How to Maximize the Joy in Everyday Luxuries
Keep your arrangements simple. People tend to put so much stuff in, and their house ends up looking like a Mafia funeral parlor. Do ten sunflowers in a cluster. And everyone loves cymbidium orchids, which aren't that expensive and can last for three weeks. Or you can always do a monochromatic arrangement of different flowers, all together, in a bright color.
Be creative with your containers. I've done arrangements in a soup tureen, a martini glass. Look in your cupboard.
If you're buying flowers from your local supermarket, stick with roses. They're the most popular choice, so there's lots of turnover of stock. Just make sure the blossoms are a little bit hard in the center—that means they're still fresh.
A square or a bar of chocolate has to be eaten at room temperature. With truffles, I like the thin, crispy coating to be cold, so I chill them in the refrigerator for five minutes before serving.
Chocolate purists love fragrant chocolates, which means ones that have strong flavor. Give them the darkest chocolate possible. Children tend to like milk chocolate, and when it comes to fillings, you can't miss with caramel. If you're buying something for a chocoholic, pick exotic flavors. We've found that chocolate addicts are often more willing to try unusual varieties like cardamom or Earl Grey.
The most important thing is to pay attention to foot size. A lot of women are steadfast, saying, 'I wear a 7,' but size varies according to the designer. European shoes are narrow, so you may have to go up a size.
I've noticed that when a woman shops with her friends, they'll convince her to get a style she's never going to wear. Trust your own instincts, and don't cave in to that peer pressure.
If you're looking for something new: The colors this season are navy and gray. Chocolate brown is big, too. And for fabrics—this season it's velvet.
Use shoe pads. We all have different problem areas, and few of us can afford custom shoes. These little cushions can make almost any pair you have feel more comfortable."
The ideal temperature for a bath is between 95 and 100 degrees. The best way to test the water is not with your hand but with your wrist, one of the most sensitive parts of your body.
We use aromatherapy baths at the hotel—lavender is a good scent to soothe and relax if you've had a long week; eucalyptus is great after a workout or for respiratory relief.
Shut the door, dim the lights, and take out the good towels. A 15- to 30-minute soak is ideal. After that, your skin starts wrinkling and the bath gets cold.
Don't stick to titles by the same author or within the same genre. Don't judge a book by its cover—or the blurbs on the back—read the flap!
The best lighting is not too dim or too bright. Avoid fluorescent lighting or direct sunshine. I wouldn't spend a lot of money on a fancy reading light. I use a gooseneck lamp next to my bed and a floor lamp in the living room.
Make a designated time for reading every day: Find a comfortable space, away from distractions of people and noise and daily pressures. There's evidence that reading lowers your blood pressure, and that reduces stress."
If there are 50 people waiting for a taxi in the airport, get a porter—he'll rush you right to the front.
Always, always get a seat assignment when booking the flight, because if the airline has oversold, they'll bump the people without a seat assignment first.
If you're in economy, try to get an exit row, which has more legroom. Do anything to avoid the last couple of rows of the plane, because they're near the bathrooms and can be unpleasant.
If you want to book a trip with frequent flier miles, I recommend starting 11 months ahead of time.
You want to use the big parts of the hand—the palm and the heel. You can use even your elbow. For instance, if you're standing behind someone sitting in a chair, put your elbow on the shoulder muscle, where there is always a lot of tension. Lean gently, very slowly, applying pressure for three or four breaths. Then move your elbow an inch or two away and put pressure in the next area.
The key to a really good massage is long, slow, deep. Just think 'LSD.' And feedback is very important: Ask your partner, 'How is the pressure, on a scale from one to ten? How deep am I now?' You want a seven or an eight. Most important is: 'Does this feel good?' Ask again and again, and adjust your technique accordingly."
Tuck a sachet bag between your guests' linens a day before your friends arrive, in a subtle scent like lime, cucumber, or melon. Or spray L'Occitane's linen water in verbena on the sheets—everybody loves it.
Four pillows are ideal, so your guests can prop themselves up in bed to read or watch television. Lay out slippers, because who remembers to pack slippers? You can buy inexpensive terry cloth ones at Price Club or Costco. They can be a gift for your guests to take home.
Always put a light snack such as fruit and a nice bottle of water by the bed, because a lot of people feel funny about asking for something to eat. Also, put an alarm clock in their room. If your guests have to catch an early plane, they won't have to ask you to get them up.