Thursday, December 4, 2014

Holiday/Winter Goals

Our 2014 Christmas Tree!
Fall has come and gone. It's officially December. Which I consider not yet Winter, but Holiday season! (although the snow we keep getting might argue otherwise)

I set some summer goals to help me focus on what was important and to not let the summer months fly by. Knowing that this time of year can be really overwhelming, I thought I would set some for the holidays as well.

Eat: More fruits and veggies. This is hard during the time when I just want comfort food and Christmas cookies. But I am on a mission to avoid the winter colds. And vitamins are key. Go vitamins!

Drink: Hot cocoa. Because yum. And not everything has to be a veggie.

Read: The books sitting on my shelves, both print and virtual. I seem to be hoarding books. And rather than getting a bunch of new ones, I am going to start with working my way through those I have downloaded or borrowed. I love getting some "fun" reading done over the holidays.

Watch: We watched all of the Thanksgiving episodes of Friends, on the Friday after Thanksgiving. One of our favorite traditions while putting up the Christmas tree. Which now means I am ready for all of the holiday classics. I'm a sucker for White Christmas, A Muppet Christmas Carol, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and It's a Wonderful Life. We've already watched Love Actually, another Christmas favorite. I also love watching the Harry Potter movies this time of year.

Wear: My gorgeous Aran knit sweater that I got on our honeymoon in Ireland. Sweater weather is the best.

Make: A few new Christmas decorations. I try not to go overboard with the holiday craft projects (ehem, Pinterest), but there are a few that I'd like to add this year.

Buy: All. The. Things. Just kidding. Trying to NOT buy all of the things right now. Just some special gifts for the loved ones. And maybe a thing for me here and there.

Bake: Klejner. It's almost time for our family cookie weekend, one of my favorite annual traditions.

Send: Christmas cards! I won't be hand-making them this year, since we just ordered one with some of our wedding photos. I love both sending and receiving Christmas cards.

Start: Some winter deep cleaning. A messy house around the Holidays is never fun.

Finish: My dissertation proposal edits. Chugging right along.

Find: Some new exercise options for winter.

Stop: Staying up past my bedtime. I need more sleep. This weather makes me a bit groggy. I need all of the energy I can get.

Go: To all of the fun holiday events! Okay, maybe not all of them. But Milwaukee has some wonderful holiday celebrations, like Christmas in the Ward and the Miller Holiday Lights tour. I love celebrating.

Visit: My grandma. She's recovering from a spill on the ice from this pre-Thanksgiving snow we got. When I saw her in the hospital last week, she proudly proclaimed that she made it to 84 before breaking a bone. Not bad. I hope to be so lucky.

Focus: On Joy. It's going to be my 2015 word. Why not get 13 months out of it?

Happy December y'all!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lazy Days

No one is lazier than this one. Who apparently brought her bear to nap time.
Oh hey.

I don't know what it is, but it has just been a lazy summer.

For the first time in a very long time, our summer has involved very few plans. No major trips (since the big one is still ahead), and really, only a few weekends where we had made plans in advance or had somewhere we had to be. It's been awesome. I have greatly enjoyed being able to sleep in on a Saturday, get up when I get up, and decide in the moment, "What do I want to do today?"

Some days were productive days. Trips to the farmer's market. Cleaning the whole apartment. Plus the all important honeymoon planning!

Some were made for exploring. We made it to German Fest, Irish Fest, Festa Italiana, the State Fair, and Bastille Days this year. Plus several trips to Summerfest, including to see Dave Matthews. My sister and I also got in a few trips to see our Grandma, who is still loving life in her 80s and killing me with her productivity. She does not slow down!

And still others were much more low key. I think I was averaging a book a week in June and July. A few, I read in one sitting. Plus, I watched all of Broadchurch, The Fall, True Detective, Top of the Lake, the final season of The Killing, and season two of Orange is the New Black. There was a lot of time spent on the couch. Except for the three times that we went to the movies this summer - I fell asleep in all three. Talk about an expensive nap.

It's been lovely. And just the refresher that I needed.

It's go time, folks. The students move in tomorrow, and this is about to get real.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Third Time is the Charm

This post contains affiliate links.

Last summer, I came across something pretty exciting. A service that shops for you. Yep, Stitch Fix.

You see, I don't really love shopping. While I used to love going to the mall in my younger years, now it feels like kind of a chore. The idea of sorting through racks is just not my thing. I'm much more likely to order clothes online.

So when I found Stitch Fix through the recommendation of a friend, I was eager to try it. For a $20 styling fee, you get 5 items sent to you - clothing or accessories. Based on the style profile that you complete on their site, the stylist does their best to find things that will flatter your body type and match your style. You decide what you want to keep, and then send the rest back. Plus your $20 is credited towards your purchase. Worth a shot.

My first fix was where I found this awesome top which I wore for my engagement photos. I loved it so much. While I got some other things that I didn't love as much, I was still excited to have one thing I was really excited about.

Photo by Lisa Mathewson Photography
Loves it!

I gave the service another shot in December, right before going to a conference. My second Stitch Fix didn't have quite the same amount of success. I kept a magenta sleeveless top that I wear for work, but that wasn't a perfect match. I saw other friends and fellow bloggers finding these amazing outfits via their fixes, and didn't understand why my second one was so far off from my style. In fact, the service seems to have gotten so popular, that they have added staff to meet the demand. I was kind of bummed, and not sure if I was going to try again. 

But I decided to try again, with our upcoming honeymoon in mind. With the start of the school year, there is just no way that I am going to have time to go shopping for anything for our trip. And while I am trying to save money for adventures, my wardrobe could definitely go for a refresh with a new piece or two. The first thing that I did was to go back and edit my profile a bit, per the suggestions of other folks who said to be really specific. The more feedback that you give, the better your fixes become along the way. I asked for pieces that would be good for our honeymoon - layering pieces that wouldn't take up a ton of room in my suitcase, since we are just taking carry ons. I also updated my Pinterest board, and sent that to them too.

My box came last week, and I was pretty excited just upon opening it. There's just something about the way that they wrap the neatly folded clothes that makes it even more special. 

So, I'm going to share some shots of me trying on what I got. Let's not talk about the fact that my hair looks weird from taking clothes on and off, that the lighting is terrible and the shots are blurry, etc. Focus on the outfits. I'll include pictures of the little cards they sent so that you can see some other ways they suggest you style the pieces.

The first thing that I pulled out of the stack was this awesome green top. This color green is one of my favorites. And it was a soft flowy top that was super comfy. I liked the detailing on the sleeves and was just super excited about this one. Except for the price. I just didn't feel like it was worth the cost - almost $70. I knew it had to go back, especially as I looked closer at the seam and noticed that it had a bunch of loose strings. Nope, not today.

I ended up sending it back, although I was really sad to put it in the return bag. In another life, perhaps we will meet again. What I did keep from the outfit above...the awesome jeans that they sent me. Did I need a new pair of jeans? Nope! But when you get a pair of jeans that fit and don't give you a mom butt, you keep em! Love them!

I kind of wish that they sent me the cute striped tank in the picture too!

The next thing that I tried on was this cute white top that I so badly wanted to love. Also flowy and super comfy, it had cute detailing that really made me want to keep it. BUT, it was a size too big. Too long and too wide just doesn't work. However, right before I checked out and was going to send it back, I decided to contact their customer service. While they won't guarantee exchanges, they happened to have the top in a size smaller, and would send it my way. Awesome customer service. Woo! I love you white top!

Here is the card with the styling:

The next item that I tried on was a charcoal gray drape front cardigan. I don't have anything like this, so I was pretty excited about it. It also felt like a high quality piece that I could wear often. This picture doesn't really do it justice - it looks a little weird with the white top that is too big, but it is comfy and wonderful. It is a piece that would get a ton of use on our trip.  

This was another piece that I was debating whether or not to keep. While it is super high quality, the price was a little bit more than I wanted to spend on a cardigan. Or so I thought! Turns out, there was a typo on the price list that they enclosed in the package. When I went to check out and was planning to send it back, it was actually $16 cheaper. Score! So I kept it!

The last thing that I pulled out of the package was a dress that I wasn't so sure about. It was a pretty bold pattern, which isn't necessarily my style. I tried it on, and I was right. Not my style. And also not a good fit. I'll spare you the photo, as it was at least a size too small on the bottom. Cute on someone - just not me.

As a whole, this was a much more positive experience. I didn't anticipate keeping 3 out of 5 things. Allison, the Stitch Fix stylist, definitely did a good job of matching my style and my requests. All of the items were definitely stuff that could be worn throughout our trip and would roll up easily into a suitcase, leaving plenty of room for souvenirs!

While I can't afford to do Stitch Fix every month, I will definitely continue to use the service for different occasions. I think it could be for you too, if:

  • You don't have a ton of time, or a ton of interest in shopping.
  • You are still figuring out what your personal style is, and could use some help finding direction.
  • You enjoy the element of surprise.
  • You are willing to give it a shot, knowing that you are going to likely send some stuff back.
Looking around the web, they have a huge array of options - folks aren't all getting the same thing. If you want a whole box of maxi dresses, or one entirely of accessories, they'll do it.

Want to check it out for yourself? Here is a link to their site. When you sign up, I get a $25 credit. Which is always a lovely gift for future Fixes. : )
Do you get Stitch Fix? Anything good lately? 

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