Sunday, July 14, 2024

A soft, calm life + Nina cat in her new hoodie ❤️


Hello chic friends!

I'm keeping warm in the winter in my super-soft merino top.

I always bought merino to be cozy in the winter but the scratchiness drove me nuts. I looked for any excuse not to wear my winter tops and when I did I regretted it.

I was resigned to NOT wearing wool and finding something else to wear in the winter. Then I found 'supersoft merino' and it is a revelation. I'm so happy that I bought six of the same top in different colours lol.

Today's excerpt - tip no. 18 - from my newest book "100 Ways to Live a Soft, Calm Life" is for you if you feel the same way about fabric on your skin ๐Ÿ˜Š

:: Surround yourself with cozy textures ::

"Even if it’s not cold outside it’s still nice to drape a light throw over your legs while reading. Choose the softest cotton when you are buying tee-shirts. Pad around in bare feet on soft carpet or wear fuzzy socks if you have hardwood floors. Wear fine cotton palazzo pants or satin pyjama sets as lounge wear.

Let everything that touches your skin feel good.

In the past few years I have discovered pure linen sheets. Oh my gosh, they are lovely! I have built up our collection and almost have two complete sets – the final piece is another top sheet. They aren’t cheap so I wait for special offers, and I know they will last us a while too."

(In case you're interested and are in New Zealand, my supersoft jersey is here.)

(And my linen sheets are these ones: flat plus fitted)



My sweet little Nina cat needed further treatment on the injury under her arm. It almost heals and then she licks it again. I put her collar back on but then her vet suggested a tee shirt, as she still could scratch the area even with a collar on.


Being winter here a pet tee shirt is hard to come by so Nina now wears a sweatshirt! She has two weeks of antibiotics to try and avoid surgery.

Amazingly enough the sweatshirt stays on her, but when she first wore it she wouldn’t walk forwards, only backwards and in circles!! I feel mean but it really made me giggle. It’s all for her own good and it’s just strange for her, not painful in any way.

Doesn’t she look soooo cute, and perhaps a little bit street? ๐Ÿคญ


My darling Nina, almost 14 soon! She is so youthful though ๐Ÿฅฐ



Do you remember last week I said I would do a little series of photos, inviting readers to send their pictures of anything that depicts living a soft, calm life to them? Well Rachel in the UK sent this lovely image of a pretty mews house near her to play along. Thank you Rachel! It’s delightful ๐Ÿ˜Š

I love walking around nice areas taking in the sights too.


In keeping with this theme, allow me to share tip no. 26 from ‘100 Ways to Live a Soft, Calm Life’, in the bonus chapter ‘50 Ways to Romanticize Your Everyday’ ๐Ÿ˜Š

:: Notice the beauty around you ::

“This is what romanticizing your life is, at it’s simplest.

So what can you see right now? Do you have a view outside? Even if it’s just buildings, you can notice the sky, a far-away tree perhaps, or even birds flying past.

If you are at work and can’t see a lot to admire, perhaps your handcream tube is beautiful.

Train your mind to search for beauty and you will find it.”


๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽ Wintry view across the apple orchard ๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽ

I have a bit of a strange thing to let you know about today. It actually feels a bit yuck and I have a horrible feeling in my tummy, but I have had readers reach out to me and I wanted to warn you.

Apparently there are some books recently published that look JUST LIKE mine, with very similar titles, cover art, design and fonts etc, but they are NOT BY ME (it's a different author's name).

I even did a double take myself when I saw the covers I was sent – it was like looking in the book mirror (if there was such a thing ๐Ÿคฃ)!

So I just wanted to let you know to check the author name before you press the ‘Buy now with 1-Click’ button.

I find it so strange that someone would want to have their work look so much like mine, but I guess I should take it as a compliment.

I shall try and shake this unsettling feeling off and carry on doing what I do, dreaming up new ideas and writing more books. And recording them as audiobooks too!



And finally, the last of this week's 'soft calm life' photos brought to you by Sharon, from Norfolk in the United Kingdom.


Sharon said:

“Here are a few photos from my summer in the UK so far. It’s a life that you have helped me create. Your books are an inspiration.”


I am so honoured, Sharon. Thank you. I had tears in my eyes when I read this email!


I hope you enjoy these lovely summery English photos from Sharon. It’s especially welcome here on a chilly winter’s day in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand with icy winds straight from the South Pole. Brrr!


Thank you for joining me for this week's newsletter. I hope you enjoyed it! Thanks to Rachel and Sharon for sending in their 'soft, calm life' photos this week ๐Ÿ˜Š

Wishing you a wonderful Saturday/Sunday wherever you are.

Big hugs,

xx Fiona

PS. If you haven’t already read ‘100 Ways to Live a Soft, Calm Life’, it is available here on Amazon Kindle and in paperback. Audiobook coming soon!

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Sunday lunch, and living a soft, calm life

Me and my Banoffi pie

Dear chic friends,
Another Sunday, another family lunch! This one with more people than usual though, and at my aunty’s place last weekend.

Our delightful dining setting
It was such a lovely afternoon. I took a gluten-free Banoffi Pie by request. I love baking for get-togethers; it’s usually the only time I bake.
Although Banoffi Pie really is just a matter of assembling so it probably doesn’t technically count as baking :)

1. Make the biscuit base (I used gluten-free biscuits, whizz those to fine crumbs and mix with melted butter).

2. Top with a tin of caramelized condensed milk.

Refrigerate overnight.

3. Top with slices of banana.

4. Cover with thickened cream.

5. Grate chocolate over top.

I made this in a springform pan, but it would be lovely made in individual ramekins or teacups.

I’d sprinkle the biscuit base in rather than pack it down, spoon over the caramelized condensed milk, then add slices of banana, cream and chocolate nearer serving time.

I will do that next time :)

Delicious roast lunch

Micky up on the sofa where he probably shouldn't be

And likewise Chloe and Daphne, taking up a seat in the conservatory!

It really was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon :)

Can I just say how lucky I am to have such lovely readers?

Firstly, I received a request by email asking for one or two tips from my new book ‘100 Ways to Live a Soft, Calm Life’. Of course! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Secondly, another lovely reader, Kirsten from Victoria, Canada sent me this photo of a beautiful rose from her garden. She gave me permission to use it and to say her name and location too.

I had a thought that it would be a fun thing to ask YOU to send me a pretty photo you've taken also, and I can share them with everyone on other posts. It could be anything you associate with living a soft, calm life.

I'd love it if you'd play along! It just needs to be your photo though, I don't want to share someone one else’s work without permission.

And let me know if you are happy for me to share your name and/or location too.

You can email me fiona at howtobechic dot com or send a direct message on Instagram or Facebook, although sometimes those can get a bit lost I find (I try to respond to them but occasionally I find a really old message that got stuck - eek!)

Yay! I think this will be fun. Also, number one in three categories! Woohoo!

Let's get into the first one though. Today I'd like to share no. 49:

:: Choose softness as your new standard ::

“Living a softer life is not just about having everything perfect and thinking there will never be a problem. This unrealistic thought might stop you from thinking it is possible for you to relax into living the way you desire.

In life, we will always have issues, both big and small, but when you take on being calm, measured, and down-to-earth as your default, you will be able to handle problems more easily.

Don’t fall into victim mode and wonder ‘why do these things always happen to me?’ because problems happen every day to everyone. It’s part of being human.

Just know that your only job is to choose to live in a softer way, and that it is fully possible for you to do so.” 


Connie, from Chicago, USA sent the picture above, which was taken on The Great Lawn of Millennium Park, where people were listening to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra playing during their music festival. She met up with new people who were eating snacks and drinking wine during the event and said it was a picture-perfect day.

I love days like this too! It’s almost like everything aligns perfectly and it’s just such a dreamy wonderful day. One to remember for years to come.

Connie said it reminded her of number 98 in ‘100 Ways to Live a Soft, Calm Life’. So shall we read that tip too? I think so ๐Ÿ˜Š

::Get out and do all the things you can imagine yourself doing when you are living your idealistic life::

"Foreign movies on the big screen, live nights at a local jazz club, visiting museums and galleries, walking through beautiful public gardens, going to the theatre or a comedy show.

I’m a total homebody to the point that I can realize sometimes it’s been ages since I went to something out of the ordinary, and that’s the perfect time to plan something new.

Like a vacation, it shakes things up and gives you a fresh perspective.”

Thanks so much Connie for your lovely photo. It looks so summery and relaxing ๐Ÿ˜Š Nice to dream about when it’s winter here in New Zealand.


Penny in Runaway Bay, Australia sent in this photo (above). Isn't it pretty? And a little bit dreamy too?

Penny said she couldn't bear to throw out her past-their-best roses so sprinkled the petals in a bowl for a few more days of loveliness. Such a nice idea.

I thought tip no. 2 from the bonus chapter '50 Ways to Romanticize Your Everyday' would be nice with this image :)

::Recreate an idea from a magazine or Pinterest::

"Whether it’s an artfully plated breakfast, laying out on a blanket under a tree to read in the shade, or arranging your closet so that it resembles a stylish boutique, there are always new inspirations to elevate any area of your life.

Next time you come across something that appeals, give it a go straight away."

It goes perfectly with Penny's beautifully set rose petal table ๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’›


And finally, in celebration of living a soft, calm life Sharon from Central Illinois, USA sent in some lovely photos.

I just adore receiving these pretty pictures in the (e)mail and being able to share them with you. They are equal parts soothing and inspiring ๐Ÿ˜Š

In her words Sharon will explain each photo.

Take it away Sharon!


Sharon’s version of a soft life:

1) I had time to polish the silver that I use most often, so it's all in one place in the living room before putting it away

2) my toes in the bath with lots of tea lights

3) finished a jigsaw puzzle. I put on an audio book and make a big mug of coffee, and turn on the bright torchiere, and time just flies by

4) on a walk, you see the most gorgeous flowers thanks to neighbors' gardens

5) (above) & 6) (below) I frequently post on FB a daily pic of my feet propped up on the back deck in the morning as I drink my only cup of caffeinated coffee for the day. I call it the "Deck Report" with an assessment of the weather that day. People like my shoes. ;-)

All lovely ideas, and I adore Sharon’s pretty jigsaw puzzle ๐Ÿ˜Š And look at the beautiful green view from the back deck. So tranquil.

Thank you for sharing Sharon!


This post and these images are to celebrate the release of my newest book ‘100 Ways to Live a Soft, Calm Life’, and it was such a pleasure to write too. I hope you feel soft and fluffy as you read it. I’m currently recording the audiobook which is fun as well. Very soothing ๐Ÿ˜Š

This book is currently available on Kindle and in paperback here on Amazon.

Wishing you a lovely rest of your weekend. I hope it has been soft and calm for you as well!
 xx Fiona

(PS. My Amazon links are affiliate, which means I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. I’m grateful if you choose to use my link!)
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