Summer Reading List

I spend a lot of time reading, especially in the summer. When we head to the beach in a couple of weeks, I will bring several books and spend most of my time reading (this really annoys the hubs). I have been known to go through 3-4 books and have to go buy more during a beach vacation.

 

So today I am sharing a few books that are on my summer reading list, and also a few of my recommendations that I have already read. Since my list isn’t anything I have read, I am including the info from the publishers.

 

into the water

Into The Water

Super excited about this one! Paula Hawkins wrote Girl on a Train. Hopefully this will be just as good!

 

From the publisher:

“A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.”

 

saints for all occasions

Saints for All Occasions

J. Courtney Sullivan wrote Commencement, which I really enjoyed. She has a few other books, but I haven’t read them.

 

From the publisher:

“Nora and Theresa Flynn are twenty-one and seventeen when they leave their small village in Ireland and journey to America. Nora is the responsible sister; she’s shy and serious and engaged to a man she isn’t sure that she loves. Theresa is gregarious; she is thrilled by their new life in Boston and besotted with the fashionable dresses and dance halls on Dudley Street. But when Theresa ends up pregnant, Nora is forced to come up with a plan—a decision with repercussions they are both far too young to understand. Fifty years later, Nora is the matriarch of a big Catholic family with four grown children: John, a successful, if opportunistic, political consultant; Bridget, quietly preparing to have a baby with her girlfriend; Brian, at loose ends after a failed baseball career; and Patrick, Nora’s favorite, the beautiful boy who gives her no end of heartache. Estranged from her sister, Theresa is a cloistered nun, living in an abbey in rural Vermont. Until, after decades of silence, a sudden death forces Nora and Theresa to confront the choices they made so long ago. A graceful, supremely moving novel from one of our most beloved writers, Saints for All Occasions explores the fascinating, funny, and sometimes achingly sad ways a secret at the heart of one family both breaks them and binds them together.”

 

eleanor oliphant

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

I saw Reese Witherspoon post about this, and I have liked other things she has posted. So I am excited to give this a try!

 

From the publisher:

“No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Smart, warm, uplifting, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .

The only way to survive is to open your heart. ”

 

party girls die in pearls

Party Girls Die in Pearls

Did you read Bergdorf Blondes? I love that book! So I am really excited to read another book by Plum Sykes. It will be light hearted, which makes for the perfect summer read!

 

From the publisher:

“The New York Times bestselling author of Bergdorf Blondes takes us back to the decadent 1980s in this comic murder mystery set in the tony world of Oxford University.

It’s 1985, and at Oxford University, Pimm’s, punting, and ball gowns are de rigeur. Ursula Flowerbutton, a studious country girl, arrives for her first term anticipating nothing more sinister than days spent poring over history books in gilded libraries—and, if she’s lucky, an invitation to a ball.

But when she discovers a glamorous classmate on a chaise longue with her throat cut, Ursula is catapulted into a murder investigation.

Determined to bag her first scoop for the famous student newspaper Cherwell, Ursula enlists the help of trend-setting American exchange student Nancy Feingold to unravel the case. While navigating a whirl of black-tie parties and secret dining societies, the girls discover a surfeit of suspects. From broken-hearted boyfriends to snobby Sloane Rangers, lovelorn librarians to dishy dons, none can be presumed innocent—and Ursula’s investigations mean that she may be next on the murderer’s list.

Clueless meets Agatha Christie in this wickedly funny tale of high society and low morals, the first book in Plum Sykes’ irresistible new series.”

 

 

So those are a few books that are on my “To Read” list. A few books I recommend are :

 

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The Nest – A great, light, summer read. read my review here

 

the cuckoos calling

If you like a good “Who Done It”, definitely check out The Cuckoo’s Calling. Plus, it is a series so you can have two more books to read after you finish. Read my review here.

 

the kind worth killing

The Kind Worth Killing – this review is coming up next week. Definitely check it out if you like thrillers. And I have heard his other books are good too.

 

today will be different

Looking for something a little lighter? Try Today Will Be Different. Funny and quirky, and an easy summer read. Read my review here. Also, if you haven’t read “Where’d You Go Bernadette” read that too.

 

the woman in cabin 10

 

The Woman In Cabin 10 – I just started this, so there won’t be a review for a little while. But I have heard really great things about it, so I am excited to finish it!

 

And, of course, anything by Liane Moriarty. You can read the run down of all of her books here.

 

So what is on your summer reading list? Do you have any suggestions for me?

Vacation Wear

Happy Memorial Day, everyone! Hope you are enjoying your day off (if you are off).

 

We will be headed to the beach in a little over a week, and I am, of course, busy worrying about what I am going to pack. Why is it when I go out of town, I feel like I need to bring everything? “I might want to wear an evening gown, so I better pack 3!” (In no situation would I need an evening gown for anything). I am the worst at overpacking. Even though I will pretty much be in bathing suits or pjs most of the time, we will probably go out to eat a few times, so I will need some real clothes – so 75 dresses, 30 tops and skirts, 150 pairs of shoes, 25 handbags, and all the jewelry I own…

 

Since I am getting in the vacation mindset (sort of), here are a few things I would like to pack on my trip (and may be overnighting so I can actually take them!)

 

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Remember I was on the hunt for a new bathing suit? I ended up getting the one above (and black and white striped one too). They are both really cute and flattering. I haven’t worn a one piece in YEARS but I really love that they are so in style. The gingham one reminds me of an old 50s bathing suit.

 

So are you a crazy overpacker like me? What vacations do you have planned this summer?

Book Review: The Ramblers

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Are you looking for a good summer read? I think this book should definitely be considered.

The Ramblers takes place in New York City and is told from 3 different points of view. All three are somewhat lost souls – they have all had really significant things happen to them, and none of them have really been able to move on.

Clio is an ornithologist (she studies birds), and is in a somewhat new relationship that is turning serious. She has some commitment issues and is still dealing with her dysfunctional childhood and the death of her mother. Smith is Clio’s best friend. She is a professional organizer, and she is trying to survive her younger sister’s wedding while still processing her own broken engagement.  Tate is a former school mate of Clio and Smith’s, and he has just returned to the city after having his own heart broken.

 

The Ramblers was really good and really well written. It is about love, loss, grief, friendship and hope. I loved that the characters were all dealing with their own form of loss, and all trying to process it and pick up the pieces. And it takes place in one week, Thanksgiving week, which makes it even more interesting.

Red, White and Blue for Memorial Day

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Shirt: J. Crew (similar); Skirt: Banana Republic (similar); Shoes: Coach (similar); Belt: Target (similar)

 

How is it possible that Memorial Day is just around the corner? I don’t even know. But according to the calendar, this is the case. I am really excited about having a long weekend. Technically, my office is open Memorial Day so I can either take off or have a floater day. I decided to take off because I don’t think I will be busy at all that day.

 

Memorial Day is my favorite patriotic holiday. It is means the start of the summer. Plus, there aren’t as many fireworks for Memorial Day like on the Fourth of July, and there are two fuzzy members at our house who despise fireworks.

 

Memorial Day also means it is time for some red, white and blue. I love a good red, white and / or blue look. Makes me feel a little nautical. To be honest, half my close is a variation of blue and white, but I am always looking to add more to it!

 

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So who is ready for the long weekend? Do you have plans for Memorial Day?

Little Black Dress with Bell Sleeves

Spring LBD

 

If you think a little black dress isn’t appropriate for spring and summer, please allow me to try to change your mind. Of course, the warm weather means everyone wants to go light and bright, but sometimes you just need to put on your favorite LBD with some bright accessories.

 

And that is exactly what I did. I had seen this Who What Wear x Target dress in the store a few weeks ago and loved it. But I didn’t buy it. Then I looked at it several times online, but still didn’t order it. I went to a different Target looking for it, but they didn’t have it. Then I spent a Friday afternoon frantically searching two different Targets because I decided I needed the dress, and I needed it NOW.

 

Bell Sleeve Little black dress

 

Does that ever happen to you? Or is that just me? Luckily, I found ONE at my second Target stop. I guess it had been returned from online because there weren’t any others in any sizes there. So naturally, it came home with me.

 

Little Black Dress Spring

 

As much as I love light and bright for spring and summer, sometimes you just need a good LBD. The best thing about this one is that it is only $34.99. I love the bell sleeves on this one. To keep it springy, I added my new pink madras Jack Rogers sandals and a pale pink necklace. I said it last week, and I am saying it again, accessories can make all the difference!

 

Jack Rogers with LBD

 

Funny story – the tie had come undone on one of the sleeves, so I asked my husband to tie it for me. He made several attempts and just couldn’t do it. I kept saying, “Tie it like you would your shoe.” I ended up having to take the dress off to tie the sleeve and then put it back on. How he holds his shoes on his feet, I will never know.

 

Spring Little Black Dress

Dress: Who What Wear x Target; Shoes: Jack Rogers (love these); Necklace: Sugarfix Bauble Bar x Target; Bag: Kate Spade (similar)

 

So what do you think? Little Black Dress for spring – Yes or no?

Bathing Suit Bound

The hubs and I are going on a vacation in less than a month. This will be the first actual vacation we have been on since we got married in 2010. We are going to the beach (Gulf Shores / Fort Morgan area in AL). It was my crazy surprise Christmas present, and it happens to co-inside with our 7 year wedding anniversary (I am fairly certain that was an accident).

 

The problem is that I haven’t shopped for a bathing suit in years. When we lived in Jackson, we lived across the street from the Ross Barnett Reservoir, which had park I could set a lawn chair up in. There was also a YMCA with a pool in the park, and I could pay $5 to hang at the pool. I probably did this 3 times a summer. I had an old Target bathing suit that I wore.

 

But since I am going on a fancy vacation this year, I feel like it is time to upgrade my bathing suit game. We will only be there a few days, so I don’t need multiple.

 

I love the way the J. Crew bathing suits fit me (shocker, right?) But there are SO many cute ones out there!

 

So here are just a few I am loving right now:

 

bathing suits

 

1 / 2 & 3 / 4 / 56 / 7 & 8 / 9 / 10 & 11 / 12 & 13

 

Where do you like to shop for bathing suits? Are you upgrading your swim suit game this year?

Five Things To Know About Yoga

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You may or may not know this, but I am a certified yoga instructor. I became certified about two years ago. And while I am not teaching currently, yoga is such a passion for me. I have been practicing on and off for years. And there are so many benefits – flexibility, joint health, anxiety relief, sleep … I could go on and on.
So today I am talking about five things you should know about yoga. If you have never taken a class or are maybe interested in yoga, this is the post for you.
things to know about yoga
Here we go…

Yoga is for everyone

It doesn’t matter if you are 10 or 100, super in shape or never exercise at all, yoga is for everyone. Just because you aren’t flexible does not mean you shouldn’t take a class. Yoga helps with flexibility, along with a number of other things. You also don’t need to be “in shape” for yoga. Yoga is for EVERYONE.
There are lots of different styles
There are SO many types of yoga. And I don’t just mean beginner or advanced. There are classes that focus on restoration and meditation. Some classes really get your heart pumping and are super intense. Some are heated, some aren’t. Some are very flowy, others you do one pose at a time and don’t really flow at all.
I personally like a really flowy class. I like it to be warm, and I like it to be really challenging. If that sounds like something you would like, you should try Vinyasa. It is what I practice and teach. If you want the heat but not so much the flow, you might like Bikram. The problem with Bikram, for me, is that the class is the same every single time. In fact the teachers have a script that they use. I like new and different each time. If you want something slow and that really focuses on alignment, you might like Iyingar yoga. It isn’t flowy at all and you hold the poses for a long time.

The point I am trying to make is that just because you tried one type of yoga and didn’t like it doesn’t mean there isn’t a class for you. Explore different classes and different teachers.
Yoga is the perfect compliment
No matter what your other forms of exercise are – running, swimming, crossfit, etc – yoga is the perfect compliment. Most exercise causes muscles to shorten (not in terms of size but in terms of length). When you run, your muscles tighten and shorten. Yoga elongates your muscles, stretching them back out. It helps keep your muscles and your body in better condition. Not only does yoga strengthen you, but it also lengthens you.
Start in a studio
I strongly suggest that you start your practice in a studio. And I actually mean a studio. Not a class at the YMCA. Not a class at a gym. A yoga studio. If you start at a studio, you know the teachers are certified and know what they are talking about. You don’t have that guarantee at gyms. Also, your class is going to be more tailored at a yoga studio, instead of a one size fits all type of class at a gym.
No matter what kind of yoga you practice, it is really important in the beginning to get the alignment right. A teacher is going to assist in making sure that you are doing the pose correctly and not going to injure yourself.
On that note, if the teacher adjusts you (meaning they assist you with a pose), that is a good thing. Don’t take it as a “They were pointing out my flaws” type situation. I personally don’t do a ton of adjustments. I like students to be able to correct themselves by listening to what I am saying. That being said, if I see a student who isn’t being safe, I will step in. So listen to the teachers and how they are instructing you. Are you really turning your hips the right way? Are your shoulders actually squeezed up near your ears when the teacher is telling you to relax them down?
The other type of adjustment is to help you get deeper into a pose. Those are always nice. Sometimes a teacher can help you get deeper into a pose that maybe you couldn’t do on your own. I usually only do this for advanced students because I know they can do it. I never want to push someone too far.
Studios are expensive. My suggestion is to take at a studio for a few months, then seek out other options, like online classes, if you can’t pay the studio fees. And I would be happy to provide some form of classes or ideas if that is something you would be interested in. But you do need to know the basics before you move on to that.
It is YOUR practice
I generally remind my students at the beginning of my classes that it is THEIR practice. As a teacher, I am there to guide and offer suggestions. But you have to do what is right for your body. If you aren’t comfortable doing something, or something doesn’t feel good, or you feel inspired to move into a different pose, that is ok. Go for it. I often times give multiple suggestions for my students for what to do next, to allow them to get more comfortable in their own practice.
Now, I do encourage that you go into class with an open mind. Try what the teacher is suggesting. If it isn’t for you, that is ok. Some teachers don’t feel this way. For example, in Bikram, you are to do the exact poses in the exact order, no variations. Of course, if something hurts don’t do it. But there isn’t a lot of freedom. Even in vinyasa classes I have taken, I have had teachers that didn’t want you doing anything else. It actually happened to me during my training. I was in a class and one of the other teacher trainers was doing something, and another teacher told her not to do it. It wasn’t because she wasn’t being safe, she just wanted her to do what she told her to do. It embarrassed the teacher trainer, and it made her mad. So then she was uncomfortable with that teacher the rest of the time.
You need to feel comfortable doing what your body needs. If the teacher doesn’t like it, tough. It isn’t their practice.
As a side note on that – I don’t practice yoga while I am teaching. Some teachers do. It is important to me that I don’t. I need to be focusing on my students and what they are doing, NOT my own personal practice. I may demonstrate a pose, or do a little bit of the flow, but I never fully practice. Another important reason I don’t is because I want my students to listen to what I am saying, not just watch me. You connect so much more with your practice and can focus on your body more when you are listening and not watching.
So I hope this helped if you were thinking about trying yoga, or maybe took a class and didn’t like it. I encourage you to give it a try. And let me know if you have questions or need a little guidance! I am happy to help!
So tell me – have you taken yoga before? What was your experience?

Accessory Assist

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It is amazing how accessories can transform an outfit. You can have the most basic outfit, but add some fun accessories, and it can be a complete game changer.

 

Accessories can be super important, especially if you have limited wardrobe options or a limited budget. A pair of shoes and a necklace can really make a difference. And accessories don’t have to be expensive! There are a lot of fun items that won’t break the bank.

 

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Here are some of my favorite accessories:

Backyard Plans

outdoor pineapple mat

 

I am not going to sugar coat this – our backyard is a disaster (as is most of the house). But the backyard is really bad. To be honest, we have been focusing so much on the inside, we just haven’t had time to pay much attention to the outside.

 

We spend a lot of time outside during the spring / summer / fall. The boys love to play in the backyard, the hubs loves to grill, I love to hang out. So our outdoor space is really important to us. Right now, we aren’t focusing on the landscaping. We are trying to get the outdoor “living” space together so we can enjoy the summer.

 

Right now, we have a little overhang when you come out our back door. Then you step up and on to a wood deck (that is a weird reddish maroon color). There are 3 steps which leads to a large deck.

 

Here is it now:

 

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I hate that you step down out the back door and then step back up onto the wood deck. That is going away.

 

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Yes, that is a John Deere tractor in the corner…

 

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Our goal is to build a screened in porch when you come out the door, then have a door that leads to the stairs to the deck (which will have to be rebuilt and pushed back some). I wanted to take out the trees, but the hubs was really against that.

 

This is terrible but kind of like this:

backyard plan

 

A little inspiration:

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via

 

We have a lot of outdoor furniture – a long table,which will go on the screened in porch, a circular table that will go on the deck, and a swing, which will also go on the deck. We also have a really cute stand up bar + bar stools that matches the long table, and that will go in the screened in porch. Most of our outdoor furniture came from Target. To be honest, I designed the outdoor space to work with our furniture.

 

We don’t have a ton of room to add more furniture, but I would love to add a little bench or couch on the screened in porch if we have room.

 

For the furniture:

backyardplans

Table / Bar / Umbrella / Door Mat / Rug / Love Seat / Pillow

I just bought the Door Mat, and I can’t wait to put it down when we finish construction!

I had a really hard time figuring out what do to outside. This has been the hardest thing for me, unless you count our bathroom which I still haven’t figure out what to do in there. I have said it before, I am terrible with this kind of thing. But I knew that I wanted a screened in porch connected to the house (the hubs kept trying to put it in the middle of the yard), and I knew I also wanted a deck that wasn’t screened in.

We are going to be pouring concrete for right outside the backdoor and for the whole screened in porch. I would love to put a super cute outdoor rug down, but I don’t know if that would be possible. I did see this on pinterest and it might be a better option (it is a stencil)

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So those are our not so concrete plans. The hubs understands more about what we are doing than I do (which is good since he is doing the implementing), He started pulling up the bottom decking this past weekend (actually right after I took these pictures). It is going to be quite a process. But I am anxious to get it done!

Tuesday Shoesday Week #159

Happy Tuesday Shoesday, friends!

Today I am talking all about sandals! Flat sandals, to be more specific. I am all about the flat sandals during the summer. As the temps rise in the summer, comfort becomes more and more important to me. No matter whether you are a flats only kind of girl, a mostly heels kind of girl or somewhere in between, I think we can agree that cute flat sandals are an absolute necessity in the summer.

 

And there are SO many cute picks this year. Bright colors, lots of embellishments, stripes and bows. I have so many on my wishlist.

 

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I just got #3, and they are SUPER cute and comfortable. Stripes + Bow = perfect for me! (Also, affordable!). I also think I need to be buying #4. I have this thing with bows…

 

So what is on your wishlist for summer sandals?