A Year In Review: Favorite Outfits Of 2018

In my yearly outfit reviews (since I started doing it regularly, about 5 years ago), I realize that I always say my style is getting simpler and simpler, and it’s definitely true. Looking at these favorite outfits from the past year, I can see that my style focus has shifted from colors and patterns to proportions and functionality, hence my tendency to stick to pants and neutrals. It also means the blog name has gone full circle – I started the blog with the intention of getting away from the “shades of grey” in my wardrobe and ended up embracing them again. It’s not surprising that my most colorful outfits are usually for SIA.

Still, all in all, not a bad spread of outfits. I’m interested to see what changes next year will bring, and I hope you guys will still be along for the ride!

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A Year In Review: Books Of 2018

(I didn’t post on Christmas, so it seems appropriate to bring back this book tree for this post, doesn’t it? Happy Boxing Day!)

I want to do a different “Year in Review” for the books. As opposed to just rounding up the favorite books of 2018, I got this list of questions from Kezzie, which I think is a fun way to look back at my reading of the year. Here we are:

Best books you read in 2018:

– Children’s fiction: I didn’t read any that can be comfortably called children’s fiction (the closest is The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly, but it is too dark for a kid’s book), so I guess none.

– Crime fiction: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Michael Sullivan. Actually I prefer Altered Carbon, but it belongs to a different category (see below).

– Classics: I didn’t read a lot of books in this category so Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee pretty much wins by default.

– Non-fiction: The Radium Girls by Kate Moore. It’s horrifying but uplifting at the same time.

– YA: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. The Book of Lost Things deserves an honorary mention, though again, I think it’s not a true YA book. More like a fantasy for adult featuring a kid as the main character.

– Dystopian fiction: Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan. I’m not sure if this is true dystopian, but it’s definitely better than the “true dystopian” book I read this year, Red Rising.

Most surprising (in a good way) book of 2018: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. It sounds like a typical ghost story at first, but it ends up haunting me even now.

Book that you read in 2018 that you recommended most to others: A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain, The Little Stranger, any Discworld book.

Best series you discovered in 2018: Either the Takeshi Kovacs series (Altered Carbon) or the Daisy Dalrymple series (Death at Wentwater Court) by Carola Dunn. Both are crime series, though they cannot be more different – one is set in a futuristic, Blade Runner-like world, and the other is set in the upperclass British society of the 1920’s – but they’re both enjoyable in their own ways.

Favorite new author you discovered in 2018: Mary Roach. I have read Mary Roach before, but this year solidifies her position as my favorite science writer. When I pick up one of her books, I know I’m going to enjoy it. The list of authors whose books I always enjoy is very short – Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, and Bill Bryson – so I’m glad to add another author to it.

Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love but didn’t: Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly and Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton. Hidden Figures is merely disappointing, but Margaret the First absolutely infuriates me with how bad it is.

Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre to you: People who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry. It’s not the first true crime book I read, but it’s definitely more modern and sensational than my usual fare, yet it turns out to be really well-researched, well-written. A true page-turner.

Book you read in 2018 that you’re most likely to read again: A Cook’s Tour. I like to reread travelogues whenever my wanderlust hits me, and I always like to read about food, so a book that combines both is naturally going to be reread multiple times.

Favorite book you read in 2018 from an author you’ve read previously: Monstrous Regiment and A Cook’s Tour.

Best book you read in 2018 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else: Death at Wentwater Court. I picked this up after reading about it on Kezzie’s blog, so thanks, Kezzie!

Favorite cover of a book in 2018: Margaret the First. Too bad the book isn’t good.

Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2018: The Nature Fix by Florence Williams. I’ve always loved nature, but this book has made me a lot more aware of my relationship with nature and made me resolve to spend more time in nature.

Book you can’t BELIEVE you waited until 2018 to read: Speak. It’s such a classic YA book, and I like the movie and also enjoy the author’s other works so I didn’t know why it took me so long.

Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody about it: The ending of The Little Stranger (the entire book, actually, especially the interpretation of who the “ghost” might be).

Favorite relationship from a book you read in 2018: the friendship between the soldiers in Monstrous Regiment.

Most memorable character in a book you read in 2018: Sergeant Jackrum of Monstrous Regiment (if this was the Oscars, then Monstrous Regiment would be the movie that sweeps all the categories before winning Best Picture).

Genre you read the most from 2018: sci-fi/fantasy (of course) and non-fiction (surprisingly).

Best 2018 debut: Tell the Machine Goodnight by Kate Williams (it’s not a debut book but at least it was published in 2018. All the other books were published earlier).

Book that was the most fun to read in 2018: A Cook’s Tour and The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson. Bonk by Mary Roach is funny as well but it’s just too gross sometimes.

Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2018: Monstrous Regiment.

Book you read in 2018 that you think got overlooked this year or when it came out: The Road to Little Dribbling, maybe? I don’t know if it’s “overlooked”, but it’s definitely not well-received as Bill Bryson’s other books. I still enjoyed it though.

Total number of books read in 2018: 40 (with some rereads).

If you guys want to do something similar, feel free to grab these questions. I can’t wait to read your round-up!


A Year In Review: Favorite SIA Challenges of 2018

As promised last week, it’s going to be a week of yearly reviews here on the blog. Since Monday is usually a day for SIA posts, I thought I’d stick to the schedule and start with a review of my favorite SIA challenges and outfits of the year. Here they are, in chronological order:

The first one is inspired by Jen’s pick, this portrait of Dido Elizabeth Belle and her cousin Elizabeth Murray. It was so much fun doing SIA in Cuba!

Then it’s Erin’s pick, Farewell at the Bridge of the Hanging Rainbow, which was also her last challenge as an SIA co-host. My outfit is simple, but I love the fact that it matched the painting so well:

Here’s another one of Jen’s picks, the beautiful cyanotype photos by Anna Atkins. Again, my outfit is super simple but it’s spot-on for the inspiration, if I do say so myself:

I love this next pick by Daenel simply for how different it is – the inspiration is the dome of the old courthouse in St. Louis, Missouri. The pieces in my outfit are a little random, but it works as a whole:

Here’s one of my own picks, “Melody (Musica)” by Kate Bunce. I like the beautiful colors and intricate details of the inspirational painting, and everybody did such a good job on this challenge too:

And finally, this is another one of my picks, again with a plant/flower theme – “Watermelons and Field Mice” by Shin Saimdang:

And that wraps up a year of SIA challenges. I can’t wait to see what next year brings!


Dressed Up

Last week our school celebrated its 38th birthday, so I had to dress up a bit with this dress from my sister – she bought it for herself but it doesn’t fit and non-returnable, so she passed it on to me. I like the outfit, but to be honest, it feels a little dated to me. It’s been such a long time since I wore something like this – in fact, I wore a very similar outfit way back when the blog first started, in 2011 (gosh! Such a long time ago!) – that it doesn’t really feel like “me” anymore.

Anyway, this dressy outfit seems like an appropriate one to close out the year. In the next two weeks, I’m going to post a series of yearly reviews, so stay tuned!


Of Course

We just had our first real cold snap this past week, but the weather was absolutely hideous (raining all day, bitter wind) and it was dark all day so I couldn’t take outfit photos. So here’s an old outfit from when it was still warm. It’s one of those “duh” outfits (hence the post title) that all the pieces go so well together that I almost didn’t wear it because I thought it’d be too predictable. But it works, so why not, right?


Empire Inspired

For this week’s SIA, I took the inspiration from both of the Empire-style dresses in the photo. My mustard jeans are to mimic the yellow dress, my white shirt and striped sweatshirt are to mimic the white dress with the striped spencer jacket (I know, the stripes and dots are green, but I don’t have anything green-striped), and finally, my boots are to mimic the embroidered shoes and the paisley shawl (the appliques on my sweatshirt are a nod to the paisley too). When I first put this together, I was afraid that the pieces are a bit too random, but they ended up going together pretty well, even if I do say so myself.

Don’t forget to check Daenel’s blog on Wednesday for the other interpretations of these lovely dresses. Also, this is the last SIA challenge of the year, as next week is Christmas and then there’s New Year (where did 2018 go?!), but we’ll be back the first Monday of January. See you then!


Actual Boyfriend Jeans

I’ve often complained about the difficulty of finding a good pair of boyfriend jeans – most of the pairs labeled as “boyfriend jeans” I try on are just one tiny step above skinny in terms of fit. So, frustrated, I decide to just buy a pair of men’s jeans and be done with it. And wouldn’t you know, the fit is perfect. The waist is just high enough, the legs are not too tight or too baggy, and the pockets are nice and deep (why are pockets on women’s jeans so small?) I guess I’m just going to buy men’s jeans from now on!