ZARA Fashionista

I first came across ZARA in my teens when I was visiting family in Spain. I can recall everything about my first experience as if it was yesterday and not 25 years ago. I remember the frenzy of “Las Rebajas” (Spain’s famed sale period) my grandmother had insisted I buy a coat for winter and sent me shopping with my cousins and aunt. I remember the dark grey woolen coat we purchased, and I remember feeling cool, grown up and sophisticated walking out of the store with my shopping bag. It didn’t matter that I was boarding a flight back home to Australia and the coat wouldn’t see the light of day again, in that moment I felt fabulous and that’s all that mattered.

It is safe to say that 25 years on and in my 40’s I am still an avid fan of ZARA clothing. I struggle, or should I say I fail, to walk past a ZARA store and not walk in wherever I am in the World. Unlike other stores, ZARA gets new collections in every week so there are always new styles to check out. They also don’t tend to restock items and when something sells out that’s it. So if you see something you like it, don’t wait until later to buy it. They do have a 30 day return policy for those like me that suffer from impulse buying followed by buyers remorse.

Yesterday I was on Newbury St in Boston for an appointment and on my way back I just so happened to walk past ZARA. I honestly had no intention to stop in, and was trying to stay focused on not shopping…“Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200”. However the SALE signs hanging in the window pulled me in. Another thing that ZARA does well are their SALE’s. They are always worth checking out and who doesn’t like a bargain! If I am honest with myself I didn’t really need anything, especially as I could be wearing Haute Couture but with the current New England Weather all you would see are my snow boots and big puffy winter coat.

The first item that caught my eye was a leopard print coat, I love leopard print and hence could not walk away from the coat. I have been coveting one all season and just haven’t been able to justify the price until I saw the $69 price tag!! This coat has sold out online but if you are lucky you can still find it in stores. My second favorite find was a plush dress with a raised design for $15.99. I’m thinking of pairing it with some leggings and snow boots….Après ski here I come. I’m still not convinced on the blue embroidered shirt (also $15.99) as it is quite long at the back and my height might be restrictive. Already thinking of pairing with white skinny jeans and wedges once the weather thaws, the birds sing and the flowers bloom once again. Last but not least was a green frill neckline blouse ($22.99). I’m thinking black coated jeans and black over the knee boots….drinks anyone?

UntitledI walked out of the store yesterday with my ZARA shopping bags and those same feelings I had after my first purchase 25 years ago, cool, grown up and sophisticated.  Now I just need the weather to cooperate!

A picture is worth a thousand words.

A week ago I challenged myself to eat my house clean in an attempt to reduce both my grocery bill and get the creative juices going in the kitchen. I would say that overall it has been a success, I have appreciated every comment and acknowledgement along the way and if I’ve inspired a couple of you to do the same that makes me happy. I have to admit that there was a degree of purging that took place and those items that moved in with us 6 years ago and failed to bring anything to the table finally moved out. My biggest success was surprisingly the tuna lasagna, it was both quick and easy to make and everyone enjoyed it, to the extent that my youngest has requested it for dinner tomorrow. Who knew mixing a jar of roasted peppers, a tin of tuna and a can of tomatoes and then layering it in between lasagna sheets and calling it Mums Special Lasagna Surprise would be such a hit!?!?

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For now my fridge and freezer are relatively empty and my pantry is looking bare of some essentials, though I really do need to tackle the coconut milk supply. I still have 3 cans to use up (any recipe suggestions?). I need to work on a list of essential pantry and freezer items and this last week has given me great insight into those staples that can easily be called upon last minute to serve up a delicious meal for the family #tunalasagna.

Looking for Accountability Coaches …… Eat your house clean challenge.

Ever had that feeling first thing when you wake up (usually after a long night partying) of not really being sure where you are? That was the feeling I experienced this morning when I woke up and saw my oldest at the base of my bed muttering something about breakfast. Then it hit me …. after what seemed like the longest Christmas break (17 days, but who’s counting?), which dragged on due to some weather phenomenon they named bombogenesis, my kids were finally going back to school, my husband was no longer ‘working from home’ and I was going back to work. Today I was supposed to run a tight military campaign that involved getting everyone out the house fed and clothed (pajamas under snow suits was no longer suitable attire) by 8am, followed by an over scheduled afternoon of activities, homework, dinner and bed. There is something about school days and dinner that always throws me off course …. I don’t know what to cook, when will I cook it, do I need to go the grocery store? As I was raiding the fridge and pantry and processing advanced algorithms in my mind to calculate the best time to fit in grocery shopping, it hit me ….. I do have food in my house I just have to figure out what to cook with it.

How many times have any of you gone food shopping, bought a cart load full of groceries, spent a small fortune only to arrive home and feel like you can’t put a meal together? Yep, well that is yours truly. Don’t get me wrong, I have tried meal planning. I even bought the note pads that break down your shopping lists based on the different meals and days of the week. I just don’t find that to be a sustainable process for me and my kids now use those fancy pads to play hangman. As a serial food shopper, yes I sometimes buy things because they look nice or different or interesting and then never use them. It’s not so much a case of not having food in the house but more of a know how and motivation of throwing quick, healthy meals together for the family.

That is why I have decided to challenge myself and I’m calling on all my friends old and new to hold me accountable. I need you all to be my Accountability coach. This is actually a real thing as I discovered during a recent binge watching session of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Who knew you could hire people to hold you accountable? Apparently new Housewife Teddy Mellencamp makes a living by doing just that!

So what is the challenge I hear you all screaming ……. I challenge myself to eat my fridge and pantry clean before buying any other groceries. I am naming my challenge quite simply ‘Eat your house clean’. My motivators are two fold, one to cut down on both my grocery bill and food wastage (which I hate to admit I am guilty off) and two, to challenge myself creatively in the kitchen by cooking new dishes for my family that are both tasty and healthy. During this time I will still purchase fresh produce (eggs, bread, milk, fruit, vegetables and protein) to compliment what I already have. I have attached a photo of what I’m working with and at first glance I see coconut creams (x 3)…..curry anyone? If anyone has any ideas to inspire me by glancing at the contents of my pantry I would love to hear them. Since I know you will all be holding me accountable I will aim to post daily results of my challenge. Full honest disclosure, including what ingredients I purchased and which I used from the stash at home and what the final result was (may or may not include pictures !!).

I still haven’t quite decided whether my liquor and wine cabinet will be held to such scrutiny, from memory things do not linger on the shelves there for long, in part due to friends stopping by. Well I guess they are not stopping by to be fed. However, just in case I wake up tomorrow with a change of heart, I believe there are a couple bottles of Tempranillo on the wine rack that may need some attention, one has to start somewhere. Looking forward to sharing this challenge with you all. Now who is going to hold me accountable whilst I eat (and possibly drink) my house clean !!

Cheers RGV

#Makingagrandentrance

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As a mother of two rapidly growing sports obsessed boys, my challenge living in an apartment whose storage capabilities seem to shrink at an exponential inverse rate to the boys growth rate has been and will remain storing their plethora of different equipment. We have balls in every shape, size and color and off course all the different bats, sticks, apparatus to match and don’t get me started on the footwear, I envy the frequency at which they get to change it (and not for style reasons !)

When I visit friends who have made that move from city to burbs, there are three rooms in the house that I lust over the most; the mud room, the laundry room and the basement, for me it’s these rooms that scream luxury. The rooms where you can hide away the drudgery that comes with everyday living. The saying out of sight out of mind is playing around in my head at the moment.

Like a lot of my fellow mothers, the task of entertaining all these different sports lies not only in finding a suitable storage space for all the equipment but in remembering where they last had it.  I have found shin guards in the bathroom and mouth guards in the lego box before !! Needless to say my heart rate increases as we attempt to leave the house and everyone is scrambling.

On a recent weekly trip to Target to buy toiletries and trash bags, both of which I forgot to purchase as my attention was quickly drawn to the CLEARANCE section. I found myself looking at some rather cute storage ottomans. I had not come to Target to look for ottomans but as a frugal shopper the fact that they were reduced from $78.99 to $23.98 meant I had to buy them because as I later found myself telling my husband “it was a deal” something he has gotten accustomed to hearing though not quite understanding. Having gotten the deal I set about rearranging the kids sporting equipment from goggles, to shin guards, to mouth guards to flag belts, to you name it …. in these ottomans. RESULT !!! they now get what they need when they walk out the door and can put it straight away when they walk back in. Something I have found to be a lifesaver as their lack of attention spans usually means that by the time they walk in the door and turn the corner they have forgotten what I asked them to do and most importantly it means I get my grand entrance back and a normalized heart rate.

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Anyone else suffer from this same condition? If so I would love to hear how you’ve overcome these storage wars. We have had this system going for 2 weeks and so far so good ….

Let it shine

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Growing up in Sydney, warm sunny days were the norm more than not. They were never absent long enough to be missed. Moving to England in my early twenties I learnt that warm sunny days were a rare gift from the Gods. Now living across the Atlantic in Boston warm sunny days are something I look forward to. Here the seasons are marked by extreme changes that are hard to miss and after each winter I get that longing feeling for Spring. Its that same anticipation you felt as a child waiting for Christmas or your birthday to roll around again, knowing it would come but just not quick enough. This week (Tuesday to be precise) was when Boston began to shine again. The trees are green,  the flowers are blooming (along with my allergies), the boats are back in the water, al-fresco dining is back on the menu along with a clean crisp glass of Rosé and more importantly people are shining once again.

It was with this renewed gusto that I set about transforming my 50 square foot balcony space into a serene oasis suitable for enjoying long lazy morning coffees, sipping cocktails with girlfriends, enjoying long family dinners amidst the warm sea breeze, loosing myself in a good book, it was to be my place to shine. But who was I kidding? this was not so much about my longing for the impossible (I mean we all conjure up this space in our minds, right?) but more my chance to hide from sight the boys skis, sleds, lacrosse sticks, tennis rackets, baseball bats, cricket bats, basketballs, soccer balls, endless array of water guns, beach toys and any other contraptions that a 7 and 9 year old boy requires which had taken over the balcony like a plague. Drawing inspiration from visions seen long ago in my travels  but not forgotten and with a budget worthy of IKEA, Walmart and TJ-MAXX only, I had my work cut out. Ultimately I wanted a space that was aesthetically pleasing whilst also functional, a constant battle when designing spaces in the city with limited square footage, kids and a measly budget.

Overall I think it turned out well, my boys love it, they insist on eating every meal outside which in turn I love as it means the inside stays clean and we can grill every night. My husband even went as far as saying ‘why didn’t you think of doing this sooner’ which I quickly took as a compliment. I no longer have to stare at the plethora of sports equipment through the window and whilst its shining outside I can drink my coffee and sip my Rosé.  So girlfriends come on over and shine with me. xxxx

Shouldn’t EVERY girl have one of these …………. ?

Her own personalized accessories hutch !!

I had been obsessing over a way to display my handbags. I believe I may have used the words ‘As art’ in an attempt to convince my ever skeptical husband. Not one to be deterred, I found myself one recent snowy saturday morning outside a Jewish convalescent home loading the following into my car …………

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The Hutch – pre makeover

 

I received many perplexed looks from all three boys along with the following comments …….

“what is that?”

“you bought that?”

“where are you going to put it?”

“what are you going to put inside?”

and my favorite …..

“are we keeping it?”

Off course we are boys, mummy bought this to put in her bedroom as storage for her handbags. That seemed to satisfy the two young ones, I think my husband was left scratching his head with that look that read …. here we go again !!!

Well here we go again indeed …… 8 snow days later, a few coats of Annie Sloan paint, one trip to Home Depot for some $4 wooden legs and a can of gold spray paint ….. here she is in all her glory …..

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The Hutch – post makeover

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ART

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the paint I used Annie Sloan chalk paint in the graphite for the outside and for the inside I made up my own pink color by mixing Annie Sloan emperor’s silk and pure white. I painted the wooden legs I attached in the graphite and then taped off a quarter at the bottom and painted that gold. The hardware I painted gold as well and I added a gold tassel for a bit more pizzazz. The bottom part I painted in the graphite and then covered the bulk of it with contact paper in a grey and white cheetah print. I also added 3 battery operated LED spotlights so that the art could be viewed in all it’s glory 😉

The skeptics are skeptics no longer and my hutch stands proudly and pretty in the bedroom.

A wall fit for a gallery

We’ve been in our new apartment for 19 months now which means that is how long I’ve been threatening to put holes in the wall and hang some pictures. My husband gets quite nervous at the prospect as I’m not know for either my patience or ability to measure straight. Like a lot of us out there I’ve also been obsessing over picture gallery walls. The more ideas I looked up the more obsessed and confused I became. I had some very grand ideas using different style frames and objects. In the end I decided to tackle the wall outside the boys bedroom with the intention to showcase both their artwork and photos of the boys and their friends. I used solely the IKEA black RIBBA frames and though I did not intend to  hang photos from ceiling to floor I’m glad I did as I think the end result is quite effective.  The boys love to see their art work on display, I just have to keep reminding them not too touch as I’m not convinced they’ll withstand their little hands. So far they are all still hanging 🙂

Floor to Ceiling Picture Gallery

Floor to Ceiling Picture Gallery