Saturday, September 27, 2014

Stitch Fix #5

So back in August I had decided to bump up the frequency of my fixes to about twice a month. I really didn't do any back-to-school shopping - I wanted Stitch Fix to do it for me! But maybe I should have done a little shopping as this was not my favorite fix. I am still waiting for that fix where I just have to have all five items, but sadly this was not it.

Stitch Fix has a lot of features built into it so that you give your stylist feedback in addition to your style profile. After each fix, I complete a survey about each piece and what I liked (or didn't like) about it. There's also a place to write a note to your stylist to communicate about what you'd like to see in your upcoming fix. I always use that feature, and this time I asked for a dress I'd seen on another blogger's Stitch Fix review, a light-weight cardigan in a color other than black, more blouses, and a statement necklace.

Here's the dress I really liked:

Picture from TheBoxQueen dot com

Here is the note I received from my stylist - well, I should say from this month's stylist as that seems to change each time:

Okay, so that lovely dress was no longer in stock - no problem. However, the dress she substituted for it was very different:

This is the Elizabella Paisley Print Sleeveless Wrap Dress by Ark n Co ($34). The print was really pretty.

However, I really didn't care for the length of the dress. It hit me just below my mid-thigh about four inches above the knee. Being that I wear dresses (most often) to school or church, this would not be appropriate at that length. It was also a little small for me. It took me no time at all to decide I would be sending it back.

Next I tried the Collective Concepts Esten Button-Up Sleeveless Blouse in navy ($54) with the Pixley Leighton Metal Bauble Necklace ($34):

I liked the necklace, but I didn't love it. I liked the blouse, but it's nothing special. In the end, I sent the necklace back and kept the blouse. I could see the blouse being a nice basic piece in my wardrobe. I wore it with a pair of khaki colored cropped pants and a different necklace the other day, and I liked the way I felt in it. I would never have chosen it on my own. That's a good thing. I want to end up with some things that I would not have tried otherwise.

Then I tried on the 41Hawthorn Carson Front-Twist Sleeveless Blouse ($58):

I may be smiling in that picture, but it wasn't because I liked this piece. I have something very similar in a deep vibrant pink that I really love, but this mustard color was not a hit with me. I tend to choose cooler colors because I think they compliment my fair skin and dark hair more than earthy tones do. This had to be sent back.

Lastly, I tried on the Market and Spruce Alan Cowl Neck Asymmetrical Cardigan ($58):

It was lightweight, but it was either made from a wool-blend or an acrylic. It made me itch, and I would have only been able to wear it on the coolest of days here in southern California. I did think it was flattering and a unique design. Just not enough to love about it, so I sent it back.

Now I've adjusted my fixes back to once a month, and I've suggested in my note that perhaps it would be beneficial to have the same stylist more than once. At this point, I'm not exactly sure what I'd like to see in next month's box, but I'll be pinning things I like on my Pinterest board. The stylists do seem to use that to help them with their choices, and it's an easy thing to do.

If you'd like to try Stitch Fix, please use my referral link to get started. When you schedule your first fix, I'll receive a $25 credit toward my next fix - as will you when you refer a friend!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Stitch Fix #4

I love coming home to a Stitch Fix box on my doorstep! With school starting tomorrow, I was hoping that this fix would jazz up my work wardrobe a little bit. And it does indeed!

If you are still unfamiliar with Stitch Fix, it's a styling service. For twenty bucks per month, a stylist will select five pieces of clothing (and sometimes an accessory or a handbag) for me to consider. What I receive should reflect the style profile I completed when I signed up. That twenty bucks goes towards my purchase, and if I decide to keep all five items my purchase will be discounted 25%. There's also a sweet referral credit of $25 each time someone signs up using my referral code. I only pay for what I keep, and I have three days to put my returns in the prepaid envelope provided and give it to my letter carrier. Easy breezy!

Because I can leave a note for my stylist prior to receiving my fix, this time I expressly requested knee-length A-line or circle skirts. They are super practical for school. I also requested short-sleeve or three-quarter length sleeve blouses.

Here's what my fix included:

41Hawthorn Callifia Print Wrap Dress $68

I really like wrap dresses, but this one was too small. Way too small! Not all mediums are created equal. Know what I mean? If it had fit better, I would have seriously considered keeping it. Oh, well.

41Hawthorn Filbert 3/4 Sleeve Popover Blouse

Market and Spruce Jay Mini Houndstooth Printed Skirt $58

I actually liked both pieces, but the shirt was just a little too small across the bust. The skirt is a keeper, though. I like the soft knit fabric and the elastic waist. I think it will look cute with my black boots on colder days.

41Hawthorn Wrenn V-Neck Jersey Top $48
Papermoon Kasidy Abstract Print Swing Skirt $58

Once again, I really liked the skirt and I'm keeping it. It's another soft knit, but it's lighter weight than the houndstooth skirt is. I really like the fact that it's lined. However, the top is going back. I did not care for the neckline at all, but I thought the color was lovely. I have other things in my closet that I can wear with this skirt. I plan to wear it tomorrow with a black knit top I bought over the summer.

If the dress and the first blouse had fit, I would have kept four out of the five items. I think I've realized that the 41Hawthorn brand seems to run a little small in general - at least based on these two items of clothing. So that's two keepers out of five pieces for me this time. Because some sweet friend (I think it's you, Kim!) signed up using my referral code, I have a $25 credit that will apply toward my purchase. Yea!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Slow Summer Days

I mentioned in my last post how we have had some really slow days now that summer is winding down. Some days are so slow that I almost want to go back to work. Ha!

I shared this with my teaching partner when we met up for lunch a couple of days ago, and she is experiencing the very same thing. We both said that we'd been so busy at the beginning of the summer, but now not so much; and, uh, maybe it's time to go back to work.

For someone who would love to be a stay-at-home mom, how in the world can I feel this way?

I think it's because when you just have a few weeks at home, it's hard to establish a schedule that fills the days with purpose and the opportunity to connect with others. If I were a stay-at-home mom, we'd have some mornings where we went to a Bible study or church-based women's group, other mornings where we attended classes for Michaela, and other mornings where we went to the gym. But Bible studies and the women's group at church are things that take place during the school year, so participating in them when I have time off is not possible. So my default desire is, "Hey, it must be time to go back to work..."

And once I'm back at work, I'll be counting down the days until my next vacation.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Slipping Away

Summer 2014 is nearly a wrap. Faced with ten weeks of vacation in June, it seems like FOREVER. (And it is. I know most people have just two or three weeks of vacation time each year.) However, ten weeks goes by very quickly. Why can't ten weeks of the school year go by as quickly?

The first few weeks were really busy, but the month of August has been less busy. We've had days where we just hang out at home. I always feel a little guilty on days where I don't do much, but I think that they are a needed counterbalance to those days during the school year where I have to do so much more. The to do list I started with in June is only halfway completed. But I am pleased with the things that I was able to check off.

Here are some glimpses into our summer days:

Michaela still prefers a blanket even on hot summer days.

After I got home from getting a pedicure one day, I painted Michaela's toes for the first time. She was delighted!

We found the perfect cat for us. ;) Michaela calls her Mimi.

We spent a few days with our friends in San Francisco.

We've had some good times over at Grammy and Papa's house.

Michaela also attended her first Vacation Bible School this summer. It was a wonderful experience for her, and I enjoyed having a few hours on my own that week. I grew up going to VBS each summer, and Michaela will, too.

Looking forward, I report back to work at the end of next week, and Michaela will start attending preschool (part-time) the following week! We've been talking about it all summer long, and I think she is comfortable with the idea. Michaela is very outgoing and social, so I expect her to enjoy all the things school has to offer - especially new friends!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Stitch Fix #3

With summer vacation winding down, I can't help but thinking just a little bit about fall styles and my work wardrobe. So I was excited to see if this month's fix would be good for school.

For those who may be unfamiliar with Stitch Fix, it's a personal styling service. After you fill out a detailed profile on their website, a stylist will choose five pieces for you for a $20 styling fee. If you purchase one or more of the pieces they send you, your styling fee will go toward that purchase. If you like all five pieces and decide to keep them, you will get a 25% discount off the total purchase price. You can schedule your fixes for once a month, 2-3 times per month, or much less frequently.

Here's what I saw when I opened the box:

Included were one pair of pants, one blouse, two maxi-dresses, and a pair of earrings. I tried on the pants first, but they were too small (this has happened before!). They were marked as a 29 which would have fit me if I was shopping at Ann Taylor Loft, but this particular brand ran smaller. The fabric was a soft stretch denim:

Just Black - Nolan Ankle Skinny Jean $58

Even if they had fit like a glove, I probably wouldn't have kept them because I already have two pairs of white denim pants (that do fit!) in my closet.

The second thing I tried on was the blouse:

Collective Concepts - Clarita Floral Print Flutter Sleeve Blouse $44
I absolutely love the vibrant colors in this! I think they are beautiful for fall. The styling card showed this paired with dark denim jeans or a khaki colored pencil skirt. This one's a keeper for sure!

Next up was one of the maxi dresses:

Under Skies - Clare Woven Maxi Dress $78
First of all, though it was a medium, this dress was huge on me! In the first picture, I am actually reaching behind to hold some of the excess fabric and define the waste. I did think the print was pretty, though.

Loveappella - Carlita Jersey Maxi Dress $78
I really like this dress. I thought the color was gorgeous and the style was flattering. It would have been perfect for a date night if I was still a married lady, but I'm not. I just couldn't foresee anytime in the near future where I'd have a reason to wear this. So I reluctantly returned this. Sad face.

Lastly, my fix included a pair of earrings:

Bay to Baubles - Elaine Gem Stone Statement Studs $32
I really think these are pretty, but I chose not to keep them because I don't like the way stud earrings feel on my ears.

Because my sweet coworker had scheduled a Stitch Fix recently using my referral code, I had a $25 credit on my account. Thank you, Wendy! Therefore, when I checked out I only owed $20 and change for that lovely blouse. Yea!!!

I made sure to give detailed feedback on each piece during my checkout process so that my stylist could use that information for my next fix in September. I also increased the frequency of my Stitch Fixes to 2-3 times per month just for a short while in order to see more items in a shorter period of time. I asked that my stylist focus on blouses and knee-length skirts in the next fix so that I'll have more things for my fall work wardrobe. September and October are really hot months here in southern California, so I don't want sweaters just yet.

If you would like to try Stitch Fix, please use my referral code. When you sign up for your first fix, I'll receive another $25 credit, and you will receive referral links to share on your Facebook page or your blog with your friends and family, too. Makes shopping with Stitch Fix even more fun!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Road Trip!

This year's big summer adventure was a two-week road trip up to the Columbia River Gorge and down the Oregon Coast - something I'd done with my family when I was a child. This time we traveled with my parents in a rented 31' RV, which was pretty nice. We had a few mechanical issues my poor dad had to deal with along the way, but overall it was a nice setup.

If we had to do it over again, we would have done it entirely differently, though. Experienced RVers usually tow another vehicle behind them in order to go out and site see once they reach their destination and get the RV hooked up, but we didn't do that. So once we got somewhere, we were stuck there until our next travel day. In retrospect, we should have taken my mom's minivan, and stayed in hotels along the way. We could have seen more that way, and it would have cost about the same. Live and learn...

Nevertheless, we did see some beautiful country. The Pacific Northwest is breathtaking.

After spending our first night parked outside of my great-aunt's home in Walnut Creek, we traveled north on Interstate 5. California is so big that it takes a long time to get out of the state. I did enjoy seeing the farmland in the northern part of the Central Valley, but it was so hot there. On our third travel day, we passed by the Mount Shasta recreation area. California is having a severe drought, and it was sad to see the lake so low. We had house boated on that lake years before, and it looked much different then.

Our first campground in Oregon was just outside of Medford. We spent park of the Fourth of July weekend there. I let my blogger/Facebook friend, April, know I'd be in her neck of the woods, and she drove out for a visit. It was the first time we'd ever met face-to-face. She is just as wonderful in person as she is online. I wish we'd had more time to visit!

Our next destination was the Columbia River Gorge, but to get there we had to go through central Oregon. We traveled on a two-lane road through heavy forest for a good part of the morning, and then we stopped for lunch with my mother's cousin and her husband in Bend. That afternoon we enjoyed seeing the Cascade Mountains to the west of the highway, and we tried to guess which mountains we were actually seeing. I didn't realize that the Cascades include Lassen Peak and Mt. Shasta which are in California - so we actually started seeing the Cascades a few days before. They are beautiful.

Late that afternoon we reached the Columbia River Gorge. Lots of people were still out on the river boating, windsurfing, and water skiing. It looked like lots of fun. We crossed over the river to stay two nights in a lovely campground in Washington state. We were not close enough to see the river there, but we were surrounded by a beautiful forest.

Once we got to the coast, we experienced some changes. The weather was much cooler, the campgrounds more crowded, and there were mosquitos due to swampy areas in the campgrounds. We spent two nights in the state campground at Fort Stevens. My dad's cousin and his wife, and their two sweet grandchildren, came down from Washington state to visit with us on our only full day there. Michaela was so happy to have other kids to play with! We tried to go to the beach, but it was terribly windy. A short walk/bike ride away was a really beautiful freshwater lake with a sandy beach.

It was hard for Michaela to say goodbye to Evan and Lily! She kept talking about them and expecting them to show up at our next campgrounds. Bless her heart!

From Fort Stevens we traveled to Honeyman State Park where my mother was pretty sure we'd stayed back in the day. We weren't happy with the section of the campground we were staying in, and our RV had a "sanitation issue" that needed to be dealt with. So we cancelled our second night, and traveled south to the Coos Bay area where stayed in a beautiful campground on a marina.

Not only was the campground at Winchester Bay in a lovely location, they had great amenities, and shops and restaurants were within walking distance. There was a mile-long path around the campground for walking or bike riding. The sunsets were breathtaking. Our RV was repaired onsite, too. So that was super convenient.

Our last two nights of camping were spent at Klamath River RV park on the banks of the aforementioned river. We all remembered staying there before. It is a very beautiful and peaceful spot. One evening the whole campground, or so it seemed, got very excited when a mother bear and her two cubs were spotted jogging along the other side of the river.

That RV park was just minutes away from the Trees of Mystery. The only thing I remembered about it from when I was a kid was the giant Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Michaela liked running along the path. They have a new sky tram that takes you up to a viewing deck, but the day we were there was cloudy and drizzly. So there wasn't much to see.

After that, it was time to head home. We spent two more days on the road, but we were just ready to be done. My mom and dad worked so hard before, during, and after the trip that they need a vacation from the vacation. As much as I wanted to like RVing, I just don't think it's the most enjoyable way for me to travel. I much prefer staying in an area, and having a home base from which to explore the points of interest. Like I said before, once we arrived at our campground(s), we were stuck until the next scheduled travel day.

The Pacific Northwest is absolutely beautiful, and I hope to see it again someday - differently!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summer, Finally

Today is the first day of our summer break. I was actually thrilled to do my Trader Joe's shopping late this morning - no crowd! That is a summertime perk for me.

Looking back, I am so relieved to put that school year behind me. I just didn't have that special connection with my class this year that I enjoy most years, and it was really hard every day. I am hopeful that next year's class will be a better fit for me. On top of that, we went an entire school year without a settled contract. I'll spare you the details of that, but suffice it to say that morale was/is low. Such a drag.

Looking ahead, I've got seventy days of slower mornings (no 5 AM alarm!) and fun adventures with Michaela. So, how will we spend our time this summer? Here's the plan:

Swim lessons - last summer, Michaela and I started Mommy & Me lessons, but by the fall she had progressed to semi-private lessons in the "big pool". Grammy and Papa have been taking her to swim lessons all school year, and I almost decided to end them until I saw her in the pool last weekend. She just wasn't putting it all together, and I decided then that she needed to continue. Also, since I haven't been going with her, I didn't know what she's supposed to work on. Now that I'll be there, I will know what we can work on when we go swimming this summer.

VBS - unfortunately our church is not doing a traditional VBS this year, but I was able to register Michaela for VBS at another church in town. It's a church that Michael used to play at frequently on Sundays, and I did visit a time or two back then. Some churches don't include preschoolers in their VBS programs, but this one does. I have fond memories of VBS when I was a kid, and I hope Michaela will have a great time. In the future I will volunteer, but this year I'm going to enjoy having those three hours to myself.

School Skills Class - Michaela has aged out of the leveled classes at Gymboree, but they offer this class for 3-5 year olds. I'm only going to enroll her for one month because of our other plans, and it's just a once a week class. I hope it will be a good transition to preschool because Michaela will start that in September. I like that it's a drop-off class so that I can have some time to myself.

Camping - we are taking a two-week RV trip with my parents. We'll travel all the way to the Columbia River Gorge, then west to the Oregon Coast. We did this when I was a kid, and I'm excited to see beautiful Oregon once again.

San Francisco - we will spend several days in SF with our good friends Teresa, Toby, and Wren. Michaela is looking forward to the kids' museums and fun playgrounds, and Mommy is looking forward to time with friends, good food, and great wine.

Other summertime plans seem to be annual desires/needs like exercising, eating healthy, cooking, getting organized, Bible study, more regular church attendance, and more time with family and friends. Those things really should be part of life all the time, but I just don't seem to be able to do it all when I'm working.

When I was young(er) summer always used to seem so full of promise. Exciting things happened during summer - new friendships and experiences enriched my life. In fact, it was twenty years ago this summer that I fell in love with Michael. I don't have those same kinds of expectations of summer anymore, but it sure is sweet to have fewer responsibilities - if only temporarily.

Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all’s right with the world. ~Ada Louise Huxtable