Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Fix #11 - Color me Conflicted

So truthfully, I haven't even worn a couple of pieces I have received in previous fixes.  I feel terribly guilty about this, but to be fair, we've been on sabbatical from church, I am working ALL THE TIME to prepare for my upcoming craft show, so I barely go anywhere and I certainly don't dress up to go out in the studio and get covered in dust and dirt.  This is a season of my life that will pass soon and hopefully I will have someplace to wear my pretty things.

So when my new box arrived, I felt very guilty about it.  But as I surveyed my closet with the dropping temps in mind, I realized I still can't fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes but I don't have much in the way of warm things.

Papermoon Camilla Pencil Skirt
My new stylist was clearly picking up on the season change.  She sent me 5 pieces that will wear well in the cool months, and she clearly understands that I am trying to create a cohesive wardrobe, so she picked pieces with similar colors: black and maroon.

First up is this pencil skirt with lace detail. Made of structured knit, it is comfortable but not "schlumpy."  I do have a bit of mental block about the color and the lace detail around the bottom, which reminds me of a half slip. I don't exactly know how to wear this yet and was considering returning it, but Miss Whimsy was eating animal crackers while I tried on my clothes and came up and gave me a big love while I was wearing it, leaving a good big smear of her snack on the skirt. So I am keeping it now!  I like it with the denim button front shirt I got in a previous fix.

RD Style Zahara Dress
Next, I tried on the gray mini dress.  It finally occurred to me after asking over and over a gain for "things that are long enough to wear with leggings" that I wanted mini-dresses, not shirts. I am just too tall and too long-waisted to wear shirts with leggings and even most tunics are not long enough. My new stylist grasped this idea immediately and found this darling dress.  It is also a knit with faux leather trim.  It is a little snug on my arms, but not enough to worry me. Everything else about this little dress is perfect for me. I have already worn this with the leggings I got in a previous fix and I would pretty much wear it every day if I could.  If I could have this cut in every imaginable color and fabric, I would be set for life.

Tart Kaylie French Terry Blazer
I specifically asked for a knit gray blazer and my wonderful stylist found one that is perfect for me. I immediately pushed up the snug sleeves and decided to wear it on my date out that very night, paired with the jeans I got in my last fix.  It looks nice and structured, but it feels like a snuggly cardigan sweater.  This piece was pricey.  If you specifically ask for a piece, I've noticed that the price tends to be higher than usual.  Just a tip. But considering I will be wearing this all the time, I sucked it up and paid for this.

Alice Blue Nolie Dress
suggested styling
Next I tried the burgundy dress.  This is where I started to feel really guilty.  This is a great dress, but I don't know where exactly I will wear it.  I love the cut and the faux leather detail and I feel great in it, but I'm not sure how practical it is for me.  I probably should have made it more clear that I love to dress up, but I don't have that many places to go.  I will be planning to pin some more practical, every-day outfits to my Pinterest board just to be honest about my real daily uniform of a t-shirt, skirt and cardigan.

Finally, I tried on the polka-dot pullover sweater.  I recently edited my profile to say "yes" to polka-dots because they can be so cute and timeless.  I would never pick this sweater for myself, but I am going to give it a shot and I will explain why:  I spend about 30 minutes TOPS getting myself ready and mentally, I still picture myself like a college girl who looks "good enough" in whatever she wears.  I started to take some photos of this fix without doing my hair or makeup and I was a little taken aback by what I saw:  a tired old lady.  I don't know when this tired old lady showed up and took the place of the plump glowing pregnant lady that used to be here, but I can guess that she slipped in somewhere in the long string of nights of insomnia, extended work hours of show prep, and mental exercises about life in general with too many plates spinning.  I see the old lady show up dressed in gray from head to toe,  tired cardigan sweaters, hair unkempt and bags under her eyes.  This little sweater sent me to the mirror for the five second pick-me-up of lipstick and a brush of eyeliner and the reminder that nobody else is going to take care of the old lady if I don't.
41 Hawthorn Gideon Polka Dot Sweater

Since this fix was expensive, I adjusted my fix frequency and am taking a little break to make sure I wear what I have.  I'm super torn about it because I really love the things my new stylist is choosing for me and I can't wait to see what else she finds.  But Cinderella has to come home from the ball and get to work, so off I go! 

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Monday, September 07, 2015

Stitch Fix #10 - The Stylist Makes a Big Difference!

I received a new Fix today and discovered that I had been assigned a new stylist.  Based on what I have read from other Stitch Fix participants, this can be a real disaster, but in my case, Ashlyn apparently TOTALLY gets me!  While I have been grateful for the things I have gotten in the past because they fit and they worked for me, I wasn't sure the clothes were very "me" at times.  This was the first time I was absolutely confident upon seeing each piece that I was going to love them. These clothes look like me. 

I also think it was curious that I didn't have a strong sense of what my wardrobe needed.  I was unable to give any requests when I got the note that my fix was being chosen, only that I needed breathable fabrics that would not be fragile and too delicate. 

So the first thing I saw was the gray knit shirt.  As soon as I glimpsed the vintage-vibe pink insert in the back, I knew I would love it. 

 Shorter in the front and longer in the back, it is perfectly comfortable and soft. But the back makes it so much more than a simple gray knit shirt, and I know I will love wearing this over and over again. 
Loveappella Lolla Woven Back Mixed Media Knit Top

Next, I found the wonderful floral skirt.  Reminiscent of a vintage wallpaper pattern, it is fully lined.  I was afraid it was too long at first, but then realized it fits like a 1950s pencil skirt.  Another versatile piece,  I know I can easily dress it up or down.  
Pixley Eve Floral Skirt
Loveappella Mayfair Lace Detail Knit Top

Trying it on with the navy blue knit top I also got in this fix was an obvious choice.  It will be fun to style it with a simple lacy tank and jean jacket too. All the colors allow for plenty of options.

The darling little top is so lightweight and soft and has a lace accent across the top of the shoulders, which keeps it from being just a basic t-shirt.  I love the length of the sleeves as well as the length of the torso, which works well for my long waist. 

Market and Spuce Jamie Button Down Cotton Shirt

Let's talk about classics, shall we?  A button front white shirt with a a couple of perfect twists: elbow sleeves are perfect for me.  I hate anything long and floppy around my wrists, so I always push up my sleeves. The sides have coordinating knit panels that keep it fitting smooth.  This shirt is knit with a cotton back, so it breaths and has the vibe of a basic white shirt, while being as comfortable as a T. The cut is super flattering. 

Finally,  I got another pair of jeans.  At first I thought, "I don't really need more jeans."  But then I tried them on and realized, "YES I DO."  Especially since they are an extremely dark wash, almost black, which makes them appear much dressier than normal jeans. They are bootcut, and a little on the long side, perfect for wearing with my favorite heels, which also makes them great for church, date night, and school programs.  I have lost exactly 1 pound of baby weight: thanks for noticing! I'm not exaggerating one little bit, so my new stylist is some kind of genius, because I feel like I lost 20 pounds. 
Liverpool Denise Bootcut Jean


Here they are with the little navy t-shirt....adorable, right?  Having these basics is a great treat.  I didn't realize how much I needed some of these wardrobe extenders, but I know I can layer, mix and match, and wear these things in so many ways.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

How I Made a Baby Gate that Wasn't Hideously Ugly

Very little time passed after I saw the two lines on the pregnancy test before I thought, "We need a gate for the stairs!"  The presence of a certain weiner dog who likes to sneak upstairs and pee on Mattie's piles of clothes on the floor only confirmed that thought.

But I hate the typical baby gates you find in stores because not only are they ugly, they are often frustrating to use.  So I started thinking about a gate we would actually like and actually use. It took me a year to come up with the design, and the ideas REALLY jelled when I stepped out to the garage for a second and came back to find Whimsy standing at the top of the stairs with a proud grin on her little face.

Here's how I did it:

before painting and attaching 
I bought two unfinished wooden picture frames from Hobby Lobby. These come without glass and I managed to find them on a day when they were on sale, half off.  ($18 total)

I then decided to use radiator screen which comes in a about a 3 x 4 foot sheet at Lowes.  This was the most expensive part ($28), but I like the way it looks, and even when Whimsy is bigger, we still need the deterrent for the dog, so we'd be living with it a long time.  I also had to buy tin snips to cut this, but I knew I would use them again in other projects.  ($10)

I also got a strip of wood, about 1/2 inch thick and 3.5 inches wide from the lumber aisle.  ($2.50 each) These are pre-cut in smaller, crafting sizes.  I got several sizes, thinking I might need to reinforce the back of the tin sheets, but they turned out to be unnecessary.  Just one strip was used in the final project to attach the whole thing to the wall.  I had a hook and eye closure in my junk drawer from some other project.

Lastly, I needed two piano hinges.  I knew I wanted the gate to fold and fit behind the narrow wall beside our stairway.  ($5 each)

The frames proved to be too large to use side by side, so I cut one down using a miter box and saw.  I was able to simply hammer the corner brackets back in to hold the corner in place like the original corner of the frame.  I then cut the metal sheeting to fit inside and stapled it in place.  It would have been easier if I had painted the frames first.

Figuring out how the hinges should fold took a while, but I eventually got them where I wanted them.  The only thing I didn't like was the possibility of Whimsy's fingers getting pinched as the hinges folded flat in the open position.  I used a small strip of molding and glued it with my trusty E6000 over the edge, covering the seam to keep her fingers out of it.

I attached one hinge to connect to the strip of wood that attached to the wall on the side of the stairs with the spindles and railing.  I painted it white to blend in with the wall.  The next  hinge attached the two frames together.

Lastly, I used a hook and eye to close it. I wish I could have attached it to the back of the gate, but the studs in the wall did not line up quite right.  It's not a perfect closure, but it is high enough that Whimsy can't reach it just yet.

And this is why we are all very good about keeping the gate closed!