I’ve been known to have a tough sole. Yes, that is “sole” S-O-L-E, not “soul” S-O-U-L, though sometimes I’ve been known to have that as well. I go barefoot as much as possible, I run in five finger minimalist shoes, and I can count the number of foot blisters I’ve had on one hand. Well, as long as you don’t count frostbite blisters, which I had quite a few of one winter after running ten miles in -15 degree weather, through snow, with my ankles exposed to the wind and only those same minimalist shoes on my feet.
However, even I have limits. Before heading over to Yosemite, with my father, for our annual father daughter hike, my sneakers were in a bad state. The back of the shoe was beginning to fall apart, resulting in plastic poking through the padding in such a way as to cut my ankles open if I wore them for longer than an hour. Since I was saving up for New Balance made in USA sneakers (about $200) I put up with this gamely. A little blood never hurt anyone, right? But the prospect of hiking for 8-10 hours in these shoes, through Yosemite, gave me pause. What would these shoes do to me over the course of 8 hours, while hiking through some of the rockiest terrain imaginable? And if I left bloody footprints in my wake, would I attract bears?
The solution was to look for some form of USA made shoes, and fast. That is how, through REI, I discovered Keen shoes.
For those of you who don’t know, I’m a big advocate of REI and their membership program. Not only do you get 10% back off of everything you spend, but you get access to sales that others don’t, and you can even get 15% back or more with the REI credit card. REI also gives you 1-3% back on other purchases, which meant at the beginning of this year I had a $55 dividend. Furthermore, REI was having a sale. Without much hope, I used their search box and typed in “Made in USA shoes.” I found the Keen’s Local Mid for Women, and with all my discounts, this is what happened.
Awesome, right? But were the shoes awesome as well?
Right out of the box I could tell Keen was good quality. These shoes not only looked nice, but felt comfortable and not too heavy on my feet. Walking around Sacramento, I felt great, the only downside being that my feet were a bit warm on a 90 degree, sunny day, while biking for an hour over blacktop with no shade. So yeah, amazing shoes. In Yosemite, the terrain was not only rocky, but wet and slippery. I started off nervous, but by the end of the hike I had the upmost confidence in the ability of my shoes to grip onto the wet rock. The soles of the shoes were just the right thickness, so that I could feel the ground underneath me but did not feel like I was getting stabbed with every sharp root or rock I stood on. I didn’t feel even the slightest hint excessive rubbing anywhere. No blisters, and best of all, my feet did not get wet. Waterfalls meant puddles and mist everywhere, and the tough terrain meant standing in or on wet stuff. There are mesh vents on this shoe, but they are strategically positioned so that small puddles and wet vegetation do not directly soak your feet. This is a wonderful, wonderful thing on a 8 hour hike!
The funniest thing is, I was hoping to have pictures of my new Keen shoes post hike, looking all dirty and used and such. However, after coming back to Sacramento, the dirt has fallen off and they look almost brand new again. These shoes are awesome quality! I would say I would be purchasing them again soon, except that I fully intend to keep these for at least 2 years.
Moral of the story? Keen shoes are built in Portland, and worth the price. Support American workers, and your poor feet.
This Week In Updates: Lots to Do
It normally feels like I have lots to do, but for some reason this weekend feels even more busy. It probably has something to do with the fact that my dad just left, and I’m behind in all my classes, cooking, and blog work. I am also kind of behind in actual work, you know, the thing I get paid to do. I have a training I have to get ready to present for next month, 5 hours of online training to take, and after much waiting, my first drop flights are hopefully going to be next week. So there is all that to review. I feel like I need a vacation! Jesse also is busy too, as he received some not so good news and is running all around trying to fix things as best he can. It is hard being apart, especially at times like this. It’s also hard when you have no idea when you will see each other again.
It is always good to look at the small blessings though. Grocery shopping, as you can see on the receipt, went well this week. There was even a sale on pasta sauce, which meant I made some more homemade wheat pasta so that I could enjoy my organic Cabernet marinara. I made the most delicious strawberry mint oat bake, completely just messing around, and trying to figure out what to do with three bunches of discount mint. I would have made a cake or something, but I have no butter or coconut oil that isn’t already spoken for. I would have made a pie, but I am almost out of flour. Sometimes it is really exciting when you can make something delicious with what you have just laying around. That happened last week too, when I wanted to make a pizza but had no cheese. In a pinch, does sour cream and lots of avocados do the trick? You betcha! My runs are getting faster, which is nice, and my legs are starting to rebuild all the muscle I lost over my tri training. I also did some resale retain therapy and bought the most outrageous pair of shorts. They fit me. They were $7. How could I say no?
The Recipe: Strawberry Mint Oat Bran Bake
This recipe was inspired by the Co-Op having three bunches of slightly browned mint for $1. I have NEVER had that much mint before and had to figure out how to use it. Thus, this recipe. For having no gluten in it, it turned out amazingly delicious and moist. If I had a muffin pan, you can bet I’d be making these gluten free muffins a lot! The ingredients are simple, very healthy for you, and you could easily sub in any fruit lying around for the strawberries. A good substitute for hot oatmeal for breakfast as the weather gets hotter.
2 cups chopped mint
1 lb fresh strawberries, sliced
juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup sugar (you could make do with less if you wanted)
1 cup oat bran
Mix the strawberries, mint, olive oil, oatmeal, lime juice and sugar together. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Let this bubbly mixture cool, then try not to eat it all with a pint of vanilla ice cream. (It looks funny but tastes delicious!) Mix the cooled mixture with the rest of the ingredients. Grease a pie pan or muffin pan, and bake for 20-30 minutes or until a fork comes out clean. If you are baking muffins, bake time will be reduced. To pump up the nutrition, add flax seed or wheat germ. Enjoy!