Good Times, Bad Times, You Know I've Had My Share
The Belly: Bigger Than A Breadbox

Wednesday Advice Smackdown

Firstly, I want to thank everyone for the wonderful comments and emails yesterday. Y'all continue to amaze me with your unbelievable niceness. My mom's surgery is scheduled for next Monday. I'll be spending this weekend with her, as she is coming to attend the World's Tiniest Baby Shower, Another Pitfall Of Being Pregnant In The Summer and Also Having Friends With Social Lives and Plans and Vacations That Don't Involve You.

Secondly, I refuse to confirm or deny the existence of diamonds (singular or plural) in regards to my anniversary gift. Sorry. I'm obnoxious and all, but seriously, I'm a little embarrassed by the size and the sparkliness of the rocks that now adorn my earlobes.

Thirdly, whoops.

Fourthly, today is your lucky day, as you can get TWO Amalah entries for the price of one (which is zero! click on some ads! they offer amazing work-from-home opportunities that are TOTALLY not a multi-level marketing Amway scam!). DesignPublic, a very cool online furniture/textiles/other-designer-things-I-want store, asked me to participate in this Baby Blogapalooza thing to celebrate their new Kids & Baby section. I think they may have me confused with someone else.

The topic was Kids & Design, and I wrote them an entry that is only about 9% recycled material. (It's the bit about the iron, because I thought it was wicked funny when I first wrote it but all my commenters decided to engage in a Serious Debate Regarding Where Amy Should Put the Iron instead of just laughing at me and my crazy iron talk.)

You can read my entry here. Some of the other guest writers include DaddyTypes, Finslippy, Mrs. Kennedy and other Internet Rock Stars who will probably think my entry is weird and not funny.

And while we're on the subject of weird and not funny, here's today's Advice Smackdown, brought to you by a girl who is currently wearing CHEAP BLACK PLATFORM SLIDES CIRCA 2002 BECAUSE THEY ARE THE ONLY SHOES HER FAT FEET WILL FIT IN.

Hi Amy,

Love your blog and Snarkywood.  And congratulations on the baby!  I’m insanely jealous…my biological clock is screaming at me to procreate and my husband isn’t ready yet. Sigh. 

Anyway, I was hoping you can give me some advice on how to start a blog.  I love them tremendously and think I might have a crazy enough life that I might be able to post things interesting enough that people will actually want to read. I’m just not sure how to get started.

Thanks for any advice and keep the snark coming!
Nicole Martinez

Oh, for years I talked about starting a blog. I was totally going to start one! Watch me! Here I go, starting my blog!

Only I never did. I came close one time, when I actually went and registered the domain name. And then still. I did not actually start a blog.

But since I had the domain name, I at least started researching all the different tools and platforms available for wannabe-bloggers. Typepad vs. Blogger vs. Diaryland vs. Movable Type vs. Diary-X vs. WordPress vs. oh, my lord, I need to lie down.

So I made a list of the things that were important to me:

1) My own domain name instead of
2) Easily customizable templates.
3) The ability to upgrade or move to something more robust later on without changing the site name.
4) Groovy sidebar thingies.
5) Something so easy a drunk monkey could use it.

In the end, I settled on a TypePad Basic account, learned the ropes, endlessly messed with and fucked up my design, switched from a blog to a journal format, upgraded to a Pro account and learned CSS and began horribly abusing my bandwidth amount, for which TypePad mysteriously neglects to charge me for. So far.

I also started actually "writing stuff" somewhere along the way.

For some people, their blog wishlist might look something like this:

1) Free.

So really, decide what bells and whistles (if any) are important to you and then sign up for a service that provides said bells and whistles. Then start writing. That's kind of the most important part. (But speaking for myself, my OCD and control-freakishness wouldn't let me begin writing until I had a site that looked like I wanted it to, so I totally get why some people won't just sign up for Blogger and be done with it.)

Don't worry about readers at first. (Trust me, in a few months you'll look back on your first entries and CRINGE and hope that nobody actually read that crap.) Don't email everybody on the planet with your new URL. (I guarantee you'll deeply regret telling at least one or two of those people about the site later on.) Don't expect every writer you read regularly to care that they "totally inspired you to start your own blog! Come check it out!" They might visit. They might not. Don't take it personally.

Link to the sites you read. (And for the love of God, DON'T EMAIL PEOPLE AND ASK IF IT'S OKAY THAT YOU LINK TO THEM. THEY DON'T CARE. LINK AWAY. CHRIST. AND DON'T ALWAYS EXPECT A RETURN LINK BECAUSE THAT'S JUST NOT HOW IT WORKS.) Comment on the sites you read. The best way to draw attention to your new blog is by leaving funny/witty/thoughtful/properly-punctuated comments on other sites.

And you know, keep writing about things. Blog audiences grow mysteriously and exponentially. Like big scraggly patches of Internet weeds. Don't worry about running out of material or not having anything interesting to say. Blogging is addictive, and pretty soon you'll be a freak like me with two notebooks and a pack of Post-Its in her purse so she can scribble down the sort-of funny sentence she came up with while peeing just now because she might want to use that in an entry maybe.

If you're still worried about content, just buy a digital camera. Photo essays ALWAYS shut people the hell up about not posting enough.

Dear Wise Amalah, Guru of Fashion, please help a desperate soul!

I need shoes.  Desperately.  I have cute dresses and skirts, as well as kick-ass pants, but my shoe collection SUCKS dead goats.

I am 28, a government employee, and live in the middle of nowhere in the Midwest.  I want to look young and cute (because I am) but I have a very limited budget because I just bought my first house and, as I mentioned, I'm a government employee.  So that's constraint number 1.  Issue #2?  I live in a smallish town where the only place to buy shoes is the department store.  We have two in the mall, but I don't like J.C. Penney's and refuse to shop there.  We don't have a shoe store in town (unless one counts Payless, and I don't).  We do have a cowboy boot store.  Oh!  And as adorable as your cute heels are? I can't wear them.  I have damaged knees from a car wreck 10 years ago and anything over about 1.5 inches gives me great pain from my knees to my neck.

So, great wise guru, with this wonderful list of issues, how do I find cute and fashionable shoes? What kind of shoes should I look for?  Where can I find them?  As much as I love my brown Doc Marten's lace up shoes, they do not go with everything.

Yours in need,

Behold, the Glory and the Powah that is Zappo's.

The first time I went to Zappo's, my jaw fell open. I drooled. My eyes may have rolled back in my head. 400 bazillion million pairs of shoes! Low prices! Sales! Designer brands! Knock-off no-name brands! And helpful sizing comments like "these shoes run big -- buy a half-size smaller."

I may have wept. And I live in a city with no shortage of shoe stores. But I could buy shoes online! Anytime I wanted! And I wouldn't have to deal with surly salespeople or that goddamn shoe department at the Hecht's in Chevy Chase that always sends me awesome coupons but then NEVER HAS A SINGLE SHOE IN MY SIZE, EVER, THOSE BASTARDS.

Zappo's lets you search by style, type, color, heel, width, whatever. Want sandals? Dress or casual? Slip-on or strap-up? Two-inch heels? Three? Flats? They have it all, and lo, there is free shipping and an awesome return policy.

My only problem with Zappo's is that sometimes? There are just TOO MANY DAMN SHOES. If I don't know exactly what I'm looking for (i.e. "I think I want something kind of...strappy. But not too strappy. Or maybe some kind of slide."), the hundreds of choices can send you into some sort of shoe overload.

So first, I check out what the designers are doing. I buy Vogue or InStyle or whichever mag is currently selling a "Shoe Issue! 475 Must-Have Pairs!" kind of thing. I look at Neiman's and Nordstrom's and see what's popular and what shoes I own must now be banished to the back of the closet because the toe is not the right shape or whatever. Then I look on Zappo's for something similar and (most likely) cheaper.

Right now, flats are still pretty popular, so your no-heel dilemma is not a problem at all. Beware of the ballet flats, however, as they tend to make even slender legs look stumpy. There are some beautiful moccasins and mules out there right now. (That I won't buy, because I am pretending that my feet are just swollen right now and will totally go back to their old size after I give birth so I don't need to get rid of all my shoes and buy bigger ones and I don't care that for some women the change in foot size is permanent, no no no, I can't hear you.)

Oh, and a preemptive response to the commenters who will be shocked that I did not mention as a great place for reasonably-priced shoes: Yes, it can be. Alternatively, it can be a nightmare of inconsistent sizing, back-ordered shoes that never arrive and one son-of-a-bitch-in-hell return policy. has angered me greatly,  and therefore I will wait for Zappo's to put those kick-ass Donald Pilner pumps on sale instead.

O wise, pretty Amalah,

Okay, here's the thing.  I have hair that sounds a lot like yours-- fine and stick-straight.  After having it long and hippie looking all through high school, I got it cut into a basic bob my senior year, and with some mild length fluctuations, a regrettable bangs experiment, and a semester-length fling with boyish short cut, it's been that way ever since.  I've added some highlights because the mouse brown was depressing me, especially in the winter in the northeast, but's been working for me.

Except...and here comes the problem...I just got engaged.  Which means I'm getting married, and I'm beginning to think about how I want to do my hair on the Big Day.  That's not my question...I've decided I want a french twist/chignon type thing.  The problem is?  My short bob that I love so much?  Is too short for how I want my hair to look on my special daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.  So I'm growing it out. Luckily I have a lot of time until my wedding day, but until then...I have to live with my hair.

And here's the thing:  because my hair is so fine, and so straight, once it gets past my shoulders it's just...dishrag dull.  No wave, no bounce, no personality, no nothing.  I remember this from high school, and while part of the problem in high school was that I hadn't really discovered products, nor did I really take care of my hair, I'm afraid part of it is just...the way my hair behaves.  So, wise pretty Amalah...what kind of a cut should I get that will be both (a) long enough to pull back and stick a veil into, and (b) still give my limp hair some...movement.  I'm not really big into lots of products or hair time investment, but I'm willing to try just about anything, as my hair is rapidly approaching danger length. Help?

Chignon Challenged

Well, for starters, I assume you'll be getting your hair professionally styled for the wedding? (Lord knows I can't do a decent French twist on my own head to save my life.) Because here's the thing: you actually don't need very long hair for a French twist. A professional updo stylist can do amazing things with relatively small amounts of hair. That's why God invented aerosol hair spray and bobby pins that come in packs of 100.

In reality, sleek and pretty updos are actually HARDER to achieve if your hair is too long. For my friend's wedding, I wore my hair down because I have so damn much of it, and any updo would have simply had to pile the like, seven extra inches on top of my head, most likely in a crazy poof of rural Pennsylvania-style ringlets.

For my own wedding, my hair barely touched my shoulders and was full of weird, half-grown-out layers, but my hairdresser still got it to do exactly what I wanted. (Which it is not doing in that picture, because of the 110-degree weather and humidity, but I forgot to scan a better photo.)

So if you can, you might want to pick your wedding stylist now and have him or her tell you just how long your hair needs to be to achieve the style you have in mind. Then get some tips on how to live with it in the meantime. I'm betting it doesn't need to be any longer than shoulder length, and I bet you could get a few longish-layers cut for body and movement in the meantime.

And my standard regimen for fine, limp hair applies: salon-quality volumizing shampoo on the roots, conditioner only on the ends, very small amounts of Pureology Root Lift spray mousse OR Bed Head SuperStar Queen for a Day Thickening Spray for volume. Blowdry your roots first, use a round brush to shape and use cool air on your ends. Finish with Bed Head Headrush spray shine to enhance your color and add texture.

Oh, isn't sad when you get to the end of an entry? And realize that you must wait an entire day before I update again? Or maybe even two days, because I'm so damn lazy? Not today! Now you can go check out my guest entry at the DesignPublic Blog, which includes a really horribly embarrassing photo of the shambles that is the nursery. Also, hot spackling action!

Questions for future Advice Smackdowns can be sent to



yeah, i saw that entry this morning. you are being too damn modest; it was high-larious.


Couple of things - First, when I clicked over to Zappo's, I started to cry. Really. I love you for this! Second, did you have to get your parents' permission to get married? You look like a baby in that photo! And lastly, you are sooooo right about Too Long Hair and the Up-Do's. (Sounds like a bad 50's band) One of the 16 times, (yes, 16 times) I was a bridesmaid the bride REQUIRED that we all have up-dos. I was not willing to cut my hair to an appropriate length for an up-do so by the end of the evening, I looked like some crazed fugitive from the wedding with Grandma's red hassock on her drunk-ass head! (Hassock - that's a blast from the past word!)


Zappo's is like the promised land, I swear! I think the first time I checked it out was to try and find a shoe to wear with a chocolate brown (!!??) bridesmaid dress because the bride said "Oh, just wear whatever you want, as long as its the same color of the dress" (!!??) and I searched by color and LO and BEHOLD there was a huge assortment of perfect shoes nad I shit you not I think I heard a chorus in the background singing "Hallelujah". Love love love ZAPPO'S!!!

And the DesignPublic entry is hilarious, I laughed my ass off!


Finally - someone has answered that question for me of the proper etiquette of posting links to the blogs you read and not having to ask for permission! THANK YOU!

The Ironing Board made me laugh - I keep ours in my daughter's room!


ironing board wha??? i think mine might be in the garage, right by the tools i don't know the names of.


Thank you so much for the great beginner blogger advice. LJ veteran just got the balls to switch to Typepad and I have not quite gotten my pretty page where I want it...but it's coming along...I will get there. LOVE YOUR WEBSITE! I am an avid reader and I check daily to see what kind of Snark or funny you have posted. Thanks for keeping me entertained!!!


Loved your post on Design Public! Cracked me up. I must say, I gave up ironing almost completely when I got married and moved into a very tiny house. No room to set up a big ironing board! Thank heaven for Downy Wrinkle Releaser.

By the way, excellent spackle job. One of the best I've seen. :)


I will be the one woman who will say that your feet WILL return to normal size after you have the Babalah. I had a pair of Cole Haan slides (you know, the ones with the funky Nike heel) that I stretched out beyond recognition in my last trimester. They are WAY too big for me now, and I'm back to wearing all of my normal shoes. Well, as normal as a 5'5" girl with size 10 feet can be. So do not despair, dear Amalah, you will be back to what I'm sure are your adorable size 7 shoes soon. Give it a few weeks after the Babalah is born.

And thanks for posting the link to the shoe porn. As if I needed another reason to look at that site again!


My husband is the only one who wears iron-able pants in this family. And I refuse to iron them. And so does he. So he wears wrinkly khakis to work. And then HIS MOTHER made a crack to me about her son wearing wrinkly pants and did I not know how to iron? I retorted I ceratinly did, but apparently she had never taught him. After that, she sent home a Gap purchase of several pairs of wrinkle-free khakis. How's that for a good MIL story?


Zappo's -- love the selection, but beware the price point. Not always good. Do some research to make sure. Kitten heels are a good way to go as well. Banana Republic usually does some good ones -- and when on sale a good deal! Nordstroms online shoe selection is typically good -- and again, good sales = happy feet!


Boy can I relate to your 'starting a blog' comments, Amy!

My OCD has me linkin' my name (see below) to a damn posting of some pics that won't make a bit of sense to anyone...instead of the BLOG I was/am/going to create! I had a blog before, but like you - the OCD will simply NOT permit me to start one until everything is just so - and, well, right now, it's just so 'NOT'!


Amalah? You've rocked my world. I go to the promised land.

And for the record? My boss is going to hate you for the lack of work the rest of my day!


KT: Try and too. If you sign up for their newsletters you get sale coupons! Nut, it's not like a buy shoes alot. Only once or twice a week, really.

Lisa B

Both posts were very entertaining. As usual. You are brilliant. :-)

Chris! THE place to go to if you're in the market for all-black Chuck Taylors.


Ha! :~) Shoe porn!!!! Well, yes, I think I do get that kind of funny feeling inside during my encounters with Zappos, now that you mention it....just waaaaay too excited about the multi-view.


I got the shoes for my wedding from Zappo's. Couldn't decide which ones I liked, and since I'm sort of prone to OCD, I ordered 6 pairs so I could try them all on, and then I returned the 5 pairs I didn't want. Love that free return policy!

And our ironing board really is in the garage. Neither my husband nor I really know how to iron. My method is to throw the wrinkled article of clothing into the dryer for 5 minutes, which works on the really major, offensive wrinkles. Beyond that... meh. I just can't seem to make myself care.

Real Girl

Every day I pet my gorgeous pointy toed heels from Zappos while cooing sweet nothings. The *best* thing about the Big Z? The free shipping AND free return! Hello? Parted clouds? Angels singing?

My strategy in coping with the volume is to view by brand. I tend to know which brands I like from magazines and internet searches everywhere. Now all I have to do is get them on discount. Where?

Oh. You know.

You know.

Lisa V

Total ASSVICE- I got beautiful d*****d's for my ears for my 40th birthday (yes, I am an old hag). Anyway, loved them, wore them constantly. Lost one down the shower. Add them to your homeowner's policy. They are easy to losse and it doesn't cost much to insure them. I wish I had, because now I only have one. Sob.


Delurking for the first time here, and I love the site.

Our ironing board is still in the nursery, too. I suppose we'll have to find it a new home before January. Until then, the crib makes a great clothes rack.


They can do amazing things at the hairdresser. I was in a wedding recently and another bridesmaid who has short hair wanted a french twist. Bitch got a french twist and it looked like her hair must have been long down, but it wasn't. I was jealous.



hahaha! I did that to you once! I now feel horrible and lame and dorky for doing it. I'm sorry! :)


If you love Zappos, you'll love ... all right, you'll strongly like Shoebuy. It's similar to Zappos, with most of the same brands, but not only are Google-able coupons readily available to sweeten the deal (has Zappos ever had a coupon? No.), if you place an order within 60 days of another order, you get an additional 10% off. Play the site right, and you can score that 10% on top of a 15%, and you'll hardly miss the selection of couture and Zappos' instantaneous shipping.


"...but my shoe collection SUCKS dead goats."

I laughed so hard I just spit pop out. All over my keyboard. My new keyboard.

Anyway, yes, too much hair makes updos HELL. I have long-ish hair that is straight and fine, and when I was in my best friend's wedding this summer, they attempted to put my hair up in a curly, pretty, updo.

Total time for wedding party (4 bridesmaids and the bride) to have hair done = 4 1/2 hours.
Total time to have MY hair done = 2 1/2 hours. (Not to mention 60+ bobby pins)

So not only did I take 3 times longer than my fellow bridesmaids to get my hair done, I had so many bobby pins pulling my hair so tight just to keep it up that I ended up taking lots and lots of advil all day long just so that I wouldn't look like a crabby b*tch in the wedding photographs.

Lisa V

I just. read that part. about properly punctuated sentences. Shit.

Her Ladyship

Dude, I know EXACTLY which Hecht's you are talking about. Their shoe department always looks like a bomb went off in it - boxes and shoes strewn everywhere. I've pretty much given up on getting anything there, as nine times out of ten, they don't have my size.


I second the motion. Cheaper than zappos!


So jealous of the anniversary gift. I've been wanting a pair for years, but settled for the engagement and wedding rings instead. I guess it was a fair trade. :)


More shoe tips:

and my personal favourite: ebay!

Yes, you can get good deals on new, gorgeous shoes!

Won't say that all of the above are necessarily the cheapest, but I believe in quality too (and your poster obviously does too if she does not believe in Payless).


I am wearing a pair of shoes. I have two pairs of in a box next to my desk waiting for our not-really-surly-it's-all-just-a-facade-in-a-brown-uniform UPS guy to carry them away (free!) back to And I have two pairs of shoes winging their way toward me and due to arrive tomorrow morning just in time for me to runwalkstrollpretendtoclimbahill in my office so as not to scuff them or dirty them in case I want to return them (free!). Yup,'s super-fast free back and forth shipping has hooked me fair and square. Of course, shoe love is fickle love and now I will spend my evening exploring all the other shoe links in the comments section!


I need quality shoes. I own one pair of Payless shoes -- a weak moment of desperation. They are cute. They HURT.

Thank you all for the FANtabulous list of sites. You are my heroes. No one where I work will actually notice my oh-so-stylin' shoes, but I will love, love, love my feet.

Goin' shoe shoppin' now. My that sounds better than goin' fishin'.

Poor dead goat has been released.


Zappos really needs to start sending you money. Or free shoes.

Annie G.

Wow! You answered my hair question! I feel all tingly!

Seriously, thank you thank you for the advice, and I will call my hairdresser tomorrow to make an appointment for wedding hair practices. And I promise not to let it get too long!

Annie G.

PS: also I promise that I will not be doing my own hair for my wedding. I am going to get the very nice man (and very good) who did my hair from the time I was 9 to the time I was 28 do it, and if he cannot I will have him recommend someone. Because he is a smart professional hairdresser in NYC and I am sure he can either do something classy or recommend someone who can. I will be doing a trial run with him next month when I am a bridesmaid for a high school friend.

And also? Zappo's rocks. And so do you, Amy.


Your mama is in my thoughts & prayers; as are you, Jason, and


Lisa V-who-lost-an-earring-in-the-shower!
Don't despair! You may still be able to retrieve it, depending on the plumbing! Chances are excellent that it is trapped in the S-curve of your pipe. Call a plumber.
Shoebuy is excellent. They accidentally sent me a duplicate pair of shoes (nice ones, too!) and told me to keep them when I called it to their attention. How often does THAT happen?!

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