Thursday, February 27, 2014

If fashion is a drug, I've found my dealer...

At the start of the year, while I was conducting my daily media tracking as part of my job, I noticed an online ad in the top corner. An ad for Stitch Fix. The name itself was quite intriguing, so I did what I never do, I clicked on the online ad. The ad brought me to the Stitch Fix website where I was able to learn what exactly this business was. 

Stitch Fix is a monthly subscription box. They seem to be all the rage right now. There is BarkBox (I just received a one-month trial of it for Rocky - Awesome!), there is Bulu Box (ran by my college classmates at Nebraska!) and so many other subscription boxes. The concept is pretty basic -- you pay each month and in return you are sent a box each month with items connected to the box theme, i.e. dog stuff in BarkBox, nutritional items in Bulu Box. It is a great way to try and find new items. 

What I liked discovering in researching Stitch Fix is you don't have to pay/receive a box each month. You can request your Fix as often or as little as you want. That to me is a huge mark in the positive column. Especially since this box focuses on fashion, something that you might not always want or need new items. Eh, who am I kidding, you always want new items but sometimes your bank account says otherwise. 

When you sign up in the Stitch Fix system, you are not automatically signing up to receive a fix. You are just creating your profile so then you can, should you want to, order your fix. To create your profile, you answer quite the in-depth questionnaire about your style, tastes, sizes, etc. You are also encouraged to provide a link to your LinkedIn profile and a specific Pinterest board. They gather mounds of information on you, but it makes sense because they want you to receive a fix that fits who you are. 

Each member receiving a fix has a personal stylist who reads your profile and creates a personalized fix for you. Yes, others are probably getting the same items that you did but everyone is not getting the exact same five things. Again, a positive. 

The cost is $20 for each fix. Pretty reasonable. You do have to pay for whatever items from your fix you keep but the $20 you already paid is credited towards that amount. So the only way you are out money is if you send all five items back, which I just can't comprehend doing. If you choose to keep all five items, you get a 25 percent discount on all the items. When you receive your fix, you then have three days to return the items you don't want. They provide an envelope with postage already paid for the return. 

So, that is the rundown of Stitch Fix. Now, let's get to the good stuff. What I got in my first fix! I received this wonderful note with my fix: 

It made me even more excited to open up the rest of the fix and see everything. Included with that note were these cards providing me with styling suggestions. 

Yes please! I fully admit I lack confidence in putting together looks, so I truly value these cards that came with the pieces I was sent.

The first item is a Riviera Sun Rays Necklace: 

I would have eyed this in a store, potentially touched it but would have never bought it on my own. It isn't that I don't like it, because I actually love it, but it's just different from my basic, simple jewelry and I would have no idea what to wear with it. So the verdict -- KEEP! 

The second item is the Bixby Ladder Print 3/4 sleeve blouse: 

I really like this shirt. It is similar coloring and material to a dress I already own (and love). I probably wouldn't have tried it on in a store without gentle prodding from a salesperson. I tried it on and it was a little too snug in the chest area. I really want to keep it, but it will probably be returned tomorrow.

Size exchanges are extremely rare according to the FAQ on their website, but I did contact them about potentially getting a larger size. We'll have to wait and see. The verdict -- TBD. 

The third item in my fix is the Barcelona Solid Silk Short Sleeve Blouse:

Wow! Pure silk. Very nice. I love the color of the green but am not a fan, at least currently, of sleeveless shirts. They say it is short sleeve but to me, it isn't. I haven't made my final decision on this piece yet. I'm 95 percent likely to return it but want to see if it matches a new green/blue chevron skirt I got from the Limited. Verdict -- TBD but likely to be returned. 

The fourth item is the Claire Polka Dot Swing Skirt: 
Just reading about it in the note I was sent, I couldn't wait to try it on. My stylist mentioned it matched a skirt I had pinned on my Pinterest board. I went back and looked at my board and wow -- I love lots of polka dot items pinned. I obviously love polka dots. And it is a skirt, which I love. I tried it on and it was way too snug. I might try it on again tonight with some super strength spanx. I did ask about exchanging it for a larger size because I love it and don't want to return it. It is a little long for my petite frame but not horribly so. Verdict -- TBD but hopefully will keep. 

The last item in my fix was the Aster Geo Print Belted Tabsleeve Shirtdress:

I love this dress! Even before I tried it on. I already have two other shirt dresses in my closet but those are more "stiff." This is more like an actual shirt that you've turned into a dress. I love how it fits and am excited to try out the styling suggestions I was given. Again, it's an item I probably wouldn't have picked out on my own, maybe after looking at it about a hundred times in the store I'd try it on but that is because I just lack so much confidence in selecting clothes and styling looks for myself. That is probably why I already love Stitch Fix. They are finding me pieces I would probably never select on my own without help but the pieces fit my style and I love them. Stitch Fix is providing me the gentle prodding I tend to need. Verdict -- KEEP! 

So, those are the pieces that were in my first, and certainly not my last, fix. The prices ranged between $30 and $80. Not bad for me and pretty average of what I usually spend. I appreciate how my stylist took into consideration what I said and just seemed to get me. I did ask when I ordered my fix for them to try to find me a small pair of aviator sunglasses because I really want a pair but with my small face, the ones you find in stores tend to cover at least half of my face. I'm a little sad they weren't able to find a pair but I'll survive. 

My overall verdict on Stitch Fix is -- I love it! I have a hunch I'll probably get a fix at least once a quarter if not every other month.

If you are interested in Stitch Fix, please use my referral link below because if you use that, when you have your first fix shipped, I'll receive credit, which I obviously am going to need. :)

And wonderful readers, if you know where I can get some amazing, smaller aviator sunglasses, please let me know. Also, considering I'm at times quite hopeless in regards to fashion, please leave style suggestions below. I love learning from you all!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Seven days later and my jaw is still on the floor

7 days ago I had yet another checkup with my endrocrinologist. I knew we would be drawing blood to test my a1c since we hadn't tested it since October. In October, my a1c was nearly 15. As in danger danger danger!

Full confession -- I haven't been a great diabetic although everyone thinks I am because I play the "fake it until you make it" game. Now though...I think I'm finally making it and not faking it.  

Going into my appointment, I was apprehensive. Not scared but definitely nervous. It had been just over three months since I started on the pump and had been seeing much better control and numbers since I started the pump. But I had a couple bad highs from bad infusion sites, being sick for a week and a threshold suspend of my basal while I slept. I was assuming my a1c would improve but because of those highs it wouldn't improve much. 

I went in with low expectations. I just didn't want to be disappointed in myself which would cause frustration and potentially a relapse to my bad diabetes care management habits. So I set my a1c goal to be single digits. I just wanted to be below 10. Heck, I'd be thrilled about a 9.9. 

At my endrocrinologist's office, they have the technology to get your a1c from a finger poke. Yes, it is more blood than what I use to test my blood sugar but it is still a million times better than going to the lab to have blood drawn from my arm. Every lab I've gone to struggles to find my teeny, tiny vains. The last MRI I had where they had to put something in my veins for coloring, it took them 45 minutes to get the IV in. They even had to page an "IV expert" to come to the lab for help. I kid you not. So anytime I can avoid the lab, I'm quite happy. 

So, they take the blood from my finger and by the time my endrocrinologist comes into the room, they have my a1c.

My endrocrinologist came into the room with a med student, who was actually the GP I've seen the past year. Obviously I had no issues with her staying because she too, like my endro, is absolutely awesome. The endro starts going over the numbers downloaded from my pump and CGM, making observations and then she drops the bombshell on me. 

"You're doing really good. We just need to get your morning sugars down. Oh, and your a1c is 6.8."

Uh, say what?! My response "Serious? No way. Really?" 

And she showed me the paperwork. Holy moly. It read 6.8! And yes, I may have wanted to release a couple tears of happiness at that moment, but I waited until I got to my car...after having to visit the lab for blood work for other tests. Womp womp. I wasted no time in texting my family while I was in the lab since I couldn't call. I then called as I drove to work. I could barely sit still in my car. And yes, I used my bluetooth, hands free option on my phone. 

I completely blew my goal of under 10 out of the water. And my a1c should improve once we get my morning sugars lowered too. 

My jaw is still on the ground from shock. I'm still filled with jubilation. My hard work is paying off and this benefit of having a great a1c makes it worthwhile of having the pump, although I'm still less than thrilled about having stuff attached to me 24/7. Now, I just need to keep up my efforts so my a1c doesn't swing back up.

And in case you were wondering: 
The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes strive for an A1C goal of less than 7%. 
Yep. Seven days later and my jaw is still on the floor. And I'm still bursting with pride. And this is just an incredible, wonderful feeling to have.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

90 days accomplished

Well kids, this afternoon marks 90 days since I attached my insulin pump to me. Seriously? 90 days?! It seems like it has been much, much longer because it just seems natural to have this thing hooked to me. While I remember life before the pump, I can't fathom not sleeping with it. 

My friend made the comment that it seems like just yesterday I got "up and pumping." He is kind of right considering I have years and years ahead of this. Although my pump seems normal to me and it feels like I've had it much longer, I agree, it also seems like I just started. Probably because I'm still learning all of the tricks of the trade and even functions itself on the pump. 

For example, last month I finally learned about and used the temp basal rate. My mind was nearly blown. 

Despite having read all of the training materials, there is so much more to learn from my peers who also pump. Things they've learned along the way. I'm  ready to absorb all the information they have to share with me. 

In the meantime, for someone who was quite apprehensive, scared, worried, stressed and unsure about switching to the pump, it's turning out to be a pretty good decision. There have been some ups and downs with adapting to the changes and as much as I hate having things attached to me, the benefits far outweigh these perceived negatives. 

Wow! 90 days with my pump. Here is to many, many more (although I'd gladly give it up for a cure) days with it. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Throwback Thursday puts life into perspective

Oh hey. It is Thursday. Better known as Throwback Thursday on social media. It is also the first two weeks of February. Those two combined are helping me put things into perspective. 

Let's throw it back for a moment. Remember life way back in the 70s? I don't as I wasn't born yet. Ha! But information from the 70s made its way to the 80s and even into the 90s. It was updated as time went on, but it still moved with time. In the 70s, care for diabetes was nothing like it is now. My understanding is for testing your sugars, you had to pee on a stick (just like we do now for keytones) and you'd know what your sugars had been about an hour and a half earlier. Not too helpful. What we should reflect on though is that the life expectancy of someone with diabetes was to only live into their 30s. 

Damn! I'm in my early 30s. It's a terrorizing thought.

Thankfully, care has improved. Greatly improved. And slowly life expectancy is increasing. I think when I was a teenager I was able to expect to live into my 50s. Not bad. I suppose I should have planned ahead and have my mid-life crisis in my 20s. I neglected to do that. And now, these days, life expectancy is basically what it is for all you lucky people with functioning pancreases. 

I should go celebrate that reminder. Also, if I keep up my efforts to take care of myself, which why wouldn't I, you suckers are stuck with me for a long ass time. HA! :) {I see one of you rolling your eyes at me over there Internet. Quit it. You know the sentence made you smile.}

But how does throwing back to how things used to be work in conjunction with the first 14 days of February to put things into perspective? 

Because even though life expectancy is increasing each year for diabetics, we still need insulin to stay alive. That is what it boils down to. No insulin? Time to find a comfy coffin. Man, I'm being a little morbid. My apologies. 

The perspective comes because I'm extremely fortunate to have access to insulin. I'm fortunate to have insurance that covers my insulin making it affordable for me. Thing is, children around the world lack access to insulin. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the estimated life expectancy of a child with diabetes is less than a year.  

Let that sink in. 

Without insulin, a child with diabetes can expect to live LESS than a year.  

That is less than 365 days. A child. They may never have the opportunity to become a teenager. They may be so young they may never get to learn to read a book. Or go to school. A child. 

The first 14 days of February, there is a campaign going on. It is Spare a Rose. Save a Child. It is a campaign to encourage you to maybe buy one less rose this year for Valentine's Day and donate the five dollars to this campaign. Those five dollars will supply a child with one month of insulin. 

If you don't feel comfortable about shortchanging your significant other one rose for a great cause, fine. Maybe instead bring a sack lunch to work instead of going out and you'll easily save over five dollars, which you can then contribute to this wonderful campaign. 

A child doesn't ask for this disease and it shouldn't be a death sentence because of a lack of access to insulin.

Perspective friends. Absolute perspective. I'm damn lucky. Help a child be lucky. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Cookbook two ... conquered!

I've been slacking on conquering my cookbooks. Blame Pinterest people. Blame Pinterest.

I keeping finding intriguing recipes on Pinterest and then I feel obligated to try them. Just recently I've made taco egg rolls (brilliant!), banana bread waffles (delicious!), apple cinnamon fruit leather (not as great as mom's version), banana bread dip (yum!) and Snicker's seven-layer bars (a hit at the office). I'm sure I made other items too but those are what I can recall as I write this. 

So this weekend, I pulled another cookbook off the shelf to tackle. I grabbed Healthy Calendar Diabetic Cooking. There is an updated version so I grabbed it from the local library to compare recipes. There were quite a few recipes I flagged as possibilities and ultimately, I selected two to attempt -- Pecan Chicken and Tiramisu. 

The hardest part was trying to find ladyfingers for the tiramisu. FYI, Super Walmart and Super Target do not have them. On my third try, the local grocery store had them. Success! 

I made a few adjustments to the tiramisu recipe. Instead of plain vanilla pudding mix, I used French vanilla (both sugar-free). The recipe called for a one ounce box. All the boxes are more than one ounce so I took a risk and just used the entire box. Super Walmart only had original and sugar-free cool whip, not the low fat, so I went with the sugar-free. The recipe calls for a trifle bowl, which makes sense. I had to use a more traditional bowl and ended up not using all 24 ladyfingers.It was an easy recipe to make.

There was no need for adjustments to the pecan chicken. I only made two chicken breasts instead of four though, so I didn't use all of the "breading." This recipe was ridiculously easy and minimal time. 

While you all were enjoying fatty, unhealthy and obviously delicious foods for dinner during the Super Bowl, sat down to taste my diabetic recipes. 

Ta-da! The final product for dinner. (My photography skills were not up to par to do it justice.)
It all smelled delicious. It looked acceptable. The taste...

...was two thumbs up! Both items were really delicious. And filling. The tiramisu isn't as great as what you'd find at an Italian restaurant but it was not a poor stand it. It was just as good as the original so I have absolutely no complaints.

I brought leftovers for lunch the next day. The crust on the chicken wasn't as crispy as it was just out of the oven, but it still tasted good. The tiramisu still made me happy. The best part? I still have an entire bowl of it all to myself. Tiramisu is acceptable for breakfast, yet? 

A side-note if you are one to count carbs, my carb total for my dinner last night was 44g. 19 for the chicken, 19 for the tiramisu and 6 for a serving of dried apples. 

I think I'll keep this cookbook around and not be afraid of the recipes tasting bland. 

***** Tiramisu recipe *****

Serving size 1/2 cup
Carb count 19 grams

1 cup cold water
1 1-ounce package sugar-free vanilla instant pudding mix
1/2 cup powdered sugar
12 ounces light cream cheese
8 ounces fat-free whipped topping
1 cup hot water
2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
24 ladyfingers
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, divided

In a medium bowl, combine cold water vanilla pudding mix and powdered sugar and stir with whisk. Chill 20 minutes.

Add cream cheese to pudding mixture and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Fold in whipped topping.

In a small bowl or mug, mix hit water and coffee granules.

Split ladyfingers in half lengthwise. Arrange 16 ladyfingers halves flat side down in a trifle or large glass bowl. Drizzle ladyfingers with coffee. Spread 1/3 of pudding mixture over the ladyfingers and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cocoa. Repeat layers, ending with cocoa.

Cover and chill 4 hours or longer.

My notes:
-- I used Walmart's French vanilla sugar-free instant pudding mix. It was more than one ounce but I went ahead and used the entire box.
-- Make sure to have the whipped topping thawed before you need it to fold it in.

In the updated version of my cookbook (borrowed it from the library), the recipe was slightly different. Same serving size but only 16 grams if carbs if you make the following changes:
- 7 ounces of light cream cheese and 5 ounces of fat free cream cheese