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Entering A New Era

7 Nov

Its been a crazy few weeks in the Renovation Diaries – tons of travelling for work (including a NYC visit right on the eve of Hurricane Sandy hitting) and major family commitments means I’ve had next to no time to blog about our house progress. And there has been some which I promise I will share in another post v.soon.

But today is more about reflection.

Today we enter a new 4 year period of continued change in the USA and for that I am grateful. Change isn’t easy – its hard and sometimes it hurts but I believe the country will come out stronger in the end.

So as a non voting resident of this amazing country I celebrate all of you who used your voice to try to make a difference, no matter which candidate and party you voted for.

Image by Brooke Schwab Photography

Celebrating 5 years of besties…..

24 Oct

5 Years ago today the hubbo and I said “we do” in the beautiful wine country town of Calistoga surrounded by all our amazing friends & family.

We’ve been through a lot these last 5 years…. 2 house moves, 2 gorgeous kids and one GIANT, painful home renovation and here we are still going strong and still laughing everyday!

My hubbo & my best friend,  I love ya and can’t wait to see what the next 5 years bring.

(hopefully NOT another renovation!!!)

An easy way to help clean the Pacific Ocean…

10 Oct

It’s not often I feel compelled to write about hand soap but the folks over at Method are constantly surprising me with their take on products and contributing back to society. They have just launched a new range of hand soaps that come in bottles made entirely from Pacific Ocean trash.

Ocean plastic sea mineral soap by Method

What is Ocean Plastic you might ask? Well the Great Pacific Garbage Patch as its called is an area in the pacific ocean where the currents meet and therefore debris & trash that has been dumped from places as far and wide as Japan, the USA, latin America gets “stuck”. It’s almost impossible to fathom..its sheer size  is roughly the same size as Texas!!! And the fact that it’s sitting out there with no government doing anything about it  continuously astounds me. The Hawaiian islands are particularly vulnerable to this floating trash pile as it regularly washes up on their shores.

To help counter this Method and a few local volunteers pick up the plastic and are turning it into something useful – new bottles.

As their Founder, Adam Lowry, said in a NY Times interview here  ” “We want to create a conversation about recycling plastics. The real objective is to make the point that we ought to work with the plastics already on the planet.”

Check out their resource page on Ocean Plastic to learn more about the issue, their recycling process and how they are helping make a small dent in the great garbage patch.


A Mini Makeover!

25 Sep

You might have noticed that we changed things up ever so slightly here on the Renovation Diaries. There was no real reason for it other than I was getting bored looking at the  background dots and my shabby attempt at CSS writing.

I knew that a full makeover wasn’t going to happen right now (more of that to come later hopefully) and that I just wanted a few tweaks here and there and so I enlisted the skills and design talent of Patricia from Mira Belleza.

Pre made WordPress template.

If you are looking for a clean and custom site then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Patricia. Her design aesthetic is gorgeous, you can see more of her work here and she is super fast and efficient and I would highly recommend her work!

Back in the New York Groove….

29 Aug

As I wandered the streets of New York City I found myself singing  this song (in my head  of course – I’m not THAT much of a freak..ummmm) …

I was soo happy to be back in New York City and for what better reason than ALT Summit??!!! It was my first time in NYC for 6 years and I really enjoyed soaking up the city sights and smells..the warm balmy nights, eating at many fab places (2 cupcake stops in 24 hours!!), I did a quick dash into my shopping mecca TopShop and spent an incredible day at Martha Stewart HQ and even saw the lady herself!!

Yes – Martha came and said hi, I think I heard the girl next to me squeal as she walked in!! We had great talks from the ever inspiring Swiss Miss, Amazing food cooked by the team at Martha Stewart Living, great ideas on how to use social media from brands like West Elm and  ideas on growing your community from the talented (and fellow renovator!!) Jenny Komenda of Little Green Notebook and the ever stylish Nat the Fat Rat. They were uber gracious when their panel was crashed by Martha  – I mean how do you recover from that??!!!

Here’s some quick pics of our day at Alt.

The views from the room were amazing

Alt Summit 2012_NYC

Me crafting with Paul from Sweet Paul Magazine during our Blurb sponsored breakfast session!

Alt Summit 2012_NYC

The amazing and very funny Swiss Miss – if you’ve never heard her speak then try to see her asap!!

Alt Summit 2012_NYC

Martha – aka the panel crasher!!

Alt Summit 2012_NYC

Enjoying the end of day rooftop party with Martha’s peeps (Yes that’s Kevin Sharkey the home design guru!!!)

Alt Summit 2012 NYC

All in all it was a great day – I had sore feet and a whirring and inspired head by the time I left with a stack of business cards in hand and lots of new friends!

images by Justin Hackworth

A New York State Of Mind….

22 Aug

Hey folks – I am going to be off the grid this week as I am heading to NYC to attend Alt Summit! I am particularly excited about this as not only is Alt a mind bogglingly awesome conference but also I havent been to the big apple for over 6 years! It never ceases to amaze me that as I’ve moved to the USA my travel has become less and less frequent to the point of non-existent – tho I’m sure that having two kids under 5 has a little something to do with that!

Having been to an Alt conference before I know what to expect – lots of incredibly useful info, lots of fun conversations and LOTS of fabulous fashion (cue my outfit stress!!). It’s being held at the Martha Stewart HQ which has me giddy at the thought that we could see the woman herself pottering around! Can you imagine? What would you even say to the crafting queen???

kaysha/516818391/” title=”New York City by kaysha, on Flickr”>New York City

I have a tiny window of free time  after the conf to check out some of the amazing home decor stores in NYC that until now I have only been able to read about! ABC Home & Carpet is on the list but if you have any other recco’s then please feel free to let me know in the comments! I should have room in my case for a few lil things for my home!!!!

See you next week!

Sam xx

The family that flea’s together….

8 Aug

This weekend we hit up the Alameda Antique Fair for the first time. I wasnt entirely sure what to expect and it was a bit of a risk taking the youngsters with us but we had a great day. Set on an old naval base in Alameda with views over the bay to San Francisco this fair is the largest in Northern California with over 800 dealer stands to browse around. It happens on the first sunday of the month and goes from 6am (yikes!!) till 3pm. The entry price varies but the earlier you go the more expensive it is to get in.

Here’s my quick tips for shopping at this fair:

  • We arrived at about 10am and there were already people carting off trolleys full of goodies. The early birds get the best worms here!
  • There’s plenty of parking as the lot is massive but be warned after 8am you will end up parking quite far away from the entrance to the fair which means quite a hike to the start of the fair, and then the fair itself is enormous so wear comfy shoes!
  • Take a stroller if taking kids, they will get tired. Guaranteed.
  • There’s plenty of food trucks so don’t worry about food options.
  • Be prepared to spend time browsing!
  • Take cash with you….you dont want to walk all the way back to the ATM if you spot a bargain!

There was tons of great glassware. I loved these vintage phones & crates. Check out the Union Jack chairs – these were part of a dining set which might be a bit much all together.

My son loved this old motorcycle (ahem maybe next time!!!), I loved this mid-century modern lounge set up. How freaky is this dolls head in a glass dome?  The print on this chair was amazing – great blues & greens.

I loved this chandelier but it was a little too long for our ceilings. A button mirror is a nightmare come true for me, I have a phobia of buttons – true story! This red metal side table that would make a perfect addition to a family room for some industrial chic.  Gorgeous vintage bar cart. Enough said!!!

Overall we had a great time and there was some amazing things but we came home empty-handed . I suppose we weren’t in a buying mood simply because its hard to know what we need right now for the house. If you are in the market for some antiques and vintage curiosities however I highly recommend a visit.

A Very Colorful Run

18 Jul

This past weekend was the color run here in SF. I have to admit I wasnt quite sure what to expect but we did it, we actually sort of ran it (lots of people and not a ton of space ) and it was awesome!!!

Seriously if there’s one happening in a town near you go for it. I havent laughed as much for a long time. Its less about the running and more about the ridiculous fun and there’s all ages and all abilities doing the run – so don’t let that be an excuse either! Plus you get to coat yourself  and fellow runers in awesome bright powder – whats not to love about that???!

Here’s some snaps of the day – if these don’t inspire you to get involved then nothing will!!

Images taken by myself & the awesome Margaret Edith

p.s if you are planning on doing it here’s my top tip : take a trash bag and old towel with you for after!

Ben doing his life thing….

13 Jul

I have a pretty cool job that allows me to meet all kinds of awesome people, and as you know I’ve been on my own personal challenge to try to get back into some kind of athletic shape again after a 4 year hiatus. So I was stoked to meet Ben from Ben does life. His journey of how he was overweight and depressed and how he started blogging and running is super inspirational – he lost 120 pounds and found himself running marathons & iron mans .

In fact he created a pretty cool video about his journey here:

Ben came into our office to talk to us about how he moved from blogging very successfully into also writing books (something we at Blurb are very interested in, the artists journey) and we also chatted about running and general life stuff.

Ben of “Ben does Life” and us Blurb gals!

He then hosted a 5k run that evening which he’s doing in every city he stops in whilst he’s on this crazy tour. I didn’t get to run with the group as I’d planned due to a last-minute Ikea dash to investigate buying a new kitchen (more on that later).

You can get more details of Ben’s upcoming run dates here but be quick as there’s only 2 more cities  left on this summers tour!

The uphill battle…..

15 Jun

On Weds night I did something crazy…well crazy good. I went to the run club hosted by Lululemon near my house in Tennessee Valley, Marin. Completely encouraged along by my good (and crazy fit) friend Eileen I finally ran out of excuses as to why I shouldn’t be running after work. Jon was home with the kids and I’d be back for bedtime so I could totally do this. Once I finally decided to give it a go, it was liberating!

The sun was shining, it was a perfect Northern California night and I was pretty excited about meeting up with the nice souls from my local Lululemon store and other locals and going for a leisurely stroll. I was told there would be all levels of fitness there (with me being the worst by far for sure) and I like the camaraderie of running with a group, although everyone goes at their own pace and no-one has to stay with the pack if they want to sprint ahead.

Eileen and I pulled up and we said our hello’s and introduced ourselves and then the talk of which way to run began. Let’s do the Miwok trail someone suggested, yes was the resounding voices. Ok I thought that sounds good…”where is that I asked?”  “up the hill”.

THE HILL? This big one? oh crap. I’ll never make it. Seriously, did no-one hear me when I said I HAVENT RUN FOR 5 YEARS???!!!!

The Tennessee Valley Landscape

Fun fact: the hill is 1.3miles straight up. Cue manic laughter in my head…mwwaahhhh.

We set off. Group pressure and all that meant I couldn’t decide to duck out and drink wine in the local bar instead. This is one of the main benefits of running en masse I suppose!!!

I was fine at first, taking it slow, catching my breath plodding along. The hill rose up in front of me and my heart started pounding…..boom, boom, boom. I thought I was going to DIE. Literally. I could hardly breathe and just had to slow down to a power walk on some of the steepest hills. But hey that’s ok because this is a work in progress and I was doing my best right there and then.

Before I knew it we were at the top, I MADE IT!!!! YES. And then was informed that we were running down but via another lookout point. I like lookouts – I’m down for that..and you said its down hill right?

LIES!!! I ran down and then up for a bit and then down. A.LOT.  And then we stopped . Wow great view (overlooking SF Bay..sorry no pics as I was too busy running and DYING to take a pic). ok turn around back we go…WHAT?? BACK UP THE HILL??? err yeah sorry!

And so back up the hill I ran, well sort of half ran, half dragged my feet because you know of the DYING ‘n’all that. and then we were back at the top. Finally we ran back down the way we had come up. And yes I did run ALL THE WAY DOWN…i’m very proud of that. Trust me that’s not quite as easy as it sounds. Running downhill hurts in different ways than uphill  and stuff jiggles more!

So here we are the motley run club crew. Half these folks didn’t even go the way I went – which was the easy way apparently, and they got back before me. But it was AWESOME and I felt great afterwards. Seriously, I was buzzing with good endorphins.

Did I want to run up a hill?? hell no. Am I glad they made me (in a very nice way!) do it?? YES. Do I forgive the lies of just how many uphill bits there were? Sort of!

The Lululemon run club

When I got home I told Jon where I’d run (uphill for MILES) and his response was “I don’t believe you, did you really?” amazing huh!!

The moral of this story is join a group to shift your butt into gear – it works and you will do things you thought you couldn’t.  Check out your local Lululemon they are sure to have some great FREE classes & groups you can join. Yeah I said FREE. Amazing huh? And what’s more they are super nice people wearing great clothes. Which helps A LOT when forgiving their uphill lies!

p.s  Can we do the flat beach run next week please?

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