Friday, May 22, 2015

StitchFix #11 review - May 2015

So, I haven't been blogging about my Fixes. (Or at all, actually.) 

I have a ton of other exciting news (including job stuff and KonMari) but for now, here's my StitchFix #11 review!

I get a $25 credit if you sign up and get a Fix, so if you love this and want to try it (the most you could be out is $20 styling fee if you hate it all and return it) please use my referral link:

https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3871459

First, I LOVE the stylist I have had the last 2 months. Last month I kept everything in the box for the first time ever! And this time I was also pleased as punch with stylist Niccole. I know she is looking at things I have in my closet already from prior Fixes and also at my Pinterest board I linked! 

Here is the note from Niccole:

Item #1:
Bancroft Dante Cut Out Metal Oval Layered Necklace - $32
This is really pretty. I am lacking in a silver necklace of this length, and this one is not heavy on my neck. Gorgeous. But, I am trying to decide if it is bringing me joy. 
Verdict: waffling but I kind of love it now that I'm looking at the photo. 
(PS, note cute bicycle shirt from Fix #10 last month.)

Item #2:
41Hawthorn Edwin Scarf Print top
$58


So, Niccole sent this top because I loved the bicycle top and this one was a similar cut with a more eclectic print. I am apparently between SF sizes. I typically wear a M/L in tops, a 10, maybe a 12. I do not have a particularly well-endowed chest area. (This is ok with me ;)) - but the larges were sometimes tight in the sleeves (I do have linebacker arms) so I tried one month to get XL tops. Well, the armpits hung low and you could see my bra from a sleeveless shirt. So I went back to large. I think it's fine. I do LOvE this print and it will pair nicely with my baby and my neutral color suits for work. And it looks great with my KUT from the Kloth skinny jeans. 

Verdict: Keeper!!

Item #3:
Brixon Ivy Lex Textured Knit Fit & Flare Dress in yellow 
$74

Before I post photos of this... I knew I wasn't going to keep it when I saw the fabric. I thought the color was awkward, not for my skin tone, and I just didn't think I'd like it. It looked a little green on the style card and was cute enough... Just not "me" - plus, I have had a little trouble with some of the SF dresses being a little short (since I AM well-endowed in my backside area).

But, in my lamenting over whether this dress brought me joy, my fierce yet adorable friend and fellow StitchFix fan, Amy said "well it brings ME joy!" So I tried it on and took some photos and - hell's bells, it's pretty cute and joyful after all. 
(Note cute denim jacket from prior fix.)
So.... It doesn't make me look nearly as frumpy as I thought it might, it's not too short, it's knit so it's way comfy... I'm feeling a good bit of joy out of this one...)
Verdict: Keeper!!!

Item #4:
41Hawthorn Abrianna knit cardigan in navy
$48
So, I've had other of these open front type cardigans sent by stitch fix. I liked them. I sent them all back. They did not bring me joy. However, I think Niccolw might be a mind-reader because I was just thinking while planning my cruise wardrobe for next week's trip that I wish I had a more neutral, non-denim, throw over many outfits cardigan or knit jacket or something. I wear my denim jacket a LOT. But I also have two great pairs of KFTK jeans and I'm not all about the denim suit thing ... So, behold, the perfect cardigan of glory:

Verdict: Keeper!!!

Item #5:
Renee C Alondra Ruched pencil skirt in navy
$58

I thought, "um, no." When I got this out of the box. 
as previously mentioned, I like big butts and I cannot lie (mostly because I have one and I own it and it's pretty tight from boot camp and running, but still super curvy...)
However, again I decided to try it on and take some photos to share and when I got the whole look on, dayum if it doesn't look great. 
And this is going to make my Husband happy:
Verdict: waffling... 

In the end, the total for everything is $270. After my $20 styling fee is applied, it's $250. But? If I keep everything, I get a whopping 25% discount on the lot and the total is $187.50

THAT IS A SAVINGS OF $62.50. 

so- yay, it all brings me joy and I'm keeping it all and I hope I have Niccole forever and ever as my stylist. 

If you want to try StitchFix (and you should), please use my referral link here!

https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3871459

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"I have TWO dads!"

She turned 6 the week before, on the first day of first grade. She was sitting at a table in the elementary school cafeteria with a gaggle of other brand new first grade girls eating Oreos off a napkin. Her hair was in its customary rat's nest and all in her face (and now had the additional adornment of Oreo.)  She was wearing her brother's old baseball jersey with a neon polka dot skirt, and tennis shoes with no socks. She was blissfully unaware of her odd specialness. (This was a different day - but same general air of Carson-ness...)
 She was particularly excited to be at the Daisy girl scout meeting because her brother and hero was a Cub Scout...



I was watching her. Her chattiness, her sudden "real kid-ness" as opposed to tiny preschooler and kindergartener. I remember specifically what I was thinking: Because I'd lived with her for 6 years, I had become blind to her exuberant quirkiness.  Do you ever do that? Look at someone to whom you are SO close and see them through the eyes that strangers see them? I was amused and also worried for her tenderness. I didn't want her spirit broken by mean girls with perfectly matching outfits and shoes and hairbows that wouldn't "get" her and her, well, oddity...But I also knew she wouldn't be convinced to conform...

He was sitting with me.  His barely 7 year old self was irritated at having to stay AFTER after-school program for her and her "meeting." He wanted Oreos, too. At the adjacent table, we could hear the conversation of the giggly girls but we weren't close enough for the girls to be aware of or distracted by us. I didn't think he was listening.  I thought he was pouting because he didn't get Oreos.

What happened:
Pink shirt girl: "My grandma lives with us now because she can't go up and down stairs anymore and our house doesn't have stairs."
Blue Dress girl: "My grandma lives in Tennessee.  She has a pool."
Her: "My Poppa Bill has a pool."
Blue Dress girl: "Is Poppa Bill your grandfather?"
Her: "Uh-huh"
Pink shirt girl: "Do you get to swim all the time? Does he live in Rome?"
Her: "YES! He lives right down the street from us."
Blue Dress girl: "Is he your Mom's dad or your Dad's dad?"
Her: "He's one of my dads' Dad."
Pink shirt AND Blue Dress: "ONE of your Dads???"
Her: (non-plussed) "Yeah... (pause...and after silence from the others...)  I have two dads."
Blue Dress: "You can't have two dads."
HIM (surprising me by jumping in and defending his sister): "We DO have two dads.  Our Daddy lives in Alabama and our Stepdad is Will and he lives with us. Poppa Bill is Will's dad, and our grandfather."
Pink Shirt: "You call him Will? He's not your dad. He's just married to your mom."
Her: (exasperated and very matter-of-factly) "He IS my dad, too.  My daddy will always be my daddy, but Will is my stepdad and he's my dad, too. There are all kinds of families, you know. Love is what makes the family, not being married. And we all love each other."

Out. Of. The. Mouths. Of. Babes. Y'all.

My heart almost busted open from fullness right there, y'all, all over the oreos and the daisy scouts and everything.
I was sitting by ready to intervene and defend, but I didn't have to.  She knew what was up.  She still does. (And he does, too.) The kid knows her own mind, and speaks it intelligently, kindly, but with an incomparable and unbeatable force. My daily prayer is that she never loses that.  But this post is not about her.

It's been 3 years to the day since that meeting.  I had married Will just two weeks prior. My kids were as excited about getting married as Will and I were, because how in the world could you NOT want Will to live with you? He has pretty much every video game system ever made, multiple musical instruments, plays board games, loves 80s movies, and he talks in puppy voice to the dogs. "It will be like a sleepover ALL THE TIME, Momma!" (7 year old boy.) But, this post is not about Will, either.

It's about their Daddy.

I have never shared publicly (social media or here) much about divorcing and co-parenting, custody, visitation, child support, etc. And I still won't. (Plus, I got a brand spankin' new washer and dryer and THAT is where my dirty laundry belongs.)  What I am about to share ist an assurance to others going through it that it DOES get... better? nah... easier? not really... though you do learn to deal with it better. It's always hard. But it is always worth it. And the point of our lives is our kids.  One day, he and she will know how much the three of us (me and their two dads) worked really really hard, together, even when we disagreed, to make sure they always know that they are each loved, appreciated, adored, encouraged, and totally worth every bit of everything.

Cole and Carson's Dad and I obviously divorced.  We divorced when the Cs were little, 2 and 3 years old. And it was hard. And ugly. And it hurt. It was hard on both of us...it hurt both of us. Sometimes it still hurts, though now the hurt is more like your bones aching when it's going to rain, and less like a knife in the heart. I worried what I was doing to my children, but I worried what I'd be doing if we stayed together, too. I won't lie. Their dad and I still often don't see eye to eye. Occasionally we even actually argue. (NEVER in front of or in earshot of the children.) Sometimes we text and email to avoid any actual confrontation. And that's ok.

Why? Why, you say? Arguing is ok? You hear stories about other broken marriages where the parties stay best friends and hang out together all the time.  That probably won't happen with us. (Living in different states is part of the issue...but we also just don't always get along...) But it's still ok.

NOW HEAR THIS: It's ok because I know that there is not one other human in the world other than their Daddy that loves those babies like I do.  And he knows that I am their Momma and they need me and I love them like he does. It's ok because every time there is a Scout banquet we all (multiple parents and grandparents) sit together at the same table and look right at Cole and tell him how well he has done and his whole family is focused on and celebrating him.  It's ok because, even if her Daddy and I have just fussed at length about something, when Carson has her first piano recital there is no doubt in my mind we will all be right there together with smiles on our faces telling her how beautifully she played. There will be no residual underlying anger between us during those moments. EVERY time we need to rearrange a weekend visitation so that Carson can cheer with the Lil' Wolves at the Rome High football game or Cole has a Webelos campout, it works itself out.  When I had surgery and couldn't drive, one dad drove the children to visit their other dad.  Three hours round trip.  Both ways. There is never an argument about what is best for the children among the 3 of us. It's ok because, at the end of the day - the children don't know anything different than having 3 parents that all love them immensely.

It's not easy.  No one ever said it would be easy. Marriage is not easy.  It's work.  Divorce and co-parenting is ALSO work. They say marriage is forever, but Divorce is for eternity and a day. But if she knew even at just-barely-6 years old that her family was made of love, and that she had two dads, we're doing alright. They know they are safe.  They are loved.  That we will do would whatever possible for both of them. So, it's ok. And I'm grateful for her two dads.

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.”