The Un-Book Club

If you don’t belong to a book club but wish you did, welcome to my ever-growing list of suggestions.

 

The Courage to Be Disliked
by Ichiro Kishimi And Fumitake Koga 

My friend Jenny recommended this and I bought it on iBooks. I thought it was going to be a book about setting boundaries, but it really wasn’t. I have to say I thought the format — a Socratic dialogue — very awkward. Maybe it was the translation from the Japanese. It was like, people don’t talk like that. But once I accepted that, I was able to enjoy and benefit from the ideas put forth. Although the concepts weren’t new to me, I loved them! I won’t spoil it for you, but I highly recommend!

Raising a Screen Smart Kid
by Julianna Minor

This book has become my parenting bible. Limiting screen time is all my family talks (fights) about! Raising a Screen Smart Kid has helped so much. It is extremely well written (easy to read) and well researched. Oh my god, did Julianna do her homework! I truly answers all the questions. Please, for your sanity and survival, buy this book. Like, now.

The Miniaturist
by Jesse Burton

Okay, now a lovely novel. Set in 17th century Amsterdam, it feels a little like Henrik Ibsen’s A Dolls House. I love a good family secrets book. A truly enjoyable literary journey.

The Call of the Wild
by Jack London

I read this because my 11 year olds had to for school and I needed to quiz them on it, but I ended up loving it. So interesting. Quite violent. I’m glad I finally read this artfully worded classic based on real events in 1900 Alaska. I downloaded it for free on my iPad.

All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

I swore I’d never read another WWII/Nazi book. This was worth an exception. Two young lives, on opposite sides of a war, ultimately converge. Beautiful described scenes and action.

Lagom
by Niki Brantmark

Such a cute little book. I love Swedish design and culture. (I read and loved A Year of Living Danishly.) I’ve followed the blog My Scandinavian Home for a while and knew I’d love this book. I’m also a sucker for great photography and illustration.

Full of Beans
by Jennifer L. Holm

This is one of the books I read to my kids. I got it at the library. Their dad read The Third Mushroom and The Fourteenth Goldfish to them and they loved those, so I thought it would be good. So many kids’ books are a real drag for the parents but this one was enjoyable! It was fairly gritty, kind of a Elmore Leonard vibe. Set in Key West in the depression, it follows a sort of little rascals group of kids who are very resourceful.

Becoming…
by Michelle Obama

Not to be political, but I love the Obamas. It was obvious I was going to read this book. How fun to hear her life story, and all the presidenty stuff we already know, from her perspective. You gotta love her. Plus she is amazing in Carpool Karaoke.

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New Wardrobe Additions: August

AUGUST $128

The Oversized Jean Jacket in Wortham Wash $128

I only bought one thing in August: a jean jacket. I’ve been wanting it for a while but didn’t want to pay full price. In the end I got talked into it. And I don’t regret it. I think a denim jacket is such a versatile piece and a good investment. I already had a denim jacket (an old one from H&M) but it is fitted and doesn’t have pockets. This oversized one really feels cozy and soft. I’m looking forward to layering sweaters under it when it gets colder. (Almost identical one from Nordstrom)

So, although I spent a lot, I only added one thing which makes me feel good. I strive for a minimal closet where I love everything I have and I wear everything I have. I have experimented with capsule wardrobes and participated in 10×10 challenges but mostly I just keep all my clothes in one place. Most things are hanging in a medium size closet, with underwear, socks, jeans, pjs and workout wear in a dresser. I don’t pack away off-season clothes. It works for me to see everything I have. I like the way it looks. It makes me happy and it makes it easy to get dressed. I rotate things out as needed. I did a huge Marie Kondo clean out of my clothes back in 2016 and I haven’t had to do it since.

I feel good about sticking to a budget and being very organized and minimal. I don’t feel good, however about the fact that I do contribute to an industry with a very dark secret. I recently worked up the courage to watch The True Cost and now I can’t un-know it. I have to make some changes. A cheap tee shirt from a fast fashion store is not truly cheap. Some of the imagery in the movie will haunt me forever. We just can’t keep causing so much harm, to other human beings and to the planet. It’s just not worth it. But with all social change the goal is not to wallow in guilt, but to make the small changes we can. You choose. It will make a difference. I think twice whether or not I need a new item. I look for it from a responsible company. I try to find it second hand. And I take good care of it! Then I find someone else who can use it after me. I am so grateful for the life and lifestyle I’ve been given.

What about you? How has your outlook on fashion consumption changed over the years?

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How to Style Clogs

I never realized how popular my #cloglife blog post would be. It is really due to the recent resurgence of the love of clogs. And Lauren Mechling. So, here’s some more clogophile content:

 

I love my Troentorp Clogs. (I have the Da Vinci in Dark Blue.) And, for $99 plus free shipping you too can experience true love.

I didn’t realize just how much I would wear these, but they are such a favorite and seem to go with everything. (Sometimes I feel bad for my other shoes.) Why do I pick them over and over? Maybe it’s that they make me taller (without being heels) or that they slip on? I just can’t get enough of them.

troentorp clogs

How do you style clogs?

I actually wondered this. I soon realized that you just put on any clothes and then slip on clogs. I rounded up all the selfies I had wearing clogs. I love the way they look when your ankles show and I’ve gone sock-less even when it’s somewhat cool out. But they also look terribly cute with socks.

I think they are the perfect shoes to take you from too-cool-for-sandals all the way into the Fall and Winter months.

#cloglife #livingmybestlife #livingmybestcloglife #troentorp #sweden

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I Bought It. I Returned It.

Hi. My name is Leigh and I’m super picky. And thank god, or I’d be broke. I like to carefully research things and then save the things I want on a Pinterest wish list. After a while, I’ll realize I don’t really want them or else I will buy them, and then sometimes after all that, I’ll realize I don’t want them. I guess it’s a normal part of online shopping.

Madewell Ruthie Sandal
I ordered 4 pairs of very similar sandals and this J Crew pair was the clear winner. If I hadn’t picked them, I would have chosen the “Ruthies.”

Madewell Boardwalk Sandal
No go.

Steve Madden Alexandra Sandal
Not very comfortable.

Madewell Tribune Blazer
I’ve been looking for a black blazer forever. This one was weird, tho. Very stiff (not drapey) and an unusual lapel.

Madewell Harper Mules
I obsessed over these! Finally ordered them even though they were pretty pricey. And you know what? I didn’t really like how they look on my feet.

Madewell Ryder Cardigan
Also, obsessed about this cardigan. It didn’t wow me.

J Crew Chino Shorts in Olive
I haven’t been able to find a replacement for a pair of olive shorts I had years ago. These were too long and too big. J Crew, stop messing with your sizes!

J Crew Leopard Sweater
Strangely unflattering.

J Crew Tippi Sweater in Rose
Not fantastic so I couldn’t justify it.

Rainbow Flip Flops
I heard these we the be all end all of sandals and that they are very comfortable (once broken in) but they just weren’t great in person.

Athleta Swim Top
I love that Athleta has a good return policy — like you can wear something and really try it out and then return it if it doesn’t work. This top was pretty but the fabric of the lining would shift and because it was a different color, it showed.

J.Crew Shorts
I loved these but decided the color wasn’t flattering. Too close to my skin color? Should have gotten the blue color. Also, they run very big. I sized down one size but should have sized down two.

L.L.Bean Cardigan
I bought this in store! But, I ultimately decided this wasn’t right for me. Usually if I don’t wear something right away, and often, it’s not as perfect as I thought. That’s two sweaters I bought and returned. The white cardigan quest continues.

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New Wardrobe Additions: July

New Madewell tank top, purchased on my trip to DC with Madewell jean skirt and JCrew slides.

JULY $186

Athleta Swim Shorts $19
Suddenly decided I wanted more modest/covered-up options for the beach. These are perfect. They run big and I sized down to a small.

Madewell Tank $19
A trip to Madewell with my kids when we went to my home town, DC, and they talked me into this top. Not my usual style but I’m loving it! I can never figure out the knot thing but this comes with a weird front tail that forms a perfect knot without making the shirt too short.

Lucky Jean Shorts $45
I became obsessed with the AGOLDE shorts but couldn’t bring myself to spend $128. I ended up finding these and they’re the perfect replacement for my old Lucky cut offs that I’ve had since 2015!

Everlane Romper (Poshmark) $13
I wanted this when it first came out. When I came across it on Poshmark, I grabbed it. Looks and feels like PJs but I’m okay with that.

Athleta One-Piece Swim Suit $50
I bought this with every intention of returning it but it looked so darn good. God, I love it. Again, feeling like more coverage looks better on me.

J.Crew Rash Guard $40
Also within the theme of modesty, age-appropriateness and responsible skin care, I finally got a rash guard.

All of these pieces were great additions to my summer wardrobe!

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Let’s Get Fit — Ready for Summer

 

My reveal photo from 2015

Let’s get real. I did not follow through on my goal to get fit in time for summer. I completely abandoned the idea. As soon as I set out to promote the idea of “getting into shape”, it felt altogether wrong. I mean, getting and staying healthy isn’t wrong. But setting a deadline and trying to look a certain way just suddenly seemed misguided to me. And right around that time, I started to see and hear people advocating for the idea of accepting ourselves as we are and acknowledging that we are so much more than our size. So, I just couldn’t do it.

In the past I set a goal of getting down to a certain weight in time for summer, by the time I had to put on a swim suit. I felt like a needed a little push to be more active (a good thing) and eat healthier (a good thing) but ultimately like I needed to fit into an arbitrary aesthetic ideal (maybe not a good thing). And, as I get older, it seems, well almost cruel to keep holding myself to this standard.

Goal start: March 10, 2019, 137.1 lbs.

Goal end: May 27, 2019, 135.6 lbs.

During the first few weeks of my fitness regimen, I worked out 2-4 times a week at the gym with lighter workouts on the other days. I didn’t do anything radical in terms of diet. I was more conscious of my choices, but continued to do my usual “just-eat-real-food” philosophy with maybe a little bit of “intuitive eating” thrown in. All along I was nursing a really old injury I always referred to as “tight IT bands from running”. I stretched them religiously and they didn’t get better. They almost seemed to get worse! Then I went to the Chiropractor and he admonished me for stretching what was overstretched and explained that I had a muscle weakness/imbalance. That was a turning point when I had to face the fact that I did not know what was best for me in terms of fitness. I sort of surrendered.

The next couple weeks I was in California and didn’t do much formal exercise. My pain pretty much went away and I resumed workouts, roughly 2 hard classes a week and a little walking. By the time school let out, I willingly gave up the gym and just did whatever. At some point I stopped worrying about planning workouts and recording them on my calendar. So I can’t really tell you what I’ve done this summer. I do know I started really running and it feels amazing. I recently had some suspicious chest pain and actually saw a cardiologist. After I learned that I my heart was 100% healthy I’ve been feeling so grateful for my health and ability to do pretty much anything. That’s what it’s really about, right?

Do I still want to lose weight? Kind of. Do I wish I had more toned legs? Totally. But this is me. It just is. And it’s good.

It’s summer. And I’m ready.

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New Wardrobe Additions: June

JUNE $236

J. Crew Brown Sandals $48
I LOVE these sandals. I tried a bunch of similar options and these were the winners. I wear them all the time, with everything. I feel like Jackie O. on holiday.

Nike Running Shorts $20
I’ve wanted these forever and couldn’t seem to allow myself to buy them. Why? Now I have them, run in them and am finally living my best cool-girls-track-team life.

Old Navy White Tank Top $7
I love this white tank and wear it so much. When it’s in the laundry, I long for it. Seroiusly perfect basic.

Old Navy White Crewneck Sweater $12
I get cold in the summer (?) so I love having this… just in case. It’s a soft and comfy cotton and I’ve gotten a ton of compliments on it so I feel validated for choosing it.

Old Navy Black Denim Skirt $30
@jillgg made me do it. This is something I didn’t think I needed as a summer basic, but apparently I did! It’s stretchy, casual but an upgrade from shorts.

L.L. Bean Dress $119
I bought this for a recent wedding. You have no idea how long I looked for something wedding-y (but made me look hot, but not hotter than the bride, but also age appropriate and not too dressy…arg!) but I love this and I think I’ll wear more than the once. It’s also a great example of my current style shift I’m calling, “New England Matron”

 

 

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New Wardrobe Additions: May

I think I did pretty good in May. I shopped a lot but didn’t buy a lot. It’s good to be picky. I’m known for buying and regretting.

I don’t regret these new black pants at all. I love a good pair of black trousers. I thought these were going to be my go-to, but I never wore them. The cut just wasn’t right. I got this new pair at Old Navy (which has been wowing me lately) and they are just perfect: retro, slim, cropped and very comfy/stretchy.

This month I also got some much needed new running shoes, a basic black tee and a new spring/summer handbag.

MAY $153

Asics Gel Contender $55

Old Navy Mid-Rise Ankle Chinos in black $13

Banana Republic Boatneck T-shirt in black $14

Madewell Medium Transport Tote $71 on Poshmark

I’ve been clearing things out as needed. I’ve got some things for sale on Poshmark, if you’re interested.

And as always, I use Pinterest in order to keep track of things I want and also to delay purchases. You can check out things I might buy in the future on my Spring wish list.

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I’m Looking for the Perfect Bag

Hi, and welcome to my secret world of obsession and indecision. I’ve been looking for a new handbag and although I think I know what I want, I decided to go through what I have to help me make a decision. Here’s what I have:

  1. Black Banana Republic Top Handle Bag (similar): This is my go-to everyday bag. It has multiple pockets and zippered compartments, a top handle and a shoulder strap. It’s a bit heavy though and quite boxy/structured.
  2. Black Liz Claiborne Shoulder Bag (similar): I love this bag. It’s made with a really great quality leather and has a relaxed shape. It used to be my number one bag but now I don’t use it much. It is a great bag…
  3. Brown Madewell Transport Tote: I was thrilled to get this as a Christmas present a few years ago. I love the look of it, but it’s heavy and much too big for what I need to carry most days.
  4. J. Crew Straw Tote (similar): This is my tried-and-true go-to summer bag. I choose it over the others most of the time. So good.
  5. Multi-color Le SportSac Nylon Tote (similar): I don’t know when or why I bought this. I’ve seemingly had it forever. It is really good as a beach tote or if I’m going shopping. It’s lighter weight than the brown leather one and it’s a great choice if it’s rainy. I really like it, but it’s not very chic.
  6. Black and Tan Element Backpack (similar): Why is this even included in my handbag collection? I mean who uses a kid’s school backpack anyway? But, I think it’s good. I actually bought it at Disney World. It’s pretty indispensable for traveling. It carries a lot comfortably. I took it to California last month and I was really glad I did.
  7. David Bowie Ziggy Stardust Canvas Tote: This bag sort of checks off all the boxes. The perfect size. Kind of goes with everything. Not pretentious. It’s the sort of bag Rita would have as her handbag. It was $15 at Target. It’s cool but not very grown-up.
  8. Black Canvas Barney’s COOP Tote: This was the bag I got when I bought a pair of J Brand jeans at the COOP. It was free but I liked it so much I kept it. I often use it to carry my laptop (in neoprene sleeve that fits in the tote perfectly.)
  9. Hawaiian Print Tote: I got this on my honeymoon in Kauai so it’s pretty sentimental. It’s funky and on the small size but good for summer and goes with black better than my straw tote.
  10. Brown Lucky Crossbody Bag: I bought this a couple years ago because I became convinced I needed a bag this color and shape. It’s nice but very stiff and the flap closure kind of annoys me. Also, it’s a little too small for an everyday bag.
  11. Black Banana Republic Crossbody Bag (similar): I like the look of this bag. I like that it’s black and has the gold chain. It’s quite small and not practical for everyday.
  12. Light Blue Coach Crossbody Bag (similar): So cute but so small. I almost never use it and wonder what I was thinking when I bought it. However, I did take it on my last trip and it worked out quite well.
  13. Black J. Crew Clutch (similar): One has to have at least one clutch, so I have this.

My conclusions:

  • I could choose to keep one or the other of my two black bags (or find one that I love.)
  • The Madewell transport and straw tote are both keepers…
  • …as are the nylon tote and backpack. Very functional.
  • I could probably do with just one cute, casual canvas tote.
  • I really only need maybe two crossbody bags – one black and one not black (and the brown one isn’t really working for me.)
  • I really want a Spring/Summer bag that is leather, light colored, medium sized, that’s not too structured and makes me feel like a grown up.

I’m considered one of these:

Everlane $235
Madewell $158
Mark & Graham $199
Cuyana $375
Banana Republic $178

I decided in the end to purchase the Madewell medium tote (in “Linen”). I bought it through Poshmark so I got a great deal.

What’s your go to bag style? Do you change them every season?

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New Wardrobe Additions: April

Okay Madewell, you win. I was doing really well on not going over budget and then the weather got warm and life got stressful and Leigh went to Madewell. I don’t regret it. I pick out 4 items I absolutely LOVE and had been wanting for a long time. Here’s what I added in April:

APRIL $428

Madewell High-Rise Slim Boyjean $135

Madewell Cali Demi-Boot Jeans $128

Madewell Rigid Denim A-Line Mini Skirt $50

Madewell Eyelet Keyhole Peplum Top $70

Athleta Salutation Stash Pocket Capri $45

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