Saturday shoe shopping

You know how when you have no motivation to write & would rather sit on the couch bingeing “Say Yes to the Dress” writer’s block and the advice always is to write what you know? Well, I know about shopping. And shoes. And hanging out with friends who also know about shopping and shoes. In fact, those are some of the things I do best.

Also: Warning–the following post is NSFHusbands. And by “husbands,” I mean mine. So, John Lewis Pitts, just look away. This does not concern you. (Well, actually, it probably concerns him a lot because this is a man who reaches for the duct tape instead of a credit card when his computer bag breaks. Just sayin’.)

So, a couple of friends & I were in Decatur, Alabama, recently. And because it was in the IMG_5991.JPGmiddle of the day & we knew we shouldn’t hit the bars (yet), we did the next best thing & went shoe shopping at Blue Ribbon Shoes–also known as Best Place Ever in the Whole Wide World to Buy Shoes. This was my first time, and I have to admit that I’d heard my two friends–one of whom I shall for no reason at all randomly call “Judy S.”–rave about this place so often that I was skeptical. I mean, really, how good can it be? Answer: That good. I’m talking rows & rows of cute new wear-now shoes at prices that that will make you think that you’re looking at the tag backwards. Or that you’ve lost a contact & aren’t seeing cleIMG_5993arly. Judy S. must have sensed my previous skepticism because I swear she was sort of smirking as she watched me take it all in. And I not only took it all in, but I nearly took it all home. (Disclaimer: The above photo may or may not be my purchases and may or may not be all of my purchases.) Luckily we all three were able to find correctly sized shoe happiness. There were no sneaky moves such as hiding a coveted pair of sandals in the boot section (a classic T.J. Maxx trick) or misdirecting attention (“Look, aren’t those the black Franco Sarto pumps you wanted?”) away from the only TOMS watermelon print espadrilles on the 7-7.5 table.

Now, before you go to Blue Ribbon, be aware that this is true discount shoe shopping. No one will offer you wine. There are no fancy bags for your purchases. In fact, it reminds me of the places I shopped with my two young daughters when I was a single mom without a lot of money & Older Daughter asked me one day, plaintively, “Mom, can we someday buy shoes that come with boxes?” (Bless.Heart_corazón.svg) You can ask for the boxes at Blue Ribbon, but why would you? It only slows you down. Fewer boxes means more room for the, you know, actual shoes. Just remember to remove the price stickers from the bottom of your new treasures, especially if you tend to sit with other people & swing your legs.


The folks at Blue Ribbon are friendly & helpful & efficient & don’t mind checking in the back for that last pair of black heels. They put new merchandise out on the floor every day, said the woman at the cash register. I envision a constant stream of shoe deliveries, 24/7, based on the number of people shopping the day we were there & the promise of fresh inventory at every visit.

So pick a Saturday & grab a shopping buddy & check it out. But those Pierre Dumas Women’s Brenna-1 Two-Tone Canvas Fisherman Sandal with Decorative Ankle Strap, Sand Combo, size 8.5 you’ll see for $10 less than everywhere else? Mine. Unless there’s an extra pair in the back.

Please note that this post is not sponsored or paid for in any way. All opinions are my own & are not influenced by anybody else, except for Judy S., who said that since the brown sandals looked so good on me , maybe I should get the gray ones, too.



The Difference between Boys and Girls

photo (22)No, this is not THAT kind of post. Where is your mind, people??? It’s just that I wanted to share with you a prime example*** of the unassailable difference between men and women: shoes. You know where we’re headed, don’t you? This is my husband’s entire shoe collection, minus a beautiful pair of dress shoes he has carefully taken care of for years. His. Entire. Shoe. Collection. I can’t emphasize that enough. Because I literally will wear more pairs than this in a single day.  Also, my shoes are different. From each other. I don’t need to say anything else, do I? Just ponder on that.

*** This was one of my dad’s favorite phrases back in the day, as in, “That is a prime example of what happens when you don’t pay attention,” which, it will come as no surprise, was usually directly at my middle brother because I ALWAYS listened and anything the baby brother — also known as The Favorite Child of All Time — did was just fine and dandy. In fact, I don’t think he ever was prime-exampled.

Style and Ethical Consumerism Lessons Learned from My Child

Back in the olden days, the natural order of things was parents passing wisdom and valuable lessons down to their children because parents were the ones who KNEW THINGS. But that was long ago — way back when you had to stay in one spot to talk on the telephone — and times have changed. Now, parents KNOW NOTHING and we depend on our children to keep us up-to-date. At least that’s how it works in my family. Older Daughter, for example, is the one who got me hooked on Pinterest, TOMS and an interesting book called “Hunger Games.” And recently Younger Daughter has introduced me to two new obsessions: Acure Facial Toners and Roma Boots.  I can’t even begin to tell you how good these products are — for you and for others. Acure uses organic and Fair Trade ingredients (as well as minimal and recyclable packaging) in its skin- and body-care lines, and this facial toner is seriously good stuff. I’ve got a bottle stashed at the office — the refreshing hydrating spray of wonderfulness is perfect when you need more than a brisk walk to the break room for gossip and coffee to revive you. And it smells oh-so-good! Roma Boots smell, good, too —  not only in that brand-new-shoe smell that makes you feel rich and prosperous but in that I’ve-done-something-good-for-someone-and-I-look-damn-cute-too sort of way. Roma Boots was started by a native of Romania, who was anguished to see Roma (or “gypsy”) children in the cold and wet streets without proper — or any — shoes. The company will donate a pair of boots plus school supplies to a child in need when you buy a pair of Roma’s all-weather lightweight, stylish and natural rubber-soled boots. That’s TWO people with dry feet for the price of one — a deal you cannot pass up.

Shopping Is Fun! That Is, if You Go with the Right Person

This photo was taken about eight minutes after the store opened, and three minutes after this corner was full of shoppers plopping bargain-priced boxed Christmas trees in their carts. They then moved on to the tool aisles, while we stayed and picked out poinsettias and evergreen wreaths in relative peace and quiet.

I like shopping. I like bargains. But I also like sleep, which I guess is why I’ve never done Black Friday. That, and as a newspaper reporter I always worked the day after Thanksgiving (& was damn lucky to get Thanksgiving off) and simply couldn’t manage both power shopping and deadline writing in the same day. But now that I live the financially challenging free & flexible life of a freelance writer, I can get up at 2 a.m. and hunt those door-busting deals with enthusiasm. And with Older Daughter, who talked me into going with her this year for my first Black Friday experience. “It’ll be fun,” she said. “It’s relaxing. Really.” Given all the scary stories I’d seen through the years, I was skeptical, but this is the young woman who has produced two of the Cutest Grandbabies Ever in the History of the World, so I figured she knew what she was talking about. Turns out she was correct:  Black Friday shopping — the way she does it, at least — is fun and stress-free. Her secrets? First, she researches and prepares by studying all the newspaper circulars. She knows which stores she’ll go to to buy specific items and which stories she’ll go to merely to browse. From her years of experience (she has stood outside in freezing sleet and spent hours in barely crawling checkout lines), she knows which stores to avoid when and which stores are worth  some discomfort and crowding. Second, she also knows in which stores you’ll find the most helpful and best-trained Black Friday staff (Home Depot excels at this) and in which stores you’re pretty much on your own because the yawning uninterested employees couldn’t care less. She knows how to ask about truck arrivals and restocking times and “do you maybe have any of these in the back?” She knows to grab anything you’re interested in while you ponder and discuss the competing merits of a Rock Star Mickey versus a Let’s Rock! Elmo — and she knows to put the rejects back where they belong so others can ponder them, too. Third, she has a great attitude and never gets upset or tense, even when the last pair of size 8 Tom’s Chocolate Canvas Women’s Classic at 25 percent off is gone before she can get to it. She simply switches gears and goes for the Brown Metallic Woven Women’s Cordones instead. No problem. She also approves of frequent treats, so she had me at “And as soon as Starbucks opens and if we’re doing well at that point …” Plus, she was also correct that being out in the pre-dawn hours with other for-the-most-part good-natured shoppers is sort of fun. On the other hand, it probably has a lot to do with who you’re with. Thanks, sweetie, for including me in your annual holiday shopping kickoff. I’ve already started saving up for next year.


There is no way in the world that I could ever wear these shoes, but that does not stop me from drooling all over them and creating a scene at the mall. Actually, I was creating a scene by taking pictures of these beauties, which people don’t usually do at my local mall — but I am a determined blogger dedicated to bringing you the newest and the best, no matter the cost. And, truthfully, when I first walked by, my immediate reaction was, “Have they installed a Lady-Gaga section now?” Even more truthfully, my original immediate reaction was, “Have they installed a hootchie-mama section now?” but when I used the term “hootchie mama” the other day my 23-year-old daughter claimed she’d never heard that saying so I figured I’d better act as if I’m in the 21st century and put “hootchie mama” to rest. And, just to be clear, I in no way think Lady Gaga is a hootchie mama. She is a talented and hard-working performer and I wish her every success. It’s just that nobody can deny she wears hootchie-mama shoes. And we all know that a little bit of hootchie mama can be a good thing.


Shoe Tree on U.S. 72 WestYou have to look carefully, but when you do, you’ll see that Shoe Treethis tree on U.S. Hwy. 72 west, just west of Cherokee, Alabama, is full of shoes. It’s been this way for at least a couple years, and nobody is sure how it got started — or why. Or at least, nobody’s telling. You’re just driving along and then you look up and there are dozens of pairs of shoes nestled in and dangling from this tree. It’s a true mystery. I drive past it at least twice a week and I’ve never seen anybody adding their contributions — yet the Shoe Tree grows and thrives. Some say the Shoe Tree has its origins in the infamous wave of Shoes Thrown Over the Power Line in downtown Florence, Alabama, several years ago. This was a power line across from a local coffee house that was a hangout for the youngsters (actually, the sidewalk in front of the coffee house was the preferred spot) and every once in a while the within-tossing-distance power line would sprout a decoration of tied pairs of shoes. Did those Shoe Throwers grow up and now commute on U.S. 72 every day? My investigative-reporting skills have failed to find the answers. But that’s OK — I’ve got my eye on a pair of black stiletto pumps if I can just figure out how to get to the top branch.

Shoe Shopping

Shoe shoppingBelk shoe saleAre there any words more dear to a woman’s heart than “shoe sale?” There’s just something about a sea of markdowns that we cannot resist. This past weekend some friends and I were in Birmingham, Alabama, for the funeral of another friend’s Shoe shoppingmother. After the service, we needed some therapeutic girl-time, and there’s no better place than a sale at Southern department-store icon Belk. It’s definitely the place to be, female-wise. My friends were on the hunt for specific  shoes for upcoming weddings and christenings and I’m always open to the siren song of possibility — “I don’t really need these 4-inch purple snakeskin platform sandals or these bright turquoise-and-yellow pointy-toe flats but you never know when they might come in handy.” That is, I was open to possibilities of expanding my own personal shoe options until somehow, from many miles away, my husband felt the cosmic vibration of me being in the middle of a shoe sale and called to forestall any impulsively major purchase. How does he do that???


Shoes Oh, baby — come to mama! I am so in love with these shoes that I Chique in Oxford, Mississippigot this past week at Chique, an unbelievably cute boutique on the square in Oxford, Mississippi. Tucked in the back of a dress shop on South Lamar Street, Chique is the sort of place that your girly sexy soul sort of sighs in contentment whenever you Chiquewalk in. Chique came about after owner Angel Overstreet had gone on several mission trips to Brazil and decided to “help the Brazilian Shoespeople by sharing our favorite souvenir,” according to the Chique Web site — and she started with her hometown of Oxford. It’s quite obvious that these shoes aren’t from around here, as we say. Every pair was sultry and playful and sophisticated and comfortable and affordable — and talking directly to me. I finally narrowed my choices down to two pairs and had to call in reinforcements and drag my friends from their own shopping adventures to help me decide. I love these because they’re a bit more versatile — the other pair was definitely dressy but this pair can go with anything and even on into fall. For less than $100, too. Jackpot! And, to my dear husband who I know is reading this: I only bought these shoes for the purposes of journalistic investigation. And I don’t think I got the whole story, so I’m thinking a followup visit is necessary. Who’s with me? Check out the Web site at