Thursday, June 30, 2016

{More regalness} 30 Chic Days – The Fourth Series: Day 23

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Following on from my post on being Queen-like on Day 21 I wanted to share with you something I'd written six months ago and forgotten about.  I love asking myself a question and then brainstorming as many answers as possible.  Sometimes the results are just so-so if the topic doesn't inspire me and sometimes I get fantastic results.

I love the answers I got from brainstorming the question 'How can I be the Queen in my life?'  I let my mind run away with itself and didn't filter.  I found this list really inspiring and I hope you enjoy it too.

How can I be the Queen in my life?
  • Rise above pettiness, gossip and negativity
  • Have high standards in everything I do, wear, eat and the way I live
  • Be regal and above petty things
  • Be fair, loyal and dignified
  • Have firm boundaries at the same time as being caring to others
  • Carry myself with dignity and poise
  • Allow my life to be wealthy and abundant – let these things in
  • Appreciate the ‘wealth’ I already have – what I’ve achieved so far in buying our house and running our business, all my possessions big and small, our retirement savings accounts etc.
  • Trust desires that I have – go for them and see what happens.  Know that nothing is a desire in my life unless there is some way for me to do/have it.
  • Uplevel my environment continually and incrementally.  Make my surroundings opulent.
  • Have a mantra – ‘I am the Queen of my life’.
  • Treat my husband like he is my King.
  • Have a crystal clear vision of what being a Queen means to me and keep it in mind
  • Be authentically me and Queenly at the same time.
  • I am not afraid to roll my sleeves up and muck in – the Queen drives her own Land Rover off-road around her country estates; she’s not just sitting by the fire in her crown all helpless
  • I am down to earth and practical
  • I take care of myself and look after myself
  • I love and enjoy my life, I don’t wish I was anyone else.  How could I wish that – I’m the Queen of my life
  • I have a sense of duty
  • I project femininity and strength in equal measures
  • I feel empowered and in my power
  • I conduct myself with elegance and grace
  • I am always well-presented and appropriately groomed
  • I take pride in my appearance
  • I remember I am a Queen at all times

What question would you like to ask yourself?  What question would you like me to brainstorm?

Until tomorrow, be chic, and queenly, yet again!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

{Inspiration} 30 Chic Days – The Fourth Series: Day 22

Catching the bus to see my accountant yesterday, a la The Millionaire Next Door (one of my favourite books)

A big behind-the-scenes passion that I’d love to pursue one day is to inspire women to view money differently.  To look at financial management as fun and exciting, and to see monetary goal-setting and having savings as really enjoyable (because you get to dream!)

My financial life changed dramatically when I started viewing money management as fun.  I'd note down my paydays, expenditure and automated outgoings in my diary each week and kept a running total of my balance.  I felt organised and like I could achieve financial freedom one day because the saying really is true about taking care of the pennies (and the pounds will take care of themselves).

It all started in the nineties when I worked with three different financial planning companies as a secretary, over several years.  I saw that it wasn't just 'old people’ who came in for appointments, it was women my age as well.  I was impressed that someone in their twenties would bother to set up a savings plan or even visit a financial advisor.  One of my bosses ran financial seminars for women where experts spoke and there were women of all ages there.

I feel really grateful that I picked up good information and a change of attitude during this time of my life.  These were pre-Internet days (for me anyway) and so I would haunt the public library for financial books.  I'd flick through them and if they looked boring I'd put them back straight away.  My favourites were the ones that were written in normal-people language and would, if I was lucky, include inspiring stories of how people got to the financial position they had.

I still love a good savings/financial success story; I think it’s how we learn best - by hearing other peoples’ stories.  One of my favourite chapters to write in my new book Thirty Chic Days was Day 23. Be financially chic.  In this chapter I go into detail about how my husband and I are paying off our home loan early – twenty years early!

I think it all comes down to good financial habits, having respect for money, spending less than you earn, in fact all those ‘boring’ guidelines that your grandparents probably lived by.  To me though, they are anything but boring; I’d put being debt-free over a shopping trip any day of the week.

And it wasn’t always that way for me.  Like any girl who loves pretty things, I used to fritter away my pay on cute tops, glossy magazines and inexpensive trinkets.  I still do love pretty things, but the difference is that now I don’t feel the need to own them to enjoy them.  I would rather have a clutter-free home than more ‘stuff’, too.

Sometimes we shop to cheer ourselves up and that’s understandable, but if we do it so often that it becomes a habit, we cut off our creativity and can’t think of other ways to bring ourselves pleasure.

How are you with money?  What would your financial report card say?  Do you make joint decisions with your other half?  If you are single, do you feel positive about the way you handle your money?

I have the basics of finances down, but after visiting my accountant yesterday I realised I’d really like to learn the essentials of accounting so I can at least know what he’s talking about.  My husband understands that stuff fine, he has a business degree, but I want to know for myself!  I’m going to find a good ‘Accounting for Dummies’ type book to learn the basics.  That’s my action step for today.  What’s yours?

Until tomorrow, be financially chic!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

{Chic habits} 30 Chic Days – The Fourth Series: Day 21

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I’ve written about being regal in a previous 30 Chic Days Series, and I thought I’d revisit the topic because I love the concept of being Queen-like.  Doing this brings to mind someone who is disciplined, majestic, elegant, refined, in charge of her emotions and strong yet lady-like.

I watched a telemovie recently which was a dramatization of the courtship of Mary and Frederick of Denmark and it was very enjoyable.  Mary is Australian and the movie followed their love story from when they first met in Sydney, through to their wedding in Denmark.  The whole tele-movie had such a joyous and happy feeling and I really got caught up in their romantic, almost fairy-tale-like courtship. 

When I'm in the mood I love to study the European royals - there are many elegant examples of chic personal style (both casual and dressy) and, my goodness, they are all model-thin.  These ladies are useful inspiration for when I'm feeling lazy and uninspired.  A brief viewing of Pinterest pictures and I'm sitting up straight, drinking water, forgoing unncessary cake calories...

With their clothing, yes, I know they have a big designer budget, but I love to see the colours they wear, types of garments etc, especially in their casual clothes, because I don't have a lot of call to wear a ball-gown and tiara.

My favourite Euro-royals to be inspired by are Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark, Princess Caroline of Monaco and her daughter Princess Charlotte, and the Swedish, Spanish, Belgian and Norwegian royal ladies.  I also used to love watching two English minor royals - Lady Helen Taylor and Vicountess Serena Linley, although you don't see them around much any more.

My royal ladies encourage me to:

Enjoy my clothing and dress up more
Take more care with my hair, and blow-dry it to be silky and smooth
Wear makeup that is striking and defined, yet flattering and classic
Be ladylike and elegant
Eat with discernment to be slim and healthy
Be refined and sophisticated in my home style
Be well-read
Cultivate good habits
Speak well
Comport myself well

Such fun!  I love being the Queen of my own life.  What about you?  Are you a royals fan?  If so, who's your favourite?  What inspiration do you take from them?

See you tomorrow, be chic!

Monday, June 27, 2016

{Recipe} 30 Chic Days – The Fourth Series: Day 20

Fruit crumble is one of my favourite desserts, both to eat and to make.  I haven't made one for quite a few years though, ever since I became gluten-free on medical advice.  The classic recipe using rolled oats isn't safe for me.

At the time I threw out the few baking supplies I had and until the weekend, I hadn't ventured into the difficult sounding gluten-free baking arena.

I decided to investigate making a gluten-free crumble on Saturday night, and after looking at a few recipes online I came up with my own.  I'm not very good at following recipes to the letter and will often take a quick look to get the gist and go by feel.

The above apple and boysenberry crumble was such a hit with my husband that he said it was the best crumble he'd ever had, 'even gluten-included crumbles'.  It was pretty good actually.  It had that slight chewiness of caramelised buttery biscuits (cookies).  We had ours with vanilla ice cream.

I don't know what other countries call a crumble - maybe a cobbler or a crisp?  Anyway, here's my recipe.

Fiona's Apple and Boysenberry Crumble

3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced - place in a ceramic oven dish
1 425g/15oz can of boysenberries in syrup, poured over the apple slices and mixed around - use the syrup too

You could use different fruit or just go with the classic Apple Crumble by using 4-6 granny smith apples by themselves.  If using fresh apples only, I would dot with 6-8 small cubes of butter and sprinkle with a little bit of brown sugar.  You will only want to use granny smith apples (they are green and quite tart) because they are far nicer than using sweet red apples.


1/2 cup flour (I used a gluten-free flour mix but you can use normal plain flour)
1/2 cup almond meal
2 tbsp coconut flakes or dessicated coconut (optional)
2-4 tbsp cubed cold butter, dice-size
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Pulse the crumble mixture briefly in a food processor until it resembles lumpy rubble in texture.  You do not want to blend it until it is completely smooth.  Alternatively rub the butter into the flour and then mix in the other ingredients.

Spread the crumble topping over the fruit and bake in a moderate oven (180C/350F) for 30-40 minutes.  Serve with vanilla icecream, custard or whipped cream

I hope you enjoy this recipe if you decide to try it.  And I'd love to hear, what is your favourite dessert to make and/or eat?  Are you a chocolate girl or more into fruit desserts?  I love fruit desserts personally, but I can be persuaded with anything caramel.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

{Video} 30 Chic Days – The Fourth Series: Day 19

For Day 19 of my 30 Chic Days Series, I've recorded the second chapter of my new book and the topic is on 'eating real food'.  Instinctively I knew, as I'm sure most of you do, that choosing real food over anything processed is ultimately the best way to be healthy for a long time, and be slim.

Just knowing that doesn't make it any easier to make those choices when you're hungry and something looks delicious though.  In this book reading, I go through all the ways that I turned my eating habits around from bad to good, a little bit at a time.

I'd love to hear of any ahas you get from these videos, I do hope you enjoy them, and I'll see you tomorrow.  Eat real and be chic!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

{Femininity} 30 Chic Days – The Fourth Series: Day 18

June has been an extremely busy month for me with running our business, releasing my new book and now my daily posting.  I’ve also been doing my own year-end taxes for my fledgling company which I set up last year when I started self-publishing.

There is no surer way to extinguish your feminine being-ness than by trying to work out what number goes into what box when you're filling out online tax forms, even with the help of the Inland Revenue telephone helpline.  I went to write a blog post after I’d finished that phone call and the creative thoughts were completely stifled!

That’s when I truly realised the importance – and difference – of being in your masculine versus being in your feminine.  Of course if we didn’t spend any time in our masculine we’d get nothing done - we'd be floating around the house in a peignoir nibbling from a box of bon bons and admiring the pretty tweeting birds in the trees.

Conversely, if we never spent any time in our feminine, we’d be all go-go-go, masculine activity, to-do lists, charging everywhere and bossing others around which can be exhausting plus goes against our feminine nature.

It is important to have both; I find though that I am more often in my masculine so don’t need to cultivate that as much (although I could use more motivation at times…).  What I decided I really need to do is to remember all the feminine rituals that anchor me back into my femininity, balancing out all the masculine energy.

And you can't rush into a feminine ritual after being busy and focused either.  I find you need to finish what you need to and then slowly decompress into your feminine side. Here's a few ideas I brainstormed:

Fiona’s Feminine Rituals

  • Tidying away whatever I’ve been working on
  • Emptying out my head with a to-do list for the next day listing whatever I still have to do, so I can then forget about it for the rest of the day
  • Spending time with a good novel
  • Moisturising my hands
  • Filing my nails
  • Putting on a face mask
  • Journaling a happy list of wonderful things about my life
  • Washing and blow-drying my hair
  • Putting on a little bit of makeup
  • Making a hot tea
  • Drinking plenty of water to feel hydrated
  • Eating fresh foods to feel good
  • Letting myself feel relaxed, dropping my shoulders, closing my eyes and feeling a sense of peace wash over me
  • Touching up my hair and makeup during the day
  • Playing soft music – classical, relaxing spa music
  • Switching off the computer at a certain time, say 4pm and starting dinner prep then relaxing while it cooks
  • Going for a neighbourhood walk
  • Caring for my feet – even just rubbing in a rich cream and putting fluffy socks on
  • Watching something soothing and gentle (such as Gilmore Girls or Cedar Cove) whilst knitting
  • Reading Victoria magazine
  • Going to bed really early with fresh sheets
  • Lighting a candle
  • Light pottering to make a room look and feel nicer – nothing too strenuous, just enough to brighten up the room and make it feel more calm
  • Baking for fun, and to enjoy the results
  • Or, buying something small and exquisite such as a macaron or madeleine
  • Finding a few flowers or pieces of fern in the garden to put in a bud vase in the bathroom
  • Spritzing on perfume
My favourites are a tidied home, soft music and feeling relaxed with a book.  Bliss!

What are your favourite feminine rituals to ease yourself back into being when you’ve been all action do-do-doing?  I’d love to hear your favourites, and any new suggestions.

See you tomorrow, and in the meantime, be chic (and feminine)!
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