Product Review | Stella & Dot A Stellar Time

So, many moons and mood swings ago, I used to sell jewelry. It was after my Pampered Chef phase, but before my “let’s go to college YET AGAIN” phase. I started it as a side business to assist in paying for various extra costs for our wedding, and ultimately ended up spending more on the product, supplies, and presentation, than I ever made back. Lesson learned: I do not have the home show/ frugal money sense or personality to work in an atmosphere like that. I loved the social aspect of the business though, with the flexible schedule and opportunity to meet and make connections with ladies all across western Pennsylvania.

Fast forward to 2017, and I’m perusing the Facebook stream of positive vibes, after discovering the “I don’t want to see posts like this” filter button that was so discretely hidden from me for who knows how long, when I happened across a post from a high school classmate. Kayla was that naturally beautiful person, who went from crazy athletic to crazy mature beyond her years, like overnight. She was always about 3 steps ahead of the rest of us in life, and I always admired her sense of focus and drive. She and her husband knew what they wanted out of life, and they went for it, all the while, being fashionably and photogenically picturesque pursuing their version of the “great American dream.” So, I might be getting a little mellow dramatic here, but I just want to paint a picture of how I envision Kayla and her life with her high school sweetheart and two beautiful children.

One of the absolute greatest benefits to Facebook is the ability to find connections with people you may have always known, but never necessarily fell into the same social circles. Or, if you had interconnecting friends in high school, may not have really thought much beyond who you spent your day in and day out with. Back in our high school era cell phones were a new trend and very few had them. Those that did, certainly didn’t use them to connect with friends while in the same building with them. We were much less interconnected in each others lives, but can now use that to our advantage, rediscovering each other and watching all of our children growing up. The ability to find and reconnect with people you’ve always known but may not have taken the time or had the opportunity to develop friendships with these people, is the peak of social media. Finding others who are also in the throws of parenthood, saying goodbye to the “good ole’ days” of a social life, and finding that motherhood bond with others is priceless.

Getting back to Kayla and her beautiful family; while scrolling through my newsfeed, I noticed an announcement she was making about starting a new business. Instantly feeling the nostalgia of taking on a new venture (and having recently dove head first into blogging) I couldn’t help but jump on board and immediately volunteer to host a party. I had no idea what the brand of jewelry was that she was selling, but simply knew, she was excited and starting a new chapter in her life, and I wanted to help and share in that new adventure. So after a few delayed social media messaging sessions, we had a date, a time, and a theme. “Girls Night In” was going to be straight Mimosa’s and Cupcakes. Seriously, does a girl need anything more than cupcakes, mimosas, and jewelry on a Friday night? NO. NO WE DO NOT.

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Prior to the party, Kayla set me up with an online account and continued to promote her line through her classy style and impressive photography skills using her Instagram account, which I strongly recommend each of you find and explore her new adventure. She arrived at my house the day of the event with at least an hour to set up. While she was putting together he beautiful display we were able to catch up about the past few years of life, and while we were able to creep on each other through social media, there were so many aspects of our lives completely missed. It was really intriguing to just pick each other’s brains about life for an hour or two before everyone arrived.

Her displays were so elegant, and the jewelry… WOW, the jewelry was definitely worth every penny. I was totally impressed and admitted almost immediately how this jewelry blew the line I used to sell out of the park. The line is newer to our area, and I believe everyone who was able to stop by was also impressed by the quality of the jewelry. This is not your typical cheap costume jewelry. Kayla was wearing a beautiful necklace she had owned for several years and it looked brand new.

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Once closing out the party it was a matter of days before my free and fifty percent off items arrived. The packaging was so classy and professional. I have to admit, I saved the boxes! The care and quality in the packaging was incredibly impressive.

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The materials were such high quality and the options were ENDLESS, that I seriously changed my mind about 5 different times trying to figure out what to order. (Kayla will vouch for this…!)

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This leather wrap bracelet is definitely my favorite and has just enough gold on it to go with just about any outfit. I wear it daily with two very special bracelets that are near and dear to my heart. (Yes… yes, I do have friendship bracelets with some of my bests, and I never take them off. My husband makes fun of me for this at every opportunity possible.)

The next item up on my list of great bracelet finds is this pretty little white and gold number.

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This one paired up really well with the first bracelet I opened, and I do wear them quite often together, but I try to not wear the white as often with the harsh reality of two toddlers running around like maniacs.

The third and final bracelet on my list of Stella and Dot must-haves is this silver and cool minty blue bracelet.

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How can you not LOVE a piece of jewelry that says, “hello gorgeous” before you even meet it?!

I love all of these new pieces of jewelry and did a serious re-evaluation of my former jewelry purchases, weaning out the cheaper and slightly over-bedazzled styles of my meal attempt at selling jewelry.

At this point, I feel very safe in saying I will be making several more purchase from Kayla’s Stella and Dot website, which you can access HERE, and strongly recommend having her over for a fabulous girls night in of your own! Isn’t this what we new Moms, experienced Moms, young Moms, older Moms, and soon-to-be Moms do? We collaborate, and we support each other. So trust me when I say, investing in this product will not leave you disappointed.

Cheers!

  • Whitney

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Mother’s Day Gift Guide 2017

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This week I have really been focusing on gift giving. I know it’s a random time of year to choose gift giving as a topic of interest, but there is something about Spring that is so new and fresh and makes me want to put winter blues behind me and brighten some one’s day. It could also be that my husband and two very good friends have birthdays right at the beginning of Spring, or even the fact that Easter is coming just around the corner. Regardless of whatever inspired this mood of gifting, I wanted to share some of my top Mother’s Day Gift Ideas with my 2017 Mother’s Day Gift Guide.

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Every product includes a description of why you will love it along with an image and link to the product itself. Spoil your mother, or better yet, share this with your husband… and enjoy the spoiling yourself!

  1. Echo Dot

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Ok… so at first I wasn’t sure about the whole talking to a piece of technology in your home; however, there are countless times that I have my hands full with the girls and my husband is off doing whatever… and a little assistance would be nice! Our three year old likes to try to change channels and mess with the dvd player while I am cooking. How nice would it be to say, “Hey Alexa, play Frozen, for the girls.” Or even, “Hey Alexa, what is the next step in this recipe?” How many of you mothers use Pinterest as your recipe book? I do! I am constantly flipping through my phone, leaving flour or who knows what else on the touch screen of my phone while trying to cook.

2. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

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This classic novel, is a picturesque story of the occasional struggles between mother – daughter relationships, and the secrets children sometimes are unaware of when it comes to their parents. Kristin Hannah’s attention to detail and build up in this heart warming novel will leave any mother in tears of joy by the end.

3. Keurig 2.0 K200 Series

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I am a coffee junkie! My husband and I recently purchase a more elaborate coffee system, but inevitably returned to our classic Keurig. It is so simple and convenient! I registered for a Keurig 5 1/2 years ago before we were married and my teaching friends purchased it for us as a shower gift. I still have that system. Keurig products are such great quality products. There is something about feminine colored appliances that really appeal to me. I love this K200 in Oasis. Keurig also offers a K250 in Sandy Pearl

4. Gold Flatware by Threshold

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I confess, I have been eyeing this set of flatware up for months. I am in love with the gold finish and the price! You just can’t beat a good value that looks and feels like quality. If anyone happens to speak with my husband, this would be an excellent addition to our home…!

5. Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

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My Kitchen Aid is my appliance better half. My husband bought me a Kitchen Aid stand mixer for my first mother’s day and I use it constantly. It literally fell out of the hatch of my vehicle on a trip to my sisters this past Christmas, bounced across her driveway, and miraculously still works. There was a moment I thought I might be losing my poor baby appliance, but it was a trooper and pulled through! If that doesn’t sales pitch you on the quality of this machine, I don’t know what will. This is the specific model I use and love. I would recommend ordering an additional bowl, for busy baking days. While this item is on the higher end of the shopping budget, it certainly will let the Mother in your life know how much she is appreciated! Besides, who doesn’t love a little extra motivation to have baked good around more often?!

6. Porcelain Classic White Dinnerware Set

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LOVE my white dish set from Target. These dishes are high quality and affordable. You can purchase them as a set or individual pieces, which I also love. I was treated to a nice set of these clean white dishes last year for Mother’s day. The thing I love the most about a white dish set, is the timeless feel. You can switch in different accent plates, compliment with seasonal colors, and never get sick of it. While patterns and colors may be trendy a times, white plates will never go out of style. When I am investing in an item for my kitchen, I want it to last. These plates are exactly that.

7. Decorative Dry Erase Boards

Help Mom stay organized and stylish at an affordable price at a mere $9.99 with this Marble Dry Erase Board or this Navy Blue and Copper Chalk Board. These are so cute and would look great in an office, kitchen, or entry way! I have the Marble one in my Updated Home Office (post coming soon!).

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8. Classic Wooden Tray

These beautiful, yet simple, wooden trays remind me of a fun Mother’s Day and Father’s Day tradition we had in our home growing up. Each year on Mother’s day my dad and I (or my sister and I when she still lived at home) would get up and make breakfast for our Mom and take her a tray of breakfast in bed. As a kid it felt SO FUN to eat  breakfast in a bed! We did the same on Father’s day serving my Dad breakfast in bed as well. So when I stumbled across this Acacia Bed Tray and Espresso Benito Breakfast Tray I just had to share this fun tradition from my childhood. Even surprising Mom with the tray, breakfast, and some fresh flowers would surely start any Mother’s Day off perfectly.

9. A Shopping Trip!

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Plan a day and prepare in advance by surprising her with a scheduled date, child care arranged, and a budget for a shopping spree. Target now offers both credit cards and debit cards. If my husband ever said to me, “Here honey, I took care of scheduling a sitter for this day, and I have this awesomely full Target gift card (or credit card) spend the day enjoying yourself!” I might just have a heart attack and never even make it to the store. Some of my close friends who have experienced my shopping trips to Target will vouch for how dangerous it would be to send me unsupervised into a Target store with a credit card. But trust me, it has happened…

10.  Affordable Floral Necklace

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When it comes to jewelry you will really need to feel your way through this. I like jewelry that is inexpensive, as the more trendy styles come and go; however, I have my select timeless pieces with more sentimental value. (See the next item if you’re looking in this direction) This necklace lays beautifully when paired with a simple shirt and jeans but can also dress up an outfit for an evening out with the husband. I find myself following the ever spinning circle of “silver” or “gold” falling more heavily on gold at the moment, but like that the crystal look balances out the gold if you’re still unsure about jumping back into gold jewelry.

11. Personalized Jewelry by Unmistakably Mine

  1. As I have mentioned in my previous post, UnmistakablyMine | Personalized and Affordable, this is my ultimate go-to shop on Etsy for personalized and sentimental gifts for those that I love.  You cannot go wrong on Mother’s day when shopping with Lori and her quality products from personalized necklaces for a mother, to bracelets for a friend, and  even the Pet Mommy out there will find items to cherish on her website.

12.  Reversible Tote

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Show me a Mother, and I’ll show you a multi-tasker. This bag is perfect for the Mom on the go. It’s inexpensive and REVERSIBLE! Plus if you click the link above, it comes in 8 color options. I have one in the black and tan reversible option, prior to this little gem of a pattern being released. I love the spring feel this pattern has, and the strength of the bag has my stamp of approval. I’ve carried multiple laptops in mine at once, along with items for my kids.

13. Terracotta Planters – Personalized

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Plants and planters seem to go hand in hand with Mother’s Day. Perhaps it’s that Kindergarten-Style brainwashing we receive when we place our hand prints on Terracotta planters at 6 years old.  Then followed by the act of planting the pot with basil or some other random herb and take our creations home to our mothers, hearts beaming, anxious for her approval. Today I am presenting you with an updated, modern approach to that childhood gift. Hello Smith and Hawkins:

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I love the small Terracotta Planters new, empty, and full of gardening tools or seed packets, or planted with a favorite flowering plant or frequently used herb.

14. Cake Stands – Not Just for Cakes Anymore

From white, to milk glass, to crystal, and even metallic, cake stands are one of the trendiest purchases of late. I have two currently, but would love to continue to grow this collection.  A simple White Cake Stand is always a classic starting point. Galvanized Metal Cake Stands add that rustic charm so heavily inspired by Chip and Joanna Gaines. And the third cute stand listed above is a sweet little Gold Cake Stand with pretty little details that would be a compliment to just about any cake or cupcake presentation.

But cake stands don’t have to remain in the kitchen. I’ve noticed some very cute presentations from jewelry trays on a vanity, to accent pieces on a mantle. The possibilities are endless. So get creative!

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Well there you have it. 14 ideas to inspire some unique, yet thoughtful gifts for the mother in your life. Celebrate her and all that she does for her family. If you are the mother, just forward this helpful little link on over to your husband and leave the rest up to him!

Cheers!

  • Whitney

Today was a #StitchFix Day!

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It’s a FIX DAY! For those of you who see the ads online, but wonder “is it really all it’s cracked up to be?” This post is for you! It is not an advertisement for stitch fix, just a personal account of my experience and review of product quality.

I was fascinated with the idea of having a Stylist. Someone who would design outfits to fit my needs, personality, body type, and style. I felt so fancy at the thought, the idea alone was intriguing. I debated trying it out for about 5 months, and then last spring finally took the plunge. Now, I strongly recommend talking to a friend if you have one already signed up. There is a referral promotion associated with new sign-ups. And if you do not have a friend using the service, contact me!

Today’s fix was my 5th fix. The best part about the company is that YOU are in control. YOU determine how often you receive an order, how much you want to spend and what particular items you are interested in receiving. The stylist who is working with you will try their best to meet your requests; however, they may not give you everything you ask for. TRUST them. They review your personality profile (the questionnaire you complete after signing up) keeping in mind your body type and styles you have rated. Not to mention they make a living styling people. So perhaps we should all just trust the experts once in a while? I linked my Pinterest fashion board to my account, so my stylist could get a better feel for my preferences.

Think of your account with Stitch Fix as an ever developing relationship. Once you receive your first fix, do not be disappointed if it is not 100% what you were expecting. This is where it is critical for you to log into your account and provide detailed feedback. You will be asked a series of questions from size, to cut/fit, style, and price where you will rank your thoughts. You then are given an opportunity to write your thoughts on each item and determine whether or not you will keep the item. I will show you this below as I check out for my fix.

Prior to receiving your fix you have the opportunity to request items, give some information for your stylist to consider before putting together your fix. I have discovered through trial and error and polling my friends who use the service, that the LESS you request before the actual fix is styled, the better. I have received BETTER fix results when I do not request specific items. It seems crazy, I know. But I am not alone in this. This fix I am about to reveal to you is by far, the most spot-on fix that I have received to date. It is also my 5th, and I can tell you I did send everything back from one before. If you should change your mind about how you filled out the initial surveys when signing up, you can always go back and adjust the answers you provided simply from the app on your phone. I LOVE. MY. FIX. APP. It is simple and user friendly. If your sizes change, just hop back into your profile and adjust the sizes and it will automatically update the information for your stylist.

Now, the moment you have all been waiting for, my great reveal.

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Oh that glorious moment when the box arrives and you stand before it with anticipation and excitement about what your stylist might have chosen for you. Did you get the bag you wanted? Did she totally throw you a curve ball and surprise you with a style you didn’t expect to like, but will end up loving? The possibilities are endless until you finally break that seal and see exactly WHAT is in that box. Shoes, shirts, leggings, dresses, bags, jewelry. You will never know until you open that box. So take a moment, enjoy the anticipation, and then dive in.

Once you open the box there will be two critical items laying on top. The first, will be your pre-paid return envelope. The best part about Stitch Fix is the ability to try everything on in the comfort of your own home before paying for anything. You are not charged for any of the items until you cash out using your app or the website. All items you decide not to keep can be tossed into this envelope and dropped off at the post-office, tossed in your mailbox, or schedule a pick up with your local USPS mail carrier.

The second critical item in your fix is the envelope with a detailed note from your stylist about each piece he or she has chosen for you and why they felt you would love these pieces. Take note of the name of your stylist, because if you find one you love, you WILL want to include this person’s name in the “Note to your Stylist” before receiving a fix.

Along with detailed descriptions of the items are sample outfits, very similar to the three-dimensional images of idea outfits we see on Pinterest all of the time. I really want to investigate how those are generated. Is there a software that creates those? I’m happy to hear from any one who knows the answer to this! Your items will be neatly folded and wrapped in tissue paper and snugly tucked in your box. I love breaking those seals and opening up my packages, like a small child on Christmas morning!

The first item up in my Fix was this fabulous pop of color bag called the Jesse Crossbody Bag by Shiraleah. It has an optional hand strap as well. I was instantly in love with this bag! This was also my first bag which was a pleasant surprise. It’s sturdy, has an awesome color that I wouldn’t normally choose, which I found as a pleasant surprise. I was sold, needless to say.

My next two items were tops, one was a ruche sides knit top, in a lighter gray hue. It was simple and I wasn’t initially sure how I felt about the ruching, but figured I would make a final determination once I tried it on. The other was a black knit blazer, and let me just tell you, it might be the softest fabric I have ever felt. I also noticed immediately that it was darted, which is a huge plus for someone with my shape.

The last two items it took all of my self control to not shriek out loud as I unveiled them. Both were items I had previous requested with no luck in receiving. Before I reveal, let me just explain that I am not a fan of leggings. I respect all who wear and love that there are so many out there for the avid legging wearer; however, the patterns, and wildness about them just have never been me. On the other hand, my three year old loves them and about 98% of my friends all wear and swear by them. Each of these wonderful ladies look amazing in them, its’ just not my style.

There has been one specific legging I have wanted to try for months. I requested a pair of the faux leather detail leggings a couple stitches ago, but did not receive a pair until today and I LOVED the look, feel, thickness, and fit. I also received an awesome pair of bar gold studs. I’ve been really into the stud earrings with the extra details hanging behind the ear, or the unique shapes. This bar shape was exactly what I was looking to try out.

The leather detail on the leggings wasn’t overpowering, but the motto-cross inspired detail across the knee really sealed the deal for me.

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I was actually just talking to my sister about the jewelry I have received so far from my fixes. The first necklace was on my second fix in September. I love it and wear it all of the time. But I noticed just last week that the gold finish is already wearing off the chain. This is a bit disheartening to me, given the original price listed on the item. I will say, this product I received today, feels like it’s going to be a higher quality, as it comes with quality guarantees, protective bags and polishing cloths leading the non expert to believe it will withstand more time.

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After inspecting all of my items and receiving a little assistance from my littlest lady opening the packages, it was time to start trying on and making some decisions! I must apologize in advance for the lack of photo quality in the next few shots, as there is a significant learning curve to taking outfit photos when you are not a member of  the selfie-generation but I’m getting there. I took a simple striped blouse I already owned to layer with the blazer to test it out. I paired the ruched shirt with the leggings and slipped on a pair of flats from The Gap that I wore to work today. (Disclaimer: I did not love the flats with the leggings, I was just on a time crunch)

Ah yes, nothing like the quality of a 30 year old attempting to photograph herself in clothes. Seriously, some of these teenagers should teach me how to take pictures after I teach their English class. All joking aside, I loved the blazer and did not fall in love with the ruching of the gray shirt. Period. Therefore, I knew the gray was going back. The blazer, is nice; however, I have a similar cut one, with the 3/4 sleeve length already, so this item might be on the chopping board as well.

But those leggings. Oh the leggings! They were an immediate hit the second I slid them on, the fit, the thickness (all good leggings must be THICK to hide as much as possible), and the little details really sold me. Excellent job stylists!!

Now for the check-out. I have attached screen shots of the questions you will answer on each item below. It’s very simple, but the more information you can provide, the more accurate your future fixes will be.

When you enter your app, you start of by continuing on to checkout. From there the first item will come up on the screen along with the original price. It’s critical you pay attention to this price. If you keep all 5 items a significant discount is taken off the entire purchase at the end (often times equaling one  full item). If you choose to only keep four items, you may be paying just as much if not more than if you kept all 5 items so watch your final price!

Select whether you plan to return or keep the item. Then proceed to answer the four questions that follow style, fit/cut, size, and price. After rating each category you want to provide a little written feedback on the item, like what you like, what you didn’t like, or what might have made the item a little better.

After completing the review on the first item you will repeat this on the remaining four items. You have 3 days to decide and place the items in the mail that you choose not to keep. Another thing I have discovered is the customer service is AMAZING with this company. Any time I have had a question or issue, I simply email the company and have an answer within 24 hours. There is no “holding for the next available representative” just real simple responses.

So there you have it, a Wonderful Wednesday full of Stitch Fix fancies. Like I mentioned before, your Stitch Fix account is like an ever developing relationship. The more you put into it, the more you will get out of it!

Cheers!

  • Whitney