Author Archives: Erin @ Loop Looks

About Erin @ Loop Looks

A Chicago Loop Girl Goes To Work

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Why you might want to try a meal kit service even if you like to cook

Fitness

I have a routine. On Sunday mornings I get up, make my breakfast and coffee, open my laptop, and pull up my calendar and my Pinterest boards. I grab a pad of paper and a pen and I make a menu of dinners for the week and a grocery list. Then, once all my coffee is gone and the breakfast dishes are washed, I head out to the grocery store.

I actually don’t mind cooking. My husband will say I’m actually pretty good at it. Over the years I’ve gotten good at looking at a recipe and determining if it will be easy to make on a weeknight or if it’s something I need to save for a weekend. I look for meals that require the fewest number of pots and pans but which also incorporate proteins and vegetables and not that many bread-y carbs.

But, you know, after awhile it’s really nice to let someone else do the thinking about what ingredients you need and what recipes you’ll make. Especially if you’re going to be out of town on the day you would normally do your grocery shopping.

That’s what happened over Mother’s Day weekend recently. I was out of town and while, yes, I could have make the menu and grocery list before I left town and sent my husband to the store on his own, I thought, “hey, why not try one of those meal kit delivery services?” I figured this would be a great alternative for times when I can’t get to the grocery store.

I started with Blue Apron because, yes, I listen to podcasts and they advertise on ALL OF THEM. After a slight snafu with getting an account set up (apparently you can only have an address in their system once and the people who lived in our apartment before us also used Blue Apron), I was able to place my order.

I ended up with Roasted Pork & Mustard Pan Sauce, Tandoori Style Chicken & Rice, and Stir-Fried Wonton Noodles.

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So, what did I think?

The good:

  • Saturday delivery worked out perfectly
  • Mobile app is easy to use
  • One of the vegetable ingredients wasn’t available but they swapped it out for a different veggie and put a card in my shipment indicating that
  • The meat quality was good
  • Most of the veggies were fresh, although one of the cucumbers was soft on one end by the time I got to it

The not-so-good

  • Making these meals was STRESSFUL! Many of them required more than one pan and lots of fiddly ingredients. So. Much. Chopping.
  • The recipes used way more cooking oil than I’m used to. I tried to make them as written so I could give an honest assessment, but I’m just not used to using multiple tablespoons of oil in a recipe after years of tracking fat macros.
  • At the time I placed my order, I could only choose two meat-based meals and one vegetarian one. Both Jason and I like to eat meat. I ended up purchasing chicken at the grocery store to add to the stir-fried wonton recipe. Which, by the way, was one of the worst things Jason and I had ever eaten. The recipe, that is. Not the chicken.
  • The pork recipe was almost identical to something I already make, except the one I make (a variation on this one) is much simpler.
  • The chicken recipe was okay, but it still required more work than I wanted on a weeknight! Poor Jason had to listen to me complain almost the entire time. And I usually don’t mind cooking!
  • No leftovers! Jason and I (well, mostly I) take leftovers in our lunch 4 out of 5 days. The only Blue Apron meal that had enough leftover for another meal or two was the wonton noodle one. I’ve heard other people claim that their Blue Apron meals made more than they could eat, but apparently Jason and I eat a lot.

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All of the veggies for the roasted pork dish…for two people.

Overall, I was not impressed with Blue Apron. I know that some people like them because they try to use in-season items, source from local or sustainable farms, use non-GMO items, etc and even have a recycling program where you can ship back the packaging. However, I fully admit that those are not top priorities in our house. Except recycling. I like to recycle!

I’m much more interested in using a service that makes my life easier, not harder. But that doesn’t mean I gave up on meal kit delivery services! Nope! Instead, I tried HelloFresh with MUCH better results. But this post is already pretty long so I think I’ll tell you all about that next Friday. How’s that sound?

Do you use a meal kit delivery service? Which one do you use? I recently got a promo code for Sun Basket and I might try it, too.

P.S. This post is NOT sponsored by any of the companies mentioned. Although my HelloFresh link will get you $40 off your first box and $20 credit for me!

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The Sonoma Round-Up [SIA Post]

Style Imitating Art

The best thing about picking a bright, colorful, graphic piece of art for the Style Imitating Art challenge? It’s seeing all the bright and colorful outfits!

This week it was such fun to see how everyone interpreted the Greeting from Sonoma mural. First up, we have Jen who, of course, found her own mural that represents her city!

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We also clearly have the same taste in hats. You can read all about how she came up with her outfit and the mural in her photos here.

Next we have our other co-host, Salazar who said the hot air balloon in the mural inspired her to wear her hot air balloon blouse. She said it seemed like something one would wear in wine country and, yes, I agree! Loose, flow-y pants are definitely a go-to for many women of California!

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Mike went with my suggestion of a graphic tee! Yay! The gray works perfectly with the metal wall and the red, white, and blue matches the “Greetings” lettering.

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Then we have Kezzie with her dress that looks like a mural itself! Plus, her metallic shoes. Clearly we were on the same wavelength with our footwear.

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Finally we have me in my coral dress!

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Thanks again to everyone who participate! Stay tuned for next week’s choice by Salazar!

 

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Greetings from Sonoma: The Outfit [SIA Post]

Office Appropriate Outfits - Summer · Style Imitating Art

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I’m sure you all know how difficult it is to come home from a vacation, but it’s even more difficult when you’ve come home from a place with amazing weather, amazing food, amazing views and amazing wine! And you spent the time with amazing company (shout-out to my mom).

We didn’t have any real plans for our trip other than get to Sonoma and have fun. Well, that’s not entirely true. The one thing I wanted to do was go find this mural at The Fremont Diner in Sonoma since I’d chosen it as this week’s Style Imitating Art inspiration.

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And, yes, I succeeded! I wore my latest Moonfish purchase along with my brown and silver tote, silver shoes, and silver necklace (also from Moonfish). I was tempted to wear my gold jewelry and brown shoes but I went with the silver to mimic the metal wall.

Oh, and you’ll notice the hat in all my Sonoma photos. I bought this hat years ago at a street festival in Chicago but I think this was the first time it got worn so many days in a row.

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We ate lunch at the Fremont Diner after spending the morning on the balcony of winery with the most beautiful view: Nicholson Ranch. I’d been there once before almost 8 years ago, so of course I had to take a picture in almost the exact same spot.

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And here I am with my friend Holly, in July 2009!

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(Clearly I have a thing for silver shoes!)

If you weren’t following my Instagram Story, you probably missed out on many of the pictures I took this trip. So, here’s a taste of what we ate at The Fremont Diner (pun totally intended!)

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Fried oyster hash for me, shrimp and grits for my mom. Followed by amazing pecan pie!

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Don’t forget! If this week’s artwork inspired you to come up with an outfit, send it my way (looplooks@gmail.com) by the end of the day on Tuesday, June 20th and I’ll include it in the round-up on Wednesday.

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How to be a Ninja Warrior [Fitness Friday]

Fitness

After Bethany posted about her workout at Junior Ninja Warriors I knew I HAD to go check that place out. And then Maggie asked if anyone wanted to join her for a class so of course I jumped at the chance!

The Junior Ninja Warriors facility is located almost exactly 2 miles north of me so I decided to get in a short run at the same time. I ran from my house to the facility so I was already nice and warmed up. Oh, and did I mention it was leg day with my trainer at my regular gym so I’d already done a strength workout?

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Normally Junior Ninja Warriors is reserved for kids, but a few nights a week they have adult hours. An instructor shows you how to do three different groups of obstacles and the idea is that you practice a few times and then go through each grouping for a time.

Let’s just say that we didn’t always get to the being timed portion of the obstacles! However, I realized that I have so much more upper body strength than I thought. All that strength training over the past 2+ years is actually working!

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Among other things, we did monkey bars, scaled the warp-wall (here’s video proof!), conquered the Spider, and tried our hand (feet?) at log rolling.

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It’s interesting but as I’ve gotten older I’ve become less afraid of hurting myself. For example, after we did the spider we had to do what basically amounted to parallel bars. I managed it find the first time but the second time my hand slipped on the last bar and I fell flat on my back (on mats, of course). Maybe it’s all those trapeze lessons I did in the past, but falling like that doesn’t phase me anymore!

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I had a BLAST and would love to go back. I love being able to put my strength to use and actually see the results of all the hard work I do in the “regular” gym.

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A Hot Day’s Dress

Office Appropriate Outfits - Summer

A few weeks ago I restarted my Le Tote account that I’d put on hold. I was hoping to get some dresses I could wear in Sonoma. It turned out that I didn’t end up taking any of them to Sonoma with me, but I did wear the one I got several times beforehand. We’ve had a few really hot days in Chicago and this dress was perfect for those.

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I had to run a bunch of errands before going on vacation so this outfit got worn to Ulta, Target, and the grocery store.

I’m not a huge fan of the lace-up trend that’s going on, but since this one doesn’t actually lace I rather enjoyed the fun accent that looks like it laces but it doesn’t actually tie or anything.

The shoes are a recent order from Shopbop. I have them in brown and I love them so much I decided to get them in silver, too. Especially since the straps on my silver gladiator sandals need to be re-glued.

This outfit would be perfect to wear to outdoor festivals or, if you’re like me, just around town while you do that thing called adulting.

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same dress in different color | exact same dress | same shoes | similar hat

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Greetings from Sonoma [SIA Post]

Style Imitating Art

I’m writing this from my couch on Saturday but hopefully by the time you read this I’ll be in Sonoma with my mom! I’ve been doing a little bit of looking online to come up with some things to do but, for the most part, I’m thinking we’ll figure it out as we go along.

However, I did find this perfect mural for Style Imitating Art this week that’s located at a place in Sonoma called the Fremont Diner. My plan is to get a picture of myself in front of it!

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I’m packing several dresses that would work well with this mural, mostly because it has all of the colors of the rainbow in it!

But I want to see what outfits you put together with this inspiration! Graphic tee? Something bright? Something that reminds you of California? Send it my way!

Email it to looplooks@gmail.com by Tuesday, June 20th and I’ll post it in my round-up on Wednesday, June 21st.

 

 

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A deck sneak peak

Office Appropriate Outfits - Summer

Remember when I said we were decorating our deck? Well, the chairs came and I bought a rug and it all matches the hand-me-down tables perfectly!

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same chairs | same rug

I still need to hang our cafe party lights and find an ottoman (any suggestions??) but it’s definitely coming together! And if you want to see it person I’m still having a brunch party on June 24th and I’d love to have you there.

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I actually wore this outfit when I explored two neighborhood spots with my friend (and former neighbor) Margaret. She’s super into the food scene in Chicago so she knows all the places. We had brunch at Cellar Door Provisions and then more coffee and pastries from the Bakery at Fat Rice. Both are within walking distance of our apartment!

Cellar Door Provision is the cutest space and has simple but tasty food. Fat Rice is more energetic with some very interesting flavor combinations. But, I discovered that both have coffee bars so I know where I can go when I run out of coffee at home.

And then when we got back, she even helped me get the deck chairs set up! I’m sure she can attest to the fact that they are quite comfy. Chewie seems to think so, too.

 

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This outfit is also really comfy and I think I’m going to wear it on the plane to Sonoma ON SUNDAY!

Yes, my mom and I are taking a girls’ trip to California and I am so excited. I have already planned to pack all my new dresses (two from Moonfish!) and will get my mom to take some pictures. So, stay tuned!

similar dress | same jacket | similar sandals | similar scarf

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A Principle Outfit [SIA Post]

Casual Clothes · Style Imitating Art

Last Friday, when I wore this outfit, Chewie got so excited to see me when I got home that he knocked me into the fence in our yard and I scraped my wrist. Then when I was making dinner I cut my pinky finger. Later that evening I tripped and fell up the stairs in our apartment.

I guess that one beer I had at 3pm was stronger than I thought!

Anyway, this outfit was my nod to the blue and white in this week’s Style Imitating Art choice by Jen.

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I purchased this top from Moonfish earlier this year but it was just now warm enough to wear it. Moonfish currently has a pop-up happening on the far north side of Chicago until June 8th and when I was there on Saturday she still had this top!

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Sarah, Moonfish’s founder, had this top on when I got there on Saturday with a pair of black distressed Principle Denim jeans.  Oh, she might even have a few of the blue pair I’m wearing in this photo left, too!

I’ve decided that Principle Denim is my absolute favorite brand of jeans. I recently ordered a pair from Express and I can’t decide if the rise is too high or not. But Principle’s is just right. Now I just have to find more pairs in my size! IMG_8885

similar top | similar cardigan | same sandals

 

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The saga of finding the perfect dress to wear to someone else’s wedding

Shopping

Two weeks ago my friend Annabelle got married and I decided it was the perfect excuse to go back to the Chicago Rent the Runway location and find a dress to wear!

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Just like last time, RTR sent me a questionnaire and asked what I was looking for. Annabelle’s favorite color is purple so I wanted something purple and sleeveless. Other than that, I didn’t have anything in mind.

Although, I fully admit, I had one dress I was really hoping to be able to try on.

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Sadly, that dress wasn’t available in the store. And they didn’t have a ton of items in purple, but they had still pulled quite a few things for me to try!

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I enjoy being able to try on the dresses in person and I took pictures for your enjoyment! See if you can guess why I did or didn’t like a certain dress before you read my comments.

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same dress

This one was almost a contender! I had to go up a size in it to get it to fit over my hips and booty and then that made it too loose in the bust. Also, you can kind of see it riding up on my hips in the photo. Sad, too, because it reminded me of a dress I wore to dances in high school that I loved!

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same dress

I actually really liked this one and if it had A. been in purple and B. I hadn’t felt like I wouldn’t be able to eat or drink anything while wearing it, I would have got home with this one. As it was, it wasn’t that spectacular and it was super-duper tight. But it made my legs and arms look amazing!

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same dress

This was a crowd favorite when I shared it on Instagram! And, again, if it had been purple I would have chosen it right away. As it was, I held out for something that made me fall in love.

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same dress

I actually liked this one a lot more when I put it on! The color wasn’t something I had even considered. But, in the end, that weird ruffle on the side didn’t do it for me.

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same dress

Oh my gosh, you guys. When I saw this one on the hanger I immediately thought, “No.” But, I figured I’d try it on just for you. The things I’ll do for a laugh.

To be honest, the stylist they paired me with was not my favorite. It turned out that the stylist I was supposed to work with was styling a young woman as part of a Make a Wish event and it was running much longer than anticipated. Yeah, I wasn’t going to complain since it was happening for a good cause! Plus, they comped my $25 styling fee since I didn’t get my original stylist and I had to share the one they did give me. I’m glad, too, because, like I said, I didn’t think he did a great job. Of course, I think he got handed me at the last minute so, who knows.

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same dress

I actually did end up getting this zipped, but decided it wasn’t anything special. Yes, it looked good on but it wasn’t making me swoon.

I’ve figured out that all my weight lifting has given me a much broader back than I’m used to. I have no idea what size dress I wear anymore!

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same dress

This one was actually kind of fun but it didn’t fit as well as I wanted. Once again, it was a bit tight on the hips and too loose at the top. Also, I feel like since my legs look pretty good, if I’m going to wear a full-length gown I’d like a slit in it

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same dress

So…my neck isn’t actually that long. Which meant that these ruffles were almost to my ears. Clearly this dress was designed for a super model.

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same dress

Oh boy. The reviews for this dress all say the same thing: wear fashion tape and you’d better hope you have good posture. I didn’t want to spend the entire wedding being self-concisous so I definitely passed on this one. Also, like so many of the other ones, it was too tight across my hips.

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same dress

Too tight on the hips, too much of a boho look, too not me. Yeah.

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same dress

This dress was another case of my back being too broad and my neck not being long enough. Also, it felt like something I would have worn to work at my previous job, not to a wedding. So, no.

In the end, I didn’t love any of the dresses I tried on in the store. So, they helped me order the dress I had wanted to try on in the first place. It fit perfectly and I loved wearing it.

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same dress

I still highly recommend using Rent the Runway if you have an event and want the chance to wear a dress you either couldn’t afford to buy or just don’t want to buy something you’ll only wear once. For around $100 I got to wear this almost $400 dress, feel beautiful, and ship it back when I was done.

If you want to try it, you can use this link to get $30 off your first order (and get me $30 in credit). Or if you’re in Chicago and want to visit the store, I’m happy to go with! It’s a ton of fun.

Check out my other Rent the Runway experiences here, here and here.

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A snapshot I took at the wedding. I highly recommend Chicago Distilling Company!

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A Violin Playing Goat [SIA Post]

Style Imitating Art

I’m sure many of my U.S. readers have today off for Memorial Day are spending it doing something other than reading blogs. But, for those of you who are here, it’s time to reveal this week’s Style Imitating Art choice!

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This photo of “[ C ] Marc Chagall – Coq Rouge dans la Nuit (1944)” by cea + is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This week it was Jen’s turn to pick and she chose this because, as she said, she has a soft spot for Marc Chagall’s work. And then there was something about needing a violin-playing goat to find happiness. I’ve never seen Notting Hill so I didn’t get the reference. Please fill me in! Now I’m curious!

This painting has all the colors of the rainbow in it. So, even if you’re not feeling the blue, you can wear purple or yellow or red or even green. Or a little bit of everything. Or show us what you wore to your Memorial Day celebrations! I bet they’ll work just fine, too.

Submissions are due to librarianforlifestyle@gmail.com on Monday June 5th by 10 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. She’ll post the round-up on June 6th.