Week in My Life No. 8

When I got back from Honduras last Sunday our friend from college was visiting. It was so great to see him and I definitely wish he had stayed longer but Aiden was able to show him around while I was gone and we took him to Herm’s Inn, out favorite brunch place, for breakfast on Monday. He and his cousin were driving from Seattle to Dallas. They headed on to Moab Monday afternoon. Even though I was at a conference for grad school I have had lots of catch up to do with work over the week. I taught on Tuesday so I spent a lot of time getting ready for that and grading. I also created an end of semester survey for the class to take this Tuesday. I am all about improving this class and my teaching so I really wanted to have a survey that has direct feedback for the labs we did and the lectures (just the overall structure and assignments as well). I also spent some time finalizing plans for the holidays. We still need to book our tickets (ASAP) but we have a pretty solid plan that hopefully everyone is okay with. I definitely struggle with where to spend Christmas. For the first couple years of our relationship we just went to our own families which made sense since we were still in college and had not seen our families all year. Now we have been together for over four years and we are getting to the point were we would like to be together but also want to be with our families. Last year we were living apart so we really wanted to be together and we ended up traveling between our families on Christmas day (flying from Denver to Newark). My family was not too keen on that so we reevaluated this year. Jess Keys did a great post on splitting the holidays!

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Walking to my office! It was actually a beautiful week with highs in the 50’s.

The other big part of work right now is data analysis for several projects. It is kind of looming over me so Aiden helped me out with some coding this week that took a ton of stress off of me. I have also been organizing a speaker that is coming to the ecology center at USU in December. On Friday we ended the work week with tea at a campus coffee shop.

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Friday’s outfit. I was feeling the jumpsuit and blazer vibes.
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Tea, grading and reading at coffee shop. The best way to end the week.

This weekend has been really nice. We have been doing yoga at home to help Aiden with some of his pains so we did that on Saturday and had an overall chill day. I got lots of reading in! We went to a friends house in the evening to hang out and play Mario Kart (my fav). Today was mostly yard work (so many leaves to rake) but we also did some crossword puzzles and set up our Christmas tree. I know it is way to early but we are going to be gone through Thanksgiving and then also for actual Christmas so I figured we might as well enjoy it as long as possible. We also have some new ornaments that were my grandmother’s!

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Tree decorating… we added the Nutcracker characters this year!

Interesting articles:

3 Ingredient Trader Joe’s meals. As a Trader Joe’s fan I just had to share this and will definitely be trying some of these.

Time’s 100 most influential people. Also here is a blurb on how they choose people for the list.

Watching Hallmark movies for money? This is kind of hilarious and amazing.

Finland’s stunning public library. This place is beautiful and I seriously hope to visit someday. I also so wish we had such emphasis on public libraries!

Julia’s holiday guide for her. This is dreamy. I mean everything is seriously beautiful!

Plastic waste in laboratories. I have a constant struggle with waste in our lab. I do think what we research is important for conservation and for science but the amount of waste generated can be really hard to stomach. I am always looking for ways to reduce but it is so hard in science because it is extremely difficult to have a sound experiment, with no contamination, without producing a lot of waste.

Best celebrity memoirs. Grace Atwood posted this in her Weekend Reading and I really liked this article since there are so many books out there and so many celebrity memoirs that it can be hard to know what is worth reading.

Reading: I started Turtles All the Way Down by John Green several months ago and for some reason did not keep reading. I decided to pick it up again and finish this time! I am really enjoying it and am not sure why I put it down before.

Watching: Parks and Recreation has been our go to right now. I am not sure why I haven’t watched it before but it is amazing. I love it and have a hard time stopping because all the characters are hilarious.

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It was just barely warm enough for no tights. As much as I love the holidays and the snow I am relishing in these last few days of warmth!

I hope you had a great week and thanks for reading!

Erin

Science Week in Review No. 2

I am excited to bring you my second Science Week in Review. I really enjoyed writing and researching the first one and so I was just as excited about this one. As much as I can I am trying to share stories and articles that don’t require lots of background information. I give some short explanations for any concept that I think might not be common knowledge. Please feel free to ask if you need any clarification!

The importance of understanding microplastics. This article reminded me of how important awareness of our use of plastic is. I feel like I sometimes become complacent and need a reminder of how every action counts and just how serious the situation is. There is also this article on plastics and fish. The issue of microplastics is an important one that I will definitely address in the future but in short microplastics are fragments of plastic less than 5mm that are polluting the environment. Plastics degrade into these tiny little pieces that are much harder account for and clean up.

Understanding Species Recovery (IUCN red list). If you are familiar with any part of conservation you have likely heard of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is basically the platform used to keep track of species status. It is basically a database of information on many species around the world. Each species is reevaluated every so often and that allows for numbers to be monitored especially for species that are listed in a threatened category. This article gives some insight into how species recovery works. Recently the Green List has been introduced as an add on to the Red List that will allow for monitoring of conservation efforts. We actually had a discussion about this at the conference I went to last week!

Algae species as a key to plant evolution. Plants are a crucial part of our ecosystem, our breathing depends on them! Studying plant evolution is difficult since we don’t have fossils like we do with animals. The important science here? Recently scientist published the genomes of two algae species that are evidence for plant evolution to land species. They appear to be the closest living relatives of land plants. This is definitely an important find for plant scientists and for evolutionary biologists.

A star flying out of a black hole. I do have a fascination with space so I always look to include an interesting article about it. Astromoners observed a “runaway star” that has come out of the black hole at the center of our galaxy. The speed at which it is going is absolutely crazy (4 million miles an hour)! I think this article was so interesting and understandable (for someone who has not much knowledge of astronomy).

Methane emissions in California. Methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect. This is the process of the warming of the atmosphere by radiation of greenhouse gases. The warming today is so extreme because we have drastically sped up natural processes. We are emitting greenhouse gases at an unprecedented rate. This article speaks to California’s monitoring of methane emissions. The relevance here is that the research done looked at spatial emissions of methane allowing the state to focus efforts on facilities with the largest emissions.

One last interesting article only because I found this to be a fun and interesting little piece of information. A fossil relative of the orangutan. Scientists used proteins from the jaw/tooth of a Gigantopithecus blacki fossil to link it to modern orangutans.

Please let me know if you have found any interesting science articles! Also I always appreciate feedback on posts, especially this series. I strive to bring science to everyone and in terms that are understandable for everyone. I also try to make sure I state the relevancy of each article I share. Thanks for reading!

Erin

October Books

This post is definitely a week late and I am so sorry about that. Honduras ended up being a little too busy to keep up with my posts. I also really have not been keeping up with my reading lately. Usually I listen to way more audiobooks so I am able to get more in during each month but for some reason I haven’t been listening to any lately. I only have three books to share from October!

The Royal Runaway (3/5 stars): I am a sucker for any book that revolves around royals so this one drew me in. Overall it was a fun story but for some reason it fell a little flat for me. I really don’t know why as I was really into it the whole time but I guess I wasn’t sure how I liked the ending. If you like books about royal romances I definitely still recommend it.

Upstairs at the White House (4/5 starts): This is the account of J.B. West who was the chief usher of the white house for decades. He went through many administrations and worked very closely with many first ladies. I found it so interesting and I learned a lot. Each lady was so different and had their own priorities as a first lady and as a person. This was the first book I finished on my kindle in a while and I did think it was a good one to read as an ebook. It is so fascinating!

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (4/5 stars): This is such a unique and interesting murder mystery. I gave it 4 stars as opposed to 5 because it took me at least 100 pages to get into and I still am not sure how I feel about the ending but overall I do highly recommend it. I have never read a murder mystery quite like it and I love mysteries. I don’t want to give to much away but this man has eight days to solve a murder and each day he wakes up as someone else.

Let me know what you have been reading recently!

Erin

Week in My Life No. 7

So as you can probably tell it has been a few days since I posted and I only got one post in last week. I have been in Roatan, Honduras for the last ten days at a conference. It was the Iguana Specialist Group meeting and ended up being such a blast. I was so busy before hand as well, getting my class ready for when I was going and prepping my presentation for the conference so I did not have nearly enough time to prep as I was hoping for. This is definitely more like a two week update than a week in my life.

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We had our first crazy snow storm! I was not expecting so much but the afternoon clear up!

I have been at this conference for most of the time but I am going to be doing a Honduras recap post so I won’t be focusing on the conference a ton. I will say that overall it has been amazing and I have learned so much and met so many amazing people doing really interesting research and conservation work. I also learned quite a about IUCN red-listing and about invasive species control.

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Conference attire was difficult in a tropical climate. It has been in the 80’s but we were in an air conditioned conference room for most of the day.

First, wow way back to before Halloween! It was actually a really fun week. I did a lot of prepping for this trip and taught my class, as usual on Tuesday. We spent quite a bit of time also getting ready for Halloween. Also carpet cleaners came so that was a bit of a project since we had to move all of the furniture in carpeted areas. It is so nice to finally have it done though, we have been waiting for months to do it! We started carving pumpkins and I baked pumpkin seeds.

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Sorry it is not a great photo but we did The Nightmare Before Christmas theme this year.
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Sally was way harder than Jack Skellington but we did our best (more like Aiden did his best, he is way better than me at carving)!

Halloween itself was a blast. It was a really long work day so I was kind of rushing but still managed to baked some cookies and a pumpkin pie. We went to our friend’s house for another round of Over the Garden Wall, lots of drinks, costumes and pie. Later we went to a different department’s grad student Halloween party which was so much fun! I did call it early though since I needed to finish packing.

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I spent that Friday morning frantically finishing up some errands that I had hoped to get done earlier in the week. It ended up being crazy with some unexpected things happening so I had way more to do than I anticipated. I was on campus for an hour or two and then headed back to eat lunch. We left for the airport around 1:30pm.

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Last minute errand attire.

As I mentioned I have been here in Roatan ever since. I presented some of my research on Monday and listened to lots of other interesting talks. We explored a little as well but almost our whole group got sick so that was a bit of a bummer. I did have to miss out on a fun field trip because of that!

Some interesting articles/videos:

An interview with Emma Watson. Of course this is amazing and very insightful. I was also just inspired to think about what I am doing and how I am effecting other people!

The Every Girl J. Crew Round Up. I am so loving these pieces and the winter essentials are extra tempting (the tissue turtlenecks and the puffer are at the top of my list).

National Geographic’s new book on women photographers. So excited about this. Such beautiful photography by amazing women!

Some current fashion trends. I am totally into most of these and they just about all can work in cold weather.

On being a woman in a male dominated field. Definitely worth a read.

Reading: I started listening to How Could She by Lauren Mechling on the plane to Honduras. I am not very far so I can’t say much yet but I will definitely keep you updated.

Podcast: So I know I just did a recent podcast post but I listened to Bad on Paper Podcast’s interview with Carly Heitlinger and it was amazing. She was so real and honest. More than I have every heard any blogger be. It was very impressive and insightful. I highly recommend the episode!

Watching: So I have two things right now. I was sick for a couple of days so I have been re-watching The Walking Dead. It is kind of a long story but I stopped because I certain character dies at the beginning of season six. For some reason I got the urge to watch again from the beginning. I also have been watching SNL skits both new and old… they are so funny. Here are some ones I watched today: Film ScreeningTarget Lady

Instagram: Caitlin from Lemonade Press Blog had such an amazing caption on her Instagram post from Saturday. It is about school and just learning in general and it resonated with me.

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Fire on the beach in Honduras!

Erin

Why I Committed to Posting Every Day for a Month

The month of October was incredibly hectic but I managed to post every single day. This has been a goal of mine and once I got started I was determined to do the whole month. The primary reason for this goals is that I have so many different things I want to write about and share but often don’t make the time to do it. By posting every day I forced myself to spend time creating posts about things I have really been wanting to talk about.

I love fashion, books, adventure, plus I enjoy sharing random lifestyle posts. Something that has really frustrated me in the blogger world is that everyone talks about “finding your niche.” I know that in order to be successful in anything you need to think about your audience and what they want to hear. When I listen to podcasts or read posts about how to be successful in blogging it seems to be a mix of talking to your audience and being authentic, but most importantly, finding your niche. You aren’t supposed to really focus about more than one or two things if you want to be successful. I really struggle with this because I love so many things and since I love them I want to share them with others. I don’t want to put myself in a box. I don’t want to just share my outfits or just share books. I love these things but can’t help but love other things just as much. This is part of the reason I struggled with making a decision about graduate school I felt like it would put me in a specific box and I would not be able to stray from that. I want to live a life full of many things, not just a few. I am not going to talk about my decision-making process for grad school in this post but it does give some insight into why I felt the need to post every day.

Since I did not want to write about just one thing, I needed to produce more of all the things I wanted to share. It does seem like talking about something different every week or month would not be as relatable to readers. People tend to look for specific advice from different people and if they don’t know what they will find from your site, why spend the time? My thought was that if I post consistently every week in each category that I am interesting in writing about maybe I can work around this. If your job is to blog this is feasible but as a grad student just the thought has been a little terrifying. I started posting every day at the end of September just to challenge myself and as we got through the first few weeks of October I decided to stick with it through the month. It felt good to be accomplishing a goal and I enjoyed dedicating some time every week to thinking about my blog.

Going forward I want to continue this as best I can but I do think I will be taking Saturday’s off. It is just a little too much to be focusing on both my blog and grad school every single day. I love them both but my health and relationships are definitely falling to the way side. I have been continuously sick since I left for Vermont (October 1st)… so the entire month. So I definitely admit that I am in serious need of some focus on my mental and physical health. Since I have been really liking the routine of posting everyday I am not totally giving that up right now, just giving myself one day to not think about posting. This may change in the future but I will probably do another check in around the holidays. I would love to hear any thoughts you have on the blogging world and how you have felt in response to the idea of committing to one or two things (in the blogging community and in life in general).

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Thanks for following along!

Erin

Non-Fiction Favorites

Happy Reading Wednesday!

While I usually read more fiction than non-fiction, I do try to read at least one non-fiction book per month. Some of my favorite books have definitely been non-fiction! I am going to share my current five favorites. At some point I will do a non-fiction round up by subject but for now here are the ones that have really stuck with me:

The Sixth Extinction: Yes I am starting off with some incredible science writing. This is by far my favorite non-fiction book and has continued to be ever since I read it. Elizabeth Kolbert addresses the sixth major extinction that humans are causing through the lens of different environmental issues. I first read this as a freshman in college and it was one of the reasons I became a biologist.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: This is a brilliant book about the woman whose cells have been widely used in medicine. It is such an interesting read and an important one considering the impact this woman has had on science.

Educated: I talked about this one in my Favorite Books of 2018 post. But it is one of my favorites because it tells the story of a Tara Westover and her journey from a reclusive family in Idaho to a graduate student at Cambridge. I found it fascinating and highly recommend it (especially as an audiobook!).

Three Women: I have raved about this book for a while. It is just so different as far as non-fiction goes. It kind of reads like fiction which makes it easier to read but it is about the lives of three women their experiences with sexuality. It sounds a little strange but it is truly amazing and made me think! It was also included in my August Books.

Unbroken: This is the story of a man who faced some crazy struggles throughout World War II. During WWII his plane goes down in the pacific ocean and he goes through some serious mental and physical struggles as he floats on a raft for an insane amount of time. For some reason this story has stuck with me for a long time. I read it back in 2011 and still think about it. The perseverance and mental strength exhibited are incredibly inspiring.

Honorable mentions: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Reason for Hope, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, Under the Banner of Heaven, Man’s Search for Meaning

Let me know what your favorite non-fiction books are!

Erin

 

Week in My Life No. 5

I have a grant proposal due tomorrow so I have been pretty focus on prepping my application this week. As usual Monday and Tuesday were spent mostly prepping for the class I teach. This week was not too hard since the students were just interpreting their data and prepping lab reports. Wednesday morning I had a great yoga class. The instructor was subbing and she was amazing, really worked me! I did have a lunch meeting on Wednesday and we decided to go to this ceramic bowl sale. The bowls were so pretty and they were serving the most delicious vegetarian chili. It has squash which was unexpected!

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The weather was beautiful for most of the week so we did lots of walking. I love looking at all the Halloween decorations at this time of year.
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The leaves in our neighborhood are so beautiful right now. Peak season for sure!

We went out for drinks and trivia on Wednesday night after work with a bunch of friends. Our team did not do all that well but we had a really fun time (that night’s categories were tough). Several of my friends have been away or sick and we are finally all back so it was great to catch up with people. I unexpectedly ended up working from home on Thursday. My one meeting for the day was canceled so I decided to stay home and focus on this proposal.

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I found another free little library on one of our walks! They just make me so happy.

Friday night we went to our friends house for sweets, Kentucky mules, Baileys and Over the Garden Wall. I have never seen it before and really loved it. It is a Halloween-themed animated show. I am sure it is not for everyone but I found it to be really fun! Saturday was a relatively lazy day. I made a orange spiced coffee cake for breakfast. Aiden had been wanting coffee cake for a while so I decided to try a new recipe. It was yummy but way more orange tasting than I was expecting. We watching Halloweentown which is a must for me in October. It is just so nostalgic and perfect for the holiday. I finally made butternut squash soup for dinner (my favorite)!

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The delicious vegan butternut squash soup. I made it with friends last year and absolutely loved it so had to make it again. It is a Minimalist Baker recipe.

Interesting articles:

Jess Keys on the environment. These are by no means new things but this is a great list of ways we can be better about our impact on the environment.

Fun date night outfits. I am so into these outfits that Grace came up with. They are such unique and fun ideas!

Some amazing wildlife photography. Just wow! Such incredible photos.

Big name career changes. These are definitely interesting career change stories however I will say that I feel like a lot of them had enough influence and privilege to easily change careers (that is definitely making an assumption because I am sure everyone has their own struggles with it).

Podcasts for Halloween. I will definitely be trying some of these out in the next few weeks.

Another viewpoint on Paris Fashion Week. The Chanel show was amazing!

Everygirl fall wardrobe items. I though this was a great list of things to up your fall wardrobe.

On curiosity and why we are intrigue by certain things. This was a really eye-opening article for my on why we are curious but often don’t learn about what we really want to learn.

A collection of Halloween stories. Yep anything Halloween definitely gets me excited!

Rachel Lindsey interview. Yep I am a fan of the Bachelorette and I really love everything Rachel has to say.

Watching: I am in a Downton Abbey rabbit hole right now. For some reason I was never very interested before but my good friend recommended it so I had to try to get through at least the first season. Now I am entirely sucked in. We are already in the middle of season three.

Reading: I will admit that I am still working on last week’s books (The Seven and a Half Death’s of Evelyn Hardcastle and Upstairs at the White House). Of course I have a long to-read list but it has been a really busy month on the work side of things.

Clothing Obsession: I think my clothing obsession is definitely black and orange right now. I love embracing the Halloween spirit and a great way to do that is by embracing some Halloween-inspired outfits. I did a post on this yesterday.

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Friday work outfit, had to rock the black and orange.

Have a great Sunday!

Erin

Halloween Spirit

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I am not sure why but I just love everything that goes into it. The pumpkin carving, corn mazes, baking, great movies, caramel apples, dressing up etc… The holiday is just made up of so many fun activities that all take place in the fall, which is my favorite season. I thought I would give some ideas for fun Halloween outfits. This is not a costumes post but just ways to make an everyday outfit feel more Halloween ready. For me it is definitely about embracing orange and black. There is definitely a way to wear those colors together without feeling like it is too much.

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Midi dress (I so wish this was in my budget right now), pumpkin body suit (a little more costume-like but still great for getting in the Halloween mood), booties, pumpkin sweater (number one on my wishlist so I had to include it), bag (comes in a perfect orange as well), skull sweatshirt

Here are some outfits I have been wearing that are Halloween inspired:

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Happy October! Let’s fully embrace the Halloween spirit!

Erin

Adding Pink to Fall Outfits

Happy Thursday! Yesterday was 70 and beautiful in Utah. I so enjoyed it especially since it is probably going to be one of the last warm days of this year. I shared my monochrome challenge earlier this week and while brainstorming outfits for it I was inspired to do a post dedicated to wearing pink in fall. I love pink so much and actually do wear it all year long. Like wearing white, it is not typically associated with a fall color palette. Regardless I think it is a great way to bring something different into beige and orange outfits.

Accessories are a great way to do this. Bags and shoes are my favorites for pink but some pink sunglasses or a headband can really liven up an outfit. This fall I have been really into striped sweaters with pink and brown/orange. It is kind of a weird combo but there are some really cute ones. I featured one in my monochrome post the other day. I do have two entirely pink sweaters that I have worn a lot during this time of year. A sweater is practical for the cool weather and can be easily paired with a brown plaid skirt or jeans and a brown overcoat. The other way I have enjoyed bringing pink into my fall closet is through prints. A fall floral print can mix traditionally fall colors with a nice pink to create a fun new fall look!

Here are some of the ways I have incorporated pink into my fall outfits:

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I would love  to hear any ideas you have for wearing pink in fall!

Erin

Monochromatic Looks: Fall Edition

I have always wanted to challenge myself to embrace the whole monochrome thing. I never really felt like I would be able to pull it off but I have never tried so this is my attempt to wear different colors in monochrome. I definitely chose colors that I was comfortable in and that are perfect for this time of year.

Camel/brown: The perfect color for fall is easy to make monochromatic. There are so many shades that work well together. I really think there are so many ways to wear browns and camels that it could never get old in the fall!

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Coat Mark and Graham, fleece Dudley Stephens, pants old (similar), boots Sam Edelman, crossbody Madewell, hat old (similar)

Pink: It might not be considered a traditionally ‘fall’ color but I love pink so I really wanted to include it in this outfit round up. I will also be doing a post on Thursday about wearing pink in fall. It will focus on pink as more of an accent in fall outfits so it might be much more applicable. I wanted to choose two outfits for this since one is rather formal and the other is kind of athlesure.

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Dress Atlantic-Pacific, heels old (similar), sunglasses old (similar, also I am so loving these)

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Top Nike, leggings Lululemon, Sneakers APL

White: This one is also not traditionally fall but I think most people have accepted white as a year round wardrobe addition. I added this grey bag and a beige coat to add to the fall feel.

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Sweater Everlane, sunglasses Amazon, jeans Madwell, sneakers Adidas, bag Cambridge Satchel Company

Green: My all time favorite color always deserves a spot! There are so many great shades of green that work for anytime of year. My outfit here is a forest green and is perfect for right now but there are some lighter greens that could be a great addition to a fall outfit. This one is not necessarily monochrome but relatively close and I do love the hints of color.

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Sweater Madewell, pants old (similar, here is a cheaper option), bag Madewell, booties old (similar)

Navy: Navy is also a classic color that can be easily found year round. I was on the fence about including it in a monochrome post since I don’t wear a ton of navy (or at least I didn’t think I did) but while I was going through my closet I found a ton of navy staples that I wear, especially during fall.

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Vest Barbour, top old (similar), jeans old (similar), sneakers Adidas

Thanks for reading and have a great Tuesday!

Erin