Sunday, December 15, 2013

I'll Stitch yo Fix.

Disclaimer: you're about to see a lot of poor quality pictures of my mug.  Consider yourself warned.

As you've learned by now, I've apparently taken up a new hobby.  I review stuff.  I don't claim to be an expert.  I don't claim to be the voice of the majority.  But I do like to share my opinion on things and what is this blog for, if not to be a venue for my many ridiculous thoughts?

Y'all, I was so excited about Stitch Fix.  Just ask Nick. I wouldn't shut up.

For those that didn't read the post a couple weeks back, here's the recap of how it works.

  1.  Cut a hole in the box.
  2. Take a style quiz.
  3. Pay $20 Stylist Fee.
  4. 5 items, tailored to your tastes, body type, etc arrive at your front door. 
  5. Each piece has an accompanying "style" card to show you what to pair it with.
  6. You have (3) business days to decide what you like.  Your $20 stylist fee gets credited towards any purchase you make.  Buy all 5 items?  Get 25% off all of them.
  7. Return anything you don't like in the pre-paid envelope provided and go online to give your feedback on each item to better design your next fix.

For those that want the Cliff Notes version of what I'm about to write, my first fix was alright, and I'll be trying again with higher expectations.

For those who want details, brace yourself for a boat load of off topic observations and pop culture references.

After taking a brief but comprehensive style quiz, I sent my fashion juju out into the world and with bated breath, awaited to see what the style gods returned to me.   Perhaps that was my first mistake.  I tend to set grand expectations for things (for instance, assuming at the first game of every season that my beloved Wolfpack will go undefeated) and am often disappointed.  But I fancy myself an optimist and tend to handle reality better than you'd expect.

One of the things that likely made this a challenge for my stylist (heyyyyy, Arielle) was that I don't think I have a clearly defined style and my survey reflected as much.  I'm well known for wearing absurdly high heels to work with a pencil skirt and blouse, while feeling equally myself in a pair of jeans and Vans.  I unashamedly go to the grocery store in sweatpants but love new trends I can wear on a date with Adam Nick.   I doubt anyone could look at me and classify me as preppy, emo, or any other clique you'd find in the local high school cafeteria.   This was part of the reason Stitchfix appealed to me: I'm an enigma.  Wrapped in a riddle.  Dipped in mystery.

Or maybe I'm just indecisive.

But enough blabber.  What was I sent?


It really wasn't this wrinkly, I just didn't bother smoothing it out.

I mentioned to the stylist that I had just had a baby a few months ago so I was not looking to go exposed midriff a la Kelly Kapowski.  In fact, I specifically asked for tops that would camouflage that beautiful post-partum fluffiness.  I can see how the concept of this shirt was intended to do that but it wasn't very successful.  The other big issue I had was the color.  It's a royal purple color, but sorry peeps, I don't wear that shade.  My mother looks awesome in that color.  Me?  I just imagine I'll be stopped by people on the streets telling me how "purpley" I am.  And that's only cute in a movie.

That's an arrow I added that says "no."  Paint for the win!


This was the only item I received that had a pattern, and was a stripe.  Not that I'm anti-stripe, but I felt like the only non-solid maternity options for clothing were stripes.  And I was pregnant for 17 months so I'm a little over stripes for now.  Again, I can see that this shirt was intended to disguise my kangaroo pocket, and I actually think it's quite successful.  Nick liked this best of all of them.  But at $68, it felt overpriced.

(I feel like I should pause for a minute and mention that I'm rather frugal when it comes to...well, everything.  I spend very little on clothing and always have.  Yes, I have a few nicer pieces that carry me from season to season...but unless I've discovered it on the sale rack at Target or a discount store like TJ Maxx, it's probably not coming home with me.)

I really was close to getting it.  It made me wanna pose.


I think my face says it all here.  I couldn't figure out why this was in my box.  Yes, it was deliciously soft and well made.  Yes, it was one of the cheaper items in the box ($48), but a solid gray cardigan that hangs past my butt?  Did I mention I was a former nun somewhere in my style profile?

That being said, I almost kept it.  I'd gotten a bit of Stitchfix moolah for my birthday and once my $20 styling credit was applied, this was only going to be $8.    It was just so soft.

But then I asked myself, "if you saw this gray frock at a store, would you drop almost 50 bones on it?"  CHILD, PLEASE.  That's how they get you.  You don't want to "lose" your $20 styling credit, so you make exceptions.  But you have to get up pretty early in the morning to pull one over on me.  And I was up at 6:15 this morning with my kid so...

I shan't be fooled.


I love these jeans.  They are stretchy and a fabulous deep jewel tone color (teal).  And they were interesting.  At least the most interesting thing in the box.  Man, I really do love these pants.  Fit great, I could wear them tons of places...But here's the thing: they were too long.  Nothing a simple hem job wouldn't fix (I could even do it myself), but another reason I liked SF was that I no longer have free time to go shopping.  Occasionally I'll feverishly rifle through the clearance section of Target while Nick buys mouthwash, but the concept of spare time is now a bit foreign.  So finding the time to take them to a tailor or do it myself (ha!) was just not going to happen.   So long, lover.

Technically not my mug.  Technically, my butt.  


Coming in with the hat trick of tummy-hiding pieces was this fantastic black faux wrap dress.  It was really well made, fit fantastically, and I felt great in it.  At $88, it was a bit on the pricey side, but the dress was so extremely versatile that I could have justified the cost.  Only problem?  I have a dress almost identical to it sitting in my closet already.  And THAT would have been hard to justify.

So all of it goes back.  Womp womp.  I'm a little disappointed because I was looking forward to some new threads to wear at Christmas.  (Nothing like celebrating our Savior's birth with some fresh swaddling clothes.) 

Here are the positives: everything fit pretty well (they carry sizes 0-14 currently) and everything seemed to be legit quality.  Everything felt like it'd last a while.  The prices were a little higher than I'd indicated I'd spend, but I think Arielle was working on dressing my post-pregnancy body more than she was keeping within my budget.  

So I'm going to try again.  The nice part is there's a pre-paid bag I can drop the clothes in and send back, hassle free.  And when you go online to your account, you can give detailed information about what you did and didn't like about each piece.  I've already adjusted my style profile to include more patterns and more adventurous pieces.  I played it a bit conservative before and got almost exactly what I asked for.  Turns out it wasn't actually what I wanted.

I dunno, you guys.  Maybe this IS a good look for me.

For anyone that would like to try for themselves, click here.  I'd love to see what you think of your fix.  I'll be sure to report back once my next box arrives.  In the meantime, I'm off to change my size preferences to accommodate the entire tin of Christmas cookies I'm about to crush.  I'm kidding.  

Sort of.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Nature Box. Real Talk.

I don't front.  Let's just put that out there.  All opinions expressed below are my own and are awesome.

I mentioned a couple weeks ago on ye ol' Facebook that Nick and I had ordered the increasingly popular snack box subscription, NatureBox.  I'd seen it floating around the interweb for months and after recently starting to exercise again post-pregnancy, I decided it was time to up my culinary game.

In the spirit of "not fronting," I did not take this picture.  Google did.

Unbeknownst to me, the tag line for this company is "discovering better choices." I actually think I make pretty good life choices, save for the time I ate an entire bag of cubed cheese in one sitting while engrossed in a 1000 piece puzzle.  But generally, I've got it together.  

The area I struggle in would be snacking.  I'm known to grab a piece (or ten) of candy around 2pm to fight off the rumble in my tummy.  Honestly, it never really bothered me before now but I decided I needed to do something about it for two reasons:  1) Exercising sucks and if I'm going to torture myself, I might as well not hurt my efforts by pounding the Butterfingers like they were TicTacs.   2) I want to teach Carter to like good food.  I'm not an eco-health-nut. Red dye #5 will somehow make its way into his pure little body one day and he'll probably try a Twinkie (likely deep fried) and think it's amazeballs.  And he'll be right.  But I also want him to like fruits and veggies and nuts.  I want him to not turn his nose up when something new is offered to him.  Since children live by example, Nick and I needed to pony up.

The other part about NatureBox that intrigued me was that they send you different snacks every month.  I like trying new foods so this appealed to my (mildly) adventurous spirit.  We signed up for a monthly subscription where they send 5 full size snacks to your door for $19.95.  It seemed a bit pricey, but since I was a first time customer with a code, I got the first month for half off (you can too, see the end of this post!).  Five full size snacks for ten bones seemed like a good deal to me considering it costs $50 to breathe the air at Whole Foods.  

So this past weekend, it arrived.  Cue the trumpets.

Dum da da DUM!
So here's what we got and what I thought of each.  I'm hoping you'll find this as helpful as Andy Bernard's astute reviews.

1) Pistachio Power Clusters

I don't care for pistachios, so when I closed my eyes and reached for a random bag, I was kind of bummed that this was the first I picked up.  My only experience with pistachios is the memory of my dad eating them at night after he got home from work and getting red fingers from opening up the shells.  You'd think that would appeal to a child, but alas.  But I set aside my preconceived notions and opened up the resealable bag (check mark!).  

You guys.  They. Were. Awesome.

Each cluster had pistachios, almonds and cashews, held together with a little cane sugar and tapioca (don't read the ingredients first.)  I was really, really surprised how much I liked them.  I ran around the living room with glee as Nick tried them and kept saying "OMG I'm so glad we tried this.  This is the greatest invention ever.  Hail to the Naturebox."  In true Nick fashion, he replied with a simple "yeah, they're good."

And thus the reason I'm writing this review instead of him.  Plus, his schedule has gotten so jam packed since being named the sexiest man alive.

2) Roasted Kettle Kernels

I think it's clear by this point that I'm stealing these images from the internet.  Don't sue me, mmmkay?

It's day two and I'm pumped.  After day one's successful snacking, I had high expectations.

No socks were blown off, but they were good.  The taste was pretty amazing actually (if you've ever had kettle popcorn you'll know what I'm talking about).  It was the texture.  They were crazy crispy.  I was telling my mom about it later that day and she said "well sure, corn kernels are really hard to bite into because they're so hard."  She must get some type of corn newsletter that I'm not privy to because I was not aware that this was common knowledge.

Once you get past the initial "am I going to break a tooth on these?" phase, you really hit your stride and start going to town.  Next thing you know, I'd eaten my half of the bag and had to go deliver the rest to Nick.   He agrees with my assessment and then points out to me that the bag actually had FOUR servings in it.  Not two.

Let me take a tangent for a second.  Portions when it comes to snacking are whack.  I could deep fry some bacon and serve it with a shot of lard and probably manage my caloric intake for snacking if I ate just a little bit of it.  I could also eat 5 lbs of plain celery and have consumed negative 20 calories.  Neither option sounds that great to me.  I say all of this to point out that a really successful snack has to taste awesome and be a large enough portion for a snack that you feel satisfied.  So far, I would say the NatureBox snacks are a little on the skimpy side for a serving...but eating a bit more doesn't make me feel that bad.  They taste good and I can pronounce all of the ingredients listed.  Sounds like a win to me.

3) Cherry Berry Bonanza

Let me go ahead and say what everyone else is thinking: the name alone makes this snack cash money.  If any of you know Tanner Griffith, you know that a bonanza is "what he's all about."  (Tanner, if you're reading this, I will never hear that word and not think of you and the world's greatest clue.)  Honestly, I think there should be more bonanzas in this world.  I'm pretty sure we'd live in a happier place if that were true.

But on to the review.  I give these a 9/10.  After the prior day's super hard texture, the soft and chewy alternative was welcomed.  The cranberries had a nice tangy flavor and the blueberries and cherries added a bit of sweetness.  In your package, you get a pamphlet with suggestions on how you can incorporate your snacks into other foods (like on yogurt, or in biscotti, etc.)  I think these had the most versatility for being used as something besides a plain snack.  The only reason I didn't give it a 10 out of 10 is b/c I don't know that there is a perfect snack.  Until they come up with a calorie free cupcake, I'm fairly certain that will allude me the rest of my days.

4) Masa Crisps
If you're thinking they look like little chocolate chip cookies, you could not be more right.  And more disappointed.
So apparently I have a pretty bad habit of judging food before I eat it.  For some reason, I figured this stuff was going to be really bitter.  I don't know why, but I was preparing myself to not like it.  But as simply as I can put it, if you like Fritos, you're going to like these.

They taste almost identical to me.  Which is actually a good thing considering these are healthier with no artificial flavors, sweeteners or colors.  The wholesomeness makes me all warm inside.

Truth be told, I'm not Fritos' #1 fan so I like this little salty treat...but they're not my favorite.  The bag suggests eating them with hummus and veggies to beef up the snack and I imagine that's pretty good.  (Update: after having day 5's treat...these were definitely our least favorite of the bunch.  But I would venture to guess plenty of you would dig them.)

5) Vanilla Macaroon Granola

Let's get this out of the way: I have a theory that the macaroon is the new cupcake.  You know how a couple years ago, everyone and their mom was opening a cupcake shop around town?  Well everywhere you look now...people are pushing the macaroon.  I dunno what the hype is all about.  THEY'RE OK.  But I feel like perhaps adding this little buzz word to the granola snack was just a marketing ploy.  I SEE RIGHT THROUGH YOU, NATUREBOX.

But I have to tell you, this stuff is incredible.  A little vanilla, a little coconut...perfect crunch.  Girl, please.  I did find it odd that you just snack on plain granola (they obviously suggest putting it on top of yogurt or on top of baked apples) but I also stumbled upon this recipe as I was scouring for a picture to pirate.  Thankfully, we didn't eat too much plain so I'll be making these into balls before you can say...balls.

And 15,000 words later, there you have my review.  Will we keep getting boxes?  I think so.  I enjoyed the new food for each day and the anticipation of getting something in the mail, as lame as that sounds.  I also enjoy that now that I've done a full foodie review, I can start using phrases like "flavor profile" and I can call veggies "crudite" instead of "baby carrots."  If you're interested in trying NatureBox for yourself, throw us a bone and (update: use this coupon code "U3FDQ") so we get the referral credit.  You'll get $10 off too, so that's just a straight up win-win situation.