J. Crew Fall 2017

I fell a bit out of love with J. Crew after the exit of Jenna Lyons, but I still keep coming back to the well.

With their sales becoming as frequent as Banana Republic’s, it’s also almost impossible to pay full price for anything at J. Crew.

I bit at a recent 30% off sale and picked up this open front sweater blazer, which is a pretty perfect fall camel hue:

I *just* noticed that it also comes in a cool looking olive color, which sets off all kinds of justifying in my mind why I need two extremely similar sweaters.

I decided to pair the sweater with a striped turtleneck that was only $11.99 on sale, a price I could not resist. The vision was to wear the turtleneck, jeans and sweater blazer together for fall, maybe with leopard print sneakers.

The side slits on this sweater – also a turtleneck– intrigued me, and many of my black turtleneck sweaters are looking a bit sad, so I put this in my basket. A fresh (read: not faded or pilled) black turtleneck sweater is a wardrobe must, and it should be replenished the same way that a good white tee needs to be frequently updated. 

I *also just* noticed that this sweater, too, comes in a cool olive color. And now I am self-justifying the purchase of nearly-identical sweater #2.

The last thing that I bought for fall 2017 was this pair of earrings:

Statement earrings aren’t my thing the way that statement necklaces are, but I saw a segment on the Today Show recently where both the interviewer and the interviewee were wearing oversized crystal danglers like these, and I liked the look enough to try it for myself. I was happy that they were bold but not too heavy. It’s hard to tell from the picture but they also have a slight yellow-diamond type tint, which makes them look great with the camel sweater above.

While none of these pieces from J. Crew is a huge style risk, I think they’ll fall into the safe space of being new and versatile enough to feel like I updated my wardrobe more than I did.

What do you like at J. Crew this fall?

 

 

 

 

 

 

School Break

Last week the kids had two days off of school, the famous MEA weekend in Minnesota, where public schools ostensibly give teachers two days off to attend an educational conference.

But basically this is a Mini Spring Break in the Fall, and many families take copious advantage of this to escape town for a long weekend.

Per my usual state, I didn’t prepare well in advance and for Day 1 of break, both MGM and Trixie found themselves back at school for an all-day Kids’ Club session.

Miraculously, I’d had foresight back in the summer to take off work for Day 2 of the break, so we had a whole day to spend together. It was a perfect fall day – warm and sunny – and we decided to do something fall-y, which was to go to a corn maze.

Everyone else in the Metro Area had the same idea. This place was a zoo, figuratively and literally since there was a petting zoo area. 

After paying for entrance fees, face painting, some strange food for the animals at the petting zoo, overpriced drinks and for camel (!) rides, I was suddenly $100 poorer for the effort.

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But the kids had a blast, especially in an area that was like a ball or sand pit, except completely filled with corn.

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On the con side, I’ve been digging corn kernels out of the washing machine for a week.

The weekend held one more perfect day and this time, I decided we were going to get some culture. Off the the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden!

If you’ve ever seen pictures of Minneapolis, there’s a fair chance you’ve seen the most iconic work in the garden, Spoonbridge and Cherry.

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The kids appreciated the art about as much as I predicted, which was approximately a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10.

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This “snowman” sculpture was a hit with the late afternoon sun providing a perfect angle for the shadows:

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The giant blue chicken also did not disappoint:

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In the end we spent about an hour and a half enjoying the sculptures and running up and down the hill behind the Walker Art Center (them, not me).

Perfect way to cap off fall break!

Clue 2017

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Trixie recently discovered the classic boardgame Clue.

You know, the murder mystery game where Colonel Mustard did it with the knife in the Conservatory.

We uprooted my family’s 1970s version (complete with wooden game pieces and at least three characters who appear to be smoking) at my mom’s lake house a few weekends ago, and she quickly became enamored.

So much so that she made her own version:

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There were a few liberties taken with the rooms:

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And the characters:

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Besides Mr. Col. Musterd (sic), there was also Mrs. Musterd, Mr. Salad, Mr. Elevator, and Mrs. Peacock. Of course that temptress Miss Scarlet was also represented.

Some of the weapons were redundant, considering “gun” and “revolver” both made the cut:

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We had a lot of fun playing a few rounds of this version, but in the end we decided to splurge and buy our own 2017 model for the low price of $9 at Target.

Now we can ask Whodunnit every night!

 

October/November Love Goodly Review

Love Goodly is a bimonthly subscription box that features cruelty and toxin free products.

A regular subscription is $29.95 per box (for which Love Goodly promises at least $80 worth of products). As I was researching this post, I noticed there is also a VIP box that is $47.95 per box but promises at least one full sized item in each shipment. This is a review of the regular October/November box.

I first read about this subscription on another site, specifically reviewing the August/September box. This box included a full sized bottle of citrus scented KINDri face oil. I love anything citrus-y, and when the review described the scent as smelling exactly like the orange grove scent that is piped in during Disneyland’s Soarin’ ride, I knew I wanted it. I love that ride, and I knew *exactly* the scent they were describing. Since the face oil alone retails for $45, it seemed like a no-brainer to at least give this subscription a one-box trial. My first box included some hits (the face oil, a neutral but shimmery eye shadow) and some misses (an all natural cream deodorant that went straight into the trash and an unpalatable protein bar that quickly joined it).

I was happy to see my second box on the doorstep when I arrived home tonight.

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The box contained a product information card that included a recipe for vegan corn chowder on the back. The print on the recipe is tiny but honestly, it looks pretty tasty so I might keep this around if I ever get inspired to make soup. There was also a card with information about breast cancer screening and detection, being that October is breast cancer awareness month.

On to the products:

This Bella Pierre loose mineral blush is described as a “universally flattering Autumn Glow,” and the info card suggests using it to extend a summer tan. I swatched it below:

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This was extremely sparkly when I first put it on. I was totally offput by that fact and planned to give this to my eight year old daughter for her play makeup kit. To be fair, after about 20 minutes the sparkle seemed to rub off and I was left with something more terra cotta-ish. I still probably won’t use this, and it definitely does not seem worth the listed $35 value.

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I’m showing the packaging for the next item, which is Moondani Mystic Mint Breath Spray. The listed value is $8.50 and it is described as an all natural breath spray that incorporates cardamom, fennel and ginger. The size of this is small (maybe 3-5 ml?), but it is the right size to carry in a handbag. My package seemed to leak a bit, which is a bummer because in theory, I love weird breath fresheners (Aveda’s mint drops, those Listerine breath strips that look like stamps). I tested it out and the flavor I got was mostly peppermint. The flavor seemed a bit off, which may have been from the leak or perhaps I didn’t shake it up enough. I thought this item was ok, but better in theory than reality.

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This was probably my favorite item in the box, Mr. B’s Calm/Sleep aromatherapy roll on, which contains a blend of lavender, orange and spruce essential oils mixed with jojoba and sweet almond. The listed price is $11.95, which I think is fair. I have good intentions of using this, but there is at least a 50/50 chance that I will forget about it and not use it when I am stressed or want to sleep.

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To me, this looks like a travel sized Mindful Skincare Blueberry Mask, which was surprisingly listed as being a $30 value. Careful reading of the information card suggested that this is, in fact, full sized – something I find hard to believe. The color is a fairly unattractive gray, but the scent and texture are pleasant. I haven’t given the mask the full treatment yet, but I will.

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This brush was the last item in the box. It’s from 100% Pure and is listed as a $19 value. The brushes are antibacterial, synthetic fibers. Overall this is a nice brush. I have a lot of spare makeup brushes, so this isn’t something I need but I will probably end up stashing it and using at some point.

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Overall, I found that this box also had hits and misses. I was disappointed that the breath freshener leaked. The aromatherapy roll on was a nice discovery, and I will at least try the blueberry mask and eventually use the brush. The blush? Probably still going to my eight year old daughter.

What do you think of this month’s Love Goodly box?

 

 

A Great Deal at L’Occitane

Yesterday Trixie (8) and I were out running errands, which basically meant I went shopping and took her with me.

I’ve got it in my head that I need a few new things to wear to an upcoming conference, and I wanted to hit up a nearby boutique where I’ve had good luck in the past.

I grabbed a mountain of clothes to take to the dressing room, with Trixie providing a running commentary on my choices, their fit and my overall physical flaws.

I may re-think taking her with me next time.

After a dozen possibilities, I ended up with only two things: a pair of black pants (yawn, I know) and a black dress.

This is the dress:

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I love the gold zipper in the back:Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 2.01.53 PM

Mission accomplished at the boutique, we wandered through the rest of the mall to get to our car.

Until a divine smell emanating from L’Occitane pulled us in.

L’Occitane is a brand that I genuinely like, but to which I never remain loyal.

Their product line is fairly wide but they tend not to introduce new items often. They’ve been selling the same candied fruits candle, lavender sachets and shea butter tins for nearly two decades, but that’s ok with me.

A sign in the shop indicated that there was a pretty posh Gift With Purchase for a $125 spend.

I’d heard about L’Occitane’s advent calendars but this was the first time I got to see them up close. This year there is a Signature version that retails for $69 and a Luxury one for $124.

Here is the Luxury model:

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Inside are travel sized L’Occitane favorites, 24 total. While I wanted this for myself, I decided to purchase one to give as a gift.

Even with the Luxury calendar, I was still $1 short of the Gift With Purchase, so I opted to add this:

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This Aromachologie Pillow Mist smells heavenly.

From L’Occitane:

The relaxing pillow mist contains the essential oils of lavender, bergamot, mandarin, sweet orange and geranium.

Since the pillow mist is $24, that put me squarely in Gift With Purchase territory.

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The gift contains more-than-expected quantities of lotions, potions and elixirs, and the free tote bag that comes with it is also quite cute.

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It’s denim and canvas, very lightweight but still something that will I carry now while I tackle even more endless errands. 

This particular deal from L’Occitane runs through tomorrow, but if you miss out, there will be another.

Pro tip: L’Occitane also has great outlet stores where they will frequently sell past Gifts With Purchase at bargain prices. I will be doing some premium outlet shopping next month and I will be sure to swing by L’Occitane.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awesome Smoothie Ingredient

Lately I’ve been back into using my Vitamix to make protein-rich smoothies for breakfast, which I pour into an insulated bottle (this one) and drink when I remember them, which is usually around 11 AM.

My usual recipe: 8 ounces of unsweetened almond milk, a scoop of vanilla protein powder, and frozen fruit.

Even though this process only takes five minutes, I’m always on borrowed time in the morning and I’m all for anything that streamlines my routine.

And confession: I also recently discovered that the estimated portions of frozen fruit that I have been using – measured with the time-tested technique I refer to as “eyeballing” the amount – are roughly double what they should be.

Last weekend I picked up this bag of frozen mango chunks at the grocery store:

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But what I didn’t realize is that inside this bag, there are five pre-portioned bags of mango chunks.

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Each bag is eight ounces, which is the perfect amount for a smoothie. The stats aren’t bad, either, since each bag contains 90 calories and there is no added sugar.