Sunday, December 19, 2010

December 18 - party slip ons




What: Size 8W beaded mules
From: Naturalizer (outlet)
Purchased: December 03 or 04 - maybe 06? Not sure but it was a Christmas we were in Florida
Cost: $10

I have a very stylish friend who I shop with on occasion. One time, she found a cool pair of beaded deep red mules that she declared would be perfect as hostess shoes for an upcoming New Year's Eve family dinner she was hosting. Doesn't that sound glamorous? So when I found these at the Naturalizer outlet for only $10, I thought, aha! My very own hostess slippers! Not quite as fancy as my friend's, but still nice. I've worn them a few times, and intended to wear them for our holiday open house on the 18th, but my cozy slippers were far too comfortable. But these are still perfectly good shoes.

Bottom line: keeper

December 18 - slippers



What: light blue size 8 velour slippers
From: charter club
Purchased: Christmas gift in 2005 or 06
Cost: gift!

Slippers count as shoes, right? Well, as often as I wear them. I have 2 pairs of cozy slippers, but I'm not sure where the older ones are right now. Shoved someplace deep in my closet, I suspect. I got these as a present a few years ago and didn't wear them since I had slippers I really liked. But I busted these out last winter.

We had a holiday open house on the 18th, and I had these on doing prep work and they were so comfy I just left them on for the party. But I disappointed a few of my shoe fans. So later I put on my party shoes, but they didn't last long before I went back to the slippers.

Bottom line: keeper

Saturday, December 11, 2010

December 10 - t-straps

What: Size 8 t-strap pumps with 2.5 inch heels
From: Naturalizer (outlet)
Purchased: mid 90s, '96 or '97
Cost: can't remember, but those clearance racks at Naturalizer outlet have been very, very good to me over the years, so I will make an educated guess at $18

Oh I have had and loved these shoes a long time. I just like the old fashioned look to them. My favorite outfit to wear with them is a teal suit, with a long slim skirt and color blocked jacket. I also wore them to Elizabeth's baptism with a black sweater set and black patterned skirt.

Sadly, they have become quite worn, and the heel on one has come completely off.
So they'd need some repair. But they are really comfortable. But, in a fashion sense, nude hose have really become a fashion don't over the past few years, and you really have to wear hose with these. And they are quite worn. But I can't give them up just yet.

Bottom line: repair pile

*edited to add:  discarded, because I later bought a new pair of t-straps as a replacement.  Farewell, old friends!  

Friday, December 10, 2010

December 9 - more mary janes

What: Size 8 black fabric square toe mary janes with 2.5 inch heel
From: Bandolino (likely Lord and Taylor)
Purchased: early 00s
Cost: Not sure, but making an educated guess they were around $35

I love Mary Janes. There's just something cute but school-girl-ish about them that appeals to me. I have more than a fair number, I'm going to have to admit. I used to wear these all the time, with tights, a pleated skirt, white shirt, and gray sweater vest.

And when I say all the time, I mean all the time. The right shoe has wear on the inside heel, and the bottoms are quite worn.

Not ready to give them up, but the wear is definitely worrisome. They don't have much time left, but I will treasure what little time we still have together!

Bottom line: Keeper

Thursday, December 9, 2010

December 8 - I love shoes that make me happy

What: size 8 purple suede mary janes with a 2.75 inch heel
From: Franco Sarto (purchased online from Amazon)
Purchased: March 10, 2010
Cost: $35.50

So, I just spent 15 minutes going back through my purchase histories to discover the exact date and cost of these shoes. These are one of the two pairs of Franco Sarto shoes I stalked all last winter before finally buying. Astute readers may remember that I gave up shopping for Lent, allowing myself two exceptions - those two pairs of shoes. I though I had made it through Lent without buying anything, but amazon records don't lie. Bought these right smack in the middle of Lent. But I had planned for the purchase, so I don't feel badly. Plus, look at them!

Imagine looking down and seeing cute purple peek out from your pants. Love. Call me shallow, but I don't care. It makes me happy.


I wore these with trouser jeans, a purple t, and an animal print sweater, pictured above. I actually do not wear much animal print as I am never quite sure I am wearing it right, so the animal print sweater was going out on a limb for me. I was stymied by what the animal print actually was, however. But luckily, E's stuffed animal collection clarified it for me: snow leopard! I think.

Bottom line: oh, totally a keeper. Love these. When I am stressed all I have to do is think of thee and I feel calmer. Seriously.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

December 3 - another low heel black pump

What: Size 7.5 black patent 1.5 inch heel pumps with stitching and bow
From: Unisa (Lord and Taylor)
Purchased: '05-'07 or so
Cost: $25

When I unearthed these shoes, I realized I have been on a low heel black pump quest for years, and it's still unfulfilled. I have those basic blah pumps, another boring pair, and more slingbacks and mules and other black shoes than I can count. Well, I am counting them, but I'm not done yet and haven't fully labeled all my posts. Black shoes are a staple. The problem is, I don't have a perfect pair of black low heel shoes yet. Believe it or not. Low heel for everyday wear/walking is the key - something stylish with about a 2 inch heel that can be worn multiple ways with multiple outfits. I'm pretty good for summer sandals, though most of them are fairly old and so I need to start thinking about the next sandals I get. For fall/winter/spring, these are pretty close. They are fairly stylish. The patent limits their use a bit, plus the stitching. But these are pretty good shoes. I actually thought they were uncomfortable (so I rarely wore them) but they proved their worth.

Bottom line: keeper

Friday, December 3, 2010

December 2 - so I keep these too, I guess

What: size 7 duck shoes
From: who knows
Purchased: ~1986
Cost: free to me

I've had these shoes since high school. My friends at college, especially Kdot, used to laugh at me when I wore them. Because my foot is wide, and these are size 7, Kdot would say these made my foot look absurdly small, while simultaneously making my foot appear as wide as it is long.

I continued to wear them anyway.

They've been in the closet in E's room for years. I've been convinced for years they were too small, but couldn't bear to part with them because they made me smile. (My tendency to imbue objects with memories disturbs me.) I think my mom has said she'll take them on a couple of occasions, but they've remained. December 2 was a nice day, after two crappy days, but I pulled these out, thinking they'd go in the discard pile and I could wear my grey boots. I did wear my grey boots, but surprisingly, wearing thin trouser socks, these things actually fit. Well, that settles that, then. There's no way I can get rid of shoes that make me smile if they actually still fit. Whether I'll wear them much remains to be seen. Actually I did wear them for years, and the bottom tread is really wearing, so they don't have much life left. But a lot of smiles.

Bottom line: I am pathetically weak and destined for a life of hoarding, or perhaps death by falling shoe stacks, but these stay

Thursday, December 2, 2010

December 1 - cold and rainy needs bright red shoes

What: shiny red size 8 rain shoes
From: chillmark
Purchased: Hmmm. Can't remember. A while ago. Late 90s?
Cost: no idea. I do know I wouldn't have spent more than $20, so we'll go with that, though I bet it was cheaper

December 1 was a gray, rainy, pretty crappy day, so I pulled these out. I actually thought they no longer fit (so why do I keep shoes for years and years that don't fit and i never wear? Who knows?) but they turned out to be kinda comfy. I think my orthotics don't fit in them, so I stopped wearing them, but just for a short rainy jaunt they were perfectly fine to wear. Good to know, I'll keep them and maybe they'll get a ltitle bit of wear.

Bottom line: keeper

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November tally

OMG, I am never going to finish going through all my shoes. It's a burden, I tell you. I think maybe I was happier just living with my stacks and under-worn shoes. But once I get the tax deduction and clear out more space I think I will be happier. The process of getting there is not fun, though.

OK, anyway. For those actually reading along, it's actually mid-December and I am backdating because I am shameless (obviously). But now am finally through/caught up with November.

In the month of November, I wore/examined 15 pairs of shoes from my collection, at a total cost of $327, or average cost of $21.80. Of those, I am keeping 8, on the fence about 1, and donating 6.

So, I've been blogging shoes for 183 days.

I have shown you 119 pairs of my shoes. I am keeping 100 (!) (on the fence about 6 of those, though i think i gave my mom one of those 6, I need to go back and check), trashing 3, donating 16.

So keeping 100 and getting rid of 19 is a cull rate of 16%. (My goal remains 20%, which means I have stacks to get rid of!).

And, I estimate that over the past 17 years or so I've spent $3253.75 on shoes, or an average cost of $27.34 per shoe.

Wow, so that means I'm keeping 100 pairs of shoes. And I still have another, um, 40+ pairs to get through. That still hardly seems possible. So I soldier on!

November 30 - I love my clodhoppers

What: size 8 wide, umm, I'm not even sure how to describe these. Loafers?
From: Naturalizer (outlet)
Purchased: October '03 - possibly '04, but I am fairly certain 03
Cost: $10

Oh these shoes make me laugh. My friend KG suggested we take advantage of a mid week day off and drive to Rehoboth for some shopping. I encouraged her to buy a gorgeous dress at Ann Taylor that she still wears. I got pink gloves at JNY, and I really think I got at least one other pair of shoes, but am not sure which ones now, so maybe I did not. I got a great jean skirt, and a cool cord skirt. It was a good shopping day.

You know what, it was 2004. I checked - I had Kanye West's The College Drop Out, and she had LL Cool J's The DEFinition, and we listened to both several times on the drive down and back. And The DEFinition wasn't released until August '04. OK, glad we cleared that up.

Anyway, near the end of the day we hit Naturalizer and I was going through the discount racks when I saw these and popped them on. KG immediately said, take those clodhoppers off! But I was smitten. Yes, they were ugly, but kind of in a vaguely cool-ish way, and best of all they were CHEAP. And I had nothing like them. KG was - and still is - appalled by them. She brings it up to this day. I completely concede they are not stylish, but my point was they had a niche and were a good buy.

And sure enough, on my maternity leave with E? I wore these shoes nearly every freaking day. The per wear cost of these is less than penny. The bottoms are also getting quite worn, though, the rubber tread wearing smooth, so they won't be so dependable for much longer. They've got some wear left, though.

I, um, actually haven't worn them in a while because, well, I can't believe I am admitting this, but they were once pooped on by Aggie. One night, suffering from intestinal distress, the poor dog went into our closet and pooped. We were not happy, but there were no lsating damage. I cleaned them off but somehow the magic was gone, so they've been under my dresser for a couple of years. But, I was pleasantly surprised by how comfy they are, and on a crappy day, they are great to wear with jeans and a sweatshirt.

So, bottom line: Keeper

Monday, November 29, 2010

November 29 - camel

What: size 8 camel loafer pumps with small buckle
From: Enzo Angiolini (Lord and Taylor)
Purchased: ~2003 - 04
Cost: $35

Remember these? Camel heels that over time had become two different colors? I wrote I had acquired another pair of camel heels I liked better and the two toned ones were shoved to the back of my closet. These are the better ones. Love these shoes. Love the color, love the heel, love the fit. Love them so much though they are showing a little wear. I walk on the outsides of my heels (I over pronate? Under pronate? Who knows, bottom line I wear my shoes out from the outside heel in).

See how the outer edges of the rubber heel are almost worn to the wooden part of the heel? So what would typically happen is I'd notice the wear on these, start looking for another pair of camel shoes, and rarely wear these so as not to scuff them up any more. But now that I'm aware of that pattern, I can maybe stop doing it, and either just wear a wider variety of my shoes or perhaps even get these repaired.

They could use new rubber heels and a professional polish, but they're also fine enough now. I used to wear these all the freaking time with a pair of black pants with a window pane pattern in camel, a black t, and camel jacket. Love that outfit. One size too small right now. Sigh.

Bottom line: keeper

Sunday, November 28, 2010

November 27 - pink bows

What: size 8 pink satin peeptoe slingbacks with bows
From: Talbots (outlet)
Purchased: 2008 +/- 1 year
Cost: $20

I had seen these at Talbots and took note of them, but they were way too expensive and impractical. But then I ran across them in the outlet clearance center, and they were super cheap and still totally impractical, but I had to have them. So cute. I wore them to a black tie event in NYC in 2009, and then again this day to a wedding. Totally comfy (heel is not too high), totally cute, still pretty impractical. But you never know when you might have a chance to wear hot pink satin shoes with cute little bows on them! I hope to have many more chances.

Bottom line: keeper!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

November 22 - free shoes!

What: size 8 black velvet cross strap pumps with 2 inch heel
From: KF ltd
Acquired: 1998
Cost: free to me

My friend Ave was a bridesmaid in my friend G's wedding, and Kdot and I attended together (me leaving Rich behind to till the garnde of my rental house, but that's another story). These were the bridesmaids shoes, and after the reception we were talking to Ave and she said she was going to get rid of them. So of course I said don't do that, give them to me. Which she did. But, they have also sat on the upper shelf of my closet for years, completely unworn by me. Shoot, was that wedding in 1997? I am a crappy friend because I can remember the price of items purchased years ago, but not the year of good friend's weddings! What is wrong with me?

Anyway, besides that, I should get rid of these. I have little use for black velvet shoes. But they are cute. I'm sorry I never had a chance to wear them.

Bottom line: donate!

Monday, November 22, 2010

November 21 - blue ankle strap

What: Size 8 navy ankle strap pumps
From: Naturalizer (outlet)
Purchased: ?? early-mid 00s
Cost: They still have the sticker, $60 with a red tag, which means they were either 60 or 80% off. I am pretty sure it was 80%, so that would be $12

I bought these as part of my I should wear more blue phase, and I think they were super cheap. But they have also sat in their box on the top shelf of my closet for years, completely unworn. Their box has no lid so that's dust in the picture above!

Bottom line: time to go goodbye, I don't think it's worth trying to sell

Sunday, November 21, 2010

November 20 - another lilac

What: size 8 lilac slingbacks with 2.5 inch heel
From: Liz Claiborne (bought at some outlet, somewhere)
Purchased: early 00s
Cost: not entirely sure. I have them in black, too, so couldn't have paid much for them. My memory is fuzzy, but I kind of vaguely think they were super cheap, like $15, but let's say $20 to be more reasonable

Another pair of shoes, new in box, never worn, shoved up on the top shelf of my closet. I kind of like these, there's something interesting about the heel, and they are a pretty color. I bought them because they were cheap, but also because I had a pair of lilac mules I loved and wore often and wanted more lilac. But, I've never worn them. Not even once. I'm trying to finish out November by doing a big purge, but these are still exerting some pull. I have them in black, too, and they are not super comfortable, as I recall (I just pulled down the box and photo'ed, but didn't put them on).

Bottom line: a tough one. On the fence. Think I should ditch but hesitating.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

November 19 - navy discards

What: size 8 navy pumps
From: Parade of Shoes
Purchased: around 2000
Cost: $24

I go on a navy kick every once in a while, so that must be why I bought these. But I never wear much navy, and so these shoes have never been worn. Is Parade of Shoes still in business? There used to be a location by my office, but at least that location is gone. No idea about the chain. Anyway, goodbye box that takes up too much space in my closet. Time to roll up my sleeves, admit my bad ideas, and move on with my life.

Bottom line: donation

Friday, November 19, 2010

November 18 - dyed to match

What: Size 8 dyed Navy blue pumps
From: unknown bridal shop
Purchased: 1993? 1994?
Cost: ? $40? Can't remember

I am a bad friend for many reasons, but right now because I cannot remember what year my friend Fred (college nickname, long story) got married. Augh, this is driving me crazy. I don't think Fred reads this blog, but our friend Kdot (another college nickname) does, so she will correct me. Was it 95? No, definitely '93 or '94 as I was living in Silver Spring at the time. I have to wonder if K. still has her shoes? The dress was a lovely navy velvet, and I still have it.

I had a blast at this wedding, but I do not think I need these shoes any longer. I also think I never gave Fred a wedding present, about which I still feel guilty. Perhaps she would like some shoes?

Bottom line: donation

Thursday, November 18, 2010

November 17 - brown croc loafer pumps

What: size 8 3 inch heel brown croc loafer style pumps with brass chain
From: Nine West (macy's)
Purchased: 02-03-ish
Cost: $15

Do you know waht this shoe challenge is going to do? Wipe out my last remaining Nine West shoes. I bought these years ago, because they were super cheap and I was thinking I used to wear a lot of loafer style pumps and why didn't I do that anymore. And then I never wore them.

I have them on Craig's List for $20. No takers thus far. If none by Christmas, I'll donate.

Bottom line: gone one way or another

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

November 16 - gold pumps

What: Size 8 gold pumps with 2.5 inch heel
From: Nine West (unknown purchase, likely Hechts)
Purchased: early 90s
Cost: ? Let's say $32

Time to go through a bunch of shoes and just get rid of them. These have been on the shoe rack in Elizabeth's room since 2003, not worn once. That's why there are those little dents on the sides. What can I say, I've loved metallics for a long time. I've had these forever - I remember wearing them with a gold-ish (not metallic, but sort of that nude gold color) at the job I had in 1994.

Someone once asked me how I can remember prices and when and where I bought things. I have a good memory, but also, I've lived different places and had differnet sorts of jobs that required different sorts of outfits, so I can sort of pin shoes to specific outfits I would wear for different occasions. I loved that dress, I think I still have it. Might have gotten rid of it in the purge of 08. I have no excuse for keeping the shoes this long. Bye!

Bottom line: donated

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

November 15 - my mother made me do it

What: size 8 grey croc ankle boots with 2.5 inch heel
From: Talbots (outlet)
Purchased: November 10, 2010
Cost: $35

Folks, meet shoe purchase #20 for 2010. I seriously cannot believe I have purchased 20 pairs of shoes this year. And I can't believe I bought these, even though I love them. First, on November 10 I was feeling lousy with what was about to turn into a raging kidney infection. Plus, I was wearing crappy shoes. Add in I had just gotten a notice that the outlet store as having its seasonal sale with an extra 10% off, plus my mom had given me a gift card to Talbots and you have a perfect storm.

I tried these on on a whim. I am seriously craving a pair of grey shooties. I haven't been able to find any I really like and are affordable, though. So I slipped these on at the outlet and whaddya know, they felt super comfy, and looked sooo much more stylish with my dress pants than my blah easy spirit shoes. They were $78, 50% off, plus an extra 10% off, and I had a $25 gift card, which meant $10 out of pocket. After thinking about it for a while, I texted a couple of people. My friend TSM replied: was there ever any doubt you would get them? My sister, on the other hand, replied: I do not approve of this purchase. My sister, you see, knows I really, really want grey shooties. Ankle boots are not shooties. You wear them totally differently, and my sister knew I was subbing one desire for something I didn't deeply desire, thus leaving the deep desire unfulfilled.

Shooties are hot right now as a look with skirts and tights. Since they end at the ankle, you can wear a skirt. Ankle boots, on the other hand, end just below your calf, cutting off your leg visually at a thick point, so you cannot wear them with skirts. Only pants. I seriously debated for a long time in the store carrying these around. I knew I'd have to write about it here, you see. But, as you can see, they now belong to me. As TSM said, despite great internal (and external!) debate, there really wasn't much doubt.

Prior to my shoe challenge, I would have purchased these and then worn them all November and throughout the winter, pushing other shoes aside. And, since I am writing this in early December, but backdating to November, I can tell you that's exactly what I've done. I freaking love these boots. I was sick the weekend of the 12th, and still felt awful the 15th, but went to a job interview and wore these (with black pants, black shell, and green suit jacket with grey stitching). A man in the elevator complimented them! I only left the house 3 other times the rest of the next week, and wore these boots each time (with jeans). Love, love, love them. Excellent purchase. Super comfortable, looks great with professional or casual clothes. I'm going to have to discard more shoes so that I can wear these more often. Thanks Mom!

Bottom line: keeper!

But I still crave shooties.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Week 4 - Friday chicken and DONE!

Wow, ok, well, it ended up taking us over 6 weeks to go through a 4 week meal plan. Or wait, 7 weeks? We skipped the last week entirely, then started up again, but it took over a week - ok, so 6 weeks plus 3 days to finish up making 20 meals.

The final meal of the 20 was Cajun Chicken with Collard Greens. I was actually looking forward ot this dish and it was only illness that prevented it being made on time. And, actually Rich ended up making it all as I was still feeling woozy. The Real Simple blogger liked it.

Was the recipe easy to follow?
Seemed to be easy and quick.

Adjustments?
I really, really don't like black eyed peas. I choke one down (yes, precisely one) every New Year's Day for luck, but that is it. So we subbed black beans. And it needed a side - yellow rice.

Did it taste good?
Yummy! I think, in retrospect, the greens needed a splash of vinegar.

Kid friendly?
Eh. They ate the yellow rice, of course, and Elizabeth's chicken was not seasoned a lot, so they ate some. Pretty much a pass on the collards, though.

Would we make it again?
Hmm. Yeah, maybe. The leftovers sat around, so not sure it was the greatest hit ever. I might make it if I get on a 'we need to eat more greens' kick.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November 10 - blah black


What: Size 8 black fabric pumps with 2 inch heel
From: Easy Spirit (bought unknown)
Purchased: ??
Cost: ?? Let's say $25

These have got to be the most blah shoes I own. Designed to be reasonably comfortable and completely boring. They are so boring and blah I have no idea of where or when I got them. But if you want to have a sturdy pair of pumps for a lot of walking, these manage to fit that niche. While being completely 100% unstylish. There is not an ounce of style in them. But, there are times you have a conservative meeting that also requires a fair amount of walking, and these unobtrusively work with pants in that circumstance. Especially if it's raining or something and you don't want better shoes to get dirty or wet. I got a couple of "ditch them" comments over my easy spirit penny loafers, which surprised me as penny loafers are a fairly basic staple that I consider inoffensive. (The picture for the penny loafers makes it look like I wore them with a skirt though, and that wasn't the case, actually, but I took the photo the next day when I did have on a skirt and I agree, that would be a total no-no, but I digress). Anyway, if the penny loafers were unstylish and boring, these are an order of magnitude worse. But yet they do fit a niche: bad weather, pants, lot of walking, conservative meeting. So they will stay.

Bottom line: keeper for infrequent wear

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

November 4 - bordeaux suede


What: Size 8 quilted suede and patent mary janes with 2 inch heel, in a rich purple-y red color
From: Franco Sarto (Lord & Taylor)
Purchased: January 2009
Cost: $25

I love these shoes. The fourth of the 5 shoes I bought in late December '08 - early January '09, when I was unemployed with a 2 month old. These might be my favorite from that time, and they've certainly gotten the most wear. They actually caused me to go on a Franco Sarto buying spree - I stalked a few shoes online for quite a while and bought two pairs of suede mary janes in 2010, both pairs as yet still unworn. These are a perfect heel height, totally comfortable, perfect with dress pants or jeans. (I have the pants pulled up a bit to try and show the shoes in the photo above) Love. I could have gotten these in black or navy blue back in January '09, and I kind of wish I had. These are looking a little worn, but they've got quite a bit of life in them yet!

Bottom line: keeper

November 3 - a brown thrift store find

What: size 8 brown and tan loafers, 2 inch heel, with bow
From: Naturalizer (bought at thrift store)
Purchased: October 2010
Cost: $17

And here's #18 for the year. I saw these earlier this fall at the thrift store that is one block from my house. This thrift store is in a totally Dangerous Location. Walking to Target? walk right past it. Headed to the Metro? Walk right past it. Library? walk by it, though it's on the other side of the street, exerting its magnetic pull. In short, it is too close to my house. TOO close. (Luckily, Elizabeth's school and the bus downtown - well, 2 of the 3 downtown bus options - are the opposite direction.)

Anyway, I liked these when I saw them, but the thrift store prices all shoes at $24. That's a great price if they're Kate Spade (an awesome pair of funky yellow green sandals that were unfortunately too big for me, sigh). But come on - my average price for completely brand new Naturalizer shoes is less than $18! There was no way I could buy used (slightly used, but definitely worn by some stranger used) Naturalizer shoes for over 20 bucks. But when they ran their $24=$17, now, that was a different story. These shoes are great. Love them. Perfect height. The thing I've been learning in reviewing my shoes is that a good mid-height heel will get a lot of wear. High heels, as much as I love them, just don't fit with my life right now. These would be getting a ton of wear if I wasn't trying to work my way through all my shoes.

I have a good friend in the neighborhood and we try to get to the thrift store every couple of weeks. My sister is coming by and I want to take her there. TSM, when are you going to come visit and go shopping with me?

Bottom line: keeper

Monday, November 8, 2010

Week 4 - Thursday flatbread

Still catching up. This was Thursday the 4th's meal. I said to Rich in advance, I think we've got a dud here and sure enough this was not a hit. No pic.

Thursday's meal was Sweet Potato and Brie Flatbread.

Was the recipe easy to follow?
It was. I have looked for good recipes for pizza dough because it can be so easy and quick. I was hopeful, but it was not to be.

Adjustments?
For the meal, I skipped the salad as a side. Instead we had tomato soup and green beans. I also used wheat pizza dough, which worked fine.

Did it taste good?
I thought it did. The brie really melted away into the bread, so it wasn't as good or cheesy as I wanted. Rich hated it. He just thinks pizza should be pizza with a sauce and thick covering of cheese. I have a really tasty flatbread recipe with mushrooms and greens and roasted red peppers and while he will eat it, he always asks where the sauce is.

Kid friendly?
Not really. Elizabeth, for whatever reason, has never been a fan of the yellow/orange vegetable family. She didn't eat much. Andrew toyed with it and maybe ate a few bites.

Would I make it again?
Interestingly, the Real Simple blogger thought maybe she'd make this again and cut in small squares and serve as an appetizer. I think that might be the only way I'd make it again. Though I do think it might need to cook a few minutes, then add the brie, maybe? That might help.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Week 4 - Wednesday steak

OK, wow, really trying to finish up this cooking challenge. I wish I had kept it up in real time, without skipping that last week, because the Real Simple Food Blog featured two bloggers who had blogged along. Ah, it could have been me. Oh well, I'll have to chase fame another way. This food thing became more about learning more about who we are as a family of eaters and cookers, and once I get to the end of the recipes, I'll do one wrap up post with some of my thoughts.

But for now, Weeks 4's Wednesday meal was Seared Steak with Cauliflower puree. No pics.

Was the recipe easy to follow?
Super easy, fairly quick. Wednesday is soccer night, so there was zero time, plus the kids were going crazy during food prep, so I just gave up on the idea of the olive garnish, which I think of a classic in Cuban cooking. I would have had to make that at a separate time, or just had more than 15 minutes. The Real Simple blogger described a night that is kind of like our nights, except that I insist on us all eating together as a family, at roughly 6:30 pm. It's not always easy, strike that, it's never easy, but for the most part it works for us as a family.

Adjustments?
No olive stuff, which would have been good, but was fine without it. Also, we don't have a food processor, and so the hand held immersion blender worked fine. My carb loving kids needed a side dish, so just heated up some noodles and called it a side.

Did it taste good?
Delish. Wish I had the time for the olive part. I am not a fan of cauliflower, but most of it is mental as I really like brocoli. There's jsut something about the white cauliflower that, well, bleah. But I thought this was ok. Not great, but ok.

Kid-friendly?
E sniffed at the cauliflower and asked what it was, and I quickly answered puree. She ate some. Andrew ate some. They both like meat a lot, so that was a hit.

Would we make it again?
I think so. It was good, not that hard to make.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

November 1 - short black boots

What: size 8.5 short black boots with 1.5 inch heel, zipper up back
From: Etienne Aigner, bought at thrift store
Purchased: October 30, 2010
Cost: $17

#19 for the year. I'll get to 18 in a day or two, but these I could not pass up. I've wanted, for a number of years, a pair of low heel, more casual short black boots. There is a small clothing thrift store one block from my house that carries great brands. It started as more of a cast off clothing place at rock bottom prices, but over time, has morphed into a definite savvy thrift store business. I believe they are clearly buying lots (not lots as in number, but lots as in a pre-sorted box at auction kind of thing) of clothes from some sort of consolidator. It's just become too specialized in specific brands, quality, styles, and sizes. For example, the consolidator sorts through a bunch of donations, and sorts clothes by designer, size, and condition of clothes. This thrift store is buying sets of high quality Ann Taylor, LOFT, Banana, Gap, and J Crew as their bread and butter, with the sprinkle of Talbots, Lily Pulizter BCBG, Tahari, etc. I never once go in there without seeing something I own, or recognize from a line I know well. Most items are priced $7-$19. And then sometimes there's an occasional super high end brand, but it is priced accordingly (a Nannette Lepore dress for $75 last week, for example). They also frequently run specials (to clear out inventory, I presume - $7 item for $4, or $9 items for $7, etc).

A friend told me she had scored a pair of great boots here that looked like they had never been worn. So on a whim Halloween weekend I stopped in and saw they were still running their shoe special ($24 now $17), and had extended that to boots, and they had a lot of boots. And then I saw these and grabbed them. They look like they've never been worn. I wasn't 100% confident of the fit, but wasn't wearing great socks, so could not pass up Etienne Aigner low black boots for $17. But then I thought, you know, these aren't going to fit perfectly, which means I will keep looking for comfy low heel low black boots and will end up with two pairs.

So it was with some trepidation that I broke them out for first wearing on November 1. And guess what? They fit like a glove. Love. Perfect. Niche complete.

And then the next day I popped in a discount store (Syms) and guess what else? They had a ton of these exact boots for $40. Just further proof that my little neighborhood thrift store is anything but.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Week 4 - FINALLY - Monday's pork

Yikes! We were really disciplined about cooking at home 5 nights a week for the first three weeks, then week 4 totally fell apart, and it wasn't entirely easy getting back to it this past week. But we did cook 3 of the 5 meals (so far), so catching up.

Monday was supposed to be a pork dish, with Tuesday salmon. I hate salmon. Plus, unless it is wild caught, it's possibly the worst environmental choice out there - I know waaaay too much about salmon farming. I don't really know all that much about shrimp farming so it's easy to just pretend it's not a big deal, but I know far too much about salmon farming. My friends: don't eat farmed salmon. It is bad news. So, when good friends came into town Monday night (who happen to work on farmed salmon issues!), it was easy to shelve this, go out to dinner, and restart cooking on Tuesday night. So, Tuesday we had Roasted Pork with Polenta.

Was the recipe easy to follow?
It was - fast and easy. The polenta got a little lumpy, but was still good.

Adjustments?
I bought boneless pork medallions instead of chops, due to availability at our store. Also ,this needed an additional vegetable.

Did it taste good?
Eh. The pork was not great. I think I just have ot say that meat needs to be marinaded. It just needed more. Maybe the medallions needed more flavor than chops would have? Dunno.

Kid friendly?
They liked it, and even ate some polenta. We eat grits fairly often for breakfast, and usually make cheese grits. One of the secrets to good cheese grits is a couple of dashes of garlic salt or garlic powder, so I wish I had added some to the polenta.

Would we make it again?
Hmm. I don't know. It was easy, but it just needed something else. I guess I would say it was kind of fine, but didn't really have anything that made us excited. I have a lot of polenta left over, though, so maybe we'll give it another whirl with just a little more added to the recipe. What else could we add to the tomatoes? Olives. Maybe artichoke hearts? Capers. And of course marinade the pork in criollo, or heck this would be fine with chicken (which of course had been marinaded first). And I'm not sure gruyere ($$) is really needed for the polenta - it would be just as good with parmesan polenta, or what we do with grits is throw in a variety of cheese. Hmm, now that I'm thinking about it, this could become a staple with a few changes.

For those keeping track, the Tuesday recipe was Salmon with Potato Salad. Again, buy wild salmon - wild salmon from Alaska is actually a great choice. Or, a decent substitution for salmon might be arctic char, which some people (including Rich) think has more flavor than farmed (aka Atlantic) salmon.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

October tally

OK, well, I was going to do discards for the rest oft he month, but it's Nov 4th and I just want to catch up at this point. So, my October tally of my increasingly ridiculous shoe challenge.

In the month of October, I wore 21 pairs of shoes from my collection, at a total cost of $692, or average cost of $32.95.

So, I've been blogging shoes for 153 days.

I have shown you 104 of my shoes. I am keeping 91 (on the fence about 5 of those), trashing 3, donating 10.

So keeping 91 and getting rid of 13 is a cull rate of 12.5%. (My goal remains 20%, which means I have stacks to get rid of!).

And, I estimate that over the past 17 years or so I've spent $2926.75 on shoes, or an average cost of $28.14 per shoe. Hmm, somehow I need to subtract out the discards for these price totals, right? Not sure what to do about that, but shoes i no longer own shouldn't be counted, right?

I've started a more elaborate tagging system of labels because I was totally losing track. But still need to go back and re-tag many many more posts.

It'll be 2011 before I finish cataloging my shoes. Plus I still think there is a box of older shoes in the attic (black slouch boots!) that I cannot find. So stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

October 27 - ruby patent peeps


What: Size 7.5 dark red patent peep toe slingbacks with 3.5 inch heel and slight platform
From: AK Anne Klein (Lord and Taylor)
Purchased: 2007
Cost: $40

Love these shoes. But they are too high for any sort of regular wear. I actually wore them on the 26th - on Rich's birthday, he worked downtown and finished up early. I drove downtown to meet him and have a drink, and then we went home, got the kids, and Metro-ed back downtown to go out to dinner. I wore these for the driving part of getting downtown, scored great parking, and just knew there was no way I could walk from home to the metro with a stroller and two kids, then walk to the restaurant and then do it all in reverse. Kids are not conducive to a high heeled lifestyle. And let's face it, I'm also out of practice - I'm just not as comfortable in higher heels as I once was. Still, these are great shoes, comfortable and stylish.

Bottom line: keeper

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

October 26 - the best of the bunch

What: size 38 black spotted kitten heels with red accent
From: Boden
Purchased: 2005
Cost: $115

These are the most expensive shoes I own and without a doubt the snazziest (I have another super cool pair that are actually kind of similar, but not quite at this level of snazzy). Love them, had to have them. I might have bought them in 2006, actually, but I've not had them that long. After leaving my non-profit advocacy job, and working at a job that wasn't remotely emotionally rewarding, then coming back from maternity leave, somewhere in that time period I sort of realized work was for making money (as opposed to saving the world) and if I was going to work, I was going to enjoy what I could buy. So these came along right during that time.

They are so distinctive I don't wear them that often. I would wear them to work with black tights, black skirt, black sweater and red scarf. But I was never fully satisfied with that look. Maybe they really are not professional shoes! Tuesday night, nice dark jeans and a black silk top worked great for a snazzy, more casual outfit, and the lower heel means they are fairly easy to wear, though I didn't wear any sort of trouser sock or hosiery, and they are a wee bit pinchy.

I should wear these more often. I've probably only worn them a handful of times, making their per wear cost fairly high. I love them so much I don't want any chance of any wear or scuffing. If there is any slight possibility of rain I can't wear them! Or if there has been rain and there are puddles. Or there can't be any possibility of having to walk on grass or dirt. And snow is an absolute no-no. Also, preferably no concrete. Really, they should only be worn indoors under tightly controlled conditions. Yes, I may be a bit too obsessive about these.

Bottom line: keeper!


Monday, November 1, 2010

October 25 - following advice


What: size 7.5 blue suede pumps with 2.5 inch heel
From: Nine West - maybe bought at Hecht's
Purchased: 1993 or 94
Cost: $32 - guess

The other day on Facebook someone posted an except from Clinton Kelly's new book, Oh No She Didn't. The post shared The Top 10 Mistakes We Make. #10 - scuffed up heels. I love Clinton Kelly, and he's right - at 42, owning well over 100 pairs of shoes, there is no reason why I should hold onto shoes that are this beat up. I loved these shoes. I wore them to Rich and my first valentine's dinner. Also wore them to my job interview at SW. I really like the heel, the curve is almost Louis XIV, but not quite. But I've not worn them in years, maybe a decade, because they are just too worn. So, it's time to say goodbye, especially since they've been living on the shoe rack in E's room and I really want that thing cleared.

Bottom line: discard

Today starts NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month. So I'll catch up on October and then be a more regular poster this month. Have to run out to the grocery store to shop for this week, too.

Friday, October 29, 2010

October 24 - I did a bad, bad thing

On October 5th, I did my September tally of shoes, and typed I had bought 16 pairs of shoes this year, more than many of my friend own in total. I was thinking about this, and reviewing my purchases, wondering what I might do differently. Were there any purchases I regret making?

I hate the rain boots, but that was a good purchase for that specific time.

I really did not need the gold strappy sandals, but they are cool and I don't regret buying them. They'll never go out of style.

I regret purchasing the ballet flats and flip flops when it turns out they were marked down the very next day - if I had bought at $25 and $12, I wouldn't have any regrets whatsoever (even if the flip flops are crippling me). The extra $23 spent bugs me, but not the shoes themselves.

I kind of regret the platinum wedges, since I really wanted gold sandals and I convinced myself they were gold when they really aren't.

I've worn, and thus written about, 14 of them, with still 2 to go (they are both suede, so waiting suitable weather and occasion - stay tuned, they are teed up for sometime in the next two weeks, I think).

So then I started wondering if there were any shoes I wish I had purchased. Any regrets for shoes eyed, but not bought? And only one popped to mind - the nude peep toe slingbacks.

And so, when I found myself in the Talbots outlet, presented with an opportunity, I must now confess my 17th purchase this year:
What: Size 8.5 nude lizard print peep toe slingbacks with 3.25 inch heel
From: Talbots (outlet)
Purchased: October 2010
Cost: $16

Dude, they were $16! And I regretted not buying them! I could not pass them by. Even though 8.5 is a little big on these, but I can tighten the back. I likely won't have a chance to wear them in 2010, so had to confess my purchase here. If I want to stop purchasing (which I must clarify is not actually something I really want to stop doing, I mostly just feel slightly greedy and wasteful with so many pairs of shoes), I need to stay out of the stores.

Bottom line for these: a total keeper, have to think of ways to wear them next spring/summer

The real bottom line: I'm going to buy more than 20 pairs this year. I want a pair of tall black boots, and I am desperately craving a pair of gray booties, though I am really trying to talk myself out of them. It feels....excessive. That's what I feel when I think about my shoes. I love the vast majority of them, and am glad I own them, but my shoe collection feels excessive.

And, it's difficult to count with all my posts, but I do believe this is the 100th pair of shoes I've written about. Which means I have another 70 or so to go, but I have to say, I don't feel like I have 70 more shoes to be worn. I feel like there is 20, maybe 25, remaining, but what that really means is I am holding onto shoes I never wear and will likely never wear and I MUST get rid of them. I'm looking at you, (most of the) top shelf of my closet and rack in Elizabeth's room.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

shirt decluttering

So as I've written about in shoes, I tend to hold onto things forever, stacking new things on top of old until I've created a future archeological dig. Hmm, though I cannot find where I wrote that in the past.

Anyway, after acquiring a couple of new t-shirts, my t-shirt drawer was in danger of exploding, so I went through it the other day. I moved a stack of shirts into deep storage (yes, i should have gotten rid of them, but I wasn't ready. They joined another stack of shirts that are just a hair too small in my way back closet).

But then, I actually did put 4 shirts into the discard pile! This is a bag of Rich's stuff that has been cluttering up the bottom of our closet for months. Possibly a year. We need to do a big drop off, including of stuff in our basement, and when that happens, guess what, I'm double counting that as one extra item because of the effort involved).

That re-orange shirt is killing me because it fits, it's just a little worn. I only wore it one season, but it's started pill-ing and the fabric looks blech. I have to hold on and keep it in the discard pile!

And then I threw out two things - one quite nice cable knit cotton sweater from Talbots that I really like but that developed a huge rip in the collar. Poor quality, Talbots! And then this shirt that I got two summers ago from the Gap for $17. Love the color and fit and wore it all the time, and mysteriously out of he blue it developed holes in front and back. Now that's poor quality.

It actually developed holes the first summer, but I held onto it wondering if I could salvage as I loved it, but it's never going to get better. Time to get rid of it.

Total items gone: 6

October 23 - red loafers


What: Size 7.5 red-tan hush puppies
From: Hush Puppies (hechts)
Purchased: 1996 or 97
Cost: $32

Another from the old shoe files. These have been hanging in Elizabeth's room since 2003 without being worn once. You know that adage if you haven't worn something in a year, throw it out? I pretty much bust that wide open.

I used to wear these a fair amount, but...I don't know. Just sort of outgrew them? (In terms of maturing my wardrobe, I mean.) They are also a wee bit pinch-y. But I got a ton of compliments on Saturday, and one very preppy woman even asked if they were Hush Puppies. I think after all these years they've moved into vintage territory, so I can't get rid of them!

Bottom line: keeper, though they will probably never get much wear. I'll move them into archival storage and bust them out on special occasions.

Week 3 - Fri-no sat-no Sunday pork

Oops, no picture from Sunday's Balsamic-Glazed Pork With Lentils. I did end up shopping on Friday and picked up all the ingredients, but a friend called and suggested dinner out so we shelved this recipe. Saturday we were feeling blah and in the mood for pizza, so we finally got around to this on Sunday night.

Was the recipe easy to follow?
Super easy and quick. We cook pork tenderloin a fair amount, and have never browned it - just roasted. Not sure it's worth the effort to brown when you can just slide it in the oven, but I think it may have given more flavor.

Adjustments?
This was another low carb recipe, and well, we like carbs. So we used our of our favorite yellow rice mixes. (the Real Simple blogger wanted a carb side, too).

Did it taste good?
Yummy.

Kid friendly?
They liked it. I was skeptical about the lentils, and almost prepared a green vegetable side dish, but they both ate a few bites of lentils.

Would we make it again?
Not super wild about the lentil dish. It makes a ton, which I guess makes sense if there is no other side dish. But they're not that flavorful - I didn't think it was a good flavor match for the pork. But otherwise it was a good variation on a standard meal.

So that catches us up to Week 4. And here's where it all really, really fell apart. We had friends over Sunday afternoon so I did not go to the grocery store. And on Monday, looking at our overstuffed fridge, I just said the hell with it and decided on leftovers. Tuesday was Rich's birthday, and we went out for dinner at a family style Italian restaurant, which left us with 5 pounds of leftover pasta in ragu. So last night we had more leftovers. And there's still more in the fridge, so last night I said to Rich, let's just skip this week, and restart up next week. He was happy to hear it.

I thought, with each recipe making 4 servings, I'd eat one, E&A would split one, Rich would eat one plus the rest of E&A's portion, and Rich would take the 4th serving for lunch the next day, but it's not entirely worked that way. So with a ton of fesitivities planned around Halloween, a fridge that is still full, and general blah, we're taking a week off.

I was simply not made for rigid plans. But check back in next week, as a couple of the recipes look like real winners. And after the orgy of excess this Halloween promises (7 events in 4 days!), a week of simple, healthy, wholesome food will be perfect.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Week 3 - Thursday strata

Last Thursday's meal was Mushroom and Herb Strata. This was the longest prep time recipe out of all 20, but with a little prep work it worked fine for a weeknight dinner.

Was the recipe easy to follow?
It was. A fair amount of prep, but pretty easy to make.

Adjustments?
I decided to use egg substitute for 4 of the 6 eggs, to cut down on fat and cholesterol. Also used 1% milk. I thought those changes allowed me to use a little extra cheese! If I were to make it again, I'd cut the bread into cubes in advance and let it dry a little beforehand as they didn't really retain their shape - I felt like I was making dressing not a strata. Also, even though it's called mushroom and herb strata, the only herb is parsley! I'd add more - oregano, thyme, something, anything, to make it a little more herb-y. I always thought when you made stratas you were supposed to pour the egg mix in and let them sit overnight (and make for breakfast) or the whole day (for dinner), to let the flavors meld but maybe you don't have to.

Kid friendly?
hahahahaha. Oh, were you serious? They wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole. Elizabeth did, under duress, try one "no thank you bite" (take one bite and if you don't like it you can say no thank you). And promptly gagged. So they ate leftover tortelloni.

Did it taste good?
It did. A little bland.

Would we make it again?
It was pretty good. With a salad and a glass of white wine it felt like a sophisticated dinner. I wanted it to be a little more something, I'm not sure what. I think it might actually be a good side dish, perhaps? I don't know. Rich liked it. I just didn't like it as much as the Real Simple blogger did. I'd make it again but not as part of a regular meal rotation.

Week 3 - Wednesday ground beef


Whew, catching up on my food challenge! Last Wednesday's dinner was Asian Beef and Mango Salad. A huge hit, for a lot of reasons. For me, I have tended to think of ground beef as something you buy to mix with those awful hamburger helpers, or use in spaghetti sauce or something else you just mix it into, or turn into hamburgers or meatloaf, but not as something that could stand alone. This recipe was an eye opener.

Was the recipe easy to follow?
super easy - not more than 15 minutes to make.

Adjustments?
E&A love mango, as do I, so I bought two. Wish I had bought three. Also, kids tend to not like salad and my kids are no exception. So I decided to use the lettuce as wraps. It kind of worked, they ate a few bites of lettuce.

Did it taste good?
Delish. Loved it.

Kid friendly?
They loved it. Well, in truth, they loved the mango. Andrew liked hiding the mango seed under his bottom in his chair (something he often does when eating), then inquiring, "where mang-go?" Get it? Not where mango go, but where mang go? We crack ourselves up in this house.

Would we make it again?
Definitely. So far this may be the winner recipe of this entire challenge.

October 22 - brown sandal discard

What: Size 7.5 dark brown 2.5 inch heel sandals with decorative buckle
From: Aerosoles
Purchased: early 00s
Cost: $18

I have had these photographed since June. They are a hair (ok, more than a hair) too tight, but I really like them. I don't want to give them up, but after several months of them sitting on the floor of my bedroom and me trying them on repeatedly, it's time to admit they have to go. Sigh.

October 21 - what to do about these?

So, yikes, I got all caught up and then bam, a few days slip by and then it's a week and I have to figure out what I wore, what I am going to discard, what needs more pics, what comes next.

Until this challenge, I never realized how many pairs of shoes I owned that were the same shoe in different colors. Black and pink. Seafoam and black (haven't worn the black in this challenge yet). Bronze, silver, and blue. Brown and black espadrilles (and I even have replacement pairs for both of those stashed away!). And I there are more I can't even remember.

So I was cleaning out my closet last week and found these (duplicates to these):
What: Size 8, square toe, 2.5 inch tan/brown heels
From: Nine West (hecht's, I think)
Purchased: mid-90s
Cost: $25

There is obviously a problem with these. THEY ARE TWO DIFFERENT COLORS! When I first got them, the color difference was subtle. I surmised one pair had been on display and faded a bit. I used to wear them all the time, but would often ask my (female, style-conscious) colleagues if they noticed a difference and was always assured they did not. Now, it's a different story. I liked these shoes, but acquired other brown shoes I liked better, and these have been shoved in the back of my closet for years. The color differential has become extreme. I am torn. Would it polish out? Is it worth it? Should I just get rid of them? I have several pairs of brown shoes that fit this niche that I like much better.

I think I should trash them - I think in a donation pile no one would realize they are a match! Help me out here, what would you do?

Bottom line: awaiting input - leaning towards trashing

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October 20 - purple lizard slingbacks

What: size 7.5, pointy toe lizard print purple slingbacks with a 2.5 inch kitten heel
From: Ann Taylor
Purchased: mid 90s
Cost: $30

I called the black croc pumps the shoes that started it all, but really they are the Shoes That Started The Blog. These really may be the Shoes That Started It All. I've had them forever, got them on super sale, they are my first pair of Ann Taylor shoes (usually too expensive for me), and I think they might be my first pair of stylishly patterned shoes just don't go with anything. In other words, these might just be the shoes that started the collection: the quirky bargain hunting shoe extravaganza that is my current shoe wardrobe. Hmm, maybe. Whatever, I still love them.

If I've had them let's guess 12 years (sure it's been longer, but 12 is good for simple arithmetic), and worn them 3 times a year, that's 36 wearings, which means I'm at less than $1.00 per wear. Pretty darn good, and definitely worth it.

Bottom line: keeper!

Week 3 - Tuesday shrimp

Last night's recipe was Shrimp with White Beans and Toast. I managed a grocery run right at the end of a busy day and got almost everything, except I forgot juice (super sale), lentils, and there were no pork loins left (huge sale). So for Friday's dinner I still have to go out to the store again. That's 3 trips this week. Sigh. Rich was out for dinner, so it was just E&A and me, and I was wiped out after a long day, so I seriously considered just heating up leftover chicken, but glad I pressed ahead.

Was the recipe easy to follow?
Super easy, super quick. Biggest problem was my frying pan wouldn't quite fit 3 slices of toast, so the bread grilled unevenly.

Adjustments?
Knowing Rich would be out I bought 12 ounces shrimp, instead of a pound, and still had leftovers.

Did it taste good?
It was really good. I was aggravated I only had great northern beans and no navy beans, thinking the northern beans would be too big and overwhelm, but they were fine. The arugula was really good.

Kid friendly?
They love shrimp so it was a big hit. I decided not to cook anything on the side and encourage green eating and they both ate a little. I was skeptical about the bread for them, but they both just picked it up and munched on it. And they both ate a good number of beans. A success. Elizabeth even praised it, which is rare indeed.

Would we make it again?
I think so. On the one hand, this is a great 'pantry meal' - except for the arugula, you could easily have the ingredients on hand, so if you needed to whip up a quick supper this would be a fast, healthy option. On the other hand, the arugula added to the finished dish, so I need some ideas of what might be pantry ready that would sub - if I had baby spinach left over from another recipe, certainly. I don't know about frozen greens. Hmm. Maybe it would be ok without a green cooked in, and just have a side vegetable.

October 19 - black patent slingbacks

What: Size 7.5, heeled black patent platform slingback loafers, 3 inch heel, .25 inch platform
From: Talbots
Purchased: fall '07
Cost: $44

Saw these shoes in a Talbots store and knew I had to have them, and doubted they'd still be around to make it to the outlet. I managed to resist them until the 3rd markdown ($98 to $55 to $44), but then I had to grab them. More than I wanted to pay, but I've worn them a lot so the per wear cost is pretty low. They're great.

Bottom line: keeper

October 18 - black boots

What: size 8 2.5 inch heel short black boots
From: Bass (outlet)
Purchased: 2005 or '06
Cost: not entirely sure. Guessing $40, though it's likely they were cheaper as the Bass outlet has good sales. But $40 is a good guess. Actually I think I bought these at the same time as a pair of Bass tall boots I have, so probably there was some deal.

I have a pair of slightly higher-heeled short black boots, and wanted something more casual. These still aren't quite it. Even though the heel is not too high, it's still a heeled boot. I'm glad I have them, and they fit a niche, but I'd still like a pair of more casual, low-heel black boots (like my brown ones) for every day wear. Yes, I do think it is entirely reasonable (although admittedly a luxury) to have 3 pairs of black short boots, and multiple pairs of tall boots and even some ankle boots, too. One cannot have too many pairs of black boots. Well, of course you can have too many - my point really is there are a lot of black boot niches!

Bottom line: keeper

Week 3 - Monday chicken

Monday's recipe was chicken paprikash. This is the week this plan kind of fell apart. We were away and busy most of the weekend, so no time for a big grocery shop. I thought I'd go on Monday, but couldn't find my car keys, and there was too much to buy to walk. So I walked and only bought Monday's ingredients, plus a few extras ($25). The whole point of this exercise for me really was to expose me to new recipes and cooking techniques (after nearly ten years as a vegetarian, I don't have that many mad skillz in the meat cooking department) and to streamline so I wasn't running to the grocery store every day, a habit I've developed in my work from home mode. It's not a bad habit, but I wanted to get back in the mindset of weekly planning.

Was the recipe easy to follow?
Super easy. A little long for a weeknight - yeah, sad to say 45 minutes to cook is too long.

Did it taste good?
It did, even using the chicken breasts and legs and I had hated the week before (and had safely stashed in the freezer). Turns out, I really despise the smell of cooking chicken skin. It really is a bonesless, skinless world for me. Luckily Rich was home early and handled the browning of the chicken for me.

Adjustments?
I used some frozen chicken we had stashed away. Also, like the Real Simple blogger, I thought the sauce needed a little more. I added chopped olives. A bay leaf would have been good, too. And, like many of these "meals" I felt it needed a side vegetable - green beans for us.

Kid friendly?
They loved it. Andrew ate two chicken legs.

Would we make it again?
Sure. It would be a good company dish on the wekeend, as it was easy to make and you could easily scale it up. Actually it is very similar to a dish we made for friends a few months ago, though I cannot now remember where I found that recipe (another thing to declutter: my recipe collection!).