Thursday, October 2, 2014

A New Page! For Links!

Hello! I am excited to announce that I have figured out how to add pages to the navigation bar at the top of the page! Notice the new tab called Chic Blogs(Thank you, thank you; you may stop applauding now.) I realize I could have figured this out much sooner with a bit more effort and diligence on my part, but as this blog is just a little hobby of mine, I have not made it much of a priority.

(New post coming "soon"-- why we must do more of what makes us happy.)

However, after letting good, chic habits slide while I've been feeling stressed and out of sorts, I thought that motivating myself through (re-)reading some of my favorite inspiring blogs might help me to get back into the swing of things. I especially related to Fiona's own struggle "Getting back into Sorts," and I decided it might benefit me to collect links to my favorite inspirations. And, for the benefit of my reader(s), I decided to annotate these links explaining why certain blogs were my favorite, as many other blogs in this genre are nothing more than collections of advertisements and photos of the newest products that are designed to drain our wallets and make us feel guilty and unsatisfied with what we currently have-- in fact, the total opposite of what a happy, simple yet stylish lifestyle intends to do!

In the future I intend to add other pages to organize my content, perhaps by book or movie reviews, or recipes, or health and fitness related content, or whatnot, but for now, I hope you will enjoy my budding collection of  Chic Blogs. So, relax and save yourself the disappointment and frustration of looking for good lifestyle blogs to read that don't consist entirely of someone wearing something new in front of a fancy building. You can enjoy my collection of tried, trusted, and recommended links, instead!

The above photo was taken by me on the Spree River in Berlin in 2011.

Friday, September 19, 2014

New habit (1 of 1): Waking up early


Starting my day with an early walk is my newest habit for staying calm and chic during busy mornings.

Something that I've always struggled with is waking up early. I'm not (usually) a complete grouch in the morning, but I do love sleeping and sleeping in. Usually my high point for alertness and productivity hits somewhere between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Any time before that just doesn't work. I prefer to ease into my day, rather than jumping up and just going. I was definitely thrown for a loop this fall, when my teaching schedule unexpectedly doubled from three classes to six! What was supposed to be a relatively calm semester with classes starting no earlier than 11 a.m. suddenly changed when I was assigned three more classes beginning at 9 a.m. three days a week. (Not that I am complaining-- I am grateful for the opportunity!) Aside from having to be in to work earlier than usual, the added class preparation and assignment grading  is really time-consuming. There's just not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I need to! Rather than completely stressing out (although it happens anyway), I've taken it upon myself to make more time in my day by waking up early: a brand new habit for me.

They key for me to wake up and feel energized is to get up and get moving. Rather than easing in to the morning with a cup of coffee, I  now wake up, throw on some sweats (hopefully one day I'll be able to look more polished, but for now, sweats will suffice), and take my dog for a short walk outside. If I were to stay inside lounging in my pajamas, I would risk falling back asleep or just pottering around until I end up being late-- totally unacceptable when a class of 25 is waiting on me! Instead, the fresh air and morning chill help me to wake up more quickly and begin feeling alert.

I would love to be one of those people who is able to wake up and immediately go exercise--a nice morning jog does sound kind of glamorous to me, although that may be largely because I am a runner. However, to my fragile morning psyche, rigorous exercise immediately upon waking is just too intense. Going for a short but gentle walk with Monty, my beagle mix, is a much better compromise. I still enjoy some of the health benefits of early morning exercise, which is important because with my schedule as busy as it is, I don't know when I'd fit it in otherwise! Also, what's even more special is that my dog and I love our early morning time together! This is especially important as I'm gone for longer portions of the day, so it helps Monty to feel a little more relaxed when I'm not at home.

Before working as a night-side journalist or college professor (both jobs with semi-nontraditional hours), I held two different 9-5 jobs working as an editor. Back then, I'd usually arrive at work still half-asleep and would ease into my day by catching up on the news and enjoying a cup of coffee (or two) while I settled in at my desk. My work  today, though, just doesn't allow that. At 9 a.m. sharp, I need to be awake, energetic, and on so that I can get my students alert and engaged before class ends. My morning routine definitely needed some shaking up this season! For me, a gentle walk outside has been a useful strategy in feeling alert and productive in the early morning hours, and it's been an added health perk for both me and my dog!

My goals for the future are to develop other useful, productive habits. I've been waking up and taking walks for nearly a month, and I do feel that it makes a noticeable improvement in how I start my day. (I also think that I may have lost a pound or two!) Other possible new habits include: waking up and running (! maybe one day I'll get there), limiting caffeine and trying other natural remedies for staying alert and productive, and trying to figure out a way to get out of the early-afternoon slump that I fall into once I leave work. Habits, like life, are a work in progress! What positive habits are you trying to establish?

The above photo shows my dog, Monty, enjoying an outdoor romp this summer (2014).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Woman Crush: Seven reasons why I admire Courtney Lapresi

MasterChef contestant Courtney Lapresi demonstrates many admirable (and rare) qualities for a reality-TV star.

Chic role models can be found everywhere. I've noticed a new trend among ladies: to cite their contemporary female role models as their "woman crush." How cute! I actually love this idea because it is really empowering for women. Rather than finding flaws or criticizing one another, let's take the time to point out what's right about someone-- those qualities that we like, admire, and perhaps ourselves wish to emulate.

A "Negative Nancy" has no mystery. She is someone who finds fault with others, usually based on the very things of which she herself may feel insecure (such as appearance, ability, weight, relationships, etc.). Discussing flaws and drawing attention to our own negative aspects is very un-chic. Rather, amplifying one's best assets and representing one's self (and others) with pride and respect is a much more classy approach to life. Wouldn't you agree? My very own woman-crush, for whom this post is written, is a living example of this attitude.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Facing Challenges


Challenges are opportunities for growth, which makes it important to step outside of one's comfort zone every now and then.

Recently I overcame a tremendous personal challenge: I ran my first marathon last month! (Hence the lack of blogging in May.) For those of you who are unfamiliar, a marathon is 26.2 miles (or 42.19 kilometers). I finished in 4 hours, 28 minutes, 47 seconds.

Although exercise and fitness (particularly running), are some of my hobbies, I was unsure if I should blog about this accomplishment on Classy Local. As this is more of a lifestyle blog, I wasn't sure how this connects to my focus on living a chic and refined life. Anyone who's ever run or witnessed a marathon knows that refined, chic, and classy are not the best ways to describe distance runners, particularly those in the middle of a grueling endurance event.

But, living a chic or refined life does not necessarily mean living a life of perpetual ease or harmony. Rather, it reflects the attitude with which you approach all aspects of ordinary life especially the challenging moments.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Spring Clean Your Beauty Kit

How to spring clean your essential beauty tools, along with a tutorial on cleaning makeup brushes.

I really love Marc Jacobs' Daisy perfume (more on signature scents later), but recently my supply has been running low. So, I was especially surprised and delighted when my husband got me the new, limited-edition Daisy for an Easter gift!

The new fragrance is light and breezy, like the classic Daisy that I love, but a little lighter, a little more spring! This got me to thinking how refreshing it is to live seasonally. Just as we give our home or wardrobe a spring cleaning, or perhaps try to eat cleaner as warm weather approaches, one's beauty regimen can also use a spring cleaning and seasonal update.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Refresh Your Home with a Springtime Cleaning

A traditional spring cleaning can be a great way to rejuvenate your home for the season.

Despite what the weather has already told us over the past two weeks, spring has officially arrived.

Time to banish the winter blah with a good old fashioned spring cleaning. Experienced homemakers know this is no small feat. As a relatively new homeowner myself, I’m not quite sure if I’m up to the challenge. I may have never washed a window in my life, but I do know how to vacuum. Or, to be honest, I do know that I at least HAVE a vacuum. Somewhere. Maybe.

So I looked up some tips to help me get started.

Friday, February 28, 2014

A change in attitude, if not weather.

I realize that it’s time to stop hibernating and get on with my life, in spite of what Punxsutawney Phil had to say this year.

It’s been two months since the New Year! For those of us living in the northeast, the holiday season has faded into a cold and seemingly endless winter, without the benefit of being able to look forward to additional holiday festivities. As a result, I've been in kind of a funk lately as I muddle through this extended winter season.
In addition to battling cabin fever, mountains of winter snow have made me feel lethargic and unmotivated during the past several weeks. Hibernacting, though at times a great comfort, is not the best strategy for cultivating inner poise or refinement. I have a tendency to look like (and sometimes become) a bit of a bum when I'm stuck at home for too long, mainly because if I'm home for a while I’m not expecting to see anyone, or I’m doing some messy housework and don't want to sweat or spill on my nice clothes. And although a snow day can be a wonderful break in routine, we've had enough of them this year that they're not quite so exciting or comfortable anymore. Rather, the winter weather has been enabling my lazier habits and everything feels cramped, stuffy, and tiresome.
As much as I’d love a vacation, that’s simply not an option right now because of work and other obligations. But, even more pressing, I realize that my favorite destinations—in Europe—are known for having even worse winters! So, I realize that it’s time for me to take a cue from those stiff-upper-lipped Europeans, and simply get on with my life, regardless of the weather.
It's up to me to rearrange my winter attitude and environment to become a productive and supporting scene. If I can’t change the weather, I can at least make some improvements to my home space that will hopefully reflect a more positive outlook. Below is my list of my ideas for re-energizing this winter.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Happy New Year!


A new year is a great time to plan and reflect on personal growth, but it doesn't have to be an "all or nothing" endeavor.

I'm a bit relieved to see that some of my favorite blogs have also been relaxed about writing a post for the new year. As someone who's worked in journalism, part of my thoughts toward writing about a new year include a nagging voice that screams, Timeliness! Immediacy! Content generation! and I feel guilty for not writing more or sooner, especially in regard to a fresh start or a new year. However, as someone who also strives to live a calm and gentle (tres chic!) life, I tell myself to relax, smile, and enjoy doing something that I love and on my own terms.

Which brings me back to my own resolutions, the first of which is to: Do more of what makes me happy! This, I realize, is a very unspecific resolution, but I completely intend it to be that way. If I put too much demand or focus on one aspect of my life, I'm afraid it will make it all the less pleasing to me.

Too often, we become trapped in our own good intentions until they become no longer enjoyable to us. For example, to exercise more is a common resolution. Exercise is really an adult form of playing (think of all the running, jumping, and climbing you did as a child!). With all of the great community sports, fitness machines, gadgets, and exercise classes available, exercising should really be something fun for adults to do. But, we tend to develop an "all or nothing" mindset when we grow up, and this sucks the joy out of a lot of things. So rather than trying to find happiness by focusing on one small aspect of my life, I'm looking at my life in a big-picture, nonspecific way.