How Iceland Made Me Fall for Linen Bedding

In May of 2017, my friend Katherine and I went on our Iceland adventure. It was a trip of a lifetime. Iceland has been on my bucket list since before it was even trendy. My friend in college did a Fulbright scholarship there in 2001 and I have had dreams of visiting ever since. We did the whole ring road over 12 days, seeing every nook and cranny of the beautiful island.

We didn’t buy a whole bunch over there (except for some amazing skin care). But I did take home something like a souvenir. I got hooked on how the Nordic sleep. Every night at the humble but so cozy homes we stayed it, the beds were made with a fitted sheet and a folded duvet as the sole cover. No flat sheet, no blanket. I slept like a baby.

As soon as I got home, I ordered a sheet set from Parachute Home (who obviously knew what they were doing because they sold sheet sets in this exact way). For the last three years, Parachute has been my go-to. I have one set of Percale, but I continue to use my Linen sets week after week.

In the picture above, where Izzy and Tink are showing off their bed, I have the Parachute Home Matelasse Coverlet in Pebble Grey with matching Euro Shams. These are a relatively new addition and I like that they lend themselves to a more finished look. But more often than not, I embrace this undone linen (obviously this week, unmatched and quirky). I have the linen fitted sheet in White, the linen duvet cover in Coal and the linen pillowcase sets in Coal and Fog.

My other look is linen pillowcases, fitted sheet and duvet cover all in Fog. Fog is an almost near match with the Matelasse Coverlet in Pebble Grey for a more monochromatic look.

I tend to sleep hot, and I have never been more comfortable than in the weight and feel of Parachute Home’s Linen. The bedding is easy to care for and holds up beautifully. I wasn’t asked by Parachute Home to write this post – I just really love the brand and wanted to share. The brand is committed to high quality items that are easy to shop. Most of what I have purchased has been made in Portugal. And to boot, the packaging is beautiful.

Gym Journey

Last week I introduced some new topics here. Thanks for the enthusiasm and excited to shake things up on the blog. To get things rolling, this is how my re-entry into the fitness world came about. It wasn’t pretty but I am sure glad I took that road.

In June 2019, I turned 40. As my big year approached, I drummed up the idea to run a 10k before I turned the big 4-0. In January, I figured I better join a gym to facilitate that undertaking. I knew I had to increase my endurance and strength to run that distance (and not destroy my knees in the process). Lots of my co-workers enjoyed the gym at the hospital across the way from our office so I figured I would give it a shot.

I’ve always benefited from personal training. I like the instruction, but even more I like the accountability. Yes, it is pricey. But I was willing to forgo other little luxuries and invest. It paid off. And I have learned that it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, especially in these times of COVID. More on that in a bit.

When I joined the gym, I expressed interest in functional fitness and HIIT (high intensity interval training) and got matched with Exercise Physiologist / Tactical Strength and Conditioning Coach Lee Smither. Lee is a veteran of the United States Air Force with years of tactical, strength and conditioning experience. Slightly intimidating. And a little scary. LOL. His workouts are definitely challenging but his approach and demeanor encouraged me to go further than I ever thought I could. Lee is patient in instruction, and a stickler for form – something who knows what being 40 feels like and wants to avoid injury at all costs would appreciate. He is also adept at adjusting workouts and routines according to goals, injuries and ability.

Our hour long training sessions consisted of a lot of body-weight work (jumping jacks, burpees, air squats). He works with cardio equipment tools like the assault bike, rower and SkiErg (a kind of cross-country skiing upright rower). And he isn’t afraid to throw in medicine balls, battling ropes and weighted sandbags. He also is an experienced runner and came in valuable as a race coach. Below is a sample workout from last week that really made me hate him humbled me but was so rewarding at the end:

Cardio and Abs

Warm Up: 1 mile run

5 rounds:

  • One minute of up/downs (kinda like a burpee but not quite)
  • One minute max meters on assault bike
  • One minute max flutter kicks
  • One minute slam balls

Three rounds:

  • One minute plank
  • One lap (100 meters approximately) Farmers carry (carry plate weight in each hand – I used 10 pounds but can go up to 25 for a challenge)

Finish with 100 Russian Twists

Simple but killer. I burned approximately 660 calories.

The punchline of that story: thanks to a lot of hard work and help from Lee and my friend Deena, that 10k turned into a half-marathon. I completed the race in March of 2019 at a “not-totally-embarrassing-time” well ahead of my 40th! And in the process, got hooked on getting stronger and more fit.

*Stay tuned for my next fitness post on why virtual training works for me versus apps like FitOn, Aaptive, Nike and even in-person training. And more about how Lee and I work together now virtually. *

New Flat: Bedroom Update

It wasn’t until I was in my new space for several weeks, that it really sank in how much I craved a brighter, lighter restart. I loved my old building – why I stayed for over eight years. But I realized I liked living there because of my amazing neighbors and less about my own personal space. My old apartment was small and quite dark. And noisy. Now that we are on week number “who knows???” of staying at home, no wonder I prioritized moving to a home I could spend time alone in and enjoy thoroughly.

I don’t always subscribe to horoscopes or the Zodiac, but I am a Cancer is so many ways. Definitely a nester. So my bedroom was a top priority. While it isn’t complete (I have bedside tables on their way), I did want to share my bedding and headboard. And Tink, one of my Malteses in the pic above, most definitely wanted to be part of it.

First up, the headboard. At first, I thought I could live without. But my mom kept bringing ideas up. She has become my beloved personal (online) shopper during COVID, and a great one at that. Mom tracked down this Joss & Main Clements Queen Upholstered Panel Headboard. The price cannot be beat (it is still on sale). I went ahead and pulled the trigger, slightly dubious on the quality given the price point.

My headboard arrived this week and I was pleasantly surprised. The quality is great – the fabric is a tightly woven polyester with nicely made details. Assembly was a breeze. The height is adjustable. But the real ticket was mom was right. It makes the room. My bed is cozier and the small detail makes it feel even more like an oasis. It also comes in Ivory, Beige and Purple. I have the Light Grey.

Up next, I will share my bedding. I am a nut for Parachute Home! Stay tuned.

An Update from Belle Belle

During COVID and for a time before, I have been taking a little blog break. Not for a lack of love for Belle Belle and writing, but my focus has been drawn to other interests. After reflection during this time at home, I have realized I miss writing here and want to return to regular posting. I enjoy sharing finds, ideas and little joys from my life.

To get you up to speed, I have made some changes in my life. Some of you might know I have a full time job outside of the blog that keeps me busy (but I love it). I am grateful that I was able to work throughout the COVID crisis, albeit from home.

An extended time at home has giving me new enthusiasm for all things home décor. I even moved mid-Pandemic! I am filling my new, brighter and more spacious home with new and fresh furniture. I have also found a love of finding and collecting art. More on that to come!

The biggest change in my life over the past several months have been fitness. I went from moderately active to a full on gym junkie. I have found time in the gym keeps me energetic, positive, healthy and basically more fun. January 2019 I joined a local gym – located at a hospital and can be described as fairly basic and to be honest, catering to an older clientele. Which was just fine with me.

The game-changer was hiring a personal trainer. I worked with Lee for a couple times a week for a full year. While I am on my own now and Lee has since relocated, he is still instrumental in sharing his knowledge and guidance in my current workouts. My newfound zest for fitness is something I want to share with you.

I hope you enjoy a little fitness content as much as my journey with Nutrisystem from 2013-2014. I feel like Belle Belle has always had an element of wellness. I will be sharing workouts and Lee’s routines. And maybe one day I will graduate from the horrible cook that I am to sharing some (simple) healthy recipes.

Excited to restart and refresh this ride!

Shopbop Spring Sale

I don’t know about you guys, but this past Leap Year Day on Saturday felt like the start of Spring. It was 70 degrees in Oklahoma and I was ready to break out the summer fashion. I already have a warm weather wishlist going and it couldn’t be a better time to stock up. Shopbop is running their Spring sale this week through March 9th. The details:

Up to 25% off full-price styles with code SPRING

  • 15% off orders of $200+
  • 20% off orders of $500+
  • 25% off orders of $800+

Here are some of the things on my list:

*If you are reading this in your email, click through for images of what is on my shopping list*

Shopbop Buy More, Save More Sale

Black Friday comes early for us this week and it is happening at my favorite shopping stop. Today through December 1st, get huge discounts on shopping for presents (and items for yourself!) at Shopbop.

Get Up to 25% off full-price items and up to 75% off sale items. With code MORE19, you will receive:

  • 15% off orders of $200+
  • 20% off orders of $500+
  • 25% off orders of $800+

Some of my favorite picks lately: