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:
{Runkeeper}
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

Friday, 24 July 2015

Favorite Things 7-24-15

DIY
I love this DIY graphic poster from Nostalgiecat. We have a big blank wall in our kitchen that is crying out for art work but can't be drilled or nailed into, so something impactful but lightweight like this would be perfect.

Style 
I just bought these jeans from Mint Velvet and I love them - such a good fit and I love the biker-esque detail.

Find
I've been on the hunt for a small desk since we moved to London, and I'm seriously considering pulling the trigger on one of West Elm's new mid-century mini desks. (It comes in black, white and wood too.)
{US link // UK link}

Property
I'm always stalking Chicago properties - I still miss our lovely loft. This rustic modern loft in Lincoln Park had me at hello.

Kid Picks
You may have already seen this one floating around the interwebz, but I still can't get over how awesome this Ikea play kitchen makeover is.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Ideal Home Show Discoveries

I went to the Ideal Home Show last weekend, and I made a few new discoveries.

There are three furnished show homes in the middle of the exhibition, and wandering around, there were quite a few pretty things that caught my eye. When I looked each one up on the source list, almost all of them were from French Connection. I had no idea French Connection even had a homeware line. Having since perused their website, I'm even more smitten, and the price points are reasonable too. Very exciting. Here are a few of my picks:
Clockwise from top left:

The show homes were steel-framed modular construction, which can be erected and rendered, ready to move into, within ten days of arriving at a site. I love this idea, and I am really drawn to this floor plan, from House Beautiful Homes, which I think cost around £170K (plus land, obviously):
{Ground}

{Upper}
I love the equal-sized kids bedrooms, and the fact that you could make that downstairs bedroom a little studio flat and let it out. I imagine it would be near impossible to find land to build on around where we live, but I'm definitely going to look into it. It's got a lot more appeal than renovating an old place and all the stress that would incur.

Here are a few other companies/shops I came across that stood out:

Penelope Taylor (mainly cushions)

Kirath Ghundoo (wallpapers)


Finally, there were a few convertible desk/beds on display, but I wasn't keen on the aesthetics of the ones at the show. It's a great space-saving idea though, and I like this simple design that I've since found from John Strand (which is £1620, in case you were curious):

Friday, 27 February 2015

The Floor Plan

I drew up a floor plan for this house before we'd even moved in, because I wanted to get an idea of how (and if) everything would fit. Here's what we're working with...
It's always a little enlightening to figure out what the exact square footage is...just a little under 900, which is even smaller than I thought (the listing said 1000). Gotta love London!

I do think it's plenty big enough for our family of four though, as long as we keep it organised and efficient. So far that's involved building a lot of Pax wardrobes! It took a few months to figure out the layout, but this is the gist of how we're living so far:
I've tweaked the living room here so it looks like I want it to when it's finished. I'll share my mood boards for that soon (there's a navy Chesterfield involved, but I'm having a hard time convincing the Mr so far).

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Neutral Master Bedroom Reveal

Welcome to the one room I decorated in our old house. We were only there for ten months, so I wasn't planning on doing much, but we needed all new bedroom furniture after we sold our rather large American furniture before moving to the UK.
The room was a weird shape, because the back wall was angled, and it was pretty small, but it had a lot of natural light and, although I probably wouldn't have picked the wallpaper myself, I liked it. I'd been after a neutral master bedroom for a while, as I mentioned regarding this design board back in 2011.
I wanted a storage bed, because I was going for small space efficiency. The one I picked (from John Lewis) has two deep drawers at the foot of the bed, and another one in each side, which meant we could get away without a dresser. (There wasn't really space for one anyway.) It also has pull-out side tables, which I don't like, so we just keep them tucked away and use real side tables instead.
The bed can be bought with a head board, but it was a bit too "contemporary" for me, so I nixed it in favor of an upholstered one with a soft arch and nail head trim. I love this head board!
The Ikea bedside cabinets came with the house, and they were neutral enough that it made sense to use them until we found something we really liked.
I love the brass lamp bases too. I was planning to keep our old ones and rewire them, but one of them broke in the move (sniff) and they would have been too big here anyway. I'll probably replace the shades eventually but they work for now.
Flanking the bed are two prints from Catalina Island, which is where we honeymooned. They were in our loft bedroom too.
We also kept the bedding we had in the States, which I've raved about before and have no plans to ever change. It's gorgeous and requires no ironing, which suits me perfectly.
One more close up of the swoon worthy headboard. It's much better than I could DIY, so I was quite happy to spend a little on it.
I'm definitely sold on neutral bedrooms now!
Sources:
Lamp bases - Laura Ashley (sold out) // Lamp shades // Bedding - West Elm (sold out) // Pillow // Storage Bed // Head Board // Wallpaper