Thursday, October 23, 2014

Book Review: At Home With Madame Chic by Jennifer L Scott

by Jennifer L Scott finally arrived the other day, and I delved right into it! As you know, I loved Jennifer's first book, Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris, and her blog, The Daily Connoisseur, and refer to both often, so you can imagine my excitement at a new book that was about about incorporating Jennifer's style into you everyday life at home.

Divided into two parts, the first section deals with getting your house into shape, to make it an oasis, a sanctuary, a place you and your family will actually want to spend time in. It is all about cultivating beauty throughout your home, whether that is clearing the clutter, finding a homekeeping routine that suits your lifestyle, or finally being able to keep houseplants alive! What I loved most about this first section was Jennifer's gentle coaching to change your perspective; housekeeping and child rearing can be mundane and tiresome if that is how you choose to see it, so why not choose to see it in an entirely different, beautiful way.

This then leads to the second section about the rhythms of your day, the little rituals, and how we can savor each and every moment, no matter how mundane they may seem. While I found the first section useful, it was the second section, itself further divided into Morning, Afternoon and Evening routines, that I found invaluable.

Two seemingly small things from this second portion of the book have made a huge difference to our days. Firstly, getting up before the kids and being able to enjoy that small window of time to myself has made an enormous difference to my attitude in the morning, and this has flowed on to the children. No more frantically trying to get ready at the same time as helping the kids out, no more scrambling to get us all out the door on time. Instead, we have peace, smiles, cheerful chatter as we cruise along (most mornings!). Secondly, I took Jennifer's suggestion of classical music in the morning, and that is what we now listen to on the school run instead of the news channel that was our previous default. Instead of doom and gloom, we listen to peaceful tunes, and actually discuss composers, what instruments they can hear, what mood do they think the composer was trying to create. I truly believe these moments in the car are setting up our whole day on a positive, joyous note.

I will finish with one final point; while I mostly buy my books as e books (reducing the clutter and all that!), this is one tome I am happy to have in hardback. Not only is the book filled with delightful illustrations, taking the time to peruse through actual paper pages just seems to fit perfectly with Jennifer's over-arching philosophy of being present and enjoying each passing moment.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

I've Had A Facelift!

Did I scare you with the I've had a Facelift title?! Of course, I'm talking about my blog, and not myself personally, but it does look pretty fantastic don't you think? While I liked the old design, it didn't feel that representative of me anymore, so I went back to the wonderful Michelle at Shabby Creations and the design now feels exactly like me. I started the process weeks ago, but due to the unexpected hospital stay, it was probably Michelle's most protracted blog design ever! Thank you so much for your patience, Michelle!

I hope you all like it, and if you read my blog via email or a reader, please click on through to check it out!

Friday, September 26, 2014


 The last few weeks have made me really realise the true meaning of gratitude, friendship and community like never before. Three weeks ago, my daughter was admitted to hospital with a serious and potentially life threatening illness, which meant a stay at the children's hospital for herself and me. Obviously it was a stressful and challenging time and to add to the problems, both sets of grandparents were overseas! 

However, as soon as our school community found out what was happening, they rallied around us in a way that I probably thought didn't exist anymore. Freshly cooked meals were delivered to me in the hospital, since I was staying there 24 hours a day. Little friends came to visit and cheer up the patient with treats, stories and hugs, as did here teacher. A stockpile of fresh and frozen meals were waiting for us when we came home so I didn't have to worry about cooking. Even my son's school community rallied around with a gift basket for both my daughter and my son, together with offers of help and support.

I truly cannot describe to you how all of this makes you feel when life feels like it is spiralling out of control. Modern life is busy, we all know that, but all of these friends found time in their already jam packed days to lend a hand, and I will be forever grateful. When you watch the news, listen to the radio, pick up a paper, it is so easy to think that society and community are disappearing, crumbling away as the frantic pace we all seem to try and keep up with runs ever faster. But I am here to tell you that is not the case, not at all. Community does exist, it is just waiting for its moment to shine like a blazing ray of sunshine on a stormy day.
So a huge, huge thank you to my friends at both my children's schools. My words truly cannot come close to how grateful I feel, and how thankful I am that I have all of you in our lives.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Looking towards my spring summer capsule wardrobe

For a number of (mostly health) reasons, this has seemed like a really, really long winter that will just not end, and I am hanging out for the warmth and the sun. Prompted by Jennifer L Scott's (author of Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris) latest you tube video talking about planning ahead for your next season's wardrobe, I thought it would be the perfect time for me to re-evaluate, and look towards my spring summer capsule wardrobe.

The first thing I like to do when deciding on my capsule is to decide on the colour palette. I think this is a really crucial step when you are limiting your wardrobe - you need to choose colours that suit you, go together AND that appeal to you. Despite what some experts may say, I think all three elements are equally important. It is no point having a wardobe of colours that suit you if they don't go together, and similarly, what could be more depressing than looking at a sea of flattering, well co-ordinated colours every day that you simply. cannot. stand! I use the wonderful blog Into-Mind's philosophy for developing a colour palette - you choose three core colours (in my case periwinkle, navy and cobalt), two neutrals for support and balance (white and tan) and four accent shades to add variety (celadon, apple, rose and coral).

I'm still using a variation on the ten item wardrobe concept, as defined by Jennifer L Scott in her fab book, and I've found that 18 core items seems to be the magic number for my wardrobe (tees, cardigans, blazers all count as "extras"). I could absolutely get it down to 10 if I had to, but the concept is meant to be a flexible guideline and not a rigid set of rules, and I find that 18 items seems to be the right balance for my laundry habits and to suit the wide variety of weather we get over a spring/summer. The items will change slightly as we move out of spring, and head into summer proper. Here in Perth, Australia we have spring weather that can range from cool and rainy to really quite hot, but as we move into summer we head into heatwave territory, where the average temp is over 35C (95F). As such, the sweaters, most of the cardigans and almost all of the blazers will get packed away, and in will come a couple of pairs of shorts.

This time around I though I would show you how you can take one piece through 3 levels of dress, from  1 - casual, 2 - chic and 3 - elegant. The first outfit, level 1 casual, is what I call my base level of casual, the level at which I would be happy to leave the house in. It's the type of outfit for weekends watching the kids play sport or going to the park with them. It's pretty simple but still comfy; a tee, flip flops and a pair of khakis, but made stylish by upgrading the flip flops to a leather pair, using a leather trimmed tote and adding in a cool cuff.

The next outfit, level 2 chic, is the type of outfit you would see me in most days. It's still simple and comfy but kicked up a style notch. This is what you would see me in if you bumped into me running errands or picking up the kids from school. With this particular outfit, I've gone for a bit of pattern mixing, making it easy by keeping the colours the same, navy and white. The shirt looks great on its own if the day warms up and the flats are super comfy for running around in. Adding a roomy tote and some simple jewellery completes the look.

The last outfit, what I describe as level 3 - elegant, is probably the most dressed up I get on a (semi) regular basis. I would wear this level for a parent teacher evening, a school concert, or a lunch out with the girls.The linen blazer is not too formal, and the statement jewellery is simple and elegant.

Using a navy pair of drapey pants (a new buy for this year), here are another three levels of outfits using the one item. Whether you are wearing level 3 on a date night with your husband, or watching the kids at swimming lessons in the level 1 outfit, you will look stylish and appropriate for the occasion.

Finally, I've put together three more outfits using the capsule pieces, just to show how truly versatile a capsule can be. These are all outfits I plan on wearing through the season, and the nine outfits that I have shown you really just are the tip of the iceberg. Even the outfits above can be taken up or a down a level simply by changing the accessories. Add in some heeled sandals and some jewellery to the navy maxi and singlet and you've moved from casual to chic. Swap the gold sandals for the brown leather flip flops, switch out the tote to a canvas one, and lose the jewellery, and you've taken the sleeveless shirt, jeans and cardi from chic to casual.

These capsule wardrobe posts are some of my most popular, so I am planning more over the next few weeks, and please leave me a comment if there is something specific you would like me to cover!

post signature

Linking to:

pleated poppy FashionFriday2014 Style Elixir Grab button for The Mummy Chronicles Photobucket

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Independent mornings with Uncle Tobys Quick Sachets


As anyone who knows my parenting style will attest, I am all about fostering independence and self sufficiency in my kids and breakfast time has been one of the most successful learning opportunities for this. In summer, we are all set - Stephen (7) and Irini (6) are perfectly capable of pouring themselves a bowl of cereal and topping it with milk and some fruit. Winter was a different scenario, however, when a nice and comforting breakfast is just what is needed before a long day at school, but seemed like it would be beyond them.

Thankfully, Uncle Toby's came to the rescue when they sent me some boxes of their Quick Sachets to try and these have truly been a win:win solution for our family; not only do the kids love them, but they are a healthy option that ticks all my boxes, especially where the kids independent mornings are concerned.

Uncle Toby's Quick sachets are so convenient and tasty; already portioned out, and with a handy milk guide built into the packet, it is so simple for my son to pop the oats into a bowl, measure in the milk, and then microwave them. 90 seconds later, a delicious bowl of warm and comforting oats are ready to go. Made from whole grains, and with no artificial flavours or colours, these are a wholesome choice that set the kids up for the whole day.

So what should you do if you want to move your kids towards independent mornings?
  • Create a system - I have a routine chart listing the steps that the kids need to follow to get our day on its way. Think about what your kids could do by themselves and what they would need help with. My kids are capable of dressing themselves, making breakfast and packing their bags. I make lunches and make sure they are ready to go to be packed.
  • Make it child friendly - it's no point expecting your son to make breakfast for himself if he can't reach the breakfast cereal! Set things up to succeed - all of our breakfast supplies are in one spot in the pantry at child height, and they have a dedicated spot in their closets for their uniforms.
  • Take a chill pill and don't cry over (literally!) spilt milk - there will be accidents, especially in the beginning, and this is all part of the learning process. 
  • But be sensible and foresee (and hopefully prevent some) problems - a seven year old pouring a full 3 litre carton of milk is only ever going to end in disaster. I pour some into a smaller jug when we have a full carton.
  • Let them wear the consequences - we all learn from our mistakes and children are no exception. Unless you want to be the year 12 parent still running forgotten sports kits to school, stop now. If my kids forget something, they (generally) will need to do without it AND explain to their teacher why they don't have it. I once made my son walk into school without shoes since he forgot them (really, how do you forget your shoes!!) and guess what, he's never done that again!
post signature

Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post and no compensation was given to me. Uncle Toby Quick Sachets were  provided to me for review purposes through Product Talk by Nuffnang. All opinions expressed are my own.

Linking to:

Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth


Making Your Home Sing Monday!
What Joy Is Mine

April's Homemaking


Wholehearted Wednesday

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Blue and Green SAHM Capsule Wardrobe

We are smack in the middle of winter here in Oz, but new season's spring/summer stock is starting to hit the stores, and I am assuming the same is true (with fall/winter stock) for those of you in the northern hemisphere. This is usually the time I start to look at my wardrobe with an eye towards spring and what I need to replace or add to my closet. As regular followers would know, I am a convert to the ten item wardrobe concept, as defined by Jennifer L Scott in her fab book, Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris, and I will certainly be following that again for the upcoming season. A lot of critics, of this and other capsule style wardrobes, is that they can be boring. I find the opposite is true, and so over the next few weeks, I thought I would post some examples of capsule wardrobes that are easy to put together, easy to wear, and stylish.

Blue & Green SAHM Capsule Wardrobe

My first capsule wardrobe is designed for a SAHM who spends most of her time in casual wear, but wants a day-to-day wardrobe that is a step up from yoga pants and tracksuits. The key for any limited wardrobe to be workable is to stick to a limited colour palette, usually one neutral base colour and one or two pop colours for interest. In this case I have gone for navy as the base, with white and apple green as the interest. With just 23 items, including shoes, bags and accessories, this capsule can give you a multitude of outfits (I have shown 12 outfits, but there are so many more) that would be suitable all year round in a climate like my home in Perth, or most of the year in places that have proper cold winters.

Blue & Green SAHM Capsule Wardrobe - Skirt

A solid colour jersey maxi skirt is a great option for a SAHM wardrobe - it's comfy and practical to wear, looks great, and is easy to look after (you can usually throw them in the machine). 
  • Paired with a bright tank, a fun blue and green scarf, tan wedges and a tan leather trimmed tote, you are all set for a summer lunch out with the girls and will still look great when doing the school run later in the afternoon. 
  • For spring days when the day may start out cooler, the apple green knit shirt worn open works as a double duty cardigan over a basic white tank. With a fab patterned bag (it's such a shame the Pleated Poppy closed her shop, as this bag is fantastic!!) and a stack of coloured bangles, you will still look great when you remove the shirt as the day warms up. 
  • A navy tank paired with the navy maxi gives a solid column of colour, which is not only ultra flattering but ultra stylish. Together with the stack of bangles, gold sandals and a gold long necklace, you have the perfect outfit for date night with the hubby.
  • A maxi is not only for summer; with a navy striped Breton tee, the green and blue scarf, and topped with apple anorak, you will look bright and cheery for any mild winter day.

Blue & Green SAHM Capsule Wardrobe - Jeans

Jeans have become the mainstay of most people's wardrobes and mums are no different. A dark rinse pair in a slim or skinny cut (depending on your figure) with little to no embellishments will get you the most mileage.
  • The first outfit is nothing more that a basic white tank and jeans combo, but with the jeans cuffed, tan leather wedges, a tan leather trimmed striped tote and a long gold necklace, the outfit has gone from zero to hero in seconds.
  • Again, the apple green knit shirt is perfection for those in-between days. Start the day with the sleeves unrolled, then simply roll and button them up as the day warms up. The jeans cuffs are rolled again, showing off a little ankle and some darling ballet flats, and the green and aqua scarf and bag add a punch of pattern.
  • For cooler days, the jeans and ballet flats are the perfect base for a navy striped long sleeve tee, topped with a woolen waterfall cardigan. A navy leather bag and a green and aqua patterned scarf complete the look.
  • Finally, layers are perfect for winter days. The white and navy striped sweater is the perfect accompaniment to the navy tank, while the apple green anorak adds a hit of colour. Spots on the shoes coupled with stripes on the bag, both done in navy and white, add pattern mixing interest.

Blue & Green SAHM Capsule Wardrobe - White Jeans

Some people may be surprised at the addition of white jeans to a SAHM wardrobe, but I love them. While maybe not suitable with those with babies/little toddlers, for any one else, they are a fantastic choice, and if sticky hands do happen to fall on them, a good soak in some bleach will bring them right back as good as new.

  • Apple green, aqua and white will have you looking as fresh as a spring daisy! Again, the knit shirt does double duty as a cardigan, while the aqua and green scarf, the patterned bag and the gold sandals kick the outfit up a notch.
  • This patterned cotton shirt has a gorgeous pattern that will look great with all the bottoms, but is especially good with the white jeans. With blue shoes and bag, and a stack of bangles, the look is complete.
  • We've never had the "no white after Labor day" rule here in Oz, but even if you do, this is one rule that can and should be broken. Paired with darker elements, white done right can look fab in colder weather. Paired with a navy striped top, a striped tote and navy polka dot sneakers, this outfit will keep you looking chic as you run your errands.
  • Paired with a woolen waterfall cardigan, a navy tank and blue accessories with a pop of colour at your neck, this outfit will keep you warm even as it keeps you stylish.
As you can see, because all these pieces mix and match, you can make far more outfits than just the 12 I've shown here. Obviously you can adapt this to suit your own needs and desires; if you don't wear pants, swap the jeans out for a denim and a patterned cotton skirt. If you live in a cold climate, then add in a few true wintery pieces like a woolen coat, woolen scarves and some extra sweaters. Hot not cold? Switch in shorts instead! Finally, watch the fabric choices - my tanks and tees are usually made from a polished cotton or a modal, as they can be dressed up or down, unlike a ribbed cotton which is clearly casual.

Stay tuned for some more capsules over the next few weeks, and please leave me a comment if there is something specific you would like me to cover!

post signature

Linking to:

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Site Designed by Shabby Creations