S P F is your B F F

SPF - what's your number
L’Occitaine | Shiseido | Chanel | Clarins | Clinique | Coola


This post is sponsored by Nordstrom. All opinions expressed are my own.

It’s a good idea to refresh and update your skincare routine periodically. Sometimes product formulations change, sometimes it’s our skin or environment that changes. But whatever else you do, please don’t skip the most important step: sunscreen. My dermatologist likes those with “barrier” or mineral sunscreens, which all of the products shown above contain. Look for “titanium dioxide” or “zinc oxide” among the active ingredients. These tend to last longer than purely chemical sunscreens, though often a higher SPF is achieved with a blend of barrier and chemical active ingredients. (Chemical sunscreens may also irritate some with more sensitive skin.)

The challenge for a facial barrier sunscreen is finding one that isn’t too heavy or greasy, doesn’t leave a whitish cast, and doesn’t “pill.” Of those above, I’ve tried the Shiseido, Chanel, Clarins and Clinique and been happy with all of them. Currently I’m alternating the Clarins and Chanel, and both work well under makeup. (No reason for “alternating” other than I’d opened both and want to use them up before they expire.)

Nordstrom has a fabulous selection of skincare brands and products, and offers free samples with online beauty orders. Shipping is free too, with any size order. Try the online live chat if you have questions about any products or services.

In addition to sunscreen (every day, no matter what!) my current skincare routine includes:

Do you wear sunscreen daily? What SPF do you generally choose?

P.S. Don’t forget your lips!


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monday mixer

spring travel wardrob mix pieces
top: scarf | shirt | scarf | sweater
middle: tee | jeans | sweater | skirt | bag
bottom: jacket | shoes | boots | pants


In comments on last Monday’s “lessons from the travel wardrobe” post, reader Cindy asked to see how I’d combine items above to create different outfits. The pieces I’ve shown above aren’t necessarily the exact ones I own (though a few are) but rather meant to be representative of the kinds and styles of clothing I’ve found work well in a travel wardrobe. This isn’t even a complete wardrobe: I’d add a couple more tops, maybe in another color that works with the scarves, maybe a pair of dressier pants. Even with the add-ons, it would fit easily in a carry-on suitcase.

But with just this core, I was able to put together 8 unique outfits without breaking much of a sweat.

spring travel wardrobe mix 1These are mostly casual outfits, however many could easily go from day to dinner. (I threw in a necklace below for fun…remember that accessories are an easy way to add interest and variety, as well as bringing your own distinctive style to an outfit.) No, these outfits probably won’t get you “street style snapped” ;-) but you’ll be able to enjoy your vacation while feeling appropriately and comfortably well-dressed.

spring travel wardrobe mix 2

Here’s why this works:

  • Base of solid neutrals
  • Lightweight pieces that layer easily
  • Prints chosen carefully…the striped top goes with a floral scarf. A floral top would be tougher to combine with a floral scarf, or stripes with stripes.
  • Pieces like the linen shirt (if not too voluminous) can be worn under a sweater or jacket, or open over a tee. If you can’t bear the thought of wearing rumpled linen, try a jersey button front shirt like this excellent one from Eileen Fisher. (I seriously LOVE this shirt, look for it on the blog soon.) Also available in Women’s and Petites.

Hope this gives you some good ideas for mixing and matching your own travel wardrobe! I’ve updated my SHOP page with a few things that would be the types of pieces I’d include in a Spring travel wardrobe.

spring travel wardrobe pieces

What strategies do you use to create outfits from a capsule or travel wardrobe?
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dans le jardin

monarch garden 1
The faded colors of this adult Monarch may indicate it’s near the end of its life cycle. My guess is that it’s landed here to lay eggs.


Today I’m sharing a neighbor’s garden that I hope will inspire you. He has cultivated a Monarch Butterfly habitat, to help combat the dwindling populations of monarchs due to pollution and reduction in their natural food supply, mainly milkweed. I try to pass by on my dog-walking route periodically to see where the Monarchs are in their life cycle. This group won’t migrate…only the Monarchs that hatch in late summer and early fall will fly south.


monarch garden 6

If you live in a region where Monarch butterflies are native, it’s very simple to attract them: just plant milkweed. It’s not a pretty plant, especially after those caterpillars have been chowing down, but requires little maintenance aside from cutting back to the ground periodically to encourage new growth. I’m hoping to “refresh” of some of our front yard plantings this spring, and will figure out how to add some milkweed to the mix.


monarch caterpillar
This caterpillar is preparing to create a cocoon. You can see the remains (lower right) of where a butterfly has recently emerged.
monarch garden 2
This plant provides a nice sheltered spot for the pupa.
The cocoons are beautiful up close.
The cocoons are beautiful up close.

Do you have Monarch butterflies where you live? Are there any other native habitats that you’ve encouraged in your garden?

shopping “les soldes”

cashmere wrap
Woven cashmere wrap in a flattering berry color. Great piece for travel!


During recent email exchanges, Tish of A Femme d’un Certain Âge and I were discussing les soldes (the sales) and what if anything we’d be looking for among the discounted merchandise. We thought this might be a fun topic for one of our Transatlantic Exchange posts, so do go see Tish’s sales picks here. “Sales” in France are limited to certain periods by law (though I’ve seen some retailers use the term “special promotion” to mark items down outside of those dates) so they’re a big deal there. Here, it seems more than ever that something’s always on sale, and the end-of-season clearances can sometimes feel a bit lackluster. Still it can be a good time to replenish basic items if chosen carefully, and with weeks (or even months) of winter still ahead of us items like coats, sweaters and scarves are ripe for the (discounted) picking.

Fleurette Loro Piano camel coat
Fleurette Loro Piano wool coat, 35% off

If I lived in a colder climate, I would be all over this coat. Camel is always “in” but this winter it’s IN, and this walking length coat is such a nice option that will take you into Spring. More sale coats and jackets here.

black leather jacket
7 For All Mankind leather jacket

Is your wardrobe leather-jacket-deficient? This collarless version from 7 For All Mankind has sleek, simple styling, but there are many to choose from on sale now.

merino scoop neck sweater
Eileen Fisher merino sweater in “Plume”, 50% off

I snapped up this sweater in black when it first went on sale, and am seriously considering going back for the “plume” color, which is gorgeous. More Eileen Fisher on sale here, here and here.

Are your kids or grandkids growing out of their winter clothes faster than the seasons change?  Lands End has some great deals right now on kids clothes and outerwear. (We stocked up on some pants for Jeune Homme.)


J.Crew Foulard Print Shirt
J.Crew Foulard Print Shirt


Le Monsieur found a couple of very nice shirts at J.Crew, deeply discounted. (Use code SHOPNOW for an additional 40-50% off sale items.)

Have you found anything good during this post-holiday sale season?
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a new favorite lipstick, and a request

my lips but better lipstick
Chantecaille Lip Chic in Amour. |  French Kande necklace.

Thanks so much to those who recommended Chantecaille Lip Chic lipstick for dry lips. I tried it over the weekend, and yes, it’s very, very good. Wonderful colors, stays on and is very moisturizing. I chose two versions of My Lips But Better™ colors: Daphne which is a light, fresh pink, and Amour which just a little deeper and more rosy.

Chantecaille lipstick
Chantecaille Lip Chic, “Amour”

Lip Chic offers a good selection of colors, from natural to bright. The formula contains collagen which is supposed to smooth and firm lips. I think it does, and keeps my lips looking and feeling good for hours. I will say the colors look lighter online than they are in person, just something to consider.

If you have dry lips, or are just looking for a lovely new shade, this one is worth a try.

Now I’m going to ask for your help again. My old faithful blow dryer bit the dust yesterday morning. I don’t need anything fancy or elaborate, but need adjustable temperature and airflow, and one that will dry hair quickly. Are the “ceramic” and/or “ionic” dryers worth considering? Do you have any recommendations? Merci par avance!

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