In “At Home with Madame Chic”, Jennifer Scott continues to share the wisdom she gleaned as a foreign exchange student from her Parisian hostess. Though I haven’t yet read her first book, “Lessons From Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris”, it was a huge success, and my own mother got on board with the 10-item wardrobe that Scott recommends.
The sequel (already a New York Times Bestseller) focuses on how we can live like Madame Chic in our own homes, and I found it a fun and refreshing read – keeping in mind that some of the tips were far too idealistic for my own life!
Chic ideas which I embrace:
- “The French value an orderly home life, even in times of upheaval” – organization, efficiency and lack of clutter are essential (“Play music while you clean and organize” is also a good one – though I do love to watch/listen to talk shows while I work)
- Appreciate what you have/where you live. Fix the problems you can, and try to let go of the rest.
- Give yourself positive affirmations.Some examples Scott offers:
- Wake up early enough to make sure things run smoothly (and lay out your clothes the night before). Most of our morning stress occurs when we don’t have enough time, so make time. This might mean going to bed early, and I know most of you laugh at my early-to-bed schedule, but our mornings are fairly smooth. Until the last five minutes, when somehow the volume of my voice always rises.
- Don’t obsess and internalize world news. From the Ottawa shootings to the Jian Ghomeshi scandal (sorry American readers if you have no idea what I’m talking about) I definitely keep up-to-date on what’s happening (especially on Twitter) but try to let it go when I need to.
- Put things away after you use them. People ask me for my organizational secrets, but this one isn’t a secret. People just don’t tend to want to do it.
- Give your kids downtime and don’t overschedule.
Ways I will never be chic:
- Dress nicely at home. I totally see how this could have psychological benefits, but my home uniform includes sweatpants and a ponytail. I will only change if someone is coming over. Sometimes not even then.
- Sit down to eat breakfast. I LOVE restaurant breakfasts, but at home it’s usually a Quaker Oatmeal-To-Go bar (Cinnamon Roll flavour) alternating each bite with a task (check phone, put lunch by door, etc.) I realize this is not the best way to do things.
- “One of the pleasures of the afternoon is thinking about dinner.” Eating it, maybe. Preparing it, never.
- Don’t use TV for background noise. I LOVE TV background noise. I don’t let my kids do it, however, and I make sure whatever they hear in the background when I’m watching is appropriate. Ish. (They’re a bit too familiar with the names of all Canadian talk show hosts, and Maggie is prone to ask questions like “Where’s Lainey today?”)
The book is also full of helpful little checklists, hair and makeup tips, sample cleaning schedules and recipes for everything from drinks to meals to cleaning sprays, plus playlists and candle scent suggestions for different tasks and times of day.
“At Home With Madame Chic” is a fun read, whether you’re a busy mom looking to make life smoother or a hostess-with-the-mostess on the hunt for new ideas. As I mentioned earlier, the book is at points a tad idealistic, but Scott writes with a self-deprecating and honest tone: we’re not supposed to strive to be her, she’s striving along with the rest of us to live a more chic life. Even when she comes across Pollyanna-ish, that’s not a bad thing, especially when the other books in my nightstand involve murders, divorce, accidents and mistaken identities (pas chic).
For more information, visit http://www.jenniferlscott.com