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.

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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!

Kissing in America

3 Jul

KISSING IN AMERICA by Margo Rabb (Amazon) (Goodreads) was so, so, SO much more than I had hoped or expected. It’s probably not even fair to say I had hopes — I don’t remember which list I saw it on or why I decided to request it from the library and even once I had it at home, I put it off because cover didn’t especially draw me in. Thinking back, the “I loved it” blurb from Elizabeth Gilbert was a bit of a “huh” and should have been a tip off that this was something really, really special. So if you didn’t already get the TLDR, the point is: it is EXCELLENT. Highly recommend.

As I’ve done with previous “reviews” (these are definitely not reviews, they’re more like stream-of-consciousness commentaries) of books, below are some of my favorite quotes from the book mashed up with my musings on why I liked this or that so much and how it made me feel.

  • I don’t generally like poetry but the lines and excerpts made me *feel* things, and tempt me to actually go read some. Each section includes a bit of poetry, and each chapter title *feels* like poetry, though most are phrases or prose from that actual chapter. I just can’t emphasize enough how much I am NOT a poetry person, but how by the middle of reading this novel, the poetry really started to affect me… particularly the snippets that Will and Eva started including in their letters to each other.
  • “[My mother] would’ve preferred odd piercings, full-body tattoos, or even shoplifting to what I did. I feel in love with romance novels” (4). HA. Skipping ahead a little bit, I love this explanation for why Eva likes romance novels (and I think it gets at part of why I love reading fiction/YA/contemporary so much too): “I loved romances because when you opened the first page, you knew the story would end well. Your heart wouldn’t be broken. I loved that security, that guaranteed love. Sure, a minor, usually unlikable character might drop dead from typhus or consumption or starve to death in the brig, but bad things were only temporary in these books. By the end, the hero and heroine would be ecstatically in love, enormously happy. / In real life, you never knew the ending. I hated that” (51-52). Me too Eva, me too. And then at the very end of the book (SPOILERS!) — this broke my heart: “It didn’t make sense. I thought: we’re not in a romance novel. The words fell into my head. In a romance novel, if a person said, Sometimes people meet at the wrong time on page 50, then they’d still get married by page 250. They’d still have their happy ending” (335). – Heartbreak.
  • “…sometimes I glance in the window and see them. Girls and their dads doing the tiniest most boring things like sharing chicken wings (and I don’t even like chicken wings), and I watch them through the window, wanting to soak up all this fatherness, this luxurious fatherness they don’t even appreciate. Usually they’re not even talking to their dads, they’re texting or playing a video game in their laps. Don’t they know? I want to shake them. Don’t they know how lucky they are to sit in the KFC with their fathers?” (20) That one shot straight to the heart… a reminder to be thankful, and one of many passages that really raised volumes of empathy and pain on behalf of Eva. And spoiler, but the ugly cries really started flowing during that last conversation between Eva and her mom: Eva: “‘We never talk about him.’ ‘Who?’ ‘Daddy.'” (373) – UGLY CRIES EVERYWHERE. And here’s another one: “My mom said ‘I love you’ every night… like an item on a to-do list. My dad used to say it with a soft voice and a kiss to the head, and I told my mom that once: ‘Daddy said I love you differently.’ She looked stricken. She told me she had a headache and she went to bed.” (25) While I felt for Eva, I actually also empathized a lot with her mom… who really sucked at dealing with her grief from her daughter’s perspective, but clearly also had a lot of issues and Margo (can I just call her Margo? the author) built her character with her a lot of layers and complexity, like a real person, to the point where I sympathized with her. Who am I to judge this woman for how the loss of the love of her life breaks and shatters her? Who’s to say I’d do any better?
  • On a lighter note: the nicknames that Annie and Eva and Will come up with for the stuff and adults in their life are hilarious — Jerkface for Will’s dad, Benign Fungus for Larry, even Crapphone for her not-smartphone cellphone… maybe to some it’s cheesy, but to me, it seems authenticly teenager.
  • I love Annie! I love that she’s quirky and a genius and most of all that she’s a REAL, steadfast friend… who is in some ways an Asian stereotype genius daughter, but also one who has to deal with the embarrassment of her family’s humble beginnings and her sisters NOT being the typical Asian AP kids. She’s also a SUPER straight talker–when Eva drafts a text message and hems and haws about the wording, Annie says: “Send it or I’m going to kill you” (69) – what a friend! And then even in the more serious times, the best friends are the ones that even when you mess up, they’ll be there. “I lay next to her on the bed. We were quiet for a long time as we stared at the ceiling, just as we had all over the country. There’s a thing in poetry called the caesura–a pause between words, a silence. I thought: That’s what real friendship is, too. Someone you can be quiet with. Someone who understands your mistakes and forgives you” (365).
  • I had no idea this would be a road trip story and I LOVEEEEE road trip stories! (Shout out to Morgan Matson, who writes the best road trip stories). While not necessarily the point or focus, you can see how each stop (and getting out of their hometown) opens their eyes and brings on new revelations.
  • Larry, while the Benign Fungus (snicker), was surprisingly insightful about all of their worries about leaving New York: “Some people would think it’s odd that New Yorkers are this worried about leaving the city. Most people are afraid when they come to New York City” (135). And you know what, as a potential stepfather character, he seemed pretty harmless and, well, yes, benign.
  • Aunt Jackie, oh what a fun character too! How she handled her fiance cheating on her at age 28: “Janet got a partial refund on the reception hall and the caterer, and she returned all the gifts. The dress was not returnable. It had been shredded and sent to Sam in a cardboard box.” (155) and how she started showing the girls gonorrhea pictures, I seriously spit out laughing. Annie’s response: “I’m staying a virgin until I die. Did you see that eyeball?” (160). But, I also love that even as a teen, Eva can read her aunt: “…it occurred to me that Janet was afraid. She was afraid of germs and diseases and sex and heartbreak, of her broken engagement, her old messy love.” (162) and even this: “I often thought Janet would be happy if she could round up all boys and men and corral them into a man zoo, where they’d be caged, allowed a few visitors, and have scraps of meat flung at them every few hours” (228) HA.
  • First of all, cowboy romances sound hilariously awesome. Second of all, real life cowboys and ranch living sounds even more awesome — like when Janet asks about an alarm system on the ranch, “Irma pointed across the hallway railing toward the open living room, at the shotgun hanging above the fireplace” (223) – heehee, wild wild west.
    *The depiction of adult romance thru Eva’s mom and Larry, and Larry’s mom and her series of husbands, and even Will’s parents struggles… they were so refreshingly REAL and sometimes uncomfortably so, but in a way that felt authentic.
  • Amen to Lulu’s response to Annie’s question: “‘Is there any problem that can’t be solved with a book?’ ‘Nope,’ Lulu said, and smiled.” (279)
  • And last but not least, Will. Spoilers! I didn’t love him (you could tell he was kind of flighty, despite mostly being a good guy) but I mostly love him as a device for Eva to grow and feel and realize the differences between real life and her beloved romance novels. He was ultimately a catalyst, setting in motion so, so much more for her.