The Simply Luxurious Life®: September 2013  

September 30, 2013

The Importance of Autopilot

“The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automatism, the more our higher powers of mind will be set free fro their own proper work.” –William James

In any given day, there is only so much willpower each of us has. Every single one of us has varying amounts of self-control based on how we’ve conditioned the muscle of our mind, but even the most resolute and disciplined individual will tire if too many decisions must be made in one day’s time.

What occurs when decisions are thrust upon us at the end of our day after becoming mentally exhausted by other vexing problems is that our precision to make the best decision diminishes.

In a Vanity Fair article in 2012, the President of the United States, revealed a simple, seemingly mundane fact about his daily routine – only navy or gray suits were his attire of choice. As the President, understandably, his sartorial choices are not the most pressing of issues; however, he must present himself in proper wares. The simple answer was, eliminate the need to make a decision, so "you [can] focus your decision-making energy."

Even though we may not be the leader of a country, we all have decisions we can eliminate from our lives which can improve our decision making, ultimately leading to a reduction of unnecessary stress, and increasing the quality of our lives. 

Over the weekend, I read Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, which is an insightful compilation of more than a hundred artists (past and present) and the rituals that aided them in their craft (and a few rituals that didn’t). Jane Austen for example, rose early before everyone in her household and played the piano before sitting down for breakfast at nine with the family (her mother, sister, and close friend). Toni Morrison wakes up at five in the morning, makes coffee and watches the “light come”. And Ludwig van Beethoven would take the occasional break to walk outdoors in the afternoon which aided his creativity."

However, what is most fascinating is that nearly all of the artists (whether they were writers, composers, dancers or psychologists (Freud and Jung are profiled as well), adhered to some sort of routine that freed their mind of the mundane requirements of their days (eating, exercising, resting, sleeping), so that the creativity that is waiting inside of us all could be free to emerge, and the artist would be able to capture it.

Here are a few examples from the book, as well as ideas inspired by the reading, that may be decisions potentially acceptable to be placed on autopilot depending upon what your goals and priorities are:

  • Carve out time to rest each day as you sip a cup of tea
  • Turn off all electronic devices at a certain time each evening
  • Choose the same nail polish – a classic, fool-proof color that never disappoints
  • Eat the same breakfast – healthy, provides energy and starts the day off on the proper foot (see mine here)
  • Set a certain amount of time each evening (or morning) to read and gain new knowledge, insight and information about the world and life in general
  • Go grocery shopping on the same days with a default list for the week or days ahead
  • Once you’ve found a style of jeans/top/skirt/dress/shoe that fits you well, stop searching and become a loyal customer
  • Refrain from trying to understand trends, and purchase clothing, electronics, etc that work and will last (here are the basics to get you started)
  • Use a planner, write your “to-do”s on the proper date and forget about it until it’s time to get it done
  • Set your alarm clock for the same time each morning
  • Create canned email responses for work that are sent as soon as you receive email
  • Set up direct deposit, automatic bill-pay, etc
  • Engrain in your mind the phrase, “I’ll get back to you,” or “Let me think about it,” so you don’t make a rash decision.
  • Exercise at the same time everyday (approximately). Over time, people will come to expect it, you’re body will become accustomed and you’ll have less resistance (both internally and externally)
  • Have a go-to vegetable dish that pairs well with nearly any main entre you make.
  • Schedule appointments for beauty before leaving the salon on the day of the current appointment.
  • Set up automatic subscription renewal

The above list contains just a few of the many ways in which we can take care of the necessities of our lives (staying healthy, eating well, looking presentable, paying the bills). When we eliminate these tedious, yet foundational tasks to make through the day successfully, you will be amazed at the improved ability you have to make the best choice when tough decisions present themselves no matter what time of day it is.

While adhering to routine may at first glance appear to be a mundane way to live, what the artists revealed in the book, and what I too have found, is that when we free ourselves from tasks that can be done without our energy, we usher in the possibility of so many other amazing opportunities to occur that we might have missed otherwise. And that is the beauty of autopilot when applied correctly to our lives.

Today’s Discussion – what simple routines have you placed on autopilot to help create your simply luxurious life? Share in the comments below or on Facebook.

Have a great start to your week!


Image: (1) source

September 27, 2013

The Weekend . . .

The first full weekend of fall, and it is a beauty of a start to the season. It's amazing how quickly seasons can change, and in less than a week we've gone from sunny 80 degrees to cool, temperate rainy upper fifties.

With a tug to begin decorating my home for the season, a trip to one of my favorite nurseries to pick up a few beautiful pumpkins is in store this weekend. Perhaps along the way a stop at the bookstore and a chance to sit down at my favorite patisserie (which was profiled this past week – oh, you must have a look). Who knows where the weekend will take me. Days off like these are the most delightful and much anticipated, wouldn’t you agree?

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

~Place I Love: Colville St. Patisserie – A Touch of France

~10 Things I Love About Fall

~Splurge & Save Outfit: No. 26 . . . my fall shoe of choice

~Style Inspiration: Fall Has Arrived!

~This & That: No. 77 . . . music, fall favorites and a book to provoke thought

~Why Not . . . Have Self-Control? . . . readers’ favorite post of the week

And this week’s newsletter – issue #166 – click here to read.

Have a lovely weekend and enjoy this last weekend of September. Until Monday, bonjour.

Images:  (1) source (2) source

September 26, 2013

Splurge & Save Outfit: No. 26

I don’t know about you, but my toes sure do get cold in the winter; however, I still like adding height without having to pull on a knee-high boot. And with the option of the bootie wedge, the perfect shoe for fall is mine. Worn with skinny jeans or tights and skirts, the wedge or block heel provides more structure and is far easier to walk around in than stiletto heels. And with its ability to transition from day to evening seamlessly, why not find the perfect pair for this season?


~See by Chloe Molly boots~

~Joe’s Jeans skinny jeans~

~Paul Smith black label boys sweater~

~Missoni ZigZag Infinity scarf~


~Nine West Zapper bootie~

~Second Yoga Jeans Skinny Jeans (black)~

~525 America stripe turtleneck tunic sweater~


Style Inspiration: Fall Has Arrived!


In almost a blink of an eye, fall seems to have arrived, and it is as if summer were a distant memory. With layers of sweaters and scarves to curb the chill, paired with sandals and heels that are still an option as the sun has been out to keep daring toes just warm enough. Paris Fashion Week began on Tuesday and the streets are full of chic ensembles demonstrating how to mix and match for the leap into a delightfully beautiful and stylish season. Have a look.

Read more »

September 25, 2013

Why Not . . . Have Self-Control?

“There is no luck except where there is discipline.”
-Irish proverb

Taking one more cookie from the cookie jar, purchasing that beautiful new skirt knowing your budget will not be able to cover it, or falling for the winsome lines that offer no substance, are all examples of weak self-control.

However, on the flipside, finding the strength to say no to a second helping when you really aren’t hungry, admiring and placing the designer skirt on your wish list as encouragement to save your discretionary money or having the self-respect to refuse to be suckered by sweet words and walk away instead for someone who has proven they are worth investing your time with, help to create a life lived consciously and purposefully.

Two completely different lives can be cultivated simply by exercising habitual self-control. And the good news is that the more we practice self-control, the easier it becomes. Similar to toning our muscles, when we use them regularly, they reward us with the memory to respond as we have trained them to, and before we know it, it is engrained in our muscle memory.  But if we are erratic in our demands of our self-control, it has a much more difficult time assisting us in reaching our desired goals.

Today, consider for a moment how your life would improve if you were to exercise more self-control. Perhaps you already have it mastered when it comes to exercise - stepping outside for a walk is something that you enjoy and easy to do on a daily basis but perhaps saving money is your sticking point. While you may be living well, why not challenge yourself to practice self-control, and in so doing, your life will become even richer and more rewarding than you previously thought possible.

Here are a few benefits of incorporating self-control into your daily life:

Demonstrates Maturity

A child is in need of parents to set boundaries and rules because the child is still learning how to live, exist and remain safe. At this point in one’s life, the parent acts as the child’s self-control. But as we become adults we have the capability and opportunity to gain the proper knowledge to monitor ourselves. It is when we consciously take stock of the ramifications of our actions rather than acting spontaneously and thoughtlessly that we begin the process of self-control.

In pausing a moment before making a decision, if we realize that the decision would not be in line with our priorities and values, it is a mature adult that steps back, changes course and walks away – while on the other hand, it is the adult that has not grown-up who refuses to listen.

Time to Observe the Truth

Self-control leads to being patient, and when we are patient we gain clarity. By choosing to exercise self-control, we give ourselves time to gain knowledge and attempt something right the first time rather than attempting it again and again and again without success ultimately depleting our finite energy and creating endless frustrating and diminished self-confidence. By valuing our ability to get it right or making the right decision versus simply getting it done, the quality of our lives improve. 

Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

Whether it’s eating too much or having absolutely no control whatsoever and leading ourselves into an addiction (food, alcohol, drugs, etc), lack of self-control is one of the ingredients that leads to destroyed lives that could have easily taken a different route.  Contrarily, when we gather up the courage to face the reason we run to food, alcohol or illegal substances, we force ourselves to be honest with what is really troubling us. And when we face our demons or fears, we can them combat them and move past them.

Strengthen Financial Wealth

Financial security creates a peace of mind that paradoxically is priceless. And when we can control our spending we can control what we want to do with our lives. However, if we are unable to say no each time a shiny object catches our eye, money will forever have control, which is exactly what the advertiser was hoping for. Turn off the ads, skip past the commercials, and read a book instead. Whatever you need to do to not be tempted until your self-control is strong enough, help yourself out and do it.

Improved Work Performance

The willingness to put in the extra hours, arrive at work early or continue to educate yourself even when it’s not required is yet another example of self-control. Having the willpower to go to bed earlier to get the necessary sleep or limiting your participation in the unnecessary office gossip or banter in order to complete your task aids in feeling more productive at the end of your work day. And in time, you come to realize that the extra effort really can make all of the difference.

Self-control is something that can be nurtured and used as a tool cultivate the live we once may have only dream about, or it an opportunity we ignorantly disregard. Choose the former – strengthen your self-control muscle and notice your life begin to blossom in a myriad of ways.

“I am, indeed, a king, because I know how to rule myself.”
-Pietro Aretino

Images: (1) source (2) source (3) source

September 24, 2013

This & That: No. 77

Excited to share with a book to intrigue you, music to move to, a wonderful treat for your favorite pup and much more . . .


1. Wonder Women: Sex, Power and the Quest for Perfection by Debora L. Spar

Released last week, Barnard president Debora L. Spar addresses the question of how women are still struggling to have it all and explores the great gains women have made and the distance we still have to cover in her new book Wonder Women. I am anxious for my copy to arrive after listening to her interview last week with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. Click here to listen.

~Dog Lovers

2. Stella & Chewy’s

Over the Labor Day weekend, I had the opportunity to spend some time with my aunt and uncle and their labradoodle. Always keen to quality products, they were traveling with Stella & Chewy’s freeze dried treats. After reading the heartfelt story that began the company, and the founder and president Marie Moody’s dedication to making healthy, organic foods to improve the health of dogs and cats, I stopped into my local pet store and picked up their freeze-dried goodies. Needless to say, my boys are giddy and wiggily each time they see the orange bag (Norman even licks the bag – hint, hint Mom).


3. Cher – Closer to the Truth

My first introduction to Cher was in Moonstruck, but I soon learned that it was her music that began her road to stardom. Ever since, I have been inspired by her signature voice, determination to live life her own way and ability to never stop producing music that her fans fall in love with. Her single “A Woman’s World” is one to watch (see below), but her album has received decent reviews as well which drops today – Closer to the Truth.

At age 67, next spring her “Dressed to Kill” will begin (March 22), so if you’re  interested, click here to see a list of all the dates and locations.

4. Trombone Shorty

If you love classic jazz, but need a touch of rock and contemporary get-up and dance mixed in, Trombone Shorty is your guy. With his musical talents using his trombone and the microphone, his music is one to keep in mind for upcoming holiday parties or when you just want to move your feet.



5. Moschino Leopard pencil skirt

Leopard is officially my favorite trend this season and will probably forever remain a close second to my all-time favorite nautical stripes as the go-to statement neutral. With a classic pencil skirt style, this leopard item is one to invest in. Pair with a beautiful black silk blouse or black cashmere sweater, knee high black boots or classic black pumps. Appropriate for day and perfect for transitioning to an evening out after work.


6. Elementary Season Premiere in London

Last year around this time, I mentioned that a new series I was interested in watching was Elementary with Lucy Lui and Jonny Lee Miller, and I was not disappointed. Well, after a very successful first season, it has returned and the premiere was filmed in London this past July. With one of my favorite backdrops, I am anxious to see the duo of Holmes and Watson in action again, as I put my feet up after a long day. Tune in this Thursday on CBS at 10pm (click here to see a clip).

September 23, 2013

Colville St. Patisserie – A Touch of France

For more than thirteen years since my first trip to France and with every subsequent trip I have had the fortunate opportunity to make, I have been seeking out ways to bring France and the many things I loved about the French culture into my day to day life.

The attention to quality without excess, supporting local artisans and talents, losing time in lovely and passionate conversation and an overall love for living well, are just a few of the many things that I adore about the French way of life.

So when I discovered just over three years ago a local patisserie that satiated my Francophile taste buds each time I was relaxing with a cup of chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) or nibbling on a buttery sweet palmier, I couldn’t believe my luck to have a touch of France in my very own backyard.

Colville St. Patisserie located on Colville street in Walla Walla, Washington, is owned by Tiffany Cain and David Christensen. Their French patisserie has been delighting customers with French pastries, desserts, gelato, espresso, wine, beer and specialty wedding cakes. And with the offering of free wi-fi and late hours, the patisserie has become my preferred workplace when I’m away from home.

~chocolate gelato, a handful of gelato flavors, hot chocolate and huckleberry danish~

The atmosphere is welcoming and simplistically unique, allowing customers of all ages who are caught stopping in for a quick sweet treat or a long conversation with friend, to make the space their own.

The staff is friendly and helpful, and after having the chance to talk with a few of them, genuinely love working with Tiffany and David – as baker Sara told me, she had scouted out Colville St. Patisserie before she moved here from Seattle as the her future place of employment.

~chocolate chip cookie dough~

With the many hours I have logged at the patisserie, while I work I’m delighted with the company that Colville St. Patisserie invites through their doors: the college student intently working on a term paper, a book club having a lively discussion, a professor meeting with a student, a first or second date meeting over artfully created lattes, parents with their children whose eyes have widened tenfold upon seeing the selection of chocolate and goodies and the many individuals looking for a quiet refuge to get lost in a favorite book or article.

As I am always looking to share simply luxurious destinations here on the blog, I have been eagerly waiting to share and introduce readers to Colville St. Patisserie. After all, it is their chocolat chaud that puts all other versions of hot chocolate to shame (even, I must say, surpasses Angelina’s in Paris), and I look forward each week to indulging in a cup of my own.

Here is a look at just some of the magic they create:

~for dessert: fresh berry tarts (center) and pear tarts (right)~

~baked fresh daily, front and center – cookies – chocolate chip, oatmeal and raisin, peanut butter, back and center – pain au chocolate (chocolate croissant)~

~left – the item Francophiles are tickled to find - Kouign Aman,  center – canneles – one of owner Tiffany Cain’s favorite pastries, and right – one of my favorites, palmiers~

Using local seasonal fruit and produce, David regularly offers new pastries and flavors of gelato. Recently, huckleberries, nectarines and peaches were included, so I couldn’t help but pick up a huckleberry pastry after the photo shoot paired with a small cup of my favorite chocolaty drink.

Beyond the scrumptious treats and ideal place for a little quiet time to oneself, I wanted to ask Tiffany and David a few questions. After all, it is these two creative and talented minds that after having purchased the patisserie in 2008, have clearly tapped into a niche that entices visitors regularly and has become a favorite of locals. Have a look at their responses to a few questions below.

As the lone patisserie in Walla Walla Valley and surrounding area, what about the French approach to pastries do you find customers most appreciate or are drawn to?

We are always surprised by how many people are world travelers-some are so tickled to see the Kouign Aman, which they first tasted in Brittany.

Would either of you consider yourselves Francophiles, and if so, what is it about the French way of eating, living, etc that most intrigues you?

I wouldn’t consider myself a Francophile, necessarily, but I do love the idea of strong regional identities that exist in French provinces.  That is starting to happen in the wine industry in Walla Walla, and I hope that, given time, Walla Walla, or the larger Blue Mountain region, will develop a distinctive culinary style.

I've read that you source as much of your produce locally as you can, what are some new creations you are looking forward to sharing with customers this fall based on what the Walla Walla farms produce?

This area has amazing soil and the small community really inspires us with their dedication. We just made a sweet corn gelato with corn from Welcome Table Farms and a caramel peach brioche from Edwards Farm. This fall, look for pear and hazelnut tarts, Pink Lady apple sorbet, spiced Hubbard squash pies, and honey-walnut danishes, all from local producers.

When not creating magic in the kitchen for the patisserie, what are you most likely up to?

David is a clarinet player and is often working on something for the community band. I love gardening, reading and sewing. We are also big on cooking and a new passion is fermenting and pickling.

What is your favorite pastry to enjoy in the patisserie?

I love the cannele, which is a little baked custard. It's made in a copper mold, carefully brushed with beeswax. Not too sweet,crisp on the outside and super moist within - delicious! David would eat a huckleberry danish every day of his life if given the chance.

What has surprised you most about owning the patisserie in Walla Walla?

It has surprised us how much people love gelato, even in winter. It seems like the peppermint gelato is what's paying the bills in January! We have also been touched how enthusiastic how customers are about our place-it's hard work but can be really rewarding.

Favorite book(s): 

The Quick and the Dead by Joy Williams (David), The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Tiffany)

Favorite movie: Kill Bill (Tiffany), Touch of Evil (David)

Easiest way to lose track of time:

Sitting in the backyard in the evening with a glass of scotch (David), binge-watching BBC series (Tiffany)

Best advice you've ever received: Listen to suggestions, but follow your own instincts.

Bucket list travel destination: Iceland! Beirut!

A tremendous thank you to Tiffany and David, as well as their staff for welcoming TSLL into their business.

Image of Tiffany and David taken by Ali Walker. All other images captured by TSLL.

10 Things I Love About Fall

"Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits."
-Samuel Butler

Not only is the temperature more to my liking, but fall offers the opportunity to put to good use the wisdom gained from the summer and previous months of the year. The busier schedule balanced by the calm, temperate weather seems to produce a tranquil assurance as well. The earlier sunsets signal the need to get some much needed rest and the brilliant beauty of the fields, trees and fruits letting the world know they are ready to be enjoyed by our eyes and our taste buds.

As fall officially began yesterday, I’d thought I’d share a few of the things I look forward to as autumn begins. And while it’s easy to continue as if nothing has changed, by being conscious of Mother Nature’s cycle it can wake us up to appreciate what each season has to offer and be sure to make the most of all its bounty while it’s upon us.

1. Layers upon Layers (sweaters, scarves, jackets and hats)

2. Apple Pie

3. Pumpkin Hunting

4. Mother Nature’s Golden Accessorizing

"How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days."
-John Burroughs

5. The First Fire in the Fireplace

6. Crisp Mornings and Chilly Evenings

7. Hot Chocolate and Pumpkin Chip Cookies

8. Pulling on the Boots

9. Fall Premieres (television, movies, plays)

10. Bonfires with family and friends

Now, please do share. What do you enjoy most about fall’s arrival? Feel free to share below in the comments or on Facebook.

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

September 20, 2013

The Weekend . . .

 ~view the recipe here~

After a first full week back teaching to begin the new school year, I am ready to kick off my heels and indulge a sweet dessert after picking some fresh berries up at the farmers’ market. Often, nothing is so sweet as Friday’s arrival, and today is no exception to that rule.

This week on the blog even more reasons are shared for seeking out our passions, as well as a new Francophile book I am excited to introduce to readers. Oh, and speaking of weekend comfort, I discovered a pair of striped pajamas I highly recommend and have been thoroughly enjoying cozying up in recently as the cool air of fall as begin to arrive.

~The Power of Finding Your Passion
~Style Inspiration: Classy & Trendy
~This & That: No. 76 . . . a new Francophile book I love, my new favorite pajamas and more . . .
~Splurge & Save Outfit: No. 25
~A Refreshing End to the Summer
~Why Not . . . Do Something New Each Year?

And this week’s newsletter – issue #165 – click here to read
Have a lovely weekend, and thank you for taking the time to stop by. Until Monday, bonjour.

Image: (1) source

September 19, 2013

Style Inspiration: Classy & Trendy

The fashion world has hopped the pond as it finishes up in London and moves on Milan. What I enjoy most is seeing how the editors, models and bloggers incorporate the latest trends with their capsule wardrobe basics. With touches of plaid, jacquard and bold prints, the simple black dress, chic trench and leather jackets looked just as en vogue. Have a look.

Read more »

September 18, 2013

Splurge & Save Outfit: No. 25


~MiH black The Brighton jean (on sale!)~

~MICHAEL Michael Kors Paxton black/white flat~

~Iris & Ink black leather top~

~Reiss Warwick sky blue relaxed belt coat~


~J.Crew Quilted Tack Jacket (navy)~

~J.Crew stretch perfect shirt~

~James Jeans Twiggy high-rise skinny jeans~

~Nine West boots (multiple colors)~

Mixing trends with dependable basics in your capsule wardrobe is a mini challenge to give yourself. Perhaps adding a leather top or jeans, zebra striped pointed to flats or a casual, yet properly tailored quilted jacket. Whichever trend you want to experiment with, when you pair it with classics, you wardrobe appears fresh and current.

A heads up if you have your eye on a particular item at J.Crew. They are offering 25% off all items in their online store and shops through September 25th. Just use the promo code SHOPFALL to take advantage of this savings.

And also note, if you’re looking for a classic pair of black cropped jeans, MiH has discounted my favorite style (I had to add one to my closet) The Brighton, as shown in this week’s Splurge outfit.



Why Not . . . Do Something New Each Year?

“To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily.  To not dare is to lose oneself.”  ~Soren Kierkegaard

Prior to attempting anything novel and unknown is a feeling of uncertainty and some level of anxiety; however, it has been my experience that after making the jump, hopping on the plane or whipping up a new recipe, I usually am filled with exhilaration and a boost of adrenaline. “Bring on the next adventure!” is often what is circling around my brain (and then I wake up and realize it’s okay to do a little at a time and savor the moment).

Why the surge of excitement?

The many gifts bestowed upon the person willing to take a chance, put themselves out there and attempt the unfamiliar far outweigh the mundane comfort of mindless routine. While routine has its place, if we never incorporate a dash of something new into our lives from time to time, we waste the gifts that life has to offer to those of us fortunate to be healthy enough to experience them. And even when they don’t work out the way we had planned, a gift is still offered. Let me explain. Here are six amazing benefits of deciding to regularly do something new. 

1. Learn Something New

Whether you end up falling in love with the culture overseas or become utterly confused by their customs, you gain insight and knowledge that broadens your perspective and enlightens your world. Ultimately when we visit a new destination or try something new we are allowing ourselves to consider something new, and the power that can have on how we choose to continue to go on living our lives can be profound.

2. Something to Look Forward To

By challenging yourself to do one new thing each year you are giving yourself something to look forward to. I don’t know about you, but I quite enjoy the anticipation leading up to a grand trip, a new venture or a new class. Even if it doesn’t turn out the way we might have expected, we have given ourselves something to hope for. And if we are willing to be introspective, what we are hoping for, what we have imagined in our minds, can reveal so much about the life we wish to create for ourselves. All we need to do is listen.

3. Boost Confidence

For me, mastering the Metro on my own in Paris was a tremendous hurdle to overcome. I must admit, I was quite anxious about navigating my days while depending upon the underground. However, once I did my homework and actually demonstrated to myself how simple it was, I received a natural boost of confidence. The lesson I discovered is that often the only thing standing between myself and understanding something new is the time it takes to do my homework on the subject and my irrationalized fear.

4. Build Amazing Memories & Strengthen Relationships

Whether you choose to attempt new things on your own or with someone, the bond you build with yourself or with those who are with you can create memories that will never be able to be extracted from your mind. In creating these memories, often the bonds are strengthened as you’ve demonstrated to each other that you are willing to be vulnerable in front of each other. If you come out on the other side exhilarated and with a heightened confidence, it’s often because you have realized you have tremendous support and an excited hope of what else you can do together or on your own.

5. Strengthen your Courage

Each time you look fear in the face and attempt whatever is causing you to tremble, you build courage. And each time you do it, the courage you have accumulated is conditioning for even more amazing ventures down the road. All of us are faced with struggles and fears, but it is in staring them down, not in cowering, that we build up our strength to accomplish the really big goals that we never thought we might accomplish.

6. Challenge Previously Held Beliefs

Running a marathon, traveling alone, appreciating your individual freedoms. Often it is when we are stepping out of our comfort zone that our beliefs are forced to shift because we discover new information that completely eliminates what we once believed. At other times, our understanding of something is strengthened as we see more evidence in a different form that bares the same truth to be factual.

Even though there are less than four months left in 2013, take a moment and look back over your year so far. What new things have you tried? Make a list. If you have done something new, bravo!

The world is full of new and exciting things to teach you and open your eyes to. And if you look at your list and it’s empty, you still have time! Get busy, and have fun expanding your mind. Who knows what you might discover.

Image: source

September 17, 2013

This & That: No. 76

A few recent finds that I am loving and want to share, a shoe for next summer at a lovely price and more . . .


1. Rain, Rain

Like many of you based on your comments and emails, my mind is always working, thinking, planning, predicting, etc. So when I go to bed at night, a silent room gets in the way of falling asleep because my mind takes over. What I’ve finally discovered is an app that produces the sounds that quiet my mind because they bring with them a sense of tranquility. For me those sounds are anything to do with rain and water. The free Rain, Rain app offers a long list of simulated sounds – summer rainstorm, ocean waves, thunderstorm, rain in a car, etc, that play endlessly and can end based on the time you set or a sleep timer you prefer.

~Article to Read

2. 7 Ways to Find Inner (and Real) Happiness – Huffington Post

The quest for happiness is infinite it seems, but often we look for it in the wrong places. Oprah bloggers, radio hosts of ‘Going Out of Your Mind’ on and award winning authors of Be the Change: How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, Ed and Deb Shapiro, offer a worthwhile article on finding actual happiness.


3. The Bold Life: Inspiration for Fearless Living

The founder of the blog The Bold Life, Tess Marshall offers readers endless inspiration and guides to live a life full of love and kindness and you find your courage the live the life of your dreams.


4. Lauren Ralph Lauren Stripe pajamas (other colors available)

On my trip home from the coast this past weekend, I had to stop into Nordstrom, and as I’m always looking for classic, comfortable pajamas, I was excited to find this blue and white stripe pair from Lauren by Ralph Lauren. It’s funny how things pop up when you aren’t specifically looking for them. Well, needless to say after having a head-ache of a time finding pajamas these past few years, I pounced when I saw these. And at this price if you’re in the market for a pair, you might want to consider them as well.

5. Aerin Palau sandals

One other treasure I discovered (but did not buy) was a pair of sandals from Aerin Lauder that were marked down 50%. Washington Square in Portland had far more sizes than what is offered online (6 & 7.5), but let me assure you, they are delightful to wear. If you have an extremely high arch, these may not be your pair, but I do have a decently high arch and they fit just fine.


6. Joie de Vivre: Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing like the French by Harriet Welty Rocheford

Another gem of a Francophile book has found its way to my night table. I am loving Harriet Welty Rocheford’s recently released book Joie de Vivre: Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing like the French . Having married a Frenchman and lived in Paris for decades, she offers wonderful anecdotes and insights into the beloved French way of living. I do think you’ll enjoy.

September 16, 2013

The Power of Finding Your Passion

“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in it, and it will come naturally.” – David Frost

“Pretend it’s your birthday, and you could do whatever you want. What would you do?”

The uber-successful make-up entrepreneur Bobbi Brown shared that this was precisely the question her mother asked her while she was in high school struggling to find her direction. Her answer? She wished nothing more than to go to Chicago’s biggest department store at the time Marshall Fields and play with the makeup.

Brown’s response prompted her mother to encourage her to study make-up in college, which ultimately lead to the head of Estee Lauder – at time, Leonard Lauder – to purchase her business even when her business was not for sale, eventually turning her into a billionaire success story. (Watch the interview here).

The power of finding your passion is not something that comes in a script, foretelling of what how everything will unfold detail by detail in your life, but it is that magical je ne sais quoi that never dies and is always electric, often unnoticeable by the doer, but magnetic to those who surround them.

Yes, success is often in the definition when many of us describe our dream of a happy and contented life, but success cannot be defined by the amount of money in our bank account, the person we spend our time with or how busy our schedules are. Success will be uniquely defined for each individual and how we spend our days.

So while we can find inspiration from others and their stories of success, we must then take the time for introspection and discover our own passions and believe in ourselves unapologetically and absolutely. Because each one of us is the captain of our ships who will determine our destiny.

And while there will be some mighty strong storms that require a strong navigator to hold on to the ship’s wheel, there will also be beautifully calm and serene days to savor once the storms have been weathered successfully.

So hang on, success is inevitable if passion is your fuel.


~The Simple Equation of Finding Your Life’s Passion

~Let Passion be Your Fuel

~Why Not . . . Discover Your Purpose?

Image: source

September 13, 2013

A Refreshing End to the Summer with Smirnoff Sorbet Light

As the summer comes to a close, there’s still time and a need to stay cool. So when Smirnoff asked me to try their Sorbet Light, I wanted to create something that was refreshing and delicious.

Selecting a lemon flavor, I gathered a bottle of prosecco, club soda, and lemon sorbet (although a classic vanilla would be perfect as well), mixed 8 oz of prosecco with 4 oz of Smirnoff Sorbet Light, 8 oz of club soda and 4-6 scoops of ice cream in a separate bowl. Garnish with lemon zest or fresh mint leaves, and it’s ready to be poured into the waiting glasses and enjoyed. (Serves 5 people).

Organize on a classic white tray, I found this one from West Elm, and serve as your guests walk in the door to begin the soiree. It won’t take you but five minutes to mix up the drinks, so you’ll be able to enjoy the company of your guests.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Smirnoff for Style Coalition. I am not an employee of Smirnoff and all opinions are my own. Remember to always drink responsibly and legally.

All images captured by TSLL.

The Weekend . . .

While the discussion came up earlier this week about what it means to “have it all”, once we come to the realization that each of us will define this differently, and even better, once we stop judging and come to the understanding that others will define it differently, we open up the opportunity for acceptance, which ultimately feeds us all to tap into our innate talents and gifts. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all were able to find the comforting space where we can explore and discover what it is we have within ourselves to not only satiate our life curiosity but also leave the world a better place?

It can happen, so long as we forge ahead, seek out what speaks to us and become strong enough to ignore the judgment of those ignorantly standing on the sidelines telling us there is only one way to “have it all” and be truly content and fulfilled.

This week on the blog you will find posts about love and relationships, beauty, fashion, sleep and much more. Here’s a list of the posts you might want to explore . . . 

~Not Another Puzzle Piece

~This & That: No. 75 . . . . fashion, France, books, music and more

~Article to Read – Defining Having it All . . . a thought provoking article

~Style Inspiration: NYFW Street Style

~Splurge & Save Outfit: No. 24 . . . the dance between summer and fall

~Simple Hair on a Busy Day

~Why Not . . . Get a Good Night’s Sleep?

And this week’s newsletter – issue #164 – click here to read.

Have a wonderful weekend, and thank you for taking the time to stop by. Until Monday, bonjour.


Images: (1) source(2) source

September 12, 2013

Style Inspiration: NYFW Street Style

New York Fashion Week has wrapped up for the season and the show has moved on to London and eventually Milan and Paris, but with the beautiful weather in the Big Apple, the VIP style stars were out in force. While we may not be able to afford all of the clothing they are often gifted, I always enjoy gaining inspiration and ideas on how to pull outfits together from my own closet. For example, Jenna Lyon (shown below twice) demonstrates that a simple pop of a beautiful color in one’s footwear can finish an outfit perfectly. Have a look and enjoy being inspired!

Read more »

September 11, 2013

Splurge & Save Outfit: No. 24

I could feel just a hint of fall in the air over this past weekend, could you? Granted, it was a hint because this week’s highs are supposed to soar to the lower 90s, but still, it was there. Needless to say, sweaters – chunky, lovely, cozy sweaters came to mind. And since it isn’t officially fall, pairing them with loose boyfriend jeans and fabulous suede pumps just fits perfectly into that odd time of year of transition from one season to the next.


~Rachel Zoe Micah cable knit sweater (ivory)~

~Rag & Bone the Selvedge boyfriend jeans~

~Alice + Oliva Dina suede pumps (other colors available)~

~Michael Kors Bradshaw gold watch~

~ONE by Ampersand as Apostrophe half tote (other colors available)~


~525 America Tweed cable sweater (navy combo)~

~NYDJ ‘Leann’ stretch skinny boyfriend jeans~

~Boutique 9 Justine suede pumps~

~Anne Klein round black leather watch~

~Nordstrom Halogen leather 2-in-1 crossbody/tote~



Why Not . . . Get a Good Night’s Sleep?

Being able to gradually awake from a blissful slumber that has been long and uninterrupted and thankfully not jolted to conscious by a screeching noise is an instance in which I am reminded of the power of a good night’s sleep.

The body is an amazing machine that when left to its own devices having been properly cared for with nutritional food, water, and exercise of the mind and body, can communicate with us quite clearly what it needs.

As a child I remember never really needing an alarm clock as I was a regular to-bed and to-rise child (thank you Mom and Dad), and once my body clock was set, I’d regularly pop up in the morning rested and ready to go.

While as an adult that has changed, shifted and been adjusted, there are many times, now more than in my twenties, when I am reminded of the power of respecting my body clock.

Over the weekend, I listened to a handful of researchers and scientists speak on NPR about the power of sleep. And since many of you, along with myself, are adjusting to a change of schedule as fall begins, I thought the timing perfect to remind us of strengthening our foundation of good health and productivity.

Because that is exactly what a good night’s sleep does – lays the foundation for a potentially positive and productive day.

Here are the nine major benefits of attaining six and a half to eight hours of sleep each night:

1. Strengthen Your Memory
Just as our muscles need to rest after been pushed and pulled in order to recover and strengthen, so too does our mind. After learning a new skill, shortly following the lesson (that evening), it is imperative that the learner give their mind a healthy night’s rest. During the time of sleep is when the mind is processing, connecting and retaining all that it has learned. So those late night study sessions that wrapped up in the early morning before a test – not such a great idea.

2. Deep Clean
Do a quick run through of all the information (sights, noises, headlines, words, etc) that your mind encounters in one day. Now consider how much of what it has absorbed is worth keeping. Most likely, even if some of the information is subconsciously absorbed (advertisements, etc), a lot of what circles around your mind is useless and unproductive. Providing your mind a full rest each evening gives it the time and ability to do a deep clean, throwing out the junk and keeping what has been used previously or what has been called upon in the past.

3. Strengthen Your Health

When we give our bodies time to rest and recover properly, we reduce the chance for inflammation to occur that is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pre-mature aging and arthritis.

4. Improve Creativity
Again, when we rest our minds, we allow it time to breathe, time to reboot and process all that it has seen and been exposed to. In this rest period, we offer it an opportunity to connect dots we may not have considered. And when the mind is allowed time to make these connections, beautiful ideas come to the surface.

5. Sharpen Focus
A well rested mind is a focused mind. A well rested mind is much more capable of a longer attention span, especially in children and young adults because the extra effort to stay awake is not needed.

6. Balance Moods and Emotions
Plain and simple – grumpy is not fun to be or be around. And when we take the time to create boundaries that allow a good night’s sleep to happen regularly, we are actually taking preventative action to create a more rational response to unexpected events that may pop up throughout the day. A win for us individually, as well as those we work with and love spending time with.

7. Maintain a Healthy Weight

While what you eat and how active you are are two important factors when it comes to weight loss, sleep is the other often forgotten about piece to the puzzle as well. Why? When you feel sleepy and refuse to listen to what your body is asking for, your body activates certain hormones in your blood which triggers your appetite prompting you to eat more than you actually need.

8. Reduce Stress
More evidence of the cycle and power of sleep. When we sleep, we calm our emotions. When we have our emotions in check, we are less likely to turn mole hills into mountains, but when we don’t come to each day well rested, we can create unnecessary stress that spikes certain hormones which puts unnecessary strain and stress on our heart, negatively effecting our health. It all begins with a good night’s sleep.

9. Improved Performance at School and/or Work
Have you ever spent a day at a lecture or class and returned home exhausted in need of a nap even though physically your body has done the bare minimum? Such an example is proof that your mind, after a workout of taking in new knowledge, is doing a workout of its own – stretching ideas, connecting new ones to old ones and creating new memory. If we come to such a class with a rested mind, we are able to function more effectively, but if we come having had four hours of sleep, the lesson is lost and our performance declines.

Such a simple ingredient to our everyday lives can improve the quality in tremendous ways. While there will always be days when  there never seems to be enough hours in the day, structure your regular schedule in such a way that respects the valuable time of a full night's sleep. You will thank yourself in the morning and at the end of the day.

SourceThe Secret World of Sleep by Penelope A Lewis
   Images: (1) source (2) source  (3) source

Simple Hair on a Busy Day

There are days when I wake up when I simply don’t have the time to fuss with the curling iron, blow-dryer and everything else involved. My go-to hairstyle in this scenario is a simple, low bun – sometimes messy, sometimes tight and neat. Either way, in less than five minutes my hair can be up, done and ready for work or something fun.

And because one never knows what the weather may be up to or what the day will bring, I always have hair elastics and jumbo bobby pins in my tote or pocket to create this look on the go as well.

Here’s how I do it:


~From left top to bottom right: (1) Klorane dry shampoo, (2) round or flat boar’s hair brush, (3) Bumble & Bumble dryspun finish, (4) a pick or comb, (5) Goody ouchless hair elastics, (6) jumbo bobby pins, (7) Dove flexible hold hairspray

1. Use dry shampoo on the roots to soak up excess oil. Brush through.

2. Use Bumble & Bumble’s Dryspun Finish to the roots to add volume.

3. If adding a part, use a comb or pick to create a straight or purposely messy line.

4. Add a bit of body to the crown with a touch of backcombing.

5. Sweep hair into a low ponytail at the nape of your neck.

6. If you have fine hair like myself, using a comb or brush, backcomb the ponytail, use a spritz or two of hairspray to hold the volume.

7. Twist the ponytail and then wrap around the ponytail holder.

8. Use jumbo bobby pins (or regular size depending upon your hair texture) to hold in place. I usually use three and place at the three points of a triangle.

9. Use hairspray for any fly-aways or pull a few strands to create a messy finished look.


And because we can never have enough elastics on hand or at home, U by Kotex (look for the little black box of tampons/pads) is offering free hair elastics from Goody (similar to shown above) when you buy U by Kotex at Target.

~How to pick up your free Goody hair elastics? Simply text KOTEX to Target (or, 827438) to get your coupon.