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Friday, March 27, 2015

The Allure of Mystery ~ A French Girl Friday Post

To be a little mysterious to others is a great way to channel your Inner French Girl.

There is indeed something to be said about not sharing too much. The French, and I have known this from reading several books, are rather tight lipped and mysterious about their life, on the flip side, Americans, or at least quite a few Americans are very much the opposite. As I am typing this Dr. Phil is on and yet another family is airing their dirty laundry for the world to see. We have reality shows where too much information is the norm. Standing in line at the drugstore the other day, a lady turned to me after another had walked away, and said to me " In five minutes, that woman told me her life story... it was exhausting!" ,. It happened to me the other day while waiting for a table for my brunch for one, when a very kind elderly gentleman sat down and I made a polite comment about him finding a parking space, as I had walked by while he was looking for one in the parking lot, and suddenly I had been told all about his vacation, his now deceased wife and I am sure he would have continued on if I had not been called to go to my table. I am a blogger, sharing is what I do, and at times I KNOW I have shared too much information, it has lead me to be much more chatty with strangers when out and about and opening up as they do, in turn.... then thinking " why did I do that or say that?" , and yet I do not want to seem to not be friendly to others, that is not me, I am very friendly, but perhaps being a blogger has made me more so. I used to be much more private, quiet, perhaps perceived as shy and closed off... I am very shy believe it or not. When out with my husband, I let him do the talking to others. In recent years however, that I have become a little more chatty with others if it is a one on one, and of course here and my FB page, so I suspect it is posting here that has made me be a bit more open and less mysterious on a day to day basis.   Perhaps I need to channel my inner French girl and create a little more mystery around myself. Difficult when sharing, as I said is what I do as a hobby. 

via google search

In pursuit of channeling my inner French girl whenever and however I can I have, if you have been reading this blog knows that includes reading the book Lessons from Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott. This weeks chapter just happens to be on the subject of cultivating an air of mystery. It is not a new subject, I first read a similar suggestion in the book by Jamie Cat Callan , Ooh La La, a book I happen to have been featured in ; if you click under Labels here on the page on the French Girl Friday link, you will find the blog I did on that very book. If you google the subject of being a mysterious woman, there is several blogs, this one  popped up first, and there is even a how to on the subject as well as a Wiki How page . There is a lot out there that supports adding a bit of mystery to our daily life and how we lead it, and that by doing so not only will you be channeling that inner French girl, but become more alluring as a woman and lady like, if that is a goal, there is some simple steps you can take as laid out by Jennifer Scott in her book. 

via google search 

Being a little more mysterious is not about being rude and stand offish, it is not about not saying anything if asked , but simply not telling everything like that woman in drugstore line. Even among friends and family there should be some mystery. My family is very open, and I am sure there are times on both sides we wish we did not know as much about each other. Does it mean never sharing certain aspects with anyone? No, that is not the point, we all need someone to confide in, someone we can tell everything to, a spouse, a best friend... after all talking things out can be therapeutic. So what are some steps that you can take to become a little more mysterious and find a happy medium with how much you share and with whom you share it? None of them, unless you are by nature a chatty Cathy that can not help themselves, is difficult. The number one I liked within the chapter and one I employ more and more is one the author suggests is " Acquire a Mona Lisa smile.....a subtle half smile suggests you know something...." , another good one is to speak softy. I am always telling my husband and my oldest daughter, well and even my Mom from time to time over the years " use your inside voice.", although at times I can not follow that rule as my husband is hard of hearing! The one thing using a soft voice causes is the listener leaning in to hear what you have to say, according to the author that is "very mysterious" , not sure my husband sees it as me being mysterious but more so it being a mystery as to what I am saying. 

Picking and choosing tips that stood out to me within the chapter, was one that came as a surprise... "Being Yourself" , I was so intrigued by this tip that I want to share the entire paragraph.... " Be Yourself: Cultivating an air of mystery is not to be confused with being fake, putting on airs, or trying to be someone you are not. It is simply being yourself without hiding behind a wall of people pleasing. It's about not exchanging fake pleasantries or sharing truths about yourself with people who are not terribly important to you. So be in the moment, and be yourself fully. Value the air of mystery that draws people to you." Jennifer L. Scott.  I think that she sums up the entire subject beautifully, in a way I can not top, so shall leave you till net week with that thought. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Touch of Culture... A French Girl Friday Post

Seeking out and enjoying the arts is an important part of
my life and along the way I also am able to channel my
inner French girl.

The arts have always been a part of my life. I feel my life would be so very empty if not filled with good music, movies, books, dance, theater and art in the form of paintings and drawings, even fashion is a form of the arts and you all know I love fashion.I think seeking out the arts and adding culture to ones life is so very important and starting from an early age I was drawn towards the above mentioned. I once could draw, even paint, but arthritis in my hands has made that harder and harder over the years, so that is why I love going to art museums and just getting lost in paintings, soaking in every detail; actually like museums of all types and find something rewarding in them, something so very fulfilling. I have never been ale to sing or act but have always enjoyed those that can, and when I have been able, have attended the theater and just been giddy to be there. Books, well getting lost in the pages of a good book has been a love of mine since as far back as I can remember, having been an only child, I was never lonely as long as I had a book in my hands. Music, what can I say, I always seem to have a soundtrack to my life. I adore music, all types, well nearly all types, everything from classical and some opera to current top ten tunes and everything in between. It can set a mood, lift a mood, change how my day is going and even on some level help with my pain levels.  In the book Lessons from Madame Chic, by Jennifer L. Scott, in the current chapter I am reading titled "Seek out the Arts", the author discusses her own connection to the arts, the arts being part of the reason she went to live as an exchange student in Paris... where better to immerse yourself in the arts than in Paris? While there, living with the Famille Chic they lead by example such as always having music playing and making it a very important part of their daily life, which upon returning in her life has done the same thing. 

Michael Douglas

When we lived in a small town, there was not a lot of cultural avenues to partake in such as museums or large theaters, but I managed to find it where I could. I would attend festivals to be able to listen to live bands, I would attend each and every play that my high school theater group put on, and attend melodramas at a place called The Great American Melodrama. I would visit missions to be able to see the art, visit small local galleries to do the same. I always had a book in my hand, and music playing in the background. I was a writer from quite early on and spent all my free time when I was not reading, drawing and painting. When I became an adult and had children I made sure that I encouraged them all to tryout for the school band, our middle daughter was quite talented with the bass clarinet, and she is also a very talented artist and gets more so each and every day and we encourage her every day in that area and she is a veracious reader when given the chance. Our youngest is talented in the culinary arts as well as in her own way the art of fashion. All three enjoy the theater, going to concerts and museums. I did not let living in a small town stop me from adding culture to my life, nor to theirs. 

                           Barbara Januszkiewicz


I am not able to always go attend the theater or visit museums and it has been years since I have been to a concert, but I still try very hard to bring the arts, to add culture to my daily life. One does not have to be French to seek out the arts and add a touch of culture to their daily lives as the French seem to do"...The French highly promote culture and the arts, and photography is in their blood. Herb Ritts" It is not so hard to take their lead, you do not even have to live in a big city to do it.  Go to a library and pick up a few books if you do not have money to buy them..library's often have local artists on display so you even treat them as a mini museum. Seek out local art shows, cultural events. Look into small theater groups who preform, or maybe live theater at local collages or even high schools. Pick up a small canvas and some water colors and find a quite spot in your yard or a local part and paint what you see, it does not have to be good. Might inspire you to take an art course at a local jr. collage.  Joining a book club, maybe if you play an instrument you can find local lessons. One can go on websites like and find others that enjoy the arts and take field trips to larger cities to see the museums so you do not have to go alone. Even if you do nothing more than watch movies at home , I like French films , or turn on the radio instead of the television , I love when writing these posts to listen to French music artists from the 20's through the 50's to get in the mood. Your life will be richer and enriched for the addition(s) and along the way, and in doing so you can also channel your own inner French girl as I do.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Cluttered House, Cluttered Mind ~ A French Girl Friday Post

image ...MaxAndCoPost

It is Friday once again, and time to read further on in the book "Lessons from Madame Chic" written by Jennifer L. Scott.  I am into part 3 " How to Live Well" and this weeks chapter is titled "Clutter Is So Not Chic" .... I AGREE! I truly dislike clutter, it does not matter if it is clutter like scattered mail or magazines, or clutter like a lot of collectibles on every surface. I feel that if I have a lot of clutter of any kind around me I just can not think strait! That is not to say I do not have my drawer (yes drawer)  and in the past, as a child I had a closet that was from Hell , but I try my hardest to stay on top of it all. Jennifer starts off the chapter with this sentence " I do not exaggerate when I say Famille Chic's home was completely clutter free. ", so perhaps once again I have been channeling my inner French girl without even knowing it. 

My mess drawer. I try to not open it! 

So why are the French less apt to have clutter?  According to the author the reason Famille Chic had no clutter was that they enjoyed living well and to have that pile of mail or shoes or coats that were not put away was the complete opposite to living well.  Now I said above that I also do not like to have cluttered surfaces full of collectibles, that is not to say I do not have collectibles, I just try to create nice vignettes here and there and I do try to leave some blank space.  I do not collect things just to have things ( well except maybe shoes and jewelry)  and if something comes into Muse Cottage, it has a reason to come in and if there is not space for it, then something has to be taken out to allow something else to come in.... same way with my wardrobe.  It is mentioned that Famille Chic were not be consumers, that helps, I have been a shopaholic in the past, but have tried very hard after going through some very tough times with out financial situation to curb that since things have gotten better, and it has cut back on the clutter of the collectible type.  

via google search for retro and closet

If you have a lot of clutter of any kind it can be daunting to get it under control. There are countless books and tv shows on how you are supposed to go about the process, and you may have a day when you say " this is the day", then open that closet door or that drawer and quickly shut it again. I have been there. Most days I do not have the energy to tackle much of anything for very long, so what is a girl to do? Go slowly. Pick an area that really drives you crazy. One of my first places I see when I get up is my closet so I have always made sure that it is organized. I keep my shoes in shoe boxes that are grouped by color and style and one day I will add labels. I keep my scarves in plastic shoe boxes as well. My jewelry case is organized as well, I bought plastic containers that are actually nuts and bolts holders from the hardware store and that is how I organize my earrings etc. , they need labels as well, but it is a start, you will notice my belts are in clear plastic bags, not a perfect way to do things, but it works. 

The next place I see is my bathroom, last place I see at night too, and it is important to me to be able to get what I need to do over with in a timely matter and not have to deal with clutter. I keep my medicine cabinet and my make up very organized and it really helps speed up both getting ready for the day and for bed in the evening.  After that space it is the living room. I am here all day long, my desk is in here, and when you spend a lot of time in a space that is cluttered, I fully believe that it can affect your mood, spirit and creative juices too. Cluttered house, cluttered mind. I try to go through the mail the minute it comes in, I keep items I have to have in the room that is not decorative in small wooden boxes, they are actually wooden cheese boxes my daughter got me from her work, baskets hold the blankets and spare toss pillows, but really anything can work... I even keep my snacks in the kitchen in a brass garden pot and my tea in an old wire basket.  Just because it needs to be out does not mean that it can not be organized. 

Being able to see everything at a glance
truly helps start and end the day in a good way.

I can grab what I need quickly without
searching since taking my make up out
of the bag and putting it into the drawers.

Not perfect, one day I will upgrade,
but this works well for keeping shoes,
keys and outgoing mail etc. in one place.

A wooden cheese box for coasters,
eye glasses and the remotes keeps the
coffee table clean and organized without
being completely devoid of
screen, magazines are stacked neatly. 

What happens when you are organized but your family is not and you keep having to pick up after them? It is all about  the training. Start slow and gentle with that too. It has taken me many years of kindly reminders and of living/teaching by example to get my husband to stay organized. He is still not as good at it as I am, but he does try and I love him for the effort. I no longer have to worry about the girls anymore, they are all out on their own, but they knew when they were still living under my roof that they could ( even if it bugged me) keep their room as they wish, to an extent, but the main living space needed to stay neat, clean and organized... I will say two of the three daughters now keep their own spaces in the same way I keep my own.... so it can happen. It is all about discipline, self and influencing others to have it too. Having a routine really helps, simply starting with putting your shoes and purse away when you come in, going through the mail and getting rid of what is not needed, and cleaning up as you go when you are cooking a meal can make a big difference. Having a place for everything and everything in it's place is also makes a huge difference in keeping the clutter at bay....and if brave enough clearing things out that you no longer need that is taking up space and creating clutter just by existing in your space. 

I am not going to go into further detail of the hows, something tells me even if you are not organized and are surrounded by clutter, you know how to clear it all up and possibly out, you most likely know how to do that. I may have even given you a few new ideas , now it is all about becoming motivated or motivating those around you if you are not the problem.  I will say this, just think of all the extra time you will have if you are not always trying to straiten up the clutter if it is already organized as part of living a better lifestyle and habit. So channel your own inner French girl ( yes I know grasping at straws with that statement) and become more chic , because as the author stated, "clutter is so not chic..." and we all want to be more chic, even if we do not want to channel that inner French girl side of ourselves.