Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Parisian approach to Christmas décor

I first wrote about this in my book ‘A Chic and Simple Christmas’, and a stroll through the city a few days ago reinforced it for me. I was in our beautiful local department store and their Christmas decoration display was stunning. They do everything well there, so I wasn’t surprised.

I wasn’t tempted to buy anything though, because at home I like to take a streamlined angle. I have a small amount of Christmas décor which I put up closer to the time, but anything bigger is more pain than pleasure to me. I feel claustrophobic with too much stuff around me, and resent the time it takes to put things up and take them down again.

Maybe in the future it will be different, but at the moment I am content to view and enjoy others Christmas decorating, whether it is in a store display, on magazine pages, in holiday movies or seeing homes decorated on the outside (I love all those things!) yet return home to my simply decorated abode.

It all depends how much you have on your plate too. Over the past twelve years of owning our retail business, December was often our busiest month and we worked right up until Christmas Eve. We have sold our store now, but we are still working up until Christmas this year training the new owners. Maybe next year I will decorate more, who knows.

But just how is this the ‘Parisian approach’? In Paris (and other large cities too), most people live in small apartments. They don’t have gardens, maybe a few window pots it they’re lucky. But it doesn’t worry them. They have gorgeous public parks they can visit and relax in, without all the yard work. They ‘borrow’ their garden experience.

That’s how I feel about Christmas décor – I can enjoy and get a sparkly and happy Christmas feeling from it, without needing to own it for myself.

Friday, November 25, 2016

{Taste} Being more feminine blog series

I love to feel feminine, and am always creating my own inspiration.  I find that introducing little pockets of femininity into my day helps everything run smoother.  I feel more ladylike and life is enjoyable – even when I’m doing mundane tasks.

The first post in this series is on using the sense of taste to be more feminine.

Fresh fruit

Instead of a biscuit (cookie) or cake for afternoon tea, wash and slice an apple or other piece of fresh fruit and savour piece by piece from a pretty plate.  Water-rich food is so deliciously plumping (in a hydrating way) to the cells of your body, and you will feel refreshed and light afterwards.  Add several raw almonds for a balanced le goûter.

Herbal tea

Find an herbal tea you like the look of and enjoy it daily.  There are many different teas around – so many.  If you are not a fan of traditional herbal teas such as peppermint or chamomile, try a fruit tea.  When I settle down for a morning of writing, I like to make myself an herbal tea and top up with hot water when I get down to the half-way mark, many times over.  ‘One’ cup lasts me hours!  It’s nice to sip on plus I get good hydration plus I don’t snack when I am doing this.  Win/win/win.

Petite sweet

Find a petite morsel that you can love in moderation, to enjoy something sweet to finish off a meal.  I am still loving bliss balls (my recipe here), and I find that one bliss ball with one small piece of dark chocolate go well together.  Along the same lines is pairing a dried apricot with a piece of dark chocolate.

Do you have a femininity in taste tip to add?  Please share in the comments below, I’d really love to hear.

We don’t have thanksgiving here in New Zealand, but in the lovely spirit of it, I wish all my chic readers a very happy thanksgiving.  I’m so grateful you are here.  Thank you.


PS. Join my weekly email list to receive new blog posts, plus excerpts from my books Thirty Chic Days and Financially Chic.  You can join here.

Friday, November 18, 2016

How to be confident

When you’re an actor, it’s 30 percent skill and 70 percent confidence’ – Kate Winslet

How many times have you heard that being confident is key?  In your job, the way you dress, the way you carry yourself.  I’ve heard it so often that it almost washes over me without effect, as in I just don’t hear it anymore.

But when you come across someone in real life who has confidence, then you get it.  There is something magnetising about them and you can’t take your eyes off them.  It could be seeing a celebrity in real life or someone you encounter during a normal work day.

I can still remember when I met Rachel Hunter at a store function here in Auckland, many years ago now.  She sat there cool and ethereal, but still friendly and welcoming.  She radiated this inner glow of beauty and peace and wasn’t like a normal person – she transcended everyone around her.  Yes, I know she’s a supermodel, but still.

I see it with people I meet in our store too; the confident ones really stand out.  Sometimes confidence can come across as arrogant, but more often you are just kind of spellbound, and respect the aura they have around themselves.

All of these people know the secret to confidence.  And what is that secret?

You have to bestow it on yourself and believe it every day.  Act it every day.  Honour yourself.  Confidence is like a cloak that you choose to put on; no-one else can put it on for you.

In New Zealand there is the ‘tall poppy’ syndrome where you are in danger of (figuratively) being chopped down if you get too big for your boots.  From this, many of us sneak around trying not to appear too fancy or talk ourselves up too much.  We will happily support our sports teams, but not ourselves.  We will put ourselves forward on behalf of our employer, but not personally.

Coming from this sort of national background, it can be hard to suddenly turn it around and be that confident person we wish we were.  I think most of us are worried that we will go too far and be outcast.  But we know we won’t, there is too much ‘tall poppy’ drag on us to do that.

It’s all about taking baby steps with your growing confidence.

Quieting the doubting voices in your head

Knowing that the sky won’t fall in if you are proud of an achievement

Knowing that nothing bad will happen if you think to yourself ‘you look good today’

Knowing that you don’t have to be perfect to feel confident (such a huge one!)

For me, I think I was waiting for that day when I was perfect – the perfect weight, eating perfectly, doing a perfect job at work, having a perfect home – to deserve to feel confident.  That day will never come though, life is always a work in progress.

By giving yourself permission to feel worthy of moving through the world in spite of your many imperfections; to feel worthy of ease, happiness, joy and abundance; then confidence will come.  It’s appalling how we treat ourselves sometimes, don’t you think?

So I’m asking you today; are you going to feel confident in yourself, exactly as you are?  To start the ball rolling, I’d like to say ‘I am’.


 PS.  You can find my books here on Amazon.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Chic Technique: Opposite Day

Did you ever do Opposite Day as a kid?  I don’t think I did, but I saw it in movies and on tv programmes from time to time and it looked like fun.  Good, silly fun – and don’t we all need more good, silly fun in our life sometimes?

I’ve realised I do Opposite Day as an adult and I think I will make it more of a habit now that I am aware of it.

One of my fears is that I get stuck in a rut.

Singing the same old song.

Being in a rigid routine day after day.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my simple life and can’t imagine myself doing anything that radical, but sometimes it’s nice to shake things up.  Let people – including yourself! – wonder if they really know you at all.

It could be big things and it could be little things.  It could be doing something that is not ‘appropriate’ for your age.  Here’s what I mean:

You can watch Coronation Street (even though you loathed it when your mum watched it when you were young)

You can spray on a Britney Spears perfume and like it (even though you are not 14)

You can look into an at-home weight-lifting routine (having not been to a gym in years)

You can start reading entirely different genres of books

You can have a 180-degree change of opinion on a topic

You can decide that life is short and you’re going to like what you like, doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks

You can be inspired to become a clean eater and be in the best shape of your life (even though you thought your ‘sweet tooth’ was permanent)

You can think about doing something different to your usual and your first thought is ‘but I don’t do that’; then you realise you would like to try

You can feel excited at the wide-open possibility that is the rest of your life

I was going for a brief 20-minute stroll before work today and I could feel the goodness of life and anticipation of what is to come bursting out of my chest.  It was almost a physical feeling.

Yes, we have a big life change coming up – selling our business and leaving the city for the tiny town where I grew up – ‘life in the country’ – but the more I read and learn and inspire myself with my thoughts and questions and listen to what I really want, the happier and more excited by life I become.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Do you ever find yourself feeling constrained by your own ‘this is how I’ve always done it’ thoughts?  I am getting less and less tolerant of restrictiveness in the way I think.

We all know, we’ve been told enough times, that we are capable of pretty much anything; it’s just our thinking that holds us back.  But that dampening voice in our head can be a most powerful thing and I know it can be hard to overcome at times.

It can be done though, and here’s how:

By asking questions of yourself and writing down the answers

By going after what sparks a germ of excitement inside you

By following the breadcrumbs on what makes you happy

By being around people who light you up

Who’s up for Opposite Day then?  What do you think you might do on Opposite Day?

I’d love to hear,

PS.  My book ‘A Chic and Simple Christmas’, which was previously only available on Kindle, is now out in Paperback, with a beautiful new cover.  You can order it from the publisher CreateSpace here, or from Amazon here.  CreateSpace is often better value shipping-wise if you don’t have an Amazon in your own country.

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