This time last year my Belgian host family celebrated an American Thanksgiving by going to bed at 9pm so that we could be out the door by 3:30am for Black Friday shopping. After that experience I grumbled to myself that my favorite holiday had become too commercialized and that perhaps real traditions were going the way of dinosaurs. Fast forward one year later and I am packing for a 2.5 hours ride to the Netherlands, all the while homesick for just a taste of that Thanksgiving spirit. Perhaps it’s all the emails from work with people wishing me a happy Thanksgiving that’s making me a bit wistful. And perhaps the devilish shopaholic in me is wondering what great sales I’m missing at home!
Most of all, I miss preparing a big dinner (what a delightful excuse for indulging in food). But I can’t really complain too much about food either–see last post. In fact, a few days ago I was gifted these stone crab claws…
which I whipped up into a batch of crab eggrolls, even if the crabs were already delicious on their own:
Anyway, back to packing. It’s cold enough here now for me to test drive this very heavy Paris Byzance cardigan-coat…
but depending on the weather forecast I’ll see if it’s the brown 2.55 bag…
or the red timeless clutch that will accompany me on this trip:
The flash makes the bag look so garish, but you can see it matches much better in real life, even from this terribly fuzzy non-flash photo:
So I’ll be back in a few days with hopefully some great photos from a very desolate place; fingers crossed it won’t rain the entire time.
As you all sit down to dinner tonight and take a few minutes to think about the people who can’t make it home for the holiday because they’re serving their country, I’d like to rekindle the real tradition of treating every day as if it were Thanksgiving Day. Happy turkey feasting and let the sale season begin !
We’re a few weeks shy of Christmas and that means two things here in southern Cal: (1) really awesome sunny weather while people in other parts of the country are digging themselves through snow and rain and (2) winter sales. This time last year I was trekking from Morocco through Spain so had missed out on a lot of the sales. But apparently not too much because I still remember taking calls at 2am from sales associates (“SAs”) who had shoes or clothes they knew I had to have at the reduced prices…perhaps they knew in my half sleep I would be less likely to say no!
This year I decided to stay in the US during sale season and host guests for a change. I figured I’d actually make it to the stores to see the sales myself instead of relying on fuzzy pictures emailed from my SAs’ phones while half way across the world. But as it turns out, since my guests have been here, it’s been a nonstop whirl around the state of California for three weeks (which explains my silence here till now). And with the exception of that Black Friday weekend–and all I can say about that is that I’m not sure I’ll be waking up at 3:30am to hit the mall by 4am ever again–I haven’t really been able to get into any stores!
Today’s photos are of our quick jaunt to Vegas and Hoover Dam (which is pretty incredible, I might add)…
and the closest I came to shopping there was at this machine
I do remember that when we got back to the Bellagio, I walked by the Chanel boutique a few times but had no energy left to actually set foot inside it or any of the other stores ripe with pre-sales. But I did get photos of the winter wonderland in the Bellagio’s foyer:
I know Vegas is a big destination for a lot of people, but whenever I’m in a casino, I feel like I need a shower. I can’t be the only person to feel this way, can I?
Tomorrow I’ll show you where I should have gone all these years ago…but like I always say about travel: it’s never too late to start.
Did you survive turkey day and Black Friday? I ate then re-ate the crab pasta (miến xào cua), which I have to say was pretty tasty…I’ll youtube the cooking instructions soon:
Tbe apple pie was also yummy enough for seconds and thirds:
There wasn’t really anything I needed this year that required getting up at 3am for the doorbuster sales, but since it’s tradition and all, we went to Target at 4am and got a hard drive, extra memory for my digicam, and another set of luggage. I wonder this every year if I shouldn’t invest in really good luggage and be done with it, but I can’t complain when my $34 luggage set (yes, I said $34 and set in the same sentence) gets beaten up on the road. Even the best of suitcases can’t take the pounding I’ve seen on my trips. I know it’s all about the TVs and netbooks this holiday season, but I passed on the netbook since my mac is already pretty light and small. $200 for another shiny gadget is so tempting but I’ll wait till next year when I can get an even better computer at that price…or whenever my mac dies on me.
So by 5.30am I’m already back in bed dreaming of CHANEL sales. I woke up with an onset of a cold, though, and that’s why I haven’t been here till today. I blame it on the woman who sneezed on me as we reached for the suitcase set at the same time Friday morning! I’ve got to shake the symptoms before getting on the plane this week though. The last thing I need is to be quarrantined by customs officers.
All told, my Black Friday was quite uneventful…oh wait, I think I did sneak out to Saks on Friday to see if I could score any shoes, but in between coughing fits I only managed to find one pair of sandals for presale. I didn’t have any energy left to scour the rest of the store for more treats.
Tomorrow let’s go back to where I left you in the desert.
In honor of Black Friday, I thought I’d blog about fashion instead of travel today. But since early this morning I have seen nothing but lousy news on cnn and the internet. First the stampede and subsequent death of an employee at Wal-Mart then some shootings at a Toys-R-Us. This is not Black Friday but Blue Friday. This economic crunch we’re all feeling for ourselves and/or our neighbors is festering into a morale malaise. Add random violence on top of it and there’s no room left for the retail excitement that’s supposed to peak at this time of the year. Shopping lethargy has set in for consumers and retailers alike. So it feels hollow to talk about fashion when the national mood is so dour. Even as a self confessed shopaholic, I’ve got the blues. Retail therapy can’t fix retail blues.
What’s happening in the retail industry has definitely changed my shopping routine this year. Usually we would brave the crowds for the 5am door buster at Fry’s for the electronics deals. I’d be the one standing in line while everyone else ran around the store grabbing things on our various checklists. Once this craziness was done, I’d be on my way to Saks or NM for their sales.
But Saks, just like some of its competitors, started its sales early this year so I was already done with all of my shopping by the Monday before Thanksgiving Thursday. On the first day of the presale event (one full week before Thanksgiving Day), the store was packed. Women of all age, race, and fashion sense filled every inch of the store, grabbing designer bags, shoes and clothes as if the store was giving it all away. And in a way it was. Pretty much everything was 70% off except for a few labels like Chanel (rats!). No sooner did I put down a pair of Dior boots did two women grab them at the same time. It was a very tense moment and I didn’t stick around to see who won that wrestling match. Then I was shadowed by a twenty-something who wanted to make sure I’d give her the Gucci anaconda bag I was holding should I decide not to get it. It was an incredible deal for the bag so I could understand her persistence. After about 20 minutes I handed it to her. I don’t shop well with a pleading ball and chain. Her huge smile was the only one I got that day. Sales associates walked around dazed and confused. And scared. And pissed off. They looked like Katrina victims. After all, their store had just been flooded by women who hadn’t been able to shop in a long time, and 70% off was a heck of a way to let them loose. Shopping has lost its fun.
So I witnessed no shopping mobs today. I stayed home and got some work done. Thought I’d blog about Chanel trinkets to begin a whole series on treasured keepsakes, but the news led me to these thoughts here instead. Perhaps I had it right last year. In fact last year was the first time I was out of the country on Black Friday in many, many years. This time last year I was probably in Silk Village, just outside of Hanoi. There are factories and storefronts in this small village. Some stores are literally just small stands extending from someone’s house and others are quite fancy with similar merchandise with a huge markup. I’ll talk about the fabulous silk products I found in another blog, but today I’ll close with some pictures taken at a factory where they raise silk worms, spin the silk threads, and weave it all into fantastic rolls of fabric.
Silk worm cocoons on a twig stand:
How they look up close:
Weaving equipment. Perhaps next time they will allow me to make a little video showing how the equipment is used. Wouldn’t that be cool?
Here’s hoping next Black Friday won’t be so blue.