Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Outing

We had a plan one evening recently to go and see the Christmas lights on a street famous for dressing up its houses (not quite American style though, New Zealand is a little more low-key). There were a few hours to fill in, between finishing work and it being dark enough to see the lights. We didn't want to go home so our plan was to have a drink in a pub nearby, then takeaways at a local park before heading to the light show.

We stopped at a Belgian Beer Cafe. Atlas soaked up the sun, and the compliments of fellow customers. I was asked if I wanted a small or a large beer when I decided on Hoegaarden. I said large, then changed to small. My husband went up to the bar and came back with the bucket that you see above (large). It was 'only' 500ml which he justified by saying it was less than 1.5 small bottles. It's bigger than Atlas!

'Never drink a beer bigger than your head' should be my motto, but I ignored it that day.

Next stop was the park with takeaways and a picnic rug.

Poodle relaxing in the sun once the dishes were washed up.

Back to the car, slowly. It was still very much daylight and we knew the lights wouldn't even be on yet.

Heading down the famous street in search of Christmas festivities.

One of the first of many cutely decorated homes (they must have decided against prettying up the wheelie bin).

Atlas cutting a dash on his Christmas leash (red with snowmen and Christmas trees on).

The sky was beautiful as the earth turned and darkness came.

One of my favourites - very subtle and stylish with plentiful round paper lanterns in varying sizes of yellow, red and orange.

The upper balcony is extremely tasteful I thought, and appropriate for a very hot early summer.


A long shot of the street.

It looks simple enough, but I bet outlining your home in lights is a big job.

Atlas walked all the way down the street (we parked at the top). It was a 10-15 minute walk and he skipped ahead like a puppy, pulling at the leash he was so excited to be out and amongst it all. It was a different story crossing the road at the bottom and walking uphill though. He started flagging and we took turns carrying him back to the car.

He conked out immediately on the drive home. I don't think he's ever had so much exercise in his life before he came to live with us.

Merci for reading How To Be Chic since I started in May of this year. I am looking forward to an exciting 2011, and will be back in January for my next year of living chicly. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Living the Savvy Life - Book Review

I was so thrilled and flattered to be chosen as an early reviewer of a new book, due out next month. Melissa from The Savvy Life emailed me and asked if I would like to be sent an advance copy of her new book Living the Savvy Life. Yes please!

One of my other favourite topics (than French Chic) is personal finance. The two seem quite far apart I know. I worked for most of my twenties for financial planning companies and have continued my personal finance readings up until the present day.

Many of these books can be very dry. My favourite types are ones which have a bit of personality and make being fiscally responsible more fun than running up credit card bills keeping up with the Joneses. Living the Savvy Life makes it fun and chic. It’s much more than just a way to do better with your money, it’s a true lifestyle guide covering home, entertainment, wardrobe, beauty and food.

When I first received my copy in the mail (you can imagine how excited I was opening a parcel in New Zealand that came all the way from California), I immediately read the contents page and flicked to the Wardrobe chapter.

I didn’t mean to start reading it right there at the post office but the friendly and conversational style meant I couldn’t not. I only read one page and then forced myself to put the book back in the envelope and get to work.

Living the Savvy Life really is such a readable and enjoyable book, and inspires and encourages me to want to do better in the areas where I’m lacking, and give myself a Congratulations in the areas I’m doing well in.

Thank you Melissa for including me in your review panel, and I wish you all the best with your launch on Amazon on January 11th. For anyone considering purchasing this book, I think you’ll find it a useful and enjoyable addition to your bookshelf. File it between Anne Barone and Suze Orman!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Chic Habits: Having Mystique from your Significant Other

Having mystique at home/from your significant other. I read an article recently about two women who wrote a book on having a happy relationship. Julienne Davis and Maggie Arana have a book out called Stop Calling Him Honey and Start Having Sex. It sort of tells you right there in the title doesn't it?

Apparently there are a number of behaviours which can damage the dynamics of your relationship, and baby talk/names is right up there. By calling your sweetheart, well sweetheart, or darling or dear (even worse they say are baby-talk names like Beanybum or McMuffin Poopencakes - an actual one they came across) you are giving him the same generic nick-name as your barista or child.

I am guilty of this. I use 'sweetheart', but I also call kids in the shop trying on shoes 'sweetheart'. Better to use your husband's *gasp* actual name. Apparently as hard as that sounds (and it does to me, it sounds really formal), it will get easier and 'you'll soon realise you're thinking about him in a different way, and he's responding to you better.'

The authors are not professionals, but say the book is a result of 'ten years of the two of us searching and finally finding what really works to keep a couple's sex life hot'.

One of the authors said 'Looking back, I realised that my own sex life began to disappear when my partner and I started using pet names and baby talk with each other. We seemed like the perfect couple because we truly did love each other's company, but at home, we had so many bad habits going on that feeling sexual with each other was virtually impossible.'

Other bad habits include leaving the toilet door open (when you're in there), watching tv with dinner and letting 'bodily noises' hang out in his presence. These things are harmful to your sexual desire for each other. 'Apparently, failing to shut the bathroom door begins a downward spiral that ultimately turns lovers in roommates. "Certain barriers are worth rebuilding. Give yourself more privacy for a couple of weeks. Trust me, you'll feel sexier",' says one of the authors.

It made me think about how I conduct myself when at home with my husband. There are a few things to tweak to ensure our ongoing happy couplehood.

Close the bathroom or toilet door at all times. When I am brushing my teeth or washing my face doesn’t sound that bad, but why show him at all. Rather than see me with a whizzing toothbrush and foaming mouth, why not walk into the bathroom, close the door, then come out with a minty fresh smile.

Same with washing my face, I will go into the bathroom, close the door, before emerging with a fragrant, smooth and clean face. No hairband, no goo on my face, no raccoon eyes as I’m half done.

I mostly shut the toilet door, by mostly I mean if he’s near. But if my husband is downstairs and I am up, I don’t. It’s not a big effort to shut a door, so I plan to do this all the time, even when I am home alone. It’s a good habit to keep my mystique!

The authors say you don't need to dress up in sexy lingerie, you don't need to go see a therapist and 'you don't need to change who you are or spend a fortune to save your sex life. You just need to clear away all the stuff that's got in the way of the sexual dynamic you used to have.'

This is one thing I can start today (in fact I started yesterday) to improve my life with minimal effort and no expense. Just a change in thinking.

If you'd care to join me, please let us know what chic habits you would like to bring into your life, either on your own blog or in the comments here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chic Goals

I've had many lovely emails from readers both during and after my 30 Chic Days of November, and I love reading all of them. In these emails you detail how you are making your life more chic and which parts were your favourites. Ani from California went one step further and made her own list of Chic Goals.

I commend Ani on her candidness. My favourite thing about a good blog is when the writer is honest yet edited. I really enjoyed Ani's list and thought you might too. I would love to hear your list, even if it doesn't reach an impressive 22 items long. Well done Ani!


Ani's Guide to a Chic Life

1. Live all parts of my life with passion and be productive.

2. Eat less sugar and processed foods.

3. Eat less meat and dairy (I'm not going vegan or anything...but I believe everything needs to be eaten in moderation, and these foods are harder to digest.) And, I have given up those lunch meat things. I don't particularly like the look of them, and they have so much sodium and have been linked to increased risk of heart disease.

4. No bingeing (I've actually been good about this...I eat more slowly and if I feel like I'm having a crazy craving I just breathe deeply or do a couple yoga poses, and realize I don't really need chocolate or's just stress.) or mindless eating.

5. Enjoy healthy foods and cook more.

6. Have active lifestyle and enjoy the outdoors-both of these things are instant mood lifters.

7. Be both athletic (not crazy athletic) and graceful.

8. Meditate

9. Journal

10. Be more calm

11. Practice piano

12. Practice Spanish

13. Listen to more classical music or other soothing music (I love Michael Buble, Paolo Nutini, or Carla Bruni after a long day). Or, some holiday music in the spirit of the season! ;)

14. More reading

15. Have gumption-I was inspired by Kate Winslet in the film The Holiday...she's one of my favorite actresses as well. Another scene I love in this movie involves Kate's character exploring Cameron Diaz's house (their characters trade houses for Christmas in the film) When Kate comes across the gym, she kind of laughs and closes the door, almost as if she is thinking...nope, not going to spend anytime in there! Although this is part of the script, it's this reaction which makes me adore Kate. She does watch what she eats and exercise, of course, but she's not obsessed about weight or being thin. She constantly speaks out against airbrushing and emphasis on being thin. And, she's one of the few celebrities without a personal chef and/or trainer. ;)

16. Go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier.

17. Sitting less, moving more. Even if you do formally exercise, sitting for long periods of time is just not healthy. My Grandmother is very European, so her approach to fitness and nutrition is more common sense than my crazy American ways. Her tip is to get up and walk around and stretch after every hour or so of sitting. I'm always really bad about doing this...but when I do follow her advice, it's actually easier when I take a break after I finish studying a chapter or section rather than keeping track of the time.

18. Practicing awareness, being present.

19. Be more consistent with skin care regimen.

20. Volunteer time, contribute to society.

21. Stay informed.

22. Watch less TV (I halved the number of shows I watch a week, and I no longer watch any other TV than those scheduled times) and spend less time on computer.

Other ones I have...I've been influenced by other books and quotes:Enjoy food. Enjoy life. Enjoy moving, being free, being/feeling alive.

Don't punish yourself with workouts/masochistic routines. Dance, run, skip, play, laugh!

Also, don't punish yourself with nasty food or overeating.

And, lastly, I love this quote by the chic Audrey Hepburn. "You have to be as relaxed as possible about food and fitness and the rest of it, or you'll be a slave to your beauty may have great skin, but you'll be a robot."

by Ani, from California

Holiday Chic

I've been enjoying Lenna's Holiday Chic series, which started on 1st December. Lenna is showing us ways in which we can feel more serene, organised and in the Christmas spirit. I need prompting and have found her ideas so far very useful.

I think you might like her series too.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Atlas J. Poodle - The Update

It’s been a month now since I had a serendipitous conversation with a customer and ended up adopting a 12 year old toy poodle named Atlas. Now, I cannot remember how life was before the little fellow came to live with us.

I have learnt that some dogs watch tv (below). He also likes to check himself out in the mirror in the shop, often.

He really is such a sweet little dog, and has adapted amazingly well to his new life. Atlas thinks nothing of hopping into the car (with a little assistance) and going to work, harnessed in with his doggy seatbelt (safety first).

He is perfect in the shop too. You won’t hear a peep out of him, no barking or whining. He has his five-metre long leash which gives him almost free run, but stops him running outside and into the carpark. Customers love him too, one said he ‘gives flavour to the place’ when I suggested that it was unusual to find a dog in a shoeshop.

Below he is showing how he can stand up to see over the box barricade I constructed, before the leash purchase.

Now he has his long leash he is ready to greet customers almost at the front door.

This is Atlas working from home, when I was updating our shop website one day. He was quite relaxed about it.

And here is he relaxing on his glamorous flock dog bed, elevated on an arm chair so he can feel part of the family.

On a sunny weekend afternoon Atlas likes nothing better than to take a walk through a leafy and green park. Here we are on the way to the park.

Happiness is running off leash, although it is slightly illegal. He should have waited until he was in the leash-free area. There was no-one else around though so he took the risk.

Since he is almost like a cat, Atlas sleeps on the bed with us, just like our two dearly beloved and now gone to cat-heaven cats did. He is no problem during the night, lies exactly where you left him, no snoring even. In the morning however, he likes to sleep right up until the time we leave for work, so I have to make the bed last thing.

It's such a stressful life being a poodle.

Yesterday was just another day in the life of Atlas. He met his friend Zoey the tiny toy black poodle for lunch. Zoey's mum is the lovely customer who brought the existence of Poodle Rescue to my attention. And the rest is history!

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