Monday, January 18, 2016

Stitch Fix vs. Trunk Club -- the same, but different

Subscription boxes are all the rage these days. From clothes to food, makeup to shaving kits, jewelry to pet treats, there's a box (or boxes) for everyone! Personally, I hate shopping in-store, mostly because it means dragging my kids with me. Oh, and dealing with people. I'd much rather order online, have it shipped to my house where I can try on items without my 4 and 7-year olds bugging me when I'll be finished.

After years of sticking to Old Navy, Gap, NY&Company and a few other retailers, I discovered the wonderful world of fashion subscription boxes. Not only do I get to have the items delivered to my home, I get a "personal stylist" to help me build the wardrobe I want vs. the wardrobe I can find.

I started with Stitch Fix about a year ago after seeing super cute items my friends were receiving. I was leery of the service -- I'm nearly 5'10" so finding items long enough for my frame is a constant challenge. The service costs $20 to receive. You start by filling out a personal style profile complete with age, height, weight, sizes
A sample style option on the Stitch Fix Style Profile
you wear, etc. and then goes a step further by showing you sample styles and having you rate them -- hate it, don't really like it, like it, and love it. Hate your stomach but love to flaunt your legs? You can tell your Stitch Fix stylist! Have an aversion to pink? There's a spot to check that off as well. You can even set your spending limit per category, but as with everything in life -- the more you spend, the better the items you receive! It is highly recommended you build and link a Pinterest board dedicated to the kinds of clothes you like and/or any celebrity style icons you have.

Once your profile is complete, you schedule your "fix" using an interactive calendar. Your Stitch Fix stylist will then select five items for you which can consist of tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear, jewelry, handbags, and in some markets, shoes. You will receive an email when your fix is in progress so you can add any last minute notes, as well as a shipping notification complete with tracking number. Once it ships, you can "peek" at your fix by clicking on the checkout link but be warned -- even if there is a photo provided, the color or pattern may not be accurate. (If you have an iPhone, there's also an app!) After you receive your fix, you have three business days to decide what items you want to keep and you can return the rest in the postage paid bag. If your fix is a 5/5, meaning you keep all of the items, Stitch Fix will give you 25% off your order. Your $20 styling fee is also deducted from any items you choose to keep.

The service relies on a computer algorithm which takes your Style Profile, feedback on the items you receive (the more specific the better), Pinterest board, and your note to your stylist into account. There are many Facebook pages dedicated to the service as well as buy/sell/trade (B/S/T) pages, sorted by size. There's an ongoing debate about if you sell an item to someone else if it messes with your personal algorithm and, ultimately, messes up your style.

For the most part, I've been happy with Stitch Fix but recently my love for it started to wain. As such, I sought out an alternative service and after some researching decide to try Trunk Club.

Trunk Club provides fashion subscriptions for men and women.
Trunk Club is similar to Stitch Fix in that it delivers fashion straight to your door. The big difference is that you get to correspond by email or phone with an actual person who gets to know you and doesn't rely on an algorithm to select items for you. Don't get me wrong, my Stitch Fix stylist has gotten a sense of what I like, but being able to call and speak directly to my Trunk Club stylist provides an added level of personalization. In addition to the stylist, Trunk Club allows you to upload as many photos of yourself as you'd like so your stylist can get a sense of your body type, coloring, and style. You can also provide links to several Pinterest boards.  Trunk Club doesn't cost anything to use -- you only pay for what you decide to keep --  and you receive ten items. There's no "keep all" discount though. The biggest plus to a semi-control freak like me is that your Trunk Club stylist sends a preview of a handful of items (s)he has selected which you can veto before they arrive at your front door. A lot of the items are brand name clothes/accessories (think Lucky Brand, Kate Spade) so they can get pricey, but, as with Stitch Fix, you are able to set budget restrictions. Once your Trunk arrives, you have 10 days to decide what you want to keep and send the rest back with a UPS paid shipping label with pick-up service.

Both services provide incentives if you share a personalized referral link that others use to sign up for the service as well. Stitch Fix provides $25 for someone who signs up and orders a fix, Trunk Club offers $50 for anyone who signs up via your link and spends $50 with the service.

Here's the bottom line comparison...

Stitch Fix                                  Trunk Club
$20 styling fee                          No fee
Uses algorithm/stylist combo  Uses stylist you can correspond with directly
Sends 5 items                           Sends 10 items
3 days to decide                       10 days to decide
Link to one Pinterest board      Link to multiple Pinterest boards
No preview of items                Preview of items with ability to veto
Returns via USPS                    Returns via UPS
$25 referral credit                    $50 referral credit

So there you have it! For now, I think I'll bounce back-and-forth between both services to build my dream wardrobe. Do you have another service you like to use? Did I miss a key selling point for either service? Tell me in the comments!


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

In case you need to know

Since arriving in Texas, we have been battling ants. Little, brown, hard-to-see on dark countertops ants. They're awful and they bite. 

Despite having a pest control service and keeping areas clear of food, they're still finding their way in to our home. The worst has been the swarm in the dog food. Second to that is the collection in the microwave because you can't spray Raid in there. Yay! 

So I did a little test today after finding our microwave full of them again this morning:


Gross, right? Since white vinegar seems to the miracle cleaner of just about everything, I gave it a shot. 

A small bowl of half water and half white vinegar, high on 6 minutes and they're dead. Hooray!! Now to clean up the bodies...

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Post-Moving Blues

PCS season. It's the best of times, it's the worst of times.

Most people shed their proverbial (or sometimes literal) tears at the destination they're leaving. They look in the rearview mirror, snap a photo, and tear up at the the good memories and friends they are leaving behind.

For me, however, the tears are on the other end.

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm happy to leave an assignment but I think the excitement of a new place pushes me past the sadness. My mind spins with the "bucket list" of things to do at our new destination, where the furniture will fit, etc. But then, the blues set in.

The household goods are delivered and unpacked. The walls are decorated with familiar photos and decor. I've learned how to get to the grocery store and Target. And everything else is new. New friends, new school, new church, new gym, new hairstylist, new doctor, new dentist, new times for the kids' activities... THAT is what brings me to tears. Suddenly, the schedule we honed at our previous post no longer works.  My usual "lifeline" -- the local spouses' club -- is a no-go this time around because my son's preK is right in the middle of the events. Two of the three activities my daughter has selected are nearly back-to-back on the same day, as is my son's one sport, and both run though our usual dinner time.

It becomes overwhelming. The stress builds. My temper gets shorter. Flutters race through my heart. I feel alone (even though this time I have a great friend who lives nearby).

And I cry.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What this MilSpouse wants you to know

With all of the ISIS and other acts of terror going on in the world, my facebook feed often has sentiments like these:

"We should just kill them all."
"Let's invade [country]?"
"Why aren't we doing anything?"

As a MilSpouse, these statements make me shudder because if any of those 'wishes' were to be granted, it could be my husband, or the spouse of one of my friends or neighbors to fulfill the task. 

"But your husband was deployed recently, surely he won't go" may be your reply. Let me tell you -- It doesn't matter what rank, where you're stationed, or what job you're doing -- there's always the chance the phone will ring, calling you for another deployment. 

I've watched friends' spouses return from deployment, just to be transferred to anoth unit and head back out the door again. Another six months or more of being separated from family, risking your life, and possibly coming home different than when you left. And then there's the emotional and sometimes physical toll on the ones left behind. 

So the next time something awful happens, post you're mad. Say it's terrible. But please, unless you're volunteering for the mission, please don't play President. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A truly sh*tty situation

Let me start off by saying this may be TMI. You've been warned. 

My 3-yr old has been potty trained for a few months now (hooray!) but has gotten into a bad cycle of holding his poop. The longer he holds it, the harder it gets, the more painful it is to go, and the more he avoids going the next time. 

I was discussing the situation with my friend Liz and we realized parenting is truly a shitty situation. At various points in raising children, you are faces with one or more of the following circumstances:

Take a shit
Generally, this happens while you endure the seemingly never ending task of potty training. Getting them to pee isn't necessarily simple, but compared to getting them to poop it's easy. 

Give a shit
This is a life-long situation. When they're little, you teach them to give a shit about others and not be so self-focused. As they get older, you add giving a shit about themselves -- hygiene, doing well in school, sticking with a sport, etc. 

Not to be a shit
Again, a life-long lesson. Making your child grateful and polite can be a huge challenge in our "on demand" lives. Luckily (or unluckily depending how you look at) my kids are better for other people than for me so I get most of the little shit moments. They aren't fun, but better in our home than in public. Although, let's be honest, those moments happen too. 

Liz and I agreed this is an info graphic waiting to happen so if you're crafty, go for it! Hope your day is shit-less :)

Monday, February 3, 2014

I think I'm finally getting it

Anna: I don't even know what love is.
Olaf the Snowman: That's okay. I do. Love is putting someone else's needs before yours.

             - Frozen

Just about six years into this adventure we call parenting, I think I'm finally getting it. I've long understood the quote above, although it's not always the easiest to follow. Who among us wouldn't rather sleep an extra 30 minutes rather than get up to watch cartoons at 6:30 on a Saturday even though it means missing those 30 minutes with our littles? (I'm sure there are some of you out there, but I really think you're in the minority...)

I had a bit of a revelation over the past week taking a BuzzFeed quizz about what kind of parent I am and was a bit shocked with the answer. The General. Strict and controlling. I couldn't have been more surprised. Not that these quizzes are the true definition of anyone, but still. Is that really me? Am I more worried about schedule and rules than I am having fun with my kids?

That's when it hit me. I want my kids' memories of me to be good ones. Not the mom that loses her crap on a daily basis over them bickering, or the one that is too busy washing dishes to sit down and color. I want to be the one that says yes more than no, even if it means making the millionth rainbow loom bracelet this week and for their memories to be full of my face lit in sunlight, not the glow of my iPhone. My own memories of my childhood are full of loving moments, shared secrets, and the one time I actually got spanked with a Girl Scout manual (I totally deserved it).  As much as I hate to think it, tomorrow is not promised. I wonder if someone was to extract my kids memories of me what they would find.

I'm sure I won't be perfect on this endeavor, and there will still be rules and expectations. But the next time someone asks for a drink and I've just sat down on the couch, I'll say "Sure, what would you like?" rather than "But I just sat down." 
 
And so, with that, I'm off to enjoy rather than dread a snow day with my kids. It's time to make memories.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Revising some recipes

As I've become more confident in my cooking and baking abilities, I've started to adapt recipes that I find -- mostly on Pinterest -- to better fit my family's taste buds and what I already have on-hand. Both of these were BIG winners, so I thought I'd share them.

The first is a dinner that my husband loves and is super simple. The original recipe is called Garlic-Lemon Double Stuffed Chicken. I generally don't have lemon products on hand so that was hurdle number one. I also generally don't have cream cheese, but I happened to have a tub of Philadelphia savory garlic cooking cream so this happened...



I apologize that it doesn't look great, but I'm not a photographer. How it tastes, on the other hand, is AMAZING. The chicken is crazy moist and it's loaded with garlic goodness!

Garlic and Cheese Stuffed Chicken

Ingredients

  • oil, for greasing pan
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 Tablespoons Philadelphia savory garlic cooking creme
  • 4 Cheddar cheese slices
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a shallow baking dish with oil.
  2. Slice each breast in half horizontally, careful to not cut all the way through.
  3. Place one T of cooking cream and 1 slice of cheese, folded in half in the center of each breast. Close each breast and set aside.
  4. Pour milk into a shallow bowl. In a separate bowl, combine bread crubs and Romano cheese.
  5. Dip each breast in milk and then bread crumb mixture, then place in baking dish.
  6. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in garlic, garlic salt and paprika. Drizzle over chicken.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes of until no longer pink.

If you want a print-friendly recipe, click here.

The second recipe I took on is a dessert, another that I found on Pinterest called Better Than Sex Chex Mix. Unfortunately, I couldn't find two of the main ingredients at my grocery store, so I did some substituting and voila!


Another husband-approved dessert. The USMA Cadets we sponsor loved it and called it addicting. You've been warned!

Candy Crunch Chex Mix

Ingredients 

  • 8 cups (approximately one box) Vanilla Chex cereal
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, mini size (not miniature -- mini don't have wrappers)
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup caramel bits
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate baking chips
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate baking chips

Directions

  1. Place cereal into a large microwavable bowl and set aside.
  2. Line cookie sheet with foil.
  3. In a separate microwavable bowl, place brown sugar, butter and corn syrup and heat on high 1 to 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute, until melted and smooth. Stir in baking soda until dissolved and pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.
  4. Microwave cereal on high for 3 minutes, stirring every minute. Spread on cookie sheet and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  5. Break cereal mixture into bite-sized pieces. DO NOT CONTINUE TO NEXT STEP UNLESS COMPLETELY COOL.
  6. Sprinkle mini peanut butter cups and marshmallows over Chex mixture.
  7. In a small microwavable bowl, microwave caramel bits and cream 1 Tablespoon cream uncovered on high for 1 minutes or until chips can be stirred smooth. Using a spoon or fork, drizzle over mixture.
  8. Microwave milk chocolate chips, in 20-second intervals, removing to stir, until completely smooth. Drizzle over mixture.
  9. Microwave white chocolate chips and 1 Tablespoon cream in 20-second intervals, removing to stir, until completely smooth. Drizzle over mixture.
  10. Refrigerate until set. Break apart and store in tightly covered container.


Get the print-friendly recipe here.