Sunday, November 06, 2005

open for business

The Grand Opening party for Habitat Shoe Store was this past Friday, but we officially opened our doors on Tuesday (Nov. 1st), so we could have a few days of helping customers under our belts before the November First Friday when potentially hundreds of people could be in the store. Well, the first week of business for Habitat has far exceeded any expectations John and I had. We really didn't have a lot of expectations for the first week because we hadn't done veyr much advertising. We sent out a postcard announcing our opening and were fortunate to have an article in the paper on Thursday (which brought in a surprising amount of people!), but other than that the only way people would know about us would be hearing about us by word-of-mouth, or walking by the store.

It has been such a fun week! It's so exciting to see a dream we've been pursuing for a long time finally realized! Frequently this past week when walking around the store, I caught myself wondering if I was still living in a dream. It's definitely hard to believe that the store is finally open, and yet at the same time, John and I feel like we've been selling shoes for awhile now. We constantly talk about what shoes people are and are not buying and how we've been surprised at the hottest sellers so far (I know it's only been 5 days, but it's still fun to talk about). When I'm not at the store I call John to find out what shoes he's sold that day and to whom.

Now, I know I've said this several times already, but honestly, there is no way we could've done this without the help of our friends and family. Our friends have watched Margot more hours than I could count, cooked dinners for us, cleaned our store bathrooms (that had been severely abused by construction workers!), wielded dangerous machinery to turn our John Malcovich-sized door to the back storage room into one we could step through without bending ourselves in half, unpacked many, many boxes of shoes, designed our grand opening postcard, put furniture and fixtures together, installed our point-of-sale system, created window displays and many other things I'm forgetting at the moment. Not to mention all the help we received on Friday night when we had hundreds of customers in the store.

Friday night was completely insane. I really wanted to have one of our friends who was helping greet count the number of people who came in the store that night, but I totally spaced asking anyone. I'm horrible at estimating things like that, but I'd say it was at least 300 people. My husband and his brother think it was closer to 500, but since the McClain family is known to exaggerate, I'm cutting that number in half and throwing in a few extra for good measure. However many people were there, it was a lot. Although I didn't get to hear people's reactions when they were entering and leaving the store (since I was busy running back and forth retrieving shoes and ringing up customers - yeah!), our friends who were helping greet customers told us what they heard after we closed. Here are a few of my favorites:

"Have you been to the new shoe store? It's like the shoes are art."

And the woman who gasped enthusiastically after getting just one foot in the door, "Ohhh THIS is the most happenin' place down here!"

So enough words, here are some photos of Habitat...

The space went from this (taken shortly after the October First Friday):

To this (taken one week before the store opened):

To this (taken the night before the Grand Opening party):

The front of Habitat:

The wall of shoe art:

Where customers can hang out:

The clothing section (with super cool denim rack designed by Carl from Kojo in Lawrence):

And where we ring people up (the absolutely ADORABLE baby shoes distract from the brown paper which must remain on the windows so people walking outside cannot see all the shoe inventory stashed behind that divider that still needs to be painted):

So enough bragging about our new "baby". Stop by and see us when you get a chance. For those of you who can't stop by, we'll (hopefully) have the website up very soon! Thanks again to all of you who helped make this happen for us!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

ticking off the to-do list

If I were really dedicated to journaling, I would write an entry every night recording what went on that day in the preparation for the opening of Habitat, so that in a year, three years, five years, John and I could look back and laugh about how much we didn't know, how many mistakes we made, the small things we got frustrated about, and how much fun we had doing it all. I do like to journal, but I'm not dedicated to it. Or maybe I just prefer not to cut any further into the minimal hours of sleep I'm getting already.

It's only 11:30pm though and John and I have decided we're done working for the night. My bedtime for the past 3 weeks has averaged 1am, so I figure I can spare a few moments of journaling tonight.

We checked in our first shipment of shoes tonight -- what a thrilling feeling! The lucky vendor who was checked in first? J Shoes. Mostly because they were the boxes filling up the back room (all the rest are currently in the middle of the store) and we needed to get them out of boxes and onto the storage shelves to make room for more shoes. Checking in the shoes was awesome (made things seem real in a whole new way); learning how to check in shoes was not awesome. Being the anal person I am, I felt like I needed to familiarize myself with how the POS (point of sale) software worked on my own (read: I'm the lame person who actually attempts to read how-to guides) rather than letting John show me what he'd learned so far. Well, after an hour of just trying to figure out where the sample/practice database was on the hard drive, I said, "Forget it (not that nicely)...we have work to do." John gave me a quick tutorial and we made quick work of the J Shoes inventory. As if anyone who reads this blog hasn't already gathered this, but we are going to be selling some stinkin' cool shoes! Every box I opened I said, "Oh my, I have to get these shoes!" I'm warning you now -- don't come to Habitat unless you plan on walking out with a new pair of shoes. You will not be able to resist.

Today we also ordered the FLOR carpet tiles to make the lounge area and the trying-on-shoes area more comfortable. Last night I was talking about how we needed to order them the next day in order to get them in time for the opening and my friend, Katie, mentioned that she had seen a store around the corner from Habitat that sold the tiled. John decided to check it out before we ordered them online, and I could kiss him for taking the initiative with that because he scored us an amazing deal! Plus, we get to support a fellow retailer in the Crossroads.

I also mailed out the second round of 300 grand opening invitations that our friend, Hannah, designed. I'll tell you, tracking down addresses is no small job (I feel like I'm getting married all over again). The invitations should be in people's mailboxes by Wednesday or Thursday...only one week before the grand opening event, but it's the best we could do. So if you're reading this and it's Thursday and you haven't received your card yet, don't feel left out. It means I didn't have your address b/c trust me, I sent an invitation to every person we know (and many we don't).

Well, that's enough boring details of my to-do list today. If you were looking for a laugh and didn't find it here, then check this out (probably only funny if you know these two).

Saturday, October 15, 2005

fabulous friends & fabulous fridays

Even though this is a belated update to last week's First Friday, I still wanted to share that John and I felt it was a huge success. The street team models were fabulous and very well-received from the people passing by. We passed out over 1,000 (probably about 1250) sliers and got 181 people to sign-up on our mailing list. Obviously that is shy of the lofty 500 person goal I mentioned we set. Our less-crazy-and-more-realistic-goal was to get 10-15% of the people we passed out fliers to to sign-up, so we definitely surpassed that goal. We could not have done it without the support and help of so many of our friends. Whether you stood in a window for 5 hours, braved the cold to pass out fliers, stapled posters to poles, or chatted with perspective customers, we want you to know we appreciate you. This was one big step forward to our dream being realized. Only three weeks until the big night of our grand opening, so rest up and get ready to do it even bigger next time! Thanks to Hannah for taking photos (click on view a slideshow to see them all) of the event since John and I did not remember to take photos.

Below are the second round of sneak peak photos. These are farylrobin -- very unique and pleasing to the eye. This is the line most tempting for me to want one of each style.

Bisque -- Can velvet look any better than this?

Tetra -- I love the inspiration from men's ties.

Tickle -- metallics are starting to take on a more muted tone.

Charla -- Wedges are going to be around for awhile ladies.

Pesky -- I love the Victorian look of this boot.

Myria -- I mean honestly, does it get any better than this?

We received our Fornarina order this week, so more sneak peaks to come.

Friday, October 14, 2005

death cab for MY cutie

So tonight on our way back from Nebraska Furniture Mart (yes, at 7pm on a Friday night we decided there is no place we'd rather be than a big-box furniture store...we fully admit we are lame), Margot began her cry-whine-moan routine that John and I have noticed has become normal behavior for her lately.

"Why does she do this everytime we get in the car now?"

"I don't know. Let's see if some music will calm her down."

"What's in the CD player?"

"Death Cab. Maybe if we turn the volume up loud enough we won't be able to hear her whine."

As soon as the music began, Margot turned her head out the window and became eerily quiet.

10 minutes later...

"Do you find it interesting that she hasn't made a peep since we put in this CD?"

"Our daughter is a rockstar."

If you'd liked to view a slideshow of the rockstar dancing to Plans in her pjs go here (click on view as a slide show and move the scale to 1 second for the best effect). I'm sure no one else will appreciate the show as much as I do, but it was fun to learn how to do this on flickr. Here's one of the few clear snapshots of how the rockstar has started to welcome the day in the morning:

Thursday, October 06, 2005

sneak peak

So it looks like I've become a once-a-week blogger. It's not because the novelty has worn off for me (although I did wonder if that would happen), but because Habitat trumps blogging right now and I don't have enough brain power left at 1am to pull together a coherent thought.

This has been a fun week for John and I because we've started receiving shipments of product. It's so exciting to open up the boxes of shoes, belts and T-shirts (so far) that will soon be lining the shelves at Habitat (and hopefully flying off of the shelves!). Thankfully, we received some shoes in time for the October First Friday tomorrow night (I wrote about First Fridays here if you're curious about what they are), so we'll have members of the Habitat Street Team modeling shoes at the store for people to get a sneak peak before our opening in November. Plus, many of our friends have volunteered to pass out handbills to get the word out and encourage people to sign-up on our mailing list. We've heard estimates that 3,000-4,000 people visit the Crossroads on First Fridays, so our goal is to get 500 people signed up on the mailing list tomorrow night! It's a lofty goal (12-17% of the potential crowd), but what's the point of setting a goal that is easy to reach?

For those of you who won't be able to come tomorrow night, here's a sneak peak for you of some of the shoes the Street Team will be modeling (please forgive the unappealing background of my kitchen counter...I didn't have time to give a lot of thought to layout). All of these are from P.F. Flyers -- the most casual brand we will be carrying. They've been around for many, many years and have recently come back to the forefront in the marketplace with their updated styles of shoes they've been selling for a long time.

The Grounder Lo in distressed brown leather and light blue leather:
The Number 5 in cream leather and tan suede:
The Center Hi in black canvas and navy leather:
Center Hi Limited Edition in eggplant(?) and hot pink, complete with art:

P.F. Flyers sent us all these shoes for free for promotional use for First Friday, which John and I thought was pretty cool (and we think the Street Team members will too). I'll take pictures of the other shoes that will be modeled tomorrow night, so there's more sneak peaks to come.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

the race is on

Last night John and I had the pleasure of sitting around a card table in the currently cavernous space that will soon be Habitat Shoe Store with five close friends (John & Christina, David & Hannah, and Stephanie) for a brainstorming session. We invited these specific friends because they each have an eye for design, intensely creative minds, and are just all around cool people. We talked about the layout of the store, the first place a customer's eye is going to fall when they enter the store, inspiration for window displays, how to create a fitting room without solid walls and many, many other things. It was interesting to hear what kinds of things are important to people. My favorite recommendation that I would have never thought of was that we needed to have a three-way mirror in the fitting room because "you know when you try on a pair of jeans, they can look good from this angle, but then you turn around and you realize they don't look good from that angle." That thought would have never crossed my mind; although I assure you the mirror will be IN the fitting room because I can't stand it when the only mirror is outside the fitting room and you have to model what you are trying on to everyone else in the fitting area. So, if you're shy about prancing around in your potential new digs in front of complete strangers then come to Habitat. We'll insure you have complete privacy...and a three-way mirror for all angles viewing.

So after the brainstorming session, John and I came home, looked at each other and realized that we have A LOT of work to do in one month. I sometimes have a hard time believing that a space that is completely empty right now (with the exception of some floor sealant cans and drop cloths) will be completely full of shoes, jeans, T-shirts, belts, handbags and more IN ONE MONTH. I'm sure our friends who were there tonight were thinking, "Oh, it's so sweet that John and Kristen are so excited about the store...but they are so naive to think they can open in one month." If I were them, I would've been thinking that; but if they did, none of them showed it or voiced it. For that, I'm thankful. I'm thankful to all our friends because for the past year each one of them has been so supportive of us -- including the times when we questioned whether Habitat was ever going to happen. They have encouraged us at every turn. When we do open the doors of Habitat, it will be because of the support of our friends (and our family too, of course). So, if any of our friends are reading this, thank you.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

the view from the 4th row

A BIG THANK YOU to my brother-in-law, Reese, for taking me to the Coldplay concert last night (his date wasn't able to make it because her flight was delayed from Florida due to the hurricane). We sat in the fourth row, just off center. It was AMAZING. Too good for words. More later because I'm already late for work, but here are two of my favorite photos I was able to snap.

Monday, September 19, 2005

my superhero husband

And because that last post was so wordy (that's what happens when you don't post for almost 2 weeks), I thought I'd share some photos from the previous weekend when we took a trip to Oklahoma City to visit some friends. Weekends with the Helker family are always refreshing for us and hanging with the Helker kids gives John an excuse to act like a kid again (like you need an excuse for that). The Helker kids having a good time with Margot:

Evan, Jed, Margot and Hannah.

John living out his superhero dreams:

My favorite quote of the weekend: "This mask smells like dirty feet!"

John's interesting interpretation of an army general's artillery:

And finally, Margot modelling John's new favorite hairstyle for her (with her friend J.D. who also seems to like that look):

new house dilemma #12

So I've stumbled on the key to finding motivation to clean your home -- get a job where you have to recite a housecleaning script up to 15 times a day. There's only so many times you can say..."for example, we start at the top and catch the cobwebs around the corners of the ceilings"...and not think about how many cobwebs have been spun in your own home. This past weekend, John and I cleaned the entire house. It doesn't look like it though because we also ended up with several new pieces of furniture we were given by a close family member. I use the term given loosely. We've refused receipt of this furniture at least six times over the past three years. The excuses have ranged from, "it's not really our style" to "we don't have room for it", depending on what mood we were in, but one thing was for sure -- we weren't going to take the furniture. Well, at least I thought that was for sure. Friday afternoon, I came home to a room full of furniture -- the same furniture I distinctlly remember turning down six times. A moment of weakness coinciding with pressure from aforementioned family member moving in two weeks? Maybe. John and I facing the reality that we won't be in a position to purchase new furniture for awhile? Also a good possibility. Whatever the reason, it did solve New House Dilemma #12: Not Able To Get Full Box Spring Up Narrow Staircase.

We've tried to solve this dilemma several times without success. We've pushed, pulled, shoved, cussed, all-while-putting-several-new-holes-in-the-walls attempting to get the full box spring up the staircase. We even resorted to swiping a split box spring that someone had put at the end of their driveway for the trash to pick up, only to get it up the staircase and realize it was a QUEEN split box spring. We were so glad to have *any* box spring in our guest room, we convinced ourselves that our guests would find the pyramid bed an interesting adventure...or at least a conversation piece. It's probably for the best that no guests had the chance to test the stacked bed. We've replaced the certainly unstable makeshift bed with two sturdy twin beds (Clark and Kerry: when you visit you'll get to experience what it was like for married couples during the Dick Van Dyke era).

And if cleaning the whole house and rearranging several pieces of furniture was not enough, I also decided this would be a good weekend to switch out my spring/summer and fall/winter wardrobes. This is always a humbling process because I realize that my semi-frequent squawking about "how I don't have any clothes" or "I have nothing fun to wear" are unfounded and stupid. A long time ago I told myself that I was going to live by the rule that everytime I purchased something new I was going to get rid of something old. That rule never took hold in my life. I justify it by saying that I just give a bunch of things away at the end of every season to make up for all the things I bought that season and that it probably works out evenly. Yeah right. Lately I've been contemplating trying a similar giving principle that an acquaintance shared with me -- she removes one item from her house every day in an effort to pare down. How long would it take you to give away everything in your home if you lived by that principle? Maybe I'll try it and let you know.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

a suntan without the damaging effects of the sun...and no, i'm not talking about sunless tanners here people

So, I was reminded again this past holiday weekend that my husband and I RARELY go out of town on holiday weekends. I'm not sure if it's because both our families live in town, so we don't use holiday weekends to travel to visit them, or if we just don't think ahead and make plans to go out of town. Whatever the reason, we found ourselves at home again this past weekend. Since all of our friends were out of town, we decided to make good use of our time and paint our dining room. We've been contemplating this job for at least a month, but have not been able to proceed because of the textured ceiling. It's a popcorn texture complete with glitter specks that John absolutely despises (I actually didn't mind them much because that's the kind of ceilings I grew up with). Well, last weekend, John, his dad, and his brother scraped the popcorn texture off, so we had no excuses not to paint this weekend.

I've been considering the color scheme for about two months; I found the idea in the premier issue of this magazine and ever since have been trying to decide if it could work in our dining room. Prepare's pretty different. The horizontal shot (complete with fuzzy Margot):

And the vertical shot, so you can get a better look at the pink ceiling.

No, you don't need adjust the color on your screen...the ceiling is pink, above the chair rail is orange and below the chair rail is a light gray. We're not quite sure what we think. It's definitely pretty close to the photo in the magazine, but we think the orange is too bright...too orange. We bought 2 other test oranges before committing to this one (because we were pretty sure and didn't want to buy ANOTHER tester). The first orange (Osage Orange) was too bright/ looked like a highlighter. The second orange (Kumquat) looked like a pale, rusty brown on the swatch, but was also a bright orange on the wall. We thought a darker orange (Marquis Orange) might tone down the brightness. I think we were wrong. We ended up with a bright, BOLD orange. Honestly, we don't have the energy to even think about repainting it now being that we spent two entire days priming, taping, painting trim and walls -- all while trying to keep Margot out of the room. We're going to see how we feel about it in a week or two. In the meantime, if you want to appear as if you have a great tan (or sunburn, depending on how you look at it), come over to our house for dinner.

Side note: We forgot to take a before photo, but for those of you who want to envision where we came from, picture brown trim, cream above the chair rail and red wallpaper with pineapples below the chair rail. Definitely not our style.

Friday, September 02, 2005

one step closer...

Tonight John and I hung these up in the windows of our store.

It was pretty exciting. They were printed by a super cool gentleman named Brady at Hammerpress (who's shop is just around the corner from ours). I'm not sure why I haven't posted about this yet, but about a month ago, we decided on the location for Habitat. It's 1800 Baltimore, in the Crossroads Art District -- a fun, up-and-coming area (at least we think) between downtown KC and the Midtown & Plaza areas. Tonight was the "First Friday" of the month, when the local art galleries stay open until 10pm. First Fridays draw about 3,000-4,000 people from all over KC; they will most certainly be our busiest nights of the year. Several months ago (before we realized how long it can take to get a small business started) we thought we would be open by the First Friday in September. Even though we weren't open for business tonight, it was fun to be one step closer tonight and to start getting the word out about Habitat.

working girl

So, I've been at my new job for six weeks now. I answer phones at a call center for a housecleaning service. People call in; I tell them about our services; figure up a quote for their home and (hopefully) get them to schedule a cleaning. After doing this approximately 100 times so far, I have memorized the script. I don't think this is any major accomplishment...I would think after reading through anything 100 times, you would have it memorized.

My favorite part of my job: going through the script with an accent. The service I work for has several offices in Canada, so we frequently speak with Canadians. Oftentimes I won't realize I'm speaking with an accent until I'm halfway through the script. This isn't a new thing for me; I've noticed before that when I'm around people who are speaking English with accent, I start emulating their speech. I'm not saying I imitate accents well, it's just something I subconciously do.

My least favorite part of my job: people who get mad at me because they don't like the price I quote them. You wouldn't believe how angry some people can get when they want their house cleaned, but they don't want to pay the price you quote them. Come on people, I didn't make up the prices, I'm just quoting them for you -- don't kill the messenger.

One interesting thing I've learned at this job: complete strangers will tell you a lot more than you wanted to know about their lives when they can't see who they're talking to.

One of the most important things I will take away from this job: to be especially nice to anyone I talk with on the phone in any kind of service industry job...and you should too. Trust me, anyone you're talking to on the phone for a company has already talked to several mean people that day, so make their day a little bit brighter by being cordial and patient.

Monday, August 29, 2005

viva las vegas

So my husband left for Las Vegas today for another trade show...actually three trade shows -- Magic, Pool and Project. He left me behind this time because someone has to make some money to pay the bills around here. Other than the fact that I would love another opportunity to spend thousands of dollars on shoes in just a few hours (and clothes and handbags this time too...can you imagine the damage I could do?), I'm just fine that I'm not in Vegas right now. I don't like Vegas. Actually, I despise Vegas. My favorite part about Vegas (and favorite here means the ONLY thing I liked about Vegas) was the three minute respite from THE CONSTANT NOISE I experienced in front of the Bellagio fountains. I don't care if you think I'm cheesy, those fountains are amazing. We were fortunate to view them during "Ave Maria" (I think...if it wasn't that, it was some beautiful operetic-like song). For those three minutes, I really did forget that I was in Vegas. My least favorite part about Vegas -- the incessant ringing of slot machines. You can't get away from them; they're even in the airport. I have never wanted a pair of headphones so badly in my life. My second least favorite part about Las Vegas - their state slogan..."what happens here, stays here." Enough said.

I had huge plans for the next three evenings (after Margot went to bed of course) while John is out of town. I was going to start a new knitting project. Spend time with my friend, Julie, who just moved around the corner from us. Clean the house. Pain the trim in the dining room. Well, I don't think any of those plans are going to be realized because as if right now I am laid up in bed with a bad back. All day I have been unable to stand in a full, upright position. I basically look like an 80-year-old woman with an unfortunate curve in her spine (actually, my grandmother is 82 and she looks better than I do). I'm currently experiencing relatively little pain (as compared to the rest of the day), which I attribute to the fact that my back is numb from the two ice packs I've been laying on for two hours. I think it's too much to hope that I would be healed by the morning, but if I don't get a little relief, and some subsequent freedom of movement, I'm going to be feeding Margot breakfast in bed tomorrow morning. Breakfast in HER bed, that is, since I won't be able to lift her out of it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

new friends in blogland

Well, I found out last night that my friend, Kerry, has thrown her hat in the blogring (of course my "tagging" her with the idiosyncrasies meme was the major catalyst...Kerry wouldn't miss a chance to share her quirks with the world!). I'm especially excited that Kerry decided to start a blog because she and her husband just moved two hours away from us. Living close to them again was definitely one of the highlights of moving back to KC for us, but a blog is the next best thing of having her down the street, right? If you want to get to know Kerry and view some of the amazing handmade things she makes, check this out.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


I must apologize to Hannah for taking so long to realize she had tagged me for the idiosyncrasies meme (I have no idea what the word "meme" means, but despite that I've gathered it's somthing I'm supposed to respond to). As you've probably noticed, my posting lately as been intermittent (at best) and likewise, so has my blog reading. My excuse? -- that pesky think called work. It's definitely put a dent in the time (and energy) I have to be on the internet, which is probably not all that bad of a thing since I was beginning to think I was spending too much time in front of a computer.

So, I've been thinking about my idiosyncrasies and here's what I've come up with (it was more difficult than I thought it would be):

1. I read magazines cover to cover.
Every single page...including the ads. I even read articles that I have no interest in. I first noticed this when we had a subscription to Outside and I would find myself reading articles about a man who decided he wanted to live with bears instead of people or a man who would host dinner parties for his friends to have them sample the exotic meals he would create out of wild animals that people don't normally eat (like tortoises and ostriches). I think there's something inside me that feels like I cannot say, "I read this month's issue of ______ (insert magazine title here)," unless I actually read the WHOLE thing. Who's asking me if I read the entire magazine? No one. But that doesn't matter now does it?

2. I alphabetize my CDs.
Which used to be a bigger deal than it is now, since I never rotate the CDs in my car. I don't need to rotate them because I will listen to a CD eight times in a row without ever thinking about changing it and my case holds 24 CDs and by the time I've actually listened to all 24 CDs a year has passed and I'm ready to hear Madonna's "The Immaculate Collection" another eight times. The only way a CD ever gets changed in my car is if John takes my car for the day.

3. I can often be seen standing with one foot resting in the crook of my other knee.
Yes, this makes me look like a stork, but I'm most comfortable that way.

4. I have at least 3 (and I've had up to 6) half gallon containers of Edys ice cream in my freezer at all times.
This is to insure that I won't have to miss my nightly cup of ice cream. Not a bowl, not even a mug, but a cup. It doesn't matter if it's a blazing hot summer night or a cold, harsh winter evening, I must have my ice cream.

I hesitated to list this final one, but I couldn't think of any more myself. When I asked John what he thought my idiosyncrasies were, he responded VERY quickly with this (which makes me think he sees it more as a character flaw than an idiosyncrasy):

5. I disclaim everything.

I read a lot of blogs, but I don't know many people that read mine (that have blogs of their own), so I'll tag Stephanie, Laura and Lindsay (who do have blogs) and also my friends Sarah*, Kerry (who don't currently have blogs) with the hope that this will serve as a catalyst for at least one of those two ladies to join the fun.

*Update: Well, that didn't take long. This afternoon I found out that Sarah has finally decided to enter the blogosphere...she has a "team blog" with one of my other friends, Jeff. Check out their drivel here.

Monday, August 08, 2005

lucky girl

...on two accounts. The first: I got to spend three full days (and I do mean FULL) at the World Shoe Association trade show. Before we left, John informed me that the show was in three different convention halls and there were over 4,000 vendors being showcased. Thankfully, John had done quite a bit of research before we left and had already made appointments with eight or nine vendors. Honestly, I could kiss him for being so prepared. We were able to get SO MUCH done since we already had those appointments booked and it was a lot less overwhelming than I think it could have been had we just chosen to walk around and see what was out there. We did that too, but we would have been sunk if that's all we had planned on doing. We did find some other cool vendors by walking around and through word of mouth, so we'll probably be adding some of them to our original line-up. I know you're all curious to know exactly what kinds of shoes we're going to be carrying at habitat. We'll, it looks like you're a lukcy girl (or lucky boy) too, because I'm going to give you a sneak preview of some of the lines we've already ordered from:

1. faryl robin -- very unique shoes. In their words, "we design footwear so that you can look great at work and then make your way to a party and turn heads there." Faryl started the company (about 5 years ago I think) and is also the designer (not to mention a wife and a mother). She actually helped us pick out our shoes for next spring/summer. I truly appreciated her honest and forthright opinion. I never once felt like she was trying to "sell" us on her brand, but was really interested in helping us choose the right does for us at this time (being a start-up and not knowing our clientele yet). She's a woman who understands the importance of good working relationships and realizes it's in her best interest for us to be successful. Pesky one of my favorite boots we picked out of the whole show (in smooth, chocolate brown though)...I love the Victorian feel of these.

2. fornarina -- sexy in an "embrace your inner rockstar" kind of way. We spent the most time in this suite (some vendors had booths in a large convention hall, others had their lines displayed in suites in the Venentian hotel)...I just couldn't get enough of their shoes. I had a very difficult time narrowing it down to 16(!) different styles for spring/summer. There were just too many great ones to choose from. Their website is currently being overhauled, so I can't show you any examples of what we purchased for fall, but trust me, you'll want a pair. Even their current website page that's counting down to the new launch is cool.

3. j shoes -- a perfect mix of styles you would recognize, but with an artistic flair. Prior to the show, this was the vendor I was most excited to see in person because I've been salivating over their styles online for so long. It's VERY difficult to choose my favorite out of all the ones we bought (every design is amazing), but I'm going to go with the portobello for men and the suay for women (or the quartz...or the marion...I told you they were amazing).

4. medium -- shoes for the culturally creative. John and I both own a pair of the alchemist and guys will be able to get their own lux pair (in kelp) come October. Ladies, you'll have to wait a little longer. Medium has decided to manufacture women's styles (not just men's shoes in smaller sizes), so those will be available in February.

5. camper -- a name you probably already recognize. I can't find any of the shoes we ordered on their website...when I do, I'll post 'em.

6. gola -- soccer inspired sport shoes in both "easy-on-the-eyes" and "not-so-easy-on-the-eyes" color combos (we stuck mostly with the former to start off with). For men: the chase and the coyote; for women: the harrier and the couture.

Well, that should keep you busy for awhile. I'll post some of the other lines we're considering in the next few days. Feel free to leave feedback (but only if it's positive). No seriously, all comments are welcome.

And why I'm a lucky girl on the second account...because all I've been doing for the past three days is flipping through Lucky and other fashion magazines. One thing I realized at the trade show was that I'm really not *that* into fashion. I mean, I like to buy clothes and shoes as much as the next girl, but 1) I don't like to spend a lot of money on clothes, 2) I NEVER look at fashion magazines, and 3) in light of #1 & #2, I don't know anything about designers or what's *HOT*. Seriously, I can't remember the last time I flipped through a fashion mag, but, it looks like we'll be getting a subscription to at least one soon. Why? Well, I figure if we're going to actually sell cool shoes, we need to know about them: how to wear them, what to wear them with and who's wearing them. All stuff that I never really thought about before this weekend, but I picked up pretty quickly after talking to just a few shoe vendors. They were throwing around terms like peep toe, boho, kitten heel and names like Marc Jacobs and Lindsey Lohan. So, aren't I a lucky girl because I get to read fashion mags as part of my job? It's a tough life, but someone's got to do it.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

talking pennies

We made it through the first day of our first shoe trade show -- what a FUN DAY! So much packed into one day, and we have two more to go! There's too much to tell and I'm not sure I could even articulate anything from the trade show yet, so I'll just share some highlights from the flight:

1. My favorite quote came from a middle-aged women sitting behind me:

"My sister and I are convinced that our mother speaks to us through pennies. Like just last night, we went out to dinner, and we saw two pennies on the ground when we got out of the car -- one for each of us."

My head snapped in John's direction and I quickly gave him the "What did she just say?" look. We obviously were the only ones confused because the women next to her replied, "Oh, and do you beleive if the penny is heads up she's telling you 'yes' and if it's tails up she's telling you 'no'?"

2. My favorite photo: (well, my favorite picture in my mind, that's the only memory I will have of it because John and I forgot our camera. I know, I know, how could we forget our camera on a trip to Las Vegas. Trust me, I DON'T KNOW.)

An elderly man outfitted in light blue-and-white houndstooth polyester pants, a navy cotton blazer tipped in white piping covering a white butterfly collar shirt and the largest glasses I've ever seen with his head tipped back, sleeping with his mouth open. It honestly was the most precious sight. Although I must admit, when my eyes first found him I thought he was dead. I was much relieved when I saw his chest moving with his breath.

off to sin city

So, I've decided I must get over this idea that I have to post a photo with every entry. Honestly, it's too exhausting (especially right now when I'm doing good to getting around to blogging) and I'm tired of not posting at all just because I don't have a photo to complement the writing. No more esxcuses.

I have NO IDEA WHY I AM STILL AWAKE. John and I leave tomorrow for the World Shoe Association trade show in Las Vegas (to say I'm excited about it is a gross understatement...not Las Vegas, but the shoes, THE SHOES), so I should be asleep right now. I sat down at 11:30pm with my (almost) nightly cup of ice cream to *quickly* catch up on some blog reading. Then I was going to iron some clothes, gather my knitting supplies (I've had a strong urge this week to pick up knitting again) and pack all my stuff to prevent the typical "rushing-around-so-as-not-to-be-late-to-the-airport" routine that plagues me the one time of year that I fly. But alas, I am here posting to my blog because I don't want to let down all my readers (all five of them) with the lack of activity here lately. I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I will most definitely be rushing around tomorrow morning (well, actually this morning) while John sits in the car wondering if my twelfth exit from the house will indeed be the final one. And although wearing wrinkled skirts is much less bothersome to me now than it was two hours ago, I figure I better get some sleep. Otherwise I won't have any energy to walk around the three (!) conventions halls filled with more shoes than I've ever seen in my life. Oh, who am I kidding...sleep, or no sleep, I'll ALWAYS be able to shop for shoes.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

back tack goodness

This post is LONG overdue as I received my back tack goodies more than two weeks ago, but have been delayed in posting about the package I received, because I got two new part-time jobs (more on that in another post). But alas, I am back and don't plan on taking any more lengthy, unintentional breaks like that again.

So without further ado, here's a look at the wonderful presents I received from my back-tacker, butterfrog (her alias). This is a shot of the entire array of gifts she sent (minus the ADORABLE sock monkey she made for Margot's 1st birthday - how sweet is that? She even made my daughter a gift! You can see a photo of it here)!

I think Miss Butterfrog is my new best friend. She made me a knitting needle case (which I have been wanting to make for myself since January), a spool roll and a bird pincushion.
Here's a close-up of the spool roll and pincushion:

As if this wasn't enough, she included a PILE of other fun treasures. A mini Oriental-inspired pouch with two petite bird pins hiding inside and a generous pile of great buttons:

She also included some leftover ribbon, ric rac and lace, three beautiful magnets, some new knitting needles (yea!), a needle guage, and two packages of stitch markers!

This was quite a haul! I am especially appreciative because I am new to knitting and have not yet acquired many of these items, which seem to be pretty basic to successful knitting.

And last but not least, I received some new tea! Sadly, I have not tried it yet, but I plan to sit down with a cup one evening this week after work.

Thank you Butterfrog for making my week so special! You are so generous. I truly look forward to using all of these wonderful gifts you sent (Margot loves her sock monkey! I'll take a photo of her carrying it around as soon as I can get one).

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

my 1 year old daughter has stronger abs than i do

Margot's friend Simon invited her to a play date today at Crown Center. It's basically a mall with an outdoor pavillion where they show movies in the summer and have ice skating in the winter. There's this great fountain in the pavillion that kids are always running around in (even though there are signs posted that say, "Please Don't Play in the Fountain"). Margot would only enter the cascade of water if I was holding onto her hands (which any mother would've done anyway right since wet bricks are very slippery)...she actually spent most of her time practicing her saunter on the outskirts of the fountain.

I'm still getting used to the fact that my daughter looks like an orangutan when she walks right now -- arms always flying overhead.

A shot of her running away from the water:

The funniest part of the day was definitely lunchtime when Margot sat for a full twenty minutes like this:

Look at those thighs (which makes this move all the more amazing..the shear strength it must take to hold those things up for so long)! Friends have always joked that Margot has abs of steel. After she learned to sit up on her own, Margot's standard sitting position was with her legs 3 inches off the ground, twirling her feet continuously. The girl is either destined to be a Pilates instructor, a dancer or a swimmer.

Margot with Simon (still in the Pilates position):

And one more photo of Margot on another outing this week. Monday evening we went to the newly remodeled Plaza branch of the Kansas City Public Library. It's fantastic. Modern furnishings everywhere -- even in the kids section! John has already begun shaping Margot's taste in good design, so I wasn't surprised when she spent 10 minutes pushing one of the child-sized modern chairs around the kids area (design is great, but durability is a must as well).

(I apologize to the handful of you who read both John's and my blog and already saw this photo over there. We'll try to offer a better variety of shots in the future.)

Monday, July 11, 2005

just call me "sew sista"

Oh, that was really bad...sorry, I had a difficult time thinking of a creative title for this post. I'm pretty sure it's finally safe to post photos of what I made for the back-tack swap, since Bertha should've received her package in the mail today. This is what I created with the materials Superneedle sent me.

I know you may find this hard to believe (probably not), but this was the first sewing I've done since the 8th grade. I was extremely pleased with the finished product since it actually looks like what I was intending to make. I used this tutorial for the pouch and I "winged" the tote from one I had on hand. The came up with the design -- very simple, which is my style. The pouch is my favorite...probably because it was the first thing I made and it was my first attempt at a zipper.

Close-up of pouch:
Lining of pouch:
I hope the recipient likes her gift (if you don't Bertha, please don't tell me in a comment or I think my spirit might be crushed) and doesn't feel cheated that she had an amateur like me as her back-tack buddy.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

birthday day o' fun

My friend Julie always plans one full day of activities for her husband's birthday which she calls the "day o' fun." I actually remembered to take photos of my 29th birthday day o' fun and now that I've finally figured out how to post several photos in one post (thanks to Hannah telling me about blogger images!), I can share them with you in the actual order of occurence. *Note: This is the absolute longest post ever...I'm having WAY TOO MUCH fun with this multiple photo posting.

I woke up on my birthday for the second time that morning (see here if you're confused) craving french toast. I really wanted to go to Milton's (my favorite breakfast place in Lawrence), but now that we live in KC I decided it probably wasn't realistic for us to drive there just to satisfy my cravings (even though it was my birthday). A chain restaurant was definitely out, so I jumped on the internet to search for a hole-in-the-wall place that served cheap french toast. Ruby's Dagwoods was the winner -- both in 2001 for Best Cheap Eats and July 2, 2005 for Kristen's 29th birthday breakfast. As if the Best Cheap Eats award was not enough to convince me, this is what we encountered when we pulled into the parking lot. Who would not want to eat their birthday breakfast here?

Although I don't smoke, and typically dislike eating in smoking establishments, this sign seemed to endear me even more to the place.

Ruby's was awesome. Immediately after entering I knew the waitress would know everyone's name in the place. I almost felt like we shouldn't be there since we weren't regulars, but she quickly embraced us as if we were her own children.

Our menu?
For the birthday girl:
- a big tall glass of orange juice (served in a melamine "frosted" glass)
- two pieces of thick french toast (on Texas toast of course)
- a side of hashbrowns

For John:
- same as me (sans hashbrowns)
- two eggs over-easy
- a cup of black coffe (the worst he said he'd tasted in years...he's a coffee snob now that he's run a coffeeshop for the past 3 years)

For Margot:
- one piece of wheat toast soaked in a LARGE amount of butter (I could actually hear her young arteries clogging).

We didn't enjoy any of the menu items listed on the sign outside...

...nope, no tenderloins for me before noon (although I do think John could eat chicken fried steak at 9am if he really put his mind to it). However, I think Margot came very close to bringing on a heart attack in an elderly man that walked by our table to say hi to her. Currently Margot is not particularly fond of older men...or men with facial hair. This gentleman fit both categories and so there was no escaping her typical response -- explosive cry with frightened look. At that point we decided it was time for the check.

It was then home for a nap for Margot (yes, already). We put Margot down and after thirty minutes of quiet, a nap started to sound pretty good to John and I (remember: 4am). Just as our heads sunk into the pillow, little miss angel decided she had had enough beauty sleep. So we headed off to the Reading Reptile, a children's bookstore I have been wanting to check out for awhile (check out their "about us" page...not what you'd expect from owners of a children's bookstore).

This is my new favorite place. It's easy to see why they won an award for excellence in children's bookselling (you can see photos of the store here). Scattered around the store are lots of large paper mache replicas of characters popularized in children's books. In the back of the store is a stage (complete with velvet curtain!) where they have storytime and show movies. Also in the back is a huge section that looks to be dedicated to crafts. They have every children's book you would ever want and much, much more (whole sections dedicated to weather, the human body, environment and on and on). Although Margot didn't look at any books, she kept busy petting the cat...

...and playing with this...

She just loves these bead contraptions. On the way home I found a much smaller version at a garage sale -- the best $0.25 I ever spent I tell ya.

Then it was on to "Tea at 3" at Gail's. It was so nice to have time with just girlfriends and no children to chase around. My dear friend Sarah made these to-die-for truffles.

I know, I know it's not fair to tease, but I had to share. The evening ended with dinner at Osteria Il Centro (that's my shadow at the bottom)...

...and a relaxing walk around the Plaza. We were planning on catching a movie, but didn't think we'd make it through one due to our (very) early morning.

I absolutely LOVE celebrating birthdays...especially my own. But honestly, after having my daughter I figured the days of fun birthdays for me were over. Not true. This was definitely a day o' fun!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

happy birthday to me

i love mommy tee
Originally uploaded by kmmcclain.

Today was my 29th birthday. My last year before "the thirties." I'm ready. The other day I heard that "30 is the new 20"...I'm not sure I know exactly what that means, but I do know I don't want to be 20 again.

Outside of the fact that Margot woke up at 4:34am and we couldn't get her back to sleep for more than an hour, my birthday day was splendid (I think she just wanted me to be awake for as many birthday hours as possible)! I recorded the day with my camera, but that post will have to wait until tomorrow because it's already very late and 4:34am was a long time ago.

Here's one of my favorite photos from today. This little beauty is the reason I spent the evening of my 28th birthday uncomfortable. The next day I would realize that my discomfort was because I was having contractions. And the next day, Margot entered our lives.