Guest Post-New Years Eve in Austria

Dec 31, 2011

Our second New Years Eve post is from the lovely Ivana who writes the blog Macarons & Pearls
She is originally from Slovakia, has lived in Paris and has recently just moved to Austria.

What would be your ideal New Years Eve?
I´m definitely not a party girl and I don´t like crowded nightclubs, so my ideal New Years Eve would look as follows: a dinner party at our place, with a few of our best friends, loads of delicious food, cupcakes, macarons, great music, loads of laughter and bubbles of champagne!

This year's New Years Eve outfit will be.......
Sequins, sequins, sequins! I love myself some sparkle, so I´ll go for a sequin minidress, sky-high heels and a cocktail ring or two. And a smoky eye, of course :)

What traditions do you have in Slovakia?
Definitely the fireworks. Everyone stocks up on the boxes of fireworks, and at midnight all the hell breaks loose :) You can watch it from your balcony, and it´s really beautiful. Unfortunately, we don´t do this anymore at my parents´ place, because we almost set the house on fire a few years ago... We also love to go downtown to watch the city fireworks, meet some more friends and wish everyone a Happy New Year
This year it´s the first time ever that I won´t be celebrating the NY Eve in Slovakia. I´ll be in Graz with my fiancé and a bunch of friends, and I´m really excited to discover the way the Austrian people celebrate and all their special habits!

What beauty product can you not survive without during the festive season?
A great moisturizer! The weather is so cold in Austria, and my skin suffers a lot, so I try to take special care of it. I´m more than addicted to Dior´s Hydra Life Skin Perfect and Clarins´ HydraQuench Mask. And since my lashes are virtually non existent, I couldn´t survive without a great mascara, no matter the time of the year :)

Best Stress Reliever?
When I feel stressed out ot unhappy, I just need to curl up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate and a great book (I´m pretty much obsessed with Hunger Games series right now, and these books make me forget all the stress and problems!)

What your hopes and dreams for 2012?
Wow, this is a tough one. I gave up on New Year resolutions a long time ago: if I want to change something about my life, I try to do it immediately, I don´t see the point in waiting until the new year. But each December I love to put together a list of things that I´m sure will make me happier. I want to spend as much time as possible working on my blog and my new career, because it brings me so much joy and fulfilment! I hope I´ll soon be able to have a proper conversation in German, and I want to discover all the wonderful things and opportunities my new country and city have to offer. I want to read tons of amazing books, watch all the new movies, get inspired by everything around me, design my own clothes, bake the best macarons in the world (watch out, Ladurée :), learn one new thing everyday, become a better person and leave a little trail of beauty behind me... Plus, I´m really looking forward to planning my wedding and I hope everything goes well :)
And I really, really hope to spend as much time as possible with the people I love the most: my fiancé, my parents and my best friends. Here´s to an amazing new year 2012!

Wow! great resolutions Ivana, and thank you SO much for guest posting for me. It just remains for me to say I wish you all the best for 2012, and thank you for all your wonderful support on my blog (and off the blog) this year. It's been wonderful getting to know you :-)

And to all my wonderful followers and friends, I want to wish you ALL a fabulous 2012. Thank you all so much for your blog support, and also for the wonderful "friendships without borders" I have made. Here's to another year of sisterhood support xx

Guest post-New Years Eve with Liliian Harlow

Dec 27, 2011

This New Years Eve guest post is from the lovely Lily of Lillian Harlow from Australia, who wants to share with us NYE in Oz.

What is your ideal way to spend New Years Eve?
My ideal way to spend NYE is with a cocktail party at our house. We live in the middle of Melbourne, one block from the Yarra River and from our balcony we have a glorious view of the fireworks that line the river. We are also a short walk to the centre of the "action", so often we'll gather our guests and go for a walk to stand under the fireworks for midnight... then wander home to finish off the night in comfort! It's a glorious way to spend the evening, and even though I often wonder what I've gotten myself in for the day prior (when I'm cooking all day in the sweltering Australian heat in the kitchen), it's always worth it! Our apartment is not really suited to a sit down dinner for more than 6, so when we have a lot of guests, a cocktail function is ideal. The upside is that I have become the queen of finger food ;)

What will be your New Years Eve outfit this year?
Most years, NYE in Melbourne is VERY hot! The hottest I have experienced was 42 degrees celcius (approx 108f). Our home is not airconditioned and a breeze will only do much. So most years I dress to be cool and comfortable. This year I think a light maxi dress will be in order, something simple so that I can go all out with my accessories. There's nothing like bold and bright jewellery to say "Happy New Year".

Do you have any unusual traditions that take place in Australia? Here in Spain we must eat 12 grapes with the strike of each bell at midnight. Anything similar?
I'm not aware of any traditions that take place at midnight in Australia other than kisses and champagne... but really, how could anything else compare to kisses and champagne anyway? ;)

Your drink of choice?
My drink of choice for NYE is often a long cool glass of fresh punch, which is both refreshing and dangerously drinkable. We are also very big fans of cocktails, and my Beloved makes a mean muddled strawberry mojito which is delicious on a hot night.

If you could be somewhere other than Australia, where would you like to ring in the New Year?
If I were overseas for NYE, I would have to say that I'd love ring in the new year in NYC! It has always been a dream of mine to enjoy a white Christmas and NYE there.

What beauty product can't you survive without during the party season?
The most important product for me in the festive season (and just about any other season) is my SFP 30+. I am incredibly pale and for us Christmas and NYE usually means a lot of time spent at the beach, or enjoying outdoor picnics and the like. Without my SPF I would be ringing in the new year looking redder than Rudolph's nose.

What is your best stress reliever?
My best stress reliever is my fiance. It is a cliche, but if things do become too manic, a quiet cuddle is just the trick to melt it all away and get me back on track. That or a sneaky afternoon G & T ;)

What are your hopes and dreams for 2012?
We are getting married in 2012, so that definitely factors into my hopes and dreams for the year:

- I hope that my parent's health improves and that their quality of life can be increased somewhat
- I hope that our wedding planning goes smoothly and that we both enjoy our day, surrounded by our family and friends
- I hope that the last 5 years of stress within our business finally pay off and we can have some peace of mind and financial security
- I hope that 2012 will bring health and happiness to those near and dear to me
- I hope that this time next year when we reflect on the year that was, that there will be many fond memories to revisit

A BIG thank you to the lovely Lily for sharing her NYE with us. It is just left for me to wish her a wonderful 2012, and hope that all her dreams and wishes come to fruition.

A Peep Through my Christmas Window.

Dec 23, 2011

OK friends, to end my Christmas series, I will give you a peep into my Christmas window this Christmas ;-)

How important is Christmas for me or can I take it or leave it?
I don't have children so I am sure I miss out on many things that parents experience at this time. Nonetheless, I love Christmas and all the preparations leading up to it. When I lived in the UK, my husband and I would volunteer for Shelter (an organization for the homeless) every Christmas Day (much to the annoyance and disdain of our families). It was an extremely emotional time for both of us, but made a lasting impact. I still think back to some of the people we met and wonder how they are all doing.

Nat King Cole, Michael Bublé, Handel's Messiah or Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite?
All of the above including, Harry Connick Jr.

Turkey or not?
When in the UK it's a goose. But this is our first Christmas in Spain despite living here 11 years. Consequently the main course will be "cochinillo"-suckling pig! I'm not sure how I am going to get through cooking this little cherub (it really looks so sweet), but promised Hubs I would try ;-)


If I could spend Christmas in any other place other than the UK or Spain where would I choose?
My first choice would be Switzerland where I have family, and where all Christmases were spent when I was a child. My second choice would Aspen, Colorado. As you can tell Christmas is not really Christmas for me without snow ;-)

What books am I hoping to receive this Christmas?
My Amazon wish list is about to combust. But if I can give just two choices (both non-fiction/autobiographical) it would be:
i)Life Without Limits-Nick Vujicic
ii) An Invisible Thread - Laura Schroff

What beauty product is my Christmas fail-safe?
It would have to be Clarins Beauty Flash Balm ( during the day) and Decleor Neroli oil (at night).

What do I buy the girlfriend that has everything?
It would have to be a Jo Malone Pine & Eucalyptus scented candle or Acqua di Parma Red Berries candle.

Anything else I would like to share?
* Christmas is not about perfection; so don't get so wrapped up in making everything perfect that you forget to stop and smell the roses
* savor every minute
*spend a few minutes just being grateful for all that we are fortunate to have
* forget calorie control for a few days. Life's too short :-)
*remember those less fortunate; there is always someone close by
*embrace the power of giving; it truly is the best feeling

Finally I would like to say a HUGE thank you to all the bloggers that did guest posts. We will have a few more between Christmas and New Year with the emphasis being on New Years celebrations instead, so keep your eyes peeled.

I would also like to thank all my wonderful followers and friends who have made my "baby steps" into blogging such a wonderful and joyous experience (despite not being a very keen writer).
Thank you ALL so much and I wish you all a wonderful holiday. Here's hoping Santa is kind to each and every one of you.

p.s Do stay tuned as we have two New Years Eve guest posts from very different parts of the world ;-)

Guest post: Christmas with Looking Fab In Your 40's

Dec 20, 2011

OK, our fourth guest post is from the lovely Sharron who writes the sassy blog Looking Fab in your 40's

Admittedly, Sharron and I haven't been following each other as long as some of my other "guests", but I just love her sassy blog; written for 40-somethings who don't want to start dressing like their spinister aunt of 70!

Also, she hails from my part of the world, and often her posts remind me just why I want to return ;-)

Here's a peep through Sharron's window on Christmas Day in the UK.

What does Christmas mean to you, or can you take it or leave it?
Christmas is very important but if I didn't have four children it might not be!

What are you hoping to find under the tree this Christmas?
I have asked for lots of new make-up, so I am really hoping to get that and try out some new products

Flats or heels on Christmas Day?
Flats, I can't cook in heels!

What will be your Christmas outfit be this year?
A jersey or knitted dress, something nice and comfortable

Do you serve anything unusual for Christmas Day lunch other than the traditional turkey and Christmas pud?
Just the traditional Christmas lunch , nothing unusual

Nat King Cole, Michael Bublé, Handel's Messiah or Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite?
Michael Bublé

What one book do you hope to receive this year?
There are no books on my Christmas list this year

The beauty product you can't live without over the festive season?
I can't live without a decent hand cream

What do you buy the girlfriend who has everything?
A Diptique scented candle

If you could spend Christmas somewhere else other than the UK, where would you choose?
New York; it's a no-brainer!

How are you hoping that this Christmas will be different from previous ones?
I'm not hoping it will be different from previous years. All I ever want is for my kids to be healthy and happy. I have enjoyed every Christmas the same since first becoming a parent 22.5 years ago!

Thank you SO much Sharron for giving us this peep into your Christmas Day. I wish you a wonderfully "chic" festive period, and hope that 2012 brings you everything that you wish for (and if that includes another pair of Jimmy Choos or a Chanel bag, so be it!).

Guest Post-Christmas with MyBigFatGreekMove

Dec 17, 2011

OK, my third guest post is by the lovely Sandee. Sandee is originally from the UK, of Hong-Kong heritage and now living in Greece. We've not known each other long, but our mutual connection came from both being ex-pats in Mediterranean countries (spiraling out of control ;-)

Sandee writes the lovely blog My Big, Fat, Greek Move

Here's a peep through Sandee's Christmas window in Greece.

How important is Christmas for you or can you take it or leave it ? When I was younger it meant going out a lot celebrating & catching up with friends and family. Now that I have moved across the pond, Christmas is still important to me, but I can also take it or leave it too, depending if my family are visiting. I've been working every X-mas Eve, X-Mas day and Boxing Day for the past 5 years now (it happens when you run 2 businesses) and I spend any free time invested in family time.

What one gift are you really "hoping" to find under the Christmas tree this year? Know what I haven't even thought about this to be honest! Errr???

Flats or heels on Christmas Day? Flats for work and Heels for going out for sure!!!

What does Christmas day lunch usually comprise of in Greece? This is a funny one, as we usually have lamb rather than Turkey! If there are lots of us we'll order 10kilos of lamb! How banana's is that??? Usually we have lunch/dinner together at midnight when the working day is over for us and the family will sit down for gallons of red wine and delicious Greek lamb, roast potatoes, roast veg. (Even though Pork is usually eaten at X mas). I think we might break tradition at some point and go with Turkey one year!

Nat King Cole, Michael Bublé, Handel's Messiah or Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite playing in the background? A mixture of the above, but I do love a bit of Nat King Cole and Tony Bennett and the occasional blast of 'All I want for Christmas' by Mariah Carey!

What one book do you hope to receive this year? I have an insane list of books saved on my Amazon wishlist, but I still have 'Pictures' by Tim Walker on my list. I love his work.

Best Christmas film? There are far too many not to mention. For Comedy it has to be 'Home Alone', Romance: 'Love Actually' or 'The Holiday', Action: 'Die Hard' and each year they always used to put 'The Wizard of Oz' on every Xmas in the UK. I also love 'Gentlemen prefer Blondes' and anything with Sinatra or Astaire.

The beauty product you can't live without over the festive season? Estee Lauders Idealist, Illuminator for even skin tone! Amazing for photographs too as the light just bounces off your skin! Awesome stuff!

What do you buy the girlfriend who has everything? This is really hard, but I do like to be inventive or creative, so I sometimes go to '' to personalise gifts, pick out a real gorgeous coffee table book or buy some crystal martini glasses plus cocktail shaker and recipe book! (Alternatively a pair of stunning Champagne flutes)

What is your fail-safe stress reliever? My man! He rocks, always knows how to calm me down and say the right things! If he's not around a glass of red vino or a Martini please!

If you could spend Christmas somewhere else other than Greece, where would you choose? It would be London, with my family and friends, then Hong Kong where my other family are located and possibly Sydney for some fun & sun!!!

What is your favorite Christmas memory from the past? Being real naughty and opening presents at 6am with my brother when we were kids! We'd sneak downstairs, knowing which steps not to step on as they creak and head straight for the living room, tearing open everything with our names on it!

Anything else you wish to share? Just to wish everyone one of your fabulous readers a wonderful Christmas and a Super Duper Wow New Year V!

Thank you SOOOO much Sandee. I know how busy you are, so really appreciate your time and kindness. Wishing you a fabulous Christmas and New Year too Sweets!

Guest post- Christmas with Cupcake Caramel

Dec 13, 2011

OK our second guest blogger is from the lovely Rebekah at Cupcake Caramel.

Rebekah writes a fab blog all about her efforts to live a chic and french-inspired life; channelling her inner-Bridget Bardot as she goes along. Her posts are very witty, sometimes quite serious, but always gives me food-for-thought (talking of food her recipes are great also) She really is Texas' answer to the Domestic Goddess ;-)

Here's a peep through Rebekah's Texas window this Christmas.

What are you most hoping to find under the Christmas tree this year
I assume we’re discussing reality, yes? If so, then I would love a box of Fran’s sea salt caramels, a bottle of Krug or Tattinger, Jo Malone bath gel, and an antique letter opener.

Nat King Cole,Michael Bublé, Handel's Messiah or Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite?

Nat King Cole AND Handel’s Messiah. My husband and I have one tradition during the Christmas season: tickets to the symphony to see The Messiah. One of these years I’m going to locate a sing-along and participate. There are some beautiful second soprano parts. I get my singing-fix satisfied by participating in the church choir for their annual Christmas concert.

Turkey or not?

Not; I’d rather indulge in roast beef or prime rib, pan drippings and Yorkshire pudding.

Best Christmas film?

Love Actually

What French details/ dishes will you ensure your Christmas includes this year?

We usually attend church on Christmas Eve at 11 PM, but we’re not Catholic – so I guess I would celebrate in a more Huguenot tradition. We also give gifts to the needy at this time of the year, such as Operation Christmas Box, which packages gifts to send to orphanages, and Project Angel Tree, which sponsors a child of an incarcerated parent. I like to use natural ornaments in my decorations, so I’m really into the idea of hanging homemade orange pomanders and strings of cranberries. As far as French food traditions, a buche de Noel is calling to me right now!

If you could spend Christmas in any other place other than the US, where would you choose?

England! I have a fantasy of attending church services in an idyllic, old church and attending a concert at St. Martin in the Fields. Then we’d do the cracker thing, drink hot rum, and eat pudding all day.

What one book are you hoping to receive this Christmas?

I’d like the entire collection of the Mitford sisters’ letters.

What beauty product is your 'Christmas fail-safe'?

Jo Malone’s Pomegranate Noir (I still have samples I’m using); it is dark and heavy – perfect for the holiday events you are attending, as well as for a special night at home. It drives my husband wild.

Flats or heels on Christmas Day?

Flats; we tend to wear nice jeans, great sweaters (NO Reindeer ones), and our indoor shoes, which are usually old driving moccasins. Christmas remains fairly casual, unless we are off to church services.

How do you hope to make Christmas different this year from other years (either by something you do or simply because of a change of perspective)?

We do not live around family, and we do not have children, so it is both liberating and challenging that we fully dictate how our Christmas is spent. We’ve had a rather full year and need some relaxation time for the holidays. I would like to open our home for friends to drop by for afternoon tea and share in the dessert celebration. I won’t be making treize desserts as they do in Provence, but I wouldn’t mind having an excuse to make the buche de Noel and some other goodies to share with friends.

Thank you so much Rebekah. Wishing you a wonderful Texan Christmas, and all you wish for yourself in 2012.

p.s love the fact Rebekah wants to spend Christmas in England (feeling a little smug now ;-)

Guest post:Christmas with Bourbon and Pearls

Dec 9, 2011

As I look back on the 18 months that I have been blogging, I am still astounded by some of the truly lovely people I have met and friends I have made; something I had never envisaged when I started my blogging journey.

So this month, I would like to showcase a few of them.

It was very difficult to pick only a handful, so in the end my criteria became:
* to pick some bloggers from different parts of the globe
* to pick those bloggers I know don't have young children. I know all my wonderful friends with children barely have time to catch their breath in the lead up to Christmas, and I didn't want to put anyone in the position of saying yes when they were really thinking, "Damn, I can't add one more thing to my to-do list!"

That was it!

So here is our first guest blogger, the lovely Tabitha from Bourbon & Pearls
Tabitha's blog is really very humerous (sometimes satirical), and always has me spluttering over my cornflakes whilst reading her latest offering. Warning: have your dictionary close at hand, she uses "big" words. She is definitely up there with some of the literary best when it comes to writing.

Here's a peep through Tabitha's window in Scotland, this Christmas.
How important is Christmas for you, or can you take it or leave it ?
Christmas is such a wonderful time of year, here in the northern hemisphere we would die without this festival which is rooted in our pagan heritage. Holly and ivy offer protection for the year ahead and the lights associated with Christmas lead us on our way to the New Year.

What one gift are you really "hoping" to find under the Christmas tree this year?Flannel pj's.

Flats or heels on Christmas Day? I am usually barefoot indoors but I'll gussy myself up and put on ballet pumps for Christmas Day, I'm a bit of a hippie at heart, I have never worn heels indoors in my life!

Do you cook/serve anything unusual for Christmas Day fayre? Not really, it's fairly traditional here, goose with all the trimmings, brandy butter, and Christmas pud.

Nat King Cole, Michael Bublé, Handels Messiah or Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite playing in the background? Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

What one book do you hope to receive this year? The Penguin vintage classic edition of Madame Bovary.

Best Christmas film? National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

The beauty product you can't live without over the festive season? Aveda Air Control hairspray - I have Texan hair.

What do you buy the girlfriend who has everything? A donation to the Dog & Cat Home in her name. Who doesn't want to buy a dog its Christmas dinner?

Favourite Christmas tipple? Winter Pimm's and Champagne.

If you could spend Christmas somewhere else other than Scotland, where would you choose? The Beverly Hills Hotel

Christmas pudding or not? The best Christmas is a little bit Dickensian and this festive bomb of suet, flour, sultanas and brandy indulges the Mr Fezziwig in all of us.

Is there one gift that will always unlock your heart? Anything which comes with a heartfelt inscription.

Anything else you would like to share about Christmas? Each year I toast Coca Cola for giving us our jolly red Santa.

Thank you so much Tabitha. I wish you a wonderful festive season, and nothing but health and happiness for 2012 xx

p.s please pop over to Hampton Hostess and see my Spanish-inspired Christmas guest post over there ;-)

The Princess Connection/ Blog Giveaway Winner

Dec 3, 2011

Before I announce our blog giveaway winner, I would like to introduce you to the gorgeous designs of Lily Gardner.

What makes Lily's designs so unique is that they are created using Chantilly lace-still made on the original 18th Century hand-looms in France. The French lace used in her collection is made in Northern France by one of the oldest lace making houses.

So what's the "Princess Connection" I hear you all screaming? Well her lace is sourced from the same lace-making house that was used for the lace in Kate Middletons wedding dress! Yes, it is honestly true, I couldn't make this up if I tried ;-)

Lily's designs have also graced the counters of Harrods and The Victoria & Albert Museum (London) and 'Colette', Paris' most revered fashion boutique.

A gorgeous pendant;Chantilly lace
encased in Pexiglass and suspended
from stunning jet black beads

A gorgeous cuff featured in Vogue magazine's
"must-have" pages.
Cute Heart Earrings

Finally I would like to say a HUGE thank you to all who entered our Giveaway.
The winner is: Carolrowley55 . Carol I've sent you a tweet, but please contact me and let me know which colour stone you would like in your bracelet ;-)