with Lynne and Leslie
Category Archives: shopping

Buying a dog bag by accident: Or owning the thing you have, no matter what

by SweetMidlife
Yes, it's a dog bag. But it's super cute. and I can work it.

Yes, it’s a dog bag. But it’s super cute. and I can work it.

About a month ago, rummaging through the local Goodwill for winter-type clothing for myself and my kid the day before heading north, out of Florida and into places where they have winter, I ran into the cutest bag. It was pink tweed, very Nancy Reagan at a press conference meets hipster bowling bag. It had a weird long zipper at the top, and some mesh zippered flaps on the side. I couldn’t quite figure out what those were for, but it was big enough to stick my laptop in for the flight, super attractive and easy to carry, and the weird side zippers made it a cinch to stick bottles of Diet Dr. Pepper in, which is totally a problem that needed solving. Totally.

Also, it was like $8. So welcome to the family, New Bag.

I wasn’t the only person to dig my bag – my sister and mother immediately told me how sharp they thought it was, and a few other friends specifically stopped to tell me how much they liked it. It was a very long trip, hanging out with Lynne to help out after her surgery, seeing friends and family when I could, and writing a random story for work when necessary (RIP, Ziggy Stardust), and I found myself shoving a lot of things into the new bag and its weird zippered portions, finding it spacious and easy to fill – there was always another corner to shove things into, and I have never met a bag I couldn’t fill till it looked like a hobo pack.

By the time I got home, I was rather in love with it – not the least of which was because it’s big and huge and easy to find in the crazy thrift store storeroom that is my living room.So a few days later, I grabbed it on the way out the door to go visit a friend for an after-work glass or two of wine. I plopped the bag down on her counter next to the wine and plunked into a chair, noticing her notice it as she walked by to get the corkscrew.

“That your new purse?” she asked.

“Yep!” I said, anticipating the compliments not only on the stylishness of my choice but an opening to brag about the deal I’d gotten.

“You know that’s a dog bag, right?”

No. No I did not know that.

Suddenly, everything made sense – the odd roominess of the purse, that was not actually a purse. The weird, helpful zippers on the side, that I could shove a soda in but that was actually made so that little Fifi and Fluffy could stick their precious head out of. The fact that it was $8, because not everyone needs a dog bag. Or realizes that they bought one, sans dog.

So I wondered – was everyone looking at me weird? Was it like when I walk my kid to daycare and then walk the empty stroller back home with people peering in looking for a baby but seeing a bag of spinach and spaghetti squash and thinking I’m crazy? Did I look dumb? Should I head back to the Goodwill for another non-canine bag?

I don’t know how I looked to others, but I can answer the last one – No, no I am not replacing that bag. Because I like it. Because it’s big and roomy and cute. Because it’s possible to repurpose a thing as another thing because it’s not hurting anyone. And because even if I look a little crazy to other people, I have decided to work my dogless dog bag and let it rock.

Because I can.

Lynne and Leslie Ask Each Other Random Christmas Questions. You Are Welcome.

by SweetMidlife

Merry Christmas from The Sweet Midlife! This has been a year of many ups, and many downs, and we have had a bunch of both in our families. And here we are, at Christmas, determined to have a good holiday not in spite of the losses we have gone through this year, but to savor this holiday BECAUSE we know how precious it is to still have what we do have. We also hold onto the part of the holiday that celebrates the coming of Jesus, and that gives us hope, but even if you don’t celebrate that part, our wish for you is that you find that hope somewhere this season, and find some joy.

Since we can’t be together this Christmas, we, Lynne and Leslie, thought that we would have an online conversation of sorts by asking each other Holiday-themed questions. Let’s see what happens. Leslie answers first.

Leslie being Christmasy.

Leslie being Christmasy.

Lynne asks: “What are you doing tomorrow? Also, Willis, what are you saying?”

Leslie: I am going to a friend’s for dinner and bringing wine. Is it bad when people only want you to bring wine? What are you trying to say, Friend? You’re saying I can’t cook? Boom. I’m making a banana pudding just because and I like it so if you don’t want it I’ll take it. Why am I arguing with myself?

Also…Willis is over your tired question. Since, like, 1979.

Lynne asks: “What is the best Hallmark-y type movie you have watched this year? And was Hayley Duff in it? She is in all the movies. 

Leslie: The only Hayley movie I saw was “His Secret Family,” and it was NOT a Christmas movie. It was a “Girl, background checks! Hello?” movie. Also, when your insane husband who had a secret family says he only needs one family now, he’s coming to kill you. Why are you still in your house? My favorite was “A Baby For Christmas” on Up, because Neil and Drucilla were back together! (Amirite, “Young and the Restless” fans?)

Lynne asks: “Holiday baking question: Why should we believe it’s not butter? Shouldn’t it always be butter?”

Leslie: Butter is the reason I will likely never be vegan. Sorry, cows. I appreciate your service.

Lynne asks: “What was your favorite Christmas memory from our childhood? I can’t wait to hear this.”

Leslie: That time that we didn’t get our tree until Christmas Eve, again, and a family friend said she knew a guy who delivered them door-to-door and I was like “If this tree is fugly we can’t take it back and you’re gonna feel obligated to pay for it and then we have a fugly tree,” but we were all lazy and Daddy was like “I’m not paying for an ugly tree” and sure enough the dude came at like 8 p.m. and it was the Charlie Brown tree’s sicklier cousin. I mean, he was coughing like Satine in “Moulin Rouge!” But we had no more options and we paid for it, because the guy was there and no one wanted to turn it down and seem rude. #getyourtree

Lynne asks: “Snow Miser: Misunderstood Genius over-shadowed by his flashier brother?”

Leslie: Snow Miser is the Jan Brady of Christmas, meaning that he has to discover his own groove. #I’mtoomuch

OK, this is Leslie. Lynne’s turn to answer. Let’s do this.


I always feel like a snowman's watching me... actually, I don't. That would be weird.

I always feel like a snowman’s watching me… actually, I don’t. That would be weird.

Leslie asks: “Do you suppose Rudolph ever snapped because of childhood memories of being bullied and then totally used for his nose-glowing, or just waited till he had tenure and started his own rival delivery service? Cause I would have.”

Lynne: I don’t think he snapped. I think that he held onto that and became famous after writing his memoirs, titled “Turn On Your Noselight: How I Overcame Oppression and Now Run This Reindeer Thing.” The alternate title was “How You Like Me Now, Blitzen?”

Leslie asks: “If last Christmas I gave you my heart, but the very next day you gave it away, how did I get it back to be able to give it to someone special? And how bad of a friend was Andrew Ridgely for poaching George’s girl in that video?”

Lynne: I think the guy she gave it to pawned it so he could buy more short-shorts, because that’s what people wore in Wham! videos. George heard it was at the shop, and got it back. And I can’t hate on Andrew. He wanted something to do afterawhile.

Leslie asks: “Is making “My Favorite Things’ into a holiday song just a naked ode to materialism? And would Maria approve?”

Lynne: It might be. Maria was all about recycling, hence curtain-based playclothes. And you didn’t ask, but I feel like I should shout out to The Baronness. Whattup, Barronness. Oh, what if Maria remade Salt N Pepa’s “I’ll Take Your Man” and sang it to the Baronness and had Gretel as her own Spinderella? Huh? I would buy that record.

Leslie asks: “Where is this Barnes and Noble that Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett hang out, and can you think of any other duo it would be fun to run into while holiday shopping?”

Lynne: I WISH I could run into them, but if they showed up at our B&N, we probably would have missed them because we had to go home because we wouldn’t let the 3 year-old eat all the Starbucks cake pops.

Leslie asks: So what’s your favorite Christmas memory at Casa Streeter?

So many. Ooh, you started it with the Christmas Eve tree procrastination-turned-tradition tales. There was the year we waited so late on Christmas Eve to get our tree from the lot at the parking lot of Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, where the Orioles and Colts used to play, and by the time we got there, the dude who worked there had gone home and left all of the trees there for people to take for free.. And this was before everyone had cell phones, but I remember people on their carphones (Daddy had one!) calling their friends going “Pookie! You better come get you a tree, Yo. It’s free!”

SO, thus concludes Streeter Twin Christmas Convo time. What’s your favorite Christmas memory?






Being a jerk to a ticket agent means ALWAYS having to say “You’re sorry.”

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here.

I bet that lady wished I'd have used the Web site.

I bet that lady wished I’d have used the Web site.

There are many reasons that I, Leslie, mistakenly accused Southwest Airlines, and therefore by extension the nice lady that had the bad luck to answer the phone when I called, of double charging me for the extra points I purchased when that was totally not what happened. They are, in particular order:

– I suck at math.

– It was 5 a.m.

– I suck at math even more at 5 a.m.

– I am not good at complicated transactions, and the two I obviously made were so close together I mistook them for the same one.

– I suck at math, mornings, complicated transactions and being a human being.

The most important reason NOT on this list is anything to do with the nice lady on the phone, or Southwest, or any of the nice flight attendants who make jokes on flights or give you free wine on holidays (or at least did that one time). IT WAS NOT SOUTHWEST’S FAULT. IT WAS MINE. ALL ALL MIIINE.

And so I apologized. Also, I noted that the nice lady I apologized to seemed to be surprised, not because she didn’t deserve an apology (Oh, she so did) but because maybe she doesn’t get them so much even when she does.

Here’s what happened. I bought tickets for one half of a future trip for the toddler and I last week, when I bought and paid for on one specific card. About a week later, also very early in the morning (I have to stop doing that, obviously) I bought a return ticket with points, and then realized ten minutes later that I’d bought it for the wrong date. (Youch). So when I went back in the tickets for the date I really needed cost more, so I purchased more points. There was temporarily something wonky the first time I tried, so I used a different card and it was fine.

This was over the previous holiday weekend, so all of the transactions I’d made over the last week posted at the same time. For some reason – and this is the reasoning of a sleepy mommy checking her balances at 5 a.m. after a long weekend of travel and whining (some mine, some the toddler’s) – I’d either thought that the first purchase had already posted before, or forgotten about it altogether. All I knew is that there were charges, about a dollar apart, of each of the two cards. OH NO. I had been charged twice! For the same transaction, including the one that didn’t go through the first time.

AND THAT WAS NOT GOING TO STAND. THAT AGGRESSION WOULD NOT STAND, MAN. (Yes, I’m quoting The Dude from “The Big Lebowski.” What of it?)

So there I was, mad and feeling hoodwinked, and also still sleepy, on the phone with this nice lady. I admit I was snippy from the get-go, because she corrected me when I told her I was calling about a credit card charge on points travel, that usually doesn’t require it, I snapped “Listen to me. I needed to buy new points. You should listen to me.”

(I was so awful.)

She said that she was, and then I explained what I’d thought happened. She was obviously taken aback, but put me on hold, noting that it was odd that the dollar amounts didn’t match. I was too self-umbraged and full of myself to hear that. While she took a break to do some research, and perhaps to tell everyone sitting around her what a jerk she was talking to, I took the time to go back over my email confirmations of each purchase, which go to an email I son’t usually check everyday anymore. And what do you know? The first transaction, which I took to be the first attempt at buying points that I’d been told didn’t go through but actually did, was really…wait for it…the completely separate purchase of Toddler’s and my tickets completed several days earlier. The second one was the points purchase. Two different purchases. Not the same purchase.

I WAS WRONG. Which I figured out about three seconds before I heard the lady from Southwest coming back on the phone. At this point. I knew that I was mistaken, and that there was no reason to bother this poor woman anymore. Some people would have just hung up hurriedly before she said “Hello,” out of embarrassment and not wanting to face this person I’d been so douchey to.

But that wasn’t right. I can do the right thing. Apparently not as much as I should, but still. So when she came back and started to explain that the one transaction hadn’t gone through yet and, if it was a duplicate, wouldn’t post – still so nice about it! – I cleared my throat and said “Ma’am…I was wrong. I had two different transactions and they posted on the same day because of the holiday, and I had no reason to yell at you. I am so, so sorry.”

“No problem!” she said, sweet but relieved that I was no longer acting like a pre-caffeinated idiot.

I apologized some more and then hung up, and thought about all the times I thought I was right, that I came on the phone with people doing their jobs with a self-righteous and pre-conceived idea of my own rightness. How many times was I mistaken? How many times had I charged in and let someone have it when it wasn’t their fault?

Not many, I hope. But I need to stop being proud of my own Julia Sugarbaker-ing (look it up, kiddies. The olds know what I mean) and always start a conversation with some grace, no matter who’s wrong.

And to say I’m sorry when I’m not right, because I was so, so not.

I Am the Tired Mom In the Grocery Store

by SweetMidlife

It’s Lynne. Hi.

Have you ever seen those really empathetic posts that show up in a lot of Facebook feeds that are titled things like “To the Tired Mom in the Grocery Store”? They are usually prompted by the author seeing some harried mother whose children are crying in the cereal aisle, while the mom looks overwhelmed and slightly embarrassed at the eyes on her, as her kid’s outburst seems to have lowered a disco ball over her head since everybody seems to be looking at her, and judging with their judgy-ness. And the article is always understanding, and offers the compassion that moms and dads sometimes need when the small person they are with is refusing to move from that spot in the toy aisle (and I NEVER realized how many grocery and drugstores had toy aisles until I regularly shop with someone who seems to have those things on GPS locators).

Well, on several recent occasions,  I was that mom. She is me. We are we.

I am tired.

Both times. I should have probably not even have gone to the store. The first time was in the later morning, and too close to naptime, while the second time was too close to bedtime. Both times, there were things that we needed from the store, and since I was already out, it made since to make a quick trip.

I always think that it’s going to be quick. It’s like the people on “Dr. Quinn:Medicine Woman”. Every week they would learn some lesson about not being so close-minded about Native Americans, or women and their book-learning, or whatever, and the next week, they would forget and be just as close-minded. That analogy works for so many things. But anyway, that was me, acting like I had never met my child before and temporarily forgetting what happens when he stays out for too long.

3 is also a weird age for a shopping companion because they are almost too big for the regular carts, and don’t want to sit in them even if they aren’t. And not all stores have the carts that look like cars, or the magical Target toddler carts. So sometimes said 3 year-old will push one of those “Customer-In-Training” mini-carts alongside of you, or they will insist on pushing your cart. And this is what happened on these trips. And they started so well.

Last week, he pushed his cute little cart next to me, and let me put the giant bag of frozen french fries in it. That lasted a step and a half, because it was too heavy. So now he had an empty mini cart to put all kinds of things in. Things on his level that he had to have. BECAUSE. And sometimes he would get so enthralled by the fly swatter display, that he would stop pushing his cart, and when I tried to push both, he yelled “NO!!! IT’S MINE!!” And then he would get moving. And then he would find something else he wanted. And it got later and later.

Guess which things i didn't put in our cart.

Guess which things i didn’t put in our cart.

And I felt bad because I knew he was sleepy, but I also needed him to not act like, well, a jerk. I am not saying that my kid is a jerk. He is a kid. But 3 year-old’s do FANTASTIC jerk impersonations. And people were very, very nice to him, even when he started selecting orchids from the florist section, with me telling him to put things back, because people realized that he was a kid, and that we were both trying. But by the time he walked past like the 4th cupcake display and declared that he NEEDED one,  I raised my voice and said “STOP IT. You don’t need it. LET’S GO”. And this dude looked at me like I was a terrible, terrible mother.

I’m not a terrible mother. And neither are you. We might have that capacity in us. But I doubt that most of us are like that.

Most of us are just tired. And so are your kids. And you have things you have to do that trump the tired right then, and you need to finish up and get the heck out of there. On our nighttime Target trip a few days ago, everything looked like a toy, and my son wanted all of it. All the toys. And I felt like I was walking through molasses. And, right before I literally scooped him up and took him to the checkout counters, he was actually crawling on the floor like he was in a remake of Rambo.

Alex Target Floor

And you get through it. And those moments that you feel like you are on the edge of asking the Giant Food lady to watch your cart and your child while you do stress-relieving laps around the store are really outnumbered by the times that everything is hunky-dory. The crazy moments usually actually go away quickly, and you are back to calm-like behavior. Because 3 year-old’s are usually never really calm.  But hey, mom in grocery store/me/you, I get it. I see you. I will wave at your kid, or give you a reassuring nod, or smile. Because I know. And you know. And it gets better. It does. Go home. Put your kid to bed. Tell them you love them. Close the door gently. Run to the couch. Have a seat. Relax. You are doing a good job. Me too. We got this.

Bookroo sends your kid a monthly literary gift

by SweetMidlife
This is gonna be fun!

This is gonna be fun!

Leslie here! As a writer, and a very early lover of books who with Lynne tortured our Granddaddy into reading “Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?” over and over, it’s important to me that the toddler I live with become a tiny bookworm as well. Story time is a big deal here and now we have an ingenious way to make sure that the shelf is never bare: a service called Bookroo, a kid’s book subscription service. (Disclosure: We signed up for the service and are receiving a discounted fee.)

I was excited about it from the beginning because I’m fan of subscription services, including a clothing service that sends new stuff to my house each month. Even though I pay for it, and know that it’s coming, it’s nice to get a wrapped thing in the mail. The Boy doesn’t have a calendar, doesn’t pay for anything and thinks everything is for him, so when the Bookroo box came to the house with his name on it, I pointed out the label even though he can’t read.

He can, however, open wrapping paper, and that was a whole other adventure (we like adventure – note the above tiny hand excitedly reaching for that delicious rippy stuff.


Once we got all the paper off, we settled into our books for the month, “Hush Little Polar Bear,” by Jeff Mack, “Duck and Goose, 1-2-3” by Tad Hills and “The Pout-Pout Fish” by Deborah Diesen.” Toddler is at the point where he likes the concept of turning the pages, but lacks the patience to sit there and hit every page, so these board books are perfect for him – colorful, tactile and easy to hold.
So far, Toddler kind of read through “Hush Hush Little Polar Bear” once and then moved onto “Duck and Goose” which I thought was adorable. He’s really big on counting right now – sometimes the numbers are even in order! – so being able to point to them on the page was huge. He also knows what a duck looks like, so that was exciting.
But our favorite was “The Pout-Pout Fish,” not only because it’s gorgeous and introduces a lot of colorful sea creatures, all of which Toddler wanted to touch and “Ooh” over, but because the story is so darned charming. The aforementioned fish believes that he’s destined to be pouty and sad, even though the other creatures try to get him to smile. Eventually, Pouty meets someone who turns his frown upside down. It’s a nice reminder that we can always find something to smile about.
I plan to keep the service, which starts at $17.95 a month but you can get a discount of $4 off your order by following this link!

“How’d that get in my cart?”: The joy-ish of shopping with your partner

by SweetMidlife
Sometimes we have too much peanut butter. And sometimes, Husband buys excellent hot sauce.

Sometimes we have too much peanut butter. And sometimes, Husband buys excellent hot sauce.

Greetings. My name is Leslie, and I like grocery shopping. If you read this blog, you might notice that we post about food a lot, not only because we’re in the gym working on our fitness just like Fergie, but because we like food, which is why, unlike Fergie, we need to LIVE in the gym working on our fitness.

In my case I think that my weekly-ish visit to the supermarket and to the cool vegetable market down the street is also a function of my control freak-ism. As a single girl, it was about trying to control what I ate, which translated into what I weighed and, unfortunately, how I felt about myself. But now, I’m the primary meal planner for three people, one of whom likes meat and white pasta, two things I don’t eat, and the other of whom expresses his displeasure by wrinkling up his face or turning his head as the spoon’s headed for his lips, or just says “No” in a Hobbit voice and then runs away to play with blocks.

(It’s up to you to guess which one’s my husband and which one’s the Toddler.)

Anyway,  because we should all be healthy, doing the shopping means that I get to control at least the dinner options of the household (Husband gets lunch at work, and I do buy Toddler’s food for Baby School, but iF a cookie or something gets in there I’m not there to police it, and a cookie isn’t gonna kill him.) (Yeah, I said it. Come at me, bro.)

I also do most of the cooking, and I’m the only one who remembers what got shoved in all the little drawers in the refrigerator or that we ALREADY HAVE PEANUT BUTTER OH MY STARS THERE’S THREE JARS OF UNOPENED STUPID PEANUT BUTTER IN THERE BEHIND THE SALAD WE NEVER ATE AND I DON’T EVEN EAT JIF ONLY YOU DO PLEASE EAT IT OR STOP BUYING STUPID PEANUT BUTTER.

It’s stuff like JifGate that make me kind of territorial about the shopping, and I usually do it by myself, during the day, when I don’t have to worry about Husband dropping duplicate items in the cart or Toddler having a random meltdown when he’s not allowed to reach out and shove everything off the olive oil shelf. (That’s never happened, but I don’t want to be the woman sheepishly asking the store manager about the oily pile of glass in Aisle 7.)

When Husband and I do wind up doing a joint trip, it’s usually during the weekend, when I’ve had time to clip coupons, make a list and check the store ad. I can’t organize my closet but I’m a staunch grocery lister. Go figure. So even if he runs off the rails in the meat or hot sauce aisle, I’ve got what I need and I’ve usually budgeted for the week, so a few odd sauces aren’t gonna kill me. It’s the random tandem midweek jaunts that can test my ability to zig and not zag, and that also test my ability to just shut up sometimes.

Husband and I both worked from home yesterday, and decided to hit the local grocery an hour or so before having to pick Toddler up from Baby School. This was supposed to just be a “shopping for tonight’s dinner” trip – I was making chili – so I had already Terminator-scanned the store from the door. I need ground beef for Husband’s portion, beans and tomatoes and such, a bottle of wine for me (not all to be drunk last night, of course) and yogurt for Toddler and me.

Husband was in line for Powerball tickets for last night’s huge jackpot, and you should not be shocked that we didn’t win, because if I had I would not be still sitting here writing this. (#truth) So I did a workman-like job of rounding the aisles and getting what I needed, and was mostly done when I heard my name and saw Husband making his way across the store with a full hand cart. And I swear the control freak in me started panicking, because he likes buying the same stuff over and over, even if we didn’t use half of it the last time he bought it and it’s still in the fridge hello Jif. But he is also a grown man who contributes to the groceries and it’s not fair to be the Food Cop unless it’s something really unhealthy that humans shouldn’t eat.

“Look what I got!” he said excitedly, offering two cartons of real actual juice without artificial things, which are excellent, fruit, the good burgers for the chili because he didn’t know that I already got meat, but which now form the basis of another meal, because why not buy a few days in advance? We’re here, right? And I felt my control freak shutting up. He did good.

(NOTE: I must also add that Husband’s real superpower is farmer’s markets. He finds the best cool little sauces and spreads, including the fish dip I ate all of, and this boss mango chutney he bought from his “hot sauce guy” at the South Florida Fair. Yes, he has a hot sauce guy he sees annually at the fair, to the point where when he didn’t answer his cell, I knew where to find him.)

There was absolutely nothing unhealthy in that cart, and besides the Soap Opera Digest “for me” that is totally for him and the fancy paper goods he gets, that I never do, because I am cheap, it was an excellent trip. He’s grown folk. Chill out Leslie.

So we get to the checkout, and I start seeing the numbers adding up. I had an arbitrary number in my head, and we were past that before I even put all the stuff on the belt. And I started panicking, not because I didn’t have the money to spend, but because IT WASN’T IN MY PLAN. And it wasn’t even a good plan, because we have to buy for the rest of the weekend sometime, so why not last night? I originally pegged it as a quick trip because of time constraints and because I didn’t have my coupons, but it actually took less time because I had an extra pair of adult hands and no tiny shelf-clearer in the cart. And if Husband is picking his own healthy food, he’s going to eat it. And that’s awesome.

I now have a full fridge, and some yummy, healthy things to eat, and I don’t fear badness in there. The multiple peanut butters? That’s another story.

What to Wear: A Stitch Fix Update or I actually bought some clothes!

by SweetMidlife

striped dress

This is Leslie, and this is me, Spanxless, in a fitting dress. And I only slightly look like the anaconda that ate Jon Voight.

This striped dress came in my second Stitch Fix box yesterday, and I admit to being dubious, especially since only liking one necklace last time and having such great luck actually picking things out last week at Runway Consignment. But the gamble remains the same – last week I had more luck with stuff that was chosen for me, and even though the Stitch folks don’t know me, I was willing to give them a try again.

stitch paper

This box was actually more successful – I’m not sure if the stylists are checking my Pinterest boards, one of which I set up to give them hints of what I like, as was suggested (Cross-promotion is magic!), but it was pretty close.

I liked the necklace you see above but not enough for $28. The pants were great, but I just didn’t feel like spending $78 on them. Great pants are hard to come by so I sort of regret that, but I am convinced that now that I’m familiar with this brand, Liverpool, I can find them cheaper elsewhere. I may be wrong.

There was a devastatingly soft heather zippy cardigan in the box, and I am always drawn to slouchy heather. But I live in Florida, it’s heavy and I don’t need a statement piece of fleece here. If it’s too nice to wear to the gym, I can’t wear it all the time – very seasonal for a season we don’t get. And the slouchy neck top was cute but not special.

However, the dress up top was special. I knew it from the moment I opened the box, and I couldn’t wait to try it on. I was working at the time at home and made myself wait until I finished to play in the box. When I did it was the first thing I threw on, and while it wasn’t great without Spanx, those elastic wonders made it look perfect. The above photo is this morning, au natural, because I wanted to see what it would look like. Not bad. But I’m packing the Spanx in the gym bag. #nocommando

So that’s me for this week. I think I’m gonna keep this for a while and see what happens. What are YOU wearing?

What To Wear: Styling, short skirts and losing 20 pounds in 5 minutes

by SweetMidlife

black skirt

This is Leslie, and I’m still looking for things to wear while losing weight, because staying inside or wearing yoga pants everywhere is not an option, nor is it pretty. A couple of days ago I wrote about my experiments with Gwynnie Bee and Stitch Fix, and how I was hoping to get tips on how to dress the body I currently have, even if I don’t keep the clothes.

The next day I got an email from one Christi Zumft Knight, a Facebook friend and the proprietor of Runway Consignment Boutique, a cozy little West Palm Beach shop. She’s been reading our various shopping and body image posts (SOMEBODY READS THIS BLOG!) and offered to let me come over to the shop and peruse their $10 rack while giving me some styling advice.

Even though I was initially hesitant because a lot of consignment stores have a limited amount of clothes larger than a 10, the offering of styling was intriguing, because it’s somewhere between having things selected by people who know me merely from my size and style profile, like the Stitch Fix folks, and friends and family. My usual go-to stylist is my friend Brittney, who showcases tough love, like the time she talked me into the completely rad gold sequined sweater top I wore to my “The Voice” audition (“Leslie, just try on the top. Seriously. Shut up. Try it on.”) In her absence, Christi’s offer was too good to pass up.

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves, but here’s the  basic take-home: Being able to try on clothes in a non-pressure situation, with someone who kind of knows me and my style (Vaguely executive boho) but knows the tenets of style better, has experience dressing many types of bodies, and just wants to make people look better. She’d pulled some things for me, and I tried on those, along with stuff I pulled from the aforementioned $10 rack, and we mixed and matched until I had a good selection of staples and a few “wow” pieces. Here’s some examples:

1) NOT CLOSE AND NO CIGAR: We started with this pretty gold sweater that I chose, pulling it down way too far over my skirt (the one I wore in) and making me look like a sister wife on Vegas night. Too billowy, too matronly, too no. We move on.

gold sister wife

2) ANCHORS NO-WAY: I enjoy a fun print, and thought that a cute spangly sweater might work. Not this particular one, whose anchor appears to be pointing towards my pooch. My pooch doesn’t need a billboard, thanks.

anchors no way

3) HOT HOT HOT: The first hit was all at once, the most amazing sexy short black skirt and that booby awesome top (See top photo). Christi took one look and said “You have a completely different figure than you did when you walked in here,” which is to say that I came in wearing this big voluminous top that my sister wants me to burn, one that made my look The Huge. The difference made is that this skirt fits me. It is in a size I do not wish to be, but because it fits, it makes me looks skinnier. Isn’t that crazy?

4) DON’T BE AFRAID OF WHITE JEANS: I have never owned white jeans, because they scare me, because I didn’t think I had the butt for them, and because they attract messes. But Christi made me try them on. And she was right. Awesomeness.

white jeans

5) JOIN THE CARAVAN OF LOVE: My wedding had a Palm Beach theme, in which the guys, including my father, wore billowy shirts that reminded me of the Isley Brothers’ “Caravan of Love” video. I may have sung that as my dad  and I walked down the aisle, which I thought was hilarious, because I’m 12. Anyway, this is my homage to that moment. He’s in Heaven going “So who looks like that video now?” Fine. I love it.

caravan of love

6) PRETTY IN PINK…ISN’T SHE?: This might be my favorite, which shouldn’t be surprising as a lifelong pink fan, but is if you consider that in my more zaftig state I usually prefer something be black. But these pieces are slimming, pretty and very Florida. I love.

pink duo

7) LYNNIE SMITH BLACK MAMBAZO: This gorgeous purple dress looked great but it seemed more perfect for someone else. Someone with whom I share a blog and DNA. Enjoy, Boho Lynne.


The ultimate take-home here is that it’s always great to have another set of eyes in the styling game, and to go down a rabbit hole that might be unfamiliar. It’s not gonna kill you to try something new.








Trying stuff out: Gwynnie Bee and Stitch Fix and me

by SweetMidlife

gwynnie dress

Leslie here, trying to find some clothes to wear.

Lynne wrote about Gwynnie Bee before – it’s a clothing rental service for women size 10 and up, where for a set fee they send you a certain number of things at a time, that you can try on and wear, and then send back and get something else, like wearable Netflix. Lynne had some success with it, and because we’re twins and follow each other like lemmings, I tried it too.

It went OK. So far.

Here is how it works – You enter your sizes and such, and then select dresses, pants, shirts and more to be in your closet. Then they send you the next available thing in your closet, and you get more when you send stuff back. The dress above is first thing. As you can see, it’s just there. I have a lot of dresses that need camisoles, because of fit and boobage and it wasn’t special enough to keep. So it’s going back today.

stitch list

The deal with this, and with Stitch Fix, a similar-ish clothes subscription service I am also enrolled in, have some pros and cons, the “pro” being that you are able to try things on in the privacy of your own home before you commit. I have a kid living here and trying on clothes in stores has to happen either with a stroller shoved into a dressing room or in the middle of the day when that kid is in Baby School. And I work and such, so sometimes that does not work. Which is most times.

The difference between Gwynnie and Stitch Fix, besides that Gwynnie is mostly a rental service with the option to buy, is that Gwynnie’s clothes are picked out by you from photos and Stitch Fix’s are chosen by a stylist who has looked at a style profile you’ve filled out and made some choices. I am poor so it’s nice to have a stylist, even if you can’t immediately hand them back to a real person and say “Go get me something else in an hour.” The waiting is the hardest part, and my first Fix was not entirely successful. Everything fit, but I only kept one thing – this gorgeous necklace.

stitch necklace

The sweater was gorgeous as well but I live in Florida and don’t need an expensive sweater. And the two T-shirts they sent were nice, but just tees. I don’t need $40-something tees. I can go to Macy’s and Nordstrom on sale, try them on and pay half that. The jeans were almost purchased, but there was a weird crafty detail down the side that made them too distinctive to wear more than once a week, as jeans are supposed to be worn because JEANS.


I wish there was a quicker turn-around, but until I’m rich enough to get a real stylist, it is what it is.


Black Jewish Chrismukkah Part Two: The tree-ing!

by SweetMidlife

jewish tree

Leslie here!

Here’s a quick one, because we’re in the last lap of our Holidaypalooza – this year kind of snuck up on me, which is ridiculous since no one in the world other than mail carriers and pre-school teachers who do crafts should be more attuned to the holiday schedule than a Features reporter for a newspaper. It’s been non-stop holiday stories and blogs and Tweets and whatnot since Thanksgiving, but when my husband suggested we both take the day off Friday to finish our shopping since it was the last weekend, I was like “No it’s not!….Wait…what?”

So on our trips around the greater South Florida area on the the holiday tip, we ran across the cutest thing – I think it was on “Shark Tank,” a show I am trying to create a fabulous invention just to get onto. Anyway it’s a Hanukkah tree topper, a Star of David instead of a traditional tree star. And it was a no-brainer. We also have the menorah (read of the road to finding it here) so this just adds to it! What do you think? The kid we live with likes it. And if our cat were still alive, she’d vow on her nine lives to get to it and destroy it because it makes us happy. Because annoying the humans is like cat Christmas.

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