the shoe collector.

I've always really liked fun shoes, since I was a little girl swinging in the park with pink keds (which I later made a quest to re-buy as an adult but that's another story).

I think the height of my shoe collecting started in high school. I was so involved with buying shoes and so ashamed of how many pairs I had that I would put some in the attic, hide them in all dark corners of my closets and Long Island home. One time, I even asked my friend to hide a pair of expensive Harley Davidson biker 4' va-va-voom boots I bought 'behind my mom's back' in her trunk until I could see her next time and put them in a backpack or something that wouldn't stick out.

I guess that is when the line becomes thin between an 'shoe addict' and a 'shoe collector.'
But either way, I've gotten a lot better than I used to be.
I used to own something like 100 pairs before I moved to Arizona and I would go on quests to find shoes that I made up (I wanted to have at least one pair of every possible style and color that I liked) and now, I am down to maybe fifty or sixty pairs of shoes?
I don't mind giving them up so much anymore, if I know I just don't wear them. I don't like holding on to shoes that are uncomfortable just because they are pretty.

I also tend to buy shoes now for comfort AND appeal rather than just for that sexy silhouette and glam factor.
I am a teacher, I am marrying a man that really doesn't understand the point of high heels (and I like being shorter than him anyway), I like shiny shoes, punk shoes, motorcycle boots, western styles and artsy vibes. I don't know if one style necessarily could describe my collection but all I know is that it's me and when I get dressed every morning, I take an extra few minutes to properly decide what shoes would look best, and I am pleased to have such great choices!

Here is my collection:

 From left: Mel by Melissa heart jellies, Sperry anchor espadrilles, Italian Shoemakers braided mixed metal cork flipflops, Swedish Hasbeens, White Mountain (birkenstock-inspired but with fun silver hardware and gorgeous teal suede), Swedish Hasbeen heart cut out clogs, Isola gold pyramid stud gladiators, Marc by Marc Jacobs mouse flats.
 From left, green suede Gap flats, light blue snake embossed Gap flats, MIA lace up sandals, Ann Taylor Loft ballerina espadrilles, Spring Step oxford espadrilles
 From right: Apepezza studded espadrilles, Coach NY bow cap-toe flats
 From left: Miz Mooz OTK engineer boots, Sam Edelman spur-heel granny knee boots, Ugg Austraila button high boots, Ariat studded harness boots, Bed Stu short cowgirl boots with sheepskin lining, Coach NY rain/snow waterproof insulated boots with exposed back zip and buckles

 From right: MIA limited edition red studded cowgirl boots, Bed Stu, Ariat, 2006 Limited Edition Frye embellished campus boot, Sam Edelman

 From left: Charlotte Rouse lace up heels (Jimmy Choo inspired), Zara spiked and glam-as-f*ck low pumps, Queen Fashion ballroom/wedding/super comfortable dancestar pumps

It's really hard to pick a favorite.
I've been asked a bunch of times before. I have a really special place in my heart for all my shoes (even ones I give away or donate after I decide to move on). I think my top 5 shoes are probably my Bed Stu short boots (I got them for a steal at an Anthropologie clearance)--I definitely wear those the most, all year round. The other four favorites would probably be my red cowgirl boots, my marc jacobs mouse shoes, my wedding shoes, and my Ariat Boots.
I guess I like boot seasons the best because I think winter and fall shoes are the most fun. I'm crazy about tights too, so that helps!

The only other shoe that isn't in this post would be my authentic Greek sandals that are beautiful leather rosegold winged creatures, currently in the mail!
So excited to receive them.
 Custom 'angel wing sandals' Hermes inspired by Gothspecks on Etsy in a wide variety colors, plus each pair comes with 3 different sets of interchangeable wings! So cool.
I'll do a post on them once I get them in the mail, as well, if you guys are interested.

My collection will be 'completed' this week at a nice, even, 26 pairs!
Any shoe thoughts?
Your collections?


Happy Passover/Easter!

 Louise Belcher & Mabel Pines represent two of my favorite animated girls the world has ever known and Louise constantly has that Easter spirit with her bunny hat and Mabel with her excessive use of glitter and rainbows and dorky handknit sweaters.
Isn't this some of the best cosplay you've ever seen? I'm obsessed.

As far as Passover goes,
I am being a slacker and eating bread and stuff but still saving room for flourless cake.
We didn't do the usual traditions of replacing bread/yeast with Matzot but maybe next year.
Here is a picture to represent Passover, to be fair, and include all of you guys celebrating/sedaring.
Of course, when I looked up Passover images on Google, I found a lot of antisemitic horrors and hate which just made me sad because for me, and for my family, celebrating the holiday is more about family, feasts, and appreciating our good fortune and freedom than bashing anybody else or parading around like 'the Chosen Ones.' That's not my belief system or values. We choose what to believe and whether or not to be spiritual as our own individual rites and none of it makes us better or worse in value than any other religious denomination or culture!

Happy holiday weekend to you & your loved ones!


spring on the shoes.

clothes I would love to own...

Marc Jacob bow sandals @ $86 (clearance)
Seychelles @ $26.50 (available in several cute colors)
Pierre Dumas (Jack Rogers lookalikes) @ $29
Miz Mooz @ $30 (clearance, in 3 colors)
DV by Dolce Vita @ $45
Miz Mooz @ $89 (a bit of a splurge but so timeless and unique!)
Eric Michael @ $60 (great dressy or casual)
Minnetonka @ $60
Ahnu @ $31 (clearance, available in tons of colors and fabrics)
Gentle Souls @ $95 (clearance, 100% suede)
Kate Spade @ $95 (Clearance, definitely adorable and close battle for cuteness against MJ's mouse flats!)

All of these available to buy for the above deals HERE.
I'm seeing a lot of Birkenstocks street style trends and very Greek looking strappy sandals Spring 2015 as well.
For me personally, I'm not buying any more shoes for the season, I have a great selection which I will feature very soon so be on the look out!
What kind of shoes are you planning on donning this Spring/Summer?


cream of the crop: AZ WEDDING VENUES!

I want to note that I am not a professional wedding planner or expert on weddings in any way.
I am simply an enthusiastic upcoming bride with a lot of time to plan and research weddings and find the best possible Arizona venue for my fiance and me.
I have realized that a lot of the venues are overpriced, not charming or historical/big business types, without the customer service or attention to detail or special day that I require as someone who really takes spending thousands of dollars on a Love Celebration seriously.
I have found a lot of inspiration on Offbeat Bride and Rustic Arizona Bride but in the end, most of the best sites I found were on my own, by persistent and mixed up Google Searches.

The following is a carefully compiled lists of OUR favorite and what WE consider to be the most reasonable and exquisite vendors. I am not getting paid or encouraged to promote these venues in any way, I am simply doing it to create another shortcut for AZ Brides on a Budget in the same situation as myself.
Any pricing mentioned are to give you a general idea and keep in mind that they do NOT include photography, florist and cake (opting out of completely), and the bar packages we are considering are BYOB with mixers provided.
Without further ado... 

1. Bella Rose Estates, Chandler AZ price range with inclusive package $7500++++ (lowest during the week or on a Friday)
 *source  A beautiful 2 acre estate home with a super luxe ballroom for the reception. Full access to entire property including a groom's room with a poker table for the boys and a bridal room with an absolutely massive mirror for the ladies!
*source The outside is beautiful and complete with included twinkle lights, gardens seasonally chosen and tended to, a mountain view in the distance, and a charming old fashioned gazebo as well as a more traditional garden wire arch for photography and lovely southwestern tiles throughout the villa.

Postive: Really stunning, picture perfect dream location, with utmost privacy and attentions to customers. Owners are really sweet and easy to talk to husband and wife that are happy to work with your budget and VERY FLEXIBLE WITH VENDORS which is extremely rare!
They also offer a Sunday Brunch inclusive option that is significantly reduced, but since we are having so many out of state guests, we are currently looking at a possible Friday Night wedding here!
It is in our top 2 places.
There is also a hotel that is literally ACROSS THE STREET for mega convenience.

Negative: Saturday night weddings are impossible to book for less than 10K. They are one of the types of vendors that only does rentals during the week and you need to do a package deal of some sort to have a weekend wedding. Also, they are in Chandler which isn't exactly the best town in AZ (very industrial/up and coming vibe, or closest to the airport but that is easy to overlook because it really feels like you are in California once you walk through the gates!

2. The Views at Superstition, Gold Canyon AZ inclusive package $8500+++

This is of course (it's in the name), a venue with VIEWS. The majestic, mystical, and mysterious Superstition mountain range is all around you in this small patio (60 max occupant)-containing ballroom. The inside is kind of simple and not too bad, not too wow-factor, kind of average (I think I'm still annoyed that they charge for china and silverware) but it is a good blank canvas! The outside is what really blows you away. It is stunning and an easy set up for the convenient, walking distance ceremony site on the green (2nd photo) at the separately-owned Superstition Golf Resort.

Positives: Absolutely stunning, budget friendly, competitive pricing (they are willing to haggle and eager to please), flexible with DIY decor and liquor but NOT with caterers. Those mountains though. Sweet heavens, are they something.

Negatives: Patio is too small for our wedding, wish it was bigger! Kind of awkward that the golf course isn't owned by the venue so you have to be really flexible with dates since you are dealing with two different venues. It is very far from Phoenix and the city, which has it's pluses but it could be a bit of a schlep for guests. The china and silverware is not included. The arch is not included.
Overall, it has some bad things but the views and photo-potential are so stunning it would really be a helluva place to host our wedding and capture some special and beautiful memories at!

3. The Paseo, Apache Junction AZ $16,500++ Package Wedding, Rental Only (for whole event cer & rec) @ $6,000-$7,000

We haven't actually visited here yet, it hasn't even opened until last week but something tells me it could be quite a contender in the race to the wedding venue deposit. Their deposit is the only one that is FULLY refundable. They are also closer to the mountains, and literally right around the corner from Lost Dutchman National Park, which is one of our favorite to hike and connect with nature.
They have a staged shoot up on their website which is stunning and they are a pretty bare-bones place which is very appealing and attractive to the boho southwestern bride. They have vendor packages and bring a lot to the table (except for silverware and china) and it just seems like a really chill, really awesome option for something a bit off the beaten path, but still gorgeous!
There are three bathrooms and a catering tent (no formal kitchen) in case you were wondering (I was) and it is FAMILY OWNED which I really appreciate. If we chose the Paseo, we would need to do a rental and piece together the rest, which is a lot of work but it might be worth it if we fall in love with it!

So those are our top three choices at the moment!
These are some other venues we are still researching/considering in a pinch:

-Villa Tuscano, Mesa $6800 semi-inclusive
-Regency Gardens, Mesa $???
-Castle on Camelback, Scottsdale $???
-Castle on Main, Phoenix $8,000+++
-Portico, Mesa $8,000+++


-Wedgwood Palm Valley (good prices and nice but very traditional/by-the-books, not special to us)
-Boojum Tree (too expensive for a run down greenhouse in our opinion)
-Botanical Gardens (pricey and hard to work with caterers and get the whole thing together)
-Superstition Golf Course (the taxes were crazy high)
-Wikopah Resort (super expensive)
-Hotel Palomar (I loved it but he didn't like being in downtown phoenix or the idea of having a city wedding)
-The Grove (not for us)
-Noah's (like a gymnasium with a bad view/outdoor area)
-Wright House (too expensive but very cool)
-The Talking Stick (too pricey and casino is kind of overwhelming)
-The Ashley Castle (not authentically decorated for a castle, not for us, over priced and completely un-flexible)
-Whispering Tree Ranch (beautiful but too far for him and my family, GOOD price)
-Desert Foothills (adorable barn but in the middle of nowhere and the dirt floor is just completely unrealistic for our dancefloor/wedding, NOT flexible at all with caterers and transportation would be a mess with dirt roads and hard-to-find-location)
-Van Dickson Ranch (I love the idea but it's literally two hours away and in a ranch town far from society and hotels. One B&B seems a bit risky for a party of 80 with all out of towners)
-The Farm at South Mountain (extras really add up to high cost)
-Villa Sienna (too expensive)

I think that covers most of it for now, stay tuned for more updates and wedding excitement!
I am also going to throw in some other fun posts this Spring to break up the wedding planning madness :)

Any thoughts?