Stitch Fix #8

After disappointment with Stitch Fix #7, I wasn’t sure how Numero Ocho would pan out.

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First glance at unboxing showed a lot of promise:

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Lots of green and blue

As a sidenote, I’d also just received a dress from Banana Republic that I was banking on being something I could take on our upcoming trip to Alaska. I have one M.M. LaFleur dress (this one) that I’m bringing, and I was hoping to get away with just one other dress for the trip. When this one arrived, though, it was just wrong, wrong, wrong. So I was really praying that Stitch Fix had sent me a usable dress for the trip.

First item up:

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A dress! Score! This navy blue Donna Morgan dress was definitely my style.

Here’s a close up of the fabric:

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The only potential problems I saw with the dress were the possibility of wrinkles and the price, which was $158 (more on that later).

The second thing I discovered in the box was this Skies are Blue plaid shirt:

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This was a cute shirt. The colors are pink, green and navy. It’s made of 100% cotton but feels more like linen, and the construction is two-layered. I almost thought it was reversible until I realized it was two layers of very thin fabric – something that actually resembled cheesecloth – sewn together. The major issue was that the arms were too tight, which was depressing.

Next up: this green open cardigan.

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This was ok, but not a real style risk. I liked the color and while I have a lot of cardigans – some even nearly identical in style – I don’t have anything that’s quite this shade of green in my closet. It was a possibility.

The last clothing piece was a striped t shirt:

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Now, I definitely love a striped shirt. I thought that this would be a match made in heaven. It was ok, but oddly enough, it felt matronly (a look I am not going for) when I tried it on.

The final item in the Fix was this necklace:

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I hated this! I didn’t even take it out of the box. It looked cheap and you can see the “Made in China” tag in the photo above. Ick.

With the plaid shirt that didn’t fit and the hideous necklace, it was clear that I would be sending stuff back.

And that’s where Stitch Fix Math kicked in: it just doesn’t make sense to pay full retail for anything they send except for items I absolutely love.

Back went the t shirt.

Back went the dress.

Last Fix I didn’t keep anything and lost my $20 styling fee.

This time I decided to bite on the cardigan, which ended up being $48 – $20 styling fee = $28, a price I liked.

I’m still waffling on whether to continue with Stitch Fix or not. From reading other blogs and my friends’ experiences, I think there may be an arc to a Stitch Fix relationship, and I may be past the curve on the downside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Run Disney Pixie Dust Challenge 2016

Yesterday registration opened for the 2016 Tinkerbell Half Marathon Weekend, which is slated for May 5-8, 2016, at Disneyland.

I really wanted to participate again in this race, since it’s the Fifth Anniversary and I’d be five-for-five in running.

I also wanted to do the Pixie Dust Challenge, which is where you run a 10k one day and a half marathon the next.

But here’s the problem: Run Disney races have become so popular that they usually sell out, and quickly.

Case in point: the 2015 Wine & Dine Half Marathon sold out in a scary half hour. 

I managed to secure two spots in the Wine & Dine for Spouse and myself, but it involved setting a reminder alarm, panicked screen refreshing, etc.

So yesterday I was prepared for the worst. 

With a full roster of A.M. duties, I tried to efficiently pace my day so that I could carve out a niche of time right when registration opened at 11 A.M. Central.

At 11:01, I was at my computer and headed to the Run Disney site.

I was prepared for what happened next, which is that I was directed to a queue to register. Sometimes this queue takes up to 20 minutes, and you need to be ready when it’s your turn.

I was in line less than a minute, though, and quickly got directed to the registration.

By 11:03, I was in the Pixie Dust Challenge. Score!

Curiosity got the best of me, though, so I kept refreshing the registration page during the day.

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By 11:30 A.M., the Pixie Dust Challenge was 70% full.

By 11:50 A.M., the Pixie was 75% full and the half marathon by itself was 50% full. The 10k was 70% full.

Day’s end showed the Pixie at 80% full and the half marathon still clung at the halfway mark.

Today, the Pixie is at 85% capacity, the half is still at 50%, the 10k is sold out, and the 5k is 99% full. The kids’ races are sold out.

So, how do you secure a spot? I still haven’t figured it out 100%, but here are a few tips I’ve learned over time:

  • Sign up for a Run Disney email reminder. They’ll send you a message about a week out from registration.
  • Set multiple alarms and reminders for registration.
  • Go to the website early and keep refreshing until registration opens.
  • Sign up for an Active.com account ahead of time (it’s free), so the entry can be pre-populated with some of your information (address, age, etc). This considerably speeds up the registration process.
  • Don’t forget your Active.com password! This happened to me once and it took several attempts for me to get it right. This time, I was ready.
  • Have your credit card in hand. They want payment at the time of registration.
  • Follow Run Disney on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. They’ll often have extra reminders there, too.
  • Consider buying an annual pass to Disneyland or Walt Disney World. Annual passholders and Disney Vacation Club members get a two week head start on registration. Lucky them!

 

 

 

 

 

M.M. LaFleur Bento Box #1

Recently I was introduced to M.M. LaFleur via my favorite new blog, Hitha on the Go.

[Ok, I am super nuts about Hitha’s blog, and – truly, I swear! – not in a creepy way. She also sent a nice message thanking me for my fan post about her blog, which was completely awesome].

Back to business: M.M. LaFleur is sort of like an upscale Stitch Fix that focuses on work wear.

Their hook is that you can sign up for a Bento Box, which consists of 4-6 wardrobe pieces selected for you after completing a personal style profile.

They also have a carefully curated online shop carrying plenty of things that caught my eye, but I decided to go for the element of surprise and ordered a Bento.

How it works: You get the items and have four days to decide what to keep. You pay for what you like and the rest gets sent back.

Unlike Stitch Fix, there’s no keep-it-all discount, and the pieces are all considerably more spendy than Stitch Fix’s usual fare.

Here’s what I received:

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Everything was packaged in a plastic zip-lock bag inside a cardboard box

 

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From top to bottom, these are an Etsuko dress, the Sarah 4.0, a Hanna dress, and the Angelique blazer.

First of all, the fabrics and cuts of all of these items were really nice. The quality was outstanding.

The bad part is that the top two dresses looked absolutely terrible on me.

They managed to emphasize all the parts of my figure that I’d rather forget. Ugh. Sigh.

Back they went.

The Hanna, however, was absolutely perfect. I loved it the minute I saw it on the website. Now I only hope I can score it in black, too.

The Angelique was also very nicely constructed and reminded me of a St. John knit blazer. Keeper.

The last item in the box was this book:

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The M.M. LaFleur site specifically mentions that they sometimes will throw a free gift into a Bento, and at first glance, that’s exactly what I thought this was.

Except the sticker in the upper right says that you will be charged if you unwrap the book from its plastic covering. Which I did. Sayonara, $26.

In the end, I kept the Hanna dress, the Angelique blazer and the book.

And I ordered another Bento. 

Once I get my sizing figured out, I’ll probably place a strategic order from their online shop for a few more pieces.

I say “strategic” because I made a quick calculation of all the clothes and jewelry (they have great jewelry!) I liked and the tally was north of $2400, so the Wish List and the Buy List are not likely to coincide.

Returns were easy. They sent a label and even a piece of tape to seal the box. I dropped it off at a UPS store less than 24 hours after the box arrived on my doorstep.

Here’s a close-up of the inside of the box, which I thought was a fun touch:

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Dublin Recap, Part 2

Yesterday I wrote about the first part of my recent trip to Ireland.

If you’re inclined, you can read about that here.

Quick recap: I went to Dublin last weekend with two friends to run in the Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon.

Sunday (August 2nd) was race day.

The weather for the prior day had been sunny and in the 60s, but as everyone warned us (repeatedly), it’s often raining in Ireland.

The starting line was almost exactly two miles from our rented apartment, and after considering options we decided to walk.

Temps were in the 50s and there was a steady pre-race drizzle.

We got there with just enough time to drop gear bags and hit the port-o-potties before taking off.

Fortunately, the rain abated and the race itself was dry, although I found the wet pavement a bit slippery.

I ran the whole course with my friend J. Our other friend, B., ran the race with an Irish friend.

Here’s a description of the course from the official website:

Race past Dublin’s famous sites including Ha’Penny bridge, Christ Church Cathedral, Brazen Head Pub (Ireland’s oldest pub), James Joyce Museum and the Guinness Brewery.

So, I guess we raced past all of those places but I was pretty focused on running, not sightseeing.

B. later told us that she had an ongoing commentary from her Irish friend and that we also passed the President’s House and the home of the U.S. Ambassador.

Huh.

The last part of the race went through Phoenix Park, which is more than 1700 acres and dates back to the 17th century.

J. and I finished the course in about 2:08, which is not my best time but also not my worst. 

One thing I loved about the race: salty bags of potato chips waited for finishers. 

One thing I didn’t love about the race: we had to wait about 45 minutes in freezing, drizzly weather (it started raining again) for a shuttle bus to take us back to City Center.

The rest of Sunday consisted of showers, hot coffee and then dinner with a group of B’s friends who live in Dublin.

And here’s a cool thing that happened: I posted a post-race photo on Facebook and another friend texted me during dinner that she was also in Dublin.

A quick look at the map showed that we were only five minutes apart, so I ducked out of the end of dinner to briefly meet up with her.

There was a great moon over St. Patrick’s Cathedral as we walked back to our apartment:

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On Monday we played tourist.

Stop one was the Guinness Brewery, which was a terrific tour that incorporated every sense, including smell (there was a room dedicated to smelling the major aromas in Guinness via large diffusers), sound (an electric harp you could play, a surround sound theater playing ads from all over the world), touch (piles of barley to rake your hands through), sight (art everywhere), and, of course, taste.

This is a sculpture that emulates a pint of Guinness:

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Two statues representing iconic ads:

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The fish on the bicycle was a kinetic piece that moved.

And while we were able to get a whole pint at the end, there was another spot on the tour where you could sample a tiny Guinness:

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This was adorable.

Next we went to the Old Jameson Distillery (Whiskey Tour #2 if you’re keeping track), and like Whiskey Tour #1, I didn’t like the whiskey. Again, sacrilege.

That evening we spent 45 painful minutes in a truly terrible tour of the National Leprechaun Museum, which was too bad to even discuss.

Dinner at Rustic Stone restaurant redeemed the night. This was an excellent meal, probably the best we’d had in Dublin and that is saying a lot.

Tuesday started early with a cab to the airport and the first of two flights home.

The best part is that the three of us unanimously agreed that we have to do this again. What great travel companions!

Here are a few more snaps:

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Colorful knitted trees on the grounds of St. Patrick’s Cathedral

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City view

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Wig shop!

 I couldn’t have made this trip any better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dublin Recap, Part 1

After a very close call with getting my new passport, I made it to Dublin last week for a girls’ trip with my fun friends J. and B.

The trip went something like this: B. and I flew from Minneapolis and met up with J. at JFK – with a tight connection for us and and a nail biter for J. – and then took a red eye to Dublin.

With the time change (only six hours), we arrived in late morning.

B’s Irish friend generously picked us up at the airport and took us to pick up our race packets, which was an amazing help – especially since the race expo was located far away from where we were staying.

It was still too early to get into the Airbnb apartment we’d rented (this one; it was my first experience with Airbnb and it was great!), so we headed to brunch here.

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A word about the food we ate: it was across-the-board ah-ma-zing.

I’m not sure what I expected for Irish cuisine, but part of it was an outdated vision of baked beans/sausages/fried tomatoes for breakfast and some potato-centric pub food for dinner.

Shame on me. I got it totally wrong.

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These huevos rancheros were pretty insane.

After brunch, we met up with our Airbnb host, Wayne, and he acclimated us to our three bedroom apartment located around the corner from St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

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Street view

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My cute room with a sliding door

While the building was old – and charmingly so – the apartment was completely modern. It was a three bedroom, two bath place that we had all to ourselves.

The location was also unbeatable, since we could walk almost anywhere within the City Center within 10-20 minutes.

We were tired the first afternoon but decided to rally.

After showers and caffeine, we went around the corner to tour the Teeling Distillery, which makes small-batch whiskey.

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Full disclosure: I am not into whiskey and these samples went nearly untouched. Sacrilege, I know. 

I loved the Banksy-esque street art we saw in our neighborhood, too:

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That night we ate at a restaurant recommended by our Airbnb host called Darwins.

It had a funny nautical vibe and I loved the bread and butter they brought:

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Portrait painted to look like it was in a porthole on a door

We turned in early that night because we knew the race would come early the next day.

I’ll post about the race and the rest of the trip tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I Packed for Ireland

This feels fragile, since I’m typing before I’ve actually left the Continental 48.

With my passport arriving in the nick of time, I’m hoping that I’ll be in Dublin, Ireland, as you read this.

For this trip, I took a cue from Hitha On the Go and packed a duffel for my European trip.

Why a duffel?

A 54-minute layover at La Guardia cemented the deal to carry on, only.

What I brought, more or less:

  • This Kate Spade Saturday Weekender bag, which appears to no longer be available since the Saturday brand closed shop.

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  • Three pairs of shoes: Converse shoes for the plane and walking around, Tory Burch flats for anything slightly dressy, and running shoes.

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  • Running gear, since we’re going for a race. This is all tucked into the bottom of the bag, which has a zippered compartment.

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  • Two sweaters (one from Athleta and the other from an early Stitch Fix)

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  • A thin black Splendid sweater

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  • Two pairs of jeans (skinny, boyfriend) and a pair of printed pants from Athleta (not shown, which is a shame because they are very cute and on sale right now)

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  • Two scarves

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  • Compression socks to keep my legs fresh on the plane

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  • PJs, underwear, socks (not showing, sorry!)
  • Toiletries (here’s where I used up a lot of the samples I’ve hoarded, including a lot of single-use foil packets. This is also a great compact travel razor)

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Here’s how I’m putting the outfits together:

1. Layered outfit to travel to Ireland (jeans, a white tank, a Sundry tee, Athleta sweater, scarf, Converse shoes, necklace):

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2. Saturday for packet pickup and walking around (boyfriend jeans, blue tank, plaid shirt, Converse shoes):

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3. Saturday dinner (black tank, black sweater, printed pants, flats, fancy earrings, printed scarf, nylon crossbody bag)

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4. Sunday #1 – Race outfit (see above)

5. Sunday #2 – Pub dinner (jeans, blue tank, white sweater, flats, scarf, earrings)

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6. Monday sightseeing – Recycled outfit from Saturday night’s dinner

7. Tuesday traveling home (jeans, striped tee, Athleta sweater, Converse shoes)

Here’s a shot of almost everything that went in the duffel, minus the running stuff which was already in the bottom compartment:

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It all fit neatly into the bag with some room to spare.

I was aspiring to wear everything twice, and I might not quite get there with a couple of the pieces, but I can live with that.