Reading and a Recipe

Most of you felt the outfit on yesterday’s mannequin was not a home run. How’s that for an understatement? That outfit proves that even if every piece of an outfit is wonderful, how we combine them is crucial to a successful look.Jennifer Connolly from A Well Styled life wearing sequin skirt with black sweater

I was drawn to this skirt because of the color. My lifestyle doesn’t need a skirt like this right now, but if it did, I would wear it with a simple sweater and low heels or flats. I’d need to hem it so it doesn’t overwhelm my short self, and I’d wear minimal jewelry to let the skirt take center stage.book and several candles on mirrored coffee table

I shared my domestic goddess moment on my Facebook page last weekend and was asked to post the recipe.

It was a rainy, blustery weekend and I was settled on the couch reading

Here’s how I made it.

Kumquat Marmalade Recipe

2 cups of kumquats

3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 cup water

juice of one Meyer Lemon…we only had one straggler on the tree.


Wash the kumquats. Then quarter or slice them. Slicing makes it easier to remove the seeds. Kumquat seeds are perfectly fine to eat but I prefer not.

Bring sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan.

Add Kumquats and Meyer lemon juice, boil for 40 minutes and voila, Kumquat Marmalade.

The last Collection hard cover book
The Last Collection: A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel

This weekend I’m reading The Last Collection. Can you see a theme here? I (obviously) love fashion so read everything I can get my hands on about it.

Paris, 1938. Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli are fighting for recognition as the most successful and influential fashion designer in France, and their rivalry is already legendary. They oppose each other at every turn, in both their politics and their designs: Chanel’s are classic, elegant, and practical; Schiaparelli’s bold, experimental, and surreal.” – Jeanne Mackin

Here are a few “lightweight” books I’ve got in my cart.

Since we are firmly in cozy weekend mode I would love to hear what you’re reading and what you recommend. Please share because it’s going to be a long winter:)





  1. Jennifer and readers…I highly recommend starting a Book Club! I gathered together 12 amazing women. We meet monthly. The hostess cooks dinner for us in her home, supplies the wine, picks the next book and leads our discussion. Since we have 12 women, each of us only has to play hostess once a year. It’s my favorite evening of the month. In 2019 our favorite book was The Rent Collector. I look forward to hearing what YOUR favorite books are that you’ve read from our all our suggestions.

    1. Our book club has 8 women because most of us can squeeze 8 people around our dining table. And because we’re all retired or can control our schedules we meet at 9 am for a simple coffee breakfast. We meet at the local library every August and pick our books for the coming year. Our rule is we don’t pick a book unless at least one person has already read it and can recommend it. Each person picks a book to present, leading the discussion etc, and also picks a month to hostess. We don’t meet in the winter months because we have several snowbirds in the group.

  2. Hi, Jennifer. I love the sequined skirt styled with the simple black sweater that you are modeling. I love books about fashion and street style. I highly recommend The Sartorialist series by Scott Schuman. That being said, one of the best books I have read this year–one that has stayed with me–was A Gentleman in Moscow. I also love historical fiction based on true events and have currently been reading The Last Kingdom (or The Saxon Chronicles) series by Bernard Cornwell. In between when I have to wait to get the next novel in that series from the library, I turn to Miss Read and her charming stories about the fictitious country village of Fairacre.

    1. I just ordered A Gentleman in Moscow. His “Rules of Civility” was awesome!

      1. Book Goddess says:

        A Gentleman in Moscow is my book of the millennium! I would also recommend pretty much anything by Kate Atkinson.

  3. I love to read! I am drawn to nonfiction and historical fiction. I requested Carly Simon’s book about her friendship with Jackie Kennedy at my local library.Also read a fictionalized account of Josephine Baker’s life. I am horrid remembering titles!

    1. That Carly Simon book sounds fascinating. I wish our library was a little better stocked. It’s even closed on the weekends! What’s up with that??

      1. I’ve added the Carly Simon/ Jackie book to my list too. One I liked a lot was Jackie’s Girl, written by the Kennedy children’s nanny.

  4. Francesca says:

    Love that skirt on you Jennifer and before I forget Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!
    Have a beautiful time and many thanks for the golden advice.

    Books I love are The Cutting Stone,anything by Anita Shreve,all the dectective series of Ian Rankin and crime series written by Michael Connelly,anything written by Lauren Groff and Ann Patchett and Elizabeth Stout all marvelous writers.Love this time of year when you can read by the light of the Christmas Tree and be so grateful to be at peace:)

    1. Thank you so much, Francesca. Same to you! I’ve read several Anita Shreve but not in many years. Thanks for the reminder:). Reading is such a great reprieve from the craziness of this season.

  5. Oh Jennifer! We moved to California 7 years ago and I left my wonderful, mature kumquat tree behind. Oh how I miss harvesting that tree and using the fruit exactly as you.
    That skirt in black is absolutely gorgeous!
    If you need a laugh-out-loud read that also makes you think try the “Rosie Project”. I just saw a quote by Bill Gates that said he liked it so much he gave it to 50 friends.
    And lastly I LOVE your hair; the longer length and the bangs/fringe. I’m threatening bangs even though my hair is naturally curly not naturally straight. The length is below my jaw line and I want a more finished look to my style.

    1. Thanks Suzi! That book sounds like a must read. Googling now.

  6. Ann, you can have my mulberry tree. Birds eat the berries and then visit my white porch railings. LOL Mulberry cobbler is good though.
    I am reading Village Affairs by Miss Read. I just love it so far. I don’t know how I missed this series of books about life in a country village.
    I think the blue skirt is okay if you style it in a simple way like that with a sweater. Holiday party maybe. Still, I’d rather not glitter at my age. 77

    1. Eve, point well taken, lol… what’s that Bounty commercial saying? Life’s messy… clean it up! Nah, the older I get the less time I want to spend time cleaning.

  7. Maggie Morris says:

    Hi Jennifer, love you blog! I was looking at the black V neck sweater and realized I need some quality basics. I am allergic to wool so cashmere doesn’t work for me. I also remember that you talked about silk shirts at one time. I was wondering if you would be interested in doing a “chic basics” blog. Sometimes I can’t find these “chic basics”, I guess I don’t know where to look!

      1. I would enjoy that too!

      2. Especially one on white tee shirts. I love the look of a short sleeve (both round and v-neck) tee with blue jeans, but can’t find one I like, at an everyday price. Does anyone buy Amazon Essential tees? How is the quality and how does their sizing run? Also, dressy tees. Cotton tees. Modal tees. Tees that don’t show through. You get the idea!

  8. Connie Haines says:

    I like your styling of yesterday’s skirt! Recently read two of your book picks: A Well Behaved Woman, and American Princess. Biographies and historical fiction make up 90% of what I read and these were both fantastic. I would also recommend Young Titan and That Churchill Woman for an interesting look at Jenny Jerome Churchill and her son, Winston.

  9. You rocked that skirt with the way you wore it. I do prefer the shorter one on you! I may take a look at the book as I will have two weeks off for our Winter Break. I don’t think I have ever eaten a kumquat before. May look for some!

  10. I enjoy your blog. I have similar body issues as you….shorter legs, longer body. You certainly have struck a good topic with books!❤️ I highly recommend all of Elizabeth Strout’s writings….Olive Kitteridge, My Name is Lucy Barton, and more. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent is a dark story, but very touching. And of course, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. Both are riveting reads!

    1. Thanks for the suggestions Maria! It seems we all love to read.

  11. Oh wow, I would so love to have a fruit tree outside my door. Your marmalade looks wonderful. The blue skirt is a beautiful color. I wonder if sequins will still be in style next year or are they a fast in and out trend. I’d considered one at JJill for a split second that people say has a chameleon-like color that goes with silver or gold accessories, but still, too memorable to be able to wear more than once or twice.
    An audiobook I’m enjoying is Small Fry, a memoir by the daughter of Steve Jobs.

    1. Deborah Lilly says:

      I don’t think I have ever tasted a kumquat, but your marmalade looks delicious. I’ll have to seek some out. I just finished reading The Dutch House and Where the Crawdads Sing and loved both. Just started Deborah Crombie’s newest mystery, A Bitter Feast. I haven’t read any of her 17 books before but she is very popular. I saw her speak at a mystery conference in October and she was so interesting.

      1. I haven’t been reading mysteries lately but love them. Thanks for the idea

    2. Sequins are always in style so long as you choose a classic shape.

  12. That skirt is really gorgeous the way you’ve styled it. I don’t have anywhere to wear it but I love it.

    Just finished Olive, Again and about to start Ann Patchett’s latest, The Dutch House. I’m also reading Born a Crime by Trevor Noah on my Kindle. (I have a bad habit of reading multiple books at once. Lol)

    1. I can’t seem to read more than one at a time. Good for you! Thanks for the suggestions.

  13. Just catching up on the week’s posts and have to say that I loved everything you tried on at Soft Surroundings. Wish we had those stores in Canada.
    For books I love a good British mystery and have just discovered the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffith. I also enjoy Louise Penny’s books, but thy can be a bit dark at times, so you have to be in the right frame of mind to read them. I sometimes re-read Sue Grafton’s books…so sad she passed away before writing “Z”.

    1. We had a whole shelf of Sue Grafton books before we moved. I love her style. Such a shame to lose her.

  14. I notice two Fiona Davis novels in your stack. I can recommend her other two books: The Residence and The Chelsea Girls. I’m reading the latter now.

    1. I love, love Fiona Davis. I wish she’d write them faster:)

  15. Yesterday, when I saw that outfit I thought, “What was she thinking?”. But I like the way you have styled the skirt today. Probably still would never wear it, but I see what you were thinking.
    Agree that Louise Penny books are perfect for a long cozy day of reading. If you like mysteries by authors like Penny and Winspear, you might also like Ruth Rendell, Tana French, Jane Harper or Elizabeth George. Other recent reads I have enjoyed: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai, and The Friend by Sigrid Nunez. Nothing like a good book, a warm blanket, a cup of tea, and a few hours of peace! Happy holidays.

    1. Happy holidays Mary. You described my favorite type of day:)

  16. That skirt looks great on you! You have the perfect figure for that style. And the color is such a lovely rich blue.
    I like to read cozy mysteries as an escape from all of the stuff going on in my life , and from the sad stories on the news. I also just love mysteries and puzzles. I just checked out a non-fiction book that I’m looking forward to reading, but haven’t started it yet. It’s called “Quiet—The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking”, by Susan Cain. It’s especially appropriate during the holidays when the stores are packed with people, and there are so many gatherings of friends and family.

    1. I really liked Quiet, and you’re right. Perfect for the holiday madness. 🙂

  17. Anne Woodyard (@MusicandMarkets) says:

    I just finished The Gown, another fascinating fashion-related read – I’m sure you’d enjoy it!

  18. Paulette Levy says:

    I read, read and read. My latest are Where the Crawdads Sing, ThisTender Land, Olive Again, Ruthless Tide, and a re-read if my all time fav author Louise Penny: Long Way Home. I also read fashion magazines monthly and the New York Times! I’m currently reading another of my previously read Louise Penny mysteries!
    Love your blog!

    1. I read the same ones you mentioned! I went to an author’s reading of This Tender Land. I love all of William Kent Kruegers’ books, the mysteries as well as Ordinary Grace. That is one of my all time favorite books.

  19. I love reading and have a stack of them ready to tackle over our ‘long, hot summer’. Mythos (Stephen Fry) The Madness of the Crowds (Douglas Murray) Jerusalem (Simon Sebag Montefiore). As an ex Military Officer (and retired nurse), I have just finished ‘On Radjii Beach’, an account of the Australian Army Nurses machine gunned on the beach by the Japanese Army during World War Two. I am currently reading Guy Walter’s book on the Great Escape (the same escape seen in the movie with Steve McQueen). And, because the previous two books were so emotional, for some light relief, The Diaries of Kenneth Rose – a gossipy account of the British Royal Family since the 1950s. Can’t say the blue sequin skirt did anything for me, but the marmalade recipe is certainly a winner.

    1. I need to make another batch of the marmalade. We plowed through it:)

  20. Thank goodness you rescued that pretty skirt and styled it nicely. It is way over the top glittery for my taste and shape but I think you could wear it well in the way you described. For me, it’s one of those items that would require too much effort to make it flattering ,

    Books… I love books and have far too many. Movers hate me. I don’t care. I’m never happy until I have my books around me.
    At the moment I’m reading Jeffrey Archer’s novel “ “Cain and Abel” it’s a pleasure to find well written novels these days ; this was recommended by a friend. My daughter and I are doing much reading on essential oils to address health issues. Books and books!
    One very interesting non fiction I read a few years ago that you too may enjoy is about the history of perfume. I can’t recall the title but will do a search.
    I also find fashion fascinating and am especially interested in how events in history influenced fashion.
    And how fashion influences society. I have several art books checked out of the library that I hope to get to seen. One by Hawaiian artist Peg Hopper whose use of color is brilliant.
    For pure entrainment a good mystery with an unusual spin is the Maise Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear.
    And I probably will reread a couple of Fannie Flagg novels before spring. Pure delight.

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