Friday, April 24, 2015

Stitch Fix #11 - One more before the move

As it turns out, my Stitch Fix was scheduled to arrive the same day as our moving truck. You may be thinking that's poor timing, but really, it was perfect. Kind of like a reward for a job well done ("you didn't actually load the truck yourself" - you, "you've never actually moved have you?" - me). 

My stylist did an awesome job of taking my requests into consideration when she picked out my five items this month. Here's what she sent me:

First up, this super cute dress. A little background on this one. So each month Stitch Fix sends you styling cards that match your box items so you can see two different ways to incorporate the piece into your wardrobe. Last month, she sent me a green jacket and on the styling card it was draped over an awesome striped dress, which of course I asked for in my next box. Sadly, that dress wasn't available this time around. However, she sent this dress in its place and I LOVE it. It fits perfectly, it's got a classic appeal to it and it has pockets. Pockets! It's also a nice weight and should last a long time. The only downside is that it's on the expensive side, which makes me hesitate. For what it's worth, Nate told me to get it. 

I also requested another maxi dress in different color. I really like the pattern on this one and I liked the black strap across the back. Even better, you could wear a regular bra with it (I hate messing with different straps). The only downside is that that pattern didn't match up at the seams. So when you look at it from the side, the pattern is off.  Womp womp. Any Project Runway watcher will tell you that's a no-go.

This tank is much cuter on me than it is on the hanger. And if you're nursing, it's the perfect addition to your closet. I'm on the fence with this one as well. It's reasonably priced, but if I get the expensive dress I'm not sure I could justify getting this one as well. And again, Nate told me to get it. My husband spoils me.


This blouse was cute, but not really my style. It kind of had a billowy effect to it. It's also on the shorter side which could be problematic with my long torso. 


I also asked her to send a pair of Bermuda shorts. Don't hate. I love Bermuda shorts for two reasons. Number one - I'm too old to wear short shorts, but too young to wear grandma shorts. And number two, my pale legs never tan (but my arms do because of course my body wants to resemble a yin-yang sign as opposed to the ladies in the tanning commercials) and this helps protect them from the sun. Skin cancer is real, folks. Lather up or cover up. Or do both. Yeah, let's go with do both. Sadly, these shorts weren't very flattering. They fit well, but the color didn't work for me. 

At this point, I'm really leaning toward the striped dress and maybe the blue tank. Maybe. Nate gave me the go-ahead, but spending that much money on clothes is tough for me. I need to give this some more thought. I mean, I did handle most of the move this week. Surely that's enough bonus points for the dress, right? 

Thoughts on this box????

Cheers,
Jen 

Have you tried Stitch Fix yet? Sign up using my code here. They offer maternity and petite sizes now so there really is something for everyone!


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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Bloom Where You Are Planted


As most of you know, my family is getting ready to make another move. It's nothing unusual since we typically move every two to three years. And to be honest, I'm looking forward to a new adventure. I grew up moving all the time so this is my normal and I'm OK with it. What I didn't expect, however, was to make a group of friends here that I would be sad to leave.

Usually when we move somewhere new I make a couple of friends and that's who my social circle consists of until it's time to move again. Again, I'm totally OK with this. I've never been the type that needed a huge group of friends to be happy. Quality over quantity, right? But I have to say, I've been so blessed to be surrounded with so many amazing friends this time around.

When E was between 4-6 months old, I decided it was time to get out of the house and make "mom friends." And at first, it was a struggle. I'm a more reserved individual, which often means that making friends is a bit harder. But the more events I went to, the more I felt like I belonged. We started as strangers, bonded as mothers and are now friends. I mean, I have their phone numbers. In this era of social media, having someone's number is a legit form of friendship, right?

Anyway, we've been with the group for nearly a year and a half and the idea of leaving these great women and kiddos that I usually see a few times a week makes me really sad. Today was our hail and farewell event. I had a little something I wanted to say, but never got the opportunity. Mainly because my toddler was at Chuck E Cheese and would rather ride the jeep than sit there while the "official" part of the event was happening. It's probably for the best. As I was passing out gifts, someone asked why I had made them and I couldn't answer the question. I think I mumbled something and got confused and tried again and then got really emotional and started to cry and then she was getting teary and that was the end of that -- Let's be real here, it's much easier for me to express myself with words that are written on paper (at least in circumstances like this).

It's just so hard to explain. These women were there for me when I needed it the most. When I was struggling as a new mom and struggling with my toddler and struggling with tantrums/health issues/lack of sleep (basically, lots of struggling). The support and friendship within the group is amazing. The lack of judgement is refreshing. The fact that we all get along so well is astonishing because we've all heard about "mom group drama." Basically to sum it up, I'm really going to miss them.

I gave everyone a flower with the saying "bloom where you are planted" on it because it's the best piece of advice that I can give. Whenever we move somewhere new, we always make the best of the situation. I could be in the middle of nowhere Texas, but damn it, I'm going to find a way to have a good time. And that's what I want them to remember. That no matter where you end up, you can always find good people and good times. You'd be surprised how much having a positive outlook changes your experience. And if you're lucky enough to be part of a group like mine, it won't take much to make a difference.

I wish my fellow moms and tots the best of luck as they continue on with the group and with life in general. Remember, you are all beautiful, competent, loving, kind, generous, selfless, happy individuals and you just happen to be kick ass moms, too.

Cheers,
Jen

Monday, April 13, 2015

Send me your best recipes


So here's the deal. One of the reasons I enjoy baking so much is because I'm not very creative in the kitchen. Baking is precise and deviating from the recipe usually ends up in disaster. This, I can live with. But cooking requires more finesse. I absolutely loathe when I see things in recipes that say, "add more seasoning if you want" or "taste it to see what else it needs." Fool, if I knew what needed to go in there I wouldn't be using your recipe in the first place.

Needless to say, I rely heavily on cookbooks and recipes to get food on the table. And even then, I'm somewhat limited because of the gadgets I don't have or the skills I don't possess (why are some of these recipes SO hard to follow?!). But back in February, Nate got me a new cookbook and everything changed.

And I know you're probably thinking really? Suddenly you can cook because of a cookbook? I've got tons of cookbooks and I still turn out mac n cheese from a box. But I can tell it's made a difference in my cooking. I think Nate can, too.

To be honest, I think I really like it because it's not uptight and stuffy. Don't get me wrong, there are some ingredients I've had to look up online (and still can't find in the grocery store), but for the most part it's easy. The instructions are easy to follow and that makes a world of difference to someone who isn't uber familiar with kitchen gadgets. It gives me a level of confidence that other cookbooks can't - or haven't - given me in the past.

Which isn't to say I've loved every recipe that I've made. I had high hopes for their pancakes, but they fell flat for me. Technically, they were really thick and pasty and hard to cook. And I know my way around some pancakes so don't start hollering human error ("It was totally your fault," - you, "Please, I plate my breakfast like I cook for IHOP."). But I've had great luck with some of their other recipes.

I've now made flautas from scratch twice. From scratch. Like, I literally mashed my own beans. Are you impressed? Because you definitely should be. And the second time around, I took some free reign and added a chipotle sauce. Adding things gives me anxiety as mentioned above so the fact that I felt comfortable enough to tinker with the recipe is amazing. I really think the way it's worded - and how it doesn't take itself so seriously - allows me feel better about cooking. Not so worried I'm going to screw it up, you know?

I made the sweet potato, black bean and squash enchiladas one night and got a standing ovation (not really). But I put sweet potato into our enchiladas, man. Mind blown. Just this week I made roasted chickpea and broccoli burritos - whaaaaat? YES. And they were so good I ate the leftover chickpeas for lunch the next day. Oh and the spiced chickpea wraps with homemade tahini dressing? Also a keeper. I made black bean tortas with homemade chipotle mayo one weekend and Nate said it could've been a $15 sandwich from Panera. That's high praise when my go-to sandwich is a grilled cheese. Or a PB and J. Although, technically I've switched to almond butter so that bumps up the class level, right?

Right so, I'd like to capitalize on this confidence in the kitchen and start expanding to some other recipes. What cookbooks do you rely on? Or do you make everything up in your head and then magically get it on the table in time for dinner? I wouldn't go so far as to say cooking is a hobby, but I do want to keep improving.

Hit me with your best recipes. Pleeeeaaase?

Cheers,
Jen

PS - Some folks have asked for my baked ziti recipe. You can find it here. I promise it's worth your time.