Monthly Archives: August 2016

Save your favorite shoes with Shoe Drop

Office Appropriate Outfits - Summer

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was meeting to chat with one of the men who started Shoe Drop and I asked you all if you had any questions for me. I was surprised that several of you mentioned that you hadn’t even realized you could get shoes repaired! To be honest, being able to get shoes repaired is one of my favorite parts of living in a big city. I’m hard on my shoes. Because I walk at least half a mile every day as part of my commute they get scuffed, the heels get caught in sidewalk cracks and tear or gouge, and the heel tips of my high heels get worn down.

Since I’ve lived in Chicago I’ve gotten several pairs of shoes repaired but it was always a chore. Finding a place that got good reviews that was also convenient, trying to communicate with the guy behind the counter, not having any idea how much I was going to get charged, getting my shoes back with masking tape stuck inside that I couldn’t remove without leaving a sticky residue.

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The outfit I wore to visit Shoe Drop

Top – The Limited (similar) | Skirt – Le Tote (same) | Shoes – Vince Camuto (similar

Overall, while it certainly extended the life of my shoes, it wasn’t always the most pleasant experience.

Enter Shoe Drop. Started by Duncan and Brandon, two self-described shoe lovers, Shoe Drop aims to bring shoe repair into the 21st century. Shoe Drop started with 40 Shoe Drop-specific drop off locations and 110 Pressbox partner locations around Chicago. One of which is in my apartment building! I’d used Shoe Drop before and didn’t even realize it! Anyway, create an account in their app, drop off your shoes at a designated drop off location, fill out the form in the app, and you’re done! They come pick up your shoes, repair them, charge your credit card, and then return your shoes in about 5 days to where you dropped them off. And they text you when they’re ready!

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In June of this year they opened their first physical location at 353 N Clark Street where you can not only talk to a cobbler and drop off shoes for repair, you can also get them shined. I wanted to know what happens if I show up with my blush pink leather flats and Duncan told me that was no problem. They have hundreds of colors of polish or they can even shine them with a clear polish that helps hide scuff marks.

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Photo courtesy of Shoe Drop

If you do drop your shoes off with them they go to a 4000 square foot facility near the United Center where their team of cobblers work on them. Duncan said that the people in the shoe repair business in Chicago love being able to just fix shoes and not have to worry about running a business. It’s a win-win!

My other personal favorite is that they have a price list and only take credit card (and no need to tip!)

I left my favorite black heeled sandals with them when I visited. They needed new heel tips, a shine, and the heel coverings repaired. When I got them back I swear they looked better than the day I bought them! Plus, they were returned to me in a bag that I can use to drop off more shoes!

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Shoe repair might be a little pricey for some people but if you have a pair of shoes you love I say go for it. It sure beats trying to find a replacement pair!

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Photo courtesy of Shoe Drop

Shoe Drop’s goal is to open more physical locations where you can stop in for a shine or just drop off all your shoes for repair at once. In the meantime, if you’re in Chicago, check out their locations map and then head on out to bring your sad shoes back to life!

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P.S. I’m working with them to put together an event that would offer FREE (or discounted) shoe shines and repairs. Stay tuned!

SIA: The Great Wave

Style Imitating Art

Happy Monday! Did you have a busy weekend? Because I sure did! It was Chicago Triathlon weekend which, second to Chicago Marathon weekend and Good Life Race weekend, is one of my busiest. However, I still took some time for fun. I hope you did, too!

But I couldn’t leave you hanging on this week’s Style Imitating Art choice. This week Salazar chose a rather iconic painting – The Great Wave off Kanagawa

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Also known as “The Wave”, one of the interesting things about this painting is that, as Salazar read in A History of the World in 100 Objects.

This is not a Japanese blue – it is Prussian blue or Berlin blue, a synthetic dye invented in Germany in the early eighteenth century and much less prone to fading than traditional blues.

So, yeah, I suppose that means you could wear blue! Or tan. Or something with a wave component. I currently have a top from Le Tote that could work or I could come up with something else. We’ll see!

Don’t forget to send your pics to 14shadesofgreyblog@gmail.com by next Monday, September 5th!

Nike Unlimited Chicago Decathlon: Olympics for the Mere Mortal [Fitness Friday]

Fitness

Last Thursday evening I rode a Divvy bike over to Soldier Field to partake in a Nike-sponsored decathlon-type event. Nike hosted this event so we could all get a taste of what their sponsored decathlete, Ashton Eaton, had to do as he competed for Olympic gold that same evening!

I knew very little about the decathlon other than an article I’d read about a week earlier. I wasn’t even sure what the actual 10 events were! And I had no idea what the 10 events Nike chose were going to be. Pretty sure they weren’t going to let us throw a real javelin, though.

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Not me! But this is a photo from the event.

Anyway, I was one of a team of five Windy City Blogger Collective members and two boyfriends who gamely agreed to be the male part of our co-ed team. Our team of seven was assigned a “pacer” who would make sure we got from event to event and that our scores were recorded.

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From L to R: Caitlin, Zachary, Emily, me, Ali, Sheena, and Aleisha

And what were our events?

In order we did:

  1. 100 meter dash
  2. Standing long jump
  3. Shot put
  4. Vertical jump
  5. 400 meter run
  6. 60 meter hurdles
  7. Medicine ball throw
  8. Sled pull
  9. Javelin
  10. 1500 meter run

I totally forgot to take a picture of my final scores! Actually, I forgot to take pictures of a lot of things. Honestly, I was having too much fun! Well, up until the javelin where my lack of dinner and the almost 9PM hour were making me grumpy.

Each person on the team got to attempt each event at least once and our pacer recorded our best scores. Each team had 10 minutes to complete each event so for some of them we got to try more than once. My personal favorite was the hurdles. Leaping over things while running is probably as close to flying as you can get.

Emily is doing a great recap of each of the events so if you want more detail I suggest you check out her blog! For me, I just want to focus on the highlights and lowlights.

Highlights

  • Free shoes! Seriously. As a “media” participant I got free shoes, a free duffel bag, and a free pin. The pins are allegedly even the same ones that Team USA took to the Olympics to trade with other countries.

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  • My fastest 400 meters ever (probably)!
  • Second best vertical jump on my team
  • Not knocking over a single hurdle

Lowlights

  • Feeling really strong until I saw how awesome other people were! In the end, though, this just made me realize that we’re all good at something and, for not having any previous track and field experience, I’m not bad! That’s right. I never ran track and I never ran cross country!
  • Hitting myself in the head with the javelin. Thankfully it was a plastic toy javelin. Still, it hurt!
  • Getting tired, hungry, and grumpy by the 8th event. Now I know why real decathletes break their events up into two days!

The event ended with all the participants doing the 1500 meter run and ending on the field in Soldier Field. Then we took a bunch of photos before watching the awards ceremony while eating pizza in the stands. They put the Olympics up on the Jumbotron but I was way too tired to stay and watch.

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I promise I’m in this photo. I’m actually in the second row hidden behind a sea of raised arms.

After this event I have so much more respect for decathletes! You have to be super well-rounded and have lower body, upper body, and core strength galore. So, props to Ashton Eaton for winning the gold in Rio this year! You have my utmost respect.

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5K PR Training

  • Monday 8/15 – Leg strength workout
  • Tuesday 8/16 – 3 mile run & upper body strength workout
  • Wednesday 8/17 – 6×400 run
  • Thursday 8/18 – Leg strength workout and Nike Decathlon event
  • Friday 8/19 – Upper body strength workout
  • Saturday 8/20 – Rest
  • Sunday 8/21 – 6.4 mile run

SIA Round Up: The Door Within

Style Imitating Art

I’m loving the comments on my SIA post where I unveiled this week’s choice. I’d love to know the story about why someone threw this painting away, but I suppose we’ll just have to make up our own stories!

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Many of you were inspired to create outfits based on this painting, too.

First we have my friend Emily who chose a very colorful top and paired it with white capris.

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Next we have Jen in her AMAZING teal dress and pink accessories. And her purple background. She always finds the best places to take photos. Even more amazing to me since she just moved to Tacoma and is still exploring!

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Next is Karen from She Thought She Could, So She Did (which is currently one of my favorite mantras). Karen says she wore blue and coral since they were two of the main colors of the painting and found some stairs on which to pose to mimic the stairs in the artwork.

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Xat wore a dress with a brushstroke pattern and many of the same colors of the painting.

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Kezzie’s dress and shawl were perfect for this week! Kezzie said that she never knows what to do with this shawl so I’m glad this painting inspired her to pair it with her colorful dress.

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SIA co-host Salazar was worried that she wouldn’t be able to participate since she doesn’t have a lot of abstract prints or bright colors in her closet. Thankfully she found a great outfit to put together! She says the “print on my shirt can recall the brushstrokes in the painting. I added my house pendant to mimic ‘the door within’, and wore my burgundy heels because there is a quite a bit of purplish red in the painting.” This is totally an outfit I would wear, too!

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Leslie found a very colorful top and pants that bring in quite a few colors from the painting.

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Finally, there’s my outfit.

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Thank you to everyone who participated this time around! We had a great turnout and some wonderfully bright colors.

Stay tuned for next week’s pick which will hopefully inspire you just as much!

SIA: Colorful and Abstract

Office Appropriate Outfits - Summer · Style Imitating Art

I fully admit that when I saw this painting in the dumpster I was drawn to it because of the bright colors and the abstract nature of it.

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Turns out, I’m drawn to that combination in some of my clothes, too! When I picked “The Door Within” for this week’s Style Imitating Art, though, I honestly didn’t even think about my watercolor print top! But when Jen mentioned it in a comment I knew it was the piece I was going to wear.

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Top – French Connection (same print in a dress) | Skirt – LOFT (similar) | Shoes – Vince Camuto (similar)

I also admit that I have not yet worn this outfit anywhere but for these photos. However, I do plan to wear it to work this week. I just had a really busy week last week and wasn’t able to get my act together to wear it and take pictures. Last Tuesday night I went on a lake cruise with the Windy City Blogger Collective and then on Thursday I participated in a Nike event where we did their version of a decathlon. I plan to post about that on Friday, if you’re interested.

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On Friday we drove down to Urbana, Illinois to visit my parents which is where these photos were taken.

Oh, and the biggest thing we did last week? On Wednesday we bought a new car! We bought a 2016 Mazda CX3 and, believe it or not, I haven’t even driven it since we’ve owned it.

So, yes, a busy week last week! This week’s a little quieter, thankfully. As much as I love doing so many awesome things I also need a few nights of sitting on my couch, you know?

Anyway, I’ll be posting the round-up of all the awesome outfits that were inspired by this week’s art choice on Wednesday. If you’re still wavering, I encourage you to put on something colorful, take a selfie, and send it to me!

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Something new on race day

Fitness

The rule of thumb for racing is, of course, nothing new on race day. Meaning that you should wear clothes you’ve worn before, eat foods you’ve eaten before, and don’t try anything you haven’t practiced.

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Well, I had to throw a big piece of my triathlon “training” out of the window on Sunday at the Iron Girl Pleasant Prairie Sprint Triathlon. You see, the water temperature in Lake Andrea was 82 degrees. According to USA Triathlon,

When the water temperature is greater than 78 degrees, but less than 84 degrees Fahrenheit, age group participants may wear a wet suit at their own discretion, provided however that participants who wear a wet suit within this temperature range shall not be eligible for prizes or awards.

So, yeah. I mean, I probably wasn’t going to get an age group award anyway, but the announcement that wetsuits weren’t technically legal freaked me out. See, I’d never done any open water swimming without my wetsuit. And I’d never done swam in a pool longer than 25 yards. And now I was going to swim a half a mile without a wetsuit in a lake?

Gulp.

But, you know what? I did it. I swam that half a mile without a wetsuit. Sure, it took me 16 minutes longer than the world record (that means it took me just over 20 minutes for those of you who aren’t watching the Olympics) but I did it.

And I felt really strong on the bike. The run was tough but I think that was because of the lack of shade.

Overall I finished 22nd out of 113 in my age group. But I think the biggest takeaway is knowing that I CAN swim half a mile without a wetsuit. My mantra for the day was “she thought she could, so she did.”

And I did.

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5K PR Training

  • Monday 8/8 – Leg strength workout
  • Tuesday 8/9 – Upper body strength workout & 3 mile run
  • Wednesday 8/10 – 30 minute tempo run (on treadmill)
  • Thursday 8/11 – Leg strength workout
  • Friday 8/12 – Upper body strength workout
  • Saturday 8/13 – Rest
  • Sunday 8/14 – Iron Girl Pleasant Prairie Sprint Triathlon

SIA: Found Art

Style Imitating Art

This week it’s my turn to pick the art for the Style Imitating Art series. I tend to pick art that goes with a theme and this week I was thinking I wanted something that referenced the Olympics or sport or any of those words the commentators use to describe the athletes.

But then I remembered that I had a piece of art in my own apartment that I’ve been wanting to share. See, a few weeks ago I was taking some recycling down to the dumpster in our building and I saw a large, colorful canvas sitting in the nearly empty trash dumpster. I exclaimed to Jason, “How could someone throw this away?!” So, we rescued it.

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The only information I have about it is the artist’s name. On the back it reads that the artist was Jean Fetman from Highland Park, IL and that the painting is titled “The Door Within.” I did a quick Google search for Jean Fetman and found she passed away in 2013 but that she was an artist who asked for donations to Genesis at the Crossroads in lieu of flowers.

I couldn’t find any of her other works online but I’m sure they’re out there. Hopefully not in a dumpster like this one was! I wish I knew who had thrown it away and why. Either way, I’m glad I saved it. I haven’t hung it up yet because I don’t know if I have the right spot. I’m sure, though, that it will find a new home, whether with me or someone else.

And, as always, if this piece inspires you to create an outfit based on it, send it to me at looplooks@gmail.com before next Monday evening and I’ll feature you in next week’s outfit round-up!

5K Training with a PR in mind

Fitness

In 2007 I decided I wanted to run a 5K. Several of my online friends were doing it and I thought, hey, if they can do it so can I! So I found a group in Urbana, Illinois called the Beginning Women’s Running Group that had a goal of getting you to run a 5K by the end of the summer.

I had a BLAST, met the woman who is now in charge of the Illinois Marathon along with many other awesome women, and I ran my first 5K in September 2007. Since then I’ve run more 5Ks than I can count, 19 half marathons, 4 marathons, 3 sprint triathlons, and many races of a variety of other distances.

My 5K PR is currently 9 minutes and 59 seconds faster than my very first 5K. But other than that first 5K I ran back in 2007 I haven’t ever trained specifically for a 5K.

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Photo from my very first 5K. Yes, that’s me.

All of that changes now. This past week I started the Intermediate 5K training program from Hal Higdon with my eyes on trying for a new personal record at the Park Ridge Charity Classic on September 24th.

I haven’t followed a running training plan for quite a while. And I’m certainly not giving up my strength training. Plus I’ve got one more sprint triathlon on the calendar. So, it’s going to be interesting figuring out how to fit it all in.

I plan to include my current week’s training in upcoming Fitness Friday posts so I hope you’ll follow along if you find it interesting!

Training started in earnest on August 1st and this is what I did:

  • Monday 8/1- Leg strength workout
  • Tuesday 8/2 – Upper body strength workout and 3 mile run
  • Wednesday 8/3 – 5×400 run w/1 mile warmup (on the treadmill)
  • Thursday 8/4 – Rest day
  • Friday 8/5 – Upper body strength workout and 3.25 mile run
  • Saturday 8/6 – Half mile swim and 5 mile run
  • Sunday – Rest

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P.S. If you’re looking for a fall 10K or half marathon to run I highly recommend the Hero Half & 10K. As you can see from Valerie’s race entry giveaway post, I even like to dress the part. Head over there to enter to win a race entry yourself and join us. Super hero costume not required but definitely encouraged.

So nice I wore it twice

Casual Friday · Office Appropriate Outfits - Summer

I actually wore this outfit a few weeks ago, but instead of wearing it with my gold sandals I wore it with my blush flats (seen here). Those silly flats. I keep thinking I should replace them since I bought them YEARS ago from Target and the toes are all scuffed up and I don’t know how to polish colored shoes. And then I don’t because otherwise they’re in good shape. In fact, they’re in better shape than some of my more expensive shoes.

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Top – Le Tote (same) | Jeans – AG (similar) | Shoes – Sam Edelman c/o Shopbop (same)

Actually, I think I’ll be asking that question of the Shoe Drop people on Friday. How the heck do you polish shoes that aren’t black or brown?

I also wore this top and sandals with white shorts last Thursday to get dinner and drinks during Nellcote’s pizza and a beer happy hour. Sadly, their happy hour special no longer includes just any beer on the menu. It’s now just pizza and a Modelo Especial for $10. It’s still a good deal, though. And Modelo Especial is a nice summer beer. Although, apparently not all the bartenders got the message since the guy next to us ordered the happy hour special and the bartender let him pick any beer he wanted. As someone who trains people as part of my day job I find situations like that to be an interesting case study in how different places cascade (or not) information.

Nellcote also has a doggy happy hour from 3-5pm on Saturday and Sunday that I really want to try and take Chewie to at some point. Although, as you can see from the picture below, Chewie’s idea of happy hour is being left alone to eat the flora in the planters at the park.

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Erin and the Chewie

Office Appropriate Outfits - Summer · Style Imitating Art

This week’s Style Imitating Art challenge featured “Una and the Lion“, a painting full of neutral colors, a woman in a dress, and some animals. Therefore, I bring you my own version, also full of neutrals, a dress, and an animal: “Erin and the Chewie”.

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Dress – New York & Co (similar) | Vest – Old Navy (similar) | Sandals – Sam Edelman c/o Shopbop (same) |Necklace – Le Tote (same)

This outfit was also inspired by one that Jen wore and it features the vest that I swapped with Jen. And since Jen chose the art for this week, basically this entire post is just all Jen all the time.

In other news, I’m meeting with a start-up this week called Shoe Drop to learn more about their business model and services. Basically, it’s a shoe repair service where you drop off your shoes at kiosks around the city, they pick them up, fix them, and deliver them back to the kiosk for you to pick-up. Perfect if you’re busy and don’t want to hunt down a shoe repair store. If there’s anything specifically you’d like me to ask, let me know! I never used a shoe repair service until I moved to Chicago but now I’m all about it since I walk so much and my shoes take a beating.

Speaking of which, I’ve been wearing these gold sandals so much that I bought another, similar pair. The reviews for my first pair said they run a half size big but I don’t agree with that. I ordered a 7.5 in the gold ones and they feel slightly too big. I ordered a 7 in the new pair and they fit perfectly. Just something to keep in mind!

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