How to Study Like Hermione Granger – A #WizardingWebinar

How to Study Like Hermione Granger - A #WizardingWebinar


I am joined by Ravenclaw Head of House Mo (Mo Explores) for a #WizardingWebinar to talk productivity, goal-chasing, and work ethic! Even if you’re not going back to school, you can use these methods to crush your to do list.

Sounds good? Register here for the free workshop with Xandra and Mo >>>

We’re going to show you…

⚡️ How to make the most of your day and get stuff done — without a Time Turner

⚡️ Staying on track and how to manage it all like you’re taking 6 OWLs, training for Quidditch, and fighting evil

⚡️ What strategies you need to stay sane under pressure and love your work like a Ravenclaw

⚡️ Why you need to invest in a planner NOW and – the step Hermione forgot to tell Ron and Harry when she gave them planners – how to use it to get everything done.

⚡️ Plus a LIVE Q & A Session with Xandra and Mo about dream-chasing as full-time Gryffindors AND an exclusive Blogwarts bundle you won’t want to miss!

The workshop is TODAY Sunday 30th August at 9am Pacific time / 12pm Eastern / 5pm London.

Register here for the How to Study Like Hermione Granger workshop with Xandra and Mo >>>


P.S. If you can’t make it live, don’t worry! You can replay the webinar for 48 hours – just make sure you’re signed up!

Don’t Mind Me – Just Following My Itty Bitty Dreams

Don't Mind Me - Just Following My Itty Bitty Dreams

Over the past week I have:

  • learnt a new signature dessert
  • seen a five-star play
  • sung karaoke

Each of these activities is a tiny detail, all of which add up to the fabulousness that is my ideal life.

Every year I visualize what I want – in the long term, but also the short term, the every day. What’s amazing is that I’m actually quite close to making it happen – all that’s holding me back is me. My birthday list compiles some tiny tasks that are just for fun, tasks that wouldn’t get done if I didn’t prioritize them, but that make all the difference when I do.

Learn a new signature dessert

Monkey and I love to have guests over for dinner – it’s like eating out but cosier, with crayon art, and we get to choose the music (plus, it’s less expensive). I used to bake my signature cakes and cookies, but in our mixer-less, tiny-oven’ed kitchen, this kind of baking is tedious. So I discovered a healthy version of an apple crumble, à la my favourite, the Oh She Glows Cookbook. Just add ice cream.

See a five-star play

Despite doing a theatre degree this year, I’ve been in a theatre-going rut: the plays I’d seen were just okay. As a former theatre critic, I have a solid star system, with my 5-star rating reserved for the especially awesome. It’s Edinburgh festival season, which means literally thousands of shows to see. So I set myself the challenge of finding just one 5-star show, and I did! The Encounter, a technically groundbreaking one-man show about truth, stories, and existence is the top-rated show at the Festival this year for a reason. It’s headed to London next year, so if you’re in town, do go see for yourself!

And if you’re in Edinburgh this week, do catch my other favourites of the festival:

Sing karaoke

Singing and dancing around my room is one of my favourite solo activities, so why not share that joy with similarly enthused friends? When the topic of karaoke came up, I jumped on it: YES. Then a coupon for SuperCube landed in my inbox. Fate was calling. We snatched up a private room and belted out everything from Broadway to Beyoncé to old school Britney. The consensus was we should definitely return.


Keep a list of little activities you want to do, and schedule them into your diary alongside your long-term dream chasing. Remember that the little things are what make your day-to-day memorable!



P.S. 5 days left to sign up for Blogwarts! Get your letter, join a legacy of witches-in-training, and become the heroine of your own adventure >> more on the magic <<

How to Practice Gratitude When You Feel Meh

How to Practice Gratitude When You Feel Meh

A week ago I was feeling pretty meh.

Here’s some of the “strife” I was dealing with:
  • I have a dissertation due soon.
  • I don’t feel like working on it.
  • I wish I had finished this sooner so I could spend more time writing other things (like this blog).
  • Ugh the Fringe has started and I’m stuck in here writing.
  • My landlady won’t let me have a puppy.
Whoa whoa whoa. Things could definitely be better, but things can also be a lot worse, obviously. Comparing my own struggles with actual serious ones, like homelessness or natural disasters or starvation, can only make me feel more down in guilt.

But what about some real world struggles in my own past? Last summer, my list looked like this:

  • My visa and passport still haven’t come back, so…
  • I might miss my college’s 700th anniversary ball.
  • I might miss my birthday celebration, at the final production of The Drowned Man.
  • I might not get to go to London with my family to see Monty Python.
  • I might not get to the UK in time for my summer job.
I got to do none of these things.
As each event I was looking forward to slipped away, I was totally bummed out. But by the time I had lost everything, I realised that I only needed what mattered most: a passport allowing me to study in the UK and live with Monkey.

It sucks when your future is mostly out of your control.

There were only a few things I could do, so I did them: contact the border agency again and again, read other people’s stories to see if I could do anything else, contact my congressmen… I even considered driving to New York to go to the office in person. These were all shots in the dark, but I was doing everything I possibly could.

But it can also suck when your future IS in your control, because you are to blame.

This year, my problem was the opposite. Everything was up to me. I had to write my dissertation, print it out, hand it in, and I’d be done. I had no other obligations during the day. So when I didn’t meet my word count goal for the day, it was all my fault. No bureaucracy to blame. The next day I would bear the weight of that guilt, and doing my work would be all the harder.
Suddenly, my mind snapped back to this time last year: I was arriving at Heathrow, stamped through customs, on a long and somewhat gloomy English countryside walk with Monkey to a snuggly pub, where I would happily open my summer reading in preparation for the course I have now just finished.

Hey, self, said I, You have so much to be grateful for.

Sometimes reminding myself to be grateful can feel guilty. But when I cut out all the whiney little details, and focus on what really matters, it’s pretty good.

I am forever a heroine-in-training, and I believe that you are too.

(or maybe you’re a hero-in-training). Professionals never stop practicing, so that’s why Blogwarts, my exclusive personal development course on being your own heroine, includes lifetime membership. For more in-depth life lessons and focused dream-chasing, see our curriculum. Spaces are limited, and you have until 30 August to sign up. I hope that you will join me.
I am especially pleased to say that I have now finished my dissertation, I am back on the internet, about to see a Fringe show, and I saw several puppies this morning in the park. Cheers!

Dare to Craft a Blissful Morning, Gryffindor-Style

Dare to Craft a Blissful Morning, Gryffindor-Style

August means that the young witches and wizards are flocking to Diagon Alley for their back-to-school preparations.

Okay the thought makes me a little jealous.

So I decided to create my own version of Hogwarts, on the internet, with its very own King’s Cross Countdown.

At Blogwarts, a course for chasing your dreams like a Seeker after a Golden Snitch, I send you your letter, and lead you through an 8-week programme designed to help you identify, follow, and achieve your very own magical mission.

Our first module, based on Gryffindor, is about Daring to Dream.

Yes, Gryffindors are bold Quidditch players and noble warriors, but we’re talking tiny tasks today, because they require a subtle kind of courage: be brave enough to demand what you want, and chase after it.

Lesson 3: How to Craft a Blissful Morning

There are tons of useful articles on mastering your morning routine for productivity. This lesson is sort of about that, but also about starting your day lavishly, with something that makes you so happy it sets the tone for the hours to come.

Lesson 3: How to Craft a Blissful Morning

In an ideal world, what would your morning look like?

Make sure you read that carefully: ideal. Leave reality behind. What do you want to do first thing in the morning?

All of the following are acceptable:

  • go for a walk through the rolling pastures.
  • get a professional massage, like a celebrity.
  • devour a full cooked breakfast in bed.
  • indulge in a continental breakfast spread in your Blair Waldorf-worthy silk dressing gown.
  • be dressed by the birdies, like Cinderella.

Lesson 3: How to Craft a Blissful Morning

Scale it back

Now make a tiny step towards one of your lush and luxurious dreams.

  • make time for a morning walk.
  • add massage oil to your bedside table.
  • prep your breakfast the night before so you can spend the extra time in bed.
  • wear a silk dressing gown.
  • invest in a bird feeder, so at least the birdies will come visit you in the morning.

Lesson 3: How to Craft a Blissful Morning

Gather Real-Life Inspiration

Part of my morning routine is reading a chapter from Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. Although this book recounts the schedules of hardworking artists, my greatest takeaways are their humanizing qualities:

“My concern at times is nothing more than establishing a series of practical considerations that will enable me to work. For years I said if I could only find a comfortable chair I would rival Mozart” – Morton Feldman

“Three hours a day will produce as much as a man ought to write.” – Anthony Trollope

“After lunch, [Gustav] Mahler would drag [his wife] Alma on a three- or four-hour-long walk along the shore, stopping occasionally to jot down ideas in his notebook, beating time in the air with his pencil.”

For a quick look, see this infographic of creative routines.

Lesson 3: How to Craft a Blissful Morning

Likewise, my favourite feature in Harper’s Bazaar is their “In 24 Hours” series. Here are typical days for Vera Wang, Giorgio Armani, Donatella Versace, and Victoria Beckham.


What is your ideal morning? Scribble down as many ideas that come to mind.

Scale it back – how can you make a small step towards those dreams?

Share your progress in the comments!


For extra credit, download your Personal Wizard Profile. Before you take on the world, it helps to know where you stand. Identify your boggart, patronus, and animagus form to understand your personal strengths, weaknesses, and demons.

If you’re ready for more, go ahead and sign up for Blogwarts before it’s too late – spaces are limited to 20 students per year.



Image Sources: 1 2 3 4 5

Waiting for your Hogwarts Letter? I’ll Send it to You…

What I Wore: Leavesden Harry Potter Studio Tour

Dear Reader,

I am pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Blogwarts: Get Your Letter, Live Your Dream, Hogwarts on the Internet.

Yes that’s right. You are all invited to the Heroine Training version of Hogwarts, where you learn to live your dreams like the heroine of our own storybook.


Classes commence on 1 September, of course. And guess what? I bet you’ve already done the reading. Blogwarts is about putting those hours of pouring over your Harry Potter textbooks to practical, personal use. Join me [and last year’s super-inspiring alums – yes, you get lifetime access] in a House-inspired curriculum:

  • Dare to Dream like a Gryffindor
  • Ready Your Mind like a Ravenclaw
  • Find your Quest like a Hufflepuff
  • Live your Legacy like a Slytherin

The Internet is a Room of Requirement of delights – but where do you even begin your search for what you need? Well at Blogwarts, help will always be given to those who ask for it. Just pop your question in the secret common room we share on Facebook, and I – Professor Xandra-dore – or one of our lovely four heads of House will be right on it.

So what are you waiting for?

Still not sure? Request your free Personal Wizard Profile and sign up for updates on our King’s Cross Countdown.

And in the meantime – see what the alums have to say, and scroll through the curriculum here.


Birthday List 2016

Birthday List 2015

A birthday list is like a wish list of little presents to give yourself throughout the year. You know, those little things that you mean to do, but have trouble prioritizing. The details. The adventures. The context, that makes your year awesome. Last year I wrote my first birthday list, and I am proud to have completed every task. Wish me luck!

25 things to do before I turn 25

  1. read a book in French.
  2. run a new 10K.
  3. fly south for the winter.
  4. make bibimbap.
  5. find a favourite film critic.
  6. build a fort.
  7. acquire a winter cape.
  8. walk up Ben Nevis.
  9. attend a dance class.
  10. make homemade vegetable stock.
  11. have a tea cup cactus garden. or just a cactus garden.
  12. be able to identify a new constellation.
  13. learn a new signature dessert.
  14. visit a new country.
  15. climb in the Cairngorms.
  16. see a 5-star play.
  17. do a meditation course.
  18. have a favourite winter flower.
  19. have a movie marathon.
  20. eat at a vegetarian restaurant.
  21. celebrate midsummer.
  22. go to a rooftop bar.
  23. sing karaoke.
  24. celebrate halloween.
  25. finish reading the complete works of shakespeare.


When your birthday rolls around, why not write your own list? Leave ideas for little tasks in the comments!


If Disney Princesses had Customized Chrome Themes…

If Disney Princesses had Customized Chrome Themes...

I believe in customizing every detail of your daily life.

As I spend many hours of my day online, I was psyched to find out that Chrome browsers are customizable!

I favour a Potter-esque Pixel Lightning theme myself – but what if the Disney princesses browsed the internet? Here are some themes particularly Fit for a Heroine – a Disney Heroine.

Rapunzel – Stitches

Adorable Chrome Browser Themes, Fit for a Heroine

Pocahontas – Jack Spade

Adorable Chrome Browser Themes, Fit for a Heroine

Aurora – Cath Kidston

If Disney Princesses had Customized Chrome Themes...

Ariel – Watercolor

If Disney Princesses had Customized Chrome Themes...

Vanellope – Pink Pixel Hearts

If Disney Princesses had Customized Chrome Themes...

Mulan – Pink Cherry Blossom Flowers

If Disney Princesses had Customized Chrome Themes...

Anna – Daydreamer

If Disney Princesses had Customized Chrome Themes...

Snow White – Ella Moss

If Disney Princesses had Customized Chrome Themes...

Belle – Whimsical Ivory Peach

If Disney Princesses had Customized Chrome Themes...

Tiana – Lily Pulitzer

If Disney Princesses had Customized Chrome Themes...

Merida – Isle of Skye Scotland

If Disney Princesses had Customized Chrome Themes...

Cinderella – CPDD Vintage

If Disney Princesses had Customized Chrome Themes...

Jasmine – Star Se7en

If Disney Princesses had Customized Chrome Themes...

Elsa – Blue

If Disney Princesses had Customized Chrome Themes...


Which is your favourite? Do you have a custom Chrome browser theme? Let me know if there are any good ones I’ve missed!


P.S. Have you requested your key to the Secret Garden yet? It’s free!

Gathering Fruit Like a Heroine

Gathering Fruit Like a Heroine

The plus side of Scotland’s mild breezy summers: Strawberries are still in season.

Nearly a year ago, on my birthday, I promised to go fruit picking. I hadn’t been since I was little, but like princess parties, why should fruit picking be just for children?

So Monkey and I scheduled a morning at Craigie’s farm, not too far outside Edinburgh, sipping fresh juice and picking berries and cherries.

Not only did our yummy fruit come straight off the branch – the price actually worked out cheaper than our local supermarket’s. All the more reason to return…


Do you have a bucket list? I prefer a birthday list, which has a more clear and less morbid deadline: my birthday! The experiences I vow to do throughout the year are my ongoing gift to myself. So tell me – what would be on your birthday list?


P.S. more nature-ful adventures in Edinburgh

Sunday Sampling / Create Miracles


plus a sampling of micro-pleasures:

  • discovering unbreakable kimmy schmidt. baby-sitter’s club AND american girl references in the pilot, everyone.
  • pinning yummy recipes to try.
  • meeting a puppy whilst airbnb-ing.
  • already shopping for my rundisney half marathon outfit for next september.
  • finishing my pride and prejudice dream cast.
  • putting the jonathan adler astropillows on their appropriate desk chairs.
  • lighting the sleepytime candle.


How I Infuse My (Grown-Up) Life with Harry Potter Stuff

How I Infuse My (Grown-Up) Life with Harry Potter Stuff

Have you ever seen the movie Fever Pitch? Even though I had never seen a baseball game when I first saw it, I knew that Ben was one of my kind: as a grown man his apartment is everything Red Sox: the bedding, the towels, the Yankees toilet paper…it reminded me of my childhood room, except replace the Red Sox with Harry Potter.

A couple of moves back and forth across the ocean – from Boston to England to Boston to Scotland – and I firmly identify as a “minimalist” [Full story in my book]. Part of this means that I live with only the essentials. The other, more important, part means that I live with only what I love, with what “sparks joy,” as Marie Kondo describes it.

So no, my piles of Harry Potter collectibles are not practical for everyday use – at first glance that is. With every visit home to Boston, I bring back a few more pieces, and infuse them into my adult life, finding ways to allow Harry to subtly and completely take over my flat.

First of all, the above banner, complete with collectible Hermione ornament, hangs in our dining room.

How I Infuse My (Grown-Up) Life with Harry Potter Stuff

This Butterbeer mug from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park serves as a watering can. One day I hope to replant some herbs in it too.

How I Infuse My (Grown-Up) Life with Harry Potter Stuff

This Gryffindor patch I picked up at Leaky Con is pasted on my Passion Planner, reminder of how I am a member of quite simply the best house at Hogwarts.

I brainstorm all my ideas for Blogwarts in the Hogwarts notebook on the left. I wrote two of my favourite Dumbledore-isms in the back as an invocation to read before each work day, an idea inspired by Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art:

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

“We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”

How I Infuse My (Grown-Up) Life with Harry Potter Stuff

Another Butterbeer tumbler, this one from the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in London, holds my toothbrush.

How I Infuse My (Grown-Up) Life with Harry Potter Stuff

Severus, my kindle, wears a Harry Potter sleeve (together they are Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Get it?), and an old school Bertie Bott’s pouch holds my pills and medication. Perfect for travel too.

How I Infuse My (Grown-Up) Life with Harry Potter Stuff

Anyone remember the Harry Potter Collector Stones? My lightning bolt-shaped Gryffindor stone sits nicely with my citrine and amethyst crystals.

How I Infuse My (Grown-Up) Life with Harry Potter Stuff

When I led Dumbledore’s Army at Oxford Prep, we shared the burden of this evil object [purchased at Waterstones on Cornmarket Street], and the students agreed that I should keep it after the programme ended. So I sleep with the Horcrux locket safely tucked on my bedpost.  Sometimes the Monkey or I slip it on to tell the other that we’re feeling particularly grumpy.

How I Infuse My (Grown-Up) Life with Harry Potter Stuff

We picked up these house coasters at the Harry Potter shop at Kings Cross. The Hufflepuff one is usually on Monkey’s side.


Of course this stuff is made for children. But why on ear should that man that it does not belong in your grown-up living quarters? Take your favourite fandom stuff out of the closet or off the shelf and use it.


P.S. How Harry Potter inspires minimalism