Sunday, February 17, 2013

New Shoes

For many people purchasing new footwear is a pedestrian affair, hardly worthy of a blog post. But not so for me! My sneakers were in desperate need of replacing, and have been for months. I wish I had a picture of them so I could share their awfulness with everyone. The sole on one shoe was coming apart from the body and both shoes had large holes and rips in them. But buying new shoes is a difficult, painful affair. Ryan can order online for much of his clothing, but for me the size I need can change from brand to brand and even within the same store at times. Some shoes fit me in a 7.5, others an 8, and even occasionally an 8.5. I have to try them on before purchasing and then there's the cost, which is usually at least one month's worth of our clothing budget (yeah, we probably need to budget more for clothing). 

So a couple weeks ago I received an email from Gareth's teacher letting the parents know that we needed to bring in a shoe box for the kids to decorate for their valentines. Apparently it was the perfect motivation to get myself out the door and to a shoe store, since we don't have any empty shoe boxes hanging around. I ventured down to Market Street Shoes, not sure what I'd find since I didn't recall seeing many women's sneakers there, and not even entirely sure of what I wanted except for knowing I needed to be able to walk forty blocks every weekday in it and that I kind of wanted something that could be casual or dress up a bit. I was tired of feeling like I had no shoes that could dress up jeans to get that in-between casual and dressy look. 

Into the store I walked, looking a bit at what was on the wall until someone came to help me. I showed her the horrific state of my current sneakers (she was appropriately aghast) and told her what I was thinking and she set to work pulling shoes for me. At some point she asked me when I'd purchased the horrific sneakers and I realized that we'd been here two years and I'd bought those between one and two years before we left Indiana. So it'd been somewhere between three and four years since I'd purchased any shoes at all, this whole time the horrific sneakers were in my mind "new", right up until they started falling apart. This is my problem with clothing in general. It's always new until I'm shocked to see it's completely worn out. 

In the end I found a couple pair of shoes to buy (it helped that she gave me generous discounts on them, and one was already on sale), neither of which are sneakers. I will go out and buy a pair of sneakers at some point, but it feels good to get away from sneakers as my everyday wear for a while.

The more casual pair. I love that they slip on (something else I've been wanting for years), making quick outside errands such as taking out the trash or getting the mail so much easier, especially on rainy days:

And the second pair, which look great with jeans, but would also look excellent with dress pants or a skirt. I like the color that has a reddish tint (the shoe company is calling it burgundy), so they can go well with just about anything:

After this experience, I'm even more sold on small, local businesses than I was before. It may cost more, but it's worth it. I hate walking into big chains where it's impossible to get decent service and the employees don't really have any expertise in or passion about what they're selling half the time. I end up overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices and if I do manage to find something, am not certain at all that I really like it when I walk out. Going to the small local business I had an employee willing to spend as much time as I needed focused on me, figuring out exactly what I wanted. The employee who helped me was determined to find something that would work (she really didn't want me going home in the horrific sneakers), but also not pushy, reminding me that there will always be more shoes so I wasn't going to be missing out if I chose not to buy this particular pair this day. I walked out of the store after an hour feeling completely satisfied with my experience. Which is exactly the kind of feeling I want to have if I'm going to be spending a couple months worth of our clothing budget. 

Friday, February 15, 2013


We don't usually do much for Valentine's Day. I've never been very into it, beyond my elementary school years when valentines for classmates were compulsory. Occasionally Ryan might get some flowers or I might make a meal that I know Ryan loves, but we keep it pretty low-key.

This year was no different. I made heart-shaped sugar cookies for Gareth's valentines, baking the cookies on Monday, frosting them on Tuesday and packaging them up on Wednesday. Gareth helped cut out paper hearts and addressed all of them over a couple of days. We successfully passed them out to classmates yesterday morning. (Side note: kids are getting waaay more candy in their valentine boxes than we did when I was a kid. Gareth has 26 kids in his class and almost every one included a lollipop or pez or fun dip or some such with their valentine. I like doing the cookies because I remember enjoying that tradition from my childhood, but I'm starting to rethink that idea because holy crap he had a ton of sugar yesterday between their party and the valentines!)

We'd had some extra cookies which Ryan and I had enjoyed throughout the previous few days, but which were pretty much gone by yesterday. I wasn't worried about it because, like I said, we don't make a big deal of the day. We had dinner, Ryan went to the gym, I got the boys in bed and enjoyed reading a book while I had the chance. Ryan came home carrying bananas and some cookies and I prepared to set aside my book so we could watch something together. Then he surprised me by saying he had a Valentine surprise and to stay where I was. Out he went to the car, with me expecting him to come back in with flowers (he had just come from the store after all). I was shocked when he walked back in with this:

(The mixer, not the knives; we've had the knives since before we were married.) I mean, yes, I've been wanting one for ages, but I really wasn't expecting it last night. Maybe next Christmas or the next, certainly not randomly in the middle of the year. Anyway, someone at work had ended up with an extra and Ryan grabbed the opportunity to get it for a great price. It's perhaps not the color we would've chosen ourselves, but it actually looks quite nice with the black countertop/yellow paint. I'm still rather giddy from the surprise today, and excited to try it out and see how it does. I'm just having a hard time deciding what to make first...