Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Tieks - I bought more..

You know how in September I said I didn't need more than two pairs of Tieks?

In November I bought another pair.

And then in December I bought another pair.

Wha happened?

Well, I worked Election Day as a Poll Official and earned a paycheck enough to buy something nice for myself. I was debating between a pair of Tieks or a new purse - I chose happy shoes. Yellow is my favorite color and they bring me so much joy every time I look down. They are ridiculous and I love them. It's a different type of leather than the Biscotti patent and Lovestruck I had and I was worried they would scratch easily. I wore them and my Lovestrucks every day on a Disney Cruise and they still look great - and my feet never hurt.

Tieks on a plane (with no show socks showing.)

Although the outside looked great, a string had come lose that connected the inside sole. I sent the yellow pair back to Tieks in December for a free rehab. 4 days later, I had my shoes back and a new Tieks flower. All for free.

I loved my Mustard Tieks, but they were difficult to justify wearing them to a conference or dressy occasion. I loved the way my Lovestruck Tieks can be worn casually or dressed up. And wouldn't you know that in December, Tieks introduced a new limited edition shoe: Moonstruck. I used my Christmas bonus and bought them for myself. They are my new favorite shoe. They fit exactly like the Lovestruck and are so freaking pretty!

My Lovestrucks have been worn 3-4 times a week for the past 3 months and they still look fantastic. Here they are side by side for comparison:

Sister shoes: Moonstruck (new) and Lovestruck (worn 3x a week for 3 months)
Lovestruck and Moonstruck

And I'm for real done buying Tieks. The only way I'd get a new pair is if I sold a pair I currently have.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tieks - they're just shoes.

About a month ago, I asked a friend of mine what brand of shoe I should get for conferences. I travel to 3-4 conferences a year and have to be on my feet for 2-3 days straight. My shoe choices were killing me. She recommended Tieks. As soon as she typed the word, all of the ads in my browser began showing beautiful and bright leather ballet flats.

I started down the rabbit hole.

What are Tieks?

Tieks are Italian leather ballet flats from a designer named Gavrieli. They are hand made with high quality Italian leather and have a unique sole that allow them to easily fold in half for flexibility and ease of storage/transport. (Learn more here). They're ideal for people who have to walk to work in professional garb, like DC or NYC. Tieks are very popular for people that work on their feet all day, like teachers and those in service industries. You may also see them on the feet of nearly every travel blogger with a healthy Instagram following.

Unfortunately, the high price tag keeps this shoe out of many working people's closets. The basic style can cost as high as $175 per pair, with very fancy styles all the way up to $375 per pair. Oprah loves them and celebrities can sometimes be seen wearing them when they're not on the red carpet.

Where can I buy them?

They're only available at and very few brick and mortar retailers, usually just in major cities. These limited channels keep their prices high and the resale market very hot.

So naturally, I scoured eBay for a pair in my size that were under $100 - I won a (very) used (and damaged) pair of Biscotti Patents for $53!

They had a large slit in the side and scuffs on the edges. I joined a FB group and asked the hive mind how I could repair these coveted shoes - they told me Dr. Scholl's moleskin and Shoe Goo should do the trick. It did.

I fixed them, put them on, and felt richer and better than everyone around me. And then my heel really started hurting. I added more moleskin to the back heel to make it stand up a bit more and that seemed to help. Even though my feet didn't feel like they were covered in soft puppies and walking on rainbows, I already wanted more.

I convinced myself I needed a new pair so I could be the shoe's one true foot. I studied the colors and styles, determined my total cost per wear based on my wardrobe, and chose the prettiest color: Lovestruck.

Although it looks like glitter, they are, "crafted from soft, Italian leather that is pressed with a delicate foil, then tumbled to give the leather a crackled, antiqued appearance. The leather is unique in that it has a subtle, iridescent pattern which gives the leather an uncommonly brilliant shine with a unique pattern." So that means they're awesome and better than every other shoe you've ever owned.

Having spent hours of my life researching and following FB groups, I knew these beauties would need preparation before going out into the wild. I bought Frye's leather conditioner and Angelus neutral leather acrylic paint. I was ready.

I got my coveted Tieks blue box, Frye's conditioner, and Angelus paint all on the same day. It was surely meant to be! I removed the shoes without even taking photos of the unboxing, which is a major Tieks faux paux. I put them on my feet and stood up. They felt exactly like split sole ballet shoes. Again, I wasn't covered in puppies and walking on rainbows, but they felt very nice and fancy.

I prepped an area at the kitchen table and started to paint with the Angelus. Then I conditioned with Frye's. THEY WERE SO PRETTY. I decided to do another coat to make sure my precious would remain pretty. Paint. Condition. I added moleskin to the toebox to prevent the dreaded "toe bump." (See this helpful video on how to do it.) Now they were ready for the wild.

I chose to unveil them on a trip to the salon in a nearby uppity town - surely someone would see how special I was to have owned a pair of elite shoes. No one cared. But I took several shoe selfies (shofies?) in various lighting and posted them to the FB group anyway. There was much rejoicing.

After my grey hair disappeared, my shoes took me to my best friend's house for a cookout. And guess what - SHE NOTICED THE SHOES! Validation.

I've now worn them nearly 10 times in 2 weeks and they still feel great. I wear the pre-owned pair as well. In total, I spent $310 on two pairs of Tieks. (When you factor in the additional costs of preserving them, it's $350.)

The pros?

They fold in half easily, the style fits my feet well, ships quickly, available in many beautiful colors, and they even come with a tote and small black pouch if you need to shove them into your purse. I also love their customer service. And how they make you feel like you're better than everyone around you.

The cons? 

The cost.

Would you buy another new pair?

No. The price point is just too damn high. They feel wonderful, I'm glad I have what I have, but there's no freaking way I can justify getting another pair for the foreseeable future. If I had a job that required more time on my feet, then I would consider getting more pairs. (I can see why teachers love them.) But I can't personally justify spending that much on a pair of shoes when I sit at a desk for a majority of the day. Two pairs is all I need for travel and conferences.

Would you buy another used pair?

If I can find another pair under $75 in a color I wanted prior to seeing the listing, then maybe.

For now, two pairs is just enough.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The None More Black Scarf

10 days after my dad died, we all joined my in-laws for Christmas. It was very bittersweet with moments of joy, laughter, and painful realizations.

My in-laws love games. One of the games we played was a version of White Elephant/Dirty Santa but just for the girls. My sister-in-law purchased and wrapped 6 gifts, placed them in the middle of the room, then gave us each a number at random. We went one by one either selecting a present to open or we could use our turn to steal something that had already been opened. On the third steal, the item could no longer be stolen.

We opened the packages one by one and saw thick, velvety cowl scarves or luscious gloves. On my turn, I decided to steal an already stolen scarf because of its beautiful color. More opening and steals occurred, and to my dismay, someone decided to steal the scarf I had. I tried to playfully run away and hide it so perhaps give a hint that I didn't want it stolen. She stole it anyway. I ended up with a black velvet scarf - the darkest fabric one can wear. (Puppeteers often use it so they can disappear in the background of live performances or recordings rather than use a green screen. You could even say there's none more black.) I had the chance to steal someone else's but I was so upset and sad that I decided to keep it so that no one else would feel the disappointment of having their sought after item stolen. I later went into the bathroom and cried.

None more black

Of all the colors in the world, I had the one for disappearing. I ended up giving it away.

A few weeks later, the person that stole the beautiful scarf from me ended up mailing it back with a note that said, "GOTCHA!"

I've been too sad and embarrassed to ever actually wear it. It's still hanging in my closet.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Svaha: Smart Clothes for Everyone

(FYI - Svaha did not compensate me for this post, nor did they ask me to express my affection and appreciation for their company. I just really dig their stuff.)

As a mother of two girls, I try my best to keep their outfits comfortable, durable, and modest. Dresses with leggings are like our "one ring to rule them all" ensemble solution because they can wear it for several years, unlike a shirt that can become too short after a growth spurt.

Dressing my eldest daughter has been especially tough. She is only 5 years old but her height puts her into clothes made for 7-8 year olds. If you've been to Target or Kohl's in the past 3 years, clothing for 8 year olds look suspiciously like what I wore as a teenager in the late 90's - short, tight, and covered in glitter. We sometimes find solid leggings we can use under dresses but their other items gave us little wiggle room. I found I had to shop at either boutique stores for pricy dresses made from better materials or thrift stores for discarded gems.

Then, I found it: Svaha!  This company was founded by two working moms that met while at ThinkGeek (another favorite e-retailer of ours.) They found that there was a need for kids clothing that incorporated STEAM concepts as well as a variety of colors for both boys and girls. Their dresses often feature pockets (YAY!) and their adult dresses come in a variety of cuts for a variety of body types.  Thanks to their fantastic flash sales, we now have over 30 pieces from their website.

We've even been featured on their Instagram page because I can't contain my joy and had to tell them how much we love their dresses:

Their new designs feature Pi, glow in the dark jelly fish, and a vintage inspired chemistry fabric available in an adult and child sized dress. I just bought the kid version of the chemistry dress for Joanna - I'll be buying the adult one soon!

If you're looking for women-owned businesses or local businesses in the Northern Virginia area, check out what Svaha has done - and what they'll do next!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Sick from Stress

My dad died 2 months ago.

My friend Josh died 2 weeks ago and his funeral is on Saturday.

Stress is making me sick.

I've been fighting to keep the house organized, keep my appointments up to date, keep my kids out of trouble, keep my marriage a priority, and keep my mom company - which means my health and friendships keep getting put on the back burner.

I'm currently fighting a sudden onslaught of deep chest congestion and pressure - so much so that I thought I was having heart issues. I had bad chills at 4:00 a.m. and a fever this morning. But still, I couldn't be still - I emptied the dish washer, helped get the girls ready for school, sold our old car, and worked from home so I wouldn't disappoint anyone.

I need a day where I am not mom, daughter, wife, friend, or employee.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Heart Disease is the #1 Killer

Heart disease is the #1 killer of women.
Heart disease is also the #1 killer of my family members.

We have a running joke in my family that if you don't die in your 50's of a heart attack, you'll live to your 80's.  To our knowledge, no one in our family has had cancer of any kind. But a bad heart? Yup, got that.

Knowing this, my parents were meticulous about their health. They both ate well, my dad would take walks every day, my mom does Yoga and works out multiple times a week, and they always saw their doctor for regular check-ups. My dad died suddenly of a massive heart attack that killed him in a moment. His doctor was just as shocked as we were.

"So if a heart attack can kill me any time, why even bother taking care of my health?"

Good question, self.

My dad probably lived longer because he took care of himself. He still died too soon but he likely would have died sooner had he not eaten well and exercised.

So knowing that my dad, my dad's dad, my grandma's sister, my grandma's brother, my grandpa's brother, and my grandpa's dad all had fatal heart attacks, I know I need to get my health in check.

heart disease, heart attack, awareness, doctor, heart

Monday, January 16, 2017

My Dad Died

On December 15, 2016, my dad died of a sudden and massive heart attack. He was 63 years old.

Around 4:00 p.m. on that Thursday, I got a call from my mom. I was on a conference call so she left a voicemail. She said, "Dad had a heart attack. Call me. I'm going to George Washington Hospital." I called her back, said I'll drive, then picked her up and headed to DC. We listened to Christmas music the whole way.

An hour later, we parked in a garage and walked across the street in the freezing wind. We went to the Emergency Department, checked in, and waited. A nurse came out to us and asked us to wait in the chapel so the doctor could come speak to us. While there, we met with one of dad's co-workers that was there when it happened. I texted Jonathan (my husband) and Lisa (my brother's wife) and let them know we were being taken to a separate room for someone to talk to us. We knew what it meant.

The doctor came in and sat down. I grabbed my mom's hand. He spoke. "My name is _____. I'm one of the doctors that worked on your husband. We worked on him for 90 minutes. Unfortunately, we could not revive him." I think that's what he said. I don't remember. I just remember the sound and color escaping from the room.

We went to see my dad's body. I hugged him. We went back out to the waiting room.

My brother was driving down to the hospital to be with all of us. I called Lisa to tell her and asked if I should tell Rich, and she said that we should wait to tell him in person. I called Jonathan and wept in the empty corner of the waiting room. He wept with me. I called my Uncle to tell him. I texted close friends because I couldn't get any more words out.

I went back to his room to collect his things and they had already cleaned out the room and were about to take him to the morgue. I asked them to stop so we could give my brother a chance to say goodbye. I went to security to get his things. I carried back 2 very full bags that contained his torn down coat, his torn suit jacket, shoes, belt, socks, torn shirt, keys, wallet, portfolio, wedding ring, and his gold Casio watch. I brought them all out to the waiting room and kept them slightly out of my mom's view as she continued making phone calls.

"This is so weird" was the only phrase I could continue muttering to my mom as we made phone calls.

Rich came. Mom told him. He went into a corner. I slowly approached him and asked if he wanted to see dad. I guided him to the back and showed him where he was.

I went to the nurse's station to ask if there were any other steps we needed to take at this time. She wrote down information to give to my mom. We went back to the lobby where mom was still making calls. I updated Facebook because I was tired of answering individual texts and telling the same information over and over again.

We walked out of George Washington hospital with my dad's clothes and items and loaded them into my car and my brother drove my mom home. I listened to the Hamilton Mixtape on my way home. I skipped "Quiet Uptown".