Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Stitch Fix.. Take 2

I ordered my second Stitch Fix box recently. In this fix, I asked for a couple of cute dresses and some short sleeved tops. They sent me five items, two dresses and three tops.

I was pretty impressed with the box. A lot of the items were close calls for me. Also, I liked a lot of the details and styling of most of the clothes, even if I didn't think they looked perfect on me. For instance, with the maxi dress on top, I liked the style, but I thought the blue around my hips basically made an arrow pointing to my mummy tummy. I also didn't like that the shoulders were my skin tone. Now, though, I know that this style of dress is worth trying on in the future.

I liked the scalloped detailing on this dress. The color blocking was nice. I thought the waistline was awkward, and I wasn't sure how flattering it was. The friend who took these pictures thought I should've kept this one.

If I didn't already have a couple of mint shirts, I would've probably kept this one. I loved the polka dots. I didn't like that I had to wear a camisole under it. It wasn't quite as flattering as I would've liked.

I didn't think I would like this one when I pulled it out of the box. I was so wrong. Great color, flattering fit. It isn't like anything else in my closet. The sleeves can be worn up or down. It feels like quality fabric. I decided to keep this one.

The blue sweater below was also a close call. I liked the cut a lot, and it fit right. I already have a cardigan almost this color, and at $48, I would have to have been convinced I would wear it a lot. I wasn't. I also thought it looked like it was a material that would pill easily.

I was more pleased with this fix overall than my first one, though I think I like the shirt from my last fix a little more. It's possible that having a style Pinboard linked to my account helps them fix me more effectively, and I like that I can give detailed feedback about each individual item in my fix. Once again, I only kept one item.

I spent a couple of frustrating afternoons shopping this spring without finding much of anything that I wanted to bring home. I hate wasting that time and looking at all my unattractive lumps ands pooches in a fitting room mirror. This service helps me bypass that experience to some extent. It feels worth it to me to do this once in a while, even if the clothes (even at the "as cheap as possible" setting) are more than I'd spend at Target. Often I can't find much that fits me well at Target anyway. :)

If you're considering using Stitch Fix, please consider using my referral link. I get some credit toward the clothes if you do. I really hope that it works out as well for you as it has for me. Getting the box in the mail is so fun. :)

If you'd like to see my first fix, click here.

Monday, May 19, 2014

13 years...

Today is our 13th wedding anniversary. We celebrated this weekend, so I can smile with amusement about how today has gone.

I woke up early because Ben lost his passy, and I didn't go back to sleep. (Yeah, we really need to do something about that. Later, later…) The highlights of my day included a nap on the couch and a shower while they watched "Curious George."

David rushed in the door, shedding his suit coat as he headed upstairs to put on the tan button down short sleeve shirt that he wears every Monday night for Cub Scouts. I informed him that my plans to make a nice balsamic chicken and rice pilaf for dinner turned into chicken marinated with Walmart brand Italian dressing, regular rice from the rice cooker, and frozen green beans.

The boys made animal noises while "eating" their rice. I then scraped rice off the floor while David ran around getting together the things he'll need to host an end-of-year ice cream sundae party for 7-year-old boys. I suspect there will be little-boy-eating clean up in his future as well.

And then I gave him a kiss, told him "Happy Anniversary" again, and sent him out the door. I'll be taking Ben and Evan to the first swim team meeting of the year pretty soon.

I wondered as I put dishes in the sink what Beyonce would do on her 13th wedding anniversary. And then I realized that the odds of her actually having a 13th wedding anniversary aren't that great.

So I think we still win. :)

Friday, May 09, 2014

Un velo...

I think it's finally and fully spring, maybe even summer. Our local weather has been hesitant about warming up and staying that way. We've had a few warm days, then cooler, then warmer again.

But the last two days, the door to our screened in porch has stayed open. Little boys have run in and out, looking for shovels, begging for bandaids for fingers covered in dirt. They've explored while I've watched from my typical post at the kitchen sink window. I've puttered around, putting away junk that's collected outside, making our outside space something to live in again.

And I'm dreaming of a bicycle. :)

I've been pregnant or nursing on and off for so many years that a bicycle just didn't feel like a priority. David got one, and we put a baby seat on the back of it, and he has taken the boys for many short rides. Most of the time, it feels like someone still needs to hang back with a stroller for our youngest, so even if everyone else takes a bike to the Greenway, Ben and I still tend to hang back. We're not quite there as a biking family yet.

But as part of trying to embrace the baby stage ending (my success in this is partial at best), I'm allowing myself to imagine what it would be like to have my own bike. We live in a city. I live an easy biking distance from a lot of stores. Our favorite thrift store and a grocery store are literally across the street from our little neighborhood. The library would be a stretch, but I could do it if I really wanted to. I could even bike to the houses of some friends without a problem. Where I live is ideal for biking.

So I'm lusting after a city bike with a cushy seat and a big basket for my groceries or some books. But maybe something that could still give me some speed on a tree lined Greenway trail on the perfect spring day for a picnic date.

Maybe it's time to feel the wind in my hair again. This bike won't come with a sparkly blue banana seat like it did when I was 10, but maybe I can close my eyes and imagine that it does.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Style challenged...

All my life, I've been style challenged. There are women who are born with an innate sense of style. They can walk into a store and somehow instantly hone in on the two best items of clothing that will look best on their body, buy them, and walk out. They accessorize with ease. They have the gene.

I was not born with the gene.

I was also taught to buy clothes mainly on sale and/or as cheaply as possible. This might work sometimes, but it mostly meant that I ended up with a closet of clothes that didn't go together no matter how hard I tried.

So I gave up. I was young and thin, and I figured that I couldn't go wrong with the occasional dress (it goes together because it's all one piece, right?), jeans, and t-shirts. I decided that it showed how deep I was that I didn't care about clothes. I had better things to think about… like Austrian economics and my part in Britten's War Requiem. Right? Hmmm.

I got by with this for awhile. The church that I grew up in had no dress code. I wore jeans and even yoga pants on Sunday mornings. My favorite church dress code was when we lived in D.C. So many people in that church (Sovereign Grace) wore jeans on Sunday mornings. It was awesome. I loved it. (I dream of Pajama Day at church where everybody rolls up in their sweats. I would be so happy.)

And then we moved to Raleigh. I had my second baby, and then I had my third. I gained and lost weight. I gained years. And I ended up in a Bible study and a church full of women who look put together, aka "even if they're wearing jeans (which is too rare), it looks like they know what they're doing when they put an outfit together with them."

So where does that have me now? I'm not 25, and I'm no longer thin. A girl can only take so many times of strangers asking her when she's due (when she's not) before it starts to affect her confidence. And trying on 5 different styles of t-shirt in multiple sizes and not coming up with a single one that doesn't hug that mummy tummy doesn't help either.

I know, I know, my body made these babies, and I should be thankful. This is a little bit about the extra pounds around my middle, but it also isn't. I'm mainly tired of feeling like I don't fit in in a world of more stylish women. It's holding me back from reaching out (even though I know it shouldn't). I could change churches and Bible studies, but that would be super shallow, and I'm sure the problem would follow me, even if I found a church with more laid back style.

So I'm diving in. I know about research. I can do research. So I'm pinning outfits, and I'm following "Ain't No Mom Jeans." I've ordered my second fix from Stitch Fix. (Here's my first.)

Lesson number one that I learned: the power of the light sweater. I'm always cold indoors, but if I ever had anything to cover my arms in summer, it was either a white or black cardigan from Walmart. For real. You see that pile of cardigans on the shelf below? Over half of them were bought in the last 6 months. They're helping me mix up my plain shirts just a little bit.

Lesson number two: accessories are my friends. My sister-in-law harassed me into buying a light gray scarf. I'm still figuring out how to use it, but it was a good buy. She got me that red statement necklace you see above. Now I'm on the hunt for more like it. :) A pair of earrings and a necklace make me feel like I tried.

Am I doing this out of self defense? Some days it feels like it, honestly. This is one of them. But some days it feels good to think about myself. Ben is going to be 3 at the end of August. Evan just finally learned how to buckle himself into his car seat. (That shouldn't be a big deal, but it's huge in my world. I'm only buckling one child into the car. One.) My life (on some days) has a little bit of margin in it that I haven't seen in years. I can think about myself and what I look like a little more without the wheels coming completely off the bus.

So I am. It's nice. :)