Thursday, May 19, 2022

Home decor inside and out, and a colourful wardrobe


Hello chic friends!

This is sweet Nina cat sitting sentry at the front door. Alongside my favourite red-orange geraniums! I love the look of them against the brick colour, although... we are going to have the brick painted.

I know, it goes against all advice to 'never paint brick', but we decided we want to, so that's what we'll do. We are either going to go very dark - sooty matte black, or off-white. Dark is quite fashionable, off-white is more classic.

I am leaning towards dark! I know it will be quite dramatic and wow-factor. There is a long-ish wait time for our painter so it will give us plenty of time to save up, but we should have it done by the end of the year.

Initially we were planning to repaint all the dark parts, plus under the eaves, just for maintenance. Then we expanded our plan - it happens doesn't it!

Anyway, until then, Nina will keep guard outside, enjoying the autumn sun here at the moment :)

And I'll be inside, finishing my book 'How to be Chic in the Summer'. It's almost there and I hope to have it in your hands this month!
 
~~

Below is our living room… I love this room so much. The inspiration is Ralph Lauren English country style meets French chateau.
 
 
The chandeliers are from the original owners, made from farming equipment from the husband’s family in Holland. One is a yoke and the other a wagon wheel.

I love that this room has wow-factor; it feels really special to be in here, even on an ordinary day.

And, on a fun note, it was nineteen years ago this week that I met my husband Paul at a pub in Auckland. What a fortuitous evening that was.
 
I have gone from someone who wore wore mostly neutrals and a few soft pastels, to a lover of colour and pattern as you can see!

The first photo is of my blouses and tops, and the second my wool jerseys for when it's cooler.

 


I still like neutral bottoms though, mostly skinny or fitted jeans in white, light-wash, dark-wash, army green, charcoal and black.

I had a fun few hours on the weekend reorganising my closet for autumn/winter and packed away my summer gear.

I like to merchandise my clothes so they look like an appealing boutique. This means hanging everything up, even items that others would usually fold such as heavy jerseys, or tee-shirts in the summer.

In my book 'The Chic Closet' I talk more about this technique in 'Chapter 5: Inject excitement with a capsule du mois'.

Hanging everything up means you can see everything you have, and more easily picture how different items go together, much like in a retail store.

I started doing this quite a few years ago and it's made a huge difference to how easy it is to get ready in the morning, and it's more enjoyable too.

You can find 'The Chic Closet' here on Amazon as a paperback book, or on Kindle too.
 

Happy mid-week everyone!
 
xx Fiona

Thursday, May 12, 2022

My favourite cake recipe and how I deal with criticism


Hello chic friends!
 
On Sunday we had afternoon tea at my Aunt's for mother's day and I made my favourite cake. I got the recipe here.

I make mine with butter because I'm not vegan, and I have probably made this cake at least half a dozen times. I have used, on different occasions rhubarb, feijoas, and granny smith apples. All are delicious.

And I like to serve it with whipped cream :)

If you try it, let me know what you think!

Hope you had a lovely mothers day too.

(Look how funny Chloe dog's face is :) No one could ever accuse her of being photogenic!)
 
~~
 
Mum told me what a nightmare I was in this photo session. I don't think she got a good, non-fidgety photo out of the lot! In fact I know this because she literally commented "Wasn't a usable photo among them". Hehe, sorry Ma!


And I was probably the one who tore the proof sheet afterwards too...

Good times!


I was recently asked how, as an author, do I deal with people's criticism of my work, and not take it personally or allow it to disable me?

I thought this was such a fantastic question, and it could apply to many different areas of our life too. None of us are immune to the sting of criticism!

So today I will answer from my point of view as an author.

It took a lot of guts to release my first book. It sat for years in a drawer, partially written, and I'd visit it every so often 'just to see'. I couldn't keep away from it! I'd re-read it and see that it wasn't so bad, write a bit more, become beset with self-doubt and put it back.

Then one day I thought 'Stuff it', I'm finishing the book and putting it out. And I did. I am telling you this to show that even the threat of criticism can hold us back from doing something we've always wanted to do.

And then when you do it... nothing much happens. Most of my reviews were lovely and readers were happy with what I had written.

This is what I keep in mind when I see a bad review. I also remember that I didn't intentionally set out to make someone upset with what I wrote. I do my best to write clearly and with as few errors as possible. I spend a lot of time after finishing writing a book sifting through it over and over to make it as good as I possibly can.

But even so, there are still people who won't like my work. They think I'm not living in the real world, I must have things easy to be flitting around with all this airhead prettiness that I surround myself with. My favourite two-star review on Goodreads called me 'delusional'. I couldn't love that review more, because I am!

I don't want to live in the real world. Well I do, in a practical sense, but I want to make it better, more fun. And for the people who want that too, I'm magic. But not everyone is the same. I think that's an important thing to remember about criticism.

Yes I do read all my reviews. I love the good ones, and in the bad ones I can learn something, either to improve my writing, or simply that that person is not my reader.

The main thing is to be happy in yourself. If you are true to you, the sting of criticism is far less.
 
Wishing you a lovely rest of your week and a fun weekend!

xx Fiona
 




Thursday, May 5, 2022

Italian chic, and how to be chic in the summer


Hello chic friends!

One of my lovely blog readers left this fabulous comment on my recent 'Italian Chic Inspiration' post.

“I lived in Italy and agree Italian style is somewhat sexy. Things we noticed living in Milan, Italians always fasten up their overcoat if they are wearing one. The always dress up even to go to the supermarket, this may still be jeans but they will not be the dirty ones they wore to clean the apartment, full makeup will be worn too. Makeup is often very heavy, I don't know how they put up with it in the summer heat.

Italians do not drink cappuccino after 11am and never ever after dinner. They always carry a scarf in their handbag in-case of draughts, draughts are considered to cause all manner of illnesses.

Italians do not readily follow laws such as the speed limit but they will follow social rules to the letter, swimming after lunch, never! They care very much about how they appear to the outside world but are not above buying knock offs to wear at the beach in summer, if everyone is wearing a particular watch on the beach in San Remo you can be sure it is being sold by the hawkers around town.

It's fun to try out new style and Italians are chic, you just need to know the rules.”

Isn't that fun? Thank you so much Elizabeth for leaving that comment. I love it!

And if you have anything to add about Italian style or perhaps you are Italian, please feel free to share :)


So, my next book is well underway, and by popular request it is called 'How to be Chic in the Summer'. So many of you have written and asked for it!

I thought now was the perfect time since we recently finished summer in New Zealand, and you in the northern hemisphere are going into summer soon.

I have a favour to ask: what is your biggest dilemma when it comes to summer? Dressing? Food? Keeping cool? Please tell me all your problems, lol!

And let me know what you want me to include in the book too, specifics welcomed. I'd love to encompass as much as possible.

I'm having fun writing it and can't wait to include as many of your suggestions as possible and brainstorm chic solutions to your problematic areas.

Thank you in advance! Such fun to have a collaborative book!
 
 
When I dine solo (this photo was at lunchtime), I like to have something sweet with a coffee afterwards.

Usually I'll have a few squares of dark chocolate, but here it's a healthy cookie. The recipe was average so I won't make them again (they were a bit 'too healthy' if you know what I mean), but I didn't throw them out. I don't like to waste things unless they are actually inedible 😊

Do you have a healthy sweet treat recipe to share? I'd love to hear
about it if so!

xx Fiona

PS. You can find all my other books at my affiliate link on Amazon here.

 



Thursday, April 28, 2022

My birthday handbag


Hello chic friend!
 
So, I was doing things in the kitchen the other day when I turned around to see this... it was only just gone half-past-three but the dinner queue had already started forming!

From front to back: Nina, Jessica, Daphne. Chloe dog wasn't there yet, or perhaps she was through the doorway behind Daphne.
 
My phone was handy on the kitchen counter so I was lucky enough to get a photo, I couldn't have planned this if I tried, you know the saying about herding cats!


This is the bag I bought for my fiftieth birthday 18 months ago. Paul and I had such a fun time choosing it. We went to the Louis Vuitton store in Auckland on a weekend trip before my birthday, and I had in mind what I wanted with a few styles narrowed down from browsing their website.

I wanted a style that could be casual or dressy, day or night. The touch of black means I can wear this bag with black, and the brown check lends it to other colours too, it softens it. If the bag was all black I don’t think it would go with my wardrobe as much. It has a long gold chain handle that can pull through to be long and single so the bag sits on my hip (or crossbody), or doubled up to be a shoulder bag tucked under my arm. I preferred the check to the LV logo print.

In the Auckland store they have an embossing machine, so I now have a gold 'FF' monogrammed inside - such fun!

The lady also served us a glass of champagne (Veuve Cliquot I think) while we chose, and another while we waited for the embossing. I could get used to shopping like this :)

I am still very happy with my purchase and even though it's been used regularly (not daily, but regularly), it's still in perfect condition. I can see this bag staying nice for a long, long time.

So that's my show and tell for today. I don't usually 'do' birthday presents. Since Paul and I have our birthday on the same day we buy something for the house or go out for a nice dinner.

But a fiftieth is different, right? Paul's was the following year, in 2021, and he got a nice watch that he has coveted since I've known him.

It was so nice to mark the occasion, and I am very appreciative that I got to choose such a lovely bag. It's the Vavin PM style if you are a bag geek and want to know!

Tell me about a lovely birthday present you've received, it doesn't have to be current day, just one that really meant a lot to you.
 

And I received a nice surprise this week: two no. 1 bestsellers at the same time - what a dream!

Thank you so much to you for reading - and reviewing - my books.

A lovely reader emailed me after finishing '100 Ways to Live a Luxurious Life on a Budget' and said:

I loved the book! I have already put a few ideas in practice… for example, when I'm getting ready for work in the morning (at 4:30 AM!!!!!!) I enjoy the process, pampering myself and taking time with my shower and make up… like the rich lady that I am! ;-) (It REALLY does change one's attitude.)

Hearing feedback like this makes me so happy!

It's 8am here and I have had my breakfast and am just about to jump in the shower, so I will pamper myself rich-lady style too. I have a little tube of Estee Lauder 'Pleasures' shower gel that I never remembered to take in my travel bag, so I am indulging each day with that. When the alternative is to leave it in the bathroom cabinet forever and wait until it has lost its scent!

Please tell me how you are going to pamper yourself like a rich lady today, big or small, all ways are fabulous and welcomed.

xx Fiona
 
PS. You can find my two latest books above and all my other titles at my affiliate link here on Amazon.



Wednesday, April 20, 2022

New book out today!


Hello everyone,
 
I am so excited to release my new book! Eeek!

I got the idea for it while reading reviews of a self-development book on Amazon last year. Someone who had read the book said something like, 'If this is what it takes to live an epic life, count me out. It sounds exhausting!'

This little phrase made me think of writing about what an epic SMALL life would look like. For those of us who love peace and calm, a happy home life, and doing things on a cozy scale vs the stereotypical jet-set-south-of-france-yacht-private-plane-travel-go-big-or-go-home kind of life.

If you enjoy my writing I think you will enjoy this book too!

‘Loving Your Epic Small Life’ is available now at my Amazon affiliate link in Kindle eBook format and paperback print as well.

Don't you just love the cover lady? I knew she was perfect for this book when I saw her. It's like she is saying, 'Yes, dahling, I know I'm fabulous. I'm adoring my epic small life don't you know.'

I think we could all take inspiration from her and put our big sunhat on too. And own that we love our epic small life!

For those of you who prefer a different place to get your books than Amazon, the eBook is available in my eStore here too:

Thanks so much for reading my books! I really hope you love this one too!


I wanted to show you my favourite fashion 'uniform' style and colours. The photo taken above was when my husband Paul and I were being tourists in our own town by doing a bit of wine tasting recently.

Over the past few years I have been drawn more to brighter colours to wear near my face, and I pair these with a neutral bottom-half.

So, in this outfit I have a pink top with soft and comfortable stretch skinny jeans in blue.

In my wardrobe I currently have:

Tops -
Red
Yellow
Pink
Emerald green

Bottoms-
Blue denim
White
Charcoal/black

The cool thing is that all my tops and bottoms are interchangeable. Everything goes with everything else!

'Soft-bright' is my preferred tone for tops. My colouring is muted, so clear bright would overwhelm my look.

Sometimes I tuck my top in, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I wear flat shoes, sometimes heels. Sometimes I wear a blazer too.

Another change I have made is going from buttoned, tailored blouses or shirts to the boho looking top which still feels dressy because it's woven fabric rather than knit, but is more feminine. It just feels more like me.

As the seasons pass my style will evolve with what I bring into my wardrobe, but I really love where I am now. It feels like I'm in the sweet spot!

Tell me about your happy place when it comes to getting dressed - when do you feel most like you?

For more wardrobe inspiration, see my book ‘The Chic Closet’ here on Amazon.
 
 

I love making a nice little setting for my lunch when dining alone. In this lunch I have a leftover portion of casserole, a 'small' (oops!) dollop of sour cream, yummy side salad and a sliced pear for afters.

Add a book and some soft instrumental music and I'm in heaven!

I am such a leftovers fan. Even if there is a tiny amount of something left, like the casserole, I can make a lunch out of it. And once I've had everything, I am full so it doesn't matter if the main part is small. I always try to have protein and fat too, both help sustain a body through to the next meal.

I hope you are having a wonderful week and that you enjoy my new book! I know, two books within a month, I almost can't believe it myself. Of course it helps that one was almost completely written beforehand but I just hadn't edited it.

See you soon and happy reading!

xx Fiona
 
 
 

Thursday, April 14, 2022

My evening routine, and Italian Chic inspiration


Hello chic friends!
 
This little patio area is off our kitchen/family room and faces east so it's perfect for breakfast when it's warm enough. Now that we are into autumn those days are becoming less but I do love being cozy so it's a payoff I am happy with.

One of my lovely readers asked me what time I go to bed and when I get up, and if I have a night time routine. Happy to oblige!

I always get up at 6am. I love rising early. I want at least eight hours sleep so I plan for lights out by 10pm.

I like to relax and wind down before bed, so I often indulge in 'Boudoir Time' (as written about in my book 'The Peaceful Life').

Boudoir time is when I set myself up in our bedroom after dinner with soft music playing. I wash my face and apply a face mask. I either read one of my style files or journal some inspiration for myself.

Once my face mask is ready to wash off I remove that and take my time smoothing night cream and eye cream on. Sometimes I use a serum or facial oil, sometimes not. I brush my hair and remove my jewellery.

I'll massage body cream into my feet, hands, elbows, wrists and decolletage. I collect those white hotel slippers and use them to protect our carpet while the cream soaks into my feet.

The last thing I do is get my Kindle out and read a few pages of a novel. No matter how tired I am I need to read at least one page or it doesn't feel right, because I have done it for so long! Sometimes if it's late and I really am tired, I'll open my Kindle, read a paragraph and then close it again. LOL!

Boudoir time is such a delightfully restorative way to unwind before sleeptime and I love it. Tell me what you do to relax before bed?

I really do think having a little night time ritual promotes peaceful sleep and helps me sleep right through to the morning.
 

I love my Italian Chic inspiration almost as much as French Chic. There is just something about Italian style that is sexier, less buttoned up.

The few nights I spent in Rome it was wonderful to see people dressed up, definitely in a more fashion forward way than most of us here in New Zealand, for sure!

There is an Italian term 'passeggiata' which is a leisurely evening stroll where you dress up to see and be seen, and socialise lightly with others. Doesn't that sound delightful?

As with all my inspiration, I try to bring a dash of Italian into my own life here. I even wrote a little inspiration piece for myself about 'my Italian life' - how I would be if I infused Italian style into my day, every day.

So, to complement my Italian style book display, here is my perfectly fictitious inner Italian girl :)

~~

She lives la dolce vita – the sweet life.

She follows the la bella figura philosophy – making a good impression and putting your best foot forward in everything you do.

She wears capri pants and a fitted blouse with ballet flats or tab-front loafers. Her wardrobe is minimal and stylish.

She accessorises with big sunglasses in black or tortoiseshell and carries a tote bag.

She dresses to show off her figure and dresses to be seen. Chic sensual is her vibe.

She strolls the cobblestones with her beau after dinner. She says buona sera – good evening! to others.

She sips espresso coffee or red wine at a charming side-street cafe or ristorante.

She plays opera on the stereo in her stone apartment.

She is unabashedly feminine with a womanly figure – think Sofia Loren.

She has big hair – straightened, and back-combed in a 60s style.

She rides a Vespa with her coffee on the handlebars, wearing a pencil skirt, high heels and open-faced helmet. (I actually saw girls like this in Rome, it was a treat for the eyes!)

~~

Of course, I’m not about to start backcombing my hair or even buying a Vespa, but it is certainly fun to have my Italian girl as a muse.

What about your muse. What does she like? Where does she live? How does she dress? What does she eat and drink?
 
~~
 
This is Milly, my mother's dog. Milly is 15 years young, and came to live with my mum 3+ years ago when her previous owner died. It was through a mutual friend who asked if mum could take on Milly since the lady's children lived overseas.


Milly adapted to her new life with pluck - she is such a happy and playful dog in spite of being geriatric in dog years!

Her favourite things are her hot-pink rugby ball toy, Duck Tender treats, and 'greeting' the postie as he rides past on his little electric cart.

I hope you enjoyed meeting Milly :)
 
Have a wonderful Easter weekend!

xx Fiona
 
PS. You can find my newest book in Kindle or print - still a no. 1 bestseller after more than two weeks in the Amazon store - '100 Ways to Live a Luxurious Life on a Budget'.



Thursday, April 7, 2022

Thank YOU, and a very naughty cat!


Hello everyone!

I am still riding the high of releasing a new book.

Thank you to YOU for making it a no. 1 bestseller and no. 1 in all the charts it was in. And if you wrote a review, I am grateful for that too. I couldn't be happier with this book's debut, and I truly hope you are enjoying it.

Here are a few of the early reviews that tickled my fancy:

‘Running Mom’
‘It’s a good reminder that a luxurious life starts with a mindset, not a credit card.’

So true, Running Mom, and I wish I had thought of that sentence! It would make a fabulous subtitle :)

‘julie’
‘This makes you feel better about all those people (especially teachers) who complained about your daydreaming. I am 75 and my daydreaming has fueled a truly wonderful life.’

Julie’s review gives such validation for being a daydreamer, thank you Julie from all us daydreamers!

You can find the book on Kindle and in petite print here on Amazon.

This week I have lots of writing planned, a family lunch, and, grocery shopping. It's all glamour around here, I tell you.

I am so pumped about my next book, I hope to have it out this month. It helps when it was almost completely written before I started '100 Ways to Live a Luxurious Life on a Budget'. But I just needed to let it sit and marinate for a bit.

Now that I'm doing edits and read-throughs I love it! Yay! When something is better than you remembered it is SUCH a good feeling, lol.



Our Jessica cat has become naughtier as she's gotten older. I think she's decided that she's NOT going to be a people pleaser anymore. As if cats ever were!

So anyway, I came into the living room to be greeted with this... thankfully the tealight was not lit. But I did have to pick up all the coffee beans that the candle was sitting in.


I mean really, what was the point? And she would have had to reach right up onto the coffee table to hook the whole thing down.

Thanks Jessica…

As you can see from the holly detail on the candle holder, this was at Christmas time, I just hadn't shared the 'joy' with you yet :)

Do you have naughty pets? Tell me your best story!

Wishing you a grand rest of the week and thanks again for welcoming my newest little book with such love!

xx Fiona
 
PS. You can find my newest book '100 Ways to Live a Luxurious Life on a Budget' here!



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