Christmas Message 2014

8:12 PM 16 Comments

Thank you for another wonderful year on The Daily Connoisseur. This is my last video of the year as I will be taking a break until January. I am greatly looking forward to 2015 and have some very exciting news to share with you upon my return.

So until then... Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and I am wishing you a very happy new year!

Please check out my video above to hear my Christmas message to you. If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or check out my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

At Home With Madame Chic is featured on Bella NYC as a book that will warm you up this winter.

On December 28th, check out my radio appearance on At Home With Cheryll and Sam, discussing At Home With Madame Chic.

Madame Chic Inspiring Thought
Enjoy the merriment of the season and "deprive yourself not" when it comes to holiday treats while still maintaining your standards. Be present while you are eating. Enjoy but don't overindulge past your comfort zone.

On my author guestbook page, Debbie writes:

I adore both your books – I read them both cover to cover! I remade my mornings to be more “Madame Chic” and now have a proper breakfast, sitting down and eating together, with my son, even on weekday mornings. It’s something I look forward to with great delight and prepare for the night before. Such a difference. I’m trying many of your hints. The idea to take pride in domestic tasks and “not to be lazy” are things I’ve taken to heart and really feel good about – thank you!

Thank you Debbie!

And thank you to all readers who have commented and contributed to the blog this year. You are appreciated more than you know.

See you in the new year!

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OOTD Rainy December Day + Choosing A Simply Luxurious Life Giveaway

6:59 AM 59 Comments

Rain has finally made it to California! We've been facing one of the worst droughts on record here in Southern California so it is with great relief that we all welcome the rain. Today I am showing you an outfit of the day, rainy day edition.

Many people automatically think they need to wear jeans in bad weather but you don't have to if you get creative with layers (remember Madame Chic never wore jeans and that Parisian weather was cold).

In this look, I'm wearing my Ann Taylor Loft navy and red spot dress, my felt coat from Anthropologie- the only new addition to my winter wardrobe since shooting my ten-item wardrobe video in the fall (this coat is no longer available online), textured tights from J Crew (key to keeping warm) and my black rain boots. For indoor use, I'm wearing London Sole black suede Henrietta ballet flats.

If you are facing even lower temperatures, I would suggest layering a winter coat on top of this look (or replace the felt coat with a thick cardigan and wear that under a winter coat)and adding a scarf, gloves, and/or a hat.

Check out the video above to see the full look. If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or check out my channel www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

Choosing a Simply Luxurious Life

I've gotten to know the lovely Shannon Ables of the Simply Luxurious Life blog over the years as she has been a huge champion for Madame Chic. Today I am very excited to share with you her new book, Choosing a Simply Luxurious Life.

Here is a description of the book from Amazon:

How can you have a rich and fulfilling life? The choices you make, not your income or financial assets, are the most powerful determining factor for your quality of life. Women have never had so many options. Yet we often experience a kind of paralysis, an unconscious willingness to follow societal dictates rather than become the CEOs of our own lives. When we mindlessly follow the dots, we smother our innate gifts and miss opportunities to fulfill our true potential. There is another way—choosing to live a simply luxurious life. This book will show you how to invest your time and what to eliminate from your life. It will enable you to: • Design a life of purpose that is aligned with your passions and talents • Become financially independent • Enjoy cultivating a healthy mind and body • Build and maintain strong, loving relationships • Create a chic, timeless signature style • Design a comfortable home that is a true sanctuary • Travel in comfort and style • Discover simple pleasures that make each day something to look forward to You can curate the life of your dreams by being purposeful and selective, no matter where you live, your income, or your relationship status. Luxury and true fulfillment are ours for the having if we know where to look and how to make the right choices.

Shannon was gracious enough to participate in an interview with The Daily Connoisseur so you can get to know her better for yourself:

We write about a lot of the same concepts with regard to living
well. My journey started in Paris, living with Madame Chic. How and
where did your journey start?

I’d have to say that the idea of living simply and living well began as a young girl as I had the opportunity to grow up in the country, having Mother Nature at my doorstep and the freedom to roam with my creative curiosities. However, much like you, the concept of living well as an adult was solidified when I studied abroad in France during college. From pairing each meal with hours of conversation, walking everywhere and taking in the history, museums and artisan talents that were on every corner, my initial experience in France confirmed that such a lifestyle was possible, and it was something anyone or anybody could instill in their everyday life.

What do you like about living in Oregon?

The amazing gift of Oregon is that you have a little bit of everything: all four seasons, vast rural, mountainous regions as well as urban progressive areas such as Portland, oh, and the many vineyards, of course. ;)

How can one live a Simply Luxurious Life no matter where you live?

Part of the mission statement of living simply luxuriously is the understanding that it must be a conscious choice. Living well doesn’t just occur; it is something that each one of us cultivates with the small choices we make each day. And once we understand that, the beauty is realizing each of us holds all of the cards for our own contentment. From sipping a delicious cup of hot tea from Palais des The to begin your day, to the thoughts we allow to run around in our mind, to nibbling on a chocolate truffle before snuggling into bed, such simple choices, not necessarily expensive or difficult, can make everyday moments very pleasurable.

I love that you write about finances, which are such an important
facet of living well. What are your top three tips for keeping one's
finances in order?

Having our finances in order is one of the best ways to achieve peace of mind, and when we know we are on sound financial footing we can be more present with those we love. The top three tips I would recommend are:

1. Schedule a monthly budget date with yourself. Make it a pleasurable ritual. Pour yourself a cup of tea, turn on your favorite jazz album and do something to celebrate at the end of month in which your finances are where you want them. (Need help setting up your own budget? Check out my simple budget template here.)

2. Start saving for retirement yesterday (in other words now), no matter how small. The sooner you begin, the faster compound interest can work its magic.

3. Use cash. Each month withdraw a certain amount of cash for entertainment, groceries and transportation. Do your best to stick to it. Seeing your hard-earned cash exchange hands from your wallet to a cash register is a mental reminder of the labor you expended and what it is bringing into your life.

When shopping for clothes, how can we save money, but still invest in quality?
Cost per wear. Initially paying $100 or more for a quality pair of jeans is going to be hard to swallow, but if they indeed are a quality pair, they will last for years. And with each subsequent time of use, the cost decreases. The goal when going clothes shopping is to purchase items that will last and will still look impeccable with each use. You may not have a lot of clothes, but each item will look stunning, and that is ultimately the goal (and it makes the decision process a lot easier).

How would you describe your signature style?
Casual, chic, classic.

What is your signature scent?
I keep it simple with this decision as well. I love the blend of femininity and masculinity in Chanel No. 5.

How can we learn more about you?
A quick tour of how I live my own simply luxurious life can be seen in this short video below . Readers can now get to know me even better on my weekly podcast The Simple Sophisticate which airs each Monday morning on iTunes. Not only do I talk about the topics addressed on the blog, but I share more of myself, my experiences, etc.

The key for anyone wishing to live well regardless of their income, age or relationship status is self-knowledge and being willing to find the courage to tap into your very unique innate talents. They are there, and they’re waiting to be discovered. When you find them, you will be so glad you made the effort. Trust me. I know it’s scary initially, but it only gets better.

Shannon is offering to give away one signed copy of her new book to a reader of The Daily Connoisseur. Please enter via the rafflecopter widget below. This giveaway is open to all readers (including international). The winner will be announced on the widget after the contest is over. Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more on Shannon visit her at www.thesimplyluxuriouslife.com

See you on Sunday for my Christmas Message 2014!

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New Signature Scent: Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay

9:29 AM 26 Comments

In the second of three new videos this week, I am sharing my new signature scent with you. I actually shot this video in early November but because of the many family events we had that month, I am just publishing it now.

A signature scent is a wonderful thing... A fragrance that encapsulates you, that your family associates with you... a scent that you can smell in the middle of a hectic day and be greatly soothed. A signature scent should be one that you not only adore but that evokes strong feelings, romance, luxury, whimsy or delight.

Perfume is that intangible mystery that can add so much to your life. Many of you are familiar with my signature scent journey. Stella has been my signature scent for nearly a decade, with a brief detour to Bvlgari Rose Essentielle. Even though I love and have loved Stella, I always knew that I would graduate from it and one day find the perfect scent for me. After much research, I can now say that I have found it! I've fallen in love with Jo Malone's Blackberry & Bay.

There are many ways to wear Jo Malone fragrances. Many people like to pair them with other fragrances (incidentally Blackberry & Bay pairs nicely with Jo Malone Red Roses. I've also heard it pairs well with Fig & Cassis). Or you can wear the scent with the body cream, which I enjoy doing with Blackberry & Bay.

Jo Malone describes Blackberry & Bay as: Childhood memories of blackberry picking...A burst of deep, tart blackberry juice, blending with the freshness of just-gathered bay and brambly woods. Vibrant and verdant.

I find this description to be very accurate. The initial top notes suggest very green, almost unripe blackberries. (Some people might take this as a sour top note but I see it as verdant.) Then the fragrance settles into a heady mix of deep crushed blackberries and woodsy notes. For me, this is fragrance heaven.

Now perfume is a very personal thing and what is ecstasy for one person, can be diabolical for another. So while Blackberry & Bay is my new signature scent, it might not be your cup of tea. Enjoy the sensual hunt and take your time, the perfect scent it out there for you.

Check out the video above to learn more about my new favorite perfume. If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or check out my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

Today I would love to know... what is your signature scent? How long have you worn it? Are you looking to change? As you get older do you notice a longing to change your perfume? What is your favorite classic scent? What is your favorite new scent? Have you tried Blackberry & Bay?

See you on Thursday for another bonus post: an outfit of the day (OOTD) video and a giveaway from the lovely Shannon Ables of the Simply Luxurious Life blog.

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Cream Cheese Christmas Mints

4:45 PM 2 Comments
Greetings Fellow Connoisseurs,

My Christmas present to you this week is... three new videos! Starting with today's video on Cream Cheese Christmas Mints. Be sure to check back this week for an Outfit of the Day (OOTD) video, an updated signature scent video as well as an exciting interview/ giveaway from Shannon Ables at the Simply Luxurious Life blog.

So let's get into the festivities...

This week I share a festive recipe for cream cheese Christmas mints. These candies are so fun to make with your children, require no baking and are a hit around the holiday season. Check out this week's video to see how you make them. If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or check out my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

Cream Cheese Christmas Mints

1 tsp peppermint extract
8oz cream cheese
7 cups confectioners sugar (plus more for sprinkling)
red and green food coloring

Mix peppermint extract and cream cheese until blended. Gradually add the sugar, two cups at a time until incorporated. Divide dough in half into two different bowls. Add green food coloring to one bowl and red food coloring to another (use only a few drops for lighter colors, more drops for deeper colors). Divide each colored ball in half and roll into a ten inch log. Place log on parchment paper sprinkled with confectioners sugar. Place parchment paper on top. Roll with rolling pin into a rectangle. Repeat with the three other balls. Place one red rectangle on top of on green rectangle and roll together like a jelly roll. Repeat with the other two rectangles. Roll the logs in parchment paper and twist the ends. Refrigerate overnight. The next day, slice the mints as thin or thick as you like. They last for one week in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

These make wonderful gifts and are tasteful treats to bring as a hostess present, to a potluck or a church fellowship table. Also, Santa might like these instead of the standard cookies... Enjoy!

** You can make these any time of year. In the springtime, only put a few drops of red in one ball and leave the other one white for pink and white swirl mints.

International readers: so far At Home With Madame Chic has been picked up by the following markets: Italy, Poland, China (simplified Chinese), Brazil, Japan, Czech Republic and Slovak Republic. If I have not mentioned your country, please keep referring back to the blog as I will update this list regularly. Australia and New Zealand readers, the book is not available in eBook in your territory as you would have to order from America. Thank you!

Yanira Garza is inspired into Being Chic at Home in this week's blog post.

Madame Chic Inspiring Thought
Take pleasure in trying a new recipe this holiday season and you just might discover a new family favorite. The next time you're invited to someone's home bring a homemade treat as a thank you or surprise your neighbors or co-workers with your latest confection. Spread the good cheer as only a Madame Chic can.

Question of the Week

Ashu writes:

I'm 21 and I've not tried any make-up yet except for my cc cream every morning. Do you think I should start using makeup to look presentable?

Dear Ashu,

You do not need to wear makeup to look presentable. I didn't start wearing makeup until I was in my mid-20s! Wearing makeup is a choice and I do advocate for those who do wear it to practice a natural, flattering look (le no makeup look as discussed in Lessons from Madame Chic), but if you choose not to wear makeup you can be equally presentable. There is no need to change your routine if you are happy with it.

Thank you for your question!

I love receiving your comments and questions. I am not always able to respond but who knows, you just might be picked as the question or comment of the week!

See you back three more times this week with my bonus videos to ring in the holiday season...

Jennifer x

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Children's Christmas Book Giveaways

6:00 AM 17 Comments
Today I have two very fun and sweet classic children's books from New York Review Books to introduce to you that would make wonderful stocking stuffers or Christmas presents for the special children in your life.

We can be so inundated by commercial characters and fast-paced children's TV shows these days that there is something extra sweet about vintage children's books. Something for Christmas by Palmer Brown and Mud Pies and Other Recipes by Marjorie Winslow will charm you with their simplicity and innocence.

I can personally tell you that I adore both of these books and have read them several times with my own children. Today I'm excited to share them with you.

Something for Christmas

“What are you doing, dear?”
“It’s a secret.”
“Secrets are better if you share them a little. So tell Mother why you look so sad on Christmas Eve.”
“I am wondering what to give—someone—for Christmas.”

So begins the story of a little mouse’s search for a very special gift for a very special person. Nothing seems just right until the little mouse realizes that the best present of all is already at hand.

Palmer Brown has given us something special for Christmas—or any day—an entrancingly lovely story, filled with the true spirit of the holiday season.

Mud Pies and Other Recipes

Whether you’re entertaining garden sprites, feeding a regiment of toy soldiers, or simply whiling away a lazy afternoon, Mud Pies and Other Recipes is the only make-believe cookbook you’ll ever need. With Marjorie Winslow’s timeless guide on hand, you’ll never be at a loss for something to do in your backyard or by the seashore; you’ll be busy scooping up sand (a filling for Stuffed Sea Shells), hunting for flower petals (they make lovely hors d’oeuvres), and collecting raindrops (essential for brewing up Fried Water). The book is organized by course, and includes a general discussion of yard cookery along with detailed ingredient lists, methods for preparation, and helpful serving suggestions. And on every page, Erik Blegvad’s delightful pen-and-ink drawings ensure that Mud Pies and Other Recipes is a feast for the eyes as well as the imagination.

New York Review Books is kindly offering to give away one of each of these books to a reader of The Daily Connoisseur. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only (terms set by the publisher). Please enter via the rafflecopter widget below. The winners will be announced one week from today on the widget. Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

See you on Sunday for a special Christmas candy tutorial...

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Faux Flower Holiday Arrangements

4:45 PM 7 Comments

I'm going to let you in on a surprising secret. I love to decorate with faux flowers! Silk and faux flowers have really come a long way and can look incredibly realistic. They can be wonderful for people who don't have access to a garden or who don't have the budget to constantly purchase fresh flowers, but who still love the look of a beautiful bouquet. I don't advocate only using silk flowers but a few tastefully done arrangements placed in strategic locations in your home (they are great for guest bedrooms or gloomy corners) can add so much flair and really trick the eye. Flower arranging is an art and there is no wrong way to do it so the novice need not feel intimidated.

I especially like to use silk flowers during the holiday season because I can create festive bouquets to brighten up the various rooms in our home (especially the bedrooms). In this week's video I show you several different bouquets, share my tips on how to make professional looking arrangements (leaf ribbon!) and create a fancy arrangement from scratch using floral foam. If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or check out my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

Here are pictures of some of the arrangements featured in the video:

And here are both sides of the arrangement I create on camera:

Many of the flowers are purchased from my local craft store. Others were purchased online from afloral.com (This is a great resource), including the leaf ribbon, which makes the arrangements look so professional.

I was honored to be interviewed on camera for Connie Martinson Talks Books. Check out my episode where we discuss At Home With Madame Chic and so much more.

Lafourche Library Books & Reviews gives At Home With Madame Chic a wonderful mention in their latest blog post.

Letters from Eurolux recommends At Home With Madame Chic for French style at home.

The Decadent Minimalist shares how At Home With Madame Chic has helped her.

Restyling Home by Kelly recommends At Home With Madame Chic as one of her favorite new decorating books.

Madame Chic Inspiring Thought
Spend less time in front of a screen and more time indulging in a hobby you love. Try your hand at flower arranging, even if you've never done it before. You'll be surprised how soothing and therapeutic it can be.

Comment of the Week
On my recent post, 5 Days of Outfits from my Ten-Item Wardrobe, Ottie writes:

This is my first season using the 10-item wardrobe. I have more confidence and stand taller. Putting more thought into wardrobe planning gives me more outfits that look sharp. I think I saved money on clothes this year too, but look better. More complements are coming my way too. It's fun deciding what to wear and looking good and presentable.

Ottie, I am very happy for you! I tell so many people who are hesitant (or who keep making excuses) to just try the ten-item wardrobe. Try it. You will be amazed at how it can change your life. If you have been hesitant, just take the plunge. Get ready to live differently in the upcoming new year.

On YouTube, Marcellina writes:

I just want to tell you I just finished lessons from madame chic and I could just cry! I feel like this book is what I've been needing my whole life! I wish I would've discovered this in my 20s (although the book didn't exist!). At the end of the book I felt like I was at that nightclub with you dancing, and eating that Camembert, and hearing the secret quartet! Thank you so much! I am going to start 2015 with a fresh outlook and I'm using your book as a guidebook for my life! 

Thank you Marcellina!

This week I would love to know... have you decorated with silk flowers recently? Do you like to use them in your home? What type of flower arrangements do you like to do for the holidays?

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The Mistletoe Promise and The Greatest Gift Giveaway

6:00 AM 29 Comments

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and are enjoying the wonderment of the season. Thank you for your messages of condolence on my social media sites regarding my grandmother's passing. Last week was very difficult for me and your messages were greatly comforting. I'm back now on the blog and hope to spend this month of December in celebration of Christmas on the blog. One of the many things my grandmother was great at was celebrating in style. So these blogs will be posted in her spirit.

Today I have two Christmas book giveaways for you on The Daily Connoisseur: The Mistletoe Promise by Richard Paul Evans and The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern.

Both of these wonderful little books would not only make great Christmas presents but would also be a great treat for you to read this holiday season.

The Mistletoe Promise

A love story for Christmas from the #1 bestselling author of The Christmas Box and The Walk.

Elise Dutton dreads the arrival of another holiday season. Three years earlier, her husband cheated on her with her best friend, resulting in a bitter divorce that left her alone, broken, and distrustful.

Then, one November day, a stranger approaches Elise in the mall food court. Though she recognizes the man from her building, Elise has never formally met him. Tired of spending the holidays alone, the man offers her a proposition. For the next eight weeks—until the evening of December 24—he suggests that they pretend to be a couple. He draws up a contract with four rules:

1. No deep, probing personal questions
2. No drama
3. No telling anyone the truth about the relationship
4. The contract is void on Christmas Day

The lonely Elise surprises herself by agreeing to the idea. As the charade progresses, the safety of her fake relationship begins to mend her badly broken heart. But just as she begins to find joy again, her long-held secret threatens to unravel the emerging relationship. But she might not be the only one with secrets.

The Greatest Gift

A beautiful gift edition of the heartwarming story that became the Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life.

For almost seventy years, people the world over have fallen in love with Frank Capra’s classic Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life. But few of those fans know that Capra’s film was based on a short story by author Philip Van Doren Stern, which came to Stern in a dream one night.

Unable at first to find a publisher for his evocative tale about a man named George Pratt who ponders suicide until he receives an opportunity to see what the world would be like without him, Stern ultimately published the story in a small pamphlet and sent it out as his 1943 Christmas card. One of those 200 cards found its way into the hands of Frank Capra, who shared it with Jimmy Stewart, and the film that resulted became the holiday tradition we cherish today.

Now fans of It’s a Wonderful Life, or anyone who loves the spirit of Christmas, can own the story that started it all in an elegant, illustrated edition that’s perfect for holiday giving. It includes an Afterword by Stern’s daughter, Marguerite Stern Robinson, that tells the story of how her father’s Christmas card became the movie beloved by generations of people around the world.

Simon & Schuster have kindly offered to give away both of these books to one lucky reader of The Daily Connoisseur. Please enter via the rafflecopter widget below. The giveaway is for U.S. residents only (terms set by the publisher). The winner will be announced on the widget one week from today. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, for a chance to win 15 Simon & Schuster new releases (including At Home With Madame Chic) enter their sweepstakes here. Best of luck!

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5 Days of Outfits from My Ten-Item Wardrobe

4:20 PM 29 Comments

Last week I filmed myself every morning so you could see 5 days of outfits: Monday through Friday. This is so you can get a real world sense for how my ten-item wardrobe works and to encourage you about how many possibilities you can have and how exciting it can be!

Many people are under the misconception that they will become bored with their ten-item wardrobe. That is simply not the case. You have your ten core items and you have the extras (like tee shirts, cardigans, shoes and accessories) that pull it all together and make the combinations limitless. It truly makes getting ready in the morning fun and challenges you to put your best self forward every day.

For links to the pieces shown, please check out the original ten-item wardrobe post here.

Here are screenshots from this week's video:


Monday morning shows minimal makeup, a bad hair day fix, my Trouve black silk blouse, Ann Taylor Loft fluid ankle pants and London Sole Henrietta black suede ballet flats.


Tuesday shows my denim Talbots dress, a better hair day and London Sole pirouette leopard with red trim ballet flats.


Wednesday is more casual with my old J Brand jeans, Brass Plum white tee shirt, Bloomingdale's beige cashmere wrap and London Sole leopard with red trim ballet flats.


Thursday is dressier with my Ann Taylor Loft emerald green dress, BCBG black cardigan, J Crew opaque tights, London Sole Henrietta black suede ballet flats and bauble bar bib necklace.


Friday reuses my Ann Taylor Loft fluid ankle pants, Loft leopard print tee, Bauble Bar bib necklace and black ballet flats.

The handbag I used all week was my Jewel navy handbag.

The nail polish I wore all week was the Formula X in Marvelous, a sheer nude porcelain color.

The L'Oreal lipstick is Infallible in mulberry

For more on London Sole click here.

Check out this week's video for a detailed explanation on my stylistic thought process. If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or check out my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur.

Madame Chic Inspiring Thought
This week take record of every outfit you wear. Record it and at the end of the week assess whether or not you are happy with how you dress and present yourself. Note what you love and note what you'd like to change. If you are not yet living with the ten-item wardrobe, consider trying it this month and be encouraged by how many options you actually have when dressing.

Comment of the Week

On this past Thursday's Louise Labé giveaway, Summer writes:

I have been cultivating my mind by trying to be more mindful of others, how I act and how I treat the space/people I live in. That means a lot of books on this subject as well as interacting with others. ;) I can, if I choose to be a very solitary person, so being out and about with others in mamas groups, etc. is a challenge for me to be there, be present and enjoy it. I also joined a book club at my local library. Reading books I would not pick and learning to not give up on them, but consider why someone wanted to read that specific book. Which is really great to gain perspective.

Summer, I love your efforts to to cultivate your mind even if it means going out of your comfort zone!

This week I would love to know... where are you in the process of curating your capsule wardrobe? Are you trying the ten-item wardrobe? Are you encouraged by how many variations there are on daily outfits? Where are you in the quest to look presentable always? Let me know in the comment section or on social media and you could be picked as the comment of the week!

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Louise Labé Love Sonnets & Elegies Giveaway

6:30 AM 15 Comments

Cultivate your mind: one of my favorite lessons I learned while living in Paris. There are so many ways to do this but in our modern society of reality television and lowbrow entertainment, we have to make an extra effort to not let our intellectual and artistic passions go by the wayside. Reading poetry, especially if it's not something you have an appreciation for, can help break the cycle, which is why I'm so excited about this week's featured book, Louise Labé Love Sonnets & Elegies .

Louise Labé was the first recognized female French poet from the Renaissance period. The mere fact that she was a woman poet was very unusual for the time, but that she also wrote about romance, passion and desire was even more unique. New York Review Books, who has been reissuing classic books since 1999, has sent me Louise Labé Love Sonnets & Elegies and is kindly offering to giveaway a copy of this magnificent book of poetry to one lucky reader of The Daily Connoisseur.

In this book, with the French version on the left and the English translation on the right, Louise Labé's poems contain an agony, an ecstasy and a depth that any poetry lover will delight in.

Here is a sample of her work, Sonnet 11:

I live, I die: I flare up & I drown.
The colder I feel the hotter I burn:
Life is too hard & too soft in turn.
To every joy sorrow circles round:

All of a sudden I laugh & I weep,
Taking pleasure in each twinge of pain:
The moment I flower, I fade away:
The treasure I lose, a treasure I keep.

Inconstant Love is my most constant guide:
Whenever the pain grows beyond belief,
to my surprise, I feel nothing inside.

Then, convinced my bliss cannot be denied
And I'm about to climb joy's highest peak,
He reminds me of all my former grief.

Translated by Richard Sieburth

Here is the description of the book from New York Review Books:

Louise Labé, one of the most original poets of the French Renaissance, published her complete Works around the age of thirty and then disappeared from history. Rediscovered in the nineteenth century, her incandescent love sonnets were later translated into German by Rilke and appear here in a revelatory new English version by the award-winning translator Richard Sieburth.

Here are some reviews of Labé's work:

“The deeply learned Louise Labé knew well the love poetry of Sappho, Propertius, Ovid, and Petrarch, but she herself joined the ranks of these great Western tossers and turners by breaking with convention. Across five centuries, thanks to Richard Sieburth’s beautiful translations, her urgent voice, her embodied images, and her rapid, somehow breathless, lines come to us as if they were spoken yesterday.” --Susan Stewart

“Richard Sieburth has captured the vigor, intensity, and vernacular tang of Louise Labé’s startling poems. He has turned the ‘rhymed cordage as twined and tensile as rope’ of the fabled Belle Cordière, daughter of a ropemaker, into spirited poems in English.” --Rosanna Warren

"[Labé] laments for one alone, but the whole of nature unites with them: it is the lament for one who is eternal." — Rainer Maria Rilke

“A great poet, perhaps one of the greatest of all time.” —The Polar Bear, a character in Samuel Beckett’s Dream of Fair to middling Women

New York Review books are kindly offering to give away one copy of Louise Labé Love Sonnets & Elegies to a reader of The Daily Connoisseur. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only (terms set by publisher). Please enter via the rafflecopter widget below. The winner will be announced one week from today on the widget.

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This week I would love to know... Are you familiar with Louise Labé's work? Who is your favorite poet of all time? How have you been cultivating your mind lately?

See you on Sunday for a special #TenItemWardrobe post on 5 Days of Outfits.

For more on New York Review Books, visit them on Facebook and Twitter

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Clear that CLUTTER

4:45 PM 15 Comments

Ah, the clearing of clutter. One of my favorite things to write about and incidentally read about. Why? Because when I write about it or read a good book on the subject, I get a new rush of inspiration and tackle projects that I had given up on long ago.

Many people share that they have experienced this after reading At Home With Madame Chic. I love reading testimonials from people who have donated bags upon bags of belongings and to find a new love for their space again.

In At Home With Madame Chic, I present two places in the home that tend to carry clutter: hot spots and stagnant spaces.

Hot spots are the high-traffic areas in your home that tend to be dumping grounds for the family's miscellany. For us, this is the dining room table and the entryway table. For you it might be different.

Stagnant spaces are the out-of-the-way areas in your home where you tend to "store" things temporarily but then temporary turns into forever, and soon as you know it, clutter is festering in these areas. Common stagnant spaces are on top of book shelves, under vanities and behind chairs.

If you commit to keeping these two types of places clear on a daily basis, you will really start to see a difference in the way your home looks as well as the way you live.

If you are looking for even more inspiration, I have a few books to recommend to you:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. If Amelie were Japanese and wrote a book on clutter, this would be it! This is a fun, motivating and whimsical book that will definitely get you to clear your space. Ms. Kondo's book is a big bestseller in Japan and it's very well-deserved. I don't agree with every principle presented in the book (such as Ms. Kondo's advice not to store seasonal clothes) but that's OK! The point of the book is how it makes you feel. Are you motivated to clear your clutter after reading it? Yes! That makes it very worth the read.

Be An Angel- Clear that Clutter by Jacky Newcomb. This fun book is like sitting down with a girlfriend over a glass of wine and talking clutter and strategies!

Small Space Organizing by Kathryn Bechen. Kathryn has been a long-time supporter of The Daily Connoisseur and she, herself has written a fabulous book for people with small spaces.

Watch this week's video for my own candid discussion on clutter and to hear my expanded thoughts on the above-mentioned books. 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

Check out my article for MariaShriver.com called 3 Ways to Make Life Happier at Home.

TeriGigi has made a wonderful video review of both Madame Chic books. Check out her video called My Parisian Journey 5 that talks extensively about Madame Chic journey and a Parisian anecdote of her own. And while you're there, be sure to subscribe to her great YouTube channel. Thank you Teri!

At Home With Madame Chic is also mentioned on:
A Domestic Goddess in the Making and Chez Bliss

Madame Chic Inspiring Thought
A changed mind is a very powerful thing indeed. If you struggle with clutter or an unorganized space, commit to changing your mind about how you approach your home. Read some inspiring books, watch inspiring shows and break out the garbage bags. Now is the time to free yourself from the tyranny of clutter in your home.

Comment of the Week
Regarding my video, My Number One Eating Tip, on YouTube, Marie writes:

Yes! Couldn't agree more. How I conduct myself when I am alone really affects my public life. I was struggling with a slouching problem and realised it was most likely because I allowed myself to slouch when alone at home. How you behave at home reflects your self-respect. That is why I keep a cleaning schedule and read books like yours to be able to improve and become a better version of myself! Thank you again for these weekly videos, I always look forward to them. - Marie

Very well said Marie. How you act when you are alone is an indicator of your true self.

This week I would love to know... how is your clutter-clearing coming along? Have you had any breakthroughs? Do you have any success stories to share? What about questions? Please leave your comments and yours might be picked as the comment or question of the week.

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Fall Makeup Finds and Everyday Fall Makeup Look

4:45 PM 10 Comments

I promised to speak more in depth about some of my recent fall beauty finds. This week's video shares these finds with you as well as shows a two part tutorial: my everyday fall le no makeup look and an amplified version.

Fall makeup finds:

CHANEL Perfection Lumiere Velvet- for me, this is matte makeup perfection. I love this foundation and relied on it when I gave my TEDx talk (I did not want to look shiny on stage with all of those bright lights on me) and it performed! You must shake it side to side before applying. Then put a small amount on your fingers and apply with your fingertips. This foundation is not to be applied any other way. You would not use a beautyblender, brush or makeup sponge to apply this foundation. I love a good matte foundation for fall/ winter and this one is my favorite so far! I know it's pricey so if you have any drugstore or less expensive matte foundation recommendations, please leave them for us in the comment section below.

YSL Volume Effet Faux Clis mascara in burgundy
Yes you read that correctly: burgundy mascara. I know! It is not something I would have ever considered but I've heard from many people that burgundy mascara is very natural-looking and flattering and can bring out the intensity of green or hazel eyes. It's all true! I love this beauty find and think it's perfect for fall.

Hourglass ambient blush in mood exposure. You can use any plumy or deep rose blush and it would look perfect for fall. This is the one I am using today.

L'Oreal Paris Infallable Never Fail Lip Color in mulberry. This is a marvelous drugstore find. If you've had bad experiences in the past with lip stains that fade in the middle, dry your lips and don't last you will not be disappointed with this lipstick. I happened upon it at the drugstore and thought I'd give it a try. It's a two part system. Apply the gloss to clean, dry lips and let it sit for two minutes. Then restore moisture and seal in the color with the lip balm attached. A great lipstick that literally lasts 8 to 12 hours through meals, drinks and everything.

These are some of my favorite fall makeup finds. Do you have any to share with us? If you have any "dupes" or drugstore versions of the higher-end products, please let us know in the comment section below.

To see me talk about all of the above and watch two versions of a fall no makeup look, check out the video above. If you are unable to see the video, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or check out my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur


At Home With Madame Chic is number 5 on the New York Times best seller list under fashion, manners and customs.

Enchanting the Day lists At Home With Madame Chic among 5 books to love.

Real Mom Reviews writes about book one and two in an article called, Living Chic.

Madame Chic Inspiring Thought
Focus on one feature you'd like to highlight this week, such as your eyes or your lips, and develop a no makeup look to support that. Frame your pretty eyes with a natural mascara or break out that plummy lipstick you rarely use and switch up your makeup routine. Embrace your femininity and celebrate your beauty in a way that's fun and true to your style.

Comment of the Week
The comment of the week comes from Bronwyn, who writes regarding last week's post, Eat Lunch With No Distractions:

After years of getting crumbs at my work keyboard, to now being a stay at home wife and picking at food from 11-2pm, today I had a Madame Chic lunch.

I knew I would enjoy savouring my food, but I was also surprised to re-learn the lesson "How you do anything is how you do everything". This morning I hadn't bothered to dress nicely (slaps wrist), wearing comfortable clothes suited to the dreary day here.. and if I am totally honest look a little like pajamas, at least when worn together.

As I was eating my nicely prepared and dressed lunch I just felt uncomfortable wearing such slouchy clothes, and ended up changing into another pair of trousers that I'm much more comfortable answering the door in!! Suddenly I feel much more motivated to get my tasks done.

Bronwyn, I love your testimonial! You have motivated us to live better at home with your story. Thank you!

I love reading your comments, observations, musings and testimonials. Even though I am unable to reply to each one, I read them all. Also, you never know, your comment might be picked as comment of the week!

See you soon x

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Bittersweet Book Giveaway

6:00 AM 32 Comments

Today's featured book is Bittersweet by Colleen McCullough. Bittersweet is Ms. McCullough's first romantic saga since The Thorn Birds and it has readers swooning.

Here is what the critics are saying:

"Filled with humor, insight and captivating historical detail, McCullough's latest is a wise and warm tribute to family, female empowerment and her native land." (People)

“Just as epic as her ultra-romantic classic, The Thorn Birds.” (Marie Claire)

"Readers of historical family dramas will be excited to find a new, satisfying book to enjoy while longtime fans of The Thorn Birds will be over the moon, welcoming back a dear old friend. Take it to the beach, on the plane, or the couch, this book will be the best traveling companion of the summer." (Library Journal, starred review)

"McCullough's richly drawn characters grab control of the heartstrings from the beginning...and prove that, even when choices are not in wide supply, happiness is attainable--even if, at times, it is bittersweet." (Publishers Weekly)

"A fascinating exploration of the bonds between sisters and a fine historical novel." (Booklist)

Here is the description from Simon & Schuster:

In her first epic romantic novel since The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough weaves a sweeping story of two sets of twins—all trained as nurses, but each with her own ambitions—stepping into womanhood in 1920s and 30s Australia.

Because they are two sets of twins, the four Latimer sisters are as close as can be. Yet these vivacious young women each have their own dreams for themselves: Edda wants to be a doctor, Tufts wants to organize everything, Grace won’t be told what to do, and Kitty wishes to be known for something other than her beauty. They are famous throughout New South Wales for their beauty, wit, and ambition, but as they step into womanhood, they are not enthusiastic about the limited prospects life holds for them.

Together they decide to enroll in a training program for nurses—a new option for women of their time, who have previously been largely limited to the role of wives, and preferably mothers. As the Latimer sisters become immersed in hospital life and the demands of their training, they meet people and encounter challenges that spark new maturity and independence. They meet men from all walks of life—local farmers, their professional colleagues, and even men with national roles and reputations—and each sister must make weighty decisions about what she values most. The results are sometimes happy, sometimes heartbreaking, but always . . . bittersweet.

Rendered with McCullough’s trademark historical accuracy, this dramatic coming of age tale is wise in the ways of the human heart, one that will transport readers to a time in history that feels at once exotic and yet not so very distant from our own.

Simon & Schuster are kindly offering to give away 3 copies. Please enter the giveaway via the rafflecopter widget below. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only (terms set by the publisher). The winners will be announced on the widget and contacted by email one week from today. Best of luck!

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For more information on Coleen McCullough, visit her here.

Follow Simon & Schuster on Twitter @SimonBooks

At Home With Madame Chic is number 5 on the New York Times best seller list under fashion, manners and customs.

and is also featured on the following blogs this week:

This Mom Loves


I Wish I Lived in a Library

Signing at Laguna Beach Books

Thank you to everyone who attended my recent book signings. I loved chatting with all of you and getting to know you better.

See you next time on The Daily Connoisseur...

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Eat Lunch With No Distractions

6:48 PM 11 Comments

I'm not trying to be dramatic here, but today I do have a small piece of advice that can change your life. It's to do with how you eat lunch.

Technology, in particular the internet, has changed our lives in the most amazing ways. In other ways it has also been a detriment. It's changed everything from the way we communicate to the way we eat. This change can be judged as good or bad. I think it depends on how you use the internet. I'm clearly a big fan of the internet because it is how I reach you with my blog and YouTube channel. I love being able to publish these blogs every week and to share my ideas with people around the world.

But when you become addicted to the internet, it can become bad thing.

So what does this have to do with eating lunch? While we tend to eat breakfast and dinner with other people, lunchtime is often taken solo. You are either by yourself at home, or perhaps you take lunch at your desk at work. Many times when we eat alone we figure we don't have anyone to talk to so we get out our phone and start browsing while we eat. Or we stay at our computer and click away at news articles, blog posts and status updates.

Meanwhile what is happening while we are doing this? We've eaten our lunch, although you never would have known it. We pay little attention to the food we are eating or how it's going down or how full we are or how nourished we feel. After lunch we jump right back into our hectic day.

I refer to lunchtime in At Home With Madame Chic as the intermission of the play that is our day. Like an intermission, eating lunch is truly a break- a chance for our bodies to recharge. When you attend the ballet you will often have one or more intermissions. This is not only for the dancers to rest in between acts, but for the audience to take a break as well. We need the break that lunchtime provides so it's important to take full advantage of this time off.

My number one eating tip in At Home With Madame Chic is to have lunch with no distractions. Turn the ringer off on the cell phone, shut down the computer, don't even look at a magazine. Sit at a nicely set table (or as best as you can do, especially if you are eating at your desk) and either listen to soothing music or listen to the silence and focus on what you are eating.

You will notice an intense resistance to this. You will want to read the news. You will want to peruse Pinterest. You will want to checkout the trending topics on twitter. You will want to watch a YouTube video. Don't do it. Hold out. Notice the resistance and be amused by it.

It is especially important for you to practice this on days when you are feeling rushed or overwhelmed with your work load. It is days like these when you need this respite the most. After you eat lunch this way, you feel as though you were just on a mini-vacation. It is truly liberating.

For more on this topic, check out this week's video. If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or check out my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur


This week I am officially a New York Times bestselling author! This is a dream realized for me. Thank you to all of the readers who made this happen.

My TEDx talk on the Ten-Item Wardrobe is featured on LifeHacker allowing this liberating concept to reach an entirely new audience of people all around the world.

At Home With Madame Chic is featured on many publications this week, including:

Laura Denno


Chic Mummy


One Can't Get Over the Habit blog

Chick Lit Club

Madame Chic Inspiring Thought
Notice any addictive behaviors you have with regard to the internet. Are you addicted to checking your smartphone? Does this affect your life in any negative ways? Pay attention to this and vow to be more in the moment.

Comment of the Week
On Facebook, Rose M. writes:
"I am thoroughly enjoying dipping into your book each day and savouring it. Thank you so much for the In a Time Lapse - Ludovico Einaudi recommendation in the music lists, I am head over heels in love with this music and have picked up two more of his albums -- Islands and Nightbook."

Rose: In a Time Lapse is one of my favorite albums! It is truly beautiful music. I hope that more people fall in love with it as we have.

This week I would love to know... how do you eat your lunch? Are you guilty dining with your phone as a companion? Would you like to make any changes to the way you eat your meals? I love to hear from you. Leave me a comment and perhaps yours will be picked as the comment of the week!

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Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography Book Giveaway

6:00 AM 26 Comments

What a truly wonderful book we are featuring on the blog today: Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography by Meryle Secrest.

Here's the description from Knopf:

Her name was Elsa Schiaparelli. She was known as the Queen of Fashion; a headline attraction in the international glitter-glamour show of the late twenties and thirties, feted in Rome (where she was born), Paris, New York, London, Moscow, Hollywood . . .

Her style was a social revolution through clothing—luxurious, eccentric, ironic, sexy. Her fashions, inspired, from the whimsical to the most practical—from a Venetian cape of the commedia dell’arte to the Soviet parachute. She collaborated with some of the greatest artists of the twentieth century: on jewelry designs with Jean Schlumberger; on clothes with Salvador Dalí (his lobster dress for her, a lobster garnished with parsley painted on the skirt of an organdy dress, was instantly bought by Wallis Simpson for her honeymoon with the Duke of Windsor); with Jean Cocteau, Alberto Giacometti, Christian Bérard, photographers Baron Adolph de Meyer, Horst, Cecil Beaton, and the young Richard Avedon.

She was the first designer to use rayon and latex, thick velvets, transparent and waterproof, and cellophane. Her perfume—Shocking!—was a bottle in the shape of a bust sculpted by Léonor Fini, inspired by the body of Mae West. Her boutique at an eighteenth-century palace at 21 Place Vendôme opened into a cage designed by Jean-Michel Frank. American Vogue, in 1927, presented her entire collection as Works of Art. A decade later, she was the first European to win the Neiman Marcus Fashion Award.
Here is the never-before-told story of this most extraordinary fashion designer, perhaps the most extraordinary fashion designer of the twentieth century, in her day more famous than Chanel. Meryle Secrest, acclaimed biographer, who has captured the lives of many of the twentieth century’s most iconic cultural figures, among them: Frank Lloyd Wright, Bernard Berenson, and Modigliani, gives us the first full life of the grand couturier—surrealist and embattled figure–-whose medium was apparel.

“Dare to be different,” Schiaparelli advised women, and she lived it to the height; a rebel against convention—social as well as fashion. She designed an otter-fur bathing suit and a hat inspired by a lamb chop. (“I like to amuse myself,” she said. “If I didn’t, I would die.”) Chanel, her arch rival, called her, “that Italian woman who makes dresses.”

Here is the story of Schiaparelli’s rise to fame (as brazen and unique as any of the artistic creations that emerged from her Paris workrooms before World War II); her emotionally starved upbringing in Rome (her mother was part Scottish, part Neapolitan; her father, a prominent medieval scholar specializing in Islamic manuscripts, dean of the faculty of Rome; her uncle, an astronomer famous for his description in 1877 of “canals” on Mars); her years overshadowed by a prettier sister; her elopement with a Swiss-born man who claimed to be a count, disciple of mysticism and the occult—who managed to get himself and his young bride deported from Britain . . . her struggle to care for her polio-stricken daughter, Gogo, as a single and financially destitute mother living in Greenwich Village.

Secrest writes of Schiaparelli’s keen instincts—an astute businesswoman, she launched herself into hats, hose, soaps, shoes, handbags, in the space of a few years. By 1930, her company was grossing millions of francs a year.

Secrest chronicles her exploits during World War II (she managed to escape from Europe to the United States) and, using FBI files, shows that during Schiaparelli’s stay in New York, her whereabouts were documented almost week by week; she was never explicitly charged, but the cloud of collaboration lingered long after her return to Paris.

As Secrest traces the unfolding of this dazzling career, she reveals the spirit that gave shape to this large and extravagant life, a woman—a force—whose artistic vision forever changed the face of fashion and redefined the boundaries of art.

Knopf are kindly offering to give away one copy of Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography. Please enter the giveaway via the rafflecopter widget below. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only (terms set by the publisher). The winner will be announced on the widget and contacted by email one week from today. Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more on Meryle Secrest, visit her website here.

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Two Easy Chignons: A Tutorial

4:25 PM 11 Comments

I often like to post my "Sunday Best" chignon pictures on social media and many of you have requested a video tutorial for them. This week I share two of the easiest chignons I do. Both work great with long hair but could also be achieved, with modification, on shorter hair. I love a good chignon because it is a classic, elegant look perfect for bad hair days or when you just want your hair out of your face and off your shoulders.

We start with a messy (but chic) chignon. This look is more casual and etherial. You can make it quite messy and undone (as I have shown in the video) or you can keep pinning it until it is more under control. Here is one of my Sunday Best chignon pictures from last spring wearing this 'messy' chignon.

from Instagram

slightly messier

To achieve this look, brush your hair into a low side-ponytail. Secure with an elastic two times. On the third time, do not pull your hair all the way through. Take the hair that is sticking out and wrap it around your ponytail. Pin into place. Then take the rest of the bun and pin it against your head. (Please see the video for the visual effect.)

The second look is a sophisticated chignon. This is a polished chignon that has beautiful texture to it.

To achieve this look, section off hair on either side of your face. Take the middle section of hair and create a low messy bun at the base of your head. Secure twice with an elastic. Then take one of the side sections and wrap counterclockwise around the bun. Pin into place. Repeat with the other side. You now have a sophisticated chignon.

Check out this week's video for a visual tutorial set to Satie's Gymnopedie No. 1 (such a beautiful song!). 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

Madame Chic Inspiring Thought
Come up with a handful of chic ways to do your hair, especially good fixes for bad hair days. Practice these and overtime you'll be able to get ready and look presentable in no time at all. Try modern twists on old classics (like this week's chignons).

Comment of the Week
On my Get Ready With Me: A Night at the Ballet post, Madeleine in Australia writes:
Your comment about being someone who used to enjoy the arts pre-kids and responsibilities struck a chord. When I lived in Sydney I was a subscriber to the Australian Ballet, the Sydney Dance Company and the Australian Chamber Orchestra (I'm a pianist by profession so this really wasn't excessive, just part of my life). I now reside about 500 kilometres from Sydney, so no ballet. We are fortunate to have many fantastic concerts here, though, and your post made me remember that I have some fabulous ballets on DVD (Ballet Russe) - so no excuse not to enjoy some ballet!

I love Madeleine's comment because it reminds us that we can still appreciate the arts no matter where we live. These days you can even watch an entire ballet on YouTube! Not quite the same as the real thing but it is a place to start.


Check out my interview with Laura Dennison of BADIZM . We discuss everything from Frenchwomen, to feminism, to public speaking. Thank you Laura!

The Madame Chic books are featured in Turquoise and Teale's 9 Must Read Fall Books

Rich Mom Business does a hilarious review of At Home With Madame Chic in her Spa Day at Home video.

Jenny Williams mentions the ten-item wardrobe in her piece on XO Jane called How I Found My Personal Style When I Let Go of Most of my Clothes.

Upcoming Events
Southern California readers: come meet me at one of my upcoming book signings:

October 28, 2014 (this Tuesday!) DIESEL bookstore, Brentwood, CA Presentation, Q&A + book signing 7pm

November 2, 2014 Laguna Beach Books Presentation, Q&A + signing 4pm

(more venues and dates to be announced on my author website events page)

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