Sunday, May 31, 2020

Something for my Spanish readers :)

I am thrilled to announce the release of the first of my Spanish editions.  'Thirty Chic Days' is now available for my Spanish readers.  It was translated by my brother's partner Armando, who is from Colombia and a native Spanish speaker.

Armando diligently worked away at the translation, and reckons he knows the book inside out by now, since he has read it at least half-a-dozen times :)  My brother said he is sick of hearing 'How Fiona would do this' etc.  He is indirectly receiving sisterly nagging from me!

So if you speak Spanish, I would love to hear your thoughts on the first of my Spanish editions.  And if you know anyone who speaks Spanish and might enjoy the topics I write about, please let them know about 'Treinta DΓ­as Chic'!

You can find the new book on Amazon Kindle and in paperback here.

It really has been a bookstravaganza this month, hasn't it?  With three releases?  The chic stars were definitely aligned :)

xx Fiona

Saturday, May 30, 2020

How to self-soothe without food

Thank you to everyone who voted towards my book cover dilemma!  I am leaning towards having the covers match, as many of you have said this is important.  Plus, the look is cleaner.  I really appreciate that you took the time to vote :)

One of my lovely readers emailed me with her own dilemma.  She has been emotional and eating at those feelings during this hard time, which I find totally understandable.  I was asked to share my best tips to soothe ourselves without food, and I can definitely let you know what has worked for me.  I am also a person who finds it easy to eat to feel better, but I know it's not going to do me any favours in the long run.

1. Draw a line in the sand over past eating and don't keep going back to it and how you shouldn't have done it.  You can't change the past so this is just crazy-making.  Forget it and move on.

2.  Relax your mind.  Often when I feel like eating when I'm not even hungry, it's to slow my mind down.  Now that I know this, I can just stop and breathe a bit, stop what I'm doing and take the dogs for a run around the paddock (or a walk around the block with an audio book on in my old city life).  Lying on the ground doing stretches feels amazing too.  If you are at work you could do some standing stretches where you have your hands tall over your head and stretch from side to side.  Go into the bathroom if you feel self-conscious.

3.  Choose a small size and indulge in it.  My go-to for feeding my feelings used to be sugar and carbs.  Popcorn, sweets, chocolate.  During lockdown and I let myself have a bit of this, but quickly remembered why I don't buy it any more.  However, I do love a good-quality milk chocolate (Whittakers 33% from New Zealand is my absolute favourite, Nigella Lawson's too), so I buy myself a small bar when I do the grocery shopping - just the one - and relish it on the way home.  It's wonderful and I have no eater's remorse afterwards.

4.  Have a hot drink.  I read somewhere ages ago that a hot drink gives us the same sense of soothing wellbeing as eating something.  So when I feel like eating something between meals (when my previous meal was definitely healthy and substantial), I make a green tea or a Twinings black tea with trim milk or a peppermint tea and sip it.  By the time I've finished, I have forgotten about a snack and I feel calmed.

5.  Turn a wretched day into a spa day.  Cosset yourself with gentle self-care and declare your day over.  Even if it's only the afternoon.  Take anything absolutely non-essential off your list and take your time doing the necessary things.  Enjoy your dinner, sip a bedtime herbal tea, read your book and turn in early.  Perhaps rest is what you are really after when you turn to food.

What do you do when you feel like eating everything in sight to calm yourself down?  What's worked well in the past?  Please share.

And thank you to my lovely reader for your great question!

xx Fiona

Thursday, May 28, 2020

'The Chic Author' - now in paperback, and, I need your help with a decision!

My newest book 'The Chic Author' is now available in paperback :)  You can order it here on Amazon.

I had to change the cover from my initial design idea, which was to have an image of a spiral-bound journal on the cover, as I, and other authors I know are forever scribbling notes, quotes, dreams and ideas in their journal.

However... my design was rejected by Amazon as they thought it could prove misleading if anyone ordered my paperback expecting it to be spiral-bound.  Fair enough!  So the cover on the print copy is as above, which I still think is really pretty.

But now I have a conundrum, do I keep the Kindle copy as my original idea or change it to match the print copy?  Decisions, decisions!  Please help!  I'd love you to let me know in the comments which you think looks best.

I will go with the majority decision from blog and social media comments, and email too if you choose to email me with your decision (

And, if you know anyone who aspires to be an author, please tell them about my book!  And if it's you resonates with scribbling down all your inspiration in a spiral-bound notebook, perhaps you might have a secret wish to write a book.  Please don't squash down your dreams. I promise you, it's not that hard.  You just have to keep not listening to the person in your head telling you that what you're writing is rubbish (that's actually the hardest bit, most everything else is a walk in the park).

Order your print copy of 'The Chic Author' from Amazon here!

That's your cue to make your dreams come true :)

xx Fiona

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

New Zealand

The magical view from my front lawn 🌿

New Zealand: "A little piece of paradise at the bottom of the world" 🌏

I know most of my readers are NOT from New Zealand. If this is you, have you visited? Favourite places here? Or perhaps you have a link to New Zealand; please share :)

xx Fiona

Monday, May 25, 2020

Sweet Daphne

Wherever I am at home, Daphne will be there. She’s my sweet shadow.

Here she is sewing with me, always napping by the chair when I am doing some mending or working on a project at my sewing machine.

She is such a gentle soul and I do love her so 🐾🐾

Sunday, May 24, 2020

New book: The Chic Author

Chic friends, I am so pleased to announce the release of my latest book 'The Chic Author', where I share everything I have learned over the past five years, since I started writing and self-publishing my books.

If you would love to write the book you know you have inside you, but don't have a clue where to start, this book is for you!  Or even if you have made a start have published your own books, I'm sure there will be lots of nuggets for you to take ideas from. I know myself I am always keen to find out about other authors and how they write.  There is always something new to learn from someone else.

This book is part practical and part mindset.  I give you my best tips on finding your subject, how to structure your writing, how to edit and format your books and why I chose Amazon to self-publish.  I also talk a lot about the successful author mindset and how to get over your blocks and fears which seem to show up whenever you consider the thought of writing your book.

If you have even a vague inkling that you might want to write a book one day, please at least download the sample of 'The Chic Author' and read that.  I am hoping that my enthusiasm even in this small part of the book will spur you on and have you writing, then releasing a book of your own!

I truly believe we all have a book inside us, even if we think we're 'not a writer'.  We have all experienced situations or learned things that would make a great topic for a book.  All you need to do is honestly share what is top of heart for you.  That thing you could talk about all night.  Write the book you want to read!

So with that, I leave you with 'The Chic Author'.  It's available now on Kindle, and the paperback won't be far away.  There was a hitch with the paperback cover art being approved, due to my use of the spiral notebook image as a 'journal' look.  They are worried about confusing the reader with the print copy because it is not spiral bound.  I get that but I'm also a bit sad because I love the cover.  I'm hoping they will approve it anyway!  Fingers crossed!

The Kindle version is fine though, so that's available straight away.  And if you are a paperback fan, at least get the Kindle sample in the meantime and you can start reading.  You can find it here on Amazon.

Thank you for your support and I wish you a most wonderful weekend!

xx Fiona

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Keeping a clean home, with ease and pleasure

Reader Jess emailed me and asked for my advice on house cleaning.  This has been such a problem area for me in the past that I devoted a whole chapter in my book Thirty Chic Days to show the techniques that work for me in keeping a clean home.  (It's Day 28, available here.)

What it really comes down to for me though, is to work out what inspiration will pull me towards the actions which result in a clean and tidy home, versus trying to push myself with motivation.  Inspiring myself feels more effortless, and the most inspiring thing to me is to imagine my home as a boutique establishment such as a stylish AirBnB or even an elegant little bar in Paris.

Just daydreaming of the little details one might enjoy while there has me effortlessly jumping up to potter around.  Making my bed with care.  Picking up and putting things away.  Putting a load of laundry on.  Doing any ironing that needs to be done.  Lighting candles and playing soft music to set the scene as I work.

If I just potter away doing one job at a time, before too long I can see results.  Feeling relaxed while I do it makes the whole process more enjoyable, and the reverse occurs too: stress melts away as I restore order.

I will say one thing here: I now have help each week, from two lovely ladies who spend an hour doing all my basic housework.  It has been my dream to have this for a long time, so not too long after we moved here I researched and found someone.  This means I can carry on with my writing not worrying that the carpet needs vacuuming or my bathrooms need cleaning.

Before that, and also during lockdown, my husband Paul and I would split the tasks.  He did the heavier jobs which would leave me with a strained back, and I would do the other tasks which weren’t so tough on me.

In the past when I have done everything myself, the most satisfying but also the most detrimental to my physical wellbeing was to have a multi-hour house cleaning extravaganza.  Yes, it was amazing to have the whole house cleaned and tidied at once, but I also paid for it with exhaustion.

What I prefer to do now is to have something done most days.  A load of laundry every second day keeps us on track.  I tidy up as I go.  I’ll give the carpet a vacuum if it needs it.  I believe there is a happy medium between being a complete slob, and having a picture-perfect home.

The most important thing for me is to make tending for my home an enjoyable pursuit, and that’s achieved by the way I approach it, as well as the little touches I put into place as I go.

I hope this has been helpful, and please let me know if you have any questions!

xx Fiona

PS. Many of you asked about my lipstick shade in the last post. It is a Max Factor lipstick I bought a month or two ago. πŸ’„πŸ’„πŸ’„ I wasn’t sure I wanted to go matte, but love it now. Bright lipstick looks more modern when it’s matte rather than shiny. And it is nice to wear too, doesn’t dry out πŸ’‹

In choosing lipstick shades, one tip I picked up from working at Dior is to test a lipstick on the pad of your finger, as that's the colour most like your lips. Strange but useful!


Tuesday, May 19, 2020


Photos that were taken pre-lock down seem so long ago, even though it might have only been a month or two ago.  Just over a week before New Zealand shut down, my brother hosted a divine outdoor family lunch at his new home.

It was Italian-inspired so we had Spaghetti Bolognese, and my mum made a pavlova for dessert, with fresh raspberries picked by my auntie.  (I guess the pavlova is not so Italian, hehe, but it was delicious).

Those carefree days seem so long ago!  But hopefully all our lives will get back to normal with time.

And another throwback picture:

Little Chloe at our local Waimarama beach this past (Southern Hemisphere) summer ☀️πŸ’¦☀️πŸ’¦☀️ Can you see the sand on her chin? 😭😭😭 She and Daphne loved their beach day. They ran along the wet sand - on leashes of course, and had swims in the sea. They were naturals at dog paddling too!

xx Fiona


You can find me here too:

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Making every day special

This weekend is the first in New Zealand of our eased lockdown, and Paul and I had planned to go out for lunch.  A) Because it is an option now, and 2) Because we want to help support local businesses.

However... It was a cozy and rainy start to the day so we decided we would go out another day, and spend the day at home.  Paul lit the fire and it was such a treat to have the fire going early on.  It's not *that* cold but when it's drizzly weather it feels nice to have a fire.

We then took the dogs for a walk in our paddock and they had such a nice time running around, and it was good to get some fresh air too (there was a break in the weather).  After we got back, Paul decided he would cook something yummy for lunch and I did some editing of a new book in my office.  Yes, it will be out very soon, in the next week or two!

Paul and I often talk about how nice it is to have the traditional Sunday main meal at lunchtime - it's very English - so that's what we decided to do today.  I smelt yummy smells coming from the kitchen but wasn't allowed to go in there.

When I came out of my office I found the dining table set, with wine even (it was a late lunch - 1-2pm) and I was served a Pauly Special - mashed potato and kumara (sweet potato), flavoured with caramelized onion relish, chicken breast, and roasted broccoli with a divine sauce made from relish, Dijon mustard, and thyme from our garden.

Jazz was playing and it was a delightful Sunday lunch.  Paul is half English so it is obviously in his blood to partake in a big Sunday lunch, and we made it even more 'English country house' having been for an Autumn 'ramble' in the paddock beforehand.

It was such a nice idea, and even more fun because it was completely spur-of-the-moment.  Thinking about it now, it doesn't take much to make every day special (no effort for me whatsoever considering I didn't do any of the cooking or cleaning up, what a score!)  Just stepping out of your everyday, giving yourself permission to do something out of the ordinary, and enjoying life, basically.

And of course, we will go out next weekend to support the local economy; I'm sure they were busy enough this weekend with queues everywhere, without us to bother them.

Happy weekend chic friends!  Do something special today!

xx Fiona

PS.  I was so tickled to see this too - '30 Chic Days at Home' is the number 1 new release in Beauty, Grooming and Style on Amazon! (You can find it here.)

Thank you to everyone who ordered my book and helped make it happen 🌸🌺🌸

The Kindle book is still $2.99, it just shows differently on my screen due to tax added here in New Zealand πŸ’ƒ

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