My Go-to Gifts + Nordstrom Giveaway

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Believe it or not, this is only my second "gift guide" in four years of blogging! I've never considered gift guides to be my blogging forté and I've only done this one for hostess gifts last year. Partly because I don't have the knack for making them as visually appealing as some people, and partly because my #1 go-to gifts are gift cards! I have no shame in giving them as gifts and I love receiving them too. But after thinking on it for awhile, I realized I do have a few favorite gifts to give and a few I've really enjoyed receiving that might be worthwhile to someone else. I also had my kids help me with some gift ideas for kids and tweens (boys in particular), which are fairly underrepresented in the blogger gift guide world if you ask me!

Sentimental Favorites:

Deep down I'm a pretty sentimental person, and if I can find a way to show someone they mean more to me than $25 at Nordstrom, I'll try to go that route!

1. Custom Watercolor Photos (this and Item #6 by Miss Audrey Sue Designs):
I have commissioned a couple of these custom watercolor drawings for friends. In my case, they were friends who had lost a loved one and this was a very special way to give them a family portrait of sorts. But by no means are these limited to the grieving. I love this cute illustration she did of four girlfriends (for a better look see the full size image), and the customization options (religious, seasonal decor, makeup loversshoe lovers, petspet parents, favorite quotes/song lyrics, homes) are endless.

2. Photo Books:
These can take quite a bit of work, but they make great gifts for parents, grandparents or anyone who shared a special adventure or experience with you (think: Travel, Wedding, etc.) I always use Shutterfly Photo Books (search my blog for Shutterfly for more on how I create my family albums with them) simply because I learned their software first and have always been happy my final products.

3. Personalized Photo Jewelry:
Last year for my birthday, some of my family members gave me this custom locket. My dad had recently passed away, and the locked contains an engraved picture of my dad along with one of my favorite quotes by him. It is the sweetest, most meaningful piece of jewelry I own and I love wearing it (see it on me here). Since I received mine, I've also given this as a gift to another family member! I love the ability to customize with your own photo and words. Again, this doesn't have to be limited to loss, that just happens to be what makes it meaningful to me.

4 & 5. Engraved Jewelry: 
(Four: Stella & Dot Adjustable Bracelet | Five. Stella & Dot Silver Bar Cuff)
These are similar to the personalized photo jewelry in #3, but I didn't know until Noelle mentioned a few months back that Stella & Dot has a line of engravable jewelry. They don't have quite as many customization options (e.g. no photos and more limitations on characters) as #3, but they do have a nice selection of items and I've always been pleased with the quality of Stella & Dot pieces. These are especially great for fashion-savvy friends who are familiar with the brand.

6. Custom Watercolor Family Photo:
See Item One for more info, but this is another darling print (see the close-up here) by Miss Audrey Sue Designs. While I personally recommend Audrey for this gift idea because that's who I have used (plus she's my niece so naturally I love her and her work), she did recently have a premature baby who is in the hospital, so she may have a full plate this holiday season. If she's unable to take on more orders here are some other Custom Watercolor Sellers on Etsy.

7. Personal Photo Gifts:
If a photo book sounds like too much work, Shutterfly has plenty of other cute personalized photo gifts, like these Photo Coasters (Retro Flame Style). I made a set of these for my in-laws one year by gathering individual photos of each of their grandchildren and putting each little face on a coaster. They do actually get used around their house, and now that the photos are several years old it's a fun way to look back at old pictures.

Older Kids and Tweens (Mostly Boys):

I polled my two boys (ages 10 and 12) on what kinds of things their friends are talking about and might want for the holidays, so their suggestions are the majority of this list along with a few other items we've enjoyed receiving ourselves.

1. Star Wars Battlefront II
According to my 12 year-old, this is the number one video game that all his friends want for Christmas.

2. National Geographic Kids Subscription
A family member gave my kids a subscription to this magazine for Christmas ages ago and it's a fun magazine for kids to look through with interesting facts and pictures. I even end up looking through it myself when it's on the table. I have renewed the subscription myself every year since the gift expired because I like that much. My 12 year-old was in the room while I was making this collage and he pointed to the magazines and said, "Why is that on there?" Ha! Well, I reminded him that I catch him and his brother reading it and quoting it ("Did you know that most of the dust in your house comes from your family's dead skin cells?!" Yes, that was in there!) every month, so even if kids aren't asking for it specifically, it's been a frequently-used gift. If you want to get a more gender specific magazine subscription you might try something like Boys Life Magazine or American Girl Magazine.

3LeBron James Hat
When I asked my 10 year-old what his friends wanted for Christmas, he said, "Probably a snap-back hat signed by LeBron James." Oh, okay, sure! Well, I couldn't find a link to one of those, but depending on the child some favorite sports team paraphernalia could be a good option!

4. Xbox One X
Yes, this is $500 so it's a lot more expensive than anything else on the list. I might as well have added an iPhone X here too because I'm sure they'd all love one of those! But my 12 year-old insisted I include this because it's The Gaming System that everyone in middle school wants to own. So if you're a generous parent/aunt/uncle, now you know!

5. Destiny 2
After Star Wars Battlefront II, this is the second-most wanted video game right now according to my middle school child.

6. Fandango Gift Cards
Alright, yes, this is a gift card. But to me, it's a gift card for an experience so it's a step up from a retail gift card! Our family rarely goes to the theater to watch a movie because it's just so expensive to take a family of four these days. It's hard to justify the cost very often, and we don't mind waiting a few months to watch it at home for a fraction of the price. That said, when we do receive a movie gift card, we go! The theater experience is fun and it's a nice "treat."

7. Little Passports Subscription Boxes
This is the only gift in this post that's not something I've personally given or received. I also think this would be better suited to younger kids (maybe 3-8) but your child may vary. That said, these subscription boxes for kids are something I've been hearing more about lately and I think my own kids would have enjoyed it a lot when they were younger. And as a mom of little ones always scrambling to keep them entertained, I think I would have liked something new coming in the mail every month too! I thought the Little Passports options would have fit my kids best a few years ago, and they have boxes for a fairly wide range of ages. For more ideas on subscription boxes for your child/niece/nephew etc., you might want to check out this Red Tricycle Subscription Boxes article.

More Resources + $450 Nordstrom Giveaway:
Well, that's about the extent of my gift-giving expertise! I'm sure I left a lot off a lot of people on your holiday shopping list, and if that's the case, you're in luck! Fourteen of my blogger friends are sharing their holiday gift guides today too, so if you need some more ideas click through their links below for all kinds of shopping inspiration. This same great group of ladies is also bringing you the chance to win a $450 gift card to Nordstrom as a way of saying thank you for your support! Enter using the Rafflecopter below the linkup images. The exact entry form is on all of our blogs so you only need to enter on one blog. You also don't have to follow everyone to win, but remember the more accounts you follow, the better your chances of winning. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Black Cardigan, White Cami

Happy Monday (I hope!) and welcome to the official start of the holiday season. According to Instagram and retail stores, the season kicks off the day after Halloween, but I've avoided buying gifts, decorating the house, or sharing a lot of holiday content here aside from a few of my tried-and-true Thanksgiving recipes here. But that will all be changing this week since at the very least I need to do some shopping and food prepping for Thanksgiving and I do have a bit of holiday content planned for the blog. So why not balance out the craziness of the season with a very back-to-basics outfit of the day?

Outfit Details:

I don't always have the best luck with Old Navy pieces but this cardigan has been a favorite this fall. I also have it in "Mauve" (which really isn't mauve if you ask me...it's more earthy-taupe) and "Light Grey" (see it here). It's a simple basic, but they got the texture, weight and length just right for me. It's true to size, and it also come in a longer version if you're taller or just prefer the very long cardigan look. I personally like having a variety of lengths on hand depending on what I'm doing or which one just happens to look best with a given outfit.

Even though Express brought back the Barcelona Cami (see Categories > Barcelona Cami on my menu bar up top for outfits and details on that one), I'm still really like this soft v-neck version as well. The single layer is just a little less fussy and it has a bit more coverage at the chest than the Barcelona Cami. This runs true to size and I took the same size as I did in a Barcelona Cami.

I took a half size down from my normal size in these taupe mules. When I tried these on in store I thought they were reasonably comfortable and stayed on well when walking, but when I wore them in real life for the first time I wasn't so sure. But now that I've worn them multiple times, I'm either used to them or they've broken in because I don't have any issues with comfort. I wouldn't choose to wear them for a long walk, but for my average everyday and errands life they're fine.

I'm definitely getting my money's worth out of this red bag! See three more outfits with it in this post. Eventually I'll have to put together a post with multiple ways I've worn it. I'm so pleased with how easy it's been to work this into my wardrobe.

This is a different clip-in hair extension  than the "messy bun" version I shared here.  What can I say? I like variety and I also like not spending a lot of time on my hair! This is a little more poufy than the other one which I don't mind since I generally like big hair anyway! It also has a built-in clip for attaching to your head so it really doesn't get any easier. The color I'm wearing is "Swedish Blonde."

Monday Motivation: Thanksgiving
For the rest of this week, I'll have all the standard blogger holiday content...gift guides, giveaways, sale alerts, and shopping guides. And honestly I enjoy creating all of that content or I wouldn't still be blogging at this point! Sales and shopping and new things are fun! However, to be honest it all comes with a little extra dose of guilt at this time of year. Why? Mainly because it's not at all what the holiday season should really be about, and I know that. Yet I still contribute to the material side of it all through blogging. It's a tough balancing act between personal values vs. maintaining a relevant blog with useful, timely content.

I wish I had a practical solution to this or some other winning strategy here, but I'm mostly thinking out loud. I think I primarily wanted to say that even though the material stuff is the main focus of the blog this time of year in particular, it's not the main focus of my real life. When we go around the table at Thanksgiving and say what we're grateful for this year, "shopping" isn't going to be one of the things I mention! That said, I am really thankful that I get to connect with you all (albeit mostly through shopping) because it is a really fun, enjoyable part of my life. It might be difficult to express that in a non-forced way ("hey, here's a gift and, ohthanksforfollowingyouarethebestbye") in any of the other posts coming this week so I'm saying it here. It might be a blogger cliché to tell you how much I appreciate your support via comments, likes, saves, shares, emails, direct messages, etc. but I'd rather be cliché than ungrateful so thank you all so for sharing your time with me!

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Everyday Outfits 11/16/17

Happy Friday! This week has been a little stressful on all fronts in our household and I am really glad it's coming to an end. Everyone seemed to have one too many homework assignments or presentations, and I probably took on one too many blog posts and collaborations! But we got through, and at least the kids have the week off from school next week so some of us will be more relaxed! As usual I'm sharing some everyday outfits from the past week or so. A few of these are from previous full-size outfit posts and I'll link to those for if you'd like additional details.

Outfit Recap Part 1:

Plaid Shirt, Over the Knee Boots:

Fit Notes: My top, jeans, and boots all run true to size. See previous outfit with this top here.

Camel Moto Jacket, White Tee:
Jacket (c/o) | White Tee (c/o) | Jeans | Mules (c/o) | Necklace | Crossbody Bag | Nail Color

Fit Notes: This jacket runs small and I recommend going up one size. See previous outfit with this jacket here. Jeans, shoes, and t-shirt all run true to size.

Black Dress with White Contrast Trim:

Fit Notes: This dress is a thick but stretchy knit fabric that's actually very comfortable and easy to move in, although it is very fitted/runs small and I went up one size. My blogger friend Kristen saw this pic on my Instagram story and commented that she loves this brand but does find it runs small in general, which is good to know because I have a few of their other items on my wish list. You may want some shapewear under this dress...I opted for these since I didn't want to spend a lot (they're $15) and I was happy enough with them although I don't think they're necessarily amazing.

Outfit Recap Part 2:

Plaid Waterfall Cardigan, Black Lace Cami:

Fit Notes: Okay, I got this cardigan because I thought it would be such a fun piece for the holidays! It had some good reviews and looked great in one of the reviewer's real life pics. And it is a really fun-looking piece! The fabric is thinner than I expected, which is fine for SoCal weather, but I have to be honest and tell you I'm a little disappointed with the fit on this. I was able to configure it to look decent for a photo, but the reality is that I think the cut is off. The back and shoulders are too wide and it was constantly falling off my shoulders. I had to keep hiking it up. It would work fine in a "staged" situation like family pictures or an event where you don't have to move a lot. But for everyday life it's the functional equivalent of an off the shoulder top. I've had lots of great luck with SheIn pieces (e.g. the camel moto jacket and lace top in this post) and I love working with them, but I want to be honest in my reviews with you all so you can make your own informed purchase decisions.

Light Grey Cardigan, Black Lace Cami:
Light Grey Cardigan | Similar Black Lace Cami | Grey Jeans | Similar Wedge Pumps | Red Handbag (c/o) | Nail Color

Fit Notes: When the plaid cardigan wasn't quite working out I switched it to this light grey one instead so I thought I'd share this version as well. And I changed shoes too because the weather was getting warmer than I expected! All items run true to size. My exact cami is from Abercrombie but I do have the white version of the current option I linked above. It also runs true to size and you can see it styled in this post.

White Lace Neck Top, Jeans:

Fit Notes:
I went up one size in this top and took a half-size down in the boots. Complete post with this outfit here.

Ruched Dress, Leopard Scarf:

Fit Notes: My dress and boots run true to size, although the dress will ride up so if you want a little extra length, size up. I previously this dress here with more dressed up/holiday party styling. Conversely, I shared a more casual outfit with the scarf here!

And that does it for today! I have quite a lot of fun content planned for next week so I hope you'll check in here often! There have also been so many great deals on things I've worn lately and I'm finding it easiest to write a quick note on my Instagram story about those pieces. So I hope you'll follow along there and be sure to check in on my Story. I try to keep them short, quiet and to the point so they're easy to tap through no matter where you are! That said, I hope you all have a great weekend and see you back on Monday!

Linking up with:
ErikaAndreaNarci | JoLynne | CherylNina |  Rachael | Rachelle | Carylee


Burgundy Tee + Thanksgiving Recipe Favorites

Well hello on a Thursday! I am finding that having a live-in photographer (i.e. a cooperative ten year old son) makes it not much of an inconvenience to stop for a few minutes on our way to/from an activity to take some pictures of what I'm wearing that day. Which means I end up with a lot more outfit photos than I expected when I started branching into full body outfit photos (I was aiming for two per week), so I might as well share some of these on the blog when it makes sense.
Burgundy Tee | Similar Jeans | Express BlazerRing Handle Bag (c/o) | Boots | Necklace (c/o) | Earrings (Ivory Mother of Pearl) | Fossil Watch | Bracelet | Nail Polish

I recently shared six ways to wear the marled/black version of this tee, and I liked it so much I got the burgundy version as well. It runs true to size, and I honestly couldn't tell the difference between the Burgundy and Bordeaux version in the product photos but I gambled on Burgundy and am very happy with the color. It's great on its own and just as easy to layer with jackets and cardigans as shown in my previous post. With all of the blouse-y, flowy, oversized tops that are trending lately it's been nice having a couple of pieces on the opposite end of that spectrum.

My blazer is several years old from Express so I linked to their current version. I am not sure if the sizing has changed since I purchased mine, but in the Express blazers I've purchased more recently, a Size 2 has been good for me, provided I don't plan on closing it with the front button. I always wear mine open and would probably need another size up to button it comfortably. I rarely buy (or see, for that matter!) tops with numeric sizing so unfortunately I don't have a great reference or size comparison on this.

Burgundy Tee | Similar Jeans | Express BlazerRing Handle Bag (c/o) | Boots | Necklace (c/o) | Earrings (Ivory Mother of Pearl) | Fossil Watch | Bracelet | Nail Polish

Last but not least, my boots are a recent purchase from Target and they ran true to size for me. I'd been wanting another pair of boots that allowed my pants to be tucked in so I didn't have to worry about whether the cuff of my jeans was hitting the right place or not!

Thanksgiving Recipe Favorites:
Since I've been trying to reduce my sugar intake for several weeks now, I'm really looking forward to indulging a little on Thanksgiving! We're going potluck with our neighbors so I'm not sure exactly what will be on the table or even what I'll be bringing, but I thought I would share a few dishes I've made in the past that have been a success. Each name links out to the recipe source, and I'll leave it to the pros to share photos of these dishes.

Sweet Dinner Rolls - These have over 2,000 five-star reviews on Allrecipes and I'm probably one of those reviewers! I make the dough in my bread machine, then roll and bake. I'm not the best at making perfectly shaped rolls, but aside from that these are easy and always a hit. I will definitely be making these this year!

Day Before Mashed Potatoes - If you're doing a lot of cooking/baking on Thanksgiving this is a great way to reduce your stress and workload the day of. Just prep in advance and re-heat on Thanksgiving.

Herb Stuffed Mushrooms - These are a little tedious and labor intensive, but so good. Definitely a crowd pleaser for more sophisticated palates (i.e. my kids would never touch these!).

Great Pumpkin Dessert - It's almost blasphemous to say this on Thanksgiving, but I'm actually not a huge fan of pies. The crust doesn't do it for me, and there are just other desserts that I prefer. This is a great alternate to pumpkin pie...the inside/bottom layer is like pumpkin pie, but it's topped with a cobbler-type crust that I personally prefer to regular pie crust.

I'm rarely the one in charge of making the turkey (thank goodness!), but in the past when I've made one for a small group, I bought a Jennie O Turkey Breast and put it in the crock pot for a few hours. It was incredibly easy but also really good!

Also, I was at the hair salon the other day and they had a show on (I'm not sure if it was HGTV or Food Network) that mentioned a Pomegranate Champagne Cocktail.  I thought that sounded easy to make, festive, and delicious so I might have to try that one this year too!

Do you all know what you'll be making for Thanksgiving? Any favorite recipes that I should branch out and try this year? I'd love to your personal tried and true favorites!

Linking up with:


Lace Neck Top + Red Bag

I don't know if you've already noticed an influx of holiday content cropping up in your blog and Instagram feed, but I certainly have and I'm trying not to let it stress me out! I have purchased zero gifts and don't even have a clue what I'll wear for Thanksgiving. Although I do know we're getting together with neighbors and it will be a casual gathering, so almost anything I wear on a daily basis will work just fine since I favor polished casual looks anyway. I ordered this top from SheIn thinking it might be a good one for any number of casual-but-kinda-festive events (and beyond), and I'm pretty happy with that choice!

Fit Notes:
I'm wearing a size Small in this top, and at SheIn my sizing in tops is 50/50 between an XS and a Small. When in doubt I go with the bigger of the two, especially if the fabric has no stretch as in the case with this lace detail top. (This is always noted in the product description on the website. For more of my fit/sizing tips at SheIn see this post.)

I liked this top even more in person than online for several reasons. 1) The lace is soft and not itchy at all (always a gamble with lace!). 2) I was able to wear a regular (nude colored) bra, NOT strapless, with the top and the straps didn't really show through the lace. I'll be posting the top-down view of this on Instagram where you can see the shoulder area closer and you really cannot see the straps. That was a relief, because I need a break from strapless bras after the summer. And 3) The tiered sleeves are short enough that they don't get in the way of everything. All things considered, for a $16 price tag this is a winner.

I couldn't decide whether I liked this top tucked in or untucked better, so I decided to post one of each option. I'll let you decide for yourself, plus it allows you to see the overall length of the top and I know some of the taller ladies have issues with that.

For a long while I loved having a big variety of colored bags to complement different outfits, but it just got to be too much. They take up a lot of space and I really don't have a huge closet, so as I've streamlined my closet this year I tried to go the other direction and stick to mostly neutral bags. Well, I started to miss the color a bit, and with the holidays approaching I thought a red bag would get a lot of use and add a slightly festive touch to my otherwise neutral outfits. I opted for this one because I liked the size, style, and price. Plus I liked that it was a richer wine-red (vs. fire engine red) so I'll be more likely to carry it once the holidays are over since it's not a strictly festive color. That said, I do think I'll be using it as much as possible in the next couple of months!

Next week is sure to be a crazy one with Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales. I'm typically not the most festive blogger on the block but I do have a few holiday posts in mind, and something specific you'd like to seem me cover over the holidays send me an email, leave a comment, message me on Instagram, etc. and let me know so I can try to work it into the plan!

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November Book Reviews 11/14/17

Welcome to my November Book Reviews! With all kinds of family life stuff going on this past month I didn't get through quite as many books as I usually do or as I'd like, but here's what I read along with my thoughts on each book. As always, I try to avoid spoilers so I don't ruin it for those who haven't read the book!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
In this book, a lower level magazine writer gets hand picked to write the biography of a major Hollywood star in her golden years. (All through the story I was imagining the star to be someone like Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor since that was the relative age of the celebrity).  Based on the concept alone, I didn't expect much from this book since I can get enough actual celebrity gossip in the news. But I read it anyway thanks to reviews from other bloggers and I was pleasantly surprised! It held my interest really well from beginning to end and was a quick, easy, fun read with a few twists along the way. It was very interesting to consider how the media can spin a story and how much anyone in the public eye has to play around that to maintain some level of privacy. There was also a secret throughout (why did the star choose a no-name writer for this biography?) that also kept me guessing a bit. This is a great vacation-type read or anytime you just want something that doesn't take forever to get the characters and plot moving along.

The Deep Dark Descending by Allen Eskens
Although this book is not officially part of a series, it is a continuation of the story and some characters from three other books by the same author and a spinoff of his first (and my favorite) book, The Life We Bury. I would recommend reading them in order rather than picking this one up first, though there is enough explanation of the backstory to get through. That said, the beginning of the book felt a little redundant because it was a recap of the previous books. Once that was out of the way, it picked right up and I was easily able to get into the story, which is essentially the story of a man seeking revenge/justice for the murder of his wife and unborn child. Then towards the end...I wasn't "enjoying" the story per se. Without spoiling anything, this really is the darkest book of the series, which made it unpleasant albeit well-written and thought-provoking...would you or wouldn't you exact revenge? And how far would you go? The ending was left with plenty of questions and loose ends, so I do think there will be another book in the series. And I'm sure I'll want to read it to see what happens next!

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
This is book a family drama of two families: one who seems to have it all from the outside (parents with great careers, beautiful home, and attractive, well-liked children) and one with a single mother/artist raising her daughter by scrapping together whatever kind of living she can. The mother/daughter duo move often and land in the same town as The Perfect Family, and their lives become very intertwined for a number of reasons, resulting in plenty of drama and tension. In the beginning of the story the character development was just a bit too detailed for me and seemed to go off on tangents, so I found myself skimming quite a lot even though I was generally interested in the story. Once the plot began to thicken (which took a good 30-40% of the book) I was hooked into it and enjoyed the story. This book came highly recommended from a number of places so unfortunately that got my expectations a little too high. I did enjoy it...but I didn't love it as much as other people did.

Non-Fiction / Audiobooks:
What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
Now that I've read this book, I have officially read all of Malcolm Gladwell's books and I can say without hesitation that he's my favorite non-fiction author. Maybe even my favorite author! He really knows how to engage, enlighten and make you re-consider what you thought you knew about a variety of topics. This book was different from his others in that it wasn't entirely focused on one topic, but it was his usual in-depth, "I'm going to make you look at this in a different way" analysis of an assortment of topics from hair dye to intellectual property to breast cancer to pit bulls. I loved it and only wish he had more books for me to read next!

The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung
This book was simply the most enlightening book I have read about the obesity epidemic, particularly in the United States. (Okay...actually it's the only book I've read on the topic but it was really good!) This book is an overview of dozens of scientific studies about weight gain, weight loss, and various diet plans and their successes and failures. Normally the words "scientific studies" would make me think, "I'm not really going to understand or enjoy this book" but I really did. The author explained things in such a clear and simple manner, and the audiobook narrator was very engaging. His explanation of the flaws in the Standard American Diet were very eye opening and it made me re-think a lot of things about food and the food/diet/nutrition industry (as well as my own eating habits, as mentioned). Based on my own experiences with my body in exercise and nutrition, I have believed for a long time that weight loss is not as simple as the common weight loss mantras of calories in/calories out, eat less/move more, etc. This book confirmed that in a definitive way. It also gave me the motivational boost I needed to make some changes to my diet as discussed here and here. To be clear, it's not a diet book with a specific recommended eating plan, but he does have suggestions in the last portion on eating habits for optimal health based on everything covered in the studies. I'm not incorporating all of them because I'm just not that disciplined, but they're all good food for thought. I recommend this to anyone with an interest in fitness in nutrition, anyone who has struggled with diets that just don't seem to work (or work at first...but then stop working), and obviously anyone struggling with obesity or with a family history of obesity.

Troublemaker by Leah Remini
This book was so incredibly fascinating! I really didn't know a lot about the specifics of Scientology or even Leah herself prior to reading this (I have never watched any of her shows), so this was an eye-opener in many ways. Leah narrated this book herself and she did a fantastic job. Her sense of humor and narration style added a lot to the enjoyment of this book. It's really the story of her life, which revolved a lot around Scientology from the time she was introduced to it in her childhood. She was committed to her faith for decades, and she discusses how that played into her life in Hollywood (she maintains it's not something that helped her succeed in Hollywood, and if anything it made her uncomfortable in many situations). Then of course, she outlines all the events and situations that ultimately lead to her disaffection from the church. She doesn't hold back at all in naming names and placing blame, although she is quick to admit that she herself is not without flaws. I did feel that near the end she went off a bit too much on the story of "Naz",  (it seemed like it should have been a separate book by Naz herself)  but since it did play a role in her leaving the church I understood why she shared it. I think anyone with a remote interest in Scientology, Leah Remini, or Hollywood "Behind the Scenes" would enjoy this.

Current Reads:
If you want to read along with me this month and compare thoughts in my December reviews, here's what I'm currently reading:

Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica
I read and enjoyed "The Good Girl" by the same author so I'm looking forward to starting this one this week.

The Untethered Soul
Rachelle recommended this one in her weekly newsletter and since we tend to read and enjoy a lot of the same books, I thought I should check it out! I'm a few chapters into it and so far so good.

Free Kindle Book for Prime Members:
In last month's reviews (here) I posted that I hadn't been able to find the free Kindle book selection for Amazon Prime members, and thankfully Megan came to my rescue. They changed the navigation around from what I was used to, so if you've had any trouble as well (or if you're a new Prime member/didn't know you get a free e-book every month!) here's how I've been navigating to the selections:

On the top left hand side of the home page, hover over Departments. When the drop-down menu appears, scroll down and hover on Kindle E-readers & Books, then click on Kindle Books. On the next page that opens up, look on the left hand side of the page for "More in Kindle," then click on "Kindle First" to see the selections for the current month.

Despite figuring this out in October, none of the titles last month especially appealed to me so I didn't end up reading any of them. I'm also not drawn to any of the November books, either! But if any of you have read one so far and really liked it, let me know.  Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on which ones of these you've read or hope to read soon!

Book Link Ups: 


Velvet Cami + Cozy Cardi

I don't know about you all, but between the recent time change and the holiday/kids out of school last Friday, I'm all out of sorts. I can't tell what day of the week it is or what time of day anymore! But apparently someone thinks I look like I know what's going on at Target, because when I wore this recently someone stopped me in store to ask if "we" still had protractors in stock. If he'd asked where to find the cereal aisle or toys I'm sure I could have been of help, but protractors aren't on my usual list! Not to mention I guess this person hasn't notice that Target employees kind of have a uniform! Oh well, it was good for laugh, but now I'll always associate this cami and sweater combo with protractors!

Although, you can't really tell the fabric from this photo, this is a velvet cami. I've been wanting to try the velvet trend, and this cami looked exactly my style. It runs true to size but on the big side, so you may want to size down if you want a fitted look. The bottom portion of the cami is a little more flowy so I ended up tucking mine a little in the back and just hiding it with the cardigan. I also think this cami will be a great piece to dress up a little more in the holiday season with a blazer or jacket. 

I admit to having a weakness for neutral cardigans and I probably didn't need another one, but the color of this one is called "Mocha" so that makes it different, right? Just like ordering a Mocha at Starbucks is different than ordering a regular drip coffee! I've also noticed some cardigans feel more like sweaters and others feel more like sweatshirts, and this mocha cardigan falls into the more comfortable sweatshirt category. This is the type that I reach for when I'm lounging at home in yoga pants, but apparently it's still nice enough to make people think you work at Target!

My jeans from Express and Sole Society shoes are sold out, so I've linked to the closest options I could find for style and original price. The Abercrombie jeans I linked do look very similar, and in my past experience with Abercrombie jeans their sizing was the same as Express jeans (24=00, 25=0, 26=2 and so on).

Tomorrow is my monthly book review! That means I'm skipping my Monday Motivation today to make time to finalize my book review post. I've been averaging about eight books a month for quite awhile and didn't quite make that number this time with everything else going on in life. But I do have some good reads to share (some that I've already talked about a bit in other posts) so I hope you'll stop by and check it out!

Before I sign off, just a quick reminder that the $100 Nordstrom Giveaway is still running through Wednesday so I hope you'll stop by and submit and entry or two. Thanks to all who have entered so far!

Linking up with:


Fashion Friday: Fun Boots + Link Up

Hello again and happy Friday! This week I'm changing it up a little. Instead of sharing my usual everyday outfit recap, I'm sharing what I wore last week to a school fundraiser event. The dress I wore is 40% off this weekend and it's one I think will come in handy for the upcoming holiday season so why wait to share it? 

 First, let's talk about this Express sweater dress. I was expecting a true black dress but the color name is "Black Print" and in person it's a very dark charcoal grey. At first I wasn't sure about the color but I ended up liking the softer look of this vs. a true black. It runs true to size and is very soft, stretchy, and comfortable. It's called a sweater dress but it's a thin sweater material at best or a thick t-shirt. It comes in a lot of other colors under different listings: Pink Marled, Neutral, plus seven more options (e.g. burgundy and dark green) here.  This is a great piece to dress up or down by switching up the shoes and accessories. It could easily work as a dressy-casual Thanksgiving outfit with some knee boots and a sweater or jacket.

Speaking of the shoes, I've shared these $35 pom booties from Charming Charlie a few times on Instagram and I've worn them out at night twice now and I love them.
With the pom detail and metallic heel they do grab people's attention and garner comments. And some are "I love them!" comments whereas others are the less complimentary, quizzical, "What are those?" variety. So they are a little polarizing, but I love them enough not to wear them regardless of whether anyone else does. The heel height is 3" and since they only come in whole sizes, I took a 7 instead of my usual 7.5 and it fits great. I did a lot standing and walking all over (and running in some cases as you may have seen on my Instagram story!) in these and they were comfortable for the whole night!

My exact necklace was a clearance find at LOFT last year and my clutch was from Express. Luckily a lot of retailers come out with similar sparkly items items this time of year, so you can see my picks for similar options linked above. My hair extensions were a gift from one of the hair dressers at my hair salon. She knows I like playing around with different hair extensions and attachments, so when someone gave her this blonde set by Secret Extensions and she couldn't wear them because she has black hair...she passed them on to me. Unfortunately I don't know the exact color name of this set because it wasn't on the packaging I received. These are the halo style of extensions (basically a tiny wire headband with hair attached) so they're very comfortable, but they're also thinner and felt less secure in a ponytail than what I'm used to. I've only worn them this one time so I'm still unsure whether I would recommend them or not, but I'll keep you posted if there's enough interest in these.

I've been having fun with statement boots like this pair as well as my floral statement boots in this post and my black studded/strappy boots in this post. But I still have two more boot trends on my wishlist this year. First up, white ankle boots like these high-to-low end options

1. Shop Dolce Vita (Ramona)
2. Shop Kendall + Kylie (Haedyn)
3. Shop Schutz (Anaflor)
4. Express $42
5. Express $42
6. Amazon $35

The Kendall & Kylie pair is my favorite from this set, but I'm not sure I want to spend that much on a trend that may only last 1-2 seasons!

Second, I love all the metallic/sequin/shiny/sparkly boot options and think these would be perfect for New Year's Eve.

1. Shop Dolce Vita Shoes Cassius)
2. Amazon  $119
3. Shop Kendall + Kylie (Haedyn)
4. Shop Stuart Weitzman Boots (Smashing)
5. Express $42
6. Express  $42 (also comes Rose Gold)
7. Amazon $30
8. Express $53

I'd love to hear your take on statement boots! Which styles are you loving or wanting to try for yourself? Or are you sticking to classic styles only? Let me know your below! And don't forget to enter the $100 giveaway I have going on with JoLynne and Amy Ann! I'll re-post the widget here so you can enter the giveaway in this post, and if you have a blog I hope you'll scroll down and join us for JoLynne's Fashion Friday link up!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Linking up with:  ErikaAndreaNarci | JoLynne | CherylNina |  Rachael