A Few of My Favourite Things ~ No. 5

4b-683x1024

The last time I sat down to share my current favourites, it was a cold, gray October day, and I was dreaming of spring.  Well, as I sit to write this morning, it is still cold and gray (five months later), we are gearing up for a winter storm in Southern Ontario, and I continue to dream of spring.

During the winter months, I cannot help but feel less like myself.  You know that zest for life that accompanies the spring and summer months?  Well, each year, that feeling gives way to another almost oppressed feeling during winter, and in a way, we are oppressed under the layers and the low-hanging clouds.

While I make a point of enjoying my favourite things throughout the year, it is especially important for me during the winter months, as my favourites help me to feel a little more like…well, me!

As I have mentioned in previous posts, our favourites are often determined by what pleases our senses – specifically sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.  In previous instalments of this series (No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4) I have highlighted my favourites that at that time, boosted my mood and added to my sense of well-being.

In the fifth instalment of this series, I offer you a glimpse into a few of my current favourites, one to satiate each of the senses:

SIGHT
The Magnolia Journal: Issue 2 (Simplicity) – Magnolia Market

Those who know me well, will attest to my love for magazines.  Picking up a crisp, unread issue from my local bookstore or newsstand at the end of a busy week is one of my favourite rituals.  While I regularly enjoy old favourites like Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living and Town and Country, I recently stumbled upon a new favourite that I am devouring – The Magnolia Journal.  

This publication is a quarterly lifestyle magazine that “promises fresh inspiration for your life and home in each new season.”

Creator, Joanna Gaines (from HGTV’s Fixer Upper and Magnolia Market fame), created the magazine in an effort to:

“…connect with readers from all walks of life, to share content so valuable and so meaningful that you hold on to each issues and return to them again and again.”

The stunning cover, as well as the theme of the current issue – Simplicity – sold me immediately.  With articles like “Joanna’s Capsule Wardrobe”, “A Case for Spring Cleaning”, and “Pretty Spring Salads”, it was as if this issue was made for me!

HEARING
SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker II – Bose 

For me, music is absolutely essential to living well, and has been a part of my everyday for as long as I can remember.  In fact, somedays I listen to music so much that I feel my life has an accompanying soundtrack.

Today, we are so fortunate to have devices that allow us to bring our entire music collection with us wherever we go; however, these same devices do not always produce the best sound, which can significantly impact the quality of our tunes.

That’s why I was enthralled when my husband recently came home with the SoundLink Mini Bluetooth speaker II.  The full, natural sound that emanates from this compact speaker is incredible – you would think you were listening to your favourite song on a large, multi-speaker system.

Fitting in the palm of your hand, this “little speaker that could” connects wirelessly to your smartphone, tablet or other Bluetooth device, so you can enjoy your music, videos or games anytime, anywhere.  You can even take phone calls aloud!

The sleek design (ours is in the colour pearl – shocking!) features a slim docking station and a rechargeable battery that plays up to 10 hours of music.

This little wonder has been following me throughout my home, and I cannot wait to take it with us to the park, to the beach, or wherever else the warmer weather takes us.

TASTE
Mint Majesty Tea – Teavana

If you follow me on social media, then you will know how much I am obsessed with enjoy tea.  Partaking in a cup or two is a daily ritual that I always look forward to.

As of late, I have been choosing Teavana’s Mint Majesty tea quite often, and while many herbal teas can have a harsh and grassy aftertaste, this is not so with Mint Majesty.  The peppermint and spearmint is balanced by sweet citrus notes of lemon verbena (also a favourite of mine), making the tea smooth and refreshing from first to last sip.

To steep:

  1. Heat fresh (preferably filtered) water to 205 F (96 C)
  2. Pour eight fl oz (237 ml) water over sachet in cup
  3. Steep for five minutes.  Stay close to this time for optimal flavour

SMELL
Multi-Active Toner – Dermologica

This past weekend, I had a much-needed spa date with my girlfriend, Kelly.  We met at one of our favourite places, Scape Spa (if you live in Southern Ontario, you must visit), and I indulged in their luxurious Scape Facial.  

Twice during the treatment, my facialist spritzed my skin with the most divine facial mist – the scent was light, fresh and intoxicating.  When I finally came out of my facial-induced coma, I told my facialist that I simply had to know the name of that beautiful mist.  Assuming it was a secret house-blend, I was overjoyed to learn that it was actually a toner by Dermologica.

Known as the Multi-Active Toner, this product was love at first sniff!  This light facial toner hydrates, refreshes and conditions the skin to prepare it for proper moisture absorption.  Made with moisture-binding humectants and infused with lavender, balm mint and arnica, this luxurious mist is formulated without artificial fragrances and colours.

Used before your chosen moisturizer, or throughout the day to refresh tired skin (and makeup), this toner is shaping up to join my holy grail ranks.

TOUCH 
Floral-Lace Trimmed Satin Robe – Ralph Lauren

As a lover of luxurious sleep and loungewear by Ralph Lauren, I am always on the hunt for pieces to add to my collection.  A few weeks ago, as I was perusing their spring collection, I came across this gorgeous Floral-Lace Trimmed Satin Robe that just needed to be mine!

This feminine blue and white floral-print robe, boasts three-quarter-length sleeves, a wrap silhouette and lace detailing, creating a look that is sensual yet sophisticated.  Worn over a chemise or pyjamas, this robe is the perfect addition to my collection, and I look forward to donning it daily during the warmer months.

Whether it’s a magazine, a speaker or a satin robe, I encourage you to make time for your favourite things. Wishing you a lovely week and if you need me, I’ll be on the sofa sipping some Mint Majesty.

 

Image Source

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embrace Winter

tumblr_mx9apy9eoj1rh685ao1_500

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a walk beside the fire: it is the time for home.

 ~ Edith Sitwell

This past week, the oracular rodents in Canada and the United States offered conflicting predictions on the arrival of spring.  Folklore has it that if a groundhog sees its shadow when it emerges from its burrow on Groundhog Day (February 2), there will be six more weeks of winter.  Conversely, if the groundhog does not see its shadow, then tradition tells us an early spring is on its way.

While there appeared to be a consensus among two of Canada’s most well-known groundhogs, Ontario’s Wiarton Willie and Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam, both of whom predicted an early spring, their American cousin Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil, was not so optimistic, claiming we are in for six more weeks of winter.

Don’t get me wrong, I love those little fortune-telling critters; however, I have experienced 33 Canadian winters so far, and early spring prediction or not, we have a ways to go before those spring showers and flowers show up.

Admittedly, I am not winter’s biggest fan; we have never really seen eye-to-eye on much.  While I enjoy warm temperatures, long, bright days, green leaves, barbecues and beaches, winter seems to prefer short, dark days, cold (at times face-numbing) temperatures, and copious amounts of snow and slush.

If I’m being completely honest, I have cursed winter more times than I care to admit (not very Pearls, Lace and Grace of me), and have struggled with the season ever since I can remember. That was, until this past November, when I decided that being perpetually irritated for five months of the year was not a healthy way to live, and unless I wanted to permanently relocate to the equator (ok, a little dramatic), I thought it best that I find a way to embrace the season.

In previous posts, I offered readers ways to Embrace Spring, Embrace Summer, Embrace Autumn, and now, I conclude the series by offering you five ways to embrace winter:

Choose to See Winter’s Beauty

All seasons offer a unique beauty that one cannot necessarily experience throughout the remainder of the year.  So, rather than curse the harshness of the season, why not find the beauty in it?  When you enjoy rather than dread what’s around you, your optimism will begin to trump your negativity and you will inevitably feel happier.

Rather than ruminating over your numb fingers and toes, or worrying about that next blizzard that will have you shovelling for hours, shift your focus to something more positive, like sipping hot chocolate next to a crackling fire, or witnessing the whimsical dance of a light snowfall at midnight.

There is so much beauty to be found in winter, and I encourage you to find it!

 

Don Luxurious Winter Fashion

While I haven’t always enjoyed the number of layers that a Canadian winter requires, as a fashion lover, I have not only learned to tolerate the change in my wardrobe, but look forward to it.

My winter work uniform consists of cashmere and silk-blend sweaters (similar here), light, wool-blend slacks (here), and for a more casual look, an oversized cardigan (here) paired with thick leggings (here) and riding boots (here).

My winter home uniform is much simpler – a pair of full-length pyjamas (my favourites are by Ralph Lauren – similar here), a robe (here) and slippers (here).

For the outdoors, I look forward to donning my knee-length parka (similar here), warm mittens (similar here), earmuffs (so as to not ruin the hairstyle – similar here), a luxurious wool-cashmere scarf (similar here), and a pair of durable winter boots (similar here) that can withstand even the coldest of days.

Enjoy a Winter Activity

In order to fully appreciate what the winter season has to offer, I encourage you to find an activity that is specifically “winter”, something that you cannot partake in the rest of the year.  There is really so much to do:

Skiing (alpine or cross-country)
Snowboarding
Ice skating
Ice hockey
Tobogganing or Tubing
Snowshoeing
Ice fishing
Snowmobiling

Try a  few and see what works for you.  The activity should be enjoyable, not a chore.

Take a Winter Walk

If the above activities are simply too ambitious for you (they certainly are for me most days), then why not take a winter walk?

Maybe you have a favourite trail that you enjoy exploring during the other months of the year?  If so, take a walk on that same trail now to appreciate how this season changes the landscape.  The slumbering trees, kept warm by a layer of snow that rests on its limbs (if you did not know, snow is a fantastic insulator), or luxuriate in winter’s silence, as the birds have made their way south, and the streams have taken a rest from flowing so fiercely.

A winter walk not only allows you to maintain your fitness regimen, but a walk, especially on a sunny day (yes, there are a few), will give your body the vitamin D that is craves.

Get Out of Dodge 

When all else fails, and you simply cannot spend one more day on the frozen tundra, then my advice is to get out of dodge.

According to a study in the Journal of Applied Research in Quality of Life, taking a trip, or even just thinking about taking one in the future, can make you happier.

If you are able to spare the funds, head to a place where the residents have never heard the phrase “minus 20 with the windchill”.  Those few days of sun and sand will surely lighten winter’s load.

If you cannot get away right now, then maybe plan a trip for late-spring or summer.  Take some time daily or weekly to research and plan.  Even seeing that beautiful destination and knowing you will eventually be there, will surely make those slushy commutes to work a little easier to manage.

However you choose to embrace winter, cheers to a crisp and cozy season!  If you need me, I’ll be by the fire.

Image Source

A Modern Lady ~ No. 1

tumblr_lypme90k0d1qbr8r3o1_1280

For some, the concept of being a “lady” can be difficult to relate to, as it has strong ties to the past.  In fact, because of those ties to a time, that by today’s standard was oppressive to women, many steer clear of the concept altogether, and do not even entertain the idea of a “modern lady”.

To be clear, when I speak to the concept of a modern lady, I’m referring to a lady in the courteous and decorous sense, rather than a woman of superior social position or noble birth.

While a modern lady shares some traits with her predecessor, she has evolved greatly.  For me, a modern lady is not silent nor is she subservient.  She exhibits a subtle strength, is assertive while maintaining diplomacy, and can “run with the boys” without compromising her femininity.  She is well-educated, informed, emotionally intelligent and refined, both internally and externally.  She is independent, but does not allow her ego to hinder relationships with others and is kind to all she encounters.

In what I hope will be a continuing series on the blog, I explore the first trait of a modern lady, and discuss how this trait contributes to her success.  Without further ado, a modern lady always…

Behaves in a Decorous Manner 

There is a strong possibility that the last time you heard someone utter the word decorous, you were streaming an episode of Downton Abbey on Netflix, and while the word itself may have waned in popularity since that time, I would argue its importance to the modern lady has not.

Decorous behaviour is essentially behaviour in any situation that is marked by propriety and good taste.  While the current meaning of the word dates back to the mid-17th century, it was originally derived from the Latin word decorus, an adjective created from the noun decor, meaning beauty or grace.

Now, before you make a snap judgement about the importance of decorous behaviour for the modern lady, and pack this blog post away like you did your grandmother’s doily, allow me to elaborate on why behaving in a decorous manner is essential to a modern lady’s success.

Put simply, decorous behaviour matters because first impressions matter.  One’s success, both personally and professionally, often hinges on one’s ability to foster and maintain relationships, and whether or not those relationships begin and/or continue is often based on a first impression.

Humans are hard-wired to want quick answers to a few vital questions – is this person an ally or a threat?  Are they part of my tribe, or a stranger?  Are they a potential mate?

According to Nick Morgan, frequent contributor to Forbes Magazine, our conscious minds can handle roughly 40 bits of information per second, so we have evolved to allow our unconscious mind to handle first impressions, while our conscious mind is busy with other things.

When someone comes into view, our mirror neurons begin to fire and match the emotions of the other individual precisely, so if that person is nervous, we become nervous.  As Morgan says, “we literally leak our emotions to one another.”

You may be asking, so how does a first impression help or hinder a modern lady’s success?  To answer that, let us look at this question through a professional lens.  If one walks into an interview, spouting profanities and displaying aggressive body language, those mirror neurons are going to start firing and you will most likely agitate and annoy the interviewer.  The interview will most certainly end promptly, if it is allowed to begin at all.

Conversely, if you enter the room with a subtle confidence, a calm and pleasant demeanor, using words found in Webster’s Dictionary, those mirror neurons will fire, leaving the interviewer feeling calm and confident in your abilities.  You will most likely impress the interviewer, and maybe even land that corner office.

Mirror neurons are not the only psychological element to consider when discussing first impressions – we must also pay mind to what’s referred to as The Halo Effect.  The Halo Effect is a type of cognitive bias in which our overall impression of a person influences how we feel and think about their character.  Essentially, one’s first impression of an individual can significantly impact one’s evaluation of said individual in future.  For example, in a 2014 study on this effect, when a prospective employer viewed the job applicant as polite and courteous, they were also more likely to hire this individual and rate them as intelligent, competent and qualified in ongoing assessments.  This study alone confirms that the importance of first impressions cannot be minimized.

While I hold myself to certain non-negotiables when it comes to decorous behaviour (as illustrated here and here), ultimately the key to behaving in good taste as a modern lady is to know your audience.  You will inevitably encounter situations throughout your day that will require you to shift your behaviour accordingly.  A formal business meeting versus a coffee date with an old friend, for example.  While your behaviour during the business meeting should be in keeping with the professional etiquette of your organization (i.e. professional courtesy /codes of conduct), you may wish to dispense with the rigid professionalism for a more casual rendezvous with your friend.  Make no mistake, one should still behave in good taste even in the most casual of situations.

Editor’s Note  – Ladies, put those cell phones away when you’re having coffee with your girlfriend(s).  Show genuine interest in them, in the conversation and leave social media or that text (unless it is an emergency) for another time.  

Essentially, to be successful personally and professionally, a modern lady educates herself on what decorous behaviour means in different situations, and given the global nature of our world, a modern lady is not so naïve as to assume that what is considered decorous behaviour in her country or culture inherently translates into decorous behaviour in another.  For example, in some countries (including Canada), not tipping your waiter or waitress following a meal would be a behaviour considered in poor taste; however, in Japan, tipping at restaurants is actually considered rude, as superior service is expected without an added incentive and is calculated into the bill.  Know your audience, and if you don’t, get to know it so that your first impression is the best it can be.

While there is no doubt that behaving in a decorous manner is key to a modern lady’s success, there is so much more to a modern lady, and I look forward to exploring this exciting woman further.

What are your thoughts on the concept of a modern lady?  On decorous behaviour?  Agree or disagree, I would love to hear your thoughts via the comments below.

Imagine Source

 

Organize Your New Year’s Resolutions

a0a92fafef6c7e5f2be3dde5d423c3ba

Due to the overwhelming success of my first guest post (thanks again to my lovely friend, Anina Belle – @lechefswife), I thought why not keep the party going and feature another person who inspires me – my friend, Lauren Tucker. 

Famously-known (I say this because Lauren’s Instagram took off like a rocket last year) as @an_organized_life on Instagram, we bonded over an obsession love for organizing.  Since then, Lauren has expanded her account to feature everything from planning, budgeting, cooking, baking, frugality and minimalism (with a few glimpses of her daughter here and there – a sight that brightens even the darkest days).  Ultimately, Lauren tries to infuse her every day with beautiful and simple pleasures. 

With the arrival of 2017, some of you may be well on your way to accomplishing your goals and resolutions – and for those who are, I salute you!  Contrary to my typically hyper-organized tendencies, I have had a million goals and resolutions swimming around in my head, and quite a lot of difficulty organizing and prioritizing them.  If you and I are in the same boat maybe we should find a new boat, have no fear!  With Lauren’s help, we are going to organize those goals and resolutions for a productive and accomplished 2017. 

Without further ado, I give you An Organized Life…

2017 is now truly in full swing, and you may be looking at your list of New Year’s resolutions and goals wondering where to start!  Well, below are five steps to organize, execute, and keep your goals on track for 2017!

Step 1 ~ Identify your goals and resolutions

Take a notebook dedicated to your 2017 resolutions and goals, or, open a new Word or Google document.

Editor’s Note: a new planning page to help you organize your goals and resolutions is now available under the Printables section of Pearls, Lace and Grace, entitled Intentions for 2017 (Word or PDF).

At the top of each page, place the goal or resolution you would like to achieve for the new year. Under the goal, write down all of the reasons why you want to accomplish them. This list will be incredibly helpful when you start losing your motivation and drive to achieve it! It becomes an amazing reference to motivate you.

Step 2 ~ Break it down

Looking at your list of goals, write down the steps you will need to take in order to achieve them, and treat these steps as mini goals. Your goals will be achieved because of the small mini goals you set for yourself. This, in my opinion, will (and should) take the most time when organizing your goals and resolutions for the new year.

Step 3 ~ Assign a completion date

Next to the list of mini goals, write down an approximate (and appropriate) timeline. This is important – don’t stretch yourself too thin! Give yourself plenty of time to achieve these mini goals. If you try and get too much done at the same time, you will be the opposite of productive – overwhelmed. You have (in most cases) a year to achieve these goals!

Step 4 ~ Celebrate the victories

As you work through your mini goals on the way to accomplishing the big ones, be sure to take some time out and celebrate your accomplishments! You are working extremely hard to tackle your objective, and deserve to celebrate the steps involved to make your dreams happen. This could be something small, like a celebratory coffee, or something larger like a dinner out with friends. Totally up to you, your budget, and your goal.

Step 5 ~ Give yourself grace

So, fast forward – it is now July and you have fallen off the wagon with one (or all) of your goals. It’s okay! Take time to acknowledge that you have become apathetic or lost your ambition and motivation, and take a second to figure out why. Did you set to lofty a goal? Were your mini goals not spread out enough, causing you to feel overwhelmed? Did life just get in the way? These are all totally common problems, and all you need to do is find that motivation to get you back on track! Now is the time to refer back to that list you made in the beginning as to why you wanted to achieve these goals! (I told you there was a reason for it). Find that motivation and drive again to tackle your goals one-by-one.

Remember, you can do whatever you put your mind to. The key to success is found in the hard work and organization you put in before you even start tackling your goal or resolution.

Happy New Year!

Lauren
An Organized Life

Image Source

A Fabulously Chic French New Year’s Eve

champagne

I am thrilled to bring to you, for the first time on Pearls, Lace & Grace, a guest writer – Anina Belle Giannini.  Known as Le Chef’s Wife (@lechefswife) on Instagram, Anina Belle and I became fast friends sometime ago, bonding over the shared pursuit of a life well lived (and all things lovely).

A little about my friend – Anina Belle is a Canadian/American Luxury Hotel Executive who fell in love with a French Chef (@chefsebastiengiannini) while on a University exchange to Nice, France – fairy tale or what? They were married and lived in the south of France for nine years before relocating to Montreal, Canada, and then most recently, to Washington, DC.

Anina Belle’s Instagram features delicious food, sometimes created by her talented chef husband, decadent wine and stunning glimpses into her travels.  She is truly a beautiful soul and I am so glad to know her.

In the next few days, we will say au revoir to 2016, and bonjour to 2017 (that’s about the extent of my french), and with all her time spent in the south of France, who better to guide us on how to have a fabulously chic French New Year’s Eve than Anina Belle?

Without further ado, I give you Le Chef’s Wife…

One thing that resonated with me during my years living in France is how simple it is to do things well.  The French are masters of the art of simple elegance, and with a few guidelines, you can be the effortlessly chic hostess of a fabulously chic French New Year’s Eve party.

My favorite New Year’s celebrations in France were always the ones where we celebrated in someone’s home. A carefully curated group of people with just the right mix of new and old friends. Everyone dressed up, yet the vibe remained laid back and intimate. It truly is the best way to ring in a New Year!

Depending on the size of your party, you can choose to serve the meal seated at a dinner table, or buffet style so that people can mix and mingle. I recommend inviting guests to arrive anytime after eight o’clock. You don’t want your New Year’s Eve party to start too early and have the champagne (and the ambiance) fall flat before midnight!

Le Champagne

A must! The French enjoy Champagne all year round, but New Year’s Eve is truly a time to drink Champagne all night long!  Now, in France, there is a much larger selection of Champagne at varying prices than is available in North America.

For those of us who do not want to spend a fortune on Champagne for the evening, I suggest starting the party with a “Kir Royal”.  Splash a little bit of Crème de Cassis (available at any liquor store) into a glass of dry sparkling wine, et voilà! You have yourself an elegant and festive cocktail that feels oh so French.

Les Huitres

The French love their oysters and swear by the ones from Brittany and the West Coast of France. Fortunately, we have a wide variety of exceptional oysters available to us in North America. You should have seen my French husband’s face when I brought him to Vancouver for the first time to try Kusshi Oysters! Ooh la la! He was in Chef’s Heaven!

I recommend preparing six to eight oysters per person and please, do yourself a favour and enlist the help of strong friends with good knife skills and lots of patience to help shuck the oysters before the party begins. You don’t want to be alone in the kitchen wielding an oyster knife and splattering bits of shell and brine all over your best party outfit.

Oysters take time, so plan accordingly and then put the little rascals on ice while you pour yourself a glass of champagne.

oysters

Le Saumon

There is something so beautiful about a slice of smoked salmon on a perfect little blinis with a dollop of crème fraiche. The richness of the food marries perfectly with crisp, dry champagne. You can either buy ready-made blinis at the grocery store, or else they can be made in advance. Essentially, they are small, bite-sized pancakes that are served chilled. Top each pancake with a slice of smoked salmon and finish with a dollop of crème fraiche (or sour cream).

Now, here is where you can get creative! Arrange the smoked salmon pancakes out on a tray and then alternate the garnishes. Perhaps you want to add some fennel on top?  A mini slice of lemon? Caviar? Amusez-vous!

Le Foie Gras

Un grand classique! Finding good foie gras is difficult in North America, but not impossible. Go to the deli selection of the finest grocery store in your area and look for a jar of “Foie Gras Cuit” (cooked foie gras). Some specialty butcher shops also carry good foie gras that they make themselves.

For Christmas I was unable to find a good foie gras at our local Whole Foods, so I settled on Chicken Liver Mousse, which is an agreeable alternative. Place the foie gras on a cutting board surrounded by an assortment of crackers and some fig jam, et voilà!

Le Fromage

A well-designed cheese platter is an art form; however, like many things French, if you understand the guidelines it is easy to excel! I usually aim for four to six cheeses on my cheese board – a nice mix of soft and hard cheeses, with varying degrees of staunch.

The French are less enthused by all the condiments we North Americans like to put on a cheese board, and really just like to keep it simple. Good cheese, a crusty baguette and maybe some honey or fig jam as accents, c’est tout!

Start with a good fresh Chèvre (Chèvre Frais), then add a hard but mild cheese such as a Tome de Savoie or a Comte. Now add a strong cheddar or a Mimolette and place a spoon in to a Mont D’Or. Add a wheel of ripe Camembert and finish it all with a slab of Roquefort!

Most importantly, cheeses need to be room temperature. Make sure to take them out an hour before your guests arrive. Yes, the place may smell of cheese, but oh, what cheese!

cheese

Les Macarons

Last, but certainly not least, do yourself a favour and order “Une tour de Macarons” , or Macaron Tower, from a pastry shop. The multi-colored pastel pastry morsels will be a party favourite and are immediately Instagram-worthy.

Macarons have become very popular in recent years – I have even seen Macarons available at Safeway!

Now, there are macarons, and then there are Ladurée Macarons. If there is a Ladurée in your area, I encourage you to go and taste the difference. These macarons melt in your mouth and are not too sweet.

macaroon

Et voilà! As you can see, hosting an elegant New Year’s Eve Reception “à la Française”, is less about being a Michelin-starred chef, and more about assembling the right ingredients.

I encourage you to host your own French New Year’s Eve party and tell me all about it at lechefswife@gmail.com, or tag me on Instagram at @lechefswife.  

Bisous,
Le Chef’s Wife

le-chef

 Le Chef & Le Chef’s Wife

Mind Your Manners ~ No. 2

Freedom_from_Want_ORIGINAL.jpg

above: Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), “Freedom From Want,” 1943. Oil on canvas.

You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why…because it’s rude!

Well, the holiday season is in full swing, and this time of year would not be the same without a few staples – festive sweaters, scrumptious goodies, delicious eggnog, and rude Uncle Frank.

For many, December is a whirlwind from beginning to end.  Holiday parties, midnight shopping, dinner after dinner – it is arguably one of the busiest (if not the busiest) months of the year.

Now, what happens when you take busy, add a little sleep deprivation, and finish with a sprinkle of alcohol?  You guessed it – bad manners.

Being on the receiving end of one’s bad manners is unpleasant at any time of the year; however, during the holidays, you will inevitably encounter at least one Grinch before Santa makes his way down your chimney, and while you can’t control the behaviour of others (sadly), the good news is, you can control your own.

Just over a year ago, I published the first installment of Mind Your Manners, in which I disclosed my employment with the “Polite Police”, and offered a few ways to make the world a more polite place.  Continuing on in that same vein, with a festive twist, I offer a few ways to mind your manners during the holidays:

Mind Your… Alcohol Intake

For many, a holiday party just isn’t a holiday party without a few beverages of the alcoholic variety, and while partaking in a few “cold ones” can enhance the celebration, overindulging can lead to hurt feelings, an embarrassing Monday morning, or worse – injury and loss of life.

To (responsibly) keep the holiday cheer flowing, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Eat, Drink and Be Merry – high protein foods such as cheese and nuts help to slow the absorption of alcohol into the circulatory system, so make sure to enjoy some cheese with that wine.  If you are the host and intend to serve alcohol, ensuring Uncle Frank has ample snacks to graze on will save you from having to peel him off your laundry room floor later.

Wine, Water and Repeat – alcohol is a diuretic and can cause or worsen dehydration.  So, after you enjoy that glass of wine, grab a glass of water and keep that merry pattern going throughout the night.  Not only will this ease your head the next morning, but it may also prevent you from sharing your life story with that colleague in the corner.

Call an Uber – securing a sober driver for the ride home is not only the polite thing to do, but more importantly, the safe and responsible thing to do.  No jokes here – just do the right thing.

Mind your… Dinner Conversation

The opinions of those seated around your dining table are sure to be diverse, and with diverse opinions come the potential for uncomfortable conversations (I’m looking at you, Uncle Frank).

While you will know better than I as to what grinds the gears of the people you break bread with, below are few topics of conversation to encourage and a few more to stay away from:

Do…

Discuss Food – begin the conversation by discussing what you like about the food being served, and if everyone is enjoying the same meal, they can share their thoughts as well.  This conversation can evolve pleasantly into sharing favourite holiday recipes or discussing the hottest new cookbook.

Converse about Fashion – (one of my personal favourites) a nice compliment will endear you to others, so find something pleasant to say about someone’s outfit or jewelry, especially if it is festive.  This can evolve into conversations around a favourite retailer, designer or the latest copy of Harper’s Bazzar.

Sound off about Music – most people enjoy some genre of music, so it is generally a safe subject at the dining table.  Share thoughts on your favourite entertainers, composers or a recent concert that you enjoyed.  Who knows?  This conversation could introduce you to your new favourite artist!

Don’t…

Discuss Controversial Subjects – while you may be someone who enjoys starting shit controversy, Christmas dinner is NOT the place to do it (I’m still looking at you, Uncle Frank).  I’m talking about politics, I’m talking about religion.  If you must discuss President Trump and his wall, Kanye West and his wife, or why religion is the downfall of humanity, I implore you not to.  At least wait until the meal is over and find a person who can match you in a debate, or better yet, just save it for another time altogether.

Talk about Medical Conditions – discussions around health problems, especially those that involve in-depth descriptions of bodily fluids, have been known to ruin not only appetites, but friendships too!  Unless you are enjoying a meal with emergency room physicians or nurses, save it for after the turkey has been carved and consumed.

Be braggadocious (al la Donald Trump) – if you want to mention something brilliant your child did, that’s wonderful, so long as you give others an opportunity to do the same.  While this concept can be difficult for some, try not to monopolize the conversation with you and your family’s accomplishments.  Share a few high points and then politely put your listening ears on.

Mind your…Patience

Joyce Meyer once said that, “Patience is not the ability to wait, but how you act while you’re waiting”, and I could not agree more.

Packing your patience (a phrase coined by my ever-patient colleague) is the single most important thing one can do during this time of year, as so many things are likely to test those patience.  The unending line at, well, EVERYWHERE!  Screaming children, screaming adults (this happens more often than the children), exhausted employees, the list goes on.

This time of year can bring such joy, but it also brings with it so much pressure and expectation.  Do yourself and others a favour by planning ahead, and then when you get in that line, take a few deep breaths and act your age.  Remember, while you may not be able to control the behaviour of others, you may be able to influence it by example.

Mind your…Tongue

If you mind nothing else this holiday, I beg you to mind this.  As I mentioned, this time of year brings much pressure and much expectation.

For many, Christmas can be a sad time, as our losses tend to be magnified (thanks to my Mom for this piece of wisdom).  Whether it is the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, the loss of one’s health, loss is and will forever be a traumatic event.

The last thing anyone needs, whether they have suffered a loss or not, is your negativity.  Do not argue over where Christmas dinner should be held;  do not tell someone that they should have made this stuffing over that stuffing; and most certainly, do not tell someone that the sweater they just gave you isn’t really “in line” with your style.

Instead, mind your tongue.  Be gracious (thanks to another colleague for the appropriate word).  Set that ego aside for the next few weeks and try to remember what is important.  If you have forgotten, here’s a refresher:

What is important…

Family – you never know who will (or won’t) be with you next Christmas

Friends – same as above

Kindness – if I have to explain this one, there is no hope for you  take a peek at this post

What is not important…

Where Christmas Dinner is Held – if Jesus, Mary and Joseph spent their Christmas in a dirty barn, then you can have Christmas dinner at your Aunt Carol’s

The Kind of Stuffing Served – frankly, you should be more concerned that you are eating something cooked in a turkey’s behind and less concerned with the ingredients

The Sweater you Just Unwrapped – it is the thought that counts.  Be gracious, say thank you, and donate it to Goodwill in the new year if its presence in your closet impedes your ability to function in everyday life

While I expect those of you reading this are already connoisseurs of holiday etiquette, take a moment and think about how you can raise your own bar and make this holiday a polite and memorable one!

 

A Few of My Favourite Things ~ No. 4

fullsizerender-5

[Image Source]

The last time I sat down to write about my current favourites, it was beautifully sunny and a warm June breeze was streaming through my window.

Today, it is cold, gray and I find myself longing for that warm breeze.  Granted, we had quite the heat wave last week in Southern Ontario.  It reached 30 C a few times, and that heat coupled with the stunning fall foliage, was really quite something.  I suppose I should be grateful for that and not so disappointed with Mother Nature today.

Each time I share my current favourites with you (for previous installments – No. 1, No. 2 & No. 3), I note the importance of making your favourite things apart of your everyday, or at the very least, a regular occurrence in your life.  As I have mentioned before, our favourites are determined by what pleases our senses – specifically sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.

Favourite things not only please our senses, but they have a way of boosting one’s mood, one’s sense of well-being. For example, one of my favourite things to do is sleep in on Saturdays. I allow my body to wake naturally, rather than to an alarm, and then I luxuriate in that quiet time.  I read the news, a current book, magazine and often scroll through my social media to see all that I may have missed out on during the week.  It is a practice that I look forward to, it boosts my mood tremendously, and ultimately, is a practice that helps me to live well.

In the fourth installment of this series, I offer you a glimpse into a few of my current mood-boosting favourites, one to satiate each of the senses:

SIGHT
Westworld – HBO

I must admit, one of my favourite things about autumn is the influx of new television shows to enjoy. While my husband and I have been watching a few new shows, like Designated Survivour (ABC), Secrets and Lies (ABC), This is Us (NBC) and Divorce (HBO), one that has really intrigued me is Westworld.

Based on the 1973 film of the same name, Westworld takes place in a technologically advanced Western-themed amusement park populated by synthetic androids dubbed “Hosts”.  This world caters to high-paying visitors, dubbed “Newcomers” or “Guests”, who can do whatever they wish within the amusement park, without fear of retaliation from the “Hosts”.

With a star-studded cast (Sir Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris and James Marsden to name a few), the series’ debut on HBO garnered the network’s highest viewership ratings for a premiere since the first episode of True Detective in 2014 (also a series I highly recommend starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson).

For me, the intrigue of this series is twofold. Firstly, and without giving too much away, the series brings up the highly controversial subject of artificial intelligence and what that means for the human race, as these beings become ever-increasingly “human”.  Secondly, it also brings to light the social implications of a world “without consequence”, and the justification of those behaviours because they are being carried out on those deemed inhuman.

With each episode, I have become more intrigued and invested. If you enjoy a program that makes you think, then this one is for you!

HEARING
Day Breaks – Nora Jones

Those of you that follow the blog will know my affinity for Nora Jones. I have been a fan of Miss Jones since her debut in 2002, and her music has been a part of several milestones in my life, most notably my wedding (my husband and I danced our first dance as husband and wife to Come Away with Me).

Well, Miss Jones has done it again with the release of her sixth studio album, Day Breaks. The album features nine new songs, three covers, and for me, is a welcome return to the piano-driven sounds of her earlier work.

With songs like Burn and Flipside, this album has been on heavy rotation in my home lately and will continue to be a favourite of mine for years to come. I highly recommend taking a listen.

TASTE
Peach Tranquility Full Leaf Sachets – Teavana

If you follow my Instagram, then you will know how much I am obsessed with enjoy tea. No matter the season, I tend to savour at least two cups daily, and am always searching for a new flavour or variety to add to my collection (much my husband’s chagrin).

I tend favour certain flavours during autumn and winter (i.e. chai, chocolate and ginger); however, lately I have been loving a flavour that is quite the opposite – Peach Tranquility from Teavana.

While I could try to explain the taste, I much prefer Teavana’s words:

Sweet peach and tropical pineapple are enhanced by the subtle herbal notes of chamomile and lemon verbena.

The blend of peach, chamomile and lemon verbena, coupled with apple and rose hips is simply delicious. The taste is incredibly smooth from start to finish and would also be nice as a tea latte.

To steep:

  1. Heat fresh (preferably filtered) water to 205 F (96 C)
  2. Pour eight fl oz (237 ml) water over sachet in cup
  3. Steep for five minutes. Stay close to this time for optimal flavour

Add a cup of this to your favourite blanket, a good book and have yourself a lovely moment.

SMELL
Blackberry & Bay – Jo Malone

For me, scent is such an important part of my daily life. Whether it comes from the candle in my bedroom, or a pot on the stove, I always do my best to take a moment and appreciate the scents of life (well, the pleasant smelling ones at least).

Scents can be calming, invigorating or evoke memories and feelings – they are are such a lovely luxury.

Again, if you follow the blog, you will know my adoration for Jo Malone scents.  In fact, I am slowly building a (small) collection of fragrances that speak to me. Throughout the spring and summer, I alternated between Nectarine Blossom & Honey and French Lime Blossom; however, with the arrival of cooler temperatures, I was itching for a scent that suited both my taste and the current season.

So, I made a trip to my local Jo Malone counter at Holt Renfrew, and while I could have gone home with their entire collection (maybe one day), I decided on Blackberry & Bay.

Again, while I could attempt to articulate the scent, Jo Malone pays someone quite a lot of money to do that for me:

Childhood memories of blackberry picking…a burst of deep, tart blackberry juice, blending with the freshness of just-gathered bay and brambly woods. Vibrant and verdant.

The deep, rich notes of this fragrance scream autumn and I have been enjoying a spritz or two every morning.

TOUCH
Silk Cashmere Drapey Front Pullover – Banana Republic

While I love summer, come October, I am ready to trade in my day dresses for cozy sweaters. When it comes to sweaters, I am quite particular about the style and fabric – I know, me particular – shocking!

I have always been quite sensitive to harsher fabrics, particularly heavy wool, and have also never been much of a fan of sweaters that are too bulky or thick, so when I found the Silk Cashmere Drapey Front Pullover from Banana Republic, I absolutely fell in love.

This luxuriously refined sweater is comprised of 85% silk and 15% cashmere, which for me, is the perfect blend. The classic crew neck (also available in a lovely crew cardigan) with long sleeves can be dressed up or down, and the neutral colour selection is beautiful – periwinkle, grey sky and preppy navy.

While I would love to have all three in my collection, I selected grey sky first, and am so glad I did, as it pairs beautifully with several pieces in my wardrobe.

Whether it’s a fragrance, a television show or a cozy sweater, I encourage you to make time to for your favourite things. Wishing you a lovely week and if you need me, I’ll be on the sofa with a cup of Peach Tranquility.

For the Love of Lists

“List simplify, clarify, edify.” ~ Tom Peters

If your daily schedule or inbox leaves you in a perpetual state of paralysis, frozen by the sheer number of things you have to do, take a deep breath – you are not alone.  For most of us, there is simply too much to do and not enough time to do it.

That unending “to-do” list , coupled with the pressure of being the perfect spouse, the perfect parent, the perfect employee, the perfect child – I could go on, but I’m starting to feel a little stiff – often leaves us feeling overwhelmed at best.

You know the saying, “different strokes for different folks”?  Well, different people employ different methods to combat the chaos, and while not all are socially acceptable or legal; one method that is both (bonus), is list-making.

It may surprise you to know (who am I kidding), that I have been a lover of lists since I was a child (right alongside my toy Dustbuster – for more on my tidy childhood click here).  I would make lists of toys, books, friends, family, things I liked, things I disliked, my thoughts, my feelings – you name it, I made a list about it.

While obsessive list-making isn’t for everyone, research has revealed a number of benefits to making even the occasional list.  Don’t believe me?  Well, allow me to list some benefits for you (no pun intended).  Lists can help to:

Create Order

Simply put, creating a list is one of the most effective ways to order or organize anything.  With the help of a list, projects and ideas, no matter the size, can be broken down into manageable steps.  The abstract can become concrete, the intangible can become tangible.

Whether you’re looking to build a skyscraper or organize a child’s birthday party, lists  help take a project from inception to completion in an orderly fashion.

Prioritize

Have you ever found yourself with so many tasks and deadlines floating around in your head, that instead of actually tackling any of them, you decide now would be the perfect time to organize your sock drawer?  While I am all for an organized sock drawer, a better way to prioritize is to make a list.

By visually seeing all your tasks and deadlines at a glance, you can more effectively determine what needs to be done first and what can wait until later.  It is important to note that as priorities change, so too will that list – the key to success is flexibility.

Be Accountable

Psychologically, the act of actually writing something down brings with it a certain level of accountability.  Once you have written a task, a deadline or a goal down, you have given life to it and are more inclined to develop a plan to accomplish it.

Feel Productive

If you are already a list lover like me, then you will know the extreme gratification that comes from checking something off your list.  Crossing an item off your list, no matter how small, gives you the control, which is quite powerful from a psychological standpoint.

Scientific evidence has shown that for many, crossing an item off a list releases the feel-good hormone, dopamine.  That feel-good hormone feels, well so good, that arguably you will be motivated to continue checking things off your list to keep that feeling alive.

While lists do offer a number of benefits, the type of list or the way you make one is entirely up to you.  Perhaps you aren’t a fan of paper and prefer making lists via the notes function on your smartphone or tablet.  On the other hand, you could absolutely detest electronic devices and choose to create your list on a notepad or in a notebook.

Whatever your preference, know that as your tastes change, your lists will evolve.  Over the years, I have kept lists in many different ways – on my phone, in a Moleskine notebook, in binders, planners and notepads.  One thing that has never changed; however, is that I prefer lists that are pretty (I can imagine how shocked you are by this).

Lately, I have enjoyed designing a few of my own lists and thought, why not share them with all of you?  Over the coming weeks, I plan to continue adding lists to the blog.  Feel free to print as many as you like and use them to organize your life, or as inspiration to create your own lists.

Handy Hint – if you complete similar tasks daily or weekly, laminate the checklist and cross those items off with a dry erase marker.  

As I am a big fan of homekeeping (this post is full of shockers), I thought that would be the perfect place to start, so below you will find both my daily and weekly homekeeping checklists.  I have created a deluxe or blank version, to suit different preferences, and welcome recommendations or requests as to what types of lists would be helpful to you.

daily-homekeeping-checklist-deluxe
daily-homekeeping-checklist-blank
weekly-homekeeping-checklist-deluxe
weekly-homekeeping-checklist-blank

Happy Listing!

Lessons from Tiffany and Co. ~ No. 1

tiffany-and-co-box1Those that know me well, will attest to my love for Tiffany & Co.  My adoration for Tiffany’s began just under a decade ago, when I lived in Toronto while attending university.  I was fortunate to reside just around the corner from the most luxurious stretch of shops located on Bloor Street.

As I made my way to and from school each day, I would stroll past these shops in awe; however, surviving on a meager student budget, I assumed I would never be able to afford anything they were offering and thus, never ventured inside.

On a June day in 2008, I recall submitting my last paper for the coursework portion of my Master’s degree, and then wandering around for a while, unsure of what to do with my new-found freedom.  As I made my way home, I passed those beautiful shops again and then something happened that would truly change my life – I came upon a Tiffany & Company window.

From what I remember, it was a simple window; black velvet, two or three crystal goblets and a few, long strands of pearls, but the way those pearls flowed out of those goblets and across that velvet will be etched in my mind forever.

At the time, the flagship store in Toronto was very simple – covered in what appeared to be polished granite and adorned with a modest, but proud statue of Atlas.  I stood at that window for sometime before deciding whether to enter.  As I opened the large, heavy doors, it was as though I had walked into a dream.

“Welcome to Tiffany’s”, said a smartly dressed gentleman with a warm smile. I thanked him, as I made my way past pristine glass cases filled with sparkling diamonds and vibrant gemstones.  I finally stopped in front of a case that housed a silver medallion etched with a delicate script (this would eventually become my first piece from Tiffany’s).  I looked up as a woman with long, dark hair asked me, “may I help you find a special piece?”, and the rest is, as they say, history.

Since that day, Tiffany’s has become such an integral part of my life.  I have visited several of their boutiques in different cities and countries, often choosing a special piece to mark the occasion.  For the last few years, I have celebrated milestones like my birthday, with a visit to Tiffany’s, and each time I walk through those doors, I feel the same way I did nearly ten years ago.

While I’m sure you know that Tiffany’s produces some of the most exquisite jewelry in the world, did you also know that one can learn a great deal about life from Tiffany’s?  Well, I certainly have.  In the inaugural post of what will be a reoccurring series on the blog, I offer you the first of the many Lessons from Tiffany and Co.:

Lesson No. 1: 

“Great success often comes from humble beginnings and usually does not  happen overnight.”  

In 1837, Charles Lewis Tiffany and his school chum John B. Young, established a small stationary and gift shop in New York City with a vision and a $1000 advance from Tiffany’s father. While the opening day sales grossed a mere $4.38, two years later, Tiffany and Young were still in business, having expanded their wares to include porcelain, cutlery, clocks and you guessed it – jewelry.

While a European design aesthetic reigned at the time, Tiffany and Young took a risk, departing from the norm, and developed a new style.  Inspired by the natural world, the two young men committed to patterns of simplicity, harmony and clarity, standards that continue to guide Tiffany’s today.

Fast forward 179 years, and that little shop has turned into over 200 stores, making Tiffany’s one of the most recognizable and successful luxury brands in the world.

You may be wondering what the life lesson is here?  Well, the way I see it, the lesson is that great success often comes from humble beginnings.  So often, people have dreams and aspirations that never come to fruition, because they don’t feel like that have enough – enough money, enough time, enough strength, enough knowledge, enough (insert excuse here).

What Tiffany’s teaches us is that you do not have to start with “enough” to become something great; all you need is a vision and a little help.

Ok, I lied.  To be successful, you also need a great deal of patience because, as Tiffany’s also teaches, success does not happen overnight.  The opening day sales for Tiffany’s was less than $5.00, and I am certain that the next day was not much more.  In fact, it may have been even less.

If you look at the timeline of any success story, there are ebbs and flows – periods of growth followed by periods of decline.  The key is to stay committed to your vision, but be flexible enough to allow that vision to evolve as you do.

This lesson really hit home for me.  Last year, I embarked on this blogging journey with a vision and a little (tech) help from my husband.  The readership on my first post was small and the next one was even smaller.  I began to think I did not have “enough” of whatever it takes to be successful; however, I stayed committed to my vision and continued to write posts that I believed in.

In June of this year (ten months after my debut post), I hit my highest readership to date – almost 2000 beautiful people visited my blog that month.  Had I given up on my vision after that first decline, I would have missed out on connecting with all of those wonderful readers.

While I still have a long way to go before I find my yellow diamond, like Charles Lewis Tiffany, I will stay committed to my vision until I do.

Image Source

At the Beauty Counter ~ No. 1

FullSizeRender

Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin.  That, or a kick-a** red lipstick.

            ~ Gwyneth Paltrow

Every so often, I publish a post highlighting a few of my current lifestyle favourites (see here, here and here).  In these posts, I discuss a wide array of items that satiate each of the senses; however, looking back I realized I have yet to include my beauty favourites – Quel nightmare!

Though I make efforts to live more simply now, I must admit that I am a recovering beauty addict.  I would frequent my local drugstore or the mothership Sephora, spending far more money than I ever should have, while accumulating more beauty products than one person could ever use.

With that said, over the last year in particular, I have made a commitment to change my ways and have allowed the principles of simplicity and quality over quantity to guide me.  These days, I rarely purchase a new beauty product unless the current version has run out.  Moreover, in preparation for the purchase, I now do my research before I buy.  This means reading reviews and recommendations, researching ingredients lists and asking for samples of more expensive items before I invest.

Lately, I have been coming to the end of several beauty products, which has encouraged me to seek out replacements.  So far, I have been truly enjoying those replacements, so much so, I wanted to share them with you.

In the first of what I expect will be a reoccurring series on the blog, I offer four of my current beauty favourites, and to make it interesting, have included a bonus “holy grail” item that I am never without.

With that said, let’s see what’s At the Beauty Counter:

FullSizeRender (4)

Colour Riche Le Vernis A L’Huile – L’Oreal

Historically, I have not been a lover of drugstore nail polish.  In fact, for years, I spent quite a bit of time and money investing in gel and shellac manicures and pedicures because of my distaste for traditional nail polish.

Then last year, in an effort to be both healthier and more fiscally responsible, I decided step back from those costly treatments.  The only problem?  I adore the look of a perfectly polished nail.  So, I decided to return to the drugstore and was pleased to find that the quality and selection of drugstore polishes has improved tremendously over the years. 

While there are several wonderful brands to choose from, lately, I have been loving L’Oreal’s Colour Riche Le Vernis A L’Huile nail polish (say that three times fast).  Available in 22 beautiful shades, L’Oreal has blended precious oils and intense pigments for a luxurious and sophisticated finish.

The wide, fan-shaped brush allows for smooth application and many of the colours are opaque with just one or two coats.  While all the colours are lovely, my favourite of the moment is 220 – Dimanche Apres Midi (Sunday Afternoon).  A soft and feminine pink, this neutral will leave you perfectly polished not only on Sunday afternoons, but throughout the week!

FullSizeRender (2)

Purely Pampering Body Wash – Dove

While I will forever adore the luxurious body wash from Jo Malone, I do not always have $60 (or more) to spend on body wash, and tend to alternate with a drugstore option to keep on budget.  So, after I squeezed the last few drops of that Peony and Blush Suede onto my shower pouf, I headed to the drugstore to find a wallet-friendly alternative.

As I often deal with dry, itchy skin, even in the summer months, I focused my attention on body washes of the moisturizing variety.  While researching online, one body wash continued to pop up on several “best of beauty” lists – Dove’s Purely Pamering Body Wash.

Available in four exquisite scents, this formula creates a rich lather, while mild cleansers help skin retain its natural moisture.  Dove’s unique NutriumMoisture technology helps to replenish skin’s nutrients, giving softer, more supple skin.

While all four scents are divine, in keeping with the floral theme, I chose the Sweet Cream and Peony wash and was not disappointed.  At first application, my skin felt nourished and happy.

FullSizeRender (5)

Soy Face Cleanser – Fresh

Every year or so, I tend to switch up my skin care routine.  While I have tried and enjoyed several brands, I have never found a holy grail line that kept me from straying.  As I was coming to the end of my latest facial cleanser by Caudalie (a very lovely line), I stopped into my local Sephora to see what else was on the market.

The skincare section of Sephora can be a daunting and overwhelming place.  Unending rows filled with countless products that tone, hydrate, detoxify…the list goes on.  It can be tricky to wade through the chaos and find something that works, so rather than wander aimlessly, I decided to enlist the help of a Beauty Advisor.  I explained what I was looking for, gave a brief history of my skin type and was lead to the Fresh counter.

While I had heard of the Fresh line before, I had never taken the plunge; however, I am so glad I did because the Soy Face Cleanser is exquisite.  I understand why it is a best seller, as it truly does what it advertises – removes stubborn cosmetics, whisks away impurities without stripping the skin of essential moisture.

Whether I use my hands or my Clarisonic, this formula generates a rich lather and with natural ingredients, like rosewater to sooth and hydrate, and cucumber extract to calm the skin, adds a luxurious, spa-like experience to the beginning or end of your day.

FullSizeRender (6)

Facial Radiance Pads – First Aid Beauty

Around the same time my Caudalie facial cleanser was dwindling, so too was my daily exfoliant, so I decided to explore this world a bit further as well.  Historically, I have used a manual exfoliant, particularly in my t-zone as it tends to become congested quite easily.

Speaking with the beauty advisor in Sephora, I explained what I was looking for and she suggested I try a chemical exfoliant rather than a manual, given my skin’s sensitivity.  I was lead to the First Aid Beauty section where I was introduced to their Facial Radiance Pads.

I was initially quite skeptical, assuming that this soaked cotton pad would not be strong enough to clarify my problem areas; however, I kept an open mind and took some home to try.

With just the right amount of lactic and glycolic acids, this formula has kept my problem areas clear and content.  Cucumber and Indian Gooseberry tones the face, while lemon peel and licorice root leave my skin feeling bright.

After two weeks of daily use, I must say, I’m quite pleased with the result.  The appearance of those stubborn blackheads are diminished and my makeup applies more smoothly than ever before.

FullSizeRender (7)

Crème de Rose Smoothing Plumping Lip Balm – Dior

While the above-mentioned items are those that I am currently enjoying, this gem is something that falls under my “holy grail” category.  Yes, meaning if I was on a deserted island, I would want this with me (and maybe some water and food).

As someone who suffers from chronically dry lips, Dior’s Crème de Rose Smoothing Plumping Lip Balm is a godsend.  This heavenly balm allies the expertise of Dior research in nutrition to the delicate smoothness of rose petals.  Its nourishing power comes from the rare and precious Damask Rose essential oil extract, together with an anti-aging complex and shea butter.

Granted, the price may be steep as lip balms go, but for me, the quality and experience is worth every penny.

While I wholeheartedly agree with Miss Gwenyth – beauty is about being comfortable in your own skin –  I am also a firm believer that adding a luxurious body wash or lip treatment to your day never hurt anyone!

Wishing you a beautiful weekend.