A New Me – February 2010, BodyBugg Here I Come!


IMG_1966 IMG_3697

              November 2009                                    February 2010

So, my body is a perfectly calibrated precision MACHINE. Perfectly calibrated, that is, to remain at 172 lbs (12 stone 4lbs) whatever I throw at it.

To be fair to my body, I did lose a couple of pounds in the first half of the month when I was working out a lot and being good, but slacked off a bit on the workouts and ate rather more than was necessary in the middle (which coincided with a certain time of the month, isn’t that always the way?) to get back to precisely where I started.

I definitely think I’m looking more toned though.  My workout regime this month has mostly been a mix of Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred  DVD and continuing with Couch25K where I have now just finished week 4. Is anyone else still C25King along?

The Jillian Michaels DVD came very strongly recommended by Megan Not Martha and it is really good.  It’s a pretty tough workout which seems to cover all the bases (I’ve been alternating workouts 1 and 2 recently, haven’t yet plucked up the courage to try workout 3). The best thing about it though is that each workout is only 20 minutes long – so just when I’m really hating it, it finishes.

I’m REALLY enjoying C25K and can feel myself progressing from run to run.  I still run like a crippled geriatric buffalo but can now actually keep going at a slow but steady pace.  Week 5 is supposed to culminate with a 20 minute run which would have seemed impossible a few short weeks ago.  The really good news is that my plantar fasciitis has not got any worse and the torn ligaments in my right knee are just about keeping together (every run is painful, but not excessively so).  Of course, it would help enormously if I lost some weight. Do you hear that body?

In other fitness regime news, I have bought a Body Bugg!  You know those strange armband thingies that contestants wear on the Biggest Loser? What they do is precisely measure exactly how many calories you are using during the day (though if you still want to measure your daily calorie deficit you still have to upload intricate details of exactly what you’ve eaten).

I initially just bought the armband, which you wear all day and from which you upload your calorie usage and the number of steps you’ve taken to your computer. I was given a target calorie burn of 2250 per day (and 10,000 steps) which, if I ate around 1750 calories per day, a not excessively strict target) would mean losing about a pound a week.

I’ve been using it for a week or two and the results so far have been intriguing. Working from home as I do, and particularly now that the Minx is at school so I’m not running round after her all day, I can be INCREDIBLY sedentary.  On a normal sedentary day I only burn around 1700 calories, and one day burnt as few as 1450.  No wonder my weight has been creeping up slowly over the past few years! Every morsel I ate over 1700 calories was going straight to my humungous boobs (there have been a LOT of sedentary days in the last year or so).

Even 30 minutes of exercise added to my normal sedentary lifestyle only gets me to around a burn of 2000 calories a day, which would mean a very small loss if I exercised every day and maintenance if I exercised 3-4 times a week, which is EXACTLY what was happening. (And there I was wondering why a few hours of desultory exercise a week weren’t having any effect).

In order to get to 2250 calories, I either have to work out for an hour EVERY day, or add a lot more movement to my normal lifestyle (running up and down the stairs a bit more, taking movement breaks when at my desk, doing lunges in commercial breaks, going out for walks etc).


Here’s yesterday’s chart. I slept until just gone seven.  I spent the morning running errands and tidying up the house, went for a run around noon and then spent the afternoon at my computer and the evening watching TV.  

The only problem with having just the armband is that I wouldn’t usually upload my data until the end of the day, so it was very easy to have a bad day and then think ‘oh sod it’ at midnight. So a couple of days ago I took delivery of the ‘digital display’  – a watch like thingy which you wear on your wrist and which tells you how many calories you’ve burned and how many steps you’ve taken – which has transformed my level of engagement with the device.  I’ve been using it the last couple of days and have hit my ‘burn’ on both days, by exercising and generally running around the house and walking in the neighbourhood a bit more. It’s scary to see how slowly the calories tick by otherwise.

So my aim for this month is to hit 2250 calories ‘burn’ EVERY. SINGLE. DAY and see if that gets things moving. Onwards and upwards! (It better work because it was pretty expensive).

It’s going to be interesting next week as we’re heading off on Sunday for Vancouver Island firstly to visit my friend in Victoria and then off to Tofino to stay at the Wickaninnish Inn. I’m hoping that walks on the beach will be enough as I find it doubtful that I will only be eating 1700 calories a day. Bloggery might be a bit sparse over the next few days as well.


500 Pencils – Social Designer

Like Happytape, these have probably been all over blogland several times already, but it’s the first time I’ve seen them and they make me spectacularly happy.

500 Pencils from Social Designer is a subscription service where you’re sent 25 coloured pencils a month over a period of 20 months, which builds up into this incredible collection.


They also sell acrylic display cases, because of course you wouldn’t want to use these pencils, just gaze at them in awe and wonderment and gently rearrange them. They even have five hundred beautiful names (my dream job would be naming paints, or lipsticks or nail polish or something). I’m trying to persuade the Husband that, in comparison with most art installations, they work out to be incredibly cheap.




Lonny Magazine – or The Art of Arranging Clutter on Trays


So I peeked at the latest issue of Lonny magazine this morning. The good news is that it is better than the first issue. The bad news is that it still isn’t very good.

The layout and general design has improved and is cleaner and crisper. They’ve got rid of the fussily ornate boxes round various paragraphs and all the different fonts.  The houses featured are perhaps slightly more varied and eclectic – though they’re not exactly ground breaking in their originality. The photographs remain fabulous, and now you can click through to the stockists. They’ve got rid of the execrable fashion pages and the cover is slightly more appealing. In short they’ve worked on many of the things we pointed out when it first came out

But some major problems remain.  Firstly no one is editing the photos. They’ve still got a bad case of the  ‘just because it’s online we’ve thrown in every picture we took and you can choose which ones you like best’. Caagapture

OK, so it’s Prada, but why exactly is this arty close up of someone’s makeup bag doing in an interiors mag? Are you inspired by it? Or could the fact that you can click through to Saks Fifth Avenue from it be making for some clumsy product placement?

And the stylist has been working overtime – everything has been ‘styled’ to within an inch of its life. And I use the word stylist in the singular advisedly, because, with the exception of the Kelly Wearstler hotel spread (which is actually, incredibly, almost OK), every house ends up being full of exactly the same stylists’ tricks.



The stylist even points that one out for us, and yes, it can be useful trick round the house. But there is such a thing as overkill. (And yes, these carefully styled images of pretty clutter on trays are all supposed to be from different houses).


Another trick is PILE UP BOOKS AND MAGAZINES, PREFERABLY ON SOMEWHERE IMPRACTICAL LIKE A CHAIR OR WITH SOMETHING HEAVY LIKE A PLANT ON TOP SO THAT THEY CAN NEVER BE READ. (On this basis my bedside table is a work of stylistic genius).  Again this trick is somewhat overused, and again these are supposed to be different people’s houses.


Other tricks I noticed.




but I’ll leave you to find examples of those for yourselves.

In other amazing coincidences. Most of the people whose houses are featured seem to have a penchant for turquoise necklaces.


And Lonny people have very similar drinking habits. (Bar trays or ARRANGE PRETTY BOTTLES ON TRAYS is obviously a subset of ARRANGE PRETTY CLUTTER ON TRAYS).

Here are three different bar trays in three different houses. Notice any similarities?


Other spooky similarities include the astonishing love of Ikat shared by the owners of different houses (particularly for Madeline Weinrib Ikat pillows it seems), the love of lucite lamps and light fixtures,  and the fact that they share many favourite brands, such as Diptyque and Louis Vuitton.

And therein lies the crux of the problem – Lonny is the product of a husband and wife team (and kudos to them for putting it together), but ultimately it shows. It reflects one person’s taste in interiors, one person’s photographic style, one person’s (somewhat cliche’d) approach to styling, and one person’s hamfisted approach to product placement, which ends up giving it a very bland uniformity throughout. They desperately need to get other stylists and photographers involved pronto quick (preferably ones that don’t have such a love of clutter, even if it is arranged prettily).

Having said which flicking through the pages finding all the amazing coincidences has been the most fun I’ve had with a shelter mag in a long while.  What stylistic cliches did you spot?




Aren’t these just fantastic?


Fabulous eco-friendly, organic and compostable soft toys made from kids’ drawings.  Above are Sistur, Liun, Small Bayr and Brothr. Meet the rest of the family here.They look satisfyingly large and cuddy too.


I’d love to do the same with some of the Minx’s efforts {via If It’s Hip It’s Here}

Wanted to get some of these in the shop, but it looks like shipping will be prohibitive.  Waiting for Aminals to get a European distributor.


Is This My Blog?



Oh but I’ve had a fun morning. Our homework for Holly Decor8’s ‘Blogging Your Way’ course this week was to put together an inspiration board that summed up our blogs.  We weren’t allowed to put it together on our computers but instead had to use things we had to hand. 

As you’ve probably realised I fight continual battle between my childish love of bright colour and my desire to be more chic and sophisticated.  On this occasion I just thought, f*ck it, and let my inner child take over.

Here are some individual elements.


Funnily enough the board began with this moody shot of Pixie Geldof from a recent British Vogue. I’ve always wanted to have very short platinum blonde hair (I have the short hair and have been blonde, but never done both at once).  I think I’m too old for it now.

I cheated a bit and printed out some photos. I know this wasn’t supposed to be a digital board, but I thought it would be OK since photography is becoming an increasingly big part of the blog/my life.

I also wanted to include some mirrormirror products – the Interiors Colouring Book, Karin Eriksson small bowls and Abigail Percy earrings.

The Illy coffee cup and picture of spaghetti speaks to my Italian heritage and my love of Italy, Italian design and PASTA.


I included some favourite room shots, including some favourite chairs. I do love chairs. And the paint chip is supposed to encourage me in my home renovation endeavours.

The cookies cutters, dayglo cake candles and sprinkles reflect mine and the Minx’s love of tasteful baking.

And have you noticed how much I love graphic daisy shapes? I’d never really realised how much until now.


And if nothing else this exercise has made me realise that I need to hang the beautiful Mexican embroidery I brought back from our trip there two years ago, which is currently just folded up in a cupboard.

And here are more daisies, a cute Ossie Clark sketch on a postcard from the V&A which I absolutely adore, and a photo of houses in Portobello Road, because a little piece of my heart will always remain in Notting Hill.  And a cute Marimekko tin.

And there’s yarn. Because at the moment there has to be yarn.

All pics also on Flickr. I’m reviving my commitment to getting stuff up on Flickr, so do come and be my friend. I’d love to see your pictures too.


Spread a Little Love


This is so inspirational I just had to share.  If I can be bothered to get the tape and the cutter (which is admittedly quite a big ‘if’), the Minx and I might just go out and do this round the nabe.

This is the sort of thing that Brooklyn-based street artist Katie Sokoler gets up to in her spare time.





{I’ve just discovered (via Whorange) her crazy wonderful blog Color Me Katie and it is FABULOUS}




I’m obviously having a thing for colourful kitsch Japanese cuteness at the moment.

Blog Pix

These little dolls even come with little secret messages tucked inside them. What on earth could be better than that?

Definitely one for the Minx’s Christmas stocking next year.

{From Momiji via The Bedlam of Beefy}

Update: The Husband has just emailed to say that he’s going to get the Minx one for Valentines’ Day. Sometimes that man is just too sickeningly cute…


Interior Styling – January Challenge


So here’s the photo I finally ended up with for Holly Decor8’s January challenge in her Interior Styling group on Flickr. The challenge was as follows

‘Put 3, 5, or 7 of your favorite things on a tabletop. Only 3, 5 or 7, no more, no less. Arrange them in a triangle style – highest in the middle and work your way down. Try using a framed picture leaning against the wall for the middle, or a tall vase, lamp, flower arrangement, or anything else that is tall and centered.’

I don’t think what I came up  with is too great – it’s trying too hard and doesn’t have that effortless throwaway chic that the very best stylists achieve. But it was fun to do and it’s making me realise how difficult styling really is. I’d welcome all constructive criticism. I want to get better at this and you’re all so discerning.

For the record, this grouping features a little bird picture by Amy Ruppel, a vintage teacup and saucer from a beautiful harlequin teaset we were given as a wedding present, a wooden candlestick from Jean Pelle, a vintage glass soda bottle and my knitting (see below).