Monday, September 24, 2012

Getting Into The Fall Spirit With Lee

Can you feel that subtle shift in the air? While it's still warm most days, here in Ohio the air at night has taken on a crisp, chilly quality that we all associate with the arrival of fall. Even the warm days have lost the oppressive humidity of summer, making the sky a deep blue and bringing the horizon into sharp focus without the haze.

While I always mourn having to give up my sandals (I'm not a closed-shoe type person), I do love getting back to warm sweaters and jeans. Capris are fun and cool in the summer, but the right jeans can give shape to your legs and make them look like they go on forever.

Right before BlogHer, I received a pair of jeans from Lee's new fall collection to get the season off on the right foot. The Ivy Slender Secret bootcut jeans are a dark wash with flap back pockets. I wore them for a couple of days at BlogHer because I loved the fit so much.

Look at these jeans. Gorgeous, right? They fit snug, but not tight, through the hips and thighs, lending shape and smoothing out any bumps, then flared to a cute bootcut that gave me the appearance of skinny legs.

I love that they fit my curves so well. The jeans accommodate my hips while still fitting my waist without any gap. The one thing I tell people over and over about Lee jeans is how well they're designed for a woman's body, curves and all. I can bend down with no worries of flashing my underwear to everyone behind me.

Unfortunately, this particular pair of jeans isn't available online. It's a design made exclusively for their Lee outlet stores. (Ohio locals: I can successfully report that the Ivy Slender Secret bootcut jeans can be found at Lodi Station Outlets for a price so low you'll probably buy two pairs!)

If you want to know what to look for online or in retail stores, though, I have another recommendation for you: the Nina bootcut from the all-new Curvy Fit line.

I bought a pair of these a few weekends ago, and I love the new style! They're a little stretchier and appear to sit a little lower on the waist, and they have the same great fit that curves with your body. I love the darker color, too. (I also love that I bought these in a size 8 and they FIT!)

I'm always a little skeptical of any line of jeans that claims to be a "curvy" fit after several bad experiences with other brands that proved to me that we have very different definitions of curvy. This line from Lee, though, finally makes me a believer in a true curvy fit pair of jeans.

When it comes to durability, my Lee jeans have held up to the test. I wear jeans nearly every day in cooler weather, so they have to withstand a lot of abuse. The only reason I've had to replace any of my jeans at this point has been due to losing weight and needing a new size.

You will notice the Slender Secret and Curvy Fit jeans lose some of their shape over repeated wearings between washings (admit it, you wear your jeans more than once before you wash them) due to the stretch denim already being stretched from wear. But the shape comes right back as soon as you wash them. I have yet to notice any problems with shape/stretch that a wash didn't fix.

With fashion and fit like this from Lee, I'm ready for fall. Bring on the cold weather!

Full disclosure: I was provided with a pair of the Ivy Slender Secret jeans by Lee to facilitate this review. The Nina bootcut jeans were purchased with my own money. All opinions are my own. It should be no surprise that the ones I spent money on are just as awesome as the ones provided for review.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tales of Supernatural Friendship in Scholastic's "Ghost Buddy" Series

Our second grade daughter is a librarian's ideal child. She has a love of reading that sometimes borders on obsessive. For example, never did I think that as a mom I'd have to order my daughter to put her book down and eat her dinner. Or stop reading while walking so she doesn't hurt herself.

This has also resulted in her developing a reading ability far above her grade level. We can't keep up with her desire for new books to read. She likes fantasy and some mild science fiction, as long as it isn't too scary. So when Scholastic asked us to try out the new "Ghost Buddy" book series, I hoped the idea of a ghost as a main character wouldn't be too scary for her. 

The “Ghost Buddy” series focuses on two main characters. William C. “Billy” Broccoli, and his ghost friend Hoover Porterhouse III. Both boys have a series of problems. In Billy's case, it's that he is physically small and decidedly uncool. He has just moved into a new house with his mother (the principal at the local Junior High), his step-sister (the very popular 7th grader Breeze), and his step-father (Bennett, a dentist). He's starting sixth grade, has a room that is painted purple and lilac, and he has no idea how to make friends.

“Hoove,” as the ghost normally calls himself, is Billy's total opposite. He was 14, and is incredibly cool and stylish, without even trying. He's also been dead for 99 years, and that's where his problem comes in. In order to be able to move on outside the boundaries of his family's former ranchero, he has to pass his Ghost Report Card. He's managed passing grades on haunting skills and invisibility, and is easily passing personal hygiene, but his grades in “Responsibility” and “Helping Others” are abysmal. And if he can't get a passing grade from helping out Billy, he'll never move on.

The first book, Zero to Hero, focuses on Billy and Hoove's first meetings, and we are introduced to the core cast for the upcoming books. In addition to Billy, his family, and Hoove, we also meet Ruby Baker (Billy's presumed love interest), next-door-neighbor/law-enforcement enthusiast/bully Rod Brownstone, and cool kid and potential new best friend for Billy, Ricardo Perez. Hoove and Billy manage to forge an unlikely friendship as Hoove helps Billy defend himself from Rod's bullying and helps him earn some modicum of respect in his new school.

The second book, Mind if I Read Your Mind? centers around a public speaking competition at the school where Hoove sets Billy up to win by demonstrating his powers of mind-reading. Conflict arises when Billy spends more time paying attention to his mortal friends than Hoove, and Hoove ends up feeling unappreciated.

Both books are written with an easy, breezy style that will appeal to younger readers, although I think that some of the language may be on the edge of their vocabulary levels. Billy is a compelling protagonist, very much a Peter Parker-esque figure who nothing can go right for, and who most readers will see something of themselves in. And the Hoove is an irascible rogue whose heart is, ultimately, in the right place (shades of author Henry Winkler's old role as The Fonz, in fact).

As the series progresses (these are the only two books out so far), it is clear that Billy will continue to grow and evolve beyond needing Hoove's assistance, and Hoove will finally get his passing grade in Helping Others and Responsibility, and be granted his freedom to go and visit every baseball stadium in America.

The books are thoroughly fun, and quick reads and I think that Winkler and Lin Oliver have another successful series on their hands. I read both in a single afternoon, so the average grade-school kid should be able to manage them without too much difficulty.

Our second-grader read the first in a single day of bus trips to and from school. She likes the books, calling them "fun and cool, but a little creepy." We'll need to work on her review style, I think.

Win a set for yourself! (Or your kids!)

Want to give these books a try? I've got two sets of the first and second "Ghost Buddy" books to giveaway from Scholastic.

To enter: leave a comment below telling me your favorite childhood book. Please be sure to leave a way for me to contact you if you're the winner, too.

Entries will be accepted until 11:59pm ET Wednesday, September 26, 2012. One entry per person, US mailing addresses only. Two winners will be chosen at random after the giveaway closes. Winners must respond within 48 hours or alternate winners will be selected.

Good luck!

Full disclosure: I was provided with a copy of each of these books from Scholastic to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own, and those of my daughter, who thinks that having a ghost for a friend is just a little odd.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Lee's Motion Comfort Khakis for Men: Style, Comfort, and Easy Care Combined

My husband appreciates looking good, but he's also not one to stay on the top of fashion trends. Like me, he usually spends his days off in jeans, but for work he has to dress a little more professionally. Those same work pants must first get past children and a slobbery dog before he can even get out the door, though, so he needs durable pants that will look good, stand up to the abuses of stains, and preferably not need ironed. (The last item is my request.)

Lee recently sent us a pair of their new Motion Comfort Khakis for him to try. I've been wearing Lee jeans, shorts and pants for quite a while, but he's fairly new to Lee. His previous dress pants and khakis have been different, pricier brands with a hit-and-miss reputation. Some stood up well to wrinkles and stains, but looked too baggy and high-waisted for a guy his age. Others had a great modern fit, but wore out too quickly.

The Motion Comfort Khakis boast of being wrinkle-free, iron-free, and stain resistant. Right away I'm sold on the idea if it makes my laundry routine a little easier! The twill fabric is mostly cotton with a little bit of stretch to create a comfortable fit as you move.

My husband received a pair of the navy pants to try out. His first impression is that they do run a little on the small size, so consider that when ordering. He was just at the upper end of the lower size, and it was far too tight in the waist. One size up, however, fit perfectly.

Since I didn't wear them myself, I'll have to relay his impressions on these pants. He thought they fit more snug than many of his other pants, but appreciated that they aren't baggy. The lower waist is a plus, too. The waistband is comfortable and has a slight stretch in it. He said the most surprising feature to him was the double pocket on the right side - most of his pants don't have the extra pocket. The pants are lightweight and keep him cool on even the warmest late summer days.

When it comes to the care of the pants, I can provide my opinion here. They really are a dream to care for. These pants require no ironing, show few wrinkles, and may be the best pants he's ever had at repelling stains. Most anything that gets onto his pants (including dog drool) comes right off with just a dab of water on a towel. Anything that doesn't come off right away is gone after a trip through the washing machine.
He's worn the Lee Comfort Fit Khakis for several weeks now (at least twice a week and through several washings), and they still look brand new. There are no signs of wear to be found, and even when washed and dried there has been no shrinkage in the length, either.

Took me forever to get a photo of him in the pants. I had to block the door as he was leaving for work, with our dog serving as backup.

To sum up, my husband is very pleased with the performance of these pants. They look good for work, and they're still tough enough to wear when out with the family, too. He likes the versatility and comfort, and I like the easy care of the fabric. (And I think he looks good in them, too. That matters.) I'd call it a win-win.

And yet again, Lee has won over another member of my family. They just know how to make good-looking pants that fit well. 

Full disclosure: We received the Comfort Fit Khakis from Lee to facilitate this review. No further compensation was given, all opinions are my own. (And my husband's opinion, too, in this case.)