On the Daily EXPRESS


Pink Spring Sweater + Friday Favorites

Today's outfit is one where I felt pretty good wearing it...obviously nothing fancy but it was put together enough to run all of my usual weekend errands and not feel like I was dressed frumpy or anything. Then when I came to edit these photos, I felt a little meh about it. I wish I'd added a scarf or a bigger necklace or belt or something. But c'est la vie. I may have a blog that talks a lot about clothes and fashion but my real life is definitely not a fashion show so I try not to stress when an outfit isn't my favorite. And I'll share it anyway because it still has pieces I like even if I plan to style them differently next time!

I wanted a few lightweight sweaters for Spring, and lo and behold my favorite Amazon brand, Daily Ritual, just came out with some Lightweight Sweaters! I'm actually a bit bummed that I didn't see their tunic version before I got the regular version that I'm wearing here since I always like the option of wearing tops with leggings. I may have to try that version in a different color. And speaking of the other colors, I originally bought the white version of this and returned it because it was very see through. These are very thin sweaters. That's fine for SoCal spring but it might be too thin/chilly for some other places. It's even thinner than the lilac LOFT sweater that I shared on Monday. I'm wearing XS here and it runs true to size with a relaxed fit.

These shoes were one of my favorite pairs last Spring and I'm surprised to see they are still in stock at Target! They're only $33 and surprisingly comfortable and easy to walk in. I just read an article earlier this week about 14 things you should and shouldn't buy at Target and I was personally offended that they had shoes on the list of things not to buy! Say what?! I have lots of favorite shoes from Target (e.g. this post from last June rounds up some of my favorites) and they have the best quality for the price! I also disagreed with them about Up & Up trash bags. I don't know what people are putting in their trash, but I buy Up & Up trash bags and they never break on me!

I guess I got on a bit of Target tangent there, but the point is, these shoes are great and Business Insider is wrong. Ha!

Time to join up with some blogger friends for Friday Favorites! If you enjoy a random assortment of favorites like this, see who I'm linking up with at the end of this post to find more posts like this!

1. Flashback Friday: Something I want to start incorporating here is a Flashback Friday outfit. Basically I'm going to dig through my archives and share an outfit I wore at this time of year in a past post that I'd still wear today. I want to remind myself of what's already in my closet and get a better feel for what things do and don't stand the test of time. And hopefully since I wear a lot of basics this will also give you ideas for similar pieces you own!

Since this outfit is "old" (it's from March 2016) everything is sold out, but I'll link similar options each week for the key outfit pieces and just list the original source for the shoes and accessories. Those were a bit harder for me to find something super similar so I don't want to frustrate readers by linking not-very-similar "similar" options!
Similar Jacket Options: One, TwoThree | Similar Tee | Similar Jeans
Necklace: J Crew | Bag: Tory Burch | Sandals: Forever 21 | Ring: Rebecca Minkoff  

You know, I have to tell you I have not worn my white jeans in ages. I still really love the way they make an outfit pop, but when I shifted to taking posed outdoor photos with a DSLR camera (like the one in today's post with the pink sweater) that made me not want to wear them. They are really hard for me to photograph correctly. There's always a glare and they just don't seem to look flattering in those photos. And as my photography expert friend Rachelle always tells me, the camera adds ten pounds. I feel like white jeans add an extra ten pounds on DSLR, so after seeing them in a few "posed" photos I gave up on them entirely! But after seeing this photo, I might reconsider wearing them just on days when I'm taking selfies!

2. Favorite White V-Neck Re-Stocked! Earlier this month I shared reviews of my favorite white v-neck tees, and at the time, one of my favorites was out of stock. Well now it's been re-stocked! If you read that post and wanted to try the Express One Eleven Tee, jump on it STAT since it's fully stocked right now. The grey t-shirt I'm wearing above with the olive jacket is also the exact One Eleven t-shirt in grey, but of course, that color is out of stock right now so I had to link a similar option there.

3. Favorites Nail Products: Two weeks back when my sisters were in town they had a lot of questions about my favorite nail products for long-lasting manicures. I sent them all a link to this blog post to reference when they got home and were ready to shop because I'm still using all of those exact products. Here's a quick look at the products I use, but you can refer to the original post for more info on how and why I use each item

The only thing different lately is the color I'm using on my nails. All Winter I've been using CND Dark Lava. Eventually I'll switch to the lighter colors as shown above for Spring/Summer, but I just haven't had the itch to switch yet. I've been really impressed with the CND lasting power (coupled with the base coat and top coats shown), so I also bought a bottle of Winter Glow to try. The color is more white in person than it appears on the Amazon pic, but TBD if it's the right shade for me. I'm wearing Essie Flowerista on my toes in my Flashback Friday photo, and I just put it on my toes for Spring this year.

That's it today friends! Thanks for reading and I'll see you back on Monday!

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


Six Amazon Favorites for Spring

Last week I rounded up my recent Express favorites since they were having a big sale, and I realized I haven't done a similar post of Amazon favorites in quite awhile. Since it's the first official day of Spring, I went digging through my outfit archives for some Amazon favorites I love that I think are great pieces to have for Spring. Some of these will work better for warmer or cooler climates, and some may work on Monday but not on Friday if you're having the kind of temperate swings we are lately! We had a really warm weekend and this t-shirt dress was perfect. I didn't re-take outfit photos since the only thing I changed was the nail polish. I wore this for Summer to Fall transition but I also think it's great for warmer Spring days.
T-Shirt Dress (c/o) | Similar Plaid Shirt | Necklace | Earrings | Similar Sandals | See by Chloe Handbag (c/o) (Budget Option)

I first shared this dress in this post along with two other Spring-friendly ways to style it. I'll go into more detail on the fit below, but first, here's a look at all six of Spring Staples from Amazon. 


This dress is only $24 and it's called a "long sleeve" t-shirt dress. I'd say it's more of a 3/4 length or 7/8 length since the sleeves don't go all the way down to my wrists (they're not intentionally pushed up here). That length works great for me since it stays out of my way a little better in my everyday tasks. It runs true to size (I took an XS in this), but it's a little more fitted than the other dresses I have from the Daily Ritual line (e.g. the Daily Ritual short sleeve dress in this post is just a bit more of a relaxed fit even though I'm wearing the same size).


This exact cardigan comes in five different colors (Black, Charcoal, Navy, Light Grey and Pale Heather/Oatmeal) and is true to size. As usual with this line, the fabric is really soft and comfortable. It's a good medium weight for Spring: not too heavy, not too light. On a milder Spring day here I can wear it with a cami like this, but on a colder day I would just as easily grab a long sleeve tee for a little extra warmth. My original post with this cardigan can be found HERE with more details.

Black Tee (c/o) | Camo Scarf | Similar Jeans | Rebecca Minkoff Bag (c/o Shopbop) [Similar Bag] | Black Over the Knee Boots | Earrings | Similar Watch | Bracelet 

Okay, so it's just a t-shirt, but not all t-shirts are created equal and this is a good one! It's a great basic piece, true to size and only $16. You can pair it with an endless combination of scarves, jackets. cardigans etc. My original post for this is HERE with more details on the other pieces I'm wearing.

And BONUS! It comes in a sleeveless version! I wore these next two outfits for Summer-to-Fall transition weather but I think they'll both work for Spring-to-Summer too:

I took the same size in this top as the long sleeve version and I love the not tight but not too baggy style. It fits exactly the same as the long sleeve version. I can also wear a regular bra with this, which is definitely my preference. It's only $12 and a great functional piece. I shared two more ways to wear this (including a dressier, business casual look) in the original post HERE

I also wanted to share this outfit with the white version of the tank since it gives a better look at the length of the top: 
White Sleeveless Tank (c/o) | Similar Denim ShirtLeggings (c/o) | Sandals (c/o) (Budget Option) | Bag (c/o) (Budget Option) | Necklace | Similar Earrings

It does have enough length for me to wear it with leggings. Since I have a shirt tied at my waist, it makes it look a little shorter than it did just hanging solo. But it felt a little too shapeless to me just leaving it completely untucked with no definition at the waist so I opted to add the shirt at the waist.


If you aren't sure about keeping this jacket color clean, it also comes in Olive, Dark Grey and Navy. This jacket comes in numeric sizing: 2-16. I ordered a 2 (which is usually what I order in blazers at Express) and that worked out well. For reference this is still a little bit roomier than similar cargo jackets I have from Express or Old Navy in size XS, but it does have a drawstring at the waist to help give it more shape. The sleeves were also borderline long for me, but if you're taller than my 5'4" or have longer limbs you might appreciate that. Original post for this outfit is HERE with more details.


One thing I found with this tunic sweater is that you can't wear a coat over it because of the way the sleeves attach, so I think it will work better for cooler Spring days when you don't need a coat but you're not ready for sleeveless tops and thin sweaters, either. I also think this sweater would look great with white jeans for Spring! It comes in two sizes - Small/Medium and Large/X-Large. I'm wearing the S/M and it's roomy and plenty long! I suppose it runs true to size, but because of the dual-size options and oversized fit in general it's not easy to make direct comparisons to other brands. I'm 5'4" for reference, and it's definitely long enough to wear with leggings. It's also longer in the back, so even if you're a few inches taller than me this should still be a good option for you. The sweater material itself is nice and soft, but it's not a super warm piece. It's a very open knit texture, so it definitely requires a layer underneath for coverage and warmth. For more details see the original post HERE.


Last but not least, a nautical striped sweater is a classic for Spring! This is true to size and there's not much else to say. I've worn this many times over the past year since I first got it and it's holding up well. You can see more outfits with this HERE, HERE and HERE with several options for styling it in more a Spring-y way.

And that brings us to the end of the six (plus!) Amazon favorites for Spring! Since many of these outfits came from "older" posts I did try to update the links with similar options for anything that was sold out, but I apologize if I missed a few pieces here and there. It gets a little overwhelming in posts like this! Plus, in another month at least half of the "current" similar options I found will be sold out anyway, so trying to keep links up to date is like shoveling snow in a snowstorm. But enough about snowstorms! Today is the first official day of Spring and I'm ready for it!

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Lilac Sweater Outfit

A little while back I posted my Spring Wishlist, and a lilac or lavender top was right up there on my list. It took a few weeks of trial and error (a.k.a. purchase and return) to find one that worked for me, but after trying on this one at LOFT I had a keeper!
Sweater | Exact Pants (Similar w/ More Sizes) | Boots | Necklace | Bag (c/o) | Earrings

The unexpected comment on this outfit came from my neighbor who saw me wearing it while unloading groceries from my car. She called out to me across the street, "You look like Ariana Grande today, Gina!" I couldn't help but reply, "Thank you! Next!" I am 100% sure I've never been compared to Ariana Grande before but I did remember that she has worn a similar color sweater at some point. I looked it up on Pinterest, and sure enough, she has a lavender sweater + tall boots outfit! She opted to wear her sweater sans pants...I opted for pants. Just a guess, but we probably have very different lifestyles! So it's likely the sweater, boots, and the love Ari and I share for big fake ponytails that my neighbor had in mind with her comment!
Sweater | Exact Pants (Similar w/ More Sizes) | Boots | Necklace | Bag (c/o) | Earrings

Anyway, on with the outfit notes! I thought this sweater ran just a bit small compared to other LOFT tops I've own or tried. I usually wear an XS in tops there, but the sleeves and torso length on that felt a bit too short for me so I went with a Small here. I also knew I wanted a fairly relaxed fit for this so sizing up made the most sense for me. It does have a shirttail hem, which I always like since I think it makes it a bit easier to do a front tuck. My pants are almost sold out, and you do need to order one size up, but this Express option looks very similar. My boots are also true to size and my favorite affordable OTK boots at under $50! The only caveat is they don't have a lot of cushion in the footbed, but I didn't mind buying a gel insert for them since they were so affordable in the first place.

My silver necklace is just one year old and I really love it for the bargain price ($13). But it is starting to tarnish, so I'm looking for a replacement. This seems like a simple piece that should be easy to find, but so far no luck! Everything that's the right style is the wrong metal (gold)! I already have a gold one so I'll just keep looking. I'm tempted to just purchase another one of these for $13 to last until I find a better quality option!

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

On the Blog: On Wednesday I'll be sharing Six Amazon Favorites for Spring. These are all pieces I've shared on the blog in the past but some I haven't worn in quite awhile since it's been too cold.  But Spring officially starts on Wednesday and it warmed up a lot here over the weekend so it was good for me to go through my outfit archives and get reminded of some of the pieces I can wear again.

In Real Life: Nothing too crazy or exciting happening in real life lately! I get all my excitement from books lately - ha! I'm currently listening to The House we Grew Up In on Audible (my last Lisa Jewell book!) and reading How to Walk Away by Katherine Center on my Kindle. We haven't been watching any shows lately since the homework and activity schedule in the evenings doesn't allow for it. What kinds of tips or things do you all have for keeping positive and motivated when life is just ho-humming along? Nothing bad to report, but nothing exciting on the horizon, either? I always like to have something to look forward to, but sometimes it's a little tricky to either get that on the calendar or into the budget! I'd love to hear how you all handle that!

I hope your week gets off to a smooth start and I'll see you back on Wednesday!

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Linking up with: Rachelle


Express Favorites Lately

This week for my Friday Favorites I'm sharing a few Express favorites for their Storewide 40% off sale. Anytime a friend or family member comments on something I'm wearing that happens to be from Express, I always tell them, "But don't pay full price! It will go on sale for 40% off soon!" Well...now it's soon! Here's a recap of some of my still-in-stock favorites that are included in the current sale.


This is a fun little moto jacket for Spring! It's true to size and is indeed cropped as the name implies. I like that, but if that cut doesn't work for you then skip this one. I also like to wear this for casual date nights with black OTK Boots as seen in this post. By the way, these jeans are also a favorite! One of my next "Multiple Ways to Wear" posts will feature these jeans because they are my favorite pair of blue jeans and I wear them a lot!

CAMO COVER UP: Original Post Here

This is more of a sweatshirt material than sweater material and it's very comfortable! It's not too heavy so it will still work well for Spring weather unless you live in Hawaii or Florida! It's true to size but with an oversized fit, so if you're between sizes go with the smaller size.


This is a recent purchase but a new favorite for sure! It's true to size and comes in several other colors from classic to seasonal. It's a waterproof type material - not soft and silky. Not to say that it's uncomfortable at all, but just that it's functional outerwear. Case in point...I wore it last weekend to the Japanese Friendship Garden with my mom and sisters!

I actually got stopped in the bathroom and complimented on my jacket by a stranger, so that was flattering! Also, my sister Denae in the center is wearing this Express military jacket. It's sold out in the color she's wearing but available in two other colors. I have it in olive and it's also a great lightweight jacket for Spring!

Speaking of my family visit, it was interesting to see what things they commented on that I was wearing in person or that they had seen on the blog. It gave me fresh eyes for a couple of things I might not have thought to mention. For example...

SUPER SOFT SOCKS: If you're placing an order at Express, do yourself a favor and throw in a pair of these Super Soft Socks to try. They're only $6.50 on sale, and they really are super soft!

Two of my sisters borrowed a pair of these one night when we were heading to my kids flag football game. They had only packed sandals or open-toed shoes and I didn't want their feet to freeze, so I gave them each a pair of these socks. They couldn't stop talking about how soft and comfy they are! Again, I use these all the time and don't really think about featuring them on the blog, but they really are favorites and well worth the sale price.

CAMO JEANS: These will be very familiar favorites to any of my longtime readers! I still love these, and one of my sisters ended up ordering herself a pair when the sale launched. They're just a fun alternative to blue jeans that add a little interest when paired with any other basic pieces from a black turtleneck to a white tee (as seen in this post). And remember, since they're camouflage that means they will camouflage any of your perceived lower body flaws!

I'm 5'4" and take the Short length, which actually makes these a cropped jean vs. normal length! You can see six ways to wear camo jeans in this post.


I'm giving this blouse an honorable mention! It's a newer-to-me favorite but it's been too cold for me to wear it on its own lately, so you haven't seen it on the blog since November. I wore it here with more dressy pants for Thanksgiving, but I've worn it very casually with shorts back in September, so I'd say it's a pretty versatile piece! It's true to size, and it's a "popover" style, meaning the buttons are just for show, not function. You just pull it on and off over your head - no buttoning required. I have the Cabernet color which I love for fall and winter, but I definitely wouldn't mind having one of new lighter colors for Spring! I do have a reward to use and that Light Pink color is calling my name!

You know, I've joked with some friends offline that I might need to re-brand my blog since I don't shop at Express as exclusively as I used to. I've definitely branched out over the past five years and have other favorite brands and retailers. But when I do recap posts like this, I realize it's still 100% a staple brand in my closet even if it's not the only brand. And thank goodness for that because re-branding sounds like way too much of a hassle! Ha!

As always, thanks for reading and for your support! I appreciate you sticking with me on the blog since I know it's not the hot and happening platform that Instagram is these days. But I enjoy this format and I hope you do too! Have a great weekend and I'll see you back on Monday! 

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


Green Sweater Outfit

For most of winter I've been sticking to a pretty neutral color palette for my wardrobe, but with Spring on the horizon I'm starting to crave some change! I've been seeing a lot of gorgeous emerald green shades hitting the store shelves and knew I wanted to get something in this color. Plus, I thought it might be fun to have something moderately festive to wear for St. Patrick's Day! I snagged this green wrap sweater when it went on sale and loved wearing it from day time to (casual) date night last weekend!

This sweater is final sale, which made me a little nervous when ordering it since it only had one review! But the reviewer said it was true to size, and thankfully that was the case for me as well! The other gamble was the fabric: I have a zero tolerance policy for itchy sweaters and once again, luck was on my side since wearing this sweater feels like being wrapped in a soft and cozy blanket! If you look at the product image for this, you'll notice there are two models wearing it styled different ways. One has the ties single wrapped and one has it double wrapped (so there's only a little bit of fabric hanging down from the ties), like I'm wearing here. This is hard to explain in writing, but I thought the double wrap would be more convenient since there wouldn't be long fabric straps hanging down and it would also keep the front crossover more tightly closed. That worked well for me, but I do plan to wearing it single-wrapped next time with a lace-trim cami underneath just to mix things up.

My jeans are from Express awhile back and they don't carry this style anymore. This option was the closest I could find at a (very!) reasonable price. I wore these jeans a lot last year and for some reason just wasn't reaching for them this year. I kept seeing them hanging in my closet and finally told myself I either need to donate them or start wearing them again, so I chose the latter! I still like them a lot as an alternative to solid black and I'm not ready to part with them, so it's time to put them to good use again.

If you want to go green for St. Patrick's day but aren't sure about buying a final sale piece like mine, I rounded up a few other fun green tops under $55 (most under $40), all with Free 2-Day shipping! You still have time to order them and wear it for the holiday and beyond! These shades of green aren't limited to St. Patrick's Day by any means. The first two are from Revolve so you don't even need a Prime Membership!
One $52 | Two $35 | Three $27 | Four ($32-35)

Are you all planning to wear green for St. Patrick's Day? I wore this outfit last weekend and was planning to wear it for St. Patrick's Day, but now the forecast is saying we'll be creeping up on 80° this weekend! That's a huge change from the temps we've been having lately so I think I'll need a different outfit plan! Do you have any fun plans that day? I don't think I'll get to do much besides blogging, laundry, and taking my kids to their practices, but so much for looking festive in the process!

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March 2019 Book Reviews

Welcome to my March 2019 Book Reviews! As usual I have a mix of fiction and nonfiction. I read all of my nonfiction books on Audible, and a handful of my fiction books as well. That does affect my experience with the book (a narrator can really make or break a book!) so I'll note anything I read in audiobook format. With that said, here are the books I read this month followed by my reviews!
American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar
Basic Plot: A boy from a Pakistani Muslim family comes of age in America. He copes with complex challenges of love, faith, life, and family
My Verdict: Enjoyed. I like books that help me get a better understanding of a culture other than my own, and this book did exactly that. It read like a memoir even though it was fiction, and the storylines and characters were nicely developed. This was a solid, entertaining read and I had no real complaints. If the subject matter interests you then I would recommend this.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Basic Plot: Eleanor is what you might call an odd duck. She doesn't quite fit in anywhere, but life throws some new people and situations in her path that might change her life of solitude.
My Verdict: Recommend! This book is clever, funny, charming, and heartwarming! I was so impressed with the author's wit and skill in the writing of Eleanor's pragmatic thought process. People think Eleanor is the strange one but Eleanor just can't come to grips with other "normal" human behavior, and her analyses were always a crack up. I can't remember the last time I actually laughed out loud this much at a book. There's a lot to Eleanor's story and uncovering it all was a thoroughly enjoyable process.

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier
Basic Plot: Georgina is paying for a serious mistake she made as a teenager after keeping it hidden for over 14 years.
My Verdict: Recommend! This was solid, page-turning suspense. The author did a great job of building the characters and making readers question who to to trust. We know from the start that Georgina was somehow involved in the death of her high school friend, but we aren't sure just how involved she really was. The story alternates between past and present timelines as we get answers. I will warn you this book had some pretty gruesome stuff. I'm not really a fan of that type of content, but the book was entertaining enough to get me to push through or skim over those parts (which were relatively short anyway) to find out what happened.

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
Basic Plot: Darcy's childhood best friend and lifelong crush (Tom) is renovating her late grandmother's house and Darcy wants to win him over in the process.
My Verdict: It was okay. This wasn't near as good to me as Sally Thorne's other book, The Hating Game. It's hard to say why, but I guess I didn't connect with Darcy very much, and for the first half of the book Tom's character was flat, so it was hard to care if they got together. Also they had some reasons for not being together that didn't really seem believable. The book was not bad at all, but it just didn't spark for me or draw me in fully until halfway through. Also, I've noticed that in both books by this author she doesn't say where the characters live. I've tried to be open to that approach, but I find it really does bother me. Where we live is part of who we are, so taking that out of the equation leaves a void and makes it that much harder for me to connect with characters. If you like chic lit this is good enough to pass the time, I just didn't love it.

The Wake Up by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Basic Plot: Aiden is a cattle rancher who is re-thinking his career choice thanks to a specific incident in his life. He's also dating Gwen and attempting to get along with her kids.
My Verdict: It was okay. This is my third book by this author and I'll be taking another long break from her after this. I was hoping for something to capture some fraction of the magic in her book Take Me With You, but that didn't happen with this book. I listened to this on Audible and it was tolerable but I never really got into it or felt whatever it was the author hoped I would feel. In the realm of "Okay" books this month, 99 Percent Mine was far more Okay than this one.

The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell
Basic Plot: After a traumatic family incident, Claire and her daughters move into a new apartment. It has a private community park with some unsettling history and ongoing drama.
My Verdict: Recommend! This was one of my favorite Jewell books (Then She Was Gone is still my most favorite) with a really nice balance of drama/chic lit material and suspense. I cannot say enough good things about her character development in all of her books! She just makes her characters of all ages from children to teenagers to adults seem very real, believable and complex. I was quickly drawn into their lives and couldn't wait to find out who was keeping what secrets. The ending didn't completely satisfy me, which is my one complaint with this one. I listened to this on Audible and the narrator was excellent! I think I only have one more Jewell book to go (The House We Grew Up In) before I've read them all and I'm sad there aren't more!

A Curve in the Road by Julianne Maclean
Basic Plot: Abbie has the perfect life until one day when everything gets turned upside down.
My Verdict: Skip this one. I don't understand the rave reviews for this book on Amazon at all. It kept coming up as an Amazon recommendation for me, and when I realized it was free on Audible with my Kindle Unlimited Membership I decided to give it a go. Honestly the main character was a complete snooze for me. She dealt with some very difficult things in her life in such a robotic way that it was more like a how-to manual than a novel.  She didn't seem to have any personality other than being perfect and always doing the right thing. Nearly all of the other characters were one dimensional as well (except the husband I suppose). Somehow this is billed as romance and that's about 1% of the story, so calling it romance is overstating the case. It passed the time okay enough as a free audiobook and the narrator was fine as well, but I couldn't wait for it to be over.

Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
In this book, the author is a journalist (with a PhD no less) who decides to live temporarily as low-wage employee. She moves to several different cities in the U.S. and seeks employment in jobs varying from waitress to cleaning lady to nursing home attendant to Wal-Mart employee. She also attempts to make ends meet on only the low wages she earns and shares the struggle of finding decent food and shelter on these wages. While I didn't completely love this, it was eye opening and overall I think I enjoyed it more than Maid by Stephanie Land because of the variety of jobs and cities she explored. Sometimes I felt this would have been better suited to an hour long episode of Dateline, and I also felt at times the author was a bit harsh when discussing her co-workers or her customers/clients (e.g. elderly patients and other Wal-Mart employees). But if nothing else it felt authentic (as in, she's saying things most people wouldn't say out loud but might be thinking) and eye opening. It definitely gave me greater empathy for people in these types of jobs.

A River in Darkness by Masaji Ishikawa
I really hate to write a negative review of a memoir by someone who has been through a horrible, traumatic experience. I don't want to discount their experiences or the fact that they have suffered beyond what most of us can imagine. But...I personally didn't enjoy this memoir and wouldn't recommend it. I prefer memoirs that read almost like fiction, where I come to care about the characters and their stories and experiences. This author didn't develop any of the people in his life and the narrative was dry. It read kind of like, "I married a woman. I didn't love her so I divorced her" and that just doesn't engage me. I will also honestly say some of the stories seemed exaggerated for dramatic effect. e.g. going home after a doctor's appointment to get a knife to return and threaten the doctor? Taking an axe to a neighbor's house to threaten a neighbor...only to beat him up with your fists? Some of it was just strange. It doesn't mean it wasn't true, but it made it hard for me to connect. For a more engaging story of escape from North Korea I recommend A Thousand Miles to Freedom.

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
One of my favorite quotes from this book that neatly sums up its message is, "It's not really about the technology, it's about the quality of your life." This book advocates "digital minimalism" as a way to improve the quality of your life, and I'm 100% a fan and believer. I have read at least a dozen books on the impact of technology on our lives and how to be in control of technology vs. letting our technology control us and this one ranks in my top five. This book just came out in February 2019 so it contains the most recent and relevant research and it's all presented in an engaging, approachable format. I didn't think I would gain much from this since I've already read a lot on the topic and have made substantial changes to my digital lifestyle as a result. But I was pleasantly surprised by his practical ideas and suggestions. I liked how he shared experiences and suggestions of other digital minimalists. It reinforced some of my stances and inspired me to even take a few more steps. A featured Amazon review for this book calls the author "the Marie Kondo of technoglogy" and if you're familiar with her work, that's an apt comparison. Anything that doesn't spark joy needs to go, and that's essentially the message about technology in this book. If you feel like you are spending too much time on your phone or that social media is making you feel bad about yourself in any degree, I highly recommend this book.

Drunk Tank Pink by Adam Alter
This book is a fun, easy, entertaining look at the hidden social and cultural forces at play in our lives. From the way your given name influences your behavior and possibly your career path or success in life to the way colors can influence everything from your mood to your perceived attractiveness. It's a compilation of various studies done by different teams of social psychologists, so if you read a lot of this genre some of them will likely be familiar. I wouldn't say this was groundbreaking or that it had as much impact as something like Digital Minimalism, but I still enjoyed it and don't regret the time I spent on it.

Quick Picks
For quick recommendation without the specifics of what I did/didn't like, here are the books from this month that I'm likely to recommend to friends and family in real life:
Fiction: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely FineJar of HeartsThe Girls in the Garden
Nonfiction: Digital MinimalismDrunk Tank Pink

Current Reads + Up Next:
I'm currently reading Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens (not loving it but at 50% it's finally picking up) and about to start Where the Crawdads Sing on Audible. I've heard so many good things about the latter that I'm worried it can never live up to the hype! But I'm just going into it with an open mind and hoping the audio format will be a good choice for me.

Can't wait to hear what you all read this month and your thoughts on any of these if you've read them!

Linking up with: Steph & Jana


Top View Outfits March Round 1

I've got a decent batch of outfit selfies piling up on my phone so it's time to share a few here! Some of these outfits or pieces have been shared in other posts so I'll link to those as well in case you want to see the front view for another perspective of fit on certain pieces. And as usual I'll give a few key sizing notes on current, in-stock items.

Pink Jacket + Taupe Boots:
Pink Jacket (c/o) | Tee | Jeans | Similar Boots | Necklace | Nail Polish (in all photos)

All pieces ran true to size, and I do need to get a front view photo of this jacket! I wore it twice last week and it's a great, comfy spring jacket. It is a bit longer in the front than I'm used to for a moto jacket, but I quickly got used to it. This fitted long sleeve tee is a great layering piece. It's got some nice stretch and holds it shape well throughout the day. No tucking or fussing required.

Cut-Out Top + Jeans: (Front view of over-the-knee boots in this post)

I thought this cut-out detail top would be a fun piece for casual date nights. It's a stretchy t-shirt material so it's very comfortable and practical so I'm not freezing inside the restaurant. This line in general tends to run small. I'm wearing a Small in this and it fits more like an XS from Express or other stores. These over-the-knee boots the BEST for under $50!

Black Turtleneck Sweater + Camo Jeans: (White version of the sweater posted here)

This sweater has to be one of my favorite winter purchases! They got everything right with this from the super soft fabric (partly cashmere) to the relaxed fit. It's true to size with a roomy fit. My camo jeans are true to size as well. I'm 5'4" and take the Short length, which actually makes these a cropped jean vs. normal length! You can find a front view of these jeans in this post.

White Utility Jacket + Grey Tee: (This outfit originally posted here)

This jacket comes in numeric sizing (2/4/6/8) and I'm wearing the 2, which runs slightly bigger to me than an XS in Express or Old Navy jackets. My tee and jeans are true to size.

Belted Cardigan + Black Boots: (This outfit originally posted here)

Everything ran true to size. In putting this post together I realized I have been wearing these jeans a lot! I've had them for about four years and I still love them! I do find that shoes and jeans/pants can stand the test of time a lot longer in my closet than tops and sweaters. That's something I'd like to work on though. I do like to incorporate some trends here and there, but this winter I tried to be more intentional about selecting sweaters that are more basic and classic than years past. I guess time will tell how well I did!

On the Blog this Week: Book reviews will be up tomorrow! I had several great reads this month so don't miss it! Then I'll have some outfit posts ready to go on Wednesday and Friday as usual, with one of my Spring color crushes in each post. I'm finally ready to switch it up a little from the neutral color palettes I've been loving all winter.  Hope to see you back here tomorrow, Wednesday and Friday!

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Linking up with: Rachelle


Cozy Fleece Yoga Jacket

There are usually one or two days on a given week where I really don't need to leave the house at all, and I am all about dressing for total comfort on those days. I've been wanting some kind of hoodie-without-a-hood to wear at home, and you wouldn't believe how hard that is to find! I wanted a zip front but no hood, and everything either has a hood or it's a pullover. I was originally thinking sweatshirt material but after having no luck with that combo of features I found this fleece jacket on Amazon. It's a zip front with no hood and while it's not sweatshirt material, it's just as comfortable!

This jacket is called a Yoga jacket, but I really can't imagine actually doing yoga in this. It would get way too warm! But in general my house tends to run cold so I'm always bundled up at home, and this is just like wearing a blanket jacket. It's true to size and comes in three other colors: Black, White, and Teal, which is a gorgeous emerald green. I might only get a couple more months of use out of this before it's too warm to wear even around the house, but until that point I'll be using it as much as possible! The pockets are functional and they do zip shut, which I like because I tend to carry my phone around in pocket (my iPhone X fits easily) and I can zip it shut so it doesn't fall out.

As far as the other pieces I'm wearing, my leggings are older from Aerie but they have this current option that's very affordable. If you were looking for something that ties at the ankle like mine,  this option on Amazon is the closest I could find. This Z Supply t-shirt  made it onto the list of my top four favorite white v-neck t-shirts that I posted Monday. At 5'4" it's long enough for me to wear with leggings, but for Tall ladies that might not work out quite the same! It is a splurge that comes in a three pack, but you can buy just the white version on Amazon.

Time to join up with some blogger friends for Friday Favorites! If you enjoy a random assortment of favorites like this, see who I'm linking up with at the end of this post to find more posts like this!

1. Skimm This Podcast. Earlier this week The Skimm launched a new podcast and I'm enjoying it so far. If you haven't heard of The Skimm, they have a daily email (you can sign up using my referral link if you like) that summarizes the top news stories in a simplified, often witty and humorous way. So far each podcast has been eleven minutes and it goes a little more in depth (but still easy to understand) into a couple of top news stories of the day. Sometimes I don't get around to reading their email so I like this for a quick "catch me up on the news" while I'm doing other tasks.

2. Family Time! Visiting with my family is always a favorite, and since my Mom and Sisters are in town this week I'm keeping today's post short. I think I'll have time to get a short post up on Monday, but if not, I'll be back on Tuesday for...

3. Book Reviews! Tuesday the 12th is the second Tuesday of the month which means Book Reviews! Engaging with the reading community is a major favorite for me (loved your comments about Lisa Jewell on Wednesday's post!), so I'll still have that post up on Tuesday regardless of whether I take Monday off. I prep most of that post throughout the month as I finish each book so it doesn't take up a big chunk of time at once. I've had some great reads this month and I'm excited to share!

Have a great weekend!

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