Image Map

Stitch Fix No. 7: Help me decide what to keep!

Apr 25, 2014

Hello lovelies! Can you believe how fast April has gone by? I've been 33 for 23 days now, and I gotta be honest, dear twentysomethings...I'm finding each new year of being a thirtysomething feels better than the last! So if you're worried about your impending 30th birthday, don't. Pick your favorite wine (my current one is Moscato d'Asti) and that's what you are, gettin' better with age. Word.

The end of the month means a new Stitch Fix, and this one has me in a pickle. I kind of like them all! What do I keep? Will you help me choose?


Initially I thought this would be my favorite piece. The poppy and navy are great together, and I love the diagonal chevron stripe. The only thing I'm not crazy about is the sliver-sleeve, which I don't think is a flattering look for anyone's arms, unless they're super toned. But, somehow, this isn't the worst example a hard-to-wear sleeve. Other than that, this top looks like nothing else in my closet and would be great to throw on with jeans for casual afternoon or night out.

This tank is silky soft and hangs nicely. For summertime, this is the perfect top -- airy, light and breezy. My only gripe is the colors. It's not that they're bad, they're just not interesting. If the flowers were poppy like the William Zig-Zag Print Top, it would be more of a statement piece. As it is, I don't know what else I'd wear it with other than jeans, and the colors all blend together instead of contrasting. Head-to-toe navy is not a great look for anyone


Now this is my kind of color! I love anything coral, and I couldn't wait to try on this blouse with the floral shorts I recently bought at J.Crew. I recently paired them with a Tiffany blue shirt, and I can't decide which look I like better. The hem of the blouse has an extra band of fabric, weighing it down slightly so it hangs perfectly. A similar band around the sleeves that cuts upward near the elbow bothered me at first, but the longer I had it on, the more I liked it because it keeps the sleeve right above your elbow as soon as you bend your arm. I was about ready to keep this one, but then I remembered I have a blouse almost exactly like it from Banana Republic:


What do you think? They look so much alike, but I do like the 41Hawthorn one more for a casual look. The Banana Republic blouse is silk -- not something I'd necessarily want to wear to a picnic or a day out in the city (dry cleaning, ugh) -- and the sleeves fall below my elbow at an odd place. I'm constantly pushing them up. Hmm...very tempting...


I keep going back and forth on this dress. I've never seen a neckline like this one, so that's a selling point. I absolutely love ponte in the summertime because it's stretchy and breathes like cotton, but it doesn't wrinkle and adds structure because of its thickness. I think the waist on the dress uses the best qualities of ponte, and I like the little flair in the skirt. In theory it's adorable, but then I look at the back shot and feel like it makes me look wide. 


The moment I saw these jeans I thought, "Are bootcuts coming back?" Then this song popped in my head:


So I guess these aren't exactly bell bottoms, but aren't they somewhat reminiscent of Joey Lauren Adams in Dazed and Confused?


Well anyway, they are super tight and acid washed, so they feel retro to me. I haven't worn boot cut jeans in I don't even remember how long, so I didn't think I'd be into these at all, but they're kind of hot, right? They make me look so slender and tall! I don't really need anymore jeans, but, I dunno y'all...

So? What do you think? Can you help me out? Let me know in the comments below! 


UPDATE: Thank you for all your insightful comments! I decided to keep the jeans, or "magic jeans" as one reader on Instagram called them. :)

Want to give Stitch Fix a try? Sign up here and remember your $20 styling fee goes toward your purchase! 

Read about my past fixes here:


Peace, ya'll.


P.S. If you're single and live in DC, don't forget to enter to win tickets to see Erika Ettin of A Little Nudge at Sixth & I next Monday! Today's the last day, so get to it!

My OKCupid gets a makeover...and a giveaway from Sixth & I!

Apr 21, 2014

You might remember Erika Ettin from the Dating in the District panel I did at Georgetown Public Library a couple of months ago. She's the founder of A Little Nudge, and online dating service that offers everything from building your profile to crafting emails to potential suitors. While we didn't see eye to eye on everything during the panel, I thought she had a modern, down-to-earth perspective on dating that made me -- and my friends who attended -- feel more at ease with online dating.

Next Monday Erika will be headlining an interactive event at Sixth & I called "Love at First Site," where she'll offer pointers on how to do online dating well (things like which pictures to use, what to write in your profile and how long emails back and forth should be).



I'm giving one C&S reader two tickets for the event (see giveaway below), but before we get to that, I have a very personalized sneak peek of Erika's expertise to share with you. Erika was nice enough to go through my OKCupid profile and give me a few pointers, and I'm pretty excited about the result!

User Name

E: What does your user name mean?
M: It was a nickname in college. I'd like to change it but you have to pay now.
E: It might be worth it. It's $51 for six months. That way you can search invisibly too and see if people read your emails. [laughs] I like the user name to be one extra thing people can know about you. Make it playful and cute, like "ThisGirlCanGrill" or "TallMargarita".

Photos

(I had almost 10 photos up, including a professional photo and a couple with friends. I thought I'd done a pretty good job selecting them, but Erika cut down the selection to five and cropped most of them. Here's what Erika had to say about them.)

Professional Photo: Use it, but not as the first one, because it's a little intimidating.
Noli Photo: I like that you have a dog picture, but your eyes are too wide in this one. (I was making a funny face.)
Friend Photo: You don't want friends, especially cute ones, in a picture with you.
Friend Photo with the Free Government Money Guy: We gotta cut your friend out. I cut the guy out too, but his pant leg is still in the picture, and that's actually going to generate more questions because you're not saying who it is.

(The other photos she cut were unflattering or you couldn't see my face very well.)

Stats

E: Not everything is filled out, like "Diet." If you eat mostly anything, you should say that. Religion too.
M: I don't have religion filled out because I've attracted some extreme Christian guys in the past, one who basically interviewed me to be his wife on our first date, and I'm wary of putting it out there because of those guys.
E: I don't think that's representative of Christian guys. If that's important to you, wouldn't you rather know before you go on a date that someone likes you knowing you're Christian? While I'm into casting a wide net, you should put what's important to you up front. I wouldn't put "very serious about it," but "somewhat serious about it" is okay.
"Relationship Type" is a new category. You probably want to put monogamous.
M: Can I leave my sign blank? I think it's cheesy. Also I don't want to put my income on there.
E: Yes. Blank.

About Section

My self-summary
Before: I'm a Southern belle transplanted into DC. I work in public affairs for the military and love the contrast between the intensity of the job and going home to my urban oasis. 
After: I'm a Southern belle transplanted into DC. While I've retained a good amount of my Southern charm, like making sure if you come over you won't leave hungry, I've adapted well to the big city, y'all.

Things I like:
-Grilling on the roof
-Painting furniture
-Playing my piano
-Going to the beach
-Meeting new people

Things I hate:
-Track maintenance

E: Your self-summary reads like a resume.
M: Ugh that's so DC!
E: Move the part about your job to "What I'm doing with my life."
Do you say "y'all"?
M: Yes!
E: What else is a dead giveaway that you're from the South?
M: If you come through my door I'll put food in your face.
E: That's adorable! What are some things you like to do in your spare time? Let's make a list of five of them.
Is there anything funny you hate? Do you ride Metro a lot?
M: Yes...
E: Track maintenance. Done!

I'm really good at ...
Before: Writing, cooking, watching TV
After: Getting a good deal on vintage furniture and refurbishing it

E: Writing what? Now I'm going to judge your writing because you say you're good at it. Are there any random things you're good at? Try to think of something that's different.
M: Grilling chicken?
E: Not exciting.
M: Well, I'm pretty good at making a deal on vintage furniture.
E: You talk about that in your self-summary. Why don't we put that here instead?

The first thing people usually notice about me
Before: I have big, red hair and I'm tall.
After: I can reach the Häagen-Dazs Caramel Cone ice cream on the top shelf at the grocery store without standing on my toes

E: What you wrote is true, but I wonder if we can say it in a more creative way. What's something that's different for you because you're tall?
M: I can reach stuff on high shelves.
E: Let's say something about how you can reach the tallest shelf at the supermarket. What's your favorite ice cream?
M: Häagen-Dazs Caramel Cone.
E: That's what you're going to say you can reach. I know it sounds crazy, but it will generate conversation.

The six things I could never do without
Before: Lip gloss, Pandora, samurai sudoku, Arnold Palmers, my phone, my dog
After: Cherry Coke lip gloss, Pandora, samurai sudoku, Arnold Palmers, my phone, my dog

E: Is there a particular kind of lip gloss you could never live without?
M: Yes! Cherry Coke!
E: You're gonna get comments on that now. The more specific the better.

I spend a lot of time thinking about...
Before: What I'm doing this weekend
After: 

E: This isn't very exciting. I'd get rid of it. It won't come up on your profile if you leave it blank. The whole purpose is to give people an in to email you. The more detail you have, the more they have to talk to you about.

On a typical Friday night I am...
Before: Having dinner with friends or binge watching documentaries on Netflix
After: Having dinner with friends or binge watching  documentaries on Netflix or Veronica Mars on Amazon Prime (I guess this could also qualify as the most private thing I'm willing to admit)

E: What have you been binge watching lately?
M: Veronica Mars.
E: Add that. It's you making fun of yourself, and it gives people something else to talk to you about.

You should message me if...
Before: You enjoy the city (pleeeeeease don't make me go to Arlington) and you wouldn't dream of taking off your shoe and handing to me in a restaurant in the middle of our date.
After: You wouldn't dream of taking off your shoe and handing to me in a restaurant in the middle of our date.

E: You say guys should message you if they don't make you go to Arlington. That's so mean!
M: A lot of guys do this tug-of-war thing with me where they won't budge on meeting up in Arlington, and it drives me crazy!
E: I'd get rid of that, because if I lived in Arlington I'd be offended. Maybe even if I didn't live in Arlington. I don't understand the shoe thing, but it's hysterical! It allows something for people to say when they email you.
Oh my gosh. This is the best profile ever!

(a glimpse)


Erika will be at Sixth & I on April 28th at 7 p.m. to share similar tips...but so much more! If you'd like her to answer specific questions or give tips on something in particular, leave them in the comments below and then get your ticket to hear her answers in person! Tickets are $12 and can be purchased online or over the phone at (877) 987.6487. Enter below to win two tickets to "Love at First Site," and be sure to check out Erika's website and full list of services at www.alittlenudge.com



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Updated: The winner is Olga! Thanks everyone for entering!


See you there!

Spring Fashion Trend: Tea Length Skirts

Apr 18, 2014

Happy Fashion Friday, y'all! The spring fashion trend I'm highlighting this week is one of my favorites, but be careful...tea length is not for everyone and must be paired with heels. If you are below 5'6" or have shorter legs than average but a longer torso, this is probably not the look for you. But don't worry if it's not for you, because you've probably always dated tall guys and "prefer they be at least 6'2"", so everybody wins something here.

(If you're feeling left out and are wondering what hem length works best for you, pop over to my girl Sassy's blog and read her Fashion Friday post on "Your Perfect Hem Length".)


Tea length brings to mind 60s garden parties with full skirts that were amazingly stiff (were they wearing hoop skirts under there?). But tea length doesn't have to be that way. Anthropolgie does them best, in my opinion, but of course they're astronomically priced. (Don't get me started on J.Crew.) If I had a million dollars, I'd get the floral one in the middle.

For a sleek look, H&M offers this elegant dress. I love the double-strap detail. Lindy Bop proves that my grandmothers lived through the best fashion era in the 40s with this polka dot dress. And J.Crew gets in the game with their polka dot version of tea length. (I'll wait till it goes to the factory store though.)

J.Crew coupons | Anthropologie coupons

Forever21 typically doesn't charge this much for a garment (that's almost $25!!!) but when they do, you know it's a special, higher quality piece. The skirt is so flowy and the waistband detailing makes this look stand out from the others. Please note, though, how the model's legs look in flats with the skirt. Kinda wide and stumpy, right? Heels, ladies, heels. ModCloth comes through with that retro fullness, and Ann Taylor keeps it feminine but makes you want to wait for a sale. The good news? They're having a sale today! 40% off your purchase when you enter the promo code "SPRING4IT". That makes this skirt one of the best deals in this post!

H&M coupons | Amazon coupons | J.Crew coupons



Which one is your favorite?

March Birchbox Highlights

Apr 16, 2014

March's Birchbox delivered a delightful sample for this long-haired girl, as well as a few other lovelies.


The Big Winners:

1. Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle Leave-In Conditioner


I went through this sample pretty fast because I used it every time I washed my hair, and I have a lot of hair. It definitely works as a detangling leave-in conditioner should, making it easy to brush out my hair after washing it and leaving it soft and diminishing frizz, but the scent is the big selling point on this product. It is, the most, romantic, yummy, scrumptious, long-lasting fragrance, which is amazing for me since my skin doesn't hold scents for long. 

I looked around to see if I could find it cheaper, as I did with my Fekkai Shampoo and Conditioner (found at T.J. Maxx for $12 a bottle, down from $40!), but it seems Birchbox is the exclusive seller right now. I've racked up enough Birchbox points to get this for free, so I'm cashing in this month! (You get 10 points for every review you leave, and 100 points = $10 in the Birchbox store.)

Buy at Birchbox for $21.95.

2. Tea Forté Matcha Chai minteas
The tin was quite challenging to open, but this is my new favorite mint. They have other flavors, but I was pretty happy with the Matcha Chai. These mints have organic green tea, herbs and fruit extracts in them, as well as cinnamon. This mint is breath-freshening but also appetite curbing. At 2 calories per mint, I might have to try the other flavors as well.


Get a 3-pack from Birchbox for $9.99, or pick out what you want on the Tea Forte website for $2.24 a tin (free shipping for orders over $50, so you may want to add some tea or other products as well).

The Other Items were:

3. Coola Tinted Matte SPF 30 for Face



Powdery finish but not much coverage, and it can clump if you use too much. $36 for 1.7 oz on Birchbox

4. Gilchrist & Soames London Collection Body Lotion


Light moisture and clean, spring fragrance. Will be great for summertime when the humidity levels rise, but not so great for dry skin in the wintertime. $16 for 8 oz on Birchbox

5. Harvey Prince Cherie Blossom Fragrance


I love the play on "cherry" and the scent lives up to its name! The cherry blossom fragrance has notes of pink grapefruit, vanilla and musk. It complements the Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle quite nicely! $55 for 50 ml on Birchbox.

6. Ghirardelli Intense Dark Cherry Tango


This was a Birchbox Find, so you can't buy it at Birchbox, but I sure enjoyed my little square! Intense dark chocolate envelops tart cherry nibs and bits of almond. I try to let chocolate melt in my mouth, but I couldn't help myself from chewing this one. The crunch was one of the best parts! If you're one of the lucky few who live in the Bay Area, please send to the East Coast immediately. You can also order it on Ghirardelli's website for $4.35 a bar. 

Want to try Birchbox? For $10 a month, you get five samples of beauty products and often get a "Find" like the chocolate from this month's. Fill out a profile to have your samples tailored to your wants and needs, and cancel your subscription any time. 

xoxo,

Watermelon Pie for your Pregnant Friends Craving Watermelon

Apr 15, 2014

Every good Southern girl knows that when she's invited for dinner, she shouldn't assume a bottle of wine is good enough to bring along. Especially when the hostess is pregnant. She should inquire what else is needed, and she doesn't ask can but rather what she can bring. It cuts out any feelings of awkwardness if the hostess feels bad for letting you bring something when she invited you, and it improves your reputation as a guest and increases your chances of being invited again.

And when the pregnant hostess tells you to bring dessert and she's craving watermelon and then you invent a dessert called "Watermelon Pie," she and her husband just might invite you to move in with them if you should ever find yourself homeless.

This is single life, y'all. You gotta have safety nets wherever possible.


My original idea was to make lemon bars and buy some watermelon sorbet. Why did I think watermelon sorbet would be so easy to find? I clearly eat frozen treats exclusively at fancy foodie places and assumed grocery stores would carry exotic flavors as well. Thankfully, Harris Teeter had watermelons, which are not in the least in season. I grabbed one and whipped up an idea that also required heavy whipping cream and Fruit Punch Jell-O (any pink Jell-O will do, but since watermelon flavor wasn't available in that aisle either, I went with this one). 



Full list of ingredients:

For Lemon Bars
Krusteaz Lemon Bars Mix
1/3 cup water
3 eggs

For Pie Filling
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 small box (3 oz.) pink Jell-O (I used Fruit Punch)
1/4 cup boiling water
3 cups cubed watermelon

At home, I made the lemon bars according to the instructions on the box. Start by heating your oven to 350° and then spray a pan with coconut oil spray (or Pam -- I love the flavor the coconut oil adds and I think it works better than the other sprays). Also, heat some water on the stove for the Jell-O. You won't need much, so I suggest about a cup and a half so you can make yourself some tea as well.


Press the shortbread packet into the bottom of your pan. It's not as white as the other packet and less powdery, in case you're not sure which is which. You can use whichever pan you like, but I used this rectangular one because it's pretty and has handles, which is nice for transporting.


Bake 8 minutes. In a bowl, combine the water with three eggs until blended. Mix in the lemon powder and let sit while the crust is baking.


After 8 minutes, pour the lemon filling on the crust and put back in the oven and bake for 26-28 minutes. The edges should be ever-so-slightly brown when it's ready.


While that's baking, start making the watermelon filling.  

First, dump your Jell-O in a bowl and, as soon as your water is boiling, add 1/4 cup and mix well. Set aside and let cool to room temperature. Make yourself a cup of tea if you like. I suggest Aveda because oh my is it relaxing!


Next, whip the cream. If you're part of the privileged Kitchen-Aid Mixer Club like I recently joined, use that. Otherwise, use your hand mixer and start telling your friends that you want a Kitchen-Aid Mixer for your birthday and to please start saving and spreading the word now. Add in a tablespoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract (no imitation please) for light sweetness. 


While that's whipping, chop your watermelon and set aside in a bowl.


Once your whipped cream is pretty stiff -- about 3-4 minutes later -- add the Jell-O and stir well until the whipped cream is pink with no red stripes. Stir in 2 cups of watermelon and chill. 


Once your lemon bars are finished baking and you've enjoyed your cuppa somethin', either set the bars out to cool or put them in the freezer for about 10 minutes. This will help them stiffen so you have a nice, firm crust. Also, you don't want to put whipped cream on top while the lemon bars are warm because it will melt. 

When the lemon bars are cool, spoon the watermelon cream on the top and spread evenly, then garnish with some more cubes.
It will probably look prettier if you make it in a pie pan, but either way it will taste like gourmet Fruit Loops.


WatermelYUM y'all.

Oil Pulling for the Skeptics

Apr 14, 2014


If you're not a blogger then you probably haven't heard of oil pulling, because it's all the rage right now in the blogger community but none of my friends know what I'm talking about. All the blogs claim multiple studies have shown the miraculous health benefits of oil pulling, but I can't find any such studies, and as a journalist at heart, I like to see the primary information source before I state wild claims of swishing with coconut oil cleansing your blood and junk.

I tried it out because, after my dentist brought attention to a stain on my tooth and asked me if I drink a lot of tea (of course I do, I'm from Georgia) and then buffed it off with what looked like a nail file, I've been concerned that my teeth are getting dingy. Crest White Strips are so expensive that they put them behind locked glass at my CVS, so I considered Comet but settled on coconut oil, a healthier alternative. The idea behind oil pulling is that, after swishing around the oil for a while, it pulls out toxins from your mouth and supposedly makes your breath fresher and teeth whiter.

For the past two weeks, I've been oil pulling with Trader Joe's coconut oil that I keep around for cooking. Coconut oil is an excellent high-heat oil -- and olive oil is not although most of us use it that way -- plus I love the light coconut flavor that it adds to food. At $5.99 a jar, it's the least expensive coconut oil I've been able to find. A tablespoon a day is all you need.


You're going to put that tablespoon of oil in your mouth. I know how revolting that sounds. But just trust me on this, it's not that bad. The oil is pressed and in solid form, so it's going to take a few seconds for it to melt, and you might have to break up a few pieces. You're also going to panic at first that you're going to choke on oil and spew it all over your shirt, or worse, what if you have to sneeze, or something funny happens, or a freak gasoline fight ensues? A) Keep an empty water bottle handy; and/or B) You'll clean it up and just put Dawn on your shirt before you wash it and everything will be fine. Just don't try cooking with coconut oil on your gas range if you were in a gasoline fight, okay?

Say it with me now...ORANGE MOCHA FRAPPUCCINO! Happy Monday, y'all.


Timing is supposedly key in oil pulling, and I've read that anywhere between 10-20 minutes is good. I do 20 minutes just to make sure. The time passes way faster than you'd expect.

When you oil pull doesn't seem to be that big of a deal. I like to oil pull first thing in the morning, when my voice is too groggy to sound human anyway. You can do it in the shower or while you're doing whatever your morning routine entails. You can oil pull in the evening or whenever you want to do it, really, but it's tough to find 20 minutes in the middle of your day. Someone who oil pulls in the evening told me her breath is fresher than it's ever been when she wakes up in the morning. Noli's breath is way worse than mine, so I'm not too worried about morning breath.


Just swish it around, pull it between your teeth, gargle if you want to, I don't care. But whatever you do, don't spit it out in a sink when you're finished. By now you should know that oil in a drain is bad news, so keep an empty water bottle or jar or yogurt container or baggy around, and spit it in there then throw that out. Yes, even if you rent.


WOW! My teeth look exactly the same! To be fair, I took this photo after the first time I did it, but to be fair on the other hand, my teeth still look exactly the same two weeks later. HOWEVER. The one HUGE difference I've noticed since oil pulling is I haven't gotten a sinus infection, and believe you me, my sinuses have been trying their best to get infected since everything started blooming. After years of chronic sinus infections, especially during the winter and spring months, my ENT recently recommended I get sinus surgery. I have PTSD from last year's ankle surgery (still can't tell if I'm better or worse off) and also surgery is expensive, y'all, so I wasn't looking forward to that.

I have no idea what is happening with the oil pulling or if it's even related to the oil pulling, but as long as I stay sinus-infection-free, I'm going to continue oil pulling.


One more time...Oil pulling.

Fashion Friday: J.Crew Tees

Apr 11, 2014

Happy #FashionFriday y'all! I am so excited about today's post. Call me simple, but I have found the perfect tee and it's been a highlight of my week.


This week J.Crew Factory is having some nice sales, and I snagged two of these Vintage Cotton V-Necks for $20! (2 for $20) They come in a variety of colors, but I stuck with gray and white to keep them versatile in my wardrobe.


I know what you're thinking -- do I really need more t-shirts? Unless you have these, the answer is probably yes. Just look how soft they are. How can you resist?


I'm not a sentimental t-shirt gal, so I only have a couple from years past that I like to keep around for sleeping or painting in. Besides that, my white tees always get discolored after one season, and most of them wouldn't look awesome as an outfit choice. But these are sooooo soft and fit really nicely, so you can pair them with a skirt or just jeans for an effortlessly chic look. 


J.Crew also has a line of Collector Tees that have fun graphic prints on the front. The material is a little different from the Vintage Cotton ones, but they're still soft and comfy, just slightly stiffer. 


They're 30% off this week, which made this seahorse one a splurge, but not an outrageous splurge at $25.55. 


The Collector Tees will obviously look cute with jeans, but I'm going to try to work this into my work wardrobe most of the time. Tis the season to experiment with colors, and look how cute it is with my J.Crew mint pencil skirt!

All of these tees will give me plenty of room to play around with color and accessories, and they don't lose their shape quickly like some other tees do. I am sure I'll be wearing these a lot this year!

Note: I couldn't find these on the J.Crew Factory website, but check out the Collector Tees they do have listed there, and, if you're close to outlets, make a trip this weekend while the sale is going on. I promise you'll love them!


xoxo,