Thursday, November 26, 2015

Staying youthful by learning

My crazy-small iPod Shuffle - the 'makes me go walking every day' miracle

I used to pride myself on not being 'sucked in' to all the high-tech gadgets with never-ending upgrades and saving money by keeping things simple. I didn't have a smart phone and was very happy with my Nokia which just made calls and texts.

In the past few months I have upgraded my thoughts around this and now am the happy owner of a Kindle eReader, as well as an external hard drive to back up our files and I'm currently in the process of purchasing a new fancy laptop since my old one had a terminal episode and could not be revived. Not to mention the tiny iPod Shuffle (it's one-inch square!) I bought over a year ago which is the reason why I am happy to go for a nice long walk most days.

I still don't have a smart phone though; I’m taking the upgrades in baby steps :)

So just what changed my mind when it comes to technology? I was reading a Sunday supplement article featuring women in their 60s to 70s who considered themselves very youthful. They all talked about how their thinking kept them young, being interested in new things and also being keen to learn about new things.

The one woman who affected me most said how she was on Facebook and wanted to learn it to both keep in touch with her grandchildren and also because keeping up to date and learning about new technology keeps your brain young.

Within an instant I knew I wanted to change my thoughts on technology, from 'I don't need to know all this stuff, I like to live a simple life.' to 'I'm going to educate myself. It doesn't mean I'm going to suddenly go out and spend heaps of money on gadgets, but I'm not opposed to gadgets either. If I do choose to buy something in the future, I'll know what I'm talking about'.

I know I'm only 45, and still have many decades to go, but I don't want to start falling behind now and be clueless as things progress. Firstly I decided to read the junk mail and see what's available and learn the lingo. In addition, when friends have something I don't know much about I ask them questions. I'm not afraid of sounding dumb and people are always happy to share with you what they know.

I've learnt so much already and am loving my most recent 'high-tech' (for me!) purchase of a Kindle. There are so many cool Kindle books being written now that aren't available as a print copy because often they are quite small. I've purchased a number of them and they're on my laptop, but it was rare that I'd sit down and read even a short book sitting at my desk.

When I saw that the price of a starter-model Kindle on Amazon wasn't actually too prohibitive, I decided to act boldly and order one. I love that I can read all my ebooks in bed, on the sofa or when I'm waiting for an appointment. It tucks into my handbag and I pull it out for a quick read if I have a few minutes. My place is saved in the book so I can carry on reading from where I left off.

Something else exciting that I didn't realise about Kindle is that you can email a Word document to your own Kindle email and it's saved as an ebook. I have so many Word documents that, again, I wouldn't sit at my desk and read, but now they're like extra juicy ebooks tailored to my taste. Some are inspiration from others (collected blog posts, article snippets etc), and some are documents I've written to inspire myself on a certain topic.

When I bought my Kindle about a month ago it had $20 off ($79.99 down to $59.99) which I thought was great but when researching this post saw that there is a special Black Friday sale of $30 off so they are now $49.99.  I'm a bit miffy that it's $10 less than I paid but c'est la vie.

My husband laughs (nicely) at me now, saying that I used to look down on people who wasted their money on updating their gadgets all the time and now I'm happily sitting there reading my Kindle. What can I say other than it's a woman's perogative to change her mind?

Are you a gadget-girl? Low-tech? What is something you've invested in that you couldn’t imagine living without now?  Or tell me about something you're proud of having learnt this year.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Making inspired chic changes
Wouldn't this be a nice dressing room (from

Reader Rebecca wrote:

I think the biggest barrier I have to living a more chic simple French-inspired life is that I feel overwhelmed by the thought of the changes I'd have to make.

For example, I need to change my wardrobe, but before that I need to lose weight, but before that I need to change my diet, but before that I need to find recipes, but before that I need to use the food I have etc.

I get so bogged down in the minute details and overwhelmed by the magnitude I become paralyzed with doubt and questions and do nothing.


What a great question!  Can I say, I hear you - I have done the exact same thing. When I have a fun idea such as ‘I want to create my perfect and most chic wardrobe - why not do it today?’, it seems that my mind immediately jumps to ‘but I have to do that first before I can do this, and then this other thing comes first, and what would I do with the decluttered clothes, some cost me money’... It turns into this big long chain that I have to start at the beginning and of course it makes it difficult to be enthused to do anything because it’s hard within one second. Whew!

My first thought to counteract all this? Something that has really helped me is to do the one thing that excites you and start with that, not what you think you should do.

Just taking one little step can spark off all sorts of other things. If the thought of having a chic minimal wardrobe excites you, have a play around in your closet and take out everything you think does not deserve to be there for this exercise. Do it straight away and brush away thoughts of weight loss or what you ‘should’ be doing instead (often when I do something like this I gain lots of energy and end up finishing my other tasks in record time).

With your closet, either hang the pieces you’ve taken out in another closet or even put them in a suitcase for now. Use your new chic minimal wardrobe for a little while and see how different you feel. It might lead onto eating cleaner food. An unsweetened tea or coffee might appeal more than a snack between meals. I’ve found both these things to be the case. Changing one thing often leads to changing other things, it's like a chain reaction - you're mixing up your little world so things happen!

Sometimes if I have too much junky food in the pantry I do the same as the wardrobe. I put everything on the kitchen counter, wipe out the pantry and put back only the elegant and stylish food. A few times I've even stored all the potato chips etc. in our guest bedroom in a box so I didn't see them every day. It has helped with my eating, definitely - and there are no potato chips or junky sweet stuff in our house currently :).

Pretend you're the chic and elegant lady of your dreams and make it fun. Incredibly the ‘pretend you’ influences your real life in a good way – yay for that! I hope this has been useful, and I’d love to hear anyone else’s thoughts if you have done anything similar.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Paris je t'aime

It’s hard to know what to write at a time like this, not long after the dreadful terrorism attack on Paris.  It seems insensitive to carry on as if nothing has happened, but equally I don’t want to give the stage over to darkness.  I truly believe that we can be compassionate and be our own little bit of light in the world and I actually think we have an obligation to be the light for others around us whether they are next door or across the sea.

We can clearly see how the city of Paris is suffering right now and my heart breaks for the people and the place.  What I think I can do, all the way on the other side of the world, is to keep my frequency positive and send out love.  Like many of you I was glued to the news on the weekend.  I don’t normally follow the news but I simply couldn’t turn away.  I have now though, and rather than feel like I have abandoned Paris, I more feel that I am honouring her by being my own brand of good in the world, no matter how small.

I’ll be here tomorrow with this week’s post.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Inspiration Ideas – Make it fun

I have Lisa's book and love it, so sue me!

Following on from my last blog post ‘Inspiration ideas - Makeit stylish’, another one of the few ways to make me want to do something is to make it fun.

I am not ashamed of the fact that, despite my love of a chic lifestyle, I also adore things that others may deem un-chic – in this instance reality television, specifically Keeping up with the Kardashians and the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Aside from the fact that we are all not made up of the same influences and interests, and it’s the little differences that keep our relationships with others interesting, there are factors in watching these programmes that keep me motivated on my path of self-improvement.

Watching the stick-thin housewives in their glamorous outfits motivates me more than anything pedestrian.  I don’t want to be as skinny as them as I would have to lose half my body weight, but seeing how polished and happy they look (I know, it’s an illusion) inspires me to not put the potato chips and low-quality chocolate in my shopping trolley at the supermarket.

Seeing their lovely homes and the glossy stores they visit inspires me to pretty up our home and get on with the housework.  I don’t even mind!  I don’t think about ‘urgh, gotta drag the vacuum cleaner around’, instead it’s ‘yay, our house is going to look so good when it’s finished’.

A dvd I have been ignoring at the library, even though I can get it out for free, is Kim Kardashian’s workout (there are three different ones).  I have watched all of their tv shows over and over, except for these ones.  I have one of the workout dvds out at the moment and it’s exactly the type of workout dvd that will make me do something.

I have a couple of others, ballet workouts that I read about, but I haven’t even watched them once.  They just seem so dry.  Kim Kardashian said something during the first workout that resonated with me and inspired this post.  It was in an interview about her fitness dvds, and she said the studio where it was filmed was just right for her.  It was all set up with racks of her clothes, a fancy gilt mirror, and faux balconies looking out to a twinkly sky.  She said she needs pretty spaces to inspire her.

I am the same!  If something is too plain, I can’t bring myself to do or use it.  Whilst still being practical, if something has ugly packaging I have to decant it into another container, whether it’s cotton makeup pads or brown basmati rice.

Just knowing this about me makes it more likely that I can set up my life to motivate me to be my best self.  Deciding that I wanted to make sure I drank at least two litres of water a day, rather than note down the glasses during the day (I would forget to do it and be bothered about that), I found a pretty water jug that we don’t often use and measured the volume.  It is one litre, so I know I have to empty it twice a day.  And I do!

Maybe you’re the same?  If you are reading my blog, then you probably are.  Now go declutter a drawer and make sure you put everything back in a pleasing and orderly fashion.  That’s what I’m off to do now!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Inspiration ideas – Make it stylish

Huge thanks to lovely blog reader Karabella for sending me this divine lavender sachet bought in Versailles

One of the best ways to make me want to do something is to make it stylish.  I can’t intimidate myself into eating better, improving my grooming regime routine or exercising more.

But I can make myself want to eat better by decluttering my kitchen cupboards until there are only my favourite dishes and glasses in it - stylishly organised of course - and most used pots, gadgets and utensils.  To further help I can have a clean-out of ingredients and only keeping in my pantry and fridge what I could imagine would be in a tiny chic French kitchen.  I also imagine if someone came around, say Ines de la Fressange, what she would say about the type of food I had.

I would feel less embarrassed to show her my fridge full of fruit and vegetables, free-range eggs, and nice cheeses than if I had super-size bottles of Diet Coke and stacks of chocolate.  In the same vein, I would happily have Ines browse my pantry of tall jars of staples such as wholemeal pasta, basmati rice, cans of tomatoes and tuna, olive oil and herbs and spices.  I would not be happy if she saw family bags of sweets/candy and potato chips.

Coming home from work with a bounty of fresh product to inspire, makes me less likely to call and order takeaway food to pick up.  Since I consciously began adding more vegetables, both raw and cooked into my daily diet, I now really miss them if we eat out or get takeaways.  And from eating one piece of fruit per week (if that), I now enjoy fresh fruit every day and also miss if it I don’t have it. 

I can make myself want to improve my grooming regime by keeping our bathroom tidy and clean, hotel-like almost, with fluffy towels and nice toiletries.  Body products sometimes have garishly coloured bottles, so I decant into plain pump or flip-top containers a la Martha Stewart (we already had a label-maker at work so I printed off a few, oh how Martha would be proud). 

I imagine I am a well-groomed French woman which would encourage me to create and uphold a self-care regime such as:

- Shave my legs every second day (that gets stretched out in the winter, but never less than once a week).
- Wash my hair every second maybe third day.
- Use facial scrub in the shower 1-2 times per week.
- Body lotion every single morning – legs, arms, bum and tummy.
SPF 15 body lotion on my d├ęcolletage and neck every morning, body butter every night.
- Blow-dry and style nicely my hair each time I wash it.

For exercise, if it’s in a gym (so not me) or is something structured, bossy and unpleasant (I never finished that outdoor fitness bootcamp course), please don’t invite me along.  I get far more pleasure and enjoyment out of going for a city, country or neighbourhood walk listening to my current inspiration. 

I wear nice walking clothes and sunglasses (summer) or a scarf (winter) and stride along tall and lean, feeling my waist whittle as I go; I feel so strong and healthy and yes, chic!

Do you too need enticing into living well?  Does ‘making it stylish’ as inspiration work for you?  Please share any tips you use too, merci!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Being chic when you’re petite

Image of Nicole Richie from

In my last post, reader Julia asked in the comments section:


I'm 15 and 4'11 and really self-conscious about my height. Do you have any 'appreciation' tips and does this affect my chances of being chic?


Julia, your question makes me really sad that you believe height has anything to do with being chic.  Parts of our physical makeup that we cannot change such as height, hair type/eye shape/skin colour, overall basic body type and even foot size, we may as well work with and play up the good things about them.  The alternative is unhappiness with aspects of ourselves that we have no control over.

In addition, I believe it’s how your being is that determines how chic and happy you are, rather than what your physical dimensions may be.

I’m 5’7 so I can’t give you my own life experience of being petite, however I do recall a girl in high school who was in my group of friends for a year or two.  At the age we were – around 15, we were probably mostly fully grown height-wise and this girl was petite – not very tall, and slimmish but curvy (she had a bust, butt, thighs etc).

What I remember about her is that I wanted what she had.  She was always laughing and having fun and had oodles of friends who loved being with her despite having moved to our school from another area (many of us had gone through school together so knew each other well).  Her hair was shiny and always looked nice and her clothing style was great too.  She had the biggest, warmest smile and a few cute freckles also.

What I noticed she didn’t do was get into cliques, gossip or complain.  She was passionate about her interests and generally looked like she loved life.  She was nice to everyone without needing to be their best friend.  She worked in a fish and chip shop after school and used to laugh about smelling like frying oil when she came home.  Even having a non-glamorous job did not detract from her attractiveness!

This was all because she wasn’t focusing on her perceived flaws but she was making the most of herself and her life.  She was having fun, and if she was bothered about her height, none of us knew anything about it.  If someone had teased her I’m sure she would have laughed it off.

Consider if she had a hang-up about her height, if she wished she was taller and thought she might be more popular if she was the same height as her friends.  Maybe she’d been called nicknames and this had stuck with her.  I don’t think she would have been as confident and that in turn would have led to her being more in her shell, not having as much fun etc.

I can think of a few other examples of friends who are not tall and they hate it.  Many times I have heard from them ‘I wish I’d gotten my (tall) mothers height instead of my (short) father’s height’, ‘I hate having to buy kids shoes sometimes’, ‘I always wear high heels so people don’t realise how short I am’.

It can’t be very nice to have that endless loop repeating in your mind.  Maybe you have been teased and you can still feel the sting.  Imagine though, if you took everything ever said to you about your height (or anything else) as a compliment.

If I think about applying this advice to myself it might go like:

‘Your legs are... very straight’ (my mother actually told me this when I asked her if my legs were nice when I was younger; I still tease her about it) – Thank you! I love my straight legs!
‘You talk too softly’.  Thank you!
‘You don’t look so fat now you’ve lost some weight’ (from my first husband).  Thank you!
‘You used to be blonde!’ (an elderly Aunt that I hadn’t seen for years) – Thank you!
‘You’re such a control freak’ (all my family members to me) – Thank you, I appreciate it!

Sometimes I even do say that exact thing to a ‘funny’/back-handed/passive aggressive compliment – Thanks.  I’ll take that as a compliment!

Remember, snide or smart remarks can only stick and affect you if you let them.  Be like Teflon and let stuff just slide right off.

What else?
  • Research chic ladies you admire and find the petite ones to serve as your chic role models.  They might be celebrities, or people you know in real life and admire the way they carry themselves.

  • Come up with twenty reasons why it’s easy and fun to be chic and petite, and twenty reasons why it’s better to be petite than taller.  Open up your lovely journal and create some inspiration for yourself.  Take every negative reason that you tell yourself and write down the opposite.  Ask yourself if there's any way that the opposite reason coud apply to you.

    Examples from above could be:

    Instead of:  I hate having to buy kids shoes sometimes and I always wear high heels so people don’t realise how short I am,

    You could say:

    I love being able to buy the kid size shoes because it saves me a lot of money, and I love that I can wear high heels and not tower over my boyfriend.

  • Instead of looking at your height as a burden, consider it a blessing and say to the Universe ‘thank you for my petite height’.  You were given your height for a reason and the more positive reasons you look for, the more you'll find.

I hope this was helpful Julia and thanks for a great question.  

Perhaps any other petite ladies could chime in with all the reasons why you love your height and how chic it makes you feel?