Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Travelling Chic

                                       Image result for 1920s french travel fashion

I wrote this in 2016, and forgot to post it. So, here goes:

I have just had 3 days away with 3 friends. We went to some very rustic & highly therapeutic natural hot springs. These sort of hot springs are highly mineralised. They are in quite a few places in New Zealand, but to find some that are also therapeutic in cost, which these ones are, is just such a treat. Sadly many of our more well known ones are out of the range of many of us kiwis. "User-pays" culture gone mad.

We went to a really inexpensive lodge & just chilled out, & soaked. So special. I am constantly amazed at how lovely our country is, & how there is still so much that absolutely anyone can do & see, cheaply. It really is beautiful, hauntingly so, in many places. And I always ask about the history of any place that I go to ... there is always someone with fascinating stories.

It was not one of my more chic weekends. I had a sore chest (it's winter here), & was quite debilitated with it, however one long soak in the appropriate pool .... & a miracle happened: my chest started to heal.

And I took the wrong food. We were staying somewhere with a big communal kitchen, & just prepared our own food. My group shared food. Why did I take organic muesli & almond milk for our breakfast? Everyone, myself included, just wanted toast. And no-one wanted the tins of tuna that I took, either. Mistake number one. I'm clearly not sure how to do this travelling food thing.

We stopped at a cafe going to the springs, & back to Auckland. It was a long trip. Why do we stop & eat a full meal size snack when travelling? It's not as though we are expending much energy, sitting in a car. Out of a city the food is either really bad or fantastic. No midway here in this country! Mistake number two. Water & a bit of fruit or piece of cheese to nibble on would have filled me up. And, it would have been more chic.....

I pared down my skin care, but not enough: mistake number 3. Next trip anywhere it's wipes for cleaning, bio-oil to get off any make-up & for night cream, plus day cream with spf. No time to luxuriate with body lotion when you're sharing a bathroom. I keep soap freebies from hotels & take one with me, deodorant, & small containers of shampoo, conditioner, & hand cream that I have decanted.

And now, 2018 update:

My most recent visit to the above hot pools in Northland, last year, was a disaster. I felt sorry for the person whom I traveled with. I was a terrible travelling friend as I had big allergic reactions on the way up and was very sick. It took days for me to recover. I now have anti-histamine pills permanently in my handbag for any sensitivities. There is absolutely no chicness in travelling and getting sick!!

It's late autumn and I have again been travelling, staying with family, for four days. I went with:
  • two pairs of jeans
  • a few tops
  • a jumper (which I didn't need.....)
  • a jacket-cardigan thing 
  • walking shoes
  • pjs
  • 2 bras 
  • 5 pairs of knickers
  • 2 pairs of socks
So you can see that I travel really lightly. I feel that this is less invasive for my family, as I take up less room with my bits and pieces. And being rather short, I definitely don't take up much room!

And I must confess that I am not one of those bloggers who have lovely outfits on their blog: I simply do not have a big enough wardrobe for that. (And, others do it better than me)

I take a small everyday handbag, and everything else fits into my old medium sized travel bag. It's not a flash bag, it's a tidy one, and has travelled far and wide with me.

I also took minimal make-up:
  • Antipodes mineral powder and Thin Lizzy brush
  • eyebrow powder (it's actually an old eyeshadow) and brush
  • mascara
  • eyeliner
  • lipstick
  • all of this except my lippy, goes into a small make-up bag
And minimal other stuff:
  • facewipes for removing make-up
  • tinted sunblock 
  • shampoo and conditioner decanted into small containers
  • small soap, conveniently taken as a freebie from some hotel stay
  • toothbrush
  • small tube of toothpaste
  • deodorant
  • hand cream
  • all except the hand cream goes into a toilette bag
So, to recap, these are my tips for chic travelling:
  • sort out The Food Thing 
  • take and drink lots of water
  • decant your skin and hair care into small (labelled) containers
  • take minimal hair, skin, and make-up products
  • take a mindful wardrobe with you

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

the chic files: being chic and stylish on a budget

                                          Image result for french vintage fashion

I had a great teacher

I learnt a long time ago, how to look nice on a budget. I learnt this from Nanna, who did not have many clothes, but she always looked amazing. And stylish. A total inspiration. As I keep saying, she taught me that we didn't need a lot of anything to be happy. And, whilst I was living with her in my teens, it was indeed, an affluent life.

I learnt to use what I had, to look nice, and to get dressed to look good, each morning. Not fancy, not overdressed, just nice. I still do these, they are two of my habits. I do think that if we want to be stylish and chic, that looking our best does need to be a habit.

Work out what you are prepared to do, to look nice

Being chic and stylish is not just about what we wear. It's also about how we look after our body.

This is my list, based on being easy to maintain, affordable, and achievable:
  • I have a simple hairdo. (As I'm useless at doing The Hair Thing)
  • I dye my hair, myself. (I'm not prepared to be greyish, yet)
  • I trim my fringe
  • I moisturise morning and night, and clean my face thoroughly at night
  • None of my skin care is expensive
  • I use a simple oil or body lotion after my showers. (With a mini massage)
  • I keep my nails a medium length and don't use polish. (Because I never maintain the polish)
  • I wear a small amount of make-up
  • I wear colours that flatter me, in my clothing
  • I wear the shapes that suit me best (which is a bit of a trick, as I am short and need to lose weight)
If I added too much more to this list, then I know, through experience, that I won't do it.

Be savvy with what you already have

On my previous post, I talked about less being be more. And using what we already have, to prepare meals from. So, it was about food. But, this also extends to our way of dressing, too:
  • Each season, I have a good look at the clothes that I already have, and see what I can do to have a nice, small but enough, appropriate, wardrobe for that season.
  • Then I work out what we need to bring my wardrobe 'up to scratch'. I need only about three singlets to go under some sheer, coloured shirts, for this season.
I am not a fashionista. I'm not creative enough for that, with clothing. But, I don't wear outdated nor inappropriate clothes. I'm currently wearing some clothes that were my grand-daughter's (she's 27).

Looking stylish with less $

I know that when I have just enough clothes, the best quality that I can afford, and, I have had times in my life, when op-shopping is the only type of shop that I can afford, I am definitely telling myself that I matter, I am 'worth it'.

I have found that, when times have been hard for me (financially), I was able to cope with a mostly summer wardrobe, all year round. I did this by layering clothes in winter.

And making sure that whatever I wore, was flattering. Even though this often means having less, with or without having plenty of money for clothes, it does mean that we look better.

Dress for the life that you have

So, what do you need for the life that you actually have? I write, at home. I also do give clairvoyant readings, do healing, and teach private yoga classes. On a day when I'm writing, giving a reading, or getting out and about, I wear jeans. My yoga clients feel more comfortable around me when I wear tights, and it's a lot easier to do a healing in tights. I wear nice tops with the jeans or tights. I don't do the 'old clothes for the house' thing, but that's just me.

So, what do you need for the life that you have?

And don't forget to look after what you already have
  • mend where needed
  • wash and keep your clothes clean
  • put clothes away nicely
  • clean one's shoes. 
Not rocket science, but it works.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Chic and Slim: learning to wait

Still with Chic and Slim, by Anne Barone:

                                      Related image

Other ways of being slim

... and of course, chic.

Anne talks about impatience, and instant gratification, as being barriers to slimness. I remember the first time that I heard the term 'instant gratification', some years ago. I was talking to a friend, who was a counsellor, and she mentioned it. I looked at her. I knew that she was perpetually, effortlessly, slim.

She also travelled overseas each year, even though she did not have a high income. How could this be? She actually said that how she could afford to do things, was by not wasting money by giving into wants and whims.

This in itself, is chic, I feel. I also believe that it is one of the major ways that she had stayed the same size, always. When we don't eat and drink what we want when we want it, immediately, we don't 'waste' food, and we do eat less, in my experience.

Becoming more emotionally smart

Interestingly, learning how to wait for things, for gratification, if you will, is one of the major ways to develop emotional intelligence: E.Q. Often a person believes that they will be happier if they get what they want, right now. But, in my personal observation, it just makes us want more, by never being satisfied.

And, although I do not believe that instant gratification is the main reason for being overweight, learning how to wait for meals trains us not to fulfil our food wants immediately, but to wait for them. And, surprisingly, we do end up eating less, overall, doing this. Thereby our weight can move, go down. Simply by waiting for the the designated time, to eat. It is a much more gracious way to live.

                                 "a gracious way of life, is definitely more chic"

Having a small dessert after a meal, or a bit of cake, or a small amount of chocolate, is much more chic than having them as the 'want' dictates. It is a very clever way to have a bit of 'naughty' food without the guilt. When we have such food, as and when we want it, our blood sugar doesn't handle it so well, but eaten at the end of a meal, it doesn't send us into a blood sugar crash.

And doing this, normalises food that an overweight person both categorises as being 'bad', and of course, people being people, when we categorise food as 'bad', then that same type of food becomes what we crave. Whereas, if we learnt to have small amounts and enjoy them, with our meals, that whole puritan good/bad aspect is nicely sidestepped.

Having enough rather than more, is best

We then learn some others of Anne's Chic and Slim methods, by doing this: having enough, rather than having more, of anything, is best. And that quality is always better. So, when we do have a bit of chocolate after a meal, make it good quality chocolate, have just enough to satisfy yourself, without feeling 'stuffed' as we do when we have too much.

How else can we apply "have less rather than more"?  An excellent way, which actually should be glaringly obvious, is to look into your fridge and pantry, and use up what you have. I like to do this to make vegetable soup: I use up the tail ends of lonely vegetables and have something delicious. I could go out and buy more food to eat, but when you use what you have, and make it nice, it really is a treat.

And I had to rethink my cafe social life, a couple of years ago, to fit in with the food philosophy of less being more. All of those high calorie coffees were not doing my health nor wallet, any favours. Let alone the food! It is all so big, or designer-type food. I now just have a sandwich if they are not too giant, or just eggs and toast. With Earl Grey Tea. A Big calorific saving! More stylish, more chic.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

The Chic Files: Style as expression

                                             Image result for witty chanel style

Continuing with "Chic and Slim" by Anne Barone, looking at this book, chapter by chapter, as an inspiration for a more chic life. And a more slim one, too.

But at the moment, I am fixated on style.

What is style as expression? Is it :
  • What we say?
  • What we do?
  • How we look?
  • How we dress?
  • The decor of our home?
  • What and how we eat?
Myself, I think that it is all of this, and more: how we live our life, and how we express our style in all of these above ways.

My style

My style is definitely minimalism. Too much 'stuff' around me, makes it hard for me to focus, as my eyes get pulled to this and that. But I have a flatmate for whom her home is an artistic expression of herself; no space left free. Both of us are so different, yet, each of us has a distinct style of our own, coming quite naturally from our own separate personality.

Because I am a minimalist, I also dress that way: simply. I have few clothes; only a few pairs of shoes; my coats last for years. I like my food to be simple and uncluttered too. My make-up is minimal. I sometimes have too much skin care, but in all honesty, most of it has currently been gifts. I also am rather quiet, which is a bit confusing for more extroverted people. I am not perfect, but I am quite self-sufficient, and my style of living my life, and expressing my personality, definitely reflects that.

For me, a good mantra is: less is more.

Your style, of course, will also be quite unique to you. Sometimes, it is quite good to look around oneself to see how you are expressing your style. Unless we live and work alone, it is very difficult to have everything our own way with our style. Of course compromise is involved too. But, what can you do to put your style into your life?

Recently I was talking to someone who is also quite a minimalist. She likes antiques and is a bit quirky. Definitely that is reflected in her style of dressing, her way of speaking, and how she would like to decorate her home.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to think of a few key words to describe your own style? I know that  two words that would define my style are minimalist and feminine.

My style inspiration

The person who inadvertently  taught me about style, was my beloved Nanna, when I lived with her for five magical years. She taught me about being happy whilst having less, when I could have had more. And to make what I did have, nice. This really fulfils me on many levels.

Nanna also taught me, by example, to get dressed nicely, each morning. Not expensively, nor overdressed, just nice. When I don't do this, I feel really sloppy, and I don't get things done. Someone asked me recently why I didn't buy myself some warm track pants to wear around the house. The answer is that I just like to get dressed in (nice) clean clothes each morning, and not have to get changed each time that I go out. (plus - trackies.... ugh)

I think that this is also part of my minimalism. I also do not like to waste time by getting changed into different clothes during the day. And I like to tidy myself and look nice, each morning. I've done this all of my life, and it all goes back to my teenage years with Nanna.

I do also think that how we spend our time, our body language, what we say, are also part of our own unique style. Style is not just about the clothes that we wear.

Does style matter?

I think so. Everyone is unique, everyone has a special gift to the world, and their style, I believe, is part of this. Sometimes it is worthwhile to put some thought and active energy into finding our personal style. On all levels.

                                    Image result for witty quotes about style

Thursday, 26 April 2018

The Chic Files: food and style

                                                  Image result for chic and slim

The inspiration for being Chic and Slim

I have joined in on a facebook group which is reviewing a book about being Chic and Slim, by Anne Barone. Anne lost 55 lbs in one year, living in France as a young woman. She has maintained that weight loss using what she learned about food, eating, and style, during her stay in France 45 years ago.

The French secret to slimness

But, surprisingly, she says that the reason that the French are slim, has to do with style, and that personal style extends to all areas of French women's lives.

Being a puritan can block our style

What blocks us from living life stylishly? Anne says that, in America, it's the puritan background of the early settlers. Whereby one doesn't feel that it's okay to enjoy oneself, to have pleasure, in one's life. I have a tendency to be like that. Is it my nature? Being the eldest in a not affluent home, when I was younger? My early upbringing where there was not much money? Is it society's conditioning? Actually I probably, myself, won't be delving too much into this, but, I do admit, and yes, accept, that I have this bit of puritanism in me. (sigh)

This extends to eating. Anne is American, and in her books about Chic, she relates relating everything either to her American upbringing and life, or, mostly, to the time that she spent in France. She says that America, is full of "shoulds and shouldn'ts" to do with eating, and that there is no pleasure in eating like this. I personally don't know about this, because I've never been there. Nor to France, either.

I have been that puritan woman

But, I can so--o-o relate to this puritanical dogma. Rather than eating food that I enjoy, most of my life, I've eaten "should" food. Some of that misguided should-ness was from living in an ashram many years ago, where we ate dhal everyday, and it was not the yummy dhal that we get in Indian restaurants. And tons of rice. Poor food, for feeding the masses in a poor ashram. Somehow we managed to accept that this was the food that we 'should' be living on, afterwards, as well. To keep our insides clean, and moving through our system quickly. Both true with eating fairly plain dhal, but - where was the pleasure? There was also this weird misguided notion that we were pressured into believing that if our insides were clean, especially one's bowels, then we would not get diseases like cancer. But, we now know that cancer is genetic, and that 'clean' eating is a great way to help our overall health and vitality.

Having said all that, I do love dhal. I still could eat it everyday.

Prior to that I had a husband who had some Chinese ancestry. He wanted rice. Everyday. So, after decades of rice, I announced: I hate rice. I don't actually, but I seldom eat it, if given the choice. I've done my rice duty.

My serial failure eating non-secret

I also went to Weight Watchers. Five times. (yes, I know....) I was a serial failure, especially when we were hassled into buying their fake food. So not chic! Full of preservatives, artificial colours, all to make them yummy. Oh, & to eat them instead of real food, to lose weight. Not forgetting the blood sugar problems that those pseudo foods gave me. The only WW leader whom I could relate to, took me aside and told me when I walked into her class, 'don't eat the WW food, eat real foods and just count the points'. And, she and her family ate real meals. Not eating on the run, nor eating all over the place. She and her family were eating chicly, stylishly, and she looked amazing.

Hints for stylish eating

So, perhaps the first lesson in style and chicness, could be to look at our eating habits. Do we enjoy our food? Is it real food? Do we eat it because we 'should', or because it is nourishing and enjoyable. Do we eat on the run? Or, do we sit down and eat?

For someone who is not a foodie, like myself, this whole scenario of food and pleasure is a bit confusing. I was having lunch with a friend, and she confessed that she really didn't like food, it was something that one had to do. I totally could relate! So much food does not gain my interest. Nevertheless, I do aim to make food nice, and sit down to eat. I use nice crockery. I actually have some treasured pieces of the yesteryear type, old-fashioned, and small. As no doubt the crockery was in France, 45 years ago. And I eat slowly, as well as really make an effort to taste what I am eating.

I do think that it's worthwhile to look into the whole arena of making food nice; eating real food; presenting it appealingly. Even for a non-foodie like myself, I find that it totally makes a difference.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Current Kind Make-up

                                     Image result for coco chanel and lipstick quotes

Moving with the times

I've always been a minimalist with make-up. I nearly always always had eyeliner and mascara. But prior to that it was an artful (or so I thought!) touch of eyeshadow around my eyes.

At times I also used foundation, and often mixed it with witch-hazel to thin it, then later, used moisturiser, with a ratio of 50:50, so it made a tinted moisturiser. If I used foundation in any form then I added lipstick.

I've done the no foundation, but waft a bronzer lightly over the face, look, add a bit around the eyes, eyeliner, etc. That was nice.

And I always used brown eyeliner, until one day, I discovered black eyeliner. I've used it ever since. And I've had to add a slate coloured eyebrow pencil (a gift) to refill some of my over-plucked eyebrows.

Times change, we change, and for sure, not staying current with any make-up is an instant ager.

Current make-up

I'm currently using up a Body Shop anti ageing foundation, which is lovely, but it does actually slide off my face. Apparently I either need to use a primer first, or, I need a moisturiser (cream type) that said foundation can cling to, and thereby, hold. But what I have been doing, is using Essano Vitamin C serum, letting it dry, then mixing the foundation with a rather thick Ego Daily Face Sunscreen 50+, and that keeps it on. I wish that I had been using this sunscreen for many years, it is fantastic. I don't care that it's not 'natural', it doesn't clog my pores and it just suits me. (and not tested on animals). Sometimes I just do serum, then the sunscreen, then foundation, etc. As winter progresses, I shall probably just use a moisturiser with SPF15.

To be honest, I also have two other foundations. I am always in a quest for the perfect foundation that makes my sun spots disappear. But recently, I have accepted that this could be a losing battle, so I've decided to just use all of these foundations. I have a cream to powder one that gives a nice coverage for winter, so I'll just use that and moisturiser in the colder weather.

I sometimes fluff the Antipodes mineral powder over the top of the Body Shop foundation. This is an amazing product and I sometimes use it every day. So I buy it fairly regularly. One of my daughters recommended it. And sometimes, if I'm in a hurry, it's just moisturiser followed by the mineral powder.

Then, and yes I know, it's getting ridiculous with all of these products! I sometimes spray over the powder with Elf  Matte Magic Mist and Set (also recommended by daughter), to help it all stay on my face and not disappear.

I have an Essence xxxL mascara (excellent) that I got cheaply at Pricewise, a place which often has cruelty free products. But, when that has done its dash, I'm getting a Thin Lizzy mascara.

I love Thin Lizzy. If I was going to use bronzer again, I would only use theirs. I used to buy a tin of it each year, there are two bronzers in a tin, and one of my daughters and I, would have a bronzer each. Sometimes she bought a tin to share with me. It was like an annual ritual. I always kept those fabulous tins. And their liquid eyeliner, which I also use, is world class. Thin Lizzy is New Zealand made, cruelty free, and named after a Kiwi model (I used to teach yoga to her lovely mother)

                                  Image result for thin lizzy tins
                                                              Thin Lizzy tins                       

I also have a Designer Brands lipstick. I always end up with slight variations of fuschia, no matter which lipstick that I buy.  Even if I ask for help from a make-up person, this is the colour that they give me. I shall have a good look at Designer Brands 'stuff' next time that I need more makeup etc. Which will be ages away.

I like to look nice, and I'm okay with using a small amount of artifice to do so. What do you use?

Friday, 13 April 2018

Some Kind Beauty Products Which I Use

I prefer to do Cruelty-free skin care and cosmetics. But, it now seems that some big companies outsource their products to be animal tested whilst they, in turn, say that they don't test on animals. After thinking about this, I've realised that, of course, I probably have been hoodwinked by this, too.

And then there are the existing skin care and makeup bits and pieces that probably are not completely cruelty free, that we already have. What shall we do here? I have chosen, rightly or wrongly, to just use them up. Because I also hate waste, and try very hard not to clutter up Mother Earth with non-biodegradable rubbish.

What a quandary. But, I suppose that we can just do our best, in any situation. And, I also appreciate that this is a personal decision.

So, what have am I currently using that ticks all the boxes, for me? And, these are not sponsored items!!

My current skin care

Apparently Palmers products are not tested on animals. Yippee! I use their amazing Palmers Cleansing Facial Oil, which gets off all make-up, and also leaves skin lovely and soft. Another bonus is that I no longer wake-up with panda eyes, which always used to happen, even after after having cleansed my tiny amount of eye make-up off, the night before. And I love their Cocoa Butter Lotion, scented or unscented. Scented is fine for me as I don't mind smelling delicious (it smells of chocolate!) I buy the oil and lotion only when they are on sale.

I am using Christie Brinkley day cream, and night cream, to make you look mysteriously like a teenager, as Christie, aged 64, does. No comment here. They were gifted and I am ploughing my way through them, but they are too rich for my still oily skin. And I still look like me, I haven't morphed into something amazing. I hope that no-one gives me any more, I would never buy it as I don't like the stuff.

I have often used Essano Vitamin C skin care products. They are made in New Zealand, and are in the supermarket. I first tried them when I was gifted a small pack, and I love all of the products which I've tried. I'm currently using their Rosehip serum (gifted), which I really do like, and occasionally I buy their wipes for when I'm away overnight, when they are on special. And the other product which I have actually bought, is their creamy cleanser - very good.

                              Image result for rosehips nz
                                                  beautiful rose hips

I'm still using Antipodes amazing day oil, but I've finished their lovely night oil. I think I'll start mixing the day oil with my serum.

I always have  kawakawa balm made by a friend, and that is useful for almost everything. Dab it on mozzie (and flea) bites and the itching goes away, so I used it a lot this past summer. She also has an amazing kawakawa face cream, which increases collagen in your skin, which keeps skin youthful.

                                  Image result for kawakawa
                                  New Zealand's much loved kawakawa plant

I always have rosewater, which I don't always use. Sometimes I make it myself with majestically smelling rose petals, and lavishly use it up quick, because it only lasts a week. Other times, I have again, been gifted it by my friend Camellia who has also made me wonderful oil mixes and moisturisers (yes, I know, I'm totally spoilt). Other good sources of rosewater are Indian or Middle Eastern food shops.


What I really like about Camellia's products, is that they are custom made, just for the buyer (or giftee, who in this case was me), and are incredibly effective. She has also given me scrubs, masks, sponges and a towel- scrubby thing. I love all that she does.

And I haven't yet used up my amazing Clarins night skin care. Yes, another gift. (thank you, grand daughter)

I'm really not into body washes, but I love sandalwood soap. I buy it at fairs and put it in my drawers to make clothes smell nice. A hand crafted Rose scent would be my second choice, and sometimes I think that perhaps using a chocolatey smell to go with the Palmers would be rather clever.....

Weight update

I have been a bit frantic, thinking that I had put the weight back on. And so I braved the dreaded scales again. Actually I've maintained, and gone down another 1/2 kilo... with no effort of the sort that one usually does, regarding exercise and diet. What have I been doing?

  • Just puttering along
  • Eating smaller portions
  • Mostly eating only three times a day (but not always)
  • Having an early dinner
  • Moving around a lot more, whether at home or when I'm out and about. 
  • Doing specific yoga breathing to get my metabolism going a bit quicker. 
Oh, and today I had to toss out some of my clothes! They are now too big. I shall hold out for some more weight loss before getting more clothes.

Travelling Chic

                                        I wrote this in 2016 , and forgot to post it. So, here goes: I have just had 3 days away with 3 ...