Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Joie de vivre

Keeping my joie de vivre is much easier when I take notice of the small pleasures around me.  Taking enjoyment in everyday life is the secret to happiness I think, more so than ‘big’ things.  Well both are good, but I try to appreciate the little things as well.

This morning I was checking out our small freezer to see if there was anything for dinner tonight (there was not) and I found a lone mini-croissant from not too long ago.  Yay!  I now have a yummy little bonus to have with my fresh fruit and raw nut breakfast.  I have it out thawing to go in the oven soon.

I am also feeling grateful because the house is lovely and tidy and clean and I already have the washing hung outside, so I feel like I have the whole day stretching in front of me to do with as I please.  Tomorrow I’m back at work but today, today is for (apart from a few household jobs) sewing, knitting, movie watching and general pottering.

Some days I find it hard to muster up any joie de vivre and know that I am not fun to be around, even I can’t stand myself.  I have a set of three tiny notebooks (with cute Montmartre and Parisienne line drawings on the covers) that my sister gave me and I am on to filling up the second one so far.

The notebooks are small enough to put in my shoulder-bag (which isn’t very big) and they are filled with uplifting and inspiring quotes that I have collected over time.  They might be a line from a movie, a phrase from a book, or a line from a blog or website.  They also include little goals that I think of and health plans I have for myself.

I read through one of my notebooks until I come across something that will cajole me into a better mood or make me realise I am being a spoiled brat.  Sometimes it happens within a split second which seems like a miracle.  It really is true that our mind precedes all else.  Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich has the secret right there in the title!

I remember hearing on an audio CD that you can’t just ‘make dinner’.  You have to think of what you’re going to make and then go about checking that you have the ingredients and THEN make it.  The same is true of us.  We can’t just be skinny or be stylish or be a better person.  We have to think of it first and be in that frame of mind before the rest follows.

Our life depends on the kind of thoughts we nurture. If our thoughts are peaceful, calm, meek, and kind, then that is what our life is like. If our attention is turned to the circumstances in which we live, we are drawn into a whirlpool of thoughts and can have neither peace nor tranquility.’ –  Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Monday, August 12, 2013

Housework Inspiration – The Magazine Technique

I find I need constant encouragement to do the housework. I'm sure I'm not alone in that I love a nice, clean, tidy house, but when it comes to it, how much fun is pushing around a heavy vacuum cleaner and cleaning the bathroom, or lugging a mattress to change the sheets? And I'm too thrifty and private to want to hire a cleaner. Besides, once I get going I do actually enjoy being my own cleaner.

Last week I used a method I think I heard about from Alexandra Stoddard. She said people asked her why homes in magazines always looked so much better than their own. The reasons I remember her giving were:

- These homes have been cleaned within an inch of their lives, and
- Cords and plugs are hidden out of the way. They could be pushed along the edge of the carpet and skirting or taped to a table leg, and finally,
- Superfluous items are taken out of a room to give an open, breezy look.

She also said it is very useful to take photos of your rooms and study them. Things which stand out as unattractive in a photo, your eye will be accustomed to seeing as you see them every day. But a photo shines a bright light on them.

I added to this my love of makeovers, whether it’s clothing, hair-and-makeup or peoples homes. I took my own Before photos last week, just of the main areas, and then set about sprucing everything up as I cleaned.

I must say I had a very productive day, and at the end of it I took my After photos. At the top is our living room, featuring our new sofas which we saved for, ordered and waited, and finally received late last year. They were handmade right here in the city where I live by a company that has been around for many decades.

We went into their showroom looking for 'plain' sofas, and came out with these. We had in our mind that we wanted the sofa from the Frasier tv programme, which is apparently based on Coco Chanel’s sofa in her Ritz Paris apartment (but hers was made of suede, not fabric. Can you imagine?). But when I saw this Chesterfield style but in fabric, I fell in love with it.

Then, the fabric we chose ended up being made in France. We had to wait longer for it as the fabric mill was closed for the month of August. Being a Francophile I know that almost the entire country closes down for the main summer month of August.

It was quite fun to be ‘involved’ in a French tradition, but it didn’t make waiting for our sofas any easier!

The other photos are of our bedroom and ensuite, just the Afters though. The Befores aren't nearly as pleasing to look at.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bastille Day

Since being an adoptive care-giver for elderly poodle Atlas almost three years ago, I have kept in touch with my poodle friends, and am regularly invited to poodle events despite no longer having a poodle!

I love catching up with them all and of course, the four-legged company is so darling. I love that I am now an honorary member of their little gang, and I get to be the doting Aunty at lunches and get-togethers.

This Bastille Day, last month, I was asked if I would like to be involved in a special Bastille Day Poodle Fashion Parade with them all. Yes please! I was kindly given a loan-poodle, sweet 13 year old Amy and was part of the group of 23 poodles and their walkers on the catwalk (dogwalk?).  Amy had two changes of clothes from my dear friend Barbara’s pet boutique Yuppy Puppies in Auckland.

Barbara was concerned because she needed French music to play during the show. Yes, I could help her out with that!  I don't know why she didn't ask me first when she thought to herself 'who do I know who is nuts about anything French'.

We put together a fun and jaunty playlist including Fabienne Del Sol, a few tracks from Hotel Costes, Saint Germain du Pres and Paris Lounge compilations, a little Pink Martini, a Serge Gainsbourg and even an Edith Piaf (we found one upbeat track of hers, usually she is a little more… morose, but I do love her).

Barbara had even organised a videographer to film the event, so you can see us on You Tube here. Such fun! After the show, we retired to Barbara’s beautiful home for ladies luncheon. Macarons of course featured on the menu, made by one of the ladies. I was so impressed by that as I have heard they are notoriously hard to make.

Most of the ladies balanced a poodle and a lunch plate on their lap. It seems that many poodles are adorably co-dependent. Hostess poodle Zoey trotted around making sure everyone was ok.

I don’t know what Atlas would have thought of this day. To be truthful, I don’t think he would have known much of what was going on. Being not that sighted and also hard of hearing, he may not have noticed the crowd but he would have enjoyed himself just the same.

And I would have had to help him off the catwalk otherwise he would have fallen off the end. Dear sweet little Atlas. He was there in spirit though.

If you haven’t met Atlas yet, click on the Poodle Chic tag. He was a honey.
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