Friday, December 2, 2016

{Sight} Being more feminine blog series

I love to feel feminine, and am always creating my own inspiration.  I find that introducing little pockets of femininity into my day helps everything run smoother.  I feel more ladylike and life is enjoyable – even when I’m doing mundane tasks.

The second post in this series is on using the sense of sight to be more feminine.

Appreciating art

I was reading UK Hello Magazine the other day (I love it!), and there was an interview with Terry Gunzberg, former YSL employee (she invented the iconic Touche Eclat) and founder of her bespoke makeup brand By Terry.  She lives in a divine, rather nice home in Paris and I loved what she had to say about art.  She has been collecting for years, a piece at a time, and she bought a small artwork with her first paycheck.

She said her mother took her to galleries when she was young, and that she gained an appreciation from that.  I don’t often go to galleries, but when I do, I enjoy viewing the paintings, particularly older ones.  At high school I studied art history for a year and I can still remember details of the renaissance paintings we studied.

The study of art seems like such a feminine pursuit to me.  There are many ways to be cultured and I choose art as one of mine (it makes up for the fact that I don’t enjoy live theatre and am so-so about ballet).

Viewing beautiful images

I've mentioned Victoria magazine a million times, but leafing through a copy (I declutter most other magazines but not Victoria) is like a feast for the eyes.  My own personal and decor style is much simpler than those pictured, but I am always inspired to be more ladylike and refined afterwards.

Glossy picture books are the same - Vicki Archer's 'My French Life' and 'French Essence' transport me to Paris via stunning large-scale images, and her writing style allows me to dream.  I adore them both, but if I had to pick a favourite, I'd choose My French Life by a pip.

There are blogs that delight the eyes also - Mrs Shockley's A Home for Elegance has gorgeously curated images, and Margaret Powling's Devon Dreaming is lovely also - I particularly love the latest two posts on fashion and perfume.  From what I've seen of both of these ladies homes, they take a great deal of care in making them elegant and feminine in their own style.

Do you have a femininity with sight tip to add?  Please share in the comments below, I’d really love to hear.
PS.  If you're stressing about Christmas, I invite you to read my book 'A Chic and Simple Christmas'.  You can view a sample on Amazon to see if it's your cup of tea (click on the cover image to 'look inside').  'A Chic and Simple Christmas' is my take on creating your perfect holiday season, and I share with you a bit about mine.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Parisian approach to Christmas décor

I first wrote about this in my book ‘A Chic and Simple Christmas’, and a stroll through the city a few days ago reinforced it for me. I was in our beautiful local department store and their Christmas decoration display was stunning. They do everything well there, so I wasn’t surprised.

I wasn’t tempted to buy anything though, because at home I like to take a streamlined angle. I have a small amount of Christmas décor which I put up closer to the time, but anything bigger is more pain than pleasure to me. I feel claustrophobic with too much stuff around me, and resent the time it takes to put things up and take them down again.

Maybe in the future it will be different, but at the moment I am content to view and enjoy others Christmas decorating, whether it is in a store display, on magazine pages, in holiday movies or seeing homes decorated on the outside (I love all those things!) yet return home to my simply decorated abode.

It all depends how much you have on your plate too. Over the past twelve years of owning our retail business, December was often our busiest month and we worked right up until Christmas Eve. We have sold our store now, but we are still working up until Christmas this year training the new owners. Maybe next year I will decorate more, who knows.

But just how is this the ‘Parisian approach’? In Paris (and other large cities too), most people live in small apartments. They don’t have gardens, maybe a few window pots it they’re lucky. But it doesn’t worry them. They have gorgeous public parks they can visit and relax in, without all the yard work. They ‘borrow’ their garden experience.

That’s how I feel about Christmas décor – I can enjoy and get a sparkly and happy Christmas feeling from it, without needing to own it for myself.

Friday, November 25, 2016

{Taste} Being more feminine blog series

I love to feel feminine, and am always creating my own inspiration.  I find that introducing little pockets of femininity into my day helps everything run smoother.  I feel more ladylike and life is enjoyable – even when I’m doing mundane tasks.

The first post in this series is on using the sense of taste to be more feminine.

Fresh fruit

Instead of a biscuit (cookie) or cake for afternoon tea, wash and slice an apple or other piece of fresh fruit and savour piece by piece from a pretty plate.  Water-rich food is so deliciously plumping (in a hydrating way) to the cells of your body, and you will feel refreshed and light afterwards.  Add several raw almonds for a balanced le goûter.

Herbal tea

Find an herbal tea you like the look of and enjoy it daily.  There are many different teas around – so many.  If you are not a fan of traditional herbal teas such as peppermint or chamomile, try a fruit tea.  When I settle down for a morning of writing, I like to make myself an herbal tea and top up with hot water when I get down to the half-way mark, many times over.  ‘One’ cup lasts me hours!  It’s nice to sip on plus I get good hydration plus I don’t snack when I am doing this.  Win/win/win.

Petite sweet

Find a petite morsel that you can love in moderation, to enjoy something sweet to finish off a meal.  I am still loving bliss balls (my recipe here), and I find that one bliss ball with one small piece of dark chocolate go well together.  Along the same lines is pairing a dried apricot with a piece of dark chocolate.

Do you have a femininity in taste tip to add?  Please share in the comments below, I’d really love to hear.

We don’t have thanksgiving here in New Zealand, but in the lovely spirit of it, I wish all my chic readers a very happy thanksgiving.  I’m so grateful you are here.  Thank you.


PS. Join my weekly email list to receive new blog posts, plus excerpts from my books Thirty Chic Days and Financially Chic.  You can join here.

Friday, November 18, 2016

How to be confident

When you’re an actor, it’s 30 percent skill and 70 percent confidence’ – Kate Winslet

How many times have you heard that being confident is key?  In your job, the way you dress, the way you carry yourself.  I’ve heard it so often that it almost washes over me without effect, as in I just don’t hear it anymore.

But when you come across someone in real life who has confidence, then you get it.  There is something magnetising about them and you can’t take your eyes off them.  It could be seeing a celebrity in real life or someone you encounter during a normal work day.

I can still remember when I met Rachel Hunter at a store function here in Auckland, many years ago now.  She sat there cool and ethereal, but still friendly and welcoming.  She radiated this inner glow of beauty and peace and wasn’t like a normal person – she transcended everyone around her.  Yes, I know she’s a supermodel, but still.

I see it with people I meet in our store too; the confident ones really stand out.  Sometimes confidence can come across as arrogant, but more often you are just kind of spellbound, and respect the aura they have around themselves.

All of these people know the secret to confidence.  And what is that secret?

You have to bestow it on yourself and believe it every day.  Act it every day.  Honour yourself.  Confidence is like a cloak that you choose to put on; no-one else can put it on for you.

In New Zealand there is the ‘tall poppy’ syndrome where you are in danger of (figuratively) being chopped down if you get too big for your boots.  From this, many of us sneak around trying not to appear too fancy or talk ourselves up too much.  We will happily support our sports teams, but not ourselves.  We will put ourselves forward on behalf of our employer, but not personally.

Coming from this sort of national background, it can be hard to suddenly turn it around and be that confident person we wish we were.  I think most of us are worried that we will go too far and be outcast.  But we know we won’t, there is too much ‘tall poppy’ drag on us to do that.

It’s all about taking baby steps with your growing confidence.

Quieting the doubting voices in your head

Knowing that the sky won’t fall in if you are proud of an achievement

Knowing that nothing bad will happen if you think to yourself ‘you look good today’

Knowing that you don’t have to be perfect to feel confident (such a huge one!)

For me, I think I was waiting for that day when I was perfect – the perfect weight, eating perfectly, doing a perfect job at work, having a perfect home – to deserve to feel confident.  That day will never come though, life is always a work in progress.

By giving yourself permission to feel worthy of moving through the world in spite of your many imperfections; to feel worthy of ease, happiness, joy and abundance; then confidence will come.  It’s appalling how we treat ourselves sometimes, don’t you think?

So I’m asking you today; are you going to feel confident in yourself, exactly as you are?  To start the ball rolling, I’d like to say ‘I am’.


 PS.  You can find my books here on Amazon.
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