1/17/18

Camo Everything + Link Up

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Happy Wednesday! I hope your week is going well so far! Blogging kept me accountable once again and after Monday's post about building friendships for myself and my kids, I followed through and arranged for them to meet up at the trampoline park with several friends. They had a blast and it felt good to help them make the most of their day off. Speaking of kids, they often have funny comments when I wear anything camouflage, like the camo jeans I'm wearing today. I've done a complete 180 from a couple of years ago when I felt uncomfortable wearing camo print. Now it's my current favorite print, and I'm just waiting for my family to get used to it so they'll stop asking if I'm going hunting that day!
White Sweater (c/o) | Camo Jeans | Tan Boots | Necklace | Kate Spade Kiernan Satchel (c/o Shopbop) Current Kate Spade Option | Earrings 

Outfit Details:
Everything I'm wearing (except my simple bar necklace) is a repeat item today, but in case you missed these pieces in previous posts, here's a quick review of the details. These camo jeans might be my most-worn item of the past six months. They're true to size, comfortable, and just something fun and a little different from my standard blue jeans. When I first got them I shared six outfit ideas for them in this post, so this makes at least seven ways to wear them if you're wondering about versatility. 

White Sweater (c/o) | Camo Jeans | Tan Boots | Necklace | Kate Spade Kiernan Satchel (c/o Shopbop) Current Kate Spade Option | Earrings 

I'm wearing a size Small in this sweater, and it's a lighter weight, non-itchy sweater. It works great for my current weather but might only be a Spring sweater for some. My boots are true-to-size but almost sold out and unfortunately I couldn't find a good lower-priced similar option. The closest I could find are these (currently $119), but I wanted to warn you of the higher price before linking them as "similar" to my less expensive Target pair. 

Camo Collection:
At the moment, my camo collection consists of the jeans above, two camo jackets, two t-shirts (long and short sleeve), and pair of shorts. I should probably stop there because it was embarrassing just writing that list! But I won't lie...I've been tempted by some other pieces like shoes, leggings, a workout tank top or joggers for around the house. A lot of higher end brands are still offering plenty of camo options, so I don't see it going anywhere soon.


1. Z Supply Pants/Leggings (The Camo Pants)
2. Spanx Leggings (Seamless Camo - I've read so many rave reviews for Spanx leggings!)
3. Steven Shoes (Cody)
4. Jeffrey Campbell Shoes (Siren)

My first camo purchase (my gateway purchase, so to speak) was a jacket from Express. If you don't have anything camo, a jacket is a great place to start, and there are two current options that I'd be considering if I didn't have mine. I am also loving some of the current camo pieces at Express (of course!):
1. Twill Camo Jacket
2. Cropped Camo Jacket
3. Camo Sweatshirt
4. Camo Terry Leggings
5. Camo Leggings

I have yet to wear multiple camo pieces together, but at this rate I've got a Halloween costume in the making if I wear all of my camo pieces in one oufit! I think I just need to add those Jeffrey Campbell boots to my collection to really make it a head-to-toe look!


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1/15/18

Light Gray Sweater + Building Friendships

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I hope you all had a nice weekend! And for some of you it's probably still the weekend with the holiday today! My husband doesn't have the day off, but the kids are off school today so I'm hoping to help them have a little extra fun along with some of their friends. I'm sharing a little more about friendships for them and for me that in my Monday Motivation segment below, but as usual I'll start with the outfit details first.
Sweater | Belt | Jeans | Boots (c/o) | Necklace | Bag (c/o) | Earrings 

Outfit Details:
This belt looks pretty basic (which I like in and of itself), although it's actually reversible and I think the reverse side, which is a blonde/tan color, will pair well with a lot of spring pieces. It runs true to size per the size chart. My boots also run true to size. My black jeans from Abercrombie are called "Low Rise" jeans , but I find them normal/mid-rise, and not low. The rise is about the same as Mid Rise jeans from Express, and as for comparing the two, these have replaced my black jeans from Express as my favorites. I just think they flatter a bit more and taper a bit better down to the ankle opening (which you can't see here of course). 

I had a reward to use up at Express so I picked this Velour Dolman Sleeve Sweater since it was new in stock and color + style-wise it looked like it would work now through Spring. I honestly wasn't too sure about it based on the stock photo alone, but the positive reviews sold me. The pink color was my first choice because I thought it would flatter me most, but since I just recently got a different pink sweater (see it here), I thought I should change it up a little. When I pulled it out of the package I thought it was going to be way too short. And when I tried it on...I still wasn't sure because I'm just used to longer tops lately! But when I tried to look at it objectively, I thought it was reasonably flattering and worth keeping because it different than anything else I had. (Plus, when you use a reward at Express...you don't get it back if you return the item so I really didn't want to waste it!) The best parts about this though? First, it's super soft and comfortable. This is the year of ultra-soft sweaters and I'm getting pretty spoiled and raising my standards of comfort. If you are too and prefer soft fabrics like Chenille, this should pass your test. Second, I liked the thumb holes! I don't think they add any functional value but it's just a fun, different detail. 

Monday Motivation: Building Friendships
On January 1 I kicked off the 2018 edition of my Monday Motivation series and outlined the four key areas I'm focusing on for the year. I promised to go into more detail on each area in subsequent weeks, and now we're on week two. For January I'm following the order I listed in the original post: Time Management (discussed here), Relationships, Personal Growth, Health & Fitness. After this month I'll share more organically based on what's relevant at the time.

This week we're on the topic of Relationships. I try not to make generic goals à la, "improve my relationships" without having any sort of plan attached, so I need posts like this to force me to analyze my current situation and formulate a few specifics. One of my favorite books of 2017 was The Happiness Hypothesis, and it had a quote that I often repeat to myself, especially when I'm analyzing my priorities or deciding how to spend my time:

"Happiness doesn't come from within. Happiness comes from between.
It comes from getting the right relationships 
between yourself and others,
yourself and your work,
and yourself and something larger than yourself."

I've talked about this quote before (see this post), but it's relevant again today because it succinctly makes the point that relationships are a major key to happiness! When I wrote my value list for the year, I was specifically thinking about my relationships "between [my]self and others" rather than the other two categories, so for today I'm just going to focus on that relationship area. While my relationships with my immediate and extended family are the most important to me and certainly take nurturing and effort, I tend to be a little more private about those on the blog, so for today friendships for myself and my kids are my main focus.

Growing up with shows like Friends and Melrose Place, I imaged adult life would be filled with people hanging out all the time and constantly doing fun things together. And when someone has a baby, no problem! The baby will nap when your friends come over, or when the child gets older they'll just go to their room to quietly color or do homework . Or Grandma will watch her anytime (ahem...Rachel from Friends) and life will go on just as it did before with your fun group of friends! Needless to say, the reality of adult life for me has not been like that. As a San Diego transplant, I didn't grow up with anyone around here or even have the chance to make friends in a Moms Group when I had a new baby or toddler. In this stage of life, making friends is more challenging than ever. I've also never lived close to extended family since my kids were born, so finding sitters for adults-only is both challenging and cost-prohibitive.

All of that is not meant to sound like a complaint about my life. It's only to say that making friends as an adult is harder than I expected, and it's been a slow process since starting out in a new city four years ago. I have gradually made some good quality friendships here (side note: almost all of them were made through classes where we had a common interest, which I highly recommend if you're trying to expand your own social network), but finding the time to get together in person is tough! I started a monthly Sunday Brunch group with three of my girlfriends last year (more here) and that's been a great experience. Often times it just takes one person being willing to put themselves out there and plan something to really make a friendship stick. I could have attended classes for years and never made real friends if we didn't commit to putting something on the calendar consistently. I've started up some fitness classes again recently and am hoping it will help me expand my social network just a little bit more this year, especially as I challenge myself to take the risk to initiate activities outside of the class.

On the parenting front, I know I need to do a better job of setting up hang outs for my kids and their friends. (I've been informed that they don't do Play Dates now. They hang out. Ahem.) It's really easy to keep your kids busy with sports and music lessons and after school homework and activities...and then just let them socialize online during whatever down time they have left. But I understand from my own experience and many other books I've read (most recently not Irresistible) that face-to-face interactions are critical, especially now with the technology that can cripple their interpersonal skills. It's pretty awkward reaching out to a parent I've never met and trying to make plans for our kids to hang out, but when I do, it's incredibly rewarding to see how happy it makes the kids. I definitely want to be more consistent about that this year so that my kids have a good foundation of quality friendships heading into their teenage years. Every parent I know who has survived the teenage years has stressed the importance of those friendships to me, so I'm taking notes and taking action!

I always get a little more wordy than I intend to in these posts, so I hope there's something in those words that connects with you or motivates you. I'd love to hear your thoughts on making adult friendships or fostering your children's friendships as a parent! If you've read good books or articles on the topic, please let me know about them in the comments!


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1/12/18

Everyday Outfits + TGIF 1/12/18

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Happy Friday! At the beginning of the week it felt strange going back to "normal" after the holidays, but by the end of the week it all felt like old hat. We survived with only a few hiccups...colds for everyone, sick day for one kiddo, and a moderate rainstorm that make San Diegans act like we need to hunker down for a hurricane. (Not to make light of that situation since some people in the region were killed or seriously affected by the impact the storms, but around here it wasn't really that bad.) It went as far as influencing my outfit choices, so if you're a regular reader, some of these outfits might seem a bit more casual/athleisure than my usual style, which hopefully makes for some nice variety. As usual I'm sharing a few notes about how things fit and where to get them!

Outfit Recap Part 1:

Black Fleece Pullover:

Outfit Notes: Normally I try to avoid putting two such similar pieces together in a collage, but in this case I thought it might be helpful to show them side-by-side so I can talk about the differences between the two. The black/gray version I'm wearing in this picture is the original version from Abercrombie. I am wearing a Small and it's true to size. I often wear an XS in Abercrombie tops but I wanted this more oversized/relaxed so I sized up. I'm also wearing a Small in the Pink/Ivory Dupe version (which also comes in Navy) and it fits more like an XS. Even though it looks about the same length on my torso, it came up higher under my arms, was a little more fitted through the body, and is shorter in the sleeves. The quilted contrast section of the chest area on the Abercrombie top is slightly bigger than vs. the dupe. And the quality is definitely nicer on the Abercrombie version: it's thicker, warmer and just feels sturdier. The original version also has pockets which I really love, but you are paying almost $50 for all of those features since it's $68 vs. $20 for the dupe.

Pink/Ivory Snap Pullover:

Outfit Notes: As mentioned above, I'm wearing a Small in this and it runs small. This feels more like an XS, so I suggest sizing up. My jeans are true to size, and I took a half-size down in my boots. The only size left in my boots is  6, but I found a similar Target pair in the same price range.

Grey Puffer Jacket:

Outfit Notes: This is my standard "Going for a Walk at Night" outfit. We usually go for an evening walk on the weekends and I wanted a more sporty coat to wear since all of my warmer coats are a bit dressier. I'd been eyeing this Abercrombie Puffer Jacket (currently on sale for $60, also displayed in dark grey in the widget below) so this jacket seemed like a good alternative. Unfortunately by the time I ordered and received this puffer jacket from SheIn it was already sold out! (I'm keeping the link to the original item just in case they decide to restock it in the future.) I can tell you I'm wearing a Small in this and it's exactly what I needed. If you're in the market for some budget-friendly outerwear they do have a few other current options. I really love the red coat, but I know for sure I can't justify more than one sport coat!

More Outerwear Options:



Outfit Recap Part 2:

Light Chenille Cardigan, Black Lace Cami:

Outfit Notes: This Target Cardigan is on clearance for $15 and worth every penny! It fits true to size and is in the "ridiculously soft and comfortable" category. All other items ran true to size as well.

Plaid Scarf:
Scarf (c/o) | Similar Target Tee | Jeans | Belt | Boots "Taupe" (c/o)

Outfit Notes: You can find the full post for this outfit with more details here, but in short, every piece ran true to size.

Neutral Sweater Jacket:
Sweater Jacket (c/o) | Black Z Supply Tee (c/o) | Jeans | Boots | Necklace | Bag | Belt

Outfit Notes: The full post for this outfit is here (along with my time management objectives for the new year). This cropped sweater jacket is "One Size" and will likely work best for XS-Medium. All other current items ran true to size.

T.G.I.F

On Fridays I share a few little extra tidbits here to go along with my outfits. Since most of these outfits have already been posted on Instagram or in a full post, I like to have something new here for my regulars! I don't want the entire post to be redundant content. I use the T.G.I.F. acronym to share whatever random words and topics come to mind for each of the letters. Here's my list this week!

T. Television
My husband and I like to have a show we watch together, and lately it's been a serious struggle to find something we both like. We just got a one month subscription to HBO Go to give us some new options (it was $10!) so now we're watching Big Little Lies. I read the book but I'm still enjoying the show for the most part, but I do think it's really slow at times. It's not 100% engaging for my husband either, but he's hanging in there. If you have any other HBO shows you think we'd enjoy let me know so we can enjoy while our subscription is active!

G. Gucci
In the last year or so, it seems like Gucci started to dominate the accessories game. I've seen their belts, bags, and sunglasses on a lot of the "big budget" bloggers and of course lots of others who saved up for a splurge item or two. My Double-O Ring belt (shown in the last two outfits above) is probably loosely inspired by the Gucci version, and if you're in the mood for a splurge or an inspired version there are plenty of options for both:

Gucci Belt ($350) | Inspired Belt $14.99
Gucci Bag ($3200) | Inspired Bag $34

I. Irresistible
In my post about Time Management on Monday, I mentioned that I was considering the book Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping us Hooked:
(On Amazon)

Well, I went for it and I'm halfway through now because the book itself is addictive! I am absolutely loving this and I will be shocked if it doesn't make it on to my "Best Books of 2018" list. It's changing the way I see social media and having a very positive impact on my life. I can't recommend it strongly enough (thus far) to anyone willing to listen!

F. Fit Split
For my fitness friends and fellow Cathletes, I promised I would review any new series I purchased and now that I've had a chance to complete all of Cathe's Fit Split Series (her most recent), I'm ready to share my thoughts!
Available here

This series includes 4 DVDs. Each DVD has a warm up and cool down plus cardio workout segment and a weight training segment. There's also a Bonus Ab workout on two DVDs, but it's the same workout so you're only getting one additional abdominal workout. The workouts vary from 48-59 minutes total, but I broke mine down into shorter time increments, which was very easy to do with all of the custom Premix Menu options. Each day I included the warm up (anywhere from 4-12 minutes) as well as my own cool down and stretching for. Cathe has some recommended rotations on her site here, but here's how I did them over an 8-Day period.

Saturday:
Low Impact Cardio + Bonus Abs

Sunday:
Shred Cardio

Monday:
Legs & Glutes (from Boxing Bootcamp + Legs & Glutes)

Tuesday:
Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Quads (from Shred Cardio + Push Day)

Wednesday:
Back, Shoulders, Biceps, Hamstrings (from Mixed Impact Cardio + Pull Day)

Thursday:
Boxing Bootcamp (cardio) + Bonus Abs

Friday:
Metabolic Conditioning (total body weights) (from Low Impact Cardio + Metabolic Conditioning)

Saturday:
Mixed Impact Cardio


My Final Thoughts:
There are a lot of things that I really liked about this series and one main thing I didn't, so I'll break the rest of my review into pros and cons.

Pros: One thing I always expect from Cathe is innovation and she did not disappoint in that regard. While there were some familiar moves, a lot of them had a brand new twist that I've never done in any of her workouts and that twist was always effective! I especially liked the bonus ab work. Cathe was her usual positive self (but never bubbly or cheesy) with excellent cue-ing. Since I was doing the weights workouts the first time through, I paused a lot to take notes for my future workouts (e.g. which exercises we did, how many reps, what weight I used). I can tell that some of these workouts are going to be killer when I try to do them straight through. I loved that she made each workout very easy to customize for time constraints. Even though I don't do as much cardio these days, I really did like all of these cardio workouts: they were neither too complicated nor too repetitive or easy.

Cons: The #1 Con (and really my only complaint!) is that I didn't like the way the lower body weights were broken up and randomly thrown in with the Push/Pull workouts (both of which have an upper body emphasis). On Monday I did Legs & Glutes, then on Tuesday I did Quads (with Push Day), then on Thursday I did Hamstrings (with Pull Day). Friday was total body weights so my legs got worked yet again. Since none of the individual workouts were as exhausting as Cathe's usual leg workouts, I wasn't sore so I was able to do the exercises, but I still would prefer to have a day or two in between working lower body muscle groups. I don't feel they can be isolated as easily as upper body muscles, for instance when I'm doing front squats for my quads, I'm still feeling it somewhat in my glutes and hamstrings. If I wanted to create my own complete Fit Split Lower Body workout (and I may do this next time I do the series), I'd have to insert/remove three separate DVDs to get the job done right. That's a lot of hassle for one workout.

Those are the key points that stood out to me with this series, but let me know if you have any further questions and I'll be happy to answer. In case you missed any of my other fitness content when it was a regular part of the blog, you can find everything in my All Things Fitness Reference post!


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1/10/18

Belts, Plaid Scarf + Link Up

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Today's post feels a little anti-climactic after yesterday's book reviews! I often wonder if I'm barking up the wrong blogging tree based on the responses to book reviews vs. regular outfit posts. At first I found it strange that posts about books were getting better engagement, but the more I think about it...blog readers are probably more likely to be readers period. People who aren't much into reading would probably rather just scroll outfits on Instagram for the visual and not deal with the text/content of a blog post. That's my working theory, but seeing as I don't have any actual research to back it up, let's just move on to the visual portion of the post with a couple of accessories that I'm re-working into my wardrobe this winter after a long hiatus: belts and scarves:

Scarf (c/o) | Similar Target Tee | Jeans | Belt | Boots "Taupe" (c/o) | Bag (c/o) | Similar Leather Earrings | Hair Extension (Swedish Blonde) | Bracelet
Outfit Details:
A little backstory on my relationship with scarves: A few years back, I kept my hair just below shoulder length. But when I moved to San Diego (from Seattle), I found the climate here didn't agree with that length for me so I've kept it somewhere between chin and shoulder length since then. I quickly found that scarves didn't agree with my new hair length! They would mess up the bottom of my hair, so I phased them out of my wardrobe. Fast forward to this past year when I've discovered a few different updo hair extension option like this one, and scarves are an option again!

This one from SheIn is very soft, warm and comfortable, and I loved the blend of neutral colors they used because I knew it would be easy to pair with dozens of pieces in my wardrobe. If you don't want to spend a lot more on your winter wardrobe at this point, the price is right at only $14 to add a fun accessory to change things up.

Speaking of accessories, yep...I'm wearing this Double O-Ring Belt again! (Buckled correctly this time!) I recommend going with the Size Chart for Bottoms to pick your best size on this. My sister-in-law asked me if I thought belts and shoes have to match, and in my opinion no...they don't. Like Stacy and Clinton always used to say, things just have to "go." My belt doesn't exactly match any of the other colors in my outfit, but I felt like it still blended with the neutral family I was wearing. If I had a black belt that probably would have worked, too. But I'm kind of glad I didn't since it force me to try something I might not have otherwise, and I liked it!
Scarf (c/o) | Similar Target Tee | Jeans | Belt | Boots in "Taupe" (c/o) | Bag (c/o) | Similar Leather Earrings | Hair Extension (Swedish Blonde) | Bracelet | Nails "Stick to Your Burgundies"

My t-shirt is just an old basic v-neck from Target like this one, and my Express jeans run true to size.  At this point (and partly thanks to wanting things to be convenient for blogging), it's rare for me to keep jeans that don't run true to size! My over the knee boots are also true to size. Even though they have a lot of grey in them they are the "Taupe" color. They stay up very well on my legs and the heel height is just under 3" which is ideal for me. Still comfortable to wear almost anywhere, but enough height to lengthen the legs.

Belts and More Belts:
Now that I'm back on Team Belts, I don't want to go crazy and amass a giant collection, but I also wouldn't mind having a couple of other options! I'll just put it out there that I should probably limit myself to five total just so I don't go overboard! I like checking out the options of some of my favorite designers like these as a starting point to see if they're worth the splurge or if I can find a similar, lower-priced option:

Rebecca Minkoff Belts:
Rebecca Minkoff Belts (Elenora - comes in 3 metallic options) | Lea Floral Belt

Kate Spade Belts:
Kate Spade Belts: Glitter Sparkle (also comes in black) | Smooth Leather with Pearl

All of the belts above are under $100, and while I haven't shopped for budget options yet but I'm really liking the metallic/glitter options and the pearl details on the last Kate Spade option! I also like how they showed each of the belts on a more basic/simple outfit so I can picture how they would look with my own wardrobe!


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The Blended Blog | Kelly, Anessa | Brooke | Carrie | JoLynne



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1/9/18

January Book Reviews 1/9/17

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Welcome to my January Book reviews! It was a good month since I had some extra down time with the holiday break and I got through a couple of extra books. As always, I try to keep my fiction reviews free of any major spoilers for those who haven't read the book. As for nonfiction, I can't really review them without explaining the major theme of the content, so hopefully I can give you enough information to make an informed decision about whether it's something you will enjoy or not!
Top Row: Confessions of a Domestic Failure | Kulti | My Not So Perfect Life | Every Last Lie
Bottom Row: Win Bigly | Pre-Suasion | The How of Happiness  | We're Going to Need More Wine

Fiction
Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan
Plot: Ashley is a fairly new stay-at-home-mom to a baby girl. She's struggling to find her way as a mom and feels like she she can never get her home as well maintained or her child as well behaved as her peers or the blogger that she idolizes. She enters a motherhood bootcamp run by her favorite blogger with the hopes that it will help her improve her situation.
My Verdict. Ridiculous. I really didn't care for this book and finished it just to see how it would be resolved and if there was any redemption. On the surface I'm sure it sounds relatable to most moms, but (in what I suppose was an attempt to be humorous), the author exaggerated the characteristics of every character. Ashley was a deliberate over-the-top disaster (of her own making in many ways), and the blogger and other friends she admired were absurd in their perfection and stereotypical mom roles. I didn't connect with any of the characters and didn't find the humor very funny...just eye roll inducing.

Kulti by Mariana Zapata
Plot: Sal is a professional female soccer player who trains hard and works just as hard at her day job since being a female pro player doesn't pay the bills. She is shocked to find out that Kulti (imagine David Beckham except German), the world famous soccer player she admired and had a crush on all through her childhood and teen years  has just been hired to become the assistant coach of her pro team. The man is nothing like she expected in person and their relationship gets off to a strained start when she has to rescue him in a particular situation that I won't spoil.
My Verdict: I ended up really enjoying this book, but there was so much detail about soccer and training as a professional soccer player that I ended up skimming because I wasn't into it. It took almost half of the book for the relationship to become the main focus, but when it did, it was worth it. There are a few minor things I could nitpick (e.g. the character of Sal's sister didn't seem to serve any real purpose and the male lead was really similar to the male lead in The Wall of Winnipeg by the same author), but ultimately it was a good read and I'll definitely read more by this author.
Side Note: This book says "Quality Issues Reported" on Amazon. I did notice that on my Kindle version there were a handful of pages (a dozen or two dozen? I can't really remember) where the line spacing was off and there was way too much blank space between some paragraphs. It didn't stay that way the entire book and it didn't really disrupt my enjoyment of the book, so don't let that stop you from getting the book.

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
Plot: Katie is a girl who grew up on a farm but is desperate to leave the country life behind and make it big in London. She struggles to fit in at the office, make ends meet, find anyone worth dating, and cope with her quirky roommates. She wishes her life was a little more like her boss's life, which seems just about perfect, but Katie just can't seem to get a break.
My Verdict: This was probably my favorite book this month and one I'd recommend if you've ever read and enjoyed anything else by Sophie Kinsella. It was easy to get into, laugh-out-loud funny in so many parts, and just good entertainment from beginning to end.

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica
Plot: This book opens with Clara recalling the last conversation she ever had with her now-deceased husband Nick. He died in a car accident, but in the days following the accident, Clara starts to discover things about the accident and Nick that just don't make sense with what she thought she knew. This book alternates between Clara's present perspective and Nick's perspective in the months leading up to his death, so the suspense builds as Clara tries to put the puzzle pieces together after the accident, alternated with what we know was actually going on with Nick from his narrative.
My Verdict: I would rate this somewhere between "okay" and "pretty good." The story was easy to get into and follow and there was enough suspense to keep me guessing and reading...that's the "pretty good" part. The "okay" verdict comes from the majority of the ending: it fell flat and left some unresolved issues with regards to the supporting cast of characters. Nick's narrative was a bit easier for me to believe than Clara's. Ultimately this book passed the time just fine but won't make it on to my top favorites/recommendations list.

Non Fiction:
Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don't Matter by Scott Adams
Last month I read a book by Scott Adams (reviewed here) and enjoyed it so much I immediately ordered this one without knowing much about it. If I had read some of the reviews...I probably wouldn't have picked this because even though it's about the psychology of persuasion (which I do find fascinating), it's also completely about politics and how elections are won and lost on the persuasion game of the candidates. Most specifically it's about how Scott Adams predicted a Trump win in the 2016 election despite all odds and when practically no other pundits were making the same prediction. He was watching the election on a persuasion level, and he breaks down each maneuver and step or misstep by both the Clinton and Trump campaign in that regard. He quotes heavily from Robert Cialdini's Influence (which I've read twice and highly recommend) and Pre-Suasion (reviewed below) as the foundation for his interpretation. It was a fascinating read, but not entirely my cup of tea because of the heavy political analysis. If you are interested in going over the 2016 campaign with a fine-toothed comb and analyzing it on a completely different level than you've previously considered, then yes, read this book. Otherwise just read the two books by Cialdini and skip this.

Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini
As mentioned above, Influence by this author is one of the best books I've read on behavioral science, so the follow-up was a must-read for me. The gist of the book is that if you want to influence someone to think or act a certain way, there are critical steps you need to take just prior to making your move/request in order to get the desired reaction. The author gives some very specific and interesting examples or how pre-suasion has been used from a small level (a salesman gaining your trust) to a major level (why some people were more willing than others to risk their lives to hide Jews during WWII). This book was good and certainly enlightening, but I didn't find it as eye opening as the first. Probably because I've read so many other books with similar themes since then that the information just didn't feel as new. It's a good book but I would recommend mainly to people with a particular interest in psychology or a career in sales.

The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky
Similar in theme to one of my favorites from last year, The Happiness Hypothesis, this book is essentially list of lessons we can learn from the scientific research on happiness along with recommendations of how to act on those lessons to improve your happiness. This book had some really great quotes and ideas - I especially loved the chapter on goals and found that to be great motivation for this time of year. That said, I didn't like it quite as much as The Happiness Hypothesis for a few reasons. 1) A lot of the information wasn't "new" to me (I'm seeing a trend here and this is something I'll have to watch with my nonfiction selections in 2018). 2) Many of the suggestions for action-toward-happiness involved some kind of writing assignment. I don't doubt that it would be an effective strategy in many cases, but I felt like I'd been asked to write a 4,000 autobiographical novel by the time I finished the book. And 3) I felt the author repeated the terms "research shows" over and over without going into many more specifics of the research. Maybe the print version would have footnotes and references to said research, but on the audiobook version it just didn't click for me.

We're Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union
After the three previous books, I knew I needed something completely different and refreshing for my next nonfiction pick. This one came recommended by Kristen so I gave it a go even though I really didn't know much at all about Gabrielle Union's personal life or career to think that she would be of interest to me. But what a fun read! I repeatedly find that actresses make the best audiobook narrators and this was no exception. I felt like I was on a long, personal phone call with Gabrielle and she was spilling all of her life secrets and most valuable lessons via personal stories. Some were funny, some were sad, but all of them were entertaining and rang true. I definitely recommend this one if you want a girlfriend-gossip type book. I will also note that she shared some very frank sexual experiences that made me uncomfortable at first. When it happened early in the book, I was thinking in my head, "I don't know you well enough yet for you to be telling me this!" Something about hearing personal experiences felt different and more intimate than reading about the encounters of fictional characters. But by the end of the book I felt closer to her so the sharing seemed more natural. Regardless, all of her stories did have a point and a lesson so it didn't just seem like over-sharing. I enjoyed this book a lot and recommend it if you like chick lit or have enjoyed other celeb books like Lauren Graham's.


Up Next:
If you want to read along with me or share your thoughts on any of these selections, here's what I'm currently reading or planning to read this month:

I've heard so many good things about Jodi Picoult from so many people but for some reason never picked up one of her books...until now. I asked for recommendations on my Instagram stories and whoa! Lots of Jodi fans! I made a list of all the suggestions for future reference, but Nineteen Minutes by got the most recommendations so I went for it first. I'm about 20% into it and it hasn't grabbed me immediately, but I can see that we're still in the building phase so I'm trusting everyone that it will be worth the time.

Kristen has been doing a great job of sharing book deals on her Instagram stories every day, and I bought these two recently because of her. I never used to buy a new book before finishing the one I was reading, but it's such a great way to save on books so I don't mind having a bit of a backlog now. Up next on my Kindle: Most of all You by Mia Sheridan and Wait for It by Marianna Zapata.

And finally, for nonfiction I'm just starting  Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping us Hooked.  With my current Time Management goals I thought I could use some positive reinforcements. After that I plan to read  Year of Yes by Shonda Rimes thanks to many great reviews on this book!


Linking up with: Steph & JanaNarci

1/8/18

Neutral Sweater Jacket + Time Management

12 comments |
Well, the holidays are officially over and it's back to the grind around here. The kids are back to school and my youngest was actually looking forward to going back and seeing his friends. I'm going to miss the slower pace and extra reading time, but life goes on so I'm sure after after a week or two it will all feel normal again. Speaking of normal, I'd say this is a pretty normal outfit for me this winter. A t-shirt, an outer layer, some jeans and some boots:

Sweater Jacket (c/o) | Black Z Supply Tee (c/o) | Jeans | Boots | Necklace | Bag | Belt | EarringsNail Polish | "Beyond the Pale Pink"

Outfit Details:
The good news about this sweater jacket is that it's a non-itchy fabric (very important detail if you ask me) and warm enough for winter wear. Obviously in a colder climate you'll need a long sleeve layer underneath and a coat to boot, but with the shorter length of this piece, it should be easier to pair it with any coat. It's still available in two colors, but the bad news is that my color is sold out. It's a One Size piece that would probably work for sizes XS-Medium.

Sweater Jacket (c/o) | Black Z Supply Tee (c/o) | Jeans | Boots | Necklace | Bag | Belt | Earrings |  Nail Polish "Beyond the Pale Pink"

My t-shirt, jeans, and boots all ran true to size. My necklace comes as a two-layer piece, but I separated the layers to make two necklaces. If you want to do the same you'll need another clasp for one of the layers. You can find them easily at any craft store (e.g. Michael's or JoAnn Fabrics) but I just took one from another necklace that I wasn't using anymore.

Monday Motivation:
Last week I kicked off the 2018 edition of my Monday Motivation series and outlined the four key areas I'm focusing on for the year. I promised to go into more detail on each area in subsequent weeks...so here we are with week one! For January I'll follow the order I listed in the original post, but after that I'll share more organically based on what's relevant for me at the time.

Going in to 2017, I knew I wanted to improve my time management and I did make some progress, especially in regards to punctuality. I found two key habits I had to change to make it anywhere on time. First, start getting ready to to leave the house 10-15 minutes before I actually need to leave. (Assuming I'm all dressed and ready for the day, that's the time to use the bathroom, put on shoes, round up any items I need for the errand, etc.) Historically I was allowing five minutes for all that, but I repeatedly found that it just wasn't enough time to do those last few things that seem like they should only take five minutes! The second thing I needed to do (which still needs improvement) was ignore my phone in that final 10-15 minute departure prep window. Again I was chronically underestimating the amount of time it takes to reply to a text/email etc.

For 2018, there are two areas of time management I'm aiming to improve. They're separate but definitely related:

1. Focus
2. Managing Smartphone Addiction

Focus: Did you all know that multi-tasking is a myth? It's really switch-tasking, and it's no wonder that whenever I think I'm multi-tasking, I just feel scatterbrained. On the flip side, I think part of the reason I like reading so much is that it forces my brain to focus on just that singular task and it feels good. Although I do manage to get most things done when I need to (e.g. staying consistent with blog posts would never be possible if I couldn't finish a task), I tend to switch-task far too often through the process. Five minutes of blogging, then I remember I need to change the laundry over to the dryer, then I need to make a doctor's appointment, then I check Instagram, then I text a friend, then back to the blog and do it all over again! I've read about The Pomodoro Technique and I think this is something I need to implement more often. I've done it inconsistently in the past and it does help, but for 2018 I'm bringing it back anytime I have a focus-oriented task at hand.

Managing Smartphone Addiction: This article is one of the best I have read (and not too long) about why we are addicted to our smartphones (and it's proven...not imagined) and offers some very practical, small and realistic steps to take to manage the addiction. I've repeatedly found that my phone messes with my time management and distracts me when I want to be focused on another person or task. It frustrates me that I'm not in better control of that urge to check my phone and this year that's something I really want to improve. I recently made a couple of changes to my phone settings that were suggested in the article and they did help, but I think I still need to go a few steps further.

First, I've learned to put certain group text threads on Do Not Disturb at times when I can't afford to be distracted. I cannot resist reading and participating in fun text conversations, so my only chance for staying focused is turning off the alerts to reduce the temptation to engage. Managing notifications is one of the suggestions in the article I liked, and I'm considering adjusting some other notifications as well, e.g. blog emails. It's rare that a blog-related email is truly urgent, but when I get the notifications on my phone I react as though I'm a 911 operator and need to send out an emergency response team to a house that's on fire.

Second, the proximity issue. This was also explained well in the article. I have a tendency to check Instagram far more often than necessary, so I've started by moving it a few pages off my home screen. That simple change really seems to help me slow down and ask myself, "Do I really need to be checking this right now?" I'm also working on keeping my phone zipped away in my bag whenever I'm out at a meal with my family. I want to focus on being fully present in those moments and not being that family who is all sitting there together looking at their own phones. Finally, there are times when I want to move my phone to a different room to help me focus on the task at hand, but when I've tried that, inevitably it's the time my husband needs to get in touch with me for something time-sensitive or the school needs to reach me because my child is sick, so I haven't found a way to make that work for me. But I do believe managing proximity is a big factor in controlling the addiction so I'm determined to find a few more realistic changes to implement in that regard

As always, I would love to hear your tips, tricks, strategies, and favorite books or articles on this issue! You all gave me so many great recommendations in 2017 and I am hoping for more of the same in 2018! In preparing this post I came across a book I want to read this month: Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. It sounds like something I could use right now to keep myself focused on managing this problem. My January book reviews will be posted tomorrow so it won't be included there, but I'm pretty sure I should have it done in time for my February reviews so keep a look out for that!


Linking up with:

1/5/18

Everyday Outfits + TGIF 1/5/18

8 comments |
Happy Friday! I hope those of you on the East Coast are staying warm and safe in the Bomb Cyclone! The name alone is pretty terrifying! Even though I don't use Snapchat much anymore, I do like checking it for things like this because they'll do compilations of stories shared by people who live in the area. It just makes it more understandable to me when I see what everyday people are going through rather than by just looking at satellite images of a weather pattern. I'll spare you the details of San Diego weather this week and just get straight into this week's everyday outfits. It was all about comfortable, casual, vacation mode!

Outfit Recap Part 1:

Black Sweater, White Jeans:
Black Sweater (c/o) | Jeans | Boots | Handbag (c/o Shopbop) | Necklace | Nail Polish "Beyond the Pale Pink" 

Fit Notes: I'm wearing a size Small in this sweater which is pretty normal for my sizing at SheIn/Romwe, but similar to an XS in brands like Express or LOFT. All other pieces ran true to size.

Camo Sweatshirt, Jeans:
AE Camo Sweatshirt (Same Brand, SimilarSimilar, Similar) | Jeans | Boots | Handbag (c/o Shopbop) | Necklace (Customized) | Nail Polish "Stick to your Burgundies"

Fit Notes: My exact sweatshirt is sold out, but I linked a few similar options above, including this one that says it's "made for leggings." All other current pieces ran true to size.

Mocha Cardigan, Leggings:
Cardigan (c/o) | Lace Tank | Leggings | Bar III Leopard Boots (Similar) | Half Moon Necklace | Nail Polish "Stick to Your Burgundies" 

Fit Notes: I'm wearing a Small in the cardigan and lace tank: neither of them come in XS and they do fit a bit bigger than a standard XS but they still worked for me.

Outfit Recap Part 2:

Fleece Jacket, Charcoal Jeans:
Fleece Jacket (Regular Sizes) | Black V-Neck Tee | Jeans | Boots (c/o) | Bag (c/o) | Nail Polish "Stick to your Burgundies"

Fit Notes: This jacket runs pretty big. I'm wearing an XS Petite here and I rarely take petite sizes. I originally tried the regular-sized version and it came almost to my knees (I'm 5'4"). It's not my most flattering jacket but it's definitely my most cozy! It's warm and incredibly soft. Everything else ran true to size for me.

Pink V-Neck Sweater:
Sweater (c/o) (Similar) | Jeans | Belt | Boots | Necklace | Bag (c/o) | Identical Earrings |  Nail Polish "Beyond the Pale Pink"

Fit Notes: You can find my original post for this outfit here. My jeans and boots are true to size, and unfortunately my sweater sold out since I posted it, but I found a similar option with lots of great reviews to help you get the sizing right.

Striped Corset Waist Sweatshirt:

Fit Notes: The full post for this outfit is here, but everything ran true to size.

T.G.I.F.
On Fridays I share a few little extra tidbits here to go along with my outfits. Since most of these outfits have already been posted on Instagram or in a full post, I like to have something new here for my regulars! I don't want the entire post to be redundant content. I use the T.G.I.F. acronym to share whatever random words and topics come to mind for each of the letters. Here's my list this week!

T. Trends...for 2018
I liked this Elle article with 6 trends that are in for 2018 and 6 that are out. The one I'm most inclined to add to my closet will be white shoes and accessories. I tried white ankle boots this winter and just didn't like it on me, but I'm up for trying again with a different style of shoe or bag like some of these:


The article mentioned that chokers are out, and while I enjoyed that trend for a hot minute I've  phased mine out so I won't miss them. It also said sayonara to cold shoulders, and I was surprised to see that one since a lot of the new Spring items in stores are cold shoulder/off the shoulder tops. I don't think I'll get rid of all of mine, but I probably won't add any new ones either since they do tend to be fussy.

G. Gangsta...not "Gangster."
If you don't know the difference, it could cost you $3200 on Jeopardy. I really can't stop laughing at this for so many reasons!

I. Inconceivable!
This week I received a notice in the mail that People Style Watch will no longer be published and the remainder of my subscription will be filled with People Magazine. I was shocked to see that because I always thought it was quite popular. That same day I saw the news that Playboy is considering the end of its print version as well, and while I won't miss that one, I do think it spells bad news for magazines and print media in general. It's hard to believe...and yet not when I really analyze it. Digital media dominates, but someday our kids might be telling their kids about these antique artifacts we used to get in the mail called "magazines."

F. Fresh....Cream
For Christmas my friend Kristi got me a tube of Philosophy Fresh Cream Body Lotion and I've been loving it:

It smells so good! It's a nice vanilla scent that manages to be more fresh than sweet, and it moisturizes well without being too greasy or sticky. I loved it so much I bought myself a gift set with the spray perfume on an after-Christmas sale.

Thanks for reading today and I'll see you back on Monday!


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