Saturday, July 2, 2016

{Chic habits} 30 Chic Days – The Fourth Series: Day 25

Sometimes when I’m working on the computer and I want a mental break, I go looking for something to read for five minutes.  I may have already read my handful of favourite blogs. It is inevitably at these times that I end up at Daily Mail UK, New Zealand Herald,, celebrity Instagrams and other such websites.  At best, they are mildly annoying and I wonder why I have killed a few brain cells reading about these people.  At worst, I read the headlines of an upsetting or depressing story that I can’t do anything about and also cannot get out of my mind.

I don’t want to have these places be my go-to when I need a bit of time-out, and that is when I came up with the idea of the place where there are a ton of stories waiting to be read, all chosen with me in mind.  They are focused on my favourite topics and are always uplifting.  Where is that place?  It’s the files on my computer.  I don’t do it as often now and it has to be something really good to save, but I used to save oodles and I mean oodles from blogs and website articles, from the entire piece down to snippets in an Inspiration file.

I have folders for Homemaking, French Chic, the Yahoo group, Managing your Money, Health and Slimness, Simple Living, Beauty, Femininity, Housekeeping, Personal Style, Self-Improvement and Travel.  They are all filled with documents.

And because these are all topics that I value and desire, I feel really happy and content spending time in their company.  Motivated too, as often they spark off an idea that I can’t wait to try.

I made the decision to stop saving so much information a while back when it almost got to be a mini-obsession.  I would often think to myself ‘why am I saving all this stuff, I actually hardly ever read it’.  But I didn’t want to just delete the folders of the stuff I did have.

So now, when I need a five minute breather, I browse my folders just like I used to browse the internet.  I pick a folder and then a document and start reading.  It’s lovely with a cup of tea or coffee.  I can read the article and think ‘well, I’ve read it now, it was ok but it’s not a keeper’ and I can delete the file.  Sometimes I can be one paragraph into a file and see that it’s not me anymore or way too basic and I already do this stuff.  I flick through the rest to confirm that, delete the file and move onto another one.

Here’s the first exciting bit:  the gems really stand out.  These files sparkle and fill me with such delight and joy and I feel the ‘love at first sight’ feeling I felt way back in the beginning when I first discovered the world of French Chic, Anne Barone and this magical and fun new way to look at and live my life.  These are the keepers for now, and I look forward to re-reading in the future.

And the second exciting bit is that by doing this I realised I am decluttering one of the last few places in my home that is untouched – my laptop.  Because my folders were so full, I didn’t often go there.  But now I look forward to a tea break so I can peruse the goldfield that is my hard drive.  It is a great way to see how far I have come, both in the information I have saved, plus items I wrote myself long ago.

Combining decluttering with inspiration, what could be better?

I am also now looking around at other ways I can switch a habit I want to reduce or eliminate with something I want to do more of.  What other things (adding one good, eliminating one bad) can I stick together that achieves both goals?

Habit switching - I like it!  What habit would you like to change, and what could you substitute for it?


  1. Fiona, this is a wonderful idea for stirring inspiration and ideas! I, too, have saved MANY things from the Internet. I'm going to start this habit of reviewing my files and cleaning out those that are no longer "me." Your essay here has prodded me to consider other habits I need to change. I only discovered your blog in the past month, and I love it. Sharon in Phoenix

  2. Have you heard of unrollme? I subscribe to a lot of blogs, updates, etc. by email.

    It automatically rolls them all into one daily email that I can scroll through to see what I want to read, save or take other action.

    It also does this (with permission to access your email account) to all the emails I get from retail sites, etc.

    It has been a huge time saver as I found I was spending/wasting so much time filtering though them individually.

  3. I tend not to save things from the Internet unless related to things I am researching to write about - such as recently I was trying to learn what I could about tall ships, i.e. sailing ships with three masts. I'm not techie enough to save folders other than my email folders for various people and then I have folders for the articles I write, and then I have my photos in Picasa, but that's about it.
    I do try and weed my Inbox and Out box regularly, but right now there are 532 items in my Inbox and 841 in my Outbox so about time I started weeding those!
    But I do have hundreds of folders and there is usually one each for all the pieces I've written and the research that goes with those pieces.
    I confess that I do waste time on blogs - if it is wasting time? - but they are such fun, aren't they? When I was young, I had penfriends; later in the 1980s I joined a couple of correspondence magazines which were also great fun (and I'm still in contact with one of the members more than 30 years later although the magazines themselves have closed); and now it's reading blogs and even considering having my own ... this is still on the back burner!
    Indeed, my blog reading has changed slightly. I started by reading a lot of bookish blogs (I still read some), then I happened on 'frugal' blogs (they are fine, but they can sometimes be a little depressing if one reads too many of them; I know we all aim not to waste money, even to save it, but sometimes these blogs become moaning shops where not only the lack of funds are talked about or how the writers save by buying cut-price goods, but also about all kinds of things which really we all have to put up with at times - the rain coming just as we've hung out washing, or the washing machine breaking down - and the posts turn just into a litany of whinges), and now I try and read uplifting blogs such as yours, Fiona, and Hostess of the Humble Bungalow, where I actually feel BETTER for having read the posts. Perhaps you can suggest some more really uplifting blogs I might enjoy? But not necessarily to do with travel because husband and I rarely venture out of our own county these days!
    Margaret P

  4. I really enjoy reading visually uplifting blogs or learning about books or ideas. As a retired teacher-librarian, I probably spend at least one hour a day researching background information to news. I would like to have a greater variety of activities so instead of spending so much time online, I am going to work on my needlepoint of the Eiffel Tower that I bought in Paris 4 years ago. I save travel articles and uncluttering/household on my computer.

  5. Fiona, I understand!! I do these things too! I have a couple of bulging paper files from magazines, & will only buy a magazine if I want to keep an article, & I have a couple of blogs which I have cut & pasted from, & filed, to keep. And your lovely blog is 1 of the main ones. I even do it for 1 facebook "blog" as I found that sometimes people go & "tidy up" their fb pages, & info is lost. I live in a tiny space so cannot keep all of my books, so I had to bid a sad adieu to many, but our internet files.....We get to keep them!

  6. Hi Sharon, and welcome! I'm glad this post is useful to you. When I come across a file I want to keep, I put a 'K' in front of the file name so I know. So, a file name may have been 'Homemaking inspiration' but then it becomes 'K Homemaking inspiration' and all my keepers are not only marked as such but also grouped togeher. I don't know if that's a geek-step too far for most normal people :)

    Jan, I haven't heard of Unrollme but it sounds like a great idea. I don't mind receiving emails from my favourite blogs, it's more shop mailing lists that I unsubscribe from. There are so many great apps that do really useful things, and how do you find out about them if it wasn't for other people? So thanks for mentioning Unrollme.

    Margaret, I don't consider blogs to be wasted time, especially since I'm quite selective about what I read. To me they're like reading magazines - which some may consider wasted time too :) You're right about some frugal blogs though - thrifty, cheery and living a simple life is nice to read about, penny-pinching and complaining is not!

    My thriftiness is part of living a simple and beautiful life, it's almost a by-product. And at the same time I am being green because I don't feel right about wasting things, from a respect-for-resources point of view. I list my favourite blogs in my 'Reading' list on this blog's sidebar.

    Madame, your needlepoint sounds lovely! I adore having something to work on - currently it's my alpaca cowl scarf, but needlepoint would feel very ladylike :)

    Ratanamurti, you're up nice and early on a Sunday - good for you! Your files sound just like mine. I also have torn-out-page files. Every so often I have a read and thin them out. I agree about saving stuff you enjoy on the computer, because sometimes blogs as well as FB pages change or are deleted.

  7. Hi Fiona, I've kept a journal/diary since I was in high school, about 33 years - oh my goodness I feel old after typing in that number! But I've never had a file of clipped articles or save anything on the internet or anything like that. I probably would feel embarrassed if someone ever looked in it. I battle with the thought of being too superficial with my interest in living chic. I know I shouldn't care what anyone else would think, but I can't help it, I do. If I did have a file, I know what it would contain: clippings on living more like some Europeans do, home inspiration like cleaning and cooking tips, meditational quotations, and the like. I'm also a little embarrassed about loving hen-lit fiction...shhh, don't tell anyone ;)


  8. Margaret P - have you tried 'Daily Connoiseur' ? Written by Jennifer L Scott, a mid-30s South Californian married mother of three who is also an author of three books titled 'Madam Chic'. She has weekly blogposts and covers a range of items from modern etiquette, healthy eating habits, hair and makeup, her Ten Item Wardrobe techniques, how to tidy up when in a rush, and so on. Her advice is relevant to any of us at any age, stage of life or income. I read her first book a few years ago, written after she had spent a year in Paris with a local family as an exchange student. Jennifer has just had her third child so is releasing a series of pre-recorded weekly blogs (each Monday in US time and each Tuesday here in Australia). It was she who recommended Fiona's blog and how I became a fan of Fiona's. Check it out :)

    Fiona - I love the notion of relaxing and enjoying yourself using resources you already have. Since developing a chronic health condition over two years ago I lost my employment and subsequently our household income has plummeted. I have always been 'careful' with my budget - not stingy but I have never been one to spend more than I earn - and have adapted to my new situation as time goes on. Now that I have oodles of time (albeit with limited budget and energy) I am enjoying life thru fresh eyes. Slow cooked meals using the cheaper cuts of meat and old fashioned 'puddings' from our grandmothers' day that many / most of us no longer cook due to time pressures. Coming home after dark following a full day's work and horrendous commute is NOT the time to be creative in the kitchen or think about rearranging the furniture :))

    Thank you for another insightful column xx

  9. Do you think that in years to come 'NZ Chic' and 'Australian Chic' will be in the same category as 'French Chic' ??
    It's something that we can all work towards. Maybe it can be our motto ;)

    ps Anaonymous - you are not being superficial. And I blow a big unchic raspberry to anyone who would suggest such a thing ha ha.

  10. Oops that ' anonymous' above was me. I forgot to enter my name. I think I need to eat my breakfast ...

  11. Hi Fiona.
    First, I must say, I have been really enjoying your new book! so much so that I am trying not to binge read but rather savour and enjoy each inspirational chapter sloooowly. I already know this will be a favourite re-read.
    I have followed your blog for quite some time and have always thought... she needs to write a book. I will include a book review once I am finished.My heartfelt congratulations to you on a wonderful job.

    Also,great post as always, in addition to reviewing the computer files (which I haven't done yet), but what I do manage to do when waiting for an appointment is purge unwanted pics/emails from my cells phone. I like to keep busy lol.

    Cheers from Rita in Victoria, Canada

  12. Another great post, Fiona.
    When my husband was ill for a long period a couple of years ago, by chance I found myself idly looking for nice things on the internet as an escape from what was going on. That's when I found blogs. It starts with one, that one leads you to sooo many more!
    It was the escapism I needed after another long day at the hospital. It refreshed me so that I could maintain the cheerful, positive mindset that he needed me to have to help him through.
    I also started saving photos from the blogs on my kindle - 2 years on and I now have 4872 pics. They are all inspirational, on housey things, outfits, things to make, beautiful photography, lifestyle etc etc.
    I love escaping to my gallery now and often remind me of what I was doing when I saved them, what I was looking for etc. Most importantly they are a reminder of how I've moved on, a reminder that things do get better. I've tried to delete the odd one or two but really can't, for that very reason. Collectively and individually, they are my daily fix of positivity.
    And I don't want to change that!
    Happy Sunday to you and you readers, Mary.

  13. Lara - yes, thanks, I do read Jennifer L Scott's blog and I also have her three books, all of which have helpful and, most importantly of all, inspirational advice. I would like to refine my wardrobe down to her 10 core items, but of course, Jennifer is young and slender and I'm ... well, put it this way, not young and slender! Also, I do not have the wherewithal to purchase new outfits each season. I know she has some 'carry over' to the next year, she never advocates dumping the lot and buying new, that isn't the object of the exercise, but I find even buying one suitable item for my age/shape/colouring/size a trial. We women over 70 have it tough because we don't want to look like mutton dressed as lamb and yet we are still modern in our outlook and need clothes to match this aspect of our characters. I do wish there were some clothes out there which were made from quality materials (preferably natural fibres), in colours suitable for our older skin (we look washed out in bright colours and yet in taupes we simply merge into the background) and well cut for our figures. I expect there are some out there, but they would be in classy city boutiques and with hefty price tags. I find that many dept stores (Marks and Spencer is a culprit) have what they call a "Classic" range, but for "classic" read old fashioned, suitablt for how many young fashion buyers/designers consider older women, i.e. not worth bothering about. They haven't cottoned on to the fact that we are the grey pound, there are millions of us, and we want some wonderful looking clothes, and yet they don't seem to be out there. That, or I need to visit Specsavers!
    Sorry, I've gone from Jennifer L Scott's blog/books to a moan about clothes! Oh dear, I must've got out of bed the wrong side ...
    Margaret P

  14. D, Haha, I've never counted how many years I've been out of school - 26! I think you can password protect individual files if you don't want anyone looking at your inspiration files; for me, my husband would never look, plus, I wouldn't care if he did.

    I know what you mean that we 'should' care more about proper stuff than shallow fun pretty things, but I chose long ago to declutter that thought from my mind. I am quite discerning about what I bring into my life, but that doesn't mean it is all high-brow. I loved your imaginary file contents - maybe that's what your inspiration files are - in the mind only? And hen-lit fiction, I can imagine it is older chick-lit; such a fantastic name!

    Lara, I love Jennifer's blog and books too :)

    I'm so impressed with the positive spin you've put on your health condition and situation - what an inspiration. You're so right that when you spend a full day at work and come home in the dark, it's enough to get the basics such as a quick dinner cooked without even thinking of being creative around the home.

    And NZ/Australian chic? One can only hope :) When I think of the Australian ideal, she is sporty and tanned, running along the beach like Elle McPherson... Australian girls are much more into fashion than NZ girls from what I've seen.

    NZ Chic would be outdoorsy too, but more down to earth. Dressed in quite edgy fashion and dark colours. A little bit androgynous.

    That's my take on Australian and NZ Chic anyway.

    Hi Rita, oh yay, I'm SO glad you're savouring my book - what a wonderful word to use! I hope the book has lived up to your expectations of what my book would be like :)

    Great idea with the email/photo purge. I love using pockets of time, I can't bear to stand (or sit) around looking into space, even for two minutes. If I don't have something in my bag, I read a pamphlet, and if there isn't one of those I make up a dialogue in my head. Maybe meditation would help me :)

    PP, yes, having a nice place escape to, exactly! When your husband was unwell, you were his positivity, and your inspirational photos were yours, where you went to fill yourself up again. Beautiful.

    Margaret, from the sounds of your outfits when you've shared them with me, I think you are doing a fantastic job of looking and feeling youthful whilst still being age-appropriate and comfortable. Like anything that looks effortless, a lot of energy goes into creating your style.

    Are there stores that you may consider 'too young' for you, that you could look through just to see what's around? It may be that in a store like this they have a more classic range that could be more modern in cut than a classic range for 'mature' people (such an unattractive word, I plan to be 'immature' for a very long time ;)

  15. I love your idea of prefixing your Files with a K!
    Also, for the last couple years I have been saving articles and pictures to Pinterest. I love it. Although I have now accumulated over 10,000 Pins,😨😨😨 I regularly go through them, revisit and cull where required. I find it's a great storage system and can browse my "interests" when I have a bit of downtime. Now I am going to see if I can put a K in front of the articles.....

  16. What a great idea Fiona. I, too, waste time looking at stuff that is irrelevant or depressing. I have printed out inspiring blog posts and have a folder of them, but your idea is even better for space-saving and de-cluttering. Why not fill our minds with inspiration and encouragement? I like to keep up with the news, but more than 15 minutes of that a day can be depressing. I like the idea of taking a break and perusing articles that inspire. And culling to keep the best of the best. xo Deborah

  17. Margaret P - I agree with much of what you write about fashion these days. Im not 70 (47) and feel that so much that is available in store is mutton dressed as lamb, too. So don't feel it's just because of your age group. I think it started to go downhill in the late 90s when the grunge period started. Well it did for me, anyway. My grandma died at 91 and she was chic to me. Always beautifully dressed, in stockings, nice necklace, clip on earrings, hair done, everything well maintained, etc. She did not grow up with money and certainly did not have much at all to spend on herself with 12 children and 20-odd grandchildren !! She taught herself to sew and in later years most of her clothes were made by herself or a local tailor. If I live to be half as loving and beautifully put together as her I will have done well ha ha..... But back to my topic. Regardless of our shape, size, colourings, scars, etc we are all beautiful. We all have at least one good feature, and I'm sure that you have many. Is it your legs, your wrists, your waist, your nattiness with hats ? (I look like the magic pudding when I try to wear a hat). Identify your best features, find ways to cover or camouflage the bits you don't like and Bob's your uncle !

    Dark denim jeans or trousers, blazer, nice flats look amazing on anyone at any age.

    It not just the slim young things.

    Look thru magazines, newspapers, online and look for women who look amazing and stylish. Adapt their look to suit you. Have fun playing and experimenting. You won't get it right the first few times but who cares. Enjoy the process.

    In Australia we have Maggie Taberer, a trail blazer as she was a working mother (gasp ! Horror in the sixties), successful model, television presenter over two or three decades, co-wrote home decorating book and an autobiography. And is still stylish and stunning. Lauren Hutton also springs to mind as a beautiful women. There are many many more. My brain fog has just cut in so I'll sign off.

    Please consider what I have written. Warm regards.

  18. Sophie, I always used to save photos to my hard drive instead of Pinterest. I lost them all when I changed computers because there were too many to have on my cloud. Enforced decluttering! I've started using Pinterest now :)

    Deborah, 'Why not fill our minds with inspiration and encouragement?' - I love it!

    Lara, in our forties and beyond is definitely a time, for me anyway, when you want to work out how to dress comfortably and not too old/not too young. Maggie Taberer certainly is a style icon. Thanks so much for your good style stuff.


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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