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!


Outtakes Of 2017

I’ve just realized that I haven’t shared my outtakes since last year. They’re kind of repetitive because most of them are photo-bombs with my dogs, but then I figured, what better way to close out 2017 than to laugh at my dogs’ crazy antics (and some of my weird poses/facial expressions too)?


Sometimes it’s just one of them…


Sometimes it’s all of them…


What on Earth is going on here?!

STAAAAAHP!!!

See you guys in 2018!


Favorite Books Of 2017

(This was taken earlier this year, when I was organizing my bookcase alphabetically. That, of course, is my Discworld/Terry Pratchett pile).

In lieu of a book review, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at all the books I’ve read this year and pick out some favorites. In no particular order:

Gentlemen & Players by Joan Harris: An engaging mystery with a pretty good twist. Even though I could kinda guess it, it’s still quite well done.

The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England and The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer: Combining my two favorite genres, travel and history.

Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo: Morally gray characters, a richly detailed world, and nary a love triangle in sight, this is not your usual fantasy YA series.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach: Funny, educational, and makes me want to become a tree after I die.

Night Watch by Terry Pratchett: Of course, how would my book list be complete without a Discworld book, right? (Though by my calculation, I only have 10 books left in the series, so I need to space them out.) “Feet of Clay” may have been the book that makes me fall in love with the Watch, but this is the one that solidifies that love. It’ll make you cry.

Honorary mentions: Big Little Lies (Liane Moriarty), City of Thieves (David Benioff), The Haunting of Hill House (Shirley Jackson), and The Illustrated Man (Ray Bradbury).

Overall, it’s a balanced mix of genres, fictions and non-fictions, and male and female authors. A pretty good year of reading, wouldn’t you say?


Favorite Outfits Of 2017

Merry Christmas! Since most of us are in a holiday mood now, I’m not posting any new content this week; rather, I’m going to have a series of “favorite” lists for 2017. To start, here are my favorite outfits of this year (some of these are SIA outfits. I wanted to do a separate list for SIA, but then decided it’s easier to combine the two):

Compared to last year, my style seems to have gotten lot more minimalist, with fewer colors and patterns, and virtually no dresses or skirts to speak of. I was a lot busier this year, with several trips (both for work and for leisure) and a number of big projects on my mind, so it explains the simpler style – I just don’t have the time to think about clothes, and I’m always more comfortable in pants than in dresses and skirts. But it’s still a fun year, style-wise, and I’ve discovered some new silhouettes, so we’ll see what next year will bring!


A Year In Review: 2016

So, another year, gone. Usually, around October or so, I would start to look back at my outfits throughout the year to see how they have been so far, and usually, I would declare it hasn’t been a very exciting year, style-wise. However, every time December rolls around, I always manage to find some looks I particularly liked. This year is the same. I still have a weakness for slightly fussy looks, though I look best and feel best in simple, streamlined outfits. But hey, where’s the fun if you can’t dress up once in a while, right?

I’ve included some of my favorite looks in my SIA retrospective last Monday, but here are the non-SIA ones, in chronological order:

black wool dress mustard scarf black boots by 14 shades of greywhite cableknit sweater wool jacket black jeans black boots by 14 shades of grey

white eyelet top brown cardigan blue jeans brown booties by 14 shades of greystriped shirt blue jeans black flats trench coat by 14 shades of grey

blue striped shirt navy skirt red heels by 14 shades of greywhite eyelet top black pants black oxfords by 14 shades of grey

navy print shirt white wideleg pants flat sandals by 14 shades of greyblack floral dress black pants black heels by 14 shades of grey

black tee black printed skirt red heels by 14 shades of greyblack striped top boyfriend jeans blue oxfords by 14 shades of grey

blue linen top black jeans brown booties by 14 shades of greynavy dress embroidered cardigan red heels by 14 shades of grey

yellow dress black cardigan black pumps by 14 shades of greywhite shirt tweed jacket wool pants brown oxfords cloche hat by 14 shades of grey

black turtleneck white skirt black pumps by 14 shades of greyblack sweatshirt pleated skirt black pumps by 14 shades of grey

November appears to be the MVP, with four outfits in the list – it goes to show that as soon as the weather turns cold, I get a major style boost and put together much more interesting looks.

And no, I’m not doing “Worst Outfits” this year. 2016 has been enough of a turd fest already, so I don’t want to annoy anybody, least of all myself, by posting about my style mistakes. So let’s end this year on a high note, and hopefully, next year will improve!