Friday, March 22, 2019

Stitch Fix #26 Review

Today's the day many of you have been waiting for:  I'm revealing what I items I kept in my March Stitch Fix box!  🤣 Yea, right, I am sure y'all had nothing else to do but hold your breath waiting in anxious expectation.  Although, quite a few did say you couldn't wait to find out, so drum roll please.......... I KEPT ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.  I know, surprise right?  I'm sure so many of you are wondering why I didn't keep the printed pants, but you'll find out in just a moment.  For now, let's take a look at the last item in the Fix that I have not shown you yet.  This pretty emerald green wrap top.

41 Hawthorn Aliska Front Wrap Knit Top

Status:  Returned

There were a few things I loved about this top, the number one reason is the color.  Stitch Fix keeps sending me items this color because I love it so much, but unfortunately the item doesn't work for me for another reason.  I also liked the wrap style and the unique neckline.

What I didn't like was that from the back it really clinged so you could see my love handles.  Yuck.  Who wants that?  Unless I always planned on wearing it with a cardigan or jacket,  I could never wear this top alone.  It also made me look very busty.  Of course, my husband loved that, and I'm sure there's lots of women out there who like to accentuate that feature, but I'm not one of them.  I'm actually very self conscious of my bust size and I  like to minimize it as much as possible.

The top also polled the lowest on Instagram coming in at only 15% keep and 85% return.  That was the absolute lowest score I've ever seen since I started these polls.  You gals really did not like this top, so I listened to you and sent it back.

Margaret M Sylvie Printed Straight Leg Pant

Status:  Returned!

Returning these pants was a hard one for me, for I really liked the print and the way they looked from the front.  They were so cute!  But my hubby thought they flattened my butt and looked old-lady style.  Which is really funny as I am 56 years old, so technically I am an old lady, but he prefers me to not dress my age.   However, when I saw the pictures, I agreed with him.  They did not do my backside any favors, and unless I was ALWAYS going to wear a long top that covered my butt,  they would never work.  So, I'm gonna be brave here and show you this picture, so you know what I am talking about and your not mad at me for sending these pants back.  I know so many of you thought they were super cute and trendy;  which they are.  Printed pants are very "in" this season, so I'm hoping that Stitch Fix will send me a pair that's just as flattering  of the back view as it is in the front.

On Instagram the pants were tied 50/50.  They were far more popular on my blog post than they were on Instagram.  Sometimes I think opinions can be swayed because the videos on Instagram are super short and I'm standing in front of a mirror.  Whereas when I do a blog post I'm posing to get the best pictures and angles, thus, I look better.  Anyone would.

Liverpool Kolten Denim Jacket

Status:  Returned

This jacket was the most popular item on Instagram polling at 67% Keep 33% Return.  I loved the jacket, it was a stretch denim and super comfortable.  But, I already own a white denim jacket, and a white leather jackets, and tons of white cardigans, so I really didn't need it.  I still almost kept it because my old white denim jacket is yellowing with age and it is not stretch denim so it's uncomfortable to wear, but with the $88.00 price tag, I just couldn't justify it.

Vince Camuto Palmyra Ruffle Detail Blouse

Status:  Returned

There were many things I liked about this top:  the blue and white floral, the sleeves, and the flow of it.  What I didn't like was that it was completely sheer and it was unlined nor did it come with a tank. So I had to use one of my own tanks, and even after heavily spraying my tank with Static Guard I could not stop this top from clinging to it.  It was very frustrating.  I also didn't think it flattered me much in the shoulder area, so back it went.

The top polled at 47% keep and 53% send back.

Daniel Rainn Maiella Off the Shoulder Knit Top

Status:  Returned

This was my favorite piece in this box, and I think it was my husband's favorite as well.  It was SO COMFORTABLE!  The knit was super soft, and I loved the way it hung on my body covering everything I like to hide and showing my better assets.  What I didn't like was the pattern.  Although some of my readers comments about the pattern made me rethink it and now I like the pattern.  But I also didn't want another off-the-shoulder top.  I already own three of them, two of the three I own I only wore once, so I really didn't need another one.  I've also read multiple times that off-the-shoulder tops are out of style (although I will be wearing mine this summer!) which really caused me to fear investing in another one.

My Instagram readers didn't care much for this top.  It came in at 38% keep and 62% return.  

In summary, even though I didn't keep anything from this box, I'm not upset.  Stitch Fix is expensive, and I kept three items in my last box, so I knew if I kept anything in my March box, it would have to pretty awesome.  

If you've never tried Stitch Fix before but would like to, use my REFERRAL CODE to receive $25.00 off your first box!

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Our Fall Vacation to South Dakota, Day 5: Crazy Horse Memorial

This is a continuation of a travel series to South Dakota.  To start at the beginning, go HERE.  The rest of the posts in chronological order are  HEREHEREHERE HERE,  HERE,  HERE,  HEREHEREHERE, HERE, and HERE!

On Day 5 after we spent six hours hiking to the top of Black Elk Peak and back we went back to our hotel to rest awhile, shower, change and get a nice dinner.  At night we went to see the Crazy Horse Memorial, which was located only a few miles from our hotel.

Now a lot of people told us not to waste our time here, but we went anyway because they had a special "Night Blast" (which is only done twice a year, and we just happened to be there that weekend), and a "Light Laser Show".  And you know what, I'm so happy we didn't listen to the naysayers because we not only had a wonderful time but we were so moved by the generosity of the Ziolkowski family and all they have done to memorialize Crazy Horse and the Lakota Tribe.

The Crazy Horse Memorial does not accept any government funding, all the work is done through private contributions and the funds raised at the memorial.  So it is worth going just to help financially support them alone.  Because it doesn't accept government funding, it is more costly than Mt. Rushmore.  They charge for how many people are in your car:  1 person is $12.00, 2 people is $24.00, 3 or more people is $30.00.  Admission covers parking, admission to the museums, and the viewing deck.  If you want to get closer to the sculpture you have to pay extra.  They have vans that will drive you up closer to the monument.  Those are $4.00 per person and they are only available late in the afternoon or on weekends when they are not working on the monument.  

You actually can see the Crazy Horse Memorial right from the highway and never pay to get inside.  However, I don't know if they'll let you pull over on the highway and take a few pictures, plus the admission cost is for charity, so why not go in and support this worthy cost?

The Memorial has a beautiful museum called "The Indian Museum Of North America".  It is home to large collection of art and artifacts of over 300 Native American tribes.  Unfortunately we didn't spend much time in the museum because we got there late and needed to save a seat for the Laser Light Show.  They have limited benches, so we grabbed a spot and my husband and I took turns looking around while the other saved our seats.

The compound also has a nice restaurant and a beautiful gift shop.

When you first enter the museum the employees direct you to a movie theater where you learn all about Crazy Horse and the history of the monument.  I was moved to tears multiple times hearing of the dedication and the sacrifices of the Ziolkowski family to create this monument to honor the Lakota Tribe.  Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski arrived in the Black Hills in 1947 and worked on the monument until his death in 1982 at the age of 74.  He never took a paycheck for his work on the monument, and he had 10 children!  He said "By Carving Crazy Horse, if I can give back to the Indian some of his pride and create a means to keep alive his culture and heritage, my life will have been worthwhile."  How many people do you know would work so hard for no money and for such a reason;  especially if they had ten children!

If you don't pay the extra $4.00 dollars for the van ride, this is as close as you can get to the monument.  They do have viewing lenses you can look through too for a few quarters.

The monument memorializes the Native American Tasunke Witco.  He led a band of Lakota warriors against Custer's Seventh U.S. Cavalry Battalion in 1876.   This battle is known as "The Battle of Little Bighorn" or "Custer's Last Stand".   Without his successful leadership, the battle would have been much different.  Crazy Horse died in 1877 when he went to Ft. Robinson Nebraska under a flag of truce.  When he arrived some misunderstanding arose due to a bad translator and they started to arrest him.  When Crazy Horse realized he was being arrested,  he resisted,  and a soldier killed him with his bayonet.

In addition to the museum, you can also see a glimpse of the "Sculptor's Home and Studio" and visit the "Mountain Carving Gallery".  I thought this area was so fascinating.  There is a wall of pictures showing the entire process of carving the mountain until present and also a model depicting what it will eventually look like.

I love how they placed the model example right in front of the actual carving so you can back up and compare the two at the same time.  It really helped me to visualize what it will eventually become.

Here are some of the old pictures that were in this gallery.

We happened to be there when the Ziolkowski family was having a birthday party honoring their grandfather.  It was a private party so they closed the restaurant, but would you believe they invited EVERYONE in for a piece of birthday cake after the night blast?  I thought that was so sweet, and so typical of this family.  At first I thought there would never be enough cake for all the people that were there, but there was!  And it was so good too!

As we awaited night to fall and the Laser show to begin, we were blessed with Native American story tellers and dancers.

At night the monument is lit up.  It's so beautiful to see at night.  

Now, I don't have any pictures of the laser show or the night blasts as my camera would not work in such darkness, but you can see pictures HERE and I will tell you a bit about them.

The "Legends In Light Laser Show" is held every night from Memorial Day through September 29th.  The monument turns into a screen where lasers light up the night sky and shares the history and culture of Native Americans.  It's very beautiful and moving to watch.

The "Night Blasts" are only twice a year:  June 26th and September 6th.  This is pyrotechnic show and is so exciting to watch.  You must look at the pictures on their website.  The explosions start at the mountain base and travel all the way to the top of the monument.

There is so much more history to share of Crazy Horse and the origins of the memorial, but it's way too much for me to cover them here.  If you're interested in learning more,  it's all on the website linked above.

I do hope if you're ever in this area that you do not skip this memorial.  It was quite the emotional learning experience for us, and I also think it really rounded out our trip.  There is so much history in the area, especially of General Custer, it was nice to learn about the Native American history too.

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

How To Give Old Furniture A New Look With Chalk Style Paint

I do not like to paint furniture.  And frankly, I tend to not even like most painted furniture.  It drives me crazy when someone takes a beautiful antique and paints it.   But I had this old hutch in my dining room that's been bothering me for years.  I felt something had to be done about it.  It wasn't an antique.  It was a poorly made piece of junk I picked up at Goodwill for $10.00.  It's only redeeming value was that it had curved glass.

                          BEFORE                            AFTER

I wanted to paint this piece of furniture for two reasons:  1) It was already painted a high gloss dark brown and I didn't like the way it looked, and 2) Every piece of furniture in this room was also brown and I really wanted at least one piece of furniture in the room that was not brown.  I did not want to paint the table and chairs (way too much work), the other china hutch is an antique in perfect condition, that leaves the piano and the grandfather clock, neither of which I would ever be stupid enough to paint.

I've seen a lot of successful before and after furniture make overs using chalk paint, so that's what I decided to try.  Following the instructions, I first sanded my hutch so the paint would adhere better.  I used an electric sander but I made the mistake of having the wrong sandpaper loaded and I gouged the wood.  It didn't really matter, as paint covers a multitude of sins and I was going for the distressed look anyway, but as a caution to my readers:  use fine sanding paper!

I sanded outside on my back porch so I wouldn't get the dust inside my house.  It was a warm winter day (for us Wisconites anyway!).

Next, I put on one coat of primer followed by two coats of chalk style paint.  The instructions said only one was necessary but I could still see brush strokes after only one coat, so I added a second coat.  However, I should have only used one because it shows the distressing better. You want to see a little bit of the color underneath.  I ended up covering all the old color with chalk style paint.  They do sell decorative glazes to go with their chalk style paint.  If I had to do it all over again, I'd use the "Smoked Glaze" Topcoat, to add a little more interest to the piece.

The next day, after the paint was completely dry, I used FINE sanding paper (see, I learn my lessons) and I sanded the edges, hinges, and handle.  My husband thought I should have distressed it a bit more, but it's a very elegant room that the hutch is in, so I didn't want to overdue it.  Just like my jeans, I like them slightly distressed, not with huge gaping holes and rips.  😊

When I was done sanding, I vacuumed up all the chalk dust then I wiped it clean with a damp cloth and let it dry.  The last step was to add two coats of top coat, which is basically a matte wax to protect the chalk style paint.

The inside of the hutch was already painted white so I didn't have to do anything with that.  I loaded the hutch with my vintage peach lustre ware as I thought it would be so pretty for spring.

Since the walls are ultra white, I painted the hutch "Aged Grey" so it would stand out from the wall a little.  It turned out a little lighter than the paint card.  I wish I would have chosen "Country Grey", as it's a little bit darker.  However, I LOVE the way it turned out.  I love that I finally have one piece of furniture in this room that isn't brown.  And, I think the chalk style paint really suits this piece of furniture much better than the high gloss paint job it previously had.  Now I'm tempted to tackle my table (at least the top as it's all scratched up anyway).  What do you think?

In the picture below you can get a better idea of the distressing.  It was super easy to distress as it's "Chalk" paint.  When I was done sanding, the table top and my hands were covered in chalk dust.  It reminded me of my childhood school days when I had to clean the erasers (yes, I'm that old!).

There are many varieties of chalk style paint on the market.  I used the Rust-Oleum brand.  I bought a quart, which was way too much.  I think I only used 1/8 of what was in the can.  These are the two products I used:

I am absolutely thrilled with my "new" piece of furniture that only cost me $20.00 to update.  I already had a brush, sanding paper, and primer so I did not count that in the refinishing cost.

So what about you?  Do you like chalk painted furniture?  Have you ever painted furniture before?  I'd love to hear from you!

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!