Are You a Shopaholic?

7:00 AM 7 Comments

I've received many messages, particularly over the holiday season, from readers looking for advice on how to not overspend. Many readers wrote that they feel consumed by shopping and that it's taking over their life. As a result, many are in debt, have their homes cluttered with too many items, and yet with all these things, they still feel an overall sense of emptiness.

I hear you on this. We live in a consumer culture and we rarely take pleasure in the simple things... in what we already have, before we go out and purchase the next thing.

I used to be quite consumed by shopping... particularly for clothes. My next purchase was always on my mind and I would rarely leave a shopping trip without buying something. Once I decided to change my ways and implement the lessons I learned in Paris though, my shopping habit was kicked. Yes, I still shop and I enjoy it but I am not consumed by it. It does not control my life.

Now I'm not suggesting we stop shopping entirely. We all still have to buy things. I believe in making informed decisions and buying high quality products, which is why I continue to review (and give away!) products on this blog. Part of what I love about blogging is doing the research for you and sharing my finds.

My advice is that we should pause before we buy anything (big or small) and that we should practice gratitude and appreciation for what we already have.

To hear more thoughts on the subject, watch this week's video which discusses chapter 16 in Lessons from Madame Chic, Reject the New Materialism. If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

This week I would love to know... are you (or have you ever been) a shopaholic?

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Portion Control Tip: Use Your Antique China

7:55 AM 14 Comments

I was recently given a set of antique china that belonged to my great-grandmother. The set is Syracuse China in the Briarcliff pattern, which was made in America, and dates back to the 1940s.

Because this set belonged to my great-grandmother, and then my grandmother, it is very special to me. We dined off of the china on Christmas day and have actually used it almost every day since. I love the delicate nature of the plates.

Immediately when I started to use the china, I noticed something very curious about the dinner plates. The area for food is much smaller on the antique plates, especially compared to my large, modern-day Pottery Barn dinner plates. Back in the 40s, plates were smaller and more delicate. Food portions were a lot smaller too.

This week's video shows you the difference between the antique china and modern-day earthenware plates and discusses the various unexpected merits of using your china daily. If you are unable to see my video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

This week I would love to know... do you have a treasured set of china in your family? If not, what type of set would you one day like to have?

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Ashenden Giveaway Winner, Diamond Dogs and The NY Book Fair

7:55 AM 1 Comments
Ashenden Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered in the Ashenden giveaway. I really enjoyed reading your comments listing your favorite historical novels and movies!

And now without further ado, the winner of Ashenden by Elizabeth Wilhide (picked courtesy of random.org) is:

Susan M. from Greenville, SC, whose favorite historical novel is Sarah's Key.

Congratulations! Please send me an email with your contact details and I will forward them on to Simon & Schuster.

For more on Ashenden, check it out on Amazon here.

Diamond Dogs

My writing mentor, Al Watt, who founded the LA Writers Lab, has re-released his debut novel, Diamond Dogs, via Writers Tribe Books. Diamond Dogs is a dark, suspenseful and riveting read that won France's Prix Printemps for best foreign novel. You can find it on Amazon here.

Lessons from Madame Chic

♥ Lessons from Madame Chic has won an award at the NY Book Fair for best in design and merchandising. I'm very proud of this accomplishment and would like to thank the whole team at S&S as well as the illustrator, Virginia Johnson, for making my book so beautiful. More info on this to come.

♥ I will be live on Sirius XM 107 radio today, Thursday January 17th at 5pm PST, with Janette Barber discussing Lessons from Madame Chic. Hope you tune in!

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Always Use the Best Things You Have

7:45 AM 14 Comments

The luxurious bubble bath you received as a gift for your birthday. Your great-grandmother's china. Those cloth napkins your mother gave you for Christmas. Your nice day shoes. That fabulous wrap dress you bought last year. Do you use your best things on a daily basis?

If not... why?

Our subconscious tries to talk us out of using our best on a daily basis. So many of us have a scarcity mentality where we think if we use our best, we'll use it up and we won't have anything nice in the 'future'. This happens to me all the time, but when I think like this I have started to question myself.

This week's video discusses chapter 10 in Lessons from Madame Chic, Always Use the Best Things You Have. If you are unable to see the above video, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

I would love to hear your thoughts on using your best. Do you struggle with this? Or is it becoming second nature for you?

See you Thursday when I announce the winner for the Ashenden Giveaway!

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For Downton Abbey Fans: Ashenden Q & A and Giveaway

6:55 AM 39 Comments

Downton Abbey season 3 aired here in America last Sunday and what a delight it was. This show has cast a spell on us. There is something so mesmerizing about that grand English country house and its inhabitants. Well for all fellow Downton fanatics I have a marvelous book recommendation for you...

Ashenden, by Elizabeth Wilhide, is a positively mesmerizing book about 240 years in the life of an English country house. Each chapter in the novel shares a historical slice of life in the magnificent Ashenden.

The story starts off in present day England with brother Charlie and sister Ros, who have inherited Ashenden from their aunt. Suddenly met with the enormous financial burden the house brings with it, but also intrigued by the prospect of perhaps keeping it, the brother and sister are at odds over what to do with it. While we wonder about the fate of Ashenden, we are taken back in time with a fluid interwoven storyline as we get to meet the people who inhabit the house.

Ashenden is a delightful read. I felt very attached to the house by the end of the book and didn't want it to end!

I was lucky enough to interview the author, Elizabeth Wilhide, who gives us more insight to the book below. And be sure to check out the end of this post to see how you can win a copy of Ashenden for your own library!

What inspired you to write Ashenden?

Ashenden is based on a real house, Basildon Park, which I visited – almost by accident – in the spring of 2008. My husband and I were intending to visit a garden nearby, which turned out to be closed, and we ended up at Basildon instead. I knew I wanted to write about it as soon as I set foot in it and felt the insistent tug of its symmetry. I knew I had to write about it when I read the guidebook and discovered how closely its changing fortunes mirrored that of the country’s history.

How did you research the different historical periods you write about in the novel?

I’ve made my living as a writer on design, interiors and architecture for many years, so I already knew how this type of house would be decorated and furnished and how it would be used at any given period– that was a tremendous help! A few of the stories in the novel are closely based on real events associated with Basildon Park; most use the house as a springboard for my imagination. Chance research online led me to a site detailing POW camps in Britain during World War II, which was a thrilling discovery and became the starting point for the chapter Hut C.

Do you have a favorite historical period?

In terms of design, I love the clarity and elegance of the Georgian period. But social history in general has always fascinated me – what people wore, what they ate, how they worked, how they survived times of change…

What can you tell us about the state of many of these historic English country houses today?

Unlike Basildon Park – and its fictional counterpart – many country houses were demolished in the 1950s and 1960s. Years of decline, death duties and the depredations of the war years simply made them too expensive to maintain. Sadly, one ended up as hardcore under the M1 motorway. Many of those that remained were saved by the National Trust and opened to the public. Today, income from visitors is often not enough to run these places and they have had to fall back on other sources of revenue. Basildon, for example, featured as Netherfield in the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and the location fees helped pay for essential repairs to its stonework.

What is your writing routine?

My day starts with the Guardian cryptic crossword – it’s my commute! Then it’s chiefly a question of avoiding or failing to avoid distractions, including demon Twitter. Ashenden was written in my spare time, in the evenings and at weekends. At present, I’m trying to get my imagination to switch on earlier in the day…

What's next for you?

I’m about a third of the way into a new novel set largely in London during World War II. I’ve always been drawn to this period and I’m particularly interested in the gap between the myth-making that went on during this period and what actually took place.

Thank you Elizabeth!


To win a copy of this book, please follow these guidelines:

1. Leave a comment below stating your first and last name (or last initial) and what city you are from (please note, due to restrictions, this giveaway is only open to US & Canada residents only).

2. Let us know in your comment what your favorite historical novel or movie is.

3. To be entered twice in the giveaway, either tweet about this giveaway, or post about it on your facebook page. Please let me know in the comments if you have done this so I will know to enter you twice.

The winner will be announced one week from today. Good luck!

Check out Ashenden on Amazon.

Find Elizabeth Wilhide on Twitter @EWilhide

News for Lessons from Madame Chic

♥ I am featured in the Charlotte Observer this week for an article called, The right 10 pieces can help you build the perfect wardrobe.

Parisien Salon gives Lessons from Madame Chic a great review and they are doing a giveaway in their article called Twenty Lessons on Leading a Stylish Life.

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The Tipping Point for Changing How You Live

11:11 AM 7 Comments

I get a lot of messages from readers who say they are intrigued by many of the concepts in Lessons from Madame Chic, but don't know how to incorporate them into their lifestyle. Some feel intimidated, particularly with the ten-item wardrobe challenge, and wonder how they are going to implement the idea into their life.

Believe me, I hear you! When I was living in Paris with Famille Chic I was astounded with many aspects of the way they lived (no snacking? capsule wardrobe? say what??). I knew that I wanted to emulate their elegant lifestyle but it seemed like I had such a long road ahead of me. How on earth could I translate their Parisian je ne sais quoi into my own Southern California life?

The answer is two-fold. You must have a desire to want to change and you must practice the changes on a daily basis. When you do this, you will eventually reach a tipping point whereby you consciously change the way that you live. There will be no looking back. The concepts I grapple with the most are always using the best things you have (which I'll discuss next week) and living life as a formal affair. These are two things I work on daily and I'm reaching my own personal tipping point with them.

To hear more about the tipping point for changing how you live, watch this week's video. If you are unable to see the video above, 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 concepts from Lessons from Madame Chic would you most like to implement into your life?

Check back this Thursday, when I will have a very exciting giveaway for you. See you then!

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Happy New Year! (and News)

7:45 PM 5 Comments
Happy New Year! Bonne année!

I will officially be back to blogging next week but I wanted to wish you a very happy new year. I hope this year brings peace, good health and prosperity to you and your loved ones.

And now for the latest news items...

♥ I was featured in USA Weekend in an article called Look fabulous, faster.

♥ Read my latest article for Huffington Post Style called Clear Your Wardrobe Clutter.

Everyday eBook picks Lessons from Madame Chic as one of 11 Inspiring Books for an Incredible 2013 (and I'm in some good company!)

Also, Downton Abbey fans (in America), don't forget season 3 starts this Sunday on PBS! Yay!

See you next week...

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