10.11.2014

#Knighted92014

.  So the good news is that I am indeed alive.  And well.

And...

MARRIED!

Yes, I am now a Mrs!  As of September 20, 2014, that is.  And I will most definitely give a full synopsis of our wedding day but right now, way too much has gone on and thinking about discussing it all at this moment seems...overwhelming.  So let me collect my thoughts and we'll get back to it.  Plus...I want to wait until we get our official photographs because I know they'll capture the day unlike anything else!  

But for now, because I can't resist, here are a couple of my favs my aunt took from her point of view:






I know this is a short post, particularly since I've been on a such a blogging hiatus.  But rest assured, wedding planning is over and I have regained my life back.  Hallelujah!

And in other exciting news, I have some major things going on with LSM.  So for now, blog posts are at a halt.  But the revamping that's coming is much needed and will be a more fresh approach to my blogging life.  Hopefully you'll agree!

I've missed blogging and can't wait to share what I've been working on.  Love you all!  .

P.S. if you care to, check out our hashtag #Knighted92014 on FacebookInstagram, or my Pinterest Board for more of our wedding photos taken by our guests!

8.07.2014

The NY Baking Company Silicone Baking Cups and French Toast Cupcakes

.  I've been on a baking hiatus for quite some time now.  My last few posts have been few and far between, only including a few life updates and Stitch Fix reviews.  And I don't even know when I found the time to crank those posts out.

Boo.


For those of you around me regularly, you know that the wedding is the only thing swirling in my head these days.  Sometimes I feel like it's literally the only thing I can talk about.  And although it's been a blast, it's absolutely exhausting.  Which leaves next to no energy to even think about whipping out the stand mixer, figuring out which ingredients I need to buy, blah, blah.  Sob story, I know.

But just this last weekend I was finally motivated to get back in the kitchen because 1) Robbie actually requested I make something to bring into his work and 2) I had a product to review!


Let me present:  Silicone Baking Cups by The New York Baking Company.

For you traditionalists, I'm right there with ya.  I never gave these modern silicone baking cups a second glance not only because I love picking out designs to suit the exact situation I'm baking for but because I just didn't trust them.  Who knew what those crazy little rubbery things were going to do to my cupcakes?!

But to be honest...


I've been converted.

The silicone baking cups work exactly how any regular paper/foil baking cup does, no extra prep or special instructions.  And with an investment of only $8.95 for 12 reusable cups, who could argue that's not a steal?!

So when Robbie requested that I bake something for him to bring to his new work group, I had the perfect opportunity to test out this schnazzy product.  And since this would be my baking debut with Robbie's new co-workers, I had to go for a best-ever cupcake recipe.


French Toast Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream.

And according to Robbie's report, these cupcakes were nothing short of a hit!  A cinnamon-ey, moist, buttery cupcake topped with a cinnamon streusel [for that ever-so-slight French Toast crunch], and finished with a semi-whipped Maple Buttercream is a recipe that will never disappoint.  And because technically the name is a breakfast item, there's absolutely no shame in starting your day off with one of these lovelies.

The only note I made baking these cupcakes in the silicone cups is that the cake tops baked pretty uneven.  Since this is my first time using them I'm not exactly sure why that happened, but just to be safe next time I would flatten the tops of the batter.


And my one "complaint" is that I didn't have two dozen of the baking cups to make the full batch all at once.  Looks like I'll be making an Amazon purchase here shortly...

Lastly, one big thank you to The New York Baking Company for introducing me to another unexplored baking corner I otherwise would have never ventured.  You've most definitely turned me into a believer!  .

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7.16.2014

My June Stitch Fix

.  Hopefully you didn't notice I skipped my May Stitch Fix.  And if you didn't, well...now you do.  Fortunately I didn't keep anything from last month so you didn't miss anything.

Like it's been this entire year, last month slipped right by me and freakin' a the middle of July is already upon us.  And also like it's been the entire year, this impending wedding is my only excuse.

Okay, I think that's a pretty legit excuse.  And even though I have absolutely loved [almost] every aspect of wedding planning, I can easily say it has completely consumed my life.  And the countdown that is soon to be two months will not be getting any better.  But I keep telling myself it will all be worth on that big day I officially become a Knight.

Anywho, let's get into my favorite Stitch Fix package yet.  This month's stylist absolutely hit the ball out of the park [okay, I'll admit I'm watching the All-Star game as I type this post]!  If it weren't for the fact that it feels like I'm spending every last dollar on wedding shenanigans, I would have purchased this entire Fix!

But...I [reluctantly] showed some self control and sent everything back to Stitch Fix headquarters.  You should be proud of me.

You'll notice that I don't have names or prices for the items, I dropped the ball [another All-Star game reference] and threw away the slip in the package with all of the info.  Whoops.


This was easily one of the most well fitting dresses I've ever tried on.  The fabric was slightly elastic and the cut of the dress was incredibly flattering.  One claim I will never be able to make is that I have a good 'chest' area, but this dress was supportive in all of the right places [if you know what I mean, nudge nudge].  And check out the deep cut back!  Although I usually think of maxi dresses as more casual wear, the fabric of this dress was much more dense so you could totally throw on some heels and take this out for a night on the town!


Dress 2.  Oh, dress 2.  What's not to love about this ensemble?  Unlike the above dress, this maxi was light weight, airy, and perfect for a stroll around the city!  My absolute favorite detail were the rope straps, which led to a cut-out back.  Unique details like this are basically irresistible to me, it was quite a miracle I put this back in the mail.  Maxi's are one of my go-to's during the summer because it's one whole outfit, no thinking required!


This cute little grey tank could have been an every day staple.  I love neutrals because you can wear them with absolutely anything and they never go out of style.  The fun part f this top was the square grid back, just another minor detail that turns a typical ol' shirt into something irresistible!


This last piece reminds me of something you could get from one of my all-time favorite brands, Free People.  This boho-ey-ish tank would have been perfection for a trip to the beach or simple weekend wear.  I also loved the unique burnt orange color of this shirt, it's not a color you see every day so when you do my advice would be to snatch it up!  

Ahem, I did get five pieces in my June Stitch Fix but my last item was a gold necklace that, uhhh....I didn't love.  So I didn't even bother taking a picture of it.  Is that three strikes this post?  I'll work on that for next month.


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6.17.2014

As of Late...

.  So, it dawned on me just the other day that I haven't baked anything in over a month....

One.  Month.

To most, that would seem like no big deal.  But as a person who typically doesn't go one weekend without making something...this is quite tragic.

But in order to keep my sanity among the hectic schedule the fiancé and I have been leading as of late, I've tried to give myself a pass with blogging.  As much as I'd like to 'do it all', somethings gotta give.

I will say, however, I do have some legit excuses for my lack of posting.  Lots and lots of excuses, actually.  Because I can't remember a weekend in the past month or more where we haven't been on the road or had very welcomed guests in town.  As you'll see, it's been go-go-go in our neck of the city.

Therefore, I'd like to make this post into nothing but a picture post.  Simply for the fact that the happiness, joy, and love that radiates from each and every one.  Feelings that one just can't describe. Plus, a picture is worth a thousand words, right?  I'd be here this whole week if I was trying to describe them all...

So let us begin with easily the best weekend I have had in quite a while because it involved one of the absolute best friends a lady could ask for, her hubby, and most definitely the two cutest little pair of sisters my eyes have ever seen.  This was... The Bystryzcki Memorial Day Weekend ☺️

A trip to Navy Pier!

Easily my absolute favorite picture of the weekend!


Time for the Lincoln Park Zoo!
Night in with Cards Against Humanity and those big baby blues!


I'll forever remember this moment filled with Gracie's giggles as she snuggled into my chest.
The following weekend, I made the lone trip back to Minnesota for the graduation party of one of my family's best friends' son's, Nick.  It was a very quick trip: back home to Minne late Friday night and turned around to Chicago Sunday afternoon.  But between making baseball cookies, the graduation party, an unexpected chance to watch Nick's Section baseball game (i.e., high school post season), and of course, shopping with my mama, I'd say the weekend was more than worth it!  


As a side note, you'll notice Nick didn't actually make it into any of the pictures because he was only at his own graduation party for about an hour before he was off to the baseball field for warm ups!  But believe me, he didn't mind it.  Nick is easily the most passionate baseball player I have ever met.  He has an innate love for the game that I've honestly never come across in  a kid his age, but it's not necessarily the game itself.  It's the camaraderie with his fellow teammates and the act of working towards a goal with others.  To say Nick is a truly genuine, unique young man would be an understatement, and it has been such a joy to watch him evolve over the many, many years!

The following weekend kept me in the good ol' city of Chicago for my first annual TTX Golf Outing!  The weather was absolutely gorgeous [a welcomed change to the cold, wind, and rain we'd been having] and I must say, I had quite the group to golf with.  Between the music blasting from our golf cart, drinks of choice, beautiful sun, and entertaining company, I couldn't have asked for a better time!  Needless to say, I'll be back next year.

video

Absolutely love this gorgeous girl.  So much so, she's been designated the personal assistant in the wedding party!  Even though I refuse to have her do anything but relax :)

Crazily enough, I have more life updates even after this last weekend.  But that will have to wait for another post of mass pictures as this one has gotten quite lengthy.  If you've stuck with me until the end...thank you!  As you can see, it's been hard to squeeze in any kitchen time lately but I promise some baking [and cooking!] recipes will soon make an appearance.  Ta ta for now!


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5.18.2014

My April Stitch Fix

.  So...how did you all like my very first Stitch Fix post?  Worth reading?  Yes.  No.

It's okay, you can be honest.  Constructive criticism is always welcome....as long as it's all nice things ☺️

But let's get in to my April Stitch Fix package.  This month was a touch more fun than the last because I actually kept something!  So that always makes things a little more exciting, right?  Right.

So here we go....

$148.00
The first item are these versatile, Summer-white skinny jeans.  I absolutely loved these, the fit was great and I liked how they hit right at the ankle.  You could also switch it up and roll the legs up a bit to give you more of a capri look.  The only reason I didn't keep these is because I happen to already have a pair just like them.  And for the price, I just couldn't get myself to buy something I already had in my closet.  Logic got the best of me this time around... But as you go through the rest of the pictures, you'll notice these jeans in many of the outfits.  Just goes to show that white jeans are a Spring/Summer must, dress them up or down, they're for any and all occasions!

$58.00
Next up is the floral, 3/4 length sleeve top, also seen in the first photo.  This was a shirt I tried on several times because I totally loved it: the print was beautiful and the cross front was very flattering. I personally loved the idea of this as a wear-to-work shirt but my conservative self couldn't get past the slit in the front.  So sadly, back to Stitch Fix headquarters this shirt went.

$54.00
This shirt...just not a hit for me.  I love the color, especially paired with the white jeans.  Great summer outfit!  But the material felt a little cheap to me and even though I love, love me some fun button details and cutouts, this shirt was a definite no.  You win some, you lose some!

$78.00
Who doesn't love a fun Summer dress?!  My hands are raised!  But unfortunately, not this time...The fit of the dress was great, the fabric had slight a stretch so it would be very flattering for any body type.   The dress length was also long enough that I think it'd be acceptable to wear to work, which is always a plus for me.  But the dress was ever so slightly large, and with horizontal stripes that's usually a no-go for me.  Maybe next time around.

$58.00
This last piece, the striped maxi, is the one garment I kept from my April package.  Again, I tried this skirt on several times.  Initially I wasn't in love with it because, let's be honest, the cream color of the skirt is about as pale my skin, so I didn't find it incredibly complementary.  But after I tried on a top or two with the skirt, I began to see it's versatility.  So into my closet it went!

Another month, another Stitch Fix shipment come and gone.  But the good thing is that I got a great new maxi out of it.  Now if only the summer weather would roll in to Chicago...

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5.13.2014

Spring Bouquets and Blueberry Snack Bars

.  So, I'm a little disappointed in myself.

This post was originally supposed to be a giveaway for my dear readers (i.e., $10 off a stunning floral bouquet) but because of this or that, it took me way too long to get this post completed.

Therefore, I'm just going to have to promote the bejeezus out of FTD bouquets.  And Lucky Leaf Pie Fillings [the sponsor of this post].

And I can vouch that the FTD bouquets are lush, gorgeous, and the perfect centerpiece to give your home the most lovely Spring touch because FTD sent me a complimentary arrangement of my choice, of which I just could not pass up the Lavender Fields Mixed Bouquet... can you blame me?


The flowers [and vase] came with a packet of flower 'food', so the beautiful arrangement lasted a good week or so on our kitchen counter.  It was always so refreshing turning the corner from coming in to our apartment and seeing bright, luscious flowers that you don't get too often living in the city.

But in addition to the free bouquet,  Lucky Leaf also sent along four pie fillings and three very Spring recipe cards.

So let me speak of one of the most delicious bars I have ever made.  I kid you not.  These things were gone in a flash at work and I didn't stop hearing about them until long after.  They were goOooooOOOooood.

Blueberry Snack Bars.


Sweet, moist, dense cake-like bars topped with a creamy cheesecake middle, rich blueberry pie filling, and finished with crunchy walnuts.  Pa-LEASE.  Makes my mouth water.

And you know what slays me?  

The fact that they weren't completely homemade. 

I can hear the gasps from the true bakers of the world but you know what?  Sometimes you do what you gotta do.  And that's that.  This time around the quick and dirty method was just what I needed though, because I made these late at night after a work event.  But I guarantee you no one would have guessed how easy peasy these were!

Hopefully by this time I've convinced you to at least take a gander at the lovely products FTD has to offer, I do believe a very special Mother's Day happens to be tomorrow...

Or at the very least, I hope you're already gathering together the ingredients for these bars.  Oh you are?  Happy baking!  .

P.S. you've probably noticed I don't have any of my own pictures on this post, huh?  Well I had a bit of a snafoo with my camera and they were deleted from my memory card.  So...this post...just needs to be done.  Sowwy guys.

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4.26.2014

Hummingbird Oatmeal Cookies

.  So Easter…

I am neither prepared nor ready to admit this lovely family holiday is fast approaching.  It most definitely crept up on me, to say the least.



So what do you know...Easter has come and gone and this post surely did not make it out before the Easter holiday.

I whipped up these cookies a few weekends ago [the second I pinned them] in hopes that I’d [go gaga over them and] get the chance to share them with you all for the holiday.  But as you can see, that most definitely did not happen.  And I'm not happy with myself.  But hopefully there will be some reason for you to include these delish chewy cookies in your upcoming entertaining repertoire.  For they most certainly deserve to be.



You may recall that I've made Bake or Break’s Hummingbird Cupcakes many a times before, they were actually one of the very first recipes I ever posted on LSM.  Which I’m sure I've told you.  Several times before.  But to this day, they continue to be one of my go-to and all-time favorite recipes.  And I can now vouch that my baking blog idol, BoB, has done it yet again.  But this time in cookie form.

These perfectly sized chewy, chewy cookies contain all of the traditional Hummingbird flavors: ripe bananas, sweet pineapple, fragrant spices, and crunchy pecans.  With a dollop of rich cream cheese frosting to top it all off [literally and figuratively], these cookies are near perfection.


And outright addicting. 

A sure crowd pleaser for any holiday brunch, lunch, or dinner. 

Or any ol’ time for that matter.  Because they’re good year round.  You’ll see  .


Adapted from Bake or Break

Ingredients:
Hummingbird Oatmeal Cookies:
2 c. all purpose flour
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 medium ripe banana, mashed
1-1/2 c. old fashioned oats
1 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. chopped dried or candied pineapple

Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1-1/4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Banana chips, chopped pecans (garnish; optional)

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 350ºF.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. For cookies, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.  In a large bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Mix in vanilla extract until combined, then add banana and mix until combined.
  3. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add flour mixture, mixing just until combined.  Stir in oats, pecans, and pineapple.  
  4. Drop dough by scant tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.  Flatten each cookie slightly. 
  5. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool on pans before removing to wire racks to cool completely.  Repeat with remaining dough.
  6. For frosting, in a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and butter with mixer on medium speed until well blended and smooth.  Mix in vanilla extract until combined.
  7. Spread about 1/2 tablespoon of frosting on cookies and garnish, if desired.  
Yield: 4 dozen cookies

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4.21.2014

Secret Recipe Club: Banana Coffee Chai Smoothie

.  So, this post is a debut of sorts.  A smoothie debut, to be exact.

As I've mentioned many a times before, SRC has been a way for me to broaden my baking and [very limited] culinary horizons.  And this month's assignment was most certainly a way to do just that.


From Brazil to You, published by Denise, is a blog dedicated to well, Brazil!  Denise was born and raised in Brazil but soon transplanted to the United States when she married her husband in 2002.  Since then, with extensive experience in the culinary industry, Denise has used her blog as a platform to share with her readers both classic and modern Brazilian dishes, as well as tid bits of information about her home country!

Searching through Denise's array of recipes was undoubtedly eye opening, how had I not heard of SO many wonderful things?!  From Arroz de Forno Cremoso (Baked Rice Casserole), Macarronada com Requeijao (Brazilian Mac and Cheese), and Bolo de uba com Coco (Coconut-Cornmeal Cake), it'd be an understatement to say it took me a few days to finally decide on what I just had to make from Denise's intriguing recipes.


But lately I haven't been in much of the baking mood, I think it may be that I'm trying to get on track with the whole wedding diet thing?  Or maybe because the weather seems to be turning towards the warmer side of life, which doesn't have me craving those comfort foods quite like the winter months.

So when I came across Denise's Drinks section, I knew what I had to try.

Banana Coffee Chai Smoothie.

Uh hello, how can you pass that up?

Sadly, and not sure how it's possible, but I've never made a smoothie before.  In my life.  Slightly pathetic, huh?  But I must say, if I was going to pop my smoothie-cherry, I wouldn't have wanted it to be with any other smoothie but this one.

Smoothie Selfie!
From the yummy banana to the spiced chai, subtle coffee flavor, and a drizzle of hot fudge sauce that brings it all together, this beverage hit that 'summer' feeling for me.  A refreshingly healthy smoothie perfect for a cool down moment on the hot summer days that I'm positive will eventually make their way to Chicago.

So thank you SRC and From Brazil to You for once again showing me the wonders of this blogging world I would have otherwise never known.  Until next time!

My Notes:
  • I used Light Vanilla Silk (soy milk) for the milk in this recipe.  It was absolutely wonderful if you're looking for a scrumptious dairy substitute, less calories, and more calcium!
Adapted from From Brazil to You

Ingredients:
1/2 c. hot water, divided
1 Chai tea bag
1 tsp. instant coffee
1 large fresh or frozen banana, cut into chunks
1/2 c. milk
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground ginger
2 to 4 tbsp. sugar, honey, or sugar substitute
4 iced cubes
Hot Fudge Sauce (optional)

Directions:
  1. Boil water and divide into 1/4 cup each.  Place the Chai tea bag in one cup and the instant coffee in the other.  Let brew for 3 to 5 minutes.  Squeeze out teabag and discard.  Pour the brewed tea and coffee into a blender.  Add banana, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and sugar, and puree until smooth.  Add iced cubes and pulse just until ice is crushed. 
  2. Warm hot fudge sauce until drizzling consistency.  Drizzle sauce along sides of serving cups.  Divide smoothie into cups and serve immediately.
Yield: 2 servings

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4.13.2014

My March Stitch Fix

.  If I had to list out my passions in life, not surprisingly baking would be one of them.  Right at the very top.  Obvi.

But what would probably come as a bit of a surprise is that I’m ca-razy about fashion.  Style.  The necessary evil.  Whatever you want to call it. 

And I have been since the day I realized I could love sports but also dress like the girl that I am.  No more Umbro shorts and sports tees.  No more tight, slicked back ponytails.  No, I could actually wear a dress.  And heaven forbid straighten my hair.  And still be a softball-er, volleyball-er, runner [er…?], etc. at the same time.  Outlandish thoughts, I know.

So needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, I L.O.V.E to shop.  I could pretty much live at a good mall.  Walking around, gazing at trendy fashion, and albeit trying on those pieces I  just can’t resist.  Doesn't get much better than that, my friends.

Sadly enough, busy weeks of work and fitting in workouts at night doesn't leave me time for much else.  So even though we live in the bountiful land of Chicago, I really only venture out to the shops on the weekend.  So when I stumbled across a personal shopping service through a Facebook friend, I couldn't resist learning more.

Which brings me to the point of this post. 

The concept is rather simple.  Every month, for $20, an assigned stylist sends you five items of clothing and/or jewelry they think you’d like [via studying an extensive fashion profile you fill out when signing up and also from the help of researching your Pinterest fashion board, if you have one].  Once you receive the package, you have three days [give or take…] to decide whether you’d like to keep the items or send them right on back if you’re not feeling anything.  Plus, Stitch Fix conveniently includes a pre-labeled bag for any of items you don’t want, so shipping is free!

I've been a Stitch Fix customer for about six months now, some months have been absolute hits while others I've sent every item back.  But the fun thing about it is that each month, Stitch Fix uses your feedback/requests to make your next month’s package more desirable.  I mean, their goal is to get you to  want to purchase everything, right?

So out of my shipments thus far, I've bought things such as a plaid cropped shirt, a green army-like jacket, and grey skinnies.  All because my stylists did their homework and sent me items inspired by my Pinterest board!  Who can resist that…

Lately I've been mulling over ways to change up things over here at LSM.  The same types of posts over and over can get a little redundant, cha know?  So I thought introducing my love for fashion via Stitch Fix would be perfect. Fun for me, new service for you!

So each month I’ll go through my Stitch Fix package with you, whether you like it or not.  I always love reading others posts about what they’re wearing these days, so why not join in on the fun?!

And here we go…

$58.00
First is the Hawthorn black blouse, which you'll notice I used in almost all of the outfits because of it's versatility.  However, I didn't keep this piece because I wasn't a fan of the fabric.  The shirt felt a touch cheap on so I didn't think it was worth keeping.

$78.00
My next item is the Kut from the Kloth boyfriend jeans.  I'm always on the look out for a good boyfriend jean so I was ecstatic my stylist sent me these.  Overall, I really liked these.  The fit was great, loved the wash, but not quite sure what it was that held me back from keeping them.  Plus, ironically, at the time I had just ordered a pair of boyfriend jeans I was waiting on... P.S. there's that black blouse again!

$48.00
Hmmm, did not like this piece.  The style was okay but it just wasn't flattering on me (e.g., horizontal stripes).  I did like the lightness of the cardigan though, it would definitely be a great piece for a cool summer night. But unfortunately, this was sent back as well.

$128.00
My stylist noted that from studying my Pinterest board, he noticed I was a maxi fanatic so he sent this  summery piece.  And although my stylist was absolutely spot on, I wasn't a huge fan of the color combination.  I also like maxi's a little more flowy and this fabric was just a bit stiff.  So back to Stitch Fix headquarters it went.  P.S.S. another outfit with the black blouse!

$36.00
My last piece was this necklace.  Who doesn't love a statement necklace, by the way?!  I really loved the color combo here but there was something about the gold that kind of drew me away.  Again, it was a little cheap looking to me so I decided not to keep this either.  

Although I didn't keep anything this month, there were definitely pieces my stylist sent that were pretty spot on with my style.  There just wasn't something that I couldn't live with out (which is my purchasing rule) so I opted out this month.  But I made sure to note all of these thoughts in my checkout, which the stylists use for next time around.  So we'll see what they come up with next month!  .

This post is not sponsored by Stitch Fix, all opinions are my own.

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