The Simply Luxurious Life®: August 2013  

August 30, 2013

The Weekend . . .

Perhaps the ocean is calling, or maybe you are just aching for some quiet time at home. Whatever the weekend has in store, hopefully you get to enjoy a long three day weekend or simply time to forget about time for the next couple of days.

If you’re looking for a good movie to watch that doesn’t take up your entire afternoon or evening, I highly recommend Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. I finally had the opportunity to take in a matinee last weekend while in Portland, and Cate Blanchett’s performance is stunning (and on a styling note, the stylist was only given $50,000 for the entire cast - needless to say, you would never know such a limited budget existed).

And for your leisurely reading as the weekend begins, here is a look back on the past week’s blog posts . . .

~11 Simple Ways to Create a Simply Luxurious Life . . . the readers’ top post of the week

~Article to Read – Age & Beauty . . . a fascinating read from the New York Times Style magazine

~Save & Splurge Outfit: No. 22 . . . simple ways to style a classic navy day dress

~Recipe to try – Heirloom Tomato Pie

~Style Inspiration: Texture & Neutrals

~Catching My Breath & Celebrating! . . . the Why Not . . . ? weekly post will return next week

~This & That: No. 73 . . . a book on success, DVF boots for fall, French thoughts on trends and more

And this week’s newsletter – issue #162 – click here to read.

Have a wonderful last weekend of August and beginning of September. Until Monday, bonjour.

Images: (1) source (2) source

August 29, 2013

Fresh from the Garden - Heirloom Tart

As one who loves tomatoes, especially heirlooms, when I came across chef Alex Hitz’s recipe in September’s issue of House Beautiful, I couldn’t wait to give it a try. After all, I love pie as well, so I couldn’t think of a better combo.

What makes this recipe a decadent treat is the mayonnaise cheese mixture that sits between the crust and the tomatoes. Serve with a simple green salad dusted with a classic champagne vinaigrette (3 tbs EVOO, 1 Tbs champagne vinegar (or balsamic vinegar), a dash of pepper and 1/4 tsp of Dijon mustard), pour yourself a crisp glass of viognier, sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio and savor the butter crust along with the fresh summer flavor of the sun kissed tomatoes.

Heirloom Tomato Pie


(For the Pie)

Yield: 8–10 servings

2 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices

1½ teaspoons salt, divided

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, halved, then sliced thin

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 cup homemade mayonnaise

1 cup fresh basil leaves, firmly packed

3 sprigs fresh parsley

1 medium shallot, peeled

1 green onion

1 cup grated Gruyère cheese, firmly packed

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, firmly packed

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1 tablespoon for topping

1 to 1½ tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper


1. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, and preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Place the tomato slices on a rack. Salt both sides, using 1½ teaspoons salt total. Let the slices drain for at least an hour to remove excess water.

3. Roll out the pâte brisée or premade crust, and press it into the buttered pan. Poke it all over with a fork, and bake until brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

4. In a heavy skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. When the foaming has subsided, sauté the onions until slightly soft, a couple of minutes, and then add the garlic. Continue to sauté until the onions and garlic are translucent, approximately 10 to 12 minutes total.

5. Place the homemade mayonnaise, basil leaves, parsley, shallot, and green onion in the bowl of a food processor, and blend until the mixture is green and fully mixed, approximately 1 minute.

6. In a large mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise mixture, Gruyère, cheddar, and ½ cup Parmesan, stirring thoroughly.

7. Spread mayonnaise-cheese mixture evenly over the cooled crust.

8. Place sautéed onions and garlic evenly on top of mayonnaise mixture, and arrange the drained tomato slices in a pretty pattern on top of everything.

9. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon Parmesan and coarsely ground black pepper, and bake for 50 to 60 minutes.

10. Let pie rest for at least 30 minutes. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold with additional basil mayonnaise.

For the Perfect Homemade Mayonnaise
(I actually saved myself some time, and used mayonnaise from the store, but if you’re feeling ambitious, here’s the recipe.)

Yield: 1 cup

3 egg yolks

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon black pepper

¾ cup neutral-tasting vegetable oil


1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine all ingredients except the oil.

2. Process ingredients until the yolks are thick and sticky, about 2 minutes.

3. Continue to process, adding the oil slowly in a steady stream through the opening in the top of the processor, making sure it is getting fully incorporated. Once all the oil has been added, the mayonnaise should be thick, luxurious, and fully emulsified.

For the Pâte Brisée

I used my own tart crust recipe, click here, or you can use a ready-made crust from the store.

All images by TSLL

Splurge & Save Outfit: No. 22

Blue can be seen frequently in the fall collections this fall, and regardless of the season, navy will always be a classic choice. Recently, I found Ann Taylor’s navy dot dress (Save outfit above) and mentioned it to a friend who I thought would love it. Well, upon purchasing it, they were kind enough to do a bit of a fashion show for me, and I must say – very, very flattering. The subtle draping at the waist adds a slimming in all the right areas, and the top is lined with a very complimentary modest neckline. Last, but not least, the dress is made with fabric that feels good to the skin, and the price could not be better.

Pair with flats or heels, I chose the fall staple – nude or camel suede, and then dress up or down with your choice of coat – a trench, a denim jacket or a blazer looks fantastic with these dresses and allows them to be worn to a variety of occasions.

~Love Ann Taylor? Through the Labor Day weekend, receive 30% off at checkout on all full priced items – no code needed!


~Saint Laurent 105mm Paris pointed suede pumps~

~LK Bennett ‘Adela’ twist front crepe dress~

~Stuart Weitzman leopard clutch~

~Rachel Zoe signature link bracelet~


~Ann Taylor Navy with dot print tucked waist dress (Labor Day weekend, receive 30% all full priced items – no code needed)~

~Kate Spade New York light camel suede licorice pumps~

~Hobo Angelica shoulder bag in cognac~

~Nordstrom chunky link bracelet~


Style Inspiration: Texture & Neutrals

When I think of fall, I think of warmth, layers and fabrics that are dually soft against the body and warm enough to take the chill off. The luxury of cashmere, suede, and fine silk are all wonderful options when it comes to rich textures to add to a fall/winter wardrobe. Choose neutral colors and let the fabrics do the talking as you will be able to mix and match with multiple items in your closet.

The one particular footwear option I’ve had my eye on lately is the suede pointed toe pump – practical and classic with the needed texture to transition perfectly into the upcoming season.

Read more »

August 28, 2013

Catching My Breath and Celebrating!

Typically today I would be posting a Why Not . . . ? post, but as I have been organizing and figuring out a new format for the 2013 Fall Shopping Guide that is set to be delivered to all of the newsletter subscribers this Sunday – September 1st, my time has been gobbled up.  On a more personal note, today I’m stepping away from the computer for a few hours as I am excited to be spending time with my niece as the women in the family are celebrating the momentous occasion of her starting kindergarten this fall. And I wouldn’t be surprised if we find time to squeeze in a bit of back-to-school shopping as well. A love for style may not be genetic trait, but it is certainly something both my niece and I enjoy.

And speaking of shopping . . .  with all of the past month’s planning and making sense of the fall trends and fashion finds, I’ve been sharing a few discoveries on my Instagram feed . . .

~12th Street by Cynthia Vincent leopard silk print pumps~

Since many of you will be heading off on a vacation this upcoming long weekend or perhaps planning your fall shopping list for shopping escapades to your favorite boutiques and department stores, I thought I’d round up a handful of posts from the archives dealing with style, fall fashion and ideas to consider when organizing what to wear this fall/winter to help in the preparation.

But before we dive into fashion, yesterday I discovered a fascinating article about true beauty. I encourage you to read it. Click here to have a look. I’m curious to know what you think. And rest assured, Thursday’s Style Inspiration and Splurge & Save Outfit will be posted this week, so stay tuned.

~To read any of the posts listed below, simply click on the image to be taken to the full article.

~Why Not . . . Have Effortless Style?

~Why Not . . . Read the September Fashion Issues?

~Why Not . . . Wear a Dress?


Thank you for understanding, and I will be returning tomorrow!

Image 1

August 27, 2013

Article to Read – Age & Beauty

“True beauty outwits its own fallibility. Don’t misunderstand me. There’s something fantastic about the beauty of youth – the spectacle of a new person suddenly arriving at their physical peak.  And we can celebrate that happy accident for what it is: a case of time and nature working pleasingly to an individual’s advantage.  But beauty in youth requires nothing of the possessor.  It is only later that we expect the woman to step in, to take over, to augment that initial, guileless attractiveness with something deeper: confidence, instinct, self-knowledge, style, upon which lasting beauty depends.  You can love a young woman for her freshness but you love her more when that freshness comes from a sense of promise.” – Andrew O’Hagan in “Laws of Attraction” found in Fall 2013 New York Times Style Magazine

The objectification of young girls who are accidentally blessed to fit the definition of our youth obsessed culture can be ultimately misled, and potentially destroyed if they are led to believe that looks are all they have to offer.

Andrew O’Hagan in his article “Laws of Attraction” found in the Fall 2013 NY Times Style magazine focuses on the topic of true beauty, and how sadly much of America, and thus women who’ve bought into it the notion of looks being paramount; thereby ignoring the power of intelligence and curiosity have done themselves a disservice.

Bringing up the French, he points out that “true beauty is not built to diminish, but to mature” and by respecting our bodies and how they change as we gain years we become more interesting, we become more mysterious, we become more self-assured because we choose to work with our bodies and our minds rather than fight against them. And because we see time as an opportunity to become wiser, more understanding of ourselves and the world, we thus become ever more attractive. Comically, yet spot-on he states, “Only with stupid men does a woman’s intelligence count against her.”

The only reason to fear aging is when we realize we haven’t spent the time cultivating anything beyond our looks. We much choose to always strengthen our mind, become more knowledgeable of the world we are curious about and living in as well as constantly respectful of our bodies and presence. Style is something which is a choice that one cultivates and embodies each and every day. And true beauty as defined above coupled with style is a magnificent unbeatable pairing.

I strongly encourage you to read this article and share your thoughts either below in the comments or on Facebook. After all, what we value, we perpetuate. And if we blindly continue to value only beauty rather than the intelligence that we can discover only if we look past what initially attracted us, we become part of the problem. I don’t know about you but I want my niece and nephew and my students to grow up in a world that values their mind as much, and even more so, than their exterior. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

~While an exotic beauty in her youth, Diane von Furstenberg has used her business savvy, charm and wit to exude even more beauty in her prime than her days at Studio 54 could ever have matched.~


images: (1) New York Times Style Mag Fall 2013 (2) source  (3) source

This & That: No. 73


An article to speak to your French style, a simple organizational trick, a book bag to love and more . . .

~Article to Read

1. French Women Style: French Trend Lesson – Elle Canada

With simple tips such as wear your ‘Sunday best’ every day, ideas for modest elegance and options for the black jacket, a reader shared this Elle Canada article with me, and I just had to pass along to you. Enjoy!


2. What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam

Earlier this summer I mentioned Laura Vanderkam’s book What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, and now it is finally available. Just released today, a wonderful book for rebooting your daily routine for a successful start to the new season.


3. The Great Gatsby

While the reviews were mixed and perhaps you, like me, have yet to see Baz Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby, you can now take in all the glamour, drama and dazzle and make up your own mind about the film as the DVD is released today.


4. Cord Tacos

Nothing is more irritating than having to unwind knotted cords for your iPod or iPhone. This simple leather cord holder (or taco) is the tool to help. Place in your purse, in your desk drawers or wherever else you store your cords when they’re not in use, and quickly grab them and go when the need arises.


5. DVF Paula knee high boots (black, cherry or nude suede)

Now is the time to stake out your favorite boots for the fall/winter season. While you may not purchase them now, you will want to save and keep an eye on them as they will undoubtedly go on sale in a few months. Diane von Furstenberg’s wedge knee high boots are classic with a touch of modern. Perhaps just what you were looking for?

6. Winnie the Pooh tote

I saw this tote and fell in love. The saying is what we all need to keep in mind and have handy especially on those tough days. Purchase as a gift for your niece/nephew or son/daughter that is beginning school this fall or pick one up for yourself to store all of your favorite reading material.

August 26, 2013

11 Simple Ways to Create a Simply Luxurious Life

“You may think the grass is greener on the other side. But if you take the time to water your own grass it would be just as green.” -Anonymous

Society and the media enable our ability to constantly compare our lives to others, and while at times it’s admittedly fun to peek into someone else’s life just to be inspired, it can quickly become destructive. With the more we see, if we’re not careful we can judge our own life by another’s who we know nothing about . . . except for what they want us to know. And that is when we get ourselves into trouble.

So, rather than being envious of others and how they live and look, why not spend that time comparing and instead use it to create the life we’ve always dreamed about? After all, each of us has the same 24 hours in a day. We can either sit and hope, or get up and do something that provokes the change we wish to see.

If a simply luxurious life is what you are striving for that is unique to your talents, values and passions, below are 11 ways to to ensure that your life is one that will continue to leave you in awe and allow you to appreciate, not covet the life of another.

1. Create your own adored rituals.

Whatever it is that makes you smile, lose track of time or breathe a huge sigh of relief, make a point to do this activity regularly. Perhaps it’s a bubble bath on Sunday night prior to the week’s commencement, or maybe it’s a weekly coffee chat with a good friend, or better yet, a monthly weekend away to change up your routine. Whatever you crave, add it to your schedule and make it a priority to enjoy regularly.

2. Subscribe to favorite publications.

As a reader, I look forward to the weekly arrival of my New Yorker magazine and my monthly fashion magazines. It really does feel like a small present has arrived when I return home from work, and what better way to end the day than reading something you enjoy?

3. Eliminate financial stressors.

In order to live the life you want, you must have the funds to do so. So put a budget in place that will help you attain your goals and stick to it. (See more posts focused on money in the archives.) One of the most freeing and liberating things you can do is to have financial independence and security.

4. Foster and invest in just a handful of relationships.

The overall theme of living a simply luxurious life is to focus on quality rather than quantity and that includes your relationships. We cannot possibly be well liked and loved by everyone if we are being true to ourselves. I defer to Winston Churchill’s quote, "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." And we can’t possibly foster deep loving relationships if we are friends with everyone we meet. Choose a handful of relationships that are most valuable to you and take the time and energy to invest yourself. Yes, you will be vulnerable, but there’s only one way to develop genuine, lasting relationships, and that is with time, effort and real love. 

5. Find daily exercise that invigorates you rather than feels like pulling teeth.

Regular exercise is good for the mind, as it has been proven to stave off neurological decline if done consistently, and it clearly is good for the body as it increases muscle mass which speeds up metabolism and also helps maintain flexibility which enables more agility. Respect yourself and the life you want to live by prolonging the days you can enjoy it to the fullest. (To read more on fitness and good health click here and here.)

6. Enjoy quality food, sit down to savor what’s been prepared and pair with lovely wine to capitalize on the flavors.

Maintain good health so you can continue to pursue your dreams. Real food is a way to be respectful toward your body. (Click here to discover more benefits of eating well.)

7. Savor one piece of dark chocolate each night you don’t indulge in dessert.

This is one of my favorite rituals, and if you’re choosing real chocolate from an actual chocolatier, one piece will be enough. Trust me.

8. Schedule regular beauty appointments and care your skin, hair and body knowing it’s the vehicle that has to carry you through the rest of your life.

Attention to your beauty regimen is not a guilty pleasure, it is a necessity. There is a reason people look the way they do in their thirties and beyond, and it’s due to how they care for themselves – their bodies and their skin. We’re fortunate to have the ability to live for a lengthy amount of time: understand this and respect your body along the way.

9. Cultivate conversation and comfort zones around your home and yard. Choose comfortable seating that beckons one to sit, relax and stay awhile.

Whether you like to entertain or simply enjoy finding a cozy spot and getting lost in a good book, take the time to create and design areas which cultivate what you love to do. Choose luxurious fabrics, add a beautiful, unique side table and lamp, style a lovely tray vignette and toss a soft, beckoning throw for the fall and winter.

10. Keep a journal.

A wonderful way to end the day, record the events of the day or simple keep track of all that is going through your mind, a journal provides so many wonderful benefits. (Click here to learn more.)

11. Set goals and pursue them until accomplished.

Ultimately, being able to live the life you desire comes down to setting goals and staying focused on said goals until they are accomplished. (Click here to find out how to turn your goals into reality.)

Ultimately, life is ours to design. So while we should always look for inspiration outside of our regular day to day routine, be sure to use it as inspiration that helps you appreciate your own life even more.

Now, I’m curious. What are the simple things you’ve done to create a life that you love? Feel free to share in the comments below or on Facebook.


~September Back-to-School/Work Checklist

~Why Not . . . Create Your Own Simple Ritual?

~Why Not . . . Stop Multi-Tasking?

Image: source

August 23, 2013

The Weekend . . .

 ~Find the recipe here for Two Ingredient Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars~

I want to escape to the cottage above and eat every indulgent bite of one of those bars. Is anybody else with me?

Okay, so I probably won’t do either this weekend, but I will be enjoying a bit of rest, relaxation and good food as I’m going to take a quick trip to Portland, hopefully bringing back some much desired summer rain to cool things down.

Whatever your weekend plans bring, hopefully you aren’t lamenting that August has lost its summertime vibe. I thoroughly enjoyed David Shribman’s article “Whatever Happened to August?”, and I couldn’t help but become even more motivated to guard August’s leisurely roots evermore fiercely.

Here is a list of the past week’s posts to help you get caught up – a book I highly recommend for my fellow Francophiles, a bit of shopping inspiration for fall and a discussion about luxury. Have a look . . .

~Readers’ favorite post of the week . . . The Necessary Ingredient in Luxury – Comfort (be sure to join the conversation on Facebook and see what others find luxurious in their everyday lives – click here)

~The French Twist – Book Review . . . loved and highly recommend

~Why Not . . . Wear Leopard? . . . a top trend of the season to take advantage of

~Style Inspiration: Just the Basics

~Splurge & Save Outfit: No. 21 . . . a simple black dress for day or evening

~This & That: No. 72 . . . a book to have as a resource, two neutral pumps, a shopping tool that will save time and money, and more . ..

And this week’s newsletter – issue #161 – click here to read.

Have a lovely weekend, and until Monday, bonjour.

Image: (1) source

August 22, 2013

Links a la Mode: Autumn is Coming

~Jeanine Jacob’s fashion blogger site has always been one of my regular stops, and this week I am fortunate to be included in their Links à la Mode: The IFB Weekly Roundup: Autumn is Coming focusing on the upcoming fall season.

Included alongside many other fashion posts you’ll want to check out, have a look below at the list and introduction compiled by Jeanine Jacob.

Autumn is Coming
by Jeanine Jacob

In August, Autumn often looms over us like Winter does in Game of Thrones. You know it’s coming but it still seems so far off. Personally, I’ve already snagged by boots for the season, and jacket too! While bloggers are curating their fall wishlist, you can’t help to get a little bit excited, the lush fabrics, the layers the sophistication of the season. This week’s round up has links that will help you squeak the last days of summer as well as get you prepared for fall. So find a nice sunny spot to enjoy the weather, relax and read these links!

Links à la Mode: The IFB Weekly Roundup

SPONSOR: Shopbop Jordan Carlyle, Zac Posen, Rodarte, Jay Ahr, Generation Love, Eddie Borgo, EastDane, Ileana Makri, Matt Bernson, Kaufman Franco, & Merch June

Splurge & Save Outfit: No. 21

Today’s Style Inspiration focused on “Just the Basics”, and one of the must-have basics in any woman’s closet regardless of her profession is a black dress. The adjective of “little” is so misleading, so I’m removing it from its descriptor unofficially. The black dress should be flattering, not skimpy. It should be mysterious, not skin-tight. And lastly, the little black dress should be versatile – easily worn for day or evening simply by changing up the accessories.

In today’s Splurge & Save I’ve found both flats and pumps, depending upon your preference or occasion, and two quality bags for day at great prices. Simply swap them out for a clutch before heading out for the evening. Oh, and notice J.Crew’s promo. If you have an inkling to stock up on some their clothing or accessories for your fall wardrobe and plan on spending over $250, be sure to use the promo code mentioned below to save 25%. Happy shopping!


~DKNY draped dress in black~

~Jil Sander leather belt in sand~

~Christian Louboutin simple leather red sole pump~

~J.Crew leopard calf hair ballet flats (use promo code FALLSTYLE to save 25%)~

~Furla ‘Martha’ large satchel bag~

~Julie Vos Calypso earring (other colors available)~


~Bailey 44 ruched cap sleeve black sheath dress~

~J.Crew skinny printed calf hair belt~

~Enzo Angiolini black platform peep toe pumps~

~Cole Haan ‘Air Monica’ ballet flats~

~Banana Republic double hoop earrings gold (silver available)~

~Charles Jourdan ‘Aubrey’ embossed crocodile tote(on sale!)~


~SHOP THE STYLES (not all are included, so be sure to use the links above):

Style Inspiration: Just the Basics

And it always come down to the quality basics. If your pumps are stellar, your jeans fit beautifully and your trench is cinched just so, you’ll feel confident and beautiful no matter what you pair with them.

Read more »

August 21, 2013

Why Not . . . Wear Leopard?

As I’ve been flipping through the September fashion magazines, one trend is universally understood to be part of the Fall 2013 season – leopard. And my response to that is to do a happy dance. Why? While you can usually find leopard here and there every season regardless of whether it was prevalent on the runways or not, when it is a trend, there are so many unique and creative items that designers come up with, and it is much easier to find.

So as you go about your fall shopping these next few weeks and months, consider adding an element of leopard – whether with a pair of shoes, a handbag or a coat. It is the woman who can wear leopard as though it’s no big deal that subtly reveals her style confidence.

Here are a few other reasons to add a little or lot of “roar” to your wardrobe . . .


1. A Timeless Neutral

Just like a khaki trench coat or a pair of nude pumps, leopard will always be an item you can incorporate into your wardrobe. The key is to purchase quality made items designed in a timeless design or style – pointed toe pumps, a simple pencil skirt, etc.

2. Top Trend for Fall

As I mentioned above, with leopard being one of the trends of the season, this is the time to make sure you add this classic piece to your wardrobe. Even if you wait for it to go on sale, purchasing a belt or leopard loafer (love this pair from Sam Edelman – quite comfortable and ideal with anything black or dark denim) is a no-regret purchase.

3. Small Touches

Depending upon your style, you may not want to wear a lot of leopard. In that case, add a pump, a clutch, a belt or a scarf. It’s a simple way to dress up a a neutral solid color outfit – camel, black, red – any color for that matter.

4. Entire Ensemble

However, if you love leopard, wearing a dress or a coat is a definite must. Very little if no accessories are needed because the one item speaks for itself, and you can pair it simply with black pumps, flats or boots. How simple of a decision is that when having to pull together an outfit?

5. Or Just Enough, but Not Too Much

Choose a leopard blouse (Equipment’s classic top is wonderful) or a pair of trousers or pencil skirt and pair with a favorite solid top or bottom. Then look for a stunning pair of shoes (yep, any color works) and know you look stunning.

So now, it’s time to shop . . .



Images:  (1) blasfemmes  (2) source (3) source (4) Lucky mag  (5) source (6) source (7) Atlantic-Pacific (8) source   (9) source (10) source

August 20, 2013

This & That: No. 72

Two pairs of pumps, an affordable fashion delivery service, a new Francophile book I’ll think you’ll love and more . . .


1. The French Twist: Twelve Secrets of Decadent Dining and Natural Weight Management by Carol Cottrill

My full review of Carol Cottrill’s book The French Twist was posted yesterday (click here), but I wanted to mention again how highly I recommend reading it. Just as Mireille Guiliano’s French Women’s Don’t Get Fat book is told from the French perspective on how the French lifestyle promotes a slimmer waist line, Carol Cottrill explains from an American’s perspective, the detailed logical explanation of how the typical American way of approaching eating isn’t working.


2. Lee Daniel’s The Butler

While wanting to watch the film this past weekend, it had not arrived where I live; however, it is still on my list to watch. While based on Eugene Allen’s tenure on the White House staff (1952-1986), the plot is able to stretch and adjust certain scenes to fit the intended storyline of one black man’s approach to the racial inequality that was swirling around him and his family. Be sure to get to know a bit more about Eugene Allen in this 2010 Washington Post article.

The cast is quite impressive – Forest Whitaker, Oprah, Terrence Howard, Mariah Carey, Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lenny Kravitz, John Cusack and many more. I’d be curious to hear from any of you who had the opportunity to watch it this past weekend.



3. Vince Camuto ‘Hallee’ mixed party snake pump

Believe it or not, Vince Camuto’s ‘Hallee’ multi-color pumps are a very versatile pair of high heels. Because they don’t fit into one particular color category, they actually fit into nearly every color category. Wear with denim, wear with black, dress up your neutral outfits and make a bit of a statement along the way.

4. Hukkster

If you’ve been looking for a simple way to keep an eye on items you’ve discovered, but don’t want to pay full price for, you will want to check out Hukkster. It is a simple free tool in which you pin their book marklet to your toolbar, and when you locate a coat, a pair of shoes or dress that you absolutely love, but know it will go on sale in a few months, you simply click the book marklet. You can then decide under what circumstances they will alert you (goes on sale, drops 50%, 70%, etc) and all you have to do is check your email.

While not all websites allow you to use this tool, most do, so be sure to give it a try. That designer top may just be yours if you’re willing to wait, and at a fabulous price as well.

5. Boutiika

If you’ve ever been in a rush and needed a particular pair of shoes, or a top for an event your boss just mentioned you must attend that same evening or your best friend invited you to last minute outing, then Boutiika’s new Dash service is something to keep on your smart phone or bookmarked on your computer.

Originally founded in San Francisco to connect customers with local boutiques, Boutiika’s Dash services has expanded to Austin, Seattle and just this week – Portland, Oregon. The Dash services allow you to purchase an item online from a local boutique and then pay a flat fee ($15 regularly, Portland $10) to have it delivered to your home/office by a courier that same day. Not a bad price that most likely would be the same cost in gas and parking, not to mention the time saved.

6. Cole Haan Chelsea nude pump

It’s nearly fall and the wardrobe essentials need will be put back into rotation. And if you don’t have a pair of nude pumps, Cole Haan’s classic ‘Chelsea’ pump (other colors and heights as well) is a quality purchase that will last for years. With a height of 2 3/4 inches, they are ideal for the workplace and can be worn in the evening as well.

August 19, 2013

The French Twist – Book Review

“More than anything, I have an intense desire to share what I have learned with those who seek the same truth- how to live their very best life, one of honesty, freedom, authenticity, choice and ultimately health and longevity.  The French style of eating – sitting down with delight and savoring every bite with discretion, moderation and passion – is the answer.” – Carol Cottrill

With each piece of knowledge I gain as I go through life, I believe more fervently that such knowledge is power – power to change one’s life for the better, power to find one’s true calling and power to become our best selves.

I began to become more and more engrossed with Carol Cottrill’s book The French Twist: Twelve Secrets of Decadent Dining and Natural Weight Management as I turned each page because while most books focused on helping the reader lose weight preaching restrictive, non-commonsensical prescriptives, Cottrill through her knowledge as a certified nutritionist prescribes a permanent lifestyle enhancement based on understanding how the body communicates with food. And it is the French lifestyle that is her muse.

Having traveled to France multiple times and then returned to apply their pleasure and balance focused principles to her way of living, she offers through first-hand experience coupled with science based research why the French paradox does indeed work and even more specifically why the American’s approach to weight management is less likely to have one’s good health as a top priority.

A few of the many insightful, aha tips found in the book:

  • The women of France are nurtured and encouraged to embrace their individuality and eccentricity
  • The intense restriction of calories actually has the opposite desired effect
  • Logical arguments for how the body processes certain foods and how it responds or is unable to respond to other so-called ‘foods’
  • French women don’t follow mass movements, as they are individuals (i.e. the latest diet craze)
  • Food is not the enemy, our perception and irrational understanding of food’s power is the problem
  • Balance of stress and pleasure, between indulging in wonderful food and burning calories is crucial
  • Fresh, high quality food prepared and enjoyed with passion rather than eating processed “food” on a schedule that doesn’t listen to what your body needs
  • Your body doesn’t recognize fake; it can only metabolize that which it can identify – real, whole food
  • The benefits of making lunch the largest meal of the day
  • Use a body brush to dry scrub your body and improve circulation helping skin to shine and lessen the appearance of cellulite
  • The real reason red wine has been found in studies to be healthy (hint, hint – it has more to do with lifestyle, mindset and values, than just drinking a glass or two of wine)
  • Exercise regularly as a way of saluting the day – so something you enjoy rather than dread
  • There is not one plan for weight management – it is individualistic and it requires each person to truly pay attention and respect their bodies for all that it can do
  • Differentiating between real, quality chocolate and the other stuff
  • Drink water
  • Eat fruit with breakfast in the morning and never forget your vegetables in the evening and afternoon
  • Invest in yourself – quality food, quality clothing (fewer items)
  • Wine is a precious gift to enjoyed and not abused and to awaken the senses to the enjoyment of food.

I genuinely enjoyed The French Twist, and while it is full of findings from studies, it is also full of French lifestyle descriptions, details and insights. One of my favorite sections is chapter 10 where the author along with a handful of women who live or have spent time in France share the rituals they follow when it comes to good eating and living.

Trust me, you’ll enjoy this book, and be sure to have your pen or pencil out as I was highlighting, underlining and writing all through its contents as many suggestions were ones I don’t want to forget.

Click here to read more about The French Twist.

The Necessary Ingredient in Luxury - Comfort

  painting of Coco Chanel by artist Marion Pike

“Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.” – Coco Chanel

One hundred and thirty years ago today (August 19) Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel was born, and it is her quote shared above about luxury that has always lingered in the back of my mind when deciding what truly is luxurious and what is not.

After all, owning multiple homes and having endless amounts of money may indeed be someone’s definition of luxury, but it is how one spends the money and spends their time that determines whether or not it is a luxurious life or not.

Case in point, it is the decisions we make with the small or large amounts of money we have and most importantly with the time we have that determine whether we live a luxurious life or not.

For example, the National Endowment for Financial Education reports that 70% of people who come into a windfall of money go broke within a few years. Whether it is poor money management or not having or establishing healthy relationships with friends and family, the pressures and lack of knowledge of how to handle the wealth ultimately destroy any opportunity of luxury the money originally presented.

However, that does leave 30% who have managed successfully their new inheritance. Needless to say, more money doesn’t make you happier or more comfortable; it is how one goes about living life – big and everyday decisions, self-discipline, etc – that determine whether a life is full of luxury and contentment or not.

Below are a few mislabeled luxurious ways of living followed by actual sources of luxury, both which keep in mind the definition of luxury uttered by Coco Chanel.

10 Things that cause Stress/Discontentment/Unhappiness and are Disguised As Luxury

1. Working endlessly at an unfulfilling job to simply earn the big paycheck to pay for all of your ‘luxurious’ purchases and lifestyle.

2. Shoes you can’t walk in

3. A home that has upkeep that never allows you to enjoy its supposed riches

4. Hershey’s Kisses (or any other delicious processed food) – seemingly delicious, but never satiating, which leads to overeating, which leads to a bad mood and more

5. Purchasing anything that puts you in debt unnecessarily only to provoke sleepless nights

6. Purchasing cheap travel tickets only to endure many stops and middle seat assignments

7. Living a life that only looks good on the outside

8. Saying yes to something you don’t want/believe in/value/have time to do, in order to please someone else

9. Living a busy life which leads to short, restless nights as you attempt to accommodate your demanding schedule

10. More food, larger portions

10 Things that Epitomize Luxury as they have the Ingredient of Comfort

1. Time to do with as you please

2. Living in a clean, safe, welcoming home that has just enough space

3. Quality designer clothing that feels as good as it looks and will last for many seasons

4. Traveling non-stop flights and paying for your ideal preferred seat.

5. An uninterrupted night’s sleep (happy conscious, productive day, well-balanced schedule)

6. Enjoying one dark chocolate truffle or piece of chocolate from a local chocolatier or homemade in your kitchen

7. Adhering to an eating regimen of moderation, not limitation.

8. The voice and freedom to say no.

9. Being able to purchase quality clothing/shoes/accessories without going into debt and feeling physically and mentally fabulous when you’re wearing them.

10. Living a life that is fulfilling and authentic despite those who don’t understand or refuse to understand

As you can see living a luxurious life doesn’t require ample amounts of money, but what it does require is good decision making, a never-ending quest for knowledge and the ability to live authentically and not to be led around by the nose.

Have a wonderful Monday everyone and may your week be full of many genuine luxurious activities and moments.


~Happy Birthday Coco Chanel (2011)

~Why Not . . .Wear Stripes?

~Why Not . . . Live in a Smaller Home?

~Join the discussion! What lifestyle habits do you enjoy that perhaps don’t look on the outside to be luxurious, but indeed are more luxurious than imagined? Feel free to comment below or share on Facebook.

(1) Vogue Paris (2) source (3)  source

August 16, 2013

The Weekend . . .

 ~Inslee’s August 2013 calendar girl~

 ~click here for the recipe~

The upcoming weekend looks to be full of farmers’ market shopping, a few styling projects, a jaunt to the movie house to take in Lee Daniel’s The Butler and then always a bit of time in the kitchen having fun.

Here is a look at the past week on the blog . . .

~the readers’ top post of the week . . . A Thinking Life = A Happy Life

~Alpine Meadows’ Wine & Food Pairing Event

~Style Inspiration: Casual & Fabulous

~Splurge & Save Outfit: No. 20 . . . prepping for fall

~Why Not . . . Organize Your Closet? 13 simple steps to organized, clarity and just in time for a successful fall shopping season

~This & That: No. 71 . . . a style resource, a solo traveler’s must-have blog/book, fabulous shoes and more

And this week’s newsletter – issue #160 – click here to read.

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign up for the weekly newsletter as the 2013 Fall Shopping Guide will be emailed to all subscribers on September 1st. I’ll be breaking down all of the trends and sharing the simply luxurious guide on what to skip and what to splurge on.

Here’s hoping you have a lovely weekend enjoying one of the last few weekends of summer. Take your time, dawdle a big longer doing the things you love and lose all track of time. Isn’t that what summer is for? Until Monday, bonjour.

August 15, 2013

Style Inspiration: Casual & Fabulous

My dependable, go-to style is always comfortable stylish attire. Whether I opt for nude pumps, my favorite denim, whilst adding a scarf to add some color, when I know these quality basics are in my closet, I am confident that I will look chic, but also make it through the day without painful regrets. Below are a handful of ways to play with your wardrobe essentials to create a casual, yet classic fabulous look.
Read more »

August 14, 2013

Splurge & Save Outfit: No. 20

Inspired by one of my first online styling clients this week, soft pinks and nudes were just speaking to me. And as summer begins to wind down and fall begins to hint at arriving, I couldn’t help but get a little excited for simple cashmere sweaters subtle blush autumn hues, ankle jeans and classic nude pumps. No fuss, just simple, casual chic attire that is perfect for that in between season between summer and fall.


~Kate Spade New York ‘Licorice Too” nude pump~

~Oscar de la Renta rose gold-plated necklace~

~Eric Bompard extrafine oversize v-neck cashmere sweater~

~AG The Stilt Cigarette Jeans~

~Halston Heritage Foldover Tote~


~Banana Republic classic status necklace~

~J.Crew collection boyfriend cashmere sweater~

~Charles by Charles David ‘Pact’ pump~

~NYDJ ‘Cora’ stretch ankle jeans~

~Rachael Ruddick East West Shopper~


Why Not . . . Organize Your Closet?

The fall collections are now in stores, the must-anticipated September fashion issues are arriving in mailboxes and newsstands (Vogue is scheduled to be available August 15 – although I know a few have been enjoying an early copy), and I must admit I’m getting excited to touch up my fall wardrobe.

But before any meaningful purchasing can occur, knowing what is already in our closets will help direct us toward wise purchases in the coming weeks and months. So what is the best way to go about organizing your wardrobe/closet?

It’s quite simple and fun as well. Let me show you what I’ve been doing for years.

1. Carve Out Time

Choose either an entire morning or afternoon that is free so that you are not making rushed decisions and are adequately rested. It might sound silly, but you don’t want to be making rash decisions about clothes/shoes/accessories that you’ve spent good money on without a clear mind.

2. Start from Zero

Remove everything from you closet (or one closet at a time if you have many) and leave everything on your bed, sofa or a clean floor.

3. Have a Notebook Handy

As you go through your closet you will be taking notes of what you need, what needs to be repaired or tailored and any tools to help care for your clothes and keep them well organized (specialty hangers, dividers, jewelry organizer, etc).

4. Find a Full Length Mirror

While not everything is something that you will need to try on, there will be items in which you need to refresh you memory and take a hard, honest look in the mirror to see how it hangs on your body.

5. Find Two Empty, Large Boxes/Structured Bags

For each item of clothing that you sort through there will be three options – keep, tailor/fix/repair, toss/donate/consign. Make the clean-up easier and begin with two large boxes/bags already in the room waiting for their merchandise.

6. Have Your Capsule Wardrobe List Handy

As I go through my closet, I am constantly asking myself, “Does this fit into my capsule wardrobe? What will I wear this with? What does this item need to fit into my capsule wardrobe?” And in order to answer these questions effectively and accurately, you must know what type of capsule wardrobe you are wanting to create. Click here to learn how to create your very own capsule wardrobe.

7. One by One

Go through each item and ask the following:

  • Do I wear it?
  • Does it fit properly?
  • Does it fit into my capsule wardrobe?
  • Does it need to be fixed?
  • Does it need to be cleaned?
  • Do I feel good wearing it?
  • Can it be worn in more than one outfit (if not a dress)?

Some items will only make it through the first two questions before you know you are tossing them, but others will make their way through the entire list. Once you’ve worked your way through these questions for each item, you now have sorted your clothes.

  • For any items that you are keeping but need cleaning (regular or dry-cleaning), plan on taking care of them as soon as possible so you can begin wearing them.
  • For clothing that is going to the consignment shop, determine which season it would be best suited for and ask the store when they accept seasonal appropriate items. Typically, they will require you to wash and iron any items you are bringing to their store, so plan to take care of this as well.

8. Store/Hang Properly

The clothes that made the cut need to be cared for, so make sure you have the right hangers, enough shelving, adequate drawer space, etc. Below is a list of hangers I use as well as a few other items you may need.

Click here to discover more ideas on how to tend to the decor and tools that will provide a sanctuary for your clothes, ensuring that they last for many seasons to come.

9. Organize by Color/Type

Depending upon your preference, organize your clothing by hue or type (skirt, top, dress, etc) – or perhaps both! Not only does this create an aesthetic that is pleasing to the eye when you open the door to your closet, but it also helps you keep track of where everything is and where to return it when you are done with it each day.

10. Assess What’s Missing

Now is the time to pour yourself a glass of something delicious, take out the notebook you were taking notes in and decide what is missing from your capsule wardrobe that would complement what you already have.

~Remember: lingerie, special occasion dresses, coats, camisoles, workout clothing, accessories, shoes, handbags – are not part of a capsule wardrobe. These items are the details that complete each outfit and provide differentiation between your outfits.

11. Plan What You’re Shopping For This Season

While everything on your list will most likely not be able to be purchased immediately, make savvy decisions about what items to shop for now, which to wait for the sales in November/December (May/June/July – spring wardrobe) to occur and which ones you’ll have to save up for.

12. Start Shopping

Depending upon where you live and which stores you have access to, the internet may be used more or less often to do your shopping. If you have access to brick and mortar stores, it’s always a good idea to go there first because often you will find items that will never be offered online and you get to try them on (although often there are online exclusives as well, so stay tuned). Subscribe to your favorite designers’ and websites’ newsletters so you can be alerted to early sales or releases in order to ensure the most options of sizes and styles to pick from. 

More and more shops are offering wonderful discounts for short 2-3 day sales, so save items in your wish list so you can purchase them immediately when the sales begin.

13. Edit Regularly

I usually go through my closet twice a year. Typically before the spring and fall collections make their way into stores and online boutiques. Even as the amount of clothing I have becomes more refined and smaller in amount as I fine tune my capsule wardrobe, I always want to check the quality and remind myself of what I have to mix and match with.

The purpose of diving into your closet is to help reduce buyer’s remorse and help you create a capsule wardrobe that is a pleasure to wake up to every morning when you’re deciding which outfit to pull together. After all, when we feel confident in what we are wearing that confidence rubs off on the rest of our days which make up the quality of our lives.

So, pick a day and enjoy the process that can actually be quite fun, but most certainly rewarding.

~Below are a few posts from the Archives regarding wardrobe essentials that will give you a good starting point if you are starting from scratch or want to refresh your signature style.

~10 Essential Shoes Every Woman Should Have~

~10 Wardrobe Essentials~

~Why Not . . . Build a Capsule Wardrobe on a Budget?

~Why Not . . . Shop Consignment?

~The Key to Accessories

~Why Not . . . Wear a Scarf?

~A Luxurious, Yet Simple Closet~

~Also, if you want the help of an online stylist, you can hire me to create one outfit or an entire seasonal capsule wardrobe (click here to learn about all of the styling services). I will do the internet perusing, pulling the outfits together based on your client profile and you will be able to shop when your budget allows for a flat fee (no commission).

Images: (2) source

August 13, 2013

This & That: No. 71

Gearing up for fall fashions, a book to help fine tune your style, a first-ever shoe collection by a well known label and much more . . .


1. Solo Traveler

As someone who has traveled solo many times and has found it to be a wonderful opportunity to learn more about oneself and the world, Janice Waugh’s offers a blog Solo Traveler and book (The Solo Traveler’s Handbook - 2nd edition) which are both are resources for anyone who has or is thinking about traveling alone and wanting to make the most of their experience. Full of tips on how to travel safely and successfully as well as first-hand experiences of travels around the world, you’ll be inundated with information that will leave you more than well prepared for your next voyage.

~Blog Post to Read

2. 100 Ways to be a Man of Style & Substance by Live the Charmed Life

Three years ago, blogger DeeAnne White wrote 100 Ways to be Elegant and readers couldn’t get enough. In response to requests, she just released the men’s version, and I have to say, while many are targeted specifically to gentlemen, so much of the list can be utilized by women as well. Have a look.

3. Paris Summer Fashion: Keeping it Cool in the City Heat by HiP Paris

Aisling Greally of Tresor Parisien recently became a contributor to HiP Paris blog team, and with the sultry temperatures finding their way to Paris, she reflects on ways the Parisians are remaining stylish in the heat. With beautiful images and detailed tips and strategies, the signature style of the French never skips a season.


4. The Truth About Style by Stacy London

Stacy London’s style expertise, as well as her passion for helping every woman look and feel beautiful regardless of their body type is now available in paperback (September 3, 2013) – The Truth About Style. As a co-host of What Not to Wear as well as having worked as an assistant at Vogue, London not only shares how to dress your body, but shares her personal struggles with weight and perfectionism along the way.

A style resource, London shares case studies of nine women and not only styles them, but addresses their insecurities in fashion and their bodies that don’t resemble the models that waltz down the runways (who does?). With the ultimate goal of helping clients feel comfortable in their own skin and coaching them to dress the body they have rather than the body they want, she reminds them of their inner and outer beauty.

Lastly, one aspect of the book that is tremendously helpful is the the Style Guide in the back which shares lists of stores based on your style, body type, life, and price point. And with the fall shopping season coming up, what a great place to start organizing your list.


5. Scallop Embroidery 300 thread count Cotton Duvet cover 3-piece set – Overstock

The bedroom is the sanctuary that beckons you to bed after a long day and greets you to begin the day, so the sheets you dive into every night should be soft and luxurious, along with all of the bedding details. However, finding quality bedding at affordable prices isn’t always easy.

Recently I was shopping for a white duvet cover, and while I have previously shopped at Restoration Hardware, I no longer wanted to pay their prices. So, I headed to and found a beautiful white duvet with simple, yet elegant embroidery that was priced under $60. Initially leery of such a great deal, when it arrived, my worries vanished. Soft, bright white and exactly what I wanted.


6. Club Monaco Shoes

Perhaps you shop Club Monaco for their clothing or perhaps you’ve simply heard the name, well, just this month they released their first-ever shoe collection. At mid-range price points ($150-$350) and offering quality options that would work with a variety of wardrobes, I must say I am keeping my eye on what they have to offer. These two especially caught my eye (Casey leopard sandals) Loeffler Randall Grief flat.