having a daily planner for me is the equivalent of not having coffee, so I remedied the situation by purchasing a Leuchtturm notebook and starting my 2020 bullet journal.


{what I love about my PowerSheets Goal Planner}

  • The Cultivate What Matters method walks you through setting goals that truly matter to you. It is time-consuming to go through her brainstorming steps, but I found it to be time well spent.
  • You put in a lot of time in the planning process, but as a result carrying out your goals is a matter of putting things on the calendar and thoughtfully checking in on progress. 
  • Once you get to the point where you're ready to create goals, her system of breaking them down works well for me. You have mini-goals within a big goal, and smaller steps within those. From there I just assign dates to those and put them on the calendar! 
  • The monthly Tending List is a helpful one-page overview of what you want to accomplish during the month. You list bigger monthly goals, things you want to do weekly, and also daily habits you want to track. Currently I'm tracking yoga, prayer, and gratitude. 
  • There's also a page at the end of every month that helps you reflect. I am a very future-focused thinker, so refection does not come naturally to me. Having this built in, guiding me through monthly reflection, is extremely helpful. 
  • It's bright, colorful, and so pretty! Obviously this has nothing to do with its functionality, but aesthetics do matter, and this one suits me. 

{what I love about my bullet journal}

  • It is so flexible. I love being able to keep track of so many things in one place. 
  • It is the "just right" daily planner for me. Currently I do weekly spreads, which lets me plan out the week ahead, but still jot down to-do items for each day as they come up. It takes a bit of time on Sunday to create the next week's spread, but I find that to be fun and relaxing. 
  • It is a great way to track my books. I have bounced back and forth between different book tracking methods, and I'm back to my bullet journal. I still use Goodreads, but for some reason that is not nearly as satisfying as writing down my books. 
  • It's the perfect place to keep track of other things I want to remember, such as the funny things Jona and Violet say. 
  • Because I combined it with a more long-term planner, I don't have to worry about trying to keep a calendar in my bullet journal. That didn't work for me in the past, I found it too hard to do any long-range planning (beyond the current month) in my bullet journal. 
So far I am happy with this system of using both planning methods. Do you use a paper planner or bullet journal? I'd love to learn about your planning methods. 

weekly highlights {7}

About the time I've thrown out all the leftover candy from one holiday, another one comes along and my house feels like a sugar factory again. Jona's sweet tooth is as bad as mine, so it's a dangerous situation.

Here are last week's highlights:

They were pretty proud of the crafts they made at their cousin's birthday party over the weekend.


{eating}


{reading}

  • Valentine's Day picture books - We checked out Here Comes Valentine Cat and Love from the Crayons for the library to read last week and they were both too cute. Violet especially loved them. 
  • Once Upon a River - One of my favorite podcasts, The Girl Next Door, mentioned they were reading this book for their February book club podcast, so I decided to give it a try since it was on my TBR anyway. It's a bit outside of my usual genre, but I really enjoyed it. 

{listening}

  • The Lazy Genius podcast: Your Body Is Not Flawed - Whoa. I'm not sure if it's because it's winter and I've been less active and putting on a few extra pounds, but I've been feeling pretty unhappy with my body lately. This podcast was exactly what I needed to hear and I am really trying to shift my mindset around body image. 
  • Read Aloud Revival podcast: Our Favorite Math Read-Alouds - Books are my go-to anytime I want my kids to learn more about pretty much any subject, so why should it be any different with math? As usual, Sarah and her guests had some excellent recommendations I can't wait to read with my kiddos. 

{watching}

  • Ellen's Game of Games - This is a rare show that we can watch as a family and truly enjoy together. No one loves it more than Jona though--he can't even control himself he laughs so hard. 
What have been some of your highlights lately? 

{reading} books like resolutions

My current reading life reminds me a little of New Year's resolutions. I started the year off strong, with excellent books that I was excited about reading. Now, in mid-February, my enthusiasm has dwindled; I haven't loved what I read as much as I did at the beginning of the year. Unlike resolutions though, I'll definitely keep going--I know my next great read could be one book away. I'm an eternal book optimist.

There are a couple of books I read that I did really like, I just didn't love them the way I did the ones I talked about last month.



{The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns} This novel alternates between a present day story and one set in Japan in the 1950s. An American soldier falls in love with a Japanese woman, but family, culture, and timing make it nearly impossible for them to be together. While fiction, the novel was based on facts, so learning about Japanese culture during that time period was fascinating. That part of the story was engrossing and heart-breaking at times. I couldn't get quite as invested in the parallel modern day story, mostly because there were too many loose ends left untied in my opinion. My rating: 3.5/5 stars.


{Peace Like a River by Leif Enger} Reuben Land, and 11-year old boy with severe asthma, narrates this story of his family as they travel across the Dakotas one winter in search of his fugitive brother Davy. While that plot carries the story along, it does so quietly and at a slower pace. The focus is on relationships; I loved the sibling bond between Reuben and his sister Swede, and the way the children looked up to their father, Jeremiah. Enger's writing is beautiful, and I love the way he weaves the miraculous into the everyday. My rating: 3.5/5 stars.


Have you read any good books lately? 

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. 

weekly highlights {6}

I hope you all like reading this round-up of weekly highlights, because I have so much fun writing it. Thinking about what I'm going to add for each post helps me focus on things that bring joy throughout the week. Anyway, here are my highlights for last week.

I don't get too excited about football, but these two were all about our Chiefs!


{eating}

  • The Baked Brownie - I trust the Brown-Eyed Baker for dessert recipes, so when she said this was a top notch brownie recipe I knew it would be the perfect thing to make for a Superbowl Party. With the Chief's win, maybe they're lucky brownies too? 
  • One Pot Spaghetti and Meat Sauce - This is truly a one-pot meal and it's one we love. If I'm craving a traditional spaghetti dinner, this is what I make. 

{reading}

  • Peace Like a River - This novel was beautifully written, quiet, and an interesting balance of being rooted in reality, yet with hints of the miraculous. I'll share more about it in my next reading round-up. 
  • H is for Hawk - I listened to this memoir on audio and liked it okay, but I struggled to get into it. 
  • Pirate's Lullaby: Mutiny at Bedtime - this has been Violet's book of choice just about every night of the week. It rhymes, it's about a pirate, it's main character is a kid who doesn't want to go to bed--it's right up her alley. 

{listening}

  • Edit Your Life podcast Episode 187: Living Your Best Frugal Life - I loved the discussion between host Christine Coe and her guest Amiyrah Martin about living a frugal, yet joyful, life. Amiyrah had some great ideas for reframing the narrative (holla Forever 35 fans!) on what frugality means.

{loving}

  • Read-aloud book generator - Sarah Mackenzie of the Read-Aloud Revival podcast (one of my faves!) created this awesome quiz that will help you get ideas for books to read aloud to your child(ren). It's so fun and I'm always looking for read-aloud ideas! 
  • Jona's interest in reading - Jona has always loved being read to, but has been less than enthusiastic about reading himself. However, in the past month his confidence has been building and he's been excited about reading (yay!). He's really into the Dog Man series, and while those are definitely not books I would choose, I am happy to give him anything that makes him want to read. 
What are some of your highlights from the week? 

What to Wear for Valentine's Day - Casual and Dressy Looks

Valentine's Day can be a polarizing holiday, yet I fall somewhere in the middle. I don't want any over-the-top romantic gestures, and yet I have fun with all the Hallmark card elements, like the candy and heart-shaped everything. Maybe it's my current life season, but I have more fun making Valentine's Day special for my kids than anything else.

Although my plans for Valentine's Day involve feeding the kids heart-shaped pizza and then dinner in with Aaron after they go to bed, I still have fun thinking about what to wear. A recent shopping trip to Loft proved that I can't resist a heart print and I came home with it on both a top and a skirt.

Even if you don't have any heart-printed clothing in your closet, I think both of these looks are still Valentine's Day friendly, and of course can go beyond that.

What are you wearing for Valentine's Day? 


{casual Valentine's Day look}


This is what I plan to wear to work on Valentine's Day. To me it's casual, yet festive with the hearts and pink. I love that the print is black and white--despite the Valentine's Day feels it has right now, I know that I'll still be wearing this all spring. 


Sweater blazer: J.Crew Factory | heart-print peplum top: Loft | jeans: Old Navy | mules: Target -old (similar)


{date night Valentine's Day look}


I wore this to a work event a couple of weeks ago, but I also think it would be a great date night look. I was on the fence about midi-length skirts, but I love this one, especially with boots. 


Jacket: Loft - old (similar) | blush tee: Target | heart-print midi skirt: Loft | boots: Sole Society (similar)


{shop all the heart print}



Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. 

Linking with Away from the Blue and Style on the Daily. 

weekly highlights {5}

I was gone for a work event for a few days, so last week felt like a blur. Once again I'm itching to be back to a regular routine (and a regular bedtime... why does the Super Bowl have to be on Sunday night?). Here are a few highlights from last week. Also, for all you KC fans out there, go Chiefs!

A special guest showed up at my work event last week!


{eating}


{listening}

  • The Next Right Thing podcast - Episode 112: Two Words to Avoid. Emily Freeman always has great advice and I loved what she had to say in this episode about avoiding the words "just" and "thing" in certain conversations.
  • Farmer Boy - Jona and I have been listening to Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder and really enjoying it. 

{loving}

  • Ballet birthday party - Violet went to a birthday party last weekend and they had a dance teacher come in and lead a dance class for the group. It was adorable and Violet loved every minute of it. I thought it was such a great idea for a birthday party! The party favors were little pink tutus! 
  • Another Violet quote - Jona was having some Lego building problems and was getting very frustrated. Violet heard his shouts, looked at me and said "He's really struggling down there." 

{easy valentine's day treat} love bugs

We made it through January! I tend to agree with all the memes out there--it really does feel like the longest month ever. Now that February is here I'm trying to think ahead for Valentine's Day so I'm not scrambling at Target looking for my kids' class Valentines.

{candy love bugs} 

I came across this little craft on Pinterest and thought it would be the perfect easy thing to try for Violet's class Valentines this year.



All you need are clothespins (you can decorate them or buy them already colored), pipe cleaners, and mini bags of candy or fruit snacks. I bought googly eyes to add but when I realized they weren't the self-adhesive kind I just drew on a little smiley face with a Sharpie.




{other easy Valentine's Day ideas}



What are your Valentine's Day traditions?