The Simply Luxurious Life®: July 2012  

July 31, 2012

This & That: No. 18

The last day of July, so I’m beginning to plan my fall shopping list, but can’t stop thinking about summer. Discover a wonderful article, the must-have book for bloggers and two fantastic inspiring and helpful websites . . .

~Article to Read

~“Test of Time” Bel Kaufman’s interview in Vogue US August 2012 “Age” issue

In the most recent issue of Vogue US (August 2012), their age issue included some inspiring stories of many different women. One in particular caught my attention, as it was an interview of former high school English teacher and author Bel Kaufman who is now 101 years old. Her savvy, sharp wit and intellectual observations were impressive, and while the link above doesn’t take you to the interview (it is not available online yet), it does take you to a recap of it. So be sure to pick up this month’s Vogue to read a worthwhile article. (page 78)


~Work Awesome: Work Better, Live Better

Pooja Lohana and Tina Su make up the team behind Work Awesome. A blog that regularly posts advice, inspiration and ideas on how to improve your job prospects, enjoy the career you are currently in and pursue the dream job you hope to one day have.

~Think Simple Now: A Moment of Clarity

Tina Su also is the founder behind another blog that I thought you might enjoy – Think Simple Now. With lengthy advice about relationships, emotions and balancing it all, she speaks from experience being married, a mother to a young son and having created a successful blogging career. Have a look.


~Addison Stripe Tank Dress - $328

A post last week on my Tumblr blog and Pinterest boards that quickly garnered attention was this beautiful silk maxi dress. So, I thought Addison’s silk maxi dress might be something to take a look at to add to your summer wardrobe. After all, we still have more than a month to savor.

~Michael Kors Surf Blue Large Hamilton Tote - $348

I have been on the hunt for a quality tote for work and travel, and for quite some time have had my eye on Michael Kors’ Hamilton totes.  This particular bag (in surf blue) caught my attention. While initially it doesn’t seem available, you can still order it, and it is expected to ship before August 10th. The perfect colorful tote for the fall season.


~Fashion 2.0: Blogging Your Way to the Front Row by Yuli Ziv

Many of you have written to me asking about advice on a variety of aspects about blogging. Well, have I found the book for any aspiring blogger! If you haven’t already read it, you most certainly should. Yuli Ziv shares in great detail all of the secrets and insights on how to make your business as a blog work and work well. Not in any way superficial, it becomes clear that she wants to help her readers. With advice on creating the foundational structure of your blog (template, logo, mission statement), to creating a media kit and communicating with PR companies, you will not be disappointed.


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July 30, 2012

Excellence vs. Mediocrity

~In a recent episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter, aired on July 22, 2012, Oprah interviewed 10 iconic American Olympians. During her interview with Carl Lewis, the topic of excellence and mediocrity was discussed.~
“My parents always raised us to expect excellence.”
– Carl Lewis, 9 time Olympic gold medalist

“When you grow up in a family that doesn’t expect excellence, when [you] see excellence, [you] often get threatened by it. But if you’re raised to expect excellence, you embrace excellence. Because you see it as your birth right.”
–Oprah Winfrey

Excellence versus mediocrity. On the surface, we become acutely aware of which word should be sought after and which word would be more pleasurable to experience once attained, but the dilemma is that excellence requires more of each one of us. It requires us to be less selfish and give more of our time and energy. Mediocrity, on the other hand, is content with selfishness and laziness. Mediocrity observes what the minimum effort is to attain what is desired and once that point is reached, promptly puts its feet on the table, places its hands behind its head and calls it a day.

As the Olympics have gotten underway in London, there are multiple scenes of excellence. Even for those Olympians who do not earn a place on the podium, numerous moments of excellence are achieved. Their efforts over the past four years or more to train, to discipline their minds and bodies often in very isolated practice facilities reveals what excellence asks of us: a clear focus, an elimination of the whining when things get tough and instead the steely eyed focus to push on, time – lots of valuable time, discipline of training, diet, and thoughts and of course the audacity to believe what is desired can be achieved.

You may be wondering, how does this apply to my life? How can I channel Olympic excellence into the goals that I seek? As I’ve shared before, excellence is not the same thing as perfection, and it is important to keep this in mind. As you travel the journey of achieving your dreams, not everything will go as planned, but it is how you respond and what you learn along the way that will enhance the experience and help you arrive at your destination with even more appreciation for what you will have achieved.

~One of my favorite moments seen during the London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremonies – July 27th~

Whether you are seeking excellence in your career, how you raise your children, how you care for your health, how you establish and create a simply luxurious life, building the relationships you are involved in or constantly striving to reach your full potential, knowing how to create the culture of excellence is important to eventually experiencing it.

Below are the steps to follow as you begin on the path to excellence:

1. Determine what excellence looks like to you. Try to be very specific, but at the same time do not allow for mediocrity. The advice that fits well here is, “Always do your best.” If at any time during the process, you know you could have done more, trained harder, held your tongue, been more supportive, put in more time researching, then you know you settled for mediocrity. Often the results may be out of our control, but the effort we put in isn’t. So on that note, when determining what excellence looks like, describe the journey in just as much detail as you would the destination.

2. Clearly define the values that must be included in order to achieve excellence. If you have set a goal of becoming an Olympic athlete, but you have to use performance enhancing drugs to attain it, this would not be the path to excellence because you’ve compromised your values. What do you value? Why do you value it? If in your relationships, you value respect, loyalty and honesty, continually find ways to exhibit and build the values that are of importance to you. Excellence has the potential of being felt in the small actions that occur every single day. How are you building what you want to see more of? What values are you supporting?

3. Clearly communicate your values. Once you know what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it, you will need to communicate this with those that are working with you or for you (if you are a coach, manager, head of a company, etc). In order to create strong relationships with those we work with and spend our lives with, we can’t assume they know what we value unless we communicate with them.

4. Align what you say with what you do. A certain way to gain respect, support and more effort from those around you is to align what you say with what you do. Hypocrisy is a surefire way to lose what you most likely desire – support, confidence and respect. Granted we will all stumble, but as long as we stumble forward and learn to not make the same mistake in the future, we are headed in the right direction – towards excellence.

5. Consistently adhere to your professed values. Along those same lines, hold fast to your direction and how you are attaining the current results as you align your words and actions repeatedly and consistently. A person of good character is revealed when what is done while nobody’s watching is still something that is in line with what they would do if a crowd surrounded them. Ultimately, consistency is the factor in reaching success, and the act of consistent best efforts is an act of excellence.

“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” –Colin Powell

Images: (1) pinterest (2) source

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July 28, 2012

Modeling Everlane’s Ryan Tee

As a features editor for JENESEQUA magazine, I have had the good fortune to work with amazingly talented and dedicated women. Recently, the never-tiring editor and founder of JENESEQUA, Melissa Middleton, organized a collaboration with Everlane, an online retail tee shirt company that specializes in making clothing of designer quality without the designer sticker price. With all price points under $100, they eliminate the middleman and can be found only online.

When the assignment to explain “How I Style My Everlane Tee”, I chose a look that would work dashing out to lunch with an editor as well as teaching a class of high school English students. With navy always being my go-to color and nude never a bad color choice, I included a pair of white cropped jeans for the season of spring and came up with the look you see above.

I had the opportunity of modeling a tee shirt from their latest collection – Ryan, and for only $25, I found this navy V-neck tee to be quite comfortable and easy to dress up as seen in my photos or worn more casually with shorts and sandals.

On a beautiful rare sunny day in Seattle, Melissa and four of her editors (including myself) met in the TC Creative studio for a photo shoot with photographer Michelle Moore and make-up and hairstylist Melissa Korn.

From around the country, each editor used their own approach to style to create a look that worked for them using an Everlane tee. From the outskirts of Seattle, fitness editor Nicole Wallace, from New York City, accessories editor Michelle Honig and from Los Angeles, fashion and lifestyle editor Daniela Hummel, each had their own, unique take on how to wear a simple tee shirt. View their looks here.

While we were all there to work, I couldn’t help soaking in the entire experience. I simply loved the views from the studio of a rather quaint street in Seattle, hearing the bustling of people, conversations and traffic and soaking up the sun as it streamed through the windows. It was a fun and productive morning followed by a satiating late lunch at Le Pichet to savor a glass of French rosé and sandwich en baguette before hopping on the plane to head home.

Below are a few images I captured on that day.
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July 27, 2012

The Weekend . . .

With a week full of sunshine and hopes for more of it rather than rain in London, the Summer Olympics officially begin tonight. There is just something wonderfully uplifting and inspiring about the Olympics – countries from around the world coming together in peace to compete in a sportsmanlike fashion.

With 205 countries sending more than 10,000 athletes to compete, history will be made because for the first time each competing country is sending both women and men to compete. Moments and realizations such as these are a reminder that change for the better, change for progress and growth and equality, can happen, it just takes time and constant effort in making small steps.

Granted, this by no way means the journey is complete, it probably never will be, but it is getting better. There is reason to have hope, and I must say that is something that these events stir up in me more than anything . . . hope. Hope for a better tomorrow, hope that I can become a better version of myself, and hope for a better world.

Tonight I will be watching with great curiosity the Opening Ceremonies as they are unveiled in London. And this year more than ever before my excitement will be growing as in one week I will be touching down in the city of the London and taking in the festivities of this wondrous event first-hand.

Until then, I will be packing, preparing, dreaming and finding any opportunity to say “Cheers!”

I hope your week has gone well and you have been able to stay cool or at least have fun with your summer fashion to keep as comfortable as possible. This week on The Simply Luxurious Life it was simple and not full of a lot of extra posts, but by no means without fantastic comments, engagement and questions. Here’s a look at the past week on the blog:

~Savor Everyday Routines . . . the most popular post of the week

~Why Not . . . Get and Stay Out of Debt?

~This & That: No. 17 . . . a documentary for fashion lovers, a travel app to try, an article on adult friendships and more . . .

~Mid-Week Motivation: Final Summer Sales

~Style Inspiration: Shorts, Stripes, Leopard and Blue

And this week’s newsletter – issue #111 – click here to read.

Cheers to the weekend’s arrival and until Monday, bonjour.

Images: (1) (2) 


July 26, 2012

Style Inspiration: Shorts, Stripes, Leopard & Blue

A little bit of everything has been captured this week as summer continues to inspire creativity when it comes to fashion. Stripes are always a classic choice worn with something more trendy or different, and blue being such a tranquil hue can be worn in so many different ways depending upon your skin tone. As for leopard, I personally never tire of leopard and it seems the fashion world thinks along the same lines as it serves as a classic staple, but also adds that extra pop of attention when worn. Last but not least, shorts. This summer has the been the first of many summers where I have thoroughly embraced this stylish addition to my wardrobe. Worn casually for day or at night with a fabulous pair of stiletto peep-toes, they really can be worn just about anywhere. Think about changing the texture to set the right tone and choose a length that flatters your leg the best. For me, mid-thigh seems to do the trick.

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July 25, 2012

Why Not . . . Get and Stay Out of Debt?

Last weekend I put $5 in my pocket and headed out to do some yard sale shopping (my tweet of announcement). More than anything I love to look through the newly discovered treasures as well as see who I run into. After all, a Saturday morning full of summer sunshine – that is hard to top. Well, after visiting three yard sales, I had successfully stuck to my allotted amount and found some fabulous deals – one of which was Jean Chatzky’s book Pay It Down! – one of the only books of hers I don’t have yet.

While there are slight deviations on how to pay down credit card debt, the respected experts in the field – Chatzky, Suze Orman and David Bach – to name the few that I have followed – adhere to similar advice. And while I highly suggest reading one of their many books, here is the general approach:


1. Assess the reality of your situation. How much debt do you honestly have? Consider all credit accounts (cards, home loans, car loans, student loans, etc).  The student loans can be handled slightly different, but credit card debt and anything else other than your mortgage should be included as “bad” debt.

2. Set a goal. What is the deadline you want to set for being debt-free? One year from now? Three years?

3. Look at your income and expenses. No guessing is allowed. Take time to look at all of your expenses (mandatory and discretionary – we’ll eliminate unnecessary later). Then look at what you earn.

4. Determine how much. Based on how much you earn, how much can you pay each month to complete your goal by the set date? In Jean Chatzky’s book, she devises a plan to rid yourself of debt on $10 a day (a minimum of $310 paid down on debt each month).

5. Trim your budget. Now, take a look at where your money goes each month. Do you really need two pedicures at your favorite spa each month or can you spend $9 on OPI nail polish and give yourself pedicures at home, saving yourself $50-$100 a month? Love books, but spend more than you realized on Amazon? Start visiting your local library. Click here to learn more ways to trim your budget.

6. Know your credit score. Each year you are able to check your credit score for free. Visit one of the big three credit reporters – Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion – to see exactly where you stand. Chatzky breaks down in detail exactly how your score is tabulated and what scores are preferred.

7. Pay down the highest APR first. If you have multiple cards, while you have to pay on each of them monthly, pay only the minimum on the lower APR cards and the majority on your highest.

8. Negotiate a lower rate. Don’t be afraid to call up your credit card company and negotiate for a lower rate. Bring up all of the positives you have provided as a customer – always paying on time, the length of time you’ve held their card, etc. Then, if you are going to transfer your balance to another card, threaten to cancel the card. If nothing works, look at #9.

9. Consolidate if possible. If you already have a card that offers interest free balance transfers and a 0% APR for a year or two, transfer your other card balances onto that card. Why? Interest free. This will give you time to pay down your balance without incurring interest on what you owe - in turn, saving your money. Just keep in mind the regulations – how long this grace period lasts, etc. If none of your current cards offer this option, look for a card that does (they are out there). Three things to look for – rate, fine print and fees (annual, late payment, etc).

Once you have followed these steps and wiped your balance sheets clean of debt, be very stern with yourself and continue to remain debt-free. Last year I shared specific tips on how to successfully have a credit card, but today I would also like to share money rules to follow as you go about your daily life that will also keep you out of debt permanently.


1. Only eat at a restaurant once a day. While many of us don’t eat at a restaurant every day, keep this rule in mind when you do, and never go out twice in one day. If you know you have dinner plans to dine at your favorite restaurant, pack a sack lunch for work instead of going out with co-workers.

2. Don’t carry your credit card with you. Or if you have to, place a piece of paper around your credit card, write FOR EMERGENCIES ONLY and wrap it with a rubber band. At least, you will have to think twice before using it. Once you trust yourself, #2 isn’t necessary.

3. Shop with a list. Real Simple did a study that revealed women who think they are successful are women who make lists. Avoid unnecessary purchases and don’t leave home without your list!

4. Shop for groceries once a week. Take time to plan the week’s meals and then on the same day each week, gather up your coupons, list and cloth grocery bags and head to your local market.

5. Withdraw cash for your monthly grocery budget at the beginning of the month. I always find it interesting that I would often let my cravings increase my grocery budget unnecessarily, but when I know I only have so much cash each week to go grocery shopping, I shop wiser, I keep my cravings in check and I am forced to get more creative in the kitchen and use what I have.

6. Bank online. In an effort to avoid missing bill due dates, pay bills online. This is a wonderful approach for working together with your partner, so you know for sure that bills are paid, but it also allows you do schedule payments even if you haven’t received a bill in the mail.

7. Don’t be afraid to put something on hold. If you’re shopping and you come across a dress that catches your eye, but you’re not sure it’s worth stretching your budget on, put it on hold. If you still want it the next day and can afford it, go back and get it, if not, you’ve saved yourself some money.

8. It’s okay to return items. Don’t feel guilty or ashamed for changing your mind. It’s your money, and if you don’t want something as badly as you initially thought, return it.

9. Refuse to follow the crowd. While your friend, neighbor, or parents may have fabulous decor, clothing or outdoor equipment, you do not know the state of their finances. However, you do know yours, and you know what it takes to keep yourself financially secure – paying your bills on time, staying out of debt and saving for retirement. The New York Times recently reported in an article that in 2010, 75% of Americans approaching retirement had only on average $30,000 saved for retirement. That’s absurd! Hopefully they enjoyed their third car because retirement may not be all that enjoyable.

Don’t get sucked into doing something because someone tries to make you feel inadequate. The best feeling in the world is financially security and one of the biggest contributors to stress in life and in relationships is money, so make sure to handle wisely the money you earn.

More than anything, take the responsibility to control what you can, and how we spend our money is something that is very much in our control.

Images: (1) pinterest 

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July 24, 2012

This & That: No. 17

A few favorite summer sales, sensational jazz tunes, an article to ponder and so much more . . .

~App to Try

Tripit App

As I am going about fine-tuning my itinerary for next month’s vacation, I read about the Tripit app in The New York Times which helps to organize your itinerary, making it readily accessibly online or via their free smart phone app. What I loved most about it, is after entering all of the destinations and addresses I am planning on visiting, I can quickly access a map of directions with the simple click of a button. Also, I can privatize my trip and send a link to fellow travel companions or friends and family that want to know where I will be while I’m away.


~Dinah Washington – I Want to Be Loved album

I have been a fan of classic jazz music since spending time with my great aunt and uncle where he would play big band and jazz on his record players whenever I visited as a young girl. There is something that just grabs me, making me believe that good times are just a moment away. Upon hearing Dinah Washington’s song “I Want to Be Loved”, I quickly went online and found her album. If you too like jazz, have a listen to the samples. I think you’ll enjoy.


~Diane von Furstenberg Landy top - $160 (reduced from $285)

Last chance summer sale is going on at Diane von Furstenberg. Use the promo code SUMMERSALE for an additional 20% on regular and sale priced items. I fell in love with this silk ‘Landy’ top – perfect with white jeans or even a pencil skirt for spring.

~Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale

Now through August 5th, shop Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale and begin to prep your fall wardrobe. Denim is drastically reduced, Laundry has some beautiful dresses at even lovelier prices and of course the shoes – I have my eye on these and these.

~Article to Read

~“Friends of a Certain Age: Why is it Hard to Make Friends Over 30” by Alex Williams in the New York Times

As someone who has been quite driven by my career for over ten years and has been willing to move to take jobs that fulfilled my passions, I found this article refreshing and thankfully quite forthright. The reality is that as we grow older our values become clearer, our patience runs thin for flaky and drama-magnetic people and our time becomes even more valuable. However, the paradox is that we need friends – good, kind, supportive friends who lift us up. There are many suggestions in this article on how to navigate this social obstacle of finding friends that we want to bring into our lives – some you might embrace and some perhaps not. Either way, it was an enlightening read that I wanted to share.


~The Tents

If you enjoy documentaries and are curious about fashion and how New York Fashion Week wound up producing shows for 17 years in Bryant Park, this is a documentary to watch. The Tents, in homage to the large white tents that went up each fall and spring season in what became known as Fashion Park, is available for streaming on Amazon (to rent for $3.99 or purchase $14.99). As I prep for my first visit to NYFW this September, I was intrigued by the history, the orchestration of each show as each designer tries to captivate shoppers to purchase their clothing and who was manning the ship helping to propel American designers to the front of the the fashion world.


July 23, 2012

Savor Everyday Routines

“The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last Thursday night a tumultuous thunder and lightning storm made itself quite comfortable over the small town I live in. Being awoken by a jolt of lightning, I remained awake to enjoy the beautiful display of bolts  randomly piercing through the dark sky, but then the lightning and thunder occurred simultaneously, a sound that was felt so viscerally that, for the first time, I feared (just for a moment) what Mother Nature had in store.  Brushing it off, I decided to walk around the house to see the storm from various vantage points, but when I peered out my dining room window, I noticed maple leaves that were far too low to the ground. To make a long story short, lightning sliced one of my beloved 80-year old maple trees in half and what was severed, was now laying on my terrace and the sidewalk.

Looking past what happened to the tree, everything from that point was something to be thankful for – no major damage, my father arrived the next day from two hours away where he lives to wield his chainsaw skills and my neighbors even aided in the cleaning up of fallen limbs and branches. Before noon, there was hardly a sign of the described incident.

Everything that happened in that span of 12 hours gave me considerable pause.

There are so many things in life we do have control over, our seemingly endless decisions regarding our finances, our career, our time, our health, our diet, our thoughts, but even handling superbly all of these factors, there are still events that will occur outside of our controlling jurisdiction.

The only thing I had control over in that particular instance was the decision to buy this particular house when I did and to have decided to not cut that tree down prior to the storm. And since I don’t regret making the decisions I made for each of these instances, everything else was out of my control.

While I am a tremendous proponent of setting goals, staying focused and persevering until they are met, what sank in quite significantly last week was the fact that so much was working, so much was functioning as it should (the plumbing, the heating/air conditioning, electricity), so much was making life very comfortable, and I, like many people, while enjoying it, have been taking it for granted far more than I should.

In other words, while we chase dreams we feel will make our lives better and our heart happier, why not revel in daily moments that cultivate happiness along the journey?

In chef Robert Arbor’s book Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living he teaches his readers that the French have a innate ability to revel in the daily routines of life – to make them quite pleasurable and unhurried.

Since there are so many daily chores, activities and responsibilities each one of us has to tend to daily, why not make them more enjoyable? After all, when we make the journey an experience that is memorable and full of moments we want to savor, the destination seems to be reached in a more timely manner (even though it is probably the same amount of time).

Arbor writes about his devotion to carve out breakfast each day as his “me time”.  Choosing to use this time to greet the day, review his calendar and savor his tartine and coffee, he feels not a bit of guilt for savoring his time to himself (he is married with children). Designating lunch and dinner as time to gather, he remembers this routine being customary as he was growing up and finding great pleasure in the decreased pace and leisurely moments.

Turning every day routines and expectations into opportunities to savor and revel in will increase the quality of your life as it requires you to live more consciously each and every day.  And when we are living more consciously, we are better able to appreciate the many seemingly minute things that are going well and that allow us to live the life we’ve worked so hard to create.

In order to make these routines meaningful, we must also be able to look rationally at all that we allow to consume our time and whittle out those unnecessary demands that don’t aid items on our priority list. When you are able to let go of the unnecessary responsibilities, you will find more time to savor your breakfast in the morning or walk the dog every day after work or sit down for a wonderful cup of tea in the afternoon before getting ready for the evening activities and dinner.

But more than anything, our lives are measured in moments that have the opportunity to be savored each and every day. Simple and easy to overlook, such moments surround you daily. Won’t you take the time to create daily routines that you can look forward to instead of dread?

Here are a few daily routines that can easily be polished up and transformed into regular moments to look forward to:

1. Grocery shopping – set one time a week to go shopping (having planned your meals for the week), do your best to shop at local markets and get to know the venders, making the experience a social encounter, not a robotic chore. Smell the fruit, thump the bread, taste the wine (if they offer this option) and enjoy a store, booth or market’s ambiance.

2. Breakfast – Wake up earlier and enjoy a simple, yet flavorful meal that will help you last until lunch. Read your favorite blogs (on your iPad) or peruse your local morning newspaper as you sip your first cup of caffeine.

3. Paying bills – Knowing you have adhered to your budget will make this process even more enjoyable, but each time you sit down, turn on your favorite music, pour a cup of tea, sit in a comfortable chair and gradually, yet proficiently pay your monthly bills and balance your checkbook.

4. Downtime – Love music? Love the nostalgic crackle of a turntable? Why not buy one and play your favorite crooners found on vinyl?

5. Daily Walk – Choose a route that is inspiring – whether it is out in nature or on the sidewalk through a beautiful neighborhood, choose a regular path that revs up your creative mind.

6. Laundry – Whenever you make a bed with clean sheets, take the time to iron the pillowcases, shams and duvet and spritz some lavender linen spray on the pillows to enhance a restful night’s slumber. (Make your own: mix 1 tsp lavender essential oil with 1/4 c. unflavored vodka, then add 3 1/2 cups of water, and pour into a spray bottle)

7. Kitchen Clean-up – Again, include the power of music or talk radio to make the task move along quicker and allow you to either sing along or dance, or learn something.

8. Cleaning House – Each time you clean your home, when complete, treat yourself and your abode to a fresh bouquet of flowers.

9. Beautify Your Work Space – If you have a regular job and a desk area or office, decorate or create a space that is welcoming and well-stocked. Bring in flowers or nature, have a radio or music handy if that is allowable, stash an afternoon snack in your top drawer and include a photo of someone you love on your desk top. In other words, make it inviting.

Click here for a few more ways to add pleasure to regular routines.

“Life is not made up of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years, but of moments. You must experience each one before you can appreciate it.” ― Sarah Breathnach

Images:    (1) extrasexy

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July 20, 2012

The Weekend . . .

With some ups and downs this week, I can certainly attest that life really is thirsting to give you want you desire if only you have the inner strength to reach past your comfort zone. In our society, we are given so much comfort that in order to extend past it, it feels as though we are giving up a tremendous amount. However, in actuality, a life of only dreaming and not actually attempting to attain our dreams is one of the most uncomfortable lives to live. Something to ponder over this gorgeous summer weekend.

Whether you are enjoying the calming effects of water inside or out, the weekend has arrived and hopefully you are getting ready to enjoy it in such a fashion that is pleasing to your wants and your needs.

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

~ . . . the most popular post of the week . . . 17 Ways to be a Good Partner

~Foodie’s Delight . . . Fresh Apricot Tartlet

~Carolyn Murphy’s Brentwood Abode

~Style Inspiration: Orange & Yellow

~Mid-Week Motivation: Summer Time Social Activities to Enjoy

~Marion Cotillard – Vogue US August 2012 . . . and all of the photos

~Why Not . . . Stay Abreast of Current Events?

~Banana Republic’s Holiday 2012 collection

~This & That: No. 16 . . . a new favorite yoga mat, a delicious side dish and more . . .

~JENESEQUA’S 9th issue was just released with a focus on travel, London and more . . . view it on your iPad or iPhone (download the free app here!).

~Laura U Mag’s Summer Issue was just released . . . Travel Packing Tips (pg 40) a wonderful profile of Paloma of La Dolce Vita blog (pg 54) and more!

And this week’s newsletter – issue #110 – click here to read.

I wish you great enjoyment, much rejuvenation and a beautiful few days doing as you please. Until Monday, bonjour.


Images: (1) pinterest (2) pinterest

July 19, 2012

Style Inspiration: Yellow & Orange

Experimenting with color sometimes causes a feeling of trepidation, but the best time of year to have fun with it and become more comfortable with it is in summer. In fact, wearing more than just a touch of brilliantly bright color in the summer is very acceptable and more than appreciated.  There is just something about someone who has the gumption to wear color with abandon, understand how to make it look chic that exudes confidence. So this summer, begin to experiment with colors that flatter your skin tone and make you smile as well.

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July 18, 2012

Fresh Apricot Tartlet

When my neighbor dropped off a bucket full of fresh apricots, I ate a few immediately while I contemplated what I would do with the remaining. However, being a lover of pies and tarts (in other words, buttery crust and sweet fruit), I quickly made four tartlets. So simple to make and it allows you to enjoy the fruit that is one of summer’s many treats. Bon appetit!

Fresh Apricot Tartlets (yields 4 generous sizes or six small)


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 unsalted butter (chilled)
  • 2-4 Tbs cold water


  • 8-14 fresh apricots (unpeeled, sliced and pitted)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup sugar (to taste)
  • pinch of salt


  • sliced and toasted almonds or pistachios


1. Using a pastry cutter or food processor make the pastry. First combine flour, sugar and salt, then cut in cold butter. Finally add water. Roll into a ball and flatten into a disk. Place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes.

2. Create filling, prepare apricots, add sugar and salt in a medium-size mixing bowl.

3. Remove dough and cut into four quarters (four tartlets). Roll out dough to 8-9 inches in diameter. Place filling inside leaving an inch of dough for the edge. Pull up dough edges overlapping as you go.

4. Bake at 405 degrees for 25-35 minutes or until just golden brown. Add garnish and serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

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Why Not . . . Stay Abreast of Current Events?

Recently, at a gathering for the Fourth of July, I was having a conversation with a circuit court judge and former district attorney, and since I teach a few classes of government, I couldn’t help but use the opportunity to ask a few questions about the court system and current court rulings delivered by the US Supreme Court.

He playfully asked if I was a news junkie, and I chuckled, but immediately protested because while there may be a negative connotation associated with people who stay abreast of current events, what citizen wouldn’t take the opportunity to understand the court system that affects their life by asking pertinent question of someone who works in the system?

I do believe, as with anything in life, you can go overboard watching endless opinions about the same topic, but I do believe it is crucial to understand what is going on in the world and especially what is going on in your own country and community so that you can be a participant and not a blade of grass mindlessly blowing in the wind. After all, we can’t assume someone else will look out for our best interests (while it would be appreciated). As adults, we must grab hold of the responsibility and not blindly toss it aside.

Having said all of this, everyone will strike a different balance as to how much news to watch/read/listen to and decide on a focus of news that fits best for their lifestyle.

Here are a few benefits of choosing to stay in-the-know when it comes to current events:

Be Well-Rounded

If you are someone who loves sports, works in the sporting industry or coaches a team, it is necessary to stay involved with the current scores and highlights; however, focusing on only one component of news will cause you only to revolve in one circle because you’ve only developed that particular part of your knowledge base. In other words, in order to meet people in different arenas and be able to hold a conversation with someone who isn’t immersed in the sporting world, be aware of other events that are taking place in your community, state and country as well.

Ability to Hold Conversations With Anyone

The benefit of being well-rounded in your knowledge of a variety of different topics is that no matter who you come into contact with, no matter what situation you may find yourself in, you will always be able to pick a topic that the person you are conversing with may be interested in. By choosing something of interest, you increase the chancing of wonderful conversation as well as making other person feel comfortable.

Improve Career Prospects

As you stay on top of what is going on, whether you watch the morning news, read local and national newspapers or read your favorite news websites, you become a well-rounded conversationalist. If you are being interviewed for a new job, you will no doubt be prepared on the topics that would be required in your new job, but knowing how those demands tie to the rest of the community and other events that are going on at the moment reveal that you are understanding and cognizant of the world around you, not only making you easier to banter with, but demonstrating to your prospective boss that you can handle the unexpected. For example, while you may be interviewing for a teaching position or nursing position, being aware of the new advancements in technology will aid you greatly as it will help you to stand out from other candidates.

Fill Your Social Calendar

By choosing to read the local newspaper or follow local blogs and websites, you are informing yourself of the goings-on in your town or destinations you will be visiting in the future. Upcoming book readings, winery spotlights at local restaurants, music events, theater openings and various annual festivals are usually shared in your local periodicals. In fact, reading national publications such as Vanity Fair and The New Yorker recently revealed to me news about potential tourist sites I was planning on visiting while in Europe. Had I not read these articles I wouldn’t have realized The Ritz Paris is closed for construction and detailed information about the Tate Museum’s curator that was quite interesting.

Become an Educated Citizen

Most importantly, choose to educate yourself about what is going on in your world. Too many people assume that their vote doesn’t matter, their voice won’t be heard, but the danger is that by taking for granted the premise of what democracy affords us, we toss aside the basic tools for progress, change and improvement to a society that is very capable of correcting its wrongs and righting its ship if those tools are utilized.

One of the most frustrating conversations to have with someone is when they reveal their opinion, and then they have no basis for what they are arguing for except hearsay and what someone else told them. Staying informed requires that you look to credible sources and more then one source to ascertain if indeed the journalist got it right. The random forwards you receive in your inbox and your uncle’s cynicism about politicians spouted off at family gatherings is not something to site as reference. The opposition of any cause would gladly have you blindly go along not paying attention, and that is exactly why you must take your responsibility as a citizen seriously.

So today, contemplate for a moment if you know what is going on in the world around you, outside of your home and social circle. And if you feel you could better inform yourself, choose a medium (television, radio, newspaper, magazines, etc) that would work best with your lifestyle, then decide which couple of publications or productions to pay attention to regularly. You might just be surprised at what is readily available and could improve the quality of your life.

Images: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)    

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July 17, 2012

Carolyn Murphy’s Brentwood Abode

I have always been a tremendous fan of vintage finds and enjoy bringing them together a little at a time in my home. For example, a refurbished oak dining room table with reupholstered armchairs to maximize comfort and conversation, or unique glassware to hold ordinary everyday technology or items (keys, bills, etc).

Model Carolyn Murphy’s Brentwood home reminds me of this approach as she as carefully created a home that is inviting without the air of pretentiousness. Have a look, I think you might find some lovely ideas.

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Banana Republic – Holiday 2012

Inspired by the upcoming film adaption of Leo Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina, Banana Republic revealed their 2012 Holiday collection last week. Full of looks designed to convey Russian-inspired romance with rich textures (brocade, chiffon, and fur) and moody luxurious hues – merlot reds, blacks, burgundy and rich camel. Creative director Simon Keen is said to have already been focusing on Russian romanticism for the collection, so when the film came about he continued building a 50s feel based on the film’s costume director Jacqueline Durran’s approach, “We took the simplicity of the 1950s couture shapes—how architectural they were—and worked them back into the 1870s.”

After looking through the entire 56-piece capsule collection, what caught my liking were the dresses – feminine, but regal, as well as the knits and sweater dresses. (Have a look at the entire collection here.)

Look for the collection to debut in stores in late October, and look for the film, starring Kiera Knightley to premiere in November. Have a look at the film’s trailer here.

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This & That: No. 16

Excited to share some wonderful finds with you today . . . a fantastic sale at J.Crew not to miss, a yoga mat that I am thrilled to have finally found, a simple, yet scrumptious recipe that will never let you down and much more . . .

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July 16, 2012

Marion Cotillard – Vogue US August 2012

The captivating French actress Marion Cotillard is the cover girl of the month for not only Vogue US’s August 2012 issue, but Vogue Paris and Marie Claire as well. As she promotes her upcoming film The Dark Knight Rises (premiering July 20th), she discusses with Tom Shone how she balances being a new mother to her one year old son Marcel with the rigorous demands of filming and being the muse of Christian Dior. At age 36, she was the choice of Anna Wintour for the annual Age Issue. Captured by photographer Peter Lindbergh, it is revealed that director Christopher Nolan was “so intent on Cotillard costarring in his film that he adjusted his $250 million production schedule around her delivery hospital dates.” How is that for being in demand?

Look for the issue to hit newsstands on July 24th.

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July 15, 2012

17 Ways to Be A Good Partner

Every relationship between two people is unique. Personalities, cultures, beliefs, interests, experiences, etc, reveal the infinite possibilities of types of couples. However, there are foundational pieces that foster healthy, lasting relationships no matter what two people are involved.

For those who know me well, you may be asking, “Why is she writing about relationships? She’s so private, she’s newly single and personally, I think she’s too young to know such things.” No matter what your first impression is upon reading the title of today’s post, I decided to write it because I’m passionate about it.

I may not be in a relationship at the moment, but I finally have realized I genuinely want to be, and finally feel I am ready (and able) to be a good partner in a relationship. I may be too young to know of what I write, but I know what hasn’t worked and what has been lacking in my past relationships.  And on the flipside, I know what did work and what made my past relationships times in my life which I do not regret. To add to this, I am fortunate to be around many friends and family who are in loving, committed relationships, and I am either observing them (not in a creepy way, I promise) or bombarding them with questions regarding how they make it work.

So with that said, whether you are in a relationship or wanting to be in one someday, here are 17 ways to become a better partner as you both work to create a healthy, loving, respectful and lasting relationship.

1. Be Secure Within Yourself. So often in my twenties, I thought I was ready for a lasting relationship, but the main component that was missing was that I wasn’t confident that I had found what I was passionate doing. So I was still searching, willing to move to chase it down and feeling a bit restless. I hadn’t found my outlet that made me feel as though I was contributing what I had to offer to the world. At the same time I was still creating a foundation – a career, a home, etc, and hadn’t yet figured out how to balance it all. Once I discovered an outlet for my passions and talents and an avenue to share them so that I felt productive at the end of each day, I discovered contentment. I began to realize that I could live this thing called life, and live it well which up until that point, I hoped I could, but I wasn’t sure of myself. In other words I had finally discovered what I needed to maintain my balance and feel secure within myself.

2. Know How to Make Yourself Happy First. Once you feel secure within yourself, you realize you don’t project any expectations of what you need onto your partner. In other words, you aren’t looking at them expecting them to make you happy. After all, it isn’t their job. When two secure individuals come together, while they are able to make themselves happy, they realize that two already complete people can create something even more amazing.

3. Eliminate Unnecessary Selfishness. Once you have discovered how to create your own happiness, you can then focus on giving to your partner. Now this is a two way street. Both partners should delight in the euphoria of their partner’s joy. “Unnecessary selfishness” is a very subjective phrase, but often times one of the partners gives everything – their time, their energy, letting go of their dreams to support their partner – and is too selfless. A healthy balance must be struck. When both partners are conscious and sensitive to each others feelings, dreams and needs, the wrong type of selfishness can easily be eliminated. An example of selfishness that should be curtailed is telling your partner you are too busy to “spend time together”, “to take a walk together”, to yada, yada, yada. While on the surface, the statement may be true, it also reveals to your partner their place on the priority list. So strike the right balance, make sure your priorities are in order to help maintain a healthy, respectful relationship.

4. Be Honest. Be Trustworthy. Lies and omissions only rot the possibility of true intimacy with your partner. Make sure you model how you would like to be treated and behave in a manner (whether you are with your partner or not) that is respectful to the commitment you’ve made to each other and continues to build the trust you’ve already created.

5. Be Responsible. There are going to be good and bad days. There will be days when we get upset or moody. After the emotion has subsided, take time to determine what caused you to become so upset, and take the responsibility of stating the truth behind your emotions. If your partner’s behavior made you feel left out or as though you were the third wheel, let them know. If you feel as though your efforts are being taking advantage of and your partner isn’t doing their share, talk about that. As an adult in a relationship, such conversations aren’t necessarily easy, but they are necessary to create a stronger bond and true understanding of each other’s needs. Many times, it will simply be a misunderstanding, while other times, it’s an opportunity to understand each other better and understand what makes your partner feel comfortable, safe and loved.

6. Be Appreciative. Showing your appreciation for little things that are tended to each day is a simple way to strengthen your relationship. Whether it is putting the garbage on the curb, making dinner, calling you to let you know when they’ll be home, each one of these seemingly small actions demonstrates thoughtfulness and consideration for the others’ feelings and time.

7. Be Able to Apologize. If you were grumpy or difficult, and you realize your behavior was unwarranted toward them, apologize. Take responsibility for your actions. No one is perfect, and people make mistakes reacting on emotion instead of thinking rationally at times. By taking responsibility and apologizing sincerely, you help to gain trust and reveal that while you will make mistakes, you don’t want to hurt them. Now, make sure not to make the same mistake, because that’s an entirely different issue that speaks to lack of respect of the relationship and of the person you are involved with.

8. Spend Quality Time Together, Just the Two of You. When the relationship you are involved in is a priority in your life, you want to spend time together. While there will be instances when you are socializing with others, these time don’t offer moments for intimacy or bonding. Make sure to take the time to just be together – a movie, dinner at your favorite restaurant, hiking, cooking dinner together or simply staying home and enjoying time relaxing.

9. Laugh Together. As a couple, when you are able to laugh together (not at each other, as a way to demean), you are opening yourself up to your partner, allowing yourself to be vulnerable. In those moments when you are able to laugh at yourself, and they themselves, this also shows trust towards each other that they won’t capitalize, humiliate or judge, but simply enjoy the moment with you.

10. Be Their Number One Fan. While in life, each one of us is very capable of achieving amazing things on our own volition, I am well aware of the confidence boost I receive when I have people I love standing behind me, supporting me as I work towards my goals. As a partner, come to understand what your partner’s dreams and goals are, and then be there supporting them as they strive to achieve it – in good times and in bad. Let them know that you are always going to be in their corner. Knowing that you have the support of your partner, is an amazing boost. Again, this should be a two-way street.

11. Have Integrity. It is said that women fall in love with their ears and men fall in love with their eyes. While this is a generality, I do believe that women want to believe what their partner tells them. However, I don’t believe this is exclusive to women. Anybody, when they hear what they want to hear, wants it to be true. The key to any healthy, lasting relationship is that the two people involved follow through with what they say. If you tell your partner that you are going to do something, make sure you do so when you say you will. Be sure to show up on time. If you offer your help, follow through and extend your efforts as previously promised.

12. Respectfully Communicate. Even when both parties involved have the same intention for the relationship, there will be moments of frustration and growth that need to be navigated through. In order to come out on the other side together and still respecting each other, respectful communication is key. Almost two years ago, I shared a post on how to do just that (click here to read).

Communication will work and will strengthen your relationship (all relationships for that matter) if both parties are willing to work at the art of communication.

13. Be a Good Listener and Observer. In order to get to know your partner and understand what makes them tick, pay attention. Not only should you listen well to understand who your partner is, what they like, what makes them upset and why, but be observant of how they respond in certain situations, what makes them comfortable, what makes them smile, what makes them nervous, etc. Often you will gain as much insight or more simply by observing their behavior. (Click here to learn how to become a better listener.)

14. Let Them Know They are Special. It is imperative that both parties feel they are special to their partner. In other words, to feel as though you are irreplaceable and hold a place of priority in their partner’s life that makes it clear you are important in their present and future. For example, when you feel special to someone, you understand that even if you have an argument, it doesn’t threaten the relationship from existing. When you feel special, you know you’d have a much more enjoyable time with them, then without them because their is an intimacy, a comfort, that is provided that no one else can.

15. Don’t Get Lazy in Love. In time, habits are created and expectations become second-nature with regards to how and what our partner will do. However, don’t assume the behavior that you’ve become accustom to will always be there. If you don’t exercise the muscle of appreciation, love, and adoration, it will wither. Let them know they are missed when they are away on a work trip or you are gone for business. Count your blessings and you will be sure to have more to count.

16. Sexual Intimacy. Build it. Foster it. Talk about it. Be able to trust one another, so you can be on the same page with one another and fulfill each others needs.

17. Be Committed. After having looked behind the curtain and learned and come to like who your partner truly is, and realizing you are with someone who has similar values, has similar goals for the future, loves who you are (and visa versa) and both parties want to work and grow together even through the frustrating times, hold fast to this commitment. Understand that there are valleys and hills, but also trust that if you adhere to each of the steps above, more good days and memorable moments are in your future together.

Since I shared my disclaimer above, and also, since I am always wanting to learn, for those of you who have had or currently had successful experiences in the world of love, please do share your advice and insights on what contributes to a healthy and lasting relationship.

Images: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)  (6) (7) (8)   

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July 13, 2012

The Weekend . . .

The exhaustible heat is a siren song for so many lovely, luxurious pleasures – chilled wine, free-flowing maxi dresses, dips into the pool and warm, leisurely evenings, just to name a few.

I hope everything is going well for you, as you are able to tackle those to-dos that you’ve been wanting to complete as well as relax and enjoy the simple luxuries that bring you so much joy.

This weekend will be simple and enjoyed at home with some planned mini treats and flexibility for whatever may come my way. A bit of celebration for Bastille Day tomorrow is certainly a must. What better excuse to dine al fresco and don your favorite Breton shirt or dress? Oh, and a croissant in the morning and a delightful French rosé in the evening? Oui! Oui!

In case you’ve had a busy week and are just stopping by, here is a look back on the week here on The Simply Luxurious Life:

~Why Not . . . Challenge Yourself? Part Deux . . . this week’s most popular post

~The Way I Shop . . . Guest Post . . . learn how I approach shopping, my rules to putting together an outfit and a few other extras

~A thank you to Michelle of Italia Gal for including The Simply Luxurious Life as a Very Inspiring Blog! Humbled to be in such wonderful company.

~Style Inspiration: Summer Skirts & Maxi Dresses

~16 Simple Ways to Organize Your Home

~This & That: No. 15 . . . travel ideas, music for summer evenings and more

~Fashion & Style Q&A on Cristina’s Blog . . . discover what summer trends I love, where my love for fashion began and more.

And this week’s newsletter – issue #109 – click here to read.

Until Monday, bonjour!

Images: (1) pinterest (2) pinterest

July 12, 2012

Style Inspiration: Summer Skirts & Maxi Dresses

Summer is the perfect time to pull out your dresses and skirts and mix and match to your delight. Maxi dresses and skirts are always a comfortable way to vacation, travel, and look glamorous wherever you might be going. However, any dress or skirt, no matter what the length, can always use a signature belt – large or small. And because it is summer, treat yourself to a pedicure and wear some fun sandals to finish the look. Enjoy, have fun and know you’ll be sure to be comfortable and forever stylish.

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July 11, 2012

Why Not . . . Challenge Yourself? Part Deux

Nearly two years ago I wrote Why Not . . . Challenge Yourself? and recently began adding to the list of ways to challenge our brains, bodies and thus improve our lives. So in continuation, part deux in the series has been created.

As much as I love routines, routines lull our minds into a complacency that no longer stimulates the brain. And as many studies have found, when we continually exercise our brains by choosing to be eternal students of life, our processing speeds increase, our memory and recall abilities become stronger and we’re better able to maintain our focus. And these aren’t even the most inspiring benefits. Recent studies have also revealed that by perpetually learning we help stave off dementia and Alzheimer's.

While it is possible to maintain the routines that help our lives run smoother - after all, there is a comfort and strength that is built when we have routines that improve the quality of our lives – why not choose to continually challenge yourself in big and small ways throughout your day? So often we become so ingrained in how we go about our daily lives, we don’t realize there are many opportunities where we can challenge ourselves, exercise our brains and force ourselves to be more present in our day-to-day lives.

Here is a list of a few new ways to challenge yourself: 

Master Your Thoughts

Believe it or not, negative thinking actually, which leads to stress and anxiety, can kill brain neurons and actually stop new neurons from being created. How? When we get stressed, our body produces adrenaline, which in a healthy amount, can be productive as it pushes us to achieve and complete tasks; however, “when stress gets out of hand to the point where you’re having adrenaline rushes, your body produces an excess of the chemical cortisol. Too much of that cortisol is what kills brain cells.”

Mastering your thoughts can be a continual task throughout the day, but once you accept how powerfully influential your thoughts are (and now, how negative thoughts deplete the brain’s ability), the motivation to curtail cynical thoughts and promote hopeful ones should be at the forefront of your mind. Once you control your mind, you can improve your world in many ways.

Ban Calculators

Whenever my students ask me what percentage they have received on an exam, I always say, “Simply divide your earned score by the total possible.” Some of the smartest students look at me like I have five heads. I have no doubt they can do it, but they have been taught math much of their life with a calculator as an assistant, allowing the machine to do the work. We could all benefit by putting the calculator down for simple math equations and working it out in our heads or on paper.

Train Your Memory

With cell phones that keep all of our phone numbers in one spot, computers that save our passwords and credit card numbers (be careful about this one), we have become more inclined not to memorize important numbers. However, in order to have a good memory, you must use it. In order to create a good memory, you must do something repeatedly whether it is learning a new list of vocabulary, memorizing your social security number, or contributing to memory your spouses and children’s clothing and shoe sizes.

Put Down the GPS

Reading a map can be somewhat confusing especially when you are in a new city where you haven’t found your bearings yet; however, when you don’t follow the directions on your GPS contraption like a robot, you ask of your brain to help figure out how to get from point A to point B. In our technological inundated world, we have machines that will do nearly everything for us, and while it is handy, it isn’t helping us out in the quest to grow intellectually. Everything will take practice. You most likely won’t be flawless in your first attempt to arrive at your destination (or at least it will take a bit longer), but it will become easier with each attempt.

Learn a New Language

A few months ago, I spoke about the benefits of a learning a new language, and while there are many cultural and social benefits, the benefits for our brains are quite impressive as well. Acquiring a new language doesn’t happen quickly, but if you stick to it, practicing a little each day, you will find after a few years that you are quite proficient. And the quiet reward that is often forgotten about as we begin to engage in conversations with others in our new tongue, is that our brain has been stimulated far more than it ever would have been had we simply been okay with what we already knew.

Spend Time in Nature

For many people, the outdoors is intimidating because it is unknown. And even for those who have grown up with it in their backyards, such as myself, what is so intoxicating about stepping out into the forest, traversing a mountain or hiking into a high lake is that while it’s challenging, it is at the same time very rewarding. Each time one steps out into Mother Nature, the scene can be different for a multitude of reasons. And because you must always be aware of your surroundings, aware of the weather and your direction, you are continually keeping your mind alert as you assist yourself, as well as take in all the beauty that is around you.

Stop Using Credit Cards

While choosing not to use credit cards may seem simpler than all of the other tasks I’ve already mentioned, what can be challenging is coming up with creative ways to use the money you have and entertain yourself when you’re at the end of your monthly budget instead of reaching for your plastic. In a way, this challenge is a twofer because it benefits your mind as well as your wallet.

Live in Another Country

Not everyone is able or desiring of a relocation to another country, but if you are, you will certainly awaken your mind in ways you never could have imagined. Even just enrolling in a study abroad program forces you to learn how to acclimate to the new culture which now surrounds you. So many wonderful benefits can come from such an experience, and yes the exercising of the muscle that is the mind is one of the greatest. What amazed me, in just the month that I went to school in France is the immediate awareness of how much I do unconsciously in the states – how to greet people, meal times, food options, navigating train schedules, etc.

Learn to Be Still

In a busy world, being still, enjoying our own company and that of others without having to spend money or be doing something that requires great thrill, movement and ecstasy, is often frowned upon or misjudged as wasting time. When in actuality, it is a chance to find balance, to reconnect with ourselves, to accept ourselves and understand and appreciate all that we already have. To move too quickly through life is to not revel in the magnificence that surrounds us. But for many, this can be very challenging because it requires a shift in the mind. Choose to be comfortable with your own company, eliminate those thoughts that are nagging you and discover the beauty and restorative abilities of stillness.

Initially, the word challenge may be perceived as a negative approach to living, when in fact, it is quite the opposite. Choose to welcome challenging opportunities, large and small, and be amazed at how capable you are as you discover your true potential and the beauty this new life has to offer.

Images: (1) pinterest(2) pinterest(3) pinterest (4) pinterest (5) pinterest (6) pinterest

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July 10, 2012

This & That: No. 15

More ideas to help you find your purpose, thoughts about travel, lovely, sultry music and so much more . . .


~Melody Gardot’s third album The Absence

One of the first albums I shared on the blog a couple of years ago was Melody Gardot’s debut album Worrisome Heart. With her unique way of melding jazz, blues, and a touch of pop, Gardot released her third album at the end of May The Absence. The artist’s story alone is inspiring as she was struck by a car while riding her bike more than eight years ago which severely damaged her spine and caused traumatic brain injury that affected her speech and memory. It was the therapy of music prescribed to her by her doctor that began her very successful music career. An example of turning tragedy into triumph.


~The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson, Lou Aronica

So many of you write to me asking for advice on how to find your purpose, and while I have shared a few posts on the subject (here and here), a book I have a feeling will be a great resource is Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica’s best-selling book The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. At the heart of all of the advice I can give, is that as long as you are willing to search, be open and willing to learn, you will find your purpose. Simply choosing to begin the journey is a very auspicious sign.

~Articles to Read

~”Reclaiming Travel” written by ILAN STAVANS and JOSHUA ELLISON in the New York Times

As I have been planning for my upcoming trip to London and Paris, I have been devouring advice, articles and tips on how to make the experience as wonderful as possible. So when I came across this New York Times opinion piece, I immediately saved it as it held some insightful quotes on what I feel travel should truly be about. Have a look if you too are seeking the best experience in your upcoming travels.

~Overdressed’s author Shares 8 Tips to Avoid the Fast Fashion Frenzy and Still Not Spend a Ton on Clothes

I had shared the link to the recently released book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Price of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline, and I thought the author’s eight tips to help avoid the fashion pressure to buy, buy, buy was very succinct. Found on Fashionista, take a look at how you too can begin to be a better shopper who appreciates quality and doesn’t spend unnecessarily.


~Muji Travel

As I am refining my toiletry bag and carry-on, I discovered the Muji travel store which was recommended by Martha Stewart. Full of all sizes and styles of plastic containers, travel bags, toiletry totes, garment bags and everything else you can imagine, this website is the perfect place to visit for those items that you can’t seem to find when you need it right before travel, but would greatly appreciate to make the traveling experience less stressful as you go through security check points.

Upon reading their “About” page, I discovered why I took a liking to the website, “MUJI is simplicity – but a simplicity achieved through a complexity of thought and design.” Have a look. I think you’ll be impressed, as the prices are very reasonable.



Just last week, one of my readers suggested I take a look at Verily and now I know why (thank you Vanessa!). A website/blog and now online magazine, Verily was created by five modern women who wanted to create a lifestyle magazine that focused on creating a life that many of the fashion magazines seem to forget about – real women who have worked hard to acquire the education and career they desire, a financially secure life, but at the same time desire a full life of social entertainment, travel, food and love. Have a look, say hello and peruse through their first issue. So many of their concepts are similar to The Simply Luxurious Life, that I have a feeling you might like it.

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