Works for Me Wednesday: Shoe Tips

Gen X Moms has moved to www.GenXMomsBlog.com. Don’t forget to update your bookmark!

I buy most of my family’s shoes online and save $$ on good quality brands doing it!  At first getting shoes online seemed daunting.  After all, you don’t get to touch them or try them on before you buy.  But I was willing to try because I wear a size 5 which is hard to find in stores anyway.  I discovered an online retailer called Shoebuy.com and I’ve been hooked ever since.  They had so many more choices for me and brands I love.  Then I found some of their competitors and they are pretty good, too.  Woo hoo, more options!  Ones I’ve tried and would recommend are Zappos.com, onlineshoes.com, and shoes.com.

Privo Clarks

Cute shoes I found on sale

Three out of the four are accredited by the Better Business Bureau and all scored high through Bizrate. These stores also have one important thing in common.  Free shipping!  Both ways!  Not sure which shoes you want?  Order both and return what you don’t like or what doesn’t fit, hassle free.  They e-mail you the postage; you slap it on the box and hand it to the delivery guy.  That’s it!  Just be sure to keep the box until you know you are keeping the shoes.

Guess what else?  They don’t charge any taxes!  As of today, the rule on internet taxes is this:  if the company has a physical retail store in your state, it is obligated to collect taxes.  If not, collecting taxes is optional.  And these companies are online only so they don’t have to charge taxes in any state.  This is great for us consumers!  Of course, Uncle Sam is chomping at the bit to get more revenue wherever he can so this may not always be the case but enjoy it while you can.

Stride Rite Shoes

You can find deals on top brand kid shoes, too.

Over the years these shoe sites have gained popularity as more people have caught on to the convenience.  This has resulted not only in more brands willing to sell through these sites but in more thrilled consumers who are willing to give their feedback via shoe reviews.  I have found the reviews to be very helpful in determining which shoes are right for me.  And my child.  Yes, all the popular children’s shoes can be found here, too.  I never pay full price for such quality shoes as Stride Rite, Nike, Robeez, etc.  Once in a while I can find these on the shelves at discount stores but the selection is never as good.  My husband is a creature of habit.  He buys the same shoes over and over so it is a no brainer to buy his shoes online.  We already know what they look like and that they fit.

You can almost always find coupon codes for these places.  Zappos.com is the one exception I’ve found, it usually does not offer codes, it has sales instead.  But the rest do and you can either sign up on their sites to receive the coupon codes or simply Google for one whenever you are thinking about buying.  I know Shoebuy, for one, rewards loyalty by offering additional discounts to returning customers.    And did I mention that the customer service is top notch?

Still skeptical about buying things online?  A couple of these sites offer the option of using PayPal.  This means you don’t have to enter your credit card (PayPal stores this info for you) every time you buy.  Even if you don’t buy online, these sites can help you narrow down your search and decide what you really want.

Happy shoe browsing, everyone.

The Librarian

Works-For-Me Wednesday

The Gen X Moms blog is now accepting submissions for our Silent Sunday feature! If you’ve got a cute kid picture, or a kid-related picture, and want the fame, fortune, and adulation of being featured on the Gen X Moms blog, shoot us an email!

Conveniently Green–True Confessions

Gen X Moms has moved to www.GenXMomsBlog.com. Don’t forget to update your bookmark!

So the other day I had a couple of moms and my Sainted Mother-in-law over (seriously, the woman is a saint. And I don’t mean that in a “why so snarky, Sparky?” kind of way) and my SMIL wanted to take some food home to my father-in-law and brother-in-law. Photo Addict happened to be standing nearby, and when I pulled open the kitchen drawer, she gasped as though she’d just seen a severed hand in there.

It's a severed hand! And by severed hand I mean Ziploc bags!

No, seriously. She gasped so loudly I actually looked to see if I’d accidentally left a severed hand next to the plastic wrap.

“ZIPLOC BAGS!!!!!” She cried.

It’s true confession time at Conveniently Green. I use Ziploc bags. Even worse–I almost never re-use them either. Yes folks, I’m going Conveniently Green right along with you. That whole “Just a Little Bit Less” applies to me too. I’m maybe one or two steps ahead of you–but then again, many of you are several steps ahead of me. Just want you all to know I’m not some kind of Paragon Of Green Virtue or anything. I do, however, test out all of my suggestions myself, so it’s not a case of “take my advice–I’m not using it!”

The funny thing is, people are becoming seriously aware of what they’re doing. I know this because they keep reporting it to me. For example, over at the SoCal FruGal’s house, Mommica returned from the kitchen and said, “Just so you know, I dried my hands on a paper towel but I saved the towel for the next time I need to dry my hands.” “Conveniently Green!” shouted the SoCal FruGal. “Conveniently Green!” Mommica echoed in response.

“What???” said Anonymous Mom #3. One of these women doesn’t read the blog. I don’t want to mention any names, so I called her Anonymous Mom #3. But girlfriend needs to get onboard or she’s going to singlehandedly melt the ice floes and drown us all. And nobody wants that.

There's another one! Where does the carnage end???

At another playdate, we were talking about going green and Signing Mom asked, “How green are you willing to go?” I responded, “Uhhhhhh, 75%?” as though there were some kind of Green Rating and I was shooting for a C+. Signing Mom then talked about her ideal future–a ranch somewhere with a lot of land, living almost completely off the grid. As she talked about raising and slaughtering her own pigs, I’ll admit that the thought of a lifetime supply of bacon was seriously appealing, but then again, knowing that bacon on a personal level prior to its hickory-smoked deliciousness doesn’t sound that fabulous after all. Honestly, I truly admire Signing Mom (for more reasons than just her commitment to creating her own solar and wind energy), but I really think I’m going to have to visit her after the pig has been turned into bacon.

Mmmmmmmmmm…bacon. God’s gift to carnivores.

Conveniently Green: Use just a little bit less right along with me!

And speaking of severed hands, every Gen X Mom should appreciate The Chopped-Off Hands of Star Wars.

The Scrivener

The Gen X Moms blog is now accepting submissions for our Silent Sunday feature! If you’ve got a cute kid picture, or a kid-related picture, and want the fame, fortune, and adulation of being featured on the Gen X Moms blog, shoot us an email!

Can’t get enough of the Scriv? Follow me on Twitter!

Silent Sundays

Gen X Moms has moved to www.GenXMomsBlog.com. Don’t forget to update your bookmark!

What Exactly is an X Mom?

Gen X Moms has moved to www.GenXMomsBlog.com. Don’t forget to update your bookmark!

So one of the cool things about writing a blog is that you can see all kinds of fun stats. For example, we know how many people view the site every day (and I’d like to personally thank all four of you!) (kidding), or what other links people clicked on to get here. And my personal favorite, what search words led people here.

One phrase that comes up over and over again is “X Mom.” Now I just have to wonder–what exactly is an X Mom? I mean, what is it that people are looking for when they run that search? Does it have to do with, you know, that activity that results in children? But then why would one be looking under X Mom and not, say, Triple X Mom?

Or is it shorthand for Ex-Mom? Like you were a mom but your kids moved out, so you’ve divorced the motherhood role and are now an Ex Mom. And you’d like to find other Ex Moms on the internet, but for some reason you leave out the E in Ex?

Or my personal favorite–what about an X Man type of X Mom. I mean sure, we don’t have some sort of mutant gene, so nobody shoots laser beams out of their eyes or walks through walls or slices and dices with knives that come out of our knuckles (although that would be seriously handy in the kitchen), but we all are kind of superheroes in our own way, right? We take these helpless little creatures and somehow guide them into a life trying to maximize their ability to be productive citizens while minimizing the amount of time they’ll spend in jail. That’s pretty supertastic to me.

When I was younger and people would ask what superpower I’d like to have if I could, I’d always say that I’d like to fly. And I still think that would be cool. Being invisible would be handy as well. But now the superpower I wish I could have? I wish I could keep Mouse safe forever. I wish I could protect him from boo-boos, large and small. I wish I could snap my fingers and he’d never feel sad. I wish I could give him everything this life has to offer. I wish I could wrap him in a bubble so he’d never be sick. I wish I could protect his heart from never being broken. I wish…

There are so many things I could do with that superpower, but really, that’s not what’s good for him anyway. We all need to know what it’s like to feel sad so we can understand what happiness really is. We all need to get some boo-boos here and there so we can learn how to keep ourselves safe. We all need to fail sometimes so we can learn the satisfaction that hard work brings. And we all need our hearts broken so that we know true love when we find it.

You’re not going to find an X Mom here. But you will find a bunch of moms with superpowers–the power of devotion, perseverance, and love. And really, that’s exactly the superhero our kids need.

Although it would be pretty awesome to be able to fly.

The Scrivener

Can’t get enough of the Scriv? Follow me on Twitter!

Strawberries with Balsamic Syrup and Italian Sweet Cream

Gen X Moms has moved to www.GenXMomsBlog.com. Don’t forget to update your bookmark!

Here’s an easy dessert for all you non-bakers out there. Impressive enough for company, easy enough for a mid-week after dinner sweet. and with strawberry season starting, frugal. (My favorite part!) I was inspired to make this from a recent visit to Henry’s Farmers Market where they kicked off strawberry season this week with a strawberry festival. They will be sampling strawberry-themed foods all week, so check it out if you have one near you.

Here is the recipe I used as my inspiration, found on Recipezaar. My changes are in red, to make it allergen-friendly for me and Bubba.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar, plus
  • 4 tablespoons sugar, divided (2 tbsps granulated sugar, 2 tbsps powdered sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chilled mascarpone cheese (I used Tofutti’s Better-Than-Cream-Cheese)
  • 1/2 cup chilled whipping cream (canned coconut milk. Shake the can to combine the “cream” with the milk, then measure out the 1/2 c.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 pints strawberries, hulled, halved

Directions

  1. Combine vinegar, 2 teaspoons sugar, and lemon juice in heavy small saucepan,  stirring over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
  2. Boil until syrup is reduced to scant 1/4 cup, about 3 minutes.
  3. Transfer to small bowl; cool completely. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
  4.  Combine mascarpone, cream, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons powdered sugar in medium bowl.
  5. Whisk until thick soft peaks form.
  6. Cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours.
  7. combine berries and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in large bowl; drizzle with balsamic syrup and toss to blend.
  8. Let stand 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. Divide berries and syrup among 6 dishes
  10. Top with mascarpone mixture.

If you wanna get fancy, you can garnish with a sprig of mint. Photo credit goes to http://www.flickr.com/photos/thebazile/2730575032/ and used with a Creative Commons License. I am apparently camera phone -to facebook- to laptop- illiterate and couldn’t upload my photos! This pic is beautiful and makes me want to eat this. Lovin’ the toasted slivered almonds on top, too. Would add a nice little crunch.

The SoCal FruGal

A Wish Fulfilled

We are no longer writing as Gen X Moms but you can find me at www.jedismama.com. Don’t forget to update your bookmark!

Chateau Lake Louise

Ice skating on Lake Louise

I first learned about Lake Louise in a book I read about some of the world’s most romantic locations.  I saw a photo of a grand old-fashioned hotel and there were people dressed in Victorian era clothes, ice skating on the frozen lake just below it.  The lake is located in the majestic Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park, Alberta.  I fell in love with the idea of the Chateau Lake Louise and told my husband that skating on the lake was on my list of things to do before I die.  “It looks REALLY cold there,” said my SoCal guy.  “I’ll take you there in the summer”.  He did and we had an amazing time hiking in the area.  The place was gorgeous, the only way to describe it is that it is like being inside of a postcard.  But I still longed to ice skate on that lake.

View from our room

Million dollar view from our room

Years later I got word from my Canadian buddy, a friend from college who is now a successful wildlife photographer in the area (his work is awesome, check it out at www.wildernessprints.com).  “Guess what?” he says.  “ I’m getting married at the Chateau Lake Louise – in March!  Come and skate!  And kids are welcome.”  Well he didn’t have to ask me twice.  We saved.  We went.  I skated.  My little boy got to experience snow for the first time in the most incredible winter wonderland imaginable. We rode on a sleigh and rented a toboggan.  My son made his first snow angel and had numerous snowball fights with his dad.  We made some new friends and attended a lovely wedding.  The special wedding rate we got made it somewhat affordable for us to stay there and I managed to get us an upgrade to a room with a fabulous view.  It was so worth living on an even tighter budget now that it is over. 

The Librarian

Chateau Lake Louise

Chateau Lake Louise from afar

Sleigh horses

These horses pulled our sleigh - what a treat

Conveniently Green–Going Green the Easy Way

Gen X Moms has moved to www.GenXMomsBlog.com. Don’t forget to update your bookmark!

Today’s post is a combination Conveniently Green and Works For Me Wednesday!

Nobody wants to destroy the environment, but going green can seem so daunting and, let’s face it, inconvenient. That’s why over here on Gen X Moms, we’re going green conveniently. But where do you start? So many ways to go green, so little time. Luckily at Gen X Moms, we have a handy little motto: Just a Little Bit Less. Here’s the easy way:

Step 1. Take a look at your trash.

No, not in your trash. That’s disgusting. Look at your trash. What are you throwing away that can potentially be reused or replaced with a reusable substitute? Keep in mind that we’re just in the evaluation stage. You’re not committing to anything. So what do you have in there that could be reused or replaced? Ziploc bags? Paper towels? Clorox wipes?

Step 2. Take a look at the trash you throw away outside of the house

You know, in the car, on a playdate, at a picnic–what are you leaving behind? Paper napkins? Take and Toss kidware? Plastic grocery sacks? Juice boxes? Again, no commitment here. Make a list, if you’re a list-making person. Otherwise just keep it all in your head. If you can. Which I usually can’t.

Step 3. Take a look at your cleaning supplies

Are there lots of yucky chemicals in your cabinet? Have you seen “green” versions at the store? Are you making your own?

Step 4. Identify your non-negotiables

Here’s the thing–we all have non-negotiables. I’m pretty darned crunchy, but you will have to pry my clothes dryer out of my cold, dead hands. Yes, I know all of the advantages of line-drying my laundry (save money! and energy! better for your clothes!), but seriously–I’m going to roll out of my deathbed, crawl to the dryer, and die right there in my laundry closet with my arms around my Maytag. That’s one of my non-negotiables. What are yours? Maybe you can’t live without your Ziploc bags or your juice boxes. Hey, that’s okay. We all have limits.

Step 5. After eliminating your non-negotiables, pick one remaining item and do it ONCE.

Now here’s the key to going green the easy way. Don’t make a big commitment. This isn’t a cell phone contract. Pick one thing and think about our motto–Just a Little Bit Less. Say, for example, you picked paper towels. Your goal will be to use one fewer paper towel than you normally would. Because hey, if you use a dishtowel to clean up a spill one time, that’s one fewer paper towel in the trash, one fewer off the roll, and one little piece of change in your pocket.

Then pat yourself on the back–you’re going green the wasy way! The idea is to make things conscious. When you reach for something you would normally throw away, take just a second and think, “Hmm, in this one, single instance, can I use something else?” A lot of times your answer will be no, but sometimes your answer will be yes, and sometimes is better than no times. Just strive for one! Don’t be intimidated! Everybody can do one!

And once you’ve got one down, strive for two. Or three. Or all. Or hey, just stick with one. The environment will thank you either way.

Works for me! For more great tips, visit Works For Me Wednesday:

Works-For-Me Wednesday

The Scrivener

Can’t get enough of the Scriv? Follow me on Twitter!