Summer Reading 2014 + A Place At the Table Giveaway

4:22 PM 35 Comments

Today I'm sharing my summer reading list with you. I just love a good, juicy read during the warmer months don't you? My lovely editor/ kindred spirit, Trish Todd, knows my interests so well and sent me a goody box with some of Simon & Schuster's most interesting summer reads.

Watch this week's video to hear more about the 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

Here are the (clickable) titles and book descriptions:

A Place at the Table by Susan Rebecca White

From Susan Rebecca White, award-winning author of A Soft Place to Land and Bound South, comes a breathtaking story of three richly nuanced outcasts whose paths converge in a chic Manhattan café as they realize they must give up everything they thought they knew to find a home at last.

Alice Stone is famous for the homemade southern cuisine she serves at Café Andres and her groundbreaking cookbook, but her past is a mystery to all who know her. Upon Alice’s retirement, Bobby Banks, a young gay man ostracized by his family in Georgia, sets out to revive the aging café with his new brand of southern cooking while he struggles with heartbreak like he’s never known. Seeking respite from the breakup of her marriage, wealthy divorcée Amelia Brighton finds solace in the company and food at Café Andres, until a family secret comes to light in the pages of Alice’s cookbook and threatens to upend her life.

In her most accomplished novel yet, Susan Rebecca White braids together the stories of these three unforgettable characters who must learn that when you embrace the thing that makes you different, you become whole.

The Summer House by Santa Montefiore

When Lord Frampton dies in a skiing accident, a beautiful young woman named Phaedra appears at his funeral—claiming to be the Lord’s illegitimate daughter. In his will, Lord Frampton has left the priceless Frampton suite of sapphires to this interloper, confirming her claim and outraging his three adult sons and widow. Eventually, however, Phaedra’s sweet nature thaws the frosty relationships. She becomes the daughter that Antoinette Frampton never had and a wise and compassionate granddaughter to the formidable Dowager Lady Frampton. But an attraction grows between Phaedra and the eldest son, David. It seems an impossible love—blocked by their blood connection and by the fury of one family member who is determined to expose Phaedra as a fraud.

Filled with the luscious scenery and enchanting characters her fans adore, Santa Montefiore’s Summer House is an unforgettable story about family, forgiveness, and the power of love.

Secrets of the Lighthouse by Santa Montefiore (release date August 5, 2014)

Set in Ireland on the wild coast of Connemara, this hauntingly romantic novel tells the story of a young woman who goes in search of her family’s past and ends up discovering her future.

Ellen Trawton is running away from it all. She hates her job, she doesn’t love the aristocratic man to whom she is engaged, and her relationship with her controlling mother is becoming increasingly strained. So Ellen leaves London, fleeing to the one place she knows her mother won’t find her, her aunt’s cottage in Connemara. Cutting all her ties with chic London society, Ellen gives in to Ireland’s charm and warmth, thinking her future may lie where so much of her past has been hidden. Her imagination is soon captured by the compelling ruins of a lighthouse where, five years earlier, a young mother died in a fire.

The ghost of the young wife, Caitlin, haunts the nearby castle, mourning the future she can never have there. Unable to move on, she watches her husband and children, hoping they might see her and feel her love once more. But she doesn’t anticipate her husband falling in love again. Can she prevent it? Or can she let go and find a way to freedom and happiness?

The ruggedly beautiful Connemara coastline with its tightknit community of unforgettable characters provides the backdrop for this poignant story of two women seeking the peace and love they desperately need. For each, the key will be found in the secrets of the past, illuminated by the lighthouse.

Sisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle (release date July 8, 2014)

From the author of Queen’s Gambit, which People magazine called, “A must-read for Philippa Gregory fans,” a gripping historical novel about two sisters who tread as dangerously close to the crown as their tragic sister, Lady Jane Grey, executed after just nine days on the throne.

Early in Mary Tudor’s turbulent reign, Lady Catherine and Lady Mary Grey are reeling after the brutal execution of their elder seventeen-year-old sister, Lady Jane Grey, and the succession is by no means stable. In Sisters of Treason, Elizabeth Freemantle brings these young women to life in a spellbinding Tudor tale of love and politics.

Neither sister is well suited to a dangerous life at court. Flirtatious Lady Catherine, thought to be the true heir, cannot control her compulsion to love and be loved. Her sister, clever Lady Mary, has a crooked spine and a tiny stature in an age when physical perfection equates to goodness—and both girls have inherited the Tudor blood that is more curse than blessing. For either girl to marry without royal permission would be a potentially fatal political act. It is the royal portrait painter, Levina Teerlinc, who helps the girls survive these troubled times. She becomes their mentor and confidante, but when the Queen’s sister, the hot-headed Elizabeth, inherits the crown, life at court becomes increasingly treacherous for the surviving Grey sisters. Ultimately each young woman must decide how far she will go to defy her Queen, risk her life, and find the safety and love she longs for.

From “a brilliant new player in the court of royal fiction,” (People) Sisters of Treason brings to vivid life the perilous and romantic lives of two little known young women who played a major role in the complex politics of their day.

Delancey by Molly Wizenberg

In this funny, frank, tender memoir and New York Times bestseller, the author of A Homemade Life and the blog Orangette recounts how opening a restaurant sparked the first crisis of her young marriage.

When Molly Wizenberg married Brandon Pettit, he was a trained composer with a handful of offbeat interests: espresso machines, wooden boats, violin-building, and ice cream–making. So when Brandon decided to open a pizza restaurant, Molly was supportive—not because she wanted him to do it, but because the idea was so far-fetched that she didn’t think he would. Before she knew it, he’d signed a lease on a space. The restaurant, Delancey, was going to be a reality, and all of Molly’s assumptions about her marriage were about to change.

Together they built Delancey: gutting and renovating the space on a cobbled-together budget, developing a menu, hiring staff, and passing inspections. Delancey became a success, and Molly tried to convince herself that she was happy in their new life until—in the heat and pressure of the restaurant kitchen—she realized that she hadn’t been honest with herself or Brandon.

With evocative photos by Molly and twenty new recipes for the kind of simple, delicious food that chefs eat at home, Delancey is a moving and honest account of two young people learning to give in and let go in order to grow together.

A Place at the Table Giveaway

I am kicking off a summer of book giveaways with Susan Rebecca White's A Place at the Table. We are giving away 3 copies to readers of the Daily Connoisseur. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only (terms set by Simon & Schuster). Please enter via the rafflecopter widget below. Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more on Susan Rebecca White visit www.susanrebeccawhite.com

Madame Chic Inspiring Thought

Virginia Johnson's delightful illustration in Lessons from Madame Chic

Last week I took my daughter to see a play and came home to unexpectedly hear the rehearsal of a choir coming from a neighbor's apartment. I can't imagine life without the arts... The arts feed our soul. Do what you can to seek out the arts and allow them to enrich your (often too busy) life. Seeing a play, attending a concert, listening to a church choir, visiting a museum, these are all palate cleansers that recharge our battery as we jump back into the fray of everyday life. #SeekOutTheArts

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See you soon! xx

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Hair & Nails Chat + Milkmaid Braid Tutorial, The New Braiding Handbook

4:45 PM 9 Comments

This week we are talking hair and nails. If you follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, you've noticed over the recent months that I've been having fun experimenting with braided hairstyles. I've always loved braids (it's the Madame Bohemienne in me!) so I was excited when Ulysses press recently sent me the new book by Abby Smith, The New Braiding Handbook.

Abby Smith is a fellow YouTuber with a wonderful channel called Twist Me Pretty. This book is a valuable resource because while I usually just wing it and create a hit or miss hairstyle, The New Braiding Handbook gives you great step-by-step instruction on creating new and classic braided hairstyles.

A while back on Facebook a reader commented that she liked the braided updo but felt she might be too old to wear braids. I don't think anyone is too old. If you pick the right age-appropriate look, your braided updo can look very elegant. This braided chignon, from the Duchess of Cambridge is a perfect example:

In this week's video I start off in pigtails (which is an age-inappropriate look for me!) but it's for a good reason... I give you a classic milkmaid braid updo tutorial half way through the video.

The milkmaid braid might feel too costume-y for you but I think you should give it a try. You might surprise yourself with how chic you look and I think it makes a great (easy) formal updo as well. There's something very regal about it even though it is meant for the look of a milkmaid.

Here are some of the braided looks I've shared on Instagram over the past few months. Which one is your favorite?

And now let's talk about nails. I've been experimenting with various colors this spring, some of which are out of my comfort zone. I've found some beautiful ones! But I also realize that the neutrals and classics are still my favorite. These two in particular, Dior's Incognito and Rouge, are particularly divine.

Check out this week's video for the milkmaid braid tutorial and an even more in depth discussion of these topics. 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

Last Monday I had the honor of speaking at the West Los Angeles support group for Women Heart: The National Coalition for women with Heart Disease. My talk focused on living a fulfilling life even during life's struggles. I was so moved and inspired by the stories and the bravery of the women in this group. Thank you to Alisa Becket and Amanda Daniels for inviting me to speak. For more information on Women Heart visit www.womenheart.org

Pictured with Amanda Daniels (left) and Alisa Becket (right)

Madame Chic Inspiring Thought

Sometimes, for special events, it "takes a village" to get ready and presentable. We trust our hair, makeup, styling and nails to the professionals. But on a daily basis, empower yourself to be your own beauty team. Don't be afraid to try out new hairdos. Practice wearing them at home if you feel unsure about going out in public with them. You don't need to spend a lot of money at the salon each week to achieve a polished look. Try giving yourself a manicure at home this week. Start with the neutral colors so the mistakes aren't as visible. Have fun with cultivating your own style and beauty routine. #lookpresentablealways

This week I would love to know... what are your thoughts on braided hairstyles? Would you ever wear one? What about nails? Do you like classic shades or do you prefer edgy colors? Do you do your manicures at home? Or do you have them professionally done?

Music in this week's video: Etente Cordiale
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How I Take Care of My Clothes

4:45 PM 26 Comments

This week we are talking about clothing care: specifically delicates. I'm such a strong advocate for men and women dressing up on a daily basis. Many times people don't dress up because a.) they don't want to "ruin" their nice clothes and b.) they don't want to spend lots of money at the dry cleaner. Well, I'm here to help. Yes it is possible to wear nice clothes on a daily basis, prevent them from getting ruined and launder them at home. I know because that's what I do! All of those silk blouses and dresses in my ten-item wardrobe? I wash them at home and this week I'll share my secrets with you.

Of course, I would like you to use discretion and common sense when deciding on how to care for a garment. Don't go sticking your prom dress in the washing machine! I don't wash all of my clothes... some of the more formal dresses I have always go to the dry cleaner. I'm talking about those everyday clothes, flowy tops, summer dresses, etc.

Mesh laundry bags

Mesh laundry bags are wonderful and I think everyone with a washing machine should own them. They prevent your clothes from getting stretched and ruined by getting caught on the column during the spin cycle. They are also the only way to wash your undergarments when using a machine.


It's important to pick the right detergent for the type of clothes you're washing. Delicate wash for delicates and wool and cashmere shampoo for sweaters. But no need to get carried away. You'll be surprised to know that I wash many of my clothes (even silks) with good old fashioned Tide.

Drying racks

When washing delicate clothes it's important to avoid the tumble dryer at all costs. It will shrink your nice clothing, so I always hang my wet laundry on drying racks and iron them once dry. When you iron your clothes, make sure your iron is set to the proper setting (silks will be a different setting than linen, for example).

Stain remover

Keep a good stain remover on hand. They even make travel sized stain removers for your purse (although I haven't quite got it together yet to purchase one of those). Take care of stains as soon as possible so they don't set in.

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

Madame Chic Inspiring Thought

Of course the best way to deal with stains is to prevent them entirely and I like to do that by wearing aprons whenever I am doing housework that could compromise my clothes. I love aprons and think they are a chic addition to any outfit when at home. This pretty Cath Kidston apron was a gift from my mother-in-law, Jane. Thank you!

This week I would love to know... how do you take care of your clothes? Do you have any tips and tricks for us? What do you think of these methods? Are you more likely to wear your nice clothes around the house now?

See you soon! xx

MUSIC: Mozart's Marriage of Figaro (I couldn't get enough so I used it in this video too!) :)
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Maca Latte Tutorial and Wink & Winn Giveaway

8:07 AM 100 Comments
I have two treats in store for you on this special Thursday post on the Daily Connoisseur. First is the video tutorial for my Maca Latte, which is set to Mozart's Marriage of Figaro and just might be the most dramatic drink tutorial on all of YouTube! Second is the Wink & Winn gift card giveaway, which I know many of you are excited about.

Maca Latte Tutorial

Maca powder is a Peruvian superfood. It is is a root that grows in the Andes mountains. The Peruvians have used maca for its medicinal properties for hundreds of years. Packed with vitamins and minerals, maca is known as a natural stimulant-free energy booster. It benefits the skin and particularly women's health and mood. You can read more about maca here at VegKitchen.

If you don't have health food store near your home, Amazon have a variety of maca powders on sale at discounted prices. Check out their list here.

To make a standard maca latte you will need:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk (in the video I use soy, which is fine too but I prefer almond)

Splash of vanilla soy creamer (if you use vanilla almond milk you will not need this)

1 heaping tablespoon of maca powder

Sprinkle of Raw Cacao Powder (This is optional. Available from health food store or Amazon)

1 frother (optional)
1 mug or teacup
saucepan and spoon

Heat one cup of almond milk and a splash of soy creamer (to taste) in a saucepan while stirring constantly. Pour half of the milk mixture into a cup. Place the maca powder in cup and pour the rest of the milk mixture on top. Using a frother, mix well (around 30 seconds) to prevent the maca from clumping up. Sprinkle raw cacao powder on top. Serve and enjoy!

This recipe makes one serving. Double it up for two.

**Have fun making different variations: add a spoonful of Nutella for a hazelnut latte, put in a teaspoon of flax seed powder if desired, add more cacao powder for a mocha latte.

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

Wink & Winn Giveaway

A while back I posted a review and tutorial for Wink & Winn's custom handbag service. Wink & Winn have kindly offered to give a $200 gift certificate to a reader of the Daily Connoisseur!

Please enter the giveaway via the rafflecopter widget below. The winner will be announced on the widget one week from today and will be contacted personally. The giveaway is open internationally so all may enter. Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

See you next time when we discuss delicate clothing care...

Music in the Maca Latte video:

MUSIC: Mozart's Marriage of Figaro
Royalty Free Music by
Sound Effects by

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Quality TV, Guilty Pleasures & Walking Out of a Movie?

4:45 PM 28 Comments

Thank you so much for your incredible response to my announcement last week about the new book, At Home With Madame Chic. So many of you preordered the book and sent over encouraging words. Thank you! And I agree with you... November could not come fast enough as I can't wait for you to read it.

This week is a very casual chat discussing quality television (including a guilty pleasure admission of mine) and a story about walking out of a movie. 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 in the Palisades

The week before last I had the honor of being the guest speaker for Lauren Evans and Susie Gilman's Happiness Series. We gathered in the Pacific Palisades with 40 Madame Chic enthusiasts and had a lively Q&A discussion about how we can live the principles discussed in Lessons from Madame Chic and incorporate them into our lives outside of Paris.

Pictured with Lauren Evans (left) and Susie Gilman (right)

Everyone looked so fabulous! I especially loved the ladies in the Breton striped shirts!

I wore a springy DVF cocktail dress and a turquoise necklace from Bauble Bar. Ten-Item Wardrobe-wise, cocktail dresses are considered extras because you only wear them on special occasions. Remember the ten core items of your wardrobe are clothes that you wear every day. It's important to have clothes for dressier occasions (church, parties, weddings, baby and bridal showers, etc.) It's a good idea to have a capsule collection of dressy occasion appropriate clothing that you can pull from when you have a special event. I can devote a whole blog post and video to this topic if you'd like. Let me know!

Thank you again to Ms. Evans and Ms. Gilman for hosting such a lovely event.

Madame Chic Inspiring Thought

Always use the best things you have. I love this scene from a recent episode of Mr. Selfridge (which is one of the quality shows discussed in this week's video) in which the family use a beautiful set of dishes for their weekday breakfast. Using nice dishes on a daily basis feels decadent and can add a touch of elegance and ritual to your average morning routine.

This week I would love to know... what are your thoughts on the programs discussed in this week's video? Do you have any quality TV or movies to recommend? What about guilty pleasures? Have you ever walked out of a movie?

See you soon!

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