Saturday Outfit Singles 1/21/17

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Happy Saturday friends! Due to popular demand for the return of my Outfit Singles (that's blogger-speak for, "one person mentioned it") I'm going to test out something new here for a bit and see how it goes. On Saturday or Sunday each weekend I'll post all of the front-view outfits from the prior week. Some of them will be repeated from blog posts that week, others will be outfits I wore that didn't make the blog for one reason or another. After today there won't be a lot of text with these posts as I'm trying to keep them simple, but as always feel free to message me if you have questions on any items. If something has particularly odd sizing I will still try to note it here.

New to the Blog:

Nautical Striped Sweater + Jeans
Sweater: LOFT (Similar) | Jeans: Express | Necklace: Express | Ring: Stella & Dot | Red Crossbody Bag: Stella & Dot (Similar) | Boots: Target (Similar)

Black Tie Neck Top + Jeans
Top: LOFT (50% off with Code NOEXCUSES) | Jeans: Express (Similar) | Boots: c/o Amazon  | Necklace: Kendra Scott | Bracelets: Charmed Stacks | Bag: Amazon (Exact Style, my color sold out)

Black Fleece Jacket + Magenta Tee
Jacket: Express (Similar) | Top: Express (My color sold out. Similar) | Jeans: Express | Shoes: c/o Amazon | Bag: Danielle Nicole (Similar) | Necklace: c/o The Fringe Studio

As Seen on the Blog this Week:

Cozy Drape Jacket + Leggings:
Jacket: Express | Tank: Target | Leggings: Express | Earrings: Stella & Dot | Boots: Target | Ring: Stella & Dot | Bag: Amazon (Similar) | Nails: Essie Sole Mate | Full Post: Here

Neutral Cardigan + Burgundy Tee:
Sweater: Express (Similar) | T-Shirt: Target | Necklace: Express | Jeans: Express (Similar) | Boots: Lucky Brand ($48 at Dillard's vs. $139 at Nordstrom!) | Bag: Tory Burch (Option) | Ring: Stella & Dot | Nails: Essie "Pre-Show Jitters" | Full Post with Workout DVD review: Here 

Olive Military Jacket + Jeans:
Jacket: Target | Tee: Target | Custom Initial Choker: c/o The Fringe Studio | Jeans: Express (Similar) | Boots: Lucky Brand | Bag: Tory Burch (Option)

Weekends seem like a good time to post this type of round-up since that's when all the best sales happen! I also thought about doing this in a newsletter vs. a blog post but then I realized I'd have to 1) figure out how to do a newsletter, and 2) push people to sign up for it...so there went that idea! Hopefully this will work out as a good substitute for the previous format and will be relatively easy for me to maintain. Have a great weekend!


Soft Olive Jacket + The Couple Next Door

Happy Friday! Just another outfit post today, and then a little something extra for those of you who read and enjoyed the book The Couple Next Door! We're headed for a dreary, rainy weekend here in San Diego but I'm trying not to let the weather put a damper on my spirits. We had a couple of nice days earlier this week though, so I got to wear this new jacket that I think will transition nicely into Spring as well!

Jacket: Target | Tee: Target | Custom Initial Choker: c/o The Fringe Studio | Jeans: Express (Similar) | Boots: Lucky Brand | Bag: Tory Burch (Option)

Outfit Notes:

This jacket was a Target in-store impulse buy, after I just said in a recent post that I should slow my roll on olive jackets. They are my favorite color of jacket, and I'm telling myself this one is different because it's a soft and kind of silky fabric, unlike any others I have. And it's under $30, making it easier to justify! I'm wearing an XS here. I often wear a Small in Target Junior's sizing, but this fits more like Express sizing.

I posted a few more details on these boots in this post, but in short they run true-to-size for me and I like them so much I ordered them in black!

This leather choker is another great piece from The Fringe Studio! It's a perfect completer piece with the fun custom initial detail. I've found that when I'm wearing a crossbody bag like this I prefer not to wear a longer necklace. Otherwise the strap from my bag and my necklace get tangled up and I'm afraid of breaking one or both of those things in trying to separate them.

Front View:

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What to Read After The Couple Next Door:
Last month I recommended the book The Couple Next Door to anyone and everyone, and a few of you followed up with me that you read it and couldn't put it down either! I have my monthly book recap coming up next Wednesday for What's Up Wednesday, but in the meantime I wanted to share some good follow-up books for anyone having withdrawals from The Couple Next Door. I don't think these are similar in terms of characters, plot lines or the number of twists and turns (nothing comes to mind that tops The Couple Next Door for that!), but all of them grabbed my interest right away and held it to the end, which is exactly what I want after a book like that. I don't have the patience for, "it takes awhile to get into but it's worth it in the end!" books immediately after something so juicy.

Recommended Reading January 2017

I'll try to give a very high-level synopsis here without any major spoilers.

Try Not to Breathe
Basic plot: A reporter becomes fascinated with a woman who has been in a coma for over a decade, and decides to investigate her story since some things don't add up.
What I liked: The mystery and suspense.
What I didn't like: The main character overlooked some obvious suspects, when she was otherwise very smart and intuitive. (I suppose that's how they keep the story going, though!)

The Sound of Rain
Basic plot: A police detective is unsettled by a kidnapping/murder case that was "solved" by her department, but she doesn't agree with their findings.
What I liked: I might be biased because this takes place in my old neighborhood (e.g. the kidnapping took place at Factoria Target in Bellevue, WA where I used to shop) so there were a lot of local nuances that I connected with that. Aside from that, the case was very intriguing and kept me guessing until the end. I've made a mental note that I need to read more by this author because I'd never heard of him (the book came up on Amazon under "other people also bought...") prior to this book so far I like his style.
What I didn't like: The ending got a little confusing. (I can't say more than that without spoiling but I'd definitely love to chat with anyone else who reads this!)

The Kind Worth Killing
Basic Plot: A man and woman meet by chance in an airport bar and make a plot to kill someone who (maybe?) deserves to die.
What I liked: I loved the TV show Dexter and how thought provoking it was about whether life (and taking a life) is as black and white as we'd like it to be. This book had similar themes and elements.
What I didn't like: I can't really think of anything I didn't like. Maybe my memory is just fading since I read this back in June/July. But I think this book is really underrated since I never hear anyone talk about it and I really liked it.

These last two books are a different genre than The Couple Next Door. They aren't really mystery/suspense and there's no murder/kidnapping etc. That said, I do think most of my real life/blog friends would like these a lot! They are page-turners that hook you quickly and have some really good surprises and twists.

It Ends With Us
Basic Plot: Girl meets boy who seems too good to be true and they share some secrets with each other because they think won't see each other again. Well...they do. (Sorry, teeny spoiler but not really.)
What I liked: The well developed, complex characters and complicated choices.
What I didn't like: Some characters were a little too perfect (or had just one major flaw), making it a little harder to relate.

November 9
Basic Plot: Girl meets boy as she's getting ready to move across country. But since they have such good chemistry they decide to meet every year on November 9 to stay in touch and see if life leads them back to each other when the timing is better.
What I liked: Major, unexpected plot twist!
What I didn't like: Up until the major plot twist, I was thinking this story was a little too cheesy.

Hope this helps some of you all pick your next book! If you've read any of these, let me know what you thought or if you have suggestions for others you loved, I'm always looking for those. Have a great weekend!

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Neutral Cardigan Outfit + Home Workout Updates

Just a simple outfit of the day post today, and as promised I'm following up with my thoughts on Cathe Friedrich's latest workout series, Strong & Sweaty

Sweater: Express (Similar) | T-Shirt: Target | Necklace: Express | Jeans: Express (Similar) | Boots: Lucky Brand ($48 at Dillard's vs. $139 at Nordstrom!) | Bag: Tory Burch (Option) | Ring: Stella & Dot | Nails: Essie "Pre-Show Jitters"

Outfit Notes:
These boots were on mega-sale at Dillard's for New Year's Day, and lucky you (apropos the brand name) the price is even better now. This is my second pair of Lucky shoes and I am a big fan. They have padded foot beds with padded arch support that really add a lot of comfort. I frequently add padded inserts to my shoes but it's not necessary with these. Some of the reviews on the same shoes at Nordstrom (for more than twice as much!) said they ran small, but I took my normal size in them and the fit was perfect. Of course, you do sacrifice a bit of comfort with a pointed toe over a rounded toe, but not much in the case of these shoes. Unfortunately you cannot tell from my pics that they do have fringe on the side. I was was worried that would make them less classic/more trendy, but it's pretty subtle in real life and I don't mind it at all.

Also, I sized up in this t-shirt (which comes in eleven other colors) as I often do in Target Junior's t-shirts.

Front View:

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Cathe Strong and Sweaty Workout DVD Reviews:
For the last twelve years, I've been doing almost all of my workouts at home with DVDs (read the full story behind that in this post). My all-time favorite instructor is Cathe Friedrich, and her workouts make up about 95% of my DVD collection. In December she released her latest series, Strong and Sweaty (available on Amazon). Now that I've had a chance to do all of the workouts in this set, I'm sharing my thoughts and the rotations that I used for the DVDs.

5 DVD Set (Links to individual workouts below)

As a general note, this is marketed as an Advanced Series, and in my opinion it is just that. There aren't a lot of options to modify these workouts to lower impact or an easier pace. All of them are 50 minutes or less (in the past Cathe has done a lot of longer workouts...50+ minutes), which is ideal for me because I lose interest after that long, not to mention I don't like to schedule any more time than that for a morning workout. But despite the comparatively shorter running time on these, Cathe packs in the intensity so you are still getting a very thorough workout even on the shortest DVD. For this series you will need several sets of dumbbells (I own everything from 3s to 20s and used almost all of them), an adjustable-height aerobic step, a yoga mat, a stability ball, and some resistance bands. (And for what it's worth, those are all my must-have items for a home workout set-up.)

At first glance, I wasn't sure how these would fit into my normal routine because that three out of five of these workouts are total body weights, and I prefer split training (i.e. training different muscle groups on different days). But I was able to make it work fairly easily. Also, I thought it was interesting that she had an Upper-Body-Only workout but no Lower Body workout in the set. It didn't really bother me though because I have other Lower Body DVDs, and some came from sets with no Upper Body counterpart. Finally, each DVD has a Bonus Ab segment. At first I thought I was getting five ab workouts with this series, but really it's just one ab workout (albeit a very good one!) added as a Bonus Chapter to each of the DVDs.

Here is the two week rotation that I did for these workouts, with a brief review of the five new workouts. The titles link to Amazon for the individual workouts if you prefer that over buying the full set (although if you are considering two of these it's probably cheaper just to get the full set).

Day One: Lower Body Premix from Total Body Giant Sets
Day Two: Upper Body Premix from Total Body Giant Sets.
Day Three: Cardio Slam
Day Four: PHA Training
Day Five: Yoga/Stretch (see my favorite DVDs for this here)
Day Six: Strong and Sweaty Boot Camp 

Day One: Cathe Lower Body Blast DVD (from a previous series - not included in this set)
Day Two: Cardio (see a list of my cardio DVD favorites here)
Day Three: Ramped Up Upper Body
Day Four: Strong & Sweaty Bonus Abs + Yoga/Stretch
Day Five: Cathe High Reps Lower Body Premix (from a previous series - not included in this set)
Day Six: Cardio

Total Body Giant SetsThis is the longest workout in the series at 50 minutes (not including Bonus Abs), but I still chose to split it into two days by doing Lower Body and Upper Body on different days. It is a fast-paced (no rest between exercises), intense weight training workout that effectively hit every muscle group.

Cardio Slam: High impact, high intensity, fast-paced, no-time-to-rest-or-get-bored cardio. It is exhausting! It does require some equipment (a step, mat, and light weights), but the weights just add to the cardio intensity...they aren't there for actual weight training. There isn't any complicated choreography in this one, but you do need to be fairly nimble and coordinated to complete all of the moves.

PHA Training: I had to Google to find out that PHA stands for Peripheral Heart Action. Regardless, I loved this workout and it felt new and fresh to me compared to any of Cathe's other weight workouts. It alternated a series of upper and lower body weight training moves in quick succession (but the reps were not fast, so I was still able to use fairly heavy weight) to give your heart and lungs a good workout in addition to really fatiguing every major muscle group.

Boot Camp: I believe this is Cathe's third workout with the Boot Camp title, and of the three, it's my favorite! I loved the quick cardio burst followed by a series of alternating upper and lower body weight training moves.

Ramped Up Upper Body: I'm sounding like a broken record now, but again, this was another fantastic, fast-paced, killer upper body weights workout! I feel like Cathe has put out quite a lot of workouts in this style for lower body (see all of my favorite weigh training DVDs here, but not as many for upper body, so I'm really glad she made this and happy to have it in my collection!

All in all, if you workout pretty regularly but are looking for something different to really kick up your routine a notch in 2017, I highly recommend this whole series. I didn't dislike any of the workouts at all and I'm sure they will all be in my workout rotation for years to come.

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That Leggings Life + Monday Motivation

Over the holidays, I had plenty of reasons to choose leggings as pants. Nowhere important to be, too much food made me feel bloated and not ready for real pants, etc. Now the holidays over, but the leggings have been a hard habit to break! I do make an effort (usually...) to make the overall impression of the outfit "put together" rather than "didn't feel like trying today." I'll let you be the judge of how I did on these three outfits from the past two weeks.

ONE: Grey Plush Jacket + Leggings
Jacket: Express | Tank: Target | Leggings: Express | Earrings: Stella & Dot | Boots: Target | Ring: Stella & Dot | Bag: Amazon (Similar) | Nails: Essie Sole Mate

Outfit Notes:
This jacket is one of my favorite Express pieces of the Winter, and now I've collected all three colors. It can be worn open or closed, and is just a great way to top off an outfit in style without sacrificing comfort. I rounded up my previous outfits with all three colors of this jacket in yesterday's post, and here are the stock photos/links to each jacket since they are listed separately on the website (rather than being listed as three color options of the same jacket). For me all three fit identically and were true-to-size (I'm wearing XS).

Front View:

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TWO: Trench Coat + Leggings
Trench: Nordstrom Rack (Similar) | Top: Gap | Leggings: Express | Boots: Target (Similar) | Necklace: Stella & Dot (Similar) | Crossbody Bag: Stella & Dot (Similar) | Nails: Essie Sole Mate

Outfit Notes:
This tunic is on the verge of selling out, but I hope they re-stock it because it's so perfect with leggings. See the white version of this tunic (with yet another leggings outfit!) here. For reference, I'm 5'4", so you may have to mentally adjust how long this will be on you depending on your height.

Front View:

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THREE: Olive Cardigan + Leggings
Sweater: Express (Similar) | Tank: Target | Leggings: ExpressNecklace: Kendra Scott | Bag: c/o Amazon | Boots: Target (Similar) | Ring: Stella & Dot | Bag: c/o Amazon 

Outfit Notes:
Eh. To be honest, I wish I had carried a different bag with this because overall I felt like this outfit was kind of drab (albeit cozy). But live and learn. The weather was drab anyway so I guess it matched that, and I didn't feel like changing bags from the day prior, so it is what it is!

Front View:

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All Three Outfits:

Monday Motivation

Today I'm kicking off a weekly Monday Motivation series. When New Year's Day rolls around, there are all kinds of blog and social media posts and with goals from people filled with empowering motivation. And it's contagious! I didn't think I was going to make exact goals or resolutions this year but after reading several other people's I decided I really did want to do my own (see it here). I love that motivated feeling and drive for self-improvement, and it's sad and frustrating that it tends to flicker out so quickly. Carrie does a monthly post about her goals and that always inspires me, so this year I'm going to follow suit in my own way.

It's really simple. I'm just going to use a little space here on Mondays to talk motivation...regardless of whether I'm struggling or succeeding in one area or another. Many times just the act of writing things down helps me find the motivation I need, and when I share it with someone else (like this) it gives that extra-motivating element of accountability, and that helps too. So feel free to share your own successes and struggles with me in the comments or in any other way if it helps you too!

Black Belt Motivation: I've previously shared on the blog (e.g. here in my 2016 goals) how I'm training in Tae Kwon Do with my kids. They started several years before me and already have their Black Belts, but something came over me in 2015 that made me decide I need one too. Not only that, but in general I want to train with them and have an activity we do together, not just another activity where I drop them off and watch them/play on my phone/read a book while they practice. (And don't get me wrong, we do those activities too...nothing wrong with it.) Enter 2017 and a major road block to my Black Belt goals. Our studio was sold to a chain of studios and it's like an entirely different planet. What used to feel like a family now feels like a factory. I don't enjoy their class format, I don't feel like I'm training with my kids and with my adult friends the way I used to, their belt ranking puts me three belts away from Black Belt instead of just two, etc. etc. My motivation has been wiped out. I still want a Black Belt and I'm just too close to give up, but I may need to come up with a new plan for getting there, and that's easier said than done!

So that's my motivation confession for the day, and incidentally, justification for wearing leggings because it's so much easier to spontaneously perform martial arts in leggings than in jeans or a dress!

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Favorite Cozy Jacket + 40% off Sale Purchases

Surprise! A Sunday post! It's been a low key weekend so I had some extra time to round up a few outfits with my current sale favorites. My number one recent favorite piece from Express is this cozy drape collar moto jacket. I ended up getting all three colors myself because I really do love it so much. It's the warmth and comfort of a cardigan but the slightly more polished look of a jacket. And of course, the current 40% off sale at Express is the best time to pick this up.  Also, all four of the jeans I'm wearing in these outfits are still-in-stock, also-on-sale favorites. I took advantage of the sale to test out a couple of pairs of jeans myself and I'll share those at the end of this pots.

Jacket: Express | Tee: Gap (Similar) | Jeans: Express | Necklace: Kendra Scott | Boots: c/o Amazon | Ring: Stella & Dot | Nails: OPI Let's Be Friends

Front View:

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Jacket: Express | Tee: Nordstrom | Jeans: Express | Shoes: Express Bag: Amazon (My color sold out, Similar) | Short Necklace: Kendra Scott | Long Necklace: Stella & Dot | Nails: Essie Berry Naughty | Bracelets: Charmed Stacks (inventory varies, message shop owners for specific style requests)

Front View: (With Jacket snapped up for comparison)

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Jacket: Express | Tee: Nordstrom | Necklace: Express (Similar) | Jeans: Express | Boots: Target | Bracelet: Charmed Stacks | Nails: Essie Devil's Advocate | Bag: Amazon (Exact style, studded options sold out)
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In putting this post together, I just realized I used the same bag every single time I wore this jacket. And that I kept the same black/white/grey color scheme each time as well. Oops. I might try to branch out a little more with colors next time I wear it...but then again I might not because I just tend to like what I like!

Jacket: Express (Exact in-store only, Similar)  | Cami: Express | Jeans: Express | Boots: Express (Similar) | Bag: AmazonRing: Kendra Scott | Necklace: Kendra Scott (Similar) | Nails: Essie Berry Naughty Bracelets: Charmed Stacks |

This cami is another recent favorite. I've been favoring long sleeve layers lately, which is why I've only one it once so far. But I do love the stripes and will be wearing it again on a warmer day.

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My Sale Purchases:
For those who like to know what I purchased during the sale, here's what I ordered:
Express 40% off sale purchases Jan 2017

1. Plaid Shirt: I really like the subtle plaid print on this and think it will be perfect for Spring...not that I'll wait that long to wear it! I'm sure it will work just as well for winter with dark jeans and boots. The fabric in the description is described as soft, and I'm hoping that's the case because I'm all about soft and comfortable this winter.

2. Light Wash Jeans: Since my last attempt to expand my lighter-wash jeans collection didn't work out so well (see it here) I'm hoping these will be better.

3. Dark Frayed Hem Jeans: I love the wash of these and I'm also liking the frayed hem trend, so fingers crossed that they fit me as well as the model!

I don't exactly need a whole lot of new items right now but I can't resist trying a few new things when the price is right! Once I receive all the pieces and try them on I'll be sure to let you know what worked and what didn't!


3 Ways to Wear Light Grey Jeans + 40% Off Sale

Happy Friday! We're kicking off a four day weekend here (no school on Friday or Monday), which feels weird since we were just getting back into the swing of things post-holiday. But maybe since we don't have unexpected random snow days here like other places, this is San Diego's way of making sure the teachers get a break and don't lose their minds between January and Spring Break!

I just found out that Express has 40% off EVERYTHING this weekend, which works nicely with my post today since I'm sharing one of my recent favorite denim purchases, these light grey distressed jeans. This is my third time wearing them (er...photographing them. I've actually worn them more but some outfits just don't get photographed), and I'll recap each of the other outfits below this one.

ONE: Grey Jeans with Black and Olive
Jacket: Express | Tee: Target | Necklace: c/o The Fringe Studio | Jeans: Express | Shoes: Amazon | Bag: c/o Amazon | Ring: Stella & Dot "Pave Sphinx" | Nails: Essie Sole Mate

Outfit Notes:
These jeans are the Supersoft style, and true to their name, they're very soft and comfy! Hence the reason I've worn them so often since I purchased them. They ran true-to-size for me. They have a raw hem at the ankle, which is such a popular trend right now, but unfortunately that detail isn't all that visible with any of my shoe pairings.

This jacket is another recent favorite that's also really soft and comfortable. See my previous outfit with this jacket here. And this is also a great price right now thanks to the 40% off Sale

Front View:

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TWO: Grey Jeans with Burgundy Jacket
Jacket: Maurice's (Similar) | Tee: Target | Jeans: Express | Necklace: Stella & Dot (On Sale) | Shoes: Target (Similar) |

Outfit Notes:
This Stella & Dot necklace was a birthday gift last year and is quite possibly my most-used birthday gift ever! I didn't expect to use it as much as I have, but the stone functions as a perfect neutral. For the record I did shorten the length of it on my own with the amateur/hack methods I outlined here. The style of chain was rather difficult to alter/re-attach so proceed with caution! It was well worth the effort for me, though!

Front View:

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THREE: Grey Jeans with Black Tee and Taupe Moto Jacket
Jacket: Express | Tee: Nordstrom | Jeans: Express | Boots: Amazon | Necklace: Kendra Scott (Similar) | Sunglasses: Charming Charlie | Nails: Essie Devil's Advocate

Outfit Notes:
Even though this was outfit was posted fairly recently (see more details hereI wanted to put all the outfits together in this post for convenient-search purposes. This jacket is also part of the 40% off Sale (see another way I styled it in Outfit Eight here) and I love olive-y taupe color. This style of jacket is one of my all-time favorites, and you can see my two other favorite colors (and eight ways I've worn them) here.

Front View:

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All Three Looks:

State of the Blog:

I'm going to borrow JoLynne's governmental wording here and just update you all a little on some of the thoughts I shared in my Happy New Year post. (And by the way, thanks so much to all who gave me feedback on that post either on the blog or via another channel! They were very helpful to me!) So far, the M/W/F post schedule has been working well with real life, so that's here to stay for now. I've also thought a bit more about the types of content and posts I create vis-à-vis the types that generate traffic and engagement (i.e. the posts that make a blog relevant to anyone other than the author!).  Here's what you can expect to see more/less/about the same of here in 2017:


- Standard outfit posts with fit details on the pieces and some random thoughts du jour. (Like this.)

- Multiple ways to wear one piece. (Like today.) These are incredibly helpful to me when others do them, whether I'm deciding if I want to purchase a piece (e.g. "Hm, she wore it with tan boots and jeans and a striped top...I have all of those things so I think this would work for me!") or just looking for new ways to wear what I already own (e.g. "Oh, I have a plaid shirt like that. I should try it with my beige jacket like she did!").

- Following up...specifically on items I bought. I don't write a blog post every time I make a purchase or return (thank goodness...), but if I do share exact items I bought with affiliate shopping links, I feel like I'm vouching for them in a way and owe you all a follow-up as to why things do or don't work. (e.g. I shared some sale purchases here and the hits and misses for Express here then LOFT here.)


-Entertainment style posts (e.g. Astrology, Celebrity Style, and Coffee Date posts): These are quite time consuming to create and typically don't bring enough extra traffic to merit the extra time spent. I did have a lot of fun with those topics so it's not to say I'll never do them again if I feel so inspired. But for the time being they aren't on the editorial calendar because the extra time commitment doesn't fit with the blog/life balance I'm seeking.

About the Same:

-Fitness: While I don't expect this to become a regular topic again, it's a part of my life that's bound to come up now and again. If I try something new on the fitness front that's worth recommending, I will still share it. e.g. I received Cathe's newest workout series over the holidays and want to share my thoughts on those for my fellow home exercisers!

Lifestyle: Books, recipes, (infrequent) travel, family-friendly activities and all of the random stuff I share in What's Up Wednesday posts or just here and there will still be on the docket for 2017. Those are really the things that differentiate one blogger from the next, and since my amazing photography isn't going to be what brings you back, hopefully you can connect with me on some of these other points!

Well, as always thanks for reading if you made it this far! I don't have any exciting plans this weekend but I'm looking forward to it anyway. See you back on Monday!

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