Holiday Gift Guide 2016

It's time for my annual holiday gift guide. I'm really excited about my choices this year! Let's dive right into it.

Carrot Top Paper Shop
Jenny Williams, founder of Carrot Top Paper Shop, is a talented artist with a brilliant idea. She creates portraits of literary heroines. What a wonderful gift to inspire young girls. With so many dubious role models out there today, gifting a young girl with a portrait or quote from Anne of Green Gables can give her something beautiful to look up to. I adore Jenny's work! She is offering a 25% off discount to all readers of The Daily Connoisseur. Simply use the code, MADAMECHIC at checkout. This code is good through December 20th, 2016. Thank you, Jenny!

Lillian Vernon personalized rolling luggage for kids. My daughters really love to prepare for a trip (gosh, I don't know where they get that from!). They get really detailed about how they pack, so I just know they are going to adore these personalized suitcases with their names on them. The above picture shows various styles from their website.

Chatbooks is a new app that I am loving! You can create photo albums from your smartphone. You can either create a custom album (which would make a great gift, especially for family far away), or create a series from your Facebook or Instagram pictures, or from the "Favorites" on your iPhone. Click this link to get your first book for free.
I recently started the "favorites" series where Chatbooks send me an album every time my phone accumulates 60 favorites. I received all 8 volumes of my favorites yesterday and I love them. I suggest getting the hardbound books, they seem more durable than the soft cover (which I have ordered in the past).

Buns, Braids and Twists by Christina Butcher and The New Braiding Handbook by Abby Smith. These books make fun and interesting presents. It's fun to try the hairstyles on yourself and others.

Personalized stationery makes a thoughtful gift. It doesn't have to be the fancy kind, a simple notepad can be very appreciated. I made mine on Zazzle.

My gift guide could not be complete without mentioning The Madame Chic Collection. It truly makes the perfect gift! If you have loved reading the Madame Chic books and know someone who would love them too, this is an affordable and attractive way to buy all three. Buy it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

I do hope you check out today's video for more on all of these gift ideas.

Ballerina, Kathryn Morgan, features The Madame Chic Collection in her annual holiday gift guide video. Thank you, Kathryn!

If you missed my appearance on Nippon TV's THE MOST USEFUL SCHOOL IN THE WORLD, you can see it here.

Comments of the Week
Isabela writes: Hi Jennifer,
I really liked this planning video. I think scheduling minor activities, like baking or going to the movies, would be helpful during summer breaks too, so I wouldn't lose all my leisure time binge watching on Netflix.
Also, My aunt just bought tickets for the nutcracker for us! I'm so happy that I wanted to share it with you. Many great solo dancers from around the globe will perform, including a principal dancer from the Royal Ballet in London, who, like me, is Brazilian.
I Love your books,

Thank you, Isabela! Yes, I find that planning for all holidays and breaks in a similar manner to what I showed in Monday's post makes for a fun and meaningful time. Have a wonderful time at the Nutcracker!

Laura W writes:

Jennifer, seeing this list brought back so many memories of when my boys were little. I especially loved the movie night. We had a Friday night movie night too! Just like when I was little, Sunday night seemed to be the T.V. night with homemade popcorn or black cows and watched the Walt Disney Show and the F.B.I. These shows date me but such happy times.

Hi Laura, movie night means so much to my children. They look forward to it every week! There's something about the routine and anticipation of it. I loved hearing about your movie nights when your boys were younger. Thanks for sharing!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone. Let me know what your favorite gifts are this year. I would also love to hear a memory of your favorite gift as a child. Remember, your comment could be chosen as comment of the week on the blog!

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Planning for Christmas 2016

In today's video, I show you how I plan for the Christmas season.

After many years of hectic Christmases, I have found that planning and organizing as much as I can makes for a less stressful season and allows me to accomplish much more.

My process is two-fold. First I make a list of everything I need to do and would like to accomplish, including activities with the children. Then I input it into my calendar, everything from the smallest activities (like making hot cocoa), to the biggest ones (like seeing the Nutcracker ballet).

Scheduling the calendar like this gives us all something to look forward to and provides structure. It also helps me to prioritize family time because spending quality time together can often get pushed down the list amidst all of the business.

I hope that you enjoy this week's video! If you would like to see more planning videos from me in the future, please be sure to let me know.

A few things I mention in the video:

Free holiday printables for children from Activity Village. This is a great resource for fun crafts and activities for your kids this holiday season.

My video and blogpost on how to make your own citrus ornaments. These are inexpensive, natural and so fun to make!


Thank you to everyone who tuned in to Nippon TV's The Most Useful School in the World this past Saturday!
If you missed the show, you can watch it here.

The Madame Chic Collection is the perfect gift! Order yours in time for the holidays.

Comment of the Week
Yvanna writes:

Just a big thanks - came across your Ted talk tonight which led to a binge on your YouTube videos - during which my house and closet has been transformed, and my 10 item wardrobe is pretty much figured out. I have a massive pile of clothes to donate tomorrow! Also can't wait to read your book & book recommendations. Thank you, it really is just what I need right now for so many reasons. May God bless and protect you as you continue to inspire people xx

Yvanna, thank you so much for your kind email. I love meeting people who have found me through my TEDx talk. I'm so happy to hear your closet has been transformed! I'm excited for you to go on this journey.

Be sure to check back this Thursday for my annual Daily Connoisseur Gift Guide.

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Madame Chic Japan Vlog 2016

Hello Daily Connoisseurs,

I hope you had a wonderful and relaxing Thanksgiving holiday with your family! I really wanted to do a Thanksgiving post this year, but with my trip to Japan the week prior to Thanksgiving, I was unable to get that done. If you haven't seen my Thanksgiving tablescape blog from last year, you can check it out here.

This week's video shares my recent trip to Japan with you. I traveled with the baby to Tokyo to shoot a television show. Thank you so much to the Japanese readers who have embraced my books so enthusiastically. I am so grateful to you and simply love visiting your country!

Here I am with the director and crew for the on-location shoot.

In this video you will see my makeup artist sessions, my hotel room, what I ate, where I shopped, local culture and sights as well as a few funny episodes involving a complicated washing machine and a Japanese face mask! The most exciting thing about the vlog, however, is that you get to meet my baby boy, who was such a delightful companion on this trip.

My little man. Everyone who met him said he is so "Kawaii"!

We are outside the National Art Center after visiting the Dali exhibit.

Going over my lines in the greenroom before the big shoot!

The Madame Chic books were featured at the front of the airport bookstore!

Regarding the Japanese drugstore items I show in the video, I found some of them on Amazon. If you are interested in them, here are the links:
LuLuLun Japanese moisture face mask

Kate Tokyo brown shade eyes eyeshadow (I have shade BR3, but could not find that on Amazon, so here is the link to BR1, which is quite similar).

Brow Lash Ex eyebrow pencil. (I am not sure if this is the shade I picked up at the drugstore, but it looks similar, and actually better, for my coloring.)

I hope you enjoy this week's video, Japan Vlog 2016.

Japanese viewers: The television show I am appearing on is Nippon Television's The Most Useful School in the World, airing Saturday, December 3rd. I do hope you check it out and please let me know how you like it!

Comments of the Week
Anonymous writes:
Bonjour Jennifer,

As for tights, I always put them with my damp hands and with my palm in contact with my tights and not with my legs. It's a bit strange but doing so I avoid ruining them from the very first time.
When buying thin and expensive tights, I often choose the superior size.
And before washing, I put them in a special bag.

Thanks for all your posts.

Hi Anon, those are great tips, thank you! I also wash my stockings in a mesh laundry bag to prevent tears. And many times, my nails, jewelry or heels have caught on the tights causing a snag. I like how you deal with those issues.

Kathleen writes:
Hi Miss Jennifer!

One of the things in which I delight about my own ten item wardrobe is ease of packing! When I was young, my mother always told me, "Packing is simple as long as your clothes are clean." and yet I found myself frequently dithering over what I might like to wear followed by later regret that I had not chosen something else. I've amended her advice to, "Packing is simple provided your clothes have been chosen with care and they are currently clean." The last 5 week long trips I have taken I've simply moved my ten items from my closet, to the smaller of my two suitcases (including the hangers), added underpinnings, a bathing suit, my travel toiletries, and called it an enjoyable 15 minutes. I've found that I am always overpacked but never feel as if I'm lacking in any area.

On the subject of pantyhose, when I was in college my sister and I used to tell each other, "Never wear a skirt without hose!" And we would thoroughly enjoy how fantastic our legs looked. As I've gained responsibility and a desire to skip that step while getting dressed we have modified the statement to, "Your legs will look better in hose." Less totalitarian and more motivational!

My favorite brand of hose is, Leggs: Sheer Energy; Medium Support, Control Top. They are about 4.50 a pair and I can wear one pair of them between 7 and 14 times (sometimes more!) Before they tear or run.

Thank you for the video!


Hi Kathleen, thank you for your great comment! I also love the ease of packing with the ten-item wardrobe. In fact, I recommend that people who have a hard time doing a ten-item wardrobe, pack one for a long vacation. They will see the benefits on their trip, like the ease of dressing and the ability to look presentable and stylish. Thank you, also, for sharing your pantyhose recommendation. I have found that Amazon sell the Leggs control top tights you recommend in a 4-pack for just over $16, which is definitely more affordable than most pantyhose I have seen on the market.

I hope you enjoy this week's video! Please let me know what your favorite parts of the vlog were. What do you love about Japan? Let me know in the comment section below, and your comment could be chosen as comment of the week on the blog.

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Packing for Japan + Ten-Item Wardrobe Updates

Hello Daily Connoisseurs,

Happy Thanksgiving week to you! I have safely returned from Japan. Thank you for all of your social media messages to me. What a trip! The baby and I had a great time. Today's video shows my packing process before my trip.

I was very happy with how I packed for Japan. With the exception of a black tee shirt, I used everything I brought. My only mistake was packing too many diapers!

On this trip I packed:

4 dresses
1 black trouser (Loft fluid ankle pant)
3 tees (including the lace tee)
2 pairs of pajamas
1 green coat
2 heels (for filming)
2 flats (for days off and travel)
3 pairs of pantyhose
1 pair black tights
Baby gear & clothes
travel steamer

Packing for this trip was tricky, because not only was I working, which required a specific wardrobe in and of itself, but I also had to fit all of the baby's items in the same suitcase. I made it work however, and am pleased with how it went!

In this week's video, I also share my ten-item wardrobe updates with you. I finally caved and purchased three nursing dresses to replace the dresses in my ten-item wardrobe that I was unable to nurse in. I am so glad I did this. And with traveling and working with a baby, proper nursing clothes were a life-saver!

The new additions to the wardrobe are the black collar dress, long sleeve black dress and navy and red wrap dress, all from Seraphine. These three dresses will literally replace the long sleeve blue Boden dress, sleeveless Loft dress and black ballet dress that I am unable to nurse in, still keeping me in at under ten items.

These are the hosiery items I mention in the video, for those who are interested. They performed really well, with no runs and also withstood the washing machine!

Commando Control Top Pantyhose and Spanx black luxe leg tights

I also brought my mini travel steamer with me, which was handy for smoothing my clothes out for the television shoot.

Comments of the Week

From last week's What's In My Fridge? video...
TaylorCait writes:

Thanks for sharing! We are on an extremely tight grocery budget for the three of us (myself, my husband, and our six year old son), but Costco allows us to eat well and include lots of organics! I shop there once a month, at the beginning of the month, and then every week I stop by an Aldi - some weeks I'm even able to skip that stop. We first eat the produce that goes bad the quickest, and things like apples will last a couple of weeks before going bad. We live 45 minutes away from the nearest decent grocery store so I make my trips into town count!

Hi TaylorCait, Thank you for sharing your shopping routine with us. I agree that a mixture of Costo, plus smaller markets, works really well for families with small children. It's great that you are so organized about your trips into town!

Angi Campbell writes:

At this point in our lives, we definitely love Costco as well! I have access to some great markets and a huge garden, so I go to the grocery store every other week, and just do produce from the garden, freezer, or market in between. However, I have definitely struggled mentally with the whole bulk food concept, so it's very nice to hear your thoughts and opinion!

Hi Angi, there is a season for everything! It's nice to connect with other readers over how we shop for our families. Thank you for sharing with us.

I hope you enjoy this week's video and that all of our American readers have a beautiful Thanksgiving holiday with their families. I am really looking forward to relaxing and eating a big feast after my trip!

See you next week for the Japan vlog!

With love,

Jennifer x

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What's In My Fridge? Costco 2016 + Meal Plan

Hello Daily Connoisseurs,

I'm off to Japan right now with the baby, so please pray for our safe arrival! Today's post will be short, but I do have a great video for you that shares what is in our fridge and a quick meal plan.

I shot this video back in September, but am just now able to post it. It shows how my grocery shopping has evolved with our growing family.

In the video, you'll see our fridge after a trip to Costco. Shopping at Costco saves us money and enables me to only go shopping once every few weeks, yet still provides fresh food for our family. In between shopping trips, I supplement with fruit and vegetables from our local grocery store. With a new baby in the house, this is the best way for us to grocery shop right now.

I hope you enjoy this week's video!

Comment of the Week

Carrie W. writes:
Great post! I am always looking for ways to incorporate more movement (I avoid the word "exercise") into my life. I've learned a lot by reading Katy Bowman's books and blog on this topic. She's a biomechanist who talks a lot about natural movement and how it's missing from our sedentary lifestyle.

Recently I began biking to the WalMart down the street. I love it! I get a few groceries at a time and get to hang out with my teenage son. It energizes me, and I wear my same stylish clothes. And since it's fall, I don't get sweaty. I don't even own "exercise" clothes because I find them ugly and immodest. I hate the "mom uniform" I see around me - sweatpants or yoga pants that are stretched out and thinning in the wrong places, ponytail, sports bras - so not chic!

Hi Carrie, Thank you for the recommendation for Katy Bowman's books. I see she has a new one coming out called, Movement Matters, which is exactly what I discussed on my video on exercise. I think it's great that you ride bikes with your son. You can't go wrong mixing quality time with exercise!

I hope you all have a wonderful week. I would love to know... what's in your fridge? How do you meal plan? Do you shop in bulk for your family? What do you love to buy from Costco? Let me know in the comment section below, and your comment could be chosen as comment of the week on the blog.

See you in Japan!

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French Weight Loss Secrets Part 3- Exercise is a Part of Life (Not a Chore)

Our French Weight Loss Secrets mini-series concludes this week as we discuss chapter 3 of Lessons from Madame Chic, Exercise is a Part of Life, Not a Chore.

When I lived in Paris I exercised every day, not by going to a gym or doing a workout regime, but by living a vibrant, active life.

Here are four thoughts to consider:

Aim to live a more active life every single day. What can you do to incorporate exercise into your life?

Commit to walking every day. Walk the dog. Go on a walk with your family or friends.

Don't let life's conveniences keep you stagnant. Madame Bohemienne didn't have an elevator in her building and she lived several floors up. Challenge yourself to do things the old-fashioned way as much as you can.

You can still look presentable always while being active. Exercise clothes are not necessary. Remember that wearing activewear all day long is a recent thing.

I hope you'll check out today's video to see the conclusion of the series.


I will be traveling to Japan next week with the baby to shoot a television show in Tokyo. I am so excited to visit Japan again! I will definitely vlog my trip as I did last time.

Comment of the Week

Amanda writes:

Bonjour, Jennifer! I have enjoyed reading your blog and your diet tips are wonderful reminders even for us who live in France. I live on the Swiss border and I believe we have the best cheese and chocolate in the world. It's true that no one here deprives themselves and there is no guilt about indulgence. As regards snacking, I meet up with friends several times a week for coffee/tea and no one ever has food with it. When I'm in America it seems like people often have food socially. Here you will not be offered food between meals even if you're at someone's house for hours. Funny, right? Maybe it's a reflection of the people? Americans are friendly and casual with everything food included. French are formal and respectful food included. I love living in France but occasionally our family has an American evening and eats popcorn on the couch while watching a movie. It's ok as long as you're aware of your actions, respect your food and respect yourself. :)

Hello Amanda, I loved hearing about your experience living on the Swiss border. You are so fortunate to live in the land of high quality cheese and chocolate! :) Thank you for sharing your insight with us.

Did you enjoy this series? What are your thoughts? Are there more questions you have? Let me know, and I may address them in a future video.

See you on Monday for a What's In My Fridge? video. Then we are off on our journey to Tokyo!

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French Weight Loss Secrets Part 2- No Deprivation!

Our mini-series on French weight loss secrets continues today, with my second lesson from Madame Chic: deprive yourself not.

It was a strange paradox: when I lived in Paris we ate such decadent food all the time, yet no one I knew was overweight. How was that possible?

Here are just some of my observations.

I observed that the French:

Did not deprive themselves of decadent food.

Had a healthy attitude toward the food they were eating.

Were eating meals in a very civilized and conscience way.

And the portion sizes are not too large.

I hope you check out today's video to learn more about how not depriving yourself of the food you love can help aide in your weight loss or in maintaining a healthy weight!

Comments of the Week
Emma B writes: What a wonderful video. I had a real lightbulb moment when I first read 'Lessons from Madame Chic'. Reading your book really helped me take control of my eating and in particular, my snacking and 3 years on it's still helping me maintain a healthy approach to food, so thank you.

Hi Emma, I'm so happy that Lessons from Madame Chic encouraged you to take a healthy approach to eating. Wonderful!

Jude T writes: I can't remember where I read it but the French 'pay attention' to the food they eat which is what you are also alluding to, if you eat something, to be aware of it.

Hi Jude, I love that. We are being rude to our food if we don’t pay attention to it!

Today, I would love to know... what are your experiences with food and deprivation? Do you have a healthy attitude toward eating? Are there any changes you'd like to make? Let me know and your comment could be chosen as comment of the week!

See on you Friday for the last post in this mini-series. We will be discussing exercise...

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