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What I See

Favorite Things Friday: Harvey Relief

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My heart aches for those throughout the state who have been displaced from their homes, who have lost decades worth of treasures and tangible memories, and for those who have lost their lives in the hurricane chaos. This is a very real and continuing storm for so many. If you’re like me, it has been gut-wrenching to sit back and watch Hurricane Harvey wreck Houston and other parts of Southeast Texas. Houston was my home three months ago. I’m constantly thinking about my former neighbors, church, co-workers, my community.

One beacon of light we get to see is that, in the middle of all of this brokenness, people are helping people. They are linking arms in the name of community and love. What a sight for sore eyes. So, my favorite things lately are ways that we, ordinary people, perhaps people not physically affected by Harvey, can do extraordinary things. There are tons of ways to reach out and link arms, even if you’re hours or states or continents away. Here are three.

  • Give. Bethel Church of Houston, my former church, has a benevolence fund for Hurricane Harvey relief. If you’d like to give money and ensure it’s going fully to families who need it, this is perfect. Check it out here.
  • Eat lunch at an East TX Whataburger today. From 11 am – 1 pm today, 100% of proceeds at 32 East Texas Whataburger locations will be going to the East TX Food Bank for their Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Click here for info and the list of locations.
  • Purchase a shirt with a purpose. Through the end of September, all proceeds from the sales of Magnolia Market’s “Texas Forever” T-shirt will be donated to Hurricane Harvey disaster relief efforts.

We are praying for you, hurricane victims! Stay strong.

xoxo,
Sar

What I See

My Stitch Fix Experience

Gone are the days I enjoyed clothes shopping. What happened?! Maybe it’s that I feel clueless on what’s trendy or that I’d rather spend extra money on a date night or books or décor. Before I started my job in Houston in 2012, my sweet Aunt Tammy took me on a hunt for professional things – cardigans and belts and skirts.  I still wear a few tried and true items from high school (Is that terrible??), and any new clothes are deals my mom finds at T.J. Maxx.

After considering my last 10 years of clothing sources, it’s clear: I need a personal shopper. Enter Stitch Fix, an online styling service that mails five clothing and accessory items per order directly to your home. Translation: No shopping malls, no sifting through piles for hours, no dressing rooms. {And this is not a paid advertisement. J}

I received two Stitch Fix gift cards for Christmas and as of last month hadn’t used them. When I found out that Stitch Fix offers maternity wear, I placed my order earlier this month to see what they could do, knowing I’d soon need some maternity shorts and pants especially.

How It Works

After creating an account, you fill out a Style Profile, which not only includes clothing sizes but everything from what type of fit you prefer to your ideal price point to types of clothing you don’t want in your shipment.

Then, you select a delivery date. When your stylist puts together your box, Stitch Fix charges your account a $20 “styling fee.” But the $20 is credited back to you when you make a purchase.

The fun comes of course when the box comes and you get to try everything on! You have three days to buy what you want to keep and send back what you don’t in a prepaid envelope. Lastly, you provide feedback on what you kept or returned and why. If you choose to keep all five items, they give you 25% off your total.

My box arrived 3 days earlier than expected. Here’s what came:

  1. Fossil Crossbody– Oh how I loved this bag. It was priced at $138 though. I entertained the thought of keeping it, but then the practical side of my won over. There’s no place for a diaper, lady.
  2. Campton Maternity Knit Top – Fun shirt, great fit. I’m definitely a pink, black, and white girl but the combo and design was something different, and I liked it a lot. Priced at $48.
  3. Coretta Maternity Cuffed Shorts – This was the only item that didn’t fit perfectly; they seemed a little big and bunched a bit in the front. Still, they weren’t awful, and while I’d never seek out yellow shorts, I really liked the color. Priced at $58.
  4. Worley Maternity Skinny Jeans – These fit like a glove and were so comfy. I loved the dark wash, the skinny feel, and the cute, rough cut at the bottom. And of course, that hidden panel is everything. Priced at $88. That’s a price I usually wouldn’t go for – especially knowing it’s an item I’ll wear short-term. But this was hands down my favorite item and the one I knew I’d wear most into fall and winter.
  5. Kwenuke Short Sleeve Maternity Knit Top – With a solid navy front and a pretty floral back, this maternity top was as cute as could be! Priced at $48.

What I Loved

  1. I could “trust” the items. Again, trends aren’t really on my radar. It took the pressure off to know that every item was not only stylish but also personalized.
  2. I loved trying items that were out of the box for me like pattered shirts, as I tend to wear a lot of solids. And I never would have picked out yellow shorts, but they were so fun!
  3. The prepaid envelope made the return process super convenient. Free shipping always makes me happy.
  4. You don’t have to keep a monthly subscription going. You can simply place an order whenever you want.

What I Didn’t Like

Ultimately, the cost of these items prohibited me from purchasing more. My gift cards totaled $70 and I wanted to stay under $100 total. In the style profile, you can answer how much you’re willing to pay for each item. Price points range from “The cheaper, the better!” to $200+. I requested “The cheaper, the better!” for each category. I felt like my stylist sabotaged my 25% off potential by including that $138 bag. No hard feelings, though. I still love you, Quencie. In a perfect world, I would have purchased every item.

Would I recommend StitchFix? Absolutely, if for no other reason than it is so much fun to try on things that a stylist picked out specifically for you! And Stitch Fix is truly as close to effortless as shopping can be. I’d love to save up and try it one more time with a maternity clothes box.

Have you tried Stitch Fix? Did you like it?

xoxo,

Sar

What I See

Favorite Things Friday

Happy Fri-yay! After such a heavy week in our world, I had to ask myself whether I believe it’s out of line, shallow, or mindless to write about something so frivolous as favorite things. And I have to say I think it’s okay. I believe it’s okay to keep writing about things other than politics and current events. Despite the evil and brokenness around us, there is still beauty and room for fun.

Summer and moving have brought some new favorites my way. I want to share!

1. Grove Collaborative

Grove Collaborative is the perfect one-stop shop for really great natural household products at affordable prices – from Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap to Tom’s Toothpaste and more. Use this link for $10 off your order! You can also sign up for a free 60 day VIP trial (that’s what I did) to get free shipping.

The photo above shows what I bought during a special Grove ran last month – spend $20, get 5 items free. So I spent $22 on Seventh Generation Dishwasher Powder, Method Daily Shower Spray, Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap Refill, Tom’s Mouthwash, and Bon Ami Powder Cleanser, and I received Mrs. Meyer’s Dish Soap, Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap, Mrs. Meyer’s Multi-Surface Cleaner, 2 scrubber sponges, and a cute dish towel FOR FREE. I’m telling you these items have been a game changer as I start out in a new apartment and as a mama-to-be. I enjoy using these products knowing they don’t contain icky chemicals.

 

2. e.l.f. Brow Pencil

Before
After

This is the best makeup purchase I’ve made in years. I heard one too many times about how filling in eyebrows (but not overdoing it) provides a polished look and is easy to do, so I decided to try it out. I found that I’m no pro yet, but I like it a lot! One end is a brow brush and the other is a pencil. The best part: This puppy is a super sweet $2 at Target!

3. Triplus Fineliner Pens 

These pens were actually a pre-summer find and birthday present from Alex, but I really started to use and enjoy them this summer. I love pretty pens. These are so fun for bullet journaling, and I tried them out in this little hand lettering project, which now hangs in my bedroom:

What are some of your favorites lately?? I’d love to know!

What I See

Australia Recap + Top 5 International Travel Tips

Happy summer! I’m still pinching myself after our Australia trip. I want to remember every city we drove through, every hug, every sense of “Ahhh THIS is what I missed,” every good meal, every adventurous day.

I’d been aching to return to Australia since I left in 2012, and we decided this summer would be the right time for a big trip in celebration of Alex’s graduation and before moving to Tyler for Alex’s new job.

At 8 weeks pregnant, 20+ hours of travel didn’t seem ideal, but I have a hunch our baby bear enjoyed the trip. Though I definitely tired more easily, I never got sick and felt mostly great throughout the whole three weeks! All praise and glory to God for that. The trip went smoothly and was so much fun – minus missing our flight from Brisbane to Melbourne the day before we left Melbourne for the U.S. Then I lost my Kindle later that day. No one was hurt or hospitalized though, so I call that a win.

After staying the first week in Mornington catching up with friends, we went on a two-week road trip across Victoria to Adelaide, through Wagga Wagga to Sydney and up to Brisbane with stops along the way in amazing, picturesque little towns . . . totaling 2,500 miles on the road! This map shows where we drove:

From Brisbane, we flew back to Melbourne, stayed in Mornington one final night, and then Sue and Rod took us to the airport in Melbourne the next morning. Whew! We made it back to LA exhausted and elated.

Looking back a few weeks later, the trip was as memorable and as meaningful as I prayed for. And now that our family is growing, I am all the more thankful we were able to get away for the journey. While all international trips are different, and I am by no means a travel expert, here are 5 tips I wanted to share to help make your next trip smooth, safe, and tons of fun – wherever you go!

1. Get your hands on a guidebook. We purchased Lonely Planet’s Australia guide at Barnes and Noble in the spring to start getting ideas. It was a huge help in finding restaurants and things to do once we arrived in a particular city.

2. Plan ahead, but not too much. While we booked things like plane tickets in advance, called our bank, and researched the best way to pay for things so there wasn’t an exchange fee, we planned and booked almost everything else while in Australia – usually just a day or two before. Maybe it had to do with visiting in winter instead of summer, but there were plenty of Airbnb options in our price range that we booked the day before. And Alex and I aren’t into a super structured vacation schedule, so this worked well for us.

3. Treat yourself right during an international flight. One of the best things to do before and during a flight is drink LOTS of water and little to no coffee or soda. If this means you have to get up several times to go to the bathroom, just think of it as bonus stretching time. I also try to avoid bread and other foods that make me feel less than light on long flights. And when the cabin lights go off, I brush my teeth in the bathroom to make it feel like bedtime, then put on my eye mask and try to sleep several hours. My sweet husband let me wear his compression running socks, and I didn’t have any swelling in my feet or ankles. (He did. Sorry Al.)

4. Pack purposefully. I didn’t do this well and packed way more clothes and shoes than I needed. And I realized 2 weeks into the trip that those skinny jeans didn’t appeal nearly as much as yoga pants while 10 weeks pregnant. When we arrived at the airport, our friend Ian gawked at our large suitcases. “What’d you bring all that for??” he asked. He had the same reaction six years ago. Ha.

Along those lines, be sure to look up the maximum weight per checked bag allowed by your airlines. We ended up paying extra on top of the original fee in Dallas because one of our bags was over Spirit’s 40 lb. limit. We only checked Air New Zealand’s 50 lb. limit. But if you’re packing minimally in the first place, you’ll probably avoid this issue.

5. Choose to relax and have fun. Enjoy the time off work exploring a different part of the world. Take a chance on that Airbnb on a banana farm. Wander to the nearest park for some exercise and views of the gum trees you don’t have at home. Talk to locals. Everything won’t go perfectly, but if you choose to be content and grateful despite whatever bumps come along the way, you will truly be able to unwind and create memories to last your whole life!