Sunday, August 18, 2019

Feeling good

Hello chic friends!  Here in New Zealand we are in the thick of winter, but it feels like spring is not too far away.  There is an abundance of bright yellow daffodils in our garden and the temperatures are becoming milder.

I'm feeling really good and I think it's down to two things:

1. I've been purposely focusing on positive thoughts, having gratitude and increasing my mindset to be happier, and

2. Tidying and beautifying my home and garden.  We found a great gardener who has been doing the hard things, and that in itself has inspired me to tidy the smaller parts more.  I have also been decluttering superflous items, tidying areas and organising things that had gotten muddly.

I know as a human it's just part of our makeup to go through happier, lighter times when everything flows easily, and then there are those times where everything seems like a monumental effort.  I totallyget that. At those times it's simply enough to try and keep the laundry up to date and cook dinner :)

But even in those times (or should I say 'especially in those times') I try to read books that uplift me such as a good novel or this beautiful Italian picture book (focusing on Florence) which I borrowed from the library, take time for hair and makeup, and get a good night's sleep by doing all the things I know work for me (winding down before bed, no sugar, having our bedroom be tidy and peaceful).

I don't know how you find it, but for me the ups and downs of day to day life are quite strong.  Possibly it could by my introvert nature.  I absorb a lot and I have to be careful about that.  I also have to actively work on feeling good with balanced meals, lots of water, a positive mindset and all those things that you've read about in wellness articles before.

It's amazing how all those lifestyle tips seem so boring and obvious, then when you don't do them you realise, wow, they are important.  But I also think that for some of us it takes a bit of effort to get back to an even keel when we feel that life is bolting along and we're hanging on by our fingernails.  That sounds a bit dramatic but I'm sure you have felt this way too at some stage and maybe you are now.

Brian Tracy, one of my favourite 'pump me up' motivational authors, says that in life you have small and large crises regularly, and it's a part of life.  A small crisis might be forgetting to put the outdoor umbrella down when there was a wind warning and now it's kindling in the fireplace basket (Yes, this just happened to us).  If only I'd not forgotten to check the umbrellas was folded away!

Big crises can knock you down for longer, but everything is a part of life.  It was the first anniversary of my dad's death this week, and the past year has felt both long and short.  Estates take a lot of untangling and we are working our way through it piece by piece.

All of this to say that wherever you are, it's where you're meant to be.  Sometimes things that happen to you can feel so unfair, but trying to resist a situation doesn't feel good.  It feels much better to focus on the positive, have gratitude for what is going well and give thanks for everything you've been blessed with.  Sounds hokey, but when you are in a difficult position, it means everything.

Blessings to you wherever you are (not just in the world, but if you're in a hard place or an easy place right now).

xx Fiona

PS. Have you read my newest book Thirty More Chic Daysyet?  I think it is my best work, and you can ‘look inside’ on Amazon, to see if I am your cup of tea.  You are warmly welcomed!

In this book I write about fun and simple ways to uplevel your mindset to create your most fun way of living, in whatever chic flavour inspires you the most.  I hope you check it out on Amazon and take a ‘Look Inside’ to see if it speaks to you!  You can read the first couple of chapters that way.


Saturday, July 27, 2019

La Dolce Vita

Rome, Italy 2001

As much as I adore Paris and France, my heart has also been taken by Italy. There is something about Italian style that is more accessible and down-to-earth. When I think about favourite foods, Italian food is right up there too. I think Italy is the secret sister for me, and she guides me in a way that I don't always appreciate.

I have only visited Italy once – Rome, for a mere two or three days – but it made a big impact on me and I can still remember many details; how confident and flamboyantly dressed the women were, the sense of style which was so important to Romans; the smartly dressed young men and women zipping around on Vespas, coffee balanced on the handlebars and held precariously with one hand, the espresso bars everywhere.

I have just finished reading a book called ‘When in Rome’, by Nicky Pellegrino (she's here on Amazon), and the exquisite beauty of her writing took me back to Italy and made me fall in love with the Italian way of life all over again.

I think you would call this book ‘faction’; it is a fascinating and enjoyable story woven in with the true story of the great tenor Mario Lanza when he and his family moved to Rome from the US to shoot a movie. The main character Serafina becomes his wife’s assistant, so she has a behind-the-scenes view to this famous man. I could almost sigh from happiness while reading this book; it feels like you are living right there in Rome with them and I want to make more Italian dishes for dinner as a result of reading about chef Pepe and his sizzling, fragrant kitchen.

This is the first book of Nicky’s I have read and trust me, I will be searching out her others! (She has quite a few, yay!)

Ah bella, I am so sad to have finished this book, it was like the perfect evening out; you know there will be others, but this one was just so… divine. Sometimes a book finds you at exactly the right time, you know? And it weaves its way into your very being.

So for now, I will be moving to Italy in my mind, and thinking what I can make for dinner tonight that will fit my mood. And, playing opera on my iPod :)

Are you a lover of all things Italian, or does it sneak up on you like it did to me?

Happy weekend everyone!


PS. I am about to start another audiobook recording - which one would you vote for me to do?  I am thinking Thirty More Chic Days.  In the meantime, if you haven't listen to my first audiobook, of Thirty Chic Days, you can find it here as an instant download in MP3 format.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Building a beautiful life with routines

Hello chic friends, do you like the photo of my street?  There are grape vines down the road from us.  It's winter here and they are all pruned back, but just look at those colours; they're glorious, yes?  I lightened up this photo on my phone, but that's all the 'editing' I've done.

This photo encapsulates the feeling I want for my everyday life - a feeling of peace and beauty.  And I have been on a quest to capture that feeling for a long time now.  One thing that always helps me feel good is having the basics taken care of - laundry is up to date, I know what I'm having for dinner, my bed is made, the house is clean and tidy, that sort of thing - daily life.  Having these things sorted means I can feel relaxed and focus on what I need to do that day, as well as dream big for the future.

I've been using Flylady's routines for about three weeks now and they really useful.  I've had her book Sink Reflections for ages, but never read it properly, just flicked through it (I ordered her newest book on Kindle too).  Reading it and actually implementing what she says has been a big help - who would have thought!  And she led me on to Diane in Denmark's Flylady videos on YouTube.  Diane is very motivating to me!  She makes things simple and currently I am enjoying going through her 31 Babysteps video playlist as I put my makeup on in the morning or sip a cup of tea.

I can be easily distracted and the basics get forgotten about which means a stressful scramble when I realise I haven't even thought about dinner or my bed is not made yet I must leave the house within sixty seconds.  I really can't stand to leave a bed messy; I'd rather be late by a few minutes and make the bed before I leave.  But that's just because I started that habit of always making my bed a long time ago.  Of course I'd rather not be late either so that's something else I am working on, and the simple daily routines of Flylady help with that too because I feel ahead of the game instead of behind.

Something cool I did find was the Flylady Premium app for my phone.  It's free and fantastic.  The routines area means I can tick them off on my phone.  I deleted a few and added some of my own to customise the list.

I have even been putting an outfit together for the next day most nights, and it's fun!  This has encouraged me to wear different clothes than normal, and add the finishing touches such as a scarf or necklace too.  Plus, when I hang up an outfit on the hooks in our wardrobe, I can see that something needs me to whizz over it with the lint shaver or a button is loose.  It feels good to play around in my wardrobe rather than zoom in once a day to get quickly dressed.  I appreciate my clothes more and I look after them instead of wanting to go out and buy something new.

Do you have any routines that you know your life would fall apart without?  What are your favourites?

Please share :)


PS. If you haven't read any of my books yet, why not pop over to Amazon and download samples for free?  You can find them here.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Ralph Lauren style decor

Hello chic friends!  I am excited to show you our most recent home decor projects, all in my favoured 'Ralph Lauren (on a budget)' style.  You can click on any of the photos to see them bigger :)

This is our entrance way which we recently had wallpapered in charcoal and off-white stripes.  I have always loved the luxe look of wide stripes so we borrowed my interior designer friend Davina's confidence that it would look amazing and went for it!

The coat hooks below are a new addition too.  I love hooks, and especially in an entrance way.  They look good and are so useful.  Above the hooks is my family tartan (I'm a Macdonald).

In the living room below, you can see the stripes through the double doors into the hall.  The denim cushion on our tartan wing chair is new.  I made two of them from denim scraps I have been collecting for years and love how they rough up the look of our decor so it isn't too staid.  And I love denim to death anyway.  Dress in denim, decorate in denim.  You can never have enough in my opinion.

And this is my new cushion arrangement for our sofas, all on a budget - of course!

Cushions from left to right:

Actual real 'Ralph Lauren Home' fabric that my sister found a remnant of inexpensively and thought of me.  I made the piece into two cushion covers (with the backs in a similarly coloured patterned velvet).

Then, gold and black sequined K-Mart $12 beauties (where you can rub the sequins both ways so it can be all black, all gold or any design you care to create in-between).

Then, leopard print cushion covers I made myself.  This was with about $20 of fabric from a crafter's heaven called Spotlight here in New Zealand.  Davina quoted me a price for two 'Pierre Frey - Panthere' cushions... $475, which included my 10% discount on fabric...  OMG, I almost fell over when I saw the quote, so I hotfooted it to Spotlight and made my own.  She saw my budget covers when she last visited and said 'I still want you to get the real ones'.  Hehe, well it will have to wait until we have NO PETS (which will never happen), because Daphne chews the corners of cushions. Of course she does.  And I would cry a lot if she chewed expensive French cushions.

Lastly the denim cushion is one of a pair that I made my dad for his birthday last year and recently brought them back to live with me.  Thought bubble - 'Can you ever have too many denim cushions in a living room?'  (The answer is no, in case you are wondering.)

And the sofa opposite this one has the same arrangement.
Here's Daphne below, photo-bombing the corner with our metal sideboard.  Please note real 'Ralph Lauren Home' leather on the side of the wing chairs :)  I can't remember if I've already told you the story about the leather...  A company here in Napier supplies a certain style/colour of leather to Ralph Lauren in the US and Davina ordered the exact same leather directly from the tanner.  So this, along with the cushion fabric means I do have a few authentic pieces of Ralph in my home!

Do you like my picture wall curving around the gilt mirror?  I have so much confidence in hanging pictures now.  Davina came around one day and showed me how she just starts banging hooks in walls and goes by eye rather than laying out a pattern on the floor.  It's a strategy that has worked well for me so far!

On the other side of this L-shaped room is our dining area, below, and I love it.  I swapped the sitting area and dining area over a few months back and it works so much better.  There is plenty of room to move around even if ten are dining, and the sofas in the window nook make a cozy conversation area.

It was Davina's idea to put  the rug under the table - it defines the dining space nicely in a large room.  It's a $40 rug from the auction that cost $110 to clean!  It was pretty filthy, and now I have a gorgeous rug for.

I hope you enjoyed my latest home decor photos!  I'd love to know what you would term your decor style (like my 'Ralph Lauren on a budget').  Can you put it in one phrase or sentence?  Now there's a challenge for you; the more creative the better!


PS.  If you are new to my blog, you may not have heard my interview with the gorgeous Shannon Ables from The Simply Luxurious Life.  I had such a great time talking with her; she is a fantastic interviewer.  Shannon is in Bend, Oregon, and I am in New Zealand.  How cool is that?  We had such fun - Shannon is the nicest person ever.
We talked a little bit about my book Thirty Chic Days and all sorts of things related to living a simple and beautiful life.   You'll probably already be familiar with Shannon's inspiring blog, and podcast The Simple Sophisticate, but if you're not, you are in for a treat.

You can listen to (or download) the interview here, and it's also available on iTunes and Stitcher.  I'm sure you will enjoy, as I did, Shannon's generosity of spirit and genuine friendliness (I was a little bit nervous before the interview!)

I hope you enjoy listening to Shannon and I chat - I so wish we could have met in person!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...