Parisian Inspired Reading

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Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic // Entire Madame Chic set // What Jackie Taught Us // Bringing Up Bebe // Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life

Ever since living abroad, I have developed an interest in books that really inspire me to live a higher quality life. Not in the usual “self development/self help” way, though I do love a good self improvement book! But this genre lets the reader aspire to a higher quality of life without the cheap tricks so many books feed into.

So why is this a Parisian inspired reading list? There is something mysterious and enchanting about the French lifestyle. Whether this association is legitimate, or exists only in our mind, we do love to romanticize the French. The Madame Chic series is based on a real French woman, named “Madame Chic” for privacy reasons. The author, Jennifer Scott, relays a number of lessons she learned and how a few short months in Paris kickstarted a life long quest for a better way of being. From their diet secrets (a la French Women Don’t Get Fat) to their parenting skills, we love to look to the French culture for inspiration.

Jackie Kennedy Onassis is certainly our very own royalty. She was truly the woman behind the man. Jackie was well educated, stylish, perfectly proper, yet never seemed aloof or cold. She embodies a fantastic balance of strength and grace. This book on her is a fantastic read, providing a glimpse into her very private life.

Whether you are reading for pleasure or trying to achieve a personal reading goal (I, for one, want to read one new book a month). I highly recommend adding these to your collection. Though I have and love my Kindle, true classics are great to have in the physical form as I find myself marking the pages with post its for easy inspirational reference.

Happy reading! xx

Small Acts of Sustainability

small-acts-of-sustainability

Sustainability is an interesting topic to bring up this time of year. The holidays are about consumption. Buying more to prove you care for your loved ones. Buying them gifts they don’t really want or need just to get them something, anything at all. This year, why not take steps to break that cycle?

So. Let’s talk gifts. Christmas, birthday, all of it.

When you are getting gifts for those on your list, put a little more thought into it. Brainstorm. What do they really need? A person only requires so many mugs from Anthropologie or posters or cheap tshirts with funny phrases on them. I don’t often buy gifts for friends nowadays. I follow the rule of always sending a card, but I only send them a gift if something really catches my eye as something special for them. They know I am thinking of them, yet they don’t accumulate more things they don’t need. I appreciate when they do the same for me. Easy gift ideas? Your favorite book or a classic you think they might enjoy. A gift card, which I know people hate on, but as an adult-ish individual I can confirm nothing gets me more excited than a Starbucks or Target gift card. As long as you know a place they frequent, I think a gift card is perfectly acceptable. Do they have a pet? Throw in a toy or bag of natural treats for their fur baby. Overall, just attempt to buy smarter. Less money wasted, less stuff wasted.

Next up, look at what you bring into your home.

As Christmas fades out and our mind shifts toward New Year’s Resolutions, I encourage you to take small steps toward being more mindful of your own daily purchases. For me, that means I intend to focus on better clothing purchases. The clothing industry is the second most toxic industry world wide, second only to the oil industry. Reason being: fast fashion. If you are interested in learning more about this, I recommend the Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast episode on fast fashion, as well as the documentary The True Cost. The overall message is, buy quality. Not only clothing quality, but companies of quality that treat their employees fairly. This article is a fantastic resource for companies that do just that. One other thing I want to do in the next couple of years is get a higher quality washer and dryer. Our current one isn’t high efficiency and is hard on our clothes. Plus, knowing some basic mending skills, or a good tailor, helps your clothes last and last.

Finally, focus on your daily activities.

Think manageable steps. Like I really hope no one still leaves the water running while they brush their teeth do they? For us, I try to use reusable rags for cleaning, microfiber cloths for dusting, and cloth napkins at dinner. It saves money and paper products. I haven’t purchased a plastic bottle of water in I don’t even know how long. We have a Brita pitcher filter and I take a glass water bottle with me whenever I know I’ll be gone for a while. Plus, throw in a lemon or lime wedge and it tastes far better than your average bottle of water anyway. Run your dishwasher and washer when you have a full load. Turn out unnecessary lights. Buy the large container of yogurt instead of individually wrapped ones. Have your own little garden when it warms up, or grow what you can indoors. Keep the heat lower if you can, we can’t really do this ourselves. With a six month old, we keep the temperature a couple degrees warmer than usual to ensure he’s comfortable. The changes you can implement may differ from mine, the goal is to think of a new idea or two. No matter how small.

As this year ends, we should do what we can to make 2017 better for everyone. And better for our planet.

Small Acts of Organization

No one has free time anymore. And if you do, it’s spend scanning emails or sitting and thinking, trying to remember that one thing that escaped your mind earlier in the day. Your house is a constant mess, you could never have friends and coworkers over spontaneously. Laundry is not done when you need it, let alone ironed! Your nails are chipped, your hair is over grown, and you cringe at the sight of your dirty car interior.

You may relate to one, or all, of the above scenarios. Just typing brought on a rather intense amount of stress. The point is, we’re all too busy and distracted. We spend hours pinning cleaning schedules and recipes, but never implement them into our routines. I am absolutely guilty of this, I adore an all encompassing to do list. Yet often times, all the tasks remain unchecked, in eternal undone limbo.

So without further ado I present to your my November series “Small Acts…” I intend to provide you with fast, valuable ways to improve your daily life. The holidays are here and New Year’s Resolutions will be made before too long, so what better time to start improving ourselves in the smallest of ways? We’ll kick off with possibly the nearest and dearest to my heart, organization. I’ve mentioned previously my affinity for planners – I even color blocked my daily time line back in college, long before it was cool. I have also posted about the importance of schedules, whether for cleaning or for your family. The point is to prioritize what will make your life easier.

small-acts-of-organization

Meal planning – I plan by the week, not the day. I have a set list of recipes I will make for the week (meatloaf, tacos, chicken and rice, chicken with barbecue sauce or a good french mustard…) and the other dinner are pasta, frozen pizza, or leftovers. Something quick and easy that we always have on hand. Which way do you prefer? If you prefer the set schedule so you can prep in advance, plan by the day. Sometimes we’ll have just had chicken for lunch or my husband ate lunch late, or didn’t have time for lunch at all. I am able to adapt to each situation.

Scheduling – We don’t have a lot going on outside of the home right now. Once Clint is old enough for sports, school, and activities, he will get his own color coded pen. Scheduling currently involves housework, exercise, pediatrician appointments, grocery shopping, and any appointments for myself. If I have an upcoming time period where I will be away from Clint, that means I need to prepare and pump a bottle for him. Knowing my grocery days aids in my aforementioned meal planning. Scheduling my workouts helps keep me accountable, I schedule five a week, though often I get in three or four. Since we go on frequent walks and I am currently breastfeeding, I don’t sweat it too much.

Planners/Calendars – Bullet journals are awesome. Well, they look awesome. At the moment, I don’t have the time or energy to create a weekly layout and plan, so I need a good planner instead. I love planners you can take with you, something large enough to hold an extra notepad or birthday cards to send out. Another alternative is keeping everything digital in an Apple or Google Calendar. I do both, a digital and physical calendar. You can share events on your digital one and I like the tangibility of having things written down as well. For a family, you may want to add in a calendar command center as well. A prominently displayed wall calendar with everyone’s schedule on it. This makes cross referencing easy and provides visual reminders.

Daily cleaning – I keep my housework on a weekly schedule, but there are certain tasks I do every day. Sweeping the kitchen, either washing dishes or running the dishwasher, wiping down surfaces as I go in both the kitchen and bathrooms. There are also certain windows our dog is obsessed with looking out of, I have to clean them every day or every other day. If I spend five or so minutes a day doing all of this, at least I am not totally off guard when someone stops by. Yeah, I would love for everything to be perfect all the time, but at least things are mostly clean.

Single tabbing – The majority of us have the tendency to get online and open up a few websites at once. Netflix, your favorite blog, something you intend on researching maybe, next thing you know, half an hour has gone by and your haven’t done much of anything. This is a bad habit of mine. I am working on only opening one thing at a time, I watch the video I want or look up that one thing I was curious about and am able to get off the computer faster. Give it a try for a week and let me know how it goes.

Keep an open mind. Try a couple of these tips out and see how they do, or don’t, work for you.

Stationery Must Haves – Back to School Style

There’s something about the start of a new school year that I just love. Though I haven’t gone “back to school” myself since 2010, the fresh planners and notebooks make this my almost favorite time of year, second only to my love of the Christmas season.

While we live in an increasingly digital age – people keep calendars in their iPhones and opt to bring their laptops to class instead of binders for notes I have always preferred paper products. Pretty pens/pencils, planners, notebooks, and all the desk accessories I can get my hands on. Stationery stores are my happy place. I’ve always been excited about school and learning, but my favorite part was sitting in class with a perfectly fresh notebook on my desk and a wonderfully smooth pen in my hand. Once a year or so I still treat myself to these new products and then obsess about finding the perfect purpose for each notebook and color coded Sharpie.

Back to School Collage-2

1 Kate Spade Mint Deco Sticky Note Set // 2 Blush Marble Custom Planner //
3 Everyday Calendar Stickers // 4 Le Pen – Amethyst //
5 Kate Spade Bow Paper Clips // 6 Foil Monogram Stationery // 7 Pantone Notebooks

Paper Source has the best planners. I’ve been getting my planners from there for a few years now, and am asking for a super cute customized one for Christmas. Keeping it organized can be tricky, I like to use post its for reminders, daily to do lists, or to simply help emphasize important tasks. Stickers are awesome as attractive appointment reminders and upcoming events, I like to use them on the monthly view pages and write in the detail on the weekly sheets.

Le Pens are great as they have a fine tip and don’t leak through to the next page. There are multi packs and a variety of colors. The amethyst one is my favorite. Cute paper clips make it easy to mark the month/week you are currently on. That way, you don’t have to be concerned about easy access or trying to keep it open on your desk. Some people swear by leaving their planners solely on their desk, as not to lose it, but I prefer to take it with me if I will be away for awhile or know I have scheduling to do.

Quality stationery should always be kept on hand in your home office. Currently, I’m really into anything monogrammed or personalized. Paper Sources selection is great and reasonably priced. Crane and Co. makes gorgeous cards with envelope details to boot, but it can be more costly.

Lastly, I find it difficult to resist a good notebook. I know a number of paper enthusiasts agree with me on this one! I currently have an embarrassingly large stash of notebooks in a variety of sizes, even those not too useful “pocket sized” ones. I use them to keep track of more intense lists and goals, or just to jot down things I find interesting when I read a book or listen to podcasts. I recycle the pages as I make my way through my long term agenda. Happy organizing!

May Faves

I can’t believe May is almost over. This month may have been so overwhelming due to the baby prep, but we are officially ready to go. The car seat is in, the nursery is set up, and I have our dog’s specific daily schedule on the fridge. My mind is constantly going with different ways I can help prepare everything and ease the transition into parenthood. Here are a few things that have eased the tension or aided in the preparation process this past month.

Home Item

Microfiber cleaning cloths

Microfiber cleaning cloths – These things are amazing. Our dog doesn’t shed a lot, but a weekly vacuum also doesn’t cut it in our household. I bought a pack of these microfiber cloths to use in place of disposable Swiffer cloths. Wash them in cold water before use and I create a little pile of the used ones and wash them separately or with rags to ensure clothes don’t get covered in the process.

 

Nursery Items

Mist and Gray Owls crib blanket

Mist and Gray Owls musical mobile

Mist and Gray Owl blanket and musical mobile – I ordered both of these and the anticipated delivery date was mid June. In the happy news department, they arrived today and I love them both. The blanket will go with us to the hospital to keep the baby warm on the way home, and the mobile is adorable.

Simply Love crib sheet

Simply Love crib sheet – We’re trying to go gender neutral on a lot of items, saves money for future children and not everything needs to be cars and manly items. I got our crib sheets from Target, they’re lightweight and perfect for warm summer weather. This sheet in particular is my favorite, it’s just too sweet.

SnackChile Spiced Mango

Trader Joe’s chile spiced mango – I haven’t had many cravings. There was one night I was beyond obsessed with getting my hands on KFC, but outside of that my indulgences haven’t been abnormal. The exception may be TJ’s chile spiced mango. To say I could go through an entire package in one sitting is an understatement. The longest one of these packages has lasted is three days, and that’s only because I forgot I had it! The dried mango is chewy, somewhat sweet, and not overly spicy. Delicious.

Go to Dress
Motherhood-Maternity-Black-Maxi-Dress

Motherhood Maternity Maxi Dress – The weather here is either rainy, cold, or unbearably hot. It’s remarkable how I can never seem to be comfortable. This dress looks fancy enough for a dinner out and it’s comfortable enough to wear to the dog park on an oppressively hot day. Trust me, I’ve done it.

Way to Pass the Day

Agatha Christie’s Poirot on Audible – I spend a lot of time organizing, cleaning, and walking the dog. Sometimes it’s nice to put a good book and zone out. I love Christie’s Hercule Poirot, I’ve seen nearly every episode on Netflix, but I can’t Netflix and walk so Audible is a great substitute. Most of them are narrated by none other than Hugh Fraser, aka Captain Hastings in the television series. You’re welcome in advance!

Hack Your Spring Cleaning

Hack Your Spring Cleaning
Spray | Apron no longer available – see my new fave here

We admittedly want to make every aspect of our lives easier, faster, and ten times more efficient. Naturally, this also extends to the desire to create a clean home. I have always been a bit clean obsessed. I am guilty of skipping activities or rushing home to oil baseboards and organize cabinets. This has been a habit of mine for roughly the last decade, so I can’t blame my pregnancy nesting tendencies for such antisocial acts. Ironically, I don’t feel the nesting part of my pregnancy has hit its fully peak yet. At month eight, I am surprised but I’m just going with the flow of my body and energy.

One reason I’m not overly concerned? I keep a pretty tidy home at all times. Even when I was in college working forty hours a week with a full school schedule my room was organized, my fridge was stocked, and I single-handedly kept the apartment from becoming a toxic waste zone. Point is, if you keep on top of it, you won’t be sweating bullets when someone pops over or wants to come in to use the restroom when they drop you off. Yeah, maybe everything isn’t immaculate, but your home isn’t an embarrassment either. How does one achieve this state of nirvana?

  • Create a [flexible] schedule: You’re going to want to track when you do what. That way you aren’t wasting time on a task you completed two days ago, or go two weeks without doing your more frequent tasks. For me I vacuum and mop on Mondays, clean bathrooms Tuesdays, grocery shop Thursdays, and dust and swiffer the house Fridays. Every two to three days I do a load of laundry and iron the necessary items when they are dry. This gives me an idea of what needs to be done each week. Last Monday I had a doctor’s appointment and really busy weekend preceded my appointment. Knowing this I vacuumed and mopped on Friday and Tuesday instead. Maybe our pup Dahu decides to run through mud puddles and drag in pieces of the sticks she likes to eat, this means I need swiffer and probably wash her bedding. I find this helps me not feel so overwhelmed by that last minute load of laundry or the pot of hot cocoa that exploded all over the stove – the later happens to me a shockingly frequent amount.
  • Don’t half ass it: Transitioning from cleaning and apartment to cleaning a house, especially when increasingly pregnant, has been overwhelming at times. A couple of weeks ago I was doing my Monday cleanings and really wanted to skip cleaning the upstairs bedrooms.” Our nursery and guest bedroom doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic”, I told myself. Plus, how dirty could our bedroom floor get in a week? Thankfully I hauled my gear upstairs and cleaned them anyway. While I don’t feel the need to take of my shoes every time I enter my house, or require the same of my guests, I know between our shoes, large puppy paws, and the shedding coming from both the dog and us those floors get plenty dirty in a weeks time.
  • Dress in your cleaning gear: One of my favorite bloggers, Jennifer Scott over at The Daily Connoisseur, advocates simply putting an apron on over your everyday clothes whenever you clean. I don’t know how she does this and doesn’t ruin her clothes. Maybe I am unbelievably clumsy, or maybe I am paranoid about ruining the handful of things that fit me really well at this point in time, but I could never follow her advice. I put my hair up in one of those very fashionable claw clips, pull on my yoga pants, a fitted tee, and some socks I don’t mind getting dirty. I don’t like to clean in shoes because I always manage to leave dirty spots behind and cleaning barefoot just feels weird.
  • Don’t force it, embrace organization whenever the mood strikes you: There are a few big tasks left in our house. I have to sort through my office things, touch up the paint on the nursery and guest bedroom walls, and finish organizing my closet. As of last week, I also had to get the nursery closet going, but I did manage to cross that off my list. Most of us do our best work when inspired to do so. It is much more productive to dedicate five minutes of passion to a task then to stare blankly at said task while you feel overwhelmed and unmotivated. That being said, has that item been on your to do list for longer than two weeks? Time to get your caffiene fix or put on your best play list and accomplish it already.
  • Brainstorm: As a new home owner the number of things to clean and care for are more than I initially imagined. We have large furniture, a fire place, a laundry room, and a number of things I wasn’t used to maintaining previously. This required me to do a run through of things that will need regular, though not weekly, attention. I now dust the baseboards and windows once a month, check the yard for trash, clean the lower window panes twice a week (they end up covered in dog nose smudges), wipe down exterior doors, ect. I cannot begin to express how many things I have noticed because they were neglected previously. With us here creating a new start, I am determined to keep on top of these things so they don’t get back to their previous state! There are a number of things I am missing out on I am sure of it, but learning those things will come with time.
  • Treat Yo’ Self: I cannot believe how busy I have found myself since leaving work and moving out to the suburbs. This means I suffer burn out just as much as when I was working and dealing with the hustle and bustle of the city. Once a week I do something specific to relax and recharge. Maybe I rent a movie on iTunes that I have been dying to see, or reward myself with a new beauty or cleaning product I want to try. This week, I ordered The Longevity Book by Cameron Diaz for my next post cleaning spree read.

Follow these tips each week. That way when your monthly, quarterly, or biannual to dos pop up, you’re already coming from a good place. What if everything is hopelessly dirty and disasterous? Start with your schedule, don’t feel the need to do more than two tasks a day – though I wouldn’t discourage three or four, and realize you have time. No you don’t want to live in a dismal state forever, but the more you force something on yourself the more you are going to get burnt out. A clean home is like a healthy lifestyle, and it is part of a healthy lifestyle. The whole point is to make it manageable and something you are able to maintain. Hate cleaning and want to hire a service? If you can afford to do so, go for it, but be capable of doing daily maintenance yourself. No one likes a helpless homeowner who can genuinely not keep up with their surroundings. So get your rockin’ playlist, your empowering drink of choice, and your yoga pants and get to work!

This post was inspired by MakeSpace, a new type of self storage service available at various locations.

Organization Motivation

We moved into our home two months ago. It’s crazy how quickly the time has gone by, though we are officially suburbanites as we switched our licenses to our new address last week. While all of our large items and the majority of our belongings are organized and stored in their proper homes, half the rooms have the lurking pile of stuff which I am not sure where to place. In times like this I rely on external motivation. While I usually will down a triple grande soy latte or venti iced coffee and get to work, my future child would not appreciate the caffeine overload, so I am on my own. Kind of.

Honestly, thank goodness we live in the technological age. Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, my favorite blogs, that’s where I go to to get inspired. Nothing makes you feel more like a slob than realizing you’ve spent an hour reading through blog posts that speak to your hyper organized soul and you’ve done nothing about your own space. So where/what has been kicking my butt into gear?

Organization Motivation

  1. The Daily Connoisseur blog and YouTube – I also own all three of her books and they have convinced me I was a Francophile 1950’s housewife in a past life. Some of her advice can seem dated and not applicable to a lot busy women, but I also find it a nice change from a lot of superficial content out there.
  2. The Simply Luxurious Life blog – Shannon covers everything from fashion (her picks are ageless), to new books, to inspiring bits of insight. Plus, as a list obsessed person, her archive is a joy to peruse at any given time.
  3. Honey We’re Home blog – I’ve only been reading this blog since around the new year, but I like the variety of content she offers. Fashion, home decor, and she has recently had her second child so I am eating up all of her baby posts for help on what to do in the coming months!
  4. How Jen Does It YouTube – This is a channel I am new to, I came across a mention of it in a video from The Daily Connoisseur. Jen posts tips, Q & A’s, and “clean along” videos which make you feel a bit like a stalker, but I find something very calming about watching other people tidy up.
  5. My Instagram favorites? A Bowl Full of LemonsPearls, Lace, and Grace, and The Home Edit are probably my top three for visually calming images.

I am all for any site that advocates a routine to keep things clean and simple. I don’t want someone telling me I need to buy more clutter to organize and clean my clutter and THEN I will be ready to get started. No. I’m all about simplicity. Though I do really need to get a box for our wrapping paper so we can get that out of the living room.