Friday, April 20, 2018

The makeup capsule collection

We’ve all heard about the capsule collection as it relates to your wardrobe (and if you’re like me, it becomes a mini-obsession) but I had the exciting – to me – thought to curate a makeup capsule as well.

I don’t have a huge amount of makeup, but I do have multiples of most items, especially colour products such as lipstick and gloss, blush and eyeshadows and eyeliners.

For my everyday neutral makeup look, I’d invariably gravitate towards the same pinky blush, MAC eyeshadow (still the warm neutral Kid, and I’ve added Quarry for a darker more taupey option), and a few favourite natural pinky-red lip-colours.  I use bronzing powder instead of blush and eyeshadow sometimes too (just a light touch!)

When I have a makeup cleaning session (which I love doing), I couldn’t remember which brushes I’d used, so I would wash them all.  I would also polish all my makeup containers inside and out, with a less favourite perfume and a clean t-shirt rag.

When I was doing this the most recent time, I decided to store all my makeup in our bathroom drawer (so it was still accessible), and put my everyday makeup in a small basket that I could store away or get out to sit on the bed and do my makeup where the light is good.

Not only does it save me lots of time each day, but it is also very satisfying when I have one blush that I’m using and it is almost finished up.  When I used a different shade each day that didn’t happen.  I only have one of everything in my capsule makeup collection, except for lipsticks, which I have made a little artists palette with.

There were favourite lipsticks which were worn down flat, and others that I only used occasionally.  With the almost used lipsticks I dug them out and squashed them into a small makeup sample container (which is a round flat shape with a screw-on lid) and also chopped the tops off other lipsticks.

I now can use either one colour, or swirl my lip brush across multiple colours to get a new shade.  A similar concept to the pressed powder version of Guerlain’s Les Meteorites or Bobbi Brown’s Shimmer Brick palette – except mine was free :)

As enticing as my makeup capsule collection is, I’d still sometimes not wear makeup, and I do feel better when I’ve made the miniscule effort.

I timed myself recently to see just how long it takes to do my everyday lightly made up look and it took nine and a half minutes (I wasn’t rushing it either).  Knowing this helps me not be lazy when I think ‘I won’t put makeup on today’.  It takes less than ten minutes; I feel good; plus I look more polished if I see anyone.

With my few other makeup items I can still dig through them if I feel like doing something a bit different for a night out, and I get to enjoy my curated daily neutral palette with ease.

Maybe you do this already, but for me, I am very happy with how my capsule collection idea turned out!

Are you a makeup minimalist?  In-between like me?  Or are you a makeup junkie?  What are your favourite products?  One of mine is Estee Lauder Double Wear which I put on with a damp Beauty Blender sponge.


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Friday, April 13, 2018

How to create a good habit easily (yay!)

Daphne helping me with my blogging

If you’ve ever had a blog, you will know that writing a blog post can be the easiest and most fun thing in the world, or the hardest, most time-consuming and procrastination-causing task you’ve ever done.

Everyone starts off with good intentions and a fair bit of excitement, but when you decide that yes, you do want to be a writer and commit to a weekly blog post (or fortnightly, or twice-weekly, whatever it is for you), sometimes it’s a hard task to even think up a topic let alone write 300-1,200 words (depending on how long you want your post to be).

Enter this fun new challenge I am doing, which can be for blogging or virtually any other habit you want to get better at.  Bad habits seem to form easily and without you even noticing, but good habits?  They are way harder to set in place – why is that?  Maybe for the same unknown reason that chocolate lures us more than broccoli (although I love broccoli a lot, but still).

The fun habit-forming challenge I am talking about is this:

The Daily Habit Tracker

I printed off a single calender page from Microsoft Excel.  This one little piece of paper is going to transform my month!  Basically you cross off the square for each day that you do the habit you want to cement into your life, and the goal is to have a string of unbroken Xs for the entire month.

I decided that to help with my blog post issues of late (whereby I leave it until the last minute and then stress myself out coming up with a post; I do believe this doesn’t compromise my quality, but I would like to approach my blogging in an easier fashion!), I would focus on writing blog posts every day for a month.

If I can write 31 blog posts in 31 days (and let’s give myself a maximum of thirty minutes to write one, so I don’t spend all day on it), that gives me a lot of banked work to be able to focus on writing my books for weeks on end instead of stopping and starting.  I do find it best to focus on one thing at a time.

This will also build momentum with my writing, and at the end of the month I can feel proud that I achieved what I set out to.  I am so excited by this ‘new’ idea that I have already started thinking what my next focus could be.

There are so many things to choose from, in all areas of your life, such as:

30 minutes a day walking
X number of sets of strength training
30 minutes a day weeding the garden
Healthy food prep once a day (for the next 24 hours)
10 minutes of yoga
A no-spend month
Declutter/tidy/organise/mend things etc for 30 minutes a day
Journal for 30 minutes a day
30 minutes a day writing your book – imagine how proud you would feel after a month, with fifteen hours work done – that’s a lot of writing!

The goal is not to break the chain of Xs as you complete your chosen action for the day, but say you missed one or two days of the month, you would still achieve a lot.  The beauty of having a calendar page to cross off is that having that page of Xs being completed would encourage you to keep on going and not let a blip ruin your intention for the month.  Whereas if you weren’t tracking on paper and missed a day you may feel tempted to give up.  Sort of like breaking your diet so you quit it altogether

This blog post is the first one I am writing in this challenge, and it’s flying out of me!  I am excited to see what else I can write about with my daily blog post, and you will be able to read them as the months go by!  I know that batching tasks isn’t a new thing, but it sure feels like it’s shiny and fresh to me right now.

Perhaps you don’t feel able to commit to a month; it feels like a big hill to climb and you don’t want to start then fail because it will only compound other things you have dropped out of in the past.  Well, what about doing ten days?  Seven days?  Two weeks?  Three weeks?

Pick a number that feels good to you and start today.  17 sounds pretty good to me – I quite like the idea of a completely random number that no-one else would choose!  Have fun with it, make it feel light not heavy, and look forward to feeling so proud at the end of it.

I suppose this idea is similar to a child’s reward chart when they get stars for brushing their teeth, reading a book, being nice to their sister…  why not a grown-up version for yourself?  You could even include a reward if you want.  For me, the reward would be completing my month of linked Xs, but we’re all different.  If you would like a coffee date out with yourself, a massage or new book at the end of your challenge please be my guest.

I’m already thinking that for my next challenge my 30 minute daily habit will be addressing a hot spot in my home each day.  Bigger, messier hot spots like my sewing room will require multiple days or even the whole month, but smaller areas like the cupboard under my bathroom sink might get done in one 30 minute burst.

Exciting!  Who’s joining me?  Let me know what you are thinking would be a fun challenge.  By the way, I wrote this post in 27 minutes :)


PS.  I’ve just reopened my e-Course ‘Create your dream life as a successful author’ as a home-study program.  It takes quite a lot of energy and time to have live rounds so I won’t be doing another for a while, but I’ve many emails from ladies who want to join.

It’s still an excellent price for what you get, and to be fair, the home-study version isn’t all that much different from the live rounds.  You receive a new training module (both written PDF and MP3 audios) each week for six weeks, four bonuses each week for six weeks and two Q&A audio recordings each week for six weeks, plus lifetime access to the private Facebook group where you can interact and be inspired by other authors-to-be.  I am also currently available in this group to answer questions.

If you would like to find out more about this new home-study program you can take a look here:

And if you dream of writing a book but have no clue where to start, I warmly invite you to join my FREE writer’s encouragement club where you will receive motivation and action steps to inspire your creative mind.

I’ve had great feedback from the emails I send out and many women have told me they’ve started writing, and with joy!

Join the free writer’s encouragement club here:

Friday, April 6, 2018

Reader question: Secret unchic eating!

Lovely reader Amy wrote to me:

Hi Fiona,

I love your "30 Slim Days" book - so much of it resonated with me - but I've run across a hurdle and it occurred to me that you might provide a different way of looking at this since you've deeply thought about the psychology behind weight loss.

I can be going along, eating right and exercising, but when my husband goes on a business trip (usually it's 1 week away perhaps 3 times per year) I tend to view it as a "vacation for myself" in which I throw all common sense out the window and seem to view it as a time to relax my standards and eat whatever "bad" binge food I want to - fast food, Chinese food, bakery items - it's fascinating how we sometimes view food as a way of treating ourselves even if it's unhealthy choices.

Anyway, he has a business trip coming up next month and I know it's going to be a stumbling block for me (I'm already gleefully contemplating the Kung Pao Shrimp and strawberry glazed donuts) so I thought I'd be prepared this time and write to you to see if you had any thoughts on this matter :)


Oh my goodness, such a great question.  It’s something I’ve done many times myself.  Many, many times and still can do sometimes!  Less than before thankfully.  I wrote about one of the times I was successful here (and I love the comments on this post as well):

My first thought was to reframe what a 'vacation for yourself' would look like.  Imagine if you went to a health spa for a week and had pampering treatments, time to relax, restorative walks around the grounds and delicious, nutritious meals served up to you.

I know for me that the unhealthy foods beckon when I'm thinking how to treat myself, but when I have something crazy healthy like a smoothie packed with fresh ingredients I am almost zinging out of my skin afterwards because I feel so good! Remember how you feel after the donuts and perhaps that will help you redesign your week by yourself.

Perhaps rename your week to a chic name too?  I would choose Spa Week or A Week in Paris etc.  Ooh, and what about PrivĂ© for a name (it's French for Private and brings up thoughts of a wealthy woman or celebrity being elegant behind closed doors).

As you will know from Thirty Slim Days (available here from Amazon: I like to make the better thing to do fun and enticing, otherwise I won't want to do it.  Having a week at home by myself trying to be healthy and avoid all my favourite treat foods sounds so dire I'm afraid I wouldn't have a chance of achieving it.

But A Week in Paris though?  Where I can watch French movies and design a menu for all my meals as if I was choosing from the blackboard at a Paris bistro?  Where I have petite projects planned such as going through my closet and putting together a chic French-style capsule wardrobe for the coming season and practicing Gallic eyeliner techniques thanks to YouTube?  Yes please!

Your treat foods might be a simple and delicious meal of fresh fish cooked in butter and lemon juice with brightly coloured vegetables and a gourmet French sauce that you purchase.  For afters, a macaron or two.

A Week in Paris is just one suggestion; you might prefer to spend the week in another country :)

It might still be a pull for you to go the other way, glazed donuts and all, but that's only because you've done it so many times in the past.  When I want to change my habits, I tell myself that that was what the old me did, and I'm different now.  I tell myself I am the type of person who does X.

It feels good to identify with an elegant role model too.  I might have a week of Aerin, because I love her restrained and feminine way of being.  Aerin would not eat popcorn for a meal, I'm sure of it.

Think of all the fun things you love to do, and do them when you have your week by yourself.  I'm thinking for me of things that don't involve my husband such as browsing my style files, playing around with my knitting yarns and sewing fabrics, doing spa treatments such as face masks, writing my own inspiration in my journal and watching French movies as above.

I hope this post has sparked off some ideas for your week, Amy, and I'd love to hear what you plan to do with your week now.  Instead of being scared of it, be excited!

Dear readers, as always I'd love to hear your thoughts.  What would you say to Amy?  And, what would your dream week to yourself look like (even if you still had to go to work!)  I want all the juicy details :)


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