Stitch Fix #2 | My Review

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My second Stitch Fix arrived this week and was no less exciting than the first! As promised, here’s a little Show & Tell on the items included in Round Two for me.

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RD Style Akiva Cowl Neck Pullover, $68
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Skies are Blue Lusy Embroidered Detail Knit Top, $54
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Mavi Freida Skinny Jean, $98
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RD Style Bailey Open Cardigan, $68
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RD Style Iana Twisted Seam Sweater

Here’s my synopsis of this fix:

  • The cowl neck pullover is a great loose fit, but the weave on this sweater didn’t seem like it would hold up well at all, and I tend to avoid that kind of sweater. Sending it back.
  • The embroidered detail top is super cute. I don’t usually wear that sleeve length, but it looks great with a cardigan, and I love the detail at the neck so much that I don’t think I’ll be able to give this one up. At the moment it’s a probable keeper.
  • The jeans felt so great when I put them on, but the fit at the ankles wasn’t quite up to par for me, plus I basically have all the jeans for my fall capsule wardrobe finalized at this point. I hope I don’t regret sending these back…they really were comfy.
  • The open cardigan is super cozy. I’m considering keeping that one as well.
  • I love the color and weave of the Iana sweater, but it’s not a flattering fit on me at all, so that made the decision easy on that one: going back.

I’m really loving this online stylist deal. The $20/box styling fee credits to your purchases, so as long as there’s at least one thing that comes in your box that you love enough to keep, the service is totally FREE! And thanks to those of you who signed up through my referral link, I earned enough credit to get 1-2 of my items this time completely free.

Bonus: Every Fix comes with these fun little outfit cards in case you need help figuring out how to style the pieces.

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What would you keep/send back? I’d love to hear your opinions before I make my final decision today!

Poison Ivy/Oak/Sumac Relief

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I’m one of those people who is extra allergic to poison ivy and its relatives, and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten through a Lancaster County summer without a bout or two of the miserable rash. In my 2+ decades of dealing with this little fiend, I’ve tested and tried nearly every product on the market, natural and conventional alike, for relief. If you’re a fellow sufferer, this post is for you to pin or bookmark for when you need it. These are the remedies I’ve found most effective.

  1. Gold Bond® Anti-Itch Lotion is by far the best itch relief cream out there. If you are susceptible to poison rashes or even just bug bites, you HAVE to have this in your medicine cabinet. Anything else, calamine or otherwise, doesn’t come close to the relief this offers. And the aloe in it is cooling, which is a huge added benefit.
  2. Apple cider vinegar is the second thing that’s absolutely necessary for me to have on hand for treating this kind of thing. When my hand was covered with the blisters the other week, between my fingers and the worst right around my wedding rings (which I made the mistake of not removing while I had the chance), I had my hand soaking in a bowl of ACV every chance I got.
  3. Two years ago I discovered how good a simple paste of baking soda and water felt. The baking soda really seemed to draw out the itch/burn. Only problem with this method is that it gets really messy as it dries. I just kept the vacuum cleaner closeby to sweep up the area I was sitting in.
  4. This year for the first time I had essential oils to put to the test. Purification seemed to help a bit, though Lavender and the other options listed in my reference book didn’t seem to do much for me at all. I was also washing my hands frequently with my Thieves hand soap, and my hand cleared up faster than any of the other areas, so I’m sure that was good for it as well.

The Gold Bond lotion and the apple cider vinegar are my primary absolute must-haves. As long as I have access to those two, I can survive the worst case of the awful stuff. What about you — is there some potion or remedy you’ve found to be magical for treating a poison ivy reaction?

Recent Goodie Realizations | Version 08.15

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  1. These water bottles are keeping me hydrated + healthy and cool + classy during these hot summer days.
  2. This hammock is my favorite hiatus.
  3. This book has been so much fun to peruse, since it includes lots of history on the local family business begun by my great-great-grandparents.
  4. This skincare product has been the biggest go-to around our house this month for sunburns, brushburns, bites, rashes, and more.
  5. This fun fashion find has been the most delightful new companion to my capsule wardrobe project. (Read more here.)
  6. These reusable facial rounds are made of the softest organic bamboo fabric and work well with my makeup remover and essential oils. Best thing I’ve ever introduced to my face.
  7. This little friend has saved me so much money: 5% off your entire purchase + 30 extra days for returns + free shipping on every order (no minimum).
  8. These milkshakes — milk + vanilla ice cream (both from Lapp Valley Farm, of course) + fresh or already-thawed frozen peaches — have been on the menu pretty often around here. We don’t even bother to peel the fruit; the skins add delicious texture.
  9. This hat has been on constant rotation since I bought it. Well worth every penny!
  10. This essential oil is my go-to right now. It’s the best scent I’ve tried, for aromatic purposes! (Learn more here.)
  11. This piece is a current wardrobe favorite. It’s going to transition well into fall, too — I can’t wait!

Stitch Fix #1 | My Review

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Have you been hearing the rave reviews about this styling service called Stitchfix? I’ve been noticing their ads popping up everywhere, and a few were from trusted sources. So since I really don’t enjoy shopping very much at all, unless it’s online, I decided to give it a try! (Visit their website to learn more about how it works.)

My first “Fix” arrived this week, and today I’m going to host a little Show & Tell. Maybe this will help you decide whether or not you want to try it yourself!

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If you’ve been paying attention to my capsule wardrobe posts, you probably have somewhat of a feel for my style, so you could probably look at the style profile form and make pretty educated guesses on what I told my stylist.

Here’s what she sent me:

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Urban Expressions Avery Zipper Detail Hobo Bag, $68
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Tea N Rose Westbury Crochet Detail Hoodie, $54 (back side pictured)
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Henry & Belle Abana Ankle Length Skinny Jean, $148
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Market & Spruce Chaplin Hooded Anorak Cargo Jacket, $88
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Loveappella Saxby Scoop Neck Top, $54

Here’s my opinion of her choices for me:

  • The bag is super cool, but I’m not a huge bag person to begin with, and that much of a color (it’s more purple than what’s shown) is juuuuust too much of a stretch for me. I’m afraid I wouldn’t use it often enough to justify paying the price.
  • I like the hoodie. The crochet detail on the back (it’s the back side that’s pictured; the front is just plain) initially seemed a little too girly for me, but I think it’s growing on me. I might keep it.
  • I already own a great pair of black skinny jeans, so although these did fit me really well, I don’t really have a need or use for them.
  • The jacket is okay, but very similar to one I already own, that I bought at GAP last year (and I like mine better).
  • I can’t decide how I feel about the striped top. I like how it fits — fitted at the top, loose towards the middle/bottom — but I’m not sure if I’m feeling the stripes. What do you think? The fabric is super thin as well, not so cozy for fall…

I need to “check out” online by Sunday, and right now I’m leaning towards probably keeping the hoodie and maaaaaaybe the top. If you have any opinions, do tell. I could definitely use some help deciding!

If I decide to send everything back, I’ll have to pay $20 for the styling fee. If I purchase at least one piece, the $20 will go towards whatever I buy. If I was keeping everything, I’d get a 25% discount on it all!

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Every Fix comes with handy little “wear it this way!” cards.

I love how easy the process is and how much fun it is to get a box full of surprises in the mail. I’m excited to give it another try, maybe closer to October when I’ll actually be starting my fall wardrobe. They say the Fixes get better and better as your stylist gets to know you!

Want to give it a try? If you use my link right here to sign up, I’ll get credit for referring you! 🙂 You don’t pay a cent for the shipping, either way! I can’t wait to hear what you think!

The Life-Changing Power of Chiropractic Care

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Chiropractic care is popular in our area of the country. Here in Lancaster, we have plenty of practitioners to choose from, and I’ve always known a number of friends and relatives who get monthly adjustments. But I’d never been to one myself until just five years ago, after I suffered a concussion during an intense game of volleyball.

Since I was still complaining of headaches more than a month after the incident had occurred, friends urged me to try a chiropractor. I was reluctant, believing that if I went once, I’d become “addicted.” I wasn’t interested in making room for such an expense in my budget, especially since the modest salary I received from my employment at a small Christian school at the time didn’t allow for many “extras.” But once I gave in, I quickly realized how worthwhile the cost would be.

A co-worker and close friend of mine referred me to Family Chiropractic of Lancaster, a father/son-owned practice near my home. On my first visit to their office, I easily sensed their commitment to holistic health (of which I knew very little, at the time) and natural well-being. My doctor and his staff take the importance of education very seriously, and that day began my journey of learning the role of the spine and its effect on the rest of the body and on general health.

In a nutshell, here’s what I’ve learned about chiropractic care:

  • Varied, frequent stress on our incredible backbones (because our bodies work so hard!) cause minor misalignments in the spine.
  • These subluxations, as the misalignments are called, affect every system of the body — causing pain and dysfunction, and generally impairing the body’s ability to heal itself.
  • Regular chiropractor adjustments to the spine help to restore the spine’s proper alignment.
  • A properly-aligned spine is a key element to living a healthy life.

Needless to say, my fear of needing to return to the chiropractor regularly was realized — but I don’t regret it. Not only do my monthly visits relieve my muscle tension and stiffness, but my immune system is much stronger and my body recovers from illness and injury significantly faster. And when X-rays are done, I can see the curve in my spine caused by the scoliosis I was born with receding!

Chiropractic care is something I highly recommend when I hear about things like debilitating headaches, frequent cold/flu viruses, and fussy newborns (yes, that arduous journey through the birth canal can and most often does put a baby’s spine out of alignment)! If it’s something you’d like to hear more about, I’m happy to share more of my experience.

What about you? Have you had a positive experience with chiropractic treatment?

Beach Day Essentials

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If I were already the slightly more organized blogger that I wish to become, these types of posts might be spaced a bit further apart. Instead, you’re getting these in real time(!), since I have day trips to the Atlantic shoreline planned for today and next Thursday.

I’m not what one might call a huge fan of the beach, but I’m also not one to turn down an invitation to socialize! So I go along for the party, and I can get into the whole beachy scene at times, too.

I do love packing for any kind of getaway, and a beach bag is no exception! Here’s a short list of my current “essentials.”

  • Kimchi Blue Open Weave Floppy Straw Hat from Urban Outfitters
  • Sunglasses (these are similar to mine)
  • Sunscreen
  • Whichever swimsuit fits my mood (today it’s my new one for this season)
  • Sandals because they make me feel way classier than the Old Navy flips I used to live in
  • The plushest beach towel I can find (mine’s from Target)
  • Magazines + an easy-reading nonfiction book or beachy novel
  • Exotic (the rarity of my beach days deems them splurge-worthy) cold drinks

[Yes, a Target-addict post would be in order.] 😛

What about you?–what gets the highest priority for the prime real estate in YOUR beach tote?

My Daily-Use Essential Oils

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There are lots of people who have been using essential oils on a regular basis much longer than I have, and I’m always intrigued by their “day in the life of an oiler”-type posts. Today I’m sharing my own list — these are the oils I use every day.

Learn more about my use of essential oils by clicking here.

  1. Lavender is part of my beauty routine. I wipe 2-3 drops all over my face and neck with a reusable makeup remover pad from Marleys Monsters both morning and evening, right before moisturizing with this [truly magic] All In One Healing Skin Cream. I think putting it on before bed helps me relax and fall asleep, too. We also use lavender for bug bites.
  2. We use Peppermint for pain relief. A few drops on the temples and/or neck help to ease a tension headache, and it feels great rubbed onto my calves or back for muscle soreness as well.
  3. Grapefruit is my go-to for scent. I think at this point it’s the only oil whose smell I really love! I throw it in the diffuser on a regular basis, add a few drops to my dryer balls, and even put it on cotton rounds to stick in behind the air conditioner vent (a smarty-pants tip from my sister-in-law).
  4. I rub Progessence Plus onto my forearms and neck once or twice a day for help with hormones. I credit this in part for helping to get things straightened out after my miscarriage. I’ve heard that it works wonders for menstrual cramps, too.
  5. Lemon is such a great little multi-purpose oil! I add 5-6 drops to a dishpan full of water to clean produce, diffuse it for that just-cleaned kitchen scent, and mix a little in with my homemade cleaners. But possibly my favorite use for lemon is that it works just as well as Goo-Gone for removing sticky residue!

Fellow essential oil fans, what are your favorites?

Camping Essentials

IMG_7221It’s Friiiiiday, I’m in love! (The Cure song reference, in case you wondered.) We’re packing up the car for a weekend getaway! — looking forward to some good old-fashioned family time, camping with my in-laws this weekend.

Caleb and I (and the rest of his family) are “real” campers, as we like to call ourselves — as in, when we say we’re going camping, we mean we’re going to be sleeping in a TENT, and making ALL our food over an open fire. Getting back to the basics and connecting with nature, baby!

Here are some of our favorites, that we won’t leave for a campground without.

  • Trash bag holder — such a brilliant invention! Beats trying to tie a garbage bag to a tree branch or having it on the ground in a heap, by a long shot.
  • Empty laundry detergent bottle upcycled into a hand-washing station — inspired by this pin a long time ago…fill it with water and set it on a rock or an end of the picnic table with a bottle of hand soap and towel close by, and this obsessive hand-washer (ahem) is a happy camper.
  • My homemade all-natural bug spray (recipe here) is an obvious must-have!
  • These citronella candles not only help to keep the bugs at bay, but also add to the campsite aesthetic and ambiance.
  • This super cheap hammock from Target (online only) might be my favorite purchase of the YEAR. What’s camping without a good hammock, anyhow?

Not pictured:

  • Our trusty double sleeping bag makes the nighttime cozy!
  • My [awesome] eye mask from AllNaturalSleepShop…because when I’m on vacation, I want to sleeeeeeep in and early morning light in the tent is not so conducive to that. 😉
  • Nutella, because s’mores…enough said.
  • This flashlight is TOP of the line as far as flashlights are concerned. A bit pricey maybe, but you’ll never buy another — and yes, that’s pretty much a personal guarantee. We give these as gifts sometimes because they are SO good.

If you’re a camper, what are some of the things YOU have to take with you? I’d love to hear about your tried-and-true favorites!

Instagram Feeds I’m Loving

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I love sharing my favorite things with you. That’s what The Realization of Good is all about! Today’s post is a quick lineup of my favorite Instagrammers. If you missed them earlier, check out my favorite blogs and Facebook pages, too!

  1. @the_beauty pill  //  super pretty beauty product feed
  2. @malisyourpal  //  Mallory has such a cool ministry over at @theuneditedmovement + I feel a kinship to her since her pregnancy loss earlier this year
  3. @marylauren  //  such a gorgeous feed + I think Mary looks a lot like my best friend, Michelle
  4. @oldjoy  //  mama + homemaker (whose hats, and baby-filled belly, I adore)
  5. @tortoiseandthehareclothing  //  a just-launched handmade heirloom children’s clothing line designed by my very own sister [in-law]
  6. @sackclothxashes  //  the coolest blanket company in the history of ever — I just placed an order for one this week & can’t wait ’til it arrives!
  7. @emilyhogarth  //  talented papercut artist & creative mama
  8. @mamawaters  //  such an inspiring mama, with a precious new tiny!
  9. @caroline_joy  //  it was a sad day for many when Caroline stopped blogging at un-fancy…but thankfully we can keep up with her + her fabulous outfit inspiration on Instagram!

And if you want to keep up with me on a personal level + all things #therealizationofgood, hit Follow on my account over at @melpfish.

What are some of YOUR favorite Instagram accounts?

Essential Rewards Program Freebies

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So if you caught my Homemade Bug Spray post last week, you know by now that I’m on the essential oils bandwagon. I’d wager a guess that if you’re reading this, you don’t live in a hole 🙂 and have been hearing buzz about the incredible healing + cleaning properties of of essential oils, or earth’s medicine, as I like to call them.

You may also have caught wind of the controversy among the different brands of oils that are available today, many of which are sold by MLM (multi-level marketing) companies, and their often-quite-passionate reps. I’m not going get into that in today’s post, but for now I have chosen to buy and sell Young Living’s products, largely because of their Seed-to-Seal promise.

I’m a sucker for rewards, and I’ve been enrolled (for free, by the way) in Young Living’s Essential Rewards program for a little over three months now. In a nutshell, I get points based on a percentage of my $50-minimum monthly order that I can redeem for free product. I recently placed my first “ER” order using the points I’ve been accumulating, and there was a box waiting on my doorstep when I got home from work today containing my freebies.

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I can’t wait to start using this essential oil-based foaming hand soap, since this officially marks the beginning of my switch from Bath & Body Works hand soaps to something cleaner and more natural. Its namesake ingredient, the Thieves essential oil blend, helps support a healthy immune system. It’s called Thieves because, as legend has it, a band of fifteenth-century French thieves discovered this particular combination of essential oils that enabled them to pillage the dead and dying and remain unscathed during the various plagues of the medieval age. When they were captured, they were offered less severe punishment in exchange for their secret to avoiding these otherwise then-deadly diseases. I’m all about sanitary and anti-germs, so this is my kind of product!

Caleb, my farrier husband, has a hard time getting the scents of his livelihood (horses, manure, steel, and burning hoof–which is akin to burning hair) out of his hands so I’m extra excited to see how this works for him. Much gentler and safer than that Fast Orange stuff!

Want to know more about Young Living + essential oil products? Click here for my info page.