When it Rains, it Pours

It is raining in Southern California, folks.  It’s windy and rainy, trees are buckling and flooding is a very real danger in many areas.  The Oroville Dam has been on national news, and thanks to my now-obsessive urge to listen to NPR during my commute I learned a lot about the structural concerns of the dam and the catastrophic potential for loss of life if the spillway fails.  Scary stuff.  Here’s today’s weather report for my  neck of California, which thankfully, is far away from Oroville Dam.

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Remember when I shared about my love of learning?  NPR has truly broadened my horizons.  I’ve never been that interested in politics; of course, I’d educate myself enough to make informed voting choices but not until Donald Trump’s stunning (and very disturbing, in my opinion) victory did I ever feel the need to dive deeper into it.  Now, in an effort to understand what in the hell happened, I’m listening to lots of NPR and actually learning about many other interesting things, such as the story behind American artist Andrew Wyeth’s famous painting, Christina’s World.

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I learned about James Baldwin, the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary film, I Am Not Your Negro.  During my 30 minute commute I learned about his spiritual upbringing and his time as a “boy preacher” and the crisis of spirit he experienced.  I definitely want to know more.

It seems that everywhere you turn these days, politics is in your face whether you want to deal with it or not.  For the most part I do not share my political views on Facebook because, WHY.  I learned about fake news (and it’s not Trump’s definition) from NPR too, which is a real thing and Facebook is full of it. When you see the link to an article that just seems wrong–such as Garth and Tricia’s divorce settlement–and with innocent interest you click it, you helped fund fake news.  Don’t fund and circulate this crap, people!  I for one vow to keep Facebook fluffy and fun by posting cute pictures of my grandkids or delicious dinners at home.  Here’s our Valentine’s Day feast:

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I finally finished the Marketing Management course earning a solid A.  I was given the option to take a challenge exam for the Organizational Behavior course, due to my psychology background and experiential credit because of my work responsibilities.  I’m confident I did well  on that exam too.  While reviewing the text and specifically, a section about the importance of listening, an ironic and funny (to me) example of a notoriously poor listener was included:

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Oh dear.  Who could have imagined the stone-cold mess we’d find ourselves in, circa 2017. “And that’s all I got to say ’bout that” (said in my best Forrest Gump voice).

I am awaiting my next Stitch Fix box with great anticipation.  I gave my stylist free rein to surprise me this month and can’t wait to see what she comes up with.  For my last fix I requested work clothes and received an amazing jacket, black slacks, a beautiful royal blue blouse, and a pencil skirt–all pieces fit perfectly, all pieces fit the criteria of stylish without being too youthful or trying too hard, and most importantly, all pieces would not have been found in stores where I live. Here is a picture of the skirt and jacket which I only share so you can note how cute and stylish and still age-appropriate this outfit is (pay NO attention to the old lady holding the iPhone).

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My disclaimer:  This picture is poor-quality and I am NOT a model and it feels very awkward to take pictures of myself and I can’t promise I’ll ever do it again, but I took this one in my hotel room in Sacramento at the beginning of this  month while on a business trip.

You too can hire a Stitch Fix stylist!  You can certainly Google Stitch Fix and sign up on your own, but if you email me (linabickel@gmail.com)  I can refer you directly which gives me a $25 credit toward my next fix.

My plans for this rainy Saturday include working on week one homework for my current Bible study, which is Beth Moore’s newest offering, a study of 2 Timothy entitled Entrusted.  Grocery shopping is also on my agenda, as is catching up on the latest episode of The Blacklist.  Tom works today so I’ll figure out something warm and comforting to prepare for dinner (and maybe I’ll post a picture to Instagram and Facebook, who knows?).  It’s all exciting, I know.  I hope your Saturday is just as riveting as mine.

Finally, I leave you with this.  Everyone needs a  laughing baby in their life.  This one is ours.

Wishing you a blessed day,

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Mail Order Addiction

I do not enjoy shopping and maybe that’s because I’m not very good at it.  I find the sights, sounds and crowds of department stores and malls to be overwhelming. When shopping is necessary I decide what’s needed and deliberately go get what I need; better yet, when I can, I order it and it comes right to me (thank you Amazon Prime).

When we were kids (there were four of us wild hooligans and I was oldest) my mom did not take us out clothes shopping if she could help it.  Oh hellll no. Our school clothes came from the Sears catalog–mail order, baby. Birthdays and Christmas were the times to ask for special fashion items such as earth shoes, chukka boots, or Billabong flip flops. A couple of memorable items from my teenage closest included a beige pea coat that was exactly like one a very popular girl wore (purely accidental but very validating for me), bleach-spotted Levi jeans, a black bikini, and lace up knee-high boots I wore to my boyfriend’s sister’s wedding.  She had similar boots and I admired her style, so this also was validating for me–maybe I had a little bit of stylish good taste.

So I said that I do not enjoy shopping, but what I do love is getting things in the mail. Remember Columbia House?  Buy 12 albums for $0.99?  Yep, I did that, several times.  Then came book clubs which was the same concept as Columbia House; I ordered self-help, fiction, memoirs and cookbooks. I loved magazine subscriptions too.  Beauty kits? Yes please. There was the Betty Crocker recipe box club, yep, I still have it somewhere. I did my share of catalog shopping as well, from kids clothes to home items.  All of these mail order shopping opportunities existed pre-internet. At some point, with the financial demands of raising our three kids, and perhaps after taking out a second mortgage to pay off credit cards, I cooled it with the mail order addiction. When I needed something I bit the bullet and went to K-Mart.

Fast forward to now, the technology age. I don’t need to belong to a recipe club, I just search the internet for recipes.  When a recipe has a strange ingredient such as palm sugar or candied jalapenos or black garlic, I simply order from Amazon and within two days I’ve got it. This is my kind of shopping. I’ve ordered clothes, shoes, gifts, household items and books from Amazon. It makes me very happy to see an Amazon smiley-box in my mail.

I don’t remember where I heard about Birchbox but probably from my daughter; this is the new millennium version of the old beauty box club!  Of course I had to try it and I even signed Tom up for the men’s box. We enjoyed that for a little while until I realized my makeup drawer really doesn’t need a million little sample size containers floating around.

Then came Blue Apron.  Oh, how I love Blue Apron!  This service is worth every penny and it keeps me out of the grocery store!  Tom and I are on the three meals per week for two plan; our box arrives on Wednesday with everything we need for gourmet dinners on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  I always enjoy cooking on the weekend so I’ll grocery shop on Saturday for a few days only and then BAM on Wednesday we’ve got our next Blue Apron box.  The meals are amazing, we are trying all kinds of new things and eating healthy. This service is a winner.  I also can give free meals to five people; if you wish to try Blue Apron, contact me!

And finally, my newest addiction: Stitch Fix. I may or may not have mentioned that I lost about 70 pounds in the last two years. A new wardrobe is a necessity for me, yet I hate to shop, especially clothes shopping. I’ve done a bit of online shopping but I really have no skill in picking out stylish yet age appropriate clothes for myself. Left to my own devices I make choices that are too safe and boring, but I don’t want to be safe and boring; I am definitely interested in learning to dress better. I want the way I dress to express the way I feel–happy and content and comfortable and even confident. So then I received a mailer about Stitch Fix and immediately did some online investigating. It didn’t take me long to decide that this was definitely something I wanted to try. I wondered what a Stitch Fix Stylist would pick for me!

My first fix arrived in November. After completing a pretty comprehensive style questionnaire and being honest about weight and sizes, I also included a note stating that my husband and I were going to California Adventure to celebrate our birthdays. My first fix included Kate Boyfriend Jeans which fit perfectly, a Skies Are Blue print blouse, and the cutest pair of SeaVees print sneakers. I also received two tops that were a bit big and boxy, so those were sent back (which is completely easy to do). I was thrilled to receive a cute and casual outfit that definitely worked for our theme park day.

My second fix was scheduled for the beginning of December, right after my birthday. For this one I included a note stating that I’d be traveling to Oregon by plane to see my daughter and wanted something stylish that could travel from mild California temperatures to very cold Oregon weather.  I also mentioned having a couple of holiday luncheons on my schedule and wanted something casual but a little dressy to go with black or grey slacks. My fix arrived ahead of schedule and perfectly met my needs; I received a very cool black puffer vest, chocolate brown pants, a beautiful beige and grey sweater for layering, and two casual/dressy blouses–one in a gorgeous fuchsia color and one in a black and beige print with a subtle gold thread sewn into the pattern.  Perfect. I kept all five pieces.

My third fix arrived on Christmas Eve! I’d given my stylist a wish list that included leopard print flats, a dress to wear with black tights and riding boots, a denim jacket, and black leggings. Everything I asked for was delivered, plus another very cute blouse.  Each item fit perfectly so again, I kept it all.  My stylist had shown me that she’s paying attention and very interested in meeting my needs. but what is most surprising to me is that I am  beginning to figure out what I like and broadening my horizons thanks to her unexpected choices for me.

Today I wore my black corduroy leggings (they fit like a dream) with my leopard flats and my black puffer vest. I felt confident and stylish and sort of cool.

Stitch Fix provides styling cards with ideas for how to wear your new items.  These are helping me see how to style things I already have in my wardrobe with my new items.

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I really can’t believe this service exists and cannot wait for my next Fix to arrive. I am excited to build a nice wardrobe with quality pieces AND to  learn how to put it all together. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

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