Take a walk on the wild side



Me and a cheetah (Namibia circa BK* 1999)

I can officially prove that my animal print obsession is real. Check out the above photo dated BK*1999 (*before kids) don’t let the backpacker outfit of reef sandals and sarong attire detract from the beautiful animal. There is something to be said for the Big Cats, they are powerful and strong yet majestic and beautiful, a little how I envision myself or how I hope my boys envision me.

As the only woman in the house, I am constantly trying to leave my mark amongst a clutter of sports equipment, nerf guns, star wars merchandise, wimpy kid books and under armor gear. I already wear animal print so why not decorate with it in and really  mark my territory. Say hello to animal print throw pillows. I actually think my plan is working, as yesterday I purchased a leopard print water bottle and my youngest asked ‘is this yours mum?’ I believe my look gave him the answer he was looking for and he put it down. I wonder whether anyone makes toilet seats in leopard print ?

Below is a roundup of my favorite animal print pillows available online, there is something for everyone’s price range and  style because I do believe that everyone can rock these prints. Don’t think you can rock the tan look?  No worries,  you can rock animal print in any rainbow shade, just like the cute print on number 10. Go take a walk on the wild side!

animal print pillows


To run or not to run ?


I love shopping for rugs, they come in all shapes, sizes, colors and more importantly price tags. They help make a statement in the room, set the mood and even define the area. They also have practical uses; from hiding ghastly floors, to providing warmth, noise insulation and protection.

The kitchen was the one room in the house where I was unsure of the use of rugs. My families roots are deep seeded in the Mediterranean (even though I grew up in Australia), so it’s tiles, tiles and more tiles. Growing up with the stereotypical Spanish mother mopping her fancy tiled floors, I think carpet of any sort in the kitchen would have been considered both unsanitary and unnecessary. I can quite honestly say that until I left home at 22 the thought of carpet or rugs in the kitchen was not something I spent my time thinking about.

That was until I moved from Australia to the UK and found myself renting a room in a house in Liverpool, with a landlord who insisted on calling me Sheila and felt that a fully carpeted kitchen and bathroom in a shared house with a gaggle of 20 something year olds was acceptable. Writing this I just had a flashback to the silvery trail the slugs would leave on the kitchen carpet during the night for us to find the next morning !! Needless to say I was traumatized and it is only now that I can even contemplate the use of carpets in the kitchen and then these must be in the form of rug runners.

Rug runners in the kitchen can be a quick and inexpensive way to update it, especially galley kitchens where a rug runner takes center stage. There are various styles available, each with their own pros and cons. Whether you use natural or synthetic you can find either at various price points.

Ikea has some great affordable natural fiber woven runner, which have the advantage of being cheap, making them easy to replace, they are pleasing to the eye and work well in a casual setting. Some of the sea grass ones shed like crazy and because these tend to be lighter in weight they do move around a lot, which isn’t ideal for high traffic places like a kitchen and they can also entice kids to rug surf as mine do.


Synthetic rugs made out of polypropylene have the advantage of usually being reversible so when one side is looking worse for wear you just do a switcheroo and voila! The material is designed to also be used as an outdoor rug so they are hard wearing and easy to clean, they don’t shed and are stain resistant. You can find these in a range of plain designs or geometric patterns for a bit of fun.


Then you have your cotton and wool rugs. Whilst these are at the higher end of the price point, wool rugs in particular are extremely hard wearing and a good rug can last you 50 plus year. This is probably not high on your list of priorities if like me you change décor every 3-5 years! They are on the other hand flame resistant unlike the highly flammable synthetic materials and lets be honest they do feel softer and more luxurious to walk on than their synthetic cousins.


I’m currently thinking of updating my small apartment galley kitchen and a new runner might do the trick. I have a synthetic grey one from IKEA at the moment that has been turned around more times than I can count and after 3 years its starting to look old and tired. I’m leaning towards a wool one this time with a bit more color. I love the CB2 blue asa rug (top right). I like its traditional style look but think the colors give it a modern feel. The gray will balance the stainless steel and gray quartz countertops and the blues and yellows will make the white lacquered kitchen cupboards pop. Overall I think it will tie in nicely with the mid century feel of the apartment that I am going for. My only concern is that it will be too dark. Oh well I guess one can always return it and try others. Happy running!







Friday’s Five Fabulous Fashion Finds

The big 5 !!! and we are not talking weather phenomenon’s as Boston gears up for another nor’easter.  This is the best time to get out there and discover some fabulous fashion finds for the weekend and beyond as we start the countdown to spring.  It’s always amazed me how sales occur still in the midst of the season, and as a budget friendly shopper, this means being able to still purchase highly coveted pieces at a fraction of the cost whilst ensuring multiple usage.

Today’s fabulous 5 can be found at Saks OFF 5th. My favorite of the lot is the Diane Von Furstenberg Metallic Pleated Midi Skirt. I’ve seen this styled as both a day and evening look, given my height (on the shorter side shall we say) I’m thinking white T-shirt, leather jacket and some nice pumps, like these Halston Heritage Dalmatian-Print pumps. One can never have too many sneakers when running around after the kids and these Vince Velvet sneakers in Oxblood are so on trend. Whilst I have enough pairs of jeans to open up my own boutique, I always struggle with tops which leaves me feeling like I’ve nothing to wear. This Parker animal print cold shoulder silk shirt is perfect for pairing with some black coated skinny jeans. The little girl in me could not walk away from this Equipment camo butterfly print silk shirt. Once the weather warms up, I’ll pair it with some white jeans and wedges.

fashion friday

Unfortunately these fabulous finds will have to wait a while longer before they can be showcased as it’s a Wellington boot and Raincoat kind of day today!

Hope you all have a fabulous and fashionable Friday.


Ruth x

It’s pronounced Tarjay not Target

It’s no secret that things sound better in a French accent and hence there is no reason to limit its use to the French language. Growing up in Sydney my friends and I used to refer to the American department store Target as Tarjay, it made our Saturday jobs folding polyester clothing sound all that more sophisticated. To be truthful, 25 years ago Target stores in Sydney suburbia where not glamorous places. What 16 year old would think that this would become her number #1 go to store when she reached motherhood and beyond? What 16 year old is thinking of the merits of a store where you can purchase all the families essentials like; milk, champagne, toilet paper, lipstick, ibuprofen, kids birthday present, frying pan, bedding, lamp, stationary ………. under one roof ?

Now living in Boston, Target has become my sanctuary.  Not that my husband  understands but I know I’m not alone as I have witnessed other mothers in action, aimlessly strolling the aisles perusing all the things they don’t really need yet magically convince themselves otherwise. The store is open until midnight, so its guilt free shopping when the kids are asleep and their return policy is extremely generous to allow for easy returns on those impulse buys. I mean how many accent tables can you fit in a 1000 square foot apartment regardless of how pretty they looked in the store?

Recently I’ve been buying more home furnishings than toiletries and groceries at Target. Occasionally I have escaped home in the middle of a snow storm on the proviso that we desperately needed toilet paper only to come back with new lamps and bedding and no toilet paper (true story!). What I love the most about Target’s home range is their constant reinvention. Their design collaborations keep things fresh and interesting. The current Project 62 range is modern, edgy, with a mid century twist, none of the pieces are too bulky, so they not only fit comfortably in the back of the car but also in small living spaces! Nate Berkus also collaborates with Target and has a great range of accent pieces that are constantly changing to match both the seasons and trends. The Hearth and Hand range made famous by Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper is also worth a look for a more traditional and conservative design with a shabby chick feel to it.

In my experience Target has been smart with their price point, they are making every day pieces at affordable prices. They are by no means family heirlooms and most pieces are unlikely to withstand heavy combat but they do what they say on the box. I think the home furnishing industry is changing with big department stores like Target collaborating with designers to produce affordable pieces. I think the days that a piece of furniture was purchased as a family heirloom are long gone and that is testament to the times we live in. Fashion has long been that way and whilst most will invest in one or two statement pieces a year that will hold their longevity and last a lifetime (well at least you tell your husband that to justify the cost of those leopard print boots), the rest are affordable pieces purchased to keep up with the latest and greatest. Check out some of my favorite recent ‘Tarjay‘ finds below.


If we are constantly editing our wardrobe why should our homes be any different? Fashion transcends to many areas not just clothing. It is easy to update and spruce up an old outfit with a new pair of shoes or a statement necklace, likewise it is as easy to do the same with a room. A tired room can be given a new lease of life with some new throw pillows, a new rug and some art work all without breaking the bank. Next time you go by a Target, think ‘Tarjay‘ and head on inside, you might be surprised that you walked in expecting to buy the family pack sized toilet paper but came out with a new room. Viva La France and happy decorating.


Ruth @ prettyonastring


When passion finds you later in life


Today’s post is a little reflective and one I think many of you can relate to. As I embark on a new venture I wanted to press pause and reflect on how a 40 plus year old, ex scientist and now stay at home mum wound up sitting at her computer googling ‘how to buy a domain?’

A proud member of the Gen X brigade I am a big dreamer. I remember reading Lorna Hill’s books and dreaming of joining a ballet school even though my rhythm was questionable back then. Fast forward to high school when I was the shortest in my year and airlines had height restrictions to qualify as an air hostess (or flight attendant in these more PC times). I dreamt of flying the skies in my perfectly fitting uniform, with flawless hair and make-up, and permanent welcoming smile as I greeted each and every passenger with the famously coined phrase ‘tea? coffee?’. Oh, and of course I was going to marry the pilot!!! Going further with my ability to dream big I was convinced I was going to be the next real life ‘Doogie Howser M.D’. Yes, I was going to be a fully-fledged Dr. at just 14 years old!! I mean if it happens on TV it’s real right? So in an attempt to demonstrate to my parents that I was finally growing up, and that it wasn’t just all dreams, I convinced them I would focus on a career path where I would get a job in a hospital, preferably as a nurse that would be working alongside a Dr Doug Ross. Who can forget the wonderfully handsome pediatrician made famous by the dashing Mr Clooney in ER.

Ultimately my parents nagging won out so I enrolled and completed a degree in Biotechnology. Science was not a passion but my parents convinced me it would lead to fabulous job opportunities and job satisfaction. When you’re 17, do you really know what job satisfaction entails, and can you really have job satisfaction without the passion? Whilst the job opportunities where there and I got to travel the World, something I was and am still passionate about, ‘The role of Heat Shock Protein 70 in the virulence of apicomplexan parasites’ (cannot believe I still remember my PhD thesis title) was not my passion! Whilst I did have a successful career as a scientist it wasn’t until I had kids that I finally admitted to myself this was not for me.

The dreaming hasn’t stopped and I constantly tell my boys to dream big, however I also tell them that the most important thing is to be true to oneself. That you can succeed in whatever you do as long as you are passionate about it. Your passion will feed your happiness and this will lead to success. Ultimately the most important measure of success is your happiness, the satisfaction you have in what you are doing and the fulfilment it gives you.  Today I am surrounded by fellow Gen X woman who to are waking up to their dreams and making a go at new ventures, because where there is desire there is passion and a drive to succeed. The World is big enough for us all, I am constantly inspired by our ability to hustle, and one huge benefit of being a member of this amazing group of woman is our ability to support and help each other out.  I refuse to believe that it’s ever too late to follow your dreams.

So what is my passion? In a nutshell … all things pretty and helping others achieve their version of pretty on their budget. My home is my sanctuary, my haven, my real life ‘domain’. For my family I have created a space that is curated to showcase not only our personalities but our lifestyle. I don’t believe in creating show room spaces on an unlimited budget. My spaces are designed for everyday living and enjoyment. Living in an apartment I am obsessed with organization and getting every last little bit of use out of the space available. This is a trait I have passed on to my oldest Son and we both are passionate about finding new and better ways of organizing our space and collectables. Last but not least, I am passionate about writing and hopefully making people smile and may be even laugh a little in the process.

It is with these newly awakened dreams and passion that I found myself googling ‘how to buy a domain’! Please follow my dreams as I document with humor my dream to create not only my pretty space but also help others create theirs, follow prettyonastring.com



Honey I shrunk the furniture!

More to the point, Honey I made the furniture disappear!

At this stage in our relationship, my husband has learnt to block out background noise quite effectively. So much so that when I recently told him that I had put our living room furniture up for sale on Craigslist, I think the only words he heard was living room and left it at that. He most likely thought I was discussing a new color scheme, so you can imagine his surprise when he came home one night after work to an empty living room.

Last night the final piece of furniture was picked up, the boys looked on in amazement and wasted no time trying out their new obstacle free wrestling ring. Meanwhile their dad looked lost and confused, most likely pondering how he was going to watch sports on TV standing up! I wasted no time getting started on a mood board designing a whole new look, well why not?

Coco Chanel, one of the  most iconic women in the 20th century held the strong  belief that fashion is in everything, she is also quoted as saying that “fashion was made to become unfashionable”. My husband will probably quote me as saying “the furniture was no longer meeting our families needs” that was my argument as I figured quoting Coco Chanel to him may not play to his practical nature.

When we moved into our apartment 6 years ago, I had 4 and 2 year old boys. Those little boys took up very little space, so when I was dreaming about my glass and marble tables, whilst I may have been put off my grubby fingerprints, I never once envisaged the wrestling that now takes place. My kids also went to bed earlier and we didn’t all watch TV at the same time, something that has recently changed as we find ourselves all jostling for the best seat in the house for our weekly movie night. The furniture had become outdated for our family or some may say unfashionable. Time for a change.

Maybe operation clear out was a little drastic or as my husband asked ‘could you not have waited until after Super bowl Sunday?’ He does not understand that creativity waits for no one. I’m looking forward to redesigning and sharing with you my new fashionable living room for our family and needless to say a pretty space. Follow me for updates on the new space.


Before Operation Clear Out


After Operation Clear out

When leopard print sparks joy

Hot of the mark from organizing my pantry in an attempt to eat my house clean (Looking for Accountability Coaches …… Eat your house clean challenge), I decided to tackle the closet. I had heard recently that on average woman only wear 20% of what is in their wardrobe. Could that really be? I’m sure that I am not alone in thinking I’ve nothing to wear as I stand there looking at a wardrobe full of clothes. Mind you this is the same woman who claimed to have nothing to cook up a meal with whilst her house was full of food. Yet I think there are those that can relate to this phenomenon that seems to afflict woman of all ages.

About two years ago when everyone was talking about the life-changing KonMari method of tidying I also jumped on the bandwagon, after all I had always enjoyed a little origami, so why not update my skills by folding clothes using intricate folding patterns? The fundamental basis behind Marie Kondo’s method is quite simply ‘joy’. The item if you are to keep it must immediately generate warm fuzzy feelings whilst holding it, if the opposite is true then the item must be discarded. In order to speed the process Marie Kondo does insist that one should not try on the hundreds of pieces of clothing you have stacked up in a pile approaching ceiling height on your bed. Instead one must hold the item firmly with both hands and wait to see if our internal self is radiating yellow beams of joy. 

Unfortunately, two years on and I find myself in need of another major overhaul. Marie Kondo I failed you, though I have to say I am still practicing my origami skills folding my T-shirts. As I began to gather all my clothes on the bed today, I noticed an abundance of leopard print, had I subconsciously tried to connect with my primal state and taken it to far? It was at this point that I deviated from the KonMarie method and rather than organizing by item, I decided to organize by print. I was certain that by using her tried and tested method of holding items to see whether they spark joy would help to whittle down my leopard print collection. I was wrong, holding each item filled me with so much joy that it generated enough warm fuzzy feelings to heat my whole apartment. 


Animal print is either something you hate or love. My boys are fascinated by it and always ask if its real and can they touch it? My husband on the other hand takes one look and asks, are you really wearing that out? I on the other hand can remember buying each and everyone of the items above, where I bought them, who I was with, what special occasion I wore them to, how discounted they where, how I felt when I purchased them, I can tell you that and more. I’m not sure Marie Kondo would consider my efforts at tidying a success today, given my wardrobe still has that overwhelming presence of leopard print. However the efforts did reinforce how much joy leopard print in any shape and size sparks in me. What can I say other than I am woman hear me ROAR!




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!?!?

IMG_0428 (1)

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