2.09.2016

At Home With Madame Chic JAPAN



I'm pleased to announce that my second book, At Home With Madame Chic, is now available in Japan.



Published by Daiwa Shobo and translated by Akiko Kansaki, this book makes a beautiful companion to the first.



I want to give a big thank you to all of the Japanese readers who made Lessons from Madame Chic a number one bestseller in Japan! I feel so grateful for the wonderful reception you have given my work. Arigato!

Today, I have a quick video and thank you for the Japanese readers. I hope you enjoy At Home With Madame Chic, and that it sparks passion in your life at home. See you soon!

Jennifer x


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2.08.2016

What We Wear Matters



What we wear matters. For some reason, this statement has become a controversial topic of late. Many of us believe that what we wear is important— that dressing is a form of both self-respect and respect for others. But there is an opposing argument to everything. Those who disagree state that what we wear does not matter. That it is none of our business how other people dress and there should not be a dress code for anything. We are living in a world of "anything goes" anyway so why fight it?

Standards of dress have slipped rather dramatically over the past few decades. It didn't happen suddenly, it happened gradually, so much so that we didn't notice it, until now. We are starting to see a backlash in the news, like with the British headmistress who sent a letter home to parents asking them to not wear their pajamas to school. Or the San Diego judge who posted a notice on his courtroom wall stating that pajamas are not appropriate attire for district court. This is how bad it's become: adults need to be told to not wear their pajamas in public.

In my life I have been on both sides of the dressing experience. As a college student, I would have thought nothing of wearing sweatpants and dressing sloppily in public. Hey, we all did it! (Or, at least that was my excuse.) But after living in Paris with Madame Chic and her family, I was awakened to the power and dignity of dress. Now, I do my best to look presentable and dress appropriately on a daily basis, and it's safe to say you won't see me in my nightgown on the street, unless there is a fire or earthquake. (That's my goal, anyway.)

Many of the people opposed to the idea that what we we wear matters claim that it is an elitist thing. That we are saying you need to be dressed in the latest brand name or the most expensive items. This could not be further from the truth. People can dress with dignity at any price point, from the smallest to the largest budget.

What we wear matters.
I firmly believe this and in this week's video I state my case for why. If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or check out my YouTube channel at: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur (and be sure to subscribe!)

Here are some articles of interest that are mentioned in the video:

Business Insider article on what to wear to work.

Wall Street Journal article on badly dressed museum visitors

Judge asks people to stop wearing pajamas in court.

Headmistress in the United Kingdom sends a letter home to parents urging them to not wear pajamas to school.

News
Check out my interview with Germany's Alyona Klameth, from What's Up online magazine, about Paris, Madame Chic and the ten-item wardrobe.

Tala Ocampo gets inspiration from At Home With Madame Chic when upping her everyday game.

7 Mouths 2 Feed ponders the ten-item wardrobe in her post called, Brave New Wardrobe.

Comments of the Week
Alison T. writes:

Oh my goodness, I came across this at the right time. I'm a teacher and had parent-teacher conferences last week. Many mothers came to our conference in workout clothes. I make an effort to look professional every day, and it made me feel disrespected that they did not care enough to change before these meetings. Unless you are a personal trainer, make an effort when meeting with your child's teacher!

Hi Alison, thank you for giving us one teacher's perspective. We so often only think of ourselves, it's good to wonder how the other party feels. I'm sure you are an excellent example for your students.

Lynne writes:

Hi Jennifer,
I just wanted to let you know how much I have appreciated your blog and books. Like many people I have been captivated by the 10 item wardrobe and I'm finally implementing it. I was thrilled to discover how much money I can save when I stay true to my style, and don't feel pulled (too much :) ) by trends. Now I can take advantage of the end of season sales and buy quality pieces for very little. I bought a beautiful winter dress and blouse yesterday for 50% off and will get a bit of wear out of them this season and for many years to come. Thank you and congratulations on your pregnancy!


Hi Lynne, thank you for your comment. I loved hearing how the ten-item wardrobe has worked wonders for you. Many people tell me they have read my blog for years and are just now implementing the ten-item wardrobe in their lives. It's never too late!

This week I would love to know what you think. Does what we wear matter? If so, why? If not, why not? Please leave your comments in the comment section below and you could be chosen as comment of the week!


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2.04.2016

The Importance of Play for Adults / Escape Room in a Box



In the entertaining section of At Home With Madame Chic, I talk about the importance of play for adults. As adults, we can lead such stressful lives with work and family obligations. We think playtime is only for the kids, but really it can be for us too! I attend regular game nights at my friend Juliana's house (I write about her infamous game nights in the book) and they are so much fun.



In this week's bonus video we have a very special treat! I am joined by my friends Juliana and Ariel, creators of Escape Room in a Box, to discuss the importance of adult play and to create a call to action hopefully inspiring you to throw your own game night.

There are so many benefits to sitting down with one or many friends to play a game, here are just a few:

- You are fully in the present moment.
- You are improving your mental skills (the opposite of dumbed down entertainment)
- You can connect and bond with your friends and family.
- It feels so good to laugh!
- It's a wonderful change from the usual night of Netflix or dinner and a movie.
- Playing games are a form of escape and help you to de-stress.

Escape Room in a Box

Juliana and Ariel have created their very own game, Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment. This game is so unusual, unlike any game I have ever played at home. It is full of riddles, puzzles, mysteries and surprises. It's a 60-90 min cooperative game where 2-6 players solve puzzles, crack codes and find hidden clues to escape a mad scientist's lab! (So thrilling.) When I sat down to play with our friends, Mario, Liz and Marissa we were in for such a treat and had so much fun solving the mystery. For more information on Escape Room in a Box, or to order your own version of the game, visit Juliana and Ariel's website.

Check out our video to meet my friends and hear more on why play for adults is so important. If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

News
The Secret Owl Society cites inspiration from At Home With Madame Chic for looking presentable always.

Comment of the Week
Charitie from Vis a Vis writes:

If there is any a time to follow the simplistic, quality-over-quantity wardrobe code, pregnancy is it. Like all mothers know, growing a child depletes physical and mental energy, with stamina concerning one's appearance being the first to go. Effort directed towards a polished ensemble diminishes and oftentimes makes the mother feel less than attractive, which is absolutely absurd because pregnant women always exhibit a radiant glow. Pregnant women should take the time to make themselves feel beautiful; take every opportunity to enjoy being pregnant.


Hi Charitie, you make a wonderful point and I couldn't agree more. By the way, you have a lovely blog!


This week I would love to know... do you ever host or attend a game night? What are your favorite games to play? Do you want to host a game night but don't know where to start? Let me know in the comment section below.

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2.01.2016

Maternity Wardrobe Updates



My apologies for the lateness of this post. My youngest daughter has been very ill this past week, but thankfully she is on the mend and improving every day. She is such a trooper!

Ever since I announced the news that we are expecting baby number three, many people have asked about my maternity wardrobe and how that will affect my ten-item wardrobe. In this week's video, I give you all of the updates.

I do not fit into most of my ten-item wardrobe clothes from winter anymore. I am still wearing the Loft fluid ankle pants because their drawstring waist allows room for my larger stomach. I can also wear the green Talbots tee due to its flowy waist. The floral Garnet Hill dress still fits me as well, but that is pretty much it!

I have made supplemental purchases in the form of a sweater tunic from Motherhood Maternity, a knit tunic, two nautical maternity tees, a denim maternity dress and black maternity skirt all from Old Navy maternity. The pregnancy period is such a short period of time, it is a must for me to buy affordable clothes that grow with me through to the third trimester. Because we are in winter, fleece leggings and tights are also a must.

In this week's video I show you how I layer my clothes and how you can make a tunic and leggings look more stylish.

Please watch this week's video to see all. The shoes I'm wearing in the video are booties from Aerosoles.

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

In the video, I reference Jen Hatmaker's very funny video on why leggings are not pants . Enjoy!


News
Lessons from Madame Chic tops the list of 6 classy nonfiction books to read on the plane from Hepcat Hannah.

Taylor Jenan is bringing Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic in her carry-on luggage.

Enter to win a copy of Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic, along with a set of luxurious Christy linens and towels in their generous giveaway. Enter here (for US residents only).

Comment of the Week
Jane writes:

My Goodness this is so on time, Jennifer. I have been making some small steps toward de-cluttering and simplifying, but honestly as a stay-at-home-mother without a morning routine I find myself making so many excuses for why I am still in a bathrobe even into the evenings on some days! The truth is I just haven't developed the self-discipline to get myself together. When my husband has a day off I have an impetus to get ready to go out, but if I know I will be home all day I will excuse myself from looking presentable as "no one will see me." The truth is my son sees me everyday, and setting a good example for him should be reason enough. However, it took a surprise visit from my brother-in-law and his wife the other afternoon, while I was in said robe, to realize that it was in my best interest to start taking some pride in my appearance. I was totally mortified. I would never leave the house looking like that, so why subject myself and everyone around me to looking at a woman who literally resembles an Abilify ad, wearing that all-too-comfortable fluffy blue robe? I don't want to be a hot mess (visual clutter) anymore! I am going to start implementing a morning routine because I know deep down, I have been waking up on the wrong side of the bed and staying stuck and wishing I could "catch up." I am going to try to model my routine after some of you ladies! Thanks for sharing & inspiring!


Hi Jane, It's wonderful to hear how excited and motivated you now feel to start a morning routine! I find it to be very important to the function of the whole day. Madame Chic had a morning routine too and she never strayed from it during the time I lived with them. Check back in and let us know how it goes!

Artistic Recommendation


Check out my blogging friend, Jenny Williams', adorable Etsy shop called, Carrot Top Paper Shop. She has created beautiful artwork of famous literary heroines like Anne Shirley, Jane Eyre and Elizabeth Bennet for little girls' rooms. I just adore the idea and her artwork is beautiful. Jenny is so kind to offer my readers a 20% discount all this week. Use the code madamechiclove. Thank you, Jenny!


This week I would love to know about your experience with maternity clothes. What works and what doesn't work for your maternity wardrobe? What do you feel most comfortable in during your pregnancies?

See you Thursday for a special bonus video on the importance of play as adults...




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1.25.2016

My Morning Routine



Today I am sharing my morning routine with you. Everyone has different life circumstances. Some people have children, others don't. Some people commute to work, and some work from home. Everyone has a different schedule. The important thing is to find a routine that works for you. The key word being routine. I believe a regular morning routine is key to starting the day off right. Of course things happen and we don't always adhere to our regular schedule, but having the foundational bones for a regular morning schedule works wonders on your day.


In this week's video, I talk through my morning routine with you, which looks like this:

6:00am Wake up. I like to wake up before the rest of my family to have some quiet time and to get ready.

6:00am to 6:30am Time to wake up in a relaxing way: pray, read, check the news, drink water, take vitamin, cup of tea or coffee (normally coffee but I've switched to tea during the pregnancy).

6:30am to 7:00am I get ready for the day: bathe or shower, get dressed (easy with the ten-item wardrobe), le no makeup look, do hair and tidy up the bathroom/ make my bed.

7:00am to 7:15am Wake up the children. Help them get ready including brushing teeth, making beds, getting dressed, doing hair and putting away pajamas.

7:15am- 8:00am Give the children breakfast, make their lunches, eat my own breakfast, shoes and coat on. Out the door at 8:00am to walk to school.

Here is a key tip:

I always set the table for breakfast the night before and leave out waters for the children. I also set the lunch boxes out and place non-perishable lunch items in their boxes (I finish them off with the fresh items the following morning).


Check out this week's video to hear me discuss my morning routine. 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

News
Dinner Party Atelier lists Lessons from Madame Chic as one of the 5 most impactful books she's ever read and writes a wonderful blog post on using your best dishes on a daily basis.

My Life in Snippets shares a Madame Chic triple review. I loved reading her takeaways from all three books.

Blue Sky Kitchen is hooked by Madame Chic and has started to clear her clutter.

The Madame Chic books were some of 11 Magnolia Lane's favorite Christmas presents

Enter to win a luxurious set of Christy Linens, luxury towels and a copy of Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic on Christy's generous giveaway (for US residents only).

Check out this interesting article in the Seattle Times, High cuisine, low manners: is proper etiquette dead?

Comments of the Week
Sweet Caroline writes:

One of the very first times of practicing hospitality as newlyweds, my husband and I asked a couple (whom we had recently met) for supper at our apartment. The couple arrived about thirty minutes early. For some reason, I didn't have my shoes on yet. I grew up in a family where you never, ever ran around barefooted if guests were present, but there was just no polite way to scamper upstairs to get my shoes on. It was awful! Then, to top it off, the lemon chess pie I made was way too tart. (As in, the pie was not edible!) Doubly awful! I am happy to inform that somehow I overcame that night, and my husband and I have gone on to host a multitude of people in our home--always with my shoes on! ;)

Sweet Caroline, I loved your story, which is so similar to my first disastrous dinner party. I am so happy you were able to recover and now enjoy the art of entertaining!

Dara writes:

This is amazing! I had no idea that other people experienced this same situation. I am 20 years old and graduated high school only a few years ago and that is when it was very difficult to accept people's comments on how I dress. I used to dress down to avoid the comments but I realized how much happier I feel when I look my best. I start to feel my best and do my best when I look on the outside how I feel on the inside!

Dara, I am so pleased that you have moved past worrying about other's comments and have joyfully embraced looking presentable always.

This week I would love to know... what is your morning routine? Do you start the day off feeling prepared or do you constantly feel like you are playing catch-up? What is your favorite part of the morning? Leave your comments below and you could be chosen as the comment of the week!



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1.21.2016

Christy Linens Giveaway 2016



I am so pleased to share another amazing giveaway from Christy Linens. You will recall over a year ago we did a giveaway for beautiful cream bed linens and this time I take you into our guest bedroom to show you the bright and beautiful Julianne linens.





In addition to a copy of Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic, Christy Linens are giving away a complete set of linens of your choice: duvet cover, pillow shams, Euro shams and knit throw, as well as a complete set of Supreme Hygro towels to a reader of The Daily Connoisseur. What an amazing prize!


The giveaway will run for one month and is open to US residents only (terms set by Christy linens).

Enter the giveaway on Christy's website HERE.

Check out this week's video to get a look at our guest bedroom and the beautiful linens. If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel (and don't forget to subscribe!) at www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

I wish you the very best of luck! I appreciate all of my readers so much. I wish you could all win this giveaway. Thank you for being loyal readers. And thank you to Christy Linens to offering this generous prize.

For more on Christy Linens, check out their website www.christylinens.com

See you next week!

Jennifer x

FTC: The linens featured in this video were sent to me to review by Christy Linens. All opinions are my own.



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1.18.2016

Freezer Lasagna Recipe (Makes 4 1/2)



Being chic is being prepared, which is why I like to meal plan our weekly dinners and also why I often do freezer cooking: where I will spend one afternoon making a large batch, home cooked meal to freeze for a later date. I love to make freezer lasagnas because they keep so well and feed a crowd beautifully. If you ever have unexpected dinner guests, a lasagna is a crowd-pleaser, and paired with a salad and some bread rolls, can make your dinner quite elegant (but so easy to prepare!).

In this week's video, come cooking with me as I make four and a half lasagnas: 3 1/2 meat and one vegetarian. Whenever I cook, I never have a set recipe, I just know I need a good, tasty sauce and that all the components need to be there. But I did capture this recipe for you, if you want to follow the steps to do this yourself.

Check out this week's video to see the full cooking tutorial. 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

Freezer Lasagna Recipe (makes 4 1/2 lasagnas)

You will need:

Aluminum foil baking pans (This recipe uses 4 large pans and one mini pan)

Sauce:

Olive oil
1 1/2 to 2 whole chopped onions
5 cloves garlic
6 lbs ground beef (or you could use ground turkey)
2 packets Italian sausage (I used chicken sausage, but you can use any kind you like)
6 lbs (106oz) spaghetti sauce (I purchased this at Costco)
2 16oz cans stewed tomatoes or tomato sauce
Italian dried herbs (I used oregano, fennel seeds and Italian seasoning) to taste
Fresh basil
salt and pepper

Cheese mixture:

45oz (roughly) Ricotta cheese
35oz Mozzarella cheese
12 oz Parmesan cheese (plus 8oz more for sprinkling on top of the lasagnas)
2 eggs
salt and pepper

Lasagna noodles (2 packets at 1lb each)

cooking oil spray to coat pans

An extra jar of marinara sauce in case you have extra ingredients and want to make a vegetarian lasagna

In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil until warm, then add in chopped onion and garlic. Cook until softened, five to ten minutes. Add the ground beef and chopped sausage. Cook until the meat is browned.

Drain the juices from the meat.

Return meat to pan and add spaghetti sauce and stewed tomatoes, herbs, chopped fresh basil and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then lower temperature to simmer for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the cheese mixture. In a large bowl add the ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, 12oz of parmesan cheese and two eggs, lightly beaten. Add salt and pepper. With clean hands, mix the cheese mixture together. (You could use a spoon, but I find this is the most effective way. And it's fun!) Set aside.

While all this is going on, boil a large pot of water and cook both boxes of lasagna noodles, following the package instructions. Once the noodles have cooked, drain the water and keep them stored on parchment paper, sprayed lightly with cooking oil so they don't stick together.

Once all of your components are finished, you are ready to assemble your lasagnas. Lightly spray your aluminum baking pans with cooking spray. Place a ladle of sauce in the bottom of 3 pans, then lay down the noodles in a row. Now layer more sauce, a layer of the cheese mixture, noodles, sauce and parmesan cheese on top. Depending on how deep your pans are, you can create more layers. Mine were not so deep so I only put one layer of the cheese mixture in, which turned out just delicious.

I ran out of meat sauce but had more cheese and lasagna left, so I made a vegetarian lasagna using an extra jar of marinara sauce I had on hand, to replace the meat sauce.

Once your lasagnas are assembled, let them cool (no need to pre-bake them, but you must let them cool because the sauce and noodles will still be warm) and then spray the bottom of a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray (this is important so that your foil does not stick to the cheese) and label the top of the foil with what type of lasagna it is, the date assembled, and the cooking instructions.

After the lasagna is frozen, you will take it out of the freezer the night before and place it in your refrigerator to thaw. Then the next day, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Cook the lasagna for 60 to 90 minutes (depending on how much it thawed out). I find that one hour, twenty minutes is perfect. Keep the lasagna covered with foil for the first half of cooking time so the cheese does not burn, then remove the foil for the second half. Test to make sure it is warm in the center and enjoy!


We had another impromptu dinner party the other night and I brought out a freezer lasagna the night before in preparation. It was delicious and such a hit! I love this recipe and hope you will embrace freezer cooking to make your life easier.

**Update: Yesterday we had another lasagna for Sunday lunch and it was so tasty. My husband said it tasted just as it did the day I made them. This recipe was a hit!


News
The Ordinary Homemaker gives 5 reasons to ditch the mom grunge and loves the Lessons from Madame Chic philosophy of looking presentable always.

Cedar and Bloom creates her own ten-item wardrobe for new mothers.

Joelle Charming mentions Lessons from Madame Chic when making her mealtimes more formal.

Visual News shares my TEDx talk and asks, Could You Live With a Ten-Item Wardrobe?

Quintessential Style blog says, "Polish Your Poise does what a good book is intended to do—provokes thought, enlightens, guides, and inspires", in her article, How is Your Poise?

Comment of the Week
Regarding the video, Dressing Up Daily: Dealing With Attention, Megan writes:

Good afternoon Jennifer, I am a new subscriber and loved this video. It is wonderful to hear similar thoughts to what I have been having. For example, I work in a doctor's office where I wear scrubs on a daily basis with nursing clogs. Most people consider scrubs to be professional wear pajamas because they are so comfortable. Any time that I am able to straighten my hair before work, put on a French tip manicure, or try new lipstick I get the most outrageous remarks since I have only recently started caring about my appearance. A few weeks ago I stopped wearing make up again because I was tired of people inferring that without it I look ugly and tired, but today I wore it again because it boosts my self-esteem. Needless to say, I had the comments again today and your video has encouraged me. Thank you. Best, Megan

Hi Megan, Thank you for sharing your story. I'm sorry that some of your co-workers make thoughtless comments. What is so crucial here is that your response can not be based on what you think others are thinking. Because you recently started to put more effort into your appearance, you might be feeling self-conscious already, and thus more sensitive to compliments or comments on your new look. Whether people applaud you, or scoff at you, just do what makes you feel best. If you enjoy wearing light makeup to work and it puts a pep in your step, you should do it! The comments will eventually fade away when people realize that this is the new you. Reside comfortably in your own skin and your contentedness will be very mysterious to your co-workers. Good luck! Let us know how it goes.


Question of the Week

SF writes: (regarding last week's Casual Elegant Dinner Party Table post):

Wonderful video! Thanks! I have a question about how to serve the food when the table is small like this. Should the hostess put all the serving bowls/platters on the table and then the guests pass them? If so, is it improper to set the bowl/platter down between guests? Or should she bring one thing to the table at a time and be ready to take it back to the kitchen after it's gone around? Your table is beautiful and simple, but there isn't a lot of space to set down food items. What do you do? Thanks for all your videos and blog posts which help us live using and doing our best. And congratulations on #3!!!!!


Thank you for your question SF. For this particular dinner party, and for most parties where we have more than four people at the table, I lay out the food on a side table (in our case, it is the island in our kitchen) and have the guests serve themselves buffet-style. If there are courses, I will serve the first course at the table so we all sit down and after that, collect the salad plate (or soup bowl) and then the guests serve themselves from the buffet table. Madame Chic had a small table as well and she would roll the food out on the food cart. She would then pass each dish around one at a time for us to serve ourselves. If there were only four of us, and if there was room, we would keep the dishes on the table. For larger dinner parties, the food would return to the cart. I hope that helps! And thank you for your congratulations on baby #3!



Thank you for your questions, letters and comments. I want to once again thank everyone who has written to me via my author website. I want to respond to each and every email, but due to the volume of messages I receive, I am unable to. Please know that I read and appreciate every single one.


This week I would love to know... do you ever do freezer cooking? Are you going to try the lasagna recipe? If you do, let me know how it turns out.

See you on Thursday for a very exciting giveaway for Christy Linens!

Jennifer x



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