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Stitch Fix Recap #34

August 4, 2017

Happy Friday! You’ve probably noticed things have been a bit quiet around here this week. I’ve been doing a lot of planning for the future of Countdowns and Cupcakes and I foresee some big things happening in the near future! In order to make those happen and still work my day job/eat/sleep/spend time with my husband, I’m going to cut back to just three posts a week here on the blog. The good news is that gives me more time to produce really valuable content for you all as well as pursue some new opportunities to expand the Countdowns and Cupcakes family.

If you’re interested in more Countdowns and Cupcakes than just what’s on the blog, then I highly encourage you to join my email newsletter which will bring exclusive content right to your inbox each month as well as my social media accounts (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest).

But don’t worry, some things won’t change at all, like sharing my monthly Stitch Fix! For those of you who are new to Stitch Fix, it’s a clothing subscription box that sends you 5 hand-selected pieces monthly for you to try on at home. I love the styles they have and each box gets progressively better as my stylist learns what I like. If you’re interested in checking out Stitch Fix, please consider using my referral link so I get a little something extra towards my next Fix.

Item #1: Heartloom Nelie Lace Trim Crossfront Blouse. This top was really pretty, but white is not a color I can handle wearing. Between my general clumsiness and a black cuddly wiener dog, that shirt would never make it.  They sent me a medium and it was bit loose, but that’s probably part of the style. I did send this back.

Item #2: Romolo Lepel Link Chain Choker. I have this weird thing about stuff tight against my neck. I can’t wear turtlenecks or chokers for that reason. This little cutie had to go back.

Item #3: Margaret M Safiya Maxi Skirt. This was hands down my favorite piece and the only one that I ended up keeping. I got a medium petite so the skirt is the right length! Praise! I’ve worn it to work twice already and love how comfy it is while still being ok for the office.

Item #4: Q&A Beckie Ladder Pleat Blouse. I really liked this top, especially the mint color. But the fit wasn’t quite right (I got a medium) so I sent it back.

Item #5: Adorne Natalie Lace Dress. Oh this dress. The fabric was beautiful! All of the lace detailing was embroidered and I desperately wanted to keep it. But the neckline was a bit funky and limited the undergarments I could wear.  I got a size 6 and it ran fairly true to size, but because it wasn’t a petite size, I think that contributed to some of my issues with it. But if had a different neckline, I would have kept it in a heartbeat.

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you here next week when I share A’s first care package! It’s a super cute one!

Books

What I Read This Month: July 2017

July 28, 2017

If there’s a good side to my husband being deployed, it’s that I have more time to myself.  It never seems to fail that I spend it in one of three ways: being super productive, watching trashy TV that A would never watch and reading a ton. So far this deployment, I’ve done a bit of all three, but July was very heavy in the reading category.

Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty 

“Lyn, Cat, and Gemma Kettle, beautiful thirty-three-year-old triplets, seem to attract attention everywhere they go. Together, laughter, drama, and mayhem seem to follow them. But apart, each is dealing with her own share of ups and downs. Lyn has organized her life into one big checklist, Cat has just learned a startling secret about her marriage, and Gemma, who bolts every time a relationship hits the six-month mark, holds out hope for lasting love. In this wise, witty, and hilarious novel, we follow the Kettle sisters through their tumultuous thirty-third year.”

This was a very quick, enjoyable read, but I don’t know that I loved it. I’m a big fan of a lot of her books and while this one was good, I wouldn’t put it on the same level as The Husband’s Secret. The story moved quickly and the characters were intriguing. But after a very large amount of drama, things wrapped up a little too perfectly for my taste.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

“It was an unlikely quest from the start. With a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team was never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast and Great Britain, yet they did, going on to shock the world by defeating the German team rowing for Adolf Hitler.”

I loved this one probably because it reminded me so much of The Boys of Winter, one of my favorite books of all time.  I picked it up on my way home from a conference in Seattle so all of the locations were fresh in my mind which probably helped the story come alive for me.  I found myself cheering for the boys from UW and turning the pages a little bit faster as we got to the gold-medal race.  I definitely plan to see the documentary and would recommend this for sports fan and history buffs alike!

The Night She Won Miss America by Michael Callahan

“Betty Jane Welch reluctantly enters the Miss Delaware contest to make her mother happy, only to surprisingly find herself the judges’ choice. Just like that, she’s catapulted into the big time, the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City. Luckily, her pageant-approved escort for the week is the dashing but mercurial Griffin McAllister, and she falls for him hard. But when the spirited Betty unexpectedly wins the crown and sash, she finds she may lose what she wants most: Griff’s love. To keep him, she recklessly agrees to run away together. From the flashy carnival of the Boardwalk to the shadowy streets of Manhattan to a cliffside mansion in gilded Newport, the chase is on as the cops and a scrappy reporter secretly in love with the beauty queen threaten to unravel everything-and expose Griff’s darkest secret.”

Oh my gosh, this one was good! I read it almost one sitting because I couldn’t put it down. The book was based on a true story, but heavily fictionalized so I was definitely left wishing I knew what the true story was. The dark secret was not at all what I expected and its resolution felt a little off, even though it was perfectly appropriate for the time period. But overall, I really enjoyed this one.

Always by Sarah Jio

“Enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fiancé, Ryan, at one of Seattle’s chicest restaurants, Kailey Crain can’t believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a journalist and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As she and Ryan leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister.”

Ok real talk, I wasn’t a huge fan of The Look of Love so I picked this one up with mild expectations. But holy crap y’all, this one was SO much better! I found myself so caught up in the story that at one point I gasped at a turn of events. Out loud. It was very compelling and thought-provoking, even while being masked as a romantic story. It’s inspired me to check out more books by this author.

City of Friends by Joanna Trollope

“The day Stacey Grant loses her job feels like the last day of her life. Or at least, the only life she’d ever known. For who was she if not a City high-flyer, Senior Partner at one of the top private equity firms in London? As Stacey starts to reconcile her old life with the new—one without professional achievements or meetings, but instead, long days at home with her dog and ailing mother, waiting for her successful husband to come home—she at least has The Girls to fall back on. Beth, Melissa and Gaby. The girls, now women, had been best friends from the early days of university right through their working lives, and through all the happiness and heartbreaks in between. But these career women all have personal problems of their own, and when Stacey’s redundancy forces a betrayal to emerge that was supposed to remain secret, their long cherished friendships will be pushed to their limits.”

This one was my least favorite of all the books I read this month. The characters were a little annoying to be honest with you. For people who had been friends for so long, they certainly didn’t seem to be very good to each other.  I found the “betrayal” to be a little silly and all the grudges these women had with each other seemed a bit insignificant. I would recommend skipping this one and don’t see myself picking up more by this author.

What did you read this month?

Books Military

Going Overboard Reflection

July 27, 2017

The military spouse lifestyle can be a bit somber: there are a lot of goodbyes, usually more than one person’s fair share of tears and sometimes some very serious moments.  Thanks to a lot of mainstream media, many civilians think things end there, but they don’t. In between the tears, there is laughter. There is levity to balance out the somber moments. There is humor in the military spouse lifestyle and Sarah Smiley shares many of those moments in Going Overboard.

Summary: In 1999, Sarah was a typical bride-to-be, flustered with wedding details. Then the groom called. “I don’t want you to panic, but I might not be able to come to our wedding….”

So began Sarah Smiley’s life as a military wife. As a former Navy brat herself, Sarah knew better than anyone that weddings and funerals—even childbirth!—take a backseat to Uncle Sam. But just as the young, nationally syndicated columnist was getting comfortable with the military wife’s routine, her husband was sent away for an unexpected deployment. What followed was a true test of strength and wit. From getting locked out of the house in cowgirl pajamas to wrestling with the temptation of infidelity, Sarah exposes it all with candor, heart—and knowing humor.

My thoughts: I had mixed reactions to this one. On one hand, I felt like this was the least dramatized version of a military spouse’s life that I’ve read and I really appreciated that. Sarah was honest (sometimes brutally so) about the ups and downs of being married to the military. I think her reactions to deployment were genuine and completely relatable.  So many of us bicker with our spouses right before they leave. So many of us have had complete meltdowns because the dryer is broken again or the dog has gotten sick on the bed or we’re locked out of the house in our cowgirl PJs.

But on the other hand, I was a bit disheartened by this book. Sarah is tempted by infidelity during her husband’s deployment, so much so that her being at his homecoming is in question at one point.  While I can completely understand how difficult it is to be by yourself and can empathize with her feelings, I just cannot get behind the idea of cheating on my husband, or even contemplating it.  It’s beyond comprehension to me and I couldn’t relate to her struggle with it.  I found myself becoming very frustrated with that part of her story.

I was hoping that because this book was written by a military spouse (rather than just about them), it would be truer to the military spouse lifestyle I see everyday. In reality, it still perpetuated a few of the stereotypes I (and so many of us) hate.

But perhaps that’s the good thing about this book: it shows another facet of military spouse life. It may not be the facet that I relate to or the one that I agree with, but it’s there. Sarah’s experience as a military spouse is just as valid as my own, even though they are very different.

If military spouses are going to claim to be a diverse group that can’t be stereotyped or neatly categorized, we need to acknowledge all experiences as valid and worthy of respect, even if they’re ones we don’t agree with.

Have you ever read a book that presents a life of experiences so very different than your own, but that you still recognize as valid? Can there be a continuum of the military spouse lifestyle?

B R

Dog Deployment Goals

July 21, 2017

I write a lot about surviving and thriving during deployment, usually from my point of view. But today I’m turning the tables a bit and letting B and Ruger share some of their plans for the time their favorite guy is gone.  

Happy Friday, party people! Roogie and Wigs are back on the blog and we’re excited for the weekend! Hopefully Rachel doesn’t have a lot to do because we want to spend all of our time with her. Since A left, she’s been really busy and we haven’t gotten to play or snuggle with her as much as we would like.

She keeps telling us that we’re still trying to get into our deployment routine. We don’t like deployment because it means A is gone. But she always says that a deployment is what we make of it, so we have set our own deployment goals for the next few months.

Dog Deployment Goals

Take a lot of naps. At least two a day.

Ok. To be fair, we do this even when A is home, but we really want to dedicate ourselves to our craft. It helps us prepare for the big events during our day: meal time and bed time. We like to be in tip-top napping shape when our favorite guy gets home.

Make sure Rachel never feels lonely. 

We miss A a lot and Rachel does too. We don’t want her to feel bad so we’re making an extra effort to keep her company. We follow her into every room, sit next to her on the sofa and even cry when she leaves to get the mail. Sometimes we make her feel so unlonely, she goes into the bathroom and shuts the door just so she can feel lonely again.

Help with chores around the house.

We have a confession: sometimes we’re not the cleanest members of our family. We don’t make a mess on purpose, it just happens sometimes, like when we get really excited about a new toy or Ruger is extra thirsty. We know it can be a little exhausting for Rachel to clean up after us by herself so we want to do our part with the household chores. Ruger is helping to take out the trash by removing cardboard from recycling and chewing them up so they fit better. He also brings laundry from the laundry basket to the washing machine like a pro. B licks anything and everything off the floor, keeping it squeaky clean. We are basically keeping the house running.

Enjoy the little things in life, like a little more room in the bed. 

Sure, we’re sad that A isn’t here; we really miss him sharing snacks with us. But we can’t let missing him get in the way of enjoying the days until he’s home. Whether it’s the extra room in the bed or not having to wiggle in between A and Rachel all the time, we’re focusing on enjoying the little things in life.

Hopefully these goals keep us super busy and time flies until our favorite guy gets home. Have a great weekend!

B

Dachshund Life Lessons

July 18, 2017

There’s a saying about teaching old dogs new tricks and whether or not you can. I’m not sure which is true, but I do know that as much as owners try to teach dogs how to behave, dogs come with some lessons of their own. There is so much wisdom between those ears and for some reason, B has always seemed extra wise.  Over the past (almost) 5 years, he has taught me far more than I could ever teach him and not just because he’s stubborn.

Dachshund Life Lessons

You are only as little as you allow yourself to feel.

B may only stand 6″ tall and weigh 12 pounds, but he has the heart of a lion. No rock is too large, no lake too deep, no bowl of food too full for that little guy. You cannot tell him he’s unable to do something. He’s adventurous, daring and does not let his size keep him from all the fun life has to offer. He lives truly believing he is without limits, something we should all strive for.

You can’t be too close. 

That dog loves to cuddle and cannot get close enough to someone he loves. When he was a puppy, he used to sleep draped across my throat and while he doesn’t do that anymore, he still wiggles his way in as tightly as possible. Laying next to you isn’t good enough; he needs to lay on you. But when you love someone don’t you take comfort in being close to them? Don’t you find yourself unconsciously reaching for them at night, reassured that they’re still there? B sure does.

Greet each day with endless enthusiasm. 

Rain or shine, sleeping in or up early, B wakes up bright-eyed with a wagging tail. To him, each day is going to be the best day ever.  His bouncy attitude makes my first few moments out of bed a tad brighter, even if I’m grumpy at having to be up that early. What if we all went through life believing that today was going to be a good day?

What if we all went through life believing that today was going to be a good day? #doglifelessons Click To Tweet

Show those around you that you love them unconditionally. 

My husband often tells me that he’s not sure a creature loves another creature as much as B loves me. And while I know he’s partially joking, I also know he’s partially correct. Dogs have this tremendous ability to love their humans unconditionally, no matter how many times you’ve refused to play ball or scolded them for chewing on your shoes. To them, you are the greatest thing to have ever walked on earth and they are not shy about showing it. Frankly, it should inspire us all to love a little more unconditionally.

If you can’t have it, try again. 

B’s…perseverance in the face of a “no” is astonishing. If Ruger has his toy (or a toy B thinks should be his), does he shrug his little wiener dog shoulders and walk away? No! He fights for what he wants! And while the barking gets on everyone’s nerves, B ultimately gets what he wants. I’m not saying we should walk around yelling at people to give us what we want, but maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to walk away from it either.

My little 12-pound dachshund has more personality and quirkiness in his tail than some humans do in their entire bodies. And like most dogs, I’m pretty sure he’s wiser than we give him credit for. Dogs have so much to teach us, if only we’re open to learning.  What has your dog taught you?