National Margarita Day in Pensacola

I’ll be the first to tell you I am not a margarita connoisseur. Are they tasty? Sure, but my happy hours are usually spent with kids tossing back juice boxes between sports practices. Top shelf is where I hide the Girl Scout cookies.

So it was a little curious when I got an assignment to write about 5 Places to Celebrate National Margarita Day in Pensacola. Never one to turn down a visit to a Mexican restaurant, I did some investigating. All in the name of journalism, or at least tourism blogging, right?! The things I do for you people.

So cheers! Happy National Margarita Day, and always drink responsibly.

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I have not been compensated for this blog post. I occasionally share links to articles I’ve been paid to write. Thanks for reading! 

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Stitch Fix Review – September 2016

Pumpkin spice everything, boots and booties, harvest and halloween decor are all showing up on store shelves and all over the Internet, heralding the arrival of fall. While the season we love so dearly for colorful leaves, festive holidays and college football is officially just a few weeks away, many of us would will it to begin today if we could. I know I would welcome the chance to bring out my fall clothes, although I’m afraid that may not happen for a few more months here in sunny Florida. But a girl can dream, and a girl can ask Stitch Fix for clothing and accessories to help transition her closet into the upcoming season.

My latest Fix was the first I’ve received in a few months. I took a break from the clothing subscription service over the summer, so I was excited when the Stitch Fix box arrived on my doorstep this week. Here’s a look at what I received:

Urban Expressions Zella Satchel

UE Zella

The first item out of the box was this purse. It’s a rich burgundy color, and it comes with an additional strap that can be attached if you want to carry the purse as a shoulder bag. There’s a lot of room inside, which I love. What I didn’t love about it is the vegan leather it’s made of – and the $64 price tag at that. That’s a little steep for pleather. I’m not opposed to eco-conscious materials. I just prefer real leather in a purse. If I changed purses often, I might consider this one. But I don’t, and if I’m going to invest $64, I’d rather splurge and put that toward the real deal when it comes to a handbag.

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Note to self: Update style profile to indicate no pleather.

Verdict: Return

Daniel Rainn Shrewsberry Split Back Blouse

DR Shrewsberry

Next up was a Daniel Rainn top that I’d swear the Stitch Fix algorithm suggested for me due to a string of blue items I’ve purchased from past Fixes. I should write a post just dedicated to all the blue duds I’ve amassed from Stitch Fix. Has anyone else seen this sort of trend in their Fixes?

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I really like the details of this top – the lattice and lace. And I guess I am a sucker for blue after all.

Verdict: Kept

Daniel Rainn Hitchon V Neck Blouse

DR Hitchon

I do like Daniel Rainn tops. This one has a good looking print and a generous fit, but it was completely sheer. It did come with a black cami to go underneath, but I just didn’t love it for me. I’ve written in past notes to my Stitch Fix stylist that I do not want any more sheer tops. Stitch Fix seems to have that market cornered, don’t they? Or maybe it’s just me. Somehow I keep receiving them, so I guess I need to add “I don’t want sheer tops” to my permanent profile note because whenever I forget to mention it in the monthly request, I always get one. Ugh!

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Had I wanted to keep this top, I would have had to contact Customer Service to request an exchange because of a flaw I spotted in the material (shown above). Fortunately, my experiences with Stitch Fix Customer Service have always been positive, and I expect they’d send a new top to me if I’d wanted.

Verdict: Return

Loveapella Jorsana Textured Knit Top

Jorsana

In my note to my stylist, I requested casual knit tops that I can wear when working in my home office or volunteering at my children’s school. I pictured something looser and lighter weight than this top, and I had pinned some examples to my Pinterest board. This doesn’t fit tightly, but it has a more body conscious style, which goes against the preferences I’d noted in my Stitch Fix style profile and my comments in the request to my stylist. Go figure.

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The double layered material also seemed like it would be hot and could easily get snagged by my jewelry or whatever object my youngest daughter happens to be carrying as she runs by me in the house. The sleeves were semi-sheer, too, which is not my favorite look. It’s a shame because the turquoise color is lovely. It could be a great top for someone.

Verdict: Returned

Collective Concepts Ryleigh Pintuck Detail Silk Blouse

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My stylist did include one item in my Fix that I had pinned on Pinterest. It was this classic, black blouse, which would go with so many things. I’d mentioned to the stylist that I had ordered some red jeans and needed coordinating tops, and she suggested this one in her note. I did appreciate that, but what I did not know when I pinned the blouse is that it is 100 percent silk. I was hoping for a more casual fabric for everyday wear – and one that would not require dry cleaning.

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The pintuck details make this an attractive top though, and it would be a nice addition to a traditional office wardrobe.

Verdict: Returned

If you are keeping a tally, I kept one out of the five items in this month’s Fix. The Daniel Rain Shrewsberry top was the winner. Because I’d already paid the $20 styling fee, it was applied to my purchase, bringing this transaction to $44. One day I hope to get a 5/5 fix so I can qualify for the 25 percent discount you get when you keep everything in the box. When I shop for myself, I rarely pay full price. That’s unfortunately the trade-off you make if you only keep a portion of your Fix, but I value this service for its convenience. I definitely think it has upped my style game – if there is such a thing when you are a busy mom!

Styling

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I took a nod from the styling card my Stitch Fix stylist provided and paired the Daniel Rainn Shrewsberry Split Back Blouse with jeans and an olive colored jacket (similar). I pined away for a jacket like this from Stitch Fix last fall, so I was delighted to find the one pictured below on clearance at TJ Maxx this spring. This was a great find! The jeans are NYDJ Barbara Bootcut Jeans from Nordstrom.

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I paired this outfit with my Sole Society ‘Jillian’ d’Orsay Wedges, but you could also opt for a more casual bootie like the TOMS ‘Desert’ Wedge Bootie. I own a similar pair. Did I mention I am ready for fall?

Here’s hoping you get what you want in your fall Fixes!

Want to try Stitch Fix?

I have not been compensated by Stitch Fix for this review. I purchase my own Fixes and all opinions are my own. If you sign up to try the subscription styling service using my referral link, I will receive a small credit toward a future purchase. (Thank you!) If you’ve thought about trying Stitch Fix, don’t let the term ‘subscription’ scare you away, you can order one Fix with no commitment to order more, or receive Fixes as often as you’d like. If this is all brand new to you, I provide more info. about what Stitch Fix is in a previous review post.

And don’t just take my word for it, see what other bloggers have to say about their most recent Fixes from Stitch Fix. We’ve all shared our reviews over on the blog Crazy Together.

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11 Things to Do in Pensacola

Donald Trump brings his presidential campaign to Pensacola tonight, where he’ll hold a rally for supporters at the Pensacola Bay Center. Famous or infamous depending on who you ask, the Donald is set to speak in the evening, which seems a little unusual for a large scale campaign event – if only because other political candidates who’ve visited in recent memory have hosted events much earlier in the day.

My guess is he wants to swing by The Fish House, one of my favorite Pensacola restaurants, for dinner. He should order the Grits a Ya Ya – it’s one of the items on a list of 11 Things You’ve Gotta Do in Pensacola, which I wrote for Visit Florida. You should try these when you come to town, too, even if you don’t arrive in your own custom jet.

If you’re looking for things to do, Pensacola is HUGE.

Palafox and Main

Palafox Street is the central hub of nightlife in Downtown Pensacola. It’s shown here at the intersection of Main St.

 

The Easiest Christmas Cookies Ever

Snowflake sugar cookieAre you feeling the crunch of a long, holiday to-do list like I am? This is the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also one of the busiest. Last weekend, our family crammed in shopping and other errands, a Christmas parade, church, buying/picking out/decorating a Christmas tree, baking cookies for and attending a Mother-Daughter Cookie Swap, not to mention watching the SEC Championship Football Game. All of these things were enjoyable and important to us, but they made for a very full schedule.

When it came time to bake cookies for the Cookie Swap we were attending, I opted for two low-stress recipes. If you’re planning on baking cookies for the holidays, you might want to try them, too.

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First, we made traditional Christmas sugar cookies. It’s become an annual tradition for our family and the girls love to decorate them. Confession: Against every ounce of foodie that I have in my being, I bought pre-made dough this year. The Pillsbury sugar cookie dough that comes in a tube. Sigh.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I must say it actually worked out pretty well. The longer the dough was out of the refrigerator, the easier it was to roll out onto parchment paper, so keep that in mind if you are trying this at home. We used a snow flake cookie cutter I bought a while back for my Frozen-obsessed four-year-old and a heart-shaped cookie cutter, because all of my traditional Christmas cookie cutters were packed away with all the decorations we hadn’t yet brought out of storage. We made a few round cookies, too. Once we baked the cookies according to the package directions, we let them cool. When it was safe to ice them, we used homemade icing (recipe here), plus a few tubes of store-bough accent icing and assorted sprinkles to give them a finished festive look. I love the flavor that almond extract gives to the icing, and the cookies were quite tasty.

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The other cookie recipe we tried, 2-Ingredient Pumpkin Cookies, was Straight Outta Pinterest (can I get that on a T-shirt? There should be one if there isn’t). I try so many Pinterest recipes, and most of them have worked out for me. This one was almost too simple to mess up. It involved a spice cake mix (again, store bought. I don’t even know who I am anymore.) and a single can of pumpkin. I mixed these in the bowl of my stand mixer. Once these ingredients combined, I scooped out spoonfuls onto the cookie pan we were using. I did this with about half of the cookie batter. To the remaining batter, I stirred in semi-sweet chocolate chips before placing spoonfuls on the cookie pan. So we made two variations of this recipe and both baked quickly.

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Meanwhile, I mixed room-temperature butter with a packet that came in the cake mix box to make pumpkin spice icing.  We added dollops of the icing to the top of the cookies without chocolate chips. If you’re looking for a dense, crunchy cookie, these are not the cookies for you, but otherwise they are a good, foolproof option. I liked the ones with chocolate chips the best. And who doesn’t love pumpkin spice?

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So there you have it – two recipes that worked for us during a very busy weekend. The cookies were well received at the Cookie Swap and the few we had left over at home passed the ultimate test – they disappeared quickly.

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At the end of the cookie baking extravaganza, our Elf on the Shelf, Snowball, guarded the oven closely. I think she’d had enough!

What are you baking this Christmas? Do you have any holiday baking traditions? Leave a comment by clicking the link just below the headline of this post.

Also, while typing this blog post, I learned about Food Network’s Bake It Forward campaign. Share a photo of whatever you are baking this season in social media using #BakeItForward and nominate a friend. For each share, Food Network will donate $1 to No Kid Hungry.

 

 

Joining Bloglovin

My blog is now a part of the Bloglovin network. I’ll continue to post here so there is no need to do anything different if you already follow my posts. This is just a new way for others to find Sand in My Minivan, and a way for me to find other blogs and bloggers. Follow my blog with Bloglovin!

Pensacola: Daddies, Daughters, Gators and Seminoles

Kazoo-Pensacola-Blue-WahoosThe Pensacola Blue Wahoos provide one of the Gulf Coast’s best summer entertainment options for families. It’s fun and affordable, with tickets starting around $5. This week the Minor League Baseball team has even more in store for families with two special promotions.

Tuesday, July 22, is the Blue Wahoos’ Daddy Daughter Date Night. Dads can treat their daughters to a pregame princess parade, costume contest, tiaras and bracelets for the little ladies, a princess meal and a “Chase the Prince” game between innings. Plus, the ever popular post-game fireworks!

Wednesday, July 23, is Faith Night at The Bayfront. Florida State University and University of Florida Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks Charlie Ward and Danny Wuerffel will share inspiring testimonies and throw out the ceremonial first pitches.

More information is available at www.bluewahoos.com.