12.23.2012

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas!

I will be taking a short winter break from the blog but look forward to discussing my favorite topics with you when I get back.

Thank you for all of your messages and requests. I read and appreciate them all even though I am not always able to respond...

Wishing you and your family peace, good health and prosperity going into the new year. See you soon!

PS- Gatsby sends his love ♥


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12.20.2012

How Not to Overindulge Over the Holidays



Before this post begins I have a few very special announcements:

♥ I am going to be a regular contributing writer for Huffington Post Style! It's a major honor for me to be aligned with such a prestigious publication. Here is my first article, sharing my DIY, cost-effective fruit decorations for the holidays.

♥ Huffington Post Canada has picked Lessons from Madame Chic as one of the best fashion books of the year! To read the article, click here.

OK I had to get those out of the way because they were too exciting not to mention first :)

I've received a lot of requests recently to discuss overindulging with food over the holidays (how not to, specifically). So that is what I am discussing in today's YouTube video.

You know me, I don't like to deprive myself of anything... but this comes with a few caveats. Watch my video to see how I make this philosophy work for me. If you are unable to see the embedded video, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

I would love to know... what are your tips for not overindulging over the holiday season?


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12.17.2012

Chic Gift Wrap for the Holidays



This past weekend I went to see the Los Angeles Ballet perform the Nutcracker at UCLA's Royce Hall. It was a magical production. I've seen the Nutcracker several times but this year's performance was particularly special. I appreciated the artistic choreography and the familiar, beautiful music. The dancing was mesmerizing and I especially loved seeing the children dance in the ballet... joy emanating from their precious movements.

I like to slow down during the holiday season, cut out all of the hype and unnecessary spending and take pleasure from the simple things: lots of baking, decorations from nature (as you've seen in the last few posts), spending time with family, enjoying the arts and (as you will see this week) getting creative with wrapping presents.

Chic Gift Wrap

Brown paper packages tied up with string... the secret behind my budget-friendly, yet very chic, gift wrap. The key to dressing up your special brown package is in the accessories: beautiful ribbon, unique gift tags or natural materials like raffia, dried fruit and lavender.

If you are unable to see my embedded video, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

Book News

♥ Check out my interview with Kimberlee from I Have A Degree In This about blogging, publishing and Lessons from Madame Chic. (This same article was also posted on Lucky Magazine's website!) Thank you Kimberlee!

♥ Phyrra is hosting a giveaway of Lessons from Madame Chic on her lovely beauty blog. Enter here.

A final word
I would like to extend my condolences to the families affected by the tragic events in Connecticut this past week. My heart goes out to everyone affected. I pray that we as a society can come together to fix the problems that lie behind these senseless tragedies.

To donate to the Sandy Hook Elementary Victims, you can do so here via United Way.

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12.13.2012

Chic, Budget-friendly Christmas Ornaments



It can be very tempting to go overboard and spend a fortune on holiday decorations... but really there is no need. You can create your own natural, chic decorations at home.

Each year I like to create my own homemade ornaments from dried citrus fruit. These ornaments are budget-friendly (not to mention kid-friendly!) but also look so elegant.

You will need:

Citrus fruit (you can use oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, satsumas, etc.)
parchment paper
baking sheet
raffia (or some other natural string)

Thinly slice the citrus fruit and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in a low oven (220° F) for 6 hours. While the fruit is drying, they fill your home with the most amazing scent! Once dry, string with raffia and hang them on your tree.

I also like to use bows as ornaments, which is another cost-effective decorating idea.

To learn more about dried citrus fruit ornaments and to see our Christmas tree, check out my video. If you are unable to see the embedded video, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

Book News

Matchbook Magazine has picked Lessons from Madame Chic for their holiday gift guide this year as the perfect gift to give your très chic best friend.

♥ Lessons from Madame Chic also received a great review on The Gilmore Guide to Books this week.

♥ Check out this adorable Tumblr page from Simon & Schuster featuring the perfect gifts for the Francophiles in your life.

♥ Congratulations to the three winners of the big Simon & Schuster Giveaway: Jacqueline Jones, Neva Sarenana and Felicia Loveys! Simon & Schuster will contact you to arrange shipment of your prize packets.

See you next week when we'll discuss chic, budget-friendly gift wrap!



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12.10.2012

Sugared Fruit Centerpiece



Every holiday season I love to create this elegant centerpiece of sugared fruit. When displayed in a footed bowl or on a tiered cake stand, this inexpensive centerpiece looks grand and opulent.

You will need:

seasonal fruit
greenery (in the video I use rosemary, but you can use any foliage from your garden or even greens from your Christmas tree)
egg whites (I use two)
a brush
superfine sugar
aluminum foil (to help dry the fruit)
a pretty bowl or tiered cake stand

Watch my video to see how to create this Victorian inspired centerpiece. If you are unable to see my embedded video, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

Music in the video: Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from the Nutcracker Suite (naturally!)

This week I would love to know... what is your favorite holiday centerpiece?

Book News

I'm so pleased Lessons from Madame Chic is featured in Matchbook Magazine's holiday gift guide! Check out the coverage here.

This week I will be a guest on the WKRQ radio show, Amy's Table: A Girl's Guide to Living. I'll be sure to post links as soon as they are available.


Have a great week. Wishing a Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate. See you soon! x



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12.06.2012

Special Guest Post: Biz Etiquette by Cassie Piasecki

Fellow blogger and etiquette aficionado Cassie Piasecki has recently released her handy etiquette guide for small business owners and freelancers called BizEtiquette. I asked Cassie to write a guest post for the Daily Connoisseur on her top five business etiquette tips. Her lovely picture and article are below. Thank you Cassie!


5 BizEtiquette Tips by Cassie Piasecki

When Jennifer asked me to give some BizEtiquette tips for small biz owners, I was thrilled. Having great etiquette is not only smart as a proprietor, it is classy and chic. With the current unemployment rate, entrepreneurship has become increasingly popular in our country. Competition is stiff and first impressions count!

Here are my Top 5 BizEtiquette Tips:

1. My Office aka Working From Starbucks
You’ve got to start somewhere. Not everyone can afford the rent on a brilliant space right out of the gate. That being said, if you are making a call from your “office”, make sure your barking dog is out of earshot. And, if we can hear the barista call out, “triple red eye for Steve”, it’s best to take the V.I.P. call in your quieter office…the car.

2. Schedule Wisely
A lunch meeting can easily suck up your entire day, cost you extra money and widen your waistline. Schedule your meetings first thing in the morning with a set time that you need to get back to your office or make it a late afternoon chat, after you have completed a good chunk of your to do list.

3. But Your Website Says…
Stuff happens, things change and code gets screwed up. Once a month do a thorough check of your website. Nothing says “unprofessional” like images that don’t upload, links that don’t work or contact information that has changed.

4. Heated Phone Conversations
Are you the gal behind the counter? When the print shop calls to tell you that your project will be delayed (again) and you are in the company of clients or employees, don’t lose it. You set the tone of the shop, office, café, etc.

5. The 5 Second Clean Up
Having a client over to your office? Jeez! I hope it doesn’t take more than 5 seconds to tidy up. You are organized, right? Besides making sure your workplace is neat, take a look in the restroom and kitchen area (if you have it).

Cassie Piasecki is Pro-Brainstormer. She is obsessed with entrepreneurs, a fitness freak, tech geekette, a stickler for good manners and author of BizEtiquette. You can read more about her on her blog and follow her on Twitter.

This week we would love to know... what are some of your favorite business etiquette tips?

Book News
Thank you to all of the amazing publications that have mentioned Lessons from Madame Chic recently. I am overwhelmed by your support!

Thank you to:

The Smoky Mountain News
The Elizabeth Letter
Chic On The Street
No-Nonsense Beauty Blog
Isabelle Lafleche at Pink Lemonade
Kathryn Bechen INK
FABZILLA
Reginah's Runway

Thanks again to Cassie... see you all next week!

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12.03.2012

Look Presentable Always



Looking presentable always. A concept that may seem obvious to many people, but is something I think we as a society desperately need to discuss.

Looking presentable on a daily basis may initially seem like a shallow and superficial concept, but really it is about so much more than appearances. It's about respect. It's about tradition. It's about honoring formalities that seem to be going by the wayside.

We've all seen people at the airport walking around in their pajamas. Or worse yet we've seen people wearing jeans and tennis shoes (or worse) to dressy events. When I see these things I am always reminded of my favorite film stars from the 30s and 40s like Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. What on earth would they think? They lived in a time when people used to dress beautifully for everything from airplane travel to running an errand at the corner store.

To hear more of my thoughts on the subject, check out this week's video. If you are unable to see the embedded video, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

This week I would love to know... what are your thoughts on looking presentable always?

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