March Box Review(s)

SeeJenDance - March Subscription Box Reviews

I’m trying something a bit different for this month since I received THREE boxes from a subscription-like shopping service this month. (YAY spring capsule shopping.) But rather than writing three separate posts about them, I’ve combined them into one review – for my own sanity.

This month, I got a Stitch Fix box with Sophie O. as my stylist again; another tote from KB at Golden Tote, and I tried Trunk Club with Carey Lee. My goal was to secure some items for the next three months. I threw in Trunk Club this month because I liked that I could call or message my stylist directly and tell her exactly what I wanted. In this instance, I needed some wardrobe basics – something that was sorely missing from the last season’s capsule. Since Trunk Club is essentially a personal shopper at Nordstrom’s, I knew I’d get some high quality items that I could use year round. And the other two shopping services would be great for seasonal, trendy pieces. (Affiliate links at the end of blog.)


Stitch Fix Mini Review

Let’s start with the Stitch Fix Box. As mentioned, my stylist was Sophie O. again from February’s Fix. I liked what she did and requested her again in my March note. Her note to me was longer, and a bit more personalized, mentioning that she tried to find as much as she could based on my requests and couldn’t wait to get items set for my capsule. I had asked for some jeans, a trench coat, and some other fun spring items.

SeeJenDance - March Box Review - StitchFix

Here is what I kept:

I haven’t kept a pair of jeans since my first postpartum fix last spring. Now that I’m chasing a very active toddler, the jeans aren’t holding up like they once were. (Unless I have an industrial strength belt.) Sophie sent me two pairs of Kut from the Kloth Jeans – one Dayna Skinny ($88) and one Catherine Boyfriend cut ($78).

A word about Kut from the Kloth – these things stretch and run slightly larger. They don’t always hold their size so some will advise you to size down. The skinnies were actually bit on the tight side, however, I kept them knowing they’d probably stretch out. The boyfriend jeans were actually the first pair of this cut where they didn’t feel like “mom jeans.” My only concern is that while they fit great now, they won’t after a few wears. I guess we’ll see.

I styled these with an old Skies are Blue blouse I received last fall, a pair of TOMS I received from my Trunk Club stylist, and a white button down from TC which was returned due to sizing issues.

What I didn’t keep:

I had Pinned the Collective Concepts Katelynn Dress ($78) because the print was super fun and wedding season appropriate. However, it ran larger in the torso and sleeve area. It looked cute belted and with a cardigan, but I know I would not take the time to alter it. I did “keep” it, but I ended up selling it to someone on a BST group.

The 41Hawthorn Crue Belted Trench Jacket ($98) I received was more like a peacoat. Much heavier than I was expecting and not at all waterproof. This would have been great in winter, but not in spring. Shame – it actually fit really nicely, but I had no use for it.

The last item was a Daniel Rainn Bilson Silk Tabsleeve Blouse ($88) that is very similar to every other tab sleeve blouse I own already. Except this was silk and made me look pregnant. Nope, nope, nope.


Golden Tote Mini Review

SeeJenDance - March Tote - Golden Tote

For instructions on how Golden Tote works, check out my review of the February tote here. I’ll admit that the one of the reasons I tried Golden Tote again in March was because of this month’s tote style. I love bunnies! Truth be told, I found no interest in any of the items you could choose from this month’s boutique. Everything was a bit too BoHo/southwestern for my tastes. But, they did have a pair of jeans and a few other “classic” items available. I also had one of the stylists on the BST group help update my profile comments and I used a photo collage rather than a single image in my profile. These two add-ons actually helped a LOT with my surprise items.

What Worked:

I ordered a large Tote with two chosen items for $149. I received 6 items total, but decided to “keep” 4. One of my chosen items was a pair of black Ellison cropped trousers (Rise to the Crop Trousers in the boutique). They aren’t all that cropped on me, so I’ll have to get them hemmed or just wear them as regular pants, but they were trousers with pockets! A rare find, I feel.

Three of my surprise items were home runs, KB. I received a purple (!) pleated blouse by Naked Zebra, a light blue colorblock sweater from Skies are Blue, and a Paper Crane Geometric Print sun dress. The sundress will need some creative styling since the arm holes are huge, but it should be great for the warmer weather.

What I Didn’t Keep

SeeJenDance - Jolie Striped Top with Distressed Jeans - Golden ToteI ended up selling/trading two items from my Tote, but would have been pleased with them if the sizing was correct. For example, I really liked the Jolie Striped top, but I swam in it. And the Distressed Boyfriend Jeans were the perfect length and comfort, but I definitely needed to size down on them.


A Little Bit About Trunk Club

Trunk Club styles both men and women and is based out of Chicago. As mentioned above, I wanted some very specific items I had a hard time finding online on ThredUp or Target or wherever I could managed to sneak away shopping. Trunk Club is not really a subscription service at all – more like walking into Macy’s and Nordstrom and heading to the Personal Shopping department. There are no subscription or styling fees. But the prices are Nordstrom prices, so be prepared if you decide to try it.

After signing up, my original stylist called me and found out all of my likes, dislikes, goals, styling preferences and so forth. I signed up based on the recommendation of a friend, so I was transferred to her stylist, Carey, so we could both get some sort of referral credit. (Cool.) Carey prepared a “trunk” of about 15 items for me based on my notes, and sent them to me to preview. At that point, I was allowed to remove items I knew were too expensive, not my style, or something I already owned. The remaining items were shipped to me to try on and return after 10 days.

I ended up keeping a pair of TOMS and a black blazer. Carey indicated that the first Trunk can be a little rough while the stylist tries to figure out a person’s style and size. So I look forward to my follow up Trunk. Carey has also been very good about keeping my items affordable and low maintenance (which is a plus when you have a toddler.) She will throw in a few pricey items here and there, but the majority of the items I see are within Stitch Fix pricing guidelines. They have a much larger petite inventory to choose from. (Something I’m struggling with in Stitch Fix and Golden Tote.)


If you would like to try any of these services, you can use one or all of these (affiliate) links: Stitch Fix, Golden Tote, or Trunk Club. Golden Tote’s April Tote is going to be released on April 4th, so get that profile ready for the craziness. Previews for the April chosens are being leaked on Instagram and will probably be on their Tumblr page here soon.

As far as Stitch Fix goes, I have decided to keep Sophie O. as my stylist (because she’s been doing awesome), but switch my box subscription to every quarter, rather than monthly. My wallet should love that. (Plus that whole, don’t shop during a capsule season rule thing…)

 

 

 

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Capsule Wardrobe: Musings and Lessons

 

SeeJenDance - Capsule Wardrobe Musings and Lessons

As this capsule season comes to a close, and I prep my closet for the next season, I wanted to reflect on several things I discovered while living with a much smaller closet.

Okay, why did I do this again? My need for simplicity actually came to a head back in November. I remember I needed to pack for a three day trip to Disneyland and the fits of rage I had while packing. There were so many evens I could not. My problem was finding items that were casual enough, layer friendly, nursing friendly, and actually fit. Eventually, I found things that worked, but also realized I hated that nothing in my closet worked with each other. But I had so much! That was why I started cleaning out everything. Living out of a suitcase was going to be a near-monthly occurrence in 2016. Why make it more stressful?

I have to force myself to try things on. Sure, I love my online thrift shopping, subscription boxes and shopping services. They’ve replaced the hours I used to spend pouring through racks at Marshall’s and Ross. And usually, in the stores, I’d pick things off the rack that I thought were my size and just check out. “Oh, this looks cute and it’s a great deal. I won’t find this again.” From there, it’ll sit in my closet unworn because it didn’t quite fit as I thought. Or – it’s sparkly, so I’ll find a place for it. Since I do review my Boxes and share them with you all, it forces me to try items I receive on, make sure they fit, style it to make sure it works with my closet. If it doesn’t, I return it. M has now called it Jen-Shopping: I buy five items and return three. Every time.

I don’t really need that much stuff. And there was a lot of stuff. Throughout the season, I cleaned out my jewelry and either donated it to charity or to my dance team’s silent auction. I also further cleaned out my “maybe” pile of items and sold them online. I hadn’t worn some of those items in three months and didn’t miss them at all. I plan to clean out my diabetes supplies from long ago (really, I don’t need THAT many lancets) and Bean’s toys this season.

I shop when I’m bored and/or exhausted. For some, impulse shopping is their vice. For me, it’s something mindless to do. Aimlessly scrolling through good deals or garage sale sites for things that might work for you. It’s real easy to just say, “interested” or “add to cart.” Or after arguing with a toddler about dinner, sometimes it’s nice to just find something agreeable. (See: retail therapy.) My goal for next season is to find other light, enjoyable hobbies that don’t involve my wallet or moving too far from the couch.

I totally broke the “no shopping during a season” rule. But, the core of the capsule remained the same. If I found that an item was only there to be a number and I wasn’t enjoying wearing it, I removed it and replaced it with something else. This usually happened with ill fitted items I kept just so I could keep some clothing in my closet. I am going into the spring season with a better “base” wardrobe, so it should be easier to not shop for three months.

Laundry day was a day I didn’t mind, but also dreaded. When you work with a limited amount of clothes and have a toddler, laundry day becomes a necessity. There were several times I looked into my closet and wondered how EVERYTHING was dirty at the same time. Plus, everything needs to be hand-washed/line-dried, so I could be without a pair or jeans for several days. This is why I had an “at home” collection of clothes, which featured my ratty mom-jeans and several pairs of yoga pants. You really can’t get rid of that stuff when you have a kid.

I missed color. If you have ever looked on Pinterest, you’ll notice that capsule wardrobes tend to be, well, monochromatic. That’s because neutrals go with everything. The majority of Pins feature lots of neat, black and chambray wardrobes. (*yawn*) But guys – I like colbalt and purple and red and other fun jewel tones. Sure, an accessory is fun, but man, I love making a statement with color. All the time. Color mixing was definitely an interesting capsule concept I tried and look forward to trying again next season.

I’ll definitely be doing a capsule of some sort again. I’m still trying to figure out the logistics. This season involved a lot of “threes.” I had three pairs of jeans, three work pants, three cardigans… etc. I may do something similar for spring. Hell, these are my own rules to play with, right?

Thoughts On the Ping Demo

I was reminded that I haven’t actually posted my thoughts on the Ping after I demo’d it on Monday. So here we go…

First things first – if you are in the market for a new device, ask for a demo! I don’t care if your insurance obligates you to only sign up for one specific brand because THAT’S who they want to cover the expenses for. You should have some knowledge of what you are getting into before you sign on for four years. After all, it’ll be at your side (or in your pocket, or bra, or whatever) 24/7/365. I was shocked, (beyond shocked actually), after the Lifescan rep told me she’s met with existing pump users for demos who didn’t know where their settings were. (Or couldn’t change them for that matter.)

Okay – enough of that.

So the meeting was about 1 1/2 hours of questions, conversation, and a little bit of hands on work. The Animas rep is a PWD himself who wore Medtronic for years before switching because his job said to. (Obviously.)

His initial impressions after switching were that his BGs ended up better on the Animas pump than on the Medtronic pumps – more notably during fastings and overnights when it’s only the basals being pushed through. Apparently, Animas Pings push out an increment of your basal rate for the hour every three minutes, whereas Medtronic has a tendency to dump a lot or a little during the course of an hour. Makes sense if you disconnect from the pump during a basal dump and you see higher sugars because you missed part of the dose. Hmm. YDMV… a lot, however.

I got to “play” with a test pump and the coordinating meter. My first impression? There is a LOT of information on that screen and it’s all really small and compact. The graphic designer in me wanted to adjust the leading really bad. I mean, I have decent eyesight for the most part, but much, much different than the big ol’ numbers of my Medtronic pump. It’ll take an adjustment to get used to it. Though – having it glow in the dark without a back light might be handy… unless my dress is sheer. (More on that later.)

The infusion sets come in self-contained inserters, so no extra plungers or devices to purchase to make site changes more efficient. The boxes everything came in are much smaller, so I might have more closet space one day. The infusion sites also appeared smaller and thinner than my QuickSets.

I got to play with the pump itself more. The scrolling through the numbers didn’t annoy me like I thought it would, but I could see breezing through your desired amount of insulin without thinking about it. Animas rep said he eventually figured out the “right touch” to scroll effectively… whatever that means. Maybe it’s like when you get a new touch screen cell phone and it has to get used to your touch? Although, to be fair, I’ve had instances with my Medtronic where I’ve suddenly scrolled up to 150 carbs when I meant to give for 50. It happens.

The bolus scrolling after you’ve decided that you need a dose seems a bit redundant. Why can’t it just auto-fill? Did Medtronic claim that as well? Seems silly. Animas rep said it has held him more accountable for doses. (The next generation will ask you, “Are You SURE You Want to Give 14 Units of Insulin?!” Just kidding… sort of. You just wait.)

Then it started to sing to me. No, seriously. I hit a button during the bolus administration (which was set HELLA FAST) and it started playing Für Elise a la a 1999 Nokia cell phone. DaHell? Animas rep: “Oh, you can pick the alert tones.” Seriously? I’m undecided if I like this. On one hand, I have the option of picking something I can actually HEAR. On the other, I’m going to drive my dance instructor mad! Anyway…

The reason Beethoven started playing? I cancelled the bolus delivery by accident. (More likely: I just hit a bunch of buttons after I said “Go!” and it stopped everything.) I think a review I read before the demo indicated that it was really easy to cancel a bolus on the Ping – now I see why.

Back to the sheer dress comment. The Animas rep mentioned that some of the women he has either trained or sold the pumps to come back and mention that the light up screen takes some getting used to if you hide the pump “with the girls.” As convenient as the meter remote is, the pump still lights up when a bolus is administered regardless of how. So for those ladies that stick their pumps down their shirts for whatever reason, sometimes they end up with an “Iron Man” effect if the buttons are facing out. Yikes. Something to think about as I often hide my pump under dresses in spaces I don’t want lit up. For goodness sake… how embarrassing.

On the flip side, the pump is WATERPROOF, and therefore sweat-proof. So I won’t be able to drown my pump as easily, like I have my Medtronic.

So is there a verdict? Not really sure yet. Could I live with this pump if I had a gun to my head and had to pick something now? Probably. I think there will be things I miss by switching from the Medtronic, but I may not have a choice if I can’t get a Revel. Hmph.

A Slim Chance

I may have mentioned that my warranty ends on my Minimed in February, prompting me to get excited about getting the new 530G and Enlite sensor/transmitter system.

But I thought… hmm, I have the opportunity to shop around for a new brand of pump because my insurance isn’t limited to a Medtronic contract, why am I not taking it?

I know Kim over at textingmypancreas is also shopping around for a pump, so I’m following her trials and reviews a bit more closely.

Lifestyle-wise, I’ve added the T:Slim to my list of possible upgrades.

This is the T:Slim:

tslim-pump-front

It’s a touch screen insulin pump, similar to a smart phone. This would alleviate the issues I seem to have with button errors when sticking the pump in places other than a pants pocket. (See my NYE story last year…) It also has a rechargeable battery rather than being powered by an Energizer disposable, so the tree-hugger in me is semi-soothed. (Insulin pumps still produce a lot of waste, but whatever.) The infusion sets seem fairly similar, if not better, than my standard sets from Medtronic. You can enter carb counts on a keypad rather than scrolling through a sequential list. It’s flat – so more comfortable to sleep on. Color screen is easier to see in the dark or bright light – much like a smart phone. And there is an app to upload data for evaluation by a health care provider.

Sounds awesome, right? Well – you take the good with the bad. The T:Slim was introduced in 2012 by Tandem – a brand new start up trying to revolutionize pumping. Fine and dandy unless you are someone who doesn’t like to try the first version of anything. With the startup comes complaints about customer service, etc. and so forth. However, I’ve had some interesting customer service from Medtronic over the years so, that’s not a HUGE concern. (But still a valid one.) The other thing to consider is that I would need a separate device to act as my CGM. The obvious choice would be a Dexcom, which many in the DOC love to pieces and tell me it’s heaven compared to my mosquito sensors… but again, the inconvenience (and expense) of ANOTHER sensor device to tote around feels like a hassle when compared to my All-in-One, no matter how inaccurate it may be.

(Though – rumor has is that t:slim and Dexcom will be integrating eventually into one device as well… but it’s not yet.)

Anyway, I told my husband about my cursory research and that this could be the future of my pumping. Here is how the conversation went.

M: It’s fancy.
J: Yup.
M: It looks like an iPhone.
J: Yeah a little bit, huh?
M: Can it play your Snoopy game?
J: No, probably not.
M: What about Insulin vs. Carbies?
J: …Yes… actually, yes, that’s exactly it.

Think about it…

GRAAAAAAIIIINNNNNNSSSSSS!!!

GRAAAAAAIIIINNNNNNSSSSSS!!!

I think my husband is on to something.

Upgrade?!

This could be my future, very soon. (In purple, of course.)

During a routine supply order call to Medtronic, I found out my warranty date is coming up quick on my lowly Paradigm. (I say lowly just because Medtronic has released 2-3 new models since I upgraded last time and my doctors all keep referencing features on the new shiny models, but then are sad when they realize I can’t help them with my care without these features. Bah!)

So I figured… I’m on the phone with them right now, might as well figure out what I can do with that pending warranty date.

I have two options:

1) Upgrade now and pay Medtronic’s early upgrade fee of $800. (!!!) Get said shiny new pump with bells, whistles (literally), and re-order brand new stinking sensors, which apparently don’t look like evil hummingbirds nor hurt like hell going in. (But – apparently, I can keep my transmitter.) No insurance prompting necessary. This is Medtronic’s gift to you. (Merry Xmas and crap.) My warranty date, however, stays the same. (Which I don’t understand…)

2) Wait three months and have the insurance pick up part of the tab… which would be 80% of a $5000 device. Hi – you do the math. Option 1 is much cheaper. Well, sort of. However, I guess Medtronic also has other payment credit options, blah blah blah.

Secret option 3: I do nothing and carry on with my old school device because I’m going to end up paying through the nose on either option. (Or blowing my entire allotted FSA for 2014 in one order.)

Decisions, decisions.