Friday, February 27, 2015

Kitten Season Is Coming! #FoodShelterLove

This post is sponsored by Hill’s. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s® Food, Shelter, & Love Program, but Straight On Till Morning only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.

Spring is on its way, which means warmer weather (thank goodness!) and... KITTENS! Yup, spring is definitely kitten season at animal shelters, which often go from average to overflowing in a matter of weeks! The sudden flood of kittens that comes around March not only means that shelters might need a hand fostering some kittens, but also that older cats up for adoption are way more likely to be overlooked in favor of the irresistible little furballs in the next cage!

Did you know that Hill's has a program called Hill's Food, Shelter & Love ™ that helps out shelter animals 365 days a year through donations of awesome high quality pet food? So far they've donated over $275 million wort of food to over 800 shelters across the country! How cool is that? We can all do something to help out, though - anything you can do to help your shelter during this super busy season will make a big difference!

How can you help out your local shelter during kitten season?

  • Consider fostering! If you're an animal lover but not ready to adopt right now, fostering kittens is a fantastic way to help out! You free up some space at the shelter for a few weeks, the mother cat and kittens get extra attention (which will make them friendlier and thus more adoptable!) and a quieter environment to keep the momma cat less stressed, and you get the fun of hanging out with cute kittens for a while! It's a win-win-win! Fostering is also a great time to get the kittens off to the  best possible start in life by providing them with high quality nutrition, like Hill's Science Diet Kitten Healthy Development Food! (Want to learn more about kitten nutrition? Hill's has a great article here!)

  • Volunteer at your local shelter! Most animal shelters can always use an extra hand with caring for the animals, including things like playing with kittens to get them used to being around people. (Tough job, someone's gotta do it!) I spent some time volunteering at a nearby shelter taking photos of the cats up for adoption so that they could be posted online. It was a lot of fun, since I got to hang out with some awesome cats and make notes about their personalities to give those searching online for a new feline friend a better idea of what they were like!
  • Short on time? Shelters definitely appreciate donations of supplies, especially during kitten season! Beyond obvious things like food and litter, they can also use things like your old, clean blankets and towels to provide the kitties with a cozy place to snuggle up! 

I can't believe that it's already been over six years since I found Jasper at an event a shelter was having at the pet store I stopped at one day with no intention of leaving with a kitten! I will never forget how when I took him aside to play and get to know each other, and I pulled a pen out of my purse to wiggle around for him to play with since I forgot to grab a toy, he pounced on it like a boss, but then when I commented "Oh, you're so fierce! Grrrr!", the growly noise scared him and he ran to try to hide! How could I not fall in love instantly? We've been best buds ever since! (He's asleep at my feet as I'm writing this!)

It's hard to believe he was ever so little!

He got better at that whole "hunting" thing eventually.

Still BFF's all these years later! (And yes, he likes to wear a coat sometimes in the winter. He can't help being super stylish.)

Have you ever adopted a pet from a shelter, fostered shelter pets, or volunteered? I'd love to hear your stories! 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

10 Things on Tuesday - Volume 32

1. These last few weeks have been weird but not that exciting. Still waiting on $ from insurance to replace my car with (I didn't have the lien release from when I paid it off, so THAT delayed things a week.) Still too icky of weather to get out, anyway. I miss you, outside world!

2. Tomorrow night is the season finale of How To Get Away With Murder, and I'm SO EXCITED! I really hope it gets another season, but I guess they would need a new mystery?

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3. These socks, y'all. I got the 4-pack for $3 back when I was ordering cat food online while snowed in. LOOK AT THAT AMAZING YETI. I don't even care that there are 10 months until Christmas, I am wearing these.

4. I have been stuck at like 3 things all day, so here is Barney synched to Straight Outta Compton. (Lyrics obviously NSFW.)

5. I also found this video this week (as you probably saw if you follow me on any kind of social media) and it's my new favorite thing EVER.

6. Have I mentioned that car shopping is the ABSOLUTE WORST? It's like online dating, but you have to marry someone after the first date. What if I buy a car this weekend and then something 100x better comes up for sale next week? STRESSFUL!

7. I just remembered that I have a 5-pack of Cadbury eggs, so my blogging experience just got a whole lot better.

8. I think? I might finally be getting over my epic 2 week Cold of Doom? Not having cold medicine for most of it was ZERO FUN.

9. My sister is supposed to take me car shopping this Saturday, so of course they are forecasting more freezing rain. Apparently I never get to leave my house again.

10. Oh! Did I mention that they sent me everything from my car (including the bag of clothes to donate to charity that I said they didn't need to send), but were magically somehow unable to find my iPod? But did send the charger it was plugged into? Life's funny, isn't it?

So there's this week's incredibly random 10 things! I have several "real" posts in the works, so stay tuned for something less nonsensical!

Monday, February 23, 2015

LEGO Justice League vs. Bizarro League Blu-Ray Giveaway! Woohoo! (US, ends 3/5)

If you watched the Oscars last night, you probably caught the "Everything is Awesome!" performance of the song from the Lego movie, so it's pretty cool that today I get to give one of you guys a LEGO Justice League vs. Bizarro League Blu-Ray, which includes a LEGO Batzarro mini figure! WOOHOO!

I haven't had the chance to see this yet, but the description sounds pretty rad! Check it out:
Batman has joined the newly formed Justice League in order to keep tabs on Superman, a mistrust that is complicated by Superman’s clumsy – but well-meaning – clone, Bizarro. Bizarro’s creation of the Bizarro League has caused confusion amongst the world’s greatest Super Heroes, but an even greater and mysterious threat may force the Justice League and Bizarro League to band together to defeat evil.
They even put together this fun little app where you can find out what your Bizarro name is! (Mine's Crystal-tastic-zarro-blaster, which is totally what I'll be using when Starbucks asks my name from now on.)

Enter to win your own copy on Blu-Ray with the Rafflecopter widget below! This giveaway is open to the US and Canada, and will end at 11:59 pm on 3/5. Good luck!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Oscars Red Carpet Fashion Highlights!

Between award season and Fashion Week, I'm pretty much on fashion overload, but I couldn't resist a quick post about my Oscars red carpet fashion highs and lows!

This Elie Saab gown is a color almost no one can pull off, but Emma Stone looks fantastic.

I remember really liking this Valentino collection on the runway, but this dress is just not working for Kiera.

Loved ScarJo's teal Atelier Versace gown! (It looked teal on TV, anyway, looks green here?)

Said it on Twitter and I'll say it again here - a big pink flowery thing on your dress is not the best idea when you're currently in the news for suggesting that women steam clean their vaginas.

I like this simple Cate Blanchette look because it kinda reminds me of Notorius RBG at the SOTU:


It doesn't look as good in photo as in video, but I loved Naomi Watts's Armani Prive gown. (They also made that awesome sparkly gown Anne Hathaway rocked a few years ago!)

Love the front of Laura Dern's Alberta Ferretti dress, haaaate the cheap looking silver train in the back.

David Oyelowo's dark red suit was my favorite male fashion of the night!

Gotta admit, JLo pulled off the billowy beige gown thing way better than Kiera or Oprah did.

Georgina Chapman is perfection. The designer of her dress wasn't listed, but uhhh, I'm gonna go ahead and assume it's Marchesa??

And finally, I have to post this image of Anna Wintour because when I first saw it, I nearly had a heart attack and died thinking that she changed her hair. But nope, that's just someone walking behind her at the worst possible moment. WHEW!

What were your favorites? Did I miss mentioning anything notweorthy here?

Friday, February 13, 2015

February Stitch Fix Review!

It's Stitch Fix review time! I've you've missed my past reviews, Stitch Fix is a subscription service where you get a personal stylist who learns about what you like (via a style profile and other info you give them), picks 5 items they think you'll love and sends them over in exchange for a $20 styling fee. You keep what you like, send back the rest in the prepaid envelope, and that $20 is deducted from the cost of anything you do keep. Want to sign up and try it out? Using my link will take you there, and if you do place an order I'll get a $25 account credit that will be a huge help towards my future orders! (Also, I'll think you're really neat.)

First, I have to mention that Stitch Fix's customer service was awesome - this shipment came while I was stuck in St. Louis after my car accident, so I emailed them that I probably wouldn't make it home for a few days and therefore would probably miss the 3 day deadline for mailing things back. They responded ASAP and told me not to worry about it. Whew!

As far as requests, I mentioned in my note to my stylist that I had some fun Valentine's Day plans coming up and that I'd love a cute red dress or top that would fit the theme. I also asked that my items be kept at around $50 max if possible, 'cause freelance writers are poor. (Or at least this one is!)

I got the same stylist who put together my fantastic January Fix, which was great since she already had some experience with my likes and dislikes, but unfortunately I didn't love this month's selections quite as much.

One last note - Sorry I'm totally headless in these pics. I've been sick pretty much ever since I got home from St. Louis, and just plain could not deal with trying to look cute for photos.

Ready to see what I got?

Honey Punch Layla Striped Elbow Patch Detail Cardigan in Grey - $48

Stitch Fix Honey Punch Layla Striped Elbow Patch Detail Cardigan in GreyHoney Punch Layla Striped Elbow Patch Detail Cardigan in Grey

I've pinned several elbow patch cardigans lately, and have actually been on a hunt for the perfect brown or grey cardigan or sweater with elbow patches for a few months. I even bought a suede skirt at a thrift shop so that if I come across a great plain sweater, I can DIY some elbow patches myself from the skirt fabric!

Sadly, despite the overall awesomeness of elbow patches, this wasn't quite me. The grey and white stripes weren't doing it for me - I think that if this had been a solid navy or charcoal, I would have found it more appealing and easier to pair with other tops. Also, as you can sort of see here, the stripes don't match up correctly on the sides - pattern matching is important, manufacturers!

non-matchy stripes
This is the kind of item that I would probably grab if I found it for like $12 on the clearance racks at Target, but it just wasn't awesome enough for the almost $50 price tag.

Pink Martini Moises Colorblock Sleeveless Dress in Grey - $48

Stitch Fix Pink Martini Moises Colorblock Sleeveless Dress in Grey

I basically had a near death experience trying this dress on until I figured out that there was a side zipper. Thank goodness for that, or I'd probably *still* be stuck in it- there was no way that waistband was going to come anywhere close to fitting over my chest! (I also poked myself in the eyelid with the tags during the struggle. Traumatic stuff!)

This dress seems to be having a bit of an identity crisis. The lower half is a gorgeous semi-structured red skirt that would be perfect for Valentine's Day shenanigans if it was paired with something else. The top half, however, is a very thin, very stretchy light grey fabric that just wasn't working for me. (You can definitely see the lace of my bra in the pic - eep!) I think that if the top portion had been made of different fabric, this could have been great. I tried putting other tops and cardigans on with the dress, but nothing looked quite right. So close, which is a total bummer since at $48 this dress would have been perfectly within budget. But nope. I really wish that my stylist had sent more than one dress so that I would have had at least one other option! (The fact that I need to get a new car means that my Valentine's plans have been delayed a week anyway, so at least I still have time to shop for a dress!)

Brixon Ivy Jarred Lace Detail Cap Sleeve Blouse in Cobalt - $68

How freaking gorgeous is this cobalt color? And the lace? So pretty. I can definitely see how you could pair this with a fantastic skirt or maybe black skinny jeans for a super cute date night outfit.

However... as I learned from last month's equally gorgeous blue lace top, blousey style tops just do NOT work on my body type. Let's be real here - my boobs stick out a good 5" from the rest of my frame (I haven't exactly measured, but....) so when a top has fabric that just hangs straight down from the outermost point, I lose my shape entirely. So as gorgeous as the details on this blouse are, the shape just didn't flatter my body type at all.

Also, I would have been terrified to wear this often, because cats + delicate lace = disaster. I noticed a few spots where threads had already frayed before I even tried it on, so it seems like keeping it in great condition would be a struggle. Again, super sad!

And one of the biggest factors in returning this - I genuinely can not imagine a scenario where I would pay almost $70 for a top, and I'm trying really hard to come up with one. Even if it was the most awesome, most perfect-fitting top ever, I still probably wouldn't be able to talk myself into dropping $70 on it. This is why I included the note that I hoped my stylist could keep items at around $50 max - I want stuff that there's a good chance I'll actually keep!

Market and Spruce Memphis Lace Overlay Knit Shirt in Grey - $58

Market and Spruce Memphis Lace Overlay Knit Shirt in Grey

 Another top with stunning lace detail! Plus, the fabric is super soft and cozy, and the fit is great.

Stitch Fix Market and Spruce Memphis Lace Overlay Knit Shirt in Grey

This is definitely the item that I came closest to keeping, since I can see working it into my wardrobe on a pretty regular basis, it's versatile, and you could easily dress it up or down. If it had been in a different color, I think I would have seriously considered it, but the grey just didn't feel special enough for me to convince me to spend almost $60 on a fancy t-shirt. I am, however, now planning to see if I can find some similarly beautiful lace at a fabric shop so I can make my own version of this.

Stitch Fix Market and Spruce Memphis Lace Overlay Knit Shirt
The grey lace would have looked awesome over another color!

And as I mentioned on the blouse before this, even though the lace is super pretty to look at, I'd be worried about snagging it on something and keeping it looking new. Those two factors meant ultimately deciding to send this one back.

Pixley Messi Lattice Neckline Knit Top in Black - $68

Pixley Messi Lattice Neckline Knit Top in Black

Okay, the cool lattice design around the neck is obviously pretty freaking cool. But as I mentioned above....

Yeah, not flattering on my shape at all. The busty girl struggle is real, y'all. I love the idea of the lattice neckline, but wow do I need something that either is cut differently or made of a type of fabric that will dip back towards my body below the bust.

I keep forgetting to post pics of my style cards in my reviews, but I think it's awesome that they offer suggestions on how to wear the items you receive, so here's a look at this month's!

I haven't scheduled my next Stitch Fix yet - I want to wait until after I buy my new car (hopefully next week! Yay!) to see what my financial situation looks like. Definitely hoping that next month goes better!

Want more? You can find my past Stitch Fix reviews here!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

10 Things on Tuesday - Carmageddon Edition!

Rather than writing out the story of my crazy last week, I'm going to do it in listy form because hey, why not?

1. It sounded like such a great plan. Drive a few hours up to St Louis on Weds, check out the awesome River City Casino Hotel who was putting me up for the night, do a little sightseeing, hang out with a friend that would be in the area who I've been trying to meet up with for like 6 months, generally enjoy getting away from home for a little bit, and then drive back the next afternoon.

Spoiler alert: Things did not go according to plan.

2. I left home around 1 pm on Weds, because the weather said that St. Louis might get some light snow that night so I wanted to get all settled before dark. I wasn't that worried though - weather forecasts always seem to over-estimate, so I figured that "light snow, possible accumulation less than an inch" probably meant a few flurries, no big deal.

3. First half of trip was totally chill. It's basically 200 miles on the same interstate after I hit Springfield, so usually the trip is a good opportunity to rock out to embarrassing music, eat deliciously gross gas station food and generally get lost in thought. That's what happened until about the halfway point when freezy mist started sticking to my windshield, and then (even worse) my windshield wipers! My wipers got all coated in ice which totally interferes with the whole "wiping" thing and instead just makes them make a sort of awful scraping noise.

Yeeeah, that's ice on my windshield. 

I had to pull over three times within about an hour to de-ice my wipers and windshield, but eventually I made it out of that ickyness and things were clear again. Mentally patted myself on the back for getting through the slightly worrisome conditions, celebrated what would surely be smooth sailing for the last 50-ish miles. Whew, right?

4. WRONG, obviously. On the outskirts of St. Louis, it started snowing. Traffic wasn't really affected, it was just that sort of fluffy dry snow that blows around. The only time it was a problem was when a big truck would pass me and kick a bunch of it up into the air, making a big snow cloud. Pretty, but akin to driving in heavy fog for a few seconds.

The thing about that delicate little layer of snow is that while it is no big deal on its own, it was coating the road and covered up spots where ice had formed. Don't worry, I found one anyway.

5. Have you ever paid much attention to those big concrete dividing walls that run between the lanes of some big highways and interstates? Me either. At least, not until my car was heading straight into one. The pic above isn't the exact place that my accident happened (I'm not even sure where it was other than the name of the city), but pretty close. Everything was fine, and then I noticed the car in front of me skid just a tiny bit, and before I even had time to finish the thought "Oh, it might be slick there..." my car was fishtailing to the left, then right, and then doing a fancy spinny thing and crashing into that wall. Then it spun around a bit more and hit the wall again, just for good measure. I was probably going about 50 mph by the time I hit. 

6. So, there I was, just hanging out in the fast lane of the interstate, facing the wrong way into oncoming traffic. NBD. I instantly tried to pull my car over to the other side of the road before anyone could hit me, but it wouldn't move. Craaaaaap. I dialed 911 really fast and by the time I managed to shriek "I just wrecked my car on I-44 and omg I think this truck is about to hit me!" a police car was pulling up. And the giant pickup that I thought was about to hit me actually stopped a few feet away and blocked anyone *else* from hitting me. Thanks, truck dude.

7. I honestly don't remember that much from what happened next because lets be honest here you guys, I was freaking the you know what out. I know that when the police officer opened my passenger door to check on me, I was like "I hit the wall and I can't get my car to move!", and he kind of glanced at it and said "Yeeeah, it's not going to move." Oh. 

8. An ambulance showed up within a couple of minutes to check me out, and I have no idea how, given that I just slammed into a giant concrete wall going 50-ish mph in a convertible, but I'm pretty okay. I was shaking like crazy and I told the (omg super cute) paramedic that I have panic attacks so I was basically just trying to keep breathing. I was actually weirdly happy that I couldn't stop shaking - trembling after a traumatic event is your body's way of releasing adrenaline. If it doesn't do that, you can have some not so awesome side effects later. 

There was another accident just up the road involving two tractor trailers, so the ambulance dudes were pretty quick to let me go so they could move on to help out there, which I was totally fine with other than how very adorable that one EMT was. I made friends with the police officer's K9 partner in his car until the tow truck showed up. 

9. At some point while I was in the ambulance or police car or something, I was smart enough to email the lady I'd been in contact with about blogging about the hotel, and she instantly went into superhero mode. She not only called to make sure I was okay, but first tried to send one of the hotel's shuttle buses to come get me, and when that wasn't available arranged for a taxi to pick me up at the McDonalds where the tow truck driver agreed to drop me off (near their garage), which was almost 20 miles from my hotel. Given that this was just supposed to be a quick overnight trip, I definitely hadn't budgeted for a $60+ taxi expense, so I can not even begin to tell you guys how grateful I am that the casino covered that for me, not to mention the fact that I was definitely not thinking super clearly at the time so it was priceless to have someone step in to take care of me and make sure I got there safely. (I'll be writing about my hotel stay soon!)

I finally made it to the hotel, still got to meet my friend for drinks later that night (he was awesome enough to come to the hotel bar since I clearly had no way to go anywhere else!), and then as I was pretty much expecting, woke up super sick the next day. You guys might remember that my body does this super charming thing where major stress = about 24 hrs of vomiting. Luckily I had one of the pills from my last ER trip with me, so that knocked out the worst of the stomach-y stuff and I spent most of the day sleeping with a wet washcloth on my head to keep cool. It was a miserable 12-ish hours, but I finally started feeling better around 8 or 9 that evening. 

10. This is #10, so I should sort of sum up and bring us up to the present, huh? I think I'll do a separate post about my St Louis shenanigans, because I did actually get to have a little bit of fun while I was stuck there. I made it home on Saturday and just got a quote from my insurance today about how much $ they'll be sending me to buy a new car with. That police officer wasn't kidding when he said my car wasn't going to move - I had a totally broken back wheel (or wheel axle? Whatever, my wheel was at a freaky angle). I couldn't bear to look too closely at the damage to my car as I was leaving it, but I know that my driver's side door wouldn't open (had to crawl out the other side), the hood was dented in, and there were some various other bumps and scrapes. I'm guessing from the damage that the back passenger side wheel is what hit the wall first, which is freaking lucky since that's about as far away as you can get from where I was sitting. Anyway, as much as I love my car and am sad to see it go after all of the adventures we've survived together, it was a 2004 so the cost to repair it would have been more than it was worth, thus the insurance check and car shopping.

Want to end this post on a super freaky note? I did a search last night for 2004 Mustang convertibles within 200 miles of me to get an idea of the actual market value of my car. Only ONE showed up. It was silver with a black top just like mine, and even had the 40th anniversary special edition stuff like mine. Super freaky part? It was for sale in Pacific, MO, which is 196 miles from me and... the city where I had the accident. Is that nuts or what? I actually kind of want to look into buying it just because of the craziness of that. 

So, let's all have a moment of silence for Apple, the car that has been with me for the past 10 years (almost exactly - I bought her in Feb 05) and hope that whichever car becomes my new adventure pal is able to fill her shoes (tires?). 

Looking all shiny and pretty on the day I bought her a decade ago. She was a rental car in Vegas for a few months before she came to me, so I loved that she had a questionable past and had probably seen some things, man. 

Oh, one last thing. Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows about my all consuming love ginormous crush on Chris Hayes. So when I tweeted the reason why I wasn't tweeting about his show as usual after my accident and got this in reply, I was pretty darn happy.

Ummmm, I AM NOW. (imagine that I inserted glittery heart gifs here, 'cause I'm tired and too lazy to Google some up.)

Hope that your week was better than mine! Hopefully I'll have a new car to introduce you to by next week's 10 Things!

Sunday, February 08, 2015

2015 Grammy's Red Carpet Fashion

There are about a million really important things that I need to be doing tonight, but between the craziness of last week and being a little foggy from cough medicine, the most my brain can handle right now is "Ooh, pretttttty dresses!". So I'm blogging about Grammy's Red Carpet Fashion instead.

Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj
Photo credit Kevin Mazur/WireImage
It's a bad sign when Nikki Minaj looks way classier than you do. I'm not a huge fan of Nikki's outfit, but I think it's Grammy's appropriate, and she did the smart thing of keeping the color simple if the textures and details are going to be crazy. There's so much wrong with Katy's dress. It's like bad backup singer at an off-strip show in Vegas meets aging ice skater.  Disapprove.

Meghan Trainor
Lester Cohen/WireImage

I am posting this image entirely because I want to say that Meghan Trainor is "all about that lace". I think she could have found a thousand better dresses out there, but I don't hate this one. Good makeup, bad hair. Meh.

Taylor Swift
Larry Busacca/Getty Images
I'm kind of mad at this because I am NOT a fan of Taylor Swift, but this is almost flawless as a red carpet look. The dress color is perfect, the design is interesting, the shoe color compliments the turquoise/teal, and the hair works. She even ditched her signature red lip for a color that works better with the outfit. Only real fault is that I have zero idea how she is going to sit down in that skirt without getting a little flashy. 

Charli XCX
Larry Busacca/Getty Images
It might just be because I have a thing for Moschino, but I think Charlie XCX's suit and heels combo is adorable. I feel the need to work a pink bow tie and pink glittery heels into my wardrobe asap.

Kelly Osbourne

I wouldn't be that into Kelly Osbourne's look except for the fact that her fishy clutch is the best thing ever. Plus it's really hard to find dresses that work with purple hair. 

I'm way too tired to write about any more outfits, so just imagine a whole bunch of lace dresses, Kim Kardashian in a studded bathrobe, and countless solid colored gowns with cut-outs here. That about sums it up. Who did you love and hate?

Friday, February 06, 2015

Blog post from a hotel lobby

This is going to be short since I'm typing on my phone, but if you don't follow me on Twitter you may have missed that I got into a car accident on my way to St Louis on Weds. My car isn't driveable, so I'm waiting to hear back from insurance and such. Hoping to make it home tomorrow, so I'll have lots of stories to share once I'm settled back in at home!