Friday, February 16, 2018

Motherly Advice...taking a mini break at home...

Do you ever feel like you've just had enough of everyone and everything?
You usually notice it when suddenly the most innocuous request sends you into a flap.
Someone says 'where's my socks', and it's all you can do to refrain from screaming  'they're in the #@&* drawer where they always are if you'd just open your eyes'.
It's then that you know you need a break. It doesn't have to be a long break. Mini breaks are a great tonic for the flagging carer in all of us. And we are ALL carers in our own fashion aren't we? Some of us care for small children, school aged children, offspring in tertiary education or their first jobs, partners, parents, friends and loved ones. Some of us have made a profession of caring for others.
We ALL care for someone in our lives.
And that means that sometimes, we ALL need a break.
We took a mini break recently.
A bit of sand and surf and a pretty view is very rejuvenating.
But we've just as often taken a mini break at home. We simply stop answering phones, turn off the technology, read, sleep, walk, and take it easy.
It takes some discipline, but it can be done. Granted, more difficult with young children, but there comes a time for all of us when we can take time out for ourselves, and instead of feeling compelled to fill our days with busy, it's refreshing to see two or three days of nothing as a good thing.
We enjoy the garden we've spent 15 years planting and nurturing...
We take time to walk our own neighbourhood with all of it's hidden treasures...

..this little creek runs along a gorgeous walking path near our home, but it's a bit creepy walking it alone as a woman (we actually had someone the media named The Bike Path Rapist attacking women around here a year or two ago...he was eventually caught, but nobody ever felt the same about this path...such a shame). But walking it with my lovely husband is a singular pleasure.

It's a great time to get a bit of a head start on some non-chocolate Easter gifts...these little terrarium bowls remain popular, don't they! But that was a pleasure, not a chore. Make sure you have some pleasurable tasks to look forward to.
Fresh fruit and home made yoghurt should be the order of the day for snacks.

And the rest of the time we eat just as simply.
We treat ourselves to exotic cheeses and gourmet potato salad from a local deli.

We roll all manner of vegetables and herbs like mint and coriander (cilantro) into rice paper rolls for another simple meal.
This delectable stuff found it's way onto our platters a few times. The brain never switches off, so of course I've now made my own.
It's just half a red cabbage, cut into ribbons, 2 apples chopped, simmered with a few glugs of vinegar, a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar, 2 cloves, a bay leaf, and some chilli seeds. Yummy.

It truly made us wonder why we eat such complicated meals. Especially when we love to eat this way. What a revelation. There is such a difference between eating a full scale meal, and all the preparation and cleaning that goes with that, and simply cutting up a few bits of this and that to enjoy.
Lesson learned. The refrigerator is now stocked with salmon, smoked, fresh, and hot smoked, leg ham slices, home made potato salad and coleslaw, as well as olives, pickles, chutneys, relishes, hard boiled eggs, gourmet mustards and jams, thick Greek yoghurt, fresh fruit and leafy vegetables, and home made red cabbage and apple kraut. Dinners are done and dusted in an instant. And brilliant in the heat of our Summer here.
Of course, there's also very little washing up, and this type of eating is so much easier on the digestive system. Kids love it, and there's less drama too in dealing with food preferences. You just leave off what they don't like, and load their plate with things they do.
Of course, we treat ourselves to a coffee here and there. This view greeted us at one memorable spot. We try to find the out of the way spots that engender peace and calm. Not for us the hustle and bustle of the trendy cafes. Not for these mini breaks anyway.
And after just a few days, sanity and calm is restored to our tired brains, hearts and souls.
Sure it's not the same as a 'real' getaway. But frankly sometimes a 'getaway' is more trouble than it's worth. Unfamiliar beds and pillows, traffic and noise, travel and the trials that come with it, can be vastly overrated.
Sometimes, a mini-break in our own home, is just what's needed.
Do you do home mini-breaks?

Friday, February 9, 2018

Authentically You...Try something new...

I know I'm behind the times. I only just finished binge watching Mad Men. Sorry.
For so long I wondered what the fuss was about.
Now I know.
The dresses. Sigh.
The shoes...swoon.
That hair...envy, envy.
I've always loved the era of the 50s and 60s for fashion. All those pretty dresses. And shoes. And scarves. And big hair. And petticoats. And jewellery.
People cared about how they looked.
And don't give me all that Stepford wife codswallop. I'm not talking about Female Emancipation or lack thereof.
Just that People. Looked. Nice.
Mostly these days, a look like this one below, is considered After Five exclusively. Nobody would dream of wearing this day in, day out.
For at least half of my life, I've bemoaned the passing of that era when women had the nouse to dress up every day.
Now my own family is grown, and we are less busy, I realise that I simply didn't have time to dress up every day for all those years. Not to stay at home. It's a commitment folks. Big time.
When you dress for a career, you're sort of on auto pilot. You wear the same things, with the same accessories, and you get into a nice little routine. Ditto, you don't have sticky fingers, and all manner of bodily fluids to deal with as I have for at least 31 of the past 38 years worth of child rearing, which included raising a totally physically dependant disabled son.
It makes a difference.
So now I have time for me. I've educated myself. I've read. I've experimented.
I've taken on board the wonderful advice from Marie-Anne Lecouer at The French Chic Academy. I've had a year of doing the whole French Chic pared down look. I liked it a lot. I especially like it in Winter when those darker colours, monochromatic schemes and minimalist accessories really work.
But here in the Sub-Tropics, the warmer weather brings new challenges. Especially if you're plus sized and a bit lumpy like I am.
Thankfully Marie-Anne Lecouer deals with how to make prints work for you, and how to disguise a big tummy. And make the most of your better attributes. Really useful stuff.
So having admired the inimitable Christina Hendricks as Joan on Mad Men, and armed with my newfound knowledge on adapting styles to suit my Apple shape, I've been discovering a new Warm Weather Me.
You can do it too.
Rule for Apple shapes...we generally have a generous bustline, slender arms and good legs. Our tummy region is the problem, but you know what? It's all about smoke and mirrors. It's about enhancing our...assets...which in turn, minimises our less desirable features.
Christina has great...assets. She uses them to her advantage.

My assets are not as impressive. But as per Marie-Anne's advice, I can still utilise a scooped or V neckline, and pretty detailing to draw the attention to my face and shoulders, rather than have everyone notice my blobby tum.
Colour and detailing matter too. Christinas dress above, is heavily bejewelled to cleverly draw the eye to her face.
For me, it's a bright colour in my dress, that makes the eyes pop, and a bright lipstick to assist.

Ahhh..the fit and flare dress. How many long years have I wanted to wear these. And how many times did I try them on, but without a savvy stylist to help me accessorise, simply inwardly wept, and decided I could not wear them and look good.
The secret?
Again, it's in the detail.
Look above at Adele. She displays a wide or detailed neckline. Slim fitting sleeves. A full skirt to balance her silhouette. Generous chest and generous hemline gives a faux hourglass shape.
Well, I'll be darned. I can do that.
Scooped neckline above.
Slim fitting cropped cardi that creates a column of colour centre front, magically slenderises.
Slim fitting sleeves make arms look trim and youthful.
Flouncy skirt that finishes just below the knee, and shoes with a low vamp (the top of the shoe) complete the long and lean trick to the onlooker.
Metallic dots on the shoes, echo the dots on the dress, pulling the look together.

Look here at Melissa McCarthy.
Now this would be an ensemble that I'd admire on her, but never would imagine in a million years on myself.
But again....look closer.
This works because:
The colour scheme is fairly monochromatic.
The print in the skirt draws the attention to slim ankles and pretty shoes.
The skirt does not sit ON the waist. It has a wide waistband, sitting ABOVE her natural waist, creating an almost Empire Line effect.
The skirt is not gathered. It's bias cut, giving volume at the hemline, without creating volume at the waist where you least want it.
The top has a V neck, tricking you into seeing long and lean.
It's skin coloured which sort of fools the eye into diminishing a large bustline.
The top also has a pussy bow neck trim, which is NOT tied into a bow, adding volume to the neckline, but rather left long and loose, giving a centre line of focus, and again, adding to a long and lean effect.
Her bird cage shoes, not usually recommended for Apple shapes as they cut our legs off at the ankle, are a nude colour, so she gets away with looking on trend and taller than she actually is.
Well, dang.
I reckon we can do that as well.
I'm working on that one now.
What do you think?
Are you ready to take the plunge and try something new?
Are you going to use these tips to find a gorgeous new self?
I'd love to hear from you.
Send photos to if you'd like to be featured.