jillgg’s good life (for less)

 It’s been a while since I’ve done a book post around here! I know, I know! If you want up to the date info on what I am reading I highly recommend you sign up for my email newsletter. Each THURSDAY I send out what book I am reading at the moment. And since I average about a book a week, it’s usually a new book featured each week. But anyway… today we ARE talking books and I thought it would be fun to round up some of my FAVORITES over the past year.

I love warm weather reading… reading at the beach, on vacation, at the pool, on the porch, in a chair in the sun in the driveway… I’m game for it all! So whether or not you are reading in the sun in your driveway or somewhere more tropical this spring and summer, here are some reads I highly recommend!

Historical Fiction

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, I love everything Hannah writes and this book was no exception. The Great Depression in the in the time of the Dust Bowl – it’s heartbreaking and beautiful.

Meet Me In Monaco by Hazel Gaynor, If you love following the Royal family you will love this story of American Princess.

The Queen’s Fortune: A Novel of Desiree, Napoleon, and the Dynasty That Outlasted the Empire by Allison Pataki, In my opinion, no one does historical fiction as well as Pataki. She introduces you to characters and pieces of history that you never knew you wanted to know about!

Contemporary Fiction

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle, This story does not take you where you think you are going. It’s a tear jerker too!

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell, I don’t usually go for creepy or thriller type books. But when I do I want it to be worth it! This one completely is!

Time Travel Fiction

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab, Time travel meets historical fiction meets an epic love story. I couldn’t put this one down.

Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald, I have to admit I just love a good time traveling book. This one is very well done and the story is still one I think about!

Feel Good Fiction

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, What if you could change your life, your reality at a whim? Haig’s books are beautiful and he’s outspoken on the issue of mental health which shows in his beautiful writing. This one was a page turner.

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller, The feel good book that will make you crave a day in the kitchen baking – or a trip to your favorite bakery!

Non-Fiction

My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress by Rachel DeLoache Williams, This book is straight crazy. And true! If you want something a little different than your usual novels this reads like a novel but it’s a true story.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottleib, I’m trying to read more non-fiction lately and this is a fascinating look at the life of a therapist and her therapist.

Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life by Susan David, This is the book we all need post-2020. I read this a few years ago and then revisisted it recently. It’s important reading for this crazy time in our world. David also has some great podcast appearances – so if you are interested in her work look her up on your favorite podcast app too!

J.Crew Factory try on session!

 Today I have some fun J.Crew Factory finds. Fair warning: I got the sizing wrong on a few of the pieces so – grrrrrrrr – frustrating. But let my mistakes guide you! I’ll make note of where I went wrong with sizing and hopefully it will make shopping for your correct size much easier for you. I chose just a few basics and right after I placed my order J.Crew Factory had a whole slew of new arrivals. So while I’m not featuring them here, be sure to check out the new arrivals too. I’m loving this eyelet dress is so pretty, this tiered sleeveless dress is darling, this simple t-shirt dress is an instant classic, this striped top is a great basic to have on hand for warmer weather and these linen pants look perfectly casual for spring and summer.

Let’s take a look at some of my finds, even though the sizing was off on some of these they are so cute!

Sizing: In the past J.Crew Factory has run a little big, so I sized down on both, but they were both a little smaller than I would have liked. I went with an XS for the shorts and small for the top (wanting the top to be a little more oversized). I think a small bottom and medium top would’ve fit better.
Thoughts: Besides the fit I really love both these pieces. I am VERY here for a short sweatsuit for spring and chilly summer evenings. This is a look I really love. This navy color is so pretty too. Here in the photo it looks more bright blue, but in person it’s a true navy.

Sizing: True to size, I went with my usual size.
Thoughts: If you love the classic J.Crew capri sandal – you will love this style. It has a little more padding in the footbed and TONS of color ways for a really great price.

Sizing: Again, thinking that J.Crew Factory runs a little big, I went for an XS in this size. It’s too small on the chest and arms for my liking. So I would suggest true to size on this one!
Thoughts: This is such an easy everyday dress. I love the v-neck and midi length. It would work well with a denim jacket too for cooler days. Overall, just a really classic and simple closet staple for warmer months.

Sizing: I am in my usual size small here. And this fits perfectly. You could also go up a size for a more oversized fit.
Thoughts: This is such a great spring and summer basic. You can wear it with jeans, shorts or as a swim cover up. Or it layers great with blazers, cardigans or jackets. This is a true closet work-horse. I love simple tops like this for the warmer months.

dresses for spring!

I am so ready to ditch jeans and leggings and joggers for dress season. Anyone else? I never used to love dresses (not sure why!) but over the past few years I’ve grown to love them for their ease and simplicity.  Feeling fancy? Dress them up with sandals or wedges and some fun jewelry. Feeling lazy? Wear them around the house barefoot or to run errands with Birkenstocks. You really can go both ways with a dress… and I’m here for it. Today I rounded up some really great dresses that are perfectly casual. Perfect for the weekends or a random Monday – you don’t need a special occasion to don these frocks.

jillgg’s good life (for less)

Sunscreen and SPF is a love/hate relationship for me… of course I love it for keeping my skin safe and healthy and looking young. But A LOT of sunscreens just don’t work for my skin. Whether it’s for my face or my body, my skin has had adverse reactions to SPF in the past and same with daughter. So when I shop for sunscreen I am very, very picky. Plus, it’s important to me that our sunscreen be safe from potentially harmful ingredients and to be reef safe. We don’t always swim in the ocean, but when we do I don’t want it to be harmful to the aquatic life and so across the board we choose reef safe products.

Today I’m sharing the sunscreens our family loves best and why.

Sun Bum

Spray SPF – I know that sprays aren’t always the best, but for myself and my teens it’s easy to apply and does that job. We LOVE Sun Bum because it smells great and works great. (Note: I do not know why this is only SPF15 – I do not recommend 15, I must have purchased it by accident. In general we wear SPF30.)
Cool Down – It never fails someone gets a little sunburn at some point on vacation or over the summer. This after sun lotion truly works! It feels great on the skin and helps calm it after a day in the sun.

Coola 

Spray SPF – This is by far my most favorite sunscreen. It smells incredible and feels so smooth on the skin. Unfortunately it’s very expensive. So I only grab it on sale and often times won’t share it with my family. (haha – they don’t mind though! Promise.)
Face SPF – My daughter’s face is super sensitive to sunscreen. Over the years we have had chapped skin, cracked skin or tons of pain and stinging from different SPFs. As a mom, it feels so helpless because we can’t have her face in pain from a product OR sunburn. We have literally tried EVERYTHING and realized that mineral sunscreens do not work on her. At all. Even on her body. This face SPF has gentle ingredients and it works.

Beautycounter

Body SPF – For mineral sunscreens (which are the safest and usually have the best coverage) I like to go with creams and not sprays. This one is nice and thick and works great all over the body. We like to use it on the spots that get easily burned like shoulders since it goes on thick you know you didn’t miss a spot.
Face SPF – This goes on sheer and creamy and hardly feels like sunscreen to me. Which is just how I like sunscreen! Plus it works great on it’s own or layers well under makeup.
Stick SPF – This is great for toddlers and little kids since it’s easy to apply, but my husband and kids like it too. When it comes to sunscreen, the easier the better… right!?!?

jillgg’s good life (for less)

 I have a few Nordstrom finds to share with you today… new spring arrivals (both at my favorite retailers and on my doorstep) are really giving me some pep in my step today. Per the usual with my try ons, there are a few winners and a few head scratchers. Haha! But seriously, often times items will arrive and I won’t even put them in a try on if they are a total miss. Unfortunately it happens. I don’t always include them because sometimes the fit or the fabric is just too awful to put online, but sometimes I still include them because I think there is hope for them still. Today I have a dress of that nature, the fit was SO off for me but the dress itself was very cute. I have hope with correct sizing it could work for others. Any way, I share that because I often get asked if I “only show the good stuff” and the answer to that is sometimes. Mostly I only show the good stuff because it’s my hope to truly make online shopping easier for you – so why waste our time with poor quality, etc. But sometimes I still think it’s worth showing, like today.

Let’s take a look at the pieces…

Sizing: True to size. I am in my usual size small. You could go up a size for a little more length.

Thoughts: This is DARLING. I really love a puff sleeve and I really love stripes and I think these two work so well together with this top. It’s a lightweight sweater so it’s perfect for spring or chilly summer evenings. It’s trendy, but not overly so. This is a 10/10 for me.

Sizing: Runs big, I went down a size to XS. You could do your usual size for more length or an oversized fit.

Thoughts: These are the types of tops I love to stock up on for summer. Lightweight, basic, easy to wear and also have a little something extra to them. I love the dolman sleeve and oversized look to this. It’s nice and lightweight for warm days and would work with leggings, joggers, jeans or shorts. So versatile!

Sizing: True to size, I am in my usual size small.

Thoughts: I may NEVER be over sweatshirts. You know? This one is SO good. Lightweight and boxy with a slight crop to it. It works great with joggers or shorts or leggings, whatever this spring! Here I have it with joggers and love it for walks or around the house. It’s on MEGA sale right now for under $25.

Sizing: Runs VERY small. I am in size small here and would definitely need at least a medium. 

Thoughts: I just LOVE the puff sleeves and the v-neck on this. It’s very cute in person. But wayyyyy too small. I would go up a size at least. So this isn’t a winner for me, but I still wanted to show it here because it’s very cute!

Sizing: Runs big, I am in my usual size small. 

Thoughts: This is labeled as a “minidress” online but this is 100% a beach cover up. Just FYI. It’s totally see through. All that aside this is GORGEOUS and I am in love with it. I just love a good beach coverup, especially one with sleeves. It’s perfect for a day when you’ve had too much sun or for chilly evenings at the beach (my personal favorite). The front is henley style with a shorter hem and the back has tiered ruffles with a longer hem. SO SO cute.

how to tuck or tie your shirt!

I often get questions how I tuck or tie my top so today I thought I would lay them out… plus, don’t miss the video of how I do each of these tucks and ties here! Whether you choose a front tuck, a side tuck or tie a t-shirt or a blouse, I always feel like a tuck or a tie feels a little more pulled together and completes a look nicely. Plus, tucks or ties work with joggers and leggings for more casual looks as well. Let’s take a look at some of my favorites…

Front Tuck (above)
I probably tuck my top in front more than any other way. It’s quick and simple and I only tuck about 30% of the front of the shirt so you get a little high/low look with the hem. It’s flattering since it defines the waist and works with t-shirts, blouses, sweaters or sweatshirts. Really, any top!

Side Tuck (above)
The side tuck works best when your top has a side slit in it or when you want to disguise the tummy area a little. It still draws attention to the waist without drawing attention to the tummy area. For this tuck I only take a small amount of fabric from the top I am wearing (enough to loop around my thumb) and tuck that small amount into the waistline of my jeans or leggings right above the pocket, or where the pocket would be if your pants don’t have pockets. It gives a nice waist definition and a little blousy look to the top/sweater.
Shown with: sweater (size down, runs big), jeansball necklacecompass necklacewatch band

Front Tie with a Button Front Blouse (above)
I love this look for spring or summer – it’s just so summery! Depending on how long your top is in front, I usually unbutton about 2 buttons or to right where my belly button hits. This works best with high waist jeans, joggers or leggings. Tie the two halves of the shirt into a little knot. I layer the knots twice. So tie it once and tie it again, so it stays put. Then loosen it or tighten it as needed to get a nice blouse-y look to top.

Front Tie with a Plain Front Top (above)
This is another favorite and it works particularly well with oversized tees or tanks to get some nice waist definition. This one can be tricky if the fabric is too thick. It works best with thinner fabric that is a little oversized. I gather the tee tight around my waist pulling the front out to prepare to knot it. Then I knot it as close to the body as I can.  After the knot is in place I can wiggle it a bit to loosen it. I like to wear the knot close to the body, but not super tight. Make sure you watch the video here to see how I do it and practice it a few times with different tops. I know I have some tops that this works better with than others.

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