On the Daily EXPRESS


Ten Amazon Athleisure Favorites

For Friday Favorites today I'm going all Amazon, all Athleisure today! I wasn't really an early adopter of the Athleisure trend since generally I prefer to be a little more dressed up, just for personal preference. Not dresses and pumps dressed up, just jeans a nice top. But as function of lifestyle changes, my Athleisure apparel has started taking up more of my closet space. It's especially happened in the past year with the switch to working from home. I'm actually at home more these days than I was as a "stay at home" mom! So today I'm highlighting ten of my Amazon Athleisure favorites that are Closet Staples in the ultra-comfy, ultra-casual section of my closet!

1. Fleece Shorts
T-Shirt | Shorts (c/o) | Necklace | Earrings | Sandals (c/o)

These shorts are new to me this summer but you've already seen them in a few top view posts. They are ridiculously soft! I probably didn't need another pair of fleece shorts like this since I already have a black and grey pair from Target, but the pink called my name so I gave them a chance and I'm so glad I did! They have pockets, they're only $12 and they're cute and extremely comfortable. What more could you want? They run a little big to me, so even if you want a relaxed fit, just go with your normal size.

2. Cozy Fleece Jacket

Obviously it's way too hot to wear this right now, but I can't do an athleisure post without it! If you like the coziness of Barefoot Dreams Cardigans, blankets, etc. you will love this jacket! It's true to size and the perfect stay-warm layer. While cardigans are great too, I like that this zips up completely. Sometimes when it's cold I end up wrapping my cardigan around me like a robe, but it never stays that way. You won't have that problem with this jacket!

3. Joggers

These joggers are lightweight, affordable and true to size. I am extremely picky about the fit of joggers...most are baggy or bunchy in all the wrong places, but these are just right! That may vary with your body type, but they're definitely worth giving a chance. They also come in a Full length version (which I have in grey), and personally I think I prefer the full length version. While I like the look of cropped joggers (and I style my full length joggers to look cropped), hen I wore these around the house last Spring, I would often find my ankles got cold. I wanted to pull the pant leg down to cover them...but couldn't! I thought maybe I'd reach for these more in the summer when my ankles wouldn't get could, but as it turns out, I just end up reaching for shorts in warm weather. Again this just comes down to personal preference and lessons learned, but just sharing my experience in case it helps you decide which length to choose.

4. T-Shirt Hoodie

My regular readers are probably sick of seeing this t-shirt hoodie, but again...I can't write this post without including it! This is also a travel staple for me - I pack it in my suitcase every time I am going on a trip with my family! I end up wearing it for lounging, throwing on as a layer at night, or wearing it under a coat like I did in Big Bear:

I usually wear an XS or Small in tops depending on the cut and fit, and I went with a Small in this because I wanted the extra length for wearing it with leggings. I'm 5'4", and you can see in the photo above that it has enough length to cover the essentials with leggings! I've washed it multiple times but I do hang it to dry to preserve the length.

5. Ballerina Leggings

Not only have I been a slow adopter of athleisure, I've been a slow adopter of leggings in any print/color other than black! But these ballerina leggings were just too cute, and I figured if I can wear blue jeans all the time, why not blue leggings? I tried another angle here to give you a better look at the mesh detail that makes up the "leg warmer" part of the leggings:

They're true to size and a nice medium weight. The fabric is actually softer than I was expecting for this type of fitness legging. I checked out the reviews on these to see if there was anything else I should address. Reviews were a little mixed on how much compression these offer and whether they're workout or athleisure leggings, and I think that just comes down to personal preference. For me they can be both, but if you favor strong compression leggings for workouts, you'll probably find these best for athleisure only.

I did also get these in black because that's my comfort zone, but as you can see, the mesh detail doesn't really show as well with the darker fabric, so the "ballerina" effect is lost unless you're in the right lighting.

I'll still find reasons to wear both pairs of these leggings, but I recommend going with one of the lighter colors if you really want the mesh detail to show.

6. Striped Zip-Up Hoodie :

You'd think I might not need a zip-up and pullover version, (Favorite #4 above) of practically the same thing, but the reality is I really use both and like having both options. The zip-up version is just a little bit warmer and thicker. The pullover is great on its own as a shirt, and it's great as an "underneath layer" (shown above). But I don't like the pullover as much as an outer layering option. If I get warm throughout the day I don't like having to pull it over my head (and mess up my hair) to take it on and off throughout the day. The zip up version is much easier for an outer layer! The outfit above is what I wore to Knott's Berry Farm, except the sweatshirt ended up around my waist the entire time due to the heat (as seen in the front view further down in this post). It's a pretty basic piece that's comfortable and true to size (I took an XS in this). It's certainly not fashion forward but I have no regrets about buying this it because it's so functional for my lifestyle.

7. Daily Ritual Leggings

While the Ballerina leggings above are more on the athletic side of athleisure, these Daily Ritual fleece leggings would definitely be more suited to leisure activities! These have replaced my Express Sexy Stretch leggings as my favorite everyday casual leggings because they're simply more comfortable. They're not the same type of fleece material as the pink shorts above (Favorite #1)...they're thinner. But not too thin! They're true to size and under $20. Some color/size combinations are sold out right now but keep an eye out for a re-stock since Amazon has re-stocked staple basics like this and the t-shirt hoodie in the past!

8. Burnout Tee

I love a good basic white tee (see all of my favorite white v-neck tees in this post) but this Alexander + David Burnout Tee is my favorite for athleisure outfits. It's simple but has two key things going for it that make it work well for athleisure wear. First, the "burnout" name means it's kind of sheer and lightweight, which is nice when it's hot outside or you're actually doing something athletic and want a lightweight, breathable tee. Second, it's longer in the torso than most of my other favorite t-shirts, which lends itself well to a side-knot. I like doing a side knot like this when I'm wearing joggers (as shown in Favorite #3 where I'm wearing this exact tee ) or any kind of sporty shorts. It was initially long enough to wear with leggings, but it did shrink a bit after I washed and dried it, so it's not long enough for leggings anymore. I finally caved and ordered this in black because I don't have a good black tee for a side-knot. I'm wearing my black Madewell tee in Favorite #1, but that one just doesn't stay in the knot as well as this one and with my athleisure-friendly lifestyle lately, I know I'll get good use out of it. I'm wearing a Small in this and I think it's true to size.

9. Black Sneakers

These days I'm really trying to pare down my shoe collection to only my most functional, versatile options. They just take up too much space and I'm maxed out right now, so it's a strict one in, one out situation. That said, I have found that having one pair of grey sneakers and one pair of black sneakers is all I need. I've gotten rid of my Converse and other sneaker styles. Granted, I'm really not a sneaker person so if I'm wearing sneakers it's because I have to, not for fashion or fun. I totally get that some people love sneakers the way I love ankle boots so they may want more pairs! But two pair of sneakers is enough for me. My exact Nike Sneakers are the Internationalist style (purchased on Amazon) and they're few years old. So I can't link to the exact pair, but any black pair from your favorite brand will do, or you can try this similar pair from Nike. I tend to reach for these a lot when I'm wearing an athleisure outfit with black leggings, as shown above or in Favorite #2, #4 (second outfit) and #5!

10. Grey Sneakers 

I added a grey pair of sneakers to my athleisure collection last summer and I'm loving them! I tend to reach for these more when I need to pair sneakers with shorts or jeans. (See Favorite #6 and #8 above for examples.) With shorts especially I just think they grey looks better against my bare legs, and apparently Kate Middleton agrees based on her recent appearance in shorts plus grey New Balance sneakers! I'm in good company! But the grey also works with black joggers or black leggings too, so if I could only have one pair of sneakers I think I'd go with these. But I do like having both, and tend to choose the black if I know there's a good chance they'll get dirty.

My exact New Balance sneakers are still in stock. They're really comfortable - my mom even has a pair and loves hers too! A lot of the reviews said to go a half size up in these, but that did not work out for me. I initially ordered a half size up and they were too big, so I ended up taking my normal size.

That brings me to the end of my top ten Amazon Athleisure favorites! And frankly, I think that encompasses pretty much all of my athleisure favorites. Except for my sold-out Target joggers, I can't think of any other athleisure favorites I have that didn't come from Amazon! Let me know if you have any athleisure must-haves from Amazon or elsewhere that have proven to be closet staples for you that I should consider getting. Id you's like to Pin this post for future reference, here's a recap of some favorites from this post:

Linking up with: Erika, Andrea, Narci


Eight Ways to Wear Jean Shorts

I've been trying to share posts with multiple ways to wear a lot of my closet staple pieces this year, but there's one staple item I keep postponing: jean shorts! I wear them frequently from April through October and have dozens of outfit photos with them, but that was causing the problem. The thought of narrowing down what to share and how many outfits to recap was overwhelming so I just kept putting it off! But I did finally narrow it down to eight outfits to share today with some variety of dressed up to more casual styling. You may not be looking to shop for new shorts at this point in the summer season, but most of us still have weeks or months left of wearing them so I hope you don't mind a little in-season outfit inspiration.

ONE: Jean Shorts + Kimono

Last year I added a few kimonos to my closet and they really are a great summer layer. Lighweight enough to wear in the heat but provide a little extra interest to the outfit without adding much heat. For some reason this year I just haven't been wearing them as much, but digging up some old outfit photos with them is making me want to dust them off to wear a few times before summer ends!

TWO: Jean Shorts + Peplum Top

Most of my tops are basic tees and tanks just to give me more layering potential, but it's also nice to have a few "outfit maker" tops what work well on their own. Whether it's a print or lace detail or a peplum + some stripes like this top, it makes for very low fuss outfit styling and easy pairing with jean shorts.

THREE: Jean Shorts + Basic Tank +  Any Jacket!

Well this is my personal favorite combination and I could easily put together another post with multiple outfit ideas for shorts + basic tee/tank + jacket. This was a tough category to narrow down to just one outfit, but I chose this one since there's always a similar utility jacket style available. I like it because it's so easy to convert from a "wear at home" to "wear in public" version. At home I'll wear just the basic tee/tank and jean shorts. Then when it's time to go, I can throw on almost any lightweight jacket and add some nicer sandals. Provided I'm going to be mainly indoors wherever I'm heading, this is my go-to combo.

FOUR: Jean Shorts + T-Shirt or Sweatshirt

This t-shirt hoodie is a travel staple for me. I've taken it on every trip for the last two years, and I've ended up using it every time! I guess that's a little off topic, but I do love a low-fuss, basic jean shorts + t-shirt combo. If I'm doing just jean shorts + tee, I always like to add a little something else to the outfit to make it "me." When it's a short-sleeve tee I tend to do necklace plus a bracelet stack (like below). But in this case since it was long sleeves I went for a hat and fun earrings.

FIVE: Jean Shorts + Relaxed Tank
Striped Tank (Similar w/ more Sizes) | Similar Shorts | Sandals (c/o) | Similar Necklace | Earrings | Belt | Handbag (c/o) | Similar Bracelets

One thing I've learned from taking blog photos is that I'm really not crazy about how I look wearing just a fitted tank + jean shorts without another layer. On the flip side of that, you'll notice I generally favor a fitted layer when I'm wearing something over it like the jacket or kimono options above. But that's just me and my body type and personal preference! I think a fitted tank or bodysuit looks cute on other people. Regardless, if I know I'm really not going to want any kind of layer that day, I'll opt for a more relaxed tank like this one. And like I mentioned above, I might add a few extra accessories like a belt and jewelry for more interest.

SIX: Jean Shorts + Cami

If you've followed my blog for awhile, you know this used to be my #1 summer combo back in the days of the Barcelona Cami. But tastes and preferences change, and while I still like the look of a nice cami with jean shorts, I really burned myself out on wearing a strapless bra. These days I try not to purchase too many tops that require a strapless bra. But I do make the occasional exception since a nice cami is pretty versatile for going from daytime to date night (see this one styled for date night here). A cami + jean shorts really does look a bit nicer than a knit tank in my opinion, so if you don't mind a strapless bra, this makes for an easy, cute summer outfit.

SEVEN: Jean Shorts + Cami + Cardi

I can't talk about layering options for camis without mentioning cardigans! This is more of a fall transition look with shorts since I opted for ankle boots instead of sandals and chose a very fall-hued layer. I probably won't wear this exact combo for another month or two here, but if you want a good fall transition piece this cardi has served me well for a couple of years now. It's very lightweight and a fun way to add fall vibes in summer weather.

EIGHT: Jean Shorts + Blouse

Last but not least a classic blouse + jean shorts! I love the dressy/casual combo and the fact that it never goes out of style. It's easy to get caught up thinking we need to try all the latest trends, when in reality, we all probably have some classic pieces in our wardrobes that can give us a polished, put together outfit.

Here's one last look at all eight outfits in a Pinterest-friendly graphic:

I'd love to hear your favorite way to wear jean shorts! Do you have a go-to combo that's not on my list? Let me know in the comments below!

Link Up Hosts:
Link up your fashion-related posts below! If you link up, please link back to your hosts! Thank you!
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter


August 2019 Book Reviews


Welcome to my August 2019 Book Reviews! I am trying a couple of new things with my reviews this month. First, I added a "Read Via" sub-heading so you can more easily see which format I used for reading (Kindle or Audible). Second, I added an Extended Review section for a book I absolutely loved and had more to say than usual.

Sometimes we have four weeks between reviews and sometimes we have five weeks. This month was the latter and that extra week made a big difference in the amount of books I was able to get through, especially since I had 5 hours of almost un-interrupted reading time on an airplane! Here we go with the reviews!

The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Basic Plot: Irish family saga and fictional life story/memoir of Cyril Avery.
Read Via: Audible
My Verdict: Highly Recommend! It's going to be impossible for me to review this without over-hyping it and setting expectations too high, and I genuinely hate doing that since it was such a pleasant, unexpected surprise for me. If you're thinking of reading it because you've taken a recommendation from me in the past and enjoyed it, maybe just skip the rest of this review and give it a go knowing that I strongly recommend this! I ordered this on Audible after a one-off recommendation on the Amazon Book Review podcast. I went in with zero expectations and zero knowledge of the plot. While I wasn't sure where the story was going at first, it took almost no time to grab my attention and interest. From that point on I was in for laughs like I haven't experienced from a book in ages! And there were some tears in there too since Cyril's family story was full of highs and lows. If you enjoy really great character development, story arcs, family sagas etc., give this book a chance.
Extended Review Section: Because I had such strong feelings about this book, I couldn't resist reading other reviews on Goodreads after I finished it to see if others felt the same as me. And if someone didn't like the book, what possible reasons could they have?? Here are some of the main complaints and my thoughts on them: (Still no major spoilers, just a bit more detail and discussion.)
- Dialogue: Some reviewers mentioned that there were pages and pages of extensive dialogue between characters. I listened on Audible, and my feeling is that yes, there was a lot of dialogue but for me, all of my favorite scenes in the book came from the dialogue between characters! Those were the funniest scenes! Rachelle and I read this book at about the same time and kept texting each other quotes from the hilarious conversations. The narrator did a great job with distinct voices and the author always clarified who was saying what, so I was never confused. This may be a case where the audio has the upper hand on the print version because I found the narration of the dialogue incredibly entertaining. That said, I can certainly understand this critique and imagine how reading the same words on paper might not have the same comic effect. Perhaps your own inner narrator/voice just isn't as funny as a professional voice actor and doesn't do justice to the deadpan, witty, and hilarious conversations? Or it's simply different strokes for different folks when it comes to humor, but I personally loved the dialogue.
- Coincidences: Many reviewers commented that the book relied too heavily on coincidences and chance encounters. I honestly didn't notice this as it was happening because the instances would be years/decades apart in the time frame of the book, therefore hours apart as I was listening. But yes, I guess it's true. It didn't bother me at all for whatever reason since it served a purpose and was all part of such a fantastic story.
- Sex: The last frequent complaint I noticed was about characters being obsessed with sex or there being too much of it in the book, etc. This book is rated R, but there weren't especially gratuitous, explicit sex scenes in my opinion. Kind of like humor isn't one size fits all, I can't refute anyone's opinion on whether there was "too much" sex. I can only say that it didn't bother me, though it was enough that I wouldn't personally recommend it to younger readers or anyone who wants to avoid books with sexual content.

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
Basic Plot: A makeup artist decides to enter a psychological study and gets in way over her head
Read Via: Kindle
My Verdict: It Was Okay. This book started off pretty slow for me, but somewhere around 30% the plot gets a little more intriguing. From that point on, I was entertained and had no trouble finishing it. Like many books, this one alternates between narrators. I really did not like the way Lydia's segments were written. Anytime she was narrating, everything was in a robotic, passive voice, so instead of saying, "I put on my pajamas and ate breakfast," it was, "the silk pajamas were selected and facial cleansing commenced." (That's not an exact quote...I'm paraphrasing but you get the idea.) I understood why they did that and how it suited Lydia's character traits, but I didn't enjoy that writing style at all, so it took my overall enjoyment/rating of the book down a notch.

Missing Molly by Natalie Barelli
Basic Plot: Rachel works for a newspaper that wants to stay relevant by starting a true crime podcast about a cold case for a missing girl, Molly Foster. The trouble is, Rachel is Molly Foster and doesn't want to be found.
Read Via: Audible
My Verdict: Entertaining. I really liked the premise of this book and it kept me entertained. I listened on Audible when it came up as a deal of the day, and I had no complaints about the narrator. But there were many times throughout the book when I was irritated with Rachel's choices and actions, and that tends to make me a little annoyed with a book. Especially since I'm not sure they were necessary to further the plot. But the fact is, plenty of people behave irrationally so even if I didn't agree with her actions they weren't totally unrealistic so it was okay. Overall I still liked the plot and the pacing. The ending felt a bit rushed, but all in all it was a fun concept and enjoyable read.

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Basic Plot: Marriage is hard, y'all. A young couple copes with marital challenges in a somewhat unconventional way.
Read Via: Kindle
My Verdict: Recommend (if the subject matter interests you). This wasn't a "best of all time" novel for me but it was good and easy summer entertainment. I was quickly drawn into the story, I liked the contemporary writing style and the pacing of the story so I had no trouble cruising right through this in a couple of days. I could easily relate to the ups and downs of a long term relationship, and I thought the author did a good job of bringing those to life in the story.  I can't say I know any couples who have chosen to handle their differences quite like this one did, but that's part of what made the story interesting and it wasn't impossible or unrealistic so I didn't mind it.

Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Basic Plot: Letters between a man and woman who have discovered their spouses are cheating on them with each other.
Read Via: Audible
My Verdict: Too Short.  Honestly this was entertaining so I can't really complain about it. It's well written and engaging, but I just felt cheated (pardon the pun) out of getting to know each of the characters better and having their stories more developed. It's actually considered a short story rather than a novel, so it's under 1.5 hours on Audible. And the narrators were great too, but I just wanted more! But it was free on Audible with my Kindle Unlimited subscription so I guess I got my money's worth regardless!

As You Wish by Cary Elwes
Basic Plot: Behind the scenes of the making of The Princess Bride (the movie)
Read Via: Audible
My Verdict: Fun and Entertaining. If you've seen this movie and liked it, you will probably enjoy this book. I liked hearing more of the backstory on the casting, the production, the actors, the challenges of finding a niche to market the movie, etc. I learned a lot of fun little trivia that I hadn't know before. In general I do like this type of behind-the-scenes in Hollywood memoir, and this one didn't disappoint. I listened on Audible and Cary (the actor who played Wesley in the movie) narrated it himself, along with cameo narration performances from several other key players in the making of this movie. As is usually the case with professional actors, Cary was a great narrator. (Side note: I'm watching Stranger Things S3 and did not even recognize him in the show! My husband noticed ans said, "Hey, isn't that Cary Elwes?" You'd think I would have caught that since I had just read his memoir!)

The Trespasser by Tana French
Basic Plot: A Dublin detective seeks to solve a case that she suspects is not as cut and dried as it looks. Meanwhile she deals with personal issues and hazing from her squad members.
Read Via: Kindle
My Verdict: Good but challenging to read. I've wanted to check out Tana French for awhile and this is my first novel by her. I am not sure if I'll pick up another for a few reasons. First, even though the characters were speaking English, at times it seemed like another language because they used a lot of phrasing that was unfamiliar to me and slang I'd never heard. (Gaff? Gaffer? I had to look those up. I think there was even a character named Gaffney or something, adding to my confusion.) Once I started to get the hang of the language, I did enjoy the mystery, suspense, and carefully built story. It was a really well done book (good character development, decent pacing, carefully built storylines that tie together and wrap up nicely), it was just slow going for me and didn't become a page turner until over halfway through. I found out after the fact that this is part of series, but it's completely standalone so you don't need to read other books in the series to read this.

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
Basic Plot: An experimental medical treatment results in tragedy due to arson. Courtroom drama ensues in the trial of the woman accused of arson, but many participants in the treatment have secrets and perhaps the person on trial isn't the guilty party after all.
Read Via: Audible
My Verdict: Recommend. I'd read mixed reviews on this so I went in skeptically and was pleasantly surprised! I thought it was a really well done courtroom drama. The nuances of each person's story and which facts they shared vs. kept to themselves plus family/relationship dynamics each playing their part all made for an interesting read for me. I found it fairly easy to get into with a few slow parts here and there, but all in all an enjoyable read. Side Note: when I finished the audiobook I listened to the author interview at the end. I was really impressed to find out she's Harvard-educated trial attorney. Many of the characters and experiences in the book have a personal connection to her, so she obviously took the "write what you know" advice to heart and I think it worked well.

Run Away by Harlan Coben
Basic Plot: A father gets in deeper trouble than he ever anticipated trying to bring home his run away teenage daughter.
Read Via: Kindle
My Verdict: Recommend. This was my first book by this author and won't be my last! This was fast paced, action packed, and entertaining from start to finish. I really liked the author's writing style and generally didn't have any complaints about the book. If you enjoyed the movie Taken with Liam Neeson, you might enjoy this book as well since it had a similar "Father pulling out all the stops to save daughter" theme, albeit with a completely different set of circumstances and adventures along the way.

False Step by Victoria Helen Stone
Basic Plot: A wife is a bit suspicious of her husband who miraculously discovered and rescued a little boy who had gone missing in the woods.
Read Via: Audible (Free with Kindle Unlimited)
My Verdict: Do Not Recommend. I really enjoyed Jane Doe by this author so I wanted to try another book by her, but this one just did not deliver. It was easy enough to get through but it was so predictable. Plus, none of the characters were very likable, including the main character. That usually means I don't ultimately enjoy a book, which was exactly the case here. The more we got to know the main character the less redeeming qualities she had, so I was left with no one to root for in this book and minimal plot progress from start to finish. I'd skip this one and save yourself the frustration.

Recursion by Blake Crouch
Basic Plot: A police officer investigates "False Memory Syndrome," a condition that's wreaking havoc on people's lives and seemingly spreads via social networks. Meanwhile a scientist seeks ways to preserve memories.
Read Via:  Kindle
My Verdict: Recommend. First, let me tell you the plot of this one is hard to summarize. It goes so far beyond what I wrote. This is a sci-fi thriller, and I don't usually go for sci-fi, but this author has a way of writing them that's a little more approachable. I enjoyed Crouch's other book (Dark Matter) and this was just as well done. This was easy to get into and fairly fast paced throughout. My only minor critique is that for me, at the end of the book it starts getting more complicated and harder to understand with some of the specifics and science-y elements. I had this same experience with Dark Matter. I still understood the big picture of what was happening, but not the more complex specifics. Science was not my best subject in school so take that for what it's worth. But all in all it's a great thriller with a cool, interesting concept.

The Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Great
Basic Premise: This book is best summarized by the title! It takes a closer look at how people and businesses (household names like Martin Luther King, Jr., Seinfeld and Polaroid are used as examples) succeeded or failed in changing the world (or just their own personal success) based on specific factors like who they selected to evaluate their work, birth order, etc.
Read Via: Audible
My Thoughts: I don't like to put a final verdict on this type of informative nonfiction book because I've learned from past experience that it takes a few months for me to see what value it adds to my life. Does it shed new light on experiences or decisions going forward? Does it become relevant in real life conversations and I find myself wanting to recommend it to others? That's why these are just "My (initial) Thoughts" on this rather than "My Verdict." Overall the book had some interesting points and segments but I'm not immediately wowed or rushing to recommend it. That may change in time I suppose. I also thought the narrator was a bit drab, and that didn't help with engaging me in the content.

Quick Picks:
For quick recommendation without the specifics of what I did/didn't like, here are the books from this month that I'm likely to recommend to friends and family in real life:
The Heart's Invisible Furies
After I Do
Miracle Creek
Run Away

Current Reads + Up Next:
I'm currently reading Someone We Know by Shari LaPena (author of The Couple Next Door) and really enjoying it! Odds are good I'll be recommending it next month. I'm listening to Hello Lovelies on Audible and it's very blogger-ific. (A small-time Michigan mommy blogger aspires to meet her #goals mommy blogger.) It's amusing albeit complete fluff so far.

Can't wait to hear what you've all be reading or which books from this month you'll be adding to your list!

Linking up with: Steph & Jana


Top View Outfits: Ten for Summer

Last Winter I made it a point to start incorporating more Top View Outfit posts on a regular basis as a way to show more of my everyday outfits plus give a closer look at some details, yet somehow I haven't done one of these posts since May! It's largely because I've used most of my recent top view photos in posts with other outfits to show more ways to wear an item, so I didn't want to be too redundant by posting the same pictures over and over. But I've got a few unposted outfits to share today, plus this is a good way to consolidate some outfits and make it easier to find a certain item/outfit. For all of the exact items I'm wearing, everything is true to size so I won't add many more fit notes below. Here we go!

1. Chambray Jacket + Joggers:

I wore this outfit on the airplane for my trip earlier this month and it was perfect except for the fact that my feet froze on the flight home! Never again will I wear sandals on a plane. Aside from that, it's official that BB Dakota is my new favorite brand for jackets. They're just great outfit makers and they have a lot of knit options that have the comfort of a cardigan with the more elevated look of a jacket. This chambray jacket is probably my favorite new piece of the summer. It serves the same purpose as a denim jacket, but it's softer and lighter weight, making it a better option for a summer layer. And now that I've traveled with it I can confirm that it's perfect for travel. I wore it on both flights and grabbed it in the evening every night when I needed a light layer. This next outfit is a repeat from a previous post but I wanted to share at least one more way to wear this jacket here.

2. Chambray Jacket + White on White:
Jacket (c/o)| Tank | Shorts | Necklace | Similar Sandals (Same brand/style) | Similar Bracelets

Even though I still dress for warm weather in September, I tend to start phasing out truly summery looks like this with the white on white after August. I think I need to wear this one more time before the end of the month!

3. Rust Henley Tank + Neutral Cardigan + Jean Shorts:

The outfit above is an almost exact repeat of one I wore in this post, except with jean shorts here instead of the denim skirt. Both outfits are from the same day - I started the day in shorts but changed to a skirt when we decided to go to the movies. I wanted the longer length and more leg coverage for the theater.

4. Pink Leopard Cami + Jean Shorts:

I shared the front view of this outfit in my Evereve Favorites post, but the top view gives a closer look at the print and the detailing on the sandals.  This top is a great piece to take from day to night with just a few small changes. I swapped my shorts and wedge sandals (above) for dark wash jeans and heels, then added some more sparkly jewelry (below)!

5. Pink Leopard Cami + Jeans:
Cami | Jeans (c/o) | Necklace | Bracelet | Sandals | Handbag (c/o)

These jeans look black in this photo, but in person they're a very dark inky blue. You can see the front view of these in this post, and I think those photos do a little better job of showing the hints of blue in these jeans.

6. White Henley + Khaki Linen Shorts
Jacket (c/o)| Henley Tank | Shorts (c/o)| Sandals (c/o) | Necklace | Earrings

I shared the front view of this outfit last month, and yes, this is another BB Dakota Jacket! This is the same cut and fit as the chambray jacket above but different color and slightly different material. This is tencel vs. chambray but it's equally lightweight and comfortable. I really do love both of them, but I talk about the chambray one being a summer favorite just because it has a more summery look to it. You can't go wrong with either one of these.

7. Striped Peplum Top + Jean Shorts:

This top is probably my second most favorite new-to-me item of summer. You can see the front view here in a slightly more dressed up version of this outfit. I don't really have big plans for styling this a lot of different ways. I got it because I have a lot of great layering tops for summer but not so many "cute all by itself and can wear with a regular bra" tops so this fit that bill. On hot days I can throw it on with shorts for daytime and then trade those for jeans for date night and I'm good to go!

8. Striped Peplum Top + Jean Shorts:
Top | Jeans | Sandals | Necklace

Here's my date night version of this outfit: add jeans, heels, and a little more sparkle! It's always nice to be able to go from day to evening in a matter of minutes.

9. Navy Blouse + White Shorts: 
Navy Blouse (c/o)| White Shorts | Similar Belt | Necklace | Sandals (c/o) | Handbag  (c/o)

Ah, the navy blouse of regret! I love this blouse (front view version posted here) but wish I had gotten a different color since I'm not great at styling navy tops and jackets.I have a pair of grey pants from LOFT that I thought would work with these, but they ended up not looking very good together since the colors are too similar. And I don't currently have a pair of white jeans I love. I'll try pairing it with some of my jeans for fall, but yeah. Truthfully I wish I had selected a different color! It's great blouse but if you're navy-challenged like me, there are lots of different color options to choose from.

10. Black Cami Sundress + Blush Cardigan:

I did a whole post about my favorite summer dresses back in June...and then proceeded to not wear any dresses for the next two months! I think it was a combination of weather and lifestyle factors, but since August hit I've been reaching for my dresses again. July was relaxed but I've already had several A.M. appointments this month where I was rushed to get out the door so this dress came to the rescue. I actually wore it twice on different days to different places/appointments since it's not like the doctor knew I already wore this to the dentist's office this week! This dress is older, though you can find something similar every summer like this LOFT option or this one from Amazon

That brings us to the end of the ten top view outfits, but since my nails are pictured in a lot of these outfits I thought I'd add in my go-to nail combo ICYMI in previous posts.

The bottles look identical in stock photos, but Non-Stop White is an opaque white (after two coats), similar to Essie Blanc. Pearl of Wisdom is a sheer white with a very, very subtle glitter. So subtle that I couldn't even get my camera to capture it in sunlight, but I promise it's there. It gives just a slightly softer, subtle shimmer effect that I really like. Plus the extra coat seems to help the polish last a little longer! You can also find all of my DIY manicure essentials (base coat, top coat, cuticle remover etc.) in this post,

Here's the latest of what's going on in the blog world, real life, and a few other notes!

In Real Life: Last week was crazy coming back from vacation and spending a lot of time in the car driving my kids back and forth from their last week of summer camp. Even with audiobooks to help pass the time, one thing I've learned about myself is that I'm not cut out for a job that would require a lot of driving. It exponentially increases my stress level and makes me not a fun person to be around. So I'm glad that's over, but now back to school is on the horizon, and that's always chaotic! I hate to wish the time away but at this point I'm almost looking forward to September and having a routine again!

On the Blog: Book reviews are coming up tomorrow and I had some great reads this month so I can't wait to share! Wednesday I'll have a multiple ways to wear post, and Friday will be some of my comfy, athleisure favorites from Amazon. Hope to see you here!


Friday Favorites - Vacation Edition

Time to join up with some blogger friends today for Friday Favorites! I was on vacation last week in Couer D'Alene, Idaho and used a few things that aren't the norm in my everyday life, so today's favorites are all vacation related!

1. Swimwear

For my trip last week I needed some new swimwear. We were going to Silverwood Theme Park, which is an amusement park plus water park where you can go on the regular roller coasters in your swimsuit if you are fully covered. For my kids and husband, that meant swim trunks or hybrid shorts + rash guard, which they already had. I didn't have the female equivalent of that combo (especially the hybrid shorts) so I hopped on Amazon to get something for the trip. Amazon's own Coastal Blue Swimwear line had some reasonably cute and affordable options, so I picked up this top for under $20. I wish I had seen their coordinating "bikini shorts" when I bought this top, but sadly they did not come up on my search for women's hybrid shorts! I only stumbled across them later as I was prepping this post. Amazon can be funny like that! At any rate, I am perfectly happy with the Nike shorts and I used them three days in a row on the trip since we were at the lake for two days after the water park! (Don't worry, we were able to do laundry in our AirBnb!) I'm hoping to use them for a few more local activities before I put them away for the summer.

2. Backpack
Shop Backpacks (Tory Burch Tilda)

How on earth did I go so long without a backpack? I got a little backpack for our trip to Big Bear earlier this year and it was the best way to carry my stuff for during all of our activities. For things like biking, a crossbody bag just doesn't work! I don't really opt to carry a backpack for everyday use or even on weekends, but backpacks have become a vacation staple for me.

3. Belt Bag
Shop Belt Bags (See by Chloe Belt Bag) 

My own belt bag is not nearly as glam as this See by Chloe version, but I wouldn't mind owning that one! Although it's probably too nice to take hiking! At any rate, I converted to Belt Bag use during our trip to Zion National Park and now it's a travel staple. I don't care what stigma they have - even my own family makes fun of me for calling it a "belt bag" instead of a "fanny pack." I will deal with the teasing to have the most functional, hands free small bag option for travel. Even when I hiked with a backpack in Zion, I liked having the belt bag on at the same time for easier access to frequent-use things like tissues and lip balm. It kept me from having to stop the entire group to take off my backpack, dig around in it, obtain tissue, put everything back, zip it back up, and reload it on my back. I've also read they're great for European travel to avoid pick pockets, but I can't speak to that personally as yet. I didn't use mine quite as much on this particular trip since we didn't do any hiking but I still count it as a travel staple. 

4. BeautyCounter Sunscreen

A few summers ago I started trying to make the switch from chemical sunscreen to "safer" physical sunscreen, but it was tough because I really didn't like any of the products I tried. They all applied like glue, took forever to rub in, and stayed ghostly white on the skin. As much as I wanted safer sunscreen it was hard to commit to a product with so many drawbacks! Then a few months back Jill mentioned Beautycounter sunscreen on her blog and said that it blends easily, smells nice and doesn't leave greasy residue. That sounded too good to be true for a physical sunscreen! She offered me a sample and the rest is history! I bought my own tube after the sample and am now happy to have a safe sunscreen I actually like. I used it constantly on our trip and it kept me well protected. I am not a BeauyCounter rep and don't get any kind of referral bonus or commission on these products so my enthusiasm for this sunscreen is an unbiased and unsponsored as it gets!

5. Travel Jewelry Case

I've had my travel jewelry case since July of 2012 so it is indeed a longtime vacation favorite! (Thank you Amazon for keeping detailed records of my purchases.) It is still going strong seven years later. I'm linking to the current option/same brand as my exact case here. Most likely they've made some slight design changes in the last seven years but it's still pretty similar to what I have.

I have to tell you, I did a terrible job of packing my clothes for this trip. I had too many regular clothes I didn't use and not enough swimwear and athletic wear. The only thing I got right was my jewelry! I have my travel jewelry selections and packing down to an easy, no-fuss philosophy: Mixed Metal Everything. It's so easy to mix and match! Here's what I pack in my travel jewelry case:
Two: Shop Watches: (Kate Spade Morningside) 
Five: Bracelet

Since all of the jewelry above packed so easily into my travel case I couldn't resist wearing my two newest favorites so I had them with me as well, my Botanical Filigree Earrings and Anda Necklace:
Necklace | Tank | Shorts (c/o) | Earrings | Sandals (c/o)

I shared these in  my July Jewelry Chat Post along with some budget friendly options for these pieces and some of my other favorites, in case you missed it!

Behind the scenes here I've been going back and forth about doing a trip recap or not. Not only did I do a terrible job of packing (except jewelry!), I did a terrible job of documenting the trip for blogging purposes and capturing the beauty and activity options in the area. I started trying to put a post together for it and I just don't have great photos to show the area or what we did. So it would be a "tell" post rather than "show," and for travel recaps I like a little more of the latter. Otherwise it's kind of like doing an outfit post and describing what I wore without showing a picture of it...the visual is pretty important! So for now I'm leaning towards not doing a trip recap, but I saved the draft of what I started just in case I change my mind.

Since we're talking Friday Favorites, I will mention that finger steaks were one of the foods I wanted to try and I was able to track those down at the Taste of Coeur D'Alene food festival that was happening the weekend we were in town:

They were tasty and I'll definitely get them again if I have the chance. Whatever breading or seasoning they used on them was really good!

That does it for Friday Favorites and I'll be back with another post on Monday!

Linking up with: JoLynne | Erika, Andrea, Narci