Shopping – Frugal Novice
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Five Ways to Save Money on Your Groceries

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I love finding savings in any shopping I do, which I’m sure comes as no surprise. Coupons set my heart aflutter, and I have been known to text my mom and let her know just how much money I’ve saved on a bargain. The Penny Hoarder is a blog that is very centered on saving money, and they’ve recently shared a way to save all sorts of money on groceries (and in some cases, even earn money). I thought I’d share it with you in case you’d be just as interested in this as I was! Click here to check out the tips!

Spruce up for Spring with Carter’s!

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“I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Carter’s. I received a complimentary gift card to facilitate my review and thank me for my participation.”

Spring has sprung, and boy am I glad. Cold weather and I just aren’t the best of friends, and when spring temperatures arrive I’m a happy girl. It means bike rides with the kids, walks around the neighborhood, baseball practice and plenty of time in the back yard.

Spring also heralds the arrival of bright colors in clothes, and there’s just something cheery about shopping for spring wardrobes. This is especially the case for me in shopping for the kids, and Carter’s is always one of my very favorite places to find their new clothes.

Of course, Easter is right around the corner, and finding shirts for the boys (aged 5 & 7) was on my to-do list. Carter’s has a great Easter selection, and I had a hard time picking between solids and prints, polos and button-ups. So many cute options! I ended up getting a bright plaid for J and a chambray for C. I like that they’re not matchy-matchy, but they’ll coordinate really well.

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Continue Reading…

New Huggies Snug & Dry Ultra Diapers: Great Protection at a Great Value

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Huggies® for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

I’m sure most of you have experienced this: you’re out with your child, and you set her in your lap. Suddenly, your leg is wet and you realize that your child’s diaper has leaked. This has happened to us when we were out, which meant she also leaked in her car seat. And every parent knows washing a car seat cover is no easy task.

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Huggies® Snug & Dry Ultra Diapers (available only at Walmart) are a lifesaver when it comes to preventing leaks. There’s a snug fit around the waist, along the hips, and around each leg, adding up to a strong barrier against leaks.

Continue Reading…

New Year’s Resolution Success with Kohl’s

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Note: I received gift cards from Kohl’s to facilitate my post. All opinions are honest and my own.

I have a confession to make.

I’m pretty unoriginal with my New Year’s resolutions.

But, so far, I’m also pretty successful at keeping my resolution this year – so I guess in that way I’m fairly unique!

My resolution this year is to be healthier, which includes eating better and exercising more. I’ve tried this in the past and didn’t last long, but this time around I’m taking added steps to make sure I’m successful. I’ve found an app to help me track both calories consumed and burned; I’ve got an accountability partner (my husband – so convenient! And so amazingly awesome of him to agree to work out with me each night); and I’ve got the gear I need, thanks to Kohl’s.

I shop at Kohl’s pretty frequently for clothes, shoes, accessories, toys, and kitchen items. You probably do, too. But did you know Kohl’s has a pretty impressive line-up of items to help you live a healthier life?

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There are a ton of options for workout gear – I personally think it’s a morale-builder to work out in something you feel attractive in; and if you feel attractive, you’re more likely to want to wear those clothes and work out in them.  Whether you’re a gym rat or you like to walk around your neighborhood, there’s attire for you.

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Good shoes are crucial, and Kohl’s has plenty of those to pick from, too.

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Don’t forget some headphones to listen to music while you work out!

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They even have socks that wick away sweat, and I think we can all agree that’s a very good thing.

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Beyond clothing, though, there’s all sorts of exercise equipment, from weights to kettlebells to yoga blocks and more.

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And since you’ll be working up a sweat, you’ll want to make sure and stay hydrated. Kohl’s has got you covered there, too:

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Of course, exercising is just part of living a healthier life. It’s important to make good choices with what you eat, too. There are a ton of kitchen gadgets on the market that make it fun and easy to eat healthy, and Kohl’s offers a wide variety to choose from. There were two items in particular I looked at – the Nutribullet Pro (how easy would it be to make smoothies with this?):

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and this:

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You can make your own “noodles” out of veggies – too  cool! This would be a really fun way to give kids veggies, by the way. Or to lower your carb intake when it’s Italian night!

I decided to get something to help keep me accountable – a Fitbit Flex.

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It’s been really great at motivating me to want to fit in as many steps as possible – and we got one for Brian, too, so we can challenge and encourage each other to stay active! Our Kohl’s had a kiosk right by the jewelry counter with the Fitbit Flex, Charge, Charge HR and Aria scale.

If you were thinking about making a resolution to live healthier, it’s not too late to start! It’s better to start a little later than not at all. Stop by Kohl’s and have a little healthy-living shopping spree. Get yourself shoes and workout clothes; find a DVD you can do right in your living room and grab a blender for smoothies in the morning. And if you get a Fitbit let me know so we can be friends and encourage each other!

Hasbro Stocking Stuffers Fun For All

Note: We received a variety of Hasbro toys to facilitate this post. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are my own.

When it comes to stockings, I like to fill them with things I know my kids will play with for a long time. It’s easy to be tempted by all the knick knacks that fill the aisles at Christmastime, but I think we all know those end up breaking or being discarded within a week or two after the holidays.

Hasbro has a ton of toys and games; I know we’ve already got many Hasbro items in our house. But did you know they have a lot of stocking stuffer options perfect for your kids?

Since the kids don’t read my blog yet (I’m sure one day they totally will) I can share with you some of what they’ll be getting in their stockings.

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J, our 7-year-old, will be getting a Transformer from the new Age of Extension Transformers movie – it can convert from a great robot action figure into a vehicle in just one step, which is great and frustration-free! These retail for $9.99 each. He’ll also be getting Star Wars Rebels action figures, which he’ll be thrilled about because he loves that show!  These also retail for $9.99 each. He’ll love playing with both of these toys for a long time to come!

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C, our 5-year old, will be getting a Transformers Rescue Bots set – it comes with a robot and a female character from the show. I love the idea of him having a great female action figure to play with! These retail for $6.99. He’ll also be getting the classic game Barrel of Monkeys. I loved playing this growing up, so it’s fun to pass it along for our kids to play too! I can imagine there will be a lot of creative play with the monkeys, too. This game retails for $4.99.

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The boys will love playing with this Marvel Battle Masters Challengers toy, too – we got Captain America but there’s also Spider-Man, Wolverine and Thor to pick from. These retail for $14.99 each.

Hasbro also makes wonderful stocking stuffers for girls, too, like these:

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The Littlest Pet Shop animals are just $2.99 each and are adorable fun! There are 24 pets to collect. And the My Little Pony POP starter kit lets kids pop out and build any of four My Little Pony Pop characters; they can personalize each pony with pop-on manes and stickers. These retail for just $3.99 each, making them a really affordable choice!

Hope these ideas help you with all your last-minute stocking shopping! Happy holidays, everyone!

Last-Minute Christmas Shopping

Note: This is a partnered post with Shopular. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Can you believe it? Christmas Eve is TOMORROW. That’s right, folks – there’s not much time left to get all your shopping done so you can be ready for the big day! We keep thinking we’re finished, but then we’ll think of another item we’ve forgotten. Case in point – we went to dinner tonight and remembered a gift we’d forgotten, and had to run to Walmart (which, by the way, was pure chaos).

If you’re not done with your shopping, you’ve really got no choice but to go out and get those last-minute items; it’s too late to shop online and hope it’ll arrive in time!

Be sure to go through your recipient list and make a comprehensive list of what all you need so that if you have to get out and do more shopping, at least you can consolidate it as much as possible.

And of course, keep an eye out for the best deals – don’t get so anxious to find something that you end up paying more than you need to! Check the (free!)  Shopular app to see what deals are available at stores around you before you head out, and you’ll know where to go to find the best price on what you need.

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Be sure and keep up with Shopular on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, too, so you’re  in the know about any shopping deals, in the holiday season or year-round! 

Five Ideas for Perfect Stocking Stuffers Your Kids will Actually Use!

Note: This is a partnered post with Shopular. All opinions are honest and are my own.

I have an announcement to make:

We are almost done with Christmas shopping.

I can hardly believe it myself, but it’s true. We started a little of our shopping way back in October, and now – with more than two weeks to spare – we just have a few little things left to purchase.

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Of course, if you’re like us you put stockings off until the last minute – and then it can be a real challenge trying to figure out what to include! In years past we would find random little toys, but we’ve learned to be a little more discerning with what we pick so that we don’t end up with a lot of clutter the kids don’t play with anyway.

Here are five things we like to purchase for stocking stuffers:

  • A fun toothbrush. Since our kids don’t read my blog I can safely tell you the boys will each be getting light saber toothbrushes that actually light up, and E will be getting a princess brush. If your kids are young enough to be using kids’ toothpaste still, you can find fun themed toothpaste, too.
  • Change!  The “gold” dollars are perfect to fit in the toe of the stocking, and in our house that’s what the tooth fairy leaves too so I guess it’s common “magical” currency.
  • Fresh pack of crayons and a small sketchbook – we have an overabundance of crayons in our house, but I can still remember from my childhood that there’s just nothing quite like a brand new box of crayons. Small sketchbooks are great for taking in the car or to church.
  • LEGOs. And it doesn’t have to be a tiny set, either. Just take the bags and the instructions out of the box to make it easier to fit in the stocking. Our kids love them and they get a ton of use year-round.
  • Dominos or a card game – Crazy 8’s, Go Fish, Phase 10 and many other games are fun for the whole family!

Whatever you decide to get for your kids’ stockings this year, be a smart Santa and check around for the best deals – Shopular is an easy way to check for sales and save some money while you finish up everything on your list.

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I keep up with Shopular on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, too, so I’m in the know about any shopping deals, especially around the holiday season! 

Coupon for 82% off Custom Canvases Nov.27-30!

Note: I will be working with Picture it on Canvas to review a canvas in an upcoming post, and will receive a canvas to facilitate that review. This post is not compensated monetarily, and all opinions are honest and my own.

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I love photos, especially of my three kids. But all too often I am horrible about actually printing these great photos out, and they end up just sitting on my computer! That won’t be the case after this week, when I plan to take advantage of a great coupon code at Picture It On Canvas!

We have one canvas in our house that’s from two years ago, but it’s about time we update our art and get a new family photo on the wall. Kids change so quickly, and E looks entirely different at 2 than she did at not-quite-one!
Picture It On Canvas has graciously provided me with a coupon code to share with my readers that will give you 82% off your purchase.

Just enter PIOC82 at checkout and you’ll be good to go!

Don’t forget, though, that this code is only good from Nov.27-30, so don’t miss out on the savings!
You can also find other great photo gift ideas beyond canvases – everything from decorative throws to baking pans, serving trays, and phone cases. Everyone loves photos, so you can’t go wrong with a great custom photo gift that’s unique to the recipient. The only problem you’ll have is narrowing down which photos to print!

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#GiveHappy with OshKosh this Holiday Season

Note: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for OshKosh B’gosh. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

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love this time of year. Christmas, and the weeks approaching it, are just such happy times for me and my family, and I adore all the memories we make and traditions we uphold.

One thing we really try to instill in the kids this time of year is a sense of giving, because it can easily turn into a focus on receiving. Last year we started a tradition of doing random acts of kindness on Christmas Eve. It was SO much fun for the kids, and they learned how happy it made them to give to others. It’s great when you see your kids starting to understand that they can spread happiness to others with their actions.

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OshKosh is all about giving happy, which makes sense since they’re pretty good at it! When we were trying to figure out what the kids should wear for Christmas pictures this year, OshKosh was my go-to choice for finding pieces that would be perfect.

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I got the boys matching navy & white henley tops with a green long-sleeved tee to wear underneath, and each of them got a new pair of dark wash jeans, too.

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E got an adorable cardigan (so adorable that I really want one in my size!) that’s navy with white polka dots and pink trim, plus a great pair of jeans that are lined with pink fleece. Cozy and cute! Won’t those outfits look great together for a photo? We wanted something casual with pops of color, and these clothes from OshKosh were just the answer.

We love doing Christmas pictures for our cards, of course, but the photos are also a great way to give happy to the grandparents. When we asked Brian’s mom what she wanted for Christmas, for example, her response was “pictures!”

I really did have a hard time picking out clothes from OshKosh, only because I loved so many different things that it was hard to narrow down my choices! Check out some of the other great looks available right now and you’ll see what I mean:

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Find your closest store location here or you can always shop online!

I hope you’ll embrace the idea to give happy this holiday season. #GiveHappy by giving things like:

  • Hugs
  • Smiles
  • Cookies
  • Praise
  • Parties
  • Fun
  • Time
  • Love
  • Laughs

Because giving happiness is really the best gift of all!

I do have one last thing to give you in this post – a great coupon for 25% off your purchase of $30 or more! Happy shopping, and don’t forget to give happy!

H14 Mom Blog Coupon

Black Friday Survival Guide

Note: This is a partnered post with Shopular. All opinions are honest and are my own.

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Black Friday arrives next week, and people will be out in full force searching for amazing deals on everything from televisions to pajamas. I’ve been a Black Friday shopper for over a decade now, and have picked up some tips to make your experience more pleasant. There will always be crazy people out there who fight over items, but in all the years I’ve shopped I’ve had a great experience 99% of the time. Here are a few tips to help your Black Friday shopping go as smoothly as possible:

  1. TEAMWORK! Trust me, don’t go Black Friday shopping alone. It’s pretty essential to have a wingman – or two, if possible. Ideally, have one friend (or your spouse) volunteer to be your driver, so you can be dropped off and picked up without having to worry about finding parking. The driver can also keep the car nice and toasty. I’ve seen some people stand in line outside stores, and then right before doors open their driver will swing by and pick up chairs, coats, and blankets so the shoppers don’t have to carry them into the store. Which reminds me…
  2. Come prepared to keep warm & comfortable. A couple of years ago my friend Chemese and I went to Old Navy for a free video game they were giving the first 50 shoppers. We got there and quickly realized that standing for an hour or two wasn’t going to be all that fun. I drove to my house, grabbed some camping chairs, blankets, and magazines, and then we were able to wait in comfort with entertainment at our fingertips. Since we were there together, I could run and put up all our items before the store opened while Chemese held our spot in line. It’s a great idea to have items with you – coats, blankets, chairs, magazines, hand warmers, snacks and drinks are all must-haves. We’ve even seen people come with a portable heater before! Also: Charge your phone while you’re driving because your battery will end up draining as you browse, and it will end up dying at the most inopportune time if you’re not prepared.
  3. Plan, plan, plan. Map out where you want to go. Prioritize deals so you can figure out which stores are must-haves and which aren’t as important to you. Shopular is a great app that shares deals year-round, but right now they have a special Black Friday section that makes it incredibly easy to see all the Black Friday ads on your phone.
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    With Shopular, you can save deals and coupons to easily access later, and one of my favorite aspects is people can comment – crowdsourcing can give you SO much information and answer questions you have. Take the Old Navy ad, for instance – you’ll see above that it has 34 comments – people asked questions and got them answered all within the Shopular app.
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    You can keep up with Shopular on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, too for other Black Friday details and for shopping info in general.
  4. Make a list. Sometimes two stores might have similar deals. If you buy board games at Target, and forget and buy them at WalMart too, you’ll end up having to make a trip back later for returns (which we all know is a pain). Make a list of everything you intend to buy, and then you can mark it off as you make purchases. You can also use the list to keep you on track. Let’s say you see a Keurig and are thinking about going ahead and spending $100 to get it; if you look at your list and see everything else you’re going to be spending money on, you might be more likely not to spend that extra money.
  5. Realize it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get an item. I think the thrill of the hunt is a lot of fun, but I never go in to Black Friday shopping with the attitude that I absolutely have to get something. There are some crazy good deals out there, but the items themselves will still be around after Black Friday, and there’s no point in getting stressed if items you want are all snatched before you arrive at the store.
  6. Random acts of kindness make the experience better for everyone. Black Friday shopping involves a lot of waiting in line. Bring snacks or drinks that you can share with people waiting near you to help make their wait a little better, too. Or better yet, bring something for the people working. Many of the store employees you encounter would rather be at home with their families, so brighten their day with a snack or a $5 Sonic or Starbucks gift card to use once they get off work. When so much focus is on buying, it’s nice to interject a little thoughtfulness and kindness into the mix, don’t you think?

I hope your shopping experience for Black Friday is great, and above all I hope your Thanksgiving is a day spent with those you love reflecting on all you’re thankful for!

Five Tips for Organized, Stress-Free Holiday Shopping

Note: This is a partnered post with Shopular. All opinions are honest and are my own.

The holidays will be here before we know it. I’m still slightly in denial that it’s already almost mid-November (which reminds me, I really need to order our turkey!) but I know from prior years’ experience that I want to stay on top of my holiday gift shopping this year. I like to be able to relax and enjoy the holidays with my family, and don’t want to be stressed, rushing around last minute hunting for items (or cramming all that extra spending in a two-week window). Here are some tips that have helped me become more organized, and hopefully your holiday shopping will benefit from them too.

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Holiday gift shopping is typically such a happy, relaxing, peaceful experience, right?

  1. Start now. Ok, if you’re reading this post on December 23, start a little over a month ago. But if you’re reading this in November, or even in the beginning of October, now is your time. Procrastination is not your friend when it comes to holiday shopping. Even if it feels a little ridiculous to be doing Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving, you’ll be patting yourself on the back as you see other people rushing around last minute.
  2. Make a spreadsheet. I love lists. Like, love lists. So making a spreadsheet with our holiday gift plan is right up my alley, and makes me happy. You might share my passion for list-making, but keeping track of everyone you need to shop for and how much you’ve budgeted is very helpful. Our spreadsheet includes a list of recipients, how much we are budgeting to spend on each person, and ideas for what we might want to get. You can start your spreadsheet as early as you want and use it as a place to jot down ideas as you hear your mother-in-law talk about that knife set she wants, for instance.
    I also like to add columns in our spreadsheet for what we have actually purchased and how much we spend. This helps us figure out if we’re going overboard, if we need to increase our budget, and makes sure we don’t accidentally forget anyone’s gifts.
  3. Actively seek out sales and discounts. It is SO easy to get in over your head with holiday spending, especially if you haven’t set aside money for it throughout the year (that’ll be on my to-do list for next year… we still kind of stink at that!). Stores this time of year offer all sorts of sales and discounts and now is the time to take advantage of them.
    I’ve discovered an app called Shopular that is my favorite shopping tool. It’s a free app I downloaded on my iPhone, and it puts discounts right at my fingertips. I can select my favorite stores that I want to receive info on, and I can even set it up to receive sales notifications when I’m near a store. The other day I was by Kohl’s and Shopular sent me a notification about a sale ending soon – I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise!
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    Shopular also lets you easily browse weekly circulars on your phone. Each Sunday approaching the holidays I like to look through and see if there are any sales on gift items we’re looking for. We don’t take the newspaper anymore, so it’s an easy way to quickly see what discounts are out there and take advantage of the ones that fit our shopping list (see, told you that spreadsheet would be useful!). You can keep up with them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, too.
  4. Trim down your list. Again, spreadsheets for the win! Once you create your list of people to shop for, you can easily get a feel for if you are simply buying for too many people. It’s lovely to give, but it’s not always feasible to give to everyone. On a scale of 1-10, rate how crucial it is that you buy for each person. Those that rate 5 or lower might be ones to reconsider for this holiday season. Or, if you really feel like you can’t trim down your list, categorize them into groups based on how much you plan to spend, then see if you can come up with an economical gift to purchase in bulk (i.e. a group of iTunes gift cards at Sam’s or Costco).
    Even if you’re not trimming down the number of people you’re shopping for, you can trim down how much you’re spending. You can assemble cute gift baskets with popcorn, candy, and a RedBox gift card for just a few dollars – and I’m a big fan of homemade gifts, too. A spice cake packaged nicely and tied up with ribbon can make a delicious gift for your mailman, for instance, without breaking the bank.
  5. Buy this year for the next. We don’t do this for people that are in our family, or anyone we want to buy a specific gift. But if you find a great deal on a generic gift item, it can be really helpful to stock up now and have them on hand next year to have a head start when you enter in to holiday shopping season. You can also do post-Christmas shopping and find heavily discounted items that make great gift add-ons or stocking stuffers.

Happy shopping, friends! I hope you’re able to enjoy the spirit of giving with as little stress as possible, and that you have a wonderful holiday with your friends and family. It’ll be here before we know it!

Tieks Review

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Like any other girl, I love a good pair of shoes. More specifically, though, I love a great pair of flats that will not kill my feet as I go to work, as I grocery shop, as I go out on a date with my husband, or as I chase after my three kids.

Tieks first drew my interest last year after I saw ads on Facebook (they clearly targeted their ads to the correct demographic, because I think I clicked over to their site after seeing the very first ad). I loved the signature blue accents – the soles of the shoes, and a stripe down the back of each one – and was really curious about how a shoe with a split sole would work for me.

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When I went to shop at their store, which they cleverly named “The Boutiek,” I spent a good bit of time just scrolling through all the options – there are a ton. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to do something really bold, like a red, or if I wanted to get something more neutral that I could wear with a wider variety of outfits.

In the end, practicality won out and I went with chestnut – but I still get to have some fun with the pops of blue.

As you can see above, the box that holds the shoes is pretty small. Like, so small you might think there’s no way shoes could be inside. But they’re there, folded up and waiting neatly for you.

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Part of the appeal of Tieks is that they’re compact; they come with a bag to house them in, so you could easily carry these along with you in your purse and put them on if you need to switch to more comfortable shoes, for instance (they also come with a larger bag for you to put your other pair of shoes into once you switch to your Tieks).

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Once you unfold the shoe there’s a bit of a bend to it, but these are pliable and fit right to my foot once I put them on. And, sigh… I really do love that blue stripe on the back. So cute.

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So, you’ve seen how they look, but style is only half of the equation. How did they feel, you ask?

In a word, comfy.

I have had many shoes that leave blisters on my feet the first time or two I wear them, but my Tieks were comfortable from the very start. You can slightly see the impression of my big toes, but the shoes didn’t feel tight at all and I know that over time the leather will stretch out a bit.

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I was really impressed with the quality of these shoes. Tieks aren’t cheap – for my budget, they’re somewhat of an investment shoe. I read some other reviews talking about how well these hold up, though, and I feel like these are flats I’ll wear again and again for years to come. The Italian leather is supple and soft, the color is really rich, and they’re comfortable to walk around in all day long.

I had wondered how the split sole would fare comfort-wise, and I really didn’t notice it at all. I also wondered if the blue soles would get dirty quickly, but here’s what they looked like after two days of wear:

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I really love my Tieks, and I’m glad I added these to my collection. Part of what I’m learning as I get older is that purchasing fewer high-quality pieces is a wiser choice than purchasing a bunch of cheap things that don’t last long at all. Quality over quantity, friends!