American Idol – Harper Grace

12 Apr

So… somehow I ended up following American Idol this season (it’s the “comeback season” on ABC with Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan) and fell in love with Harper Grace during auditions. She sang an original song “Yard Sale” and a cover of “Young, Dumb, and Broke” and then she did AWESOME during Hollywood (I don’t really understand the progression of the competition so bear with me) singing another original called “RIP” — and then she was eliminated! Without much information!

I find myself listening to her songs over and over and over again – she reminds me a little bit of 16 year old Taylor Swift (RIP, ha) and I’m also kind of dipping my toes into country (pop country, but country) at the same time, so maybe she won’t appeal to everyone, but man! So good!

Before I continue on, here are the videos…

Audition – Yard Sale (original)

Audition – Young, Dumb, and Broke (same video, just further along)

Hollywood Week – RIP (original)

She’s SO GOOD! And 16! And writes her own music! So… why on earth would they eliminate her, for no apparent reason? They don’t show her next performance but they give a tiny clip of Katy telling her they think she still needs to grow (or something) and then *poof* she’s gone.

Theories:

  • She’s a terrible person and no one wanted to work with her (doesn’t seem likely, from the little clips, but who knows)
  • She wasn’t interesting enough of a character for the show (backstory, personality, etc.) so they cut her in favor of a couple other similar-ish girls (Layla Spring, Maddie Poppe – I think she’s better than them both, though)
  • She got signed, or got some other big break/opportunity before/during this, so it made sense to have her exit (this seems super likely – especially since on her social media it sounds like she had a song in a contest (“Country Song”) that was doing well and even got radio play (see below) and she’s doing some publicity, etc. so this might be it… also including a video of her singing on some radio show below.

Anyone know more?? Probably NDAs everywhere so nothing’s gonna get out, but I couldn’t find any more info online and just had to post about it!

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Stitch Fix #8

18 Aug

Getting right into it… Fix #8! If you haven’t already tried, feel free to use my referral link (here) and fund more of my Stitch Fix adventures.

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JUST BLACK Adorra Skinny Jean $88

Funny enough — after I returned my last Fix, I got an email from StitchFix customer service saying they had the exact size of pant but with a shorter inseam. They suggested I not wait for my next fix in case they weren’t in stock, so I ordered them “off cycle” and loved them. So, so happy with them so far! I did buy a few extra things to help preserve the color — Woolite DARKS Liquid Laundry Detergent (Amazon) and Shout Color Catcher sheets (Amazon) because I really didn’t want the dye from the jeans to rub off everywhere.

Too bad my stylist didn’t get the memo that I had already received/purchased the jeans, because they were included in my Fix too, but sending them back isn’t so tragic this time around!

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RENEE C Greenspan Scoop Neck Top $48

Not my style, at all. I’m not sure what I need to update in my profile to make it clear I’m not a fan of busy/mismatched styles/patterns, but… sending this back!

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SKIES ARE BLUE Keating Cargo Vest $78

StitchFix has tons of cargo vests in stock, just FYI. I loved the color on this one, and the cute liner polka dots, but I think cargo vests just don’t fit me very well — they bulk up my waist and just don’t look that flattering. Too bad!

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TINSEL Joen Rayon Twill Cargo Vest $74

This is similar to the vest I had received last fix, but a slightly less pretty color, and with too many pockets. I’m not a fan of jackets (or vests) with chest pockets — I like that part cleaner. Versatile, though!

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NAPEAN SEA RD Bellucci One Pocket Top $58

No matter how much I would have liked this top, it’s 100% Rayon and dry clean only — which for me is a dealbreaker. I have one plaid-y top from H&M that I love, but it’s beginning to show some wear (I’ve gotten great use out of it over the past few years) so it’s a piece I’m hoping to replace, through StitchFix or elsewhere.

I’ve done 3 fixes in about a month, so definitely going to take a little break… it’s a fun experience to receive items, but for me, has been pretty consistently disappointing/frustrating to not get that *wow* box.

Stitch Fix #7

4 Aug

Funny enough, Stitch Fix has told me that this is my Fix #8 — but I can’t for the life of me find pictures/remember when I missed a post. Oh well! 

I’m so envious of the others who blog about how much they love their Fixes — and get pieces that they love love love and that fit. One of the main reasons I took such a long break from Stitch Fix was because it was a bummer getting pieces that clearly didn’t match my style/profile, but I do chalk some of that up to my being so picky. That being said, am giving it a few more shots because I can’t deny how fun it is to get the boxes in the mail, and to keep exploring what the stylists can dig up for me.

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Just Black Adorra Skinny Jean in Navy $88

These jeans feel so good — and they were a dark navy (they actually looked black to me at first) which is such a perfect wardrobe essential piece. That being said – I was surprised by how much I liked how they fit and feel, excepppppt they were way too long. Doing a quick Google, it sounds like a lot of people have that complaint about this brand/piece so that’s a bummer.

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Papermoon Anica Knit Top $44

Was actually a little frustrated to see this piece in my fix, because it so resembles the Staccato raglan from my last fix, and I had specifically given the feedback that I didn’t like the little accent/contrast color on that pocket, which is exactly what this shirt does. TBH, without that, I would probably have kept it (I like to keep things simple) but back it goes.

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41Hawthorn Jahana Cargo Vest $68

I’ve been asking my stylists to look for vests (I’ve been patiently hoping to come across a perfect denim vest to add to my closet, but know it might not come from StitchFix) but my last two stylists have been so kind to send a couple of vests my way. I liked this 41Hawthorn vest more than the Skies are Blue denim vest that came last fix (more structure to it) but it’s a little pricey for me, resembles something I already own in jacket form, and ideally I want a vest I can dress up/down and this is pretty cas.

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Fun2Fun Katniss Crochet Yoke Top $44

Didn’t even try this on, TBH. Style itself I don’t mind (the shape/crochet accent) but the pattern and colors was way too loud for me — I’ve historically kept or bought pieces that I thought would stretch my style, and ended up rarely, if ever, wearing them — so not a good use of $$, even though it’s super reasonably priced.

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Papermoon Danyela Knit Maxi Dress $48

I love me a maxi dress — and even though this one resembled another dress I already have (mostly in the black/navy and white/cream pattern), they were different enough — and this dress was honestly comfortable and could be easily dressed up or down, plus, super reasonably priced (especially when you take into account the styling fee you get to credit toward a purchase) – so keep keep keep.

Scheduled another fix for a few weeks from now, will see if it improves! Question for anyone else who does Stitch Fix — do you request the same stylist or a new one? If I’m not happy with my entire fix, is it better to keep trying to work with/give feedback to the same person, or try a new one over and over?

Stitch Fix #6

28 Jul

Stitch Fix lured me back, through a combination of a well-timed birthday email promo and seeing a couple boxes in my mom’s garage, encouraging me to try it again. (Why my mom trying Stitch Fix made me want to try Stitch Fix who knows, haha)

I updated my profile and added a couple of requests (have been looking for a denim vest or some chambray…) and this is what I got:

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SKIES ARE BLUE Demilia Chambray Vest $68

The stylist did a great job, and actually did find me a denim/chambray-y vest — and while it wasn’t what I expected (was picturing something more structured), I was totally open to it! But after trying it on, I didn’t love the size/fit (even with the drawstring pulled, it looked really big in the front) or the style (not sure what it is — a little too 90’s grunge?? haha) — though I appreciated the effort!

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REALM Ilene Released Hem Skinny Jean $54

Honestly, I wasn’t really looking for or thinking about pants, especially since it’s been sweltering hot in SoCal these days… so I wasn’t that surprised when I didn’t love them. They were a little too snug, and even separate from the fit, I didn’t love the tapered ankle details on the bottom — just a little too trendy for me, maybe!

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41HAWTHORN Kelsey Button Down Shirt $58

This was my favorite piece in my Fix, by far, even though it wasn’t exactly what I pictured when I had asked for a chambray button down — but even though I liked it, it was just a LITTLE BIT too small around the bust area — I don’t think going a size up would work because everything else fit right. Bummer!

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STACCATO Madelene Raglan Roll Sleeve Knit Top $48

This was something that would fit my style profile to a T — except for the interesting accent on the pocket/sleeves. I realize through Stitch Fix how particular/picky I can be with what I like or dislike — like symmetry. Even though I knew it wasn’t a keeper, I tried it on and loved the fit and feel (so soft!) and size, but the detail was a no go for me.

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BAY TO BAUBLES Marissa Collar Necklace $34

Last but not least, a simple necklace. I realized I’m not really looking for jewelry (I have a few key pieces I love and rotate through, and am probably pickier about jewelry than other things) so I updated this in my profile as well, for the next fix.

It’s a bummer I’ve still not had great luck with Stitch Fix, but the experience in it of itself is pretty fun and a treat. I committed earlier this year to not buying more clothes that I’m not certain I’ll need or keep wearing and have tried to content myself with what’s already in my closet, so will have to see what the Stitch Fix stylist magic can do!

Grace is Free – Marci Preheim

15 Jan

Notes and quotes from this little book (Grace is Free by Marci Preheim) from Cruciform Press (published in 2014)

 

12 – it is dangerous to overemphasize behavior. Focusing on behavior leads to external works and a neglect of the heart, which is where true godliness is or isn’t.

20 – God is far more interested in our hearts and beliefs than he is in our activities.

21 – …her actions would reflect what she truly believed.

22-23 – At the heart of the gospel is a recognition of weakness. The Lord saves both the disciplined and the undisciplined alike—the disciplined from trusting in their capabilities and the undisciplined from their sloth.

32 – No matter how gifted we are, the Lord wants us to be mindful of our weakness.

33 – Fruitfulness comes from believing more, not necessarily doing more. As we abide in Christ, fruit is naturally produced. In nature, branches do not strive to produce fruit…

34 – Bible reading and prayer are important in the believer’s life, but what is the motive? Is it discipline for discipline’s sake, or is it longing to know Christ?

34 – If we must discipline ourselves against our will to draw near to God, then there is a bigger problem than lack of discipline. There’s a crisis of faith. There’s an arrogance that believes there’s no urgent need for his power.

40 – The human heart tends to compare the self with others. … We think we have earned [God’s grace] by our “good behavior,” so others must earn our compassion by their good behavior.

46 – The Lord gave three instructions to this congregation who had lost their first love: remember, repent, and return.

50 – When you do not have the power of the Holy Spirit working within you, sin management is all you have. Sin management is putting up a good moral front and managing your sin by hiding it from people rather than confessing it to eth Lord…. Sin management only works as long as you keep it hidden.

73 – Truth motivates belief, which then motivates behavior changes in the long term.

88 – The remedy for every person, no matter what she is going through, is to believe in her Savior more.

122 – God administers his power only through human weakness… Christian activity is often blindly fueled by human strength—and therefore is powerless.

The South Trip #2: Alabama

14 Aug

After some fun in Nashville, we began on road trip through the very tip of the Southern US by driving into (and then out of) Alabama. If we hadn’t been in a rush to get to our next stop, I think we would have visited this interesting place: the UNCLAIMED BAGGAGE CENTER (link) – I had heard about it from travel blogs and Yelp, but unfortunately it was a little out of the way for us.

It was something like a 2.5 hour drive from where we were in Nashville to Birmingham, which I had visited briefly the year before and knew already where I wanted to eat: Urban Standard.

URBAN STANDARD (link) – I remember really liking the salad I had here on my previous visit, so we stopped by again. The vibe is super cool with a lot of interesting tables/chairs/light fixtures, plus a really vegetarian/vegan friendly menu. Somehow our orders got lost and while it wasn’t that big of a deal, the manager(?) was *super* apologetic and came by numerous times to apologize, update us, bring us free pastries while we waited, and then offered us free drinks too. A nice customer service gesture, definitely. I had a SERIOUSLY AWESOME vegetable gumbo (and a kind of too-spicy mexican hot chocolate cookie), B liked his cubano and strawberry cupcake, and we were on our way.

CHURCH STREET COFFEE & BOOKS (link) – I had visited a different bookstore when I had last come, so this time, drove out a little further (through a really nice residential area) to this cute little neighborhood of Mountain Brook. This cafe/bookstore is pretty small, but they had a really good selection of new/used books (paperback and hardcover) plus an anniversary sale going on (buy any hardcover, get another free or half off – I think?). Ended up buying GIRL ON THE TRAIN since they had it, and I was running low on vacation reading materials. BUT! To be completely honest, I had bookmarked this spot because of their so-called “breakup cookie” – which was huge, rich, chocolatey, and perfect for the drive down to Montgomery. Two thumbs up.

It was another hour and a half or so down to Montgomery, where we took a quick spin around the ALABAMA STATE CAPITOL (link) and the DEXTER AVE KING MEMORIAL BAPTIST CHURCH (link). Would have liked to take a tour at the church, but wasn’t an option the day we were there, plus it started humid drizzling/raining and you know that means we’re sticking near the A/C as much as possible… we also drove by the FIRST WHITE HOUSE OF THE CONFEDERACY (link) which was timely in a strange way, given all the protests around the flag.

And that was it! Not too much more planned in Alabama, and we had wanted to maximize our time in Nashville with friends, and then at our next stop – the seriously to-die-for beautiful Destin, Florida. Even thinking about it makes me want to fly out there right now and soak up the beach…

The South Trip #2: Nashville, Tennessee

14 Aug

On our quest to visit all 50 states, earlier this summer we took five days to visit some friends who had recently moved to Nashville and road trip through a few other nearby Southern states (Alabama, the tip of Florida, Mississippi, and New Orleans, Louisiana).

My interest in Nashville was piqued by ABC’s show starring the amazing Tami Taylor (I mean, Connie Britton) (#texasforever), plus, lots of history (particularly around the music industry). We spent about a day and a half exploring the city so here are some of the highlights… and the things we *didn’t* do but had looked into!

EAT/DRINK
*THE PHARMACY (link) – First meal in Nashville and it was pretty solid. Burgers, fries, lots of beers (and shakes/malts/sodas) on tap, really fun atmosphere with a huge patio – reminds me a lot of Austin. I think it gets crowded — we came at a weird hour (like 3 or 4pm on a Saturday) and no wait to sit at the bar.
*PRINCE’S HOT CHICKEN SHACK (link) – Late night “snack” after watching a show at the Grand Ole Opry. The chicken itself I did not try (vegetarian!) but when they say spicy, they REALLY MEAN IT – so be careful how hot you go! The coleslaw/fries/sides were all great. Note that the neighborhood feels a little sketchy at night, and you have to wait quite a while for your food, so just keep that in mind and don’t be dumb!
*LAS PALETAS GOURMET POPSICLES (link) – Was so looking forward to this, especially given how hot and humid it was while we were there. They have a lot of different kinds, some of which change seasonally. I really liked my plum popsicle, but I heard the +cream ones were better.
*CRACKER BARREL (link) – Our friends really like Cracker Barrel and we had never been, so we went and had a really good meal. The store itself is a lot of fun – SO many distracting toys and contraptions and things to buy (I can probably find something to buy almost anyone as a gift there) and while the wait was pretty long, the food came out pretty quickly and it was yummy – particularly the biscuits.
*SUSHI O SUSHI (link) – For our last meal, wanted to stay close to home so Went to a nearby Japanese (owned by Korean) restaurant (funny how these exist everywhere!). The service was friendly, the food was pretty good (not any better or worse than other Korean-owned-Japanese restaurants we’ve been to). I had a teriyaki veggie plate which was huge but yummy, and I also really liked their miso soup, which is a pretty good barometer of quality.

Places we didn’t get to try…
*HATTIE B’S CHICKEN (link)
*BISCUIT LOVE BRUNCH (link)
*TOOTSIE’S ORCHID LOUNGE (link)
*LOVELESS CAFE (link)

SEE/DO
*GRAND OLE OPRY HOUSE (link) – Even though we’re not really country music fans, I felt like we had to do *something* authentic while in Nashville, and watching a show at the Grand Ole Opry was it. There was a show the night we got in, and once they announced the performers (usually a week before or so), I was happy to see I recognized two names: Clare Bowen who plays Scarlett on the Nashville TV show, and Vince Gill, who married Amy Grant (of CCM fame). The format is really interesting and they covered a large variety of types of country music, and I ended up having a lot of fun. It definitely got more fun as the night went on, and we did some country music Spotifying the rest of the weekend based on the songs/artists we had liked. Would recommend it! (Note: parking is pretty difficult so plan for that)
*THE PARTHENON (link) – Had to see this lifesize replica of the Parthenon… funny because a friend was actually at the real Parthenon at the same time so her pictures showed up on Facebook and … well, this does look similar, if not much newer and cleaner! Mostly took pictures, didn’t bother with the inside/downstairs museum.
*HATCH SHOW PRINT (link) – I thought this was pretty cool, and if we had timed it better, could have done a tour of the actual press/printing operations. We bought a couple of prints for the gallery wall i one day will put up…
*PARNASSUS BOOKS (link) – And can’t skip at least one independent bookstore while in Nashville! There weren’t any author events while we were in town, but really liked the selection (so much good YA!) and actually had a lot of fun reading the press pieces they had put up on the walls about the origin of the bookstore and how significant it was for the city (Ann Pratchett co-founded it when she realized the entire city was going to be without an independent bookstore)
*BLUEBIRD CAFE (link) – Didn’t have time to wait in line for a show (they do first come first serve seating for some of them) so just took a picture – but the Nashville fan inside of me was happy we could stop by! It definitely looks different – more like part of a strip mall — than what I had expected though.

Places we didn’t get to try…
*COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME (link) – Right next to Hatch Show Print, but didn’t make the time… I did hear they had a Taylor Swift exhibit I would have loved to see!
*RYMAN AUDITORIUM (link)
*TENNESSEE STATE CAPITOL (link)
*OLIVE & SINCLAIR CHOCOLATE (link) – Chocolate factory tours!! The timing didn’t work out (they have limited slots) but hear it’s interesting and delicious.
LOGISTICS
*NASHVILLE AIRPORT (BNA) (link) – Love any city that Southwest flies into, and I greatly appreciate when you don’t have to take a shuttle or tram or vehicle of any kind to get to the rental cars – it’s just a covered walkway away.
*HERTZ (link) – Good enough. Not every company will let you do one-way rentals, so I usually book through Costco, then will track via Autoslash to see if I can get a better deal. Ended up with Hertz, and while we didn’t have any problems, they didn’t really have a selection of cars, which is always a nice option

From Nashville, we drove in and through Alabama, so more next!