The Simply Luxurious Life®: April 2012  

April 30, 2012

Live Offensively, Not Defensively

“A life of reaction is a life of slavery, intellectually and spiritually. One must fight for a life of action, not reaction.”
- Rita Mae Brown

Initially when I hear the terms “defense” and “offense” I think of sports. The offense is responsible for scoring points, the defense is responsible for denying points attempting to be scored by the opponents. While there are times when the defense can score points for their team, that isn’t their job, and when it occurs is an extra bonus that wasn’t expected.

When we use these terms to define how we live our lives, either “offensively” or “defensively”, the meaning, interestingly enough is quite similar. By choosing to live offensively, we are choosing to seek fulfillment and success and are more likely to achieve a life that is beyond our dreams. However, by choosing to live defensively, we hinder our own progress and make it twice as difficult to create the life that deep down I have a feeling nearly everyone desires – one that lives up to their full potential, one that is full of genuine love and affection and one that makes us want to get out of bed in the morning. Let me explain:

By Living Defensively:

1. We live out of fear, not hope and thereby are choosing to run from what we are uncertain of instead of addressing it. (Click here to read more about what your fear is trying to tell you.)

2. We constantly look for negatives and pitfalls. When we are too busy looking down to avoid tripping, we are by default not looking up and ahead. As a young girl taking gymnastics, I can remember being told when on the balance beam to keep my chin up and look at the end of the beam, not immediately in front of me if I wanted to maintain my balance. Well, the same can be said for making progress in life – trust that as long as you keep your eye on the goal, you will help yourself arrive at your destination more quickly and successfully.

3. We attack others, often unnecessarily.  No matter what others say, we immediately assume the worst and this does not bode well for creating healthy relationships.  Remember to give people the benefit of the doubt initially.  If they then give you reason to act defensively, extract them from your life as best as you can.
4. We put up unnecessary boundaries. I have always been a proponent of creating healthy boundaries whether it be with your family, friends, colleagues or even your partner in order to maintain that air of mystery; however, sometimes when we are so afraid that others will hurt us, we put people at too far of a distance and never give ourselves the opportunity to build potentially healthy and long lasting friendships and relationships.

5. We become stagnant. When we choose to act defensively, we are on guard, watching what others are doing and not paying attention to what we should be doing.  This inhibits any ability to move forward. 

6. Our creativity is limited. If we are so busy worrying about what might happen and trying to prevent it, we are unable to think outside of the box and hope for what could happen that we would like to see materialize.

7. We are more unlikely to try and see something from others’ perspectives. Living defensively is the decision to refuse to understand why someone does what they do, especially if initially we don’t understand why. While stepping into someone else’s shoes doesn’t guarantee we will acquiesce and be more understanding, it at least leaves the door open for the potential.

8. We are more likely to be followers, than leaders. When we become consumed with protecting ourselves, we begin to cage ourselves in, ultimately going nowhere. We become either isolated or part of a flock of other people who also are living back on their heels.  Conversely, leaders must be living life in a “leaning forward” sort of stance, and living defensively will forever have you leaning back.

9. We begin to repel others who want to help us, love us and uplift us. While living defensively may seem like a safe way to live your life, you will actually be pushing away those who could bring more love and optimism into your life. Being defensively is akin to being cynical and negative, and who wants to be around this type of energy? Only others of the same mind. No thank you.

On the flipside:

By Living Offensively:

1. We live with confidence

2. We look for opportunities

3. We become the artist of our lives

4. We live more authentically

5. We are able to find true contentment and fulfillment
6. We become more accepting

7. We are more willing to try something new and different

8. We become more supportive of others’ dreams

9. We attract to us inspiring, positive people

11. We find and establish quality relationships

While there are events in our lives that cause us to live a bit more defensively than we would prefer (job loss, heartbreak, death, tragedy, etc) try to first come to terms with why you are acting defensively, address these needs, and understand the power such negative behavior is having on your life, health and well-being.

When you recognize that defensive behavior is not beneficial, you will hopefully accept the idea of living more offensively. While it isn’t a surefire way to instantly create what you want and eliminate obstacles and pain from occurring, it most certainly is an approach that strengthens your foundation of self-confidence, a healthy social circle and close relationships, and better place to fall and thus spring forward if things don’t always work out.

Images: (1) pinterest 

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April 29, 2012

Happy Anniversary Kate & William

A year ago today, millions watched as Prince William wed the commoner Kate Middleton, now known as the Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge. I can remember setting my alarm for 2 am and becoming hypnotized by the entire procession of events: the bride stepping into the car (who had the fortunate opportunity to design her dress, we all wondered), the drive through the throngs of adoring onlookers, the revealing of the dress, Pippa’s dress too and it all continued to keep me transfixed. (click here to see all the images and read about the details from the royal wedding day.)

Since then, Kate has continued to impress with her regal, feminine style, her respectful mannerisms and ability to capture young and old attention alike. From their trip through Canada and the States to the many different events she attends – movie premieres, royal celebrations and so much more, she continues to be someone I can’t help but pay attention to (if only for her style). In honor of their anniversary, enjoy a glance back in photos of Kate’s first year as a member of the royal family.

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April 27, 2012

The Weekend . . .

The weekend.  Full of fun and many moments to fill with laughter and losing track of time as well as unlimited time for a respite or two. Oh, isn’t that what weekends are for? Maybe I will finish a few of the books that are nearly completed, or maybe I’ll play in the yard that is bursting with blossoms and color. I’m not exactly sure what I will do, but I do know I am so thankful the weekend has arrived, aren’t you?

With a harried week behind me and maybe you as well, here is a look back on the past posts you may have missed here on The Simply Luxurious Life blog:

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April 26, 2012

A Touch of France – Houzz Ideabook

France is always on my mind, so this month’s ideabook that I pulled together for Houzz focused on touches of France to bring into your home. Click here to view and shop the entire ideabook.

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Style Inspiration: Leopard, Stripes & Polka Dots

In the world of fashion, some classics and neutrals aren’t always what we would initially consider to be items that can be worn year after year without ever appearing out of style. Leopards and polka dots, however, fit the definition of classic prints that will always be in style. What should always be given attention is how we wear them. Leopard ballet flats – yes, polka dot slippers – no. Silk polka dot blouse – yes, leopard dress – not really.  As you can see, while all of these might be trending on the runway at one time or another, the leopard ballet flats and the polka dot blouse will always be able to be worn depending upon what we wear them with.

Below are some classic wardrobes involving stripes, leopard, polka and a few extra ideas to help inspire you as you pull together your next outfit. Happy shopping!
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April 25, 2012

Why Not . . . Become Your Own Decorator?

In yesterday’s post This & That: No. 5, I recommended Susanna Salk’s recently released decor book Be Your Own Decorator: Taking Inspiration and Cues from Today’s Top Designers. With gorgeous images of rooms designed by top interior designers such as Mary McDonald, Nate Berkus, Kelly Wearstler, Charlotte Moss just to name a few, Susanna organizes her book as a suggestion. In other words, the images she has collected essentially beg the question, Why Not . . .? – use a bit of color, be aware of how furniture is arranged, or break a few decor rules and allow your books to be chaotically organized within a perfectly organized room.

So with her suggestions to consider when it comes to decorating a home, I began to make a list of my own tips that have served me well as I have over the years painted, remodeled or rearranged my apartments, houses, and various rooms.

Salk organizes her book into seven different chapters which focus on inspiring images in the following areas: color, mixing up styles, arrangement, balance, whimsy, accessorizing and rule-breaking.  With these chapters as the foundation for becoming your own decorator, below are a few more specific suggestions that I have found great success with as I continue to create my very own simply luxurious sanctuary:

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April 24, 2012

This & That: No. 15

Sweet spring treats, summer fashions, decor inspiration and motivation for simple living . . .

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April 23, 2012

How to Turn Jealousy Into a Positive

“To be jealous of money is to be uninspired.” –from  novel  the The Darlings by Cristina Alger

Maybe it is the trip you hear about that your neighbors are taking and you dream of being able to travel as they do, or maybe you love the freedom your  sister-in-law has that allows her to live the life of her dreams, or better yet, maybe you become frustrated when you see others around you seeming to enjoy life to its fullest and you wish you could do the same, but feel it just isn’t possible.

What I challenge you to do today is whenever you find yourself lusting after or becoming defensive about the life someone else has, turn it into a positive and let these feelings guide you to realize what you truly want from your life. Maybe it isn’t the designer clothes the celebrities wear that cause you to shake your head, but instead the ability to design your own life, in other words having the means to have extra money to do with as you please. Maybe it isn’t the fact your colleague’s ingratiating that actually bugs you, but instead that she has the ear of your boss. And maybe it isn’t being single (or being married) that you dream of, but instead a life that allows you to live up to your full potential (or feel sincere love from someone who has placed you as a priority in their life) that you crave.

Life speaks to each of us continually; however we often dismiss it, are tone deaf or aren’t able to interpret what it really means because we haven’t taken the time to slow down enough to grasp who we are, what fulfills us and learn what we are capable of achieving.

Take jealousy or envy for example. Sometimes what initially on the surface appears as something horrible and a sign of insecurity can quickly be turned on its head to reveal what you fear you could never attain, but indeed wish to bring into your life. The fact of the matter is, when you are following what you are passionate about, have enough self-confidence to know you can handle anything that comes your way and have chosen to look fear in the face and work for what you want, there is nothing to be jealous of.

You may appreciate what others have done or have acquired, but once you have realized what your life needs to look like in order for you to be fulfilled and struck a balance with just enough challenges and successes to know you are continually heading in the right direction, then it won’t matter what others have because you will know deep in your core that you are taking steps to create the life that you have dreamed of. You will also know you have the gumption, the strength and the stick-to-it-iveness to make it happen and that in good time it will.

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April 20, 2012

The Weekend . . .

Very much like the Saint Bernard above, I want to set the weekend free and wrap up the work week, oh and to indulge in fresh sweet homemade desserts would be quite lovely as well.

How has your week been? Hopefully productive, as there is so much comfort and sound sleep to be had when we know we’ve given it our best, brought closure to some projects and know there is something to look forward to enjoying as the weekend begins.

This weekend will have me staying home, adding a few finishing touches to my herb garden and basking in what is supposed to be quite warm spring weather.

If your week has been a whirlwind, here is a look back on the blog and what you’ve missed:

*Make Your Life a Formal Affair – based on my most recent read Lessons from Madame Chic

*Style Inspiration: Simple & Chic

*My Idea of Paradise – shared on favorite decor blog My Paradissi

*This & That: No. 4 – news, fashion and Paris

*My Kind of Tee-Shirt – nautical, linen and on sale!

*JENESEQUA – April 2012 Issue – Bridal, Spring Fashion, Inspiration & Decor

*Why Not . . . Stop Multi-Tasking?

This week’s newsletter – issue #97 – click here to read.

With the goal of doing one thing at a time this weekend and savoring as many moments of possible, I hope you as well will be able to lose yourself in many beautiful moments over the next few days.  Until Monday, bonjour.


Images:  (1) pinterest (2) pinterest

April 19, 2012

My Paradissi: Sharing My Idea of Paradise

One of my favorite decor blogs that I have been following for nearly two years now is My Paradissi, founded by Eleni who lives in Heraklion, Crete. With her keen eye for beautiful interiors that are both simplistic, functional and exceptionally stunning, Eleni’s passion of sharing her ideas for a beautiful sanctuary are a treat for the eyes.

Recently, she asked me to share my idea of paradise, and I eagerly accepted her invitation.  Click here to see my idea of paradise as shared with the My Paradissi blog.

Image via My Paradissi

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My Kind of Tee-Shirt

I have always been a lover of nautical stripes. Maybe it’s the French factor, maybe it’s the navy that seems to look flattering on so many different skin types, whatever it is though, I have been enamored for some time.

So when I discovered Cardigan by Lynne Hiriak’s striped longsleeve crew-neck tee that takes a slightly different approach, but still adheres to the classical nautical design, I added it to my wishlist.

Regularly listed for $188 and made of 100% linen, currently enter the promotional code “theshadowknows” to pay only $112.80 and add it to your spring wardrobe as I have a feeling it would be perfect for those spring days that just can’t seem to make up their mind – rain . . . sunshine . . . both?

Image: NY Mag: The Cut

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Style Inspiration: Simple & Chic

The simplest choices can often yield the most rewarding results when it comes to pulling together an outfit.  Whether you wear all neutrals with one brilliant pop of color, a classic pencil skirt with a silk blouse that drapes perfectly along your décolletage, or accessorize with a tote and shoes that put the unexpectedly chic punctuation mark on an otherwise basic ensemble, remember that fashion should always be fun, not difficult. 

Once you know the colors that flatter you, the shapes that hug your body just right and the signature style that fits best with your lifestyle, you can have endless fun each time you open your closet.

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April 18, 2012

Why Not . . . Stop Multi-Tasking?

In an effort to save time and check off more items from the to-do list, multi-tasking initially seems like the ideal way to improve your production. For example, while you’re cooking breakfast, why not talk on the phone, or continuing to check your email while sitting down for a meal. Needless to say, neither task is likely to be done well, and if that’s the case, why do we keep choosing to multi-task?

After all, isn’t the purpose of living to be consciously aware of what we’re doing so that we may luxuriate in all the moment has to offer, not just doing it to get it done? Multi-tasking, I’ve come to discover, is akin to wasting time, although it may not seem that way at first. In other words, when we choose to multi-task we choose to not be consciously aware of the moment we’re in because we are too busy trying to just get something done simply to be done with it.

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April 17, 2012

This & That: No. 4

Paris, chocolate, fashion . . . oh, and intellectual pursuits, as well as ways to welcome more happiness into your life . . .  

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April 16, 2012

Make Your Life a Formal Affair

“Tailor what living life as a formal affair means to you . . . analyze the aspects of [y]our life that could use a little more flair . . . by introducing aspects that are often thought of as ‘formal’ into [y]our life you can live a richer existence . . .”  

A few weeks ago in the inaugural This & That post, I introduced a book I was eager to read, and boy, I wasn’t disappointed. Jennifer L. Scott’s recently released book Lessons from Madame Chic is full of 20 lessons she learned while living in Paris during college and how nearly ten years later she has incorporated these lessons into her life in California.

(the new cover, to be re-released on November 6, 2012)

(the first cover)
Filled with specific advice, anecdotes and descriptions of Madame Chic and Madame Chic’s entire Parisian family, Scott shares ways to live a fulfilling life that are not only simple, but help to create a luxurious life that is rich and focused on what most all of us seem to want to put at the top of our priority list – healthy relationships, good health and the ability to be our best selves. 

As I was reading I found myself underlining a sentence or two on nearly every page that I didn’t want to forget, and after going back over these annotations I realized that the lesson of living formally doesn’t have to take the beauty or the spontaneity out of living, but in fact it can enhance it. By showing respect to the life we’ve been given and then continue to create for ourselves we consciously make it all the more enjoyable. 

Below are a few ideas for welcoming in a bit more formality and at the same time simplicity that I especially took favor too. Have a look: 

1. Play classical music throughout your home

If you don’t have any Bach cds laying around the house, simply go to Pandora on your computer, iPad or iPhone and search classical symphonic music, and it will create a radio station for you for free. 

2. Eliminate snacking

Each meal that you sit down for is an opportunity to eat well. Scott explains how dinner in Paris with Madame Chic’s family always included at least three, sometimes four, courses and one was always a cheese platter, yet still her host family was slender because when they ate it was mindful. 

3. Create rituals to look forward to

Maybe every Saturday morning you wake up and stroll down to your favorite coffee shop for a tasty treat and chat with a good friend, or you play checkers with your son every Sunday evening in front of the fire or perhaps you take a bubble bath and savor a glass of wine after Monday has wrapped up. Take time to discover the activities that you enjoy doing either alone or with those you love and make them regular occurrences that are something to look forward to. 

4. Wear luxurious lingerie

The mistake that seems to be perpetuated regarding lingerie is that it is worn for someone else.  This is not entirely correct.  In fact, a woman should wear beautiful, high-quality lingerie for herself. Simply knowing you are keeping something to yourself and at the same time have treated yourself to something luxuriously wonderful is certain to raise your confidence at least a smidge. While it will take time to build your lingerie wardrobe, know that you are worth investing in. 

5. Purchase a Clarisonic
Treat your skin as though it were porcelain. Be very particular and handle it with care. Scott highly recommends using the Clarisonic skincare tool that gently exfoliates while allowing your cleansing products to work even harder for your skin producing noticeable brighter and healthier skin. An investment, but one to save up for.

6. A 10 Item Wardrobe

Hear me out first. When I read this, I too shook my head as I thought it was absolutely implausible to only live with 10 items in my closet, but as Scott explains, the 10 items do not include outerwear (coats, blazers, etc), shoes or other accessories, and there is a spring/summer and fall/winter wardrobe that should rotate. With that said, the key is knowing your signature style, purchase quality items that are interchangeable and most importantly that flatter your unique beauty. By limiting yourself to 10 items you reduce decision making in the morning, save money in the long run and are confident that what you are wearing looks timelessly chic.

7. Only buy the best that you can

In an effort to de-clutter and welcome more quality into your living environment, choose wisely, purchase less and be particular about what comes into your home.

8. Maintain an air of mystery.

9. Less television, more theater, book readings, art exhibits, etc

Not only is this exercise for the mind, but it also is more interactive, helps you become more in tune with what is going on in the world and in your community and enables you to be an active participant in your life instead of idling watching others live their lives on television.

10. Always go shopping with a list to avoid unnecessary purchases

Whether it is the grocery store or shopping in your favorite clothing boutiques, always have a list with you to ensure you get what you need but aren’t tempted to buy something that simply grabs your attention or your stomach. Especially when it comes to clothes shopping, by adhering to the 10 item wardrobe you will know exactly what you need, what to splurge on and what to avoid.

These are just a few of the many gems of advice Scott shares in her book. Without hesitation I highly recommend her book Lessons from Madame Chic if you are seeking to live a life filled with quality, pleasure and contentment.

However, it was just announced last week that due to the success of the initially release of her book that the title has been picked up by Simon & Schuster and they are taking it off the shelves until this fall.  At that time they will be re-releasing it in a hardback copy (click here to read more). Until then, stop by Jennifer's blog The Daily Connoisseur which is where the book originated. 

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April 15, 2012

JENESEQUA – April 2012 Issue

Just released this weekend was Jenesequa’s April issue.  With special features for spring brides, this issue also contains many other beauty, decor, fashion and lifestyle articles. Below is a look at two of my contributing articles – Style Inspiration for April which includes ten things to keep in mind this spring when pulling together your outfits for the day, as well as a piece you may remember about luck and how to attract more of it .

Remember, if you have an iPad or an iPhone (the iPhone app was just added!), the JNSQ app is free – click here to download.

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April 13, 2012

The Weekend . . .

With an excuse to dress up and the treat of dining out mixed up with some work outside in the yard, this weekend may just have all of the ingredients for a lovely balance of pleasure and production.

I don’t know about you, but while I need the rest, I also like to get caught up around the house, spruce up the yard (especially this time of year), and get prepared for the week ahead. Maybe not a lot of elbow grease will be expended (and potentially a nap may have to be savored), but at least I am able to feel as though the abode is bit cleaner and more welcoming, not only for my guests, but for myself and loved ones most importantly.

How about you? How do you like to spend your weekends during the spring? Perhaps a time for catching up, getting out of town or simply savoring uninterrupted time with those you love? However you choose to spend it, have a wonderful time and thank you very much for choosing to stop by the blog.

Here is a look back at the past week on The Simply Luxurious Life blog:

*Why Not . . . Be A Good House Guest? Part Deux

*Style Inspiration: White & Neon

*Scarlet Johansson – Vogue US – May 2012

*Charlize Theron – Vogue UK – May 2012

*The most popular post of the week - Perfectionist vs. High Achiever – The Difference

*This & That: No. 3 – travel, decor, apps and more . . .

*The Simply Luxurious Life weekly newsletter – issue #96 – click here to read.

Until Monday, bonjour!

(1) pinterest (2) simply seductive

April 12, 2012

Scarlet Johansson – Vogue US May 2012

Promoting her soon to be released movie The Avengers, starlet Scarlet Johansson shines in all of her retro glamour beauty on the May 2012 cover of Vogue captured by Mario Testino. In her interview with Jason Gay (click here to read), Johansson shares the struggle and pain of her divorce from Ryan Reynolds, but beams when she begins to talk about her now blossoming personal life after quite a tumultuous year.

Read more »

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Style Inspiration: White & Neon

It’s spring and while the rule of no white before Memorial Day may still be lingering in the back of our minds, I beg of you – dismiss it! Now is the time for white cropped, straight leg pants. Pair them with flats, heels, a beautifully designed classic cashmere sweater, or as you will see below, the trend of neon. Ah, now relax, and enjoy shopping and creating your own unique signature style minus traditional, unnecessary rules.

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April 11, 2012

Why Not . . . Be A Good House Guest? Part Deux

Welcoming invited guests into your home can be a wonderful experience if the guests keep in mind the efforts of their host(s) and are appreciative of such a gracious offer.  Last week, I shared a list of things to keep in mind prior to and upon arrival, so this week I’d like to share tips on how to be a delightful house guest.

Let’s get started.

1. Be Presentable

Be sure to pack a set of presentable pajamas (top and bottom) that will be sure to make everyone comfortable even in the early hours of the morning while you are sipping coffee, as well as taking a moment to brush through your hair and any other tidying up that you may want to tend to before saying good morning.

2. Be Neat & Orderly

Whether you’ve been given your own room, but especially if you are sleeping on someone’s couch, each morning be sure to tidy up your living space, tucking, folding and putting away anything that otherwise wouldn’t have been there.  Your host will appreciate your attention to something so simple as it is a way to show respect and gratitude.

3. Make Your Bed

Similar to No. 2, make your bed every morning as you would at your own home. A simple luxury to come back to at the end of each day is a welcoming boudoir.

4. If Contagious, Stay Home.

5. Offer to Purchase Groceries or Pay for Partial Utilities for Extended Visits

If your host will be making meals for you or you will be eating breakfast, lunch and/or dinner in their home, offer to pay for or shop for groceries. And if you are staying for an extended period, be sure to offer money as a form of rent for utilities and space used.

6. Limit Internet/phone Usage

If you don’t have your own access to internet and will be using your host’s computer, be very brief and keep in mind that others will want to go about their daily routines and spend time on the internet as well.  And while everyone has a cell phone these days, be aware of when and how often you are on the phone. Remember that you are a guest and not the only one in the home.

7. Do Your Own Laundry/Dishes

I suggested last week that one of the simplest ways to thank your host is to offer to do the dishes after a meal. Another thing to always get into the habit of is washing and putting your dishes in the dishwasher as well. Never assume that someone else will be doing this job.

8. Strip the Bed and Any Towels Used

Prior to leaving when you are packing up and saying good-byes, take a few minutes and strip the bed placing all of the sheets into one of the pillowcases. This is a simple task that will save your host some time and be neat as well. Be sure to add any towels and washcloths also that you have used.

9. Send a Prompt Thank You Note

Be sure to put it at the top of your to do list (or better yet, while on your trip purchase a lovely thank you card in an inviting stationery store) to send a thank you note to your host upon arriving back home. While many thank yous have most likely been exchanged, a formal letter expresses sincere gratitude and thoughtfulness and puts a wonderful last memory to the entire stay.

Being a good house guest simply requires conscious effort of putting ourselves into the shoes of our host and treating them the way we would hope others would treat us if they were staying at our home. The goal is to create a memorable experience for everyone and while the host will keep themselves busy making sure this happens, so too should the guest.

Images: (1) pinterest (2)   pinterest

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April 10, 2012

This & That: No. 3

Another app to try for all you fashion lovers, a house to peek inside and a simple, yet luxurious item to add to your wardrobe . . . 
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April 9, 2012

Perfectionist vs. High Achiever – The Difference

“Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person.”
-Dr. David M. Burns

Wanting everything exactly as you had imagined it, only to be a bit moody (perhaps an understatement) if everything isn’t just so. Unable to accept compliments from others because in your mind, you could have done better. Or lastly, not allowing yourself to feel good about accomplishing specific goals because they didn’t happen exactly as you had planned or follow the designated time frame. 

If any, or all, of these scenarios are familiar, you, like myself, can identify with being a perfectionist. And while there are many wonderful attributes and rewards to being a perfectionist, I’d like to suggest to you today a better approach that will actually yield you more happiness, reduce your fear and continue to keep your productivity as high, or higher, than had you remained a perfectionist.   

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April 7, 2012

Charlize Theron – Vogue UK – May 2012

Photographed by Patrick Demarchelier, Charlize Theron tops the cover of  Vogue UK’s May 2012 issue in a gown from Versace’s Spring 2012 collection. With buzz surrounding Charlize (36) after recently announcing a few weeks ago she adopted a baby boy name Jackson who is now 4 months old, she is primarily promoting her role as the villain in Snow White and the Huntsman which premieres June 1st.

All image via Style Frizz

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April 6, 2012

The Weekend . . .

“If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up.”

I recently came across this quote, and I couldn’t help but nod my head in agreement.  It is easy to keep plugging away at your dreams when things are going well, support is favorable and your confidence is high, but when you end up rammed up against obstacles that refuse to get our of your way, it sometimes seems easier to stop.

Whenever this happens, I would advise you to think of the quote above. If indeed it is something you are wholeheartedly passionate about – a particular career, a relationship, college degree, etc, pass the test that the universe is throwing at you, and keep striving forward. In essence, put your stilettos on and put your best foot forward even when others would throw up their hands in defeat.

What do you want? What legacy do you want to leave behind? Take some time, write your thoughts down if you need to vent or navigate what you’re feeling and why, and then keep pushing, but don’t give up.

I realize this is more of a Monday post than a weekend post, but sometimes we need motivation at the end of the week as well. I hope you have had a wonderful week, and if you are celebrating Easter, I wish you a lovely time with family.  If you are simply looking forward to the weekend, do enjoy and revel in making it your own.

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April 5, 2012

Banana Republic – Fall/Holiday 2012

Beautiful berry colored cropped pants and wool coats shone against the backdrop of grays, blacks and camel colored capes, sheaths and tie neck blouses. Banana Republic’s Fall/Holiday 2012 collection, inspired by the upscale countryside, revealed a handful of designs that will layer well due to their mix of textures – leather, cashmere and wool - and versatile coloring;  however, the lace up boots were a disappointing accessory, as it reminded me a bit of a dowdy school girl, cutting the woman’s leg off at the ankle, thus, shortening her leg unnecessarily.

Aside from that, the pencil skirts and perfectly draped wool coats (I have my eye on the one above), are rich and warm, perfect for a fall wardrobe addition.

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Style Inspiration: Cropped & Floral

A few of this spring’s trends are included in this week’s Style Inspiration. From one of my favorite trends that is one to invest in (cropped pants), to a trend that is very feminine, but can easily be included in your wardrobe without spending too much money (florals), these two looks are fun and showing up everywhere.

The beauty of the cropped pant is that it works with nearly every woman’s body type, and when hemmed right above your ankle, can be stylishly worn with ballet flats or heels.

With regards to florals. Many brands are offering skirts aplenty with floral designs that are cut in many different flattering styles. A lovely pencil skirt paired with a solid silk blouse and nude pumps, or a floral top paired with classic denim jeans are two ways to incorporate this trend into your wardrobe and be assured to look classically chic, but aware of what fashion is currently offering.

Have a look at his week's gathering of stylish inspiration for spring:

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April 4, 2012

Why Not . . . Be A Good House Guest?

The graciousness of anyone to welcome guests into their home is one of the greatest gifts. Whether it is family who has traveled a great distance, helping out a friend as they make their way along a journey or entertaining grown children when they come back for a quick visit to see their parents, it is important that the gesture made by the homeowner is not one to be taken for granted.

In this new two part series, I’d like to share tips for anyone who is, was or ever will be a house guest.

While every host expects something different, generally there is proper etiquette to follow and that when adhered to will almost certainly guarantee a good repertoire with your host and possibly gain an invitation to stay again.

First, the initial arrival. A few things to keep in mind:

1. Plan Ahead

Well before you plan to go out of town, ask politely if the dates you have in mind are possible for staying at your host’s home. Once you are welcome to be their guest, be sure to write down the exact times of arrival that were discussed in order to prevent any mix-ups.

2. Arrive On Time

On the day of your arrival, make sure you arrive on time out of respect for your host’s schedule. And while it may seem okay to arrive early, keep in mind that most hosts want time to pick up their home and present a clean abode, so if your flight unexpectedly arrives early, do be sure to call ahead before showing up at their door.

3. Respect Your Host’s Schedule, And Share Yours 

Always keep in mind that your host will have a schedule of their own to follow, so let them know generally when you will be coming and going.

4. Bring A Thank You Gift

Upon arriving, be sure to have a gift in hand. Bring something you are certain your host would appreciate and enjoy – wine, a beautiful Jo Malone orange blossom candle or something special that will be certain to convey your gratitude.

5. Don’t Overstay Your Welcome

As my aunt reminded me when I was younger regarding house guests, “House guests are like fish, they begin to stink after three days,” and, yes, there is certainly some validity to the famous adage no matter how much you adore your guests. As wonderful as it is to be welcomed into someone’s home, always keep in mind that this is their sanctuary, this is their place to unwind, and nobody wants to be uncomfortable in their home. Even though the visit may be going well, be sure to leave on a high note, and don’t overstay your welcome.

6. Offer to Help

As a guest, offer to help with dinner if your host is making meals that you will be enjoying, or offer to walk their dog if that is something you feel comfortable with. A wonderful gesture that I know almost any cook would appreciate is the offer to clean up the kitchen after the meal. Sounds simple, but it undoubtedly will be hard to turn down.

7. Respect Their House Rules

The first example that most young adults tend to question is following their parents house rules even if they feel they are adults because they no longer permanently live in the home. As a guest, your goal is to make sure that your host is comfortable while you are in their home, and if their house rules are that young couples should sleep in separate beds, then respectfully oblige. Everyone has different values, but if you are stepping over the threshold into their home, you must defer to their expectations. And if you are uncomfortable with them, there are always plenty of hotel rooms.

8. Remember That Your Host Isn’t Responsible For Entertaining You

Sometimes when visiting there will be plans made to spend time with the host and/or hostess, in fact, maybe that is precisely why you are staying there, but if they are opening their home to you without this expectation, understand that is up to the guest to entertain themselves. Unless the host offers, have plans ready to dive into (and even if they do offer, I have found that it is always good to have some time apart from the host, as often they are offering out of kindness, but need a break as well).

Being a guest, a guest that will always be welcomed back, is to be conscious and respectful, because the goal is to help create a memorable experience for all persons involved and strengthen the relationship, not wear it thin.

Be sure to stop by next week when we’ll wrap up the series and share ways to ensure a pleasurable stay and departure.

Images: (1) pinterest (2) pinterest 

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April 3, 2012

This & That: No. 2

Food, fashion and inspiration to discover even more success . . .

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Panko Salmon & French Lentils

A healthy food item that always seems to be a luxury is salmon.  Whether it’s lox on my bagel with cream cheese for brunch or baked and served with delicious sides for a fuss-free dinner entree, I feel as though I am being treated to a luxurious meal.

So when I first made Barefoot Contessa’s Panko Salmon with French Lentils, I was quite impressed. With the panko holding in the flavorful moisture, the searing adding that ideal amount of crunch and the lentils contributing a smooth rich flavor that pairs wonderfully with the fish, this recipe quickly moved to the front of my recipe notebook.

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April 2, 2012

Anja Rubik – Vogue Japan – May 2012

Some of the magnificent highlights of Christian Dior’s spring 2012 couture collection are worn by the svelte model Anja Rubik. Photographed by Patrick Demarchelier for the pages of Vogue Japan’s May 2012 issue, have a look. (Click here to see the highlights from Christian Dior’s runway show in January.)

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When Silence Is Beneficial

“I have naturally formed the habit of restraining my thoughts.  A thoughtless word hardly ever escaped my tongue or pen.  Experience has taught me that silence is part of the spiritual discipline of a votary of truth.  We find so many people impatient to talk.  All this talking can hardly be said to be of any benefit to the world. It is so much waste of time.  My shyness has been in reality my shield and buckler.  It has allowed me to grow.  It has helped me in my discernment of truth.” 

-Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

The world can be loud and over stimulating at times. With televisions blaring, iPods singing in our ears, phones alerting us incessantly and other constant bombardments into our personal space, it is common place to assume silence may not be necessary.  In fact, silence may appear to some as a sign of something negative.

However, there is great power when each of us is able to become comfortable with silence from time to time. Whether it is finding a few moments to yourself in the middle of the day, or unwinding in a quiet bedroom with a book at night, silence can be quite restorative.

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