Happy Holidays from The Daily Connoisseur

10:04 AM 17 Comments

Happy Holidays from The Daily Connoisseur!

We (that is, Gatsby and I) wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous 2012.

In this new year may you follow your instincts and dreams, turn the mundane into the extraordinary and infuse passion into every aspect of your life.

Thank you for being such an integral part of this blog and thank you for making my book Lessons from Madame Chic such a great success in 2011!

I will be taking a mini holiday break from The Daily Connoisseur but will resume posts and videos on Monday, January 2nd.

If you are unable to see the embedded video above where Gatsby and I send you our season's greetings, you can click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

Wishing you all the best,

Jennifer x

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Downton Abbey, Holiday Musings and A Winner is Announced!

3:44 PM 12 Comments

Holiday Musings

I can't believe Christmas and New Year are just around the corner. I had lofty ambitions of doing seasonal posts here on The Daily Connoisseur. I was going to share with you my favorite holiday candle (which, incidentally is Voluspa Goji & Tarocco Orange). I was going to make holiday cookies and homemade fudge (I still plan on doing this- probably on Christmas eve). I was going to work on a spectacular holiday floral arrangement and perhaps shoot a YouTube video on how I did it.

Ah, these were all lovely thoughts. But the reality of this holiday season is slightly different. Our Christmas tree only has ornaments on the top half of the tree because my baby daughter has an obsession with tearing down the ornaments and eating them. Rather than making a gingerbread house we have a life sized cardboard gingerbread house where Gatsby and baby like to stash various important items (like my keys and mobile phone), and being pregnant with my second child has rendered me quite exhausted come evening so even the thought of making dinner seems daunting, throwing all rose colored thoughts of baking cookies and making fudge out the window.

Yes, the joys and chaos of daily family life have taken over! I am not going to fight the current up stream- I am letting go of the oars to join in with the blissful havoc.

Downton Abbey

Before the end of the year I wanted to mention the wonderful Masterpiece series Downton Abbey. My friend Romi turned me on to this first rate show- PBS aired it this year and the first season is now on DVD. I'm sure many of you have already seen it but for those of you that haven't- it is a must see series. It is a British period drama (which I have a particular weakness for) with an amazing cast and an even more enthralling story line. I mention it now because the second season is airing in America on PBS on January 8th. Television rarely gets me excited but I am setting my DVR and cannot wait to see what the second season brings.

And the Winner Is...

Thank you for all of you that entered last Thursday's Skindinavia giveaway. I really enjoyed reading about your favorite makeup items- what great recommendations! I wish we could give away one to each of you but there can only be one winner... So without further ado, the winner, who was picked at random by a number generator, is:

Tatiana Ch (TatiKto) from Mexico City!

Congratulations Tatiana! Please email me your shipping address so I can pass the information on to Skindinavia. Enjoy your makeup setting spray.

Lessons from Madame Chic

My book, Lessons from Madame Chic, was mentioned on two fabulous blogs this week. The lovely Fiona at How to be Chic wrote a great review. As did the delightful LR at Magnificent or Egregious. Both are wonderful blogs that are on my reader list- I hope you love them too!

That is all until Thursday when Gatsby has a special holiday wish for you...

I would love to know... is your holiday season going as planned? Or have you given up like I have? :)

Our favorite Christmas nutcracker is pictured above.

The image of Downton Abbey is courtesy of www.monstersandcritics.com

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Skindinavia Giveaway! and My New Favorite Setting Powder

6:00 AM 28 Comments
Hello everyone I hope you are having a great week! This Thursday post has a makeup setting theme to it...

Let's start with the exciting giveaway first:

Ever since I reviewed Skindinavia finishing sprays on The Daily Connoisseur I have been hooked on using their finishing spray after every morning makeup application (no matter how minimal my le no makeup look is). A good finishing spray keeps your makeup in place for up to 8 hours- eliminating the need for touch-ups throughout the day.

Well Skindinavia has kindly offered to give away one of their best selling finishing sprays for winter, the Moisture Lock, to one lucky reader of The Daily Connoisseur!

The contest is open to everyone (not just the United States).

Here is how you enter:

- Please leave me a comment below telling me your favorite makeup item that you cannot do without (so that we can all get some good recommendations out of this!)

- In your comment please let me know how you follow The Daily Connoisseur (follower, email subscriber, kindle subscriber, twitter follower or YouTube subscriber).

- As a bonus, those that have read and reviewed my book, Lessons from Madame Chic, on either Amazon.com or BN.com will be entered twice in the giveaway! So please let me know.

- And finally unless you have a very unique online name, please leave me your first and last name (or last initial) so that I can properly enter you into the giveaway. I will announce the winner this coming Monday. Best of luck!

And now for the rest of this week's post...

Makeup For Ever HD Powder

And now on to a new beauty recommendation I have for you... my favorite new setting powder.

I purchased Makeup for Ever's HD (high definition) powder at Sephora because I had been looking for a translucent powder that created a flawless finish to my makeup and controlled shine (I get so shiny in pictures!)

After reading great reviews about this product on Sephora.com I decided to purchase this powder in the store and have been very pleased with the results.

**As a side note, a little goes a long way with this powder. Do not use too much or you might experience a powder faux pas when in front of flashing cameras as we have seen on some Hollywood starlets recently on the red carpet. Thank you to YouTube viewer thedodgerdog22 for mentioning this. I wore this powder on Thanksgiving where we took lots of pictures and turned out great in all of them, but then again I use very little on my powder brush!

To learn more about the powder, please watch my video above. 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

And lastly, Skindinavia is doing their own very fun contest this week called Backstage Beauty Access. Click here for details.

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On Living a Refined and Elegant Life

10:00 AM 13 Comments
I’ve been getting a lot of emails from readers lately that all have something in common- they are happy to have found an online community of people (us!) that share their quest to lead a more refined and elegant life.

We are a dying breed after all. We believe in etiquette, manners, traditions, and formalities. We want only quality in our lives- from our experiences to the things we possess. We are not interested in the rat race or keeping up with the Joneses. We are interested in taking pleasure in the small things, in clearing out the clutter of our lives and evolving each day. We want to not just exist, but to thrive.

I am so grateful to be a part of this community with you on The Daily Connoisseur where we can explore the very intricacies of these things together. Thank you for all of your emails, comments, tweets and postings- I read every single one.

And thank you to so many of you that have read Lessons from Madame Chic and who have told me how much you love the book and the lessons learned. If you’ve enjoyed the book, please share your experience with others by posting a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Doing so will help to spread the word and increase the online community of people who ‘get it’. ☺

Sending love from Santa Monica,

Jennifer x

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Lessons from Madame Chic and my Article with CNN

10:06 AM 25 Comments
Bonjour Everyone- I hope you're having a great week...

I was interviewed by CNN.com this week for my book Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris! Check out the article by clicking here.

Until next time!

Jennifer x

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My Makeup Brush Collection

3:30 PM 10 Comments

My makeup brush collection has always been a bit of a motley crew. When I started wearing makeup I started with Bare Minerals (still wear Bare Minerals 50% of the time) so most of my makeup brushes were mineral brushes. I take really good care of my brushes and make sure to shampoo them once a week (Sundays, for those that were wondering) and so some of my brushes have lasted as long as 5 years and are still going strong!

But the problem was I was also using my mineral brushes for non-mineral makeup application and wasn’t getting a very good result. But something in me resisted purchasing regular brushes. I had a few here and there but never a comprehensive set. So my makeup brushes, mineral and non, were all stored haphazardly in a bag making my morning le no makeup look application a bit confusing.

Then I got a 20% off coupon to Sephora and I decided to finally buy myself a comprehensive set of non-mineral makeup brushes. I bought the Sephora Prestige Makeup Brush collection that comes in this pretty charcoal quilted carrying case.

The brush set is very complete and contains every sort of brush one would need for applying makeup. The handles are strong and there is a little rhinestone at the base of each brush, which adds a nice glamorous touch.

The set includes:
- Fan (natural)
- Powder (natural)
- Blush (natural)
- Foundation (synthetic)
- Concealer (synthetic)
- Eyeshadow (natural)
- Crease (natural)
- Smudge (natural)
- Angled Liner (synthetic)
- Brow (natural and synthetic)
- Lip (natural)
- Brow/lash comb (synthetic)

The great thing about getting your brushes in a set, is you usually get quite a good value for your money. This set sells for $125 but the value of all individual brushes concerned is around $325. (And if you can use a coupon like I did and save even more, all the better). Also I plan on taking great care of these brushes as well so they will hopefully last at least five years and beyond!

For a closer look at my new makeup brush collection and to see each individual brush, have a look at my video above. 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

**Also my friends at Anytrip.com are doing a giveaway this week on their blog for a Free trip to London! Click here for details. Good luck!

Image courtesy of Sephora.com

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My Manicure: OPI's Vodka & Caviar (and Two Book Giveaways!)

4:54 PM 5 Comments

I don't make it to the manicurists that much anymore- probably about once a month. In the meantime I give myself manicures at home. So when I ventured out to the nail salon last week I decided to try a new color that I hadn't tried before to shake things up. I tried OPI's Vodka & Caviar- a delectably rich red. I like this red so much I rank it right up there with Essie's A-List.

A good nail polish evokes passion in me... and it's good to know I'm not the only one who feels like this! Daily Connoisseur reader LMK reminded me of this when she made a reference to the film, The Women, where the nail polish color Jungle Red causes a lot of waves.

It's true, red nail polish makes a definite statement. While I normally go for demure neutrals (Essie Mademoiselle and Diego Dalla Palma French Pink) I do like to wear red when I am feeling a bit dramatic or when I want to feel glamorous (which is very rarely these days- but when the mood strikes I capitalize on it!)

Watch my video, above, to see the nail polish on my fingers and to see where this lovely shade transports me (you know I love beauty products that transport 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

Book Giveaways-

And in other exciting news... There are two wonderful blogs that are doing a giveaway of my book Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris!

Kristi from La Bella Figura (who is the author of her own chic lifestyle book called La Bella Figura) is holding a giveaway for an autographed copy of my book.

... and Bliss from Stepping my Way to Bliss , who writes a wonderful blog and has a very cool Etsy shop that sells vintage handbags and other delights, is celebrating one year of blogging and is having a big giveaway this week- and an autographed copy of my book is one of her prizes.

So whether you already have a copy of Lessons from Madame Chic and want an extra one to give away as a gift or you have yet to get one for yourself, enter their giveaways for this great opportunity!

To enter Kristi's giveaway click here

To enter Bliss' giveaway click here

Also the wonderful Tish from A Femme d'Un Certain Age has mentioned The Daily Connoisseur and Lessons from Madame Chic on her blog this week... click here to check it out!

Until next time, I would love to know... what is your favorite nail polish color?

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Thank You

6:00 AM 12 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. This year I am thankful for so many things- my family, my friends and for all of you that make up this wonderful community on The Daily Connoisseur.

This weekend my book Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris debuted as a bestseller (#2) in books about Paris on Amazon.com! Thank you so much- I could not be more grateful!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend with your families.

Until next time... happy reading!

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Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris

7:00 AM 36 Comments

**Please Note- Lessons from Madame Chic will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released Nov. 6, 2012. Thank you for your patience regarding this matter. I promise the wait will be worth it :)

This book has been a labor of love. For those of you long time followers of The Daily Connoisseur you know this book was inspired by the countdown I did about the top 20 things I learned while living in Paris.

The book is 210 pages long- filled with never before heard stories and anecdotes from my time in Paris. I pored over my diaries for hours when writing it (which was a very cathartic experience- oh how I miss Paris!)

Each chapter represents a lesson I learned while living in Paris. Some of the lessons I learned from Madame Chic, some I learned from Madame Bohemienne and some I learned from the city of light itself. The chapters are divided into three sections: Diet and Exercise, Style and Beauty and How to Live Well.

Book Description:

Have you ever wondered what everyday life is like inside a modern, aristocratic Parisian household? The French are notoriously secretive when it comes to their private lives but Jennifer L. Scott’s Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris, uncovers the very secrets and lifestyle traits that allow Parisians to live such fulfilling and passionate lives.

Each chapter reveals a valuable lesson Jennifer learned while living behind Famille Chic’s doors in the exclusive 16th arrondissement in Paris. After the lesson is revealed, she provides tips and musings on how to translate the lesson to your own life. Some of the topics explored include: cultivating an air of mystery, le no makeup look, 10 item wardrobe, rejection of new materialism, the art of femininity and life as a formal affair.

I need your help promoting this book, so if you like it, please recommend it to your friends, review it on Amazon.com and mention it on your social networking sites.

Thank you so much for your support- I hope you love the book as much as I do!

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Lip Savvy Lip Gloss - A Beauty Review

8:30 AM 3 Comments

This week I have a review of a fun new product- Lip Savvy's innovative pout perfecting lip glosses. The people from Lip Savvy sent me their gloss in the shade My First Kiss (a very pretty soft pink) to review.

Lip Savvy glosses are over achieving glosses- they are anti-aging, anti-oxidant boosting lip plumping and moisturizing glosses all in one wildly packaged gloss. I was interested to try the gloss because I wondered how it would be possible to do all of those things and still achieve a pretty and likeable gloss. I say likeable because I have tried so many lip glosses that have been almost perfect, but not quite. Either they have a sticky consistency, or they taste bad, or (if they are lip plumpers) they sting the lips.

I am very pleased to report that Lip Savvy glosses have none of those unpleasant attributes, feel highly nourishing on the lips (and I have a problem with dry lips) and are long lasting. They also give the lips a slight plump without any uncomfortable side effects. What a treat to discover! Below are the different colors they offer:

And a look at the fun packaging:

For a more comprehensive review, please see my video above. If you are unable to see the video, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

The lip glosses sell for $18 and are available on their website www.belipsavvy.com

And lastly, thank you to everyone for your comments of love and support about the new baby. We are so thrilled and I am so grateful to be a part of this wonderful online community with you. Thank you.

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A Very Happy Announcement

4:55 PM 30 Comments

Hello Everyone,

Today brings a very happy announcement...

We are having another baby!

My husband and I are thrilled as is our daughter and, of course, Gatsby. I am in my second trimester and feeling great (if not somewhat exhausted). The new baby is due at the end of May and we couldn't be happier...

Happily I have not suffered from any nausea, but this pregnancy has had the very curious affect of rendering me totally exhausted at the midpoint of every day. This exhaustion has proven challenging and has tested me in the areas of keeping up the home (cooking dinner every night has been interesting), keeping up my beauty routine (le no makeup look is becoming more and more literal every day) and even keeping up this blog (I didn't shoot any videos for a while because I just didn't feel presentable)...

As I move into the second trimester though I find I have more energy and have even developed a few beauty and homemaking systems that have saved me time and have produced rather illustrious effects (all based on French philosophies, of course). I will divulge those later but for now I just wanted to share with you my happy news. Thanks in advance for your support.

And as for an update on the book... I am just as impatient as you are! I will not bore you with all of the technical issues of its pending publication, but suffice to say I *hope* to have it out before the end of this month. Thanks for all of your support with that matter as well!

I hope you have a wonderful week...

This Thursday I will be doing a post (and video) on a very cool new lip gloss on the market...

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Madame Chic and the Tablecloth

4:55 PM 12 Comments

Madame Chic (the Parisian host mother in my study abroad program) ran a very beautiful and efficient home. It was the details that mattered to her. One thing she always used was a tablecloth. The table would be considered naked without one.

Every night after dinner I would help her take the cloth off. We would do this carefully as baguette crumbs and other odds and ends usually gathered on the cloth’s surface. We would then walk to the kitchen window (their Parisian apartment was several floors up) and shake the cloth out the window as a way to remove all of the crumbs. Then if the tablecloth was still looking in top condition the cloth would be taken back to the table, if not it awaited its laundering the next day as fresh linens were ushered in.

It was such a simple activity, shaking the tablecloth out the window, but I remember really enjoying it and feeling rather ‘quaint’ while doing it.

Since I’m back in America I have brought with me Madame Chic’s love of tablecloths and always have my own table adorned. Of course crisp white is perfect for elegant occasions (formal or casual), bright colors are lovely for adding life to a room and seasonal hues are perfect for ushering in the holiday spirit.

I also like to experiment with layering different textures or colors together on the table. Below is the table I set for the Royal Wedding Tea Party I threw last spring. Here I layered a marigold colored linen cloth that I picked up during my travels in Sri Lanka on top of a plain white table cloth purchased from Williams Sonoma.

So that I am not constantly laundering tablecloths after ordinary dinners at home (some how we are a little messier at dinner time than Famille Chic) we generally put place mats on top of the cloth when we have dinner to avoid too many spills.

And because I live in a townhome I still employ Madame Chic’s quaint technique of shaking the cloth out the window after dinner. Although regarding that I do have a word of caution- It is important when shaking the cloth out the window (especially if you live on the second floor or higher) to make sure that a.) no one is underneath the tablecloth when you shake it and b.) that there is nothing valuable like a silver spoon hiding in the folds of the cloth (please learn from my mistakes).

And as a side note, I am not in love with our dining room set. But since it's not in our budget right now to update it with a new one, I find that a tablecloth really dresses it up and makes me forget the set's less desirable qualities...

I would love to know… do you use tablecloths? How do you dress your table?

Madame Chic's beautifully laid table is the first picture featured... Oh the wonderful dinners that were had at that table!

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My Favorite Sunglasses

11:32 AM 7 Comments

This week's video shows you my sunglass collection. I laugh when I say 'collection' because I only ever have two pairs of sunglasses. As with my capsule wardrobe and makeup collection- I have a capsule sunglass collection too!

I like to go for classic shapes and avoid anything too trendy. Sunglasses can be expensive so I go for a pair that will last me for years to come.

My favorite sunglass maker are Oliver Peoples- they just produce high quality glasses that are stylish and timeless. Mine are the Zooey wayfarers designed by the actress Zooey Deschanel. I love wayfarers as they add a vintage touch to any outfit. I've had these glasses for about two years and bought them on Robertson Blvd.

The second glasses featured in the video are Michael Kors aviators- another classic American look. These aviators are very lightweight and will never go out of style. If you take good care of your sunglasses they will last you forever. I've had my aviators going on five years now!

If you are unable to see my embedded video above, 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 favorite sunglasses?

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Seasonal Delights

4:48 PM 7 Comments
Hello and Happy Halloween to everyone...

I do love this time of year- the Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays really put me in a festive mood.

Here are a few seasonal delights I take pleasure in...

Comfy slippers for pottering around the house...

These are my Rococo slippers fashioned after Marie Antoinette's very own bedroom slippers. They are from a company called Goody Goody (www.goodygoodyshoes.com) who make whimsical house slippers for men, women and children. I bought mine at the museum shop at the Getty Center when visiting the Paris Life & Luxury exhibit. They add a certain panache and flair to my ordinary house clothes...

Steaming cups of tea in china cups...

As I am a hopeless romantic, this is my favorite china cup (mug?) commemorating the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their marriage. This was a gift from my husband for my birthday (he knew I'd like this one!) and I drink out of it every day...

Cooking and baking seasonal treats...

I've always looked at the Gooseberry Patch cookbooks and admired their quaint charm. This one is the Quick and Easy Christmas version with over 220 quick recipes that are perfect for the holiday season. Everything from breakfast casseroles, to comforting main courses to decadent holiday treats (like homemade fudge). I just received it and have been busy marking up the recipes I wish to try. I'll give you an update on how they turn out! I bought mine from Amazon.com

I'll be sharing many more of my favorite seasonal delights for the holidays in the weeks and months to come, including my very favorite holiday candle...

I would love to know... what are your seasonal delights this time of year?

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On Etiquette, Friends and Confrontation

4:58 PM 15 Comments

Do you remember my recent post on The Etiquette of Mobile Phones? Well in that post I mentioned an old friend of mine whom I took to tea- who would occasionally take phone calls during our tea. In the post I asked the question – how do you tell a good friend that something they are doing bothers you?

I am certainly not the person to answer that question as I am somewhat of a chicken when it comes to confrontation (OK not somewhat- I am a chicken). You see I am very afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, angering them or getting into an argument. So instead of confronting the issue I just don’t do or say anything at all.

Well I did not have to worry about confronting my tea room friend because she actually read my blog and confronted me! Thankfully she is a kind person with a sense of humor otherwise there might have been a fracas.

That afternoon we actually met for tea and caught up. She explained to me her side of the story (she has to accept calls for work and be on call at all times) and I explained to her mine (when I am with someone that frequently looks at their phone I feel as though they would rather be somewhere else). She said she understood my pet peeve and I apologized for not bringing it up to her immediately. In the end we had a lovely afternoon over steaming cups of tea and an awful lot of cake.

Later that night I began to think about the subject of friendship, etiquette and confrontation. While it was temporarily more comfortable and convenient to say nothing at all and complain about my friend’s behavior in my head, in the long run it would have been more sound if I had confronted the problem head on. After all, letting something so trivial get in the way of a friendship is ridiculous to say the least.

So my etiquette question this week is being turned to you. What do you do when you are bothered by an etiquette issue from someone close to you? Do you ignore it and hope that it goes away? Or do you confront it head on? What is your stance on etiquette, friends and confrontation?

The Vincennes and Sèvres porcelain objects pictured above date back to 1753. They can be found at the Getty Center in Los Angeles...

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The Search for my Signature Scent Ends (for now)

6:15 AM 13 Comments

I've really enjoyed doing this mini series on The Daily Connoisseur. Over the past few months I have sampled a lot of fragrances and learned a lot about my tastes, preferences and the various phases I go through depending on the season and what mood I am in.

And I am happy to report that I've made the decision on what my new signature scent will be. Drumroll please....

My new signature scent is Bvlgari Rose Essentielle

If you remember this perfume gave me a favorable impression from the very beginning and several of you readers actually recommended it to me. It is heady, aromatic and distinctly rosy (which is my favorite note) and brings me to exotic places every time I wear it. In short, it is simply delightful and for now I am loving it as my signature scent.

I say 'for now' because I have become so entranced with fragrance that I will forever be on the look out for new and sensational scents, and who knows what I may find down the road?

I also have to say that along with purchasing Bvlgari Rose Essentielle on my journey over the last few months I also picked up small vials of Jo Malone Red Roses (I couldn't help it) and Grapefruit. Two delightful scents for summer.

This isn't to say, of course, that I don't still love my beloved Stella. I shall return to her as well every now and then.

So there you have it. Thank you for joining me on this journey and thank you to all of you for your wonderful recommendations through the process...

I would love to know, what is your current signature scent? Let me know in the comment section or if you feel inspired do a video response to my above video and show me your signature scent!

If you are unable to see my video above where I show you Bvlgari Rose Essentielle click here, look in the sidebar of this blog or visit my channel www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

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Strange Invisible Perfumes

5:00 PM 5 Comments
This Thursday I will be announcing the perfume I have chosen as my new signature scent. Before that, however, I wanted to introduce you to the botanical niche perfume company Strange Invisible Perfumes, who I had the pleasure of visiting in their flagship Venice Beach boutique. While there I got to sample several of their all natural, organic botanical fragrances. Keith, the sales associate was extremely knowledgeable and gave me a run down of some of their most prized fragrances.

Strange Invisible Perfumes have no synthetics in them. I am not very familiar with botanical perfumes and it takes a while to get used to these very organic smells but you quickly fall in love with them. Some of the perfumes smell more mainstream like Prima Ballerina and Tahitian Honey. (My favorites of the bunch were Tahitian Honey, L’invisible and Magazine Street) and some are highly unusual like Black Rosette and Essence of IX.

The perfumes are the creation of perfumer Alexandra Balahoutis- truly a master artisan. The Venice boutique is the only one in the world although their fragrances are sold online on their website www.siperfumes.com as well as in certain high end department stores. As a side note, because these perfumes are so unusual I would highly recommend sampling them in person before purchasing online...

If you are a perfume connoisseur into synthetic free organic niche fragrances- this is the place for you!

The bottles are very minimalistic and the fluid of the perfumes are a golden amber color and would look lovely on any vanity. (Apologies I don't have better pictures of the bottles themselves... my camera went amiss that day. Visit their website for vivid pictures and more in depth descriptions)

Here is a very bare bones rundown of the different scents.

Moon Garden- Tuberose and jasmine

Fair Verona- a classic fragrance: citrus, cardamom, Egyptian jasmine and bergamot

Magazine Street- patchouli, magnolia, vanilla, vetiver

L’Invisible- oak moss, ylang ylang, hibiscus, vanilla, red rose

Tribute (limited edition)- a tribute to Coco Chanel: ylang ylang, amber, rose patchouli

Prima Ballerina- Egyptian and Turkish roses, Greek sage, lime botanical musk

Aquarian Roses- wild roses, marjoram, sandalwood

Essense of IX- the scent of a winery- rose, black currant, California lavender

Tahitian Honey (limited edition and my favorite)- temple mandarin and wild honey

Black Rosette- African roses, black tea, spearamint- meant to capture the essence of leather (this one is very unusual- not my cup of tea but could be heavenly for the right person).

Depending on whether you get a EDP or a Pure Perfume vial, or limited edition fragrance, price ranges from $135 to $350

For more information visit their website www.siperfumes.com

And stay tuned for this Thursday's post where I announce the perfume I have (finally) chosen as the search for my signature scent ends!

The image of the Venice boutique featured above is courtesy of futurenatural.com

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On Shapewear Pantyhose

8:35 AM 12 Comments

Thanks to the Duchess of Cambridge and her ladylike influence over fashion, pantyhose is now in vogue again! I recently bought two pairs of Spanx Super Shaper Sheers because I wanted to try out the pantyhose as shapewear trend and see if there was anything to it.

I really like the idea of shapewear built into a pantyhose. There is less you need to wear as the shapewear also acts as your underwear (for lack of a better term)...

I also like the feeling of wearing shapewear. I've worn Spanx for years- I like how they flatter the figure and keep things looking smooth...

I also like that the Spanx pantyhose come in 10 different colors, which makes it easy to match your skintone.

The downside is these tights are very delicate and can snag easily so be very careful when handling them.

Spanx Super Shaper Sheers sell for $26. I got mine at Nordstrom.

To see a more comprehensive review watch my video On Shapewear Pantyhose above...

If you are unable to see the above 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 thoughts on pantyhose? Do you wear them? Or not?


An Excerpt from My Forthcoming Book

5:00 PM 14 Comments
Greetings everyone! Today I have a treat... a tiny excerpt from my forthcoming book Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris. The book is finished and is currently being designed. It will take a few weeks to get the proofs signed off but in the meantime I thought I'd share with you a sample from the first chapter, entitled Snacking is So Not Chic... Enjoy!

Chapter 1 – Snacking Is So Not Chic

When living with a different family (in a foreign country, no less) there are many things that can initially give one cause for anxiety. One of them, for me, was food in general, and snacking in particular. Back home in California I was used to grazing all day long, cow-like, in and out of the kitchen between meals. A handful of crackers here, an orange there, some cookies here, a yogurt there. Would I feel comfortable going into Famille Chic’s kitchen and foraging as if I were in my own home?

My first evening with Famille Chic, a few hours after dinner, my stomach experienced some hunger pains. I had had a delicious dinner, but being slightly nervous around my new host family, and mainly feeling anxiety about conducting an entire conversation based on three semesters of college French, I hadn’t eaten as much as I would have liked. So I thought I’d tiptoe (in my pajamas) to the kitchen, which I had, up until then, yet to visit.

Famille Chic’s kitchen was not easily accessible. Their apartment was not of the ‘open plan’ variety where the kitchen is a part of everyday life. Their kitchen was at the back of the apartment, down a long, dark hallway and was not attached to any room. I thought I’d sneak down the hall and have a peek. Perhaps there was a bowl of fruit with something for me to nibble on.

Of course the door to my room (being as ancient and fabulous as it was) let out a grandiloquent squeak as I was about to undertake my stealth mission and after a few moments, Madame Chic was down the hallway in her dressing gown, asking if I was OK. I assured her I was and that I was simply going to get a glass of water. She said she’d get one for me. And apart from her strange glance at my pajamas, (which I will address in another chapter) everything seemed to be OK. Except it wasn’t. I wanted my midnight snack!

I went to bed that night, slightly hungry- a sensation I was not accustomed to. The feeling wasn’t that bad... in fact, it intrigued me! I had never allowed myself to get to a place of hunger before. In my old life in California I would instantly snack at the first sign of hunger pains, completely eliminating the feeling as soon as possible- so much so that I never actually experienced what true hunger was. That night I relished in my hunger and had fantasies about what would be for breakfast the next day...

If you like what you've read I do hope you'll stay tuned for my book that will be out later this fall...

In the meantime I would love to know... what are your snacking habits?

*Update* - Lessons from Madame Chic will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012!

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Sibu Beauty All Natural Skincare

5:00 PM 8 Comments

This week I have an exciting skincare review for you. Sibu Beauty sent me three items from their all natural skincare line to review on The Daily Connoisseur. I received the items a few months ago and have since had a chance to fully experience their benefits.

Sibu Beauty skincare is all natural and uses the ancient Sea Buckthorn Berry as its star ingredient. I’d never heard of this berry before but then I googled it and read several articles on its miraculous healing and anti-aging properties. Naturally, I became intrigued.

After using the Sea Buckthorn Balancing Facial Cleanser, Hydrating Serum and Replenishing Night Cream (pictured above) the first evening, I awoke the next day to find my skin was almost a completely different texture. It felt smooth, tight and hydrated. This is the first time I’ve ever used skincare products and seen such drastic results after only one day- I was even more intrigued! I then used the cleanser, serum and night cream trio every night for the next month and a half all the way through my England trip and was so pleased with the results I’m going to call this a Holy Grail beauty find! I love that it is all natural, smells divine and performs really well with my skin.

Unfortunately Sibu is only shipping to the United States and Canada at the moment. For customers in the UK they are available at Victoria Health. For all others that are unable to get the products, I would recommend contacting Sibu Beauty directly and requesting they ship to your country or to stockists in your area. Perhaps if the demand is there they will supply!

The Sea Buckthorn Balancing Facial Cleanser
sells for $17.95

The Sea Buckthorn Hydrating Serum sells for $39.95

The Sea Buckthorn Replenishing Night Cream sells for $34.95

They sell all three in their Luxe Kit for $89.95

For more information and an even more comprehensive review, please watch my video below. If you are unable to see the embedded video, please click here, look in the sidebar of this blog or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

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Luxurious Bath Items and The Romance of Paris

7:25 AM 4 Comments

This special Thursday post brings a fun announcement. An article I wrote for AnyTrip.com On the Romance of Paris is featured this week on their blog. AnyTrip is a travel booking website that allows you to book a cheap hotel in Paris with no booking fees. To read the article I wrote as part of their Romance Week, click here.

Also AnyTrip is giving away a trip for two to Paris (can you imagine?) to enter their contest, click here. Bonne chance!

And finally, this week's video shows you some of my favorite luxurious bath and shower products- all of which I purchased from either the drug store, the beauty supply store or specialty bath stores. If you are unable to see the above embedded video, you can click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

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On the Etiquette of Taking the High Road

4:55 PM 12 Comments

As part of an etiquette series on The Daily Connoisseur I would like to explore the various facets of etiquette and how it plays a part in our daily lives. This week’s post is on taking the ‘high road’.

Taking the high road means many things to me- it means to remain a class act at all times, to not allow yourself to get flustered or agitated, to keep your cool and to issue detached assertiveness (really the essence of maintaining an air of mystery- losing one’s cool is so not mysterious).

This isn’t always easy. Sometimes when met with a pushy or rude person it can be awfully tempting to appeal to your baser instincts and issue a low blow to defend yourself. But I find avoiding this at all costs really pays off in the end.

This past summer I watched The Real Housewives of New York reunion show (an American reality TV show that follows a group of women that are probably as far from real as it gets) and was absolutely appalled at the behavior exhibited on screen. These women are far from well behaved anyway (even though one of them actually wrote an etiquette book) but the show had been a guilty pleasure of mine for a few seasons. But the level of vulgar cattiness, rude retorts and complete lack of manners from any of them, with maybe the exception of Sonja Morgan, left me with a very bitter taste in my mouth. I turned it off before it was half way through and decided to stop watching the show all together- a pity because I used to get quite a kick out of it.

**Update** I just read that they have replaced several of the original cast members for next season so I might put it back on my guilty pleasure list and give it another shot- although my hopes are not high.

I think what disturbed me the most about the reunion episode was that no one took the high road. Attacks and accusations were flying everywhere and most of them, rather than remaining calm and ladylike adopted the language of a sailor and said something equally horrible back. Whatever happened to civility? If my character was ever attacked like that of course I would want to defend myself but I think it’s much more clever to deliver a witty and civilized retort than to resort to common vulgarities. (Although I must say that isn’t easy either. I always think of the perfect thing to say long after the incident occurs).

Sometimes in those situations saying nothing at all and smiling is the best defense. I am reminded of a story about an ancient Chinese monk who was accused of wrong doing by an entire town. When the accusations flew he simply said “Is that so?” In the end the truth prevailed (it always does) and he was found to be innocent. But good for him in the meantime for taking the high road.

So the next time you are met with an unsavory character who tries to take you down practice taking the high road- smile and say “Is that so?” or say nothing at all. After all, if you remain a class act you don’t need to explain yourself to anyone- your behavior will speak volumes for you.

I would love to know… what are your experiences with taking the high road?

The Chinese porcelain vases pictured above are from the Qianlong Reign and date back to 1740. They can be found at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

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Old Hollywood Hair

4:55 PM 5 Comments
We've arrived back in California and it feels great to be home. I am exhausted from the journey so am taking the week off of blogging... But I do have this week's video for you entitled: Old Hollywood Hair.

In the video I show you a modern take on an Old Hollywood hairstyle of the kind that you would see on Rita Hayworth and Veronica Lake. I love those starlets from the Golden Age of Hollywood- they looked presentable always and had so much style and panache! My version of Old Hollywood hair is a little more loose and casual- which keeps the look from becoming too 'costumey' and is appropriate for everyday wear.

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

And one last thing... As you know Chopin is my favorite composer- I especially love his nocturnes so I have set this video to Nocturne No. 21 in C Sharp Minor, Op. Posth performed by Aaron Dunn (although You Tube is promoting the iTunes version performed by François-René Duchâble). The music is from MusOpen who is a non-profit that provides copyright free classical music to the public.

I hope you have a wonderful week! Next week I will aim to return rested and restored...

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On the Eccentric Chic of British Style and My Favorite Jeans

5:00 PM 14 Comments
Before this week's post begins be sure to check out my latest video entitled My Favorite Jeans. In the video I show you my beloved J Brand Skinny jeans and the various ways in which I wear them. If you are not able to see the embedded video below click here, look in the sidebar of this blog or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

And now for this week's post...

My time in England is coming to a close and I will be back home by the end of the week! While here I have been paying very close attention to the vibe of everyday style. I love doing this. When I lived in Paris I noticed the paired down, minimalistic effortless chic clothing that comprised so many women’s daily wardrobes- A line skirts, colorful sweaters, neck scarves, low heeled sandals. In California it is a whole other matter- Casual luxe reigns there- designer jeans with a deliberate rip in the knee, James Perse t-shirts, sandals, pedicures and sunglasses.

British style is a whole other beast. I would best describe the style I’ve seen here as ‘eccentric chic’.

British street style is whimsical, eccentric and edgy. The women here are not afraid to take risks or go for trends. Having said that a lot of them march to the beat of their own drum and ignore trends all together.

Allow me to elaborate.

Edgy Fashionistas: When in London shopping on New Bond St. I noticed several women in what I would call 'extreme harem pants'- a slouchy pant with jutting angles at the hip. One woman paired her extreme harem pants with maroon suede ankle boots, a white tank top and grey vest. She had her hair in a messy top bun. She wore edgy eyeliner and sharp pink nails. She looked as though she had just been styled to walk down the runway- but I think she was just walking to work. Imagine wearing that to the office!

Free Spirited Eccentrics: I’ve noticed a lot of black opaque tights paired with bright ballet flats: this look is either worn with a dress or shorts. I’ve noticed a lot of tight leggings and high riding boots. Colorful bra straps peeking out of see through crochet tops. Messy up-dos. Feathers and bows pinned in the hair. Eyeliner and bright lipstick. Pretty floral dresses worn with something quirky like a chunky sweater or a leather vest.

Sophisticated Statement: The most conservative looks come from the women of a certain age that wear timeless, sophisticated clothing- cashmere sweater sets, Hermès bags, driving loafers and statement jewelry. These women are always well groomed and usually wear le no makeup look as well. It is this group of women that seem to take their fashion cues from Paris.

Around every corner there are surprises. There doesn’t seem to be a ‘uniform’ for British women- and based on my above descriptions you can see why I have labeled their look ‘eccentric chic’.

I admire many things about British style- the women here seem to have a lot of fun with fashion. They don’t appear to dress for sex appeal like they do in L.A. and I don't see the minimalistic elegance (from the younger generation anyway) that I saw in Paris. There is a mad, artistic vibe that prevails here- an originality that is very fun to observe.

Of course out of all these styles my favorite British style icon is one who I haven't mentioned yet- Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge who is inspiring the world with her ladylike and sophisticated sartorial choices. She is in a category all her own.

I would love to know… what are your thoughts on British style?

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Richmond Upon Thames and the Puppet Theatre on the Barge

5:00 PM 6 Comments
Before this week's post begins be sure to check out my latest video entitled Quick Bun and Le No Makeup Look. I shot this video back in April when we were still a bit sleep deprived with baby. The video shows you my version of 'looking presentable always' when dealing with limited time, limited sleep and a bad hair day :) To see the video click here look in the sidebar of this blog or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

And now for this week's post...

I'm slowly falling in love with Richmond upon Thames. It has all of the bustle and convenience of a big city but is not overcrowded or overwhelming. On top of that it has so many beautiful gardens and charming places to walk along the riverside. In fact, it is the quaint riverside that reminds me so much of the Wind in the Willows- a book I've had a lot on the mind recently.

One evening after dinner while walking by the river we happened upon a Barge that did puppet shows. So the following day my brother-in-law's girlfriend (the one that also wears Stella) and I took my daughter to the barge to see a performance of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby. We walked on to the barge and down a narrow flight of steps in to the most charming space. The barge had been converted into a tiny theatre! There was a little ticket and concession stand serving tea and cakes. We had a cup and then made our way to our seats. The curtain came up and the most whimsical show unfolded before us- an hour long presentation complete with sophisticated and life like puppets, soothing narration and beautiful saxophone driven music (what is it with me and saxophones?)

The whole experience was so charming. I just love independent theatre performed in a small, unique setting. It was one of those magical afternoons that I will never forget. When I got home I looked up the Puppet Theatre Barge and learned that Brad Pitt and Angelina had taken their kids to see the puppets the week before… I can imagine that caused quite a stir on the river!

If you find yourself in England – whether you have children or not- you must go seek out the Puppet Theatre Barge- they have both children’s and adult shows. The experience is intimate, charming and quite whimsical.

For more information on the Puppet Theatre Barge click here or visit www.puppetbarge.com

I would love to know... what was your last theatrical experience?

The first three images are my photos of Richmond upon Thames and the last image is of the Brer Rabbit taken from the website www.puppetbarge.com

In late September an article I wrote on the romance of Paris will be featured at Anytrip.com. They are a great company and are currently giving away 4 free trips to Paris! Visit www.anytrip.com for more details or click here for the giveaway information. Bonne chance!

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A View of London

4:53 PM 12 Comments

It hasn’t felt much like summer here in England- it’s been cold with heavy rains and thunderstorms! Unfortunately I did not pack accordingly. I did pack a 10 item (ish) wardrobe but sadly most of the items I’ve packed are summer attire. Thankfully I had the foresight to bring two Tippi sweaters from J. Crew (one in navy, one in black) as they’ve really come in handy.

I’m staying in the countryside and have ventured into London a few times, dining first at French restaurant (of course) Aubaine (I had a delicious smoked salmon salad), then doing a spot of shopping on New Bond St. and finally dragging my husband and daughter to the Sherlock Holmes museum (pictured above)- which I have been to before and I must admit isn’t quite so much a ‘museum’ as a marvelous recreation of what 221b Baker St. would have looked like. There is something about that space that I just love and naturally I went a bit mad in the gift shop. Also there was a very large line to get into the museum proving that I am not the only mystery buff that loves all things Sherlock Holmes.

And even though my Twitter friend and fellow blogger Mr. London Street heckled me a bit for not taking public transportation into the city, I did shoot this week’s video, which I quite like, out of the car window. I call it A View of London… in it you see a tour of the beautiful city and a rare glimpse of Mr. Connoisseur. I hope you like it!

If you are not able to see the above embedded video, A View of London, you can see it by clicking here, looking in the sidebar of this blog or by visiting my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

I hope your summer is going swimmingly...

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On Skincare: How I Control Breakouts and The Brazilian Peel

10:00 AM 6 Comments

This week’s video (which I shot before I left for England) is a review of the Brazilian Peel Clear Acne Control System being launched at Sephora. (I will spare you the suspense and tell you flat out that I adore this highly effective product). To see the video, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

And now for this week’s post:

I have a confession to make- my skin has suffered from breakouts my entire teenage and adult life. This now probably explains to you my near obsession with skin care. When I was a teenager I just figured it was normal to have my skin break out- I didn’t have a bad case of acne but the odd blemish every few days or so that would irk me to no end. I used a few things to remedy the problem- mainly products from the drugstore- but nothing I tried actually worked. So as a teenager I decided to wait patiently until I ‘grew up’, turned 20 and would no longer have to deal with those pesky breakouts.

Ah, if only. I had never actually considered that the breakouts might continue into my adult years. Looong into my adult years- which, of course, they did. Sadly, they did not magically go away when I turned the big 2-0 and even still hadn’t gone away when I turned the big 3-0! (In my upcoming book I have a humorous anecdote about what happened in Paris when my skin misbehaved.)

Now again, I never had a severe problem- but even one small blemish can wreak havoc on one’s self confidence so I have made it my skin care mission to banish them once and for all. And it has taken over a decade for me to figure out how to do it but after tweaking my skincare routine ever so slightly- by Jove I think I’ve got it!

Here are the top things that have contributed to my clear skin:

Cleansing: I no longer cleanse my skin in the morning. When I get up I just pat it with warm water and put a moisturizer and then sunscreen on. I made this change because I recently read an article saying that if you cleanse your skin too much it does not get to produce its natural oils and then goes into overdrive producing too much oil- hence the breakouts. Reading that was a majorly illuminating moment for me. It makes perfect sense! And just by doing this one thing- not cleansing in the A.M. I have already seen a major change in the amount of blemishes that come my way.

Clarisonic: I use the Clarisonic every (or every other) evening in conjunction with my cleanser to help remove makeup. I think a main part of my problem- other than hormones was insufficient cleansing of the skin. If you would like to see my Clarisonic video, click here.

Diet: My eating habits are the best they’ve ever been and I can thank pregnancy for that! When I was expecting my baby I added more fruits, vegetables and water into my diet and have continued the good habits- I feel great and the nourishment has had an impact on my skin.

Brazilian Peel Clear Acne Control Kit: One of the great things about doing this blog is I am introduced and allowed to try products I might otherwise never have known about. The people from Brazilian Peel- who have just launched their revolutionary acne control kit at Sephora sent me their Clear Acne Control Kit to try out. I jumped at the opportunity because even with the above three changes to my lifestyle, I would still get breakouts- especially in the chin area. So I tried the one month supply and can honestly declare to you that this is the best acne control system I’ve ever tried (and I have tried so many). The peel successfully thwarted two potential blemishes on my chin area by literally fighting them away. It is not harsh, doesn’t dry out my skin and the peel (in conjunction with the booster pads) actually feels like it nourishes my skin- thanks to the açai berry extract.

The kit sells for $60- which is pricey, I know- but depending on what kind of blemish problem you suffer from it could benefit you. If you have severe acne you could use this kit every month and it could seriously help you. If you are like me and get an occasional breakout every now and then you do not need to purchase the product every month but rather only use it when you feel your skin is getting out of control- which is exactly what I intend to do. If you are interested in seeing the product and learning more, my above video should be really informative. To learn more about the product you can visit Sephora, Brazilian Peel or Advanced Home Actives.

There you have it… I would love to know… do you suffer from breakouts? And if so how do you control them?

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