Sundry and Such

Just a quick post because I WILL be doing a podcast and/or blog post about some...get ready for it...sewing! Woot! But I need a little more time to put that together than I have this afternoon so I'm just providing a bit of a mean teaser for now and writing this quick blog about something completely unrelated.

So, my husband's office party is tonight.

I've now gone through the process of buying three different possible outfits--each seemingly more expensive than the last--to find something that would (A) be appropriate for not-quite-black-tie-but-more-than-normal-fancy, (B) look my age rather than 20 years older or younger, and (C) work with flats because I still can't do heels. One of the first three outfits got ditched because it visually added a few pounds--not something I need at the moment; the other two got ditched because it looked a bit too senior for me, so to speak. I tried a few on in dressing rooms that looked a bit too junior. Sometimes it's difficult to figure out how to dress in your 50s. 

So, what outfit was finally the winner? Black velvet Juliet pants from Chicos (no longer on their site--glad I bought them when I did!) with a royal blue top from Dress Barn for about a third of the cost of what I was paying for outfits one, two, and three. I'll be doing some returns tomorrow. Go figure--the winning top from Dress Barn does have cold shoulders, which I've never liked on me, but in this case it actually works. And the black velvet pants are insanely comfy and I'll be able to wear them to a couple more holiday gatherings with different tops, or just going out to dinner with my husband after the holidays. I'm in love with them, and I never thought of myself as a velvet pant kind of girl. 

But here's the real kicker. I was trying to figure out what "fancy dress" purse I could use that would link to my shoes, since I wanted to wear the ones I'd gotten from Stitch Fix back in November and needed a way to pull the silver from the shoes into the outfit--I've got silver, sparkly jewelry so that does most of the "blending" heavy lifting, but a lighter, sparkly bag would work better than black. I only have one dress bag (bought for last year's office Christmas party), so I was contemplating making yet another run out to the mall to see if I could find something that worked better.

Suddenly I remembered. Somewhere in my basement I had a bag of vintage and antique purses my mother had given me years before she passed away--they were from her mother and grandmother, if I recall. I did a little digging around and found the bag of bags--woo!

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They're all in remarkably good shape except the oldest looking mesh bag with the rose on the front. The hinge clasp is broken. Plus, it's way too antique for me to feel comfortable carrying it anywhere--I'd be afraid of losing it. 

For tonight's gig I'm thinking either the navy blue crochet/beaded pouch or the silver mesh clasp purse on the top. Either works well with the outfit. Meanwhile, I'm liberating these bags from the basement and will be keeping them up in my closet. I don't do fancy dress that often but what fun it is to have great bags to use when I do!

So--just a fun little find for the day. Now I need to finish reformatting my computer (don't ask) and touch up my manicure at the same time. Party on!

 

Wardrobe Wednesday (and Thanksgiving Prep)

It's StitchFix Day again!

This month, I'd asked my stylist, Kathryn, to take a swing at putting together an outfit for me that I could wear to my husband's office holiday party in December. It's a cocktail party and dinner and most people really dress up, some to the nines. It's not black tie, but it is fancy. Because I still can't wear heels, I asked Kathryn to find me something I could wear with flats, and to feel free to do the whole nine yards--accessories, shoes, the works.

This month, we hit three out of five. It's the day before Thanksgiving and I'm still working as well as doing Thanksgiving prep so I didn't have time to do the whole modeling-in-front-of-a-camera thing, so I'm just showing you the clothes laid out on my bed. It's also really dark and rainy out so the lighting stunk. It is what it is. 

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First up: A really pretty blouse. It's a black blouse even though it looks charcoal gray in this photo. The print doesn't stand out nearly as much in person--it's a pretty subtle overall look, but very luxe. I also loved the neckline--the collar hit at just the right place and the keyhole opening wasn't too low.

In theory, I loved the crochet details across the yoke and the arms. In practice, however, they didn't work. The crochet around the arms was a bit on the snug side and made the whole sleeve pull every time I moved my arm. Plus, the blouse was cut straight on the sides and I'm a bit more curvy than that, so although it fit nicely in the top half, the bottom half was snug on the hips. It fit, but it pulled every time I moved. If I were maybe 10 or 15 pounds smaller, this would've been a win. Verdict: RETURN

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Next, the pants that she sent to go with the blouse. These are actually a very deep burgundy, not orange as the photo makes them look. The darker parts in the shadows are much closer to the actual color. I really apologize for the bad lighting!

In any case, I'd suggested a wide-leg pant. I was thinking more palazzo. These are bell-bottoms. These are Kut from the Kloth, a brand I frequently request from StitchFix because typically I absolutely love them and they fit me perfectly right out of the box. These were a pretty big miss. They're described as wide-leg and the picture online makes them look more evenly wide all the way down, but they fit my upper leg like a glove and then get really, really wide at the bottom. Plus, they were a good six inches too long. With most pants, hemming isn't a problem, but with these, that much of a hem would mess up the proportions and, frankly, on my body the whole balance was off anyway. They were comfortable, they fit well in the top half, they just weren't a silhouette that works well on me. Verdict: RETURN

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Now for the unexpected top. I pulled this one out of the box and my first thought was, "Meh." I figured I wouldn't be keeping it. Once I put it on, though, I was pleasantly surprised. It's too casual for the office party but will be great for other events over the next few weeks.

I'm not normally a blingy-clothes person. I don't like sequins and I don't like to be overly bejeweled. But this shiny top is fun and can be toned down a bit with the right scarf, if I feel the need. The shirt is super comfy, and has a little bit of a high-low thing going, plus it's a good length to wear with leggings. Although it's long-sleeved, it's a lightweight material which is perfect for winter parties. People's homes tend to get overly warm when crowded with bodies so this will work well for that. I already know two events I could easily wear this to, as well as date nights with my husband. Verdict: KEEP

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Kathryn hit the nail on the head with the earrings. These look great on me--they're the perfect length and are visible against my dark hair, but they're still really light-weight. I immediately put them on with the sweatshirt and lounge pants I was wearing yesterday and ended up wearing them all day because I forgot I even had them on. Now THAT'S an earring I can love!

And yes, they look good with the shiny top, above.

The hammered look makes them just a little artsy, but they're still pretty subtle. I love these. Verdict: KEEP.

 

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Finally, the shoes. 

I love these shoes. I'd been holding off asking for shoes ever since before the surgery because I have to try so many on before finding some that fit. I figured it was too much of a long shot that she could send me a pair that would work.

I should've trusted Kathryn.

These are wonderful. They're gray velvet with a nice silky rope trim. They can dress up or dress down easily, and--the most important thing these days--they don't hurt my feet. They've got enough room in all the places I still need a little extra room due to swelling, but they don't slip off my heels when I walk. I could be in these all night at the holiday party and won't want to throw them across the room two hours in like I usually do. Verdict: KEEP

Indeed, I loved the shoes so much that I went online last night and found an outfit for the party that goes with the shoes. Talk about dressing from the bottom up. I should get the outfit in a few days. If it fits, I'll give you a sneak preview then.

I'm going to an every-other-month delivery for StitchFix for awhile as, since I regained some of the weight I'd loss with this whole foot business, I'm still the same size I was last winter/spring and likely will be for awhile during the "regaining lost ground" process, so I have plenty of clothes. I'm just using StitchFix to fill in some gaps here and there. So, other than the holiday party end-of-story (if there is one), you won't see a Wardrobe Wednesday again for a little while.

Meanwhile, this happened in my house today.

Picture 1: Prepping egg sandwiches for my breakfasts for the rest of the week. I got a great idea from my WeightWatchers coach when we were talking about my tendency to carbo-load when I'm overtired (read: big ol' bagels slathered in butter), which I will be after hosting two Thanksgiving get-togethers back-to-back on Thursday and Friday. I was actually more concerned about going overboard on breakfast on Saturday and Sunday than I am about Thanksgiving dinner--but now I'm ready. I ate one for breakfast this morning, then will have one ready for every day through the weekend. Yay! 

Picture 2: Pie crusts waiting for (1) pumpkin that I'll make this afternoon and (2) chocolate cream that my husband will make tomorrow. My SIL is bringing an apple. I confess to using Pillsbury pie crusts, LOL.

Picture 3: a slow-cooker cranberry chutney recipe from WW. Normally I like the cranberry sauce in the can a whole lot, but I'm the only one who does. That means I end up eating all the leftovers as well. That's more WW points (translated: calories and sugar) than I'm willing to spend on cranberry sauce. I want my points for stuffing and dessert. I'm not a big fan of homemade cranberry sauce, honestly, but it seems like it should be on the table. This is a very easy recipe that sounds tasty, can be made ahead, and if I do decide I like it, it's much less "expensive" points-wise. Meanwhile, those folks who do like homemade cranberry sauce will be happy. Fingers crossed. (It smells amazing, though!)

More prep later this afternoon, but most of that won't be photo-worthy, LOL. How many peeled potatoes do you really need to see, anyway?

Side note here: For those of you who may be thinking, "It's just one meal! Don't deprive yourself," I'm not. I do very much believe it's just one meal and I'll thoroughly enjoy those things I only get once a year (like stuffing! like chocolate pie!). I don't deprive myself because that always backfires. However, I'm not going to waste the points/calories on things that aren't special--that I can get anytime, like bread--or I don't particularly like. Mostly, I want to be right back on track afterwards. Hence the breakfast sandwiches.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! 

 

 

Fight the Funk Friday

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Haven't done one of these in awhile and this one will be short, but just wanted to give a quick update on the foot.

And it's not a good one.

I had another follow-up with the podiatrist this week and he's really not happy with my healing progress. Apparently, I should be totally back to normal by now. I'm not. There's still some swelling, still some bruising, and still a-whole-lotta room for improvement in the range of motion and level of pain. 

You may recall that I have a new model of joint replacement that uses the same material as contact lenses. I agreed to using it as there were all sorts of good reasons why it sounded great as he described it, and it's supposed to last a long longer than the traditional joint replacement material. 

Until it doesn't.

His exact words this week were, "It's not the first time one of these types of joint replacements has disappeared on me." Bully. I don't blame him at all. Now that this type of joint is starting to be used in a wider population than when it was under testing, these types of issues are more likely to appear.

This is why I'm generally not an "early adopter." I prefer to wait for version 2.0 for all the bugs to get worked out. Dang. 

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He raised the specter of possibly having to re-do the surgery. So, while I've only barely begun to get back into normal shoes, it's starting to look like I might have one of these in my future again. 

Dang.

 

Starved for Fiction Reading

I've been so immersed in school-and-work-related reading lately that, now that I'm nearing the tail-end of my thesis process, I suddenly had a trigger-reaction about wanting fiction books. I've been reading fiction at night right along--a few pages every night before going to sleep. But it's been a l-o-n-g time since I've had a rainy weekend morning in an armchair with something fun to read. Rainy weekend mornings have been spent either at my computer or reading...well...other stuff. 

So, in a moment of late-night weakness recently, I did some research on book subscription services and chose PageHabit. I'd done Wordy Traveler for a couple of boxes and, although I enjoyed the first book, I only finished about half of it. The second book was equally big and daunting, and equally nonfiction. Don't get me wrong, I love good nonfiction and do often choose to read it recreationally. But at the moment, I'm a bit nonfictioned-out. I decided to cancel that subscription for the time being--I may go back to it at some point in the future because it is intriguing--and find something a little more fun and lighthearted.

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PageHabit offers the opportunity to select your preferred genre from among several options. I've chosen historical fiction because I enjoy being immersed in different periods and getting a sense for them, even if its a fictionalized sense. It's sort of a nice bridge between my enjoyment of nonfiction books and wanting recreational reading. (I'd mentioned on Instagram that I thought I'd selected two genres--that's not right. It's just one. You can add a book from a second genre to your shipment at an additional fee. I've done that for my next one with the optimistic hope that I'll have more time to read next month. Ahem.) 

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This month's book is Wiley Cash's The Last Ballad. As I read the book description, I thought, "This is exactly in my wheelhouse!" Although it's fictional, it's based on a real event and real people. From Amazon: "The New York Times bestselling author of the celebrated A Land More Kind Than Home and This Dark Road to Mercy returns with this eagerly awaited new novel, set in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina in 1929 and inspired by actual events. The chronicle of an ordinary woman’s struggle for dignity and her rights in a textile mill, The Last Ballad is a moving tale of courage in the face of oppression and injustice." Okay--so it's still not all that far away from the nonfiction I read for work (women in the face of oppression and injustice), but still.

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The cool feature about PageHabit, though, is the author's annotations. The book comes with a letter of introduction from the author, explaining his inspiration and a little bit about his own connection to the story. 

Throughout the book there are sticky notes with the author's annotations, as well. Right off the bat, within the first few pages, I've read annotations about recurring themes or motifs to watch for through the rest of the book. As a former English Lit, major, that seriously jazzes me. I'm forcing myself not to flip ahead to read all the annotations first! Some of the annotations are nice little personal connections, too, like a charming note about a song included in the story, and the author pointing out he sings that same song to his own young daughters at night.

I've never heard of Wiley Cash before, which is exactly why I'm trying a book subscription service. Like most people, once I find an author I like I tend to read everything by that author (topic withstanding). Then, once I'm done, I feel at a bit of a loss until I can find the next author. My hope is that, by doing a book subscription, I'll be introduced to all sorts of cool new writers and my horizons will be expanded. I'm an avid user of GoodReads, of course, which does help--but it still tends to depend on what I actually search for, which again leaves it up to my somewhat "getting-in-a-rut" style of reading. 

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There's also a short story commissioned for PageHabit. It doesn't give a whole lot of information about this one--no annotations, no explanation as to why this story was chosen. I’ve read this already and wasn’t really jazzed by it, but no biggie. The nice thing about short stories is that there's not a huge time requirement.

As with most of these book subscription clubs, the book comes along with a few related gifts. As opposed to Wordy Traveler, in which the gifts were related (mostly) to a particular area of the world, in PageHabit--at least with this first shipment--these were just general bookish and holiday themed gifts. 

The box included a bookmark with a quotation from Albert Einstein. (See the picture of the book above. The bookmark is on top of it.) Since I'm a Kindle girl usually, I've long ago lost most of my bookmarks so it's handy to have one now that I'm reading the occasional physical book.

It also included a little Halloween-themed keychain that lights up and makes noise. Cute, although it'll get donated now. (I took a video but I can only post videos from YouTube on this blog post and it doesn't seem worth the effort.)

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Finally, this box included a fun pillowcase that I could see myself using on quilt retreats. It seems like it's made of a nice cotton. It's in the wash now so we'll see how soft it is once it comes out. 

For every shipment, PageHabit donates to a children's literacy project. Each month they partner with a different organization engaged in helping children read and/or having improved access to books. 

So--for my first shipment so far, I'm enjoying it. If you're interested in PageHabit, here's the usual referral link!

 

Life Update and Wardrobe Wednesday (It's Stitch Fix Day!)

Life update first.

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I'm writing. 

The only update here is that I've got four out of five chapters done rough-draft-style. I'm taking a few leftover vacation days here and there to help me in the process. I have to have all five chapters to my advisor by November 1. Ahem. I'm burning daylight, here. October was mostly travel, complicated by a case of bronchitis that knocked me down for several days, so I've not been as productive as I'd have liked. Oh well, it'll get done!

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My podiatrist did follow-up x-rays at my appointment earlier this month and wasn't altogether pleased with the progress, so I'm doubling-up on my at-home physical therapy (bending my toe as much as possible). He also gave me a cortisone shot to help with the swelling and stiffness, so I should be more comfortable doing the PT and my workouts. I've gotten permission to start doing my walk/run routine again and ended up buying yet another new pair of sneakers: Hoka One One (pronounced "oh-nay"--some Polynesian term about being fast or something like that). This one finally seems to work well.

Look at that sole. Yikes. They look orthopedic, but the website proclaims that marathon runners love them, so I prefer to think of myself as in the company of amazing athletes than the one of people-with-bad-feet. The toe box is a little wider, it's pretty stiff, and although it's not technically a rocker-sole, it does help roll you forward so the injured toe doesn't have to bend. They're highly recommended for runners with foot issues like mine. I have to say, they do seem to make a huge difference. I can now do my walk/runs with just a little discomfort compared to the distinct pain I had before in my other (also very good) sneakers. I still can't do much without a lot of bruising and swelling but my doctor has assured me I can't do more damage--it's just a matter of what I can handle and getting my foot back into shape. It feels so good to just be doing something again! 

I also had my massage therapist work on my toe a bit at my last appointment and it's amazing what a difference that made. I think she must have broken up a lot of scar tissue or something. So I'm trying to mimic some of what she did as best I can at home. Hopefully within a few more months I'll be back to full movement (and no pain!) again.

Wardrobe Wednesday

I missed posting my August Stitch Fix. If I recall, that one was five-for-five but I don't remember now what all was it in it. Sorry! My September and October Stitch Fixes were both five-for-five--woo! I'm now sticking with stylist Kathryn. She's fantastic. It helps that she spells her name the same way one of my sisters' middle name is spelled; it's an unusual spelling so it it feels like a little bit of home. 

September's Stitch Fix

...is in this collage: I didn't have time when I got it to model anything. It's all already gotten worn quite a bit.

The cardigan and jacket both had to be exchanged. The cardigan had a little pull in one shoulder so I did a "damaged" exchange. The jacket fit just exactly perfectly...if I didn't want to wear anything bulkier than a tshirt underneath it. I exchanged it for the next size up so I have a little more breathing room for long-sleeve shirts and such. Let me tell you, that jacket is a serious win! I love it SO MUCH. It looks great on, and it's a wonderful stretchy material so it never pulls across the back or in the elbows, even though it is fairly fitted. Even my husband commented (unsolicited) on how nice it looks on me. I've worn it pretty much every day since I got it. I had asked for another structured tote that was a little more professional to use during my work events, and I love the bag they sent. It has a zipper closure which makes it perfect for travel, and it holds its shape well. I'm not sure I'm in love with the very long tassels but those are easily enough removed. The black pants are just a replacement for a pair I'd received in a box last winter and somehow managed to lose. I still think they'll show up in my daughter's laundry at some point. In any case, it's nice to have them again. I was so happy that Kathryn was able to find me another pair. (Yes, they're $78, although since I bought the whole box I get discounts, plus they're seriously worth it. They fit beautifully, they're extremely comfortable, and they don't get baggy at all, even wearing them three or four times between washes, like I did when I was on vacation.)

Stitch Fix's exchange process worked beautifully, by the way. Couldn't have been easier. I just clicked the right buttons in the check-out process, sent the two I was exchanging back in the envelope provided, and received the replacements within a few days. Easy Schmeasy.

October's Stitch Fix:

Another five-for-five! This time I'd mentioned that the holidays were coming up and I'd like something that would be appropriate for family holiday 'dos. I also asked for a smaller shoulder-bag of some sort, as most of my bags are now tote-sized. They do so well at purses and totes for me, I kinda want to keep them coming! Other than that, I left it pretty open.

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I think we're hosting my husband's family, or at least part of it, at our house for Thanksgiving. I usually wear nicer jeans or leggings, but I like to wear a more festive top. However, I'll also be in the kitchen so I don't want anything too fussy or hot. I think this blouse will be perfect--although I'd have to watch those bell sleeves in the gravy. I think they're high enough up my arm, though, they shouldn't be much trouble. It's an embossed velvet, and has a built in cotton cami. It's loose and cool, and I think it'll be great for the day. I haven't decided what necklace I'll wear with it, but I like the concept.

Kathryn said in her style note that she decided to "push me" a little out of my comfort zone with this one and hoped that it worked. Work, it does!

(The jeans are from a prior Stitch Fix--one of my most-often worn jeans nowadays.)


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This is a two-fer: I'm modeling both a sweater and some skinny jeans. 

The sweater is fan-freaking-tastic. It's cotton and loose but not dumpy. Kathryn noted the slightly artsy take on the angled hem. (I'd said in my style notes that I tend to be more classic/casual but love stuff with an artsy/boho flair). In my request for this box, I'd mentioned that I like the look of blouses layered under sweaters but hate the constricted feel of the sleeves when I do that, so thought maybe a looser sweater might work. I think this one could layer easily, although I'll probably mostly wear it on its own.

The pants are getting exchanged. They're black skinny jeans, with the emphasis on SKINNY. They've got some give to them so I can get them on, and even walk around fairly well. Sitting, however, is a bit of an issue. Although I could hang onto them as aspirational, I'd prefer to exchange them for the next size up and actually be able to wear them comfortably the next few months until I re-lose the few pounds I re-gained during the foot debacle. Even too tight, though, the pants were remarkably comfortable. I can't wait to get the pair I can actually wear. I think these may well become go-tos. 

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I took this second picture of the sweater so you could see the nifty sleeve detail. (And it's soft! No scratchy or stiffness in that elbow at all!)


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Finally, this last picture includes a scarf and handbag. I had let Kathryn know that I'm a fan of scarves so she can pretty much never go wrong tossing one in the box. This one is fairly large, and I'm not always a huge fan of geometric prints, preferring abstract, organic, or floral. However, in this case, and for fall/winter, geometric works fine, as does bulky. I'll be thrilled to have this once the temperature starts dropping. And this is one seriously soft scarf. 

Who knew I really wanted a yellow shoulder bag? I didn't, until I opened this up and fell in love. It's a great hobo-style bag, with all sorts of pockets. It'll be my daily bag now.  In fact, I already switched out of my other bag and into this one and will be taking it with me when I head over to my MILs for dinner tonight. The mustard yellow is perfect for fall, and it'll go great with my olive jacket from the last Fix. 

I didn't realize I had a thing for purses and totes until very recently. And now, with Kathryn doing so well at getting me ones I love and can really use, it's hard for me not to want one in every box! I have clear memories from childhood of my mom "changing purses" every Sunday and thinking how silly that was. Now I'd say "I'm turning into my mother," except that train left the station years ago. The purse thing just confirms it. 

In my requests for my next Fix at the end of November, I told Kathryn that my husband's office party is in December. It's a dressy affair, but there's a wide interpretation of what that means for women, so I'm thinking I'll do some sort of pants outfit this year as I doubt I'd be able to be in heels yet. I gave Kathryn some parameters and let her know that if she wanted to try to do the whole party outfit, clothes to accessories to clutch purse, she could go for it! It'll be fun to see if she comes up with something. She's been dead-on-point every time these last few boxes, so I have high hopes!

If you want to check out Stitch Fix for yourself, here's my referral code!

Going non-verbal for a bit...

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I've well and truly entered into the writing phase of my thesis. Which means that, by the end of the day, I can't really put two coherent thoughts together to keep up with the blog. It's quite likely that there will be mostly radio silence from my end for the remainder of my sabbatical, which ends after Labor Day. I'm one chapter down, four to go, and have a very limited time left to get it done! 

I'm also trying to up my activity as stress relief and as occupational therapy for my foot. Auggie and I got in over a mile on the canal yesterday when I finished writing. I decided today that I've got to stop comparing how my foot feels with how it felt last fall before all the nonsense began (IOW, when it didn't hurt as all) as that just brings me down. Instead, I'm going by a new benchmark which is how it felt when I came home right after I had surgery. Using that one, it's getting better. I did have a fantabulous session with my personal trainer today and probably won't be able to lift my arms by Saturday. So there is that.

If you're on Twitter and Instagram I'm still present there, because I can manage the occasional 140-characters. And pictures of puppies. And such.  

This will all be over soon enough! 

 

Fight the Funk Friday

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So, this week is all about getting back into habits. 

I'd like to blame it all on the foot surgery, but the fact of the matter is that I've been slacking for some time on planning my meals, tracking what I eat, and being consistent with paying attention to my FitPoints and such. I've also not been keeping up my meditation. It shows in that I haven't lost any weight in about three or four months. It ain't a plateau unless you're actually doing everything you need to do. And I'm not.

Now that the foot surgery is over and I'm on an upward trajectory (a slow one, but a trajectory nonetheless) , it's time to pull it back together.

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I'm proud of myself today, though: We had thunderstorms moving through in the morning and in the late afternoon, but we had a few hours of heat and brilliant sunshine around lunch. After I'd spent most of the morning thinking, "Sheesh--I hope it doesn't start raining when I'm done with my school work this afternoon so I can do my pool aerobics," I realized... "Wait! I can set my own schedule! I'll take a break and get in the pool now and then go back to school work!" Sure enough, after lunch I was able to get a full 30 minutes aerobics session and another 20 minutes of yoga while the sun was still shining. About half an hour after I'd showered, changed, and gone back to work, the heavens opened up and it was pouring again, and continued for the rest of the day. (Those towels had been left out there from previous days. I got everything pulled back inside when I went inside for the afternoon.)

Farmer's market tomorrow morning, which means I'll be spending the afternoon prepping veggies. Always a happy day.  

 

 

 

Thinkin' about It Thursday

This week, I'm thinking...

  • that I'm thrilled to be out of the boot
  • how grateful I am to be able to take a normal shower again
  • how having to spend 10 minutes getting set up and then standing on one foot with the other stuck out from under the shower curtain and resting on a stepstool tends to put one off taking showers in the first place
  • how much of a #firstworldproblem this is, given the majority of the world's population has limited or no access to clean, running water at all
  • that I'm still grateful for my unencumbered showers
  • how I only have a couple of pairs of shoes that my still-swollen foot can even fit into anymore
    • but still, it's not a boot
  • that I love being able to get back in the pool a gain
    • and doing pool yoga
    • and working my way back up to pool aerobics as that involves a lot of potential for banging toes on the bottom
  • that I'm not even going to bother doing a Wardrobe Wednesday about the SweatStyle subscription box I decided to try out and ordered back in April to get my first box in August, when I thought I'd have lost enough weight that I'd need new workout clothes by now (which I don't)
    • because everything in the box read "20-year-old" 
    • and there are a lot of places on a 50-something-body that aren't as cut-out-, lace- or mesh-inset-friendly.
    • though even the couple I could've pulled off felt like I was trying to look 20
    • and regardless, it just wasn't me (I wouldn't have worn a lot of it when I was 20, either)
    • and the one tshirt I liked would've ended up costing me $60 all-in, between the price and the styling fee that gets added on to the cost of whatever you buy (compared to StitchFix where it's taken off the cost)
    • so everything's getting returned
    • and I've already cancelled my account
  • that I'll just keep buying my workout clothes at Target, thank you very much

 

Wardrobe Wednesday--August Stitch Fix

I got my August Stitch Fix! Woot! Here's my pics. And to make it all worthwhile (and you can skip everything else if you want), stay tuned for the final picture. 

I'd put this month's Stitch Fix at about 85-90% success. Four out of the five things are fantastic! The fifth is likable, although not my fave. But still, I'll get use out of it. I had a different stylist this time, Kathryn. And she spells her name the way my sister's middle name is spelled, which is very unusual. I take it to mean good things!

This month, I'd told the stylist that I have a cruise for work (I know, let the jokes start now) in September. Yes, it's a cruise in the Bahamas, but yes, it's also a work event. So while I want to dress cruisy, it also needs to be appropriately modest. I asked for dresses I could wear to dinner but that could also be worn a little more casually at other times.I also suggested tops and a cruise-appropriate tote. 

She delivered on all counts!


Item #1--Tote Bag

The tote bag is fantastic! It definitely has a bit of an island vibe going but it's the kind of bag I can carry anywhere--in other words, I don't look like I'm trying to look weirdly tropical in the middle of Western NY. 

The exterior feels like a pretty sturdy canvas so it should travel well. The embroidery seems sturdy too--I haven't seen any loose threads anywhere. It has both shoulder straps and a cross-body strap. I prefer to carry things on my shoulder unless I'm going to be out all day (then I switch to cross-body to save my shoulder), so it's always important to me that the carrying straps are comfortable and these hit at just the right spot.

It's got the standard two slip pockets on one side and a zip pocket on the other. It's really nice that the interior leather is the exact color of the tote they sent me last January, which I still carry nearly every day, although for the summer I've flipped it to the white side. In any case, that means my wallet and zipper pouch match this one perfectly. There's a magnetic closure which works super-easily, which is also very nice. (My other tote has no closure at all.)

Finally, the pic on the right shows how it looks when I do up the interior snaps. You can see one of the snaps hanging on the left in the middle picture. Both sides have a strap which snap together in the middle, and the magnetic closure closes above them. It pulls the top in so the whole bag has more of a clean angle to it. I love the shape that gives the tote although, from a use standpoint, it would be a pain to keep those things closed while I was trying to get in and out of the bag, even if it does make it just a hair more secure. It's unlikely I'll use them much, but it's a nice option to have.

If I were on a serious shopping trip and was stuffing this bag full, I can even undo the two buckles on the sides to give me a couple more inches of stuff-space. Again, something I probably wouldn't do much but if I go ashore in Grand Bahama and decide to do some shopping, I've got options!

So the bag is a serious win. I'm already using it--it's a great summer bag but in colors that will be able to move into early fall. Kathryn did well by me in the realm of totes!


Item #2--White Blouse

This was my other favorite item from the box--a long-sleeved white blouse with a little bit of a boho vibe.

It's really loose and cool material so I wore it on Tuesday in 85+ degrees and as-humid-as-a-fish-tank weather, and was absolutely fine even with the long sleeves. The colors in it, such as navy, a golden yellow, and a deep red, mean I'll be able to pair it with darker cardigans when we get into fall, and stretch it into another season. 

It's shown here styled (aren't I all the fashion blogger with the lingo n' all?) with Kut from the Kloth jeans from the April StitchFix box, which, as it turns out, I wear all the time and they're insanely comfortable; Bob's (by Skechers) on my right foot, and my very stylish post-surgery boot on my left. Also, note that I had to cancel a much-needed hair appointment due to said surgery and it's been super-humid out so my hair is about three times the dimension it should be in this pic.


I took the rest of these pics this morning. I've now been released from the surgery boot but I'm still pretty limited as to which shoes I can get my foot into as the swelling hasn't gone down yet. This is also first thing in the morning so my hair hasn't gotten into full-on-frizz mode yet. But, back to the Stitch Fix reveal.

Item #3--Green Blouse

This green blouse is the only item in the box I was a little lukewarm on. I love this color but I've learned that it's a tough one for me to wear because I immediately look worn out when I put it on. (I'm starting to do some research now as to what colors a "Bright Spring" can wear in the fall, as most of the ones I used to wear don't actually work well.) Other than the color, it's a similar cool fabric to the long-sleeve blouse although not exactly the same, as this one wrinkles and the other doesn't. Also, I started to wear this one on Tuesday but before I'd even gotten out of the bedroom it was starting to show the sweat. Yuck. I quickly changed into the less-sweat-revealing white blouse and set this one aside for a cooler or less humid day. It's very comfortable on and I like the style of the sleeves. When you're actively sailing, cruise ships tend to be breezier so I don't think I'd have the same problem with the sweat marks on ship, but this one may not end up coming with me in any case due to the wrinkle element. However, due to the color it will easily transition into fall. I'm wearing it here with the white pants I bought from Christopher and Banks when I did my modeling there. I like the blouse with the white but I think it would work better with skinny white jeans as that would balance out the blousiness better.


Item #4--White(ish) Dress

I love this dress, although I either want to lose another 10 lbs before the cruise or I'll be wearing Spanx. It's just clingy enough that I'm not keen going "au naturale" with it, but the shape and neckline are really flattering--which you can't really tell from this pic and I really DO have to learn how to pose better (it's just so awkward!). 

It's a very comfortable fabric and doesn't wrinkle at all--it came out of the box in pristine condition, so that'll be great for packing. With the longer sleeves and colorway, if I pair it with a black duster cardigan I can wear it into the fall. 

These sandals work well with it in a more casual way. I don't really have any dressier black shoes. That's probably something I should rectify eventually. When I can start getting my foot back into real-people-shoes.


Item #5--Fuschia and Navy Dress

Je t'adore. The pop of fuschia makes this Bright Spring look good in this navy! (Navy is also an iffy color for me. I have a lot of it, but I have to pair it with white or some other bright color or I look like I haven't slept in days.) This dress is also something that can look a little more professional while still modern and, of course, I can pair it with a cardigan as we move into the fall and winter. This might be a little "heavy" looking for a cruise, but I'll definitely get use from it otherwise!

So this box was a nearly-complete win! Woot!

Interested in trying Stitch Fix for yourself (or your husband)? Here's my referral link if you'd like to use it--and thank you! 


And now, your reward for hanging on through all those awkward poses...

My budding Doofus. He'll be 15 weeks old this Saturday.

He'd gotten sick last night for several hours--I'm thinking it may have been a reaction to the rabies and distemper shots he'd gotten at the vet that morning, although it's hard to know because at this stage puppies put everything and anything in their mouths. 

In any case, once he started feeling better he was rocking and rolling through the house and suddenly this face popped up in front of me.

He knows better than to jump on the chair. But I couldn't scold him until I'd taken the picture. 

One of the #twilters has now dubbed him Wee Doofus. It fits, not the least because there's a lot of wee in our lives lately so he's back to the beginning with his housetraining again. The putz.

Wardrobe Wednesday

Lularoes to the rescue. 

Lularoes to the rescue. 

Since I've been laid up for the last week, I've not been particularly worried about dressing well. In fact, before I had my follow-up appointment and they changed my bandages, there was so much bulk around my foot that dressing every day was ruled by what I could actually get over my foot. 

However, I realized quickly that, in my efforts to update my wardrobe over the last year, I'd short-changed myself on loungewear. Other than pajama pants, I only have one pair of sloppy, draw-string jersey lounge pants, and an old pair of yoga pants I keep in the bottom drawer in my closet designated as my "occasional" or "special-needs" clothes like my long underwear. Fortunately, I finally gave my Lularoe leggings (I have two pairs) a shot and found that they're stretchy enough to pull on over the bandages and still keep their shape once they're on. 

You see, with a Golden Retriever puppy who's "molting" (shedding his puppy fur as his adult fur starts to come in), every pair of pants I wear gets covered in dog fur pretty fast. Hard to wear them multiple days in a row without just feeling gross.

The first couple of days after surgery I didn't care much--my ugly gray draw-string pants were fine as I recovered from the surgery itself. (Even though it was only on a toe, any kind of surgery sends your body into a tailspin!) After that, though, I found that wearing my slouchy gray pants actually made me feel a little worse. I wanted to be comfortable, of course, but I also wanted to feel a little more like myself--a little more pulled together. The Lularoes were a great solution. I don't wear the Lularoes out of the house unless I have a really long tunic-style top over them (don't like being quite that revealing in public), but for home I could wear a tshirt and hoodie. I wouldn't win any fashion awards, nor was I trying to, but I felt better, slightly more perky in general wearing more normal clothes. Those gray draw-string pants are truly ugly. I've almost donated them a couple of times over the past year, and I rarely wear them under normal circumstances, but they worked great for surgery day and the first couple of days after, so once I'm totally unbandaged and can go back to my normal shoes and wardrobe, those gray pants will go back into the "special-needs" drawer with the black yoga pants for the next foot surgery (which I know I'll need to have done on the other foot at some point in the next couple of years). 

I have found over the years that what I wear has a pretty significant effect on my psyche. I don't need to be in heels and pearls (especially not heels!). But I've had periods of time where I got in the habit of wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts a lot since I work from home. I realized, however, that when I do that, I tend to have a more pessimistic outlook, I become a little more sluggish, and I just don't like myself as well.

Of course, it's a bit of a chicken-and-egg thing. Is my outlook driving my clothing choices, or are my clothing choices driving my outlook? Clearly it's a mix of both. But it's also true that, when I realized what was going on and started dressing better ("better" meaning wearing jeans and nicer tshirts--we're still not talking LBDs and diamonds, here), I started feeling better. Maybe it's a "fake it till you make it" thing, but whatever--it works for me.  

In this second week of healing, I'm pleased that the size of my bandages has reduced somewhat; although I still can't get most of my jeans over them, it's opened up some options in dressing a little. And I've figured out how to take a fast, somewhat awkward shower without getting my bandages wet (Glad Press n' Seal has unexpected uses!).  I'm wearing my Lularoes--thankfully, they also don't collect dog hair the way the yoga pants and gray draw-string pants do--and tshirts that more or less match them, and feeling more pulled together and good about life. I still have to keep my foot elevated but I'm able to move around more and don't have to be flat-out on the couch anymore. Life is good.

What do you think? Do you find there's a connection between how you dress and the way you feel?  

Another random subscription box review--Birchbox

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I'd read about Birchbox a few times and thought it sounded like fun, but hadn't taken the bait until my newest SIL talked about how much she enjoyed the subscription my BIL had given her for Christmas. So I finally decided, "What the heck?" 

Birchbox is a monthly subscription service in which you get five samples of various types of skin or hair products to test out. As I've gotten into my 50s, my skin is definitely changing and some of the tried-and-true products from my past are not so tried-and-true anymore, so I'm game to find some new stuff. I also have difficulty finding products that will work well with my curly hair--defrizzing without leaving an oil slick behind. So, sure--lay some samples on me.

A monthly subscription is $10; you choose which categories you want to explore and they'll customize it to your wishes. Most of the samples are a pretty decent size--I had a couple of skin product samples that lasted a full week for me, so you can get a good idea of how they work. Once you try the samples, you can leave reviews on the site. You earn points for each month you subscribe, each review you leave, and for any purchases you make through the site--those points eventually turn into dollars off a future purchase. The prices for the full-sized products on the Birchbox site are competitive, although not discounted generally. It is helpful, though, to be able to read all the user reviews. You can either allow them to surprise you each month or you can customize your box. So far, I've got the surprise route, though I may try customizing next month just to see how it works.

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I got two boxes my first month (an extra box as a gift for a new subscription) but didn't post a review then--I was waiting to see how I felt about it after the second month. I'm still having fun with it so I'll keep it going for a little while. 

For this month's box, I got Kiehl's facial cleanser, Marcella gel moisturizer, Beautaniq Beauty blush and lip color serum, an eye liner (don't recall the brand), and Parlor curl defining cream. I've been able to try out the cleanser, moisturizer, and serum; not the eye liner (not a big eye liner person so need to be in the right mood to test it) and the curl cream (I'm not supposed to be showering right now with my foot all bandaged, so I'm leery of putting any product on until I know I can thoroughly wash it out again).

I've heard of Kiehl's so I was interested to try it. This cleanser didn't knock my socks off, though--no better than the Clinique I normally use--so I won't be switching over. The moisturizing gel was equally unexciting for me, although it could work beautifully for someone with less dry skin than mine--very lightweight. The blush serum made me look like a clown, so that was a definite no go. I think it was just too bright for my skin tone. I can't wait to try the curl cream--maybe next week.

In the first couple of boxes I got in June there were several things I really liked so I've added them to my wish list on the Birchbox site and, when I run out of my current products, I may start adding some of them to my skin and hair care routine. There's a nice detangling spray, a makeup primer (helpful when I'm traveling and have to be "on" from 8a to 10p) , and a wonderful facial oil I absolutely fell in love with but will need to save up to buy. 

If you're interested in trying out Birchbox, here's my referral code

As a side note, I'd also subscribed to Ipsy which is a similar idea, as I'd intended to compare the two. However, Ipsy put me on a "wait list" and then proceeded to hold me over a barrel by telling me I could jump ahead in line and get off the wait list if I promoted them on social media. What? Why in the world would I promote something I hadn't even had the opportunity to try yet? After waiting several weeks to see if I'd just get removed from the wait list naturally, but only getting more emails telling me to promote them to get off the wait list, I finally unsubscribed with a comment about exactly what I thought of their business model. Ridiculous.  

Fight the Funk Friday

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Not much funk-fighting going on here. Or, maybe, I'm fighting future funk? In any case, I'm well and truly out of commission for a bit. 

My foot surgery was Tuesday morning. He'd warned me ahead of time that, depending on what he found when he got in there, I might end up with a joint replacement. I figured that would be the case because I'd seen the x-rays and, by the way, had been living with it for awhile, so I knew it was probably pretty bad.

Yep, joint replacement. I think that means the recovery will be a little longer.

I do have the fun of knowing I'm on the "cutting edge" of big-toe-joint-replacement-technology, however. (Will that be my epitaph? "Here Lies Sandra Hasenauer, Cutting Edge Big Toe Joint Replacement Technologist.....") With my permission, he used a new type of joint that's only been in use about four or five months. It's made out of the same stuff they make contact lenses out of, so it's more flexible, works more smoothly, and supposedly feels more natural when I walk. Since I have nothing to compare it to other than my former useless human joint, I won't be able to give it a review. That being said, I had no real concerns about saying yes because rationally, logically, it all made sense to me that it would work well. Plus, I just started wearing (occasionally) contact lenses in my eyes so why not let my foot join in the fun? My toe will now have 20-20 vision, thank you very much.

I think I'd mentioned in an earlier post that I had a quick-o-change-o switch of doctors the week before the surgery. I really do like the one I've got now so much better, but it means there was a bit of information about the recovery process that I'd not gotten in advance. Doctor #1 kept making it sound like I'd be back on my feet within a couple of days of the surgery (albeit with the boot). Doctor #2 has me keeping my foot elevated above my heart until I go back to see him on Monday--nearly a full week after surgery. A little bit of a difference there! So now all bets are off--I'm not making any predictions about my recovery process until I see Dr 2 again on Monday.

Puppy Mayhem Personified

Puppy Mayhem Personified

I'm not 100% at keeping my foot above my heart as my back gets too stiff after awhile, but I'm doing it for hours at a time, and then switching to a sitting position so my foot is at least higher than my hip. Today I'm working at keeping my step count as low as possible (quite the opposite of my usual Fight the Funk Friday posts!) as yesterday got a little out of hand with some puppy mayhem going on. My daughter has most of the day off work, though, so she'll be here on Puppy Patrol and I should be able to be a better patient today.

I'm trying to pay attention to my eating so I don't regain weight while I'm off my feet. Frankly, the fact that I can't walk much is keeping that under control anyway, since it's a laborious trip to the kitchen and I'm not working up much of an appetite in any case.

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My nearly-niece (my nephew's long-time girlfriend) was so sweet yesterday and came by with a container of lentil soup she'd made and wanted to share with me. Hard to take an appetizing picture of cold lentil soup but trust me, it'll be very tasty, especially with some fresh Parmesan grated over it. Today's lunch. That should get my bones mending fast!

Here's hoping next week's FtF Friday post has more action! 

 

Woof Wednesday

I don't have much in the "Wardrobe Wednesday" department this week (you really don't want to see what I look like right now) so I thought, instead, I'd post about the latest Barkbox we got this week! I also ask that you excuse the lazy formatting on this post as I had my foot surgery yesterday and was told I have to be on the couch with my feet higher than my heart until Monday. But more about that in my Friday post. In any case, that means I have to post from my iPad which has a scaled-down version of my blog tools, and it makes typing a little tricky. 

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Auggie and Spencer got their second Barkbox on Tuesday, so I was able to do the reveal with them after I got home from surgery.  Made the day a little brighter.

This time we had an Alice in Wonderland theme--fun!

This box was a total win again, at least so far. We haven't busted open all the treats yet. As usual, Spencer's just getting the treats and Auggie is busily wrestling with his new toys. 

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They included a cute little photo frame you're supposed to use to post your Barkbox fun on Instagram. I'm not sure I'll be able to get either dog to pose appropriately. When my daughter comes back on Friday to play Mom-Nurse and Dog-Patrol for me, I may see if she can try.

Admittedly, when I first opened the box, I thought the theme was "A Tick in Wonderland," and figured one of the stuffed toys would be a tick. I thought that a little odd, but it took me a couple of reads to realize it's "A Lick in Wonderland." The font is a little tricky.

And I was on drugs. But we won't talk about that.

I didn't get a picture of the first treat that I immediately opened up and split betweeen the furries. It was a rabbit chew stick. They chomped it down immediately.

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These "We All Wag Here" treats are made from salmon and shaped like cats. I get a kick out of the labels--they do a good job in marketing. Under feeding instructions, it says, "Not intended as a meal substitute. Will not magically make your dog as big as a house or as tiny as a thimble." I haven't given these to the dogs yet so I can't review their popularity. 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

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The "Chicken Nibbles" bag of snacks says on the back, "Not intended as a meal substitute, no mattter what your dog says."  

Or maybe I'm just easily entertained while on drugs. But we're not talking about that.  

You can see my hospital armband. Just to provide the appropriate context for this post. 

The dogs have been eating these chicken nibbles and love them. They've got chicken liver, various vegetables, brown rice, sweet potato, blueberries, cherries, and cranberries. My dogs are eating better than I am these days! (Although my daughter made my favorite comfort food of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for me last night. She makes the WORLD'S BEST grilled cheese. I can be proud of my daughter for many things, but those grilled cheese sandwiches pretty much top the list.) 

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And then the toys. Auggie immediately took to the first one, the White Rabbit head. I didn't get a picture of it before he took it off for a major wrestling session. 

It makes a fantastic crinkling sound when he chews on it and throws it around by its ears. He loves this thing. He's definitely more a fan of crinkles than squeaks. He virtually ignores squeaky toys but if it crinkles he's all over it! He played with this for probably half an hour when he first got it, crashed for a quick power nap, then went right back at it.  

 

 

 

 

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The second toy is a pink flamingo. This one also crinkles, but has the added bonus of a plastic chewing bar in the neck which will be great when Auggie starts officially teething (any week now). I'll probably throw this one in the freezer occasionally to make it nice and soothing for his jaw, and hopefully help keep him off the legs of my coffee table. 

He liked this one too, but it's tough competition with the White Rabbit.  

You never really know what's going to get a puppy's attention, but Barkbox seems to get it every time. We've bought him other toys over the last few weeks but none grab him quite as much as the ones we've gotten through Barkbox, so they clearly know what they're doing! 

 

Apologies if the alignment on this post is all off, but the iPad version of my blogging site is a little harder to work with in adding images. I don't have the ability to add spaces or lines or anything to make sure the text is lined up with the pictures appropriately. But you'll figure it out! 

 

Fight the Funk Friday

My first full week of sabbatical is nearly over. Funny how it seems so long when it's in the future but it flies by when it's in the present. I know it'll seem short when it's in the past!

I had intended to write a chapter a week--and I have five chapters total--starting with getting the first chapter done this first week. I'd thought I already had everything pretty pulled together for the first two chapters and knew most of the research I had left to do was for the last three. However, once I sat down and started fleshing out my outline, I realized I did have more organizing, sorting, and thinking to do. Chapter one still shouldn't take me all that long to write (she says, fingers crossed hopefully) but it's now going to happen next week instead of this. Meanwhile, I've made excellent headway on figuring out where I'd left certain in-progress things and organizing what I still needed to do. 

So--Fighting the Funk this week mostly had to do with settling my brain into a different way of being, getting myself organized for a very specific task, and spending quality time with my doggies.


He's cute when he's not chomping.

He's cute when he's not chomping.

Spending quality time with Auggie, of course, still primarily involves the word "no" and a whole LOT of paper towels. But his favorite toy is the empty paper towel cardboard tube so perhaps I'm unconsciously rewarding him for these accidents. "Gee--I piddle on the floor, and I get a new toy! This is quite a shindig I've got going here!"


I've also played with my new vacuum sealer. This thing is serious cool beans!

Towards my general goal of healthier eating: I'm doing the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) thing again this summer, but only because the farm I did it through before started a new option in which I could sign up just for July and August, the two months I'm actually home enough to make it worthwhile. Woot! With the vacuum sealer, I can immediately prep the produce for either refrigerator or freezer. I'm also periodically snipping and freezing herbs from my container gardens so I'll have them through the winter. With this sealer, it doesn't take me much time at all. I give veggies a quick blanch, let them cool, dry them off, and seal away. I also seal what's going to be in the fridge because too often my week gets away from me and I end up not being able to use produce before it goes bad--using the sealer gives me several more days leeway. I'm not worried about the cost of the bags because it's definitely counterbalanced by the cost of the produce I used to always end up throwing out. I'm a fan of this sealing thing!

This summer, I've got one grape tomato plant and three regular tomato plants in my back yard. I think I'll get maybe two or three grape tomatoes this weekend. I also have one container with a variety of lettuces in it, just enough to occasionally rip a few leaves off and let it grow back. One salad at a time...


My foot surgery is scheduled for next Tuesday. I had a quick-o-change-o on my podiatrist/surgeon as the one I'd been seeing suddenly left the practice. I don't know why. I don't ask. I met with the new doctor this week and am pleased--I can actually relate to the new one more easily and he gave me a lot more information than the former doctor ever had. Turns out, it's quite possible I may end up with a joint replacement in that toe. It seems they use basically the same thing that's used in hip replacements, just very, very small. I guess that just means I'll have the hippest feet in town, ar ar ar. 

Here's hoping it all goes well and swelling goes down quickly and all that so I can be back into the swing of things, and wearing my normal shoes, as fast as possible!


Finally, I won't hold on this until Wardrobe Wednesday as it's not my wardrobe, but my husband got his bi-monthly StitchFix yesterday. Here's a peek at what was in it. He kept the two button-downs but sent everything else back. The blue tshirt was too form-fitting for his comfort level. The green pants and off-white shorts both fit him great, but he's very conservative in his pants (green felt way too risky for him, LOL), and the shorts were unfortunately see-through. It's too bad, too, because they looked great on him.

So--this StitchFix was partially successful. But given how infrequently my husband buys clothes and how picky he can be about them, I consider "partially" a major success. If you're interested in checking out StitchFix, here's my referral link. You can get to either the men's or the women's StitchFix through the same link.

Break over...time to get back to work...

 

Thinkin' about It Thursday

This week, I'm thinking...

Franklin Covey Her Point of View planner pages

Franklin Covey Her Point of View planner pages

  • that, once again, I may want to test out a new planner system
  • how I keep coming up short on time to draw out all my trackers and weekly pages and such in my bullet journal, even though I'm keeping it all very simple
  • how I also don't like just having all blank pages so in the weeks I don't get my pages prepped I tend to avoid using my journal because I don't like the way it looks
    • because I like having some structure
    • and just a little bit of color, but not much, because visual clutter annoys me
  • that maybe a Franklin Covey system may work well
    • because it's got monthly tabs
    • and two-page daily spreads with the second page blank so I could still do my journaling and other stuff I do in my bullet journal
    • and it has weekly menu planning pages I could insert each week which was the main reason I went to a bullet journal in the first place
    • and a handy little expense tracker/envelope for keeping receipts which would be helpful on work trips so I could keep them out of my wallet
    • and I do sorta dig a couple of the prettier design sets, like "Her Point of View"
  • how it's hard to swallow paying that much to test something out, though
    • because who knows if I'd be happy with that one either
    • because, clearly, I'm really demanding way too much of my planner system

  • how much I still miss this guy
  • that I can't wait until Auggie is house-trained, sigh.

Tea Tuesday: The Wordy Traveler review

I'm calling this "Tea Tuesday" as it references tea. But it's a very different Tea Tuesday than previous ones and only barely mentions tea, so it's not getting the pretty header.

I've suddenly become the subscription box queen. 

Well, maybe not "queen." Maybe a second-alternate of a lady in waiting, based on the number of subscription boxes I see the "big name" bloggers talking about. However, I've started doing a small number of different types of subscription boxes to see if they can expand my horizons, as it were. Well, Barkbox is just for the dogs. No horizon-expanding there. But the other ones I do for me are giving me the opportunity to try things I normally wouldn't try, so that's fun.

This one is about books. 

In an effort to expose myself to different authors or genres than I tend to lean towards, I started looking into book subscriptions. However, I know I've got limited time and, frankly, I don't read actual print books all that often anymore, so I didn't want to subscribe to anything that would overload me with stuff I'd never get to. After a little bit of exploring, I happened upon The Wordy Traveler club. It sounded like it was right up my alley and definitely a manageable subscription!

The box is beautiful!

The box is beautiful!

The Wordy Traveler is a book subscription in which you receive one to three books every quarter (depending on which level you choose) focused on a particular area of the world. You will then also receive a bag of tea and a few little accoutrements related to that theme.

(See? I mentioned tea. That makes this a legit Tea Tuesday post.)

And here's what really got me: They donate a portion of the subscription fee to organizations supporting women and girls. I'm in.

I got my first box within a few days of subscribing. I took all my "reveal" pics at night in our dining room which has fairly subtle lighting so I apologize for them being a little off, but you should get the idea!

I subscribed to the "Backpacking" edition, which is only one book every quarter, rather than the "Full Suitcase," which is three books. I also thought this would be a good way to test it out for a few boxes before committing to the full-on subscription. 


This first box's theme is Russia. It came with a nice little card giving some background to the theme. 

There was also a very attractive bookmark (nice, since I don't have many bookmarks hanging around these days as they're not particularly necessary for a Kindle), a small "art print" of a Russian landmark, and a postcard thanking you for supporting women and girls through your subscription.

I'm not entirely sure what I'll do with the art print. Maybe I could start a gallery in my office/sewing room to show where I've "traveled" through my reading?


The tea included this quarter is Keemun Grand, described as a "malty black Chinese tea." I'm not sure why they chose this particular tea: There was no explanation as to how they felt it fit this quarter's theme. There are Russian teas out there, but maybe they couldn't find a cost-effective wholesale distributor or something. I haven't tried the tea yet, but I'll definitely get to it. That may be a future "Tea Tuesday" post!


One of the two gifts included was this very pretty little Russian-style painted wooden egg. I've put it in a stoneware bowl on the bookshelves in my living room, where I have a collection of wooden Robin's eggs (near a couple of pudgy bird figurines which you had to know I would own). It adds a nice touch.


The second gift is an antique-y looking necklace with a Russian doll depicted in the pendant.


I didn't think I'd ever wear this and was debating if my oldest great-niece was quite old enough for this necklace yet. But then I got dressed yesterday morning and realized it would actually look kind of cute with my outfit of a bright pink tshirt and a denim skort. I threw on a couple of hammered-gold hoop earrings and it actually all worked. Go figure.

Still, it'll probably end up being gifted to a great-niece eventually. But it's fun to wear it until then.


Finally...leaving the main piece for last...the book.

Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich is a prize-winning literary "documentary," of sorts. Alexievich interviewed hundreds of Russians about life in Russia after the fall of Communism to nearly present day. In interviews spanning 1991-2012, it chronicles the hope or disillusionment, and harsh economic and political realities, as experienced in daily life by regular people. 

I'm about 50 pages in already and am finding it utterly fascinating. I remember seeing on the news many of the events referenced in the book, but only know about them from the perspective of how we experienced them in the United States, as well as how we assumed those in Russia probably experienced them. Most of the interviews in the book, however, are showing me a very different reality than what I had imagined. It's extremely well done. 

However, it's also a kazillion pages long and in very, very small print.  Reading this book is an undertaking. The first 50 pages have gone pretty fast but I'm a little concerned about my staying power when I get 200 pages in. Still--I love really well-done nonfiction books and this definitely is a really well-done nonfiction book! It's done in a different style from anything I've read before so, at the moment, color me intrigued. I'll let you know how it goes.

So that's this first quarter reviewed. I'm not 100% sold on this whole book subscription concept yet as I'm definitely paying more per quarter than I would if I just bought the book and tea outright. On the other hand, this book wasn't even on my radar, nor had I ever heard of the tea, and I'm learning a lot from the book; so if my horizons get expanded and my brain is stretched (cute wooden eggs and necklaces notwithstanding), and I'm helping women and girls to boot...that's worth the cost of the subscription to me!

BarkBox Review

I don't have an alliterative day to post this one, so I'm just randomly tossing it into the blogosphere. 

After seeing my #twilter friend @ltdermdvm (Lori) post about her doggies' Barkboxes each month and how much her dogs loved them, I finally caved. My husband was aghast: "You're spoiling Auggie! We never did that for Sammy!" Well, in my defense, all I can say is that Sammy was a puppy when we still had kids living at home, and Auggie is the puppy of empty-nesters.  

It happens. 

Barkbox is a subscription service for dog treats and dog toys. Each month you get a few treats and a couple of toys based on a theme. (They have a refund/exchange policy if your dog doesn't like something in the box, I guess, although that didn't come up for us this first time.) You pay so much per month, depending on the size and number of dogs you're buying for. I just subscribed for a one-dog box because Spencer isn't really into toys, and we can easily split the treats between them. Right now, I'm getting the mid-sized dog box because Auggie's still a pup. In a few months, I may have to switch to the large-sized dog box.

I was out of town when the first box came and I asked my daughter (who was dog-sitting that day) to take pics of the reveal. 

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The theme was a Japanese spring picnic.

The Barkbox includes a page that describes the theme and lists some of the items you might have in your box based on that theme. We didn't have all of these items in ours so I'm guessing some of them are only for smaller dogs. 

 
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They got a buffalo chew or two--I don't know if these are actual buffalo since they'd already polished them off before I got home.  

 
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The duck treats and rabbit treats really are made from duck and rabbit. All the dog treats that come in the box are organic and have a minimum of ingredients, which is nice, although, I have to admit, I rarely worry much about that because dogs eat all sorts of cr*p in real life when we're not watching so I'm not going to be overly picky about their kibble. It's got to be better than whatever they find in the woods when my back is turned. Still, it's not chemical, so that's a plus.

They both loved the buffalo chews and we're still working our way through the Duck Jerky, but they like that too. I haven't opened the bag of Rabbit Sliders yet. 

 

 
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Again, Spencer's not much of a toy-playing-dog. When she was a puppy she loved plastic water bottles, especially when I froze them. But once she got over a couple of years old she really didn't show much interest in toys anymore. Sometimes she and Sammy would play tug-of-war with a rope toy but it was terribly unfair because Sammy would just lie down on the floor and Spencer couldn't budge the 80-pounds of him, so they mostly mouth-wrestled. 

Auggie, however, is Golden through-and-through. He needs to have something in his mouth. He'd prefer it to be our hands, of course, but that's not allowed, so we keep safer alternatives nearby at all times. He adores his Barkbox toys! 

This stuffed Japanese teapot is his favorite, I think. It's got a rope handle so he can pick it up and swing it back and forth like he would attack an animal in the wild. He gets all cute and growly with it. I hate to burst his bubble by reminding him he's going all wild-dog at a stuffed teapot.  

 
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The sushi roll is filled with crinkly stuff so it makes a great noise when he chews on it, and it's got different textures, plus it also swings around when he shakes it. Very satisfying.

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Sammy shredded every toy so quickly we stopped buying him stuffed things when he was quite young. So far, Auggie isn't shredding his toys. I imagine that'll start happening pretty soon, though, so we'll see how long these last. 

Auggie is a quick learner. As I was opening my StitchFix box when I got home, he was standing right at my side, sure it would be more fun for him! 

So, Barkbox is a huge hit in our house. If you use my referral link to join, your first month is free with any multi-month plan. Woo!

 

Wardrobe Wednesday

I'm home! 

I got home from my big summer work trip this week, just past Monday-turning-into-Tuesday. My flight was scheduled to land at 11:30 pm Monday, so I figured I'd be walking in my front door around midnight. We actually landed about 15 minutes early...but then our luggage got stuck in the baggage chute and it took them almost 40 minutes to get everything sorted out so we could pick up our suitcases. I didn't get home until about 12:30. My husband had waited up for me with the dogs, so I got to see my family and, after my husband went on up to bed, I hung out getting puppy cuddles until I was finally ready to go to sleep an hour or so later. Fortunately, as Tuesday was the 4th of July, a big celebration here in the U.S., I had the day off and we had no plans for family events or anything, so I could just laze as much as I wanted to.

I arrived home to a bunch of boxes, one of which was my July StitchFix. As tired as I was Tuesday, I knew I was pushing the three-day limit to send things back so I tried everything on and got my pics. With apologies for not actually quite looking good enough for public viewing, here we go. 

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First up...I'd said I'd like some casual t-shirt dresses to wear around the house or to summer festivals and the like.

Gee, can you guess? This red tank-top t-shirt dress SO didn't make the cut.

It's not the most flattering of colors on me, to begin with. You can see how it hangs a little too low in the sleeves and shows the side of my undergarments. It's a little twisted (sorry, didn't notice that when I took the picture) so it doesn't look QUITE as bad on me in real life as this picture might suggest, but still, this was not a keeper for me.

If I want a hot-weather dress to wear on the patio that doesn't look great on me I'll just buy one at Target.

Verdict: Returning.

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Another dress-for-summer-festivals they sent me was a much prettier dress overall, but a little fancier than I was picturing, and not a good color on me. I don't have anything against orange but it needs to be a brighter orange or it makes me look like death-warmed-over. Not that I needed much help in that direction the day I took these pictures anyway...

I liked the flutter sleeves on this, and it's a nice, flattering "faux wrap" style. It actually looks better on me than this picture would suggest (I really need to learn how to stand better). But it's not anything I'd wear to a casual summer event. If I had weddings to attend, maybe.  

Verdict: Returning. 

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I thought I'd said in my notes to my stylist that I don't wear shorts. Or, maybe I decided at the last minute to change that and allow the shorts thing to happen to see if I could get some good ones (I mostly don't like shorts because I so rarely find a pair that fit right). I don't remember what I said now--I always suffer amnesia about anything I did before leaving town on a work trip. In any case, I not only got a pair of shorts, but they're the frayed-edge, pretending-to-be-cut-off shorts. I haven't worn cut-offs since I was about 15. I'm not going to start wearing them again at 51. 

These were very comfortable shorts--the same brand as the two pairs of leggings I got from StitchFix before vacation that I love. But because they're a stretchy denim (which is why they're so comfy) they look like they're a tight fit, and that's just not an area of my body on which I'm comfortable putting form-fitting clothes.

The top was definitely more my style and nice enough, but I decided I didn't really need another top like this in my summe wardrobe and I'd rather save the bucks at this point.

Verdict: Returning both.

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The last item I got this month was a great pair of earrings. I had them on for all of these pics, so you can see they're nice, big "statement earrings." I'd been wanting a big pair of earrings to wear when I didn't feel like wearing a necklace, and this pair has the boho vibe I like, they're silver and go with most of my summer wardrobe, and are pretty lightweight despite their size.

Verdict: Keeping. 

So, out of the whole box, I'm keeping one pair of earrings. That doesn't bother me--in fact, had I loved everything in the box I may have ended up in a dilemma because I really do feel pretty set for summer clothes. 

Stay tuned for those other boxes that came while I was gone...

Thinking about It Thursday

This week, I'm thinking...

  • that, no matter how much I love puppy breath and fuzzy fur, it'll be nice to be on the other side of the training again.
  • that entertainment comes in so many forms, like getting so much joy out of the fact that my two dogs are actually playing together now (sometimes).
  • that, to all outward appearances, it would seem that my "healthy living goals" have taken a complete back seat.
  • how it's hard to stick an adorable puppy in the crate so you can go to the gym
    • but that I didn't have the same problem leaving my kids
    • so what does that say about how cute my puppy is compared to my kids?
 
  • how much there is to get done for work this week before I leave town for our big set of national events next week.
  • how it doesn't help that a puppy keeps breaking through my barriers and getting tangled up in wires and unplugging my mouse at random times.
  • that I'm beginning to worry about how much thesis-writing I'll actually get done during sabbatical unless Auggie and I work out a better system.
  • how it somehow makes it all more bearable when I spend a lot of my day working like this.

The Golden Days Phase 2

I hadn't intended to run out and get a new puppy quite so fast. However, the breeder where we had gotten Sammy (best advertisement for a breeder, ever!) had three boys left from her current litter, and no other breeders in the area had any litters even close to being ready for adoption. I have sabbatical in July and August so that's my best time for puppy training (well, and writing my thesis, but mostly puppy training).

Consequently, we now have some new Golden love in our home.

Meet Ogden. Aka Auggie. Aka "No, Auggie! Auggie, no! Auggie, get down! Auggie, leave Spencer alone! No, Auggie, that's not your food! Auggie, stop chewing that!"

Ah yes, the joys of puppydom.

On the other hand...

PUPPY BREATH!!!!!

He's an absolute sweetheart, when he isn't chomping on us with his little needle teeth and digging into us with his little dagger toenails. So far, Auggie doesn't seem to be as food-oriented as Sam was, but that may come with time. I honestly don't remember too many specifics about Sam's puppy days. 

Auggie is a titch over 8 weeks old. I've enrolled us in some puppy playtime/basic obedience classes starting in mid-July, and my niece enrolled in the same class with her new puppy (mixed breed, about 12 weeks now). We're hoping they'll be buddies. 

I've managed to only call him Sammy about eight times--revealingly enough, mostly when I'm telling him to leave his sister alone. Apparently I used to have to tell Sammy that a lot too. It's a knee-jerk reaction. 

Yesterday we started working on the "Come" command. He's about halfway to learning it. Or, he has actually learned it, but Puppy Brain kicks in when he's about halfway to me and suddenly he's off chasing leaves or chewing on grass. We'll get there.

This is more for my sake than yours, but here's Sammy as a puppy next to Auggie as a puppy. Left = Sam, Right = Auggie. Auggie's nose isn't any bigger than Sam's--it's just the angle of the camera. Auggie's face is just a little thinner than Sam's was. Auggie is definitely a darker gold, too. They darken as they get older--it'll be interesting to see what color he ends up compared to Sam. As long as he's my canal walking buddy, I don't care what color he is!

It is a bit odd to still be grieving Sam and crying at odd moments while, at the same time, I'm falling in love with Auggie. I told Auggie that he should be thankful to Sam since it was due to Sam's greatness that I was ready to get Auggie. I've told Auggie some stories about Sam and my Chuck-It games and walking on the canal. He seems to understand his job description: Have fun, play a lot, and be my buddy. He's ready.