On the Daily EXPRESS

2/22/19

Budget Friendly Moto Jacket + Try Ons

6 comments |
One thing that's amusing about blogging is that I continue learning new things about my preferences. Of course, you can do that through trial and error on your own, but there are two things in today's outfit I didn't specifically realize until someone else pointed them out to me. At any rate, the two points are these: 1) Funnel necks are more comfortable than turtlenecks, and 2) Belts on moto jackets get in the way and annoy me. Coincidentally both of these things were pointed out by Kellyann, so props to her for her astute observation and analysis skills!

This jacket might look almost identical to one I wore a lot last year, and I really did like everything about that one except the belt! Well, actually I did like the way the belt looked but it was in the way all the time. Toilets, car doors...you name it. So once I realized I'm better off without belts I hunted down a replacement on Amazon, and this one came up as a Top Seller. It comes in a few slightly different variations (gold vs. silver hardware, extra zipper accents etc.) and all of them are $36 or less, so it's hard to beat the price! The fit is true to size on the smaller side, so if you're between sizes go up a size.

My funnel neck top (it's basically t-shirt material) is also true to size, and I admit I had a tough time getting the hem to look right in these pictures. I didn't like it tucked in and it didn't stay perfectly in place while untucked, but c'est la vie. It's otherwise a nice basic layer if you don't need to fuss about how it looks in pictures. It definitely makes me appreciate professional bloggers who have every last detail of their outfit perfectly situated! They really do make it look easy. My jeans are "old" from Express but this LOFT pair is really cute with a similar rinse and similar level of distressing. I have wanted to purchase them myself but then I remember I have these and don't really need both!

I recently tried two other moto jackets that are priced around $100. That's not outrageous for a moto jacket but still quite a bit more than the one I kept! I genuinely liked the $30 option the best, but my reviews for each one are below.
Jacket One (c/o ) | Jacket Two (c/o) | Jacket Three (c/o) 

Jacket One is the $30 Amazon Best Seller jacket I'm wearing in the outfit photos above. In all three outfits I'm wearing jeans from Express (sold out but here is a similar style), Stella & Dot Necklace, Scoop Neck Tee, and Seychelles Ankle Boots. I'm wearing XS in all three jackets.

Jacket Two is the Harlei Scuba Moto jacket from Cupcakes and Cashmere. The scuba material is nice and stretchy, but it did feel kind of like a wetsuit material so I wasn't sure I loved that. I did like that the hardware was dark/almost black. That makes it easier to pair with gold or silver jewelry. But  I just didn't think it fit as tailored to the body/didn't look as flattering as the Amazon jacket so I decided not to keep it.

Jacket Three is the Just Ride jacket from BB Dakota. I thought the color would be fun for Spring, and I do like it. Online it looks a little more taupe and in person it's a bit more pink. I was fine with the color, but the faux leather just looked kind of plastic or something? It also feels bulkier than the Amazon jacket and others I own, and I know from past experience that will keep it from being something I want to reach for very often. Cute as it was, for practical reasons I sent it back.

While I always have some regret when I end up donating something that I realize isn't working for me, I also like learning these lessons so I can make better choices going forward! Have you made any fashion realizations lately? I love hearing what works/doesn't work for other people since that can often help me figure out my own preferences, so I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments today!

I don't have a Friday Favorites section today because the stars just didn't align for it. The kids were out of school this week and it was just a little too hectic around here for me to spend much extra time on the blog. I will say a favorite this week was the book Jar of Hearts. It came highly recommended in the last Show Us Your Books linkup and now I can see why. It started off entertaining enough, but the second half is pretty unputdownable. If you're ready for a new book this weekend that one gets my recommendation!

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

2/20/19

Olive Moto Jacket Outfit

25 comments |
It's been a minute since I joined the ladies over at The Blended Blog for their Wednesday fashion themed posts. I was consistent for awhile and it was a great way for me to get organized with outfits in real life and for the blog. But then the holidays came along, life got busy...excuses, excuses, etc., etc. At any rate, today their theme is styling your oldest or most loved wardrobe piece. As boring as it sounds, a white t-shirt is probably my most-loved piece because you can do so much with it! It's the perfect blank slate for endless outfit options.
Nordstrom Jacket (Options Below) | Express Tee* | Similar Jeans | Similar Boots | Similar Bag | Earrings | Necklace 

My Exact Tee  in this outfit is the Express One Eleven V-Neck Easy Tee. I gave it an asterisk (*) above because it's currently sold out in white, but I wanted to link the exact option in case of re-stock. And white has in fact been re-stocked in the past. I know that for sure because I actually bought a backup of this tee last time they re-stocked it! It's a really soft material with a nice wide v-neck and a perfect relaxed but-not-sloppy fit. I have a couple of other white t-shirts I love, namely this one from Madewell and this one from Z Supply. But they each have slightly different details so I end up using them each with different outfits.
Nordstrom Jacket (Options Below) | Express Tee* | Similar Jeans | Similar Boots | Similar Bag | Earrings | Necklace 

As I'm writing this post, it's given me two more follow up post ideas to add to my Drafts folder. First, a comparison of my top three favorite white t-shirts. Second, (approximately) one million outfit ideas for a white t-shirt. I wasn't planning to go in either of those directions when I started this post so I didn't have adequate time to go on those tangents. I did plan to talk about this olive moto jacket and give you some similar, in-stock options, so I guess I better move on to that subject!

This olive moto jacket was an in-store impulse buy at Nordstrom years ago. I really try to avoid impulse purchases these days since I have too many past regrets from those. But this one of the rare exceptions where an impulse purchase lasted years in my closet! If you don't have an olive moto jacket, it's a great option for mixing and matching with other neutrals. I rounded up a few options below, arranged from low ($28) to higher ($198) price.
One ($28) |  Two ($35)  | Three ($37) 
Four ($88) | Five ($105) |  Six ($198)

I realize Four is a blazer rather than a moto jacket, but it would be a great option if you need something a little more dressy for an office setting.

Okay, clearly I am out of practice because after I published this post I realized I got the theme wrong for the week! Ah, what is it they say about the best laid plans? Well. c'est la vie. I guess I'm ahead of the game for next week!


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2/18/19

Spring Wishlist

24 comments |
With all of the President's Day Sales going on I've been trying to be strategic about what I might want to add to my wardrobe for Spring. Even though I'm still wearing my winter clothes I'm trying not to buy any more at this point since I think I'm set for the rest of the season. The top piece on my wishlist right now is a trench coat. This is probably due to all the rain we've been getting this season and me feeling like I don't have adequate footwear and outwear! Here are a few of the options under $100 (with current sale pricing)  I've been reviewing from a variety of retailers.
LOFT ($150 + 40% off) | Amazon ($50 - 6 Colors) | Express ($150 + 40% off)|

The choice has been a little more complicated than I thought! Do I want more beige or camel or blush? Single breasted, double-breasted or wrap front? I think it's great that there are so many options since ultimately that gives me a better chance of finding one I love. It just makes it hard to narrow down a selection since at this point I don't know what will look best or work best for me.

I do know it adds a nice finishing touch to classic outfits like these. I am sure I won't be wearing heels like this but the other pieces are all similar to things I own:

I shared this in my February newsletter, but in case you missed it the other piece on my Spring wishlist is this LOFT maxi dress. I think it would be perfect for vacation/travel anywhere warm. Just add a denim jacket or cardigan for cool nights and airports! I'm holding off on this one for now since I won't get to wear it in the near future, though I might be tempted if they offer free shipping!
(Outfit pieces on the Right): Panama Hat ($15) | Tote | Sandals ($16) | Maxi Dress 

The Amazon Sandals I linked above are only $16 with great reviews. They look a lot like the Sam Edelman Gigi Sandals  (one of my summer staples) but at a fraction of the price! 

Last but not least on my Spring wishlist is something in this lilac/lavender color. I have zero pieces in my closet in this shade but I do love it. In years past I just don't think it was offered as much in stores, but this year it's everywhere.
One ($25) | Two ($25) | Three ($30) | Four ($64)

Now that there are so many options available, I think the struggle is narrowing it down to which one will work best for my lifestyle and for our weather! It's been such a strange winter here I'm not sure if I'm going to be best served by a chunkier knit or a thinner t-shirt type like Option Two. Maybe I need one of each! Ha!
Here's the latest of what's going on in the blog world, real life, and a few other notes!

Coming up on the blog: I'll have new posts up on Wednesday and Friday this week per usual. Based on your comments on Friday's post, I think I'll trying bringing back the top-view selfies in a monthly round-up post, so I'll give that a try next Monday!

In Real Life: Last week was extra quiet with one kid at camp, this week is going to be extra noisy with both kids home from school on winter break! But I'm glad that they're getting a break because the homework loads have been piling up this semester. I'm still working this week so I don't have any great activities planned for the kids. My fingers are crossed that we'll have some decent weather so they can at least get outdoors and play instead of being cooped up indoors all week.

That's the latest from here and I'll see you back on Wednesday!


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Linking up with: Rachelle

2/15/19

Camo Cardigan + Friday Favorites 2/15/19

15 comments |
It seems like the majority of pieces that clothing retailers sell never get re-stocked. When they're sold out, it's game over for that piece and time to bring in new stuff for the new month or season. There might be a handful of basics that get re-stocked, but not as much for the trendier pieces. That's been my observation anyway since I started paying closer attention to store inventory - mostly due to blogging and constantly tracking down links for pieces I own. So I was surprised to see that Express re-stocked this camo cover up! I shared it back in October, but it was already selling out in most sizes when I first posted it. Now it's back in all sizes and currently 40% off for President's Day!

This cover-up/cardigan is true to size if not slightly big. If you're between sizes, go with your smaller size. I'm wearing XS here which is pretty standard for me in Express cardigans, but this one feels roomier than others. It's more of a sweatshirt material rather than a sweater, so it's very comfortable! The fact that it feels like a sweatshirt makes me reach for it a lot as loungewear at home, which gave me a mental block about wearing it outside the house again! I opted to wear it with over-the-knee boots this time to help dress it up and I was happy with how it came together.

I think I'm going to be sad when over-the-knee boots go out of style! They're a fun and easy way to dress up a casual outfit, yet still comfortable when you get the right pair. Maybe they'll be like skinny jeans and defy the fashion longevity odds. I remember when skinny jeans first came back in people thought the trend wouldn't last - myself included! It took me awhile to warm up to them, but I love them now and it seems they've stayed in style for at least a decade, right? I'm crossing my fingers (but not holding my breath!) that OTK boots will follow a similar path, especially since the two are a perfect pair. These boots (true to size, BTW) should look familiar from my recent post with six ways to wear them.

I styled this piece a few different ways in my original post back in October, and this section is an exact repeat. But likely no one remembers what I posted four months ago, and thought it would easier to just have all four outfits with this camo cardigan/cover-up in one place. I also updated the links with current products for pieces that were sold out 

I can't see myself reaching for my denim skirt during the winter but I really loved it for transitioning from summer to fall, so I'm guessing it will come in handy again when we go from Spring to Summer in a few months!

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. Arnold Family Candle: Most of you probably know my weekly link up co-host Amy Ann of Straight A Style, and you may also know that they are looking to grow their family through adoption. She shared a very sweet adoption update last week with a candle you can purchase to help out their family with the expenses. If you want to contribute something to a great family or just get yourself an amazing smelling candle for a very reasonable price with super fast shipping, you can get your own candle here

I only wish I could let you smell this candle through your computer because it really does smell so good and fresh! They even sent me a sample of another scent called "Oh, You Fancy" and that was great too. I'm sure I'll be back to shop there again!

2. Favorite Winter Nails: I'm still wearing CND Dark Lava on my nails this winter and that's what you're seeing in the candle photo above. It just goes with everything! I love more red or burgundy colors too but then they end up clashing with some of the colors I wear, and this is the best "dark neutral" I have found since I can't pull off straight black.

3. Mixed Metal Favorites: Awhile back I shared my Mixed Metal Jewelry Staples and I'm wearing two of them in this post. They work great together as a no-fuss, go-with-everything duo so I'm highlighting them again in my favorites this week. Here's a closer look at the Stella & Dot Rhett earrings and Luna Pendant from today's outfit. The earrings are very lightweight, by the way!

4. Best Angles? I shared this outfit photo in my newsletter last weekend to give a close-up of this necklace and I got some feedback that gave me food for thought about this photo angle. I haven't been taking selfies like this since a) I started a new job in August and didn't have time to take a many photos, and b) I stopped posting on Instagram, which was the initial reason I learned to take this type of photo. I've always thought it was a good angle for showing detail on clothing and jewelry, although not the best for showing overall fit of clothing and an outfit. That said, I've been debating whether to bring it back in some capacity on the blog so I'm open to your thoughts on this one! 


5. Giveaway Winner: Speaking of my newsletter, congrats to my newsletter giveaway winner Kathy S.! She won the Luna pendant you see featured above! If you are feeling like you never win, please don't give up hope! I actually only had thirteen entries for this giveaway so your odds of winning are pretty good if you enter future giveaways! Giveaways are done exclusively via my newsletter (I send it out about every 4-6 weeks, so don't worry, I won't be flooding your inbox) and you can sign up for that at the end of the post.

And with that, I'll wrap it up for this week! I'm excited to go pick up my 6th grader today since he's been away all week at camp! I'm also starting to do some Spring Wardrobe planning and I'll be checking out the President's Day sales at a few places (online, naturally) over the weekend. I'll share more about my finds and wishlist coming up on Monday!


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

2/13/19

Classic vs. Trendy

42 comments |
Keeping a record of almost everything you wear via bloggin really gives you some interesting insights into your personal style and preferences. There are some outfits I posted less than a year ago that I wouldn't even consider wearing now, and others from several years back that I'd still wear today! My own goal with fashion is to have a lot more of the latter type of outfit. If I had to put a number to it, I'd say I aim for an 85/15 split. Eighty-five percent classic, stand the test of time outfits, fifteen percent try-the-trends. I hope today's outfit is in the 85% category, but I guess only time will tell!

I wanted to add a few classic sweater styles to my wardrobe this winter but if you've seen my recent try-on posts, I've had bad luck so far. But when I got this allegedly cashmere sweater for under $50, I felt like my luck was finally changing! I say allegedly cashmere because it does state that it's 85% cashmere, 15% microfiber (what a coincidence on that ratio, huh?), but some reviewers claim it doesn't feel like cashmere or that it can't be for the price. I don't know how to verify the fabric contents short of taking it to a crime lab for some in-depth analysis, but that would probably cost me more than the price of the sweater itself so it's not happening! I'll just tell you that for me it's soft, comfortable and luxurious feeling. For under $50 it's a keeper! It comes in sizes Small through XL and it runs true to size. For reference I'm wearing a Small here.

The sleeves are a little long on me, but I felt like that added a little to the coziness. of the sweater. I've also seen similar sweaters that have a cuffed sleeve, so for comparison I tried styling this with a cuffed sleeve and a front tuck.

The front tuck was a little bit tricky given the thickness of the sweater and the fact that I was doing it away from home and without a mirror to get it just right! But I do think it's doable so you can wear it tucked or untucked depending on your preference. It does have a slight hi-lo step hem so the front is a bit shorter than the back. I think the cuffed sleeves look okay too, and they actually do stay up well. I ended up wearing them like that at home anytime I needed to eat, wash dishes, etc.

So here's the best thing about this sweater: it is super easy to style. I tried it on with six different pairs of shoes and five different pairs of pants and all of them worked. I didn't really feel like I was creating all new outfits with each of these options since in some cases I'm just changing the shoes from one look to the next, but I hope it gives you an easy visual for what things you might already have in your closet to pair with this sweater (in all outfits below) or a similar option you own.
Top Row
ONE: Black Jeans | Boots (c/o)
TWO: Exact Sailor Pants (Black currently sold out), Similar Sailor Pants | Similar Black Pumps 

Bottom Row

Even though the pants differences are minor, the shoes really do change the dressy/casual vibe of each outfit. I think either pair of pumps (especially the option with the dress pants/sailor pants) give it a more business casual look, whereas the jeans and over-the-knee boots would work for a casual date night here.

I'd love to hear your Fashion Ratio today in the comments today! What percentage of the time do you like to stick to classics vs. try the trends?

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2/12/19

February 2019 Book Reviews

46 comments |
Welcome to my February 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!
Fiction:
Watching You by Lisa Jewell
Basic Plot: Everyone is a nosy neighbor, and some people may have more scandalous secrets than others.
My Verdict: Recommend! This was a solid, entertaining suspense novel. The book starts with a dead body, and as we meet the neighbors and peek into their lives and secrets, we wonder not just who died, but who did it, how, and why. While this isn't an all-time standout suspense novel for me, I also have no real complaints. There were no super annoying or absurd characters or plot points. Just good page-turning entertainment! I'd say it's 4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars for this one!

The Making of Us by Lisa Jewell
Basic Plot: The life and times of random people who have one thing in common: they originated from one sperm donor father.
My Verdict: Enjoyable as an audiobook...might be a bit boring otherwise. I think this one might be my least favorite Jewell book so far. Though I did enjoy it and end up getting invested in the well-developed characters, I suspect that the pacing would have made it tough to get through in written form. I have a higher tolerance for slow audiobooks as long as they have a great narrator. And this one does have a great narrator! It's a good soap opera type read if you just want to get involved in other people's lives with the unique twist of their unusual relationship.

Circe by Madeline Miller
Basic Plot: Circe is the daughter of Helios, and this books tells her story in a newly imagined way.
My Verdict: Did Not Finish. I gave up on this book at 30%. It has tons of great reviews on Amazon (4.5 star average rating with 983 reviews) but I just. could. not. get. into. it. If you are a person who enjoys fantasy genre or imaginative, elaborate writing style and creative, thorough visual details, perhaps you will enjoy this more than I did. But I need well-developed characters and a story to care about, and this did not give that to me. I was only moderately interested in what would happen to Circe, but not enough to keep going. At 30% I checked in on the three star reviews on Amazon (thinking they would be the most neutral) and several of them said it was okay but the last 25% was hard to get through. Well. If I struggled for the first 25% and was going to struggle the last 25%, that's 50% of a book I didn't enjoy! I have a hard time giving up on books but finally had to let this one go since I felt a sense of homework-like dread every time I picked it up, and I just don't need that in my fiction selections!

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Basic Plot: Historical Fiction weaving romance & politics in past and present day Cuba.
My Verdict: Disappointing. This book was heavy on the discussion of history and politics, light on the fiction and romance. And what little romance it did have was very weak. We alternate timelines between a modern day woman studying her Cuban roots and her grandmother's life in 1958 Cuba. Both women fall instantly for mysterious men, but it was hard for me to buy the romance because there was no spark or chemistry or build up. The history and politics were mainly presented as extensive dialogue (mostly the men explaining things to the women) and I didn't find that romantic or very interesting. With other historical fiction, you feel like you're living the experiences through the characters and learning the history in the process. With this, I felt like the characters were simply talking about it with each other and not really living it. It fell really flat for me and I don't recommend. I couldn't wait for it to be over. This was an Audible selection with two narrators, and both were just okay.

The Other Woman by Sandie Jones
Basic Plot: Girl meets boy and boy seems perfect. Until girl meets his mother...
My Verdict: Frustrating but Entertaining. The story grabbed my interest and held it well, but the boyfriend's mother was infuriating! And the girlfriend/main protagonist was also incredibly frustrating because of the way she dealt with each situation. This is billed as a psychological thriller, but I disagree with that. It was a family/dating drama with a tiny mystery about what happened to a couple of characters. There's also a twist, and I didn't predict it but I also thought it made everything even worse and more unbelievable that certain characters would act the way they did. This was a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick so read it if you want to understand the hype. It keeps you entertained, but not exactly in the most enjoyable way.

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Sweeney
Basic Plot: Amber is in a coma and through her limited consciousness she's trying to figure out how she got there.
My Verdict: Recommend. This was a true psychological thriller that kept me interested and guessing through to the end. There are three timelines in this book: Now (what's happening while Amber/the main character is in a coma), Just Before (flashbacks to the week leading up to the coma), and Way Before (childhood diary entries giving some background to the main character). I enjoyed the suspense of trying to figure out which of the people in Amber's life might have had a hand in where she ended up. There were some twists I totally did not expect. The only thing I didn't love was the very end because it left me a bit confused. So instead of thinking, "Wow!" I was thinking, "Wait...what?" I had to go read some Spoiler-included reviews on Goodreads to get some clarity and possible explanations.

After the Party by Lisa Jewell
Basic Plot: Ralph & Jem have been together for over a decade and have two small children. Whether they'll stay together is TBD since their relationship has seen better days.
My Verdict: Enjoyable as an audiobook...might be a bit boring otherwise. Yes, same verdict as "The Making of Us." The pacing is slow which means I don't think I would enjoy this as much in written format. What I do like is that Jewell does a great job of creating complex characters with lives and stories that seem real. I could easily understand a couple like Ralph & Jem and the not-so-black-and-white choices they make that affect their relationship. I do enjoy listening to this type of book while I work on other tasks since it's like a well done TV drama. One thing I also love in all of Jewell's books is the detail she gives about fashion! She does a great job of adding in some outfit details in this book and several others that help me picture the character more vividly. So while I don't think anyone needs to rush out and read this, it was well done and enjoyable enough. I am truly  impressed that Jewell is able to write both chick lit (like this) and suspense (like Watching You) so well!

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
Basic Plot: Amber wants to get rich the old fashioned way....by marrying a rich man. The only thing is the man she has in mind is already married to someone else so she schemes her way into his life.
My Verdict: Entertaining but Not Enjoyable. I know that sounds like a contradiction, but the first half is narrated by Amber, who has zero redeeming qualities. Add that to the fact that she and all other characters in the book are one-dimensional and the writing seems amateur compared to Lisa Jewell's, and you can understand my lack of enjoyment. It also annoys me when authors don't check basic geography that can be easily Googled. (In this book, one character went to Santa Cruz in Southern California. Nope.) The second half has a different narrator and was much more enjoyable than the first half, which made it easy to finish. All in all it passes the time just fine and I did want to know how it would all play out, I just didn't really think it was all that. Funny, this was another Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick and it gave me a lot of the same feelings as The Other Woman. It also reminded me a lot of Behind Closed Doors (which I really didn't like), so if you did like that one you'll probably enjoy this!

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus
Basic Plot: Teenage twins (boy and girl) move to a new town to live with their grandmother and get caught up in uncovering some of the town's unsolved mysteries.
My Verdict: Good, not Great. First, this book starts off with too many characters and too much history/detail about the town mysteries. It was confusing, and it took me 45% of the book to get invested and feel like I really got what was happening. Mind you, the book felt short, so 45% of this book took me the same amount of time as 10% of Kate Morton's The Lake House. Also the first part was still fairly interesting even if confusing with all the characters and events, so I wasn't bored. But the last 55% of the book was fun and easy to zip through. I definitely did not like this as much as One of Us is Lying and could nitpick more details, but I'll just say I'd rate it about 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Nonfiction:
The Good, The Bad, and The Barbie by Tanya Lee Stone
This is a quick little read (3 hours) on the history of the Barbie doll, along with a little bit of analysis of her cultural impact. I bought this for two dollars on an Audible Daily Deal and I felt I got my money's worth from it! It was interesting enough and I learned a few things along the way. If you played with Barbie as a child you may enjoy learning more about her origins and history from this book. The narrator was solid. It's not "must read" but I have no complaints!

The State of Affairs by Esther Perel
Esther Perel is a well-known psychotherapist with a sex/relationship specialty. This book takes a look at modern infidelity and all of its causes and effects. When I say "modern" I'm just referring to the fact that in 2019 there are a lot more subtleties and lines to be drawn when it comes to what constitutes cheating than there were in decades past, especially when it comes to online behavior. The subtitle of this book ("Rethinking Infidelity") makes it sound like it's going to make an attempt to get you to be supportive of infidelity, but that's really not the case. It's an analysis of the complexities of marriage/relationships in the 21st century. This book was interesting but depressing. I chose it because I know Esther is well-respected and a lot of my friends who enjoy similar books to me like her work. So I wanted to read it to get more familiar with the buzz about Esther. But for me, it wasn't eye opening as much as sad and somewhat discouraging. It doesn't give a lot of hope for building a lasting marriage! At the end we listen in on her real-life marriage therapy sessions and those were heartbreaking. So this is by no means an uplifting read. For me to read another Perel book I would need to feel like it had more hope and more discussion of what is working for people in relationships, not just all the reason why they fall apart.

Inheritance by Dani Shapiro
If you enjoy a good memoir, make this your next selection! It was very well written, well narrated (on Audible, narrated by the author) engaging, thought-provoking and the audio equivalent of a page turner! I really wanted to know what would happen next with each phase of her search! In this memoir, a woman learns at age 54 through a DNA saliva test that her now-deceased father was not biological father. This takes her on a journey to find her true heritage as well as forcing her to re-consider her entire personal history, religious upbringing and other family relationships. This book was very much the real-life version of The Making of Us (review above in the fiction section). When I saw the topic for Inheritance I thought it would be an interesting follow up to The Making of Us, and it did not disappoint. It was actually better because it was real! But I enjoyed reading both in the same month and it gave me a lot to think about regarding the issue of egg and sperm donors. The science has been around for less than 100 years and there's a lot to be considered for the impact it has on the children.

Maid by Stephanie Land
This is the memoir of a single mom in Washington State struggling to get by on the wages she earns cleaning houses plus government assistance. It was probably a mistake to read it right on the heels of Inheritance because it just didn't measure up to that. But it was interesting and held my attention pretty well. She goes into some juicy detail (sometimes disgusting) about the houses she cleaned and the people who lived there, so at times in the book you feel like you're snooping right along with her. Overall I'd say it's a decent read (maybe 3.5 stars out of 5) but not a must-read.

Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Ph.D.
This one starts off a bit tedious with a lot of science-y talk about the brain that I can only understand on a high level. On top of that, the narrator was totally robotic. He sounded like Data from Star Trek, so that didn't help engage me. But I kept going with this because Rachelle recommended it, and we have similar taste in nonfiction. And I'm glad I did because there were quite a few chapters that were fascinating. The book is about what the title implies: Emotional Intelligence, i.e. our ability to understand and regulate our own emotions as well as our ability to empathize with and interpret the emotions of other humans. It goes into great detail about the underrated importance of Emotional Intelligence in our lives and our overall well being as humans. Chapter 8 (The Social Arts) and Chapter 11 (Mind and Medicine) stand out as my very favorites that made the book worthwhile.

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: Watching YouSometimes I Lie
Nonfiction: Inheritance

Current Reads + Up Next:
I'm just starting Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine  - no opinion yet but I'm worried now based on my luck with the two other Reese Book Club books this month! And I'm listening to American Dervish, which I'm really enjoying so far! I always like to mention that I'm signed up for the Audible Daily Deal email and highly recommend it if you like audiobooks! It helps me read more audiobooks each month without spending a lot more. Can't wait to hear what you all read or what strikes your interest this month!

Linking up with: Steph & Jana | Erika & Shay

2/11/19

Four Ways to Wear Taupe Scrunch Boots

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This winter I've been making it a point to share some round-ups of my most-worn shoes. Shoes often cost a little more than my average top or pair of jeans, so making sure I can wear them with multiple outfits is key! While I don't think taupe scrunch boots are a must- have or a classic style that will be around for years to come, they're a fun trend that I'm enjoying for now. I bought the Chinese Laundry Stella boots in taupe because I thought they would reasonably comfortable and coordinate easily with my wardrobe...and that's been exactly the case!

These boots run just slightly big to me, although I still took my normal size. I might have been able to go down half a size, but I like having the option to wear them with thicker, warmer socks. They do have a zipper in the back but I don't ever use it. They're easy enough to pull on and off without doing any zipping, which great for me since I have minimal patience for shoes that require a lot of buckles, ties, etc.! The heel height for these is three inches which is my max for everyday comfort. I wasn't sure if the heel shape would be comfortable enough, but they feel just like a stacked heel to me, so I have no issues with standing or walking in them for an ordinary amount of time.

The nice thing with this taupe color is that it goes with almost all of my pants! Here are a few ways I've worn these boots in the last few months: 

ONE: For my birthday I treated myself to this internet-famous Barefoot Dreams Cardigan. I was skeptical that it could be worth the price, but once I tried it on it was just too soft and cozy to take off and send back! It's a splurge but it definitely makes a great gift to self or others.


TWO: Original post with more details for this outfit can be found here.


THREE: Original post for this outfit is here. My original sweater is out of stock in most sizes but I'll link to it anyway (along with a similar in-stock option) in case of future re-stock.

FOUR: Original post for this outfit is here. This is actually my least favorite outfit of the bunch and I can't quite put my finger on why. Maybe it's the camel/taupe pairing or the length of the shawl with the height of the boots? I'm not sure why I don't love it but I wanted to share it anyway because I do like these boots with olive jeans, if not the entire look!

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

On the Blog This Week: Tomorrow is book review day! As usual I had some hits and misses so I hope you'll stop by for my reviews. Then on Wednesday and Friday I'll have some outfit posts as usual!

In Real Life: My sixth grader is headed to sixth grade camp this week so it's going to seem very quiet on the homefront with one child off on an adventure. Is 6th grade camp a thing where you all live? My husband and I didn't have this growing up but a couple of our friends from different states said they did. I hope it's fun but I also can't wait for him to get home on Friday!

Newsletter Note: To all my newsletter subscribers, I heard back that one of my links in my latest newsletter wasn't working correctly. I'm so sorry about that! I didn't want to re-send the email just for one link, but this is the vacation-ready LOFT maxi dress I shared. I also saw that this blogger favorite from Nordstrom is on sale for under $40!

Thanks for reading and see you tomorrow for book reviews!


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Linking up with: Rachelle

2/8/19

Recent Outfits + Friday Faves 2/8/19

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We made it through another week! It really feels like we are in the thick of it with everything this time of year. Work is humming along and the kids have very full homework and activity loads. There was nothing too exciting to report this week so I'll just move along to some recent outfits I've worn. This week's everyday outfits are the outdoor iPhone photo variety instead of mirror selfies. We've had lots of rain and clouds which makes indoor photos too dark, so I had my kids snap some photos while we were out and about instead!

My girlfriend knit blazer is sold out, but I am linking to it above anyway in case of a re-stock. It has been out of stock and re-stocked in the past, and I know that because I started watching for a re-stock last May when I got the pink version (also sold out)! I knew the black would be a great fit for my lifestyle so I watched, waited and pounced seven months later! But of course, by the I post it, it's already sold out again! I just like that it's feels like a sweatshirt/cardigan but has a little bit more of a polished blazer look. I think this sweater blazer would be a great alternative. I wore this to take my oldest to a doctor's appointment last week and it was comfortable and felt like a good balance of dressy-casual.


Every time it rains here I realize I do not have much selection for appropriate footwear. Almost all of my boots/ankle boots are suede or faux suede. But since we don't get a lot of rain, I also have a hard time convincing myself to spend money on something I won't use very often! Instead, I just grab this pair of old boots or another black pair I have. And by old, I actually mean they are over six years old from Target. And they are still holding up well despite the fact that I wear them every time it rains here and I wore them all the time in the rain in Seattle! So while they're not my favorites they serve their purpose well. On the other hand, this jacket is a recent favorite, last seen in this post with ten ways to wear cognac ankle boots. It's true to size and still in stock at several retailers, so if you don't see your size at one, try the others! A more rainproof trench coat would have been more practical here, but aside from taking these pictures I just carried an umbrella so it stayed pretty dry.

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. Favorite Superbowl Commercials. I know this is ancient history at this point, but did you all have any favorite Superbowl commercials? There were three that were memorable to me: Hyundia (with Jason Bateman in the elevator), Pringles, and the one with all the NFL players. I don't even remember what they were advertising in the NFL player commercial so I'm not sure they got they're money's worth there, but it was entertaining nonetheless!

2. Favorite Shoulder Stretches: For the past six months or so I've been trying to put more focus on stretching out my neck, back and shoulders on a consistent basis. I really like this simple Yoga sequence for tight shoulders and upper back. I try to add one or two of those into my daily stretches. Except the last one- "Weight assist." I have no idea how that's humanly possible, but when I attempted it my arms were about three feet off the ground! Ha!

3. Favorite Blog Post this Week: This post by JoLynne about How to Create an Interesting Outfit was so good! I do not have the gift for putting the why of what works for an outfit or doesn't into words and succinct categories. I certainly wish I did since I really enjoy that type of post! But if you haven't read her post it's one worth checking out to give some food for thought on what makes some outfits better than others.

That's it for today, and I'm ready to head into the weekend! I have another double date lined up with Noelle on Saturday and I'm looking forward to that! My kids are also supposed to have playoffs on Saturday afternoon with their flag football league, but it's supposed to rain again so I'm not sure if that will get canceled. Then Sunday looks nice and relaxing, and I know I'll be ready for it by then! Hope you all have a great weekend lined up too and I'll see you on Monday!



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