Tuesday, 12 July 2016

30 Chic Days - last days and review

Days 29 & 30 (Saturday and Sunday)

Outfit - day 29
Outfit - day 30
Above, you can see the last two outfits from my 30 Chic Days challenge. Click on the link if you want more information about being chic and to read Fiona's great posts. You can also check out Juhli's blog to see how she got on during her 30 Chic Days.

Fiona's goal is to live a more chic, healthy and elegant life, which was the raison d'être behind me deciding to try my own 30 Chic Days. I gave a bit more thought to the outfits I wore each day, trying to look as chic and elegant as possible rather than grabbing the first clothes that came to hand. I'm not saying that I succeeded in looking as chic as the average Frenchwoman, however I think I raised my game a bit. I was looking for flattering colours, combining tops and bottoms to create better outfits, plus the addition of accessories to complete my look,

The healthy part of my 30 days consisted of becoming more aware of what I was eating and how I was moving. One of the most important lessons that I learnt from reading Fiona's blog was to think about portion size rather than going on a restrictive diet. We are lucky enough to be able to buy fresh fruit and vegetables that are grown locally, as well as fresh fish caught in the Mediterranean, extra virgin olive oil produced in the town where we live, plus the red wine for which Jumilla is renowned. Mediterranean diet anyone? When we decide occasionally to eat ready meals, we go for healthier choices, however my aim is to find more recipes for meals that can be prepared in a flash, apart from omelettes or tortillas!

We live on the edge of a small Spanish town and don't have a car, so we walk a lot. Even so, trying to reach my target of 10,000 steps a day wasn't always easy, especially at weekends when we didn't go shopping or on days when we didn't meet friends for coffee. We have a dog Lisa (photobombing me in the photo on day 30) who is taken for walks several times a day, but in the hot weather she isn't so keen on long walks. It was helpful to keep an eye on my number of steps to make sure I reached my target and, if necessary, take Lisa for an extra walk. My daily average over the last week was 10,971 steps.

The BBC website has an interesting article about getting rid of belly fat. You can read it here. The reason I am linking to this is because the most successful dieters didn't make many changes to their diets: they just watched their portion sizes, cut out snacks between meals and tried to make healthy choices.

They also kept active, but without doing sit-ups or fad exercises. Does this sound familiar? Many blogs and books written about how Frenchwomen keep slim mention that they seldom go to the gym but they walk a lot, including having to use the stairs, as many Parisian apartment blocks don't have lifts. I must stick to my resolve to keep using the stairs unless I have heavy shopping or luggage.

I didn't do as much reading as I had planned, spending too much time on blogging or reading other blogs. I now have a pile of books, magazine and newspapers to read for the rest of the month as my aim is to spend less time on my computer.

Finally, it definitely helps to have a focus, which in my case was to eat more healthily while cutting down my portion sizes. Although I wasn't dieting I did lose 1.7 kilos (3.7 lbs) without even trying. The secret being, as already mentioned, a combination of eating in a healthy, mindful way as well as gentle, regular exercise.

I also focused on creating a more cohesive wardrobe using my 33 items of clothing. Looking critically at the outfits I wore over the 30 days, there were a few that didn't really flatter me. Wearing a light top with dark bottoms, cutting me in half at my widest point, isn't a good look. Culottes on short women? Don't go there!

My final words should come from Fiona, who told me 30 Chic Days is meant to be fun and enjoyable, not stressful. I definitely enjoyed the experience and learnt a lot from taking part. Why not join me the next time I give it a go?

Sunday, 10 July 2016

30 Chic Days - days 26, 27 and 28

Fiona has already finished her 30 Chic Days and Juhli is almost there, so I need to get a move on!

Day 26 (Wednesday)

Outfit - day 26

Day 27 (Thursday)
Outfit - day 27

Day 28 (Friday)
Outfit - day 28
If you've read the post about my Summer capsule of 33 items of clothing, you may remember that I only have seven pairs of trousers and eighteen tops, plus two skirts, two dresses and a couple of cardigans. As my "uniform" consists of trousers and tops, inevitably that means that over the course of thirty days I will be wearing my trousers many times and wearing most tops on several occasions.As you can see above, I wore the same trousers on Wednesday and Friday this week, but with different tops.

I don't know how some women manage with a ten item wardrobe, especially in the heat. The good news about living in Spain is that I can hand wash clothes in the afternoon, put them outside, and bring them in dry at the end of the day! However I do like some variety in my outfits, and I don't want to be washing clothes every day, so I'm going to stick with my thirty three items wardrobe.

Talking about variety, it's been helpful to be aware of what I'm eating over the 30 days and to think about trying different meals. Lunch was pitta with hummus on a couple of days, but with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon in between. I made sure that dinner was different every day: salade niçoise on Wednesday, bulgar wheat with roasted vegetables on Thursday and fish (what else?) on Friday. Healthy eating is my main aim, which is fairly easy to achieve with the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables grown locally, however I also think it's good to try out new recipes to add some variety to our diet.

Movement over the course of the day is important, which is why I am using my fitbit to monitor my steps. I am also getting into the habit of using the stairs rather than the lift when going up to our second floor apartment. I'm not sure how impressed our dog Lisa is with the new routine!

In my final post I will include some of the lessons learnt over the course of my 30 Chic Days challenge. I'd also be interested in hearing your thoughts about how useful this series has been.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

30 Chic Days - days 22 to 25

I'm lagging behind Fiona, who has just posted Day 30 of her 30 Chic Days, and overlapping with Juhli, who has managed to post days 20-24 already, as well as working hard decorating her home to make it as chic as possible. They definitely put me to shame when it comes to the 30 Chic Days challenge! My only excuses are the hot weather in Spain that slows me down somewhat and too many social activities.

Day 22 (Saturday)

Outfit day 22 (daytime)
Outfit day 22 (evening)

On Saturday morning we met our Spanish friend Juana and her daughter Marta for coffee. We were helping Marta with her English pronunciation, as she had a presentation to give in English this week. Lunch was omelette with smoked salmon, followed by fresh apricots, which we had a bit later than usual, as we weren't sure when we'd be eating in the evening.

Our Saturday night dinner was tapas and wine in our nearest bodega. During the summer months there are concerts in many of the local wineries, so we had bought tickets for the concert in Bodegas San Isidro, which is literally just down the road from our house. We have tickets for two more events, later in the month. I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday evening than a concert in a bodega, with good wine, tasty food and great company.

Day 23 (Sunday)

Outfit - day 23
We met our friend Charlie for coffee, which extended into having tapas with a glass of wine as so often happens in Spain. Dinner was baked hake with roasted vegetables. In between all the food and drink we managed to take our dog Lisa for a longish walk. We try to keep in the shade as much as possible, partly because Lisa prefers to walk in the shade and partly because I avoid the sun too, being fair-skinned and freckled.

Day 24 (Monday)

Dinner was stir fried prawns, adding the rest of the vegetables from Sunday's meal. Being more aware of what I'm eating, including the size of the portions, has meant I'm less likely to serve myself a second helping just to finish things off. There's nothing wrong with left overs is there? It's certainly better than over eating. Lunch on Monday and Tuesday was hummus with pitta bread, followed by kiwi fruit. Breakfast has been the same every day so far: a mix of yoghurt, oats, nuts, lemon juice and honey, Click on the following link if you want to read Fiona's post about French Girl Portion Sizes.

Day 25 (Tuesday)

Dinner was tuna burger with a mixture of fresh vegetables. I know I've been saying that we should avoid ready meals, but the fish burgers and beef burgers from the local shop are tasty and fairly healthy, so I think once a week is acceptable until I find some easy recipes to replace fast foods. I think it has been helpful to focus on my food choices and I will definitely be looking for some healthier (but still tasty!) recipes over the next few months.

Thinking about how I move has also been useful. I have enrolled for the Tai Chi classes that will be starting again in September, as I'm aware of the need to improve my balance. I have added some daily balance exercises to my routine, as well as using a fitbit to log my steps. The latest weekly total was 78,338, giving a daily average of 11,191 steps. 

Using a fitbit has proved a good incentive for me to keep fit. I can check the daily total and, if it's a bit 
low, our dog gets a bonus walk!

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Summer capsule wardrobe for Project 333

I have neglected posting about Project 333 in recent months so - without further ado - here is my summer capsule wardrobe of 33 items of clothing to last me for the next 3 months. For anyone new to Project 333, you can find out more details by clicking on this link. Strictly speaking, the 33 items should include shoes and accessories, but I bend the rules and allow myself 33 items of clothing instead.

I'll do some of the maths for you. In the photos above there are seven pairs of trousers, two skirts plus eighteen short sleeved tops to create outfits for the day-time. Two pairs of trousers and one skirt are patterned, which means they can't be combined with every top, but if you multiply the six neutral bottoms by eighteen tops that still gives 108 different outfits, which is more than enough to wear over the next few months. I have included two long sleeved tops and two cardigans, which are for evenings only, as it is now very hot during the daytime.

Finally the two dresses: I have worn the first one for lunch with friends recently, and will wear it for dining out over the next few months, however the second one won't be worn until the last day of summer,  I have an important wedding on 30th September and the dress is being saved for that!

Monday, 4 July 2016

30 Chic Days - days 18, 19, 20 and 21.

I took up the challenge to be as chic as possible over 30 days, plus trying to eat healthily and being aware of how much I moved. My reading has tended to be posts by other bloggers (especially Fiona and Juhli who are also doing this challenge) and the BBC website, where I can read the latest news and catch up on sport. I particularly enjoyed a recent post where Fiona spoke about browsing folders on her computer where she has saved some of her favourite articles and blog posts. If the news is too depressing, which sadly is often the case nowadays, I think I'll do the same

Day 18 (Tuesday)

Outfit - day 18

Day 19 (Wednesday)

Outfit - day 19

Day 20 (Thursday)

Outfit - day 20

Day 21 (Friday)
Outfit - day 21
The reason I look a bit lop-sided in the above photos, and especially the one of day 21's outfit, is that I had software problems.  For some strange reason, every time I tried to straighten then crop the photos, I chopped off either my head or my feet! Some people may think the photos would look better without my head (lol), however it's easier to judge the overall effect of an outfit when you can see the whole picture. To be honest, day 21's outfit isn't the most flattering, but what it lacks in style it makes up for in being comfortable. I'm sure there are a few over 60 women out there who also have comfort near the top of their list when deciding what to wear!

This is probably a good time to talk about the difference between fashion and style. Culottes are fashionable at the moment, and many women also look stylish in them, however are they chic on shorter women like me? Women who love to wear the latest fashions have to take care not to look like a fashion victim and culottes are a good example of this. Stylish women will only wear culottes if they suit their body shape and their personal style. Similarly, if the colour of the year is tangerine and they look better in softer, cooler colours, chic women might carry a tangerine clutch but their clothes will be in more flattering shades. I found doing the 7 Steps to Style course helpful in showing me which colours, shapes and styles suit me best as well as learning about other aspects such as contrast -  but I still get it wrong sometimes!

As my focus during this challenge has been on trying to eat more healthily, my main meals have been salads, omelettes (ideal when I've been short of time) and vegetarian main courses like couscous. My husband eats meat, though I only eat fish nowadays, so occasionally he will add some chicken or other meat to his meal if it's a vegetarian dish. We both enjoy a glass of wine with our dinner, especially as we live in a Spanish town that is renowned for its red wine: after all, we're supporting a local industry!

My best day for steps was Tuesday, as I walked to my hairdresser's, which is on the other side of town and the daily total was over 14,000. I was just under my target on Thursday, however the average over the four days was well over my 10,000 steps target.

Finally, I'd like to wish all my American readers a very happy 4th July!

Thursday, 30 June 2016

30 Chic Days - half-way there!

I'm over half-way through the 30 Chic Days challenge, so it seems a good time to reflect on any lessons learnt so far.

My style recipe is "colourful casual chic with a little bit quirky and a Parisian influence". I'm fine doing the colourful casual bit - as I'm sure you will have noticed! -  but I'm hoping to add in the chic element so it becomes second nature to me. The little bit quirky tends to be achieved with my accessories and it usually depends on my mood on a particular day. The Parisian influence is closely tied in with my wish to be chic. Will a month of trying to be chic improve my style? I certainly hope so. What I've noticed is that choosing the right accessories can take an outfit from ok to chic,so I will use that as a starting point.

As mentioned at the beginning of my 30 days, I try to eat as healthily as possible and I am also keeping an eye on my weight at the moment. However I don't believe in diets that make you count calories or restrict certain foods without considering how balanced your overall diet is. I do need to make better choices when eating out (not helped by the fact that I don't eat meat and don't like tomatoes) and resist the temptation to buy pizzas and pasta for a quick dinner at home when we've been busy and I'm feeling a bit tired.

Making sure that I move a lot each day (my target is 10,000 steps) isn't too difficult unless it's particularly hot and we don't have plans to go out on a particular day, but that's not the full story. I am also trying to improve my sense of balance and know that I need to work on my strength too. When I was living in London I used to go to gym classes, as well as being a member of a running club, to ensure that my workouts covered strength and flexibility as well as cardio fitness. I must try to do the same now that I have retired to Spain and not just concentrate on walking, even though walking is one of the best forms of exercise for over 60s.

Day 16 (Sunday)

Outfit - day 16 
On Sunday we went out with our friend Charlie for lunch at a local bar/restaurant. Luckily I was able to make some healthy choices: a starter of fish soup, which was very tasty (though I really shouldn't have added the croutons!), a salad to share, a main course of grilled sea bream with vegetables and coffee flan as dessert.  I should confess at this point that on Monday we had pizza, though I only had a small piece and served it with vegetables. Hopefully I will do better in the second half of the challenge.

Day 17 (Monday)

Outfit - day 17
Although I do love my colourful tops, such as the one I wore on Sunday, I think that Monday's outfit of a green top and beige trousers is more flattering on me. There is less contrast, making me look taller, whereas Sunday's outfit had the effect of splitting me in two and highlighting my thick waist. The red top though felt more festive and appropriate for going out to lunch so I was happy to wear it.

The focus for these two days was on reflection and analysis of my choices over the first week or so in the hope that I can be more successful over the last few weeks. My reading was split between looking at my favourite blogs and keeping aware of the latest developments post-Brexit.  I'm aware that I spend too much time blogging and should read more books. A friend has recommended a book that I plan to buy for our holiday in August (we're travelling by train so will have several hours to spare): "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr. Has anyone else read it?

I have decided to post my average number of steps over the week, rather than doing it on a daily basis. My first week's average was: 11,756 steps and the average for week two was 10,605 steps.

Don't forget to check how Fiona and Juhli are progressing in their challenges too.

Monday, 27 June 2016

30 Chic Days - days 13, 14 and 15

I'm continuing with the challenge to become more chic, along with Fiona and Juhli, and have now reached half-way. Click on their names above to see how Fiona and Juhli are progressing,

Day 13 (Thursday)

Outfit - day 13
This was the outfit that I wore for most of the day. In the evening we went to a school graduation ceremony, where our friend's daughter received her leaving diploma, and afterwards a group of us went with them to celebrate with some tapas. I wore a red patterned dress for the occasion, however it was late by the time we had returned home and taken our dog for a walk, so no photos this time.

Although no definite plans had been made to have tapas in the evening (as nobody knew what time the graduation ceremony was going to finish) we had decided to have a filling lunch of pasta and vegetables, just in case. That proved a wise decision, as we went for tapas but didn't actually start eating until after nine thirty. Luckily the tapas that everyone chose, which were put in the centre of the table to share, were mainly fish, When some meat empanadas were brought out, I was given my own tapa of potato topped with a quail's egg. That's what I call good service!

I managed to clock up 10,651 steps, even though some friends kindly drove us home. It's lucky that we have our dog Lisa to walk several times a day, which makes it easier to reach my target. The focus of the day was on trying to understand more Spanish as the graduation ceremony was in a local Spanish school. The baby crying behind us didn't help to make this easy!

Day 14 (Friday)

Outfit - day 14
I woke up to depressing news: the UK voted in favour of leaving the EU. I don't mention politics on this blog as it's supposed to be about fashion, beauty, lifestyle and similar topics for those of us who are over 60, however it's also about being "over here", as we live in Spain. Although any changes are unlikely to affect us for the next two years, it still makes our future here uncertain. Anyway, back to 30 Chic Days. My first choice of outfit for the day was a navy top with these trousers, but I decided I needed to try and feel more cheerful, so wore a red top instead. 

We met our Spanish friend Juana María and her daughter Marta for coffee and immediately they saw us they mentioned the Brexit, so there was no escape from the subject. Luckily we had more cheerful things to discuss such as weddings and clothes (my poor husband just has to put up with this!) and as always when we meet Juana there was a lot of laughter too. 

Lunch was a pitta bread with hummus and tzatziki dip followed by fresh apricots. Dinner was fresh salmon and herbs with a selection of vegetables. The extras you already know about!

Movement wise I had a good day with 12,297 steps. My reading was, not surprisingly, all about the Brexit. (For any readers who don't know what I'm talking about - just google it.) The focus of the day was on trying to feel more positive, as well as working out the implications of leaving the EU for Brits like myself who live in Spain.

Day 15 (Saturday)

Outfit - day 15
I wore another colourful top, this one being orange whereas I wore red on the previous two days. Do you find that the colours you wear affect the way you feel? I was aiming to feel more cheerful and optimistic and wearing these bright colours certainly helped a bit.

This was the day that I said I would check my weight. The good news was that in spite of so many meals out and celebrations I hadn't put on any weight. I hadn't lost weight either but, as I said at the beginning of this challenge, my target is to eat more healthily and not to diet. By recording what I eat, I have become more conscious of the number of "extras" that I eat over the course of the day, not forgetting my glasses of wine and chocolates! So what did I eat on Saturday, apart from my yoghurt breakfast? Lunch was scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, with apricots for dessert. Dinner was avocado as a starter, then fresh salmon with vegetables, accompanied by a glass of white wine, and a chocolate to finish my meal. I didn't count the calories!

Over the course of the day I walked to a local café for coffee in the morning, down the road to a supermarket for a bit of food shopping, plus several walks with Lisa, totalling 10,250 steps.

The focus was still on making healthy choices for my meals. I should also add that I drink water regularly throughout the day, which is becoming even more important now that summer is here.