On the Daily EXPRESS

11/20/18

Shopbop Sale!

7 comments |
There are no shortage of sales coming your way this week, but if you're looking to add a designer handbag to your collection or splurge on a great pair of shoes, the Shopbop Sale is going on now through Sunday and it is always the best way to save on top brands!
Top: Tory Burch Bags (Robinson) | Rebecca Minkoff Bags (Regan) | Coach 1941 Bags (Camera)
Bottom: Sam Edelman Shoes (Hai) | Dolce Vita Shoes (Kelani) | Shop Tory Burch Sandals (Miller)

For me personally, if I'm going to splurge on something I need to feel like it's going to stand the test of time and not be out of style within a season. I own exact or similar options to all of the pieces above, and they all get plenty of use because they're neutral and versatile. The Tory Burch Miller sandals might not be quite as timeless as the others in my opinion, but if you've ever wanted a pair and you're planning ahead for your next vacation (or even really planning ahead for next summer), now's your chance to get them on sale! I have the Sand Patent option shown and used them almost every day last summer!

The Shopbop Sale this month is a tiered Buy More, Save More sale. Here are the details on the breakdown:

Some of the options in the collage above are already marked down to under $200, so you might have to pick two items in order to qualify for further discounts. The Jewelry & Accessories Category is a great section to browse if you're really close to making the cutoff for a further discount and just need to add a few dollars to your order. For example, the Sand Patent Miller sandals shown above are two dollars under the 15% discount level. Adding something practical yet inexpensive like this eight dollar necklace extender to your cart ends up saving you $31 on your order!

Happy Sale Shopping!

*This post was created in partnership with Shopbop. Thank you for supporting me in working with a small number of brands. These partnerships allow me to offset the time and expense of maintaining a blog while still giving me full creative control of the products and content I share.*

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11/19/18

Little Black Dresses with Prime Shipping

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If you're in need of a dress for the holiday season (and beyond!), today I'm sharing a recap of some of my own little black dress options along with a few other affordable options I've found. Almost all of these have Prime Shipping so if you're invited to an event with short notice, no problem! I do love using Rent the Runway for special occasion dresses where the event calls for a dress style I doubt I"ll ever need again, but I do think it's nice to have a simple black dress or two on hand for those truly last minute plans!

I really hate being cold at events, and I think our culture has the dress code all wrong with men (who often run hot) being required to wear a shirt and a jacket while women freeze in pretty little dresses! Who decided it was a good enough idea to make this the norm? Anyway, I like having a dress with sleeves in cooler weather so I don't have to layer on a jacket or be constantly cold. I wore this dress last winter to my kids winter music recital, and I'll probably wear it to this year's too! My exact dress from Pattyboutik is sold out, but they have a lot of similar options in stock this year. I'm wearing a Small here, and Pattyboutik does tend to run small in just about everything. If you don't want bodycon, order one size up. 

Here are a few similar in-stock, long sleeve options from Pattyboutik. Several of these styles come in more than one color, so you're not limited to black even though that's what I chose to display.
ONE | TWO | THREE | FOUR

By the way, I was liking how the invisible cap-toe shoes looked on the model for these dresses in Option Two through Four. I found this similar option, though they look very high and painful! I'll pass but I'm sharing the link in case you have a higher pain tolerance than I do!

If you're not as worried about being cold, this dress is a favorite!

This dress also comes in several other colors and runs true to size, but only comes in Small - XL. I'm wearing a Small dress and if you're ultra-petite (00, 000, or "I have to shop in the kids section"), this is probably going to be too big unless you get it tailored. This dress is pictured below as Option One, and it was a case of "blogging made me shop" because I put the collage together in response to a request...then ended up getting one of the options for myself!

ONE | TWO | THREE | FOUR 

Last but not least, this little black dress is probably my most basic option, but it's only $20 (with Prime Shipping!), has pockets (we all know this cannot go unmentioned!) and easy to dress up or down with different shoes and accessories.

This dress looks a bit more dressy (at least in photos) than it feels. It's actually a t-shirt material! And on that note, it's a fairly thin material (it is under $20 after all), so if you pick one of the lighter colors you may need to wear a slip underneath it. I'm wearing a Small and I'd say it runs true to size and slightly on the small size, so go up if you're in between sizes. It does have a fairly wide neckline so I did have to wear a strapless bra with this (this $22 option is my go-to lately), which is about the only drawback of the dress. I will say I wish I had purchased the long sleeve version of this dress (and I may yet!) because I didn't get a chance to wear it "in real life" before the nights cooled down here. But I'm keeping it anyway because it's not going out of style anytime soon, so hopefully next Spring or Summer I'll have some good occasions to wear it.

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

1. On the Blog this Week: Tomorrow I'll be sharing a short and sweet sale post, and on Wednesday I have a cozy cardigan plus an item I re-purchased after donation regret. (Ugh!) On Friday I'm planning to do a small Black Friday post with a few favorites, but this year I don't think it will be as thorough as in years past (TBD) just because I want to make sure I'm able to focus on spending quality time with family rather than worrying about creating the BEST sale posts ever.

2. Gift Guides: On that note, I've also decided I will not be doing any new gift guide posts this year. My real life gift giving is very simple, and even my blogger friends and I have agreed on giving the gift of quality time rather than exchanging gifts this year. I thought this news clip about Millenials Choose to Spend on Experiences over Stuff was interesting, and while Millenials get blamed for a lot of things, I think this is a great trend and I'm all for it! Since I am trying to adopt mindset changes like this, it just doesn't feel natural for me to be creating gift guide content this year.

I re-wrote this section quite a few times because I really didn't want it to sound Debbie Downer! I am not down about the holidays but rather wanting them to not be so materialistic for myself, and that ends up affecting the way I blog. Thanks for supporting me and I hope you all have some wonderful, memorable time with your friends and family this holiday season too!


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11/16/18

Everyday Outfits + Friday Four 11/16/18

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Are you all ready for Thanksgiving next week? I can't say that I am, but I'm not going to worry about it until next Wednesday! I have plenty to think about before then. For one, the kids are home from school all next week while I work from home and I have to admit, that gives me some mom guilt and anxiety about how to keep them entertained and active yet get my work done. It would be nice to have the week off with them so we could do something fun! They'll probably appreciate the downtime since school keeps them so busy, so I'm trying not to feel bad about it. Anyway, I didn't get dressed up much this week! I get a little self-conscious lately posting so many super casual, leggings outfits. But I always tell my blogger friends that I love seeing their real life outfits (and it's true!) so I'll keep sharing for now and hope that there are a few pieces here and there that might work for you even if you style them in a different (dressier?) way!

ONE: This wrap cardigan is a $15 favorite! I shared this a few weeks ago but wanted to wear it again while it still makes sense for the weather. The I'm wearing XS and I think it's pretty true to size. My black jeans are also true to size, and I've linked a similar option for my shoes. I wore this for Sunday family day of errands and lunch, and aside from the outfit I shared on Wednesday with the striped sweater, this was the most "dressed up" I got this week!

TWO: This camo cover up was almost sold out the first time I posted it (back in October). Unfortunately it hasn't been restocked yet, but here is the link for the exact camo cardigan I'm wearing in case it gets restocked! That said, there are quite a few current options available in similar styles (camo print, of course). Here are few options: ONE | TWO | THREE | FOUR. Four is a budget option ($30-35) but you will most likely have to wait at least two weeks for shipping.

THREE: Last week I shared my very first vest (see it here), and this week I'm sharing my second! This sweater vest was a gamble (2 weeks shipping, overseas vendor where many times sizing is off or things don't quite look the same in person as they do online) but it really paid off. I love that it's long enough to wear with leggings! Plus it's comfortable and I like the shawl collar detail. It's true to size (I'm wearing XS) and if anything runs a bit big. If you're between sizes go with your smaller size. It also comes in burgundy and olive.

On Fridays I like to share a few random things here! From fashion finds to favorite articles to real life happenings. Here are my four things for today!

1. Age Positive. I just heard a new term last weekend that made me chuckle. An up-and-coming blogger was being described in an article as an "Age-Positive" blogger. Like..."body positive" bloggers but for women of a certain age I guess? I had never heard that one before but I'll go ahead and start using it for myself. Forget "getting old" or "middle age" or any of that negative nonsense, I am "Age Positive" (positively aging!) from here on out!

2. Bangs Banter. I've had bangs most of my life, and for the past decade I have insisted on cutting them myself. When I get my hair done I always tell my stylist, "don't touch the bangs." I try to say it in a nicer way, but still. I prefer to trim them myself. To keep them out of my eyes I have to do it about once a week, and I don't want to be going to the salon that often. This YouTube tutorial is pretty close to how I cut mine, except she uses elementary school scissors and I use fine tip, sharp manicure scissors, similar to these. If you have bangs, do you cut them yourselves or get them done at the salon?

3. Introverted Astrology. This article on Zodiac Signs from most outgoing to most introverted was pretty entertaining. And accurate for a lot of people I know! I'm an Aquarius and landed right in the middle. (Spoiler alert if you don't want to click through the whole thing: Leos are "most outgoing" and Virgos are "most introverted!")

4. Renting the Runway: I have two special events coming up this season that require dresses, and I'm doing Rent the Runway for both! Years ago I did fitting room try-ons and reviews of holiday dresses on the blog, but nowadays I prefer to rent rather than buy if possible. It actually saves me money (my rentals were under $40!) and just gives me a better selection for a dress that really suits the event but I'll probably never need again! I will say - if you have something coming up in the next few weeks, reserve now! I reserved something a week and a half in advance and I had to go with my Fourth Place selection because my first three were already reserved that weekend. I probably wouldn't have had much selection at all if I tried to do it the same week since this is such a busy time of year. I also paid the $30 membership since that covered my shipping fees for a full year, and that paid for itself with the two rentals! I'll try to grab some photos of the dresses I chose to share in future posts!

My first holiday party is coming up on Saturday night (i.e. the reason for the first Rent the Runway event) so I'm looking forward to that this weekend! I actually wasn't super excited about it at first because sometimes as The Spouse...it can be a little boring and awkward. But after being so un-dressed up lately I'm excited to have an excuse to go all out! I hope you all have some fun weekend plans too (even if they just involve relaxing) and I'll see you back here on Monday!


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11/14/18

Three Favorite Striped Tops for Fall and Winter

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Today's post is all about repeating a my favorites. I wanted to join The Blended Blog with their "Stripes and Plaid" theme of the day, and luckily I already have a few options for those in my closet. I first shared this striped sweater back in the Spring, but it's such a classic style that it honestly works for any season. This is how I really wore it last weekend since it's still warm enough here for open toes, but I'll share an option for wearing it with boots below if you're having cooler temps in your neck of the woods.

This sweater is true to size with a kind of boxy, relaxed fit. I don't usually gravitate toward boxy pieces, nor do I often find them flattering on myself, but I think this one works! I'm wearing an XS here, and I tend to vary between XS and Small in tops depending on the cut of the top and how I want it to fit. My jeans and shoes are also true to size and both are favorites you've seen many times before on the blog.

If it's a little cooler where you live, this outfit works just as well with tall boots in any neutral color. I'm not big on changing my clothes in the car for multiple outfit photo shoots these days (well...I was never "big" on it but I've done it for blogging purposes before), but changing shoes was easy enough to manage in public so I could share an alternate shoe choice.
Stripe Sweater(c/o) | Jeans | Necklace | Similar Watch | Bracelet | Earrings | Target Boots

My boots are from Target last year, but they do have similar options under $40 right now: This Pair or This Pair. This Amazon Pair is under $60 (for most sizes) and also looks similar. These were easily my most worn pair of boots last fall/winter- they go with almost everything! So if you don't have a pair in this shade I recommend adding it to your wishlist!

A couple of my other favorite striped tops for Fall and Winter also have Prime Shipping so I thought I'd recap them in this post. Depending on your climate, lifestyle and closet, these might be a better fit for you. I personally reach for my sweater and hoodie the most, and the long sleeve t-shirt...not quite as much as I thought I would! But they're all great pieces that I recommend.
THREE: Stripe Sweater (c/o) | Jeans | Necklace | Similar Watch | Bracelet | Earrings | Similar Boots

I'm wearing a Small in both the t-shirt/sweatshirt hoodie and the striped tee. (See below for more options for the striped hoodie!) I think they both run true to size, and at my height (5'4") they're both long enough to wear with leggings (see below for the hoodie untucked). I've talked about this hoodie a lot because I just love it! The material is super soft and comfortable. The t-shirt is nice and thick, but just not as cozy as this one. I've worn it a few differnt ways for different seasons and different activities as shown below.

Daily Ritual, Leggings Outfits, Amazon Prime Exclusive Brand
TWO: Striped hoodie (c/o) | Jeans | New Balance Sneakers (c/o Amazon)
THREE: Striped hoodie (c/o) | Leggings (c/o) | Tory Burch Sandals (c/o)

**I'm so sorry that this hoodie is currently unavailable, but in my experience with this brand that usually means they will eventually re-stock it (and I've seen that happen with this exact top!). For similar options, this same brand (Daily Ritual) also makes this sweatshirt in the same striped print/same material and this cute side-tie top in the same stripe material and pattern. AND they have this cute funnel neck tunic in the same stripe print! I actually wish they had this when I got mine because I don't even need a hood. The funnel neck would be ideal.

After playing catch up earlier this year and adding these striped tops to my collection, I think I feel pretty content with what I have now. Do you all have any go-to striped tops you love that are different from these styles? Let me know if there's something else I should check out that's a go-to for you!


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11/13/18

November Book Reviews 11/13/18

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Welcome to my November Book Reviews! As usual I have a mix of fiction and nonfiction, and all reviews are free of any major spoilers (well, unless you count "The Titanic Sinks" as a spoiler). My nonfiction selections were audiobooks via Audible, which does affect my experience with the book. With all that in mind, I read quite a lot (for me) in the last month so let's get on with the reviews!
OneErotic Stories | The Westing Game | All the Beautiful Lies | The Girl with a Clock for a Heart
Two:  The Butterfly Garden | Then She Was Gone | On a Cold Dark Sea
Three: Ten Arguments for Deleting Social Media | The Elephant in the Brain | I'll Be Gone in the Dark | Who Can You Trust | Antisocial Media | The Actor's Life | The Year of Living Danishly

Fiction:
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
Basic Plot: Mystery, romance and cultural complexities abound for Punjabi families living in Britain.
My Verdict: Recommend! This was the selection of the month for my book club and I doubt I would have chosen it myself otherwise. The title kind of threw me and it didn't sound like anything that would be my cup of (chai) tea. But I was very pleasantly surprised! If you like great character development, rich plot and multi-dimensional stories, this is a great read! If you're wondering about possible graphic content in the "erotic stories" portion- those are very small portions of the book and not key to any of the actual plot points in the book. After finishing this I read a few reviews and some people complained that there were too many plot points. I understand where they're coming from. There was a lot going on and that bothers me in some books, but I really enjoyed each plot point and storyline so I didn't mind that with this book at all.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Basic Plot: A rich man is found dead in his home and the tenants of the apartment complex he owns are all called in as possible heirs to his fortune. The catch is that they must solve the mystery of his murder in order to inherit the fortune.
My Verdict: Meh. This would be about 3/5 stars for me. I didn't connect with the characters as I didn't think any of them were especially well developed. As for solving the mystery...that didn't really keep me guessing or engaged either. The clues were presented in a way that wouldn't make them solvable to the average reader (in my opinion), so it wasn't like I was trying to solve this on my own and waiting to see if I was right. It was all just a bit far-fetched for me so not one I'll recommend.

All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson
Basic Plot: Harry has just finished his final exams in college when his stepmom informs him that his father died in an accident. He returns to his hometown and starts suspecting that maybe his father's death wasn't an accident.
My Verdict: Recommend! This hooked me from the start and had me turning pages in no time. That said, be warned: this isn't going to be for everyone! Without spoiling too much, some of the relationships in this book are inappropriate, there's no doubt about it. But I loved the way the author carefully developed each character and made them all seem so normal, except flawed and with some darker parts. If you read The Kind Worth Killing by this author, this book is similarly dark so that's a good litmus test as to whether you'll like this. Also, when I say it was a page turner for me, it wasn't a fast paced book. It's just that I was totally intrigued by the backstory of each character (the story alternates from past to present narratives) and finding out where it was all going to end. Peter Swanson has a really deliberate, plainspoken writing style that just draws me in, and this book left me wanting more by him ASAP.

The Girl with a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson
Basic Plot: George is bored with his middle aged life until one night he runs into his long lost college girlfriend (Liana) in a bar. He knows she's trouble and he should avoid her...but he just can't resist getting involved.
My Verdict: Recommend *Except* the Ending. I don't want to spoil this but I know the ending will frustrate most people. And as with the previous Peter Swanson book, even though I'm saying I recommend it and I really liked it, I'm quite sure a lot of people will not. That said, it was a page turner for me and I zipped right through it! I couldn't wait to see what would happen next and I couldn't wait to learn Liana's secret past. I will say I typically can't stand it when a female character is a moron who does everything a man asks no matter how he treats her. But this time it was the man behaving like a love fool, and it was equally frustrating! I wanted to talk some sense into him! The only thing that made his behavior tolerable was that he acknowledged that he knew he was being stupid and following his nether-regions instead of his head. Otherwise, this was an action-adventure, dark and twisty suspense from beginning to end and I'm a fan!

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
Basic Plot: Laurel's teenage daughter disappeared one day after school and her life fell apart. As she tries to move on years later we get some insight into the mystery of her daughter's disappearance.
My Verdict: Recommend!! Unlike the Peter Swanson books, I think this will be more appealing to anyone who likes suspense in general. Honestly, when I read the description it sounded like a dozen other books I've read so I didn't expect to like it much, but it was really well done! I haven't typically done a lot of fiction in the audiobook format, but I got this because it was an Audible deal of the day and I needed a new audiobook. So I took a chance and was very pleasantly surprised. The narrator was phenomenal. While as readers we learn the truth about the missing daughter much sooner than the main character (because we get multiple perspectives from different characters), it's done in such a way that you are still in suspense as to how and when Laurel will figure it out, and what will happen when she does! It's not done in the annoying way where the answers are in front of the main character's face any they seem to ignore the obvious. I'll definitely read more by this author.

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison
Basic Plot: The FBI is interviewing a young woman who was just rescued from "The Butterfly Garden." Said garden is an elaborate place where a (mostly gentle and loving except when raping or killing) madman stores a group of young women he has kidnapped for his pleasure.
My Verdict: Do Not Recommend. At all. I do not understand the 5 star reviews for this one. I just couldn't suspend belief enough to buy the basic plot (how he could possibly have built such an elaborate, immense hidden garden on his own property with his wife and family nearby, for one), and all of the characters were cliché and one-dimensional. The story went on way too long and gave too much detailed backstory for irrelevant characters. I listened to this on audiobook (it was free with my Kindle Unlimited membership and I was desperate for a book) and the narrators weren't my favorite either.

On a Cold Dark Sea by Elizabeth Blackwell
Basic Plot: Three women from very different backgrounds board the Titanic carrying their secrets and dreams along with them. The ship sinks and this has a huge impact on each of their lives.
My Verdict: Recommend. This started just a bit slow for me, but I think it was necessary to carefully build each woman's backstory in order for readers to invest in their outcome on the ship and in the aftermath. The story is told in alternating perspectives, and by the time each character's initial segment was complete, I was invested in their story and wanting to know what would happen to them. It was well done and enjoyable, and it definitely brought the tragedy to life in an engaging way for me.

Nonfiction:
Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier
This book is exactly what the title says! Each argument is well-researched and well presented. Even though I knew a lot of this information from other similar books I've read, this was written in a more persuasive way. If social media frustrates you or makes you feel down or if you're questioning how much time you spend there, read this book. If you're content with your relationship with Social Media...skip this for now.

The Elephant in the Brain by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson
I couldn't stand the narrator of this book, so it's amazing that I finished it. But again, audiobooks are expensive (theme for the month I guess!) so when I have one I usually finish it to save money. Plus I had hope that it would have some good content. I was intrigued by the topic, which is a look at the hidden motives that we can't even admit to ourselves, much less to others. Honestly, 90% of it was not worth my time. There were three chapters that were engaging enough to make me forget that I didn't like the narrator: Religion, Education and Conspicuous Consumption. Art was pretty good too but not as compelling as the other three. I wouldn't recommend this to most people but it might be better to get the regular book and just read the good chapters!

I'll be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
Even though I knew what this book was generally about (thanks to the clear subtitle: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer), I wasn't really sure what to expect since the author died just before the killer was captured. It's partly a memoir: Michelle shares about her childhood and how she became so fascinated by true crime, and how her obsession plays a huge role in her life. And it's also storytelling by weaving together a narrative of many of the victim's experiences: explaining who they were, what was happening in their lives just prior to the attack, even including conversations they had with their friends and acquaintances in the time leading up to the attacks. And finally it discusses much of the investigation by law enforcement and how/why he was never captured. Michelle was an incredibly engaging writer, there's no doubt about that. Many of the chapters were vivid and haunting, though not horribly gruesome despite the graphic subject matter. I can't say I loved this, and I think it's because it was incomplete and that is the most frustrating ending for someone who pursued this so passionately. The author died before she finished the book (some sections were pieced together through her notes) and just before the killer was captured. I felt like I needed a follow up book to understand how all the clues she discusses throughout the book ultimately came together to capture the killer.

Who Can You Trust by Rachel Bostman
We live in a time when people are shifting all of their trust from institutions (church, government, news media, banks) directly to other people. This book examines the cultural shift that is taking place to allow us to do things that were once completely taboo, like getting a ride from a stranger (a.k.a. Uber) or spending the night at a stranger's house in a strange town (a.k.a. Air BnB). We are used to a lot of this stuff now, but it really has been a major and rapid shift in human interaction! I really enjoyed this one more than I expected. The last section was about cryptocurrency, and it lost me for a lot of that content because I still really couldn't understand or explain how it works! But it made the point that if you think back to the early 90s, almost none of us understood The Internet but everyone was saying it was the future and we'd all be using it. Now Cryptocurrency is poised to be the next Internet, so even though I still couldn't really explain how the internet works, I know I use it every day and why! So hopefully I'll get to that point with cryptocurrency! Ha! Anyway, this was a pretty entertaining read throughout with good food for thought. And the narrator was great, too.

Antisocial Media by Siva Vaidhyanathan
Okay. Let me save you all the ten hours it took me to get through this book and just summarize it for you right here: If you are unhappy with the current President or still not sure how he pulled off the election, blame Mark Zuckerberg. I mean honestly, this was 95% of the book. How the data that Facebook mines and uses for advertising purposes and any other purpose they wish without our explicit consent can result in things such as the election of Donald Trump. This book could have been about eight hours shorter and made the same points. There were interesting and frankly very upsetting details about the data Facebook maintains, the way it purchases our credit card purchase history from other firms to learn and store even more data about each of us, and so much more. But the narrator was boring and most of the content was so unbearably repetitive. I only finished the book because I didn't have more credits or a better option at the time! Surely this same information is available in a more concise format somewhere!

The Actor's Life: A Survival Guide by Jenna Fischer
I picked this book because it was an Audible 2-for-1 deal of the day (along with the book below). I have zero interest in being an actor, but I did enjoy Jenna on The Office and hoped this would be equal parts memoir and inside look at Hollywood life. And that's exactly what it was! This was really fun and entertaining! Jenna narrated it herself, and naturally she was great. Even if you're like me with zero Hollywood dreams, it was an interesting look at her years of struggle that lead to finally getting her big break and being cast for The Office. She did give really specific, candid and detailed advice for anyone wanting to pursue a career in acting, too, so it does live up to the title. But it was engaging and fun even for a non-actor like me.

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell
This was my other 2-for-1 selection, and I don't know if I would have chosen it on my own otherwise, but I really enjoyed this book! It was kind of like Bridget Jones goes to Denmark.The author and her husband live in London but agree to move to Denmark for a year for him to take a job with LEGO. It was witty and funny and thoroughly entertaining throughout. Plus I really liked the cultural analysis and comparisons of how people do life in Denmark vs. elsewhere. Although the author is British, she would often offer comparisons and statistics from the U.S. as well as the U.K. since I'm sure she wanted to the book to be relevant for as many people as possible. Danish people are often rated among the happiest in the world, so this was a fun look at why that might be and what the rest of us can learn from them.

Quick Picks
If you just want a quick recommendation without the specifics of what I did/didn't like, here are the books from this month that I'm most likely to recommend to friends and family in real life:

FictionThen She Was GoneErotic Stories for Punjabi WidowsOn a Cold Dark Sea. If you don't mind a little dark and twisty then I'd add All the Beautiful Lies and The Girl with a Clock for a Heart to this list.

NonfictionTen ArgumentsWho Can You TrustThe Actor's Life: A Survival Guide (for fans of The Office or aspiring actors), The Year of Living Danishly

Current Reads/Up Next:
I'm just getting started on Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty. I've heard it's not her best so my expectations are low. My next Nonfiction was another 2-for-1 special, When the Air Hits Your Brain (Tales of Neurosurgery). It gets great reviews so I'm hoping for the best on this!

It's amazing how much more reading I can get done when I make good selections! It's so often the luck of the draw, and this month I think I was pretty lucky. Hope you all had some good reads this month too and found a couple of books here to add to your To Be Read list!



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11/12/18

Amazon Hits & Misses November

19 comments |
Today I'm sharing a few of my recent Amazon Hits, Misses, and finds. As part of their fashion associates program I get to select a few items each month to share with my readers. I usually share these items in my regular outfit posts (designated as c/o Amazon, meaning "courtesy of" or "compliments of" Amazon), but I'm trying to do this review format a little more often since I think it's easier for people to find things this way. With all that said, let's get on with the reviews!
ONE: Printed Blouse | TWO: The Shawl | THREEThe Sweatshirt

ONE: The Blouse
Blouse (c/o) | Necklace | Jeans | Similar Shoes | Handbag (c/o Shopbop)

The BlouseI'm pretty sure this is some kind of animal print, but I'm not really sure what animal. (White cheetah? Dalmation? Spotted Unicorn?!?) I didn't want to call it the wrong name, nor did I really want to search up the correct animal (if it exists), but regardless, based on the product images I'm pretty sure this blouse is inspired by a higher end version. I didn't want to use those images here because they feature bloggers who I'm quite sure are wearing the expensive version, not this under $20 option! That said, this top also comes in a more true leopard leopard and a white leopard. If you're interested in a leopard print blouse, this is great for under $20! The quality is decent - it honestly doesn't feel much different than my blouses from Express. And actually, this white version is more opaque/less see through than my white blouses from Express, so that's a plus. On the negative side, the top button on this blouse is very far down. (A little easier to tell in the front view since when I raise my arms to take a selfie, it also raises the neckline a bit.) That would make it tough to wear a piece like this to an office job and stay decent. Also, there are no buttons on the cuffs. They're just open flaps. That's not bad actually for rolling up the sleeves, but if you want to wear the sleeves down, they're a bit in the way. Unless you have longer arms than I do, then it might be less of an issue. At any rate, for a cute, on-trend top for under $20 I think this is a hit. The quality is reasonable for the price. That said, I ended up returning it because after trying it on I decided the print wasn't "me" and I wouldn't reach for it often enough to keep it.

TWO: The Shawl

The ShawlThe color I'm wearing in the intro photo is "Grey" and it's the center image in the color collage here. From the product photo, I wasn't sure if it was going to be taupe or grey since I think it doesn't exactly look like a true grey in the product photo. In real life I do think it's grey, and I may end up exchanging it for the "brown" option (image on the far left), which looks more camel. At any rate, I've been intrigued by the current poncho/ruana trend and thought this looked kind of cool. I actually really like it! It's very soft and comfortable! I could see the red version being really fun to wear for the holidays. The model must be very tall because this comes down much longer on me than on her. For most of them it looks like it hits just below the hip and on me it's mid-thigh! (I'm 5'4" for reference.) It is a "One Size" piece and I do think it will fit most everyone. For under $35, this is a hit for me and a fun, unique addition to my closet.

THREE: The Sweatshirt
Amazon Sweatshirt $20 (5% off with coupon)

The SweatshirtOkay, typically when I order pieces I take into consideration how the color options will photograph well for the blog, but in this case I got black even though I knew it wouldn't be the best choice for blogging purposes. It's hard to see the detail on the sweatshirt from my selfies, and this isn't an outfit I'd bother to photograph with a DSLR since it's the type of thing I only wear at home! I have no problem dressing like a Ninja at home, and in fact, I like it! So I wanted the black version for myself even though it doesn't look great in photos. That said, this sweatshirt is a hit and perfect for wearing with leggings! It comes down nice and long in the front and covers my behind in the back. Tall ladies, you may not find this to be the case but hey, the shawl will look better on you than me! This is a lightweight sweatshirt material or possibly a heavy t-shirt, but by any description it's easy and comfy. And the pockets are actually pretty handing for toting my phone around since my leggings don't have pockets. In the product photos, the black color looked like a heathered black/dark charcoal, but in person it's a true black. Which makes me wonder if the other colors are also less heathered in real life? I can't answer that but I may end up trying a second color of this for days when the black one is in the laundry. This is a great piece 

SEVEN: Circle Earrings |  EIGHT: Leopard Disc Earrings | NINE: Tortoise Hoops

BELTS: I recently picked up two of these accessories for myself and haven't had a chance to share them on the blog yet, plus while I was shopping for them I spotted several other cute options so why not put together a collage with all of them? First, I ordered Option One after seeing a very similar option on my friend Kellyann. I love this Double-O Ring style of belt, so why didn't I have one in leopard? The one I ordered does not come with Prime Shipping, but it still took less than a week to arrive. I think it came from England, so apparently that doesn't take as long as shipping from China. It's true to size and just as cute in person as it is in the photo. If you want a leopard print belt in a hurry, Option Two is a very similar print and under $25 with Prime Shipping. I don't have belt Option Three through Six, but I do have a similar style from Express that I love, and these are less expensive with Prime Shipping.

EARRINGS: I ordered and received Option Seven, and for only $10 they're a fun way to try the tortoise earring trend! They're lightweight and easy to wear all day. As I was putting this post together, I also found this Tortoise Earrings 2-Pack. It looks like my exact pair of earrings plus an additional darker tortoise pair for the same price as mine! I wish I'd seen it before I ordered mine! I don't own Eight or Nine, but they're also affordable, on-trend options for tortoise earrings.

Here's the latest of what's going on in the blog world and in real life this week!

On the Blog this Week: Tomorrow is Book Review day, and I will tell you now I read a lot this month! I have some great books to recommend so stop by tomorrow for the details. Wednesday I'll share a short and sweet post with my favorite striped sweater. And by Friday I hope to have some Everyday Outfits ready to go.

In Real Life: Happy Veteran's Day to all of the Veterans! My older brother is the only living Vet in my family and I love texting him to see where he's getting a free meal this year! I think it's so great that business and restaurants offer some complimentary services to Veterans in thanks for their service. My kids have the day off from school but my husband and I still have to work. I'd love to hear how other working moms balance these school-but-not-office holidays! I have a tendency to feel like I'm neglecting my kids or allowing them too much screen time (ugh) on days like today. I definitely don't feel like I have a good solution for this situation just yet.

See you back tomorrow for Book Reviews!


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11/9/18

Everyday Outfits + Friday Four 11/9/18

14 comments |
Some weeks around here are really so un-interesting, it's hard to think of anything to say for an intro to my post! The only "new" thing I can think of is that my husband and I finished watching the first (and only) season of Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime video and we both enjoyed it. Now we're in the market for a new weekend show, so I think we're going to check out The Man in the High Castle that Noelle recommended. (Also an Amazon Prime show! I didn't even realize they had their own shows until about a month ago.) When the most interesting thing I can talk about is TV might as well just move on to the rest of the post, so here we go with some outfits I wore this week!
TWOTee (c/o) | Vest (c/o) | Jeans | Necklace | Shoes (c/o)

ONE: Most everything I'm wearing here is "old," except for the Stella & Dot Always Tank. What I like about this vs. my Abercrombie lace trim cami is that I can wear it with a regular bra! When you click on the product details you can see the tank has thicker straps, not spaghetti straps. It's also a more softer, more comfortable stretchy material, plus it's longer in the torso so it's easier to keep it tucked in to my pants. It's on the pricey side, so check out my Friday Four below for how to stretch your dollars at Stella & Dot.

TWO: I'm sure some of you will laugh that this vest felt like a "risk" for me, but believe it or not, I've never owned a vest! I have tried on a couple but just wasn't sure about the style on me. I decided to give it another go this year because I thought It would be a great option for layering over turtlenecks without adding too much warmth. I'm wearing a Small in this one and I think it's true to size, maybe slightly on the Small side of average. (So if you're between sizes, order up.) It doesn't have a hood, which was a key criteria for me. It also has Prime Shipping and symmetrical front pockets. (If a top only has a pocket on one side I feel lopsided...is it just me?) At any rate, I'm glad I got this and I'm hoping if I wear it a few more times I'll get used to the style.

THREE: I first shared this cardigan with a dressier outfit back in this post, but this is essentially the "lounge version" of that same look! When I take my kids to music lessons I end up sitting on a couch in the music studio reading the whole time, and I'd rather be at home curled on my own couch reading in pajamas! So I end up wearing something like this so I can be really comfy without actually wearing my pajamas in public. I'm wearing a Small in the cardigan, and it's oversized but true to size for that style. While linking this, I just noticed that it has Prime Shipping right now for some sizes and colors! When I ordered this it took two weeks to arrive, so if you have the chance to get this with Prime Shipping in your size I would jump on that. It's a great cozy piece.

On Fridays I like to share a few random things here that wouldn't make it to the blog otherwise! From fashion finds to favorite articles to real life happenings. Here are my four things for today!

1. White Nails for Fall: Usually in October I make the switch to a dark manicure. This year I just haven't wanted to do that, so here we are in November and I'm still wearing my "Summer white" manicure. For one thing, I'm just not tired of white nails and they match with everything! Second, this polish combo lasts me longer than any other I've tried, and switching to dark nails means I'll probably have to do a bit more maintenance or re-painting, and I dread that thought. (Dark polish shows tip wear and chips more prominently than white). Maybe I'll do a dark manicure or two for the holidays, but for the most part I'm sticking with my tried and true favorite.
I use this base coat (discontinued but I can still buy it on eBay), followed by two coats of Non-Stop White and one coat of Pearl of Wisdom, which softens the white and gives the slightest sheen. Then I top it with Essie Speed Setter for a quick dry, followed by a coat of Essie Gel Setter the next day for extra lasting power.

2. Fall Pedicure: My toes lately have been my all-time favorite Essie Flowerista, but I think the next time I re-paint them I'll go with something a little darker, like Essie Bahama Mama. I don't have to worry about them chipping as much as my nails so at least my toes can be in-season colors.

3. Pillow Talk: Awhile back my bed pillows were in need of replacing, so I ordered these top-rated pillows from Amazon. Oh my gosh! SO comfy! I swear I am sleeping better and experiencing less neck strain throughout the day because of this pillow!
Just be warned that when you get these pillows out of the packaging, they will look nothing like the photo above. They're vacuum-packed for shipping which flattens them out, but in a day or too they fluff up to comfy goodness as pictured.

4. Dot Dollars: As you may know, I signed up to be a Stella & Dot stylist earlier this year and I am so glad I did! They are one of my top two jewelry brands (along with Kendra Scott), and the stylist discount is a great perk. If you're not interested in signing on as a stylist, right now they are doing their semi-annual Dot Dollars promotion, which is the second best way to get a discount. For every $50 you spend, you can redeem $25 Dot Dollars from 12/27–1/3. Reward codes arrive on your account page within 24 hours of placing the order. More details below, plus some of my current favorites and wishlist items!

 I have two and three and really love both. The Rhett earrings are really lightweight and great for everyday wear. Plus, they're mixed metal so they go with everything! The scarf is really pretty and a fun way to add a touch of color to an otherwise basic outfit. You can see the front view of the outfit below in this post, but here's how I've worn it with just a basic white tee and black jeans:
T-Shirt (c/o) | Jeans | Scarf | Shoes (c/o) | Bag (c/o Shopbop) [Budget Option]

That's it for me today! On Monday I'll be sharing some of my recent Amazon hits and misses so I hope you'll stop by and say hi!

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Linking up with: JoLynne | Erika, Andrea, Narci | The Blended Blog

11/7/18

Chunky Knit Sweater + Currently

42 comments |
Well once again I have experienced the mysterious case of, "when I state something on the blog, the opposite ends up being true." e.g. If I make a statement that I rarely have a reason to get dressed up, the following week I will have to get dressed up every day. This time, I stated a few weeks ago that my Thanksgiving plans were all squared away and I was proud of myself for planning in advance...but then they fell through. So I have no exact plans for Thanksgiving just yet, but I do have an outfit picked out. When I saw that The Blended Blog ladies would be sharing Thanksgiving outfit ideas this week, I decided to share this outfit anyway and talk about having no plans so that by Thanksgiving, I'll have really exciting plans! Wish me luck with this method! Ha!

This sweater is $35 (with Prime Shipping) and comes in a few other colors, but this "Khaki" color (as named by the maker, not by me) just looked so perfect for Fall. It reminded me a lot of a Free People sweater that was very popular last year, but obviously this is way more affordable. I'm wearing a Size Small here, and it's a very oversized fit. This is easily long enough to wear with leggings for me (I'm 5'4") but I chose black jeans this time for a dressier look. I recommend ordering your normal size if it's available. I don't know if you all have noticed this, but a lot of times these "off brands" will be available from numerous sellers on Amazon. I suspect there's one warehouse that makes all of the pieces then outsources them to different sellers. I usually try to find an option with Prime Shipping if possible to make for easy returns if the item doesn't work out. The seller I selected for this sweater has Prime Shipping on limited sizing options, so if you don't see your size you can still get this exact sweater from this seller or this one with more size/color options. Just expect shipping time to be closer to two weeks.
Sweater (c/o) | Black Jeans | Earrings | Similar Booties [Budget Option] | Crossbody Bag (c/o) [Budget Option]

As far as other pieces I'm wearing here, my black jeans are true to size (I take the short length at 5'4"). My leopard ankle boots are a few years old from Macy's. I feel like leopard shoes/leopard anything was trending strong from 2013-15, then it kind of faded a bit in 2016-17, but now it's back in a big way this fall. Did you all notice a similar timeline with this print? Anyway, even though mine are old there are lots of similar options out now. This pair is the most visually similar I found, though they are a bit pricey so for a budget option you could try this pair for under $50.
On the first Wednesday of every month I love joining up with Anne for her "Currently" link-up. She provides the creative variety of topics and the participants provide the answers! This month we're all sharing what we're currently appreciating, researching, posting, getting, and cooking.

Appreciating...family, friendships, health and employment. It's simple, but keeping my focus on appreciating what I have in those areas vs. what I don't in any number of other areas is key to my happiness. They're also the easiest to take for granted until something happens to one of them to force you to realize how good you once had it!

Researching...all of the ballot measures for the election yesterday. Yikes, the wording on those is so confusing. I swear I needed Cliffs Notes or Ballot Measures for Dummies!

Posting...to the blog M/W/F as usual but no longer posting to Instagram (I gave a little more explanation to this in the comment section below if you're interested). However, if you have the LiketoKnow.it App, I'm still posting my everyday outfits there. And if you don't have the app, you can get the exact same details here on the blog. Just go to Daily Looks on the Menu Bar up top (or tap the three Horizontal Lines under my blog name banner if you're on a mobile device) and click any outfit for details. Most of the outfits that I post there end up in my Everyday Outfit recap on Fridays.

Getting...writer's block on this prompt! I typed and deleted about ten different options here because none of them seemed interesting enough to share.

Cooking...eggs for breakfast most days of the week. Lately I've been doing egg whites with goat cheese, sliced Kalamata olives, and Everything but the Bagel Seasoning from Trader Joe's (with a piece of wheat toast on the side). I don't know if that's a weird combination of ingredients to other people but I like it! And if you're wondering, I'm not opposed to egg yolks, I just don't like them with goat cheese (or feta) because I think they overpower the flavor. No photo of this dish because it tastes much better than it looks!

See you on Friday for some everyday outfits and more!


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Linking up with: The Blended Blog | Brooke




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