Kloverbox April 2017

April’s Kloverbox is here, and for the second month in a row, I’m underwhelmed.  This is supposed to be a big box from them since it’s the month with Earth Day, so I expected some neat, Earth Day related sort of products that focused on natural, sustainable ingredients, or replacing disposable items with something reusable.  That really didn’t happen here.  It feels like a random hodgepodge of items, one of which is a repeat (the bracelet).  I’ve already cancelled my subscription since two boxes that are a poor fit are kind of my rule of thumb for cancelling.  There’s one more left on my pre-paid subscription, but I can’t say I have high hopes.

  • Zabana Essentials Dry Shampoo – 2 oz / $12.95 – (Product is full size)  The scent is Lavender Citrus Mint, and it smells completely unappealing.  The three really just don’t go together in my world, and they’re just fighting each other instead of blending together.  (Have you had orange juice after you brushed your teeth?  Yeah, like that.)  Beyond that, it’s dry shampoo.  The product says you have to distribute it by brushing it in, and you DO NOT EVER EVER BRUSH CURLY HAIR.  EVER.  So, this is useless for me.  Nevermind the fact that dry shampoos are meant to soak up oil and extend time between washing, but if you don’t have enough oil on your scalp and hair to soak up, it just makes your hair look dull and lifeless (I don’t – I add oil to my scalp to keep it from peeling apart, so dry shampoos are a huge nope in my world).
  • Elements of Aliel No. 2 Peace Cleanser – 2.5 oz / $15 – (Product is full size)  This was the only item in the box that I was interested in.  When I peeled back the inner foam seal, the scent was extremely disappointing.  It smells… wrong.  I can’t quite describe it other than that it doesn’t smell like something you would ever want to put on your face.  Almost like the compost bin or the damp, decaying leaves in the woods?  It’s a dark brown liquid, and just a little bit produces a rich lather that cleans nicely.  Just.. hold your breath while it’s on your face I guess.
  • MudLove Bracelet – 1 bracelet / $8 – (Product is full size)  We received the version of this that said, “Thankful,” in the November 2015 box, and I didn’t want it then either.  Yes, the charity is great and provides clean water for a week to someone in need, but I’m just not the type of person who wears stuff like this.  Inspirational slogans are just not me, the bracelet design isn’t my style, and I prefer to give my money to charities without receiving something I don’t need or won’t use in return.
  • AvoSeedo – 1 item / $12.99 – (Product is full size)  Well, I don’t have kids and don’t live in a climate where we can grow avocado trees outdoors, so this is useless to me.  They sprout up fast enough without using a special plastic growing tray, and I just don’t see the point to this.  Sprout an avocado pit, put it in a pot where it’ll never grow avocados where I live?  I’m just not into it.

Overall, the box value comes to $48.94 which is just shy of double the cost of $25 for a month-to-month subscription.  My personal value is only $15 for the cleanser which, even though it smells awful, it still works well enough, so I’ll still use it.  There’s a note on the product card that a vendor, Naturally Clean, pulled out of the box due to a health issue, and the product will end up in the July box instead.  I won’t be subscribing for the July box, so I’m feeling a little bit cheated out of a product here.  Maybe ignorance would’ve been bliss?  The rest of the box was a complete miss for me – I know people love dry shampoos and bracelets and there are probably subscribers who will love the AvoSeedo, but I’m not that person, and this box was a huge bummer for me.  I was pretty psyched about this box being bought out and given a makeover by new management, but between this and the last box, I’m finding it’s just not a good fit for me.  Oh well, this gives me an opportunity to move on and try new things!

One Local Summer 2017 – Meal 1

This is going to be my NINTH year of One Local Summer which is pretty incredible.  Last year, I ended kind of abruptly at week 13 after we found out that my dearest girl-dog, Mattie, had a fast-growing, incurable cancer and was given two weeks to live.  She made it 5 more weeks post-diagnosis, but it’s safe to say that she became my top priority at that point in time, and One Local Summer just didn’t seem that important when pitted against the pup’s health situation.  After she passed, my heart was broken, and really, still is.  I spent more time with her than I have with my husband who is out to sea for work more often than he’s home, so it’s been incredibly difficult to deal with the loss of a beloved pet, confidant, and the best, most earnest listener ever.  Her brother is still around, but he’s always been a more aloof sort of dog whereas Mattie would take every opportunity to weasel her way onto your lap (yes, all 50 lbs of her) to beg for head rubs or just to curl up and snore her happy little face off.  She was my little peanut and I miss her tremendously.

That’s a long way of saying we had a loss in the family, and I couldn’t focus on much else since I was grieving.

(and now that I’ve probably made you cry… moving on…)

In case you’re not familiar with One Local Summer, the idea is that you make one meal a week using only ingredients found locally which serves to reduce your “food miles” by using food grown and raised near home instead of across the country.  It means that your food uses less fuel to get to your home, reducing your overall carbon footprint.  It also means that you get to know your local farmers, purchase from local small businesses, and support local agriculture.  Getting to know the people who grow/make/raise the food I eat has been such an incredible experience over the past nine years – I joke that our local weekly farmers market is my farmers market family, and they’re a wonderful group of people that I enjoy seeing every week!  I’m going back to the meal-by-meal format instead of doing set weeks.  Let’s face it, some weeks get away from me, and rather than feel stressed to cook and blog about it when I’m just out of time and energy, this gives me the option to double up some weeks, and give myself a break other weeks if I need it.

I kind of can’t believe it’s been nine whole years of this already.

Our market went to regular summer hours at the beginning of April, so I figured I might as well start this thing off at the same time, even though it’s a month earlier than the usual start of our market summer season.  The market is still on in the winter on an every-other-week schedule since a lot of producers grow in hot houses.  There’s not all that much available at the beginning of the season in terms of vegetables – lots of leafy greens, but not too much else – so the earlier meals end up being a little simpler.  Well, not this one!  I found a recipe for baked empanadas that had a great, easy recipe for the dough that was basically just lard and flour, so I knew I could do that locally.  For the filling, I deviated from the recipe and decided on veal, spinach, scallions, and cheese curds and it was PERFECT.  Really, you could fill the dough with just about any combination of veggies/meat/cheese/etc and get creative with these, so I may re-visit this recipe later.  I made the filling and dough the night before so they had enough time to chill and then assembled them the next evening.  It’s a bit more work than I usually put into a One Local Summer dinner since I don’t necessarily enjoy cooking (a girl’s gotta eat though), but the result was well worth the extra time!  I added some mushrooms and cheese curds to round out the plate since hey, mushrooms and cheese curds, who could say no?!  The wine glass features mead I made from honey from our hives, so that was an extra special treat.

Ingredients:
Flour – Mill at Anselma
Mushrooms – Oley Valley Mushrooms
Lard – M&M Creek Valley Farm
Cheese Curds – Birchrun Hills
Veal – Birchrun Hills
Spinach – Charlestown Farm
Scallions – Jack’s Farm
Mead – Our Beehives
Non Local – Salt, olive oil

Stitch Fix April 2017

Stitch Fix recently started offering plus sizes, and since I had been wanting to try Stitch Fix for a while, I jumped at the chance to give it a go since they finally carry my size range!  My first month was not great, and while I posted it on Instagram, I didn’t want to blog about it.  I don’t quite have the confidence (or fashion sense) of all the gorgeous plus size ladies who blog about plus size clothing, and, let’s be honest, I haven’t had that confidence at any size, whether it was a 10 or an 18.  But hey, sometimes if we do things that seem scary, after a while they feel a little less scary, so, here goes nothing.

My second Stitch Fix arrived today and I was eager to see what was in the box.  My first box was styled by Angie, and this one was by Lana.  The styling fee was waived for this box since the last one was a disappointment, and I thought was a nice gesture by Stitch Fix!  I did keep the jeans from the first box, and I’m finding that even though they’re a little outside of my comfort zone in terms of fit (they’re more fitted through the thigh), they are so damn comfortable and look pretty stellar on.  For this month’s Fix, Lana added a note on the styling card:

Welcome back for your 2nd Fix.  I loved looking on your Instagram and your Sheetar website for inspiration!  I’m sorry to see you were disappointed in your last Fix.  I was sure not to include any pink this time.  Since you are looking for more figure flattering tops, I thought you would love the fitted style of the Ink Love & Peace mesh detail knit top.  Pair it with jeans and your favorite boots or black flats and add the Bay to Baubles fan necklace for a night out.  The Gilli Rinna dress will give you that 50’s retro style you’re looking for and will look amazing with some heels and red lipstick for your next special event or wedding.  The Skies are Blue split neck top is an easy style you can pair with jeans on your more casual days.  The Loveappella mesh detail knit top will also look chic paired with a fuller skirt.  Enjoy!

Well, Lana nailed it.  She clearly got a good sense of what I like by browsing around my social media accounts, and NO PINK!  (a friend likes to joke that I’m allergic to pink, I dislike the color that much)  So, let’s go piece by piece..

Item: Loveappella Normen Mesh Detail Top
Cost:
$44.00
Paired With:
Yellow crochet flats (mine), Jeans (last month’s Stitch Fix), necklace (this month’s stitch fix)
I LOVE this top.  It’s a great navy blue color, and the mesh detail on the sleeves is just on the top of the sleeve, so the mesh won’t irritate under your arms.  Super smart.  It’s also a piece I can wear without a cardigan which I almost never do because I like to hide my arms and tush, but I honestly would feel comfortable wearing this without a cardigan.  The fabric is a mid to light weight rayon/spandex knit – it’s not so light that it feels like tissue weight, but it’s just right for spring and fall and feels like a decent quality.  I even have a yellow fuller skirt that may go really well with this – I tend not to wear a lot of skirts since I have a short torso and I feel like they look weird since my waist is so high, but it’s worth trying it out!

Item: Bay to Baubles Zaria Fan Necklace
Cost:
$38
Paired With:
Loveappella Normen Mesh Detail Top
At first, I thought, eh, more jewelery, but it’s a really substantial, heavy piece, and I like that it’s silver and is more of a larger, statement piece.  It does go nicely to dress up the other two tops, and it’s not something I have anything similiar to already.  I’m kind of a little take-it-or-leave-it on this since it’s more than I’d spend on a similar necklace, but again, it is heavier than your average $12 clearance fashion jewelery.

Item: Ink Love & Peace Welden Mesh Detail Knit Top
Cost:
$48
Paired With: 
Jeans (last month’s Stitch Fix), black rosette flats (mine)
The top is plain black, but has a neat mesh detail that runs pretty much from armpit to armpit and down the sleeves a little ways.  This is yet another top that I’d actually feel comfortable wearing without a cardigan (MIRACLE OF MIRACLES, TWO IN ONE BOX!).  It’s a nylon/spandex blend and is just a little heavier than the other top.  The fit is great!  The only thing I’m not sure I entirely like is the shoulder/sleeve construction and how there’s a seam running around the sleeve halfway between my elbow and shoulder, but it’s not enough to make me send back the top.  It’s just a weird design feature.

Item: Skies Are Blue Avena Split Neck Top
Cost:
$54
Paired With: 
Jeans (last month’s Stitch Fix), yellow crochet flats (mine)
I’m not entirely thrilled with this one.  It’s a floaty, polyester fabric, and the fit isn’t great.  You can see how long the sleeves are (note that only my fingers are sticking out of the sleeve) and how far the shoulder seams hang down my arms.  The bust is way too big, but the fit is right around the hips, so if I went down a size, I’d be risking it not fitting in the hips.  I tend to have this same fit problem with most clothes since most plus size clothing is cut for a gal with a larger chest.  I am definitely not that gal, so it means a bunch of excess fabric where my, uh, huge tracts of land ought to be.  I think it’s fixable by taking up the sleeves a little and pulling in the darts around the bust, but it’s a lot of work for something I’m not terribly thrilled with.  It also still falls into that shapeless-sack category that a lot of plus size clothing ends up being with no structure to the body – I tend to prefer tops with a bit more structure and definition to them, and a good fit means they look better than something that shapelessly hangs.  I’d have liked this a lot more if it was a cotton blend or a flannel, or a more structured fabric instead of a breezy, light polyester georgette.  This is also the only clothing piece in my Fix that wasn’t made in the USA.

Item: Gilli Rinna Dress
Cost:
$58
Paired With: 
Cardigan (mine), red heels (mine)
HEYO!  Spot on perfect!  This little number is a dark navy blue with ivory polka dots and doesn’t it just look great with the red?!  The fabric is I think what they call a “scuba” fabric – it’s a textured polyester/spandex blend.  The wind caught the dress a little for the photo, so you can see it has a nice drape, but it’s still a heavier fabric.  The back is a wide crossed back with a little keyhole opening around the waist.  Again (AGAIN), this is a little too big in the chest.  Fortunately, the raglan sleeves are a perfect spot to nip in the excess fabric.  I do happen to have an anniversary and birthday coming up in about a month, so, hey, nice timing!  I think this could also be dressed down a little with a denim jacket and flats as shown in the styling suggestions, or even go a little less retro paired with nude heels and an ivory cardigan.

The total bill for the box comes to $242.00.  You get a 25% discount if you keep everything, bringing the total down by $60.50 to $181.50.  I was contemplating returning the Skies Are Blue Avena Split Neck Top since there are a lot of fit issues and I’m not too keen on the fabric, but considering that the discount takes care of the cost of that top and then some, I’m probably just going to keep the whole Fix and see what I can do about alterations.  I’m no stranger to altering clothes since I’ve never been an off-the-rack body type, it’s just a bummer that precious little ever fits right without some work.

Final thoughts:  This was a MUCH MUCH better fix than the first by miles, and I feel like Lana definitely paid attention to my notes and preferences.  My favorite piece is probably the dress, but I do like the first two tops as well.  The prices are much higher than what I’d usually spend on clothes, but I also feel like they’re better quality, definitely not things I can find elsewhere, plus most of them are made in the USA which is pretty awesome.  In case you’re thinking about trying Stitch Fix and want to give me a little love, here’s my referral link!

Espionage Cosmetics Nexus – April 2017

Another edition of the Espionage Cosmetics Nexus has arrived!  This is April’s shipment that arrived yesterday, so it’s right on time.  The theme this month was, “Birds of a Feather,” and from a spoiler, I knew there would be a Edgar Allan Poe themed wrap, but had no idea what the other one would be!

Nevermore – This glossy nail wrap features ravens and black feathers against a cloudy sky background, with a reference to that famous poem, “The Raven.”  You could almost double purpose this for a little Hitchcockian birds, so it’s got a little bonus content, I think.  Even better is that I love both Poe and Hitchcock, so this one is right up my alley.

Flight of the Moonfallen – This is a nail wrap with a pearl finish and bonus glow in the dark content.  I didn’t recognize this one at all, but thankfully someone on Instagram mentioned that it was a reference to the Saga comic book series.  It’s a really lovely design, taken from the wings of one of the characters, and now that I’ve read up about it, the series sounds like something right up my alley, so I’m going to have to put it on my reading list.

This is an easy month for me since I have a soft spot for Poe, so my vote is definitely going to Nevermore in the epic nail wrap battle.  I’m still pretty fond of Flight of the Moonfallen since it’s a beautiful design, but.. POE!  Either way, I still received both of these and get to wear them, but only one will go on to victory and end up on the website for sale to the public.  The month-to-month subscription cost is $15, and since each wrap goes for $10 on the website, the value definitely exceeds the cost, plus, subscribers get first crack at new designs.  Next month’s theme has already been announced, and it’s, “Keeping Track.”  In case you’re thinking about subscribing and want to send me some love, hit up my referral link!