Stitch Fix #6

It was a beautiful summery day when my newest Stitch Fix made its way to my doorstep. Eager to get packing for my summer vacation I anticipated the box’s arrival. I knew that my stylist would have some cute and trendy summer pieces picked out just for me and she was sure not to disappoint. Here’s a look at my sixth fix:

1. Rinald Front Pocket Blouse (Fun2Fun)

This sleeveless blouse was a perfect cut and style for my wardrobe. It is simple with its nautical anchor pattern and can easily be paired with countless accessories and bottoms. I think this shirt would pair well with last month’s TOMS to bring out a pop of color. Of course I kept this piece.

2. Elda Beaded Drop Earrings (Nakamol)

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These cute earrings were handmade by local Thai artists. Although adorable, I found it hard to pay $38.00 for a pair of simple earrings.

3. Becker V-Neck Blouse (Alice Blue)

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This floral top was super cute and the pattern was a lot of fun, however, this is another piece that I sent back to Stitch Fix. I did so because of the fit of the top. You can’t tell too much because of the angle of the picture, but this shirt was really tight in certain areas and after a little wiggle test it didn’t prove itself as a comfortable piece. As a busy mom-on-the-go comfort is even more important than fashion. So after a quick change this shirt found itself in the return envelope.

4. Pedrine Keyhole Back Top (Renee C)

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This fun navy and orange blouse was another great fit and adorable print. It paired well with the skirt which was also part of the fix. I could see myself wearing this top in many different ways so I kept it!

5. Devon Pleated Mini Skirt (Loveappella)

This skirt is pictured above under the Renee C top.You can’t tell too well from this picture, but the skirt was a bit too large for me. With very little effort it slid up and down my waist. Wearing this skirt in public would cause anxiety because I would constantly be afraid that it would fall down. I’m not sure if the skirt size just ran large or if I may have dropped a pants size because of recent workouts. I’m going to claim the latter even if that isn’t necessarily the case.

Overall, I got a couple of new pieces to add to my vacation suitcase. I look forward to creating fun outfits using my new tops from my sixth Stitch Fix.

If you are unfamiliar with Stitch Fix or are interested in learning more about the details, prices, and additional services check out My First Fix where I outlined the process in depth.

Also, if you are interested in giving Stitch Fix a shot use this link to give me credit for the referral.

Keep it stylish, readers!

The Ameri Brit Mom

*This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation as a result of this post. 

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TBR Summer 2016

Words cannot adequately express how excited I am to make a dent in my To-Be-Read list this summer. I’ve been working my way through a 24 Book Challenge this year and as of late have also fallen in love with The Selection series and plan to intersperse that reading with my book challenge. Here is a look at the next ten books on my TBR list:

  1. A Seperate Peace by John Knowles (currently on page 140/204)
  2. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  3. The One by Kiera Cass
  4. The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling
  5. The Heir by Kiera Cass
  6. Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland
  7. The Crown by Kiera Cass
  8. The Cellar by Natasha Preston
  9. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  10. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

 

Outlining: The Irresistible Novel

Chapter eleven of Gerke’s book, The Irresistible Novel, is a little different than the previous ten. Up to this point each chapter has focused on a principle of writing (like POV, setting, characters, etc.) but chapter eleven is centered more on the discipline of writing. The main statement of debate being, “You must always outline your novel, or it will be doomed.” (Gerke 78)

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Outlining

As always, the statement above has no absolute answer. Each writer has their own style, discipline, and preference. In Gerke’s book he is aiming at helping writers to find their voice by causing them to evaluate important arguments in the art of writing. When it comes to outlining there are those wh0 do (plotters) and those who do not (pantsers.)

A plotter begins the writing process by first planning out major plot points. They may have a detailed outline completed before they ever start page one. They may also choose to outline in a less specific manner using working outlines that change throughout the writing process. A benefit to being a plotter is that the writer has a clear direction to their writing which helps them stay focused throughout the construction of their novel. A drawback to being a plotter is that some writers feel confined to their outline so much that it stifles their creativity. Those who over plan often feel that by the time they sit down to write their book that they have already done so. Many a book has died due to over planning and lack of interest.

A pantser sits down to write page one with no prior outline. Those who prefer this method enjoy following the characters and letting the characters rather than the plot take the lead as they write. They sit down to craft their novel with little to no planning, but the freedom of creativity guides them through the pages. A benefit to being a pantser is that the story truly speaks for itself and there is no need to feel suffocated by plot points drawn up on a map or word document. A drawback to being a pantser is that oftentimes starting a story without a clear direction can make such action obvious to your readers as they sense that the characters are just meandering through the plot.

My Current Project…

I’m sure this is no shocker, but when I sat down to write my first book I had a plan.

I had written a short story that I had fallen in love with. I had a main character, a problem, and somewhat of a solution. I read the short story to my husband and he enjoyed it as well. And from there I decided to expand the tale into novel form. (Little did I know just how long of a process that would be!)

I drafted a working outline on Google Docs. I knew fairly early in the process that I wanted my book to have alternating POV so I planned out the number and organization of chapters accordingly. I didn’t go too in depth because I wanted the book to write itself as much as possible. My first outline was half a page. It included major plot points for each chapter and highlighted the climax and possible resolutions.

The good thing about this being a working outline was that I never felt tied to what I had planned. Countless times throughout the process I added and subtracted from that original plan. I even got halfway through and decided I wanted another character to be more important than I had allowed them to be. All it took was about five minutes reworking the outline to give myself permission to go more in depth with that character.

I liked this process because it kept me focused on the direction of my story. It also kept me from forgetting to tie up loose ends. I was able to embrace creative liberties each time I sat down to write.

I know outlining isn’t for everybody, but if you are anything like me then it will save your sanity and possibly your story if you create at least a bare minimum plan.

Five Minute Friday: Cheer

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is Cheer. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:

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Over the past week and a half I have suffered from a major allergy flare up. Three years ago I began to develop seasonal allergies, but it remained relatively mild until recently. As the weather switched from hot-and-muggy to cool-and-wet and back to hot-and-muggy my sinuses decided to rebel. With the abrupt change of weather my allergies caused me to cough and sneeze uncontrollably. Before long I finally decided to visit the doctor.

A student of mine had been diagnosed with pertussis and after googling symptoms of the nasty disease I convinced myself that the whooping cough was my own prognosis as well. (Curse you, Web MD!)

Last Thursday I was prescribed two medications to keep my allergies at bay, but they were too far gone. As my conditions worsened it became clear to me that not only did I have an allergy flare up but that infections had developed as a result. A few days later I found myself in the urgent care with an ear infection as well as an infection that had developed in my chest. I never knew that allergies could lead to infections, but we will call this a lesson learned.

I’m now on five medications and an albuterol inhaler that I must use every four hours. I had a strep test and a breathing treatment on Tuesday. I’ve been exhausted for over a week partially due to the infections and partially due to the amount of medication I’ve been taking.

But I’m choosing to be cheerful throughout this bout of sickness.

I am cheerful because I began my summer vacation today. I am cheerful because after three pretty rough days I’m starting to clear up and feel a bit better. I am cheerful because I can tell that much of my energy is returning. And I am cheerful because God is still good even when I can’t take a deep breath on my own.

What do you have to be cheerful about today?

The Ameri Brit Mom

Summer Bucket List 2016

The school year has officially come to a close. Each year I’m always astounded by how quickly things wrap up. It seems like only a few days ago that I was trying to learn the names of each of my one hundred sixty students, and now they are on to the tenth grade. 2015-2016 was a fantastic school year for me. I utilized more technology, taught my first honors course, met an author, and built a curriculum map for my courses. Yesterday during the annual kick-ball tournaments I found myself reminiscing about the school year and being thankful for such a great group of students and a job that I enjoy so much.

This morning I finalized grades and packed away my classroom for its summer hibernation. I turned my key for the last time as a fifth year teacher and I welcomed summer 2016. Now I’m ready to embrace family time, sunshine, and all of our travel plans. Here’s a look at some things I’m hoping to accomplish this summer:

1. Travel to Chicago and England

In a couple of weeks we will begin our annual travels to England to visit my husband’s friends and family. This year we are going to drive to Chicago, Illinois to catch our flight. There are a couple of reasons why we chose to depart from Chicago. First, it allowed us to save a couple hundred bucks per ticket to fly from O’Hare as opposed to Columbus. Second, the book that I wrote last year is set in Chicago. I still need to add thousand words or so to the manuscript so I plan to do some research and writing while in Chicago. We will be spending four days in the city and we are still looking for things to fill our itinerary. If you have suggestions, please comment!

Our English adventure this summer will be a month long holiday. Most of our time will be spent in my husband’s hometown of Eastleigh, but we will also be heading to other locations throughout the country. We are so excited to get to England–Costa, a hot mocha better be waiting for me!

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2. Finish Reading a Book Every Other Week

The pace of the school year makes it really hard to put a significant dent in my 24 Book Challenge. I hope to get caught up with where I should be in the challenge by the end of the summer. I may even be able to finish the challenge by August depending on the amount of free time I am afforded.

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3. Wrap Up My Manuscript For My First Book

I finished writing my first book over Christmas break. Since wrapping up that initial draft I’ve realized I’m a couple thousand words short of what many publishers prefer for the genre. I plan to use my extra time in the summer to match the word requirements through research in Chicago, added dialogue, and better execution of major plot points. I’ll keep you updated along the way. I even plan to reach out to all of my blog readers for title, cover, and publisher suggestions.

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4. Picnic At Several Metro Parks

Once my awful allergy flare up clears I am excited to visit several Columbus Metro Parks with friends and family. This will start tomorrow as we have made dinner plans with church friends at the newest Metro Park in the area. Columbus has a wonderful parks system that I will be taking advantage of regularly during these summer months.

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5. Run On Average 20 Miles Per Week

I’m very excited to get back into running shape. Excluding the past few days (since I’ve been battling some infections stemming from allergies) I’ve been able to get back into shape fairly easily. I would like to see myself average twenty miles per week in running throughout the summer. I’m especially excited to run frequently while in England–that’s never happened before! It would also be cool to run a 5k or two this summer. My ultimate goal is to run the Columbus Marathon (half) in October so that will require keeping myself in shape throughout the summer.

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As you look forward to the summer is there anything that you are particularly excited about? Share your goals and plans in the comments 🙂

The Ameri Brit Mom

Book Review: The Elite

The following is a book review by The Ameri Brit Mom. This post expresses the genuine opinion and experiences of The Ameri Brit Mom and is in no way endorsed by authors, publishers, and outside influences.

Title: The Elite

Author: Kiera Cass

Publisher: HarperTeen

Copyright Date: 2013

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The end of the school year is quickly approaching. While I should be working feverishly to wrap up grading and all of the end of the school year activities I’ve found myself instead retreating into the beautifully crafted world of Illea once again. A few weeks ago I finished the book, The Selection, which is the first book in this phenomenal series by Kiera Cass. I’ve never  been one to fall head over heels for a series, but Cass has captured my interest and attention with her characters, setting, and intense plot. So instead of diving into all of the chaos of the end of the year I’m diving into a good series and finding myself relaxed by the familiarity of America Singer.

America was part of the Selection. Prince Maxon of Illea is in need of a bride and the custom of the nation is to host a Selection by which a member of each of the thirty-five  districts represents their caste and their home in the competition for the crown. By the end of the first book America Singer finds herself in the final six of the competition, also known as the Elite. The closer America gets to the finish the more she questions whether she has all it takes to become Illea’s next queen.

In this second installment to the series America is being tested and monitored more than ever before. Challenges are  created to help Maxon make his final decision. He has made it clear to America that he is in love with her, but she slows down the Selection process with her own self-doubt and confusion.

Before her trip to the capital America belonged to a lower caste and gave her heart to Aspen, a boy even worse off as far as castes were concerned. When Aspen re-enters her life he brings their past to the surface and causes even more uncertainty to fall on America’s shoulders. She finds herself caught between the life of a future queen and the life she had promised to Aspen. She finds her heart tangled up in a love triangle.

As the prince senses that things are changing between America and himself he begins to invest more time into the other members of the Selection. He begins to court the other girls leaving America with feelings of betrayal. But isn’t that what she was doing to the prince with Aspen?

At the end of this second book an ultimatum is given and an understanding reached. Will America continue to fight for the crown or will she settle down with Aspen, her first love?

Believe it or not I’ve been hooked by this series. There’s just something about the way that Kiera Cass writes that keeps me so engrossed in her books. I’m planning to finish reading this series throughout the summer. But for now, I should probably grade essays and get through my summer check-out list if I plan to be on summer vacation by the end of the week.

The Ameri Brit Mom