Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fix #11 From Stitch Fix - February 17, 2015

Hope you all had a great Valentine's Day weekend. Mine was especially awesome, because I knew a new Stitch Fix shipment was on its way to my house. I love my monthly deliveries so much (even when I get a less-than-stellar box) that I do not see myself stopping this service any time soon.

If you haven't visited my blog before, I have many other reviews for you to read:

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 #7 - October 29, 2014
Fix #8 - November 2014
Fix #9 - December 2014 
Fix #10 - January 2015

Fix #1 gives you all the information about the Stitch Fix service, if you'd like to read up on it.

My requests for this month were:
  • more warm clothes (since it is still chilly in my neck of the woods)
  • a flowing skirt of some kind
  • a blush colored top I can wear with my two pairs of red pants (both from Stitch Fix - see November 2014 link above for more)
  • no more jewelry unless the quality is better (I was severely disappointed with the 2 necklaces in Fix #10).
My FedEx man got here early today!  Usually, my box arrives somewhere between 10 and 10:30 in the morning (ah, the beauty of working from home). Today, he dropped off my box at 9 am--before I'd even really thought about what I was going to wear for the day. Sweet!
Joy, joy, joy!
It was a bigger box, so I thought maybe there'd be some bulky yet warm items inside. Let's check it out!
Piled on the bed
Looking down inside the box

There were some interesting items in here. A pair of pants, a sweatery type item, a blouse, and a few mysteries. Let's hang them up and do ye olde try-on! As many know who have read my reviews before, I NEVER look at the prices before I try anything on. I want to base my judgment purely on how much I like or dislike an item of clothing.

1) The first item I tried on were the Baxley Skinny Jean by Kut From the Kloth for $88.
 My stylist, Sari, knows me well!  Every pair of Kut From the Kloth pants she's sent me, I've kept. However, I just bought a pair of super comfortable pull-on black pants from Stitch Fix that I ADORE, so I was not 100% pleased to see MORE black pants.  But I do have a pair of pants that have been in my wardrobe way too long that I could see chucking, if these babies were fantastic.

They were made from a stretchy denim of some kind with cute little zippered details under the front pockets. I tried them on.
 Actually, not that bad. They were comfortable. They had this nice mega-button on the waistband. From all angles they were a flattering pair of pants. But did I really need them? Hmm....

If a pair of pants looks really good on me and fits like a glove, I am usually in the mood to buy. One less pair of pants that I will have to find on my own in the horror show that is mall shopping. I consider myself a 'hard-to-fit' body type for pants...it may not look it in the picture, but I consistently have problems with jeans that need to be one size larger in the hip than in the waist. These pants fit great.

So, I left them on and decided to wait until the end (and after I'd had a look at the prices) to help me make my decision. MAYBE.

2) Next item I tried on was the Talulah Plaid Print Henley Top by Papermoon for $44.00. Check it:
If you ask my husband, I am not a big fan of plaid. I am not sure why. Something about it screams 'busy' and 'old' to me. However, recently I have been seeing some fun, bolder plaids that I like and have considered wearing. This top could fit in that category.

Sadly, it was another thin, blousy item, which is too cold for my current weather (and won't be wearable for months). Also, I was disappointed to see no tank to wear under it, as it is a very see-through item. I guess I should've kept that awesome nude tank Stitch Fix sent me months ago. Sigh...why did I return it???

But I do try everything on. I found a gray tank in my dresser and gave it a whirl.
Looks like my dog wanted to get in on this review!
The first thing I noticed about this top was that it was a little too tight around my arms. Also, the shoulder was too narrow, and it was slightly too tight across the bust area. In the pic, it doesn't look that way. Trust me, it was not comfortable. Otherwise, I think it is cute. I might've kept it if it fit better...yes, even though it was not a cold weather item. Decision: NO.

3) The next item I tried on was the Adel Plaid Trimmed Thermal by Threads 4 Thought for $48. I thought this looked fun and casual on the hanger.
The only thing that worried me were the colors of the plaid detail: gray, navy, orange. I do not have one orange thing in my stash of clothing. This would be the kind of top I'd want to wear with an infinity scarf from my ever growing collection, and I wasn't sure if I had one that would work with this color combo. However, had to put the shirt on first to see what I thought!
Notice some of my infinity scarf collection in the mason jars!

Well, it fit nicely. But I didn't know if it was special enough to keep. This was one that might possibly come down to price. Argh! What to do?  I certainly had things I could wear it with...but... MAYBE.

4) The next item I tried on was the Penny Draped Colorblock Cardigan by 41Hawthorn for $68. I instantly loved this cardi when I hung it up.
I loved the red. I wasn't wild about the tan color along the bottom, since I don't wear anything in that shade. Still, I was looking forward to trying it on and perhaps wearing it with a pair of red jeans! Until...
I have the worst luck with cardigans...or maybe I'm just incredibly picky. In the picture, it looks okay. But I have problems with a cardigan that doesn't lay well (it bunched up strangely around my shoulders, so I had to play around with it to get it to lay right) and doesn't give me any shape. You cannot see the seaming they placed across the upper part of this sweater. When I first put it on, the seaming didn't line up correctly, and it was hard to fix. I imagined having to constantly readjust the sweater to get it to lay right. No thanks. Also, the sleeves were about an inch too short for my long arms, and I had a hard time finding something to wear it with. I have a lot of gray and black and realized that would not go so well with the tan along the bottom edge. Then I took the dreaded side photo and knew I was sending it back:
I just really don't like a cardigan that falls away from my body so much. I feel as if I look sort of hunchback-y. If only there was some seaming in back to give it some shape. Overall, just too flowy and bunchy for me. Wah!  NO.

5) The last item was the Lillah Quilted Ponte Jacket by Mystree for $78. I actually had been thinking about how I needed a less bulky jacket for spring.
This one was super cute with lots of fun details. I really liked it the minute I hung it up. I wanted to try it on right away!
This was one cute jacket. The body is made of a thick sweatshirt material, the sleeves are made out of a striped knit fabric, and then you have this super cool quilted 'leather look' material on the shoulder. Look:
Isn't that cool? It was incredibly comfortable to wear. Plus, it had that casual-yet-stylish look to it that I thought fit my age group (mid-40s). By this stage of your life, you are ready to put away the sloppy and start looking more put together. I knew I could wear it as part of an outfit or outside in the spring/summer as a light jacket. Multi-purpose! YES!!!!!

All right, so where are we at the end of all this? I had one definite YES (the jacket) and two MAYBES (pants & thermal top). What to do? Prices do come into play at this point...so I did look at the receipt to get a feel for what everything cost.
Style card for all items
Since the pants were so pricey, and I didn't really think I needed another pair of black pants, I wore them around the house for about 30 minutes while I made myself a couple of eggs to see how I felt about them. The pants slipped a bit as I walked and I had to hike them up a few times. I believe they were just a tad too tight around the thighs, so the rest of the pants were dragged down. Not good enough for a pair of pants I didn't even really need right now.


Next was the thermal top. It was cute. A little plain, but cute. Casual weekend wear is always nice to have. It was flattering. And I could pair it easily with other items in my wardrobe including some other cardigans I have. Also, it would be a good top to wear with a fun piece of jewelry or the right scarf. The price was also pretty decent.


The one part of this equation you do not know about is that my husband bought me a $50 Stitch Fix Gift Card for Valentine's Day. That, in essence, made the jacket practically free (I paid the $20 styling fee, which if subtracted from the $78 cost, leaves $8 for me to pay - after the gift card). Therefore, I felt more justified in purchasing the thermal top. Overall, I would only spend $56 (plus the $20 styling fee) for both items. Not a bad deal.

If you have yet to try out the Stitch Fix service, please consider using my affiliate link:

Sign up for Stitch Fix!

Full disclosure: I will receive a $25 credit after you order your first Fix. Thanks for considering it!

FINAL STATEMENT:  I found it interesting that my stylist did not send me anything that I asked for. LOL. No blush tops/sweaters and no skirts. Guessing there was nothing available in my size that fit those requests. I will keep asking for those two items. However, she did go back to my desire for a colorful cardigan and more Kut From the Kloth pants (as they fit me very well), so I will give her points for that. Plus, bonus points for sending me a jacket that I honestly needed (and she knew NOTHING about)! Looking forward to March and my next fix. Until then, thanks for stopping by!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Grain-Free Food for Cat With Asthma - An Experiment

This topic is a little bit off the norm for me. Usually, I am posting about Stitch Fix boxes or my writing. Today, however, after doing my own research, I thought it would be helpful for people out there to follow my experiment.

Arrow being most adorable
I have a cat. She is about 7 years old. Her name is Arrow, and she is what can only be described as a 'wild abyssinian.' She's a bit stripey and a bit spotty and has ticking on her fur that is reminiscent of this sort of cat.

About 5 years ago she was diagnosed with feline asthma. I was shocked. She'd been a perfectly healthy cat for the 2 1/2 years we'd had her. Never a problem. At first, I thought she had a hairball. Eventually, when the coughing wouldn't go away, I took her to the vet and found out she was asthmatic!

Then I found out about only 1% of cats have feline asthma. Lucky me.

So fast forward 5 years. I have the routine down to a science. I have two types of pills I give her twice a day, every day. This seems to keep her asthmatic episodes down to a reasonable level. However, there are times when she gets worse, and I have to take her into the vet for oxygen treatments (very scary!) and a shot of something (excuse my ignorance, but I truly don't know what the shot is). The shot typically gives her about 4 to 6 weeks of relief before I have to start up the pills again.

My brilliant 17-year-old daughter came home with an idea a couple of days ago. Someone at work (she bags groceries at a local food store) mentioned that she put her cat on a grain-free diet recently to combat allergy problems. My daughter thought maybe this change in diet could benefit our cat.

Oddly enough, we have a dog with allergy issues (skin problems and itchiness) that have been greatly improved with a switch to a high Omega 3/Omega 6 dog food (Blue Buffalo Salmon & Sweet Potato, if you're curious). So I thought her idea had merit.

Yesterday, I bought a bag of Blue Freedom Grain-Free Chicken flavor cat food for my cat (also a Blue Buffalo product). I am hoping this gives her some relief from her symptoms. According to some sites on the internet, cats can have allergic reactions to the grains in their diet. Corn by-products being the main culprit.

My plan is to keep her on this food for 12 weeks and keep tabs on her condition. Even taking her daily meds, she will have asthma attacks...so it should be pretty obvious if there is a change. I will keep this blog post updated from time to time with any notes I might have about her progress. My goal is to help others with their asthmatic cats.

There are a lot of kooky websites out there that I have a hard time trusting when it comes to 'advice' about pets and health. And most of the 'trusted' sites with actual veterinary input don't cover this topic very thoroughly. My own vet never suggested trying this type of diet to see if it helps, so clearly the jury is still out for the professionals in this field until more concrete evidence is given.

Considering such a small percentage of cats have asthma, I don't see a rush to figure out the causes or to test diets. This will be my own addition to the knowledgebase on this topic!

Please check back for updates, which will be posted below. Thanks!

UPDATE - FEB. 17, 2015 - My cat has now been on this food only 5 days. She does not like it very much. So, the good news is that she is slimming down...which she really needed. The steroid medication she's been on has made her eat like a pig!  I am determined to keep feeding her this same food, as a cat (like any animal) will not starve itself.

I did find a coupon over the weekend for a new grain-free cat food from Purina. That was the brand I'd previously been feeding my cat, so I might try that out once the Blue Buffalo bag runs out. I've heard that cats will get stuck on a certain shape to their food. So thinking my cat might like to eat the Purina shape over the Blue Buffalo shape.

I also have not seen the need to give my cat her asthma pills. She doesn't seem to be wheezing hardly at all. Not certain what the cause is for that; reluctant to peg any improvement on food so early.

UPDATE - MARCH 9, 2015 - We are now 3+ weeks down the road with the new food. I have noticed my cat's coat has improved considerably. She used to be very dandruff-y and had a 'dry' feeling to her fur. Now she has softness that was not there before and no dandruff. Also, she has lost weight. I am not sure if that was merely due to the fact that she was stubborn the first week (she protested the new food and hardly ate anything) or if she is eating less because of the food quality or something else. I have not had to give her the two-times-daily doses of her medication. Although I have heard her have a few asthma attacks and have medicated her about once a day just to ensure she stays out of trouble. She also is more alert and energetic...not sure if that is from the weight loss, asthma improvements or the switch to grain-free food. I am encouraged by these positive changes in her. My goal is to continue on this food for 6 weeks and reassess her condition. Even if her asthma does not improve, the other positive changes to her condition and behavior means I will continue the grain-free food anyway.

UPDATE - APRIL 15, 2015 - We are now more than 2 months into this experiment. My cat's fur is still softer and without dandruff. So that parts seems to be food-related. Her asthma situation in the last couple of weeks has slipped back to what I usually am dealing with...medication twice a day. However, she did go for a long time on a once-a-day routine after I switched her food. It is spring, so her allergies are at their worst right now. Since I was unable to get rid of her asthma entirely with the food switch, my goal now is to see if I can keep her from visiting the vet. Even with her daily medication dose, my cat would end up at the vet needing more invasive treatment about 4 to 6 times per year. I will post here whenever I need to take my cat to the vet for asthma related problems! In a year's time, I should have a better understanding of how much the food switch is helping.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Wattpad News in 2015

Hello there! Wanted to give the 2015 update on what I've been doing with my Wattpad account over the last couple of months. Currently, I have two projects in progress that have been uploaded to Wattpad as free, readable content to anyone who has the Wattpad app:

Acapulco Nights - Romance/Chicklit

First Cut is the Deepest - Science Fiction/Romance

Acapulco Nights is almost a complete novel. Currently, I have 21 chapters uploaded with only a few more to go. Eventually, I am going to put this into a publishable format for sale on Kindle. If you want to read it for free, now is your chance!

First Cut is the Deepest has about nine chapters posted right now. This is definitely a work-in-progress that gives you an idea of what a 'rough draft' is all about. I'm just trying to write consistently and post chapters (at least once a month, if not more) when I can. Not worrying too much about perfection!

Please check it out!

I also have a couple of super short stories you can read on Wattpad as well.