Sunday, November 12, 2017

A tasteful and elegant holiday season

'Saturday selfie... with cats'

Thinking about how this December is going to be is giving me so much pleasure at the moment.  Before we sold our retail business at the end of last year, my husband and I had worked virtually seven days a week from the beginning of December to the 24th, so there was little energy or time left over to have the magical holiday season of my dreams.

We did what we could, with Christmas outings and movies, decorating our Christmas tree and creating a simple yet lovely Christmas feeling; but this year, well, this is our year!  We have moved house and I am now writing my books at home with no external employment.  I am finishing my six-week training course 'Create your dream life as a successful author' next week and that has been full on as well as being a lot of fun.  Twenty-nine incredible ladies joined me for the first round, and their enthusiasm for the lessons and their own writing has been an inspiration to me too.

I wanted to be further along with my new book Thirty More Chic Days, but, even with most of my e-Course lessons already mapped out it has still been a lot of work, and that's okay.  I've been putting everything into my lessons, so I'm fine that I realistically won't be publishing my new book until the new year.  I really wanted to have it out before Christmas - you know how you want to have everything in your life completed before year end! - but I'm over putting pressure on myself.

I'll enjoy the writing far more if I don't stress myself by trying to pack everything into 2017.  That's the change I'm making in my own life - I am seeking to enjoy everything I do and ensure that pleasure is a main ingredient in my days.

Ever since I can remember, I've had a perpetual sense of guilt hanging over me.  For no reason!  Guilt that I'm not a good enough person, guilt that I haven't done enough that day, guilt that I haven't earned the right to be a lovable person...  so much stuff that isn't even real.  I've been practicing NOT feeling guilty and it feels far better.  Every time guilt sneaks in, or a sense of heaviness that I should be doing more, I remember that I choose to feel good in the moment, no matter what.  There is no rushing to the next thing on my list so that I can feel worthy.  Instead of doing one thing while thinking ahead to what I need to do next, I enjoy doing that thing in the present time.  It feels so good.

Ralph Lauren's living room as featured in Architectural Digest

Something that's been inspiring me lately, is that I've been on an immersion into all things Ralph Lauren.  I've never owned a single item of his, whether clothing or homeware, but I love his philosophy.  About going to everyday style over fashion, appreciating utility items, owning items that get better with age, mixing in second-hand with new, going for well-made quality and keeping a sense of style in every part of your life.

I ordered a book about Ralph from Thrift Books and it arrived a few weeks ago (you can see it here, and if you use my code for anything on Thrift Books you receive a 15% discount coupon valid for the next fourteen days).  I decided that Ralph is going to be my filter for a stylish home (and a luxe casual wardrobe, and an elegant Christmas decor, and, and, and.)  Would Ralph do this? is my question to pass all my style choices through.

I was pleased to see in this book that he is Libran, and born only one week ahead of me (although a number of years before...).  Librans are known for being idealists who have their head in the clouds dreaming big dreams of a stylish and elegant world.  Me and Ralph, we're almost twins :)

I bought a seven-foot tall deluxe faux Christmas tree yesterday, and I am going to decorate it in a tasteful style; I'll have to do some research.  I already know I want to include a touch of tartan in my Christmas theme.  Not only is it very Ralph (I love the photos you can find online of his Bedford estate, that's so my style inside) but I also have Scottish heritage, having been a Macdonald before I married Paul.  I've always loved tartan in home decor, and it's my dream to have tartan carpet in a room one day (just like the Queen does at Balmoral Castle below).

The Queen in her Balmoral office

Are you thinking about Christmas yet?  What style are you going for this year, or do you have the same style every year?  I usually have the same understated (understatement!) style so I won't be going over the top, but I do want to push the boat out a bit, whilst still being pleasingly elegant.

I'd love you to let me know!


PS.  My Christmas prep series 'A Chic and Simple Christmas' is now up on YouTube.  There are ten tips to help you feel good about the holiday season.  They are quick to watch, and in a playlist so you don't have to start each video individually.  View my holiday video series here.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Poodle chic

Oh happy days, I have a poodle in my life again!  Please don't get too excited, this handsome fellow is a Rent-A-Poodle of sorts.  Teddy lives across the road and LOVES walking, so I take him with me when I go for my walk now.

Isn't he handsome?

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you'll know that I adopted senior rescue poodle Atlas after his dad died.  I thought Atlas was twelve, but his original papers turned up and he was actually 14.5.  We had him for only seven months before he crossed rainbow bridge and he was such a sweet boy.  He'd come to the shop every day with us and was an excellent greeter.  We still had customers asking about him years after he died, he was so popular!

You can read about the day Atlas came into our lives here, and if you are keen for more, everything poodle is in the Poodle Chic tag here (you'll have to read the posts in backwards order though because the newest one comes up first).

After Atlas passed, we adopted our rescue cats Jessica and Nina so didn't look for another dog, and that's what makes coming across a new friend in Teddy such a lovely find.  I get to enjoy his company on my walks, then drop him off home and the cats are none the wiser!  Dogs always make walks more fun, and Teddy is no exception.

On our first walk together we encountered a horse waiting tied up briefly outside its house....

Chickens free-ranging in a paddock (there were four of them)...

And the cutest lamb who must have been hand-reared because he always comes up to the fence if he's close by.  (Sometimes mother sheep won't have anything to do with their lambs, so there is no other option.)  Have you ever buried your face in a sheep's head?  It smells gorgeous.  Warm and lamby and woolly.  It's the farm animal equivalent of sniffing a baby's head.  Budgie heads are lovely too (in my sister's rescue-bird aviary).

I hope you enjoyed joining me for my country stroll with my new man Teddy.

Please, let me know what you've been up to this week?


I also have exciting news.  My first international edition of Thirty Chic Days has been published by Vaga, Lithuania's oldest publishing house. It is available in both print and as an eBook here.

Thirty Chic Days is still my most popular book, even though it was one of my first.

I've been writing for my next book, and have decided it is going to be Thirty More Chic Days.  I have so many wonderful topics I've been writing on, but I'd love to hear from you.  If you could choose a chapter topic or title for this book, what would it be?  Also, do you have a favourite chapter in the original Thirty Chic Days?  Please share your thoughts, because I'd love this book to have your input; I think that would be really special.

Have a lovely weekend, and I will see you next week!



You can find me here too:

Friday, October 27, 2017

Three easy steps to motivate yourself

I was chatting with one of my new Hawke’s Bay friends the other day, and she asked me in conversation ‘How do you stay motivated?’  (Specifically about my writing and my books.)  At the time I said that I simply loved creating inspiration for myself, so it wasn’t really an issue.

Afterwards, I had more of a think about it and realized that there were times, more in the past than now, where motivation was an issue so I thought it would be a great post topic for today.

Because it doesn’t matter if you want to write a book, eat healthier or take up a new challenge; the key to your success if having the right motivation.  You always know what you need to do to reach a goal, but the motivation to do it is always another matter, am I right?

These days with my writing, I simply sit down and write.  I usually have a book outline I am working on or a blog post to come up with.  Because I have been writing almost daily for so long now, I just sit down and go.

But before that when I was just starting out I needed to create my own motivation.  Even more important were those times when I couldn’t get going at all; when my well had run dry and I just couldn’t be bothered writing, even though I knew in my heart that I desired to be a writer.

At those times I gave myself a break (as in a mental break.)  I stopped nagging myself and trying to whip myself into action and feeling guilty and sick because I still wasn’t doing anything.  Gosh, it was like trying to drive a car with the handbrake on!

I then went right back to basics.  The question I asked myself was:

Do I even want to do this anymore?

It’s a big question, and I think it is an important one.  In life, there virtually isn’t anything we have to do if we don’t want to.  Of course there are consequences to things we don’t do, but there are plenty of examples of people who decide just to quit their jobs and go bush, leave their comfortable life and go travelling, leave their city life and move to the country…

But quit writing?  No, when I asked myself that, I knew I didn’t want to.  I love it and and can see myself doing what I'm doing now for the rest of my life.  The next step therefore, to get me back into momentum, was to treat what I wanted to do like it was my job.

Jobs aren’t fun 24/7.  They involve work, and even when it’s something you love like writing or with an outcome you want such as being in kick-ass shape – the best shape of your life; you still have to show up every day and do something towards that goal.

So I would.  I’d stop asking myself if I felt like writing and just do it.  I’d book in time in the morning (my favourite time to write) to turn up and create.  I’d put routines and helpful systems in place to enable me to write, such as prepping that day’s food the night before, and only booking necessary appointments and errands in the afternoon.

Making myself do it helped bridge that gap between what I said I wanted and what I was prepared to do to get it.  After a while it became routine and I had primed my rusty writing pump too, so it was easier to write each day.

Think about this technique with something you want to achieve. 

Maybe you want to slim down.  First ask yourself, ‘Do I really want to or is it something I feel I should do?’  Of course you might say ‘All my clothes are tight, I need to.’  And maybe they are, but so what.  You could make the decision to be happy with your weight exactly as you are.

And you could put away all the clothes that don’t fit you only leaving the ones that do hanging in your closet.  That at least gives you a temporary reprieve from the stricken feeling of ‘I’ve got to do something about my weight!’

Then, from a mentally calmer place you can ask yourself, if it was my job to be slimmer, how would I approach it?  If I was a competing athlete or an actress, what could I do to achieve that goal?

I find it helpful to look at being trim and healthy from a body builder or body sculptor’s point of view.  To me it feels to diet-y to weigh and measure my food or serve strictly balanced portions of healthy meals, but when I think of it from a gym person’s point of view; they do that as ‘just what they do.’

They put their meals together the night before and take everything with them to work.  They don’t get to noon and think ‘What do I feel like?’  No, they already have their protein and vegetables in the fridge for lunch, they eat it and then they carry on with their day nourished and full.

Athletes training for competitions or body builders getting in peak physical condition for a show will of course have meals prepped ahead of time, all the time.

They’re not sad losers for weighing and measuring their food, they are making something of themselves.  Setting your nutrition up as just something you do as part of reaching your goal strips away the thoughts of ‘I don’t feel like eating something healthy tonight, I feel like something fun.’

The ‘just do it’ thoughts get you past the initial enthusiasm of a new project and into the everyday.  That middle section is the danger part you have to go through, because once you start seeing results it’s easy to carry on.

Not only has it become your new routine way to eat, but you’ll start feeling more energetic because of the better foods and your clothes will fit a little looser.  That's highly motivating!

It’s like that with my writing.  After asking myself if it’s something I really want and when the answer is yes, committing to it like it’s my job.  I make myself write daily to get through the choppy part, and after a bit I’m in smooth waters, effortlessly creating every day, building up my body of work and feeling the thrill of releasing a new book.

It really is that simple.  Not easy, but simple.  Just follow the three steps for anything you are feeling stuck about.

What’s the thing you simultaneously want to do and can’t be bothered doing?

Ask yourself if you really, truly want it

If yes, commit to it like you are being paid to do it, like it’s your job
(If no, forget about it and go do something else!)

Sound good to you?  And on that note, I’m off to the gym.  I’m not asking myself if I feel like it (although I do, crazily enough), I’m just doing it.

I’d love you to share with me what you might try my motivation technique on.


PS. We are in the spring season here in New Zealand, but you lucky people in the northern hemisphere are experiencing autumn.  Yes, I love spring and the warmer summer months, but autumn will always be my first true love.

If you haven’t read my book How to be Chic in the Winter yet, why not check out a sample from Amazon?  In this book I share all my ideas on how to enjoy the winter season instead of just enduring it – even if you are a summer person!

I’m sure you will find ideas to transform the way you think about winter, and it all came from my own desire to ‘live slim, happy and stylish during the cold season.’  You can find it on Amazon Kindle here and in paperback too.

Friday, October 20, 2017

21 things you don’t know about me

Walking on Westshore beach in Napier last weekend

Because it's my birthday tomorrow, I thought it would be fun to do a post on 21 things you (probably) don’t know about me.  I always love these kinds of posts when others write them, probably because I’m très nosy, right?  I hope you enjoy mine; feel free to tell me if it’s really boring though!

It’s Labour weekend in New Zealand which means that Monday is a public holiday; even better, it’s also our regional anniversary day today; which means I have always had a four day weekend to celebrate my birthday with.  Isn’t that fabulous?

I felt mildly short-changed when I could ‘only’ have a three day weekend for my birthday when I lived out of the area.  That’s why I had to move back to Hawke’s Bay, for the extra-special, extra-long birthday weekend.

Okay, let’s go, and let’s see if I can conjure up 21 things you don’t know about me.
  1. My husband Paul’s birthday is also on the 21st of October (he’s one year younger than me).  I asked the Universe to send me my ideal guy – I specified ‘me, but male’ and I got someone who looks similar to me and was born on the same day.  On Saturday I will be 47 and he will be 46!
  2. I don’t wear a lot of pink but I love the colour.  I associate it with happiness and the peace and fun of childhood.
  3. I adore scented body products and perfumes.  Linking to number 2, I remember with great fondness Yardley Roses perfume and Avon Pink bubble bath, both in the late 1970s.
  4. 1990s tv programmes and movies make me happy – Melrose Place, Friends, Frasier, and any 90s movie with Gwyneth Paltrow in it.
  5. I don’t like eating baby vegetables because it seems cruel i.e. baby corn, baby carrots, although, I do love baby peas.  Call me contrary.
  6. I feel like I am getting younger as I get older.  Things like embracing technology, not complaining about ‘the younger generation’; I plan to become more youthful with time!
  7. I wasn’t always a cat lady – I used to think cats were boring with no personality.  How wrong I was.
  8. I always thought I’d have kids but it didn’t work out for us and now I can’t imagine my life any other way.
  9. The more I write, the more I love writing.  I can see myself still putting out books when I’m 80.
  10. I have extremely vivid dreams and they freak me out sometimes.
  11. I am scared of everything, but learning not to be.  (Scary movies are a total no-no.When I was a toddler, I wouldn’t walk on the sand because of crabs (there were no crabs on the beach) and I wouldn’t walk on the grass because it had worms underneath.  I only walked on paths but then one day I realized there was dirt under paths too…
  12. I have a strong sixth sense and sometimes have things come to me before I hear about them.  I pick up on other peoples energy too.
  13. I am a very slow eater, which is unfortunate because Paul eats very quickly (we are alike in so many ways but in this we are total opposites!)  Often he’s almost finished his dinner as I am taking my third mouthful.
  14. I wish I could have cat car-seats and a cat stroller so I could take my girls out with me (probably shouldn’t have let that point out in public).
  15. I love ice-cream to a fault, so I usually don’t buy it.  I haven’t had it in months, in fact.
  16. I love spreadsheets and doing financial stuff, and I have a really good memory for numbers – phone numbers, tax numbers, birthdays.  I am good at maths too.
  17. I am often accused of driving too slow but it’s just that I like to adhere to the speed limit.  This is ironic because I was quite the lead-foot as a teen.  My mum’s car had to get four new tyres after I started using it when I first gained my driver’s license at 15.  I felt bad when I heard about the new tyre purchase because I had been doing screechy tyre-spin starts whenever the lights turned green.  Lucky it was a small town where I grew up.
  18. When Cabbage Patch Kids first came out I wanted one desperately, but, already at high school I feared it was too late for me.  I still love them.  (Never had one though.)
  19. I have zero hand-eye coordination when it comes to ball sports.  My sporty uncle who is extremely laid-back tried to teach me how to play tennis once.  It’s the only time I’ve seen him lose his cool.  Yes, I am that hopeless.  Shame, because I’ve always fancied myself a tennis player, in an English country house Pimm’s on the lawn kind of way.
  20. I walk fast, because really, who wants to walk slow?  I’ve got places I want to get to, so please, get out of my way!
  21. Apparently I talk very quietly.  My mum is always saying ‘Pardon?’ but I think that has more to do with her hearing than my speaking.
And that’s me, hope you enjoyed it.

On my birthday I will be hosting a laydeez lunch for eight of us (all family members), and Paul is so thankful he has to work that day.  He’ll be hoping everyone has left by the time he gets home and we can enjoy the rest of our birthday weekend, relaxing with our terrible view :)

The view from our front lawn

Bon weekend everyone!


PS.  Christmas will be here soon, and I wanted to remind you about my book 'A Chic and Simple Christmas'.  If Christmas stresses you out every year, can I invite you to look at it in a different way?  One reviewer said of this book 'A very non-traditional Christmas book - but thought provoking' and another 'Used the ideas to have probably the best, low stress, Christmas I have ever had.'  Yay!

Check out the Amazon 'Look Inside' function to see if 'A Chic and Simple Christmas' is your cup of tea.   Available in paperback and on Kindle here.

And please, tell me something I don't know about you.  Please tell me something really embarrassing so I can have a giggle.  Laughing is good for you and I'm sure you'll agree, I shared some really embarrassing things with you (a cat stroller???) 
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