Friday, November 28, 2014

Living Like a Princess

So, I’m not a real Princess and I’m probably more the age of a Queen than a Princess, but I still like to dream of my Princess life.  I like to think beautiful and elegant thoughts, and move like a Princess, the old-fashioned ones I used to read about when I was young girl.  The kind that had long, bouncy hair and wore gowns with a bodice and full skirt.

I love the movie Enchanted even though it is sort of a children’s movie.  Amy Adams as the main character Giselle is rather enchanting as the movie title says and she gave me a renewed appreciation for the fairytale Princess stories of my childhood.  Giselle dances around with a broom sweeping Patrick Dempsey’s apartment, she has birds and mice singing and helping her and also whips up a dress for the ball, oops, from the living room curtains.

I don’t do any of those things but I have found that dreaming of being Princess-like inspires me to remember my femininity and lightness, treat my darling like the handsome Prince that he is and flit around my home as if it is my castle.  It really makes housework go much quicker and it becomes more pleasant.  And the end result is a sparking clean and fresh home fit for a Princess.

There used to be a website called the Princess Portal which I loved.  I always felt uplifted and inspired to live a more beautiful life after reading one of this lovely lady’s articles, however sadly it is no more.  I saved a couple of things the author Skye wrote, including this:

The Princess Code
written by Princess Skye

A Princess inspires others to follow their hopes and dreams through pursuing her own.

A Princess greets everyone with a welcoming smile, melting the hearts of friends and disarming her enemies.

A Princess has dignity, which protects her from the opinions and spite of ignorant people.

A Princess always looks beautiful, even when she is asleep.

A Princess aims for perfection in every step.

A Princess should be given fresh flowers everyday, even if she has to give them to herself.

A Princess grows in recognition and stature in proportion to how much she treats others as royalty.

A Princess reflects her inner beauty in her aesthetic choices.

A Princess goes to war against the violence of incivility with the weapons of etiquette and prodigal generosity.

A Princess lives each day from the heart, expressing herself freely and treasuring every moment.

A Princess has the right to spend her funds on beautiful things she does not need because beauty in itself is priceless.

A Princess should follow her heart and believe in her dreams, even if the whole world seems to be against her.

A Princess respects her environment and nurtures the beauty of nature.

A Princess is never too busy to give a kind word or smile where it is needed.

A Princess’s most precious jewel is Hope, which lights her darkest days and shows her the beauty in every soul she meets.


When I am in a Princess mode I wear my most feminine and flattering clothing.  Well, most of my clothing is flattering and those items that are not I am eliminating from my wardrobe, but not all are out-and-out feminine.  Some can be stark or very simple, but I like to wear my few very feminine pieces when I am feeling in a Princessy way.  It’s nice to celebrate being born a girl!

One way to determine if clothing is feminine enough for your Princess days is to ask ‘would a man wear this’.  If the answer is yes and you still love the item, can you wear it in a feminine way?  One example is jeans.  Wear them with a pretty top and heels or ballet flats.  Or if it’s a t-shirt, choose a cut and/or colour that a man wouldn’t be caught dead in.

Of course women can wear man-tailoring well but I still think you can be feminine.  The cut of a woman’s tweed jacket will be different to a man’s.  And you can zazz it up with feminine details such as makeup and jewellery.

Some take Princess style literally, but there are many ways you can add magical touches to your everyday life without looking like you’re wearing a costume or acting in a play.

- Be light and feminine in your movements

- Speak in a pleasant, musical voice

- Laugh a lot (in a pretty rather than a guffawing way)

- Be easy to get along with.  I love The Rules credo of ‘being hard to get, but easy to live with’.

- Practice your mystique on every occasion, and have a small mysterious half-smile, in a friendly way of course

- Smile with your eyes as well as your mouth.  In fact you can play up your eyes and play down your mouth when smiling, it’s more effective.

All of this will filter through to the way you do other things in your life, because, as the saying goes ‘the way you do one thing is the way you do everything’.

I know I will have to put a disclaimer on this post because some of you won’t like it.  But that’s ok.  I know myself and that I am not a pushover.  I know what I like and what I don’t like and I create my life to my own recipe.  Just because I have a fairytale Princess as one of my chic mentors doesn’t mean I am not also a strong, independent and confident woman.  Vive la différence!

100 Things Update

Two weeks ago I started my 100 Things challenge.   Please feel free to join me if you'd like to spruce up your home before Christmas!  This week's list:

14. A doggie jersey that I found while out walking.  I didn’t pick it up the first day I saw it because I thought the owner might walk past and retrieve it.  By the third day I felt sad for it so took it home to wash and will donate.  It’s from the doggie brand ‘Yours Drooly’.  How cute is that?

15. and 16.  A magazine, and a movie on dvd.

17. – 46. I had a big linen cupboard sort out.  Even though there’s only two of us and we have guests to stay once or twice a year at most, we had so much more than we’ll ever use, and it was all stuffed into our narrow cupboard and coming out like an overstuffed cushion (not chic).  So I took everything out, put only the nicest and newest back and donated the rest.  It's so wonderful to open the door to now.  I donated:

- A flannelette sheet set (I just kept the one newest set)
- Two bright sky blue towels (I’m not a bright sky blue kind of a gal)
- Towels, flannels, bath mats, duvet covers and pillow cases.  I had many duplicates and because I did, I never used our nicest ones.  Now I’m using our nicest ones every day.

I forgot to count numbers before I donated them, but it was a big cardboard box.  I’m going to estimate 30 items.  I know, I feel like I’m cheating on the count but promise you I’m probably underestimating!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fiona’s Minimalism Manifesto

My idea of a minimalist has always been a free spirit who travels the world with only six items of clothing and a fancy Apple laptop in their backpack.  I don’t know why, it’s just the image that pops into my head.

This makes me feel like a fraud when I consider myself a minimalist, but then just who decided the definition of minimalism and does it involve a certain number of possessions?  Even though I know no-one decided, I do like this description from The Minimalists (and funny that they mention the same thing I did about the stereotypical minimalist).  They say:

Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.

And who doesn’t want more freedom I ask you?

So I’ve decided to create my own definition of minimalism to help guide me to my own personal happiness.

Dave Ramsey has a great quote that goes ‘live like no-one else today so that you can live like no-one else tomorrow’.  I love this saying and it really makes me excited at the possibilities I have for my life.  It also keeps my encouragement up for living the way I do and having my own minimalist mindset.

I love that we are paying off our home loan much earlier than the standard 20+ years because it means we have more choices in the kind of work we do and how many hours we work.

I love that I don’t need much to make me happy.  I’m a real home-lover and relish time spent in my abode surrounded by the things I love such as books, music and creative projects.  But compared with our friends, we don’t have nearly as many expensive possessions.

My minimalism manifesto could equally be called a Simplicity Manifesto because I have such a beautiful craving for simplicity and it is actually one of my core values.

In putting together my Minimalism Simplicity Manifesto I will involve statements big and small such as:

I am intentional with what I allow into my life, whether it is an item, an obligation or a person.

I enjoy doing the laundry because I love everything I’ve worn and washed, and there is ample room to put it away when it is clean, dry and folded.

I will find magic in everything I do, because I want to live a magical life.

This is an ongoing project which I am enjoying working on!

And now for the…

100 Things Update

It’s been a bit of a slow week for decluttering.  I’ve only been doing the usual collecting and not any focused deep decluttering, but that’s ok, as long as there is something in the donation pile at the end of the week.  Here is my round-up:

7.  A cute cat collar which was a giveaway on a bag of cat biscuits.  On closer inspection it is not a breakaway collar and does not have any elastic, so I am throwing it away as I don’t think it’s safe for any cat to wear.  My girls don’t wear collars at all.

8.  A pair of quite new grey cotton ruched-leg leggings which do nothing for my skin-tone.  The grey is so light in tone that my skin looks pasty next to it, and pale legs need all the help they can get.

9.  A red sweatshirt I made which is so-so on me but will be nice on someone else.

10.  A pair of cotton palazzo style lounge-pants which are quite comfortable but the colour is on the wrong side of beige/blush.  Leg-coloured trousers anyone?

11.  Another magazine.

12. and 13.  Two tubes of good quality hair and body shampoo crème from gift sets that I don’t remember to use (plus I prefer soap) which I emptied into a ¼ full shampoo bottle and shook up to create the most luxurious shampoo which also smells divine.  A wonderful new product and getting rid of two items.  Score!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Elegance is refusal

Image from Pinterest

When I first heard this Coco Chanel quote, the first thought that came to me was food.  That I had to refuse food to become elegant and trim like the bird-like Mademoiselle Chanel.  And being a food-lover there was no way I could picture myself eating tiny portions so I’ve always had a bit of a block towards this quote.

Lately and from two different sources I have heard of a more enticing way to look at it, which ties in perfectly with my love of curating a beautiful life by decluttering items that do not fit the vision of the lifestyle I have for  myself.

And that is just it – refusal of anything that does not elevate your life to exquisite elegance.

- Refusing junky foods in favour of high quality fresh foods.

- Refusing possessions that detract from rather than add to my enjoyment of life.  And this includes refusal of excess possessions.  We all like different ways of living, but I feel at my most content when I have less around me.

- Refusing clothing that does not make me look and feel chic and sophisticated.  That includes clothing I wear to work or out, loungewear at home, nightwear and lingerie.  Everything!

- Refusing to be around people that bring me down or make me feel bad about myself.

- Refusing to accept others beliefs as gospel.  I’m cultivating my own wonderful and empowering beliefs thank you very much.

- Refusing negative thoughts because they don’t feel good and they weaken your immune system.  Apparently it’s been proven in tests which gave me a jolt when I heard that.

- Refusing to listen to myself when I say something is too big or scary to entertain.  What could I achieve if I believed I could do that huge achievement.  Why would I block it from my mind immediately?  Even if I never do it, I’ve at least not closed my mind to it.

Pondering this quote made me think of a decluttering challenge I did years ago imaginatively titled 100 Things.  You can probably guess that the object of this challenge is to find 100 Things in your home to say au revoir to.  I had such fun (isn't it great that we all have different definitions of fun...) so I’m going to do it again.

I don’t have a timeframe for this as that sounds far too stressful and I like to be relaxed.  Perhaps I’ll report at the bottom of each week’s post how many items I’ve decluttered for the week and count up to 100.  I’m sure I could come up with 100 items before Christmas though.

Some challenges count like items as one, such as a stack of magazines.  I’ll be doing it my way which is one item is one item.  Purely because I’ve been through so many layers of decluttering already.  Still, I know I’ll have 100 items lurking around just waiting to be moved on so that someone else can gain use from them.  And I can enjoy that much more room in my home.

My method will be to gather the items in my guest bedroom and donate when I am passing a charity shop.  I’ve just done a big box-load last week so will be starting this challenge afresh.

Here is my starting list for this week:

1. One belt that I never wear anymore even though it’s quite nice and I think I should.

2. One magazine that I have read.

3. A top that I no longer like on myself.

4. A pair of trousers that I was given by a well-meaning elderly relative that don’t do anything for me.

5. A bra (it is still quite new but I have decided beige knit bras have no place in my stylish life, I don’t care if models wear them).

6. One home décor item that I never want to display.

If you’d like to relieve yourself of 100 extraneous items before Christmas, please feel free to join me in the comments section each week!

Friday, November 7, 2014

The secret to glowy skin?‏

My inexpensive skincare products.  All these added up would probably purchase one high-end item!

Do you want to know my secret?  The one that has people ask me what I use on my skin?  Sorry to sound un-humble when I say this, and it happens less as I get older, but I have had people actually stop me in the street and ask me what products I use.  Plus my lovely blog readers have asked, so thank you.

My skincare secret is not expensive products or fancy facials or even botox.  When I exclaimed to my husband that a sweet blog reader said I looked 19 in the photo on my last post (and even if she was exaggerating, thank you), he said... 

'well they don't see what you do.  It's little and often.  Every night you're in the bathroom washing and moisturising your face.  And in the time I've known you - 11 years - I can remember one or two times you did not wash your face and take your makeup off'. 

So there's the answer, from the person who lives with me and knows me best.  The secret then?  Little and often.

And it's true.  My mother ingrained in me from about the age of 13 that cleanse, tone and moisturise twice a day is what you do, alongside taking a shower and brushing and flossing.  So I did, and it's been a habit for over thirty years now.  The most expensive cream in the world won’t help you if it’s not used. 

If you don’t pamper your skin twice daily, today is the best time to start.  It’s never too late.  It might seem a faff and too time-consuming, but just stick with it.  Your skin will look better and it will become part of your daily routine.  Washing your face is just as important as moisturising it, and I still wash my face the same way as I detailed here.

As far as skincare products go, once upon a time I worked for Parfums Christian Dior and was able to purchase their beautiful skincare and makeup at wholesale staff rates.  But these days I enjoy using simple and inexpensive skincare and cosmetics.  My day cream is Olay Complete SPF15 in a 150ml white bottle for a très inexpensive price.  I always check for mineral oil though as in my opinion it doesn't let your skin breathe.  Some Olay products have mineral oil and some don't (so I buy the ones that don't).

The picture above is my current range.  I actually have three different creams I use at night and switch them around.  I often put on the rosehip oil and then one of the three creams. I don't know how I ended up having three night-time products open at the same time but I did.

I've also worn foundation since I was about 14.  Just light water-based ones then (my first was a Clinique foundation that you shook the bottle to mix each time you used it).  I stocked up on Dior foundation before I left my old job, but now I'm trying a new Maybelline one - Superstay Better Skin that seems quite nice (it's even made in France.  I found that quite fascinating).  I apply as little as possible to even out my skin tone and then dab on a tiny bit more over areas that need it.  Then I press my palms all over my face to blend and set, and dust loose powder over top.

At night I use an eye cream and a night cream, and as a form of serum I use something like rosehip oil or vegetable glycerin.  I like to layer my skincare at night, but during the day I just use the Olay lotion over toner moistened skin.

I use a lot of body lotion and body cream too.  Every day after my shower I go from neck to toes.  Even my tummy but not the parts of my back that I can't reach.  I started this a number of years ago and now it's part of my morning routine.  I love using yummy scented ones.

Other factors I believe help are my love for water and herbal teas (on the opposite side of hydration I have one Earl Grey tea and two coffees per day), light activity (walking and yoga as per my last post) and lots of fruit and vegetables.  I have fruit every morning for breakfast with nuts and sometimes yoghurt, a salad with or for lunch, and steamed vegetables to accompany dinner.  I have written more about this here.

So there’s my secrets.  They aren’t really secrets though are they?   Just good common old-fashioned sense I think.

I'm not sure what else to tell you about skincare and makeup, so if you have any questions I'd be glad to answer them.
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