Post-apocalypse; or surviving jet-lag, & vacation review

Jet-lag. Oh, you fun little treat. If jet-lag were the ‘it’ item of the month, then I would be in luck. Because jet-lag is certainly living large and in-charge in my life this week. We are post 6 days since we returned from the US, and I’m still hitting snooze to the point where I’ve started taking my alarm into bed with me so I don’t have to get up to hit reset.

Nicht gut, meine freund.

Tomorrow the kids go back to school, which means I have the school run, which means the alarm will be going off at 6:15. I’m having trouble going to bed before 11, falling asleep before midnight, and rarely sleeping all night long {last nights highlights include obnoxious drunks walking down the street at 3 am, the dog throwing up at 4 am, and then she decided at 7 am that she’d like to get up and go outside. Note: dogs do not care that you would like a nice sleep-in.}

61 days.

61 days left on the Great London Adventure and I am most looking forward to the fact that we will be spending 9 of those days in other countries {Ireland, Scotland, Norway} I am, as they say, done. Home is where the heart is, and my heart is definitely at home in Seattle. It seems strange that I am so looking forward to going back to one of the rainiest places, but when you have views like these just driving down the freeway, how could you not want to be there??

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Seeing that -those glorious mountains- never, ever gets old. Even in awful phone snaps.

I had planned to blog about the Spring 10×10 but I ended up not taking my computer with me on holiday, and that’s good; as I would have had zero time to actually write anything. We pretty much spent vacation {especially our brief trip to Seattle} going from 6 am to 9 pm without much of a break. The days were full, and productive {the kitchen is fully planned and picked, our contractor has already picked up our granite slab we chose at the warehouse. that’s a post for another day.} I did take some admittedly terrible selfie outfit shots which you can find on my Instagram. At some point I might get around to writing more about it.

The trip to the US was really good, and we managed to go a great hike with my sister in law aka The Hiking Guru. The day truly was spectacular {even if it was 4.2 miles!}

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You could even see the skyline of New York City in the distance at one of the lookout points.

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I can see many hikes ahead in our future back in Seattle {which is kind of the mecca of hiking/outdoor activities}, because we all really enjoyed it. We also enjoyed a walk around Princeton and the campus, which I had never been to before (the campus, I’ve been to the town a few times). The weather turned so nice we stood outside eating ice cream in the shade and didn’t even get cold. {I love NJ in the spring!}

Vacation is always welcome, even if I am glad this was our last back and forth to the US {because all I want right now is a nap}. Even though we were crazy busy most of the days, I definitely know that I felt relaxed in a way that I never am in London. Maybe it’s just being home, in my own country, or in my city, but I think it might be awhile before I get the expat itch again.

It might be a good long while indeed.

 

*journal style blogs are out it seems, but I’m in the thought of who gives a peach?

Vacation Challenge: Spring 10×10

When Lee at StyleBee announced that she will be hosting another 10×10 fashion challenge with Caroline at Un-Fancy, I did a cheer. Especially since they will be starting on Monday April 10th. I’ll be starting on Saturday the 8th because that’s the day we leave for a ten day holiday in the US. Now, because I do not seem to like anything simple {ever}, this could have been a particularly hard 10×10 to plan for. We are flying to the east coast (NJ), then the Husband and I fly off to the west coast {Seattle} for a few days {to take care of house reno/car buying stuff for July}, flying back to NJ for the Easter holiday and visiting, then the kids and I fly back to London {while the Husband flies back to Seattle to work for a few weeks}.

That’s a lot of flying, and a whole lot of temperatures/holidays/outift-needing-to-pull-double-duty going on.

I thought this would be really difficult to plan out, like last time when I did the winter 10×10. But in only 20 minutes {maybe less}, I had planned out each piece {plus a spare outfit because holidays + me: I tend to need an extra outfit, and I almost always somehow forget to pack socks}.

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AllSaints/Braintree (ethically made)/Mint Velvet/GAP/Hackwith House (ethically made)/Madewell/Mint Velvet/Levi’s

The best part is that I love everything I picked out. Maybe I am starting to figure out my style?? I don’t know, but I did stick to a color palette that is neutral – black, grey, white, and one red top. I was able to see each piece layering and combining and coordinating. The one thing I tried not to do {which I think is where I always go wrong} is plan out each daily outfit in advance. Yes, I semi-thought about how each piece would combine but I didn’t solidly write any combination down and plan it out. Because I picked such a basic/neutral palette I think it’ll all work without needing to be planned out.

That’s a refreshing change from my usual structured, I must know exactly what I’m wearing attitude. I am a planner. I’m about to turn 40 so I don’t see that changing in my lifetime. Not knowing what’s happening this week, and next week, and two months from now really freaks me out {just ask the Husband}. This will be what I pack unless the weather throws me a curveball in the next few days before I put it all in my suitcase.

Challenge Goals

For this challenge, I want to see how I feel wearing a more muted, neutral color palette. I am really happy with what I’ve put together by seeing it, now to see if I feel as good wearing it. This challenge will help me to see if I am moving in the right direction with my closet overall by choosing a more streamlined look. Clean lines and geometric shapes make me very happy in other areas of my life, so hopefully that also holds true for my closet.

10×10 Selection Criteria

When I selected my items, I knew I had to be able to get the most possible wear out of them. I will be on holiday, so if I didn’t bring it with me…I won’t be swapping anything out. It will force me to come up with solving any problems that might arise. The time difference {ranging from 5 hours to 8 hours}, general jet lag, busyness of the trip, and general keeping my eye on temperature fluctuations are going to be demanding. The items for the trip had to follow these ideas:

  • Must be comfortable. I will be on a plane four times, the shortest trip will be 5 hours long.
  • I also needed to be able to layer. Temperatures between NJ and Seattle in spring can widely vary, and one should always plan for rain when going anywhere near Seattle. {waterproof coat, check}
  • Comfortable shoes. I wish I could just make one pair work, but the issues with my foot simply make packing a pair of trainers a necessity. I’m going to limit myself to two pairs of shoes.
  • The items needed to cover a variety of situations. From Easter dinner to walking around a slab yard picking out countertops. While I am favoring multiple white items this time around, I’ll keep those for the less dirty days on the agenda.

End goal

I am hoping to get closer to realize what my style is. I’ve been reading The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees {which is brilliant}. There has been a lot of note taking, and nodding along, and one {semi-successful} dressing room trip. I really want to be so happy with my closet that I can stop online impulse buying, which is definitely an issue for me. I *think* once we return to the US and I know where to shop and can just get in my car and go, this will taper off {as I didn’t have such an issue before we moved to London. I will also have the dedicated space to once again pursue the things that used to take up my time, like painting and refinishing furniture.}

The biggest challenge is that we are sort of between seasons. Some days it is cold enough to wear a sweater in the morning, and again at night, but not quite warm enough to pull out anything on the light side. I’m worried we will roll over into summer and I will have my closet crisis all over again. There are a lot of things I like about my summer wardrobe {which is mostly packed away} but I do know it has a lot of color. I need to stop thinking about trying to change everything all at once, changing it, and then not being happy with that either.

Is anyone else going to be a part of the 10×10 Spring Challenge? It was such fun in winter and this little community sprang up on Instagram. I came across some really great people I otherwise wouldn’t have know simply by using and searching the designated hashtags. {See Lee’s post for more information, and all the details of the challenge!}

See you there!

Buried alive in my kitchen {5,000 miles away}

How many of us bemoan the lack of posting? I have been particularly bad at getting anything up these days other than inspiration posts. The calendar is very full my friends, and next month is even busier. And so is May. And June is moving month so we can forget anything remotely lengthy happening.

I thought I would share a bit about what has my mind so busy that I’m even dreaming about it now {literally dreaming about it. I wake up freaked out that my kitchen is purple with yellow flowers.}

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As I’ve mentioned, we are preparing to renovate our kitchen in Seattle {it really needs to lose the 2006 look}. It is crunch time. Work begins around July 5th. Selection needs to be Final Answer in about two weeks, so countertop slabs can be reserved, long-lead item orders placed and a construction crew booked in. We’ll be spending a day and half in Seattle with our contractor picking finishes {the other half day we’ll be ordering/buying cars. A very fun but no less anxiety producing task for me}

That’s a whole lot of pressure to get it right {yo. I want to add yo to everything these days – and frequently do in my head. I started watching Breaking Bad for the first time (thanks Netflix!) and I can’t seem to help it. yo} This renovation thing is only happening once. Period. Full stop.

Because it’s expensive. And it’s hard to make your spouse agree with your vision when he actually has the NERVE to have an opinion.

We negotiated. I wanted to add hardwood to the family room, he didn’t {he won}. I wanted to remove the cabinets on the right side of the window and do a floating shelf {I won}. In the big picture, we have a similar vision, we just differed on some things, and I’m sure we’ll have to employ more negotiating as we move forward. It does feel exciting to be at the stage we are at.

Over the last couple of weeks we hired a designer here in London to help us visualize our goals. I could have done this myself but it helps to have a professional provide her thoughts. We now have a solid image of what we want {even though it turned out a bit opposite of what we originally thought we wanted}.

This is what we’ve chosen thus far:

  • Whirlpool hood (to replace the silver country monstrosity)
  • Elkay sink (wide enough for baking dishes)
  • Paint: Farrow & Ball Down Pipe for the island, Cornforth White for the walls, and Strong White for the cabinets
  • Caesarstone Raven (for the outer lying countertops around the kitchen)
  • More contemporary squared handles for cabinets & drawers
  • Ann Sacks Lucian Field tiles for the backsplash (currently the color is ‘oxygen’)
  • Pental Quartz White Fusion (for island countertop)
  • Natural tone wood floors (refinishing existing and adding hardwood to dining room)

We haven’t sorted out paint colors for the stairwell (which is a very unpleasant brown), the downstairs guest bathroom (even darker brown, and that includes the ceiling as well…). With the openness of our foyer/stairwell/dining room/hallway, it’s hard to know where to stop the color without shelling out to repaint the entire house (in truth it needs it, it needed it when we bought it 3 years ago – the previous owners picked the green and brown scheme – but have you seen what it costs to repaint a room these days? That is not cheap. I can do most of it myself but the two-story on the stairs with a ladder is not my cup of tea.) We also need to finalize the exact design of the island (which will be made smaller in width but longer to move the seating to the end, adding big drawers instead of cabinets and building in a wine fridge and wine storage area.)

Things like a light fixture for the dining room, redoing the weird mirrored area, and deciding one hundred percent on the smaller items (like floor color, I’m still on the fence about a light stain). These keep me up at night.

My head is spinning with all the decisions. It is a lot more than I thought. We’ve built two houses through builders, and you basically pick package A or B or C and it comes with everything all coordinated and decided. It’s much harder when you are in charge of all those choices.

But it’s also a lot more fun.

What’s been occupying your mind lately? Are you tackling any renovation projects?

 

 

A random collection of inspiration

I couldn’t come up with one theme for an inspiration post (as I have in the past like fashion or forests). There are so many different ways to find inspiration for so many different things.

This sink is off the charts crazy, unpractical, and probably a nightmare to clean. But just look at it. It’s a piece of sculpture. People would flock to the bathroom just to look at it. Imagine how the water flows down each little step in the design?

I love Scandinavian design. And a mid-century modern one? I’ll take it. The colors, the style, the comfort and hygge factor are very high in this little corner. The wallpaper makes a huge impact without making too much of a statement.

I doubt there’s much that’s comfortable about these chairs but I’m sure comfort wasn’t the point of making them. Take the sink from the first picture, and add these chairs to the same house, I’d never, ever leave. Inspiring.

This Great Dane is the gentle giant of the dog world. If he wasn’t bigger than I am, I would be snuggled up against him with my Doxie in my lap watching Netflix. As much as I’d (sorta kinda mostly) love another dog, I can’t see this guy fitting into my life. So adoring him from afar will have to do.

That’s sound advice. I definitely can’t be a ballerina if I continue to let cake be my guiding force of life.

Damn it. Let me eat cake!

(It is a lovely thought in all seriousness, and very true.)

If we want to talk dream home…this would be a top contender for me. Despite the fact that I hate being cold, and have lived in enough snowy places to last a lifetime, this house is just amazing. Again, there’s a sculptural theme running through it, and I bet the bands of light that fall across the rooms are pretty spectacular. It’s likely unpractical, but until I live in it, who can say for sure?

I like this display, the common thread of colors and type of pictures. It’s pleasing to look at, and a good use of a ‘dead space’ in the home. I’d love to do something similar in my staircase. Unfortunately, our staircase is a giant curved wall, so repainting it from repressive brown to something lighter and brighter will just have to suffice.

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Is anything inspiring you this Tuesday? Where do you go to find inspiration? To see what else I find inspiring, visit me here.

Inspiration: Effortless Dressing

When people write about fashion, often times they say a person should have a style icon (i.e. celebrity) with a style they admire. (or flat out wish to rip off if they had the means). I pin a lot of looks, and a lot of them are not exactly fit to my lifestyle (vacuuming in this gown maybe??)

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Maybe she does, who knows? The more down to earth (and reasonable) side of me knows that I should stick with simple clothes, interchangeable, and items that can work in multiple ways.

source: Pinterest 

These women – Victoria Beckham, Clemence Poesy, Jennifer Aniston – all have simple, clean styles, and for the most part, practical styles that could work for me as well.

I am also a huge fan of Sophia Coppola. She’s beautiful without trying to be. Her style is also very French chic, and seems like it is effortless (I have a Effortless- Sophie Coppola Pinterest board that I continually drool over).

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There’s nothing particularly complicated about her look, she knows what looks good on her, and the fit is especially key to her look. The pieces are high quality (and I do think that does make a difference.)

Recently, I looked through my own closet (as I’m off to discover Blitz vintage to uncover some treasures.) I saw a lot of things…but not a lot that can do multiple duty. I have lots of color – pinks, blues, reds – and way too many stripes (my weakness). It’s time to change things up, or at least add some more neutral items.

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pardon the chaos, but that is literally what I have to work with for a closet. I have one small space upstairs about half the size with a top hang bar and a lower hang bar, neither of which allow a shirt to hang without touching the bottom, I am used to hanging everything in my huge suburban American walk-in closet, so this has been challenging to say the least

Upstairs in the ‘dressing room/useless space/office’, I have several bags of items waiting to go to the consignment store back home (where I’ve had good luck getting at least some money for items I no longer wear.) I do believe if I bring something in, something needs to go out unless the new item fills a specific need. At least in theory. In practice, I’m still working on it.

Yesterday after watching this video on HuffPostStyle, I made my list for Blitz (and I fought the urge to jump on the tube right then and there, which is progress.)

NO STRIPES

  • denim skirt
  • cropped sweater in rust/spice
  • swingy sweater in rust/spice/earth tone
  • long line cardigan in grey/black/neutral
  • loafers/brogue shoes
  • brown tote/crossbodybag

The loafers have been an item I’ve been looking for since forever. I love these ones from Everlane, but I have most definitely learned my lesson after the import duties/customs charges incident a few weeks ago. More than learned that lesson, thanks. Once summer comes along and we are back in Seattle, then maybe my Everlane loafers will be in the cards.

I do have a denim skirt I thrifted from thredUP, but while I love the quality, and the responsible values of AG, it simply does not fit me right. It’s big in the waist and I am not comfortable with the height of the back slit. I should have returned it (one of the greatest things about thredUP), but I didn’t. It sits, being unworn. A denim skirt is a valuable item in a closet because it can dressed up, maybe with this top:

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Or kept casual with a sweatshirt and scarf, or cropped sweater and under layer like this:

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Boots, trainers, sandals, even heels and clogs; the denim skirt is every bit as versatile as the the perfect pair of jeans. The other items on my list like the long cardigan and perfect brown tote (which does not exist!) are also items I’ve been searching for. The big difference between past searches and now, is I’ve actually written it down on my phone and I am determined to ONLY purchase something if it’s on my list. (something every capsule closet blog tells you to do, make a list and stick to it).

If I manage to find anything on my list that fits within that effortless style I am looking for, I will be very happy. If I don’t find anything, that’s okay too because the hunt is half the fun right?

Do you have a style icon, or a style you are looking to emulate?

I just wanted to add, as there have been some blogs/articles on affiliate links of late. None of my links are affiliated in anyway {you may find links in posts from 3+ years that were ads/reviews I was compensated for – usually with a product. each of those posts are very clearly marked as such}. If I link a product or website, I simply like the product or want to point you to what I’m mentioning. If I ever do have an affiliate link, I will mention it very clearly. Because if I made money from blogging that’d be cool! 

How about a little tree-hugging, car style?

One of the things that occupies my mind these days, is deciding on what car to buy when we return to the US in July. I know, most of you are thinking, that’s months away, and yes, it is. But I am a closet car junkie (or not so closet maybe). I love cars. I love auto shows. One of the biggest disappointments of my trip to Seattle in November was that I was one week too early to go to the Seattle Auto Show. Like I tried to think up excuses of any kind in order to stay type of disappointment.

I really do like auto shows.

I have always been tuned into recycling and environmental awareness, but as things keep charging towards a total meltdown on the climate change front, I’ve become very concerned about what I can do to help. I’ve been watching the extraordinary program Years of Living Dangerously, (now on season 2) and have started reading the book, Climate Change: What Everyone Needs To Know by Joseph Romm. Leonardo DiCaprio’s film Before The Flood is also worth watching.

That leads me back to cars, one of the biggest greenhouse gas polluters of CO2. The increase of hybrid cars has been fantastic over the last 5 years, the most famous (in my mind) of hybrids, the Toyota Prius. I have always liked the Prius, and almost put my name on a list for one when they first were introduced.

But I am not in love with the most recent body style, which after enduring years of the hideous (but wonderful) Subaru Outback, I’d like my next car to have a little bit of beauty. So my next car needs to at least have some. One of the big selling points for finding a used Prius is that after a year or two of trying out the hybrid life, I could then pass this car on to the Boy {who {pinch me} will have a drivers license}. Then I get to play Let’s Buy A Car all over again. At which point Tesla should have the Model 3 out…

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and boy, is that purrrty.

There are plenty of things in the works in the hybrid, hybrid-electric, and electric car departments. Nissan has the Rogue hybrid for those in a more mini-sport-ute kind of mindset (Toyota also has the Rav4 and Highlander hybrids). Mini is bringing out the Countryman in a plug in hybrid-electric sometime this spring.

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Mmm, teal + bonnet stripes. {did you know we used to have a Mini convertible? talk about a fun little car, plus there’s a Mini club we used to belong to and they do super fun things like the Mini Road Rally, and the Mini dealership put on The Seattle Job: Team Photo Scavenger Hunt, Mini people are just FUN, they even do the little wave when you cross paths while driving}

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our Team cars & our Maggie convertible in red

 

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yep, two kids in the back!

Tesla has announced the new Model 3 in a reasonable price range (starting around $35k) but details are still forthcoming on production. I would 1000% wait for the Tesla if I knew for sure they could meet the estimated start production timeline of July 2017. As of last May, 373,000 people had placed a $1,000 deposit for the Model 3.(source) If I felt at all comfortable just plunking down $80,000 for a the current Tesla model, I’d do it.

One of the biggest drawbacks to an all electric (in my case) is that several times a year, I need to go 300 miles from Seattle to my parents house in Idaho. As I have discovered with the app Charge Point, there are quite a few charge stations along my route of I90 from Seattle to Coeur D’Alene. It’s not out of the question to make it work.

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I am very intrigued by the look of the BMW i3, and by it’s possibilities. It’s cute (I’ve always thought so), and apparently full of that fabulous German pep I so dearly love. And we already have a connection with our local Seattle dealer since that’s where we bought our last BMW. The only big sticker, is the sticker shock (haha). It’s nothing like a full-on Tesla, but it’s not cheap-o either. This is one of the things I am personally okay with knowing that I am doing my part to reduce CO2 and save the planet and generally the world.

My cape is on order.

One other good point to going all-electric if these articles can be believed, it is possible to charge the BMW i3 up to 99% in one hour with a public fast charger. So I could drive to Bellevue Square, plug into one of the MANY chargers in the public garage, eat lunch & shop, and come back to a fully charged car. {i hate to say it but, BOOM}

I’m still no closer to make a true full-on decision. I need to drive the i3, sit in the new bigger Mini, take stock of used Prius 4’s, and work out my top priorities for a new car. I’d love to hear thoughts if you have a hybrid, especially if you’ve ever driven one of these cars!

If the sun shines

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If the sun shines in London, make sure you are enjoying it, like Mr. Peacock here. There’s one definite way to enjoy a sunny, warm, winter day in London; go to Kew Gardens. Kew Gardens is one of my favorite places (and I will miss it dearly when we move home). I have more than gotten my money back from my membership. And then some.

Originally I wanted to take pictures in front of the Chinese Pagoda. The walls are red and I thought my green peacoat would look great in front it. Unfortunately, (or fortunately since it needs it), the pagoda is under restoration which I knew was coming but they’ve already started. With the area blocked off by fences, I had to come up with another plan. Thankfully, Kew Gardens is huge, so there are plenty of other places to take pictures.

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Along the far back side of the gardens is Queen Charlotte’s Cottage. While it isn’t open to the public during the week {I believe it is also closed in winter}, it does make a great backdrop for photos.

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Taken on a previous visit

It is insanely peaceful in this part of the garden and not that many people wander that far, though I did have a few people wander past today. I think the day was just too nice to pass up a stroll through the woods.

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Wellies were the footwear of choice today for wandering off the path and amongst the muddy grass. If you don’t leave the path, you’ll miss out on beautiful things.

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It might only be February, and the begin of it at that, but it certainly feels like spring might be on the horizon. The rhododendrons were already in bloom.

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If it should rain tomorrow, at least I can look back on today when the sun was shining and warm, and remember, tomorrow’s another day.

Maybe it’ll be sunny.

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