Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A New You....25 more stylish shoes to wear when your feet hurt...

25 more stylish shoes to wear when your feet hurt...

25 more stylish shoes to wear when your feet hurt... by mimi-briji featuring leather flat shoes

Some of you may know that I have a thing about shoes. Since I was very small, I have spent more time choosing my shoes, than I have on the entire rest of my outfits. Now, back in the day, that meant some pretty high fashion, and very high heels!

Alas those days are gone, but I have discovered some strategies that allow me to indulge. Maybe they can help you too.

Now, I am not a Podiatrist, and if you have troublesome tootsies, then you're best guided by the experts on what to wear. But if like me, your poor feet are just carrying a bit more of 'you' than they once were, or you suffer with tired feet or walk all day as I sometimes do, then these are some solutions I've found. Also, if we're going to adopt the mantra in our New You year, of 'I can do better' as far as our appearance goes, it's worth reassessing whether you can wear perhaps a small heel, or a platform wedge of the type that is really a flat shoe, with a raised heel bed, or find a prettier shoe than you currently wear (runners, anyone???).

I've only recently discovered that the nude/tan wedges I bought just before Christmas, are incredibly comfortable, versatile, add height to my petite frame making me look slimmer (truth!), give a dressier look to anything I wear, and due to their skintone colour, add length to my legs, giving me a longer, leaner look. And they were only $15 from KMart here.

 Metallics and pearl finishes seem to give the same effect as nude or tan shoes, either toning with clothing, or merging with skintone to lend length to the leg, whilst adding a dressier look.

My list would not be complete with my Birkenstock Gizeh thongs, which I've raved about for years. They're a little dressier than thongs/flip-flops/jandals, and give better support to your footbed. They ease back pain, and fatigue, and whilst a little expensive, last me on average 2-3 years each pair, and that is with daily wear.

So in summary, in colours, I look for nude or tan, and metallic, patent, and pearl finishes (particularly if I'm making a choice in darker colours). For heels, I choose a low chunky heel, flat, or platform wedge, looking for those where the footbed is still mostly flat with the wedge providing height, and where my body weight will be more evenly distributed. Even kitten keels (supposedly a better choice for those of us with sore feet) find me wobbling around without confidence.

I also look for support for my soles and arches through inserts or inbuilt support.

And finally I have found that seeking shoes that enclose my foot firmly, such as boots, bootees, nude gladiator styles (dark colours visually shorten my leg), moccasins and lounge slippers, and ballet flats with some sort of strap or ankle strap to again, hold my foot in place, are all great choices for me. Maybe they can be for you too.

I hope this is helpful. I've seen budget and designer versions of all of these ideas, so check online and in your local stores. As I say, my new favourite wedges and heels, both came from KMart at $15 each!

PS. I have absolutely no idea why I am typing so small today!

It's different, isn't it!

Love, Mimi

Monday, January 23, 2017

A New You....Annual Self Maintenance Program...downloadable PDF...

Here is the downloadable self maintenance plan I promised you all. You'll find it at the bottom of this post. I hope you'll use it well.
Many people think that self maintenance is all about fitness and exercise and staying slim, and yes, that is part of it. But that does not mean that those of us who are carrying a few extra wobbly bits, should just give up. That's no plan at all!
Did you take a good hard look at your real self, unadorned, and find a list, even a short one, of your prettiest qualities? Maybe it's a dimple, a soft shoulder, a welcoming embrace, long eyelashes or beautifully shaped brows. If so, then I am proud of you. We are taught not to be 'vain', and it can be difficult finding something appealing about your own face and body when you've aged a little.
If your list was somewhat brief, I promise that my Self Maintenance Plan will help you add to it.
It will assist you in establishing life-long routines for good health and wellbeing. It will serve as a reminder for what needs doing and when. And most importantly if you are the busy type as I am, it will prevent you from neglecting yourself, when others needs take over from your own. And that I think is one of the more important reasons to keep this somewhere where you can see it every day.
Download it, print it out and put it somewhere prominent. For me, that is next to my bathroom sink. I keep mine in a plastic document sleeve and tuck it behind my pretty jars. Then it's always on hand as a prompt when I'm showering. For me, that is morning AND evening. If you have a different routine, then place it somewhere where it will act as a prompt for you.
Then start tomorrow and continue until this time next year, and I promise you, you will look and feel different.
You will feel in control of your life and the way you look. You will take the edge of some of your internal aggravations because you will be looking after number one, and in doing so, you'll become more adept at caring for others. You will find features to add to your list in your journal. Qualities about YOU, that are becoming and valuable.
Let's do this together.
Let's start tomorrow, and check in a week from now. Let's share how we are feeling, how we are looking, and whether our attitudes are changing.
Let's do this...for ourselves.
My Self Maintenance Plan
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Sunday, January 22, 2017

A New You....Bonus Post...Your Health and Beauty Calendar Part 1...

Why do five star hotels feel so luxurious?
Is it their pared down décor, and minimalistic approach to colour schemes?
Is it their selection of toiletries, always displayed with pride and of impeccable manufacture and origin?

 Is it the Zen style floral arrangements and peaceful ambience?
Or is it the fact that wherever you go in a five star hotel, or on a cruise ship, where we've just been for two weeks, you see some sort of maintenance going on? Rooms are 'rested' and given a makeover and an update, railings are freshly painted and given time to dry and look their best, gardens are constantly groomed and manicured and revised as seasons change.
I believe it's all of those things, and one of my missions this year, is to show you how you can use the same principles of simplifying, choosing to pamper yourself with the best you can afford (which may mean some very special DIY recipes), including a bit of Zen in your day, resting well and regrouping, grooming and manicuring, and a year long programme of self maintenance and seasonal upgrades, can change your life for the better.
Here's me. A shot taken on the cruise by the cruise photographer, just three weeks ago.
I don't kid myself that I look 20 any more, or even 30. I'm 57 years old in just 28 days. But I have finally found a peace with who I am and how I look. And looking around me, I'm doing okay for 57. There are those who carry their age better than I, but there are plenty more who do not.
I've wrestled with all kinds of faults, perceived and imagined, over my lifetime, but no more. This shot was taken without the benefit of a suntan (real or salon generated), eye makeup, hair products (I took none with me), or flashy clothes. And no digital enhancing either...lol! I've had naturally silver hair for a couple of years now, and straightened it for quite a while, thinking that the curly silver hair aged me. Well, maybe it does. But I'm okay with that all of a sudden. I tinted my eyebrows before we left, or they'd be non-existent, but apart from a dust of Mineral powder, and a clear lip gloss, there's no makeup involved here. My wardrobe for the cruise was simple, and this top was worn with a slim black pencil skirt, the nude wedge heels and slim envelope clutch I featured in my post a couple of days ago, here. The drop earrings were a purchase en route, and feature a Chanel-esque camellia on the end of long slim silver pins, with a sparkling crystal set behind the flower. That was my only jewellery.
I feel like I've turned a corner. I've been lamenting for years, in my 50 & Fab posts that I could not find my style. And suddenly, it found me. Funny how it goes, sometimes in life.
Can I share my own personal Health & Beauty calendar? I was going to save it for a later post, but I'm so excited about this new phase at A Tray of Bliss, that I couldn't wait.
Here's my suggested routine. I guarantee that if you follow this for the next twelve months, there truly will be a New You, at this time next year.
Morning...cleanse face in shower (I just use water and a microfiber cloth in the mornings), ice cube to face and under eyes to tone and diminish bags under eyes (works wonders...those under eye bags virtually disappear!), brush teeth and floss, drink water, moisturise face and body, wash hair and apply mousse and allow to dry naturally
Exercise...walk, yoga, Zumba at home with a DVD (alternating), drink water
Meditate for 10-20 minutes (that's my Zen), drink water or herbal tea
Evening...cleanse face with cream cleanser, ice cube run over face, or cold water splashed on face to tone, facial exercises (I'll share these soon), home made serum or night cream, deep conditioning moisturiser to hands and feet before bed, drink water
Manicure...I use Jamberry vinyl nail wraps and can't recommend them enough...a Jamberry manicure will last 1-3 weeks without any risk or chipping or any need for maintenance
Deep condition hair (a must when you embrace the Grey!)
Walk with friends
Tint eyebrows
Shave legs and underarms
Toner to hair to eliminate any brassiness in the Grey
Pedicure (Jamberry again!)
Weigh self and adjust diet and exercise programme if things are getting out of hand
Breast examination
Trim hair...I do it myself as it's all one length anyway.
Self pampering treatments like a coffee grain scrub, loofah brushing and body oil, olive oil and socks to feet, olive oil and sugar scrub and gloves to hands
Six Monthly

Assess Grey hair and decide if the current cut and style is still flattering and manageable. Change if not.
Routine medical checkup
Pamper day with friends at home or at a Day Spa
This schedule was drilled into me by my European mother from a young age, and I have never deviated from it. From time to time, I've had to take on more DIY than I once did as a young career woman with cash to burn, but you know what? I DIY almost all of that now (bar the medical visits...can't imagine doing my own Pap Smear...lol!), and I actually enjoy it. It's calming. And it's rewarding.
What do you think? Could you embrace my routine? Or do you already have your own in existence? Do share!
I'll be converting this routine to a PDF overnight, for you to download. Sit tight!

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

A New You....Learning to love yourself...

Have you determined your body shape yet? Did it surprise you?
And what about your proportions? Was that a revelation too?
Now dear Reader, before I go any further, can I just say this. If you are perfectly happy with your appearance and your wardrobe, perhaps what will follow over the coming weeks and months with my New You posts, will not be for you. I promise to continue to post on gift creation, and my other favourite topics, regularly and often. If you are fortunate enough at 'a certain age' (usually 40+), to be the same size you were at 20, then I'm thrilled for you. But what will follow over the coming weeks and months, may not be useful for you either. What truly saddens me though, is that so many of us lack self esteem for whatever reason, and I can assure you that nurturing our self-esteem will figure largely in the discussions here as well.
It goes without saying though, that at least initially, I'll be focused on we ladies, who were once the well presented type, and now we're not, or at least not as well presented as we'd like, so that's where we'll start.
So...I had this idea for years, that I was an Hourglass shape. That was the closest I could come to with my unusual petite plus sized figure. I had a bustline, hips and a little kink in my sides, where my waist used to be. Then I wondered why oh why, the recommendations for Hourglass figures didn't suit me. A belt to accentuate my waist? Goodness, no. What waist? Sure I had one 30 years ago, but my tiny waistline is no more. Dresses a la 1950s with full skirts and tight bodices...eek! Awful for me, just awful. Ditto to the advice on wrap dresses, ruched bodices (supposedly to trick the eye into thinking my middle was ruched, not fat...nobody is fooled by that!), and padded shoulders to balance my silhouette. What??
So I did what we all do when we are lost and frustrated. I gave up. Not completely. There was still a little of the Glamour Girl in there, and she wouldn't shut up. Instead I refused to indulge in the hideous prints and ugly nightgowns found in the so-called 'Plus Size' specialist stores, and haunted thrift stores for special finds, whilst hiding in my sewing room with miles of fabric, praying for inspiration.
Then a couple of years ago, I started to think I was more of an Apple shape. I recalled my Mums figure being more of that ilk, and figured, that surely genetics would be playing a part in this game. I forget who introduced the Apple shape into the mix. Maybe one of the reality TV gurus. That piece of information has flown the coop, I'm afraid! 
I attacked Pinterest and Google with a vengeance. Sadly, advice for any Apple shaped lady (and I do mean 'lady'), of a certain age, is thin on the ground. Some of the recommendations by Sweet Young Things on how we more mature and wise women should adorn ourselves, were, and continue to be, utterly laughable. What's one to do? I was back to being exhorted to wear belted dresses with full skirts and wide legged pants. Both of those on me, just made me look like I'd forgotten I was fat!
One course of action was to enter into the never ending cycle of weight loss and gain, that so many of us fall prey to once we've entered and exited the Menopausal years.

As you may well know, that in itself is exhausting and demoralising, and can severely impact how you feel about yourself. I, for one, focus now on being healthy and fit, and if that ultimately means that I am several kilos heavier than I was 30+ years ago, then so be it. That's not to say you should take risks with your health....no, no, no! This idea does not mean it's a free-for-all and you can eat and drink what you want, and not exercise, all under the umbrella of 'accepting yourself'. That's a copout too.
Embracing a healthy lifestyle, with a clean diet, an occasional treat, and a daily gentle walking, swimming or yoga programme, will work wonders for your internal wellbeing, your cardio health, your skin, and your general attitude.
I'm saying though, that the focus shouldn't ALWAYS be losing weight. To a certain degree, I believe it's empowering to embrace how you look NOW, and learn to make the most of that picture, no matter your dress size.
I am doing this very thing. Sure I'd like to lose 15 kilos (about 33lbs), but I'm not going to live my life based on some point in the future, that I may never reach. I want to reclaim my Glamorous self today, now, not tomorrow or next year.
If this sounds like you, then welcome. I hope we can enjoy this journey together.
Having made that decision, I searched for resources, to enable me to make the most of me as I am right this minute. Not next week, next month, next year, or when I lose 15 kilos. Now.
I finally found some advice that went like this....
"Apple shapes can wear empire line, wrap tops, and A-line skirts...BUT...not if you are a plus sized Apple. These styles will only emphasize your round tummy."
"Apple shaped women with round tummies should not wear belts at all".
Because you see, there are Apple shaped women out there who are slender enough for the belts, the wrap dresses, the A-line skirts and the fitted bodices and flounces. But they are not short waisted petite plus size Apples, like me.
Light bulb moment! So really, the rules DO change if you are plus sized, and even moreso if you are petite and short waisted. Honestly it was like a weight off my shoulders....no pun intended.
Here's another thing. Have you ever admired an outfit on someone else, be it a friend or a model in a magazine, bought the same outfit, and then wondered why you don't look as fabulous? There could be a number of reasons for this. First and foremost, your body shape and proportions are completely different to theirs. Secondly, perhaps there are elements in the outfit that are not to scale for your figure. Thirdly, is it possible that the style is actually a little complicated in design, fabric, colourway, or fit, and that it was only ever going to look good on a model? I'm thinking number three is the most likely. This has happened to me often in my life. You too?
Over the next couple of weeks, we'll talk about this more. As I said, I have now discovered that I am a Petite Plus Sized Apple shape, and most of my posts will be dedicated to this most neglected body shape. I know there's more of you out there, so hi!
Let's learn something new about ourselves this year. I am currently studying Marie-Anne Lecouer's e-course, titled The French Chic Academy, and I'm astounded at what I have already learned. If you can find the dollars in your own budget, I can highly recommend the course to you. For me, now that my daughter has scaled back her extra-curricular activities to focus on her final year of school, I find myself with a little spare cash to invest in self. So I am fortunate in that respect.
Marie-Annes recommendations have also led me to create a new Pinterest board, solely dedicated to Petite Plus-Sized Apple shape women like myself. You can find that here.
If you do not find yourself currently in a position to join Marie-Annes French Chic Academy, do at least read her blog, and also investigate another blog that is an eye opener for we, the style deprived, called Inside Out Style. Whilst Imogens advice is not specific to French Chic, and her blog takes a little more effort and energy in seeking what you need, there is still much helpful information to be found.
Meanwhile, knowing now your shape, and your proportions, I am going to ask you to do something that may help you appreciate how lovely you already are.
Each and every one of us, has many qualities that are beautiful. Yet as we age, and perhaps gain weight, we forget what those qualities are. Instead we worry about our lost youth, and settle into a premature old age, dressing and presenting ourselves to the world, likewise.
When you shower or bathe tonight, stop and look at yourself in the mirror. I mean really look. Don't give a cursory glance (possibly cringeing as I do), and race to dress in your nightgown. Take a moment. Love the body you're in, and thank it for what it does for you. It breathes, it loves, it gives you the ability to care for yourself and your family, it mobilises you.
Is your skin particularly lovely? Are your eyes the most beautiful shade of blue? Do you have especially long eyelashes, or elegant hands, or beautifully manicured nails? Maybe your ankles are particularly pretty, or you love to show off your wrists with bangles and bracelets (we often unconsciously adorn ourselves to draw attention to our best features without even realising it!), or you have enviably long fingers that you use to play the piano beautifully or curl your childrens or granchildrens hair. Is your own hair your best feature? Perhaps it's an unusual colour or you use a shampoo that makes everyone think of sunshine or apples. Do you have a signature scent, perfume or body lotion, that instantly makes you memorable? Are you proud of the condition of your skin, facial and body-wise? Do you have athletic shoulders, or well defined calves, or sweet earlobes that you like to adorn with pearls or other pretties? Is your décolletage` smooth and glowing, or are your particularly proud of your toned upper arms, made that way through gardening, or caring for your loved ones? Do your eyes crinkle at the edges when you smile, or do you have sweet dimples? Maybe you're proud of your stretch marks or your Caesarean or other surgical scars, as they are evidence of a life well lived and children gifted to you and your husband. In this day and age, it's not unusual to have a special tattoo that celebrates a date or a person or other significant event in your life. I'm not a tattoo person, but I make no judgement of those who love them. Acknowledge each of your special features, one and all.
Get out the journal I suggested you have at the start of the year. If you don't have your journal yet, just use a slip of paper, but make sure you keep it! Note down as many positive features as you can. LOOK for things to write down. Don't be shy! This is not vanity, and is not for viewing by anyone but yourself. It has nothing to do with being fabulously good looking or not. This is about giving thanks for what you've been gifted in this life, and moving forward from there.
Here's a sample of my list...
Well moisturised skin
Long slender hands
Naturally curly hair
Well looked after fingernails and toenails
Strong shoulders
Large eyes
Small wrists
You get the idea. It's not about blowing my own horn, or gloating about what I have compared to someone else, or conversely, lamenting what I do not have. It's about consciously seeking those elements of my appearance that are a positive.
You can do this too.
Let's start on this positive, and stay there. Even on our worst days, let's open our journals, look at our lists, and remind ourselves that whilst we are not perfect, (and who is!), we have much for which to be thankful, no matter our financial status, age or stage of life, or body shape.
Let's learn to love ourselves. Whether for the first time or the second, third or fifty-third. Let's be comfortable with who we are, and how we arrived there. Let's celebrate our curves and crinkles, and make the most of them. Most of all, let's find our inner joy, and let our most beautiful selves, glow from within. That alone is better than the most expensive designer outfit.
See you Monday with your body shape and proportions in one hand, and your journalled loveliness in the other.
I'll be offering inexpensive ways to pamper yourself, and a routine for self care that anyone can implement.
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