Adventure is out there: June 2017

Last year for the #happilyeverbruce honeymoon we took up kayaking for the first time. We also decided to go all out and do it right on the Pacific Ocean, (a whole different sort of experience than kayaking on a river or lake) as we explored the coast and caves of Channel Island.

This guided trip was an absolute blast! We got to see whales, dolphins, and seals or sea lions or both – this is always a debate in our house as we can never remember and those photos didn’t turn out so well – as we took the ferry from Venture, CA to the islands (and again on the way back). We learned how to tandem paddle and that we never want to tandem paddle again, it’s for the sake of any future generations existing. We explored caves and that we are good not doing that again either, at least until we get better at kayaking in general. We even had some quality hiking on the island. Basically, is you ever have the chance I highly recommend the day trip, and for my camping friends they have over night trips as well.

A year-ish later I’m at my desk thinking how much fun we had and that we should totally do a local day trip. Due to summer scheduling I knew I was going to be getting a Friday off, which tends to mean a few less people to contend with. So, I googled and booked with Wisconsin Canoe Company. They provided the boats, paddles, life jackets, maps, and a shuttle from the landing to the launch. It was a completely self-guided, go at your own pace (as long as we were back by 6pm), sort of adventure and I can hardly wait to go again next year.

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Water levels on the Wisconsin River were higher then normal so there was no sandbar hopping to be had, and the many islands to typically navigate were basically non-existent (it did make reading the map and anticipating obstacles rather useless). However, we had beautiful weather and a strong current that negated any slowing down the wind at our faces may have accomplished.

A couple hours in we floated side by side as we ate lunch, slathered on another layer of sunscreen (not that it helped in the end), and got to talk to the warden patrolling the river. Other than that interaction, we basically had the river to ourselves since the group that booked along with us stopped early to start their drinking. It was peaceful, and beautiful, and oh so worth the effort.

We landed three hours after launch. We didn’t paddle excessively hard, and we spent a considerable amount of time just drifting and enjoying the scenery. Honestly, the only thing I wish I would have done was gone for a swim, even though it wasn’t excessively hot the river water was comfortable temperature for it. Something to think about next year.

Since Governor Dodge State Park was in the vicinity, I talked hubby into taking a small detour before we headed home. I’d wanted to check out this park since our fist park pass in 2015 but the two hour drive for such a short visit never seemed worth the effort. Now, all I wanted to do was take the half mile Stephan’s Fall loop. Just a little something to stretch out the legs before we headed home for the day. We started out right, got to the unimpressive waterfall, an carried right along since a couple was there taking engagement photos. Congrats to them!!

We get to the half way point and seek the trail map for direction, because now there are several paths to choose from. We manage to misread the direction we came from and find ourselves on the 3 mile Lost Canyon Loop which outside of the initial shared trail with Stephan’s Falls does not connect to anything. As beautiful as the park was, neither of us was in the mood. At one point we walk up a grossly steep hill, and as we crest the top I spot the back of a warning sign. Sure enough, it warns hikers and cross country skiers of how steep the decline is. All I could do was flip it the bird and curse. I should have made Jonathan take a picture.  Today, we both hurt. Everywhere.

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Tips for next year:

Cover more or cover less. I don’t want a repeat of the awkward tan lines I currently have midway down my calves.

Spray on sunblock may be easier to apply in the kayak than the rub on stuff.

Bug repellent. Though there were no issues on the water. The launch and landing points weren’t fun.

Pack the aloe vera. Even if we don’t end up burned hydration is important.

Pack less. We did not need full hydration packs AND the platypus bottles.

Plan for lunch. The Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center is on the way in and out, might as well stop in for lunch and skip eating on the river.

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Le Tote: Box 4

Le Tote, easily my favorite of all the clothing subscriptions, is a flat rate monthly rental subscription. Get 3-5 items depending on your subscription, wear them as long as you want and return them when you want something new. If you find you can’t live without one of the items, you can buy it at a discount.

Delivery #4 is my first of the Classic Box subscription with 4 clothing items and no accessories and is the first box I kept longer than a few days. Typically, I’m good to wear everything once and send it back, but this time I got a fabulous dress that hubby assured me would be worth it once I got paid first.

Even though each item came from my closet (all the items Le Tote has available and I’ve clicked the little heart on) only half of them worked out for me this round. Let’s take a look:

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I thoroughly liked the orange Vince Camuto High Low Shirtdress, I ended up wearing it as a tie front shirt since I didn’t have any belts to give it some shape. (This should be rectified in the coming weeks.) It worked really well for casual Friday with my cute black and white capris. Would definitely rent again. Retail: $89 Le Tote: $68

I looked like a freakin’ goddess in the pink paisley London Times High Neck Maxi Dress and felt like one too! I wasn’t too keen on the price tag, but my favorite person said it would be worth the splurge. And it is! Adding a light sweater or a denim jacket will make this dress wearable spring through fall. Who am I kidding, boots and a comfy pull over will make it fantastic for winter too! I don’t know if you noticed, but I love this dress. Retail: $98 Le Tote: $74

I’m going to get better about taking before and after pics when I swap items. I don’t recall what the Lumiere Star Cold Shoulder Top replaced but it did replace something. I know the description says star, but you can hardly tell they are more than polka dots in the photo. In person they were way to aggressive for my liking. Despite the open shoulders the sleeves were too tight to move in. I just couldn’t make it work. Retail: $45 Le Tote: $26

Lastly, the skirt. The crepe paper like fabric of the Le Lis Pleated Pencil Skirt was too small for me to even try on. Seriously, I’ve got shapewear that is easier to get into. The elastic waist band did nothing to help. This sad little article of clothing stayed in the box until I was ready to ship it back. Retail: $45 Le Tote: $36

I was all too happy to pack it up and ship it back yesterday morning, my next box finalized before I had even left the office.

 

Dress of the Month: #1

Unique Vintage offers a fantastic line of new, vintage-style, clothing and accessories. I could take home almost everything that they have to offer. With their classically designed dresses in patterns that range from solids and polka dots to full on city scapes and holiday prints, there is something for every taste and season.

The idea of a Dress of the Month Club was so fascinating for several reasons. One, because picking from the hundreds of options is just daunting. Two, it’s a surprise each month and a great way to try things outside of my comfort zone. Three, your subscription cost is less than the dress value, so it’s a built in discount.

To sign up you really just give them your size and leave the rest to the universe. It’s $50 a month plus $7 for flat rate shipping. If the size is wrong you can exchange it. If the dress is in no way shape or form something you would wear you can return it for credit towards your next month. You take a small gamble, but it can sort itself out.

After signing up for Dress of the Month at the end of May, I decided to order a few things that were on sale. Two pairs of cute strappy shoes, one in black the other in nude. A fantastic black dress with white polka dots, and a long pearlescent necklace because the extra item got me a decent discount and free shipping.

It took what felt like ages for that order to ship. When I got it a week ago, I was bummed to find that the shoes had been shipped separately. (I got the first pair Thursday, still waiting on the second). Even worse, the dress didn’t fit! I ordered the size suggested based off my measurements, but I either shrunk, mis-measured, or a combination of both.

The down side is because it was a final sale item I can’t return or exchange it. On the up side, I’m confident in my seamstress skills enough to possibly successfully take it in. (I just got to find the time.) Customer Service quickly responded to my inquiry for changing the size of my Dress of the Month Club, so I was rather disappointed when I received it last night and it was the same too big size.

image3.jpegMy bum filled out just fine, but I could have stuffed a whole roll of paper towels, still on the roll, down the bust and it wouldn’t have filled the whole thing up. Such a disappointment considering how fabulous that pattern is!! I would have been happy to exchange for a smaller size but hubby vetoed the cut. It’s hard to tell with such a busy fabric but the bust and sleeves do some weird pleating. Retail: $94

I would have liked to try this on in my own size, but the effort to send it back and wait for exchange just doesn’t seem worth it. Next month though my subscription will already be paid for, less shipping cost.

My first experience may have been a let down but I’m holding out that next month will be much better.

 

 

2017 Reading Goals: 28/125

This year I signed up for Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge. I took on a lofty goal of 125 books and I‘m currently behind by 28. Life has just gotten so project oriented recently that there’s little time left in the day to sit down with a good book.

I’ve read some good stuff, like Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses (along with the second and third books of that series). I’ve read some okay but not great stuff in Bella Forrest’s A Shade of Vampire series (aka the only reason I have Kindle Unlimited). I’ve also read some piles of steaming garbage that make you think the story is going to end but then doesn’t and now I have to wait until the next book is available to find out how much worse the story gets. (I’m a masochist in that way.)

There’s a solid chance I’m going to cross my little street this week, walk into the library, take up a seat in the children’s’ book section, and get myself caught up. Maybe even ahead. Sounds like cheating, I know, BUT I’ll consider it research for books I want on my own bookshelves for the kids to come.

With books being on the brain I thought I’d share one that I am a bit vested in. For three more days you can get Project Northwoods by Jonathan Charles Bruce on Amazon for just ninety-nine cents. At 594 pages your dollar goes a long way at keeping you entertained. Within its pages you’ll find yourself submerged in an alternate reality where the good guys and the bad guys aren’t neatly filed under Hero or Villain. There’s action, adventure, mystery… everything for a great read.

Now, I’ve got to be honest, some of my own sweat went into this book. I read it through twice for editing, and I didn’t even think I’d make it through once since this is not my typical go to for reading. Seriously, paranormal romance and young adult fiction is where I am at. However, I’m happy I was able to venture outside of my comfort zone then, just as I’m excited to do so now with all the fashion stuff. It’s too bad Goodreads won’t let me read it again.

I guess I’ll finally pick up 50 Shades of Gray while I’m at the library, since we did just watch the movie, and I’m highly anticipating hubby live tweeting 50 Shades Darker this weekend. Did I mention hubby wrote Project Northwoods?

Play by Sephora: Box 1

My Play by Sephora came a whole day early!!! I was not prepared, so I made myself wait to open it until I wrote up and took pictures for my Makeup Bag entry. It wasn’t too hard because the hubby and I spent the night shredding a terrible movie. Live tweeting was involved so the two hour movie took us three and half, and by that time it was well past our bedtime. But I digress.

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Play by Sephora is a monthly subscription that provides you with, as they describe it, five samples and a scent. For everyone that can math, you get six samples for $10. It all comes in a unique bag that ties back to an overall theme for that month. Additionally, you get a Play Pass to receive an extra 50 Beauty Insider Points with your next in store purchase, a handy little fold out giving you tips for the season, info on the samples and how to apply, along with exclusive access to how-to videos online.

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This subscription is ideal for those that want to try before they buy and have no idea where to start. I don’t know how many times I’ve walked by all the open testers at the local Sephora and was simply overwhelmed.

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First thing I tried was the Yves Saint Laurent “Black Opium Eau De Parfum”. Typically I avoid scents as they tend to be overpowering – granted I’m sure that opinion has more to do with the years of working with teenage boys who practically bathed in Axe body spray – but I’m here to expand my horizons. It definitely smells better on me (vanilla with a light floral) than it did in the packaging (baby powder.) I’d say this sample is a winner. Retail: $68 (reg. size)/$25 (travel size)

Next up is the Kat Von D “Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in K-Dud.” Well, that’s a color! Think of Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed. Now, remember the dress she wore to her actual high school prom? That’s what is currently on my mouth in a matt finish. It. Is. Odd. AF. After two and a half hours that included eating dinner & leaving lipstick behind on my water bottle, the color was mostly still there even if a little faded in the middle. I blotted a layer of it off before going out in public, still leaving a trace of color stained on my lips but a lot less bold. Even that itty-bit of color was still on three hours later. Retail: $20

IGK Rich Kid “Coconut Oil Gel” I tried, not in my hair, but hubby’s. It has a pleasant scent, void of the chemically smell found in a lot of drugstore hair gels. I worked it into his dry hair opting for simple twist instead of the typical braid. His hair didn’t look like it had any product in it and it maintained a no effort look to his tied back locks. Who can complain about that? Retail: $15-$27

Benefit Cosmetics “The POREfessional Face Primer.” I was most excited to try this because I wanted to get out and take some pics to celebrate our one year anniversary. Unfortunately, even though the product went on silky smooth it seemed to highlight my pores instead of blurring them as the product description claimed. Further, it left behind almost gritty streaks. Was not impressed and washed it off immediately. Retail: $12-$31

I ended up testing the First Aid Beauty “Hello FAB Coconut Skin Smoothie Priming Moisturizer” instead. This was great. It went on weightless and left behind a fresh glow. WIth makeup on yesterday and bare faced today my face feels radiant and moisturized without feeling too oily. And there’s still enough for another day or two. Retail: $14-$28

Last item is the Ouai “Rose Hair & Body Oil. I have yet to find a body oil that claims it is fast absorbing and actually is. I messaged into my elbows, which tend to be trouble spots in the summer, but feeling tacky for several minutes is not how I want to spend any part of my. Sure, my skin felt and looked more hydrated but I get the same results with body lotion that does absorb quickly. Retail: $32

Of all the things I got in my first box I could definitely see myself splurging on Black Opium and replacing the Aveeno for the Hello FAB in my makeup routine. If hubby wasn’t so devoted to Dollar Shave Club I try to convert him to the Coconut Oil Gel. As for the rest, I could do without. I will say that the price paid for the products I got to try was worth it. There’s enough of each sample to try it several times but not so much you feel like you are wasting it if you know it’s not your thing. Already looking forward to July’s Play by Sephora.

Makeup Bag

With my up coming Play by Sephora and Beauty Box 5 subscriptions I thought I’d take a look at what I have, what I use, and how long I’ve had it all. My makeup game is pretty much non-existent, but as most females, and even some bad-ass men do, I’ve got the basics somewhere. The makeup bag is really only pulled out for special occasions (weddings or job interviews) and on the rare occasion just because I feel like it.

I did buy a few new items for my wedding last year and job hunting. I even wore it the first few days of the new job. However, I was so excited the first day boss lady came in make-up free – my fourth or fifth day on the job – the pressure (though negligible, and not from the office) to wear it regularly was off!

Really, I’d be happy with a bit of mascara and a touch of Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer. Most mornings I’m good as is, others I get the works starting with moisturizer and working my way up. I even filled in my eyebrows last week – it was the wrong shade for me, but I went with it.

Knowing that most of the items in my makeup bag I couldn’t even remember when I bought I took to the internet to research how long each item could be kept. Turns out, I should throw about 90% of it away and start new. Good thing I’ve got a couple of subscription boxes to introduce me to new products.

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Taking a peek at my assortment I am definitely loyal to a few brands. With the exception of Mary Kay’s Satin Lips Burt’s Bees is the only thing that currently graces this pucker. It’s a rare day that I go without Aveeno’s Positively Radiant moisturizer. I’m not a fan of the tinted stuff, if it needs a moisturizer base before you apply is defeating the purpose, right? If I’m in the store I default to Cover Girl for all my eye makeup and blush needs. The Mary Kay is from a pre-wedding make-over, but I tend to only purchase it when it is right in front of me.

The Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask showed up on my Facebook timeline one day and was so absolutely fascinating I had to try it. It’s fun applying and feeling it fizz on your face is very satisfying, but I make such a mess trying to rinse it off. I’ll stick with my Neutrogena Wave for my face cleaning needs. I’ll be so sad when I can no longer find refills for this.

According to this article, I can hold onto the Curve Crush perfume for another year, my Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer (but not the gloss) and one of my eye liners for a couple of months yet. My moisturizer and clay mask both have expiration dates for 2018 or later, so at least I have that going for me. Hopefully the makeup subscriptions will fill the soon to be vacated spots.

Show of hands: How many of you regularly use the entirety of your makeup before it reaches its suggested shelf life?

Wantable: Box 1

My first Wantable Style Edit came on a beautiful weekend. I opted to take full advantage of nice weather instead of taking the usual pictures, or even write this review with the box wide open and the contents sprawled out around me. Fortunately, Wantable puts the contents of your box right in your Style Feed once it is delivered, so I can still show off the goodies I got with my first box.

I wasn’t initially going to try Wantable, mostly because I felt I was going a little overboard with the subscriptions. However, boss lady was interested in trying out subscriptions and I knew Dia & Co. would not work for her itty-bitty frame. This motivated my to try one more, if only for the nice little referral credit I could earn.

Wantable works like StitchFix and Dia & Co. Fill out a style profile, pay a styling fee up front, and soon you’ll have hand picked items to try on in the comfort of your own home. Pay for what you want, send back the items you don’t. You styling fee will be applied to your purchase, plus they offer a discount.

Wantable has several advantages over StitchFix and Dia & Co. First, you can subscribe to fashion, fitness, men’s fitness, intimates, and/or make-up. All your subscriptions in one place!! Right now I’m sticking with fashion, but who knows what could happen in the future.

Second, their style profile is a lot more thorough. Instead of liking or disliking a particular style (boho, preppy, etc.) you can rate each type of clothing to how likely you are to wear it. Further it breaks down each type into common styles. Do you wear pants? Yes! What types of pants do you wear? Skinny? Boot-cut? The first time through I did get scolded for not liking or loving enough items. I guess I have to give them something to work with.

Third, they having this “Style Stream” where you can upload pics of the items you got and see what others are sharing. From this Instagram like feed you can request items you see and love. It’s no guarantee that it will be available but visuals can go a long way in helping your stylist create your next Style Edit.

Last, and possibly my favorite. You get at least five items (I got seven) and the 20% discount kicks in when you keep five or more. I love this. It means the potential to like everything you keep instead of liking three or four items because it was more cost effective to keep everything.

Let’s look at what I got:

The Long Sleeve Boyfriend Tee was super soft, and who doesn’t love super soft? It’s a high quality basic, however, a long sleeved shirt at the start of summer isn’t a thing I’d buy. Plus, the pocket was really distracting. Retail: $50.00

 

The Sheetal Off the Shoulder Top is a fantastic color and pattern. I wanted to like it so bad, but with a top that loose around the midsection I prefer it to be several inches longer than it was. Maybe I should have tried it on with the column skirt I got from Dia & Co: Box 1? Oh well. Checking out the Style Stream it looks like this top comes in different colors and patterns. Good to know if you like the style but not the color. Retail: $58.00

Talking about soft material this Tassel Hoodie with Back Detail is definitely something I could spend a chilly day snuggled in. Great for getting cozy with your favorite yoga pants, a good book, and hot cup of coffee or tea. Not that great of an item on a 85 degree morning. Also, for what ends up being about ⅔ of a top, it’s not worth the asking price. Retail: $88.00

This Born in the USA tank top would be perfect to wear for the upcoming fourth of July weekend if I wore shirts with words on them. The material was comfy the faded color gave it a vintage appeal, but I have a hard time reconciling spending money on USA branded items made in China. Did I happen to mention how much they are asking for it? Retail: $59.00

This Waist Belted Dress was just fantastic, until it wasn’t. Sure I’ve been griping about long sleeves in summer but they’re sheer making them more like mosquito nets than actual sleeves. The cut and length were perfectly flirty, and the mini polka-dots are the it thing thanks to Master of None. Unfortunately, those mosquito net sleeves have no give, leaving me almost regretting the weightlifting. Retail: $54.00

I was so excited to try on the Faux Wrap Dress and it’s delightfully bright pattern. It’s three-quarter sleeves (my second favorite sleeve length) and just below the knee length make it the perfect single item for the office. The collar is fun detail, and the fabric smooth and stretchy. I couldn’t send it back. Retail: $48.00

I’m not sure why the thumbnail is red seeing as I got this Oversized Open Front Cardigan on black. Had I gotten one in color, and the Style Stream shows at least three more available maybe I would have kept it. This girl did not need another black, long-sleeved sweater in her closet. Retail: $39.00

Overall I was a bit disappointed with how basic and pricey the items were, not to mention seasonally inappropriate. Yet, each item fit and most of them were styles I would wear. I truly believe these services need at least two deliveries, if not three to see if they are going to be worth it or not. Granted I can get that next Style Edit next month or put it on pause until I’ve got a bit more disposable income.

If you like what you see and want to give Wantable a try click the link.