Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My First Stitch Fix!

I was super super excited to get my first Stitch Fix.  I had to wait THREE months to get it, and I was freaking out while I waited.  I tried not to buy anything new, as I had specifically asked for a maxi dress and a statement necklace, and I was holding out for those!

My Stitch Fix was delivered today. My curiosity got the better of me and I snuck a peek at the Stitch Fix site while I was at work and realized that I could see the names of the articles I had been sent, but not a photo.

I held my breath when I saw the words "geometric" and the word "chevron."  Hold up...there it is again..."chevron."  Chevron twice?  Really?

The Stitch Fix stylists are supposed to look at your Pinterest boards to get a feel for your personal style, so I tried to push the bad thoughts from my mind.  "They're professionals," I told myself.  "They know what they're doing."

And then I came this:

If you know me at all, you'll notice right away that that specific color palette is NOT my style...not to mention, I don't really care for patterns.  But, okay.  This was put together by a stylist.  Who knows, maybe they know something I don't! Maybe it will look good on me!  So I pull everything out and, trying to stay optimistic, try it all on.

1. Pixley Laural Sleeveless Geometric Printed Maxi Dress

Gah, NOPE. I HAD asked for a maxi dress, and I already have one in black, so I was okay with a color (and pattern) except I was not a fan of this one.  It had a weird elastic waist that caused the back to ride up and wrinkle, the tiny geometric pattern called attention to EVERY imperfection, and the combination of high collar and thick straps made it just look frumpy.  Bigger girls like me need BIG patterns, not small ones, when it comes to maxi dresses. Bad move, Stitch Fix.  And they wanted $78 for this. I'm not above paying that much for a dress, but I'd have to really love it. Nope. Verdict? Sent back.

2. Pomelo Indiana Abstract Chevron Print Mixed-Material Tee

Don't mind the lines underneath this--I threw it on over a dress to see how it would look with a black skirt.  The answer? Bad.  The heather gray reminded me of a gym shirt, and the blue patterned sleeves were just busy and weird.  The worst part?  There was FOOD on the collar.  Gross, gross, gross. I guess that's the hazard that comes with getting previously-tried-on clothes. It WAS made of jersey cotton, which I love (well noted, stylist Cynthia!) but it wasn't enough to make me love the shirt as a whole. Verdict? Sent back!

3 & 4:

Kut from the Kloth Marquis Slub Knit Dolman Sweater 
Gilli Dawn Jersey Chevron Print Maxi Skirt

This COULD have been cute...but it wasn't.  The chevron skirt is just too busy (it makes me dizzy just to look at it! Maybe I should have mentioned to them that I have vertigo?) and the waistband was very strange--it really clung to my stomach and butt and was just not flattering.  Plus, the material was really hot.  I'm always hot as it is, so this wasn't going to fly.  Verdict? Sent back!

I considered keeping the top at first, but at $48 I didn't feel it was worth the price.  It looked too casual--like something you'd throw over a bathing suit while you're at the beach--and I knew I wouldn't wear it enough to justify that price.  If I wanted something like this, I could probably find it at Target for $, I hardly EVER wear white.  I'm okay with stepping out of my comfort zone, but this sweater isn't the piece of clothing that will get me to do that. Verdict? Sent back!

Gorjana Finn Open Teardrop Stud Earrings

It seems like they usually include one accessory in each Fix, and I was bummed to get these as mine. I was counting on a great statement necklace.  But, here's the thing: Stitch Fix charges you a $20 "styling" fee no matter what, BUT, if you buy something that they send you, you get to apply that $20 to that purchase.  Basically, if you don't use it, you lose it.
These earrings, at $40, were the cheapest item in the fix.  I'd have preferred something a little more fancy (maybe a chandelier earring) but they're okay. Verdict? Kept!

All in all, I was REALLY disappointed by my first Stitch Fix. You'd think they'd try to pull out all the stops to get you the greatest Fix so that you'd stick around, but nope. It seems that a lot of people have a terrible first Fix and they have to work with their stylist in order to improve them.  I wrote my stylist a LONG letter about what I'm looking for and what works for me, so hopefully my next Fix will be a lot better.  Like Birchbox and ipsy GlamBag, I'll give these guys three tries to get it right!  (And hopefully I won't wind up with three pairs of earrings that are "just okay.")

I'll be sure to blog about my next Fix!

If you like the sound of Stitch Fix and want to give it a try for yourself, please use my referral link!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pinterest Attempt: Honey Lime Taquitos with Cilantro Lime Cream

In addition to having a shit ton [this is an actual unit of measurement] of cucumbers coming out of our garden, we also have more cilantro than we know what to do with.

I don't know why I picked cilantro, honestly.  I've never been eating something and thought "you know what would taste great in this? Cilantro!"  It just sounded good at the time.

So now I've been pinning recipes that call for cilantro like crazy.  Here was the first attempt:

Honey Lime Taquitos with Cilantro Lime Cream

I grabbed this recipe from over at Julie's LovelyLittleKitchen blog, and I followed it pretty closely, except that when she shredded up some rotisserie chicken, I poached some chicken breasts instead.

(I'd never poached chicken before, so that was a little exciting.)

Also, her recipe called for green taco sauce and apparently our supermarket only stocks the red kind.

Her dinner came out a little prettier than mine:

The rolling of the taquitos was hilarious.  I really recommend using toothpicks to hold these suckers together after you roll them! I kept rolling them shut and they kept coming apart and spitting chicken onto the floor.  

You can find Julie's recipe here.  It came out really good, and I would make it again...although I'd use less honey and more lime juice next time, and maybe some cayenne pepper in addition to the chili powder.  It was just a touch too sweet as-is, and I couldn't taste the lime which is a problem because I LOVE lime.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Our Jungle Garden

When Shaun and I first moved in, we were excited that we had a HUGE garden plot in the backyard.  We'd both dabbled very briefly in gardening (I grew some herbs on my windowsill, he grew tomatoes, jalapeños and eggplant in pots) and we couldn't wait to do things on a larger scale.

We stepped up to the challenge of this new garden the best way we knew how:  We divided it in half, tilled it, mixed in some fertilizer, and started planting!
Here's Shaun tilling the garden in preparation for planting!

We pretty much picked up anything that sounded good to us at the store.  There was no rhyme or reason: we didn't check which plants needed full sun, which needed shade, or when their harvesting times were.  We just went a little nuts.

Tomatoes, jalapeños, cucumber, squash, eggplant, zucchini, strawberries, green beans, corn, basil, spinach, cilantro, rosemary...we planted pretty much anything we could think of.

Fast forward a few weeks, and the garden is looking awesome.  We've harvested some cherry tomatoes, a few cucumber...I've done some pickling.  It's been fun.

Fast forward a WEEK later, and all of a's a literal jungle out there.

Has anyone seen Shaun? He said he was going to look at the garden, but I can't find him...

Needless to say, next year we'll keep up with weeding and mulching, and get some stakes for the climbing plants to climb up. (I had no idea that cucumbers and squash were climbers!)  We can't even walk around some of the plants!

We've had some nice harvest so far, though. I can't wait to see what else we get! Not bad for a first try.  I've been pinning recipes on Pinterest for days!  I'll share some here. :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What is WattPad?

I've recently started using WattPad.

Here's the thing: I'm super picky about my writing.  I literally have boxes and boxes worth of old writing, as well as a huge folder filled with all my digital writing.

Out of all those pieces, how many actually see the light of day?  How many do I actually submit to magazines, literary agents, or contests?  Maybe 10.  Maybe.

The rest sits around collecting dust.  Sometimes I think maybe I should polish these up and try to publish them... but honestly it's such a huge undertaking that I've never done it.

Enter WattPad.

I just made an account and began publishing my first novel there, chapter-by-chapter.

No, not the most recent novel that I've been shopping around to literary agents and publishers--my real first novel.  The one I don't talk about.  The one that will probably never result in people calling Ladybird Adrift my "second novel."

Completed in 1998 when I was in eighth grade, Final Departure is the story of Jamie Munroe, a young girl who gets a more exciting summer than she bargained for when her friend Johnny goes missing.

If you miss jelly sandals, a world before cell phones, and that time when the internet was still a new and exciting invention, you might want to check it out. Link below!  The more views and comments I receive, the more quickly I will post chapters.

Final Departure by Alison Downs

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review: Writing Storybooks for Children

I found a Groupon for the course Writing Storybooks for Children.  Because naturally, taking a break from school means I have to get something else done, or else I feel like a slacker.


It must be nice to relax, but I'm not familiar with that sensation.

Anyway, I felt like it would be a good idea to take this course, since it gives you a certificate when you're finished (something to put on my resume, huzzah, even better!) and since my work-in-progress is a middle-grade novel.

By this point, I'm almost through with the course.  And I have to say that I'm not terribly impressed.  I've taken some notes, but overall, I'm not sure how this course (which was written in the UK) translates into American writing.  It feels a bit outdated and incorrect.  (For example, it keeps suggesting I write to publishers to request their submission guidelines...with no mention of checking their websites, and no mention of querying literary agents.)

I'm pushing through and getting what I can out of it, but, holy cow.  The Groupon was for 95% off, meaning the original price is somewhere around $500.  I would have felt so ripped off if I had paid full price!

That being said, if you are in the UK, you might get quite a bit out of the course.  But I'm not sure that I am!  I'll continue taking notes and trying to make the most of it, though.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

You aren't a blogger if you don't blog!

I've been so bad about this updating thing.

June was crazy busy.  I'm taking a self-imposed break from school, and it couldn't have come at a better time.

For my birthday, Shaun & I went to Concord MA and did a literary tour.  We hit the town a little late so I unfortunately missed out on a few places, but I got to see some artifacts from Thoreau's house on Walden Pond, and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, which is where a bunch of famous authors are buried, including Louisa May Alcott.

Yes, I realize this sort of thing is probably boring to most normal people.  But...well, I never said I was normal.

The day after my birthday we headed to the Eric Carle Museum because Norton Juster (the author of The Phantom Tollbooth) was giving a Q&A and a book signing.

Again, this is the sort of thing that is probably boring to most people.  Too bad.

I'll be checking in soon with my 30 by 30 list to see how I measured up.  I'm certain I didn't get to everything, but I did fairly well.  I can finish up the rest within the year, I think!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Fancy meeting you here.

Well, hello there!  Fancy meeting you here.

As I'm sure you can imagine, I am appropriately swamped (I just typed "swampy."  I am not swampy.) or else I'd be blogging on the regular.  Let's do a quick round up to see what's been going on lately…

-Submitting: I've been entering some short story contests and the like.  I'm focusing on two non-fiction pieces right now…I'll be sure to update here if I have any luck.
-Querying: I'm continuing to query literary agents and small presses with some success.  I've received two offers from small presses, but I haven't made any decisions as of yet.
-School:  Augh, school is killing me.  I don't have much motivation currently and I considered taking a term off, but I'm pushing through despite my heart not really being in it.  I did get off of a wait list and into a class I want for next term (and I only had to buy ONE textbook, yay!) so maybe I'll feel a little better about it by then.  But right now I'm tired and not really interested in what I'm doing…BUT, if I don't take a break, I'll have my graduate degree by this time next year.
-Work: Work is busy but going well. We have a ton of books coming out, plus lots of other stuff going on…I am definitely swamped there, too, but I like it!
-Trips:  I've been going to a lot of concerts/shows this year (Annie, Wicked, Book of Mormon, Shock Treatment/Rocky Horror…) which is awesome.  One of the worst feelings is seeing a show you really want to go to but can't afford.  I've been really fortunate lately to be able to scoop up tickets to pretty much everything I'm interested in.  In the next few months I'm seeing Eddie Izzard, Bill Nye (yes, the Science Guy!), Nick Cave and Devendra Banhart, and Ghost the Musical.
-Diet: After almost a full year, I finally lost five pounds…woo hoo!  And I've managed to keep them off for a week, so it wasn't a fluke.  Funny thing is, I'm not sure WHY I lost them (I pretty much always eat normal and very healthy) so I can't replicate it.
-Other stuff:  I am probably rejoining a Rocky Horror cast after a billion years.  I just have to get my Magenta wardrobe together…luckily I found someone who does custom costumes and I'm well on my way!

Well, that's all for now! I'll try to keep updating with some sort of frequency and with more interesting things…photos and stories and the like.