What's Up Wednesday March

Today I'm joining What's Up Wednesday for an end of the month, behind-the-blog life update. You can view the prompt questions for this post here, or just read on to find out what's been going on around here lately!

What I'm wearing:
On Monday I talked about my go-to formula for attending semi-dressy school events (see it here), and this is my go-to formula for days when I don't want to fuss around much with coordinating different outfit pieces. I start with a basic black-on-black top + bottom, then I add practically any jacket or cardigan I own and voilà! An outfit.
Sweater: Gap | Cami: Express (Similar) | Jeans: Express | Bag: c/o Amazon | Necklace: Forever 21 (Similar) | Ring: Stella & Dot (Gift) | Shoes: Amazon | Bracelets: Charmed Stacks

Front View:
Sweater: Gap | Cami: Express (Similar) | Jeans: Express | Bag: c/o Amazon | Necklace: Forever 21 (Similar) | Ring: Stella & Dot (Gift) | Shoes: Amazon | Bracelets: Charmed Stacks

What I'm eating:
Last month I tried out two new recipes, and they were both a hit with my family.

First, I made MMMMM Brownies.

A couple of weeks ago we had a neighborhood garage sale and my son wanted to bake brownies to sell while there were lots of people milling around the neighborhood. I didn't have a mix on hand and I didn't want to run to the store early on a Saturday just for that. So I found this recipe on Allrecipes and went for it because I had all the ingredients at home. I was really impressed! Normally I use Ghiradelli box mix, and this recipe was more dense and fudgey in comparison to those. So if you like a thick, rich brownie this is a great recipe and one I'll be making again.

Next I made Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies:

When our Girl Scout Do-Si-Dos ran out, my son was craving a similar cookie so I decided to try a homemade version. These were excellent and another big hit, especially with the kids. The filling tastes exactly like the filling in Nutter Butters, only slightly better in my opinion because it's more creamy. The cookie part is soft and chewy (a pretty standard Peanut Butter Oatmeal cookie if you ask me) but the combination with the filling is excellent and this recipe is another new family favorite.

What I'm loving:
It's too soon I'm loving this brand since it's very new-to-me and I don't like to rush to judgments, but I will say I'm loving this new top from Abercrombie that I shared last week on Instagram, and I'm re-evaluating my opinion on the brand in general.
Top: Abercrombie  (see fit notes below front view photo) | Jeans: Express | Shoes: Amazon | Bag: Amazon (Similar) | Necklace: Stella & Dot (Gift, Similar)

A couple of notes about this top: First, reviews said it ran small and to order a size up, so I went with that recommendation and bought a Small (normally I order an XS in Express tops). It's pretty wide and flowy, and I would have been tempted to get an XS. But the main reason for sizing up is the arm/under arm area. It runs a little snug there so I think if went any smaller than this it would restrict my arm movement. Second, the top opens wide and deep in the front when it's untied, so you'll either need to wear a cami, tie the ties together, or sew an extra stitch above the button to stay covered.

I found this top while preparing my White Cold Shoulder and Peasant Tops round-up post and since it looked exactly like what I wanted and was on sale that day, I decided to give it a chance. This is my first ever purchase from Abercrombie. I really didn't have a high opinion of the brand before, nor did I consider myself part of their target demographic. But since they fired their controversial CEO back in December 2015, they've been trying to revitalize their brand. My friend Erin helped me re-consider the brand in general because she's worn a few of their pieces on her Instagram, and lately I've noticed more bloggers wearing pieces from them as well. They carry a lot more classic items than I expected, and they have frequent promotions that bring the price point for most pieces to under $50. I ordered a few more items myself that you'll be seeing on the blog in the near future!

And to be clear this content is in no way sponsored by Abercrombie! It often seems suspicious when a blogger suddenly loves a brand that she's never worn before, so I wanted to assure you that this purchase truly was 100% my own independent choice to explore a new brand.

Front View:
Top: Abercrombie | Jeans: Express | Shoes: Amazon | Bag: Amazon (Similar) | Necklace: Stella & Dot (Gift, Similar)

What I've been up to:
I'm testing for my Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do in less than two months, and the past month has involved some very intense training and a lot of memorization. I've had many moments of feeling overwhelmed because it just seems like too much to remember, but slowly things are starting to "stick" to my brain and I'm starting to feel a little better about my decision to do this sooner rather than later.

What I'm dreading:
My washing machine is currently broken. The repair part won't be in until early next week, so I'm dreading dealing with the laundry situation in my home in the interim. If I miss some posts this week it's because I'll be sitting at the coin-up laundromat instead of at home blogging while the laundry runs!

What I'm watching:
Dancing with the Stars is the one and only TV show I watch regularly, and a new season just started so I'll be tuning in for that. My DVR failed to record the first episode so I missed that, but I'll be watching the second episode this week and I'm looking forward to picking my early favorites.

What I'm Reading:
Some months I can't seem to pick any good books, and other months I get on a roll. This month it was the latter and I read several books that I would recommend to others with similar tastes!

March Book Reviews

1. The Life We Bury
Recommend! This is a story about a college student who sets out to write a biography of a dying man in a retirement home as part of a school assignment. He finds out the man he is assigned to profile is a convicted murderer, but there is so much more to his story and there are plenty of holes in the original murder case. I really enjoyed the character development in this and the "whodunit" factor.

2. The Girl Before
Recommend! Thanks to The Cape on the Corner for recommending this to me in my book reviews last month! This gets compared to books like, "Gone Girl" and I do think people who enjoyed that will enjoy this. It's about a rental house with a very unique architectural design, and the owner requires the tenants to meet some very strict lifestyle requirements in order to live there. It was especially interesting for me to read this on the heels of my Spring Cleaning and house de-cluttering because the tenants of the house have to be very committed to minimalist living and there's a lot of discussion of de-cluttering and the impact on your life. On top of that, there are also interesting romantic relationship dynamics and murder mystery elements to keep you in suspense and turning the pages. (Actually the relationship/murder stuff is more central to the plot of the book than the house itself, but the house is a big part of what makes the storyline unique.)

3. Before the Fall
Recommend! Kristi recommended this to me, and it's about a mysterious private plane crash. Some very high profile individuals were on board the flight and didn't survive, so the story takes you into each of their backgrounds leading up to the flight and makes you question whether the crash was actually an accident or not.

4. Swear on this Life
Recommend...if you're in the mood for a lighter, non-suspenseful read! I chose this book in part because it takes place in San Diego, and I enjoy reading books where I'm familiar with the setting. Although now that I've read the book, I can tell you that most of it is about the childhood of the main characters, which did not take place in San Diego! Regardless of the location, the story was about a girl who starts a reading a book only to discover that the book is about her own childhood, and it's written from her POV. But it was actually written by her childhood friend/love interest. The book forces her to analyze various parts of her life and she has to decide whether to reconnect with the author. The story was fun, entertaining and held my interest. It wasn't deep, thought-provoking or suspenseful, but it was well done for something more along the lines of chick-lit/romance.

As always, if you've read something you think I'd enjoy, please let me know in the comments! In the meantime I'll be making my way down this list of recommendations by Tracy, starting with The Guest Room. I'm currently about 35% into that book and so far it's very interesting!

What I'm doing this weekend:
I'll be hanging out with Noelle this Saturday at a Stella & Dot trunk show! I don't know how much time I will get to actually visit with her since she will be busy doing her thing as the stylist for the show, but some visiting is always better than none!

What I'm looking forward to next month:
Spring Break! We have a fun family trip planned for Spring Break next month and I'll share a bit more about that in future posts since I'll probably need to use the blog to motivate myself to get organized in packing and planning for the trip anyway.

What else is new:
Last month I talked about my plans to do Microblading on my eyebrows. My appointment was scheduled for this coming Friday....but as of now it's canceled. For one it's not the best time for me to spend the money on that due to our upcoming Spring Break travel expenses. For another thing, my husband and kids think I am absolutely crazy to consider doing it. They're afraid I'm going to hate it and be miserable, and they don't see the need at all. I am a little bit worried about how I will like it or if it will be a difficult adjustment, although not much because I've only seen great results. But for both of those reasons I'm willing to wait a little longer and think about it a little more before I do it!

* * *
And that's it from here! Thanks for reading and I'll see you back here on Friday!

Linking up with:
ErikaAndreaNarci |JoLynne | Lindsey | Mel | Sheaffer | Shay



  1. Me encanta tu look!
    Mónica Sors

  2. Yay for spring break, I love planning trips so that's exciting to me. I have to say I agree with your family what I found out the price of microblading, I was shocked. Whatever you end up doing I'm sure it will be for the best. The Abercrombie top is cute but I haven't shopped there in years and not sure they make close for people with my body type unless that changed too. I saved all you cookie recipes.


    1. So far I haven't tried any of Abercrombie's pants/shorts/skirts, so I'm wondering how those will be myself. But I think their tops/dresses/sweaters etc. will work for most body types. Those pieces have been very comparable to Express IMO. Maybe I'll convince you to try them when you see a few more pieces I have lined up. LOL :)

  3. Oh I feel for you on the washing machine. A whole week? I once had to go a weekend and thought it was the worst thing ever. I remember really liking The Life We Bury as well. It was an Audible Book Deal of the Day and I got it on a whim. I think I'm going to have to read/listen to The Girl Before. I've told you this many times, but I love your book recommendations.

    1. I really appreciate that, Megan! I always struggle with how to present the reviews to make them concise and useful but without spoiling too much, so I'm very glad to hear you like them! And yes...it's actually going to be about a week and a half total that we're out a washing machine. It's a major hassle.

  4. I wouldn't even know where to start with a laundromat! I have no clue where one is near me! I hope your washing machine is fixed soon and you don't have to spend too much time there! I'm going on vacation in the next couple weeks and looking for a light read. Swear on this Life sounds perfect! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Maybe I'll be reading more than blogging this month if I end up in the laundromat a lot! LOL. Hope you enjoy Swear on this Life! Anything by Colleen Hoover is also an excellent vacation read IMO!

  5. i'm so glad you liked and recommended the book! sadly i haven't really gotten into anything since. can't wait to see your travel plans...even tho i have two trips scheduled i still get so jealous of everyone elses!

    1. Yes! I loved it! Thanks again for recommending! I was going to say it was my favorite book this month, but I also really liked "The Life We Bury." They're just different so I can't compare or pick a favorite. :)

  6. I have to make brownies for a bridal shower on Saturday so I think I am going to try that recipe!

    1. I hope you like it! They are definitely rich and decadent and stand out from a standard brownie!

  7. I am going to add some of those books to my to-read list! I highly recommend The Girl in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, November 11 and It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover, and I loved Before We Were Strangers (another one by Renee Carlino!

    1. We definitely have very similar tastes in books! I have read (and enjoyed) all of those books except for Before We Were Strangers so I'll have to add that to my list! I've been trying to find an author similar to Colleen Hoover because I always love her books and so far Renee's book was the closest I've come. I think you'll really like The Girl Before! :) Happy Reading!

  8. Yay for a fun spring break trip! I'd never heard of microblading until this post, so I had to google it. It sounds interesting, so I'd love to hear about your experience if you do it.
    I read Before the Fall and The Life We Bury and loved both of them also! The last great book I ready was Everything We Keep. It is about a women who doesn't believe her fiance died and tries to find out what really happened. I couldn't put it down!

    Nicole to the Nines

    1. Thanks so much for the recommendation! Amazon has been recommending "Everything We Keep" to me based on my other selections, but I love hearing directly from a person with similar tastes. I will definitely add that to my list now!

  9. We were without a washer and dryer for over two months a few years ago and after a few weeks I gave up on and started using the laundry service that our dry cleaner offered. I can't wait to read The Girl Before! That's next on my list once I finish One Hundred Summers. Those cookies sound so good! I might have to make them this week!

    Doused In Pink

    1. I looked into a laundry service here and it was going to be $25 to wash one load of towels! By the time they do all my laundry I could have spent that money on a new washing machine! Let me know how you like the cookies if you make them!

  10. I'm loving that light striped cardigan- what a great spring piece! And those peanut butter oatmeal cookies look yummy!

    Le Stylo Rouge

  11. Great post Gina and I'm sorry I'm late in commenting! First, I love that Abercrombie top on you. The brand still reminds me of my high school days and I could barely fit into their stuff back then so I'm leery of the fit now. I do agree that they have some really cute things, especially their jeans! I just have never been able to squeeze my booty into a pair lol.

    And I'm so excited to see you Saturday! I will definitely make time to catch up with you because that's really all that a trunk show is! There are only a handful of you ladies attending so it shouldn't be a problem. In fact, I'd love for you to try a few pieces on for me :)

    And spring break sounds so good right now. Nate is planning on taking a day or two off next week so we can have some much needed beach time :)

  12. hmmm i am intrigued by Abercrombie. i don't think i have anything of theirs, but i'm always up for trying new shops/brands, especially at that price point and the fact that they have lots of classic pieces.
    i am so sorry about your washing machine! i saw your snaps and i was like oh lordy. i would cry. haha.
    i absolutely adored swear on this life. i think it was because i had very low expectations because i'd read another of hers and felt meh about it, but i really, really, really liked swear on this life. it definitely wasn't amazing or whatever, but i don't know. there was only one thing i really hated about it, but that was my own personal issue :)

    1. I think you really would like some of Abercrombie's pieces! Just like Express, it's all about digging for the right basics/classics and waiting for the sale. I try to post sale notifications on my Instagram stories because that's the easiest way for me to do it. And I'll be emailing you about the one thing you hated in that book! I need to know!

  13. Ah, okay I just realized that the book you recommended to me (The Girl Before) is actually one that I've been wanting to read ever since I read the back cover at Target! I'm definitely going to be reading this one now that I read your review on it. Thanks so much!

    Also, I'm glad I'm not the only one that still likes Abercrombie & Fitch! I have a few shirts and some skinnies from there that I absolutely love!


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