My First Stitch Fix – Not a Bad Way to Shop

This is NOT a sponsored post. I signed up for Stitch Fix on my own after realizing that a) I really hate shopping, and b) I have no idea what to look for when I do shop. It does, however, contain affiliate links. That just means that if you click on one and then place an order… I get credit.

I have a pretty small wardrobe by anyone’s standards. The last time I cleaned out my entire closet, my mother was even surprised by how few clothes I really had. I don’t like to shop. I don’t have time to shop, and I never find anything that fits or that looks good on me. About a year ago there was a huge blogger influx of posts and photos online about their Stitch Fix boxes. For the most part, all the reviews were positive. There was a little snafu when someone discovered that Stitch Fix might have been sending outfits that were heavily discounted at some popular discount stores… but really… who cares? If they can save me the trouble of sorting through all the clothing racks myself, then they move up to the top of my shopping list.

I decided to go for it. Signing up was easy, and kind of fun. You go through a pretty extensive questionnaire all about your taste and lifestyle. You also can put down your social media handles so the personal shoppers can take a look to see what you normally wear and what types of things you do on a regular basis. It took about 3 weeks for my first Fix to arrive.

I was extra excited when the USPS driver dropped the box on my front porch. I was a little surprised at how small the box was. I figured since they were sending me 5 different fashion pieces that the box would be bigger… but no worries, everything came very neatly folded and wrapped in tissue paper.

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I was struck by the color of the first shirt… exactly something I would have picked out for myself. As I worked my way through the box, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. I had this fear that I would absolutely hate everything in the box. Wrong. So… here is my little fashion show. I only have a few days to decide what I’m keeping and what I’m sending back. What do you think?

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I always have a hard time finding jeans that are really comfortable and sit low enough on my waist. I am short waisted so either everything looks like Mom Jeans (ugh!) or are so low that I end up with the muffin top going on (double ugh!). These fit just right. Win!

The shirt was a really pretty color, was soft and comfortable. I was so-so about it, but my husband and daughter really liked it. Maybe.

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When I took this out of the box I instantly loved it. When I put it on, I wasn’t so sure. I love this style of clothing (kind of boho chic) but I wasn’t in love with how boxy it made me look. I also can’t wear a regular bra with it because the fabric is pretty sheer. My husband liked it and thought it would look cute with a pair of shorts during the summer. I’m on the fence.

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The feel of this dress is amazing. Super comfortable. I love the whole color block idea and this is something that would have caught my eye in a store. The dress is great, but it was a little big on me. They sent a medium, but I could have used a small. I think if the dress had been tighter it would have looked better. Not in love.

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The last piece I got was a silver necklace. It is actually much nice than it shows in the photo, but it’s also not something that I would probably ever wear. A cool piece to have, but I love wearing my traditional jewelry… I don’t do a lot of costume jewelry. Probably not.

So… I definitely want to know what you think. What should I keep? What should I send back?

FYI… if you want to try Stitch Fix for yourself, you sign up and commit to paying $20 for a personal stylist to choose 5 fashion pieces for you. If you decide to keep any (or all) of the pieces, your $20 gets applied to your balance. If you decide to send them all back, you forfeit the $20. If you keep ALL of the pieces, you get a 25% discount on the retail price of them all. If you only keep some of the pieces, you pay full retail price. Now, pricing is going to be a different ball game for each person. For me, I wasn’t that surprised by the prices. For others, they might be a little on the expensive side. But… for the convenience of having someone else select clothes for you… I think it was definitely worth it.

I am definitely keeping my membership and am really looking forward to my next month’s Fix.

 


LA Summer Camp – Explore, Imagine, Learn, Have Fun

I remember vividly getting on the bus to go to sleepaway camp for the first time. Another girl, about my age and height was wearing the exact same shirt I was: an orange and white tie-dyed short sleeve shirt. Hey, it was the 70’s. I was leaving home for a month, a really long time since I had never been away from home before. I was excited and nervous and anxious and I cried as the bus pulled out of the parking lot, heading for an all-girls camp in New Hampshire. Summer camp here I come.

That summer I learned a lot of things: that I had an intense love of horses and horseback riding, I discovered a passion for fresh picked New Hampshire blueberries… and I went skinny dipping for the first (and last) time ever in a lake so clean you would swear you were in a bathtub. I also learned that it was okay to be alone and I could take care of myself. While I never went back to that particular summer camp, I count it as a pivotal experience in my life.

Summer is the perfect time to explore interests, go in educational directions that might not be possible in a traditional school, uncover creativity, and passions for learning. Choosing the right summer camp can give parents huge anxiety, but there are so many great options out there.

One summer camp that is providing the perfect combination of fun and education is Galileo Camps. With camps for pre-K – 8th grade in the Los Angeles area and the San Francisco area, there are a wide range of hands-on learning programs your kids can sign up for. Things like digital photography, fashion design, inventor’s workshop, go-kart design, video game design and chefology. And more!

I sat down with my daughter, Lauryn, to give her a taste of some of the imaginative projects the camp provides. We learned a little about positive and negative charges and how they are used in electricity.

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Want to make your own Illuminated Cards? Download directions HERE.

New families can save $30 when you sign up for Camp Galileo or Galileo Summer Quest at one of the Los Angeles locations. Enter promotional code 2015GALILEOCAMPSLA. Limited to one use per family. Not valid in combination with additional offers or for previous purchases. Offer valid through 5/31.

New families in the San Francisco area use promotional code 2015GALILEOCAMPSF. Same rules apply.

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RITZ® Snackify Challenge: an Audrey Hepburn Inspired Souffle

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.
All opinions are mine alone. #PutItOnARitz #CollectiveBias

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Enter for a chance to win one of forty $100 Walmart e-Gift Cards (10 per week) by uploading an Instagram photo of your RITZ®-topped creation with #putitonaritzcontest. Purchase of RITZ® is not required.

Ritz Snackify Challenge Instagram Contest
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I have this strange affection for RITZ® Crackers. Bear with me… After I graduated college I did the “Tour of Europe” with a group of friends. From England to France to Italy we traveled by bus along with a group of strangers from all over the world. Since this was my first time in Europe, I was soaking it all in (meaning… I was eating my way through foreign country after foreign country). One evening after partaking in a 10 course fish meal in Burano, Italy I found myself up at 3am praying to the porcelain God. Dear God please let me die now! I literally thought I would keel over and die any moment and my friends were in a panic over what to do with me. We were in a chalet in the Italian Alps where no one spoke English and we were probably 60 miles from a hospital. After waking up the hotel manager, they checked the hotel register and noticed there was a doctor staying overnight. They rang his room and luckily he showed up at our door with a black bag and everything. Turned out he was a pediatrician from San Francisco (SCORE!), took one look at me (pretty sure I was green by then), and pronounced that I had food poisoning.

 

The problem was that we were due to board another bus in the morning and head to Austria. How was I supposed to sit on a bus for an entire day… a bus without a bathroom? My friends came to the rescue again by finding a box of RITZ® Crackers. Yep… RITZ® Crackers were found somewhere in the Italian Alps and those crackers got me through the entire next day. It was all I could physically keep down… and no cracker has EVER tasted so good.

 

That’s probably why I am excited about the RITZ® Snackify Challenge. I’ve been checking out all the amazing entries they have gotten and when I thought about what I would make, I didn’t have to think for long. I knew exactly what I would make and my first stop was at Walmart to pick up my most important ingredient.

 

You kind of can’t miss the RITZ® when you walk down the cracker aisle. What did surprise me, however, was how many different flavors they now come in. I’m partial to the original flavor, but the kids had their own favorites.

 

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Luckily, Walmart was holding a RITZ® demo and I got to have a little snack while I was shopping.

 

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I didn’t have to think too hard about what I would make because every time I hear the word “cracker” I jump to my all-time favorite movie… SABRINA. Who doesn’t love Audrey Hepburn? So… her character, Sabrina, is the chauffer’s daughter on a huge Long Island estate that is the home to two brothers… David (played by William Holden), who Sabrina is madly in love with… and Linus (played by Humphrey Bogard), who is the older brother and pretty stodgy. The gist of the movie is that Sabrina starts out loving David, but by the end of the movie she falls in love with Linus. Meanwhile, Sabrina is sent off to Paris to learn how to be a cook. Now anyone who knows anything about French cuisine knows how difficult it is to make the perfect souffle. Although Sabrina fails miserably at it while in cooking school… she seems to have figured out the secret by the time she meets back up with Linus in his office.

 

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In the tiny office kitchen, Sabrina whipped up a souffle with nothing but a few crackers and eggs. Every time I think of grabbing something from the pantry, it usually includes crackers and eggs.

 

For this recipe, I needed a few more ingredients, but chances are pretty good you’ll already have everything you need in your fridge and pantry. This particular recipe was originally from Epicurious and I changed it up to make small, individual souffles with RITZ® Crackers.

 

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Ingredients:

 

RITZ® Crackers (any variety you like, I used the original flavor) 1 cup whole milk or half & half 4 egg y0lks 5 egg whites 2 1/2 tbs butter 3 tbs flour 1/2 tsp paprika 1/2 tsp salt pinch of nutmeg 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

 

Directions:

 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

 

I used a muffin tin for my individual souffles. Grease them very well and coat the bottom with some parmesan cheese (adds immense flavor).

 

(1) In one saucepan you will heat the milk until hot but not boiling. (2) In another saucepan, melt the  butter. (3) When the butter is melted, whisk in the flour and pour the heated milk into the flour mixture and whisk very well. Add in the salt, nutmeg and paprika. Add each egg yolk one at a time and whisk after each one. (4) Transfer to another bowl and let sit until it reaches room temperature.

 

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Meanwhile, use an electric mixer to blend your egg whites. Fold mixture into the cooled flour mixture alternatively with the Gruyere cheese.

 

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Pour mixture into muffin tins. Now this is where making a souffle becomes difficult. You do NOT want to mess around with the oven, but with mini souffles you need to be careful that you are cooking them exactly right. A large souffle will take longer, but mini ones should only take about 10 minutes to cook. Every oven is slightly different so you might have to experiment with yours. You want to cook the souffles until they are slightly browned.

 

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Let cool a bit (but not too much) and then carefully use a fork to take the souffle out of the muffin tin. Lay on top of a RITZ® cracker and you have yourself a gourmet meal or snack. These would be great for a party, but I served mine to my family for dinner along with a caesar salad and it made for a fabulous meal.

 

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Click HERE to enter the Snackify Challenge with your own RITZ-topped creation for a chance to win a $100 Gift Card!

Want more snack ideas? Check out RITZ® on Facebook and Twitter.

What are you going to make for your Snackify Challenge entry?

RITZ® Snackify Challenge: an Audrey Hepburn Inspired Souffle
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This mini souffle recipe was an Epicurian recipe for a larger souffle. The same recipe works just as well for these mini ones.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: French
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • RITZ® Crackers (any variety you like, I used the original flavor)
  • 1 cup whole milk or half & half
  • 4 egg y0lks
  • 5 egg whites
  • 2½ tbs butter
  • 3 tbs flour
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp salt
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Heat milk in a saucepan until hot, not boiling.
  3. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter and then whisk in the flour.
  4. Add the hot milk to the flour mixture and then add in the spices.
  5. Add in the egg yolks and mix well.
  6. Let cool to room temperature.
  7. Meanwhile, use an electric mixture to beat the egg whites until firm.
  8. Fold the egg whites and the Gruyere cheese into the cooled mixture.
  9. Grease a muffin tin generously with butter.
  10. Add some parmesan cheese to the bottom of the tin cups.
  11. Spoon a large amount of cheese and egg mixture into each muffin cup. Don't fill completely to the top.
  12. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
  13. Let cool for a few moments and gently lift out with fork.
  14. Sit on top of Ritz Crackers and serve slightly warm.

When a Work From Home Mom Becomes a Work Outside the Home Mom

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Today’s the day: I’m leaving the comfort of my own home and venturing out into the world. In other words, I’m going to work.

I’ve been working from home for the past year and a half and while it sounds like a great deal, it really isn’t. It’s definitely had it’s challenges and I’m at the point where being at home isn’t moving me ahead. We rented office space and bought furniture and today is my first official day of doing the work-outside-the-home thing.

On one hand I’m crazy excited… on the other, I’m nervous for what this huge change in my life will bring. Working from home has not been all it’s cracked up to be. Sure, I’ve been able to leave at the drop of a hat and bring a forgotten lunchbox to school. I’ve been able to get up from my desk, leave everything exactly as is and pick right back up after school pick-up. But the distractions all around me that hindered my day-to-day work have become exactly that… hindering.

The dog barking.

The phone ringing.

The door knocking.

The recorded TV shows calling my name.

The refrigerator.

The laundry.

The sink full of dishes.

I’ve worked so hard the last several months to figure out how to get work done with all the distractions. It’s hard and I’m tired of it. So I’m making the leap. Moving out of the house and into a real office.

Suddenly this idea of a business is feeling very real.

My biggest issues now are my kids and how I’m going to handle all the “usual” things that need to happen. It’s not like I’m terribly far from home in my new digs, but the point in moving in is that I have a place to focus ONLY on work. Of course, we all know that the shopping and the cleaning and laundry and the cooking and the carpools STILL need to get done. So how does one make the transition?

Here’s what I’m looking for…

  • Easy dinner ideas (crock posts only go so far before you get sick and tired of them).
  • Effective chore charts (for older kids who are totally capable of doing chores).
  • Sanity boosters (for me).
  • Your favorite wine (because, you know… I’ll be needing it).
  • Any tips and tricks you’ve found that help you get through the day-to-day without going crazy.

Jury Duty: From Inside the Jury Room

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Months ago I got that dreaded notice in the mail that reminded me it had been way too long since I last got out of doing my civic duty. I had a good run with being excused because I was a nursing mother (another benefit of breastfeeding), but the court system no longer allows the have-to-watch-my-children excuse… at least not in Los Angeles County. Yep… on the measly $15 per day that they pay you, you actually will lose money doing jury duty if you have to pay for childcare. I’m not sure how they justify that, but it’s plainly ridiculous.

I postposed.

I thought I was being brilliant in postponing my jury week until Spring Break. I reasoned that at least I wouldn’t have to worry about childcare since my oldest girls would be able to stay home with the youngest. I was also banking on the fact that they probably wouldn’t call me in. What attorneys want to seat a jury during Spring Break, right? Wrong.

Here I am.

I contacted the court on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and was told I wasn’t needed. Fabulous. Two more days to go and surely they wouldn’t want to drag me in on a Thursday or Friday. Wrong again. When I checked online (because if I don’t physically have to pick up a phone, I won’t), there it was… you are required to appear on Thursday. Oh for heaven’s sake!

At the ungodly hour of 8:15am I stood in line at the San Fernando Courthouse to march through the metal detector, along with other people who may or may not have been criminals. Unlike the airport security where they are kind of looking for people who are criminals, the court system actually kind of acts like we ALL are criminals. Before I even entered the building, I was barked at by law enforcement and told to remove my belt. Sheesh!

Once in the jury room (the woman in charge actually had the nerve to say this was OUR room and was designed just for US… personally, I would have chosen a warmer shade of paint and prettier carpeting) we all had to sit facing forward until we were told what to do. Remember being in Kindergarten and having the teacher explain (very slowly) her instructions? That’s exactly what this was like. I felt like I was 5 years old… or mentally handicapped… or both. I am a 49 year old mother of three with a college degree and a successful business and I was being told how to fill out a form and how to detach the juror badge from the paper it came in. OMG!

I’m thinking that if anyone in this room really needed to be spoon-fed how to do any of this then maybe they really shouldn’t be serving on a jury that held someone’s life in their hands? I almost felt sorry for the criminals. Almost. Not really.

There is a shelf in the corner of the room with jigsaw puzzles and games. Really? Am I going to be here long enough to do a jigsaw puzzle? Who am I going to play a game with? I haven’t uttered a word to anyone here except when another woman saw the Employee Only sign on the cafeteria and wondered what to do. “We ARE employees!” I told her and made a beeline for the coffee.

The real treat of the day came when they showed us a video of a bunch of jurors sharing their feelings on serving.

I really enjoyed getting to know everyone and participating in the American justice system.

This was so interesting to me to be a part of this.

I would love to do this again.

Are these people crazy? I’ve served on a jury trial and it was NOT fun. I did not make friends for life. All I wanted to do was to stay awake and get the hell out of there. When even the judge tells you that a case should never have come to trial, you know you are in trouble.

I get a lunch break from 12:00 – 1:30. I’m actually allowed to leave the building as well. The only problem is that I have to wait in line and go through security AGAIN. I guess my belt will be coming off for the second time today.

Despite the Jury Room Attendant (or whatever you call her… does she actually have a name?) repeatedly telling us that we WILL be here until 4:00 – 4:30pm today, I’m still kind of hoping that they will just send us all home after lunch. Hey, it happened to a friend of mine. Speaking of lunch… I hear there are tons of places to eat around the courthouse… but I absolutely hate eating alone in a restaurant. I didn’t plan for this. I should have had someone meet me for lunch.

The quiet is almost deafening. Nobody is speaking and really, the only sounds I can hear are my fingers typing away on my laptop. Oh yes, they let you bring a laptop into the jury room. And your cell phone, although they make it a point to let you know there is no cell service down here in the basement where the jury room is. At least they have free wifi… although don’t really plan on doing much internet surfing because I think they got a discount for some old dial-up service. sssslllloooowwww!!!!

Boring.

It’s definitely a great place to get some reading or writing done. (Hey, I’m writing aren’t I?). Most everyone else is checking their phone or reading. Or sleeping. Yep… there are several people with eyes closed, either fully out, or doing the tired nod – when you sort of fall asleep and then you kind of snap yourself out of it.

The best part (NOT) is the clock on the wall right dead center of the room. So you can watch the second hand tick around and around and pray that it speeds up at some point. It never does.

It’s only 11:20am.

At 11:30 we get notified from the Jury Room Woman (there’s got to be a specific name for that position) that we have all been called up because they are ready to seat a jury. UGH! It’s 11:30 and we’re supposed to go to lunch at noon. This can’t be right.

So we all truck up several floors to one of the courtrooms and wait outside in the hallway for about 10 minutes. Then, someone comes out and announces the Judge wants us all to go to lunch and come back at 1:45 (that’s 2 hours) because they are working on something that has to do with the case.

Hmmm… 2 hours. Yay for being able to go to lunch early. Boo for having to leave for 2 hours and COME BACK! Maybe they will settle the case or take a plea deal and we’ll all be excused… forever. Fingers crossed!

UPDATE:

I came back after lunch and sure enough we got called into the court. The Judge came in and explained that as soon as the “criminal” found out that they were ready to seat a jury for his case, he freaked out (my word, not hers) and decided to take a plea.

Soooo… we all got to go home. Jury service SERVED!

The End.