Saturday, August 9, 2014

StitchFix #2 Review - August 2014

Yay!! 
My StitchFix box came!

If you're thinking "Huh? What is StitchFix?" You can click on the link or you can look back at my StitchFix #1 Review post... but the long and short of it is that you go to StitchFix.com and answer some questions about your body type and size, and then you do a pretty extensive survey to determine your "Style Profile" - then you can schedule a fix (either just one by one whenever you are ready, or on a regular basis - I get mine once a month...) For a $20 styling fee, StitchFix gives you a personal stylist who picks out 5 items (tops, pants, skirts, dresses, jewelry, accessories...) that she thinks will look great on you and ships these 5 items to you (shipping is free both ways)... You try them on, decide what to keep, your $20 styling fee is applied as a credit to anything you keep, and if you keep all 5 items you get a whopping 25% off the whole kit & caboodle. (Hey 80s girls, remember Caboodles? I loved those for my lip glosses and junky jewelry :)) There is a pre-paid return envelope in the box for you to return the things you don't want to keep.  When you decide what to keep, you log in to stitchfix and check out.  The checkout process includes lots of space for feedback about each item, and automatically credits your styling fee and any referral fees to your balance!


If you have been following me, you know we have begun what in lovingly refer to as "The Great Purge" in my home over the last 4-5 months. It started with the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge which you can read about in all of the March posts on my blog, and some of the April ones (that first one linked above will take you to the first one, just keep reading...). And then I got a fancy new washer and dryer, and decided that our problem with laundry is that we have way too many clothes, when we basically wear the same 10 things over and over and over. (And my sweet but strange husband has a crazy obsession with socks.  He has more socks at any one moment than the other 3 of us have had cumulatively in our lifetime... But that is another post entirely.) I realized in getting rid of more than half my closet that the things I actually kept were high quality, well made (to withstand lots of wear and lots of washing), stylish but somewhat classic and not super trendy, and generally NOT things I bought for $9.99 at TJMaxx or Target. Plus, my body has changed greatly over the last 8-10 years between having children, gaining and losing, and becoming a runner, so I decided to find my style, to be stylish all the time, and to revamp my wardrobe and StitchFix is helping!

Now - onto the goods. Here is the nice note that my Stylist Amanda sent me:

She checked out my Pinterest August wishboard! She read my feedback about wanting a longer tunic top for my Rizzo pants from the last fix! She also listened to the fact that I work as an attorney and need things that are pulled together for both court and non-court days. Yay, thank you StitchFix for listening! (I also had requested colored skinny jeans and/or "perfect" jeans... But you can't have it all all the time ;)) Here is my review of each individual piece.  Please note that in the interest of full transparency I have included the prices of each item. Last month I had my budget set to the $50-100 option for each category (you can select your budget range for each type of item - tops, pants, dresses, accessories, etc.) - I reduced the budget for most of my items to "the cheaper the better" except for dresses, which I left at $50-100 (because a dress is really a whole outfit on its own and I wear a lot of dresses...so....)

#1 - ZAD Toren Layered Beaded Necklace - $38

It's yellow, y'all!!! I snuck a look at what I was being sent when I found out that my fix had shipped. When I googled this necklace I only found one photo (of another StitchFixer) and it was turquoise. It was so cute. (And this blogger is so cute! http://www.gingerguide.com/2014/04/stitch-fix-review-april-2014.html I hope she doesn't mind me linking her... But isn't she cute?)


I really loved this but then I was also a little torn because, see, I already have a multi strand turquoise beaded necklace from Premier... So you can imagine my surprise and delight when I opened the box to find out it is YELLOW! I love color.  And yes, yellow is my favorite color (as my 9 year old Carson Claire will tell you, Mommy likes it because it is surely the happiest of all the colors... My living room wallls are even painted yellow!) so... This is a keeper. I intend to wear it with my basic sleeveless shift LIttle Black Dress and with plain black or red or any solid or print or anything. I love it. 

Verdict: KEPT!!! Without a doubt. Spot on, Amanda. 
(Here is a no-makeup "I just had surgery" mirror photo of me with my new favorite necklace:

#2 - Mystree Alysia Multi Print Dress - $74
Style Card:

On the hanger:


There is nothing terribly wrong with this dress. I love the shape (fitted tank-sleeve scoop neck top, defined waist, a-line skirt), and the print is kinda fun and bold...like Amanda said - would look cute with cropped black blazer and heels, or sandals and denim jacket.... However, in real life? Notsomuch. It fits really well. BUT, it was booty short. I have pretty nice and shapely legs and I do wear above-the-knee dresses, skirts, and shorts (thank you, running), but my 37 year old self can't get away with THIS short. I loved last month's dress pick, but it just wouldn't zip all the way (though I bet it would fit now post-surgery and 10 pounds off...) and it was the same shape/cut but a little longer than this. See? (Sorry I look a little depressed in the second photo but it's because I was not sure when my 9 year old photog was snapping. (In other news, I bought these Bandolino nude peep toe heels at TJMaxx after I saw some nude heels in last month's styling suggestions and I have worn them many many times already! Love them.)

Here's my other thing about this dress, other than the Kelly Kapowski shortness... It's super thin. Like thinner than my thinnest light summer cotton tees. And it's not lined, obviously. While I kinda like the idea of this dress, it's a standing up only dress AND it did not feel very quality... Especially for $74. But I wouldn't call it a fail. I didn't hate it. I just didn't love it enough to keep it. plus, even the hubs who loves   my legs thought it was too short.

Verdict: RETURNED

#3 - Renee C Huebert Space Dye Open Cardigan - $58
Style Card:

on the hanger:

On me:

(See, yellow - happiest of all the colors - from idk when but I have had it a while and it's a happy shirt. Also note skinny black Rizzo pants from last month's Fix! Also, my hair is big. I have a lot of it. One thing about neck surgery is it's hard to wash hair in the shower to get all the soap out (though I manage) but it is also super difficult to blow dry long hair or straighten. So meet my lioness look...I am a Leo after all.)

Ok - about the cardigan - it's super soft and cuddly. It feels lovely on. It has those kinds of sleeves that are probably 2 inches too long, but I love a little bit of an extra long sleeves in cases like this. Will loved this (he is partial to the skinny pants, too) - and I liked it.

BUT - I have one almost exactly like this. It's not quite as buttery soft and flowy, not quite as long, and it's a darker grey, but very very very similar. Plus, it feels a little frumpy. I know it's not and seeing the photo assures me it does not look frumpy, but it feels a little frumpalicious. So, for $58, I could not justify keeping something so similar to another thing I have. But, if my stylist is basically picking things that I already have in my closet that's pretty spot on, too! Good pick, Amanda - just can't keep it!

Verdict: RETURNED

#4 - Fun2Fun Sonoma Stiped Sleeveless Top - $38

Style Card:

On the hanger:

On me:

When I pulled this out of the box, I was thrilled. Not only did I generally like the style. But it is Auburn Tiger colors!!! Can I get a "War Eagle!" Down here, it's still 80-90 degrees for the first 2-3 months of football season and THIS could be my new Saturday Down South shirt, y'all. And then I tried it on. It was not what I expected. It has that hi-lo cut where the back is longer than the front. I am between a medium and a large in tops (decidedly large on bottom)... And right at the hips, this was narrower than I expected it to be. I almost cried and pitched a little hissy. I wanted this to be perfect. Well, the next day (the day these photos were taken) I slipped it on again and, well, somehow it *was* perfect. I think I just expected it to be looser and longer since it is a large... But styled like this, with my denim and sandals, it looks pretty cute, eh? It's my new Saturday game day shirt!!! War eagle, y'all!

Verdict: KEPT

#5 - Market & Spruce Trina Crochet Detail Tab-Sleeve Shirt - $54

style Card:


on the hanger:

On me:

Um, yeah. This is adorable. We were walking out the door and this is what I was actually wearing and we forgot to take a photo in the session with the other stuff (because I was actually already wearing this...) I have it in with some turned up dark wash jeans, gold jewelry, a brown camisole tank underneath (it is sheer, and the Henley-style peeks open at my bra area but it looks cute with the tank under and I don't have to worry about exposure.) This shirt is also a wee bit more narrow than one would expect a size large "breezy tunic" style top to be. However, it's not tight...and I love the navy and the versatility and the crochet detail and I can totally see this with leggings and tall brown boots in the fall/winter. Love. Love love love. 

Verdict: KEPT

So: Because 3 of you friend signed up last month by using my referral link and had a stitch fix sent, I had $75 of credit - from which StitchFix deducted the $20 styling fee credit when it shipped, but I get that re-credited when I purchase anything from the box - (you can get free StitchFix credit, too - go schedule your first fix now and get your own referral link... $25 per person who signs up!)

I kept:
Yellow necklace - $38
Striped top - $38
Navy tunic - $54
Total: $130
Credit: - $75
Total paid for two awesome tops and a killer fab necklace:
$55

Pretty cool, eh? What do you think? Did I keep the right things? 
What are you waiting for - go sign up for your first Fix!


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Post-Op Pushing It & Mind Control

2 weeks ago today I had surgery.  My neck was a wreck and after almost 3 years of "conservative" treatment I still had somewhat unbearable shooting arm pain. The surgery's official name is "Anterior Cervical Diskectomy (I have seen it with a "c" in disc and a "k" in disk and I don't know what is actually correct) and Fusion."

Now - I feel great, other than general post-op recovery slowing down and fatigue and all - my arm pain is pretty much completely resolved.  And my neck doesn't hurt so much (it's still what I would call "sore and achy" but mostly only at night when I'm tired and trying to turn over in the bed and have to use all those muscles. I stopped taking the pain medicine regularly over a week ago (about 5-6 days post-op?).  I only spent the one night in the hospital and pretty much everything went (and is going) 100% swimmingly.

These are my hitches:
1) I have to take *at least* 4 weeks off work. (Sounds nice, and the home part is - but the organizing my 370 open cases for which I'm solely responsible is tough.)
2) I am also restricted on exercise. This makes life difficult because my running partner (Hi, M!) and I are training for the Run Like a Diva Half Marathon in Peachtree City. On September 6.  Which is one month away from YESTERDAY.
3) I'm not so good at doing nothing.  Weird. I always kind of considered myself, if not truly lazy, at least the kind of "efficient" where you do as little as possible to reach whatever is your desired result. It's harder than I thought to be lazy, even when it is mandated.
4) I have very little voice.  No, really.  Me.  Overly chatty JJ. I sound like a little girl whispering in a super high voice when I speak.  Me.  (Interesting situation for a criminal defense trial lawyer.) Though not painful, it does make some things difficult, and I suppose it's pretty understandable as a side-effect.  After all, they cut a hole in your throat and shove your esophagus and your vocal chords/voice box all over to the side - You can see how there would be some hoarseness and general inflammation.
5) I haven't been able to drive.  For weeks.  I'm not used to that limitation on my independent movement away from the home.

All of these things irk me. Of course they are unavoidable and I'm not MAD about it or anything, it's just something that has led me to feel a little whiny.  NO one likes a whiner (See: http://fabricfreak.blogspot.com/2014/03/on-doing-my-best.html )...

All of this leads me to my thoughts for the day.  I read this blog post: 21 days of not complaining (though totally exhausting) day yesterday, I realized that I hardly complained all day and that not complaining was such a relief. (I drove for the first time yesterday - that was one of my restrictions as well, and I completely overdid it, but in a very satisfying and soul-healing kind of way.) Also, I've noticed that one of my children has been VERY WHINY AND COMPLAIN-Y this last few days (and it's exhausting) - so I intend to do my best to control my thoughts here the next 3 weeks.  I'm putting on my bracelet right now.
My general rules:
I will try to control my thoughts (that control my words).  If I have a negative thought and resolve it with a solution (as in, I hate how my dishwasher leaves spots on everything...) but I can end that negative thought with a positive solution (...let me go google what I can do to solve that, perhaps I can ask Will to get some CLR or we can clean it or get a better rinsing agent....) then that is acceptable.

I will share this with my children and see if I can convince them to play my game.

General statements of fact (even if they are a sad fact) will not be considered complaining in acceptable contexts - for example when I go to the doctor, if he says "How are you feeling?" I can be honest with him about any pain, problems, etc. as long as I am not "whining" and not presenting it in a negative manner, but rather honestly seeking a solution.

Here's some good news:
- My StitchFix will be delivered today!
- I took a chance and ordered skinny jeans. In a smaller size than normal.
- Although I have not been able to eat as much and as properly as pre-surgery, I have lost 9 pounds as a result.
- I'm going to take a nap today.

Stay tuned for my StitchFix review in the next day or two!  If you missed the first one: StitchFix #1 review post

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Dill pickles, potato salad and rest for the soul

I'm tired of being busy and having plans all the time. Summer is supposed to be slower and more relaxing - but between work and camps for the kids and vacations and the 4th of July - today was a glorious plan-free day. Well, I had plans that went like this -
1. Long run with Molly
2. Shower and nap
3. Figure out what to do with abundance of cucumbers and tomatoes and red white & blue baby potatoes in my kitchen
4. Drink beer & watch soccer
5. Grill burgers for dinner

I am happy to report these were the best plans and they worked out fabulously.

Molly and I ran 8 miles:

2. I showered and laid down (but my neck hurts so I didn't really nap.

3. Carson and I looked up tomato sauce recipes because I had 6 pounds of tomatoes that were super ripe. We found this recipe: http://bravetart.com/recipes/RoastedTomatoSauce

And this happened:
And then this made my house smell like heaven:
And the final product (which apparently "freezes beautifully" and as Annelle said in Steel Magnolias: "this is in the 'Freezes Beautifully' section of my cookbook. And I wanted to take something that freezes beautifully!":



So I also have about 6 pounds of adorable little potatoes that happen to be red white & blue. If you have not heard of Rise 'n' Shine organic farms and their CSA offerings, go check it out. I can't believe this is the first year we have taken part. 

We get some recipes each week with our share and suggestions about what to do. With the potatoes, we got this recipe: 
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Red-White-and-Blue-Potato-Salad-235326

And it turned out amazing - I would give it rave reviews. It was so tasty and satisfyingly delicious! Plus it's pretty:


Finally, we made pickles. I have had cucumbers in our CSA box for the last 2 weeks that we haven't eaten. I have gotten a lot of questions about how to make pickles. They were the first thing I canned when I got my canning supplies. Super, super easy. But I use a mash-up of the Ball dill pickle recipe in my Ball canning book and 3-4 different recipes on my Pinterest "Food in Jars" board. Basically, dill pickles are so simple my recipe looks like this:

And here is how I really do it:
Get some cucumbers, fresh dill (NOT dill weed, just dill) and some garlic (we have garlic from rise n shine, too - delicious!). 
Group cukes together by size roughly. If you like whole pickles, or pickle halves - by all means cut them like that. We prefer quarter spears and round slices for our burgers and sandwiches. 

Sanitize your jars - I run mine through the dishwasher because I'm lazy. Then peel all that garlic (I use 1-2 cloves per jar but I like my pickles really garlicky.)

put a clove of garlic and some dill (2-3 little sprigs) at the bottom of each jar:

Pack the jars with the cucumbers. Pack them really tight. Fill them up! This part is kind of like a little puzzle. 
Top with another clove of garlic (or not) and another sprig of dill and line up your jars:

At this point you want to put your lids in a little saucepan to simmer. It sanitizes them and prepared the sealing part for sealing. (You can only use canning lids once - after they are sealed to the jar and reopened, they won't reSeal.) 

Get the canning pot (or super large stock pots with a rack to lift the jars from the direct heat on the bottom also work fine for this!) going - fill it half to 2/3 full with really hot tap water and put it on the burner on high heat. 

For the brine: combine:
8.5 cups water
2.25 cups white distilled vinegar (5% acidity - this is standard cheap regular old white vinegar...)
1/2 cup of pickling salt (sometimes called canning salt)
***canning salt makes the water stay clear. Regular salt works fine. It will taste fine. But the water will be kind of foggy and cloudy. So the pickling salt stays clear. 

Put these three things in a non-reactive (not aluminum) pot and bring to a boil. Remove it from the heat. Now - you will ladle the brine into the jars using a funnel and leaving 1/4" headspace. A note about tools:
This 4 piece set comes together as a beginning canning set and I got it as a birthday present from my grandmother a while ago. The funnel is self explanatory, the tong thingies are used to put jars in and take them out of the hot water. The little stick thingie is a magnetic lid lifter (for getting the kids out of that simmering water...) and the last thing is a headspace tool to measure 1/4" or 1/2" headspace to leave when you fill your jars. 

I also have this funnel - which is awesome because it sits securely on any size jar and it has the headspace measurement right on it. After you fill the jars, wipe the rims to dry with a paper towel and put the lids on. 

Put the rings on and tighten (but not super tight) - by now your canning water should be close to boiling. Using tongs, gently place the jars into the canning pot. 


The water should be up to the neck of the jar or covering the jar. Process (let it sit and cuddle in the pot) for 15 minutes. Then use the tongs and set them on a dish towel to seal and cool. 

You will maybe hear some "pings" - that's the pressure pulling the seal down. Check for a good seal and then label your pickles!  I think you need to wait about 3-4 weeks before they are "pickles" but my people usually can't wait more than 2 weeks. 

Yay pickles! This was a terribly long post, and very picture heavy, and all about food. But it's been a great day and now I am drinking beer and watching soccer while Willie is grilling burgers. Success. :)




 Can I quote Marianne Williamson here? I think I will. “…As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” 

Friday, July 11, 2014

StitchFix #1 review - July 2014

  • It came, it came!!! I have been waiting for about a month now to get my first Stitch Fix

  • What? What's that? You don't know about StitchFix.com? It's a style service... Basically, after filling out a pretty comprehensive style profile and lots of information about your body type and sizes and stuff, a stylist picks out 5 pieces for you. Tops, pants, skirts, dresses, accessories... And ships them to you for free.  When your Fix is shipped, you get charged a $20 styling fee... (Though if you keep any of the items, that $20 becomes a credit.) The box arrives, you try on your 5 things, get a personal note from your stylist and 5 style cards to show you how you can make complete looks, and a list with descriptions and prices. 

Now, as a quick aside, we have purged our home. I have rid myself of all unnecessary goods. I have taken no less than 32 bags (30 gallon trash bags) of assorted clothes, household items, and linens to the Salvation Army in Rome since March. I have reduced my wardrobe by at least 50% or more. In that process, I determined that the things I kept were 1) not bought on sale 2) of high quality 3) classic design and 4) multifunctional for work, casual, etc.  So, in an effort to enjoy my style a little more, I treated myself to the stitch fix experience. 

My first box came today!

It was wrapped beautifully:

And gave simple instructions!


  • My stylist (Lisa) sent me a nice note and 5 style cards for the pieces I received:

    so I got 2 tops, a pair of skinny pants, a kimono cardigan, and a chevron print dress... Here are the items in no particular order. In the interest of transparency, I am also including the price. (You get to choose the price range for your clothes. I was in the $50-100 price range, though I will go down to the under $50 or "the cheaper the better" price range next time!)

    1) Daniel Rainn - Daria Scarf print cross-front blouse - $74
    Um, no.  This was the one total fail in my box. I hate the print. Like, absolutely despise it. It does not look cute or professional or even intentional. The way it crosses with the funky pattern not matching up makes it even worse. The cut would maybe be ok if it was a smaller all-over print? But I also did not like the bottom. The hem was elasticized. Yuck. And it was too pricey. 

    Verdict: RETURNED

    Item #2 - Pomelo Landers Lattice Crochet Detail Tank $78

    Ok, I confess, when I saw that my box had shipped, I looked up photos on Pinterest and the interwebs to see what I got - and this was underwhelming from what I could tell. A white shirt? Really? 

    But then when I got it out the box, the fabric was soft and flowy.  The detail at the neck and shoulders was beautifully sewn.  It had a cute keyhole button detail at the back neck. The back hem was ever so slightly longer than the front to hit at the right spot on my backside. 


     In the end, I really liked this shirt the most out of the whole box.

    VERDICT: kept it!

    Item #3 - Pomelo Harriet Chevron Print Detail Dress - $64

    This dress is SO me. If I had to just choose from photos and could only keep one thing, this would be it. And even once I got it on, I adored it:

  • Unfortunately, there was one little problem. It wouldn't zip up. 
    Major bummer. I seriously feel this dress just must run small. It is my size and all the other things fit, for the most part... I hope I get a cute dress like this next time (that fits...)

    VERDICT: returned (but only because I couldn't zip it)

    Item #4 - Pixley Monty Scarf Print Kimono Cardigan - $54

    I wanted to love this. Well, I do love this... The fabric and print and colors and style of boho-chic are great. But... On me it looks like a box. It gives me no waist or shape, and according to my husband, it makes me look old.
    But look at it!!!! Pretty. 

    VERDICT: returned

    Item #5 - Sanctuary Rizzo Skinny Ponte Pants - $88



    ok - I have never worn or even tried on skinny jeans or skinny pants. (I know, sad, right?) but, news flash - I am not skinny!!!! I embrace my body shape, and am totally cool with it, but I am way curvy to wear tight pants. (Have you seen the Jimmy Fallon/Will Ferrell "I got my tight pants on" skit? You should... Here - it's irresistible - there is a bad word...it's from the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon...)

    Anyway, I am still slightly torn about these.  But I have convinced myself that 1) they are versatile 2) they are seasonless 3) they are way cuter than yoga pants 4) they could be dressed up or down 5) my husband likes my butt in them. So....

    I went back and forth and back and forth. But the more tops I tried on with them, the better I felt about keeping them. They are like leggings with their clingy-ness and stretch, but thick Ponte cotton with the cute sewn details - think jeggings, only haute fancy jeggings.  My planned big fall purchase is riding boots and these will be perfect...

    VERDICT: kept

    So, what do you think? Did I pick the right things? I got my $20 credit applied from the styling fee, so that helped a little.  And, if you keep all 5 things, you get a hefty 25% discount (which would have been $85.50 in this case!)

    You should try it!!!! If you do - use this link or one of the linkies above. (It is just to take you to the main stitch fix page, but if you use this link, I get a $25 credit for referring you!)Click here to try it!