Thursday, May 19, 2022

Home decor inside and out, and a colourful wardrobe


Hello chic friends!

This is sweet Nina cat sitting sentry at the front door. Alongside my favourite red-orange geraniums! I love the look of them against the brick colour, although... we are going to have the brick painted.

I know, it goes against all advice to 'never paint brick', but we decided we want to, so that's what we'll do. We are either going to go very dark - sooty matte black, or off-white. Dark is quite fashionable, off-white is more classic.

I am leaning towards dark! I know it will be quite dramatic and wow-factor. There is a long-ish wait time for our painter so it will give us plenty of time to save up, but we should have it done by the end of the year.

Initially we were planning to repaint all the dark parts, plus under the eaves, just for maintenance. Then we expanded our plan - it happens doesn't it!

Anyway, until then, Nina will keep guard outside, enjoying the autumn sun here at the moment :)

And I'll be inside, finishing my book 'How to be Chic in the Summer'. It's almost there and I hope to have it in your hands this month!
 
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Below is our living room… I love this room so much. The inspiration is Ralph Lauren English country style meets French chateau.
 
 
The chandeliers are from the original owners, made from farming equipment from the husband’s family in Holland. One is a yoke and the other a wagon wheel.

I love that this room has wow-factor; it feels really special to be in here, even on an ordinary day.

And, on a fun note, it was nineteen years ago this week that I met my husband Paul at a pub in Auckland. What a fortuitous evening that was.
 
I have gone from someone who wore wore mostly neutrals and a few soft pastels, to a lover of colour and pattern as you can see!

The first photo is of my blouses and tops, and the second my wool jerseys for when it's cooler.

 


I still like neutral bottoms though, mostly skinny or fitted jeans in white, light-wash, dark-wash, army green, charcoal and black.

I had a fun few hours on the weekend reorganising my closet for autumn/winter and packed away my summer gear.

I like to merchandise my clothes so they look like an appealing boutique. This means hanging everything up, even items that others would usually fold such as heavy jerseys, or tee-shirts in the summer.

In my book 'The Chic Closet' I talk more about this technique in 'Chapter 5: Inject excitement with a capsule du mois'.

Hanging everything up means you can see everything you have, and more easily picture how different items go together, much like in a retail store.

I started doing this quite a few years ago and it's made a huge difference to how easy it is to get ready in the morning, and it's more enjoyable too.

You can find 'The Chic Closet' here on Amazon as a paperback book, or on Kindle too.
 

Happy mid-week everyone!
 
xx Fiona

Thursday, May 12, 2022

My favourite cake recipe and how I deal with criticism


Hello chic friends!
 
On Sunday we had afternoon tea at my Aunt's for mother's day and I made my favourite cake. I got the recipe here.

I make mine with butter because I'm not vegan, and I have probably made this cake at least half a dozen times. I have used, on different occasions rhubarb, feijoas, and granny smith apples. All are delicious.

And I like to serve it with whipped cream :)

If you try it, let me know what you think!

Hope you had a lovely mothers day too.

(Look how funny Chloe dog's face is :) No one could ever accuse her of being photogenic!)
 
~~
 
Mum told me what a nightmare I was in this photo session. I don't think she got a good, non-fidgety photo out of the lot! In fact I know this because she literally commented "Wasn't a usable photo among them". Hehe, sorry Ma!


And I was probably the one who tore the proof sheet afterwards too...

Good times!


I was recently asked how, as an author, do I deal with people's criticism of my work, and not take it personally or allow it to disable me?

I thought this was such a fantastic question, and it could apply to many different areas of our life too. None of us are immune to the sting of criticism!

So today I will answer from my point of view as an author.

It took a lot of guts to release my first book. It sat for years in a drawer, partially written, and I'd visit it every so often 'just to see'. I couldn't keep away from it! I'd re-read it and see that it wasn't so bad, write a bit more, become beset with self-doubt and put it back.

Then one day I thought 'Stuff it', I'm finishing the book and putting it out. And I did. I am telling you this to show that even the threat of criticism can hold us back from doing something we've always wanted to do.

And then when you do it... nothing much happens. Most of my reviews were lovely and readers were happy with what I had written.

This is what I keep in mind when I see a bad review. I also remember that I didn't intentionally set out to make someone upset with what I wrote. I do my best to write clearly and with as few errors as possible. I spend a lot of time after finishing writing a book sifting through it over and over to make it as good as I possibly can.

But even so, there are still people who won't like my work. They think I'm not living in the real world, I must have things easy to be flitting around with all this airhead prettiness that I surround myself with. My favourite two-star review on Goodreads called me 'delusional'. I couldn't love that review more, because I am!

I don't want to live in the real world. Well I do, in a practical sense, but I want to make it better, more fun. And for the people who want that too, I'm magic. But not everyone is the same. I think that's an important thing to remember about criticism.

Yes I do read all my reviews. I love the good ones, and in the bad ones I can learn something, either to improve my writing, or simply that that person is not my reader.

The main thing is to be happy in yourself. If you are true to you, the sting of criticism is far less.
 
Wishing you a lovely rest of your week and a fun weekend!

xx Fiona
 




Thursday, May 5, 2022

Italian chic, and how to be chic in the summer


Hello chic friends!

One of my lovely blog readers left this fabulous comment on my recent 'Italian Chic Inspiration' post.

“I lived in Italy and agree Italian style is somewhat sexy. Things we noticed living in Milan, Italians always fasten up their overcoat if they are wearing one. The always dress up even to go to the supermarket, this may still be jeans but they will not be the dirty ones they wore to clean the apartment, full makeup will be worn too. Makeup is often very heavy, I don't know how they put up with it in the summer heat.

Italians do not drink cappuccino after 11am and never ever after dinner. They always carry a scarf in their handbag in-case of draughts, draughts are considered to cause all manner of illnesses.

Italians do not readily follow laws such as the speed limit but they will follow social rules to the letter, swimming after lunch, never! They care very much about how they appear to the outside world but are not above buying knock offs to wear at the beach in summer, if everyone is wearing a particular watch on the beach in San Remo you can be sure it is being sold by the hawkers around town.

It's fun to try out new style and Italians are chic, you just need to know the rules.”

Isn't that fun? Thank you so much Elizabeth for leaving that comment. I love it!

And if you have anything to add about Italian style or perhaps you are Italian, please feel free to share :)


So, my next book is well underway, and by popular request it is called 'How to be Chic in the Summer'. So many of you have written and asked for it!

I thought now was the perfect time since we recently finished summer in New Zealand, and you in the northern hemisphere are going into summer soon.

I have a favour to ask: what is your biggest dilemma when it comes to summer? Dressing? Food? Keeping cool? Please tell me all your problems, lol!

And let me know what you want me to include in the book too, specifics welcomed. I'd love to encompass as much as possible.

I'm having fun writing it and can't wait to include as many of your suggestions as possible and brainstorm chic solutions to your problematic areas.

Thank you in advance! Such fun to have a collaborative book!
 
 
When I dine solo (this photo was at lunchtime), I like to have something sweet with a coffee afterwards.

Usually I'll have a few squares of dark chocolate, but here it's a healthy cookie. The recipe was average so I won't make them again (they were a bit 'too healthy' if you know what I mean), but I didn't throw them out. I don't like to waste things unless they are actually inedible 😊

Do you have a healthy sweet treat recipe to share? I'd love to hear
about it if so!

xx Fiona

PS. You can find all my other books at my affiliate link on Amazon here.

 



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