The Simply Luxurious Life®: March 2011  

March 31, 2011

Take More Responsibility

While many banks and other financial institutions offer protections, advice and assistance on a wide variety of products and programs, there are a few things we can all do to eliminate paying for things we should be more than able to do by ourselves.

The excitement about becoming an adult is undeniably a stepping stone, but in order to be a grown up, we must behave as one which means taking responsibility.  As batman’s anthem reminds us, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”  The power in this instance is the weight we carry as adults in society, with our kids, in our communities and for today’s post, with our finances.  So why not get rid of the following protection and create a budget program for free as it will force you to be responsible and to do something you should, as a grown-up, already be doing.  Take the training wheels off!

1. Decline Overdraft Protection

If you know that the bank will not be paying those businesses you’ve cut a check too without having the funds in the bank, you will be less apt to whip out your debit card or checkbook.  And under no occurrence, should you use your credit card to purchase something when you don’t have the cash to cover it in your checking account (I’ve done it before, am well aware of the consequences and have learned this lesson the hard way.)

2. Don’t Pay for a Fancy Budgeting Program

It is unnecessary to spend more money to organize the money you aren’t already managing well. Instead, simply set up a checkbook register in an excel program as suggested by Melissa Tosetti in Living A Savvy Life with simple addition and subtraction functions for each month. At the beginning of your month, enter your paycheck(s), and deduct all of your mandatory expenses (as you would in a calculator). At the end or the beginning of each day, enter your expenses (eating out, groceries, etc), so that you know exactly how much you have in your account.  Without getting fancy, you can easily keep yourself managed, organized and your spending under control.

The thing to keep in mind is that we must control our money and not the other way around as Suze Orman reminds us, and as one of my favorite quotes that is pinned to my idea board states,

“I think the nicest thing you can say about a woman is that she lives well and she lives below her means.”

 

(Suggestion #1 suggested by Suze Orman in her book The Money Class)

Image:Simply Seductive

Labels: ,

One Cookie Is All You’ll Need

The weekend is just about here and with it hopefully something sweet for you to enjoy – a date, time to unwind and relax, a quick weekend getaway, spending time with family, or dressing up for a special gathering.  Rest assured, if you don’t know where your “sweet” is coming from this weekend, I have just that certain something for you.

After all, it is Foodie Friday (or almost), and while chocolate chip cookies seem to be the most favored of all cookies, I thought I’d share something different with you that takes it up a notch.  How does a decadent cookie with not two, not three, but four different chocolates sound to your ever weakening sweet tooth?

A few years ago, while flipping through The Oregonian, I came across this recipe in Tuesday’s FOODday section. It originates from Sara Perry’s cookbook Deep Dark Chocolate: Decadent Recipes for the Serious Chocolate Lover, and it immediately became one of my favorite cookies.  These particular cookies are so rich that I honestly can only have one, but one is enough because you will savor each lush bite of chocolate upon chocolate as it overwhelms your palate.

Chocolate Cookies With All the Chips

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup white chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ t. baking soda
  • ¼ t. salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or leave it ungreased.
  2. In a small bowl, mix semisweet, white and milk chocolate chips, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt until well blended.
  3. In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer set on medium speed, beat the butter until creamy. Add brown and granulated sugars an beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg until well blended, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the vanilla until blended.
  4. On low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients and beat until just blended, again scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat or fold in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
  5. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake until set and the tops have lost their sheen, about 12 minutes. (Because the dough is dark, the first batch will be the key to when the cookies are done.)
  6. Let the cookies firm and cool slightly on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
You must be warned.  This is a special cookie.  Meant to be savored, relished and, if you’re feeling generous, shared with someone special. 

Image: simply luxurious

Labels: , ,

Style Inspiration

From stacked heels to simple clutches, flared jeans and bright wellington’s on display.  The ideas of how to dress for spring seem to be everywhere. Enjoy a some of my favorite images of the week.

 

Images: (1) Vogue and Coffee (2) nickelcobalt (3) theembellishment (4) Musings In Femininity (5)  Musings In Femininity (6) cognacandcoffee (7) Vogue and Coffee (8) Musings In Femininity (9) abundantpalette (10) Musings In Femininity (11) gthegentleman (12) Musings In Femininity

Brad Goreski Has His Own Show!

The good news has been released!  Brad Goreski from The Rachel Zoe Project fame has just been given his own show on Bravo, tentatively titled It’s A Brad Brad World. With filming having just begun, it is on the 2011/12 projected schedule.  Following Mr. Goreski to Paris Fashion Week, haute couture runways, the Cannes Film Festival and Menswear runway collections, as well as his general day-to-day activities, the show looks to have quite a lot of potential and already an eager audience.

Recently, Brad’s first style shoot was revealed in InStyle’s March 2011 issue with model Liya Kebede titled “Mad About Color”. Photographed by Giampaolo Sgura and styled by Goreski, he then styled British singer Adele for the April 2011 issue’s piece “Violet Femme” which he himself admitted left him a little star struck.

With Demi Moore and Jessica Alba has clients, Brad appears to be well on his way to having ample opportunities to make a name for himself and his talents in the fashion world.

Visit his new blog and follow him on Twitter for updates and below, take a look at both of his recent pieces of work in InStyle.

Images: (1) Source (last) Source & all others via InStyle

The Spring Newsletter Here!

Thursday is here and while Rules of Style usually is what is posted, this week I’ve been pulling together the quarterly newsletter that will be full of simply luxurious spring styles and trends to help guide you through the spring 2011 season. Titled Prepping Your Wardrobe for Spring, it is full of investment ideas, fabulous frugal trendy items, and pieces I’ve selected to help in the shopping process, I hope you’ll find this particular newsletter to be a resource as you plan your attack for your next shopping outing.

And if you haven’t subscribed, simply enter your first name and email in the right-hand column on the blog. 

Look for Rules of Style to return next week!

Image: vogue and coffee

Labels: , ,

March 30, 2011

J.Crew Fall 2011 Ready to Wear Collection

With a step up of sophistication, a la The Great Gatsby some may say, J.Crew’s president and executive creative director Jenna Lyons and the head of women's design, Marissa Webb revealed gorgeous bags, stylish, yet somewhat classic coats and capes, along with some footwear that are worth paying attention to for it’s Fall 2011 collection.  However, there were many classic J.Crew-isms with the creative accessories, dark rimmed glasses and the mixing of masculine and feminine pieces. Have a look.

Marissa Webb and Jenna Lyons

All images Style.com and Habitually Chic

Labels: , ,

Sponsor Post – A Cook’s Garden

As winter slowly comes to a close and spring can been seen on the calendar, the garden and flower catalogues begin to trickle in via my mailman.  There are a handful that I receive, but one that immediately catches my eye and impresses me year after year with its quality offerings is A Cook’s Garden: Seeds & Plants for Gourmet Gardeners.

One of the must-haves in my small garden are oodles of tomato plants – Roma, Beefeater, and especially heirlooms. My favorite snack to pull together and enjoy on a hot lazy evening before dinner is my tomato, basil and mozzarella bruschetta paired with a crisp glass of Abeja’s viognier.

And, while you can choose to order seeds and start them in the winter while waiting for spring to arrive, if you are a bit behind (as I am right now), you can order the plants as well. And another feature that I enjoy about their website and catalogue are the many recipes they share on how to use all of the vegetables you will be growing – from gourmet arugula salads to healthy, but tasty dressings, a Swiss chard tart and complete stir-fry meals (click here to see all the recipes they offer).

I don’t know about you, but I am ready to begin perusing farmer’s markets as well as enjoy the produce that will be hopefully springing up in my own garden.  Happy Spring!

Click here to view their 2011 catalogue.

Labels: , , ,

Why Not . . . Read? Part Une


A bibliophile I proudly claim to be, and I strongly suggest (although I have a very strong suspicion you are as well) that you become one as well if you are not already.

I am a devourer of books, magazines and news articles.  My night stand always has at least five books or magazines placed atop it in the evening as to give me options to choose from to suit my mood. And the pleasure derived from this activity is one that I have control over in choosing what I read, how much I read and what I learn.

One of the most empowering abilities reading gives us is that it truly places the world at our fingertips. Whether it be non-fiction or fiction, biography or self-help, historical or culinary – we are all capable of learning anything we decide to set our mind to.

With all of that said, there are many benefits that can be extracted simply by being an avid reader. Since the list is quite lengthy that I’d like to share, I’ve broken it up into three pieces.  The following two lists of benefits will be shared in the subsequent Wednesday Why Not . . .? posts during the next two weeks. But for now, let’s take a look at the first five gifts that reading provides:

Reduce Stress
One of the pleasures at the end of my day, on the weekend or while on vacation is having the time and lack of responsibilities so that I may just read.  There are few things that cause me to lose all track of time than to be lost in a good book or article. Finding the time to read in each of our daily lives is a simple way to reduce stress, calm our mind and remove it from our busy list of to-dos in order to get lost in someone else’s story, life or experience.

Become More Intelligent
One of the most understood benefits of reading is that a person’s intelligence increases, their “smarts”, shall we say, improve because they are learning in-depth knowledge about either an event in history, a person’s background, how something works, the proper syntax usage, and so much more. I would argue that even when the content may be questionable, the value of reading the written word is still a benefit.

Improve Vocabulary
As an English teacher and having many friends who teach at all grade levels, it is quite evident that the simple repetition of choosing to pick up a book, a magazine, or newspaper at night (or anytime) will repeatedly increase one’s vocabulary.  Yes, memorizing words on a list works as well, but reading pieces of literature that include higher level word choice immediately enhancing your ability to absorb something new.  Even if you’re not sure of the exact definition of a word you have come across . . .
Example: obdurate -

“She was so obdurate, that no amount of persuasion could make her alter her stance on on the political issues being discussed at the Thanksgiving dinner table.”

. . . by searching for context clues, you are becoming a more active and engaged reader, thus, improving your intelligence and consequently improving your vocabulary one word at a time.

(answer stubborn)

A Feeling of Satisfaction
Upon finishing a challenging book or a classic you have heard people allude to time and time again, only to be unsure of what they were referring to until you yourself read the book is a priceless feeling of satisfaction. The act of completing something that pushed you a bit, asked you to consider something you hadn’t thought about before or presented something to you that you had never heard of, is a way to bring more satisfaction into your life. I still have the goal of reading all six of Jane Austen’s books and believe me, when I do, I will be dancing on the moon.

Refinement of Life
One of the things that excites me about picking up a new book or the arrival of new magazines each month/week in my mailbox is that I may just find ways to further create my ideal life.  I am notorious for ripping out pages with articles that I want to never forget because of the ideas they share or the topics they discuss.  I swear to this day, that I learned the detailed fundamentals of giving myself an at home facial by reading Teen magazine as a pre-teen. Reading exposes our thoughts to new and different ways of doing things or inspiring us to try something new that we may never had considered before. And that is why I wholeheartedly believe that if you are an avid reader, you’re life has every opportunity to be rich and cultivated no matter where you live or what your circumstance.

Click here to read Part Two with even more benefits of incorporating reading into your life will be shared.  Have a lovely Wednesday!

Images: (1) Source 

Labels: , ,

March 29, 2011

Viktoriya Sasonkina – Elle Ukraine – April 2011

In celebration of their 10th anniversary, Elle Ukraine captures the Jessica Stam look-alike Ukrainian model Viktoriya Sasonkina in Milan, Italy, in various designs from Valentino, DSquared. Salvatore Ferragamo and Max Mara. Styled by Natalia Osadchaya and photographed by Stefano Galuzzi’s, each look is classic and glamorous capitalized by Viktoriya’s fierce blue eyes.

All images via Fashion Gone Rogue

Labels: ,