Now that the busy holiday season is behind us and a new year stretches ahead, it’s an ideal time for reflection. Personally, I have been asking myself questions like, What behaviors and habits worked for me this past year? What do I want to change in 2013? Is it time to turn over some new leaves? Essentially (like many other people), I’m trying to find the right balance between focusing on others and making sure that I’m taking care of myself, too. Remember, you won’t be as effective in any area of your life if you’re overwhelmed and depleted. It’s important to honor your own needs and desires, and to make sure that the way you live your life reflects who you are and what makes you happy.
As an image consultant, I have learned that the clothes you wear and the way you style your hair are only a small part of honoring and expressing yourself. How you feel about yourself—mind, body, and spirit—are just as important. I urge you to use this time of transition to renew and reinvigorate your life, whether that means finding the perfect vacation spot, splurging on beautiful jewelry and new shoes, or simply discovering a new recipe that makes your taste buds tingle.
Discovering a wonderful new scent or great pair of jeans is always exciting, and being able to share it with everyone is one of my favorite things to do. Read on to learn about the top nine things that I am loving now:
1. Savor the soup of the season. There’s nothing better than a mouth-watering soup for both a chilly winter night and a growling belly. One of my staple recipes for this time of year is called Farmer’s Market Zucchini Soup. My friend Beth gave the recipe to me a couple of years ago and it is so simple and delicious!
I always like my soups thicker, so I prefer to use just four cups of chicken stock instead of six—but that’s just my personal preference. When I make a batch, I usually freeze some so I’ll have it on hand later. This scrumptious soup will keep your family nice and cozy this winter. (Please see the end of this blog post for the recipe.)
2. These shoes are made for walkin’. Let’s face it—sometimes you just don’t want to wear high heels, but your outfit looks too casual with a ballet flat. Enter Diane B. With a classic style and comfort, these fabulous shoes can easily become a staple piece for your wardrobe.
Quite simply, I am in love with these shoes. They have a half-inch angled heel that makes them look dressy, but they’re so comfortable that you can run around in them all day. My favorite is the camel-colored patent leather flat, because it can be worn with so many different looks. I also ordered the black patent shoe without the silver buckle. One of the best things about Diane B. is that you can custom order. The company has a wide variety of patterns, from stripes and florals to solids and polka dots—so there’s something for everyone!
3. Pucker up. During the coldest months of the year, taking care of your lips is a must, and a perfect lip stain is just what the doctor ordered. I recommend Yves Saint Laurent’s Glossy Stain Lipstick.
They have created the perfect combination of lipstick and gloss that’s a steal at $32. It’s one of Allure magazine’s top picks, and one of mine, too! I originally bought a coral shade (#12), but recently purchased a red for winter: #9. YSL’s Glossy Stain Lipstick goes on like a gloss and stays on like a lipstick. Even after you eat, the stain stays on your lips so you won’t have to run off to the ladies’ room to reapply.
4. Plan a visit to Downton Abbey. Everyone is talking about Downton Abbey, which has mesmerized viewers on both sides of the Atlantic—and I’m no exception. The third season just started on PBS, and in my opinion, it’s well worth spending an entire Saturday on the couch catching up if you haven’t seen the first two seasons. The show follows an aristocratic British family and their servants as they are impacted by events including the sinking of the Titanic, World War I, and more.
I love the show because it gives you a fascinating glimpse into the lives of people in a very different time and place, while remaining very relatable. The writing is incredible, and the costumes and sets are gorgeous. Before long, you’ll feel like you know the people who live in Downton Abbey—both upstairs and downstairs—and you’ll be cheering on your favorite characters through their obstacles and triumphs. Once you start watching, you won’t be able to pull yourself away…and you may find yourself wanting to plan a trip to England.
5. Seams or no seams? (That is not a question.) In the under(wear) world, you have two choices: endure the dreaded thong or feel self-conscious all day about your panty lines showing (a major no-no!). At least that’s how it used to be. But after I worked with a client who kept going on and on about Uniqlo seamless panties, I finally had to check them out for myself—and I’m so glad I did.
These undergarments are called ultra seamless briefs, and they are such a find! A lot of women don’t like to wear thongs, so these are a perfect alternative. They are made of nylon and spandex and have no seams. It’s like wearing a really comfortable bikini, but with all the benefits of wearing a thong. They are $9.90 a pair and come in several different colors, including pink, black, beige, and white.
6. Discover something scent from above. You can never underestimate the power of a beautiful scent to make you feel confident and feminine. Travel-Reviving Cempaka is a scent by Molton Brown that I am really enjoying right now.
I use the bath and shower gel and the body lotion. What I really love about it is that lift it gives you in the morning, when you aren’t quite ready to start the day. And the scent, of course! It’s heavenly!
7. Make a statement. A beautiful piece of jewelry can truly complete an outfit and help you stand out. I recently discovered Alexis Bittar, who is known for his exotic acrylic and crystal jewelry. I have two cuffs that are acrylic with gold accents (you can also get silver). It’s the perfect backdrop to any outfit because it’s acrylic, so your skin shows. These cuffs don’t overpower your outfit like some jewelry can; instead, they complement it.
One reason women shy away from buying expensive statement pieces is because they don’t know if the dollar per wear ratio is worth it. But in my opinion, if you’re looking to buy jewelry that goes with everything, this is it. The cuffs are terrific, and could definitely transition into warmer-weather accessories, too.
8. Get the ultimate fashion staple. As the temperatures hit their low points, finding the perfect pair of jeans is on the top of the to-do list. Luckily, I’ve already done the legwork.
I got my first pair of DL 1961 jeans around a year and a half ago. I prefer the angel cut, because it’s midrise, skinny ankle, and has four-way stretch. Unlike so many other brands, these jeans don’t lose their stretch, which is important. They come in several different winter colors like taupe and dark green, and are $158. They also look fantastic on, which makes me feel good.
9. Most importantly, remember to take a breather. Just thinking about everything you have to do, want to do, and should do this year can be stressful. It’s so important to take time for yourself to relax and revive your spirit. My new favorite place to enjoy some R&R is The Grand Del Mar, a resort in San Diego.
Everyone needs a special place to go to revive their spirit and take a moment to release stress. Once I lay my eyes on some beautiful scenery, my tension immediately begins to melt away. The staff at The Grand Del Mar are very polite and friendly, but not overly so. It’s extremely nurturing, the perfect getaway.
Ultimately, remember that the most important criteria to keep in mind when it comes to fashion, beauty, or anything else in your life are: How does this make me feel? Does it honor who I am? Does it boost my comfort and confidence? It has been my pleasure to share nine things that meet these qualifications for me. I hope that some of them will enhance your enjoyment of the upcoming months, too!
Farmer’s Market Zucchini Soup
2 tbs butter
1 carrot, sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
1 onion, diced
2 tsp thyme
5 zucchini, ends cut off, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced
4 cups of chicken stock (you can use 6, but I prefer 4 for a thicker soup)
2 tsp salt
2 tbs pesto sauce (store bought!)
In 8-quart soup pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and onion and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add thyme, zucchini, and chicken stock and increase heat to high and bring to boil. When boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in salt and pesto.
Working in batches (no more than ½ the blender), purée the soup in blender or food processor until smooth. Enjoy!