Jul 31, 2014

Ikea Got it Right Again

I haven't been to Mecca...I mean Ikea...for a while now.  But, I just received their new catalog in the mail the other day and love so many items that were featured.  It's a good thing it takes me an hour to get there, otherwise I'd have already gone and justified purchasing things that were never intended to go in my house.

Here are my recent Ikea faves:

item links: coatrack / pillow / lamp / vases / rug / sofa

My most favorite items need a house with pretty classical features like crown moulding and wood floors to carry the more modern pieces and keep them from looking too cheeky and youthful.

Perhaps an uber dreamy room just like this...

A space like that elevates contemporary Ikea pieces to masterpiece status.  Add a few vintage items and antiques to the mix and you end up with a sophisticated, timeless look.  Don't you think?

Have you liked anything new at Ikea latey?  Do tell!

Jul 29, 2014

Mission Success: A Condo Hunt and Ironman Experience

Well, I'm happy to report that we had just a little bit of fun in sunny Florida!  The sand was soft, the surf was serene, the kiddo was full of glee...

And, my parents came away with a beautiful condo so we can do it all over again, and again, and again!!  Here's a few shots of their new place:

A beach view from the master bedroom...pardon the grainy iPhone pick but you can tell it's a beach.

One of my favorite things - the balcony/porch - is HUGE at nearly 30 ft long and 7 ft wide.  It's got major beach party potential.

Here's the view of the bay from the balcony.

And, the best part about the inside?  The kitchen - designed for the previous owner/chef - with an induction cooktop, double ovens, pot filler, cushion close drawers/cabinets, and more.

(that's my cute Mom discovering all the nifty features that were packed into this kitchen)

The building's shared areas are pretty darn great too - the pool and patio lead right onto the beach!

After looking at those, I sorta want to go back already...

After a successful condo-hunting trip, we flew back and then I left to hit up another beautiful place - Lake Placid, NY.

It was a bit out in the middle of nowhere at nearly 3 miles from Albany, but it was a gorgeous middle of nowhere. It was an exquisite landscape in the Adirondack mountains - they've got rolling hills (almost what I'd call a "mountain"), tons of trees, and the most majestic lakes.

My aunt rocked the Ironman Lake Placid, finishing at right around 13 hours which is AMAZING!  My cousins and I racked up quite a few miles ourselves just spectating.

Here's the 2.4 mile swim early in the morning hours...

The 112 mile bike was next, during which the skies unleashed a deluge of water, but my aunt finished that portion with a smile on her face.  (True confessions...we went back to the room and took a nap while she was biking for hours on end.)

Check out these ominous clouds during the run portion!

While she was running we took a load off our feet by grabbing an unauthorized charge from the side of a gift shop and eating a few delicious crepes.  Our Ironman support crew motto throughout the day: Recharge and refuel!

Here's my stellar aunt finishing the 26.2 mile run...still with a smile.

Hooray Mary, we're so proud of you and your awesome repeat accomplishment - fourth times a charm!

That's right folks, a collective 140.6 miles on Mary's part plus 13 miles times three of us (that's 39...round up to 40 miles) puts us at about 180.6 miles total in one day for our foursome.  All made possible by tons of hard work on Mary's part and then fluorescent shoes.

I'd like to say I'm putting my feel up today, but instead I'm getting ready for our trip to Spain next week.  No rest for the weary...there's simply too much to see and do in this world!!

Jul 21, 2014

Off to the Races...then the Beach...then the Mountains

For a little weekend recap, thought I'd share photos from my Iron Girl race in Webster MA.  I've done marathons, half marathons, and an adventure race, but this was my very first go at a triathlon and I really LOVED it!!  It was a sprint triathlon - the shortest competitive triathlon race you can do - so a 1/3 mile swim, 12 mile bike, and 5K run.  It was the perfect distance if you ask me.

Ready for the pics that make me look way more "bad fast" than I am (like "bad a$$" but far more kosher for kid ears)?

There you have it...me sprinting it out at the end.  I didn't run that fast through the whole race, I promise.  I finished in 1 hour, 22 minutes and placed 31 out of 568.  Not too shabby for my first one!

There's my favorite little family cheer squad.  Our dear friends also joined us to hoot and holler for me - thanks A, R, V & L.  You're the best!!

Now, on to a last minute trip to Florida this week to help my parents house hunt for a vacation property.  Wahoo! (sorry you'll have to survive without any IW posts while I'm gone...at least try)

Hopefully the brief trip to sun country helps sustain my tan a little longer.  

Then next weekend, I'm off to cheer my aunt on at a REAL triathlon - the Iron Man - in New York.  She'll be doing 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run.  She's the definition of "bad fast" if you ask me.  Did I mention that this will be her fifth one?!?  She's my inspiration for sure.

Anyone who can workout for 12-13 hours straight is beyond an athlete...they're super-letes.  Go Mary go!!

Hope you have a blessed week.  I'll be back for more posts in just a week's time!

Jul 17, 2014

To the Window to the Wall

We're talking wallpaper today, friends!  Come on now, what was your guess with a post title like that??

Large scale wallpapers are HUGELY popular now (ha ha).  Long ago are the wallpapers of the 80s with dainty little pastel flowers...may they rest in renovated peace.  I'm suddenly feeling the design urge to go the wallpaper "look" route on an accent wall in my entryway/foyer.  I'm crazy, I know, but these rooms below are just so inspiring.  They make me want to jump on the crazy train!








So, after that visual circus, you may ask what space I'm working with and what direction I'm going with this wallpaper "look" notion.  Here's the entry - the wall to the left is my target wall (the wall the door is on).

Now here's the catch...with the house being a rental and me being noncommittal when it comes to more-permanent decor options, I wouldn't actually wallpaper the accent wall.  I'd make a stencil that would look like a large print wallpaper, and then paint the design on.

Here's the large scale wallpaper design that's giving me inspiration right now for a stencil job:

What do you think?  It's sort of a sunshine shape in relief.  Not sure what color I'd do - chalkboard black would be nice and graphic.  Dark gray would be more subdued like above.  Navy blue would match the powder bath situated across from that wall.  What would be your recommendation for the color?

So, should I give it a whirl, friends?  Come on, I need your advice!

Jul 15, 2014

A Nursery Design, Round 2: A Little Explorer's Refuge

This is a "boy version" of the girl Calm Coral Oasis nursery design I posted a while back (on a whim, of course) for my sister and brother-in-law.  **Disclaimer:  They aren't even pregnant - yet! - but when they do choose to move in that direction, they will have two great nursery inspiration boards to help with nursery decorating.**

My key inspiration items for this design, you ask?  Art!!  Including this print by Beloved and Co on Etsy...

And this exquisite watercolor painting by Jessica Durrant on Etsy...

Remember, here's the guest room we're working with.  It's already painted a deep moss green (Tupelo Tree by Sherman Williams), which is so pretty and works great with so many accent colors.

Don't you think the navy is a perfect color combo with the green?  Especially for a baby boy room?

What's your favorite thing about the design plan?  Do you prefer the "girl version" or the "boy version"?  Do share!

Know someone who needs a little design inspiration or has a space in need of major design help?  Tell them about my affordable Inspiration Board design service, where I create a custom design board  with budget friendly decor items just like the one in the post above.  More details about this service can be found here.

Jul 10, 2014

Get the Look for Less : Starburst Sputnik Chandelier

I have a love/hate relationship with sputnik style chandeliers.  They're one of the most "dated" chandeliers of all time - they totally scream mid-century modern style more than any other fixture from that time period.  BUT, I simply cannot help but love them too.  They're so fun and flashy and vibrant and modern.  I love mid-century modern style (right now) but I can't help but wonder what we'll collectively think of it as a design trend 10 years from now.

All that being said, I'm definitely drawn to the more sophisticated, less in-your-face-mid-century look of the starburst sputnik.  It's still a "sputnik" but it seems more graceful and more updated for some reason...probably because it's a more contemporary take on the older more traditional sputnik chandelier.  It sort of reminds me of a pretty sea urchin.  You can see how lovely they are in these spaces:

Here's the "Get the Look for Less" part that could really save you money...granted you will have to forgo a few bulbs if you go the "save" route.  (How many bulbs do you really need to light up a room anyway??)

                                                              sources: splurge |  save

The Stimulight Etsy shop makes several versions of the starburst, including ones with more lights, one with crystal beads on the ends of the spikes (like the nursery room above), and one with colored beads on the end like I used in this nursery inspiration board {here}.

So there you have it - a far more affordable option for those of you who dig a pretty starburst sputnik like myself! So friends, what do you think?  Is a starburst sputnik a design "do" or a design "don't"?

Jul 8, 2014

Europe with a Toddler, Part 5: Dublin, Ireland

The much awaited final post in our Europe with a Toddler series is here!!  The final destination happens to be Dublin, Ireland - one of the most wonderful places I've ever visited.

Here are the 4 previous posts in the series, just in case you missed them (do catch up because it's good stuff):

So, you may ask, what's so great about Dublin?  Typically, you hear that it's mostly an industrial city, it rains a lot, the food is kinda "blah", and it's all around gloomy and gray, BUT (and that's a really big "but") it was none of these things to us.  Dublin is the most amazing place filled with friendly people, tons of culture, delicious food, beautiful places, and unique experiences.  And, we even got sunshine while we were there.  Bottomline...book your ticket today, folks, because it's a best-kept secret that you don't want to miss.  Dublin, and it's surrounding areas, rocked!

First stop, just a block from our Radisson Blu hotel, was St. Patrick's.  It had the prettiest little park/church yard with a much-needed playground and lots of pretty tulips.

We played and ran around a bunch, then we indulged in the most delicious and classic Irish fare we could find...fish and chips, of course!  We happened to be just around the bend from the ultimate fish and chips place - Burdock's - which has been serving fish and chips (and not much else) since 1913.

It was SOOOOOO super good.  I don't even like fish, but I was digging on this yumminess.  The cheesy fries helped quite a bit too.

(Every time I look at that photo, I sorta drool)

Here's the view from our hotel room - which I must put another plug in for the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Dublin because it was awesome.  

As I mentioned in other posts, we stayed in Radisson Blu's in every city we visited this time, and it's a sure shot for a great value and dependably lovely accommodations.  Their modern pops of coolness never hurt either...like this chandelier in the lobby.

Our next destination - The Guinness Storehouse - was just a short cab ride away.  (Our dear cabby indulged us in all sorts of Dublin tips, history, and magic tricks for the kids...it's great to be in a city where locals want to talk with you!)  This is a must-visit place, y'all.  I love Guinness...it's the only beer I actually like...and it's just so iconic to be there and experience the greatness of such a longstanding family-run company.

Guinness has been a staple in Dublin history and culture since 1759.  Since then, the family and business has always been a welcome presence in the city.  They're know for always having treated people right - their employees, the neighborhood, and the Dublin community at large.

We learned all about the brewing process (so cool!) and the history of Guinness.

Then, we got to indulge in the most delicious glass of Guinness I've ever had in their Gravity Bar - a tower topping bar with 360 degree views of Dublin.

Look how cute!  (Can you say that about beer?)  They poured each glass with a finishing flourish of a shamrock!!

Don't worry, the kids got as much Orange Fanta as they wanted...

We finished up the day with a delicious meal at a local pub with the hardest-working one-man ballad-singing man I've ever seen/heard.  He played about 12 instruments (some at the same time) and sang for hours on end.  I ate some delicious Guinness Lamb Stew.  Hard to capture the goodness of the savory magic, but it was divine.

The next morning we arose early and ate at my favorite little Dublin eatery - Rosie's Cafe on Weburgh Street. Their raisin scones were TO DIE FOR.  They served them with a ramekin full of fresh Irish butter and another crock full of homemade raspberry jam...it was like Heaven.  Yes, I went two mornings in a row and still crave them to this day. (note: no photo because it was inhaled as soon as it arrived at the table)

After breakfast, we headed out to catch our tour bus.  We're missing our beloved photographer in this photo, but you can see we're a happy bunch.  That is Justin's happy face (guy in aqua blue).

Waiting for our bus to arrive...  Hello, lovely pop of orange!

Yes, that's sun in Ireland!  We had phenomenal weather the whole time were were there.  It was "warm" for April - only a light coat required - and it was bright and cheerful and sunny.

Our first stop with the full-day Wild Wicklow Tour was a lovely coastal town called Dun Laoghaire.

The water was crystal clear but so very cold.

We just skipped rocks, but there were some crazy people trying out the polar bear plunge.

Our next stop was at a store called Avoca - which reminded me of a giant Anthropologie store but on the grounds of a beautiful secret garden sanctuary with a cafe that made the most delightful cappuccino and carrot cake muffin, and a nursery that had the most gorgeous flowers I'd ever seen.

Imagine...Anthropologie + garden + flower nursery + cafe....does it get any better than that?  Maybe if they added a spa??  I was so ready to move in.  It's a good thing we left when we did, because otherwise I would have been submitting my application for a job there.  

Back on the bus to drive through the Wicklow Mountains National Park.  Check out this mystical scenery!  Braveheart and many other epic movies have been filmed on these lands.

We got to hop out and walk through the peat fields and hear the pretty little streams trickle down the mountain side.

Then we came upon the splendor of Lough Tay (Gaelic for Tea Lake, note the water color).

It was so lovely and very quintessential Ireland to me.  If you look close, you'll see a white castle-looking structure in the photo below (on the right side).

The property belongs to the Guinness family, who else?!?  And tons of famous people have stayed there to get away from it all.  I wonder what I need to do to make the guest list?  Inquire about a housekeeping job perhaps?

Our final destination on our bus tour was an old monastery town called Glendalough.  Did I mention that the Gaelic language is beautiful!!  All these town names just flow off the tongue so beautifully.

It was originally built in the 6th century and flourished until the early 17th century.  Now that's a place with some history....

We took a hike and drank in the crisp, clean air before we headed back to the city to turn in before our long trek home the next day.

So, you can see that Dublin was quite the trip-finishing destination for us.  I'm itching to get back to Ireland and see more of what the country has to offer.  You really must go someday too!  Has anyone else been?  Did you enjoy it as much as we did?
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