Shoes and Tattoos-Let the Anniversary Celebration Begin!

“Delightfully strange” is how we were described by one of Thom’s friends today when he explained on his social media that we were about to celebrate our 27th Anniversary with our “shoes and tattoos” tradition.  What–doesn’t everyone inject their body with ink and buy ridiculously expensive and fabulous shoes on their wedding anniversary?  If not, I am so sad for all of you.  Start living the delightfully strange life like us–it’s never too late to start!  An anniversary dinner might taste good but a tattoo and quality shoes last forever.

Yes, green boots for Thom.  He is Irish after all.
Yes, green boots for Thom. He is Irish after all.

We started our tattoo tradition just before leaving on our adventure to live in China.  I got the Chinese symbol for happiness and Thom got a Dr. Who time machine, more commonly called a Tardis, on his arm… that’s not strange, right?  In China, we had to pause on the inking due to health concerns and wanting to live another day but we did get amazing handmade, custom shoes to celebrate.

Notice the details that make this booties the best-stitching, wood soles in two colors, silver heel and the list goes on and on...
Notice the details that make these booties unique–bold-stitching, wood soles in two colors, silver heel and the list goes on and on…

This year, we stumbled upon a charity event at the John Fluevog store in Vancouver and enjoyed a lovely evening of music, booze and shoes when they kindly invited us in to partake.  Walking out, we agreed that we just had to have our own Fluevog shoes to celebrate this year’s anniversary.  When I saw the yearly sale ad for their local store here in Seattle, off we went to find a deal, not that those quality quirky shoes aren’t worth $300+ but I at least have to imagine I am on a budget and care about my credit card balance.  We scored some awesome boots, black with silver highlights for me and green for Thom because he is Irish after all.  Tucked away in their burlap bags with the company mantra on it, they will stay in their boxes until anniversary day.  Now on to the tattoos!

Peace... simple with very little ink needed to convey the message.
Peace… simple with very little ink needed to convey the message.

Thom is thinking of a horse theme for his tattoo to commemorate 2014 spent  in China during the Year of the Horse.  We brought back a lovely heavy-as-hell stone horse statue but I guess he wants that “on body” constant reminder of our expat experience.  I’ve decided to stay with my Chinese theme as well and have the symbol for Peace stenciled onto my body opposite the Happiness symbol in a place that will remain nameless.  Some things are better left unshared. It is a simple design with a strong message that no one but Thom will see, except a stranger who will hopefully be quick and talented.  DAMN that inking hurts.

So, 27 years after we “officially” started our adventure by the pool in Key West when we eloped (at my mother’s suggestion to avoid a wedding at their house and after my lawyer sister got Thom his divorce right before the wedding), we will ink up and wear our snazzy boots and continue our great adventure!  It’s off to Italy next for us with a fall trip being planned now. Can’t wait to explore the Cinque Terre with my best friend and the love of my life!  Together forever with lots more shoes and tattoos in our future-OH MY THE FUN WE WILL HAVE!

John Fluevog--specialty retailing at it's best!
John Fluevog–specialty retailing at it’s best!
The John Fluevog mantra..not a bad one to live by
The John Fluevog mantra..not a bad one to live by

The Shoes are Here, The Shoes are Here!

Red laces and tan leather with wood heels
Red leather accent piece added to the back to "pop" the rear view
Red leather accent piece added to the back to “pop” the rear view
Carved wood soles...a work of art!
Carved wood soles…a work of art!

My handmade shoes finally arrived four weeks after the initial fitting and design and a mid-project fitting of the initial mold.  I was able to take the features of several of the showroom models and design a totally unique lace up, side zip oxford boot in dark tan leather with red laces and red leather back panels and wood soles and heels.  I am in awe of these shoes.  Not only do I love the look but they fit like a dream.  I may never take them off–bury me in these babies!!!  Yan Ye Shoes on Fuxing Road and Mr. Zhao, the manager are the lovely folks responsible for hand crafting these boots for me.  Now, Thom has serious shoe envy so I am sure he will hot foot it over there and design his own soles of heaven soon.  Now excuse me while I take these puppies out for a stroll…


Handmade and one of a kind-designed by ME!
AFTER PICTURE–Handmade and one of a kind-designed by ME!
This is the mold they made for the first fitting.
BEFORE PICTURE-This is the mold they made for the first fitting.

Shoes and Tattoos

Last summer, Thom and I started a new tradition for our wedding anniversary gift –Shoes & Tattoos.  We both love a nice pair of shoes and thus own way too many of them plus we had never gotten tattoos.  So, off we went to buy gorgeous shoes and then went under the needle to get inked by a Seattle tattoo artist.  Did it hurt?  HELL.  YES.  But, as we are crazy adventuresome folk who love creating special moments not to be forgotten, we loved our new tradition.  Our kids both thought we were crazy but reacted differently–Hannah asked, “Who ARE you people?” and James got himself a large Celtic cross inked on his upper arm.  Love them both!

For my first and only tat, I got a cute little Chinese symbol for happiness in a non-public place and Thom got a big ass Tardis on his upper arm.  Yes, he’s a Dr. Who geek.  While he is considering adding on to his artwork with 9 planets, etc. circling his Tardis (he’s in a science fiction phase), I have advised against getting a tat in China.  All kinds of concerns and red flags are flying about cleanliness and needles/ink being injected into your body, etc.  However, he won’t listen (do men ever??)  and it’s his body so I’ve said my piece and now will get to tell him “I TOLD YOU SO!” when his limbs drop off his body if he proceeds.  Make your choice, Thom.

Having two different size feet is great excuse for custom boots!
Having two different size feet is great excuse for custom boots!

Fast forward a year to our anniversary just passed and we are now in China not Seattle.  This year, I’m sticking to the much safer tradition of just cool shoes for our 26th wedding anniversary gift.  When in China, DON’T get a tat but DO get custom made shoes—less chance of dying.  After many recommendations from online sources and locals expats, we went to YanYe in the former French Concession area.  After a previous trip, I was all set on a buttery tan leather ankle boot with red accents.  I got to select the leather, designed the style using several different models and picked the red accent pieces.  SHOE HEAVEN!

“Your right foot is bigger than your left foot!” Who knew??  Obviously, Mr. Zhao knows after his careful measuring.  It takes 3-4 weeks including a second fitting to get custom shoes just right.  I can’t wait to see how my unique boots turn out.  Here’s hoping I love my creation because at $250 US, I’ll be wearing them for the rest of my life.  While I wait for my special shoes to be created, Thom will ponder his tattoo design and decide whether or not to go under the needle.

JUST SAY NO!  Shoes are a fashion statement but a tattoo is forever.