Making It Monday

Got this done last week. My goal was four in March, and I got four done in March--and we still have a week left! I'm working on #5. (And yes, I'll press all of these eventually. I just get too excited to wait until I've done that to take my picture.) Just realized that the second bat doesn't have claws on his banner-holding side. I'll have to quickly add those. Things you don't see until you're looking at the picture!

 

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Fight the Funk Friday

Well, hip, hip, hooray--I'm finally back at it again!

I'm 95% over this dang cold. I can still get coughing when I'm laying down in bed at night, and I'm still pretty snuffly when I wake up in the morning, and talking for prolonged periods of time can still be a bit of a problem...

...but really, I'm 95% over it!

I've been back to my 5k training since last week. I took the first few sessions pretty easy, working my way back up to the interval timing we're supposed to be using this week. I'm now at the right timing, but I'm keeping it slower than I had in the past (see yesterday's post). The nod to me still being in recovery is that I have yet to run outside again. It's still been pretty dang cold out there and I didn't want to risk irritating my lungs by inhaling all that frigid air for 45 minutes straight. So, if the weather prediction stays as it is right now (Saturday is supposed to be in the high 30s, which is balmy compared to what its been), tomorrow morning will be my first time back running with the group. Since I've only been doing treadmill running which is significantly easier than running outside, I still have some small concern about being able to keep up with the pack. But I think I'll do okay. 

I also finally got back to a session with my trainer again yesterday. She *sorta* took it a little easy on me, kinda. She started out saying that we'd worry more about having an FPR rather than a WPR--in other words, a "Form Personal Record" rather than a "Weight Personal Record." She had me do some work with kettlebells that, although it seems like mostly arm work, really gets your entire body. When we were done and I was walking towards the locker room, I realized my stride had changed because I was trying to get my land-legs under me again. She gave me permission to email her and cuss her out on Saturday when all my muscles seize up. It's always the second day after a workout, not the first, that's the worst. But whining aside, it really did feel good to be back at it. Even if I did bruise my shoulders with the kettlebells a couple of times--I did at least manage not to knock myself unconscious (although it was close once!). 

I was doing the "clean" part of this--which is lifting and flipping the weight around with your wrist--and squat, but not the press. And no, my kettlebell wasn't quite that big. Ahem. Or even close. I also did swings and something else that I can't remember what she called it but we renamed it the "lawnmower" as I was lifting and pulling the kettlebell back like I was starting a lawnmower with a pullcord. It was a fun set, but hard work.

As far as Weight Watchers is concerned, I managed to lose a whopping 2/10 of a pound this week. And yes, that DOES count. I'm pleased that I was able to stop the upward trajectory that my two-weeks of sick had put me on, so now we're turning the ship around. I've got another major milestone I'd really like to make before Easter. Nothing special happening at Easter--it's just a convenient time-marker for me.

I'm trying to get myself moving more during the day but I keep forgetting. That's where I really miss my FitBit--the Apple Watch movement alarm is way too easy to miss. I'm working on making mental connections between actions, such as "turn on electric kettle to heat water up for tea, pace the first floor while tea is heating," and so forth. That at least gets me moving around a little more than usual. 

Despite the weather of late, we are starting to see the sun more frequently. So I know spring is on its way!

By the way, a couple of you have let me know that following my story is inspiring you to take some steps (so to speak) towards working on your own health. I'm thrilled! I can't tell you what that means to me to hear. I hope you're finding motivation in my less-than-perfection because that's what makes it all work.

Photo by Eric Fleming. Used by permission, Creative Commons.org

Photo by Eric Fleming. Used by permission, Creative Commons.org

As they often say, no toddler learning to walk ever took their first fall, then threw up their hands and said, "That's it. Obviously I'm a failure and can't do this, so why even bother?" Nope. They may cry a little bit, but sometimes they giggle. Most importantly, they keep trying. 

You go. You can do this. I know you can.

Thinkin' about It Thursday

This week, I'm thinking...

  • that I really am just so done with snow and cold (Unlike Frances, I do occasionally complain about the weather.)
  • that even the dogs were unsure about the last one
    • especially when it started thawing
    • and got a hard crust on top
    • but still had a soft, squishy middle
    • and they kept falling through
    • but that didn't stop them from trying to chase squirrels
 
  • how a treadmill in the gym is an okay option when it's still too cold to run outside lest I irritate my barely-recovered lungs
    • but it's a little boring
    • even when I'm running away from zombies
    • so I'm looking forward to slightly-warmer-than-freezing-temperatures so I can run outside again with the 5k program gang
  • that working my way back up from where I was before the Two Week Nastiness is a little frustrating
  • how I need to keep reminding myself to take it slow
  • how, on the other hand, I may be finding a more comfortable pace
  • that I'm not out to win medals or break speed records
  • how I really just want to get to the point where I can run 5k continuously with no walking
  • how that means keeping it slow for now is probably smarter anyway
    • but I refuse to call the Two Week Nastiness a "blessing in disguise"
    • unless you count DH saying "bless you" when I sneezed
    • but that wasn't really in disguise
    • so nope, doesn't count
    • that I'm getting better about doing embroidery while I'm watching TV
    • how it's nice to finally be making a little progress 
    • that maybe I'll actually be done with the Halloween BOM in time for Halloween this year
      • but let's not get ahead ourselves
      • this is me we're talking about, after all

    Wardrobe Wednesday

    Really. The alliteration. I'm killing myself here.

    Just a brief post about my ongoing work on my wardrobe. Just in case anyone finds it useful. 

    I've decided that capsule wardrobes can err on the side of dull. Or that I need a lot more variety than I thought I did. Really, probably a dash of both.

    I can see the use of a capsule wardrobe. Getting 30-plus outfits out of seven garments (or whatever) sure is a great way to save money. And I can certainly see the use for travel. I've looked at a ton of capsule wardrobes on Pinterest and in blogs (The Vivienne Files is an excellent resource for them) and have gotten some good ideas for how to organize my own shopping lists.

    Lots o' color. White, yellow, mint green/turquoise (and one remaining dark green that I'm not putting away until the snow melts), purple, fuschia, coral, navy, gray, black...

    Lots o' color. White, yellow, mint green/turquoise (and one remaining dark green that I'm not putting away until the snow melts), purple, fuschia, coral, navy, gray, black...

    Unfortunately, most capsule wardrobes are created based on severely limiting your color options or going all-neutral. And I really like color.

    A lot of color.

    And I really like options.

    A lot of options.

    I suppose I should've seen that coming. I've told my husband a number of times that I want our front garden to be "a riot of color," as opposed to the bank of solid color that he envisions (we debate which would be more striking). I like using a lot of colors in my quilts--I'm not an "all solids" quilt person nor, particularly, a modern quilter with lots of white (or gray) space and just a couple of colors sparingly placed. I can appreciate those quilts when other people make them--I've seen lots of them I really like. I just don't want to make them myself. 

    A riot of color. In my closet. That's my jam.

    Look at that. Finally some light and color amidst all my dark wash jeans and black dress pants! And a touch of Lularoe on the side...

    Look at that. Finally some light and color amidst all my dark wash jeans and black dress pants! And a touch of Lularoe on the side...

    So now I've started to think in terms of "capsules within my wardrobe" rather than "a capsule wardrobe." Capsules can be very helpful when you're shopping, as you can more easily think through whether a new item will be able to fit into a multitude of outfits with what you already own. And you can identify gaps more easily. It wasn't until I started putting my individual clothing items into capsules using templates from Vivienne Files and Inside Out Blog (see this post) that I was able to identify that I had no light bottoms or light shoes whatsoever, which is a bit of a problem going into spring and summer. I've since rectified that.

    Plus, of course, there's the packing thing. If I'm only doing a weekend, sure--I can limit my colors. But if I'm at a week-long event, I sure as heck don't want to be wearing combinations of the same two or three colors every single day. I'd go insane. I can limit myself to a certain extent, of course, but I like to look different every day, not just a variation on a theme. 

    All of this is to say, of course, that there's no real right or wrong, or hard-and-fast rules, about style. Do what works for you. I'm organizing my Stylebook app "looks" (outfits) into capsules by color combinations so that I know what I've got. I may also do a few that are "Weekend away" or "Work Week" that are just ideas of things I could pack that would give me the most options without splitting the seams on my suitcase. Really, it's all in the planning. 

    Do you have a capsule wardrobe? What do you think about them? What are your personal pros and cons?

    (By the way, I've got Amber, my Trunk Club stylist, working on sunglasses for me. I have difficulty finding sunglasses that work with my face shape and are comfortable to wear for hours on end. Those stupid little angled mirrors that are usually all you get in sunglass displays don't help. So the idea of her sending me several options to try in the comfort of my own home, where I can actually see what I'm doing and maybe even take them out for a "test drive" --ar ar ar--to see if they'll give me a headache after ten minutes is hugely appealing. I'll keep you posted!)

    Tea Tuesday (an OT post)

    So, perhaps I've taken the whole alliterative title thing a little too far...

    I'm pleased to say that over the weekend I finally turned a corner on the cold thing. Not quite ready to say it's completely gone as the cough lingers on a bit, but it no longer directly affects my day-to-day so it's good. I'm back to my 5k training, which feels great, and I'll be able to pick things back up with my strength trainer at our appointment later this week. I knocked out a paper this weekend and am all caught up on my school reading. It's a nice recovery after the mayhem of the earlier part of this month!

    Meanwhile, I have a recommendation for you. I was drinking gallons of tea over the couple of weeks I was sick. My husband, daughter, and I are all big tea drinkers, although my husband only has a limited number of flavors he likes (Earl Grey, Moroccan Mint, and the occasional green tea--though he mostly drinks plain hot water which we jokingly refer to as "white tea"). My daughter and I are the more adventuresome types. When she was still living at home we had difficulty getting all our varieties to fit on the tea shelf. 

    I was recently contacted by Andy Hayes, founder of Plum Deluxe teas in Portland, Oregon. He noted how often I referred to tea on my blog and asked if he could send me some samples. As I coughed my way through my email, I thought, "Sure, why not?" He asked me what kind of tea I was interested in and I let him know some of my basic likes and dislikes, and just a few days later I got Happy Mail including three samples of some of their more popular teas.

    Let's start with the general overview: Plum Deluxe teas are fair trade and organic. I've been in search of a good fair trade coffee and have yet to find one I like. I'm pleased to say that the same is not true for these teas: These are fantastic! They're also blended by hand when they're ordered, so they're not shipped from some big production house and sitting in bags on shelves for years until they make it to you. They have a great blog covering all sorts of topics, and a newsletter that's got interesting tidbits, life balance encouragement, recipes, and ideas for entertaining. Additionally, Plum Deluxe has a philanthropy fund that it uses to support worthy causes. They list several of the things they've supported in the past on their website. As you can guess, that was a major plus for me before I'd even tasted the teas!

    So...let's get on to the teas, shall we?

    The three samples he sent were the Oregon Breakfast Black Tea, Refreshing "After Dinner" Mint Tea, and Easy to Be Herbal Tea. 

    Oregon Breakfast Black Tea--photo from plumdeluxe.com. 

    Oregon Breakfast Black Tea--photo from plumdeluxe.com

    Let's start with the Oregon Breakfast Black Tea. In Andy's email, he said this was the most popular of their teas among coffee drinkers. Whether it's because I'm a coffee drinker or not, I could probably just say "yum!" and end my review there. But you know me better than that.

    My daughter happened to be crashing at our house overnight the day I got these samples. She was standing with me at the kitchen counter when I opened each bag, so we were each taking deep inhales from the bags. (That's not illegal. Really.) When we sniffed this one, we looked at each other, eyes wide. "Holy cow," I said, or something along those lines (!). "This is amazing!" It's deep and rich but not at all bitter, which a lot of "teas for coffee drinkers" can be. 

    It's a black tea with other additions, such as a hint of orange and hazelnut. You can smell the hazelnut more strongly than you can taste it, which is exactly what I like. I don't like an overpowering hazelnut flavor--I like it to float underneath whatever it's flavoring, and with this tea, that's exactly what happens. And the orange doesn't taste like orange--it's more of a bright note to balance out the black tea and the nuttier hazelnut. All in all, a fantastic blend.

    I'm not inclined to give up coffee, but I do find myself finishing my coffee faster in the morning so I can still get in a cup or two of the Oregon Breakfast tea before noon (my cut-off time for caffeine lest I not sleep at night). 

     
    After Dinner Mint Tea--photo from plumdeluxe.com. 

    After Dinner Mint Tea--photo from plumdeluxe.com

    Plum Deluxe's Refreshing "After Dinner" Mint tea is a blend of peppermint and spearmint, with a few other herbs added in to give it some complexity.

    I'm a mint tea connoisseur at this point. Mint is my go-to flavor, and I have at least three different versions in my tea cupboard. In this case, I liked the complexity of the "After Dinner" Mint tea but I could've used a little stronger mint flavor. Now, mind you, I'm pretty picky about my mint tea. I've had mint teas that tasted like I was drinking liquified toothpaste and almost felt like they were burning the tastebuds right off my tongue; I've had others that felt like hot water with a mint leaf barely dipped in and then thrown away. This one was a little on the quiet side of middle; many folks would probably like it, but for me it could have used a more obvious mint kick to it. I've taken to doubling the suggested amount of tea for one cup and steeping it longer than recommended to boost the mint flavor closer to what I like. That being said, I don't mind that this one was a little less of a big deal for me because I so thoroughly enjoyed the other two. 

     
    Tea Subscription option--photo from plumdeluxe.com. 

    Tea Subscription option--photo from plumdeluxe.com

    The third sample, and my other favorite of the three, is Easy to Be Herbal Tea. This one is fascinating. It's also not a super-strong flavor but it's got a lot going on. I think if any of the individual flavors were any stronger, it would be less enjoyable. In the few days since I've gotten these samples, I've fallen into the habit of having the Oregon Breakfast tea when I'm done with my coffee in the morning and then switching to the Easy to Be herbal tea in the afternoon. Easy to Be has a mix of blueberries, raspberry leaves, cranberries, and lots of other good stuff, but it doesn't come out as "fruity." There's a hint of fruit aftertaste to it, but it's not overpowering. I have some other fruit teas, unsweetened, that still taste a little like I'm drinking hot Kool-Aid. There's a time and a place but, generally, I like things a little more subtle (other than my mint, of course). And, again, that smell! I have my sample bags sitting out on my counter and it isn't unusual for me to pull one of them open, take a deep whiff, and close it up again. 

    I can see making iced tea out of this one in the summer. Tasty. Unfortunately, you can't just buy this one--it's only available to the subscription members

    After I'd had two or three cups of each of the samples, I went on the website and bought a few more. I'll be getting the House Blend Black Tea ("Creamy Vanilla English Breakfast") and Portland Rose City Chai, plus a "Blender's Choice," which means they get to send me whatever they want. It'll be a fun adventure! There are a ton of other very tasty options on their site I'll have to work my way through. They have a subscription club which I may do at some point, but at the moment I'm being very cognizant of my already-overflowing tea cupboard. I need to throw a few more tea parties!

    So, thank you, Andy, for the free samples. I enjoyed the experience and look forward to enjoying more of your teas in the future!

    (I'm not being compensated for this post, beyond the three free samples I got to begin with. And the words are all mine. I just love tea and am happy to spread the word about a great fair trade product!)

     

     

     

    Fight the Funk Friday

    I really, really need to fight the funk this week. Between still being sick, piles of snow outside my window, and having another slight weight gain because I haven't been able to be active at all for nearly two weeks, I've just been feeling frustrated and cranky. Normally I have a really great attitude about my weight loss journey but when I got on the scale this week I just got royally p.o.'d. So I allowed myself a few minutes to wallow in self-pity, then looked up some motivational quotes (sometimes they do help even if they're a little hokey), and tried to get my head back in a good place. This blog post is "Preaching to Myself," and hoping that maybe my readers will find a little inspiration and motivation in it for themselves.

    I do view it as a sign of how far I've come in general that when I was watching an episode of Inspector Lewis (I found a new season on Amazon Prime--woo!) a couple of days ago, one of the characters was running and my instant thought was, "I really wish I could get back to that!" I could feel my body get a little rush of adrenaline just at the thought of running again. It didn't last long, and I started coughing again soon after, but the thought was there. Six months ago, I wouldn't have had that same reaction. So even if my body isn't currently up for, the muscle memory is still lurking around the edges. 

     

    Still n' all, I know part of the weight gain is that I've been slacking in paying attention to portion sizes. Not much weighing and measuring going on lately, so I need to get back to that. 

    I'm not beating myself up. I'm still fitting into all of my new clothes in my new size. I can still see the difference in the mirror compared to where I was. Although at the moment I'm not feeling the zing of energy and the improvement in strength, I had been before and I know it'll come back. I know my current, momentary frustration and depression has everything to do with the weather and my physical health and the fact that I've not been active, and nothing to do with reality. I know all that. I've just got to get healthy again to feel it.

     
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    I'm still in the habit of writing down one thing (health-related) that I'm proud of myself for doing every day, and one "why," just to try to keep myself focused. It's been hard, though, during this two weeks of sick. What is there to be proud of about "sat on my butt most of the day" other than "managed not to eat my way through the bag of potato chips?" (Okay, so that did make it onto my list of "proud" one day--I'll take it where I can get it.) But reminding myself of my "why," even if I'm starting to repeat myself from when I first started doing that a couple of months ago, is very helpful. And keeps me from diving into potato chips.

     

    I've had to cancel the last two weeks' strength training appointments but I have every intention of making it next week, even if it's a light session. I've not been running at all since Saturday the 4th, but I did touch base with our NoBo program coach this week and got her advice about how to slowly ease my way back in. I'm not going to run outside until next week, or until it warms up some, as that will just aggravate the cough. But I'm going to do some light, low-key treadmill work this weekend, and hopefully be back with the NoBo group runs by next Wednesday. I do miss them--they're fun.

     

    So. Life happens. This whole "getting healthy" thing won't be a straight road--I knew that from the outset. And I guess I'm fortunate to be six months in before hitting my first big real hitch. Enough habits are ingrained now that I am in a better mental place and not inclined to just throw up my hands and say, "This will never work," as I have sometimes in the past. 

    I'm staying positive. Really. It was a momentary mental tantrum that, by the time you're reading this, I'll already be over. I do feel an ever-so-slight improvement in the cold over the last couple of days so I have hope. I faced the music and went to my WW meeting and weigh-in even though I knew I'd be up. I know, without a doubt, that's when I most need those meetings. Skipping a meeting because I won't like what I see on the scale is the first step down a slippery slope to quitting altogether. I'm. Not. Quitting.

    I've got this.

    Off-Topic Tuesday--Word of the Year

    I decided a few weeks ago that my former word of the year, "Balance," has run its course for the time being. It's actually been my WOTY for a couple of years because I really, really had to work on it. But I'm in a pretty good place now. I was thinking one afternoon about how that word no longer called to me the way it had and whether or not that meant it was time for a change, when another word popped into mind and just wouldn't go away. After a couple of days letting it mull in the back of my brain, I've decided that--despite it being a couple of months into 2017 and therefore an odd time to be setting a Word of the Year--I'm now going to use a new word.

    Fun.

    I've generally always managed to keep fun in my life but I've realized lately that, as part of finding balance, I've also been naturally leaning towards having more fun. Sometimes "fun" is something big, like signing up for the Color Run and DirtyGirl Mud Run (see Friday's post) or participating on a whim in a fashion show (see Saturday's post). But most times it's the little things that entertain me. 

    For example, when I joined the Instant Pot community on Facebook (for those of us who are fans of our electric pressure cooker) I noticed that there was a trend of IP users to get custom made vinyl decals for their IPs. Yeah, it's a thing. IP owners are a bit overly emotionally-invested in their IPs, perhaps.

    Anyway, after seeing a bunch of different decals pictured, I finally followed the links one afternoon and my IP has now been duly decorated.

    Work at it--you'll figure it out. Or, at least, if you're a Tolkien fan, you will. (That's a hint.)

    (Want one of your own? It's from EllieCanary on Etsy. She's got a ton of options.)

     

    Along the same lines, my bullet journal is in a Leuchtthurm 1917 notebook, which has several lovely colors. I plan on working my way through most of the colors over my bujo lifespan but (for those who know me, they'd say "of course") I had to start with the fuschia one. I love it. Still n' all, when I saw decals on the bullet journal Facebook group I'm in--those FB groups can get you into trouble!--I ended up ordering a custom-made one with one of my currently-favorite protest phrases.

    One could, I suppose, dilute the message by saying, "she persisted in getting her tasks done," but that's not how I mean it.

    'Nuff said.

    Kimberly at Sublime Reflection has a ton of resources and all around good stuff on her website. She also has vinyl decals with various sayings along with the ability to have something custom made. I sent her my wording, my choice of fonts from her options, as well as how I wanted it laid out (which words smaller and bigger, directionality, etc) and it's absolutely perfect. It was easy to apply and I just love the graphic boldness of it. It makes me smile every time I see it.

    I already plan on having a different word or saying every time I start with a new bujo notebook. In fact, the next one might just be my word of the year--great way to remember, it, right?

    The other thing that's making me giggle these days is Mickey on my Apple Watch. When you tap him, he tells you what time it is. And sometimes giggles. Or calls you "pal." I grin every time. It never gets old. 

    What little things make you chuckle every time? How are you having fun every day? 

    Making It Monday

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    Thanks to a couple of sick days and a major power outage in the same week, Block 5 is now done.

    This one went really smoothly. The only issue was that one of the third little kitty's french-knot eyeballs started hanging on by a thread as I stitched the rest of the block. Although that has an appropriately-Halloween-y feel to it, it was a bit more gruesome than this project requires.

    So I had to stab him right through the middle of his eye with a sharp needle to tack it back down again.

    Gruesome.

    Me? A Fashion Model? Pshaw.

    Well, it happened!

    A few weeks ago I was shopping in Christopher & Banks--one of my favorite places for the basics/layering pieces in my wardrobe--and as I was checking out, the clerk asked me if I'd be interested in volunteering to be a model in their fashion show. They throw out an open invitation to any customers to join in the fun. I was sort of surprised to hear myself immediately saying, "Sure! That sounds like a hoot!" A bit out of my comfort zone--but it really did sound like fun so, why not? (Of course, I had no voice when I woke up this morning--this cold is a "symptom of the day" type and always keeps me guessing what's going to happen next--so I was a bit squeaky when I was meeting all the other models, but they forgave me. Since I tend not to talk much in those situations anyway, it worked out okay.)

    You get to choose what outfit you want to model ahead of time; they hold onto it in the store for you to change into the morning of the show. Models get 40% off anything you buy the day of the fashion show, including sale items. Wow! I knew I wanted a pair of light dress pants in my wardrobe, and I'm a sucker for a cardigan, so that's the outfit I chose to model, knowing ahead of time there's no doubt I'd be buying it. I already owned the shell I wore under the cardigan but they still provided one from the store so I wouldn't have to remember to bring it from home. I also found a necklace that worked with the outfit--it was on clearance so I decided that would come with me too. The shoes I wore are the pair I just got from the Trunk Club shipment last week. I could hear some approving comments about the shoes as I walked by the (very small) audience--they're definitely a winner.

    Before the show began, I was changing into my outfit in the back room with the other models and they told me I actually got to model two outfits. So I quickly ran back out into the store and put together a second outfit: colored jeans that are amazingly comfortable, a tunic blouse, a white peplum jacket, and a great scarf. I loved it, plus all the other models (and my husband) thought it was a winner too, so I ended up getting both outfits.  Lots of great pieces for my May vacation to mix and match (with other stuff I already own too), as well as some work stuff I have at the end of May. More wins!

    That's really why they do this, of course: we models were all shopping off each other. I and another woman both modeled the same white jacket and we had a Great Swap going on in the back room over which size fit who better as there were limited sizes available in the store. We both ended up happy. Several women went back to find pieces that one of the other models had worn and bought those as well. Other than the few friends/family members that had come, there was a small handful of customers in the store so we did get a little bit of an audience. But mostly, I just had a great time with the other models and bagged some great clothes at a significant discount.  

    All in all--it was an absolute hoot! I'd have to say I'll probably do it again if I have the opportunity!

    Fight the Funk Friday

    Well, the first news is, we have power!

    For those of you just coming into my blog for today's post, our area was one of those affected by the terrible windstorms mid-week. My house lost power early Wednesday afternoon. We were among the fortunate ones, though, who had ours restored late last night (Thursday). There are still about 80,000 people in the area without power even as I'm writing this. I'm sending them warm and electrified thoughts!

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    It certainly could've been worse. My biggest problem was that I was already down with a cold and my symptoms were exacerbated by sleeping in a house with no heat on (despite piles n' piles of quilts). I dragged my sorry butt out of the house for most of yesterday afternoon and evening just to stay warm and to recharge all my electronics. I was thrilled that our power came back on just in time to go to bed last night--with the heat on. I still slept under the piles n' piles of quilts just to make sure. I woke up feeling terrible this morning (probably because I was out and about so much yesterday) but as I've been quietly working at my desk this morning--and taking drugs--and pounding the water--I'm feeling somewhat improved now at lunchtime.

    I haven't done my 5k training--or anything, for that matter--since Saturday. I'm not planning on doing tomorrow's group run as it's supposed to be bitterly cold out again and the run is scheduled for an area park on the opposite side of town. I'm apprehensive I'd get halfway into the run and have to cry "uncle," and be out in the middle of nowhere. So I'll do tomorrow's homework but I'll do it on a treadmill inside and at my own speed, not trying to overdo anything as I'm really still in recovery here. I'm just anxious to get back into the habit of activity, even if I'm still not quite back to my previous levels.

    So, this week's "Fight the Funk" doesn't have much in the way of healthy living to report. Instead, I thought I'd report on my plans for the future. Suddenly I've gone from someone who's never done a 5k to someone who is now signed up for four of them! 

    5k Number One: I did Zombies Run Virtual Race last year. How could I not? It's still my favorite running app and, in fact, when I started going back to the gym this fall I went back to Season 1 and started over again. The Virtual Race is a 5k you do any time you want, any way you want, but by signing up you can be part of the "Rofflenet" (you need to know the story in app) and be on leader boards and all that. I'm not into the leader board thing, but I like the trappings. Last year, I did it on the elliptical and I only bought the starter pack--I got the medal and the number sign for my shirt but I didn't wear it when I did my virtual race (you can tweet pics of yourself with it on as part of the fun). This year, I upped my game and got the pack that included a running shirt--the pack contents are pictured at left. It's a nice shirt! I do plan on wearing the shirt when I do my virtual 5k, and I also plan on really doing a 5k, although I don't know yet if I'll do it outside or in--depends on the day I do it, mostly. The dates of the Virtual Race are April 7-18 (you do it anytime during that span you choose), which is close enough to the graduation 5k I'm working towards that I should be actually going that distance by then. You can still sign up if it appeals to you!

    5k Number Two: The "graduation" 5k that my running club is working towards is the Wegmans Family 5K on Sunday, April 30. We'll be able to run the course with our club once or twice before the actual event so I'm not particularly worried about completing it. Fleet Feet Sports NoBoundaries 5k program--the one my husband and I are doing--really does everything they can to help you be successful. My only problem is I'm double-booked. I have a speaking engagement that same weekend so I'll be going right from training on Saturday and the 5k on Sunday to having to be showered, professionally dressed, and "on" an hour later both days, LOL. We'll see how that goes! (I suspect I'll sleep heavily by Sunday night!)

    5k Number Three: The Color Run. I'm SO FREAKING EXCITED! This is the 5k that even got me wanting to do a 5k in the first place! The first two times I tried to train for it myself, I developed knee issues and couldn't do it. That's why I joined the Fleet Feet program--I want to make sure I'm doing everything the best way possible to stay injury-free. So far (colds notwithstanding) so good! This one is on Saturday, May 20th, and my husband and I leave for our 30th anniversary vacation on Sunday, May 21st. The timing couldn't have been better. I've got some family members doing this one with me, I think, including my husband. He's not as into the whole "having people throw dye on you" thing as I am, but he's a supportive guy and will be my running buddy. And they apparently have foam "clouds" you run through now too! Woo!

    5k Number Four: DirtyGirl Mud Run. This one is a 5k through an obstacle course. In mud. Who can resist?! It's in the middle of July so that gives me something to stay in tip-top shape for after my vacation. I watched some videos and a lot of folks define "run" very loosely, so I'm also not particularly worried about keeping up or anything. I'm sure some people race it, but most seem to do it for the experience. I found out about it last fall and couldn't get it off my mind, so yesterday, sitting in the library waiting for everything to recharge, I got on my phone and registered, then started rallying the troops. So far, my daughter and one of my nieces are doing this one with me, but we're still working on the rest of the crew. It's women only, so DH will have to wait and cheer me on at the finish line...where he'll get a big, mud-covered hug! 

    I've already got my eye on the Disney 5k in January, LOL. 

    So, once I've gotten over this cold....I'll be off and running!

    Thinkin' about It Thursday

    This week, I'm thinking... 

    • That a true sign of love is my non-coffee-drinking husband driving to McDonald's at 6:30a to get me coffee when we're without power overnight
    • That it's hard to convince myself to climb out from under piles of quilts to start a day in a house with no power and with devices running out of charge
    • especially when I'm sick
    • and sicker now that I've slept in a cold house
    • So bag it, I'm taking another sick day
    • That having a sick day earlier this week and a 24-hour power outage all in the same week helped me finally get some embroidery done
    • How that's a silver lining to being down with a cold all week
    • and not getting in any of my 5k training sessions
    • or much of any other moving around for that matter
    • and how frustrating that feels
    • when I'd had such great momentum going
    • so poop on it all, anyway. 
    • That I really shouldn't complain, though
    • How, as colds go, this hasn't been a terrible one
    • That I can still breathe
    • That my occasional cough isn't keeping me awake at night
    • That my sore throat is manageable
    • so stop your whining already. Sheesh. 
    • That I probably won't have much to say for my Fight the Funk Friday post this week. (See all of the above.)

    (apologies for lack of formatting and indents on this post--can't do that fancy stuff on my iPad app which is all I have access to at the moment...) 

    Wardrobe Wednesday (for lack of a better title)

    An impressively-sized box!

    An impressively-sized box!

    So I decided to give Trunk Club a try. I still feel like I need a little help breaking out of my style rut. I do, indeed, have a "uniform." 90% of my workwear (and casual wear, for that matter) is a sleeveless tank of some sort, a cardigan, and either jeans or dress pants. That's all well and good and it's suited me fine for years, but I'm ready to break out in new directions.

    A dress? Well, that remains to be seen. Let's not talk crazy talk, here.

    I'm still doing StitchFix, despite sending everything back the last time. I'm hoping my feedback will lead to better in the future (after all, I had two good deliveries before that). Trunk Club is very different; the only similarity is that someone "styles" you and sends you stuff to choose from. However, from there, the two vary widely.

    Trunk Club, owned by Nordstrom, is not a subscription service. You only get boxes when you ask for them. Additionally, you have more interaction with the stylist. You can message her through the app any time you want. You can make specific requests or, as I did this first time out, you can give her general categories of what you're looking for to build your wardrobe. She then sends you an email (or a message in the app) with pictures of several of the items she plans to send, and you can say "yay" or "nay". if you say "nay," she'll swap out with other items. Once you approve the box, it gets shipped. You then get a box of 12-15 items. (StitchFix only ever sends five). You have 5 days to dither over what you want to keep or return. Once you are ready for returns, you can schedule a free UPS pick-up at your house. Easy.

    Another difference from StitchFix: With StitchFix, there's a discount if you buy all five items in the box. With Trunk Club, you pay for each item--no discounts. They're Nordstrom prices--if they're on sale at Nordstrom when delivered, you get the sale price. There's a $25 styling fee which is then credited to anything you might choose to buy. 

    I really just wanted to test this out. In the future, it's possible I'll be doing a whole lot more work travel and if that's the case, it might be really convenient not to have to go to a mall to find new work clothes. However, until then, especially as I'm still changing sizes, I'd be extremely selective of what I decide to pay Nordstrom prices for. I'd have to be sure I'd get a lot of wear out of something. Still, it's always fun to see what someone else would pick out for you.

    This first time out, they recommend that you not say "nay" to anything the stylist suggests, because it's a matter of trying to learn about each other through trial and error. (My words, not theirs). When I got the message with the images of what she was going to include, I was pretty dang sure I wouldn't like most of it but one thing I've learned is that you never know until you actually try something on. I've had several instances where I didn't like something out of the box/on the rack but when I saw it on, I fell in love with it. So I was game. Also, I only saw about half of what ultimately got put in the box. I did get a message after the box had already shipped that showed everything that was included, so I knew what I was getting; I just hadn't seen it to approve it all. That took away some of the fun surprise element in StitchFix, but it did give me the opportunity to think through some things ahead of time--like, "how many outfits could I make with that one, if it fits, given my current wardrobe?"

    (Packaging isn't as pretty as StitchFix, although quantity is substantial!)

    (Packaging isn't as pretty as StitchFix, although quantity is substantial!)

    The criteria that the stylist and I discussed were: I need light colored bottoms (dress pants, casual pants, maybe even a skirt although I backed away from that) because my wardrobe is currently exclusively dark pants; I'd like some brighter tops/blouses and tops with prints; I needed "nude" (or light) dress and casual shoes.

    Here's what I got:

     
    IMG_2123.jpg

    I have a bit of "boho chic" to me, and if I hadn't just recently added a bunch of navy to my wardrobe (in an attempt to break out of the "black as my main neutral" rut), I might have been more inclined to like this one. 

    First, this wouldn't be a versatile piece for me--for work or casual. It's exclusively casual. The bell sleeves are "on trend" right now and I'm not agin' 'em, but the top part of the sleeve was a little snug. The shoulders didn't sit right on me and I really couldn't figure out if the tie was supposed to go in the front or the back--it was ambiguously placed. I decided with one glance at the mirror...nope. Returned.

     

    The "Cold Shoulder" look is also very on trend right now, and I think I am agin' this one. Every time I see it in blogs, I've thought, "Nope. Not for me." Still, to be fair to my stylist, I tried it on. Nope. Not for me. Plus, blush (also on trend) is REALLY not a good color on me. Granted, I'm down with a cold this week so I'm not looking my sparkling best, but this really made me look like death warmed over. Returned.

     

    When I first saw this, I thought, "Why are they sending me a fall/winter top now?" Well, possibly they're trying to clear inventory--but when I put this on, I realized it could be spring/summer because the fabric is actually pretty lightweight. 

    It's very soft and comfy, but it's not a good version of purple for me and it's a boxy construction so I'd be more inclined to wear it around the house or at quilt retreats than out in "public" (quilt retreats not being "public" in my mind). At Nordstrom prices? I don't think so. Returned.

     

    Oh, I so wanted to love this! When the stylist and I were messaging and she asked me about blazers, I said "unconstructed." I mostly wear cardigans, but the few blazer-type things I've really loved over the years weren't standard suit-style jackets. They have a softer vibe, unexpected shapes, etc. This one had possibilities! It looks like a suit jacket from the front but has this wonderful waterfall pleat back. Very funky. Unfortunately, it didn't quite sit right on me from the front. This may be TMI but I think I'm not big enough "up there" to hold it up the way it was designed to be held up. I put it on twice because I really wanted it to work. But no, it's just not to be. Returned.

     

    I'd said "no skinny jeans." I got skinny jeans. On the flip side, I had asked for light colored jeans and/or dress pants, so she was partially listening. And it's possible these aren't technically in the category of "skinny jeans" because they're ankle length and meant to have the ankle rolled up a little--which, to be clear, is also not a style I wear, but I was game to try.

    Despite these being most of what I'd not wanted, I tried them on. They fit really well, but, well, that skinny thing. And these were *really* expensive jeans. So, no. Returned.

     

    I have no problem with print pants on other women. I sometimes admire them, in fact, when they're in the right outfit. But it would have to be just the exactly right print for me to wear them myself, and I can't even tell you what that print would be. I'd just have to be able to "feel it" when I saw it.

    So, in the spirit of "I'm trying to be game," I tried these on, even though I wasn't "feeling" them. They were a bit snug, although they'd be fine by summer, but I just can't do it. Not this print, not these colors. Returned. 

     

    So, by now you're probably wondering...was there ANYTHING she liked in that delivery? Yes, actually--two things I saved for last.

    You may need to put sunglasses on for this first one. When I saw their picture in the message after the box shipped, I thought, "You've got to be kidding me." 

    When I saw them in the box, I thought, "No freaking way."

    And then I put them on. And fell completely in love.

    They fit beautifully. They're crop pants that hit in just the right part of my leg; they're also a beautiful fabric with a fantastic drape to them so they balance out my shape really well. They'd be great for summer work events. And (wait for it) I have a couple of sleeveless tops and cardigans that would style with them very easily. So it would be a way to make my standard "uniform" more fun and unique. Yes, they're bright--although not quite as "glow in the dark bright" as the photo makes them seem. But they work on me!

    Unfortunately, by the time I have my summer events that I'd be wearing these for I expect to be down another size. I waffled for a day, thinking, "I could have them tailored then," but I know myself. By the time I'm down another size and looking for clothes to wear on that particular work trip, I'll want to be able to find something new to celebrate my continued weight loss. So after 24 hours of debating, I'm returning these. I did tell my stylist to remember the designer and style, though, because they work really, really well!

    IMG_2120 (1).jpg

    Finally, the one keeper. Remember how I'd told her I needed nude/light colored dress shoes?

    She'd included this pair. When I first looked at them in the message, I thought, "Huh. Well, maybe." I'm not usually a fan of pointy toes and really not sure about the ankle laces. I had a pair of ankle lace shoes the last time they were in style (a long time ago) and always hated the way they felt. I'd never have picked these out in a shoe store but since they were delivered into my hands, I was willing to give them a shot.

    And they're fantastic. Extremely comfortable to wear. I'm thrilled that block heels are currently "on trend" right now because they're the best way to do heels! And I emphasized with the stylist that I don't do high heels and she listened! These are a great height for me--just high enough to look a little fancy but very easily walkable and comfortable.

    Here's the best thing about a home-delivery style service. I wore these shoes around the house for a whole day, just making sure no weird little rub spots developed. You can't do that in a shoe store. I already have plans to wear them on Saturday for a special event I'm participating in...but more on that in a later blog post.

    Wearing them around the house reminded me, though, that I do need to get more used to walking in heels. Even as comfortable as these are, I still have to change my stride just a little bit to keep from pitching myself forward. (Hazards of working from a home office is my main office wear is slippers.)

    So, I'm considering my first experience with Trunk Club a decent success for these reasons:

    • I tried on styles just to see if I'd like them on or not, and learned something about what I like and don't like in the process. That saves me time and money in the long run, so it's all good.
    • I found a couple of things I'd not normally have tried on in a store but discovered I loved! Even though I only kept one of them, that's also good learning.
    • I got a great pair of shoes out of them. And with the $25 styling fee taken off the price of the shoes, they're the price I would normally have paid for a good pair of shoes. Although, in this process, I'm also learning that perhaps I should be willing to pay more for a really good pair of shoes, because I have a history of inexpensive shoes that end up not being worth it in the long run. 

    I'm going to wait until after I get my next StitchFix in a couple of weeks to decide if I want to order another Trunk Club right now. I have my 30th anniversary vacation coming up in May and want to be well dressed!

    (If you're interested in Trunk Club, here's my referral link if you'd like to use it! They also have Trunk Club for Men--in fact, that was their original Trunk Club.) 

    Fight the Funk Friday

    It's been a banner week!

    I'm down a few pounds again (I didn't make it to weigh in last week so two weeks cumulative looked quite nice!), which is good because I'd been "learning to maintain" for a bit. I don't call it a plateau because that implies a certain passivity on my part that I don't want to have in my head. Rather, I know that when I don't lose weight in a given week it's either (1) I've not been as focused as I could be, (2) I've had a lot of "life" happen and that's just going to happen sometimes and "it's just a week or two or three so don't let it derail me and just keep on keeping on" (just letting you in on the conversations in my head, there), or (3) my body is just reshaping itself in mysterious ways and it'll start heading down the right path again at some point. As long as I feel good about what I'm doing, I'm good with it all.

    Our 5k training is now up to minute-and-a-half runs with shorter walk intervals. I've been doing great except for Wednesday night's training, which was outside in gale-force winds. I'm not kidding. 35-40 mph with 60 mph gusts--and we did the first half of the run straight into that wind. For part of it we were somewhat protected by trees but it still added to the experience, shall we say. I felt like I struggled more than I'd have liked and when we finished I was feeling a little frustrated with myself. But then, on the drive home, I reminded myself, "Hey. Three months ago you wouldn't have even stepped foot out of the house in this weather. And now you're out RUNNING in it! And you didn't slow down! You're a freakin' beast!" So there, self. I'm choosing to be proud of what I did do, rather than frustrated with what I perceive I should've done. Beast me.

    And yes, running outside is HUGELY different from being on the treadmill. I've been doing my two homework runs at my gym and they're stinkin' easy compared to running outside. (I have, however, enjoyed running through Australia and New Zealand!) Now that it's starting to stay lighter longer, though, I may feel comfortable from a safety-perspective doing my running homework on the canal path after work (sans Doofus, though, as he hasn't been able to work up to where I am now--he'll have to be my walking buddy on rest days). I could run with the public runs where a lot of our group members do their homework but that one starts about an hour and a half after I'm done with work. It's hard for me to wait to run with them when I could be done by the time they start. Still trying to figure that one out.

    On another front...My strength trainer keeps complementing me on how well I'm doing keeping my shoulders lowered (not hitching them up to my ears) during workouts. All I can say is that I've been working on that one for a long time! Thanks, vertigo-related-physical therapy! (It all blends.)

    (August to now. Adorbs puppy courtesy of my sister. I'd have taken him home with me if I didn't already have a critical mass of dogdom underfoot.)

    (August to now. Adorbs puppy courtesy of my sister. I'd have taken him home with me if I didn't already have a critical mass of dogdom underfoot.)

    Next week I'm hoping to make another major weight loss milestone. Here's to reminding myself tomorrow morning of why exactly again am I running outside in 20 degree weather????

     

    On another fight-the-funk-front...

    I tried a new thing last week. In looking up a local flotation tank place to get my daughter a gift certificate for her birthday, I saw that they also had something called dry salt therapy. Given that the other major cause of my vertigo is sinus issues, I decided it was worth a shot and was able to book an appointment for after work that day. 

    Salt rooms vary in how they work. The one I was in pumped salt particles into the air; I could taste it slightly on my water bottle spigot and there was a dust outline of where I was sitting on my chair when I got up--you could see the particles floating through the air. I was in there for about 45 minutes. It was certainly a relaxing time as I was the only one in the room. Plus, they suggest you not have your electronics with you as the salt can be corrosive, so I just sat with earbuds in and my ocean-waves-white-noise going while my phone huddled under a pile of tissues on the table. I could feel some stuff start moving around in my head and I had a bit of a cough (they tell you that can happen ahead of time) by the time it was done. But danged if my sinuses didn't feel a whole lot clearer for several days afterwards. Makes sense, as my go-to sinus nasal spray is a saline solution, as are neti pots. It basically just clears you out. 

    Salt therapy hasn't been studied vigorously so there's some concern about long-term effects of using the rooms regularly but I'm not overly concerned about that for me, as I won't be using it weekly. I may, however, go in a few times during my worst allergy season. Hey--if it takes care of my vertigo, I'm game!

    The only other thing going on right now is that I'm trying to figure out why my Apple Watch and FitBit One aren't logging the same number of steps. In fact, there's a significant difference. It's supposed to be quite nice on Sunday so I'm going to do the 20-minute-walk-outside thing to calibrate the Apple Watch (I've never done that) to see if it helps. Still, the Apple Watch is reviewed--and compared by a lot of people--as being super-accurate, so I'm wondering if the difference might be the fact that my FitBit One is in a location where maybe it can't feel the steps as well. In any case, I'm beginning to think I may drop out of the FitBit community because I'm no longer only focused on steps which means my steps can be all over the place, which is a problem in challenges...which is the only reason I'm still in the FitBit community at this point. I'm wondering if trying to have both FitBit and my running apps going is a distraction for me. Haven't decided yet. 

    Thinkin' about It Thursday

    This week, I'm thinking about...

    • How ridiculously excited I was about starting my new bujo
    • That I blew through my first bujo notebook in about six weeks
    • That this new bujo notebook had better last longer
    • How it's got a lot more pages and more space per page
      • so it should last longer
      • or I'm writing way too much in it.
    • How starting bullet journaling may end up giving me a decent outlet for my "I love new school supplies" habit
      • because I'd need a new notebook every three months or so
      • and maybe some funky new pens
      • but mostly the notebook
      • because I love me some brand-spankin'-new-pristinely-blank-notebooks
    • How I still haven't entirely figured out how to dress for outdoor runs
    • That it would be nice if it would stay the same season for two outdoor runs in a row
      • But that's not Western NY
      • especially at this time of year
    • How thrilled I was to see a tip on Pinterest about wrapping necklaces in Saran Wrap to keep them from tangling when traveling
    • How I've already packed up my fall/winter wardrobe jewelry in Saran Wrap for storage
    • That it makes it so much easier to find the necklace I want when I've only got my spring/summer ones on my hanging rack
    • How it was also easier to pack up the jewelry I'm donating without worry about tangling it
    • That I was also brilliant enough to remember to stick the matching earrings in the Saran Wrap too
      • because once in a great while I do actually think ahead
      • although it doesn't happen as often as it should
      • so I give myself a big pat on the back when it does
      • hoping it will encourage the brilliance to show up a little more often.
    • That I am also patting myself on my back for finally realizing I should also sort my scarf collection by season
      • because it's getting totally out of control
      • because I do wear a lot of scarves
      • but I only wear half my scarves half the year
      • but I'd been keeping all of them in my closet
      • so they seemed to breed like rabbits
      • so I'm culling the herd and donating a few
      • but not nearly enough
      • so I'm storing the off-season ones and will go through them again in the fall
      • because maybe my heart won't break quite so much when I try to figure out which ones to give away then
      • hoping "out of sight is out of mind"
      • so I'll be less attached and can have more objective eye towards downsizing then.
      • How I also realized I needed to approach my closet the way I approach my quilting
      • That I was having difficulty picturing this whole "capsule wardrobe" thing
        • until I remembered
        • "Make visual decisions visually."
      • How it only took me about 15 minutes to figure out how to download the pics of my clothes from the Stylebook app and print them out "contact sheet" style and cut them into pieces
      • That there are a couple of helpful "capsule wardrobe" template worksheets available on the internet here and here
      • How much fun it is to sit while I'm watching TV with my husband at night and play "paper dolls" with my clothes, figuring out capsules and discovering new outfit possibilities and then entering those outfits into my Stylebook app for future reference
      • That having it all out in front of me makes it easier to find good color combinations--just like choosing fabric for a quilt
      • That I'm also able to see which clothes I don't tend to integrate much (so I can either try harder to make them work or just get rid of them)
      • That it also makes it so much easier to figure out where the gaps in my wardrobe are
      • That I still have a couple too many white camisoles and dark dress pants
        • but no light casual or dress pants
        • and no dresses
        • and no light shoes
        • and almost no dress shoes
        • and only one skirt that I don't even like much
      • That now I have my shopping list narrowed down in an extremely helpful way.

      Woohoo Wednesday! (Something involving thread and fabric, finally!)

      Too bad I didn't get this done in time for "Making It Monday" post, but maybe I'll have more progress to show next week.

      I finally got my embroidery out again! Yes, I'm still plugging away at the Postcard Cuties Halloween Block of the Month embroidery kit that I should've had done by last Halloween. But there are more Halloweens where that one came from.

      Month 4/Block 4 done. 

      I'd actually gotten it mostly done several (ahem--weeks? Months?) ago. I only had a few little bits to finish up, so I got it done on one lunch break yesterday. It's hung out in its hoop for awhile so it'll take some serious pressing to get it back into shape. But it's done!

      Month 5 is going to take a little longer, however...

      Making It Monday

      So all I've made these days is my March layout for my bullet journal. 

      I'm finishing my current bullet journal with the last couple of days of February. I commented to my husband that if nothing else, doing a bullet journal actually made me completely fill up a blank book for the first time in my life. I have a multitude of journals that were begun for various purposes over the years (journal-journals, prayer journals, travel journals, etc.) but after a couple of months I'd stop using it, but never wanted to repurpose it for anything else. So, lots of pretty blank-books that are 2/3rds blank now. 

      This one, however, got nailed pretty darn fast. I only started it in mid-January and I managed to squeeze out the last couple of days of February by doubling some stuff up. 

      You may recall this photo from an earlier blog post that compares the size of the book I'd been using to my new Leuchtthurm 1917 A5 notebook. It's got significantly more pages as well as more real estate on each page so it'll last me somewhat longer...I hope.

      I've been working over the last week or so to figure out what trackers and layouts I most wanted in my new bujo. I've been poking away at setting them up over the last few lunch breaks--as in most of life, it takes longer the first time because I'm figuring out what goes where and how to do each layout as I go; my expectation is that it'll go faster in the future because I'll just be editing what I already have rather than starting from scratch. We'll see how much of this I keep up in March; that's how I'll determine which ones I'll do again for April. I decided to stick with monthly trackers for most things rather than a yearly one because I didn't want to have to migrate yearly trackers to new bujos every time I start a new notebook. 

      So, here's a collage of most of my March layout.

      You can see I did a little decorating but I'm not putting a lot of time into that. I'm keeping my expectations low. Where I ended up with blank space I just quickly wrote in a related quote and used my colored highlighters to make it slightly more interesting. Slightly. 

      I have space at the beginning of my bujo for my index, future log, general mindmap and monthly projects/goals. Then I have my March-specific stuff: Monthly calendar spread first, then a bunch of trackers (shown: habit tracker, cleaning/organizational tracker, workout/mileage/weight tracker, gratitude log; I also have spending planners and trackers, and a few others that are more journal-y). I also have a general "brain dump" page for everything that occurs to me that I've forgotten to put anywhere else. I tried to keep everything in one place so that every night I can just flip through pages and quickly fill stuff in. If I can't track everything in 10 mins or less, it won't happen. I'll also add post-it-note tabs so I can easily find the most relevant stuff rather than having to always go back to the index.

      The image in the second row, left, is my current weekly layout. It's morphed over the last few weeks; since I have more room in this notebook I've added a couple of little things I didn't used to do such as keeping track of which recreational books I'm reading in any given week--I thought that might be interesting to look back on in the future. I'll do my dailies after that page. I haven't decided if I want to do a one or two page daily yet as I've moved some of the stuff I used to do in my dailies to a monthly tracker. I still have a couple of days before I have to do my March 1 daily to figure that out. I also may decide the monthly tracker doesn't work as well for some things and end up moving those back into dailies again as I move forward. 

      That big blank page on the lower right? That's for my "creative life" in March. Yep. Blank. I do plan on getting back into embroidery and/or doing a little sewing, but I haven't figured out yet how I want to set up that page. You may also notice I misspelled "creative" when I wrote the header. "Oh, what a giveaway," as a Monty Python sketch once said. It's been so long since I've done it I can't even spell it right anymore. 

      So--with March, and with my new book, I'm really to really see how this bullet journal thing works for me, LOL. So far, so good!

      Do you bullet journal? Share your layouts (or post them on Instagram and make sure I'm following you). I'm always up for new ideas! I follow lots of bujoers on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook and it is fun to see what people do--even if I'll never take nearly as much time with mine as a lot of them clearly do! 

      OT: March StitchFix

      I was so excited about this month's StitchFix, I was basically haunting my USPS tracking number until it showed up on my doorstep. 

      And then it came! Oh, it came! 

      As I opened the box and pulled each item out, I got more and more excited. All of them seemed to hold such possibilities--I loved every one as I laid it out on my bed.

      And then I tried everything on. And my heart broke just a little bit.

      This is one of those off months where everything looked great to start, but it didn't quite hold true to its promise once it was on my body. On someone else, some of them would have looked great, but they just didn't work well on me. I've learned to become much more picky about what I invite into my closet, especially right now since I know it'll only last one season as I plan on being a different size by the time I reach my goal weight. So a couple of these may have made the cut before, but I didn't want to spend money on them now.

      First up--these pants were the only item that I didn't immediately fall in love with out of the box. I like the concept of these pants as they can be either casual or work wear for me (which is something I've requested from "my stylist"). 

      However, ankle pants are very tricky for me--they have to hit in just the right place to keep from putting 15 pounds on my legs, and these didn't quite do that. They're also not a color that would work with a whole lot in my wardrobe going into ankle-pant season. Finally, they were too tight anyway. Pants sizes are all over the place so although they were the right size for me on paper, they weren't shaped right for my body. Had the color and the length been excellent, I might have considered keeping them in my wardrobe for 10 pounds from now--but as it is, they were an immediate "nope."

      I thought the navy top was kind of cool when I pulled it out of the wrapping. You can sort of see from this picture that it's "business in the front, party in the back," so to speak--plain navy button-down front with a striped and pleated back, hi-lo style. That could've been very fun, and I have a "navy capsule wardrobe" working so I could've very easily worked it in with other things I already own.

      However, when I put it on, it just sort of hung on me and wasn't particularly interesting from the front. I decided I didn't want people to only be interested as I was walking away. It was on the fence until I made decisions about everything else--but ultimately it wasn't enticing enough for me to buy it just on its own.

      Now we get into the ones I was dancing around about as I unwrapped them from the tissue enclosure.

      First: this great t-shirt that I thought I could wear casually with shorts on the patio or dress it up with dress pants for summer events. Again--incredibly soft fabric. That seems to be a reliably common theme with my StitchFix clothes! I loved the interesting stripe design with the gray panels on the lower side--it looked like it would be slimming.

      Not so much. When I had it on, somehow that narrower stripe at the bottom just created a bulls-eye target on my not-so-slim middle section--it draws your eyes right to the belly. It was even worse when I put a cardigan over it--it actually made me look a bit pregnant. I think someone who was straight-up-and-down could probably wear this easily and, again, it's supremely comfortable. For me, though, it was a miss.

      I was equally excited about this hunter green top. I like tops that have the look of two pieces, especially when the lower piece is loose and flowy compared to the upper piece. I have several of that type of top pinned on my StitchFix Pinterest board so they're clearly paying attention. This would also have been a fantastic seasonal transition piece--still dark enough for winter but having a touch of spring, plus long-sleeved but a thinner material. I cried a little tear inside when I put it on. The break between the two materials at the hip hit me at my widest part, so it visually added inches. Also, the collar placket on one side kept flopping over and just making the whole thing look way too casual so I wouldn't have been able to dress it up as easily. Six months ago I may have kept it because I generally felt like, "if it fits, buy it." Now I'm learning to be a lot more choosy, so this one went in the "nope" pile.

      Finally, the one that really made me sad. I've been looking for more layering options, especially blouses I could wear on their own as well as under cardigans or pullover sweaters. I've also been looking for more print pieces as my wardrobe leans heavily towards solids. I'd noted both of these things to StitchFix so I was again glad to see they'd listened and included this wonderful print blouse. It has just a touch of Boho to it, which I love. It is loose and flowy but could be tucked in should I get to the point where I actually start tucking in blouses. I loved the length of the sleeves and the type of collar, and that it was long enough to hang just a little over my hips but not so long it couldn't easily be tucked in. I loved this blouse out of the box. 

      And then--do you see where this is heading already?--I put it on. At first, I was really excited. It fit perfectly and looked wonderful on. But then I noticed something--I pulled and tugged and pulled again, but nope. I was right. It was poorly constructed and the front of the blouse hung cock-eyed. I even looked at the card that comes in the box to see if it was supposed to be asymmetrical (and just wasn't obvious about it) but no--it was just sewn crooked. I kept futzing with it to see if I could get it to hang straight or, conversely, to decide if I could just live with it. Finally, I reminded myself: "Don't buy something you don't love." That was the fifth "nope."

      So everything's going back. As you know, that's not typical of my short-but-so-far-good history with StitchFix. I'm looking at this as a one-off and I gave detailed information when I reported on my returns. I especially commented on the poor construction of the blouse and said I had a concern about quality. Mind you--all the pieces from previous StitchFix shipments are holding up great! In fact, I'm wearing the jeans from month 1 and one of the tops from month 2 even as I write this blog post, and no complaints about either of them. So, although this month made me sad, I'm still looking forward to next month!

      If you're interested in checking out StitchFix, here's my referral link. Or, if you'd rather, just go to www.stitchfix.com. Remember, they have StitchFix for men too (my husband's next shipment will be sometime next month), and they just announced that they now have StitchFix in plus sizes. Despite this one post, I definitely still recommend StitchFix!