shopping travel


Early this year, the dad and I plotted and schemed a vacation that would be a little more fun than just sitting around the hometown.  The husband and I only visit my family once a year (if that), so I wanted it to be, well, fun and exciting!  And the dad loves travel as much as I do, so he was easy to convince.  🙂

The dad suggested Leavenworth, a charming little Bavarian village 2 hours east of Seattle.  It’s all decorated in ‘ye olde’ Germanic style (even the McDonalds!), and it exists strictly for the sake of tourism.  Which means you should totally visit!  They need your money …

He found a house to rent, just outside of town.  With 4 bedrooms, a loft, and 3 bathrooms, it was perfect for our family-reunion needs.  There was no cell phone service and no GPS lock at the house due to the towering mountains on either side, but the location could not have been more gorgeous.  The lake and mountain view were amazing.  Having been out of the Pacific Northwest for the last 10 years, I now have a better appreciation for its beauty.

We saw wildlife, kayakers, and gondola-surfers glide by on the lake every day.  The department of fish and wildlife stopped by one morning with their scuba gear to check on things in the lake. I watched people scuba dive!  In a frigid mountain lake!

And the weather!  The weather was perfect.  I was a little wary, as we went in August, and Seattle had quite the heat wave right before we headed out.  But, once we arrived, the heat wave crashed and we had lovely 60-70 degree days.

Leavenworth is a ski village in the winter, but in the summer, they have a theater festival.  The mom got us all tickets to the three plays they put on this summer, so every evening, we had a show to see.

The first night was Singin’ in the Rain.  It was on a lovely outdoor stage – complete with rain effects (probably unneeded on many nights …) and a gently sloping hill for natural theater-seating for the audience.  We parked at a fish hatchery and walked through the fish hatchery grounds to get to it – so I suppose those are some very entertained fish.  Verdict: good play!  Liked all the leads.

The next night was Pirates of Penzance.  I was most excited about that play, because all I knew about it was the Ray Stevens’ song.  Unfortunately, the husband and I had skipped our afternoon nap that day (which is vital if you live on the east coast and are visiting the west coast), so the old, british, comic opera was a little lost on us.  The actors did their job, but watching a 130 year old commentary on 130 year old times meant, well, that we missed a lot. Verdict: meh, but mostly because I had no background on the play before going into it, and I was fighting sleep for the last 40 minutes.

The last night was their showcase play, Sound of Music.  They do it every year in a wonderful hilltop theater – so the hills are literally alive with the sound of music.  It’s quite a hike to get up to the amphitheater, but once you do, it’s well worth it.  They had some set changes that seemed unnecessary (2 minutes to change the set for a 3 minute scene), and there was a snafu where a nazi flag was left up after a set change.  Overall, though, it was their best play.  Verdict: if you only see one, see this one!  Oh, and be sure to bring a jacket.  Once the sun goes down, it gets cooooold up on that mountain, even in August.

So that’s the night-time review …

During the day, we took it easy with eating, b3 baked all manner of yumminess, and playing card games.  Oh, and the shopping in town!  They have toy stores, a crazy hat store, candy shops, ice cream shops, more candy shops, gift shops, tourist-souvenir shops, and a nutcracker store.  I bought a pound of fudge at the. best. fudge. place. EVER.  I’m thinking of joining their fudge of the month club … The sister bought a caramel apple at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.  We are sooooo related.  🙂

I tried really hard to buy something from the yarn store, but every time I went, they were closed!  I tried first on Wednesday, which happens to be when they are normally closed.  So I headed back on Friday, just to find a note taped on the door to let me know they decided to close for the day.  After some pouting (on my part), the mom convinced me that the quilt store around the corner had a small yarn selection, so we headed that way.  I picked out some lovely (but expensive!) lorna’s laces sock yarn, that the sister said looked like ‘Jayne’s hat colors’.  And I’ve just finished her socks!  The heels turned out a little tight (it’s the first time I’ve done that particular kind of heel), but maybe some blocking will help.  I’ve never blocked socks before, so this could be an adventure …

I highly recommend a trip to Leavenworth for a laid-back touristy fun visit.  It is obvious that everything is done for the sake of tourism, but that doesn’t make it less fun.  The one downside is finding parking in town, but once you get parked, let the shopping begin!  (mmmmmm, fudge ….)

girly shopping travel

berkeley springs, here I come!

I’ve been dreaming about a spa retreat for months now, and I’ve been saving my allowance.  (No, seriously, the husband and I get an ‘allowance’ – that way we don’t feel guilty when we buy silly little – or big – things that are purely for our own enjoyment.  It works pretty well for us.)

After doing some research, I finally booked a trip to Berkeley Springs, WV.  It is less than 2 hours away, and it is, well, pretty cheap.  I expect it to be a ‘quaint’ and ‘rustic’ trip – not quite the 5-star pampering I first imagined in a spa retreat – but I think it’ll be a nice break.  You know, from my hectic life of … working 8 hours a day.  With no kids.  And minimal housework (that’s what cleaning ladies are for!)  And plenty of free time to knit and stuff.  But, whatever.  Even the spoiled deserve some, uh, spoiling …

The 4th of July holiday is soon arriving, and that is when my solo adventure starts.  I’ve booked a ‘charming’ room in a B&B, complete with ‘gourmet’ breakfasts and an ‘opulent’ dinner.  And don’t forget the claw-foot tub!  I’ve booked a mani/pedi at tripadvisor‘s second rated Berkeley Springs spa.  And I’ve booked a half spa day at tripadvisor’s highest rated spa.

All for the same price as a day at a spa in northern Virginia.  Plus, I get several blocks of cute shops to spend (what remains of my) allowance in!

Happy 4th, everyone!

fashion shopping

retail therapy

Sitting at work this morning, I stared at the hibernate crap that’s been driving me nuts for the last week and a half, and realized that I didn’t want to be there.  At all.

So I sent out an email (this place sucks, I’m leaving, kthxbai) to let my coworkers know I was bailing for the day, got in my car, and drove to the outlet mall.

Did you know that there is nobody at the outlet mall on a Tuesday morning at 10 am during a recession?  It was great, I had the place to myself for the first hour, and it never really got crowded.

Four and a half hours, $319, 3 pairs of jeans, 8 shirts, 2 sweaters, 6 scrunchies, a belt, a set of pajamas and a vending machine Twix later, I was all set.  And my arms were killing me.  Carrying around shopping bags is a killer on the elbows.

Now it’s time to clear some space in the closet!  I think the husband has some things that need to go …

knitting life money shopping travel

still alive!

No less than TWO of my family members were starting to worry about me since I haven’t posted in awhile.  So yeah, here I am, still alive!

So, just to recap, in my time away from blogging, I:

got summoned for Jury Duty

had Christmas in Texas

decided to write another murder mystery

knitted two Jayne hats

knitted a pirate sock and a half

decided to host a candle party

bought some new sweaters in 75% off January

got pretty and went to the husband’s company party

bought travel books for Italy!

and, talked to a financial planner.

Except for my time in Texas, I have been freeeeezing the entire time.  The butt-cold does NOT agree with me.

And I am exhausted.  I know I just had a holiday with New Years and all, but I am so ready for this upcoming 3-day weekend.  So very ready.

girly shopping

a little bit luxe

So while on my Kohling adventures, I took a stroll through the towels to try to find something suitable for my new bathroom.

With sage-green walls and light-taupe tile, I was leaning toward an orangey-rusty accent color, but the husband nixed that idea.  He hates red, orange, and everything in that color family, so that was a no-go.  Seeing that the master bath is where he starts the day, I figure he should get some say in how it’s decorated.

So we decided on purple.  But purple is kind of on the outs in bath colors at the moment, so it’s been hard to find a shade + texture that met my standards.  Every kind of green is available, as are neutrals (white, ivory, taupe, brown, chocolate, it’s all in your local bath store).  But purple is a more elusive find.

But I found the towels!  By none other than Vera Wang.  They are thick and luxurious, and they come in a lovely plum that accents my sage bathroom nicely.

And the husband approves.  So now I have wonderfully luxurious plum and taupe towels for my new bathroom.  Now all I need is bathroom shelves (or maybe a bench?), and my new room will be complete.

girly shopping

want, volume 2

vera wang bagToday at Kohls on my quest for jeans that fit (yay for curvy Levis!), I saw something that made me stop and take a look:  Vera Wang hand bags.

I love purses.  At any given time, I try to keep my collection to less than ten, but it’s hard.  I have to admit, I can’t tell the difference between a vuitton or a or a spade, and I will likely never own a ‘real’ purse.  My vera wang green bagpurses all come from Target, Penneys or Kohls.

But back to the purses!  They are a little larger than I’m used to, but they are oh-so pretty.  I’m considering saving up my allowance to buy my first over-$50 purse.  Or maybe I’ll just wait for a crazy-sale day …

shopping technogeeky


So yesterday, as I was avoiding work by seeing what google reader had for me, I came across this gem from thinkgeek.comorigami post-it notes

Ingenious.  They have combined my love for office supplies with my love for origami!  What will they think of next?



The husband hates shopping for clothing.  With a passion.  He has never had to do it for himself; luckily, there have always been women in his life (grandmother, mother, girlfriends and now wife) who care deeply for him and want him to be clothed.

I have found a system that generally works – I buy 20 things online, they arrive at the house, the husband tries them on and picks what he likes, and then I return 15 things to the brick and mortar store.

But that doesn’t work so well with shoes.  Not only are 20 pairs of shoes more expensive than 20 t-shirts, but you often have to try on more than 20 pairs to find the one you like.  (Unless you’re me … then you try on 20 pairs of shoes and find 20 you like …)

So today I convinced the husband it would be a good day for shoe-shopping.  We are headed to the beach, and, well, he doesn’t have any beach-appropriate shoes.  His favorite pair is high-top hiking boots that involve a serious time-commitment to get on and off.  His other pair of shoes are black dress shoes that he only breaks out when he has to wear his suit. 

We went to several stores, with his mood souring at every one.  Everything was too expensive, or too uncomfortable, or took too long to get on and off.  He found a style he liked, but there were none in his size, so I made a mental note and decided I’d spend the next few weeks looking for a size 13 manly slide.

On our way out of the last store, however, he stumbled across the perfect beach shoe.  The size and color combination of his dreams wasn’t available, but that’s what the internet is for.

And so I have ordered his beach shoes, and they will arrive in plenty of time for our trip.

Now I just have to order 20 pairs of shorts, and we’ll be all set! 

food shopping travel

it’s real! it’s real!

I just got the confirmation letter for my week in the outer banks!  And for those of you not privy the east coast wonder known as ‘obx,’ it’s just a region of the coast in north carolina.

I’ve never been to the outer banks, even though it seems everyone else in northern virginia has, and they have the ‘obx’ bumper sticker to prove it.  Now I will finally get my chance to visit this mysteriously superior beach.

I love beach towns!  I’m actually not really a swimmer, but I do enjoy dodging the waves as they hit my knees.  Or maybe waist, if the husband has convinced me to live on the edge.  🙂

Beach towns are always so relaxed.  And they have the best food!  Candy shops full of fudge and salt water taffy, ice cream shops, corn dogs, funnel cakes  – there’s a tasty surprise around every corner. 

And the fun little stores! Where else can you buy crazy hats, $2 t-shirts, voo-doo magic palm-reading crystals, kites, shotglasses with your name on them (well, not my name …) and 28 varieties of salt water taffy? 

OBX offers dolphin cruises, something you don’t find in the chilly waters of the Pacific Northwest.  As well as the Wright Brothers Memorial, and the tallest lighthouse in North America.

Now I just need to get busy on my spray-on tan!

life shopping

free weekend? not quite …

I’d been carrying around gift cards in my wallet for months (years, in one case), so the husband and I decided we’d have a ‘free’ weekend and redeem as many as possible.

First off, a certificate for ‘$25 off a meal of $35 or more’.  We made it to the restaurant out in the middle of nowhere, and were the only people there.  For a whole hour.  No other customers showed up.  At all.  They better have some crazy Wednesday night crowd or something, or they’ll be going out of business real soon.

We asked the waitress if they’d accept the certificate, and she said they would.  So we proceeded to order appetizers (cheese fries and fried pickles, mmmm), sandwiches and dessert.  When it came time to pay the bill however, she came back from the back room, and said the manager/cook claimed they didn’t accept the certificate.  He was kind enough to offer us 50% off.  Which brought us to the total of what we would have spent anyway had we not been aiming for $35.

Strike one against our free weekend.

We made it to Sears, where we looked and looked for something to spend $25 – and only $25 – on.  We looked at video games.  I looked at purses.  The husband looked at wallets.  We finally decided on the oh-so-exciting choice of $22 worth of socks.  I was so proud, we didn’t spend any money!  On our way out, I handed the now $3 gift card to a lady perusing Sears goods – who insisted on repaying my kindness by offering me a coupon to Gap – which just so happened to be where we were headed next, as I had $8.10 remaining on a gift card.

The coupon was for $15 off a $50 purchase.  Subtract the $8.10 … and that’s $50 worth of goods for $27!!  How could I possibly resist that?  And so I didn’t.  Instead of being practical and buying a $10 clearance shirt and spending $2 of real money, I went for a $50 sweater for $27.  I mean, really, did I have any other choice?

Strike two.

We meandered on over to Best Buy.  I’d been carrying around a $100 Visa gift card for months, and Best Buy seemed like our best bet to use it all in one fell swoop.  The husband had been eyeing a new laaaaaaaser mouse, as his current laaaaaaser mouse is on its last legs.  The price tag?  $99.99.  With Best Buy’s tax-free weekend, that left us with a penny on the card.  I tossed the card on the way out … just didn’t seem worth trying to redeem that last penny.

So, we managed pretty well – we spent $50 for about $200 worth of goods.  We’ve still got another restaurant certificate (to a different restaurant, maybe this one’ll accept it), an Olive Garden gift card, and $26 at Costco (and an expired membership).  Maybe we’ll try for a 75% off weekend next weekend.