ST PATRICK’S DAY IN CHICAGO | OOTD #3

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Super simple, sophisticated green outfit for St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago. Sorry about the lack of pictures in the outfit- I was busy roaming the streets of Chicago and had a coat on most of the day (a bit chilly). But here’s my outfit I wore to the festivities in Chicago:

Sweater: Lane Bryant- Yes, most people would think of Lane Bryant as a store I might not shop at, but they actually had this great, emerald green-colored sweater in their smallest size which made for a loose, comfortable fit that kept me warm all day. I loved the button detail on the end of the 3/4 sleeves, and a subtle fabric change where it goes from regular knit to more of a ribbed-knit look along the sides of the sweater. All in all, a perfect top for the day.

Scarf: Target- You might be able to tell more from my last blog post, but this is one of my most neutral scarves- it’s a tan/cream color with a few stripes of silver. I find it to be very versatile and perfect for a more colorful top to keep warm but add an accessory and a bit of sparkle.

Charcoal skinny jeans: American Eagle- No surprise there. You know how much I love my American Eagle jeans. Went for a charcoal color instead of regular blue jeans just for a bit of a different look.

I also painted my nails with Essie’s gold color and Sally Hansen’s jade green on one nail on each hand.

I hope you have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day!

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FEBRUARY STITCH FIX HAUL

As I was scrolling through my Newsfeed on Facebook, I saw that one of my good friends shared something called Stitch Fix- clothes and accessories sent to your door by a personal stylist. I clicked on the link and before I knew it, I was all signed up for a package coming my way in just a few short weeks.

For those of you who don’t know, here’s a screen shot from their website explaining how it works:

CaptureYou can also link a Pinterest board or any other website that you feel portrays your style so the stylists have more of an idea of what you like. It also made me go over my pins on my “Style” board and weed out the things that really weren’t me. Apparently, at first glance at my board, I really love scarves and cardigans- check out my Pinterest board if you’re interested!

So here it is- my first Stitch Fix box. I felt like a kid on Christmas and couldn’t wait to see what the stylist picked out for me. I wrote them a note saying I was going to be in Chicago for St. Patrick’s Day weekend and was looking for a cute outfit for the trip- here’s what they sent me:

PicMonkey CollageI must say- I didn’t think this fix was really me. I do love me a good cardigan- but these two were a bit too floppy and shapeless. I feel like sometimes since I’m a size large in most clothing and I’m tall, people assume I’m also bigger. But I’m not. I’m quite the averaged-sized human being: just 6 feet tall. I’m also not a huge maxi-skirt fan, so that right off the bat wasn’t something I thought I wanted to keep. I’m also into autumn colors, so the scarf and the skirts’ bright, bold pattern were a bit out of my comfort zone. The only thing I liked right away was the pencil skirt- it fit pretty well and was a nice, neutral brown.

But to my surprise, once I tried the outfits on (mixing in my own accessories), I weirdly loved them all. Here are three of my favorite combinations of the 5 things they sent me:

PicMonkey CollageI surprisingly loved the scarf- and happened to have a jacket that matched it quite well. I probably would have kept it- if not for the price tag. I didn’t feel like it was worth the amount they were asking and I think that I could find one similar locally for less- but it at least broadened my horizon to new colors and “bright” things.

The pencil skirt was as great as I thought it would be- it’s stretchy and no zipper in sight which makes for a sleek, no-fuss look. The cream twist cardigan was also much better on me than in the box. But- as with the scarf- I felt like it wasn’t worth the price. If the fabric were a bit more quality and was about $20 cheaper, I would have definitely kept it. But I’ll keep my eyes out for something like it in the future now that I know it’s something I like on me.

The maxi skirt was also a huge surprise- it was so comfortable and long enough for my mile-high legs (and you have no idea how hard it is to shop for those bad boys). The cardigan was alright, just not my style. Loved the color, though.

I guess all in all I wasn’t expecting perfection from my first fix, but I feel like this fix was one that really opened my eyes to new styles and colors I never thought to use before. Before shipping the items I didn’t want back, I was given the option to tell my stylist what I thought about her picks- which hopefully will help her know what I like and don’t like in the future! And I’ve decided I’m going to get one fix shipped to me every month for 6 months and if I feel like it’s not working for me, I’ll quit. But I really like the idea of it and I’m hoping for even better luck in the future!

If you’re interested in trying this out, click here to go to their website and sign up!

MY LATEST SECONDHAND STORE TRIP

Where else can you get a ton of different name brands for cheap prices under one roof? I confess- I have a bit of a problem when it comes to secondhand stores. I’ve been looking around for some neutral tops to wear to work. Here’s what I found:

Total money spent- a little under $15.

Some of the brands are quite affordable brand new- like Old Navy. But to get a top from Loft and Liz&co for under $5 each is quite the steal in my opinion.

I love a good deal.

Tell me about your best bargain buy- I’d love to hear about it!

IOWA WEATHER, SOUP WEATHER

Let’s just say it’s cold today.

Gotta love Iowa weather.

So, to keep warm, I had a huge craving for soup. Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup to be exact. But, as you can imagine, I didn’t feel like leaving my apartment and venturing out in the cold abyss to get a hot cup of soup. So, thanks to the internet, I searched for a copycat recipe. Since Food Network is legit, I decided to try their recipe. And (surprisingly) I had all of the ingredients on hand except for two things- bay leaves and nutmeg. But, at this point, I wanted it so bad I just forged ahead and left those ingredients out. I had a bag of frozen broccoli and some baby carrots, and used vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. The end result was pretty fantastic and just what I needed.

Here’s the recipe (with my changes):

Almost-Famous Vegetarian Broccoli-Cheddar Soup
Ingredients6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
3 cups vegetable stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups broccoli florets (about 1 head)
1 large carrot, diced
2 1/2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated sharp white and yellow cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish

Directions
Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the flour and cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes, then gradually whisk in the half-and-half until smooth. Add the vegetable stock then season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until thickened, about 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli and carrot to the broth mixture and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Puree half of the soup in batches in a blender until smooth; you’ll still have flecks of carrot and broccoli. Return to the pot. (Or puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender.)

Add the cheese to the soup and whisk over medium heat until melted. Add up to 3/4 cup water if the soup is too thick.