The Simple Sophisticate - Intelligent Living Paired with Signature Style
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #204
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube
The Harvard Business Review pointed out in 2011 that there are many networks we each need in our lives to be successful. Looking at this concept from a business perspective, HBR shared that a manager and leader needs three networks to be successful: operational, developmental, and strategic. As I shared in this post written in 2014, whether at work or at home or while playing, we are our own brand. How we live our lives is a message to the world at large and more powerfully to those we share our lives with, so I wanted to incorporate these three networks into both our professional and personal lives. In successful entrepreneur Julia Pimsleur's book Million Dollar Women, she shares that while women tend to have strong personal networking skills, it is their professional networking skills that must be strengthened. Modeling what she encourages readers to do, Pimsleur's nonprofit and for-profit earnings of more than $20 million dollars demonstrate she knows how to network and network well. Offering masterclasses, coaching and workshops, understanding how to network and the importance of doing so is a skill, and we can all learn how to master it. It is important to note, in order to be successful in our careers, we must have our personal lives well-structured as well. And we cannot do it all if we want to do it well, so we must build what I am calling a Life Network that will optimize both our professional and personal lives. Today, I'd like to break these three networks down, and while using the definitions of each given by HBR, I will be applying them to both aspects of our lives. As I examined my own life, I made a list of all of the people, businesses, groups I interact with through any given year. Some I will see more often than others, some will only be once a year, but all of them are essential parts of my Life Network. I then added a few more to each list that may be individuals most people in certain walks of life need to thrive. Now there may be other networks you need or have in your life, so I have included the definition of each of the networks so that you can decide in which group they would fall based on what they bring into your life.

Operational

  • definition: people you need in your day-to-day life; whose work you depend to do your work; these individuals do not work for you, but the work they do for you is what you depend on (as you cannot do it yourself) for success.  Home experts: house cleaning, maintenance (plumber, contractor, lawn care, etc.)
    • Accountant
    • Web Designers
    • Illustrator
    • Editor
    • Lawyer
    • Real Estate Agentlandlord, loan officer, bank officers
    • Hair Stylist
    • Aesthetician (waxing, facials, nails, etc.)
    • Veterinarian
    • Dog Groomer
    • Dog Sitter
    • Babysitter/Daycare
    • House Sitter
    • Assistants (virtual or in office)
Even if you are not currently in the market to buy a house or maybe you are not working on a project with the contractors you will hire, maintaining that relationships, being cognizant that it is a relationship and being appreciative of it is the strength of your network. Whether it is the holiday extra tip that is given to your hair stylist, paying your bills on time when it comes to your accountant, editor or lawyer, being respectful of the reality that they are running a business, and having paying clients is what enables them to live and work and thrive, reveals how much you respect and appreciate the work they have done for you.

Strategic

  • definition: it is all about tomorrow, looking to the future, creating opportunities or the fertile soil for opportunities to reveal themselves. Sometimes this network will overlap with operationalPersonal Trainer
    • Counselor
    • Financial Advisor
    • Doctor 
    • Dentist
    • Supervisor in your field of business (i.e. administrator, manager, CEO, etc.)
No one can predict the future, but the longer we are in our fields professionally, and the longer we live in this world, the more we understand the causes and effects of events that occur. While we may not know precisely when or exactly how they will unfold, we can know that the economy will ebb and flow. We can know that people retire and new team members will be added; we also know that our good health doesn't just happen and interest doesn't accrue unless we invest. Putting the odds in your favor by being preventative with your health, saving intelligently and early for your retirement, building strong relationships with people within your work environment is being aware that there will be a tomorrow and you want to put yourself in the best situation possible.

Personal (HBR calls this network Developmental)

  • definition: individuals to whom you can turn to for advice, to whom you can trust, a soft shoulder or sympathetic ear. These individuals help you consider best options for growth, improvement, reaching your full potential. 6 Types of Friends (a healthy social circle) - learn more here
    • Partner in life (spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend)
    • Spiritual Advisor (religious leader, meditation instructor, life coach, yoga instructor, etc.)
    • Mentor (also included in 6 Types of Friends, listed above)
    • Equals in your field of business (fellow colleagues: bloggers, teachers, CEOs, etc.)
    • Experts in other fields that don't compete with your field, but their business overlaps with yours
    • Resource for new information about anything of value (industry news, cultural news, etc.)
The premise of living well is to remain curious and continually seek new information. We are dynamic as human beings, and our world as well is dynamic. As much as we may want things to stay exactly as they are once we find a way of life that works best for us, we know that everything else is changing, and so too must we stay privy as well as a student of the world. However, the world can knock us down sometimes, so we must know where to replenish our strength as well as contribute positively to others' lives. So long as we remember we are always a work in progress and will always have the opportunity to grow should we choose, this network will enable us to do so in both our personal and professional lives. As someone who appreciates clarity where it is possible to have it, this list helps me not only be clear about what is necessary to reach my dreams, live securely and enjoyably, but also enable me to recognize that we are a part of a web of other people in this world, and we truly do not succeed on our own. While we may be have the dream, we need the team to help it come into fruition. While we may bring home the salary that pays the bills, we need to handle the money we work so hard for well, so that it serves us the best it possibly can. Lastly, so long as we are aware and appreciative, we will begin to build networks in all three areas that will improve the quality of our lives. ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Create a To Be List?

~8 Ways to Become the CEO of Your Own Life, episode #40

~25 Must-Haves for the Efficient Office Desk, episode #60

Petit Plaisir:

~Secrets of Wealthy Women via WSJ podcast 

Sponsors of this week’s episode:

~Image: TSLL's Office, via IG

Direct download: 204lifenetwork.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #203
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube
Author of The Provençal Mystery series, featuring Antoine Verlaque and Marine Bonnet, M.L. Longworth joins me on today's episode of the podcast to discuss her latest mystery in the series which was just released on April 3rd, The Secrets of the Bastide Blanche. Having lived in Aix-en-Provence for more than 20 years, M.L. shares insights into her daily routine, what she most looks forward to when it comes to Provençal spring cuisine as well as shares tips and recommendations for what to pack might you be traveling to the region. As a writing professor at NYU's campus in Paris, I also had the opportunity to ask her about her writing process and how she instructs students to find their narrative voice. Most importantly, we talk about the plot for her new novel The Secrets of the Bastide Blanche, where her inspiration for her lead characters comes from and other details that fans of her series will love to be privy to (I know I was). Be sure to tune and don't forget to enter the giveaway on Instagram (details shared below).

~TSLL's office (Norman waiting for his treat) pre-taping of my interview with M.L. Longworth, shared on Instagram~

Read M.L. Longworth's entire series in order: Learn more about M.L. (Mary Lou) Longworth: ~Listen to past French-Inspired episodes of The Simple Sophisticate here. ~Sign up for TSLL's Weekly Newsletter or learn more here Shop Les Tropezienne sandals discussed in the episode:

Giveaway

Three lucky listeners/readers will receive:
  • a copy of The Secrets of the Bastide Blanche by M.L. Longworth (released April 3, 2018)
  • AND a L'Occitane lavande sachet parfumé (lavender sachet)
  • Both can be seen in the image below
How to Enter:
  • Only on Instagram
  • Three ways to enter (you may enter each way, so you can increase your chances of winning)
    • (1) Follow @thesimplyluxuriouslife & like the respective post with the similar image seen below on Instagram
    • (2) Leave a comment on the respective IG post
    • (3) Tag a friend who you think might enjoy the book
  • Monday April 9 - Thursday April 12 (midnight, Pacific Time)
  • Winners will be chosen at random
  • Winners will be announced on Instagram AND in TSLL's Weekly Newsletter (learn more here) on Friday April 13th
Direct download: 203MLLongworth_copy.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 9:28pm PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #3
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube
Each woman has a signature style that makes her feel her best and highlights her body beautifully allowing her to exude confidence wherever her schedule takes her. In this week's podcast (#3), discover the 10 Wardrobe Essentials that will help create a signature capsule wardrobe. Listeners will discover how such essentials can indeed be unique to each woman, where to shop, why it's important to invest and so much more. Tune in below!
SHOW NOTES:
Each one of us has a signature style. Whether we know what it is or not, it is a sense of what we are most comfortable with as well as what makes our body looks its best. And once we come to understand those two things, we can then create a signature style that is unique to us and makes us feel our best. Today I'm going to share with you the 10 essential items I feel every woman should have in their wardrobe, and while they are quite basic, your preferred size, cut and color will make them unique to you. Because it is when these important details are paid attention to that our true beauty and personality shines. As well, with each item, I will share examples to give you an idea of the range of options. Now you may be wondering are these 10 essentials different from creating our capsule wardrobe, the same or something of both? Great question. The 10 essential items provide the foundation for the capsule wardrobe. While your capsule wardrobe will most likely include dark denim jeans in both the fall and spring, you will be including seasonal items in spring that you wouldn't in fall, and that is the slight difference between the 10 essentials and the capsule wardrobe. Just as a sound foundation is crucial when building a house, it is the same when it comes to building our everyday wardrobe. Or another way of looking at the 10 essentials, they are the glue that hold your capsule wardrobes together. They are of high quality and are items that can mix and match well with many other clothing separates in your closet.
1. Quality Jeans
Quality jeans can take you through the weekend, your weekday evenings and even a dressed up casual outing. A quality pair of designer jeans is more than worth the price.  Not only will they hug your body in the most flattering way imaginable, but you’ll be wearing them for many years to come.  As a young girl I had a horrible time finding jeans that were long enough at the price point I could afford, but once I learned that what I needed was going to cost a bit more, I realized that what I was paying for – a much longer lifetime, quality and a beautiful silhouette was more than worth the price once I had saved up.  And always remember to buy them a bit snug, as they loosen a bit with wear. Some of my favorite brands for my figure are Citizens of Humanity, J. Brand, Rock & Republic, and Notify. The versatility of jeans makes them a must-have as a foundation piece in your wardrobe. Expand your possibilities by including boot cut, straight leg, a pair to wear with flats and one with heels, and don’t forget boyfriend, ankle length and trouser jeans as well.
2. Trench Coat
Begin by purchasing a classic khaki trench which can be paired with jeans, dresses, skirts for either day or evening. The flattering classic belt tie is a wonderful feminine component as it cinches your waist and displays your figure. Once you’ve included khaki, feel free to include colors (red, yellow, green, prints) or other classic tones (black, white or navy).  One of my favorite go-to outfits is my dark denim straight leg jeans, ballet flats, a blouse or classic t-shirt and a trench. Viola! I’m ready for just about anything. The two classic trenches I have are from J.Crew (khaki) and Banana Republic (black) and I absolutely love the fit, and the quality is top notch at a great price. (And I'll tell you a secret, for neither did I pay full price as both companies offer sales periodically and these are classic items they seem to always have.)
3. Cashmere Sweaters
Year round having a cashmere sweater on hand (summer or winter) is always a good idea. Trust me, include a light-weight (2 ply) cashmere sweater for evenings in the summer - it's a classic choice, and feels oh so fantastic on your skin. Whether with a dress, skirts, jeans or dress pants, a cashmere sweater or cardigan can be dressed up or down depending on the situation.  While a cardigan can be paired with a beautiful camisole or sleeveless blouse that shimmers, a luxurious v-neck sweater can be layered and accessorized with a beautiful scarf.  With a cardigan, let it fall by your sides, or wrap around a belt to look more cohesive, and with cashmere sweaters remember that lightweight styles can be worn in the spring and summer as well. Some of my favorite cashmere sweaters are from Eric Bompard, so long as you order a size larger than you typically wear (French sizes), I have never been disappointed.
4. Dress Pants and/or Skirt
A pair of well made dress pants in camel, black, gray or tweed are a wonderful way to bring the element of mixing and matching to your wardrobe. There are many different styles to choose from depending on where you want it to hit on your waist and how you want your leg to look. Wide leg has the effect of elongating your leg when paired with a slim fitting blouse and belted waist.  A slimmer leg can also pull off a very professional look when paired with a cardigan and blouse. Heels look wonderful when dress pants are worn, so don’t forget to grab your favorite pumps. Skirts – pencil skirts and A-line skirts – are the traditional classic options. A pencil skirt is more formal and slimming, while an A-line is camouflaging and playful. Both however, are very feminine, so it is completely up to you which style you choose to wear. Choose prints and pair with a solid silk blouse or keep a couple of neutral colors in your closet as they can work any beautiful trendy top you find from season to season. ~Why Not . . . Wear Ankle Length Pants? ~Why Not . . . Wear a Pencil Skirt?
5. Leather Jacket and/or Blazer
There are many different types of jackets that you can include in your wardrobe, but a short leather jacket is a versatile piece to have on hand. Paired with jeans for a weekend outing or a casual dress ensemble, it truly allows you quite a bit of freedom when pulling together casual, yet stylish outfits.  Black, brown, camel or even jewel tone leather jackets are all options to consider. Always make sure it fits well through the shoulders and the sleeves hit just below your wrist bone. Now if you don't want a leather jacket or are looking for something more classic and professional, be sure to include a blazer in your 10 essential items. Whether you choose a matching suit jacket to wear with a skirt or pants or select a neutral brown, khaki or black blazer to layer over a beautiful camisole, I highly recommend keeping one in your closet as it can serve as a coat as well in temperate weather or buildings where the air conditioning is always on high.
6. White Button Up Shirt
A white shirt with a collar and buttoned up from top to bottom is a classic and quite versatile option. Sleeve lengths, cuts and colors can vary based on your need and personal style, but having one in your closet is always a good idea. If you don't prefer white, choose a neutral color that works well with a variety of other items in your closet. Working as a great layering piece, it can be easily dressed up down which is all about creating that effortlessly chic look. (Foxcroft, Equipment)
7. Blouse
Depending on your taste and lifestyle, you will gravitate toward different styles of blouses.  Whether they be long sleeve, short sleeve or sleeveless, you will want to have a few in your closet. Again, pair them with jeans and skirts, layer them with cardigans or jackets, and have the peace of mind knowing you can wear them to work or out on a date.
8. Nautical Top
While not every stylist or expert includes a nautical top in their essential wardrobe, if it were up to me, it would be at the top of the list (perhaps its the passionate Francophile in me). Sometimes referred to as a Breton (in reference to the French region of Brittany and the original purpose - sailor uniforms) or la marinière, so long as you have navy and white horizontal stripes, you have a nautical top. However, now-a-days you can find stripes in every color and size, and it would still be called a nautical top. Find the color, fabric, and neckline that best suits you and enjoy the versatility of this essential item. Below are a few links to my favorite destinations for stripes galore.
9. Black Dress
Again and again, the versatile black dress is listed as one of the must have items and truer words have never been spoken. Whether you choose to purchase a black sheath dress, black wrap dress or a beautifully short cocktail dress, you are set to look amazing. Always be on the lookout for one that calls your name.  You never know when you’ll come across something you can’t imagine not having in your closet for those unplanned, last minute occasions.
10. Wrap Dress
Diane von Furstenberg has me hooked and for a very good reason.  The wrap dress again is an item with legs, in other words mileage, when it comes to getting your cost per wear.  You will find that a wrap dress can be worn in so many different settings and can be accessorized different to meet your needs.  Be sure to include one, or two, in your closet. If wrap dresses are not something you prefer not to wear, include an extra dress such as a sheath or shift (looser than a sheath) in a classic color or print that will always be in style. As you can see while the 10 essentials items are specific in their name, they are many different options for you to choose from in order to build your signature style, in the long run save yourself money and more importantly time as you can rest assured you look your best each time you walk out the door. While compiling these 10 items will take time, be patient and invest wisely. ~Bonus Podcast! - Listen to Podcast #4 now - 10 Ways to Unearth Your Inner Francophile Shopping Links: ~How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe on a Budget ~TSLL Shop - hand-picked items by Shannon to find your 10 essential wardrobe items ~J-2000 Jiffy Garment Steamer ~Eric Bompard - cashmere ~Foxcroft button-up shirts ~Equipment white button-up shirt (silk) Nautical Tops: ~DVF wrap dresses ~The Book - Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman's Guide (available January 2015) Petit Plaisir: My handbag of choice that also doubles as an ideal travel tote: ~Rebecca Minkoff's M.A.B (morning after bag) tote (large, medium, mini) [show_shopthepost_widget id="198863"]   ~Need help shopping for your fall or spring capsule wardrobe? Hire Shannon as your online stylist. Click here to learn how. ~Sign-up for TSLL weekly newsletter here ~Podcasts from the Archives You Might Enjoy:

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Direct download: 2998414.
Category:style -- posted at: 12:53pm PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #2
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube
The key to building a strong foundation that will provide the sturdy roots from what you can stretch, bend and try new things and rest assured that you will always be safe and secure is mastering your money. In this week's Simple Sophisticate podcast, listeners will discover the 6 Basic Steps to Mastering their Money.  Tune in, and find all of the mentioned links, books and other information listed below in the Show Notes.
SHOW NOTES:
{Note: more details and conversation occurs on the podcast, but below is an overview of what is discussed.} Some people hear the word money and they cringe; others hear the word and they immediately think of opportunity. Today, I'm going to share with you six steps for mastering your money so that you can enjoy the process and value that money can bring into your life if handled well, and maybe you might just find a new respect for it. Rather than dreading dealing with your money every month, it really can become an engaging process in which you begin to celebrate your life and become more engaged with your money and master it so that you can use that energy to propel you forward to pursue your dreams. Simply being flush with money and living a lavish lifestyle doesn't guarantee that you will be happy. However, while this lesson is undoubtedly true, let's put money into context with our everyday lives. In order to thrive in any environment we must first come to understand how money functions in our lives and more importantly in the world we live in. If you look at the basics of money, what it is is a source of energy that assesses the value of whatever is you are wanting to buy. And upon transferring that money, you are transferring that power - the money - to another individual, and they are gaining more energy (money). So basically you want enough energy to not only survive, but to thrive. So today I'm going to share with you ix simple steps you can follow to get to that point of thriving.
1. Understand Where You Are Spending Your Money
Once you know where your money is going once you've received each hard-worked for paycheck, you can make a plan that is tailored to what you need and what you think you need, but are actually wants. So in order to accurately determine what is a need (necessity) and what is a want (discretionary), go through your past month's bank statement and put each expenditure in one of those two categories. At this point we are just trying to bring awareness to our spending habits. The goal right now is to build our knowledge - where is our money going. Once each item is placed in one of the two categories, fine tune the expenditures (eating out, utitilies, travel, etc). If you are sharing a budget with someone else - roommate, significant other, etc - make sure all parties are going through this process. The more knowledge you have about where your money is going, the more successful you will be in any pursuit moving forward.
2. Create a Budget
Setting up an itemized monthly budget needs to be as simple as necessary for the needs you have. By keeping it simple, you are creating a task that is something you are less likely to put off and won't dread. Keeping a simple budget respects your time and anyone else's who is part of your budget as well. Once you've mastered a simple budget, then feel free to get creative, but if you're first starting out, don't make extra work or stress for yourself. After doing the math at the end of your month, your goal is to be cheering, celebrating how well you are handling the money you earn each month, but if there are times you are not, just know that in order to be successful with your money you must know where it's going. And by creating a budget, you are striking out in the right direction. Success will come only when we are honest with ourselves about our spending habits so that we can correct behaviors that may not be serving us well. The last step in creating a budget is making a monthly date with yourself to sit down and work through the numbers. Block out this time as you would for an appointment with your doctor - it is that important. And even if you don't enjoy doing it at first, if you avoid this date, each day you don't know where you are financially will only be that much more stressful. So trust me when I say, this is a date you don't want to skip. Your dreams are at stake, and believe it or not, they do want to come true.
3. Find Ways to Trim the Budget
Now that you know where your money is going and how much money you have, make sure you are honest with yourself about where you can cut some corners. Whether you need to begin trimming the budget or not, there are simple ways to cut costs each month. (Examples shared on the podcast or see links below.)
4. Credit Card Mastery
Believe it or not, credit cards aren't bad, but they can easily become a monster in our closet that we don't want to look at or address if we misuse them. No one wants to create these monsters, but the beauty is because it's a self-created monster, we can rid it from our lives. So long as we understand the power of a credit card, we can master it. The benefits of having a credit card and using it well: (1) It can build our credit score (2) Allows wiggle room for big ticket items so long as we can pay it off in full each month, (3) Rewards - travel, etc. While I don't advocate for getting rid of credit cards altogether unless you absolutely can't be trusted with them, limiting the number of cards you have is a wise decision. Having one credit card that works best for your needs is a surefire way to successfully master your money. Be savvy about finding the best rate and understanding the rewards and benefits and determining what works best for your use of the card.
5. Invest Regularly To Create a Peace of Mind
In David Bach's book Smart Women Finish Rich: 9 Steps to Achieving Financial Security and Funding Your Dreams, the three baskets of savings are introduced: retirement, emergency and dreams. And having adopted this philosophy, I have found it to be greatly beneficial as it provides peace of mind for the future, a sound night's sleep as I'm prepared for the unknown and excitement as I plan for dream vacations and expenditures. Ten to 15 percent (sometimes 20%) of our monthly budget should be divided into these three baskets. While retirement will receive the largest chunk (10-15%), make sure to fill the other two baskets as well. No matter how small, simply starting now will help to jump start the compound interest that will take place as time goes by.
6. Create Monthly Money Rituals
While at first it may seem impossible that enjoyable rituals can be associated with money management, here are a few ways that your monthly money rituals can be something you look forward to doing or at least help you to keep your spending in check which ultimately brings a better night's sleep: respect your monthly budget limits, use cash as much as possible, plan one week a month in which you spend nothing, wait 24 hours before making big ticket purchases, or use a traditional check register to record daily spending. Once you become the master of your money, you are dictating the terms of how your life will move forward. Granted you can't control everything, but the more you take control of what is in your power, the more successful you will be. LINKS: ~Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending by Elizabeth Dunn & Michael Norton ~How to Get and Stay Out of Debt ~Simple Ways to Trim the Budget ~Blank Monthly Budget download (Excel instructions) ~Mint.com ~3 Baskets of Savings ~Taking Control of Your Spending (3 part series) ~Smart Women Finish Rich: 9 Steps to Achieving Financial Security and Funding Your Dreams by David Bach ~Money posts in the archives ~The Book - Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman's Guide  

Petit Plaisir:

~TSLL Chocolat Chaud recipe ~David Leibovitz blog Parisian Chocolat Chaud adapted from David Leibovitz's recipe Yields: 4 Parisian servings (espresso cup amounts) Ingredients:
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 5 ounces of bittersweet dark chocolate - top quality (Scharffen Berger)
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar (optional)
Directions:
  1. Over medium heat in a medium saucepan, combine milk and chopped chocolate. Stir until mixed completely, one solid, lush chocolate color. For thicker chocolate, bring to a soft simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Taste.
  3. Add brown sugar to taste.
  4. Pour and enjoy. (Refrigerate and reheat the next day on the stovetop over low to medium heat, stirring regularly.)
 ~Sur La Table espresso cups and saucers ~PREVIOUS PODCASTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY: ~8 Pillars to Building a Simply Luxurious Life (episode #1)

Direct download: 2998018.
Category:general -- posted at: 12:52pm PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #1
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube
The premiere podcast of The Simple Sophisticate is now available for listening via iTunes! I am so excited to begin this new venture and look forward to each Monday sharing with readers and listeners ways to continue to cultivate their own simply luxurious life. Topics will dive deeper into how to live your best life, how to focus on living a life of quality, and getting rid of the excess and unnecessary. From fashion, food, travel and decor, no topic will be off limits. Periodically, I will interview authors, entrepreneurs and experts in fields of interest to investigate share perspectives beyond what are shared on the blog, as well as answer readers' questions sent to me via "Ask Shannon" (feel free to email me!). Now, enjoy discovering the 8 pillars of building a simply luxurious life that is tailored to your unique personality, passions and preferred way of living. And as an extra bonus in celebration of The Simple Sophisticate's launch, a second episode - "Mastering Your Money" is available to listen to as well, see below.

Show Notes

Overview - 8 Pillars of Building a Simply Luxurious Life
I think I've been living unconsciously this idea of a simply luxurious life since I was a little girl. It wasn't until I started my blog just under five years ago that I began to analyze why I live this way, why do I love living this way and exactly how am I living? What exactly are the values that I am prioritizing above all else? As a way of answering that question for myself, and to share with you today, I broke down the idea of what a simply luxurious life is by looking at the foundation. What is needed, what is absolutely essential, in order to successfully build a simply luxurious life. So today I will be breaking down the eight pillars of building a simply luxurious life.
1. Have a Healthy Self-Respect and Self-Worth
It is paramount that each of us sincerely believes and understands that we matter. Each one of us matters. You are of great value, and no one can replicate or offer what you can once you figure out your unique gifts and talents. And it is important and imperative that you find your unique talents because when you do . . . it's magic.
2. Financial Security
Whether we like dealing with money or not, we must come to recognize and respect that money is simply a means of exchanging energy. And in order to acquire the life you desire, or simply acquire the basic needs, you will need to have a stable source of money coming into your bank account on a regular basis.  Knowing how money functions in your life, while it may not be fun when you initially begin because you may not have a lot of money at your disposal, is absolutely crucial in order to successfully pursue your dreams. In today's second podcast, I will break down into six simple steps, how to master your money, so do stay tuned.
3. Healthy Relationships
Building healthy relationships is crucial to building a strong social well-being, establishing a healthy emotional state of mind and building a support system that will help not only you to reach your dreams, but those you love as well. Whether at work, with friends, with our romantic partner or even in our community, knowing that we have a strong network of people is vital. And as with just about everything in our lives, it's not about how many friends we have, but the quality of friends or relationships.
4. Good Health
The key is consistency and acquiring the knowledge of how your body works and how it responds to what you feed it and how you treat it. Following the mantra of moderation, moderation, moderation - whether it be with the food you eat or the exercise you spend time doing, be smart, be disciplined, but don't deprive yourself. Respect your body, because as we know it's a magnificent machine just waiting to be utilized to its full potential.
5. A Sanctuary to Call Home
Let's focus on the term sanctuary. I use the term sanctuary a lot, and I use it on purpose. A sanctuary is a place where you feel safe, where you can completely let your hair down and relax without worry of judgment and where you go to rejuvenate. The qualities of a sanctuary are a space that is clean, organized (lacking all unnecessary stuff and clutter), decorated with thoughtful personalization and lastly, it is functional which enables you to live your life in this space. I hope you noticed what was not one of the qualities of a sanctuary - a certain size or a particular style.  What allows a home to become your sanctuary is finding and creating a space that fits you best.
6. Establishing Everyday Rituals
By incorporating everyday rituals into our daily routines, we are choosing to make the everyday all the more luxurious. And really living well is about how we go about our everyday lives. One of my favorite everyday rituals is enjoy a single dark chocolate peanut butter truffle paired with black lavender tea. So long as I don't have dessert in the evening, I treat myself to this seemingly decadent ritual. Such simple, inexpensive routines can bring an amazing amount of pleasure. Not only do you have something to look forward to at the end of the day or during the day, but they also provide opportunities for us to be present, and appreciate the moment. And when we are present, we are not stressing about the future or worrying about the past. Our lives immediately begin to become richer as more opportunities present themselves to build strong relationships and have more meaningful moments.
7. Creating a Signature Style
One of my greatest passions since I was a young girl has always been fashion. But I have to be honest, it took some time to figure out how all of the pieces worked best together for my body and my lifestyle. And since our bodies and lives change constantly, so too it seems that we must constantly be changing our wardrobe. But the good news is, once you figure out your signature style, at its core, your wardrobe doesn't really change. So once you have your basic capsule wardrobe for spring and fall, the tweaks, changes and additions are much easier to make and far less likely to break the bank. A simplification to your everyday way of life, but the added benefit is that you can rest assured you look timeless and absolutely stylish each time you step outside your door.
8. Have an Insatiable Appetite for Knowledge
Part of the reason I became a high school teacher is that I loved to learn. Part of the reason I pursued history as well as English was because I was always wondering why or how something occurred. Whatever you are passionate about or whatever you enjoy doing, continue to feed this curiosity. Because when you feed what you are naturally drawn to, your expertise grows along with your interest. And as you learn more, you fear less because you have become informed about how to prevent or cause certain things to happen. Knowledge is one of the best gifts you can give yourself for three reasons: (1) It can never be taken away from you, (2) It enhances your life no matter what your age, and (3) There will never be a shortage of knowledge. This Week's Petit Plaisir - If/Then Review, Starring Idina Menzel - click here to read. Links mentioned in the podcast: ~Money posts from the archives ~Relationship posts from the archives ~Health/Beauty/Fitness posts from the archives ~Decor posts from the archives ~Why Not . . . Indulge in Simple Luxuries? ~Why Not . . . Revel in Simple Pleasures? ~Palais des Thes, Montagne Bleue, black tea (with lavender) ~Shop TSLL (capsule wardrobe items hand-picked by Shannon) ~Why Not . . . Build a Capsule Wardrobe? ~The Book! - Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman's Guide ~If/Then tickets - starring Idina Menzel ~Tune in Next Monday for another episode of The Simple Sophisticate. Thank you for listening.

A Bonus Podcast

Mastering Your Money - Episode 2 - click here to view and listen.  
Direct download: 2998083.
Category:general -- posted at: 12:51pm PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #4
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube
Today I'm diving into the French culture and sharing nine ways you can unearth your inner Francophile. I always find it fascinating how many people from around the world self-identify themselves as Francophiles. While some of you listening know without question, like myself, that you have a strong fondness for the French way of life, I'd like to share some attributes of the French culture that can improve the quality of your everyday routines and overall contentment and perhaps unearth any of those unknown Francophile leanings that you have and tap into them. The history of the Francophile is known to have taken root during the Enlightenment period during and after the French Revolution. Francophiles were strong advocates for democracies rather than autocratic regimes which were prevalent in Europe during the 17th and 18th century. And as the ideology of Enlightenment prefers reason over tradition, it's understandable that as the populous gained wider access to education, many also began to appreciate the "ways of life" the French culture embodied. As many of you already know, I am regularly seeking ways to live a full life without the excess, as well as endlessly seeking answers to life's infinite questions. So when I was first introduced to the French culture as a young college student studying abroad, I was mesmerized and returned home forever changed. After all, the underlying foundation of TSLL blog derives itself from my appreciation of how the French go about their everyday lives. (View more Francophile themed posts here.) Beginning with my study abroad during my junior year (2000) in Angers, France, and continuing with my recent trips in 2012 and 2013, with each visit my understanding grows and even while my rose-colored glasses begin to fade, I continue to be fascinated and ever more curious about the French way of life.
1. Understand the Paradox that is the French Culture
While the traditional term French Paradox came about due to a study released in the late 80s/early 90s regarding cardiovascular disease in Americans and the British versus that of the French, there are many ways of living that appear to be a paradox (two seemingly contradictory ideas that none the less reveal a truth). While it may seem that the French eat more decadently and don't look worse for wear, it is what and how much they are eating that is the essential element to producing the result that at first seems so perplexing. Ultimately, the golden rule that the French appear to abide by is that less is more and quality over quantity in all things. If one is eating quality food, one is going to be satiated with less of it. If one consumes less stuff for their homes, their closets, you name it, their overall stress is decreased because they don't have to tend to it constantly, and so long as they purchased quality items, these items will last. ~French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano
2. Welcome Everyday Pleasures
Whether you pick up a bouquet of flowers on your way home from work or on Sunday to kick off the week, make a hot cup of chocolat chaud on Thursday or any day when you just want to sit and savor, or reserve a night at the luxury hotel to spend with your beloved to change up your routine, make your everyday routine something that is sprinkled with moments to look forward to. An everyday, week or seasonal pleasure should not be something we feel guilty about. While we may have to save up in order to stay within our budget, such treats are part of a way of restoring you, reviving you and reminding you what the life you chose is all about. ~French inspired books to enjoy
3. Enjoy Eating Real Food in Moderation
Similar to incorporating everyday pleasures into your routine, eating well - eating real food - should be something you do at each meal without feeling guilty. Why? When quality, real food that is in season preferably is enjoyed, our appetites are satiated more completely and we no longer need that second helping. Food is meant not only to energize us, but to give us an opportunity to slow down and appreciate what we are eating. And so while you may be enjoying delicious food, the key is moderation and a well-balanced diet. Have a look at the findings in response to the idea of The French Paradox and cardiovascular disease in the link below: ~The original study resulting in The French Paradox, additionally - click here ~American Society for Nutrition, "What it Really the Red Wine?"
4. Revel in Your True Beauty
Each one of us has something unique about us. And while it can take time to become comfortable with who we are and how we look, discarding our uniqueness would be a big mistake. As mentioned in the new book How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are, the key is too look naturally beautiful. And the only way to truly do that is to know and accept your true beauty. It doesn't mean you have to walk out the door without any make-up on (unless you want to), but it does mean using just enough make-up to accentuate and complement the natural beauty that you exude.
5. Get Drunk on Knowledge
Whether it's art, literature, music, architecture, history - anything where you are acquiring new-found knowledge of the world - dive in and do so regularly. Visit a new exhibit at a favorite museum, attend local plays or enjoy a play while on your travels, simply choose to travel regularly, read something engaging every single night, throw yourself into a piece of literature that you have heard referenced but haven't read just yet - anything that piques your curiosity. Maybe you are exhausted and don't have the energy to read - turn on some music - Bach, Miles Davis - something that comforts and/or enlightens you. (Click here for my favorite music selections.) One of the phrases that was shared in How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are that immediately caught my attention was "Choose to become intellectually wealthy." No matter what your income, you can soak up knowledge everywhere, even more so with the advantage of the internet (just be sure to check your sources). You can even enroll in college courses for free from elite colleges from around the country at websites like Coursera. If you have the time, why not? A handful of periodicals and newspapers I recommend:
6. Create Everyday Simple Habits
When you create simple everyday habits, they allow you to live a more productive and enjoyable life. How? By establishing certain habits, you are living consciously. You are fully aware of what your priorities are, combining them if you can to save time and be more efficient and editing out entirely those that don't align with what you wish to accomplish or nurture. ~Savor Everyday Routines ~17 Ways to Simplify the Daily & Weekly Routines
7. Let Go of the Pursuit of Perfection

"Despite all of these [beauty] routines, the Parisian retains her little imperfections - cherishes them even. The gap in her smile, her slightly crooked tooth, her prominent eyebrow or strong nose. These are signs of a certain strength in character that allow her to feel beautiful without being perfect."

What I love about the quote is that it is about owning our humanness. We are human after all, and therefore, we are not perfect. So why try being something we can never be? In owning our humanness and not apologizing for it, letting go of mistakes and supposed flaws, we actually unburden ourselves. Unnecessary stress and anxiety no longer deplete our energy and we can focus on what truly deserves and requires our attention - living our best life and tapping into our full potential.

8. Cultivate an Air of Mystery

Create an air of mystery, don't reveal all. While social media perhaps has made this a difficult task, we are the gatekeepers of the information we release, and when we keep some things to ourselves, we build a reserve of inner strength that we can carry with us wherever we go. After all, the person who reveals everything tends to exude an air of desperation, a desire to be accepted, but if you are only revealing just enough, you are saying "I don't need your approval, but I do enjoy talking with you. Perhaps we'll do again sometime."

9. Buy, Wear & Love Navy

Whether in a classic nautical top or a luxurious solid cashmere sweater, navy is a color for all seasons, a color that is complementary with nearly every skin tone. It is the color of the ever popular men's day suit. It is timeless and can be paired with just about anything - even black. Thank you Yves Saint Laurent.

10. Quality over Quantity

Whether it is the clothing you wear, how much you share or what type of food you eat, the idea of preferring quality carries over into every arena of our lives and our lives are better off for it. While investing in quality clothes and food means we will have to watch our pennies, it simply serves as another reminder that less really is more.

"The Parisian never gives too much away. When it comes to revealing herself she follows one golden rule: less is definitely more."

More importantly, in the goals we seek and in the priorities we focus on, when we focus on less, we can give more of our time and attention thereby allowing greater successful and intrinsic reward because were capable of giving our best selves.

As you can see, the premise of living simply luxuriously has many ties to the French way of living, but you don't have to be French or even call yourself a Francophile to adopt any or all of these approaches.

~Have a question? Email me at askshannon@thesimplyluxuruiouslife.com and your question may be answered in an future podcast.

Petit Plaisir

Mousse au Chocolat from Buvette by Jody Williams

chocolatmousse3

Buvette restaurant (New York City & Paris locations)

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz of semi-sweet chocolate, 60-70+% of cacao
  • 12 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Combine chocolate and butter in a saucepan placed above a pot of simmering water (or use a double boiler). Stir until the butter and chocolate are one color. Remove from heat.
  2. Put the 3 yolks in a small bowl or ramekin and add a pinch of salt - mix quickly together. Set aside.
  3. Put egg whites (4) in a mixing bowl and using a hand mixer (or mix by hand with a whisk) mix together with 2 teaspoons of sugar (super fine if possible) until stiff peaks form (about 2-5 minutes).
  4. Add one yolk at a time to the chocolate. Mix in each yolk until it is mixed in entirely before adding the next egg yolk.
  5. Fold into the chocolate mixture the egg whites, combining just enough but not too much as you want to keep as much volume as possible.
  6. Refrigerate for at least four hours or up to two days before serving. You can either keep the chocolate mousse in the saucepan and cover with plastic wrap or distribute to small bowls from which dessert will be served.
  7. When serving, offer a small bowl of whipping cream (recipe below) for guests to add a dollop on top of their chocolate mousse.
Whipping Cream: Ingredients:
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
Directions:
  1. Combine all three ingredients in a mixing bowl, and with a hand mixer, mix until stiff peaks form.
  2. Place in serving bowl with a serving spoon for guests to enjoy as they wish.
Enjoy a dense, yet also fluffy dessert. Pair with a lovely zinfandel or a hot cup of coffee or tea.

francophile2~chef Jody Williams in her Paris location of her restaurant Buvette~

~FRANCOPHILE EPISODES from the ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~#23 - The French Way: How to Create a Luxurious Everyday Life

~#32 - The Francophile's Style Guide: The 14 Essentials

~Podcasts from the Archives You Might Enjoy:

Images:  (3)

Direct download: 3062649.
Category:general -- posted at: 12:49pm PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #202
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube
In today's episode of the podcast, stylist Tiffani Rogers of Style by Tiffani returns to talk about the trends of the spring season. Be sure to tune as she will share what to invest in, designers to check out as well as how to style a shirtdress and what to do with the trend of the ruffle. Tiffani also announced the new version of her Shop the City Guide (Manhattan + new Brooklyn additions) which just became available this week. As podcast listeners and blog readers, she is extending a discount for her must-have shopping guide (even if you aren't visiting the city, she provides links to their websites and social media accounts to enable you to shop the boutiques she trusts and highly recommends). Visit and follow Tiffani Rogers: Items, Designers, Etc. discussed in this episode: ~Johanna Ortiz -
  • view all of her collections here
  • have a look below at a few of my favorites from her Spring 2018 collection
  • shop Johanna Ortiz
  ~Tory Burch pink leather sneakers (many other colors available) ~Queer Eye, season 1 (episode #196, Petit Plaisir, trailer included at the end of the post) ~The RealReal ~Listen to past episodes with Tiffani Rogers below:

~episode #156, Self-Awareness, Relationships, Style & the Met Gala

~episode #129, Talking Style, New York City & Sales

~episode #111, A Discussion about Quality over Quantity in Fashion & Life 

~Shop TSLL's annual Spring Shopping Guide now (just released April 1st)
  • 100+ hand-picked spring clothing items
  • shop directly from the post
  • navigate the trends (which ones to spend or save on)

Petit Plaisir

Cézanne: Portraits of a Life
  https://youtu.be/P4L_0PUMeb8
Direct download: 202TiffaniSpringTrends.mp3
Category:style -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #201
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

 "Exercise should be regarded as tribute to the heart." —Gene Tunney

Disspell the myths, push through the pain, discover what you do not know so the wrong information no longer holds you back. The concept of good overall physical health is a tripod: aerobic, strength and flexibility. A regular regimen which includes these three components will offer a firm foundation of lasting health. When we pair strong physical health with emotional and mental health, we are a mighty force with the potential to live well. As 2018 began, one of my resolutions was to improve the quality of my strength program. As I shared in TSLL's first book, in chapter six which focuses on health and beauty, my approach to creating a strength program is to hire a personal trainer for at least one session and hire them to help you design an at-home working routine. Having done this more than thirteen years ago, I realized I may need a refresher to my routine. The opportunity to work with an expert in the field of fitness as well as health and nutrition was something I didn't want to squander. Yes, I know the basics of health. As a collegiate athlete who has competed at the national level, and throughout my entire childhood, as well as coached varsity volleyball in high school, I knew the general concepts of proper form, body awareness and possible exercises. What I didn't have was accountability and someone to push me further than I would push myself. After all, having the energy and the time to accomplish what I want is typically the biggest obstacle I run up against, as I have a feeling most of us do, when it comes to changing the quality of our lives. It's not that we don't know better or don't want to make the change, it the ability (willpower, time, support) that is lacking. Wanting to gain as much benefit from my sessions as possible, I had a list of questions in my mind to address my concerns and questions as well as a clear set of objectives I hoped to attain. Objectives:
  • an effective strength routine I can complete at home
  • a challenging routine that keeps my body toned, lean, and strong
  • to habituate in my mind the act of the created routine
Questions & Concerns:
  • How to not become bulky, what causes this to happen?
  • What should I eat and when to support my objectives?
  • How often and how long?
  • What equipment do I really need at home to complete my routine?
For ten weeks, each Monday, I met with my personal trainer at a local gym. For an hour we went through a training session which was different each week. Later in the week, I would take an hour at home and follow that particular week's strength routine, fitting in a total of two strength routines each week. Part of the reason I hired the trainer for 10 sessions was to accomplish my third objective: to create a habit. Sure enough, now that I have been on my own for two weeks, every Monday afternoon or evening, I carve out 1 hour and get to work. I have chosen a day that works best with the rest of my schedule (blogging and teaching, as well as my walking schedule with the dogs). I have also found tending to my first strength routine of the week on Monday is a wonderful way to start the week as I feel I have accomplished something that does take a lot of willpower, and at the beginning of the week, I have far more than I would have on even Tuesday, let alone Wednesday or Thursday and especially Friday. The component my trainer made available through our sessions together was her knowledge of eating well paired with proper fitness. As a nurse and health coach, she answered many questions that I raised as well as offered a multitude of different ideas for eating well and what to eat directly before and after my training sessions (good carbs and protein). The benefits of regularly incorporating a strength routine into your overall health regimen are immense now and throughout your entire life (US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the age of 85 just released her new book The RBG Workout which include many of the exercises in my new workout - planks anyone?), and below are the most important reasons to create a plan that is effective and consistently adhered to as reported by the Mayo Clinic.
  • Reduce the potential of osteoporosis in later years. Bone strength is greatly increased with regular strength training.
  • The calories keep on being burned. Metabolisms increase, caloric burn continues long after the workout and thus a leaner body results (so long as the eating regimen is in proper alignment).
  • Can reduce chronic pain and health maladies such as back pain, heart disease, depression, diabetes, arthritus and obesity.
  • Improves the mind's agility. Some studies have revealed a connection between regular strength training and the mind's ability to learn new skills and improve memory and analytical thinking.
The truth about about strength training and losing weight is that as The New York Times reported in 2015, if we do not pair our physical fitness — both aerobic and strength training — with a diet of moderation and balanced nutrition, we thwart the positive results that can be possible. (read: How to Enjoy Eating Every Day and Love the Results, episode #165) What does my new strength training entail? Below are the components.
  • 2-3, 45 minute - 1 hour sessions each week
  • Goal each week: work out both upper and lower in either individualized sessions or combo sessions
    • Visit WorkOutLabs.com to see in illustrations as well as build your own routine based on the part of the body you want to train.
      • Begin with a 5 minute aerobic warm-up: walking, rowing, stairs, etc.
      • Determine what will be the focus: upper, lower or both
      • determine how many sets and how many repetitions in each set
        • I usually choose to do three sets of 10, or graduated, 12-10-8; four sets if I am feeling as though I have energy
        • Begin with the most challenging items first (to boost your confidence and get them out of the way)
        • Incorporate abs into every workout by simply keeping them tight to maintain your balance and proper form.
        • Create circuits of 2-4 different exercises, each with their sets and repetitions as it creates "segments" for your workout.
          • Example: Ab workout — knee tap crunches, plank hold and hallow hold (each 10x or 10 seconds, 3 sets of each)
        • End with a full abdominal segment
      • 5 segments is usually what I include in strength routine
      • Drink water throughout
  • Never back-to-back sessions
  • Equipment used:
    • 5 pound hand weights (see in the above image - linked here)
    • 15 lb kettlebell (seen in the image with Norman), 20 and 25 lbs are also something I might add in the future as I used these graduated weights in my workouts with my trainer.
    • Resistance bands with handles in three varying strengths (seen in image above - linked here)
    • Resistance bands, loops in five different strengths (seen in image above - linked here)
    • Considering the following equipment:
  • An elimination or reduction of the following foods:
    • pasta
    • alcohol
    • highly processed foods
    • added sugar
  • Sample Lower Body workout:
    • 5 minute warm-up - walking or jumping jacks or jump rope
    • walking lunges, air squats, 1 leg deadlift (10x, 3 sets)
    • sled down and back in the hallway (see image with Norman in the chair below), kettlebell squats, knee to chest with 1 second pause (works the abs and arms as well). 3x, 10 each or 10 yards for the sled each way.
    • banded kickbacks, ball hamstring curl, ab sit-ups, wall sit (3x, 10 repetitions)
    • ball v-up, reserve side lung (3x, 12-10-8 repetitions)
    • ab work: leg lifts, with weight behind head to overhead, oblique twists, straight arm pulses; 12-10-8
  • Sample Upper Body workout:
    • 5 minute warm-up - see above
    • inchworm with pushup, walking lunges with bicep curl, shoulder taps, wall touch sit-ups; 4 sets, 5-10 repetitions
    • push ups, upright row, chest press; 3 sets, 12-10-8
    • tricep curl, row, box push-up, lateral raise, overhead press, bent over fly; 3 sets, 12-10-8
    • ab work: wall touch, knee touch, knee to chest, plank knee to chest; 3 sets, 10 repetitions
  • Sample Combo workout:
    • pick and choose 2-3 of each workout above

~Norman as weight on the "sled". Counter-clockwise beginning in the lower lefthand corner: (1) First go-round, Norman are you ready? (2) after two lengths of sliding - I've got this; (3) Are we done?; (4) I am exhausted as you look, but anytime you want to push me again, I am here.~

Results and Outcome Thus Far The positive changes I have seen 12 weeks into my new strength training are gradual, but promising. While I do not get on a scale as muscle mass weighs more than fat, I instead pay attention to how my clothes fit: are my pencil skirts tight or do they easily slip on? which loop in my belt am I using? Can I fit comfortably into my jeans? While our bodies do fluctuate throughout the month, understanding our body's rhythms and how we feel after eating certain foods is part of understanding and determining whether our bodies and thus our health is on track. One improvement I have noticed is that my ability to hold poses in yoga has improved which is something I have always wanted to do since I began yoga more than seven years ago. And one of my fears was not realized (bigger shoulders). Yes, my shoulders and arms are slightly more defined, but they are no larger than they were when I wasn't doing my strength training. With the attention to a well-rounded arm strength routine, my entire arm is more capable of holding my body. One detail that was an important point for me to learn was that my body will swell up approximately 2-3 days after a strength training session. While I knew it would be sore (and it was especially so after the first week's session), I didn't realize it was also sweeling due to the body and muscles attempting to heal itself. It is important to note this temporarily change because it will feel (because it is) as though your muscles are expanding, but they will heal and in 2-3 days, the swelling will be gone. Since I keep my weights small (5lb for arm workouts and use high repetition), bulkiness is not something to fret about as was one of my questions from the beginning. The key to losing inches or maintaining the weight we have if that is the goal is to eat smart but not deprive ourselves and workout consistently while mixing up the routine we do each time to keep our muscles on their toes. I don't know if I'll ever fit into size 4 (US) jeans again as I am currently between a 6 and an 8, but the size doesn't matter so much anymore as my goal is to keep my body healthy and strong so I can be hiking, paddleboarding, taking yoga classes and cross country skiing well into my 80s and 90s, as well as go on lengthy walks with my dogs. I hope my experience has helped you, and while this is my tailored routine based on my time with a personal trainer, I do encourage you to seek out an expert in fitness and nutrition who can give you a personal plan for strengthening your body as well. As an investment in our health, I am confident you will see great value in receiving answers to questions you may have regarding your health and fitness journey.   ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES from the ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Lose Those Last 10 Pounds?

~To Get and Stay in Shape: Keep It Simple, episode #190

~15 Things to Do to Not "Feel Fat", episode #52

~Learn more and sign up for TSLL's Weekly Newsletter

Petit Plaisir

~Paris in Stride: An Insider's Walking Guide by Jessie Kanelos Weiner and Sarah Moroz 
~Learn more about why I love this book in a full review here.  

~Sponsor of this week's episode:

Direct download: 201StrengthRoutine.mp3
Category:health -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #200
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube
On Tuesday morning at 9:15 Pacific time in the western hemisphere spring will arrive. No weather prediction can change this reality. Even if it continues to snow where you live (the snow in England and France this past weekend have made me feel as a kindred spirit to the residents as we had snow this weekend as well), the calendar affirms, it will be spring at this time on Tuesday. But no matter when the snow decides to cease falling, we know it will (and even when it does, it melts nearly as quickly, non?). What I have found to be a wonderful activity during such times, along with indoor projects that must be completed, is to tend to spring cleaning of the home. And when the sun comes out, spring cleaning in the yard as well. So yes! Spring cleaning has begun! And oh, does it feel good! (Too cheesy?) Last week, my white burber carpets received their bi-annual thoroughly cleansing (see above), and in so doing returned a brightness to the house. Simply tending to these seasonal tasks, whether we do them or hire someone due to our time constraints, when we do, we begin to officially shift forward to the new season that is beginning. And as it is spring, a fresh start, a feeling of renewed opportunity and revitalized energy. Below are 22 spring cleaning tasks to perhaps welcome into your annual routine as you too say goodbye to winter and hello to the much anticipated spring season.
1. Let in the light! Clean the windows
As soon as you are able to get outside and the sun is expected to shine nearly all day (although a cloudy day is claimed to be best as the cleaning solution will dry less quickly, reducing the amount of streaks), take a couple of hours to clean the windows inside and out. My mom always made a point of washing windows in the morning to enable the ability to see better the streaks as the natural light is shining more directly through the windows (you can also do this in the evening, but again, we're usually tired or have other plans). And the approach is simple, grab a bucket of water and vinegar, the newspapers you just recycled from yesterday's or that morning's reading session and before you know it, you will be bathed in more sunlight. (Yes, newspapers are a great option instead of rags - they are not only cheaper, but will not scratch the glass and are quite absorbent - learn more here.)
2. The floors (and rugs, although not as often) get their special treatment
If you have carpet, welcome in a carpet cleaner, if you have hardwoods, follow the special instructions of care for your particular wood floors. Typically a damp mop (not wet mop) with a few drops of dishwashing liquid is all you need to do (in fact, some experts recommend doing this monthly). Here is a list of recommendations for wood floor care from RealSimple. If you have area rugs, deep cleaning them need only be every 3-5 years as over-cleaning contributes to too much wear and tear.
3. Tend to the window coverings
Whether you have blinds or drapes, dust, wash or send to the dry-cleaners for special careful cleaning.
4. Clean the dishwasher
House Beautiful in their annual spring cleaning guide recommended giving your dishwasher a deep clean, and with the amount of use most of us give our kitchen time-saving machine, it is a good idea. Using a special dishwasher cleaner pack (this one from Cascade will remove the grease, odors and limescale and includes two for fewer than $14), run it with an empty dishwasher and begin the new season with a "like-new" dish-cleaning machine.
5. The remainder of the Kitchen Triangle: the stove and the refrigerator
Give your refrigerator a thorough clean out and cleaning, something I like to do bi-annually as well. Not only does this enable an opportunity to see which staples you have regarding condiments, etc., but it also is a great opportunity to organize your refrigerator into sections. For example, keep your meat and proteins in one section, your cheeses in another, your fruit in one bin and your vegetables in another. Also, drinks have their designation as well. Especially if you are living with others, but even living by yourself, when you give the refrigerator a quick glance before you head to the market, you will know exactly what is needed for your weekly capsule menu shopping. And, do not forget the stove. I will admit, I do not like sticking my head in an oven (for many people who have self-cleaning, just turn it on to work its magic while you clean the refrigerator), or maybe that is just the English teacher in me, but since I do keep tin foil at the bottom of my stove, I find many messy clean-ups are avoided. So find a sturdy oven cleaner, put some gloves on and tend to this annual task. The more regular we do, the less daunting it will be each time.
6. The linens beyond sheets
While bed sheets are typically cleaned every week or two weeks, wash the duvet cover, the coverlets, the throws, the pillow shams and any other linen that does not get regularly weekly attention. Some of these items may need to be taken to the dry-cleaner, so allow for 1-2 weeks to be without. Perhaps you are going on a spring holiday, so plan on taking your linens to the dry-cleaner before you leave, so when you return your linens are returned as well as fresh and clean for the new season.
7. Flip and clean the mattress
A simple flip or rotation of your mattress is easy to do to prevent overuse in one area. As well, vacuum your mattress to remove any unwanted debris.
8. Sinks and faucet cleaning
If you have found you have lime deposits around faucets in your house, HGTV offers a simple solution: Lay a papertowel over the area, pour vinegar over the top and let it sit for an hour. After the allotted time, the lime should have softened, making it easier to remove.
9. Make the stainless steel shine
Now this is something that can be done each time the kitchen is cleaned, but its worth doing for spring cleaning as well. Again HGTV shared this gem: using a spray bottle full of 50% rubbing alcohol and 50% water, clean your chrome, glass or stainless steel finishes and polish to reveal their brilliance.
10. Assess and organize the pantry
In January I shared one of my winter projects which was to organize my cupboards, which for me includes my pantry items. Similar to cleaning out the refrigerator, when we know what we have, we know what we need. Here is a list of the 34 items to keep at all times in your pantry, or épicerie (episode #109).
11. The closet clean-out
Bi-annually, clearing out, assessing and reorganizing our closet is a wonderful idea to prevent overspending, but also enable savvy purchases as the new season begins. I have detailed how to approach this task in a dedicated post, so if you're curious, be sure to take a look.
12. Seasonal clothing swap
Now is the time to take your winter coats, sweaters and scarves to the cleaners for their annual maintenance. Perhaps you took your spring and summer items in the fall, but if you haven't take them now so they are ready to shine with the beginning of the new season.
13. The walls need your attention
This may sound odd, but while we are surrounded by the walls of our homes, we often do not see them. Cobwebs can form, dust accumulates especially if furniture is in front of them, and all it takes is a simple damp cloth wrapped over a broom stick (to reach high points by the ceiling) and an extra hour or so of a day. If you need to clean stains from the wall, use a few drops of dishsoap, then go over it again with a clean damp cloth to remove the soap.
14. Clean the cushions of your furniture
Pull the cushions out from your sofa and chairs and clean underneath as well as the cushions themselves. You will most likely just need to vacuum them both, but doing so will ensure that all is clean whether it is seen or unseen.
15. Put away the winter
Whether you have certain decor, wreaths, candles of a darker hued color or books that align with the winter season, take this time to swap them for the spring and summer editions. While you are doing this, you are also able to do a little extra cleaning that may not get your attention each week.
16. Bring forth the outdoor furniture
While this may be something you, as I, don't get to do until April, it is still a seasonal ritual to tend to. Bring out the lawn furniture, the patio chairs and tables and giving them a good wash with soapy water. Then the pots come out as well as soon they will be filled with fresh blooms from the nursery.
17. Clean the trash cans
Indoors and out, suds up the trash collectors and wash and rinse them out. A simple task that is quite satisfying.
18. File away taxes of 2017 and organize the office
Most of us have completed our tax returns or will be soon, so now organize them and place them where they need to be and move forward into the new year. As well, dust the shelves, countertops, desktops of your work space. Dust the screen of your computer, dust the top of your printer and other machines you may have and why not bring in at minimum a bud vase for a touch of spring to enjoy as you work?
19. Update your podcast subscriptions
I recently tended to this task as many of the podcasts I had on my list were no longer offering new episodes, so I went through and streamlined my podcast subscriptions to include only the ones that were still offering new episodes as well as episodes I continued to always select to listen to on my walks and travels.
20. Clean and organize your handbags
This may seem obvious, but our lives get busy and before we know it our totes are carrying receipts from two months ago, lipgloss that has been empty and who knows what else. This shouldn't take but a few minutes, but sometimes we have to be reminded of the simple organization that makes a big difference in our daily lives. As well, our wallets need our attention: why do you need so many of others' business cards in your wallet, do you use that particular rewards card anymore? Slimming down your wallet feels good as well.
21. Assess Makeup and beauty supplies
While these tasks can be done at any point in the year, the inspiration behind spring cleaning is an opportunity to start fresh and what better way when it comes to our beauty than to make sure our supplies enable us to shine our brightest. Clean your brushes as well with simple facial cleanser mixed with warm water until it is bubbly and dunk, dunk, dunk and then rinse.
22. Bad habits out, good habits in
Admittedly, when there is less sun, as there is in the winter, it affects our mood, some more than others, but either way, it does play a role in our emotions. Take a moment before you step forward into spring, as we continue to gain more daylight each day for the next three months, to assess what habits are working for you, and which are not. Sometimes simply having more daylight to tend to what is a priority makes a difference in our successfully acquiring the habit. Whether it is meditating in the morning, walking in the evening, eating more seasonally ripe produce or turning on classical music to start your day instead of the news (in episode #197 we looked at the benefits of classical music), spring gives you an opportunity to be more successful, because when our moods are improved, the confidence we have in ourselves to be successful with whatever we pursue also has a better chance for improving as well. Ultimately each one of us will tend to what we need to start fresh with this new season. Perhaps a handful or more, but maybe just one or two of the ideas spoke to you. Whatever you choose to do to welcome spring, and literally or figuratively clean out the clutter of the old season, be sure to take the time to do so as I am confident you will be giving yourself a bit or a signficant bounce to your step as the excitement of what the new year has in store begins to come forth. Welcome the spring season and may this first week (beginning tomorrow - Tuesday) be an auspicious omen for what is to come. ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES from the ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~TSLL Spring Capsule Menu

~Why Not . . . Celebrate a New Year with Spring's Arrival?

~Why Not . . . Spruce Up Your Spring Wardrobe?

~Subscribe to the weekly TSLL newsletter

Petit Plaisir:

~A Taste for Provence by Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz
~Learn more about the author who is a professor emerita at Smith College here

Sponsors of this week’s episode:

Image: TSLL's Instagram

Direct download: 200SpringCleaning_copy.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #199
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

"The best part of being single is that I get to know men and see what I love about them in a way that, when I was 19, I never afforded myself the opportunity. At 19, I would think, 'Oh, I got picked!' and I would just go along with it, happy to be picked by a man, instead of choosing, and now, I'm in the choosing seat." —Laura Dern on being 50 and divorced 

~Based on feedback from last week's episode (#198), I highly recommend tuning in to today's episode (audio) as much more is talked about than what is revealed in the show notes below. My thoughts on last week's episode are shared along with a review from a long-time listener that offered valuable constructive criticism that I wanted to honor.  Whether you are single and have never been married, or you are divorced or widowed, whether you have children or your only children are of the four-legged variety, when you step into a time of your life in which you are not romantically attached to someone, some will embrace the change immediately while some will dread the loss of a partner. Today's episode/post was inspired by multiple components. First, actress Laura Dern's above quote sparked my thinking about the misconceptions many of us when we are young unconsciously accept when it comes to dating due to a self-confidence that has yet to find its footing, and secondly, last week's conversation (episode #198) with Jenna Birth on the evolution of modern romance and how to navigate it well in order to find and cultivate a healthy, loving partnership. As I examine and savor my own singleness at the moment, I would not want anything else at this point in my life. I reflect on what the past ten years has revealed itself capable of when it comes to my career, and I know, based on my personality, had my energies been shifted, my life would be significantly different. And from my perspective, based on my dreams, desires and ideas of a quality life, I would not be content. That again, is based on knowing myself. Each individual will define their best life differently and that is where we must say "Good for you, but not for me" (thank you Amy Poehler for succinctly coining a phrase needed for us to understand and accept different ways of living well). As we step away from our twenties and into our thirties, forties, fifties and beyond I find single living can be ever more attractive, and due to this, make it easier to find a partner that we truly mesh with should we choose to do so. How so? Let's take a look at nine reasons being single can be a powerful time of growth, rejuvenation and clarification. 1.You become clear about what is and is not in alignment with your authentic self When you are your own company you become particularly clear and more understanding of what you say yes to without forethought, but at the same time, why you say yes (or no) to anything life presents you with. As will be discussed in #7, once we learn what is sincerely us and what is influenced by the outside world, we can then choose to understand why it is hard to break molds that are merely masks and finally remove them entirely. 2. You become able to differentiate between true connection and lust provoked purely by physical attraction Ah, the innocence of youth. The movies, the media, even everyday people we may find ourselves around at any given time, perpetuate the idea that physical attractiveness need be an primary ingredient (if not the most important ingredient) in order to build a relationship with someone. Oh, the silliness of this belief. Whether we learn this sooner or later, when we finally learn it, we can be far more conscious of why we are drawn to someone. And while it is absolutely healthy and natural to be drawn to someone because of their looks, we also become aware that we need more to pursue for the pursue of a lasting relationship. Celebrate this difference is growth, and makes life and meeting the myriad of people we meet, all the enjoyable. 3. You can invest entirely and build with your full energy a career you love As I mentioned above, the decade of my thirties has been an amazing gift. If I had been in any of the relationships I let go of during the course of this time period, I know for certain, my energy would not have been enough to tend to the goals I set for myself. Now, to find a partner that would support my goals would have been wonderful, as the support should be for both involved, but that was never the case (which is in large part, why we went our separate ways). 4. You date thoughtfully Case in point, you begin to learn what strengths and gifts would work well for you in a partnership and you begin to date more thoughtfully. I have found that as I get older, those people I date are more lovely in general, but my needs for a relationship to work are also more clear as well. 5. You can travel to destinations that pique your curiosity and yours alone Ah, the gift of traveling to and doing what you've always dreamt about. Whether it is venturing to destinations on your bucket list, or returning to the same place again and again, you can and you can enjoy every minute, stay as long or as little as you'd like and meeting amazing people along the way because you are traveling with the world. 6. You become comfortable in your body and understand the necessity of taking care of your overall well-being There is a love for your body that begins as you recognize all that it does for you and that it has enabled you to do thus far. And as we begin to yes, understand, our bodies are like nobody else's, we also begin to want to take proper and thoughtful care of it so that it can perform at its best. I especially have found this to be true the latter half of my thirties and am so grateful for the gift my body is. 7. You have more time to tend to areas of personal growth that need attention (insecurities, self-awareness, etc.) As mentioned in #1, when we become more in tune with who we truly are, we discover our tendencies, we reflect upon our past, come to understand what has been nurtured into our personality and what is truly innate. And when we don't understand something or understand and want to improve, we have the courage to recognize seeking out an expert is an investment in ourselves, not a sign of weakness. By investing in ourselves, we are investing in the overall quality of our lives not only will we enjoy our own company more, the relationships we choose to build will be healthier and have the potential to be stronger should we wish them to grow. 8. You focus on a passion project So much more time can be dedicated to what we are curious to dive into and explore when we are single. Working through the weekend or late into the evenings or waking up early to tend to tasks before we head to work, we can do any or all of these things, and we will be fueled by the results we begin to see and understand how important it truly is to listen to our passions and follow our curiosities. 9. You have a sincere understanding that another person will not complete you, as that is your responsiblity alone As you move through each of the previous eight points, you will begin to realize that what you have been searching for cannot be found outside of yourself; it can only be found within. Doing so does not mean you will be single forever if you do not want to be, but you learn the amazing gift you give yourself by letting yourself be with yourself completely. And depending upon what you unearth to be the life you wish to live, you will know how to proceed successfully forward into your future. The time that we have the opportunity to be single is a time realize that strength we already have within us whether we are in a relationship or not and carry that forward into our next relationship or into the life we will build for ourselves. Just as the image at the top of the post reveals, there is a bright and beautiful, sunlit side but too often we dwell on the negative, what we've lost or what we think we are supposed to have. The truth is, the greatest gift is to unearth our fullest potential and embrace and then share with the world what we discover. ~SIMILAR EPISODES/POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~episode #170, Being Single is Luxurious Living

~episode #94, Truths and Myths of the Single, Independent Woman

~Why Not . . . Be a Confident, Single Woman?

~Sign-up for the Weekly Newsletter

Petit Plaisir

~Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey
~The blog where it all began, Daily Routines
Direct download: 199SingleGifts_copy.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 2:00am PDT