Category Archives: Miscellaneous Thoughts

Sometimes I just have random thoughts to share. Topics may vary, depending on my ever-changing mood. The views of this blogger may not reflect your own, so please be tolerant or exercise your sense of humor while reading. I have been known to use sarcasm enthusiastically.

A Pineapple Update

If you’re a regular reader, you might remember that in 2011 we grew and harvested our first ever homegrown pineapple. It was the best of times.

Our first ever pineapple; summer of 2012

Our first ever pineapple; summer of 2012

We’re such dorks, we called our kids & grandkids and invited them over for the weekend so we could harvest it together. The Complete Package helped our grandson, Jonah Bear, cut the first pineapple. Go Jonah Bear!

Jonah Bear puts some muscle into harvesting the pineapple.

Jonah Bear puts some muscle into harvesting the pineapple.

Then Jonah & I immediately cut it up and baked a birthday cake for our granddaughter, Lilly Bug. What a great adventure that was. And so much fun.

Lilly Bug blows out the candles on her homemade cake.

Lilly Bug blows out the candles on her homemade cake.

Well, this year – we have four baby pineapples. FOUR! It’s so amazing. Of the ten pineapple plants currently growing on our back porch, four have bloomed and produced fruit. We are so excited! Here are a few shots of the new babies.

This snap shows the baby pineapple on its stalk.

This snap shows the baby pineapple on its stalk.

This one shows the crown starting to form on top.

This one shows the crown starting to form on top.

If you look closely at the tips, you'll see the purple flowers almost ready to emerge.

If you look closely at the tips, you’ll see the purple flowers almost ready to emerge.

So hold on to your britches, folks. This summer promises to bring All The Pineapple Goodies. While I’m sure there’s another pineapple upside-down cake in our future (because last year’s cake was beyond delicious), there’s no telling what the others may become. Pineapple preserves? Pineapple sherbet? Pineapple tarts? Feel free to shout out suggestions! Like all other mothers with new babies, I’m sure I’ll post additional photos as they grow.

Ever the proud pineapple momma,
-Jeanne (NanaBread)

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OKMH: The Secret Santa Project

The OKMH Gang (clockwise from top left) - Mads, Kirsten, Megan, Kat, Allison & me

The OKMH Gang (clockwise from top left) – Mads, Kirsten, Megan, Kat, Allison & me

As 2012 draws to a close (that seems so unreal) so does our first year of One Kitchen Many Hearts boxes. This little ‘boxes of love’ project has been one of the greatest joys of the year for me. Not necessarily for what I received, but for how much fun I had hand-picking items to send to each beloved friend. I anxiously waited, every other month, to see how those gifts would be received. And when a box of love was a success, it made the whole world seem brighter.

For December, our final exchange of 2012, we decided to draw names Secret Santa style and surprise each other. No teasers. No hints. No “wait until you see what I’m sending you” tweets. Until that box showed up on each porch, there would be no clue as to who was sending to whom. My Secret Santa was Kirsten (my twin separated at birth) from Comfortably Domestic in Michigan. And true to her ‘kindred spirit’ form, she totally nailed it.

Perfect theme. Perfect choices. And SO…. MUCH…. LOOT!

OKMH Dec - A Sleigh full of Gifts

Check out this card. Clearly, she’s on board with my exercise regime.

OKMH Dec - Front of Card

OKMH Dec - Inside the Card

Yup. She gets me. She knows that I pine (whine) over her glorious abundance of snow while we languish in shorts and sip iced drinks well into January. I covet her snow. So she sent me a Winter Wonderland in a box, and it was perfect. Perfect timing, perfect selections… just perfect in every way.

My first squeal came when I discovered the tub of Mayan Hot Cocoa Mix. She posted this recipe on her blog and I swooned, but then she sent me some! AND she even sent a fabulous snowflake mug and a tub of miniature freeze-dried marshmallows. How fun is that? They’re so tiny & cute!

OKMH Dec - Cocoa Marshmallow & A Cup

So of course I immediately made a cup so I could enjoy it while I unpacked the rest of the box. Evidently, I am all about instant gratification when it comes to hot cocoa. Kirsten’s is even more decadent because it has a hint of cayenne pepper in it. Not enough so that you taste it, but just enough that you feel a slight burn in the back of your throat. I love that sweet little burn.

OKMH Dec - First Cup of Cocoa

SO. GOOD. If that wasn’t enough, she included these cute ‘cup’ cookie cutters.

OKMH Dec - Cup Cookie Cutters

I haven’t made cookies with them yet, but I’m going to. Soon. Until I get around to it, here’s a suggestion of how they would work. Just imagine it’s a chocolate almond shortbread cookie. Or a cranberry orange sugar cookie.

OKMH Dec - Cup Cookie Cutter

Get a load of the Winter Wonderland goodies she sourced for this baking kit:

OKMH Dec - Holiday Baking Bonanza

It’s a virtual baking blizzard up in here! That snowflake spatula is sturdy, man! Even the stiffest cookie or bread doughs will be conquered with that beast. I love it! And a girl can never, ever have too many cupcake wrappers. There’s just no such thing as ‘enough’ cupcake wrappers.

OKMH Dec - Snowflake Baking Cups

And there were sprinkles. Snowflake Sprinkles, y’all!

OKMH Dec - Snowflake Sprinkles

This snowflake cookie cutter is sturdy, too. This ain’t no flimsy aluminum cookie cutter, my friends. This cutter says ‘I could do this all day.’ It laughs at flimsy cookie cutters. At nearly 4″ across, if this made actual snowflakes, they could kill on impact. Can you just imagine giant buttery snowflakes falling from the sky? I can, and I’m catching them in my mug of hot cocoa.

OKMH Dec - Snowflake Cutter & Spatula

One cookie, and you’d be stuffed to the gills. I would pretend to be a dainty eater. You’d be all like, “Can I offer you another holiday treat?” And I’d be all like, “No thanks; I just ate a snowflake. I couldn’t eat another bite!”

But I saved the best baking surprise for last. It’s this little unassuming bottle:

OKMH Dec - Nectar of the Gods

It’s unicorn tears. I’m just kidding. It’s actually fiori di sicilia and it’s a baker’s secret weapon. A blend of citrus & vanilla, it brightens everything from ice cream to cookies to bread dough. I cannot WAIT to crack that puppy open! I just have to find the perfect recipe. Something truly worthy. Suggestions?

Also included in the box – two sweet winter-themed hand towels (who doesn’t love a penguin, seriously) and a snowflake ornament. Ah-door-ah-bull.

OKMH Dec - Cute Ornament & Towels

But wait, there’s more! No OKMH box is complete without something girlie and Kirsten went for mani/pedi fun. As a south coaster, Kirsten knows I’m a slave to humidity. When winter comes and the heaters click on, I begin to shrivel like a lizard. There’s nothing pretty about it, either. So for my dry lizard skin, there is Carmex healing cream. As soon as I put it on, my skin said, “Ahhhhhhhhh.” And there was polish! I love these two sparkly, frosty colors together. So pretty!

OKMH Dec - Hand Care

And for those days when sweet & frosty won’t cut it, she included this wild OPI set as a tribute to my Day of the Dead Mask post from October. So much fun, and they even came with little DOTD stickers for your nails, too!

OKMH Dec - DOTD Nail Polish

These are going in my Tub-O-Polish for girlie nail painting parties like Hoegarden. Or when I want to spice up my toes (even though no one will see them this winter). It’s like wearing racy underwear under a boring business suit. Hypothetically speaking, of course. {giggling}

Always a mom at heart, she included these reuseable snack bags for the grandkids – Jonah Bear & Lilly Bug. They’re going to love them. I’ve already stuffed them with snacks and juice boxes. No kidding.

OKMH Dec - Reusable Snack Bags

I love that these are washable, and the kids are going to love the cute prints. Lilly Bug is all girl with a pink fetish and Jonah Bear is all about the super heroes. Thanks for thinking of them, Kirsten. So thoughtful.

But I saved my very favorite surprise for last.

Did I mention Kirsten is a knitter? I wish I knew how to knit. We made a deal recently. She’ll teach me to knit if I’ll teach her to sew. We just need a few weeks together. That’s all. Or maybe a month. A month would be much better.

Lucky for me, Kirsten is a gifted knitter and she made something special just for me in the most beautiful shade of blue. Seriously, I died.

OKMH Dec - Hand-Knitted Gloves

Fingerless Victorian-inspired gloves. Fingerless because she knows it never gets cold enough down here to wear a heavy coat. Victorian because we share a love of antiques. Some day we will wear gloves and sip chai tea together as we browse antique shops. It’s a dream of ours, and one I’m determined WILL come true. Some day. Until then, check out the details on these beauties:

OKMH Dec - Glove Details

Not just ruffles, but ruffles with contrasting trim in black. And those buttons. They kill me. I don’t know how she did it. Well, actually there’s a story behind the gloves. If you look at the photo of the inside of the card again, you’ll see that little note on the top left corner about a funny story. It turns out that Kirsten crafted these gloves while they were traveling by car for Thanksgiving. She was so excited to get them done on the drive, she showed them to her husband, who commented “Did you mean to knit two left-handed gloves?” To her surprise, she’d accidentally made two lefts. She had to rip one apart and re-knit it into a right handed glove. She calls that a funny story. I would have cried.

OKMH Dec - gloves & a heart

Those gloves are a symbol of how nothing gets in the way of our devotion to make each box as perfect as possible. I can’t speak for all the ladies, but I believe the preparation and care and love that goes into crafting each OKMH box is the best part of this project. Well, that and hearing how much each box meant to those who received them. And although 2012 is almost behind us, I have a feeling One Kitchen Many Hearts will continue for years to come.

I’m sending a big bear hug to Kirsten, along with a very special thanks for my Winter Wonderland extravaganza. I could not imagine a better holiday surprise. As Kirsten so eloquently puts it, I love these ladies more than cake. And if you’d like to see what everyone else received, drop in on them at the links below. In case you’re curious, I sent my Secret Santa box to Mads. {squee!}

Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic

Megan at Country Cleaver

Kat at Tenaciously Yours

Allison at Decadent Philistines Save the World

Mads at La Petite Pancake

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Bake Sale for Beka – join the party!

UPDATE: The Bake Sale for Beka is closed. Thanks a million to Cindy C. who placed the winning bid on my dark chocolate cherry pecan cookies at $60. WOW – $60 for my cookies! I promise not to disappoint, Cindy! Thank you also to all who visited the bake sale and to those who helped raise funds more than $1,700 for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America and Camp Oasis. Great cause, great people and a great bake sale. Congrats, Megan & Beka!

My good friend Megan at CountryCleaver.com is hosting a Bake Sale this weekend in honor of her best buddy Beka. Proceeds will benefit the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, Camp Oasis, and Beka’s first half-marathon where she’ll be racing for the cure. You can join the party by participating!

Megan will be joined by 25 of her blogging buddies (myself included) as we bake fabulous goodies for an on-line auction this Sunday & Monday. We’re talking good stuff like Pumpkin Peanut Butter Brownies, Nutella-Stuffed Cinnamon Sugar Muffins, Coconut Oil Poundcake with Almonds & Lime, Chipotle Butter Toffee, Cheddar & Olive Biscuits, Coconut Maple Granola, Passionfruit Chili Pepper Palmiers, Neapolitan Cupcakes, Mud Hen Bars, Death By Chocolate Cookies and more!

I’ll be baking my Dark Chocolate Cherry Pecan Cookies for one lucky bidder. They’re gooey, they’re loaded with dried cherries & nuts, and they are sinful as H-E-doublehockeysticks. And the best part is four dozen of them can be YOURS if you place the winning bid. Did I mention they’re really delicious?

But wait! There’s more! In addition to this plethora of baked goods, the following sponsors have joined in to donate these incredible auction items:

Chobani – donated a party pack of good-for-you flavored yogurts

Kerrygold – donated one month’s worth of their high quality butter & cheese

Star Fine Foods – donated a basket of their olive oils & Mediterranean classics

Le Creuset – donated a 4.5 quart Dutch Oven in a lovely cassis color

America’s Test Kitchen – a copy of their new Quick Family Cookbook AND the new Cook’s Country Complete Series Cookbook

To see these fine products and read more about the Bake Sale for Beka, go to www.CountryCleaver.com. One look and you’ll see what we all see – that life is precious, cookies are delicious, and nothing beats the love and support of our friends and family. Now mark your calendar for Sunday, grab your wallet, and bid on something yummy! {please & thank you}

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Good News / Bad News

It’s been one of those days. You know, the kind where you start something with the best of intentions and something else gets in the way; or you get distracted. In my case, it was less of the first and more of the latter. I’ll give you examples.

Good News – I decided to tackle my freezer; it needed to be reorganized.

Yes, that’s vodka in the top drawer. For penne. Don’t judge.


Bad New – I got distracted by what I found.

Good News – I am now infusing old frozen vanilla beans in the vodka for the win AND I found a bag of frozen dinner rolls that make the perfect winter coat for the Pumpkin Spice Kisses Megan sent me.

Kisses in frozen rolls = dessert in a pinch, literally.

Once the dough rises around the kisses, I’ll pinch them shut, bake them off, and smother them in a caramel glaze. Yes way!

Bad News – If The Complete Package doesn’t pitch in to help eat these, I’m going to be in trouble. Serious trouble. Which brings me to the…

Good News – It’s sweat pants season! Wahoo!

Cheer Sweats by Nike; love the ‘Hook ‘Em Horns’ orange

Bad News – I never finished organizing the freezer because I found the end of a bag of frozen shredded hashbrown potatoes way in the back.

Good News – I decided hashbrowns with soft-fried eggs smothered in Texas Brew Salsa was absolutely essential for today’s lunch. It was a good call.

Bad News – It was gone way too quickly, just like our Texas Brew Salsa Giveaway this week.

Good News – You still have time to enter! Comments close at 9:00pm CST Friday, October 5th so click here and leave a comment. You could win a big box of Texas Brew Salsa of your very own. And that’s always good news.

Texas Brew Salsa – it’s *that* good!

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I don’t know what to call this post.

It’s a mishmash of random photos from this week. Not that it’s particularly fascinating or anything, but I’ll share them anyway. Thanks for humoring me.

1. A Pineapple Update – our miniature ‘plantation’ is up to 10 plants now. Ten. None of which fruited this year. Either this has been a bad year for pineapple mating, or next year is going to bring a bumper crop. I’m personally hoping for bumper crop.

This is only half of them; the one on the left is at least 4 ft tall.

Some are growing 2 to a pot; they’ll have to be transplanted later.

For a while, we had a tenant; can you see the little frog?

2. Oh, yes. We have da’ bananas – This is actually our second bunch of the summer. Last year = zero. This year = over 100 bananas. Just goes to show… you never can tell what kind of year we’ll have around here.

What do you do with 100+ bananas? You freeze most of them.

3. Speaking of Fruits & Veggies – I went by Froberg Farm to pick up apples for my apple butter. I love this place. You can see your veggies being grown and harvested right there by the farm stand. I don’t think they grew the apples (they’re not really in season here) but they were exceptionally crisp and fresh.

Honey Crisp, Gala & Granny Smith apples from Froberg Farm

Fresh Texas Cream Peas – kind of like black-eye peas or crowders

Greak’s Jalapeno Cheese Sausage from ‘The Sausage Man’

This sausage is world-class. It’s made by the Greak family, and they sell it from a small cabin adjacent to the Froberg Farm stand. They torment shoppers with the scent of smoky meat and samples of their sausage. And you know what? It works every time. It’s not a trip to Froberg without a few links of Greak’s sausage.

4. Turkish Delight Fail – I tried making Turkish Delight. It’s a little like making gummi candies. Unfortunately, it never got thick enough. You’re supposed to be able to slice it into squares & roll them in powdered sugar. Mine was too soft, so I spread it onto a silpat mat and I’m re-categorizing it as fruit leather. Or jellies I can roll in granulated sugar. I’ll get back to you on this one.

Beautiful color! I just wish it was thicker. Live & learn.

5. The Great Jelly Swap – It’s a thing. My friend Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic and I started this last fall. Each year, we make a variety of jams, jellies and preserves and then ship a box to each other. She gets to try what I made, and I get to try what she made. The beauty of this plan is that we both have access to different regional ingredients – I’m on the southern coast of Texas; she’s on the northern edge of Michigan. Here’s what I’ve made so far.

Blueberry Pomegranate Jelly – sweet & tart, just like I like it.

The clear, colorful beauty of a good jelly can’t be beat.

Made with Turkish apricots, this one is thick and luscious and tart.

Mom’s recipe for molasses apple butter – made with those oven-roasted apples.

These two are all dressed up and ready to go to Kirsten’s house.

She’s also getting another jar of my peach cherry & orange marmalade. She said her boys really enjoyed that one last year. Note to Kirsten: If that was you being polite, now is the time to speak up. Opt out now, or face choking down another jar of that marmalade. :)

6. Ziggy – Our 13 1/2 year-old Boston Terrier is mostly blind, mostly deaf, and sometimes smells like a sewer line break, but he’s hanging in there and we love him like crazy. It’s been a while since I’ve posted a photo, so here you go.

He hates being photographed & got a mani/pedi right after this was snapped.

So… what have you been up to this week? Are you following Beer Week and getting excited for fall yet? Hoarding pumpkin or bacon yet? Have you heard about the looming pork shortage? Do you care? As for me, I’m pricing chest freezers. I’m going to stockpile bacon the same way doomsday disciples hoard canned goods. When the baconpocalypse rolls around next year, you’ll find me in the garage – sleeping on that freezer with a shotgun. Kidding (not kidding).

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OKMH – The September Edition

OKMH – One Kitchen, Many Hearts

That’s what we call our little group of blogging buddies and the goody boxes we send every other month. Who are these ladies? Let me show you.

OKMH Bloggers – Mads, Kirsten & Megan; Bottom: Me, Allison & Kat


Top Left: Madelyn (Mads) of La Petite Pancake
Top Center: Kirsten of Comfortably Domestic
Top Right: Megan of Country Cleaver
Bottom Center: Allison of Decadent Philistines
Bottom Right: Kat of Tenaciously Yours

That’s our official OKMH photo collage, but it’s this informal photo that really makes me giggle. Kirsten is responsible for this treasure:

The ‘unofficial’ group photo – this is how we picture us.
Megan waving to someone on the beach cracks me up every single time.

I don’t remember how we all met, but we’ve been as thick as thieves for a few years now, and I love them more every day. We may be from every corner of the U.S., but we are one kitchen with many hearts.

This month I received a box of love from Megan, the effervescent chef behind Country Cleaver. She’s amazing. She lives in Seattle. She’s a newlywed who loves her big hunk o’ burning love Ben, her sweet yellow lab Huck, enjoys long walks on the beach, craft brewing, bread baking, salmon, and pumpkin spice Hershey’s kisses (she hoards them). If there was such an award, she would surely be named “Blogger I’d Most Like to Drink A Beer With” or even “Blogger Whose Kitchen Pantry I’d Most Like to Secretly Live In”. Or both.

Here’s what Megan sent:


For the record, we love Halloween in this house. So she nailed it. Jonah Bear & Lilly Bug are going to love this. Spiders and witches and pumpkins – oh my!

Speaking of the grandkids, Jonah is going to lose it when he sees these:

He’ll be six in December and he L-O-V-E-S all things gummy. The fact that these are kind of creepy will only enhance their attraction. Well played, Megan.

Lilly Bug, who turned three this month, will love this rubber ducky (as do I). Who needs sparkly vampires with this little cutie around? #TeamJacob

When it comes to sharing, the only person in my immediate family that loves coffee like I do is my daughter. It goes without saying that she and I will be savoring these together. Look, honey! Maple Pecan & Caramel Pumpkin!

Did you know that our Megan is an ambassador for Copper River Salmon? Yup. She just got back from a spectacular weekend in Cordova, Alaska where she saw first hand what it takes to process salmon. And because she knows I share her love of this gorgeous fish, she included this tin of salmon rub. Move over, brisket. There’s a new gill in town. (Sorry. Bad joke. Okay, I’m not sorry.)

Megan also sent two gorgeous green ceramic chili bowls so we could celebrate fall Texas-style. Unfortunately, the postal service beat the crap out of that box and both bowls were shattered. Completely demolished. But that’s bound to happen when you ship stuff as far as we do, and I SO appreciate the gesture and the love behind it. The Complete Package tried his best to glue them back together, but they were beyond repair. I started to include a photo of his “Frankenbowls” but I didn’t want to break Megan’s heart. It wasn’t pretty. Funny, perhaps, with his big gaping seams oozing with hot glue, but not pretty.

UPDATE: After much urging from The Complete Package, I’ve decided to add a photo collage of the broken chili bowls. Not because I want Megan to feel bad that they didn’t make it intact, but because of the hilarity that ensued when TCP tried to step in and save the day. Determined to “make this right”, he grabbed my hot glue gun and spent a good half hour trying to put my chili bowls back together again, Humpty Dumpty style. Reality was more in line with Megan’s Halloween theme, and so (with that in mind)… I give you the Frankenbowls.

Know what takes your mind off broken bowls? I mentioned it before, and I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw them. Megan sent a bag of her beloved Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses. A vision of Ben prying them out of her hands to put them into the box flashed for a split second, but then I thought, “No, that’s Megan. Always a giver.” She sent an entire bag. It couldn’t have been more significant if it had been a kidney. Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but Megan really, really loves these pumpkin spice kisses. Like for realz, yo.

And as soon as they spend some time in the fridge firming back up, Ima dig in. And I’m going to think of her each time I enjoy one. Because (and I know she’ll gasp when she reads this) I have never… ever… had one. Ever. And that will make these even sweeter.

Oh, before I go all pumpkin kiss bliss on you – go to Mads’ website and see what I sent her. You can get there by clicking HERE. You can also click on the all blog links at the top of this post to see what everyone got in their OKMH boxes. It’s always fun to see what the girls are sending and receiving.

Now go. I’ve got candy to eat and I’m not much of a sharer around chocolate. Move along, folks. Nothing to see here.

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My new favorite walking shoes

OMG. I never ever use that phrase, but O-M-G! I just fell in love with a shoe.

Skechers GO WALK shoes; photo via Amazon.com

Have you ever had that moment in a shoe store when you tried something on and said out loud, “Holy crap! Where have YOU been all my life?!?” This was it for me. I swear, I didn’t take more than 3-4 steps before I threw them back in the box and declared, “Oh, yeah. You’re coming home with me!”

Skechers GO WALK shoes; photo via Amazon.com

They’re not just comfortable, they’re big fuzzy bunny slippers kind of comfy. Walking on baby pillows kind of comfy. Dancing on big puffy marshmallows comfy. I think it’s the bouncy miracle air springs on the soles, although I’m guessing they don’t officially call them that (dibs on that trademarking gem).

Skechers GO WALK shoes; photo via Amazon.com

Another bonus – they’re super lightweight. I’m thinking they’re the perfect travel shoe; easy to slip on & off, supportive enough to run from gate to gate & leap suitcases in a single bound, and smashable enough to cram into a suitcase with almost no added weight. Mine are a soft dove gray, but they come in colors. Here’s the link: http://www.skechers.com/style/13510/skechers-gowalk/

How much do I love them? Enough that I am actively searching nearby stores for a second pair. I am not taking any chances they’ll stop making these puppies soon. I plan to stock up so I don’t have to shave my head, tear my clothes or sell my worldly possessions in protest some day. See this last picture?

Skechers GO WALK shoes; photo via Amazon.com

That’s all you’ll see of me until I find another pair (or four) – my backside. And God help you if I get to said store and you’ve got the last pair of size 10s in your hand. God. Help. You. You’d better run, girlfriend. :)

Note: This is not a paid advertisement for Skechers GO WALK shoes. They have no idea who I am other than some crazy nut-job fan of their delicious walking shoe, if they happen to read this. I was not compensated one iota for this post, but trust me when I say this – if they want to offer me some free ones? You can bet your sweet a$$ I’m taking them up on it. -NanaBread

UPDATE (Oct 2012): Several readers asked if these slip-ons started to take on that sweaty-foot stink after time. I’m here to admit that yes, after wearing them on hot summer days in Houston when my feet got sweaty, they did start to take on that weird vinegar smell those of us with stinky feet are familiar with. However, because these shoes are highly washable, it’s really not an issue. I’ve now thrown mine into the washing machine with a load of clothes three times without experiencing any shrinkage or change in the shape or color of the shoe. After washing, I let them air dry which happens quickly since the body of the shoe is a neoprene-type material. Final vote: A+. They’re still just as comfortable and look just as good as the day I bought them, and I’m still in love.

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