Tag Archives: shopping

Shopping in Ireland

Living in the UK is really expensive.  I forget sometimes, since we’ve been here over a year and a half and you just get used to things costing what they cost.

Then we travel somewhere and I look at price tags and I’m like SO CHEAP! BUY ALL THE THINGS!

There were tons of gorgeous cool shops in Ireland and items seemed so reasonably priced.  I had a hard time not going on a full shopping spree!  If I had more room in my luggage to get things home, I probably would have succumbed to the temptation.  I was really impressed everywhere we went with how many great options there were for clothes and home goods and shoes. 

There was one shop, though, that I absolutely, positively wanted to visit while we were there.  I don’t even remember where I first heard of it, but Avoca was high on my To-Do-In-Ireland list, and on our very first night in Dublin we happened to walk right by it!  Thankfully my family was on board with a little shopping.  In fact, it was such a cool shop with so many amazing items that I actually had to DRAG my boys out when we were ready to go! 

Avoca is an Irish-run business with their own mill where they create amazing and gorgeous blankets, scarves, gloves, shawls and more.  They also have an in-house design studio where they create clothing, home goods, ceramics…you name it.  It is a seriously cool company and the store was visually just beautiful.  Avoca goods are available in shops around the world, so keep an eye out for them.

I’ve said before how I have a bit of a throw blanket addiction, so this shop with stacks of wool, mohair, cashmere, herringbone, and Irish knit throws was like my own personal heaven.  I couldn’t fit one in my suitcase, though, so they were sadly not an option on this trip.

The other thing that really caught my eye was the stack of cashmere/wool stoles.  They’re bigger than a normal scarf, smaller than a full wrap, and soft as buttah.  There were some gorgeous neutrals, and I try to be sensible and get items I can wear with lots of stuff, but the one that I could not resist was actually neon orange.  It came home with me and I wore it like 4 out of 5 days in Ireland and almost every day since I got home.  Best. Purchase. Ever.

If you’re going to Ireland, I would add this shop to your must-see list.  And leave space in your suitcase for all the treasures you’ll want to take home.

Our Favorite Places to Shop for Kids

4 kids all dressed up

Sometimes I think I like shopping for my kids even more than I like shopping for myself.  Between the four of them, someone is always in need of something — they grow so fast!  And so I feel as thought I am constantly scrolling through children’s clothing sites (because ordering online is WAY easier than taking 4 kids shopping!).  My kids care about their clothes, which is both a blessing and a curse; I’m glad they take an interest, but because they do, I don’t get to pick everything out myself.  We’ve found a few places over the years where we’re almost always guaranteed to find something that we all like.

Here are a few of our favorite places to shop for kids clothes:

H&M: great for trendier items and basics like plain long and short-sleeve t-shirts that I feel like I am replacing every 3 months because they get worn so much.  Generally really good prices, but the quality isn’t always super-high.  


Tea Collection: this is one of my favorite, favorite brands.  The clothes are bright and fun and they last FOR. EV. ER.  We have Tea collections pants that made it through all three of my boys without wearing out, and THAT is saying something.  And I love their concept: the clothes are inspired by different locations across the globe and are “for little citizens of the world”.  They have GREAT sales, too.


Andy & Evan: This is absolutely my favorite brand of dress shirts for the boys.  They’ve got great colors, they are high-quality, and they make them even for the littlest guys in a onesie-style (called the shirtzie!).  We’ve also got a really cool waterproof lightweight coat from Andy & Evan that Owen wears ALL. THE. TIME.  We haven’t tried their girls clothes (Bridget has sized out of this brand), but the boys’ stuff is really great.


boden overalls

via Boden

Boden: Mini Boden is for ages 1.5-12y and Johnnie B is for ages 9-16 both for boys and girls, so there’s a huge range of styles available that suits the needs of the littlest kids all the way up to teenagers.  The clothes are really high quality, they have absolutely great dressy options for both boys and girls, and we also really like their shoes!


Old Navy: Probably half the clothing in my kids’ closets came from Old Navy; I sometimes feel like I buy in bulk when I shop there.  Prices are good and there is always, always a sale or deal going on.  This is Bridget’s favorite place for active wear: great stuff for sports practice, workout-type gear.  And we get lots of accessories here too – sunglasses and hats, etc.


Crewcuts: This is Bridget’s favorite store, hands down.  We usually head for the sale racks, but there are always great items to be found.  The boys love it too: we’ve gotten great dress items here and Gabe says the pants fit him better than any others.  

What are your favorite places to shop for your kids?

Also, how European and American styles differ — even my kids have noticed and dress a little differently now!




The Right Shoes

quatre femmes Chanel

When I went to Paris, I made the ridiculous and stupid mistake of wearing brand new shoes my first night there.  By this point in my life, I really, really should know better.  But the shoes were flats, and they were really comfy when I wore them around my house for two hours before the trip.  I thought they’d be great for strolling through Paris in addition to being cute.

They shredded my heels.  In just an hour or two, they just completely destroyed my feet.  I maybe walked a mile total — from our apartment to a restaurant and then along the Seine a bit, but I had a blister that covered the whole back of my left foot and multiple small blisters on my right heel.  I had to stop in a pharmacy and buy a box of band-aids just to make it home from dinner that night.  With two days of walking ahead of me, I was so annoyed with myself.  Such bad planning!  

The other shoes I brought for the trip were all pairs I’d worn a million times and wouldn’t cause problems on their own, but I already HAD a problem because even old shoes hurt when you have gigantic, stupidity-induced blisters.

It is hard to look adorable and glamorous strolling through Paris when you’re limping.

I went out and bought sneakers the next morning.  I had no choice if I wanted to make it through the next few days of walking.  Fortunately, there are about a million cute sneaker options AND sneakers were a big trend during fashion week, so I was obviously just being super trendy and cool. 

I got these from a really cool shop called Colette.  They saved me from limping along in agony.  Plus they were cute and sporty and trendy.  Winning.  (But still replacing band-aids every two to three hours.)

new balance_coletteColette was a really cool shop and had about a million things I wanted to buy.  But nothing that looked as good as a pair of shoes that wouldn’t make my feet bleed.

My friend Allison made the same mistake and also needed to get sneakers.  Honestly we are at a point in our lives where we’ve had enough uncomfortable shoe experiences that I would think we’d know better, but sometimes the allure of new shoes before a trip is too great to turn down.  So you buy new shoes but don’t break them in and end up with blisters.  (Although then you do end up with new shoes DURING the trip to save your feet from the blisters, so maybe it’s not so dumb after all.)

She got some insanely cool Ash platform slip-ons.

Ash platform sneakers

The right shoes can seriously make or break a trip.  To be fair, I really thought that since they were flats, my new shoes would be fine for walking through the city.  I think they will be after I’ve worn them for more than two hours and the leather softens up.

If I need any new shoes for my Italy trip coming up, I better go buy them now and break them in before we arrive in Rome. 


Also, some observations on European vs. American style, and a philosophical question about shoes.


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