Saturday, April 23, 2016

Stepping into your ideal chic lifestyle

In the idealistic version of my life I am the type of woman who sits in a coffee shop, journal in hand, relaxing and contemplating.  The real life me never stops to do that though, and considers it a waste of money to buy a hot drink that I could easily make at home for ‘free’…  Plus I’m usually in a hurry so can’t spare the time.

I know, it’s quite pitiful really.  It might be a simple enough daydream but why do I deny myself this small pleasure?  It’s not even as though I want to do it outrageously often like once a week.  Once or twice a month would be fun.

I was in the city yesterday when I had this thought, so, with more than half an hour before I wanted to start heading home I dropped into Typo, a fun and inexpensive stationery store, and chose a notebook and pen.  I’d normally have both these things with me, but I was carrying a tote bag for walking instead of my handbag, so only had my wallet, phone and headphones.

I then headed over to Starbucks to order a coffee.  A lot of people are against Starbucks, mainly anti-corporates and coffee connoisseurs, but I have a soft spot for Starbucks.  When I first moved to the big smoke sixteen years ago I was excited to go there.  I felt like I was in the Friends café, or a movie, or at the very least a big city.

So I had a lovely half-hour in Starbucks, breaking in my new journal.  I bought a small size to keep in my bag and I've dedicated it solely to blog post and writing ideas.  I wanted a journal to keep close so that it could capture all my ideas.  Yes, I could type them into my phone but I find it’s quicker to jot down a note and I don’t have to go through my phone to find them afterwards.

I always have loads of writing ideas, but they float through my head like clouds and if I don’t note them down I may never see them again as they float on by.  After half an hour with my journal and coffee, I was ready to go.  It was a perfectly lovely way to spend my time and money.

I really am too thrifty for my own good sometimes – my ‘decadent’ idea cost me less than $20.  Phew – talk about pushing the boat out Fiona.  And I truthfully did consider before I did this that I could have a cup of tea for free when I got back, that I probably already had a small notebook that I could dedicate to writing ideas at home, and I definitely have pens at home.  It was a small comfort zone barrier, but I broke through it!  Some people are spendthrifts, I’m the opposite.  I’m so used to saving everything that it’s quite a turnaround to spend for pleasure.

So I’m committing to doing more of those things that the lady in my chic dreams does.  That would be a great journal question to ponder actually: How does she live her life? What kinds of activies does she do? What doesn’t she do?

Now I’m turning the microphone onto you.  I’d also love to know, what does your ideal chic lifestyle include that you don’t currently do?  I mean, I’m sure she stays at the Ritz Paris, but I mean more the little, inexpensive things that you could easily do, but don’t.  And of course after saying what it is, you’re going to go out and do it, within a week… and report back under this post!  I dare you!

I’d also like to ask for your help gathering up lots of blog post ideas: what would you love me to add to my ideas notes?  What struggles do you have?  What do you need help with?  What would you love inspiration on?  What would you most love to see as a subject line in an email newsletter from me?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

What I eat in a day

I’ve been asked to share what I eat in a day, and I’m happy to do so.  I’m always curious to find out about daily things that other people do too.  It’s always really interesting!

Starting off in the morning when I first get up at 6am I have a big glass of water then make myself a steaming hot cup of tea (trim milk, no sugar thank you, nice and strong).  I drink this, sometimes two if it’s a Sunday morning.  I then go for my walk if it’s possible time-wise/weather-wise, otherwise I go in the afternoon.  After my walk I have a shower and then my breakfast.  For years now I’ve eaten chopped fresh fruit with mixed raw nuts and sometimes other goodies like sunflower or chia seeds for breakfast.  After that I have a homemade soy latte.  I brew up my Bialetti and stir in with soy milk I heat in the microwave.

On the weekends I might have gluten free toast with butter and jelly or gluten free bagels with cream cheese.

I don’t do morning tea, just another cup of tea and a few more glasses of water throughout the morning.  At the Estee Lauder event featuring makeup artist Victor Henao someone in the audience asked him how to do your foundation so it lasted all day.  His answer was surprising – drink more water!  He said dehydrated skin sucks the foundation in and it makes a big difference when you are properly hydrated from within.  Fascinating!  I’ve always drunk a lot of water - for decades - so maybe that’s why I get comments on my skin being nice.

Lunch is usually a big salad on weekdays, made up with whatever ingredients we have around – lettuce, tomato, cucumber, celery plus protein such as cold roast chicken or lamb and chopped avocado.  On Fridays we have ‘bought lunch’ (just like at school) – our favourite is sushi, I have fresh (not smoked) salmon and avocado.  Lately on Saturdays we’ve been making gluten-free mini-wraps topped with gourmet sauce as a base, shredded mozzarella cheese, sliced mushroom and capsicum and salami.  Sort of a mini-pizza.  Sundays are a bit more loose too - I'm more relaxed on the weekend and don't worry so much about getting scurvy from not enough vegetables (although I probably do still have my 5+ a day even on a vege-lite day, what can I say, I love vegetables).

When it’s colder we have homemade soup or quiche for lunch and a side salad.  Since my husband and I work together we eat the same 99% of the time.

Afternoon is my danger time for nibbling non-nutritious snacky/sweet foods, so I have a handful of raw almonds if I get hungry.  Mostly though, if I make sure I have enough protein at lunchtime, that gets me right through to dinner time.  When I had a personal trainer for a while years ago, he looked at my food log for the week and told me I didn’t eat enough protein ‘like a lot of girls’ were his words.  It’s true too, I’d rather have carbs than protein.  But I do it, I eat the protein and try and keep a lid on the carbs (and by carbs I mean potato chips, not good carbs) because I want to have a long and healthy life.

Dinner is quite early at the moment because it’s Autumn here and it gets dark just after 6pm, so it already seems later than it is.  We usually eat not long after we get home from work and that way there is a lovely long evening stretching out in front of us and plenty of time to digest.

For dinner we often have oven-cooked meals like roasts or bakes, and always with loads of vegetables.  It’s not often that we’ll have rice or pasta meals, they are kept for occasional treats.  In my new book 'Thirty Chic Days: Practical inspiration for a beautiful life' I devote an entire chapter to the topic of eating real food because I believe it is so important.  I promise the book will be out very soon; it's in the final, final stages of proofreading and editing!

After dinner I usually have a peppermint or fruit tea with two squares of dark chocolate.  It’s best that I have only that type of chocolate in the house because if there's anything more junky I'll eat it like there is no tomorrow.  Dark chocolate is different though, I can happily have just a few pieces and put the packet back in the pantry.

Edited to add photos:

Breakfast on a normal morning - this one is feijoa and pineapple sprinkled with gluten-free berry flakes cereal, chia seeds, walnuts and coconut flakes.  Soy latte for afters.  I usually have more nuts but I was running low.  I like a couple of brazils for selenium (New Zealand has very low selenium soil), almonds, macademias etc.  Sometimes I have a few big spoonfuls of thick, unsweetened green yoghurt and sometimes I don't.  I don't add milk.

Salad for lunch.  Lettuce, homegrown tomatoes, capsicum (bell pepper?), cucumber, avocado and chicken breast cooked the night before with double cream brie on gluten-free crostiniI didn't have dressing this day because the avocado makes it all so yummy together.  We try to always have avocados on hand to have half or one every day because they are soooo good for you.  I don't usually have the cheese and crackers every day, that's a treat for when I'm at home/maybe once a week.  At work I'll just have the salad bowl.  It's a big bowl though!  It takes me ages to get through (I'm quite a slow eater) and, when it contains both protein and avocado, keeps me full right through to dinner time.

I finally remembered to take a photo of my dinner before I scoffed it down (chicly scoffed it down).  This night we had crumbed chicken thigh cutlets (I usually have one piece, but they were small so I had two).  I make my own coating with gluten-free crumbs, and have a play around with seasonings.  This mix was particularly delicious using chicken salt, yellow curry powder, cumin and hot chili flakes (it wasn't too hot overall though, just a light tang).  With the chicken we had roast potato, pumpkin and onion, and steamed cauliflower and broccoli.  With gluten-free chicken gravy (not homemade but I do homemade with a proper roast).  It was delicious!

And that’s me!  What I eat in a day.  If you have any specific questions I’m happy to answer them in the comments.  I’d also love you to let me know any tips you have for eating in a chic and healthy way.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Chic Technique: The Chic Pattern Interrupter

I’ve heard this term ‘pattern interrupt’ and it seems to be used to describe anything you can use to stop you doing what you’re doing and go in a different direction.  It’s most popularly used to help you exchange bad habits for good ones.

Examples I've heard are wearing a hairband around your wrist and snapping it when you find yourself in a bad habit such as thinking negatively or gossiping etc.  You can also use a word or affirmation to snap yourself out of an unhelpful train of thought or when you’re about to indulge in a habit you want to change such as snacking between meals and eating when you’re not hungry.  Something as simple as the word 'chic' or 'I am chic today and always'.

In today’s video I share some of my ‘chic’ pattern interrupters; ideas that I have found really useful as I build my desired life day-by-day.  Please enjoy the video for more information; you will also find a list of what I discuss below:

Fiona’s Chic Pattern Interrupters

Watch a chic French DVD
Go to the movies and see something stylish
Dress up and go out – even if just to window-shop
Go for a walk
Book a haircut
Pick something off your wish-list and make plans for it
Read a book from my shelf at home.
Do the opposite of what you’d normally do.  For me, I’m so frugal – it’s a habit now – even though I don’t need to be as much these days as opposed to five years ago, so I chose two things and spent money on them (still not that much).

And a few more I thought of afterwards:
Swap lipstick for gloss or vice versa
Change the side you part your hair on
Paint your nails if they’re normally bare
Move clothing around in your wardrobe so that different pieces are at the front
Sort and fold a clothing drawer – the next day feels different when I’m getting dressed!
Move furniture or pictures around
Change anything ornamental on display

None of the above are very earth-shattering, but I find it’s the tiny changes that are quickest and easiest to make, and they still have an effect.  Minimum effort, maximum result - that's what works for me.

I do hope you view the video and I’d love to hear any ideas that come up for you.  As always, I enjoy adding new ideas to my list.  I have a whole folder on my computer called Fiona’s Notebook and it has lists such as the one above.  I love visiting this folder for a browse and to be inspired.  I decided to name the folder ‘Fiona’s Notebook’ instead of ‘My Notebook’ and any files I add now are called (for example):

Fiona’s Journal Prompts
Fiona’s Décor Style
Fiona’s Favourite Quotes
Fiona’s Affirmations etc

From this simple naming change I find that I love them more.  One of Dale Carnegie’s tips in How to Win Friends and Influence People (such a great book) is to use a person’s name when you are speaking with them because the sweetest word in the entire world to a person is their own name.  Why not use the same technique on yourself by personalising all your inspiration files?

I remember a funny story about that book - I was reading it on a plane trip home many years ago and I'd just finished the 'use the other person's name' chapter when we landed.  I thanked the stewardess by name as I disembarked (she was wearing a badge) and her whole face changed into a big smile.  I was quite taken aback at how quickly Mr Carnegie's tip was proven correct!
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