Monday, May 25, 2015

Warming Pear, Almond and Chia Porridge - Dairy and Gluten Free

This porridge, with its mix of warming spices and protein from the chia and almonds is a delightful (and filling) way to start a wintry morning. And taking just 5 minutes to whip up, there is no excuse to be eating anything less!


Warming Pear, Almond and Chia Porridge


1 pear, grated
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup coconut or almond milk
2 tbs chia seeds
2 tbs Mayvers Almond Spread
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat for 5 minutes until pears have softened and porridge is thick and creamy. Top with extra cinnamon and sliced pears.







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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sunshine Immunity Juice

Winter is no longer coming, it is well and truly here, and with that comes cold and flu season. This vibrant juice is full of immune boosting goodies to keep your system healthy and strong over winter!


Sunshine Immunity Juice


1 carrot
1 orange, peeled
1/2 lemon, peeled
1 slice fresh ginger
1 slice fresh tumeric (or 1/2 tsp ground)
2 tsp SuperElixir greens powder (optional)
1 1/2 cups cold green tea (or water)
1 cup ice

Place all ingredients in a high powered blender and blend on high speed until combined.







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Monday, May 11, 2015

Thanks to Tory Burch I finally love wearing my Fitbit!



I love my Fitbit and find it incredibly motivating in my quest to move more, but lets be honest, that silicone band that comes with it is really not that attractive. Functional, perfect for the gym, but stylish? No. And because of that, I would regularly remove it because it just didn't look right with an outfit, which obviously completely defeats the purpose of wearable tech. Even worse, I would often forget to put it back on altogether. So you can imagine my excitement when Tory Burch (a brand I luurve!) released a collection of chic pieces of jewellery to hold the Fitbit. 

 
Unfortunately, the original collection just didn't work for me. The necklace looked gorgeous, but necklaces are the one piece of jewellery that I tend to switch up on an almost daily basis. So pretty as it is, the necklace just wasn't going to cut it for me. 


The hinged bangle suited me to a tee. I almost always wear my Pandora charm bracelet everyday together with my watch and my current Fitbit silicone band, so replacing the current band for a sleek and chic bangle would work perfectly. However, thankfully I read a number of reviews before hitting the Buy It Now button, as it apparently is designed for women with very slim wrists (how very Tory, when you think about it!!).  Most reviews seemed to agree that if you wear the M/L Fitbit band (as I do), there is no way the bangle will fit. Disappointed, I closed the website, pouted a little (OK, a lot!), and then carried on using my usual band, cursing bird boned Park Avenue Princesses as I did!


Thankfully for those of us with regular sized wrists, Tory Burch expanded her collection last month, adding in three delightful bracelets with a double wrapped leather strap, and the signature Fretwork housing for the Fitbit itself. After reading reviews, and taking careful measurements, I came to the conclusion that this bracelet should *just* fit me. Deciding on the rose gold with pale rose pink leather band, I ordered, and waited with bated breath for it to arrive.


Oh, is it ever gorgeous!! And it fits - on the second last hole! I have to say, I simply can't imagine who would be able to use it on the smallest hole. As an experiment, I tried it on my 7 year old daughter, and even she couldn't come close to wearing something that small!! Regardless, it fit me, and that was all that mattered. I think it looks great paired with my watch and my Pandora charms. Of course, I still switch it back into the rubber band for the gym and exercise, but otherwise, it has been living mostly in its stylish gold case.

Some other reviewers have mentioned that the metal case scratches easily, or that the casing is hard to open, but I have to say, I found neither of these to be a problem. After a week of (constant) wear, I haven't noticed a single scratch, and as you can see, I wear it right up against my watch. And I've found the casing incredibly easy to open; it literally takes just seconds to switch the tracker between bands. So thanks Tory, now I finally love wearing my FitBit!


Friday, May 8, 2015

Product Review: Aerin Rose Hand and Body Cream



You all know I love the Aerin range of beauty products so I was super excited when I found out they were finally available in Australia and I didn't have to have them shipped all the way from America! I was thrilled to see the entire fragrance range was available, as perfume is one of the few things I can't get sent to Oz (pesky flammable goods!). Unfortunately, the Lauder company seem to be doing a soft launch, and have not brought the whole range to our shores, with only the lip conditioner (my all time favourite lip balm) and the hand cream supplementing the perfumes, but I hold high hopes they will bring the rest of the range here sooner rather than later!

As a treat, I decided to buy the Aerin Rose Hand and Body Cream, as it was one of the few Aerin products (other than perfume) that I hadn't actually tried yet. Despite the fact it is a full size tube (125ml), I love it so much it has become a handbag mainstay. Delicately scented with a sophisticated (rather than old fashioned) delicate rose fragrance, this cream sinks in quickly, leaving your hands hydrated, nourished and with a velvety rather than greasy finish. The peachy pink cream feels thick and luxurious; it is a mini treat every time I put it on. As you can see in the pic above, the packaging is gorgeous as well, and it would look perfect on my nightstand, but at this point, I just can't seem to get it to leave my handbag!!

At $65, this is a luxury, but a little really does go a long way, and it has become one of my everyday indulgences. And with Mother's Day coming up, it would make a beautiful present for a treasured mother.

Available at Estée Lauder counters at David Jones and Myer, Australia wide.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Winter is coming...Shortcut Chicken Soup

If the recent weather here in Perth is anything to go by, winter is indeed coming, and that means large pots of soup bubbling away on the stovetop.  I love filling my soups with beans and grains to make them soup-er (get it?!) hearty, but I don't always love how long you need to cook them for. I have relied on the McKenzies brand of soup mixes since I started cooking, so I was intrigued when I saw a packet called Quick Cook the other day, stating ready in 15 minutes.

I bought a packet of the Quick Cook Country Chicken Soup and got to work on a Short Cut Chicken Soup based on pantry/fridge/freezer ingredients. The McKenzies mix looked really nice and hearty with a nice variety of beans and grains, including barley, red lentils, yellow split peas, and navy beans, as well as a "natural" stock packet. I'm not sure, and the packed doesn't say, but I have a feeling the beans and grains have been par-cooked and then dried, and that's why it can be ready in just 15 minutes. Regardless, the soup I came up with was delicious! I discarded the powdered stock packet, and used homemade chicken stock instead of the water asked for in the directions, but I'm sure making it with the powder would have been tasty as well.

This is a true shortcut soup, using real food convenience items and is designed for a quick, but wholesome, weeknight meal. It's more expensive than if this soup was truly made from scratch, but certainly cheaper, and a heck of a lot healthier than running out to get a take away meal!


Shortcut Chicken Soup

1 packet pre chopped mixed veggies (from the fresh fruit and veg section) - mine had celery, leek, carrot, turnip, broccoli stems.

1 packet McKenzies Quick Cook Soup Mix


500g packet frozen shredded chicken

8 cups chicken stock (or water and included stock packet).

  • Saute mixed veggies in a little butter and olive oil until softened (about 4-5 minutes) in a large saucepan.
     
  • Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
  • Lower heat to low, and then simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, until beans and grains are tended.
  • Serve with crusty bread.

 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hello strangers...


Long time no see! Yes, I am still here; no I didn't fall off the face of the earth. For the last four months since life changed as I knew it, I've been re-finding my equilibrium. To be perfectly honest, I haven't found it yet, but with a lot of help and support, I am well on my way. To the many readers who contacted me, thank you so much for your messages. I meant it when I told you that your messages meant the world to me, and as promised, here I am, back again!

As it does, life moves on, and when you have kids, it seems to move on even quicker don't you think? School went back, and with it came a multitude of extra curricular activities that kept the kids busier than ever, and made sure our local petrol station will never go out of business! 

As for my healing, it is happening, even if at times it seems to be happening oh so slowly. Day to day, I seem to be fine, and then something random will cross my path, and set me off. Meeting new people has been particularly challenging; there are a whole class of new parents at my son's school, and as I've gotten to know them, surprisingly often the questions "do you have any brothers or sisters?" or "do you come from a large family?" comes up. My answer still changes. On the one hand, a simple "no" ends the conversation at that point, and we move on. However, as "easy" as that answer is, I usually end up feeling guilty saying that. Is it a lie? No, I guess it isn't anymore. But is it the truth? Am I dishonouring my brother's memory by effectively denying his very existence. On the other hand, answering "yes, I had a brother but he passed away recently" opens a whole can of worms that usually ends with me in tears. 

Every day that passes, however, the tears become fewer and fewer, and moments of joy and laughter start to come back. Remembering the good times my brother and I had together becomes easier, the anger I feel towards him for taking his life starts to lessen, and the acceptance that he was facing his own demons that had nothing to do with anyone else becomes stronger. 

Obviously these couple of posts are not the usual topics I deal with on Chic Mummy. I hope that you can all indulge me these two, and rest assured that regular programming will return shortly!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Paper Planner Love


For quite a long time now, I have been an electronic planner person, but late into last year, I just found it wasn't working for me as well as it had been previously. This made me think about going back to the good, old fashioned paper planner, and since I have, I honestly haven't looked back. I think that a full blown stationery obsession, coupled with a mind that simply works better when I physically write things down, has combined to create a system that seems to working much better for me.


I had used a MomAgenda in the past, but the reason it fell out of favour for me was that it was just too big, and so it didn't fit in all my bags, and just became too cumbersome to carry around all the time. And this is really a key point - for any diary system to work, paper or digital, you need to always have it with you. While browsing in kikki-k, I came across the most gorgeous lilac and gold leather planner in medium (it's 50% off at the moment!)  that looked large enough to actually write things in, but not so large that I wouldn't tote it around with me. I also added a little pencil case designed to strap over a planner (from Officeworks) to contain my coloured pens (more on that later!).


When you first open up my planner, I have a little motivational quote that I swap out weekly in front of my personal info page. This quote card is also from kikki-k, from a little set of quote cards I picked up on clearance. I also have some fun shaped paper clips in case I need to clip loose pieces of paper in while I am out and about, to keep them safe until I get home and can punch them in.


After my info page, I have my daily docket. This one is from The Polkadot Posie Printables and includes half the page dedicated to the schedule for the day, as well as a little meal planning box, and a To-Do list. I've added in downloadable "To Call" and "To Clean" stickers downloaded from       and printed at home.


After a homemade divider, I then have a section dedicated to my health and fitness goals, as this is a real focus for me this year. The first page is a daily "My Healthy Day" tracker from Lime Tree Fruits that is a great visual summary for me - it includes drinking water, fruit and veg consumption, exercise, mind and soul, to name just a few.


Next is my goal tracker, also from The Polkadot Posie Printables, which I am using to track my long term health goals. What I love about this tracker is that while it lists your long term goals, it also breaks them down into monthly goals, something I think makes your goals so much more achievable. I love the little motivational quote as well!! I'm all about the quotes at the moment!!


In this section, I also have the weightloss tracker, measurement tracker, and a fitness calender, which were all part of the Health and Fitness Planner set (together with the goal tracker above) from The Polkadot Posie Printables. I use the fitness tracker to document how many steps I have taken each day (with the aim of consistently achieving at least 10000 daily) as well as what exercise classes I have taken.


Next is my monthly calendar section, also from Polkadot Posie Printables. I don't refer to this section every day, more like once a week, but it is great for longer range planning. I've decorated it with washi tape, taping out the bottom of each day that is a school holiday.


My final main section is my weekly diary, and this I refer to many times per day. I'm not sure why, but I didn't love the insert the planner came with, so I swapped it out for one from Filofax. Each Sunday night, I sit down and review the coming week, and decorate it with washi tape, stickers and quotes. I love how bright and cheerful it looks! The stickers are a mix, and include motivational and puffy cute little stickers from kikki-k, printable workout icon stickers from The Gifted Pepper, and my Flylady cleaning zone printable sticker from Juicebox Creations.

I also colour code all the entries so I can see visually at a glance who each diary entry refers to. Pink is for my daughter, blue for my son, purple for me, and green for entries that involve both the kids or the family. Colour coding has made a huge difference to the workability of my planner.

So there you have my planner setup for the new year. I would love to hear whether you have switched to digital, or you can't get enough of paper like me!

Linking to these fabulous linkys.

 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Top Ten Posts of 2014

I've never done a top ten posts of the year before, and I was fascinated by the results. By a country mile, my most read posts were about capsule wardrobes and how to make the most of a smaller one. This is great news, since capsule wardrobes are something I passionately believe in, but I kind of thought I was overdoing those kind of posts. But since you all obviously like them too, I will continue to write about them! I will also be bringing you other style, beauty and lifestyle posts over the coming year, so I hope you continue join me at Chic Mummy: every day life, lived in style.

Top Ten Posts of 2014


1. Autumn 10 Item Capsule Wardrobe


http://chicmummy.blogspot.com.au/2014/04/autumn-10-item-capsule-wardrobe.html


2. Blue and Green SAHM Capsule Wardrobe


http://chicmummy.blogspot.com.au/2014/07/blue-and-green-sahm-capsule-wardrobe.html


3. Thermomix Chili Con Carne


http://chicmummy.blogspot.com.au/2014/04/thermomix-chilli-con-carne.html


4. Update To Summer Wardrobe


http://chicmummy.blogspot.com.au/2014/02/update-to-summer-wardrobe.html


5.  1 Shirt from Summer to Autumn


http://chicmummy.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/1-shirt-from-summer-to-autumn-updating.html


6.  Looking Towards My Spring Summer Capsule Wardrobe


http://chicmummy.blogspot.com.au/2014/09/looking-towards-my-spring-summer.html


7.  5 Ways to Wear a Tank and Jeans


http://chicmummy.blogspot.com.au/2014/04/5-ways-to-wear-white-tank-and-jeans.html


8.  Building an Accessories Wardrobe


http://chicmummy.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/building-accessories-wardrobe.html


9. What I Wore Wednesday


http://chicmummy.blogspot.com.au/2014/02/what-i-wore-wednesday.html


10. Book Review: At Home with Madame Chic


http://chicmummy.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/book-review-at-home-with-madame-chic-by.html


Linking to these fabulous linkys here and here

Friday, January 2, 2015

Looking towards a brighter 2015


2014 has been an incredibly tough year for me; I would go so far as to say that 2014 has, by far, been the worst year that I have ever experienced. It seemed like the year just progressively threw greater and greater trials at me, almost like I was being tested to see how much I could possibly endure. However, the year has ended, and I survived. I might not have thrived, but I survived.

Starting off the year, my son was beset by chronic asthma and croup that completely escalated out of control. It meant frequent hospitalisations, a ridiculous amount of missed school, and even an emergency ambulance ride when he literally couldn't breath and started turning blue. There were some weeks that I honestly couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel; it just seemed like everything we tried got us nowhere at best. However, by the end of October, with some intensive treatment from an amazing asthma specialist, we finally seem on the road to having a manageable illness.

Just as we seemed to be turning the corner with Stephen's condition, however, my daughter decided she needed to get in on the action! The same day that my son was booked in for routine surgery to have his tonsils out (we were literally in the car, on our way), our GP called to say that we needed to rush our daughter to the emergency department as he was certain she had appendicitis. This was after three weeks of her being unwell and us being adamantly told it was nothing more than a bad case of gastro at the previous two emergency dept visits, and two visits to another GP (ours was in holiday when it all started happening). We dropped my son and husband at one hospital while my daughter and I hightailed it to the children's hospital, where guess what? They still didn't believe me that my daughter had anything more serious than gastro, but due to our GP's insistence, they admitted us. Thank goodness, because that night at 3 in the morning, she spiked a 42C/107F fever, which I later found out is considered a serious medical emergency, and that suddenly prompted the doctors to take the appendicitis theory more seriously.

The next morning, after a barrage of tests, ultrasounds and a CT scan, the surgeons confirmed that she had a ruptured appendix, and that had led to a pelvic abscess. Due to the massive infection, removal of the appendix was considered too risky, so the surgeons decided to drain the abscess and then aggressively treat the infection with IV antibiotics for a week, with removal of the appendix planned for three months later. In the meantime, Irini went for fortnightly ultrasounds and blood tests to keep an eye on things. Of course, while all this was happening, both my parents and my in-laws were overseas! I tell you, if there is ever a time you really want your mum, it is when you are dealing with a life threatening illness in your child! And yet, even without my parents, we were surrounded by love; little friends came to visit and bring the cheer that only comes with the innocence of children, big friends supplied us with what seemed like an endless supply of baked goods and casseroles. Even volunteer strangers came with smiles and balloons and fun and games.

Three months went past, the infection and abscess was completely cleared up, and we went in to see the surgeon to book in for the appendectomy, where he ever so apologetically let me know that the children's hospital no longer considered the surgery urgent, so we would need to go on the waiting list, which could be anywhere from 6 to 12 months. Never have I been so glad to have private health insurance, as I was when the surgeon agreed to squeeze us in on his last private surgery list for the year. Booked in finally, I could almost breath a sigh of relief. For the previous three months, every time Irini had a tummy ache we would all stress that the appendicitis was recurring, as there is a small risk of this.

It's funny how life works. For two weeks I was complaining how inconvenient having the surgery less than a week before Christmas would be, and for the first time in a long time, I had all my Christmas present shopping done so I would be ready before the surgery date, when life threw at me the worst event of all.

On the 10th of December, my only sibling took his life. Three days before Christmas, and a day after Irini came out of hospital after her surgery, we attended my brother's funeral. I still can't comprehend it completely even now, three weeks later. I'm not sure I will completely comprehend it in three years, or even thirty.  I think in any unexpected death, let alone suicide, it is impossible to not question "why?" over and over. It is impossible to not question your faith. It is a blow that can be felt so deep within your soul, you are not sure why you own heart is still beating.

And yet. And yet, you endure. I truly believe that life does not give you anything you cannot truly bear. It may give you challenges that you think are insurmountable, but they are not. They are there to teach, if only we are willing to learn. On one of my darkest days, this poem below came into my inbox. It's timing couldn't have been more perfect. Coincidence? Serendipity? I don't know. I just know it was what I needed when I needed it.

Winter has swallowed us whole, taken us deep. In the chill of ice, trees stand stark as bones, the land is cold iron, frost slows all movement so Gaia is still as death. Only the brilliant stars in the black sky remember the rhythms of earth as they wheel through the night. All is connected. As stars bloom and die, as flowers fall to seed, as bone becomes nurturing ground, the wheeling universe lives in its Beauty and pattern. We are stardust, born of the Great Goddess, and in her is all hope. Even in the most severe terror of darkness and cold that Kali brings, the Spark flares again to ignite the perfect miracle of life. When all seems lost, the mystery of the universe begins to lift us into light and renewal once more.
Rose Flint


Life has been irrevocably changed and can never be the same, but the love and support of your family, your friends, and your faith cradle you, hold you close, and lift you back towards the light until you can grasp it once again.
 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Freezer Cooking: Chocolate Anzac Biscuits/Cookies

As a family, we have been watching a lot of documentaries on World War 1, and talking a lot about the war and what the soldiers had to endure during their time fighting on the front.  World War 1, and the ANZACS, are a major part of the Australian identity, and with the centenary next year, I think that now is the perfect time to talk to our children about such a crucial part of Australia's, and the world's, history. One of the things we have been talking about was the food they had to eat, and from that, I decided to make a chocolate spin on the classic Anzac biscuit that was sent to those brave young boys by their loving families back on the homefront.

These are fantastic to make in bulk, and then freeze unbaked, so you can have freshly baked treats whenever you need them. I like to freeze them on a baking tray first, like the pic below, and then place into a zip lock bag to save space in the freezer. If you don't want to pre-freeze them, this recipe can be halved with no problems.



Freezer Cooking: Chocolate Anzac Biscuits

2 cups plain flour
2 cups sugar
2 cups rolled oats
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 cups dark choc chips
8 tbsp golden syrup
250g butter, melted
  1. Place all the dry ingredients into a large bowl, and stir to combine.
  2. Add melted butter and golden syrup, stirring until well combined.
  3. Using a small cookie scoop (or a tablespoon), place scoops onto baking tray, and gently press down with a fork.
  4. Freeze until firm, then transfer to a zip lock bag.
  5. When ready to bake, transfer to a parchment lined baking tray, leaving room for spreading, and bake from frozen in a preheated 170C/350F oven for 15 minutes.
  6. If cooking immediately rather than freezing, bake at the same temp for 12 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool on tray for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Makes approx. 50 cookies.




Linking to these fabulous link-ups

Monday, October 27, 2014

Product Review: Aerin Fall Essentials Weekday/Weekend Collection


I have a serious girl crush on Aerin Lauder, Estee Lauder's grand daughter, and have had one ever since I worked for the Estee Lauder company over a decade ago! I've previously reviewed her most recent lipstick collection, the delightful Rose Balm collection (these are still the only lipsticks I have been wearing) and I have just invested in her two latest Essentials makeup collections, Weekday and Weekend.  Both of the oversized palettes were designed with easy and simplicity in mind, and contain almost all the products you need for a complete face. The Weekday edit goes bolder, with a slightly smoky eye and pops of pretty colour on the lips, while the Weekend palette heads towards natural and neutral for a carefree Le No Makeup look, with bronzes, soft browns and pale pinks.

 

I am starting with the Weekend palette since that is what I have been wearing the most at the moment.  Despite it being a "Fall" collection, these colours, paired with Aerin's Coral Sand Rose Balm Lipstick and a touch of the Aerin Weekend Gloss, have actually been perfect for the spring weather we are having here in Oz, and I think that labeling this a Fall item is doing it a disservice; I can honestly see myself using this palette all year round.  Down the left hand side you have (from top to bottom) a golden highlighter Glow, the Lip & Cheek Multicolour in Natural, and two lipsticks, Whisper (pale pink) and Cabana (coral). You then have a bronzer in Pretty Bronze, and two eye shadows in Simplicity and Cocoa.


Here are the swatches on my arm, and as you can see, it is the perfect accompaniment to a summer tan, but it would also be great to warm up a fading tan come autumn. I am mostly using the Simplicity eyeshadow on my lids, and using the Cocoa as a shadow liner, followed by quick hit of the Natural multicolor on the apples of my cheeks and a sweep of bronzer in a 3 shape from temples, to under the cheek bones, and then back out to just under the jaw line. A touch of the glow highlighter on my cheekbones, and lastly a swipe of lipstick, gloss, and mascara and I am literally done in just a few minutes.

The Weekday palette is designed for the work week, but come autumn/winter, I can absolutely see myself wearing this cool toned "bold neutral" palette almost every day. As it is, I have been wearing this quite a bit when I want a slightly more dramatic look than the warmer, more subtle Weekend palette. On the left hand side, from top to bottom, we have the highlighter in Beam, (which is slightly more rose gold coloured compared to the golden one in the Weekend set), the multicolour in Natural, and lipsticks in Geranium and Liebling (both of which I already have). We then have the blush in Petal ( a much softer, cooler pink than it appears in this pic) and eyeshadows in Graphite and Graige.



This is a really pretty colour collection, but it is still very sophisticated, making it a perfect match for those mums who work out of the home, but also for us SAHMs who want to look a little bit more polished every now and then. The two eyeshadows combine to give a cool smoky eye - smoky, but subtle - and the remaining shades complete the look perfectly. The two lipsticks in this palette are to-die-for. As I mentioned in a previous post, Liebling is pretty much my holy grail nude lipstick, my lip colour but better!


Finally, here are the matching lip glosses I purchased as well, Weekday on the left, Weekend on the right. Weekend is a lovely, non-sticky, non-shimmery nude colour with enough pigmentation to wear on its own, but also gorgeous over the top of either of the palette lipsticks to add more shine. Weekend is a sheer beige gloss with a gorgeous golden shimmer. It reads too light for me to wear it on its own, but it is stunning over the top of a deeper colour lipstick like the Coral Sands that I am currently wearing. If you have a fairer skin tone, then I can imagine this would be gorgeous by itself.

Overall, I see myself getting a lot of use out of this collection. Every colour is usable (not always the case in a palette!) and the concept of a curated, all-in-one complete look in a palette is right up my alley as a busy mum. At $70, the palettes are not inexpensive, but in my opinion, I do believe they are worth the price.

Available at aerin.com and various department stores.

  

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.


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