Monday, 19 October 2015

Living Room Progress & News

Firstly, news: we are moving again - boxes are being packed as I type. This makes five houses in five years. It wasn't planned, but we're renters, and sometimes that's just how it goes. On the plus side, our new place is marginally bigger, cheaper, and much closer to the kids' school. It's also a pretty similar layout, so most of the rooms that I was on the verge of finishing here will transfer pretty easily.

The living room definitely had it's challenges: it's long (ish) and narrow, quite dark, and a thoroughfare to the kitchen. I didn't get a full room shot apparently, but you get an idea of how it was laid out from the floor plan.
The house has literally no storage aside from one tiny cupboard on the third floor, so we needed to find somewhere for tools, cleaning supplies, coats, medical supplies, bulbs, batteries, etc. I bought a couple of Ikea Pax units and ran them along the kitchen wall, and they are freaking awesome, my friends.
Seriously, they made a huge difference to the room. They kind of blend in, but the doors make them sculptural, and the down lighters are lovely at night. And they hold so much stuff.
I added handles from Anthropolgie, which were expensive and terrible quality, but they sure are pretty (should've taken a closer shot of those...oops).

My other favorite thing is the gallery wall above the sofa. I had been meaning to update some of the family photos, and honestly it feels a bit squished together - I'd like to have spaced the frames out just a smidge more, but I still liked it.
And the pillow situation isn't ideal. That was on my to-do list too.
The other major challenge in this house is that it is tiny and full of awkward angles. The sofa wouldn't fit through the front door and ended up having to be carried through the neighbours' house, over the garden fence, and through our french doors in the kitchen. Bit of a mission...we'll have to get it out the same way.

Our double-wide dresser wouldn't fit up the stairs either, so we stuck it in the living room as a TV stand, but that actually worked out really well, and I loved it in there.
Having a massive TV in a little room could've been overpowering, but because we stuck it in the nook under the stairs, off center on the larger dresser, it wasn't as offensive as it could've been. It was hard to get picture that were pulled back enough to show you, but the one below gives you an idea.
I really thought this set up would be fairly temporary until I was able to properly design the space. The plan, which I never got to execute, involved a new rug, new cushions, tweaking that gallery wall, and tying it into the other end of the room, which houses our desk but was honestly too horrible to share.

All this moving is frustrating, I'm sure, for anyone reading about my never-finished plans, but I am seriously crossing my fingers that the next house will be a keeper for at least until we are able to buy our own home in a few years.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Favorite Things 17-8-15

I discovered this Etsy shop via the owner's house tour on A Beautiful Mess (which if you haven't seen, you should also check out - it's lovely). And her Instagram feed is full of gorgeousness...

I recently bought this dress for my brother-in-law's upcoming wedding at the end of the month.

I've got two finds this week - I love this outdoor sofa, and it's on super sale - less than £100...
...and seriously, a Chesterfield for £300?!

Love the rustic and industrial features in this Air BnB rental in Madrid.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Sneak Peak: Sebastian's Room

Sebastian's room sits on the top story of our three-level home. It's the only bedroom with an en suite, but it's a bit of a funky shape - long and narrow - so it wouldn't work as the master. Lucky boy!

It took a few months to nail down the layout, but I think I've finally cracked it.
I want the kids to potentially be able to share this room if/when they stop terrorizing each other so much, and it also serves as our guest bedroom, hence the two beds.

It's not finished, but it's getting there. We rent and I don't think we're allowed to paint (I haven't asked, but I'm assuming), so I used decals to get a wallpaper effect. The wall that both beds are up against was looking so big and bare before, and the decals have made a huge difference.
I've upholstered the two beds, but they're still waiting for trim. The bedding is almost a done deal, I just want to add blankets and maybe a throw pillow or two, and I love the military-esque chest of drawers.
I haven't got much up on the walls yet, but when Room to Grow asked if we'd like to review one of their Teaching Wall Clocks, I knew exactly where it would go.
As you can tell from this not-at-all-staged photo, Sebastian has just learnt to tell the time. He was so excited about the clock and he gets a big kick out of practicing his new skills. I figured it would be useful to know just how late we are running in the mornings.
I also hung the bicycle hooks he had in his old room, so he's got somewhere at his level to hang his backpack and jackets. The little birds were a gift and the bell is handy for hearing whether the kids are getting into the one and only storage cupboard in the house. It's full of Christmas decorations and camping stuff - nothing that they need to get into!
Still to do:
- Figure out toy storage
- Buy bookcase
- Add trim to upholstered beds
- Wall art
- Buy and hang shelves

I was given a free clock for this post from Room to Grow, but all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the companies that support Living Pretty!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Favorite Things 8-4-15

I love Kristine's no-sew rolled window valance over at the Paint Hive - so simple but so cute!

One of my favorite day beds is now on sale.

We got some family photos taken last weekend. I was going for casual and complimentary, vs matchy-matchy. This is what we wore...
Mum: Cardigan // Necklace // Top // Jeans // Shoes
Boy: Shirt // Shorts // Shoes
Girl: Dress // Sandals

I was blown away by this 3 bed house in San Francisco. The decor isn't my taste, but the architectural details are just gorgeous.

Monday, 27 July 2015

My Go-To Running Kit

I started running in September 2012, and I'm a true convert. It's the only form of exercise that's consistently sustainable for me. Before I ran, I'd start a new workout regime going to the gym or doing fitness DVDs, do well, lose some weight, then go on holiday or something, miss a week or two and lose my will power. That's not an issue with running - so far I've clocked up the miles in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Florida, Louisiana, California, Belgium, the Netherlands, and a bunch of places in the UK. It's even more awesome running while I'm away, because I get to explore so much more of wherever I am than I would otherwise.
{Views from a few of my runs - clockwise from top left:
Buckingham Palace, Lake Michigan, Indianapolis, Salisbury Cathedral and Gent}
I've run in 90 degree weather (ugh), -10 degree weather (awesome), in rain, in snow, with a baby, with two babes in a double jogger (also ugh), in organised races, by myself, with a little group, and with thousands. It's hard, and it's awesome.

{My Must-Haves}
There are a few things that make running a lot easier and more fun...
1. Sweaty Betty Double Time Tank: I will never have washboard abs, thanks to my two gorgeous but rather large babies (thank you, stretch marks). I've got this double-layered tank in a few different styles, and I love that it hides the tummy jiggle but it's still cool to run in. I try to catch new versions in the end-of-season sales, where it's usually half price (there are a few in the sale now).

2. Brooks Ravenna running shoes: Before I found these, I got shin splints every time I tried running and it always made me stop. I've owned two pairs so far and I have no plans to buy any other brand ever. They're awesome.

3. Lululemon running crops: I've been through a fair few running crops, but I keep going back to these. They're expensive, but they're crazy comfy and cute too. My favorites were their Pace crops, but they're not currently available.

4. Moving Comfort Fiona sports bra: I own a few of these, and again, I'm very loyal. They've taken me from almost a post-baby DD to a C, and held the girls up every step of the way.

5. Garmin GPS watch: I believe this is one of the more affordable GPS watches out there, and it's more of an honourable mention than a must-have, since I don't take it out with me every time I run. It has issues around tall buildings and trees, but as far as I know, all GPS watches find that hard, and once it's pinned my location down, it's proved consistently accurate.

6. Balega running socks: I like below-the-ankle socks, and because these have a lip, they never fall down or rub. I have similar ones from other brands, but these are my faves because they're comfier and more breathable.

{My Favorite Running/Fitness Apps}
There are a few Apps that I love:
There are a lot of tracking apps out there, and I got Runkeeper because a couple of my friends had it. I can't speak for any others, because I haven't found a need to try anything else. It's simple and accurate. Knowing my pace is motivating, and I like being able to keep track of my runs. I just started using one of their training programs, and adding interval training to my routine has improved my speed and been pretty motivating.

{My Fitness Pal}
This one's essentially a calorie counter, and again it's well-designed and easy to use. You input your height, weight, age, activity level, and how much you want to lose, and it tells you how much you should be eating to achieve that. You can scan barcodes, which makes it very quick to input what you're eating.

{Zombies, Run!}
This one's fun every now and then, although I'd get bored if I used it all the time. It's essentially an audio book - you're living in a zombie-infested world, getting sent out on supply, recon and other missions. It plays audio clips in between each song on your playlist, and you can chose to enable zombie chases in between, where you have to increase your speed for long enough to outrun the zombies. You pick up supplies as you run, and if the zombies get you, you drop everything. Once you're done (missions can last about 30 mins or about an hour), you can use your supplies to build your base, constructing buildings and fortifying your defences. It's totally nerdy, but entertaining.

{My Playlist}
I tend to run to songs with a beat that matches my pace (usually about 10 mins a mile). Here's what's in my ears while I'm chugging along. I will warn you, there's a reasonable amount of cheese in there, but at least it's tempered with some better stuff! And if you have any suggestions with a similar beat, please let me know in the comments - I'm always on the lookout for tunes to add to my playlist.

Doctor ? - Orbital
(always my warm up song - it takes me about half a mile, so I can judge my pace based on the song)
- Sail - Awol Nation
- Imma Be - Black Eyed Peas
- Boom Boom Pow - Black Eyed Peas
I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas
- Girls & Boys - Blur
- Parklife - Blur
- Call Me Maybe - Carly Rae Jepsen
- The Salmon Dance - Chemical Brothers
- Bruises - Chairlift
- Fix Up, Look Sharp - Dizzee Rascal
- I Like It - Enrique Iglesias feat. Pitbull
- Insomnia - Faithless
- Buck Rogers - Feeder
- Tik Tok - Ke$ha
- Poker Face - Lady Gaga
- The Cave - Mumford & Sons
- Babel - Mumford & Sons
Tootled - Orbital
- Waving Not Drowning - Orbital
- Spitfire - The Prodigy
- Mindfields -The Prodigy
- Gangham Style - PSY
- Don't Stop the Music - Rihanna
- S&M - Rihanna
Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke feat. TI & Pharell
- Dynamite - Tiao Cruz
- Break Your Heart - Tiao Cruz feat. Ludacris
- Born Slippy - Underworld