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Friday, 23 September 2016

Slow Living In A Fast City

I know, I know, it has been forever since my last post.  I do have a good excuse though.  The slow onset of Autumn  meant Autumnal rain.  Unfortunately, while Monsieur was out and about recently during a rainy day, his crutches went out from under him and he fell and broke his leg.  Even more unfortunately, the break was on the side that he had just had his hip implant!  Life had to slow down if not come to a standstill.  During such times, I try to think of things that I am grateful for to lift the spirits.  My Russell Hobbs kettle, which has been my workhorse in the kitchen for the past 20 years, finally sprung a leak.  Obviously, as it has been 20 years since I last bought a quality kettle, I had a heart attack when I ventured into the shops and looked at the prices.  What?!! Have things changed that much?  And do I sound like my grandmother? (Yes...)

Imagine my thrill at coming across a vintage Russell Hobbs kettle, in near mint condition, that was the exact same model as my trusty workhorse?  It is made in Great Britain which you hardly ever see anymore.  Truly, when I found the kettle, I felt like my guardian angel was keeping an eye out for me and that the universe did have my back.  
Putting the kettle on for my morning cuppa is a ritual of mine that sets me up for the day.   I had just run out of my preferred tea when, quite luckily, a friend gifted me some Japanese matcha tea. Admittedly, matcha tea is an acquired taste and not really on my favourites list.  However, quite surprisingly, I have developed a fondness for it.  The bags are a mesh silky nylon and you can see little granules of toasted brown rice mixed in with the tea leaves.

The brown rice gives the tea a nutty flavour which makes it a satisfying drink in the morning.  It is almost like a liquid meal but without the calories.  Are you a coffee or tea drinker?

This week, I am linking up with Share Your Cup and Woman In Real Life.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Summer Makeup

Hello Friends,  Summer is finally upon us!  I don't know about you but my face tends to become an oilslick by the end of the day.  I am not quite sure what it is about an office environment but the recycled air just causes my skin to go into hyperdrive.   I really wanted to find makeup that would last 8 hours plus in the office.  I came across this fantastic coral toned blush from Too Faced that is supposed to last 16 hours (!).

I haven't had it on for 16 hours but I have had it on for at least 12 hours and yes, it does last without fading even without primer. Granted, I am in an office and not at the gym but so far so good!  The coral tone gives a natural, subtle flush and is perfect with a summer tan.  And check out the little bunnies pressed into the powder.

How cute is that?  When I showed it to Monsieur, he immediately said I would be reluctant to use it and it is true.  I have been swirling my brush very carefully around the bunnies.  And what's not to love about a heart shaped compact?
Lately, I have also been obsessed with my Stila waterproof eyeliner.  This stuff stays on!

The last addition in my Summer makeup collection is these very cool looking Sephora blotting papers.  They are made of charcoal.  They come inside a handy mirrored compact and soak up the shine like nobody's business.  Now I am on the hunt for a long wearing lipstick.  Most longwearing lipsticks tend to dry out the lips so if you have any suggestions let me know!
Lastly, I have finally hopped on to the Instagram wagon.  You can find me at @lheurebleuewithchloe and @lheurebleueathome.

I am linking up with Share Your Cup.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Planning Ahead For When Life Gets Stressful

Hello Friends!  Monsieur is out of the hospital.  Thank you for your well wishes.  While he was recuperating, I had a lot of time to think over what I wanted to talk about here.  Sometimes, life throws you unexpected curve balls and sometimes you know those curve balls are coming.  What can you do for those times in life that you know are going to be stressful?  I have assembled a check list of sorts that might help.

1) Stockpile necessities.  I live in a small home with not a lot of storage space so I don't do any sort of extreme stockpiling (I admit that I have watched episodes of "Extreme Couponers" with stunned fascination at the idea of turning a basement or garage into one's personal Costco warehouse).  Also, coupons are not as easily available here and things like catalinas and coupon stacking are either rare or nonexistent in Canada.  So creating a stockpile on short notice can, in and of itself, just add stress.  However, if you see a good sale or a price that you know is the rock bottom price, then, if you can, buy a few extra.  This way, you don't have to drop everything to run out for a tube of toothpaste.

2) Be honest and tell your friends and family that you are going through a stressful time.  If you have a support system, now is the time to lean on that system, knowing that one day, when they are going through a stressful time, you will be reciprocating.  I don't have a support system nearby but a quick long distance phone call to a bestie does wonders for my mood.

3) Learn to say no.  This goes hand in hand with Number 2.  This is something that has always been hard for me as I invariably tend to feel loads of guilt at the very thought of saying "No."  If there is a regular commitment like a potluck dinner that you always attend, it is okay to say that you can't make it because you don't have the time to bring something.  If they are true friends, they will probably tell you to forget it and come anyway!

4) Meal prepping in advance.  Having something that has already been prepared which you can just chuck on the stove or in the oven is such a timesaver and stress alleviator (is that a word?).

I will readily acknowledge that sometimes you may be in such a time crunch that the very thought of meal prepping may be too much.  You know what?  I don't see anything wrong with buying prepared frozen meals and keeping them on hand in a freezer for those times when you just want to go on autopilot and not think too much about "What's For Dinner?!!"  Sure, it may not be the healthiest or cheapest option but if it gets you from A to Z and stops you from losing your mind, then do it.

5) Automate as many things as possible.  Put bills on auto-debit so that you don't have to think about paying them.  Believe me, when you are stressed, so many things that you are normally on top of, just fly out the window.

6) If you have outstanding items on a "To-Do" list, try to do them ahead of time.  Do you need to go to the dentist?  Is there a checkup at the doctor that you have been putting off?  Do them now, cross them off the list and then put them out of your mind.  This can also apply to mundane tasks.  You would not believe the loads of laundry I did in the week prior to Monsieur's surgery.  I swear the laundry breeds during the night whilst I am sleeping but I finally made a big dent in it and got caught up with the ironing too.  Yay, me!  As I tidied and organized the house, I even managed to take a bag of donations to the thrift store.  Woohoo!

7) When did multitasking become all the rage?  Try unitasking which allows you to focus on just one task at a time.  Do that task and then move on to the next.  Completing that one task gives you the confidence and the motivation to try another task.  I have found that those rushed, scattered feelings begin to disperse when I lean towards unitasking.

8) Lastly, but most importantly, be kind to yourself.  Forget about being Superwoman or Superman. Because I don't have a support system nearby, I had to learn to be my own cheerleading squad.  Know that you are doing your best to keep home and hearth together and no one can ask more of you than that.  I read somewhere about the magic of just thinking about what you need to do in the next five minutes.  And then the next five minutes after that.  All things pass and this time will pass too.

Do you have any tips to share?  I think if we all pool our wisdom we could come up with some wonderful ideas that would really help!  I would really welcome your suggestions.

I am linking up with Share Your Cup.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Grateful For

Hello All!  This has been a strange week with highs and lows.  I celebrated a birthday.   It just so happened that my new glasses, a sure sign of the passing of another year, were ready to be picked up on the day.

I had to finally admit to myself that I needed new glasses (and progressive lenses at that) as it was getting too frustrating to keep lifting them up to read small or fine print.  Luckily, lenses have come a long way since my mother's day when you could see the telltale line going across the middle.  When I put on my new glasses, I felt so thankful and grateful.  The frames of my old ones had warped so they sat crookedly on my face and  the arms were bent out of shape too.  It just felt fantastic to have glasses that sat properly and securely and to have the proper prescription too.  There was a really good sale at the optometrist's at the time which made the prescription, while still very expensive, not horrifically out of reach.  I used the points from my glasses towards getting a pair of sneakers.

Yes, I am finally at an age where comfort trumps fashion!  They are my first new pair of sneakers in 15 years.  And I have to say, they are incredibly comfortable.  It was a bit odd at first walking around in a pair of flat shoes but the ease and comfort have me sold.

And finally, birthday flowers from Monsieur.  He is getting a hip implant tomorrow.  The first attempt a year ago was a disaster with the surgeon breaking his femur into 5 pieces.  The second attempt will be performed by a new surgical team.  We are hoping and praying that all goes well.  Please send lots of positive thoughts his way!  I am going to do my best to keep up with blogging but, if it is a little quiet around here for a while, it will be because I am busy going to the hospital.  Otherwise, I will "see" you on the flip side.

I am linking up with Share Your Cup.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

What I Am Wearing

Hello All!  I admit that I am a bit of a nosy parker and really love "What Is In My Handbag" and "What I Am Wearing Now" posts.  I can have a virtual rummage through someone's handbag and ogle their closets.  So today I thought I would do a "What I Am Wearing" post.  Winter came late this year and so I am still wearing a winter coat and boots when I go out.

The red tote bag was a Christmas gift.  It is vegan leather so I am curious to see how it will hold up over time.  I love how leather ages over time and just looks better and better but I am definitely open to trying vegan leather.  Of course, I remember when vegan leather was simply known as "vinyl" (!!).
Do you get bored with wearing the same winter outfit over and over again?  I have really embraced having a capsule wardrobe but when faced with the winter glooms, wearing the same winter coat for months on end does tend to add to the general seasonal dreariness.  One way I get around this is to switch out my accessories on a regular basis.

I have a small collection of vintage brooches, all thrifted, which I love and I will pin one to my coat just to add a bit of fun.  I love the penguin as he is such a cute little guy and reminds me of "March of the Penguins" (which I have never been able to watch all the way through because I get too caught up in the fate of the penguin chicks).  Do you have a favourite?

I do hope Spring will finally show itself.  Then I will switch out my wool scarves to a silk scarf.  I have a small collection of vintage scarves too which I love.  Scarves are a great way to change up an outfit.  Because almost all of my accessories were thrifted and/or vintage, they didn't cost a fortune and, when I look at my wardrobe, I don't feel a sense of deprivation because I know I can switch up a look if I am feeling a sense of ennui.  Do you have any thrifty fashion tips that you would like to share?

I am linking up with Share Your Cup and Woman In Real Life.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Being OK With Good Enough

Hello Friends!  I have so much on my mind these days. Do you ever have minutes, hours, days like that?  So today, I thought I would just ramble a bit and have a chat with you.  The uppermost thing on my mind is something that I read in a national newspaper.  It was about the rise of "fast home decor."  Much like "fast fashion,"  the article blared out that consumers needed to be "educated" about throwing out their current home decor and replacing it regularly (how regularly?  Every 2 weeks?)  with whatever is trending at the moment.  One interior designer opined, "I honestly think the home decor shopping cycle is not what it should be...I don't think that it's as cyclical as it could be or maybe should be in terms of the way that people live in their homes.  I think there's a laziness to the way we treat our home accessories..."  It doesn't help that with Spring and Easter around the corner, I always feel the desire to freshen up my home.

Vintage Easter Papier-Mache Eggs
 Now I don't know about you but my wallet would disappear in a puff of smoke if I was replacing my home decor over and over again.  Never mind the horrendous impact on the environment of constantly tossing out things.  To be honest with you, way, way back when I lived with my family far out in the 'burbs and driving into the city on a Saturday was an enormously exciting event, I would probably have read the article without blinking an eye and come away feeling like a country bumpkin, woefully out of step with "fashion."    The one constant message I have had thrown at me all my life, from demanding parental figures, and now from clever marketers, is "You are not good enough."  I absorbed that message and it became a running voice in my head that lead to constant feelings of inadequacy.  So I would work myself into the ground trying to gain approval, juggling multiple balls in the air.  Moving to the city as a university student,  I was seduced by the siren call of endless high end stores that called out to me to buy the latest hot thing.  I would see these fashionable girls on the street and I would want to be just like them.  Looking back,  I am embarrassed thinking of the money I wasted on the latest trendy thing and how I would mindlessly toss it aside as soon as the newness had worn off.

Vintage Papier Mache Egg.  I have to face the fact that I have a collection.  But look at the adorable faces!
With time and age, comes a semblance of wisdom.  Slowly, I have become more and more comfortable in my skin.  I know what I like and don't like.  I like vintage things, I like that they have scratches and scrapes because it is part of the history of the piece which makes them unique.  I like having something on display in my home that I have had for a long time because it uplifts me and makes me happy.  Don't get me wrong, I love going into decor shops and admiring all the pretty new things on display.  But now I can admire what I see and walk out again. Or I can absorb the ideas and try to recreate it in my own way, putting my own stamp on it. When I do buy something, I have thought about it and bought it hoping that it will last me a long time. And you know what?  That growing sense of sureness in myself feels sooo good.  Instead of comparing myself and my home to a gorgeous magazine layout,  I am learning to be ok with my home.  Maybe this is all part of learning to be okay with me.  My home may not be good enough for Architectural Digest but it is good enough for me.  And maybe I will always be a Country Mouse in a big city but that is okay too.

I am linking up with Have A Daily Cup Of Mrs Olson and Woman In Real Life.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Establishing A Morning Routine

Hello Friends!  Are you a morning person?  I admit that I have always been a night owl.  Even when I was a child, often I would wake up surrounded by my beloved books because I had fallen asleep reading far into the night.  Over and over again, I have heard how productive people wake up very early.  I have tried to be an early riser (by which I mean waking up at 5 am or earlier) and have failed miserably.  Living with someone who has a laundry list of health issues, more often than not, I am up and down quite a few times during the night.  By morning, I am a zombie.  However, I have found that, no matter if I have an early or late start, I have a morning routine that helps me start the day in a calm frame of mind.  When I refer to a morning routine, I don't mean one where you are scrambling to get the kids' lunches together or madly doing the dishes from the night before.  I mean one where you take a few moments just for yourself.

For me, my morning routine starts with a cup of green tea.  Even at the height of summer, I must have a cup of green tea.  There is a calming ritual to putting the kettle on, waiting for the water to boil and then waiting for the tea to steep.  I use full leaf tea, not tea bags as usually, tea bags are filled with the fannings, essentially tea dust, from tea production which is the lowest grade of tea.  Besides, I love taking the time to wait for the leaves to slowly unfurl.  It is such a lovely sight.  If you have some favourite china or a pretty mug or cup, use it!  Don't save it "for best", but savour using it every day.

Breakfast is usually light, a piece of fruit and yoghurt.  Sometimes I'll have oatmeal if it's winter.  Lately, I have found that saying an affirmation really helps me set my intention for the day.   There have been times when I couldn't get out of my bed because I was so overwhelmed with anxiety and dread for the coming day.  To help guide me through my day, I make a list of things I would like to accomplish on top of anything else that forms the day.  Are you a list maker?  So as not to feel overwhelmed, I started with just one thing. It doesn't matter if it is something inconsequential.  For example, last week, I put on my list to send out a thank you note that I had been procrastinating on for days.  When I sent out that note, there was a sense of accomplishment and completion that motivated me to continue to do another task.  This is especially important if one's mind is struggling with feelings of overwhelm.  Now I usually have about 3 tasks on my list. I know that 3 tasks might sound piddly but, again, the point is to build confidence.  Also, depending on how much time you have, you don't want to spend your entire morning routine writing a miles long to-do list!

I also spend a few moments in meditation.  Honestly, I think I have been meditating for years and not even known it!  Recently, I was listening to a podcast and the discussion was on the various meditating techniques. I had no idea that there were so many techniques.  I just thought there was just one which involved a lot of convoluted breathing exercises and chanting.  All I know is that even a few moments of meditating (or praying) is incredibly relaxing and centering for me.  I have also started a gratitude journal.  I am not sure whether to switch this to the evening as it seems to make more sense to me to write out what things occurred during the day that I am grateful for.  Do you have a gratitude journal?  Do you journal in the morning or evening?  And that's it, my morning routine.  Do you have a morning routine?

I am linking up with Share Your Cup at Have A Daily Cup With Jann Olson
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