Friday, October 21, 2016

Why it is important to LOVE your birthday

It’s my birthday today!  There’s only one day a year when I truly feel free to toot my own horn and it’s on my birthday.  It’s the day when I feel like I am Queen of the world.  I don’t even mind that I am 46, in fact I am ecstatic about it!  And even better, (I actually feel really special about this) it is my husband’s birthday too – he is 45.  How small would the odds be that you meet the person who complements you the most… and you find out you were both born on the same day.

So why do I think it’s so important to love your birthday?

As I’ve become older I have become less and less tolerant of birthday-moaners.  ‘Another year older, another year deeper in debt’ is a saying I have heard.  ‘Don’t get old, it’s horrible’ – true quote from an acquaintance.  And then there are those who do not like acknowledging their birthday, do not like celebrating it because they are ‘getting older’.  I actually get really grumpy at this attitude and I have been known to say ‘it’s better than the alternative’, because it is!  If you are complaining about turning another year older, you are effectively saying ‘being dead would be better’.  I know that sounds shocking, but it is the absolute truth!

There will be many, many people who died at a certain age who wished that they could have celebrated an older birthday.  There are people who have a life-threatening disease who pray that they get to their next birthday.

Look at the fact that the age we are is a miracle of nature and good luck that we have not had a fatal accident or been diagnosed with a terminal illness.  Maybe then we might treat our time as precious.  Maybe if we could have known if we were ever seconds away from tragedy, Sliding Doors style, we might live every day with reverence.

So please, I beg you, love the age you are!  Celebrate your birthday with child-like enthusiasm!

Here are all the reasons why it is fantastic to love your birthday:

This one bears repeating: you are Queen for the day.

You may be lucky enough to receive cards and presents from people who care about you.

A nice dinner is probably on the cards.

The whole day feels like you are floating along on pink candyfloss.

You can legitimately buy yourself a gift.

Everyone is nice to you on that day.

You are in a good mood all day and that makes others in a good mood, even if they don’t know it is your birthday.

It is your own personal new year where you have a fresh slate available to you.

And I am sure there are millions of other good reasons to love your birthday.

What if you feel like you are not where you would like to be though?  What if you feel like you are not in the best shape you could be, are broke or single…?

I can tell you that my 30th birthday was not my most stellar.  When I was younger, I thought that when I turned 30 everything would be fabulous.  My 30th fell in the year 2000 which had a magical ring to it – a new century, and I imagined that I would have everything I desired – happily married with kids and a lovely home.

My 30th did not quite look like that.  I ‘celebrated’ in a restaurant in my hometown with my parents, nana, aunty and uncle, newly divorced and with my life only recently turned upside down by that.  You can see now why I put celebrated in inverted commas.

Yes, it was quite a sucky birthday, but guess what?  Things could only improve from there, and they did.  At that time, I went by the mantra ‘living well is the best revenge’ and determined that I would only get better with age.

And I am pleased to say that I am getting better and better with every year.  I am focused on being healthier, having more fun, and definitely being happier.  And each year just compounds the goodness, how excellent is that!

Have I brainwashed you yet?

I’d love you to contribute your favourite reason to love your birthday, why you love your birthday or your favourite way of treating yourself on your birthday.

Birthdays go from something that we look forward to for months and shout from the rooftops when we are younger, to something that we hide away and are ashamed of when we are older.  I want that to change!  Vive le birthday, I say.  Who’s with me?

Friday, October 14, 2016

Adding a pop of colour to neutral outfits

I had reader Gemma email me with her dilemma:

Something I'd like to see more of your opinions on is how to accessorise and use colour. I have the basics in neutrals but I find it hard to incorporate a flash of colour into my outfits. I don't tend to wear statement jewellery, so other than a handbag or scarf I'm not sure how to get that flash of colour (I like teal and blues) into an outfit (& I'm not very good with scarves, they only tend to be worn outside.)
I find a lot of what you say about accepting a quiet life very comforting. I often feel I should be doing more, going further and that people look at me and think I do nothing and go nowhere.

I love this suggestion, because I have been a bit off scarves lately and so I have had to look to other ways to feel pulled together and accessorised.  You can see my spring wardrobe here (it has just come into spring in New Zealand) – you can see that I have a few coloured items, but overall my wardrobe is very neutral.

I find that just wearing the clothes doesn’t feel as polished as when I add a little extra, but scarves for me feel frumpy at the moment.  I even have a few lightweight cotton infinity scarves but I still don’t feel like they are me right now, as much as I love them on others.  Still, I like to go with the flow and not force things.  I’m sure I will come back to scarves later.

In the meantime though, here are some of my favourite ways to add colour into an otherwise neutral outfit:

Coloured nails:  I don’t often paint my fingernails, but when I do I love the pop of colour it provides.  If I paint them, I tend to go for bright or dark, say a crème (no sparkles or shimmer) tangerine or red-orange, or dark burgundy.  I trim/file my nails very short when I do this because to me it looks more modern than long, coloured nails (that’s just my personal preference) plus I find they last longer without chipping because I’m not tapping the edge of my nail when I am typing etc.  I have my nails so short that you can see the edge of my fingertip beyond the nail.  They look so good painted this way!

Coloured shoes:  Aside from my neutral coloured shoes, I seem to always have a pair of red shoes, and I love how these lift up a neutral outfit – jeans and a navy top with red shoes is one of my favourite combos.  There are shoes in any colour you’d care to name now, and if you keep yourself from being scared of ‘a shoe that won’t go with everything’ you might find it is a good way to get a little bit of colour into your outfit.  If you wear mostly neutral clothes anyway, a shoe colour that you love (such as navy or teal) will still go with everything.  I don’t know if this is just a New Zealand thing because I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard in our shoe store ‘I really like that cheery orange, but I’m just going to go with black – it’s far more practical and will go with everything I own’.  Other coloured shoes I have are nude and plum patent ballet flats, which I love to wear as well.

Pretty makeup:  If I do have a totally neutral outfit on and no coloured accessories, I can to add colour with my face.  At the moment I am loving a sheer, blushy spring makeup look where I apply BB cream with my BeautyBlender (I have had it for a few months now and love it! My poor foundation brush has been cast aside) and a light dusting of loose powder.  Then I add a glowy pink blush, sheer pinkish-orange lipstick and gloss and a sweep of bronzer over my eyes and around the edges of my face and just mascara, no eyeliner.  If you like bright lipsticks, that might provide a good amount of colour to your look too, or a coloured eye with nude/low-key lip colour.

Jewellery.  I usually wear my classic, everyday jewellery of a watch, my rings and some studs in my ears (CZ or pearl), but if my outfit is totally neutral I might add a necklace – I have a gold coin and also a few chunkier statement necklaces.  Coloured chunkier pearls are nice too.  Even if the slightly more out-there accessory you wear isn’t a colour, it still provides a finishing touch.  I have some silver oval hoops that are twisted and very shiny.  I love to wear those sometimes because it feels different to my usual studs and with my understated style they provide enough of a kick.

Handbags.   My current handbag is a tan leather Michael Kors, and I know that tan is still a neutral, but I love the way it lifts a black top and dark jeans nicely.  Maybe I’ll go nuts and find a scarf to tie to it handle.

I had a bit of fun with my lovely friend Barbara's poodle Zoey as the image for this post - Zoey is modelling her pop of colour wonderfully.  Barbara, Zoey and I had a long overdue ladies catch-up this week.  I almost managed to 'acquire' Barbara's gorgeous Prada handbag by offering to carry it for her when we were leaving.  She wasn't giving it up though :)

Can you add to this conversation on adding colour in ways other than scarves?  Do you love to wear neutrals and accessorise with colour?  Or is your wardrobe itself a riot of colour?  Please share!

Wishing you a wonderful week,

PS.  If you join my mailing list, you will receive instant downloads of excerpts of my two newest books:  Thirty Chic Days, and Financially Chic.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Not so perfect

I love to write about living a chic and beautiful life and it’s true, that’s what motivates me; however, my life is far from perfect.  I’ve already written about this once before – ‘My normal and imperfect chic life’, where I gave up all my deep, dark secrets (hehe), however I think it needs revisiting.

Every day I see gorgeous images on my Instagram feed – one I saw recently showed the simplest white laundry with two bottles of designer cleaning product.  I wish my laundry looked like that!  Instead I have a 1990s-tastic (and not designer 1990s-tastic) very basic laundry, where the latch on the laundry tub cupboard doesn’t quite hook so the door is always open a little bit.  But guess what, I’ve never owned a house with a laundry before, so whenever I remember ‘I have a separate laundry!’, it doesn’t matter that it’s the size of a toilet room and has scuffed lino; I love it.

I do enjoy being inspired by others photos, but I don’t let them burst my bubble.  I remember how grateful I am to have my own home.

Whenever I put photos on Instagram, or Facebook or my blog, of course I don’t show you the clumps of cat fur on the carpet or my teetering stack of library books.  Of course I don’t show you the dishes in the sink before I wash them or my messy pantry before I straighten it up.  Although I am showing you Jessica-cat breaking into the dvd cabinet in the photo above, cat toys scattered for miles while I'm watching series two of Cedar Cove with lunch.

In fact, following very organised people on Instagram who love to show their colour-coded closets and basket system pantry gives me a kick in the pants to do something with my own closet or pantry.  It doesn’t involve spending money, because even though it won’t be as perfect as that Instagram photo, it still looks a million times better than it did.

I definitely think there is a relaxed place to reside in between Slothville and Perfectown.  It’s about making the most of your own home and being inspired by others without going nuts with envy.

I watched (again) a few weeks ago The Joneses, a movie starring David Duchovny and Demi Moore.  It is such an eye-opening story of how far marketers will go to sell their products.  When it ended, I was reminded how glad I am to live a low-cost, low-stress lifestyle where I can sleep at night because I am financially sound.

I understand that people can get into money troubles through no fault of their own, however many problems stem from over-consumption of consumer goods, and living a glittering, brand-new lifestyle, as shown in The Joneses.  If you like to shop for fun and want to stop but don’t know how, I think a viewing of The Joneses could do the trick for you.

The thing with viewing others social media, is that you can’t see into their bank accounts.  Of course there are people you already know are extremely wealthy, such as Aerin Lauder, when I drool over the photos of her beautiful homes online (she has a personal net worth of $1.64 billion - cough - according to Forbes), but when we see normal, ordinary non-famous people and their gorgeous photos, how much are they spending?  Are they spending everything they have and more to project that perfect image?

Living within your means gets such a bad rap, and I want to make it sexy again.  I’m all about thinking abundantly and being prosperous, and I do think the Universe gives you what you ask for and expect; however, I don’t believe spending beyond your means is a good way to go about things.  Although I do love the Oscar Wilde quote ‘Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination’.

While we’re on the subject of personal finance, I’d like to thank Janelle of the wonderful blog Distant Francophile for giving me a mention about my new book Financially Chic.  I am thrilled with the response this book has received and it vindicates my belief that we have to make learning how to manage money well a fun and desirable thing to do.  Who wouldn’t want to be a financially savvy and chic woman?

What about you – is your life ‘perfect’?  Do you sometimes feel ‘less than’ when you view others curated lifestyle images?  And if you are game for some fun, please tell us an imperfect secret about your life that will give us a chuckle.  In the post I referenced above (‘My normal and imperfect chic life’), the comments section is so good that I sometimes visit it when I’m feeling flat and need lightening up.  It’s guaranteed to raise at least a little smile by the time you’ve finished with everyone’s comments.  Mostly I finish with that post and all the comments, with tears of laughter in my eyes.

Wishing you a lovely day!


PS.  My favourite money mentor Denise Duffield-Thomas has the best and most fun take on money.  Her book Get Rich, Lucky Bitch educates on how to release your money blocks as well as being extremely silly and laugh-out-loud funny.

And she has some fantastic free resources too (my favourites are below).  I’ve followed Denise for a year or two now and she has a great way of teaching important concepts around worthiness and deservedness when it comes to money and success.

Denise's freebies: 
Lessons from becoming a self-made millionaire
How to track your income to create more abundance
Free manifesting course

PPS.  My Financially Chic tips 10-day video series is now up on YouTube in its entirety.  You can view them here.

Friday, September 30, 2016

My spring capsule wardrobe

Jackets, shoes, accessories

Spurred on by the looming deadline of this blog post, I gathered together my Project 333 Spring wardrobe today.  I counted 32 pieces in total, including shoes and accessories.  There are two pieces missing, one in the wash, and one worn today - and they are duplicates of my stripey top in the third photo.  The other two versions are red/white stripes and white/navy stripes.

Shirts, blouses, top

I'm really happy with my Spring capsule and the great thing is - I had it all already.  I don't need to buy anything!  Some people might think that's really dull, boring and unimaginative and when I think about it from another's perspective, I can see that.  But from my perspective it makes me really happy.  It means I have bought well and am still enjoying my purchases.

You can click on each photo to view them larger.

Knit tops

As Michael Kors would say on Project Runway 'I like separates'.  The only time I wear dresses is in high summer.

Jeans, pants

When I went to our bedroom to go through my Spring clothes, I had the thought that 33 items in clothes alone would be so restrictive and I wondered if I'd have to hide some pieces from you (I wouldn't do that) or tell the truth about having more than 33 pieces (I would do that).  I was surprised at how far 33 items went, and I ended up including shoes and accessories simply because I couldn't see anything else I wanted to put in my collection.

Speaking of accessories, you will see I don't have any scarves shown.  I am just not wearing scarves at the moment.  It's been going on for a while too, I'm not sure what's up with that but I'm not going to push myself to wear a scarf just because 'it's chic'.   I  feel that I want to be more streamlined at the moment.  I like to go with the flow of how I'm feeling.

The funny thing is, I will probably wear more of a variety of clothes this season than others because I have separated out my 32 items from everything else.  Usually I rotate wearing a handful things at the left-hand side of my closet rail. Usually when I put something back I put it to the left, and I will still do that and then dress from the right to make sure I am wearing all my lovely things.

What I haven't included is special occasion clothes.  It is so rare that I dress up or go anywhere fancy that I didn't see the point, and often if we go to the movies or out for dinner (also not often, because we love going home after a day of dealing with the public), it is straight after work so I'll wear what I wore to work that day.

If you are participating in Project 333 or sharing your new season Autumn/Fall or Spring wardrobe, please say so in the comments; I'd love to come and take a look.  And if you aren't, do consider doing something like this.  I had the thought that if I continue to do this every three months, it would make a great photograpic record of the evolvement of my wardrobe, and the same goes for you.


Thirty Chic Days book giveaway

I've probably gone on enough about this already, but if you haven't joined the competition to win a signed copy of my book 'Thirty Chic Days: Practical inspiration for a beautiful life', it closes Friday 30th September at midnight New Zealand time!  You can enter the competition here, and I'll post your prize to you anywhere in the world.  Good luck!


New book 'Financially Chic'

To celebrate my new book out this week: 'Financially Chic: Live a luxurious life on a budget, learn to love managing money, and grow your wealth' I am doing a 10-day video series of my favourite 'Financially Chic' tips.  Days 1, 2 and 3 are below, and the rest will be on my YouTube channel as they are released.

If you want to, you can subscribe with the red subscribe button at the top right hand corner on YouTube and you will be emailed whenever I post a new video.


Wishing you a lovely end of the week and weekend everyone!

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