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Stitch Fix Review – November’s Men’s Box

It’s that time again, time for a Stitch Fix Review.  I received my November box this week and I was excited to see what new items may enter my wardrobe.  As a reminder, my focus for Stitch Fix is more casual clothes.  My office recently transitioned to a fully casual environment (perish the thought) and after years of building up a business and business-casual closet, I needed some help.  I get all of my dress shirts custom made from a tailor in Hong Kong and they are perfect.  My pants usually come from Banana Republic, but sometimes I’ll get bespoke pants too.

With a much more casual dress code now, I need to revamp my closet.  Enter Stitch Fix.  I’ve been using the service off and on for a few months now, with relative success.  Read more about my previous boxes here and here. My fix arrived this week – let’s jump in, shall we?

Stitch Fix Men's Box

Anticipation and excitement. What’s in the box?

In The Box

  • Fairlane – Ashley Suprima Cotton Dress Shirt – $74
    • Liked the style. Sleeves were too long. Return
  • Fairlane – 24/7 Shirt – $68
    • Again, liked the style, sleeves were perfect, but it was just too form fitting. Return
  • Save the Duck – Giga Hooded Packable Jacket – $148
    • A down alternative puffy coat that actually fit well, and seemed to be a nice late fall jacket. I just bought an equivalent jacket.  Return
  • Ralph Lauren – Washable Merino Wool V-Neck Sweater – $98.50
    • Standard Merino Sweater.  Fit nicely, but the color wasn’t doing it for me. Return
  • Fairlane – Refined Wool Straight Fit Chino – $98.00
    • The lower legs had such a flare, I felt like an extra from a 70s film. Otherwise the fit was perfect.  The fabric wasn’t as fine (it felt very polyester like to me). Return

Initial Impressions

As I opened the paper wrapping, I was excited. The shirts were my style and it’s nice to have a pair of pants that EVERYONE else doesn’t have.  Do you shop at Banana and find that you have the same outfit as your colleagues?  Unfortunately, the fit just wasn’t right on most of these clothes.  If I hadn’t just purchased a new light weight jacket, I’d have kept this one. Timing is everything.

Men's Stitch Fix Box

POW! My fixes for November…hmmmm

The Decision

This month, I decided to return everything.  It’s a fine line between fit and style and I don’t want to compromise on either.  You shouldn’t have to.  That’s the beauty of Stitch Fix, if you don’t like the stuff, you just toss all the clothes into the USPS bag (that already has postage) and give it to your mail carrier. Easy Breezy.  You only bay the $20 styling charge (and there is a way around that too – I’ll tell you the secret next week).

While I didn’t have the greatest results this month, I’m still happy with the service and we’ll see what comes up in December.  If December turns out to be like November, I’ll probably put the service on hold until spring.

Do you use Stitch Fix?  Give me your Stitch Fix Review. Guys – what other services like this do you use and recommend?  Or do you just prefer to walk into your local Banana Republic and grab stuff off the racks?

Flu Shot?

Do you get a flu shot?  No, I’m going to get into the benefits of the flu shot or venture down the anti-vax rabbit hole, either.  When I was younger, I would never get a flu shot.  It wasn’t because I liked the flu, or that I thought vaccines were bad.  I was young and healthy and never really caught the flu. Plus, I don’t like the idea of medication unless absolutely necessary.

That all changed in 2010.  We were planning our trip to Africa and needed quite a few shots before we left.  I visited, as I always do before exotic travel, the Northwestern Travel Clinic.  I was talking with the nurse about all the vaccines and medications I must get: Typhoid, Yellow Fever and a Tetnus Booster.  We also talked about the vaccines I could get: Malaria (not a vaccine, but you get the point) and Rabies.  The doctor didn’t recommend the rabies vaccine as it wouldn’t prevent rabies, but just give you an additional 24 hours to find medical help.  I decided to get the rabies vaccine as we’d be in rural Zimbabwe with very limited hospital and flight options.  Easy enough.

Simple Question – No Answer

She then asked me about the annual flu vaccine.  I told her I wasn’t interested in it at all.  Struggling not to roll her eyes at me, she asked why.  I explained that I’m not a fan of medication and the flu doesn’t really impact me.  She then started spouting off stats on Americans getting rabies in Africa vs the flu at home or while traveling.  She made a good point that I could not refute.  If I’m afraid of a 1-in-300,000,000 chance of rabies vs a 1-in-5 chance of getting the flu.  Logically it made sense to me.

Flu Shot Vaccine Good or Bad

Flu Shot: Annual Tradition or Waste of Time?

It was from that moment on that I would get the flu shot each year.  I have had no ill effects and have only caught the flu once in the past 8 years.  With all the travel we do, anything that can keep the germs on airplanes, hotels and crowded spaces at bay is good in my book.

What are your thoughts on getting the flu shot?  Do you think I was crazy for getting the rabies vaccines too?

My Language Study Plan: September 2018

I really enjoy studying languages and I do think they come a bit easier to me than they do to others.  I’ve studied Spanish in High School for three years, German in College for two years and have been studying French as an adult for a few years now.  I’m not fluent in any of these languages, but when I find myself surrounded by these languages, it starts to click again.  I get re-energized on language study after spending a couple days surrounded by another language.

Part of my language study plan - reading a newspaper

Grabbing Le Monde at the airport is a solid part of my language study plan.

I’ve taken a few months off from my official French Language Study, and I’ve decided to start it up again.  I’m going to take a basic French Literature class in September.  We’ll be reading and discussing Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince.  I’m going to make September my French Language month.

In addition to this class, I’ve got these additional items on my list to push my French brain:

  • Read the entire Le Monde, that I picked up while in Singapore
  • Watch 7 Jour Sur La Planete (a 30 minute world news show in French with French subtitles) each week
  • Use Duolingo four times a week

My goal for September, obviously isn’t to be fluent in the month, but just get back into the swing of things.

Do you set language goals for yourself?  What recommendations do you have for me to make it through September and beyond?

Rosemary Salt – Preserving Fresh Herbs

It is that time of year – our gardens are roaring into full production.  We’ve just started getting our tomatoes, but our peppers have been coming in for a couple of weeks and our eggplant will be ready for harvest by the end of the week.  We’ve had a great crop of fresh herbs for almost two months now.  We can’t use all the fresh herbs that we’ve grown, so we’re doing everything we can to preserve them.  I’ve been making and freezing fresh basil pesto every week now, I’ve also started making flavored salts too.  I made a half cup of rosemary salt this weekend and thought I’d share my simple recipe that is so easily scalable – make a half teaspoon or a cup, it’s the same process.

Here’s what you need to make a tablespoon of rosemary salt:

Rosemary Salt

Another way to preserve fresh herbs

1 Sprigs rosemary, stemmed and roughed chopped
1 tablespoons sea salt

  1. Place the chopped rosemary and salt in a mortar and pestle (I didn’t use the M&P, I just used a knife to chop the salt and rosemary into a finer powder

Finished product – Rosemary Salt

You can use the rosemary salt on anything and everything that could use a little pop of rosemary!  Try it as you roast some vegetables, on steaks or chicken before they hit the grill, or to finish off a salad.  Personally, we love it on pork chops.

Prepped and ready for the grill

Do you make flavored herb salts?  Do you have an easier process?  What are your favorite flavor combinations and how do you use them?

A Peloton Milestone – 200 Rides in the Books

As this post publishes, I’m in the midst of my 200th ride on the Peloton Bike.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Peloton, let me school you.  Some say that Peloton is an exercise bike, which is true, but it is so much more.  Peloton offers live streaming classes at least half a dozen times a day, seven days a week.  Plus there is a library of a few thousand previously recorded live classes on-demand for you to ride whenever you want.  Peloton employs a dozen full time instructors teaching a variety of classes both on and off the bike.  The classes have varying music styles as well as class types (Low Impact, Climb, Tabata, High Intensity Intervals and Power Zone, to name a few).  Between the live and on-demand classes, you can easily find a ride that suits you from a workout style to musical preferences.

Peloton Exercise Bike

The Peloton Bike! A beauty, isn’t she?

Unlike traditional stationary bikes at home, this one feels more engaging as you are actually working out with other people all over the world.  The large tablet screen on the bike includes a leader board that ranks you against other people riding (or who have ridden that same ride) – another level of encouragement.  The tablet also shows about a dozen important stats relating to your ride, including cadence (leg speed), bike resistance, output (a combination of the first two), heart rate, time and others.

There is a strong feeling of community with Peloton.  There are Facebook Groups, Regional/Local Meet Ups, and if you ride frequently enough, you’ll start to see the same people on the Leader Board and you can follow them and keep up with their work outs and even ride together.  It’s more than a traditional stationary bike.

The Peloton bike arrived in May 2017 and we started riding immediately.  Unlike many of the vocal users online, I wasn’t addicted.  Let’s be honest, I’m not an avid “work out guy”.  I hate working out.  When I was younger I could eat anything I wanted and never gain an ounce.  Not so much any more.  That’s why we got the bike.

Fast forward 14 months and I’m crossing my 200th Ride Threshold.  I enjoy riding the bike.  I absolutely feel stronger (both in pure muscle strength and heart and lung capacity).  When I wake up, I don’t have the urge to jump on the bike though.  Once I am on the bike, I do find it encouraging to ride with others.  I will frequently zero in on someone near me on the Leader Board and make sure to push my self hard enough to beat them at the end.  Being competitive on a bike that goes no where in your basement is really easy with the Peloton.

As this posts, I’m actively riding a 90-minute ride with instructor Matt Wilpers.  Matt is by far the most frequent instructor I’ve used (82 of the 200 rides).  He focuses on Power Zone Training (Google it) and that was my main focus for the first portion of my bike ownership.  It’s easy to follow along and it’s based on easy to understand stats and metrics.  I’m a numbers nerd.  I ended up getting a little burned out on this type of training and branched out.

Since I’m a numbers guy, I thought I’d share some graphs that I found interesting.  Yes, Peloton does allow you to grab your ride data and pull it down directly into an excel file for all your numbers nerds out there.

I’ve technically ridden 2,193 miles since getting the bike over 6,915 minutes while burning 102,867 calories.  Does that mean I’ve actually lost about 29 pounds (a pound is about 3,500 calories).  No of course I haven’t.  I’ve actually gained about 8 pounds since I started riding.  I don’t think my eating habits have changed all that much, and my clothes don’t fit all that differently (definitely not tighter), I just know that I’m stronger.  If you are looking for weight loss, you’ll need to really focus on your eating habits. You can’t really exercise away a truly awful diet.

I’m happy with our purchase of the Peloton.  I find myself setting individual goals like: Ride Every Day This Week, Ride 5/10/20 Days Straight, Burn 5,000 Calories This Week, etc.  It keeps me motivated.

Are you a Peloton enthusiast?  If so, follow me – yes, my Pelo Name is TimFoolery, so it’s pretty easy to track me down.  Who are your favorite instructors?  Any advice for keeping me motivated for my next major milestone?  Any other of my stats you’re interested in?