On the Daily EXPRESS

5/24/19

Denim Skirt Outfits + Friday Favorites

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Last fall I added a denim skirt to my wardrobe after not owning one for a good 20 years or so. Overall it was a good fit for my lifestyle, a nice transition weather piece for Summer to Fall, and a nice alternate to shorts. The only problem was I got the sizing wrong on my skirt, so it it ended up being fussy and uncomfortable. It didn't survive my recent closet cleanout, but I didn't waste any time replacing it with this $25 denim skirt from Amazon.
Tee (c/o) | Skirt (c/o)| Shoes (c/o) | Necklace | Handbag (c/o) | [Budget Option] | Earrings

The biggest concern for me on a denim skirt is the length. I didn't want it to be too long (it makes me feel frumpy), but I also didn't want to be too short and impractical. It did look a little short on the model, but she's probably 5'10" to my 5'4", so thankfully it fits longer on me than her. For me, this is just right! It gets amazing reviews, though some of them are mixed on whether to order your normal size or size down. I went with my normal size and I do agree it has a little bit of room to spare, but I personally wouldn't want it any tighter. It has a nice stretch to it so it's easy to move in.
Tee (c/o) | Skirt (c/o) | Shoes (c/o) | Necklace | Handbag (c/o) | [Budget Option] | Earrings

My tee and shoes are also true to size and comfortable. You can see the heel height of the shoes in the first photo for reference. I wore this skirt again in a very similar outfit but with a cardigan and flat sandals. In comparing the two I wish I had chosen to photograph the cardigan version! The cardigan adds some visual interest, but oh well. Blog and learn!

In looking back through some of my outfits with my previous denim skirt, I think this piece works best on me when I wear a more fitted top. It was relaxed and comfortable at the time, but I don't think the outfits look as polished so I'll be keeping that in mind when I wear this again during the spring and summer. The skirt in the photos below is sold out from Express, but if you prefer the more distressed styling of this option, their current version might be worth a look. That's the "Similar" option I'm linking below since it's more visually similar to what I'm wearing.



Aside from not having the best fit/sizing on this skirt, another problem I had was that the distressing at the hem started falling off. Eventually it wasn't going to have distressing at the bottoms, just oddly shaped cut-outs. So as much as I liked the look, it wasn't holding up well over time. Hopefully my newer skirt will work out better in the long run!
Time to join up with some blogger friends for Friday Favorites!

1. Flashback Friday: On Fridays I share an "old" outfit from my vault that's something I would still wear today. This motivates me to shop my closet and hopefully gives you some useful ideas too! This outfit is from June of 2016 but it wasn't too hard to find current, similar options for most of it. This photo actually makes me a little sad because I lost this Express jacket when I accidentally left it behind in a restaurant! It was a great lightweight layering piece in a soft, drapey twill material. I even tried calling the restaurant to check the lost and found and they couldn't find it for me, so who knows what became of it. C'est la vie. I'm going try out one of the similar options below as a replacement since most of my black jackets and layers are warmer and heavier.
Jacket Option, Jacket Option | Similar Cami | Similar Shorts | Similar Necklace | Tory Burch Crossbody | Sam Edelman Gigi Sandals (Current Options Linked)

2. The Secret of Happiness: I'm a big fan of positive psychology and the study of happiness, so I really enjoyed this article: A 75-Year Study said this is the one thing that leads to happiness (and Americans can't do it). It's a quick read and worth it if you need some food for thought on how to improve your happiness!

3. Blogging Q&A: A couple of weeks bag I did a little Blogging Q&A post and asked some of my blogging friends to answer a few questions too. This week Noelle shared her answers and I loved reading them! She has been blogging for ten years so her insight was really fascinating!

4. Podcasts + Books: I've been checking out lots of different book podcasts lately, and I really enjoyed the interview with Delia Owens, author of Where the Crawdads Sing (my full review for this book is HERE) on the Podcast "Moms Don't Have Time to Read Books." It's the January 7 episode for reference and only 23 minutes long, but it was fun to learn a little more about the author in that format. If you read her book I think you'd enjoy the interview! Edited to add: I've mentioned this before, but my favorite book podcast is Sarah's Book Shelves Live by Sarah from Sarah's Book Shelves. I've gotten lots of good book recommendations from it so if you're looking for a book podcast that's the one I recommend in general!

Hope you have a great Memorial Day Weekend!


Linking up with: JoLynne | Erika, Andrea, Narci

5/22/19

Pink Jackets + Seasonal Shopping Strategies

15 comments |
I'm not one who's known for loving rainy weather, but I will say that ever since I got this pink trench coat, the rain bothers me just a bit less because it means I have a reason to wear it! Our rainy days this month have been more drizzly than downpour (just enough to make you regret getting a car wash), which is a good thing for me since I don't have any rain-friendly spring shoes. If we did get something more than a tenth of an inch of rain I guess I'd have to pull out my winter boots again!

I first shared this trench back in March and I am optimistic that this is going to be in my closet for years to come. Although pink is possibly not as much of a long-term safe bet as other neutral colors, I do think this shade flatters me more. Plus, for someone like me who otherwise wears a lot of solid, neutral colors and basic pieces, I think the pink just adds a more interesting finishing touch to the outfit. If you don't like pink or it doesn't make as much sense for your wardrobe, this does come in Coral, Black, Camel and Grey as well. It's true to size and a really nice piece!

Since it wasn't especially cold, I opted for my sleeveless mock neck top instead of my long sleeve version. I called it a turtleneck above in the product details for convenience but technically it's a mock neck. If you're not used to wearing turtlenecks this would be a great starter piece since it doesn't fit tight around the neck. Plus it's a nice, stretchy t-shirt material and very comfortable overall. This was a great summer-to-fall transition piece and now I find myself reaching for it again for Spring weather. I'm not sure it will be a summer favorite, but there are only so many seasons one wardrobe piece can be expected to suit! You can see the top sans jacket in this post from October.

In the winter I picked up a similar long sleeve version of this top and loved that as a layering option too. In case you haven't noticed or if I haven't mentioned it for awhile, that's one of my overall shopping strategies to simplify the process of getting dressed. If I find a great piece that works well in an outfit formula, I'll shop for a similar piece to re-create that outfit for a different season or weather situation. For example, I have the long sleeve mock neck and the short sleeve version. I also love my pink trench, but if it's not raining, it's not very practical to wear. So I'll use the same outfit base with my pink fleece moto jacket instead:

On colder days I would have worn this with my long sleeve top as a layer instead and black boots instead of black shoes! This might sound strange, but documenting my outfits over the years (i.e. taking any type of outfit photo for the blog) is something that has really helped me be a little more strategic with this shopping strategy. When I review my old outfit photos, I'll see which outfits still stand out to me and think about how I can re-create them for the current season. In some cases that does mean shopping for a new seasonal piece to complete the look, but overall I feel like it's helped me define my style better and be more strategic in my shopping habits. Rather than just browsing for anything that catches my eye, I go in search of a specific item because I know it will be the finishing touch for a complete outfit. It didn't happen overnight at all and I've made plenty of impulse purchases along the way, but in the last year or so I've been focusing on doing this more. If you're in the stage of building your wardrobe or figuring out your own style, I wrote a post a a few years back about how I built my wardrobe. My lifestyle and tastes have changed a little since then, but the foundation points are still things I believe in now. You might find it helpful if you're in a place of re-starting your wardrobe due to a lifestyle or job change or just wanting to refine your personal style!





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5/20/19

Three Jackets x Nine Outfits

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Today I'm sharing three jackets I'm loving lately. You've seen each of these jackets on the blog before, but now that I've had each of them for a bit I've had a chance to style them in different ways, so I have some new outfits to share for each jacket. I'm finding all three of them to be great pieces to dress up or down. If you like pieces that can take you from work to weekend, these three jackets will do just that! I'll link to the original post where I shared more detail about fit and sizing below.

ONE: Jacket (c/o) | Exact Cami (Similar w/ more sizes) | Black Jeans | Shoes (c/o) | Similar Locket | Handbag (c/o) | Earrings |  Ponytail Extension | Sunglasses

THREEMoto Jacket | Lace Cami | Jeans (c/o) [Similar w/more sizes] | Sandals | Necklace | Earrings | Handbag (c/o) [Budget Option]

LIGHT GREY MOTO JACKET:
(Original Post HERE)
This is a nice lightweight, cute and simple piece that's easy to dress up or down. My dressy outfit could work as a business casual outfit if you're allowed to wear jeans. If not just swap out the black jeans for black dress pants! I've also worn it in an athleisure outfit to my kids flag football games. It was comfortable and practical but still felt cute without being over-the-top dressy.

DRESSY:
Jacket (c/o) | Exact Cami (Similar w/ more sizes) | Black Jeans | Shoes (c/o) | Similar Locket | Handbag (c/o)

CASUAL:


OLIVE UTILITY JACKET: (Original Post HERE)
At first glance I think this jacket looks the most casual of the three, but it works just as well in a dressier outfit. I kept the color pattern the same for my dressy and casual looks here, but I switched the joggers for dress pants, knit cami for a nicer dressy cami, and the sandals for some leopard pumps. I think it works pretty nicely in a business casual outfit!

DRESSY:

CASUAL:

Same base outfit as above, just a different outer layer! My exact joggers are from Target last year, but their current version looks a bit more slouchy than what I like for joggers so I'd opt for this option instead or the ones I'm sharing in the next two outfits in blue. My jacket is also true to size but if you're between sizes, go up.


NEUTRAL MOTO JACKET: (Original Post HERE)
And last but not least, this neutral moto jacket. My Dressy outfit here (and in the intro image) is a date night outfit rather than a business casual outfit, but I think this jacket could also work for business casual dress codes by pairing it with the same pieces as the olive utility jacket (nicer white cami, black dress pants, and pumps). I also have the grey version of this jacket (see it HERE) but for some reason I am not reaching for that as much in Spring as I did in Winter. Something about this "Sand" color just seems lighter and more in-season to me. At any rate, it works great for dressy, casual and in between! The full price on this is a little steep, but it's likely to go on sale for Memorial Day weekend so hold off a few days to check out that sale if you're thinking about getting this one!

DRESSY:

CASUAL:

IN BETWEEN:
Moto Jacket | Tee | Necklace | Shoes (c/o) | Handbag (c/o)

That's a wrap for today! I don't have a Monday Memo today because I just felt I needed a little break from it (mainly because I didn't feel like I had anything interesting to say!). I'll have an end-of-month update coming up next week so I'll cover a lot of the lifestyle chit chat in that post. I will have another blog post on Wednesday talking about my seasonal shopping strategies lately so I hope you'll stop by!


Linking up with: Rachelle

5/17/19

Amazon Favorites Lately

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For Friday Favorites today I'm sharing another round of Amazon Favorites from fashion to household and more!

If you're burned out on everyone and their dog sharing their Amazon favorites...well, bad news. I have another one today because I can't get enough! Every time I see one of these posts I end up reading it and getting some new ideas. I have a few things I use all the time and haven't shared yet, plus a couple of other favorites I've mentioned here and there that I'm still loving and are worth repeating. In the interest of disclosure, everything below was purchased by me with the exception of the pink fringe earrings from item one. With that legal business out of the way, let's get started!

 
ONE | TWO | THREE
FOUR | FIVE  | SIX

ONE: EARRINGS. If you ever need a fun, affordable pair of earrings Amazon has so many great options! Both of the options below are exact items I own (in different colors) and recommend. I could spend ages going down the rabbit hole of browsing the earrings options. Usually I start by searching a specific type of earrings. For example, with the earrings on the left (I have these in red c/o Amazon) I searched "Fringe Earrings." And for the earrings on the right I searched "Chandelier Earrings." Both options under $10 with Prime Shipping. The chandelier earrings are my favorite for special occasions! They are so sparkly in person and get so many compliments every time I wear them.


TWO: ZIP UP SWEATSHIRT: (a.k.a. Hoodie!) I am still loving this Zip Up Sweatshirt and wear it often around the house or to go on walks, etc. This comes in seven colors total, and the pink one is on my wish list!


THREE: Instax Camera. Why would I possibly need a retro camera in this day and age? My reason might surprise you! It comes in handy for organizational purposes! I got this specifically to take photos of my shoes so I could stick the photo on the outside of my shoe box. I keep all my shoes in boxes and sometimes I cannot remember which shoes are in which box. It gets frustrating when I'm looking for something in a hurry. Sure, I could take photos with my phone and get them printed out somewhere, but this is just faster and easier.


The photo quality is nothing special, but the size of the images is perfect for my shoe boxes. Here's an example of one of my shoe photos. The quality is even worse because it's a photo of a photo, but in person it's easily good enough to tell which pair of shoes is in the box.

By the way, my camera came with Rainbow Film, which just means the border of the photo is a some bright color other than white. I didn't really care about that or even prefer it, so when I ran out of the original set of film I ordered this replacement film pack in white. (By the way, the sandals in the photo above are this pair under $50, which are an excellent budget alternative for the Jeffrey Campbell Besante St Wedge Sandals.)

FOUR: I'm not one who likes to use a lot of superlatives here, but this is the best Kitchen Timer! I should have put this in my Amazon Household Favorites since I use it every day. First, I love the numeric keypad. It's so much easier to enter the minutes/seconds on this vs. the kind where you have to push "Minute" 32 times to bake something for 32 minutes. And then you accidentally go too far and have to reset and start over. Ugh! Not only that, but this one has three separate timers. There are so many times when I have multiple things going at once and need multiple timers. And actually, we have a few of these throughout the house because it's great for more than just the kitchen. I keep one at my work desk to use as a focus timer (à la the Pomodoro Technique), and we keep one in the family room area for times when one child has to practice violin for 20 minutes while the other needs to read for 30 minutes. My timer kitchen timer kept getting moved to different areas of the house and I got tired of tracking it down, so now we have a few throughout the house. So yes, I'm probably a little more passionate about this timer than would seem normal, but it's the best!




FIVE: Cozy Fleece Jacket. I've posted this a couple of times (see the front view/full post HERE) and I'm still loving it. The Amazon description is spot-on: "half blanket-half jacket." This is so good for chilly mornings or evenings when I want to feel like I'm wrapped in a blanket, but this is more functional. Like the hoodie, this is something I purchased myself for loungewear and it's not something I'll be styling multiple ways. Unless you count wearing it with leggings, joggers, or pajamas as different "outfits!" This really is my coziest jacket. It's under $40, true to size, and comes in four colors.


SIX: I've shared the Nexcare Acne Patches (on the right below) a few times before on the blog and on Instagram Stories when I was active there, and they really are amazing for extracting anything from a single blemish. However, I've always wished they had...I don't know, a full-sized face mask to just extract everything from my entire face? So far no luck on that, but I have found these Medcare Acne Patches, which cover a much larger surface area than the Nexcare patches. They say "cheek acne patch" but they work anywhere. The area between my eyebrows is a trouble spot for me so I'll cut one of these in half and it covers that area really well. It's also great for chins, noses, etc. Any area that's breakout-prone! It's just as effective as the Nexcare patches, and always keep both on hand for managing any blemishes or trouble zones.


WISHLIST: And just for fun, here are a few things that are on my Amazon wishlist:
One | Two | Three | Four

One: Ballerina Leggings - While I love to dance, I have no desire to be a ballerina. And yet I am loving the "Ballerina" styling on these pants and the jacket (Item Two). You can get a coordinated set in these pieces or you can mix and match like they've done on the model for the jacket. I usually go for black leggings and am not sure I'd be willing to go for a bright color like this magenta, but I do like how it looks paired with the jacket.

Two: Ballerina Jacket - I guess I explained my feelings about this above! Like the leggings, this is from Amazon's Core 10 line. I do have one hoodie from that line and it's excellent quality. It's not cheap ($49 for the jacket and $62 for the leggings), but the reviews for both are outstanding and everyone says you get what you pay for with these pieces.

Three: Sweatshirt Skirt  - Daily Ritual is my favorite Amazon brand, with good quality pieces (totally practical for my casual lifestyle) for very reasonable prices. This sweatshirt skirt is one of their newest releases. It's under $20, comes in four colors, and I am definitely getting this for summer!

Four: Off the Shoulder Tee - Okay, last year I gave up on off the shoulder tops. They always ride up and end up annoying me. But I still really love the look and style! I am tempted to give it one more chance with a t-shirt style. My hope is that with the right fit it will stay in place? Let me know if you have any secrets to making off the shoulder tops work! This t-shirt is only $17 and has almost 800 reviews with a 4-star average! For the price I'm thinking it's worth one last chance!

Let me know if you've tried any of these pieces or added any to your wishlist lately!



Linking up with: JoLynne | Erika, Andrea, Narci

5/15/19

Olive Shirt Jacket + Cognac Sandals 3 Ways

19 comments |
The day after book review day always feels a little anti-climactic for me on the blog front. The books I've read in a month are more unique and varied than the outfits I wear in a month!. But it could also be that I haven't been blogging about books as long as I've been blogging about clothes, so it still feels like new territory to me. Today's outfit is definitely not new territory since I've shared all of these pieces before, but they're good ones that I love having in my closet just the same!

I've shared this Maurice's jacket in my top view posts before, but I'm liking it a lot so I wanted to make sure to get non-selfie photos of it so you can get a better idea of the fit. It's true to size for me and I took the same size as I would at Express or Old Navy in jackets, though I do think it feels just a touch more snug than the same size jackets there, so if you're worried/between sizes, go up one size.  I don't shop at Maurice's a lot (especially since I don't have a local store for free/easy returns), but every now and then their items will come up when I'm searching for a specific product and I'll check it out. I do have a Maurice's burgundy faux leather moto jacket from a few years back that's identical in every way to my Express (Minus the) leather jacket except for the price! Oh, and speaking of price, I was able to get this jacket for 30% off (making it $34) plus free shipping with a text code. I'm not sure when it will expire, but try texting STYLE30 to 50427. Then you have to reply "Y" to sign up for promotional text messages and get the code. Of course, you can always reply STOP to cancel after you order if you don't want anymore messages. I signed up to get the discount when I ordered this jacket about a month ago, and so far I've only received two text messages (one on Cinco de Mayo and one on Mother's Day) so it was worth it to me for what I saved!

In terms of the other pieces, my exact Gap tank is still in stock and true to size. It's a nice staple that I have in a few colors (white, black, navy and olive). I got these last year to replace some of my Target tanks because I liked the wide scoop and thick material of these better. Not the Target maternity tanks though - I still like those for wearing with leggings! Just the older Mossimo/Merona ones. And Gap is always having 40% off sales so you can easily get them for $10 a piece or less. 

My jean shorts are old from Target, but none of their current selections looked quite as similar as this Old Navy pair to my eyes. Last summer I made it a goal not to buy any more jean shorts...and I accomplished that goal! I didn't share it on the blog because truthfully I was afraid I'd fail! But I did it! This year I decided to get one pair of longer jean shorts for some of my more active, sporty mom life duties. Most of mine have a 3" inseam and that doesn't work well for things like bike riding. I got this pair at Target for $20. I'm sure they'll make it to the blog in the near future, but thought I'd share now since they're well stocked on sizes just in case anyone is in the market for an affordable pair of mid-length shorts (5" inseam). But now that I have those, I'm back to my goal of not buying any more jean shorts for the rest of the summer! 

I talked a lot about the black version of these sandals last week so there's not much else to say about these. But they're favorites and I like to repeat my favorites! This cognac color has been great too since it goes with any color of shorts. Here are a few ways I've worn this pair:



THREE: Striped Sweater Tank (c/o) | Shorts | Sandals (c/o) | Handbag (c/o) [Budget Option] | Exact Earrings (My color sold out, Similar Color/Style) | Necklace

I know some people don't like to own duplicate colors of any one product but clearly I am not one of those people! Having staple styles in a couple of different colors really makes getting dressed easier for me. That said, I do try to limit myself to three of a kind just to prevent some of my previous bad habits of collecting a ridiculous amount of one style. So far that's been a good number for me! Do you all put limits on repeat pieces or how many colors you'll get of a particular style? I love hearing how other people handle this so feel free to share your thoughts and methods in the comments!


Linking up with: JoLynne



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5/14/19

Book Reviews: May 2019

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Welcome to my May 2019 Book Reviews! As usual I did a mix of Kindle reading and audiobook reading, so I'll make a note if I listened on Audible since the narrators can really make or break a book. Here are the books I read this month followed by my reviews. There are no spoilers (unless it's something you learn in chapter one), and I'm also going to avoid sharing whether the book has some kind of twist. For me, when I'm expecting a twist because of other reviews, it changes the way I read the story and takes away some of the fun, so I want to avoid doing that to others going forward.

Fiction:
Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson.
Basic Plot: Neighbors play cat-and-mouse. One knows the other's secret but can't be trusted.
My Verdict: Recommend! I loved this book! I've read all of Peter Swanson's books and this one ties for favorite of his with The Kind Worth Killing. That was my first, and I'm tempted to re-read it and see how I feel about it now that I've read all of his others. Anyway, back to this book. The plot grabs you within the first couple of chapters and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Even though you might think you know who did what, seeing how it plays out is very suspenseful. Like all of his books, he writes these very normal-seeming characters who have dark secrets that make you think this could be your own neighbor! This book was dark and twisted and unputdownable!

The Murderer's Son on Audible, by Joy Ellis
Basic Plot: A brutal murder takes place and British police are on the case.
My Verdict: It Was Okay. I didn't love it but it was reasonably entertaining. I would possibly consider listening to the next in the series if it was a Deal of the Day Book, but in and of itself don't rush out to get this one now. I listened on Audible and this seemed like it was written as a TV series... and would have been better as such! Mind you, the narrator did a fantastic job, so that wasn't the issue. In part, I felt there were a few too many characters. It might have been easier to keep them straight on TV with faces to go with the names. Secondly, I guess it just didn't have anything to make it memorable. It was decent and not boring but fairly standard murder mystery. Compared to Peter Swanson's book (since I was reading them at the same time) it just seemed ordinary. Also...while putting this together I noticed the Audible cover art is very different from the book cover art. I don't think I would have selected this with the cover art displayed here!

The Banker's Wife by Cristina Alger
Basic Plot: Two women in different parts of the world unintentionally get their lives mixed up in the deadly, dirty world of offshore banking and money laundering.
My Verdict: It Was Okay. What I liked: the plot was interesting and had some good elements of suspense (what really happened to certain missing characters, what might happen if you get involved with shady people even with good intentions). The character development was okay (I liked Marina but Annabel fell flat for me), but there got to a point of being too many characters about halfway into the book. And then some of the "intense" elements (e.g. being followed) just didn't really click for me or create that page-turning fear and suspense I get in a really great novel. I have to say...the author was rather bold in throwing shade at psychological thriller books with "Girl" in the title...and then I saw that her next book will be....a psychological thriller with "Girls" in the title! Overall it held my interest okay but I didn't love it.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Basic Plot: Fictional-but-seems-real transcript of interviews with members of a rock band from the 70s.
My Verdict: Interesting and Entertaining but I didn't love it. Eek. Everyone except me seemed to love this. Perhaps that influenced my expectations and opinion. But really, I think the reason I didn't love it is that most of the characters were just not likable to me! Daisy was selfish and awful, and I didn't enjoy that she was so celebrated and adored. What I did like was the concept and execution of the book. As I said in my verdict, it was interesting and entertaining, and I'll add that it was very well done. It was enjoyable as a book, but when I don't like any characters it's hard to really love a book as a whole! Someone strongly recommended the audio version of this so I followed that advice and am really glad I did. The narrators (including celebs like Benjamin Bratt and Jennifer Beals) were outstanding! They added a lot to the book and helped me enjoy listening to it despite not loving most of the characters.

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland
Basic Plot: Female CIA Analyst and mother of four finds out some dangerous classified info and can't trust anyone...maybe not even her husband.
My Verdict: Meh. Skip this One. The premise of this was interesting and it grabbed my interest early...but then it just became blah. It followed the common format of then vs. now storytelling, and all of the "then" stuff was mundane and pointless. It didn't serve to move the plot along, only to show us that maybe the wife/CIA analyst should have noticed some suspicious behavior earlier in her relationship. It could have been a great cat and mouse book but it just plodded along and I never felt that page turning, need-to-know (ironic given the title!) feeling. If anything I always felt the wife was being foolish and ignoring way too many red flags. I do actually think this could make a good movie plot and that it would play out better with good acting than via repeatedly reading the wife's thoughts. But as a book it was weak. I had this on my TBR for ages and when I saw that it had virtually the same cover art as Before She Knew Him, I thought it would be fun to read them in the same month to compare. This doesn't hold a candle to Before She Knew Him!

Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta
Basic Plot: Boy witnesses a crime and needs unconventional witness protection.
My Verdict: Recommend! This book was intense! It starts just a little slow but it didn't take long (less than 20%) to get get to the meat of the plot and have me hooked. There's a lot of wilderness stuff that I wouldn't have expected to enjoy since it's not really my thing, but I did. It was very suspenseful with good character development. There were two characters who were unusual in a way that seemed a little unrealistic to me (if you read this you will know who I mean right away), but it didn't hinder my enjoyment of the book. I rarely read anything that I think men would enjoy, but this is one that I could see my husband and possibly my teen son enjoying as well. I've read that this will become a movie with Angelina Jolie so I'm very interested to see how they adapt this to film!

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves
Basic Plot: College sweethearts bump into each other 10 years down the road and re-kindle their romance/reflect on how it originally started back in the day.
My Verdict: Cute and Easy Read. This story reminded me of the Kiss Quotient, primarily because the female protagonist was so much like Stella from that book. So if you enjoyed that book, you'll probably enjoy this one too. At least I did! The development of the relationship was completely different, though, so it didn't feel redundant or copycat-ish.  It was very easy to get through. I don't think it will be exceptionally memorable to me in the long run but for something fluffy and entertaining it did the job just fine. I listened on Audible and the narrator did a good job, though if I had realized it was romance I would have read it on Kindle! (By the way, I expected something completely different based on the cover art! I thought it was going to be more serious historical fiction or suspense. I've gotten used to this genre having very bright colors and cartoon art on the cover.)

No Exit by Taylor Adams
Basic Plot: College girl is stranded at a rest stop in a snowstorm and discovers a kidnapped girl.
My Verdict: Do Not Recommend. Well this was disappointing. The premise was really good but the execution just did not hold my interest. I didn't feel suspense, just frustration and impatience. I understand that the people needed to kill time while waiting out the snowstorm, but the explanations of their thoughts and actions just bored me. Every now and then something interesting would happen, but it just wasn't enough. At about 30% I was ready to give up on it, so I read some 3-star review (my hope is that they are the most neutral) and a few said it got more intense about halfway. So I didn't quit, and by the time you get halfway through you might as well just finish it! I suppose it got more intense but my feelings about the writing style didn't change and it didn't hold my interest any better. I wish I could have gotten my money back on this one. By the way, I had assumed this author was female and I was wrong. It's a male, and I can't help but wonder if that didn't play into some of why I didn't connect with how he wrote the female protagonist? Then again, my two other favorite fiction books this month were by male authors, so I guess it's just that I don't click with this particular author.

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
Basic Plot: Ella is a driven, determined Rhodes scholar doing a year of study at Oxford before starting her political career. Oxford is full of surprises for her...
My Verdict: Mostly Enjoyable. I don't regret reading this, but I will say that even skimming the reviews on Amazon gives away some major plot spoilers that don't happen until halfway through the book! So I went into the book with certain expectations based on those spoilers, and actually I'm not sure if it was good or bad to expect what I did. This book is really hard to talk about without spoiling it so I will just say I enjoyed the first half more than the second. I felt the second half slowed down a bit, but all in all a decent read.

The Book of Essie by Meghan Maclean Weir
Basic Plot: Essie has grown up in the spotlight due to her conservative Christian family starring in a reality TV show. When she becomes pregnant (Chapter One info, not a spoiler), things get interesting.
My Verdict: Mostly Enjoyable. My feelings on this one resemble "My Oxford Year" quite a lot. I was easily entertained most of the way through this book, but I did think it started stronger/more engaging than it ended. There was more "behind the scenes" of a (faux) reality TV show in the beginning that I thought was interesting, but then it got a bit slow and preachy for me at the end. Also, there was a side story for one of the supporting characters (Liberty) that didn't hold my interest, so when they were on her story I found myself tuning out. I listened to this on Audible and all three narrators did a great job. I'm finding I really like doing Audible for multiple-narrator stories since it seems to bring each person to life a little more for me. Overall a decent read but not a favorite.

Nonfiction:
The Myths of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky
I was pleasantly surprised by this book! I've read this author's other book "The How of Happiness" and it was good but didn't really stand out to me. I decided to give this a chance anyway when it was mentioned in a different book I read and I'm glad I did! I enjoy learning about Positive Psychology and this was well researched and presented in an easy to follow format. Since I've read a lot of on this topic, it wasn't All New Information to me, but there were a lot of good reminders about common human pitfalls like Hedonic Adaptation. The author goes into the research on what humans think will make them happy (bigger house, more money, marriage, family, etc.) vs. the reality of obtaining those things. The first couple of chapters were focused a lot on marriage/family myths so if you're not married with kids...hang in for the third chapter where she discusses the truth about being single. After that...all of the information on money and aging and how they affect our happiness was really good. All in all a solid nonfiction selection and I'm glad I read it.

Human Errors by Nathan H. Lents
This book talks about all the ways the human body (and mind) have evolved that don't really serve our species anymore or make sense compared to the way some other animals have evolved. It was fairly interesting but at times felt like I was in a human biology class. I'm trying to read at least two nonfiction books per month to challenge my mind and keep learning, so while it wasn't always entertaining, I did accomplish that goal. Sometimes (as with the previous book) I can learn a lot and enjoy the process. This time I learned a few things and enjoyed some of the process. If you're more into science you may enjoy this more than I did, but other than that I don't think it's a "must read."

The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti
This book is all about how certain cities in the U.S. have become major players in the job market and how that has far reaching, lasting effects on the country and even the world. On the flip side it talks about cities on the decline because they failed to attract the right talent and markets. I really enjoyed this and found it pretty fascinating. That may be in part because I've lived in three of the major cities that were discussed in this book (Seattle, San Jose and San Diego) so I did have a lot of personal connection to the topic. But overall it's just amazing to look at how one person's decision on where to place their company headquarters has a huge, lasting impact on the entire nation and the world. It's the anthropology of today, and in part I read this to see if it could give me insights to pass on to my own kids since they're inching closer to the time when they have to start on their career path. If this topic interests you in general, I recommend this book. The narrator on Audible was just fine - no complaints there.

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: Before She Knew HimThose Who Wish Me Dead
Nonfiction: The Myths of Happiness (for everyone), The New Geography of Jobs (if the topic interests you)

Current Reads + Up Next:
I'm currently reading How it Happened by Michael Koryta. Since I liked Those Who Wish Me Dead so much I wanted to try the author again to see if he's a one hit wonder or a new favorite for me! I'm about to start The Silent Patient on Audible. Can't wait to hear what you all read or what strikes your interest this month!

Linking up with: Steph & Jana

5/13/19

Ten Work from Home Outfits

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I was getting ready to do a regular top view outfit post today when I started noticing that most of the new outfits I had to share were work-from-home outfits. So I decided pull a few others from my archive to give you ten of my easy, comfortable favorites. They have lots of similar and repeat base pieces: tees and tanks on top along plus leggings and joggers...and jumpsuits (oh my)! But I keep myself from feeling like I'm wearing the exact same thing every day by changing up the outer layer. I especially like layers that are versatile enough to be worn in dressier versions of these outfits, and I'll link to examples of those when I have them. For reference, unless otherwise noted my nails are always OPI Beyond the Pale Pink and my toes are Essie Flowerista.

Denim Jacket + Striped Top

Most of my exact options (except sandals) are long gone so I don't have any key sizing notes here, but these are such simple staples you can always find a similar option. My top is actually a tank (from Nordstrom Rack last year), but I thought the stripes on tee tee option were more similar to mine in terms of width and spacing.

Grey Knit Moto Jacket + Joggers:

Alright, speaking of versatile layers this BB Dakota jacket takes the cake. I shared this earlier this month in a more business casual/dressy casual outfit but it works just as well as an athleisure/casual piece. I wore this for a work from home day and then to my kids last flag football game of the season! This was perfectly comfortable and practical for all of the days activities! And the jacket is pretty darn cute if I do say so myself!

Olive Utility Jacket + Joggers:
Olive Jacket | White Tank | NecklaceStriped Hoodie | Similar Jogger | Sandals (c/o)

Same base outfit as above, just a different outer layer! My exact joggers are from Target last year, but their current version looks a bit more slouchy than what I like for joggers so I'd opt for this option instead or the ones I'm sharing in the next two outfits in blue. My jacket is also true to size but if you're between sizes, go up.

Striped Tee + Dark Blue Joggers

Do you all get "May Gray" where you live? It's a thing in here in San Diego and it always gives my pictures a cloudy/yellow cast. It drives me crazy so I mainly avoid taking selfies altogether when it's like this, but I wanted to share these joggers so here we are! I've wanted to get another color of joggers besides black since I wear mine so much, but it's no small task to find a flattering pair! After seeing a few people recommend these from Amazon Essentials I gave them a go and they definitely live up to the hype!! The material is so good. I have the cropped version since I always push my joggers up to look cropped anyway, but they do have a full length option if you're tall and don't want to be wearing Bermuda Joggers. These are true to size and come in several other colors as well.

Charcoal Cardigan + Dark Blue Joggers:
Joggers (c/o) (Full Length) | Similar Cardigan (Same Brand as mine) | Sneakers | Tank | Similar Locket

Same dark blue joggers as above, slightly different outfit. My cardigan is one of my favorites to wear around the house because it's more of a sweatshirt material, but I don't tend to photograph it a lot for the blog. Mine has a curved hem and is no longer available, but the same brand makes this one in the same Charcoal color and it's most likely the same material based on the great reviews.

Jumpsuit + Cardigan:

I bought this jumpsuit specifically for an easy work from home piece, but so far it's also been great for a roadtrip (first shared here) and it was the perfect thing to wear to a hair appointment too! I even got complimented on my outfit by one of the stylists at my salon, which was funny since I wasn't even wearing my cardigan at that time (I took it off so I wouldn't get too sweaty under the cape and hair dryer). I guess I feel like I should have had to try harder at putting pieces together in order for an "outfit" to get compliments! But I'll take it! At any rate, it was perfectly low-fuss for a day of working from home plus an afternoon hair appointment. My exact cardigan is sold out from Express, but this LOFT option looks extremely similar. Sizes are limited though and you'd likely have to pay for shipping, so here's another pink cardigan option with free shipping.


Leggings with Belted Cardigan

Okay, let's transition from joggers and jumpsuits to leggings outfits! There's not really much difference in the from this angle, but I do think leggings can be dressed up a little more than joggers. I only wear joggers with sneakers or sandals, but leggings work with those types of shoes and many more. I do think leggings keep me a little warmer than joggers, so my choice du jour often comes down to the weather that day and how dressed up I want my outfit to be overall. As for this outfit, everything ran true to size here. This material on this cardigan is  really soft as usual with Daily Ritual pieces. The front view for the cardigan (in a dressier outfit with jeans) can be found in this post. These are also Daily Ritual Leggings. I alternate these with my Express Sexy Stretch Leggings and both are comfortable. For comparison, the Express version are longer (actually a little too long on me), but they do have a cropped version now that didn't exist when I bought mine. That would probably fit my height a little better. However, the "Soft French Terry" fabric on the Daily Ritual pair is indeed softer! If my leggings need replacing (and my Express pair are on the brink because they're starting to fade from frequent use and washing) I'll get another Daily Ritual pair instead. Not to mention they're less expensive than the Express version!

Leggings with Camo Jacket:
Express Camo Jacket: SimilarSimilar | Exact Tee (c/o) [Budget Option] | Leggings | Similar Shoes | Necklace | Handbag (c/o) [Budget Option]

This is one of my "dressier" leggings outfits because I'm wearing a jacket and shoes with a heel instead of a cardigan and sandals! Ha! My t-shirt and leggings are true to size. My camo jacket is an "old" favorite from Express, but this Target option looks nice and has all 5-star reviews for $35. Plus it's a lighter-wash camo like mine, which I like for Spring.

Striped Cardigan:
Black Tank | Leggings (c/o) | Striped Cardigan (c/o) (Similar w/more sizes) | Necklace | Handbag (c/o) [Budget Option]

This is the same formula as above and my favorite outfit formula that I shared ten ways to wear last week (including a dressier version of this outfit with jeans and boots). If I'm wearing leggings and a cardigan I'm more likely to do a fitted tank as my base layer, and if I'm wearing a jacket, I usually pair it with a tee (as shown with the camo jacket above and olive jacket below). That's generally because a lot of my jackets are cropped, so I prefer the flowy tee over my posterior instead of the fitted tank. I know people wear leggings as pants with crop tops and everything else these days, but I'm a Woman of a Certain Age and I prefer just a bit more coverage for casual everyday life!

Olive Knit Moto Jacket + Leggings:

And last but not least, another jacket, tee and leggings combo! This is very similar to my third outfit above with the olive military jacket and joggers, but I think the drape collar of this makes it look a bit dressier. And of course the outfit overall has a dressier look with the boots, too. This type of outfit is great for when I have a conference call via Facetime. I look put together enough up top as far as anyone can see, but I'm still just as comfortable as always in my leggings. I bet this is what a lot of news anchors do on TV. The men probably wear a suit jacket and tie with shorts and flip flops below the desk! 

 Here's a look at all ten in easy Pinnable image for reference:

And there you have it! Ten comfortable, casual work from home outfits, many of which would do double duty for other everyday casual activities. These are primarily Spring-weather friendly outfits so I'm sure outfit formulas will change a bit as the weather warms up around here.

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

On the Blog this week: Tomorrow is Book Review day! As usual I have some books I loved and can't wait to share plus a few duds to avoid. I did have some good luck on the nonfiction front this month too after struggling a bit there lately. On Wednesday it's the usual outfits and lifestyle chit chat, followed by some recent Amazon favorites (fashion, household items and more) on Friday.

In Real Life: Last weekend had a slightly more relaxed feel since the flag football season is over (no practice or games to have us running all over town). And of course, Mother's Day was yesterday and I had a fun phone chat with my mom, plus my family cooperated with all of my "demands." (i.e. a nice family lunch at a restaurant of my choice and an evening walk) so all in all it was a really nice day. This week looks pretty ordinary with just the usual work, kids activities and errands. But I'll take it over one of those too-busy weeks we have sometimes!

Hope your week is shaping up to be a good one as well and I'll see you back tomorrow for book reviews!


Linking up with: Rachelle & JoLynne