Monday, July 14, 2014

Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living InParis

Today I wanted to share a book that has truly inspired me. We recently went to the library and I stumbled upon the above book, 'Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris' by Jennifer L. Scott. Truth be told I thought it would be a lighthearted "beach read" on how french women do it best but in fact it is much more.

The book is filled with stories of Jennifer's experience during her six months of studying abroad in Paris and ideas on how to live life well. She stayed with a very traditional family who were quite chic in seemingly every aspect of their life. Jennifer speaks mostly on the advice she received from the lady of the house, whom she affectionately calls Madame Chic, and also what she learned from simply watching Madame Chic and her family. 

Madame Chic would be what we Americans consider prim, proper and elegant. She quickly showed Jennifer that you needn't have many "things" in order to live well. Madame Chic was clean and organized, she cared for herself, for her home and for her family.  She didn't worry with trends. She knew what looked good on her and didn't stray from what made her feel beautiful. From the hairstyle that fit her best to the cut of the clothes she wore, she was a woman who knew what quality truly meant.

Jennifer touches on many other topics such as: having a love for the arts, eating meals filled with quality ingredients, having an air of mystery, how to carry yourself and how we should invest money into core, quality items for our wardrobe. 

After reading I felt inspired to get up the next morning and to live differently even if no one would know.  Jennifer often mentions that the Chic Family were presentable at all times. They cared for the way that they looked even if it meant that they were not going to see someone that day. She encourages that you wear your favorite dress and that you should use your china as often as possible. Why wait for a special occasion when everyday is an occasion.

What I took away most from this book is that we can all be Madame Chic. It's the notion that you can cultivate a lovely life whether you're living in the sixteenth arrondissment of Paris or in middle Tennessee. It is about making a conscious decision to love what you have and have what you love. By purchasing quality items that you cherish and take care of, you find that your need for more, more, more has lessened.  This also speaks to the food you eat, the music you listen to and the books you read. It's about quality, not quantity.

I am inspired to cultivate a beautiful life. I had lost sight of the beautiful and lovely things during this transition we are in but am ready to live well regardless of our circumstances.

I hope you check out Jennifer's book, her blog which she updates frequently along with her videos on YouTube

Have a wonderful evening, friends. I hope your Monday went well!
xoxo bd

Sunday, July 6, 2014

4th of July Vacation: Birmingham

Hello friends!

After spending a few days in Birmingham with family for the holiday weekend, we are settling back into our daily routines and I wanted to take a moment to share a few photos of our time with you.

For the past 12+ years my family and I have visited my Aunt, Uncle and cousins in Birmingham, AL.They have a lovely home with a large pool and the most relaxing sun porch made for reading and naps, of course!
Adam and I decided to go up a couple of days early to have some alone time in addition to exploring the city and suburbs of Birmingham. I took some time prior to arriving to research a few places to visit and was lucky enough to do it all. On Wednesday we had lunch at California Pizza Kitchen followed by shopping at The Summit (Madewell, C. Wonder, Sur La Table). I purchased a couple of turkish towels at sur la table for our future home and am so I'm excited to be able to use them.

Thursday we ventured to a small but very affluent town, Mountain Brook. Driving through the tree lined winding roads you were met with beautiful custom homes on both sides. I apologize for the photos being slightly grain-y but we were going about 45 mph so this is as good as I could get. I must say, the Colonial home was my favorite.

We drove into one of the villages they have in Mountain Brook, specifically English Village to have brunch at Chez LuLu. Having arrived a little before they opened, we meandered about the shops and grabbed a couple of treats and an iced latte at The Continental Bakery.
The thumbprint cookie with raspberry jam and the the french love cookie, respectively.

After walking about the village we sat down at the tables outside of Chez LuLu (adjacent to the Continental Bakery) for lunch and were able to eat with my cousin, Tessa.
First they greeted us with a bread basket and dipping oil, so naturally we felt like we made the right choice.
I ordered the soup and salad sampler with my choice of any soups or salads offered. I chose two salads, the roasted walnut, goat cheese and pear salad with a champagne vinaigrette; the beet and avocado salad; a warm carrot soup (this was absolutely amazing!) and a cup of the gazpacho whose descriptors have left me. It was yummy, that's all I can recall.

Adam had the Goat Cheese, Pesto and Tomato Sandwich along with a cup of the gazpacho as well. 

We spent the rest of the afternoon in and out of the local boutiques and later saw a movie with the family!

On the 4th we all slept in and enjoyed a pancake breakfast thanks to my Aunt Beth. It was red white and blue themed, of course. We had our bathing suits on, magazines out and sunscreen applied by mid morning. It was so relaxing!
After swimming and hanging out for quite a while we hopped over to Steel City Pops for an afternoon treat. They make  gourmet popsicle's  and let me tell you, they do it well. Hello, Coffee Pop!

By the end of the day I looked like one hot lobster. I don't tan, I mainly burn, so I am still reeling from the effects of the sun. Regardless of my candy cane lookin' legs, we had a wonderful time. I realized after uploading all of the photos that it was mainly of the fun food we ate and none of us or our family! 
If ever you find yourself in Birmingham or in the very least passing through, I suggest you take a few minutes to explore this fun city.

I hope your holiday weekend was enjoyable! We'll talk soon, I promise.
xoxo  bd