Book Review: Britt-Marie Was Here

Britt-Marie Was Here Book Review

 

After I read My Name Is Ove, I decided I needed to read more of Fredrik Backman (he has several books). The next one I picked up was Britt-Marie Was Here. It was really good as well. It was a little slow to start, but I thought Ove was too. It just takes a little bit to get going, and then you are hooked.

 

Britt-Marie is the type of woman who needs things to be a certain way – the cutlery drawer must be organized a certain way, dinner is always at 6 (because what kind of person eats doesn’t eat dinner at 6?), windows must be extremely clean, balconies are preferred. Britt-Marie isn’t the type to judge, of course, but some things just need to be the way they are meant to be. When Britt-Marie finds herself alone and jobless after leaving her cheating husband, she takes a job at a closing recreation center in a nearby town that is all but shut down. She soon becomes involved in the daily life of the townspeople, who are all a little bit odd, and somehow finds herself as the soccer coach for the group of kids in town.

 

Britt-Marie Was Here is a book about self discovery and about finding yourself after being lost for a very long time (or perhaps really finding yourself for the first time). Britt-Marie is seriously socially awkward. She doesn’t understand jokes (and she hates to be laughed at), and she doesn’t do well with small talk. She cleans like crazy and is obsessed with a certain brand of window cleaner. She is definitely an odd character. Actually everyone in the book is odd.

 

It is such a funny book. It is also really heartwarming and also sad. I laughed out loud, I cried. It is a feel good book, and you can’t help but love Britt-Marie.

 

Fredrik Backman is an incredible writer. I love that he isn’t overly descriptive. He is concise and to the point. I actually don’t like authors that are really overly descriptive. If you have to be that descriptive, I don’t think you are that good of a writer, but that is just me. But he is the tpe that you can see the characters and the setting so clearly without the lengthy descriptions.

 

Have you read anything by Fredrik Backman? If so, what did you think?

3 Ways To Wear: Mules

One of the most popular trends by far for fall is mules. They are everywhere – flats, heels, plain, tassels, embellished, neutrals, bright colors. There are so many different options out there! I really consider them to be a must have shoe for fall. You can opt for a classic black flat with a tassel, or maybe have a little fun with a leopard print or a pale pink! You can also find them in just about any price point, so if you aren’t so sure about them but want to give them a try, you can pick up a super cute pair at Target without spending a lot.

 

I know that mules might seem a little hard to style. The fact that they don’t have a back may make them seem a little intimidating, but just treat them like a loafer! Just have fun with them and don’t be afraid to experiment (some of the best outfits happen when you really mix it up).

 

How To Style Mules

 

mules / dressshirt

 

Mules with pants seems a bit more obvious, but mules work with a dress (or skirt) too! I love pairing them with a casual denim dress, but they would also look great with a LBD for a more dressed up look.

 

How To Style Mules

mules / sweatshirtjeans

 

Mules pair perfectly with denim! They work with skinny or flared jeans. If you are wearing a skinny jean, you may want to try rolling them a little bit so that they are ankle length so you can really show them off!

 

How To Style Mules

mules / pants / shirt

 

Mules are perfect for the office too. Pair them with a trouser or a pencil skirt. Top it off with a blouse or a blazer for a polished look.

 

I love the color of these mules. Blush pink was really popular for summer, and it is still going to be popular for fall. And these really work dresses up or down.

 

I have yet to actually pull the trigger on a pair of mules yet. I am having a hard time deciding what I want! As I said before, there are so many cute choices out there. You can shop some of my favorites below.

 

Do you have a pair of mules for fall? What is your favorite way to style them? If you don’t have a pair, are you willing to give them a try?

 

Fall Fashion Must Haves

Now that it is the middle of September, it is time to start really thinking about fall wardrobes! There are a lot of great (and some not so great) fall fashion trends this year. It is funny because several trends are carrying over from the fall. This makes it a little easier to transition, so you can keep incorporating those summer pieces into the fall.

 

So, today I am talking all about the five fall fashion trends that I am really excited about.

 

Fall Fashion Must Haves

 

Fall Fashion Must Haves

Blush pink was everywhere for summer, and it isn’t going anywhere for fall. I am always on board for more pink! And going darker, red is also huge for fall. Burgundy is always a favorite for fall, but don’t forget to add in some bright red, which is always a fun punch of color to mix in with the neutrals.

Coat / Sweater / Skirt

 

Fall Fashion Must Haves

Plaid is always a favorite print for fall, but it is really everywhere this year – skirts, coats, shirts, sweaters. And all different sizes too large, small, houndstooth, herringbone. Just start stocking up on all things plaid.

Shirt / Skirt / Blazer

 

Fall Fashion Must Haves

Velvet is another fall favorite, but this year it is even more popular than normal. From shoes to blazers, there are plenty of velvet options.

Blazer / Skirt / Mules

 

Fall Fashion Must Haves

Remember when I told you not to pack away your florals? Florals are big for fall! Look for florals with a darker background to make them really feel like fall. Or if you don’t want to buy something new, pair your summer florals with fall pieces.

Sweater / Dress / Top

 

Fall Fashion Must Haves

Bell sleeves, ruffles, embroidered sleeves, sleeves with bows and ties … it is all about making a statement with your sleeves this fall.

Blouse / Sweater / Shirt

 

The good news is that you can get so many of these trends at a great price, if you aren’t sure if you want to make the plunge. Target’s new collection A New Day has some really great options that I have included!

 

So tell me, what fall trends are you excited about? I really love all of the sleeves with bows, and plaid is always one of my favorites to break out for fall.

Staple: Chambray Shirt

Chambray Shirt Styling

 

A few weeks ago, I posts about my top 10 Closet Staples. For the next 10 months, I am going to be tackling one each month.

 

A chambray shirt is one of my absolute wardrobe must haves. It works in just about any season, in most situations, and with just about anything else in your closet. Plus, it never goes out of style. Don’t believe me? I have had mine for at least 5 years. To be honest, mine could stand to be replaced because I wear it SO much. During the fall, winter and spring, I wear it it several times a month. (My wear average does go down during the summer). It is the perfect piece to layer under, layer over or wear on its own! You just can’t beat a chambray shirt.

 

Chambray Shirt Staple Styling

 

On its own

A simple chambray shirt + skirt combo is always a winner. And it really doesn’t matter what skirt you are wearing – casual, dressy, pencil, full, mini. A chambray shirt works with ALL of these! I love pairing the casual chambray shirt with a dressier skirt to mix it up.

Shirt / Skirt / Booties

 

Chambray Shirt Styling

Layer under

A chambray shirt is a great layering piece. When it starts getting cooler, add it under your summer dresses. Or throw a cardigan on top of it. When the temps really start to drop, it works well under a blazer or under a pull over sweater.

Shirt / Blazer / Pants / Shoes

 

Chambray Shirt Styling

Layer over

Treat a chambray shirt kind of like a denim jacket or a cardigan. Throw it on top of a t-shirt dress, over a graphic tee, tie it around your shoulders or around your waist.

Shirt / Dress / Shoes

 

I wasn’t kidding when I said a chambray shirt works in just about any situation and can add so much life to other pieces in your wardrobe! Chambray shirts can extend the life of your summer dresses by either layering under them or over them. Thinking about one for work? Throw a blazer on and pair it with a pencil skirt. Date night? Dress it up with a sequin skirt. Or try a leather (or pleather) skirt for a sassier look. Super cold out? Layer it under a sweater for extra warmth! Seriously, the possibilities are endless.

 

As far as the color goes (light or dark), I tend to go for the lighter options. But if you prefer a little bit darker, then go for it! I would opt for a classic cut one to start, but there are so many cute ones now with ruffles too. However, a classic button up is going to give you the most styling options.

 

So if you don’t have a chambray shirt in your arsenal yet, I hope I have convinced you that you need one. And if you do, I hope I have given you some styling ideas to help you really maximize it.

 

Budget Best: Bathrooms

I am just going to say it – bathrooms are EXPENSIVE. Our master bathroom is a disaster. The walls are 2 different colors (mint green and teal). The actual walls are messed up – parts are textured, almost like there was textured wallpaper and only part of it was taken down. The tub and the shower could really stand to be replaced. I hate the floors. I don’t love the cabinet counter tops. We have 2 sinks, and the faucets don’t match.

 

I had grand plans to redo the whole bathroom – replace the tub and shower, put in new floors, remud the walls and paint, redo the cabinets, replace all the lighting, put tile on part of the walls (so the walls don’t get wet by the tub). But, as I said, redoing a bathroom is insanely expensive. Realistically, doing all of this could cost $40,000. This is not an exaggeration, and not something we could even think about doing right now.

 

The good news is that if you are like me, you can make some smaller changes without gutting the whole thing and it will make a big difference! I am planning a mini makeover for our bathroom. This project will be after we complete the screened in porch and the kitchen… which feels like it could be years before those are done!

 

So here are some ways you can make major improvements in your bathroom on a budget.

 

Bathrooms on a budget

 

Bathroom on a budget

You don’t have to replace your cabinets, you just need to give them a little facelift. Giving them a fresh coat of paint will make a huge difference. Beyond that, switch out the hardware and maybe update the faucets.

faucet / hardware

 

Bathroom on a budget

This is going to be more expensive, but upgrading your builder grade mirrors to something nicer (or even adding a frame around your builder grade mirror) can make a big difference. When we were selling our house in Jackson, our realtor kept trying to get us to either replace our mirror or add a frame around it. I am hoping to go from 1 large mirror to 2 smaller mirrors for our bathroom.

mirror 1 / mirror 2 / mirror 3

 

Bathroom on a budget

Add some color with a nice shower curtain and hand towels. Target always has really cute ones that match and won’t blow your budget.

Towel 1Shower Curtain / Towel 2

 

Bathroom on a budget

Add small rug (or mat) in front of your sink (or sinks) to make the bathroom a little more inviting.

Rug 1 / Rug 2 / Rug 3

 

Bathroom on a budget

This may seem a little odd to say accessories, but add a tray with nice soap, a candle and lotion to make your bathroom feel a little luxurious, especially in a guest bathroom. Guests really appreciate those little touches. I also have a frame in my guest bathroom (which to be honest I have yet to put a picture in it). Just because it is a bathroom, it doesn’t mean you can’t have accessories!

tray / lotion pump / candle

 

Bathroom on a budget

I really hate clutter, especially on the bathroom counters. Purchase some matching storage baskets or boxes so that everything is put away. We all have stuff, but it can be either tucked away or displayed neatly. Cute storage goes a long way.

compartment / basket / canister

 

 

If you do all of these things, or even some of them, I promise they will make a big difference in the overall look. Plus is won’t cost you an arm and a leg like a full remodel will!

 

Florals for Fall

Draper James Floral Dress

 

I know florals aren’t groundbreaking for spring, but what about for fall? Probably not groundbreaking either. Florals for all seasons really works, but I did read that fall florals are really going to be big this year. And that is just fine with me!

 

Draper James Hydrangea Dress

 

If you have a summery floral dress, it is easy to take it into fall, especially if it has a darker background like this one. First thing – add a pair of fall shoes, like an open toe bootie or a loafer. Next, if it is sleeveless, top it off with a denim jacket, cardigan or blazer. If you want to go further, add a darker lip to really give it that fall feel. When it gets cooler, switch out the booties for riding boots, and maybe throw on a pair of tights. Talk about making your dresses work double (or triple) overtime.

 

Fall Florals

 

If you take anything away from this post, make it this – you can absolutely make those summery florals work for fall. The same thing goes for a summery floral skirt or top. It is all about what you pair it with. Just have a little imagination, and experiment.

 

Florals for Fall

Dress: Draper James (similar); Shoes: Banana Republic (similar)

 

I just bought this dress a few weeks ago from Draper James. I fell in love with it when it first came out. After it went on sale, I was going to get it, but it sold out. When they had an additional 30% off sale, I checked and it was back. So I had to get it. I love it so much. It is super flattering, and it really works for all seasons. The dark background really makes it perfect for fall, but of course will be great next summer too! And I just love the ruffles. I think it will be really cute with brown riding boots when the temps drop some.

 

Unfortunately, this dress is sold out now. But the Draper James Southern Living Dress has a similar feel to me. (Reese wore it on the cover of Southern Living for September). And, of course, it is also on my wishlist!

Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

I had seen something about Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine on some new releases something (I don’t remember where), but then when I saw that Reese Witherspoon picked it as one of her bookclub picks, I knew I had to read it! If you aren’t following Reese’s book club Instagram (@rwbookclub) I suggest you do. There are lots of good books recs and general book things, which I love. And we seem to be on the same page about books, I mean she did make Big Little Lies into a series!

 

So, I was really excited to start this one. I love books about crazy people. And Eleanor is definitely … different. She lives a very solitary life, and she is completely fine with that. She avoids most unnecessary human interaction. She works a not very exciting desk job that she has been at for many years with people she doesn’t really like. She has no people or social skills (and doesn’t really understand why). She generally says exactly what she is thinking. She has a scar on her face that people tend to stare at. She makes no effort in her appearance at all. She spends her week days working, and her weekends eating pizza and drinking vodka until it is time to go back to work.

 

Things change when Eleanor meets Raymond, the new IT guy at her work. He is a little sloppy, wears things like jeans and tennis shoes, doesn’t have the best manners, smokes … all things Eleanor can’t stand. The two witness an elderly gentleman, Sammy, fall and, together, save him. Slowly Eleanor starts to let Raymond in, and figures out maybe life doesn’t have to be so lonely.

 

It is funny, when I first started reading, I found Eleanor to be pretty unlikeable. But she really grows on you. And her bizarre interactions with, well, everyone are really funny. There were plenty of times I laughed out loud followed with something like “Oh boy…” As you slowly learn more about Eleanor’s past, you really start to understand why she is the way she is.

 

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is definitely a quirky book, but I really enjoyed it. In fact, I didn’t want it to end. When I finished, I found myself thinking, “BUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?” Eleanor’s character evolvement is really interesting, and I loved how extremely childlike she was in some ways. It is also a little unpredictable with a little twist towards the end, which is always fun.

 

Have you read Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine? If so, what did you think? If not, I highly recommend it!

Fall Fashion Transition

Transitioning to Fall Fashion

I mentioned last week that I make a very slow transition into fall with my wardrobe. It will be in the 90s through September here in the South, and it really won’t feel like fall until mid October (if we are lucky).

 

Transitioning to Fall Fashion

 

But it makes it hard because you WANT to start wearing fall clothes! The calendar says September, so that means fall! All of the new fall clothes are out, and you may be getting a little tired of your summer wardrobe. I get it. So if you are like me and are looking to slowly transition, I have a few tips for how I do it.

 

Fall Fashion Transition

 

Darker colors 

Start reaching for darker colors – think blacks, grays, navy, burgundy, brown. Even if you are still wearing sleeveless dresses, wearing darker colors will help give off a more “fall” vibe. Retire the neons and pastels. Or mix them with the darker colors for an even slower transition!

 

Fall Fashion Transition

Switch out your handbag

If you are ready to say “hello” to fall, it is time to pack up the fun summer handbags. I love all of the straw bags, but they are really summery. Again, go darker, more neutral – like this one. Or maybe, you want to do a burgundy bag instead of basic black. Blush pink is still in for fall, and that would be a great color for a bag!

 

Fall Fashion Transition

Open Toe Booties

I talked about transition footwear last week, but I think open toe booties are one of the best ways to start the transition without fully committing. You can absolutely wear them with a sleeveless dress, and since they are open toe, no one will think you are jumping the gun. Confession – I don’t know how people start wearing riding boots when it is still in the 90s. I just can’t. But an open toe bootie I can do! These are perfect with the open toe and they are open on the sides for more ventilation!

 

Fall Fashion Transition

Leopard

Leopard always makes an outfit feel a little more like fall. Add a leopard belt to a dress, wear some leopard flats, top just about anything off with a leopard cardigan.

 

Fall Fashion Transition

Darker Nail Polish 

The easiest way to start updating your look for fall is with darker nail polish. You can opt for a slower transition (bright pinks to reds to burgundy, etc), or jump into a a really dark color immediately! The best news is that the color of your nail polish will not make you sweat any more than any other color, so feel free to make those bad boys as fall-ish as you want! Essie’s Wicked is a great choice for a super dark burgundy.

 

Fall Fashion Transition

A little bit of layering 

I know it is still hot, and you may not want to start layering, but adding a third piece like a blazer or cardigan over a more summery dress will definitely help transition it into fall. And when the mornings and evenings are cooler but the days are still hot, you will be happy that you did!

 

So those are just a few ways you can start making your looks feel a little bit more like fall without breaking out the sweaters and riding boots (yet!). And make sure you follow me on Instagram (@nikkihodum). I am going to be sharing some ways to wear your white after Labor Day that makes it feel a little less like summer.

 

So are you ready for fall? Or are you sad to see summer go?

August Fitness Recap

J. Crew New Balance Workout Outfit

Shoes: New Balance (similar); Pants: J. Crew x New Balance (blue stripe / solid pink); Sports Bra: Under Armour (solid)

Every month, I hope that my next month’s fitness recap will be better. I hope that my knee will be doing better, that I have been able to get back on track. I would love to say that my knee is doing so much better. It was getting better, very very very slowly. But it is now back to really bothering me. If you don’t remember, I had a knee injury in April, and it just hasn’t gotten better. My knee cap isn’t tracking right, and it is rubbing the cartilage, which is causing me a lot of discomfort / pain. I have been wearing my brace, doing my exercises, and now I seem to be back to square 1. I am in the process of trying to get a doctor’s appointment with a different doctor for a second opinion. Note – this has been incredibly difficult and frustrating. Who knew it was so incredibly difficult to get a second opinion. I keep hearing that they will look at my records and “decided” about an appointment. Shouldn’t I be the one to decide if I want a second opinion? But I am hoping to be able to go to the doctor next week. I pretty much had a nervous breakdown on the phone with a doctor’s office.

 

Up until about 2 weeks ago, I was doing my “easy” arm work out that I posted about last month, along with an ab workout that I came up with, which also involves absolutely no knees. I am not sure why I called them easy, because they really aren’t. I think my thought process was because it was at home and didn’t require much equipment. But I promise it is a pretty good little work out! So I thought I would share my “easy” at home ab workout today. The whole thing usually takes me about 20 – 25 minutes.

 

At Home Ab Workout

 

I do 2 sets of this workout. If my knee was healthy, I would add bicycle crunches, mountain climbers and a plank at the end, but at this point I don’t think that is the best idea. Honestly, right now I am not doing anything just to try to keep it happy. For the last one, I was using a 5 lb weight, but when I went up with my arm weights to 8lbs, I went up on this one too. I keep the weight stretched out over my head the whole time, and I am so sore after those!

 

I hope to report something better next month!

Book Review: The Couple Next Door

The Couple Next Door Book Review

 

I have read so many good thrillers lately. To be honest, I have read so many great books in general this summer. The Couple Next Door has been on my reading list for a while, so I was really excited to get started. And it did not disappoint! It is a psychological thriller / mystery, so if you like that kind of book, I definitely think this is a good one to pick up!

 

Anne and Marco seem to have a pretty great life on the surface- they have a new baby, a nice house, Marco owns his own business. But when they are invited to a dinner party next door (with a couple who hates babies) and the baby sitter cancels at the last minute, the couple decided to leave their daughter at home, take the baby monitor and check on her every 30 minutes.

 

But when the couple arrives home after the party, they find their front door is open and their baby is missing. Naturally the suspicion is centered around the parents – who leaves their baby home alone, even if they are just next door? The detective on the case is convinced that the couple is hiding things. And once the investigation begins, secrets are revealed about the not so perfect couple. Anne and Marco learns things about each other that the other didn’t know, and the couple slowly starts to unravel.

 

I really couldn’t put this one down. There were so many twists and turns, which always makes for a good thriller. It was crazy. I kept yelling at the book, to the point that Charlie would be like, “OK what is going on now?” And I naturally didn’t trust any of them. I’ve decided that dinner parties just aren’t safe to attend. This is the second or third book that involved a dinner party gone bad. Technically, Truely, Madly, Guilty was a BBQ, but same thing. So my advice is just avoid them all.

 

Looking for other thrillers? Check out my review on Into The Water, The Woman in Cabin 10, and In a Dark, Dark Wood.

 

Have you read The Couple Next Door? If so, what did you think?