Friday, November 21, 2014

Fix #8 from Stitch Fix - November 21, 2014

Hey, everyone! Another month has gone by; time for a new Stitch Fix Unboxing!

Last month, I got very very close to a 5 out of 5 box. I ended up keeping everything and selling the one cardigan sweater I didn't like for a discounted price to a family member in order to get the 25% whole box discount. Hoping for another awesome box, I requested the same stylist - Sari - who sent me some fabulous pieces. (See my October 28, 2014 Stitch Fix post for the details)

And to read all of my other Stitch Fix reviews, click on the links below:

Fix #1 - May 2014
Fix #2 - June 2014
Fix #3 - July 2014
Fix #4 - August 2014
Fix #5 - September 2014
Fix #6 - October 1, 2014

Fix #1 gives you all the information about the Stitch Fix service, so I won't reiterate here.

This month I had requested more long-sleeved items, an additional infinity scarf (since I love them), and a new purse (neutral color, not too large).  I am cheap. I usually buy a $10 purse from, not too big. I only have one purse (bags are not my 'thing'), and I use it until it falls apart. This time, I thought I'd let Stitch Fix find a new bag for me...something more expensive that would last. I also tentatively added a request for 'boyfriend' jeans, since I thought maybe that style would work better for me and my body type. I have never tried on a pair before and thought, why not?

Then the most exciting thing happened: My Stitch Fix box arrived 4 days early! My original delivery date was November 25th, but I received it today!!!!  My assumption is that they wanted to fit in one more delivery before Christmas.

Here's to hoping the kids get the hint and give me Stitch Fix gift cards!

Needless to say, I was very excited to get my box today. Here it is when I opened it:

This was a little bit larger box than I usually get. I assumed that was to fit whatever bag or sweater my stylist decided to send. Then, I unwrapped the paper:

 Hm, top item looked rather blousy...

Then I stacked them on my bed to get a picture of all the layers. Looks like my stylist went for a certain color 'theme,' which I thought was cool:

 However, I immediately noticed no bag of any kind. I was a bit disappointed, since I'd specifically asked for that. But that's the way it goes sometimes with Stitch Fix! Instead, I tried to get over my sad face and get excited about the contents of my box. To the Trying On phase of the event!

I read the note that came with the delivery. My stylist mentioned she'd looked at my Pinterest page (I thought that was nice...sadly, I suck at keeping that thing updated with stuff I like) and that she'd sent me more red jeans!

I was struck dumb at this comment. I had epic fail on red jeans and pants in general in September...and in my very first box. I had been horridly, horridly disappointed in all of them and actually asked that no more pants be sent unless they were truly trouser style or true boot cut jeans. No skinny pants ever again for me!

As is my norm, I hung up each item individually and then tried EVERYTHING on. Even something I thought I'd hate. Here's what happened:

1) Curious about the red jeans, I tried both of these on first. Pair number one was Denna Colored Skinny Jean by Kut From The Kloth for $78.00. Sari mentioned in her note that she knew I wanted a trouser-style jean, but that the Kut From The Kloth brand had a 'comfortable fit.' All right, Sari, prove it to me.

 I put on a plain white t-shirt and tried on the pants. Holy moly, they were a PERFECT, AWESOME, INCREDIBLE fit!  Sari, you blew my mind. The precious red jeans were now mine (evil laugh of triumph inserted here). Check it out:

 I know! What is going on? Skinny jeans on my backside with the extra curve? YES!  They do exist. Any woman out there who likes curvy style jeans, get yourself some of these babies. Could not believe the fit. And the length was perfect. KEEP!  A MILLION TIMES KEEP!

2) Pleased at the success of red jean number one, there was a lot less pressure on red jean number two. The next pair was the Jonathan Corduroy Skinny Pant by Kut From The Kloth for $68.00. These pants were an incredibly soft, tiny corduroy material that almost felt and looked like velvet. Check it:

 These were a slightly dark red/burgundy color. They looked to be a little bit skinnier than the first red pair, so I assumed they wouldn't fit as well. Which was all right with me, because I already had my red jeans, baby. Trying these on was merely to follow through on my dedication to trying on ALL items in my Stitch Fix box. So, I went in thinking these would be rejection material. Boy, was I wrong:

 OMG, they also fit amazingly well. I was flabbergasted. I had such epic pants fail once before that I thought the beautiful red jeans would never be mine. They were only for a certain kind of gal, and I would never be that gal.

I stand corrected!  Now I had TWO pairs of red jeans. What is a girl to do? I also put these in the KEEP decision would be made based on price, perhaps (as you recall, I don't look at the prices until the end). I kept the jeans on for the next clothing item. For now, I put these pants in the UNDECIDED column.

3) Next in the try-on phase was the Milan Lace Print Back Pleat Top by 41Hawthorn for $58.00. When I saw this in the box and hung it up, I was mystified why I was sent this item. It was not long-sleeved. I had specifically told Stitch Fix back in September that I wanted no more short-sleeved tops. But here it was, lurking in my box:

 Overall, it was cute. But the fabric was incredibly thin for Idaho in almost-December. However, it did match the awesome jeans, so for a split second I thought...maybe....? Then, I put it on (sorry for the blurry photo; it was the best of the bunch):

 Hm, a shapeless yuck. Just not for me. It needed a waist of some kind to make it work on my body type. It even seemed to downplay the bust area, which is weird. I literally had no curves at all in this top. Big time NO.

Note: It wasn't until about 10 minutes ago that I realized my stylist sent me a top that looked similar to something I'd posted on my Pinterest board from White House Black Market (see pic to left). So I had to appreciate what my stylist what trying to do for me! Even if it didn't work.

Bummer it didn't work out, but a short-sleeved top would've ended up in my spring wardrobe and not seen until April or May. I'd rather have more items I can wear right now.

4) The next item in my box was the Byers Houndstooth Open Draped Cardigan by Staccato for $64.00. I was a little disappointed to see more dull colors when it came to cardigans:

The pattern was fun, but the gray and cream wasn't calling out to me. However, I do have some bright colored tops I could wear under it, so I tried to stay positive. However, the positivity did not last:

Not terrible, but not the best either. The sleeve length was great, the shape of the cardigan was not. It just wasn't flattering. It may look okay here, but overall I thought it made me look dumpy. Plus, I was not excited about gray. I really wanted colorful cardigans for the drab winter time.

Then, I got a photo of the cardigan from the side and knew it had to go back for sure:

I mean, seriously, I look pregnant and hunchbacked at the same time. Not good. Definite NO.

5) The last item in my box was a sleeveless dress - the Edie Sleeveless Textured Fit & Flare Dress by Gilli for $64.00. I wasn't that pleased it was sleeveless. I don't need a sleeveless dress for my neck of the woods. Also, when I hung it up, it looked oddly short:

If you see where the belt is, I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. I'm in my 40s. I'm not 17. But, as is the rule, I try EVERYTHING on. So, I did:

 Oh, Lordy! This is crazy short!  Even if I WERE 17. There was no way for me to bend over in this dress even one inch. I needed about a foot longer hemline to feel comfortable. But, hey, my legs don't look half bad. LOL.

The belt was nice, the top fit well, but oh my the length. I took this dress off as quickly as I could and put it in the NO pile.

Now the dilemma began. I rejected everything but the two pairs of red pants!  LOL. Should I really buy two pairs of red pants? I tried on both of them again to see if one fit better than the other. No. They both fit great. And then I rationalized that the corduroy pair was warmer than the regular red denim. The corduroy pair was also a little classier looking, so I could dress them up for work or a date night, or even church.

I decided to check the price. If they were both expensive, I would need to choose only one pair. When I looked at the prices, however, I was pleasantly surprised. They weren't that bad!  In fact, the warmer corduroy pair was $10 cheaper than the denim!  So I went for it.

I have such a hard time finding pants that I like and these were the prayed-for red jeans of my fashion fantasies!  I decided to KEEP both pairs and am wearing the corduroy ones right now. :-)

Please let me know what you think of my items and which ones you may have kept or returned. Also, if you have yet to try Stitch Fix, can I tempt you to click on my referral link below?  FULL DISCLOSURE: I will receive a $25 credit if you sign up!

Stitch Fix Referral Link

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Fresh 20 Update!

 I just recently renewed my Fresh 20 account for another 3 months. Thought I'd give a little update on where I am with their service now that I have had more experience with it.

Here is my process for getting the most out of this service:

1) When I had a new account, I downloaded as many meal plans as I could rather than just download the most current plan (I think I had access to about 4 or 5 menu plans when I first signed up).

2) I saved all the meal plans in a folder on my desktop. If there was a menu one week that I absolutely did not like, I had a reserve set of menus to choose from. I have been making things out of weekly order since the beginning!

3) I read through the meals to ensure all family members would eat what was included in the meal plan. Too spicy? Not gonna make it or might leave out an ingredient that adds too much spice. Vegetable I know most people won't eat? Not gonna make it. Etc. I have actually rejected about 2 or 3 entire menus, when there was too much dislike going on.

4) If most of the menu looks good, I will look at questionable things and try to come up with substitutions that would be easy. For example, if someone is not into eggplant, maybe I can leave that out or add a meat instead, etc.

5) Read the instructions carefully, a lot of times they will offer substitutes for meats you don't like or can't find. For example, one week they wanted me to buy clams. I knew someone in my family had a shellfish allergy, so The Fresh 20 had suggested chicken tenders as a substitute for the clams. They do this often for seafood or don't be scared off by unknown or expensive proteins!

5) Mark up the provided shopping list - cross out the items you don't need, add substitutions to the list, increase the amount of meat for families with larger appetites, etc.

6) Read through each meal to ensure you don't need another dish to round out a meal. Some of The Fresh 20's meals only include a meat and vegetable combo, which is not enough food for my teen-heavy family.

I have found over the weeks, that I am getting better and better at anticipating where I can make improvements to the recipes to suit my family's tastes. I also very much appreciate the new flavors and food combos that I am learning about. Stuff I never would've tried or made if it weren't for this service. My week is so much less stressful now that I don't have to think too hard about dinner...all the food is waiting for me in the fridge or pantry, and I just grab the next menu item and get to it!

I also am enjoying the fall menus more than the summer menus. I love soups and stews, and they have at least one each week. Also, they make good use of my crockpot, which I appreciate.

Sometimes I wish there were a way to save my favorite recipes out of the week. I hold on to every menu, but it can be hard to remember where that tasty turkey meatball came from or that yummy sandwich.

Overall, I am pleased with the menus still. I love looking through the week's worth of ideas and getting excited about making something new to me and my family. And I'm still learning about new foods and cooking methods, so it's a bit of a cooking class as well!

UPDATE: July 27, 2015 - I have now been using the Fresh 20 meal plans for about 1 year. In the last couple of months I have found myself using only 2 or 3 recipes from the weeks' menus and then supplementing those with another free meal planning blog I get weekly menus from. It's turned into a good combo. I can scan the Fresh 20 plan for the stuff I know my family will like. I have learned to dump some of the weirder side dishes and add ones that I know my family will eat. This seems to be turning into a good compromise.

My kids missed my more popular 'comfort food' items when I went 100% Fresh 20. So now I have a decent mix of foods that means only a few nights a week will be on the lighter/healthier side.

The good news about the Fresh 20 experiment is that I have expanded my food knowledge quite a bit. I now consistently use grapeseed oil for cooking at high temps, use more olive oil, buy more fruit, use more fresh veggies, etc. I've also learned some new preparation and cooking techniques and have found quite a few recipes that I would make again. Plus, I have found an appreciation for the versatility and tastiness of ground turkey when you use the right additions to add flavor and moisture.

UPDATE: January 6, 2016: I still receive my weekly Fresh 20 menus, but in the last couple of months, I have reduced the number of menus I use in the week. I now use a free menu service through a blog I like and then mix in the best recipes (to my now well-trained eye) from the Fresh 20 weekly list. This has worked well for me. I like the lighter and healthier items on Fresh 20, but I also like to make hearty, family-friendly favorites. So, this is how I am going to go forward in 2016. Also, BIG CHANGE!!!  I noticed in December that my Fresh 20 meal plan no longer has ONLY vegetarian on Fridays. They now give you a 5th meat/egg menu on Fridays. This is a HUGE improvement for me and my family. Thanks, Fresh 20 for listening to your customers. :-D

Monday, November 17, 2014

Wattpad Update Number 3

I forgot to post on Friday that I uploaded new chapters of Acapulco Nights and First Cut is the Deepest on my Wattpad account.

I am finding this whole experience very good for me as a writer. I am inspired to write when I think there may be people reading my books. Also, there are opportunities to write shorter things, which will get an audience of some kind. There's not a roaring print market for short stories, so some fun ideas and unique stories get written that may have never seen the light of day.

I participated in another Science Fiction writing challenge. This one entailed using the first 25 words provided by the contest runner and writing a 100 word story (including the 25-word prompt). Tons of fun. Posted mine this morning.

Links below to all:

Chapter 11 of Acapulco Nights

Chapter 4 of First Cut is the Deepest

Interruption - New Writing Challenge

Have fun reading!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday Wattpad Updates!

Hello, there. Here to report again on some story updates to my Wattpad account. I am very much enjoying this new way to interact with readers (and writers).

I posted some new chapters to two stories today, if you are interested:

First Cut is the Deepest - Chapter 3

Acapulco Nights - Chapter 10

The first is a science fiction/romance/thriller and the second is chicklit/romance.

Although I'm still figuring things out, I've found a group on there that posts Science Fiction writing challenges. I participated in one of the challenges last week that asked you to write a short (between 600 and 800 words) story based around the theme 'Escape.'

I really love writing prompts and short stories are so incredibly easy to write because there is no pressure to prop up a huge plot. My entry was entitled "Torch" and is available through the link below:

Check out my short story "Torch."

It's short & sweet.