Mon, 20 November 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #184
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
~Natural History Museum Ice Rink, London~The holidays can be glorious and overwhelming at the same time, magnificent and demanding, joy-filled and draining. And since the holidays of Thanksgiving for Americans and a handful of religious and non-religious commemorations will take place in December for people around the globe each year, it is best to navigate an approach that enables the annual celebration to be something to anticipate with excitement. It will be three times this Thanksgiving that I have enjoyed either the turkey holiday or Christmas in a unique fashion: on my own. Each time in the past it was a choice and each time it was an opportunity to explore or take part in something or a way of life I had not experienced. As a teacher, there are few times besides the summer months in which a vacation is allowed, and so I have become more and more inclined to use the week off for Thanksgiving and the two weeks off to end the year and begin the new year traveling, exploring and relaxing. My approach is unique as I have two furry children who will gladly celebrate the exploration of their stockings any day of the month or not at all as a calendar is not something they fuss over. And while I do have family and friends I enjoy visiting, I enjoy more intimate opportunities to spend time with them over the course of the year. Now, don't get me wrong, sitting down to gather with loved ones over a festive meal is something I not only enjoy being invited to but also being the curator of, but I also am very much appreciative of opportunity to take the hype and the expectation of "have-tos" and instead cultivate an authentic experience with people I enjoy spending time and lose track of time with. Inspired by the goal of cultivating a holiday season to eagerly look forward to and revel in from mid-November through the first of January, I came up with a list of ideas for a making a pleasurable holiday season.
1.Create your own traditionsAs an adult, you may remember holiday traditions you loved and a few you begrudgingly went along with. However, now you are an adult, so why not reconsider what you want and have to do. Take a look at my thoughts on traditions here.
2. Ease into the seasonIf the festive season of ho-ho seems to begin far too early, then set your boundary and gradually ease into the celebrations. Maybe there is a particular time when holiday music can be played or the first film can be viewed. As a way to build anticipation, make each occasion a special one: for the first movie of the season, plan a feast of comfort foods shared with close family or friends.
3. Try one new decoration ideaMichael of Inspired by Charm shared with his Instagram followers a couple of weeks ago how to decorate your holiday tree with ribbon. If this is something you've always wanted to try, go ahead and give it a shot this year. Trying something new is a challenge and an adventure and who knows what new memories and traditions it will inspire.
4. Find a wood burning fireplace and enjoy sitting next to itWhether you are fortunate enough to have a wood-burning, cracklingly fireplace in your home or not, make a date at least once (more for me please!) to snuggle or sit next to a warm fire with something warm to sip and either an enjoyable conversation to share with someone or a book you cannot wait to dive into.
5. Locate warm gloves for everydayKeeping your digits warm is a simple way to feel a little more cozy and soak up the snowy moments or freezing, crystal clear days. Enjoy shopping for them and trying them on as gloves are one of the easiest items we wear to try on multiplies of without spending too much time.
6. Follow Peter Mayle's ExampleHaving reread Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence, it was his decision to throw a holiday party for his workers just prior to Christmas in the middle of the day (his soiree began at 11am) that made me realize, why not? Not only do you have some time in the morning to prepare, but you also have time in the evening to relax and savor the gathering without the worry of the roads, darkness for freezing temperatures at night.
7. Take a walk through the neighborhood to enjoy the lightsInstead of hopping in your vehicle, even if you live far away from neighborhoods with lights, park your car in parking lot and stroll the streets with a friend or partner. Just strolling along, all bundled up is a reminder to slow the pace of life down, take in the festive sights and become infused with the holiday spirit.
8. Keep the tree decorations simpleThe boxes upon boxes of holiday decorating may be appealing to some, and at least some decorations for my home are a must to remind me each morning when I wake and afternoon when I arrive home that it is indeed the holidays, but too much can become overwhelming and turn the holidays' arrival into a chore. Keep it as streamlined, yet as festive as you wish, and don't feel bad for not putting out the set of reindeer that you feel you "have-to". Remember, you're designing a holiday approach that enables you to enjoy the holidays you are celebrating.
9. Keep the tree smallFor the first time last year, I purchased a three foot tree. And the ease and pure pleasure it brought to my weekend was a change I am going to be adhering to for some time. I still paid careful attention to the ornaments and ribbon. I still strung white lights, but I saved some money and experienced no stress what-so-ever trying to put it up.
10. Learn a new holiday recipeSo many delectable, amazing recipes abound around the internet, from family members and friends that choosing just one may be difficult, but similar to trying a new decorating idea, it is a fun challenge and adventure to look forward to each year. Hey, and if it turns out, that's the icing on the cake!
11. Shop Small Business SaturdayMake a habit of shopping locally as often as possible and even on the designated Saturday after Thanksgiving here in the states. While yes, so much is available at the end of our fingertips as we peruse the internet, if we are able, why not build relationships with our neighbors as they work at their businesses and continue to strengthen the community you call home.
12. Perfect a simple holiday cocktailLast year, I came up with a super simple cocktail recipe that is a show-stopper when it comes to looks as well. Whatever drink is your favorite, or you are looking for a favorite, always have the necessary ingredients on hand for those last-minute holiday invites of friends visiting from out-of-town to add that extra little holiday touch.
13. VolunteerWhether you are someone who enjoys stepping into the kitchen and serving a holiday meal to your local citizens in need of a warm meal or you enjoy the ski slopes and can volunteer to tend to the local cross country runs which you frequent yourself, choose some way to give of your time as a way of showing gratitude and building a bond of kindness without seeking anything in return.
14. Select Favorite Holiday Comforts (films, music, candles, etc.)Each of us has our holiday favorite comforts (Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack is my favorite - hands down), so make sure to carve out time to savor these comforts as a way to deepen the appreciation for this time of year. Do you have a luxurious hot chocolate recipe that you save as a special treat only to be devoured during these last few weeks of the year? Put aside any guilt and indulge. Being present in these moments of simple pleasures and comforts is a practice we can take with us throughout the rest of the year.
15. Find time to read one or two books you've curious to readEarlier this week I shared a list of 10 books to enjoy on your holiday travels or vacation. From novels to non-fiction, even a cookbook as well, I know during this time of year, I savor the extra minutes to enjoy more of the books I haven't found the time to read up until now.
16. Let go of the myths and expectationsThe holidays are yours to make as you will. Choose to plan your calendar thoughtfully, knowing what you value, what is important and most importantly don't be afraid of saying "no". Yes, we would all most likely agree, the holidays have become far too commercialized, but we can change that with our habits. And our habits can change if we choose to do other activities that brings us the reward we associate with the holiday season: joy, contentment, love, pleasure. (Click here or here for two posts on cultivating good habits and how to break bad habits.) I recently shared with someone my plans for the Thanksgiving break (learn of my plans here), and they immediately said, "Well, that doesn't sound like Thanksgiving". But their response exemplifies exactly what was shared above, the holidays, Thanksgiving in this case, can be defined how we want them to be defined, celebrated how we want to celebrate them, but it is up to each of us to have the courage to exmaine why we do what we do and then allow ourselves to get excited about what works for us. I know that I am giddy to be where I am and will be on Thursday. I hope you will be too. (Discover where I am and will be this turkey day on IG - #tsllengland). See below a few pics from the trip so far.
~the skies upon arrival at Heathrow were a brilliant blue (as seen below)~
~took some time to walk and wander in the Victoria and Albert Museum~
~The Royal Albert Hall~
~My love affair with the London's limestone~
~Enjoy 15% off all TSLL Notepads, Planner Pages & Signed Copies of Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman's Guide when you spend $10 or more with promo code HOLIDAY15, through Monday November 27th.
~Murder on the Orient Express~Agatha Christie's original Murder on the Orient Express (January 1, 1934) https://youtu.be/z68frP9Q7XA Download the Episode
Mon, 13 November 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #183
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadioThe arrival of the holiday issue of The English Home in my mailbox brought a larger smile to may face than previous years. As I flipped through the pages of recommendations by the editors of special holiday events in which to partake in London and around the city (Liberty London holiday windows, visiting the Borough Market, and strolling down Regent's street), I immediately began to add the ideas that caught my eye and interest to my itinerary. After five years since my last visit to England, TSLL will be returning for the kick-off of the holiday season, and to say I am excited is to only express a morsel of my eagerness to arrive in the land of Jane Austen. As such, I am fine-tuning my preparation for international travel. Five years ago I shared a three part series on International Travel which is also included in TSLL's first book with further details not included on the blog. With each trip I have since taken requiring a passport, my travel experience deepens and prompts me to want to share what I have discovered.
1. Check Visa requirements and Renew Passport, if necessaryA simple check on this U.S. government website will confirm whether or not you need a Visa or merely your passport to travel to the international country on your itinerary. For example, if traveling to Australia from the U.S., you will need a Visa. A U.S. passport is valid for 10 years (five years for children under 16) and the renewal fee for an adult passport book is $110 (an additional $30 for a passport card). On the website, it states that renewals take between 4-6 weeks, but to be safe, do it at least 3 months in advance.
2. Apply for a TSA Pre-Check or Global EntryOne of the best $85 I spent was going through the process to receive my Known Travel Number (KTN). In fewer than five minutes in any U.S. airport, I was moved through security without having to take my shoes off or empty my bags. I do still have to run my carry-on through security, but I was able to remain clothed and not take out all of my personal items. The ease set the tone for the trip that was pleasurable and less harried. Remember to renew within five years. Now for international travelers, the TSA Pre-Check works for our departures, but once we are abroad, we will have to go through international airport security unless we have a Global Entry number. While not all countries are a part of the Global Entry program (check here to see which are), there are certain travel frequency requirements to meet in order to obtain this status. The cost is $100 (also must be renewed every five years).
~the red smiley face was the note to the TSA security check that I was TSA Pre-Check, and I moved swiftly through the security line~3. Reach out to your financial institutions (credit card and checking) to alert them of your travel destinations Once you know which credit or debit cards you will be taking on your travels, call your bank to let them know where you will be traveling abroad and during which dates. Why? If you have a bank that keeps careful track of where you spend your money as to alert you to any fraudulent purchases, they could prevent your card from being used while you in a destination you normally aren't. Simply let them know and you will be set.
4. Pack the proper adapters and convertersIn my first post regarding international travel, I recommended a brand of adapters that while they worked, I found them to be too flimsy and often don't stay in the socket (the post has since been updated). So the hunt began for a new brand which I found and am happy to report is affordable and very sturdy. Made by Ceptics and offering adapters for nearly any country you may be traveling to, I paid $7 for three adapters fit for the United Kingdom and Hong Kong. Check this post out for converters and for what purpose you will need them (most laptops convert automatically) - scroll down to #4.
5. Purchase necessary sleep aids to alleviate jet lag as much as possibleI have yet to not experience jet lag whatsoever. And even when I am convinced I am not experiencing it at the time, inevitably, upon reflection, I was. However, taking an over-the-counter sleep aid isn't a bad idea to try to sync your body on the plane sooner rather than later. Bring a sleep mask, and perhaps even change into pajamas if your flight is extra long.
6. Educate yourself about the cultureIf you've never traveled to your destination, do your homework. Come to understand the customs and expectations, and if the country speaks a different language, learn the basic greetings (hello, thank you - see a more detailed list here - check out #7 on the list).
7. Check the driving license requirementsIf you are planning on renting a vehicle, check to see if the country you will be driving in requires an international driving license. Some countries simply need your driver's license from the country you are from, but others are more particular. Rick Steve's writes about driving in Europe here and here is a link to AAA which will issue you an IDP for $20 (good for one year).
8. Purchase transportation passesd in advanceIf when you arrive you will be using the local transportation (subway, metro, tube, busses, etc.), consider purchasing in advance (if available), the necessary cards. For example, London makes available in advance of your arrival their Oyster card for visitors, as well as offering discounts on the fare prices. I particularly like knowing my transporation from the airport and for the first day is taken care of as due to the lengthy travel itinerary, I am quite exhausted and merely want to arrive at my accommodations and settling in without more stress of the unknowns.
9. Pack a neat and well-stocked travel tote for toiletriesThe 3.3 ounce rule applies to liquids and lotions if you are taking your travel tote in your carry-on, so pack thoughtfully. I just found these TSA approved squeezable liquid containers on Amazon which come with pre-made labels. If you are bringing your travel tote full of toiletries and/or make-up, finding the perfect sized tote is the goal. It has taken me some time to find this item. Having gone through a rolled up cloth and mesh version and a plastic version just to name a few, I finally found a leather travel tote with a couple of different compartments and zipper pouches that fit the exact size I needed. (View my list of items for a travel tote here.) This striped toiletry tote also caught my eye.
10. Invest in sturdy and secure luggageAfter going through at least three suitcases in which the handle would either be ripped off, the zipper broken or the compressable handle becoming extremely loose, I realized I should have taken my own advice and applied it to travel luggage: invest in quality. Rimowa and Tumi are two top well-known and trusted brands making their luggage available in sturdy aluminum. I happend on a great deal last spring and purchased my Tumi at a fraction of the full-price from Neiman Marcus. Save up, and purchase what you can afford and you won't have to waste money on buying multiple pieces that don't do their job.
11. Reserve your taxis before you leaveIf you will need a taxi to and from the airport as you leave your home, as well as when you arrive at your destination, make the reservations ahead of time. Peace of mind and not having to pull your luggage through the local transportation is a simple investment if you have more than a carry-on. As well, when you hop (okay, who am I kidding, after a transcontinental flight, it is more like lumbering) off the plane, seeing your name on a piece of paper with your driver waiting to take you to your accommodations with a nice soft bed is a welcome sight.
12. Prep your homeDepending upon the season and weather, tend to details of home care and home sitting if necessary. As well, alert your mail carrier and newspaper delivery to be held or speak with a trusted neighbor to enjoy the newspaper while you are traveling.
13. Pack your carry-onWhether you are taking an item of luggage with you as a carry-on or not, you will want to stock your travel tote that will be traveling with you on-board with the necessities. Below is a list of items to consider:
14. Confirm accommodationsMake sure you have the proper addresses, arrival times are clear, and the hotels, vacation rentals, know when you will be arriving if at a unique time.
15. Confirm Online Check-In for Flight 24-hours before departureMost airlines allow you to check-in online from your phone/computer 24-hours in advance to expedite check-in should you just have a carry-on. Other airlines also allow you to choose your seating for free at this time as well such as British Airways.
16. Download helpful appsFrom an app to help you find free wi-fi at many international airports around the world (only $1.99 - WiFox), to transportation apps for your city, as well as Uber and the airlines you will be traveling on so there will be no need for a paper ticket, download them before you wake up early and head to the airport.
17. Now take a deep breathYou are ready to relax, open your mind to the many experiences that await you and enjoy your trip. If you'd like to see exactly where I am going and what I am enjoying, be sure to follow along on Instagram (@thesimplyluxuriouslife) ~VIEW SIMILAR TSLL POSTS ON TRAVEL HERE
~Why Not . . . Travel Internationally? Part Deux (what to pack)
~Why Not . . . Travel Internationally? Part Trois (how enjoy your visit to the fullest)
Petit Plaisir:here for the recipe
This episode was sponsored by the following:
Mon, 6 November 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #182
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
"Paris was always Paris, and the French were . . . well, the French. But because of what happened —j'avais mûri, I had 'ripened,' as they say." —David Lebovitz, L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home (released Tuesday November 7, 2017)In today's episode of the podcast, food blogger, renowned pastry chef (having worked for 13 years at Alice Waters' Chez Panisse) and best-selling cookbook author David Lebovitz joins me to talk about his new food and Paris destination memoir L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home. Having called Paris home since 2004, it was after eight years of renting that he decided he wanted to put down roots, and thus the journey of delights and disasters began. Tune in to my conversation with David Lebovitz and discover:
~images from David's Instagram, and be sure to check out his IG Stories as well~
~the French farmhouse sink worth the search as discussed in the episode~
More books by David Lebovitz:
~My Sweet Life in Paris, David's best-selling Parisian memoir
~My Paris Kitchen: Recipes & Stories by David Lebovitz (a cookbook to have in your kitchen and the cookbook he was working on during his apartment's renovations)
~Recipe for David's Quiche aux petits pois, lard fumé et estragon (Bacon, Green Pea, and Tarragon Quiche)~Click here for the recipe
~Tune in to more French-Inspired episodes of The Simple Sophisticate below:
This episode was sponsored by the following:
Mon, 30 October 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #181
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
“There is no end of craving. Hence contentment alone is the best way to happiness. Therefore, acquire contentment.” —Swami SivanandaRecently I overheard someone describe their weekend as boring, using the descriptor in a negative tone (remember this post on my thoughts about being boring?). Being someone who revels in what outsiders consider boring behavior such as reveling in the responsibilities of the tasks I have chosen for my life (doggie mama, tender to my sanctuary, chef of my appetite, etc.), I inquired as to what she did. Without going into specific details, it was a weekend at home without demands on their time, permitting them to mosey about and just have free range to do as they pleased. As many of you may be, I was smiling, as such a weekend sounded glorious. Our everydays, our stay-at-home weekends make up the majority of our lives. The underlying premise of living simply luxuriously is making our everydays extraordinary. Now that doesn't mean, everyday will be a celebration of momentous successes, grand good news or unexpected bonuses, but rather we appreciate the simple moments that we have constructed into our everyday routines. As Sivananada shares above, the cravings will always try to place themselves at the forefront of our minds. We are inundated with marketers, even fellow friends and family, but our culture as well, which ever nudges us to do more, be more, see more, acquire more. So long as we can recognize the bombardment and not fall prey to it, we will open the door to observing how magnificent contentment can be. And the magnificent realization is that contentment can be found in every day we live. Thus happiness (my term of phrase - joy) can be found readily at our fingertips no matter how outstanding, or lack thereof, our lives look to the outside world. Where and how to seek contentment?
1.Develop a health routine you enjoyFrom the exercise regimen you embark on throughout your week: is it a class with an instructor that soothes your mind or inspires you to sweat more than you could do on your own, a peaceful weekly kayak outing down the nearby river, a meditation routine each morning that sets the tone for the day; to your approach to eating: making grocery shopping an experience to dazzle your tastebuds, explore seasonal produce, try new recipes, cook with excitement and your food and those you share will feel and enjoy it more than you might imagine.
2. Say hello to natureFeed the birds, stop and gaze about on your walk, stop and sit on a stump while outdoors and just close your eyes to soak up the sun, water an indoor plant, welcome an orchid into your home.
3. Create an end of the day winding down routineDesigning an evening routine is something you will not only look forward to as your day at work or outside of your home begins to unwind, but it will also ensure that something is within your control no matter how harried the day may have been. And if the day was spectacular, your beloved evening routine will be an additional bonus of goodness. Have a look at a glimpse of my evening routine here.
4. Design opportunities for experiences rather than time to buy more thingsWhenever a day or even an afternoon presents itself in which a movie will be showing that I am eager to see, I plan the afternoon around that experience. Not only do I go see the movie, but I plan the before and after as a date with myself to just enjoy the outing all the more. Maybe afterwards I will bring a journal and head to a local coffee shop (if I go see a matinee), or enjoy a nice lunch before heading to the theater. Recently, when I was visiting a good friend in Eugene, we went for a short walk when the rain abated and then sat down for tea with her neighbor and just caught up while the rain came down. Afterwards, I took out my book and just relaxed until it was time for the dinner party that had been prearranged. As you can see, create opportunities for experience, time to relax, time to engage and time to simply enjoy and let go of time.
5. Create and design a welcoming spaceUpon walking into the door of my home, I am often greeted with fresh flowers, an abundance of light filling the dining room and living room and two bubbly pups excited that we have been reunited again. A dear friend of mine has curated a home in which upon walking into her cottage, one is greeted with a pair of high-backed tufted suede sofas engaged in conversation, a wood burning fireplace and a vast picture window that over looks the neighbhood. I gravitate immediately to that space with her company or on my own to just unwind. Whether you are able to curate your entire home or simply just a room of your own to always be welcoming, taking the effort to do so will offer priceless moments of appreciation in your everydays.
6. Do something to let your mind escapeFrom an easy reading book, an activity that is a habit which allows your mind to relax or even a nap, better yet, a moment of meditation, care for your mind because it becomes exhausted too.
7. Make progress on a project, no matter how minimalWhether it is something as grand as completing a significant task to edge you ever closer to your goal, or just adding an idea to your journal to ensure you do not forget the aha moment that presented itself during your day, do something that keeps the flames of your dreams and hopes alive.
8. Express loveIn some form or fashion, express love to someone, something, the world in general in a means you are capable and comfortable doing. Part of the reason I know living on my own for so long has been a breath of fresh air is because I do have the opportunity to express love to dogs, to make their lives happier and more enjoyable and see the glee on their faces when we go for a walk. As well, giving to your neighbors, sending an email to someone who danced across your mind and you wanted to say hello. No matter how seemingly small or large, exhale love and you will always be able to feel it around you. At the core of cultivating contentment is you and how you choose to go about your days with the choices you make, the attitude you bring to each moment and the flow your daily life takes no matter what the outside world may expect or desire from you. While we may want happiness, the truth is happiness is something outside of ourselves and it is the contentment that we build in our lives that provokes more and more moments of happiness to be savored. ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Episode #93 — 15 Everyday Habits to Live a Life of Contentment
Savory Roasted Filberts (aka Hazelnuts), the secret recipe16 oz of shelled filberts 1/2 cup of soy sauce 2 cups of olive oil (enough to make a "soup" of filberts) Let marinate for 3-4 hours (overnight is even better). Preheat oven to 300 (anywhere between 275-325 - depending upon your oven) Remove from the marinade and place in a single layer the nuts on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
This episode is sponsored by:~Simply Earth
Mon, 23 October 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #180
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadioThe year 2017 has been dedicated to living a year of quality here on TSLL. While at the core of living simply luxuriously is to focus on quality rather than quantity, I wanted to take time each month this year to focus on one aspect in our lives in which we could amplify the quality and eliminate the extra. Each month we've addressed one area in which to amp up the quality in your life. Beginning in January, the topic was to reduce or eliminate entirely one food or food type that does not serve you well, and you can view the entire list of topic for each month here. While a couple of months leading up to October have yet to be discussed in their own blog post, rest assured they will be in the coming remaining months of the year. Today's we're diving into October's topic as we focus on our wardrobe and discover tools and approaches for ensuring we build a quality wardrobe that enables the woman (or man) in the wardrobe to shine. Be sure to listen to the episode here, on iTunes or on Stitcher as I discuss in-depth each topic. Below is a list of the 10 items. 1. Clarify your capsule wardrobe - Make a List ~My Fall Capsule Wardrobe and How to Create Your Own: My Appearance on AM Northwest 2. Use Online Tools Shoptagr, eBates, Honey, CamelCamelCamel, and SliceWatch (only available on Chrome) 3. Stick to classic, flattering silhouettes 4. Have the necessary shoes for each season ~discover the 10 essentials shoes every woman should have. 5. Stick to a complementary, versatile color palette 6. Pay for quality, but pay less often Learn more about Cost Per Wear here. 7. Choose quality fabric 8. Understand the sale season and be patient 9. Spruce up the classic essentials as needed 10. Invest in handbags, shoes, eyewear, lingerie, and outerwear View more specific SIGNATURE STYLE posts here
~Pan Fried Oregon Sea Scallops with Lemon Butter Caper Sauce - click here for the recipe~As promised on the episode, the recipe for a lovely fall dessert that is simple to make: Rustic Apple Tart for Two
This episode is sponsored by:~Simply Earth
Mon, 16 October 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #179
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadioThe desire to share our lives with a partner can be a different vision in each of our minds, but at the core of a strong, healthy, worthwhile relationship is something that is often dismissed as important, but not vital. Too often we are looking in the wrong place, seeking out the wrong traits and even presenting a false self in order to be chosen or to choose a person to potentially be our partner. With the inspiration of Susan Quilliam's book How to Choose a Partner, we dive into to part deux today (check out part une here) regarding how to choose a partner. Sometimes, at least for me, it feels as though there are a multitude of mixed messages of what should or should not be considered when choosing a partner. And as I shared with an acquaintance recently, I can honestly say, the individuals I have had the opportunity to get to know and consider as potential partners continue to be more impressive people, but at the same time, I am more and more aware of what I need and what I can be flexible about. Now the benefit of this reality is that the decision is easier, but the saying goodbye (or no to an intimate relationship, but perhaps still acquaintances) is difficult initially. However, upon reading Quilliam's book, she shares clearly how to live and welcome a partner into your life that will elevate both of your lives and leave no doubt (even when situations down the road aren't perfect) that you are indeed with the right person.
1.The ideal everydayLiving simply luxuriously is ultimately about elevating the everyday and create the extraordinary. An extraordinary that a passerby without deeper insight may not observe, but we, the person living the life we've created savor with deep appreciation each and everyday. While it is important to understand what your dealbreakers are and what you most desire in a partner, a simple check is to "imagine the rest of the day —not special, not peak experience, just normal, solid and satisfying". Since I have a feeling many long-time readers/listeners of TSLL/podcast have constructed and curated everyday lives they love (find out how to do so here and here) already, imagine how a partnership exists within your ideal everdyday. Can you see that person (whomever it may be that you are involved with or considering dating) intertwining well with your ideal everyday? Would you interwine well into their ideal everyday? And perhaps you are still cultivating your ideal everyday, which is most likely the case, even for me. I am always striving, adjusting, improving, learning, and yes, I would love to share my everydays with a partner. So a better question to ask is "could this person help us create the daily life that we want forever?" If you are shaking your yes, even if ever-so gradually, continue to get know the person you are thinking about at this very moment.
2. The truth about chemistry
"Perhaps the only thing that chemistry guarnatees is chemistry. If so, then maybe instead of demanding it as a prerequisite for a relationship, we ought to be seeing it as a distracting delusion."Sometimes you just wish you'd been given certain advice when you were young and had it tattooed on your palm to read again and again until you understood its truth. Such is the case with #3. Case in point to what I shared in the introduction, I have had dear friends tell me that "chemistry must be there . . . I don't care what anyone else says." And to be clear, we're talking a physical attraction when we say chemistry. But after nearly twenty years of dating, I want to say for the record that I know this to be false. This is not to say I haven't had good chemistry with individuals who I have been in healthy relationships, but it wasn't always the case. And case in point on the flipside, I have walked away from individuals after one or two dates because I felt no chemistry who, upon reflection, were lovely people and possessed the crucial detail I will mention below. The key with chemistry is that it isn't bad, but it shouldn't be the only thing, let alone the most important factor, when choosing a partner. Knowing what is going on within our bodies and why when chemistry occurs is important. However, it is important to note that research even finds it diffcult to "pin down what exactly chemistry is, let alone what causes it." So for us, mere humans, to say without chemistry a partnership cannot occur, is a logical fallacy.
3. Knowing our comfort levelThe debate about whether it is best to choose someone who is similar to us or to choose someone who meshes well with us or someone who is polar opposite will forever continue as each human being has a different level of comfort with similarities and differences. The key is to know your comfort level, know what you need and what you can be flexible with and be clear. In other words, knowing thyself is vital.
4. The truth about the differences between men and womenCulture has nurtured individuals within a society to ascribe with certain stereotypes regarding men and women, but the truth is, as biology has proven, "men and women are actually quite similar". The skills each of us learn as we grow up can be attributed to nurture, and thus we can change, we can adapt, we can reflect on what works for us and what does not, and if we choose, step away from from hindering behaviors and thought defaults.
5. The most important must-have
"Emotional responsiveness — a partner's ability to pay loving attention to our emotional needs, and our ability to pay attention to theirs. Note the reciprocity. As well as needing to choose a partner who values our feelings, we need to choose a partner who motivates us to value theirs."No matter how compatible on paper two individuals may be. No matter how electric the chemistry, Quilliam argues that a relationship without emotional responsiveness is not a relationship you want to be in. A few weeks ago I wrote about the truth regarding compatibility, and shared a list of components that are part of being emotional responsive. The underlying detail is that we have to want to be emotionally invested, we have to want to step forward and love in a way we may have never loved before and on the flipside, we need to see and feel our partner doing the same.
6. Discuss love languages with your partnerIn Gary Chapman's best-selling book The Five Love Languages, he shares the primary five ways each of us may feel loved by someone else. Just as with any new language, it is something we have to learn about our partner. How do they feel loved? What actions, when I partake in them, communicate my deep affection for them, and which do not? I broke down these five langauges in episode #87 of the podcast, and I encourage you to take a look because as important as it is to know the love language of our partner, it is just as important to know our own love language. And to know how to communicate what we need to our partner.
7. Understand attachment tendenciesIt is human nature to have any one of the four attachment tendencies throughout the duration of our days and lives and thus with our partner as our relationship is growing. Introduced by psychologists John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth as they studied child development, time has also revealed we carry attachment tendencies with us into adulthood as well, and it makes sense. We are looking for connection, security, love. What are the four attachment tendencies? Secure, Anxious, Avoidant, Attacking. Examine yourself and see where you fall primarily, and then examine when or if you fall into the other categories. Ask yourself, what occurs to make me feel anxious, avoidant or the need to attack? The ideal as you might have already guessed, is to feel secure and to find someone else who is also secure, which leads me to #8.
8. The ideal: Tranquility and SimplicityQuilliam pointed out that we rarely see a "secure" attachment in the dramas or comedies we view on television, read in books or see on stage. Why? As critics would say, it would be boring. No drama. To me, that sounds perfect, and it truly is what we should aspire to in order to be a good partner and what to seek in a good partner. The outcome of two individuals who are primarily secure individuals with regards to attachment (admittedly, life has its unexpected moments when we stagger and fall back into one of the other three), is a feeling of calm. And this is where some of us mistake our potential partner who makes us feel calm, as boring and not right. This would be a mistake, as Quilliam points out. Calm is secure and content. A turbulent, up and down relationship is not healthy or foundation building that will last. Seek out the calm and be the calm, and you will have a beautiful partnership.
9. The importance of self-love along with loving our partnerIn points #8, #6, #3 and #1, a primary and thus necessary component is knowledge of oneself. And along with this self-knowledge is the knowledge of how to love ourselves. How to be kind and gentle with ourselves, how to eradicate the negative voice, to refuse to let others bring us down and respect the boundaries we need in our lives. As Quilliam shares the insight from relationship psychologist David Schnarch "We need to feel 'at home' in ourselves in order to have 'a good place to invite a spouse to visit'". In other words, finding the right partner begins with understanding and then loving ourselves because when we embody love for the life we live, we are then truly able to give it sincerely to others. We may not know when we will meet the right partner or potential right partner, the good news is there are plenty opportunities to do so should we choose to live in accordance with our unique compass and temperament. Quilliam does go into great depth about how to meet potential partners that are best suited for us, and if this is interests you, I would encourage you to pick up her book. Largely, why I enjoyed the book so much was that the truth is if we have the wrong map, we'll never find what we're looking for. And her book is a simple, direct road map that is full of common sense if you are looking for a partner that you want to enjoy your everydays with and build a life together in which both individuals are respected, loved and supported.
Petit Plaisir:Amazon Video. Click here to take a look at the previous four seasons and check your local PBS listings to see when A Moveable Feast airs in your town. ~Subscribe to Fine Cooking magazine here
This episode is sponsored by:~Simply Earth
Image via TSLL Instagram
Mon, 9 October 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #178
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it's not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That's why it's your path.” ― Joseph CampbellHave you ever thought or uttered this statement, "If only there was someone's journey I could follow, model my life after, then I would be more at ease"? At ease with knowing which step to take when, why I was taking it and where it would lead. While a road map of where to go would be handy - a Google Map for Life, so to speak - I have come to realize I am thankful I do not have one. Why? Well, it isn't because I enjoy adrenaline rushes or the unknown necessarily. Rather it is an understanding I have come to realize that Joseph Campbell explains eloquently in the quote above: Each of our journeys is meant to be unique and while it may be oh so tempting to follow in step those who inspire us, to do so would be to eliminate what can only uniquely come forth from each of us. Don't get me wrong, it can be terrifying to understand such a truth, and to be honest, I know some will say "Not for me. I am going to do what I know and what those before me have done", but I also know many of you, like me, are willing to listen to our internal compass and even if we can't make sense of it, find the courage to step out onto our own trail and forge the path even if we're not quite sure where we will end up or when we will end up where we hope it will lead. Today I'd like to share with you six tips for preparing you for a successful journey that will be uniquely yours.
1. Take the time to get to know the navigator . . . that would be youOne of the first three-part series I wrote when the blog began was a list of benefits of getting to know yourself and how to do it. Ultimately, when you become accustomed to your own unique language, what your true temperament is, what makes your energy soar or sag, what tickles your curiosity and what deflates your hopes and ignites your fears as well as what you value versus what is simply nice, but unnecessary to live a most contented and fulfilling life, you become able to make decisions more readily without second-guessing yourself. You begin to recognize and trust your intuition and you begin to advocate for the direction you know you should head with more confidence.
2. Exercise the mindThe best way to be able to make connections with old and seemingly incompatible concepts is to continue to learn. Read up on history, read a biography, read about the new research findings on neuroscience or the best nutrition. Observe mind-provoking cartoons, challenge yourself with the daily crossword puzzle. Absorb from time to time seemingly unnecessary information because who knows, it may just be the missing piece to solving a problem down the road, or creating a new way of living well for you or those you love or the community at large.
3. Lighten Up
"Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer." —William S. BurroughsAgain and again I am reminded of the above quotes truth when I am trying to locate a solution or think of a particular idea that is escaping me. It is the relaxing of the mind, giving it room to move and be free, which enables it to find what I have been searching for. Even better, when I give my mind a task to work through, sometimes unconsciously, upon getting a good night's sleep, I will wake up in the morning with a fresh mind and often a fresh new idea.
4. Practice gratitude
"Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance." Eckhart TolleIt initially seems counterintuitive: If you say you are grateful for what you have, why would you the universe interpret that as a person who needs or deserves or should be given more? But the best receiver of any gift is someone who knows how to truly appreciate it, and we demonstrate this truth by how we treat and appreciate the many fortunate opportunities, comforts, necessities, etc. we already have.
5. Focus on welcoming ease
“Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.” ~Deepak ChopraA calm mind is a sound mind. If how you have been approaching life isn't working, circle back to what it is that is causing you to stumble. Perhaps it is a default response whether your words, your tone, the thoughts you convey and their connotation, or your physical response - your facial expressions, your body language, your actions, or perhaps it is something so simple, yet so powerful such as your jump to negativity and/or worry that hinders the forward positive progress that you seek. Choose to react differently and you will eventually see different results, sometimes immediately.
6. Always be an iota out of your comfort zone
"If we're growing, we're always going to be out of our comfort zone." —John MaxwellBack in June I shared a post titled 7 More Signs You Are On the Right Track, and two of the signs were feeling challenged and feeling as though you were in limbo land and not sure of which way to go or if anything was going to work out as you had stepped out of what you knew and were attempting to arrive some place else. Brené Brown also points out in her new book that the most difficult part of the journey you need to be on, is the one that is yours and yours alone, is the in-between. The in-between where you've come from and where you're headed. The truth is the change you seek will require some courage, and stepping out of your comfort zone, if even only in slight increments, is the only way to grow to your fullest potential and seek the destination that is solely yours to inhabit. Choose to have the courage to arrive at this uniquely singular destination and enjoy the journey.
“If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.” ― Joseph Campbell~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Be the Hero of Your Own Story (episode #176)
~8 Ways to Become the CEO of Your Own Life (episode #40)
This episode is sponsored by:~Simply Earth
Mon, 2 October 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #177
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
“October knew, of course, that the action of turning a page, of ending a chapter or shutting a book, did not end the tale . . . " —Neil GaimanThe journey of each of our lives meanders and sometimes jet-lines through seasons. As children we are in the spring of our youth, emerging, learning, exploring and stretching our wings to experience all that is unknown. During our summer we invest, we dive deep into life — what we love, whom we love — and beginning the process of reaching a far-off goal that will take time to achieve. The arrival of autumn is that time in which we hope our efforts, our discoveries, our risks, have paid off and what we want to see upon our arrival is a beautiful, bountiful harvest of goodness, of gifts, of joys, and even pleasures. A time to savor is what is desired, a time to take a deep breath and say to ourselves, 'It was worth it. It was all worth the uncertainty, the struggle and the hope without proof during certain moments'. With October's arrival yesterday, I found myself walking along a trail I haven't walked in quite some time. Early in the morning, the sun was only emerging and the aspens along the graveled path were all but brilliant cornflake yellow. They wiggled in the gentle breeze and the glimmers of sun that began to shine through the trees made each leaf glow like gold. The deciduous trees reach their glory in autumn and serve as a vision of what is possible when we choose to be patient, to be thoughtful, to be clear in our focus and present as well to appreciate when the moment comes to stop in awe as I did along my walk and just stand with smile spontaneous, reveling in the beauty. I find it quiet poetic that "deciduous" can be translated to mean "falling off at maturity". In order to ensure our harvest in life is bountiful, below are 10 ways of living during your spring and summer to incorporate into your everyday way of living.
1. Take Action: Daily, Regularly, SteadilyNo matter how many exquisite, unique and praise-worthy seeds you hold in your hand, if you do not plant them, they cannot sprout and grow. The seeds are your dreams, planting them is you taking action, learning how to best care for them, and doing so each and every day, season and year. Keep focused on what you want to grow, even if you don't see the small incremental progress because it is underground or happening in such a minuscule manner, trust that so long as you are saving your money, learning your trade or whatever daily tasks must be tended to, every day you are inching ever closer to the bountiful harvest you seek. episode #143 in which self-awareness is the topic)
3. Nurture What You Want to GrowIf you want more kindness, be kind to known and unknown individuals. If you want intelligent compassion, continue to learn and along the way be compassionate to those learning as well or encourage them to learn gently. If you want love, give love in ways that are comfortable for you. If you want respect, be thoughtfully respectful and live in such a way that you are proud. We are the farmers who plant the seeds, and so we do have choices everyday that will determine what we will see materialize tomorrow. More division or more understanding? Clear, thoughtful communication or name-calling? We have that choice.
4. Confront the ObstaclesIn order to grow, we cannot turn away from what scares us, what hurts us and what is holding us down from striving forward. What are you fearful of? Address it. Perhaps with a trained professional (counselor) so that you have the net of objective support if the fear is too much to initially face alone. Is a loss preventing you from striking out again toward what you so loved having in your life. Confront it, embrace your feelings and do not judge yourself. If you are someone who regularly becomes jealous, dive deep into where the insecurity comes from. Address it, heal it, so you can move forward. Because you can if you confront the obstacles.
5. Strike a Balance and Protect It FiercelyQuality work begets quality outcomes. Do not be tricked into believing you have to be working 24/7 week after week, month after month. It's not true. Yes, you may want results now, but don't you want quality results that will last? I have a feeling you do, and in that case, always make time, daily or weekly, for you, for play, for relaxation, for exploration, for no work. Protect it fiercely by learning to say no, especially to yourself. By doing so you are investing in the quality product you wish to materialize when the journey comes to an end.
6. Select the Crop's Components ThoughtfullyDo you have weeds in your life? In other words, naysayers, complainers, squashers of thinking beyond the box? Let them go. Weeding in your crop is necessary because if you don't, you choke out or reduce the potential of what you want to grow. You only have so much energy in any given day. If people regularly exhaust you, stress you out to the point where your thoughts are constantly swirling around what they will say or do, stop and reassess why you are allowing them a place in your field of life.
7. Refrain from Multi-TaskingMulti-tasking, as we've talked about before, promises what it cannot deliver. And upon letting it go you welcome more pleasure, more productivity and less stress. It's a win-win-win!
8. Observe Different Approaches to Living If An Aspect In Your Life Isn't WorkingIs there something in your life that just isn't working? For example, have you not figured out how to successfully utilize technology in your life — you need it, but you look at your phone too much. Or maybe you can't figure out how to make time to exercise regularly. Seek out other individuals, other cultures, other anything to see what they do differently in any avenue in which you are finding isn't working in your life. When you travel for example, keep your eyes open as to how others live their everyday lives. There are so many approaches to living well, but the key is to know what you need to enable you to thrive. So long as you keep searching, what will work well for you will be discovered.
9. Practice GratitudeGratitude is a simple practice that aids us in recognizing how wealthy we actually are when it comes to living well. Food on the table, a warm house to enjoy the rainstorm that pounds on our windows while we sip a cup of tea, access to information and entertainment, choices beyond choices. If your schedule or daily routine has strayed away from keeping a gratitude journal or simply having time to sit and savor all that is going well in each day, perhaps usher it back into your life and you may just notice an improved quality in your thoughts and actions toward yourself and others as you go about your day.
10. Invest in Well-Being for Your Unique SelfToday's Petit Plaisir is an example of a small investment I made into my own well-being: knowledge about how to thrive as an introvert. For me this was a small, but powerful choice. The key for each of us is to continue to see our growth as a journey and to come to understand what enables us to be our best selves and reach our highest potential. The mission of this blog, TSLL, is to provide the tools that you need, have been searching for, and break them down so that you can apply them to your life as is best for you in your unique journey. Once you know how to nurture yourself well, you can do so for others and then the world at large. Because when we feel loved, when we feel understood and seen, most importantly by ourselves, we find a centering peace of mind that is the springboard to reach our dreams and savor a bountiful harvest. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
Today's Sponsor for this week's episode is KIND Bars:~Visit kindsnacks.com/tss to receive an exclusive free trial of their 10 bar variety pack and snack club (all you pay is shipping).
Mon, 25 September 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #176
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
" . . . bring women to the front of their own stories, and make them the hero of their own stories." —Reese Witherspoon at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards~Spoiler Alert: The ending of Hallie Meyers-Shyer's new film Home Again will be shared. The power of a Hollywood script which makes it to the silver screen as well as to the small screen better known as our television sets is unconsciously more powerful than most viewers realize, especially younger viewers unaware of the biases, exigence and purpose of the writers and creators as well as producers. Novels as well must be sold to a publishing house, and if the publishers do not believe they will be able to sell the plot to readers, the manuscript isn't accepted. In other words what determines the plots that will eventually be published, produced and brought to consumers is what will sell. But the obvious flip-side is we need to become savvier consumers of entertainment. The good news is producers will listen to noticeable shifts. For example, in 2016 movie ticket sales indicated that the largest growth in sales was taking place with Latino moviegoers, as a result (or possibly, due to) films began offering more diversity in their casting than in previous years. I share this example because when Reese Witherspoon accepted the Emmy with the ensemble for Big Little Lies last weekend (she starred and was an executive producer of all seven episodes), I had to give her credit. She lives what she desires to be brought to the forefront in Hollywood films and series: women being the heroes in their own stories. For example, she started her own production company Pacific Standard with Australian producer Bruna Papandrea (Wild & Gone Girl), branched out on her own with Hello Sunshine, a digital media company and is bringing to the screen a few titles you might recognize Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Something in the Water. And as I shared in episode #174 of the podcast in my review of Home Again, a film produced by Nancy Meyers and written and directed by her daughter Hallie Meyers-Shyer, it was the ending of the movie which again revealed that Reese is indeed serious about changing the default in Hollywood that is long over-due for a change. Home Again, as she describes it in a recent interview with The New York Times, isn't a romantic comedy, but rather a modern comedy. A comedy in which, in this case, a woman becomes the hero of her own story. She doesn't end up with a man who saves her from a supposed life that is empty without one, rather her character Alice Witherspoon chooses to divorce her husband (not because he cheated and not because he was abusive) because their ways of living life, of making the most of the one journey they have the opportunity to live had strayed into two completely different directions. The love, the fondness was there, but it had changed. Her character sets boundaries, enjoys herself, supports her daughters, chases her dreams and creates a life of everyday moments that she savors on her own terms, not Hollywood's (well, in this case, yes, technically it is Hollywood, but she is now a part of Hollywood and so is Meyers-Shyer and they are changing what the definition of a happy ending). Recently a good friend of mine who is nearing forty (as I am as well) shared that all was well in her life except the missing piece - a man. And having just stepping out of a relationship, that I can honestly say I wasn't looking for but was delighted to have been in, a good life is determined by one and only one person, the person living it. I continue to urge readers and listeners to fall in love with their lives, to cultivate a life you enjoy living regardless of your relationship status because whether you are in a relationship or not, your issues, the hiccups you haven't dealt with will continue to bubble up, the stresses you haven't figured out how to handle, will continue to exacerbate and hinder you ability to savor the everyday goodness and the relationship skills you still need to polish will continue to seek your attention until you heed them whether in a relationship with a lover or a friend. I am not saying being loved and sharing love isn't an extraordinary experience. It absolutely is, but believing that our hero is someone other than ourselves to assuage our conjured up emptiness is a lie that we have accepted (man or woman), and depending up the known or unknown perpetuators of this life story line (Hollywood, novels, parents, church, school, etc.) and need to relinquish. Because I wholeheartedly not only believe, but can say to know as truth, everyday can be truly breath-taking with or without a partner. And the key is to be the hero of your own story.
"Once we belong thoroughly to ourselves and believe throughly in ourselves, true belonging is ours." —Brené Brown, from Braving the WildernessI want to end with mentioning of Brené Brown's new book because her book is a reminder of what type of courage is needed to be the hero of our own story. Stepping away from the city or place of comfort that is not serving us and toward the wilderness is terrifying initially, but as we step away from seeking the approval of others and head in the direction of the wilderness, the "first step will take your breath away". And as writer, pastor, philanthropist and community leader Jen Hatmaker is quoted saying in the book, the loneliest steps are the in between, but if you "stay the course long enough to actually tunnel into the wilderness . . . you'll be shocked by how many people already live out there —thriving, dancing, creating, celebrating, belonging." Ultimately, if we can all just remember and live each day, who we are and what we can give to the world is our gift. "True belonging doesn't require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are."
~Why Not . . . Be Brave? (episode #83)
~A Powerful Couple: Boundaries & Vulnerability (episode #126)
~Growth is a Choice: 11 Ways to Grow Up (episode #101)
~French melon, Charentais, with paper-thin slices of prosciutto, sprinkled with a dash of flaky sea salt.~click here for more pictures and details about the melon and the recipe. ~The sponsor for today's episode was KIND Bars. Visit kindsnacks.com/tss to receive an exclusive free trial of their 10 bar variety pack and snack club (all you pay is shipping).
Image from the 69th annual Primetime Emmy AwardsSaveSaveSaveSave Download the Episode
Mon, 18 September 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #175
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
"How you eat, when you eat, for how long you eat, and with whom you eat might be more important than what you eat. Eating and enjoying real food is what matters, not tracking calories." —Johnny AdamicAs reported by Time magazine last year, while the United States unfortunately has been found to describe 34% of its population as obese, France is ten percentage points fewer. The British Journal of Nutrition observed that a significant type of diet that was contributing to the obesity epidemic in the U.S. was what they coined as the "sweet and processed" diet, in other words foods such as "skim milk, fruit juice, breakfast cereal, chocolates . . ." Much of how we approach food is based on the culture in which we were raised and most directly, the household habits in which we live as a child. However, the food producers and advertisers, especially in America (as you will see below) chose to exploit the health of their consumer in order to gain profits, and thus our parents or grandparents may have fell prey to welcoming into our childhood unhealthy food tastes. As shared in The Guardian, "All the foods that you regularly eat are ones you learned to eat" and the good news is since your choices were learned, you can learn new choices and unlearn the habits that do not suit a healthy body, mind and lifestyle. I was recently speaking to a family who had just returned from a month long visit in Italy. Sitting down to listen to them share their experiences with regards to dining and the appreciation for food and the portions served reminded me of why I appreciate the French, and as evident in their anecdote, the Italian culture as well. Food is to be appreciated, embraced and seen as a component in how to live well. While food may not be the absolute centerpiece of our lives, it is indeed a crucial component and to ignore such an everyday avenue to experience pleasure in the short-term and a healthy long life throughout the duration of our long lives is to be ignorant of the gift food can bring. Today I'd like to share with you 14 ways the French approach eating and welcoming food into their lives as a way to enrich each of our appreciation and experience with the daily detail we all balance, experience and need.
1. Step away from sugar at breakfastAs a child I can remember having boxes of cereal in one of our kitchen shelves; however, my mom was careful to limit us to Cheerios and Shredded Wheat. I quickly became aware of the more sugar laden options when staying at friends homes for sleep-overs and so when my mom would on special occasions let us purchase a sugary option, it was always Frosted Flakes. But I do applaud my mom for being cognizant of the sugar content in our morning routine. Since then, I eat the same breakfast nearly each morning as I shared in this post and the only sweet component is the local honey which is why I found it eye-opening that as shared in Michael Moss's book Salt, Sugar, Fat "the sweet breakfast was an invention of the cereal manufacturers in the middle of the last century". With each year I teach rhetoric to my high school juniors, the more and more parallels I see to not only determining the intention of writers, speakers, and advertisers, but in companies as well. In the case mentioned above, why are those breakfast cereal ads propositioning kids rather than parents? Perhaps because a savvy parent realizes what a child should be eating. My larger point is, rather than make choices of what advertisers would like to sell you or what is the trend in the food world, come to understand what your body needs. Healthy can absolutely make you happy, not artificially so as a sugary cereal will for a short moment and then leave you high and dry before the day has hardly begun.
2. Mind your portionsRecently I reviewed the newly established French Market here in Bend, and one of the reasons I enjoyed my experience as well as the owner and chef's approach to food was the smaller portion sizes. Each time I have dined there, my plate has been cleaned as if the chef knew exactly how much I needed to satiate my palate due to the delectable flavors. Ironically, the local newspaper just shared their review of the restaurant and one of the negatives they shared in their commentary was the small portions. Needless to say, I wholeheartedly disagree. Part of the reason portion sizes have grown in the United States is the food we eat doesn't truly satiate our palate. If food is fresh, well-cooked, seasoned well with herbs and spices as well as salt and pepper (before, not after it is cooked), as well as not smothered in sugary sauces or tasty, yet teasing fried batter, we don't need as much. And neither do we need doggie bags. Géraldine Lepere shared in her interview on the podcast (episode #169) that the need for a doggie bag is a poor reflection on the planning of the kitchen. In other words, when you come to a restaurant for dinner, you are coming for one meal, not dinner and lunch tomorrow, and so the goal is to give you what you need to feel satisfied and satiated in that moment, and no more. As well, the bottom-line of the restaurant is better able to invest in quality ingredients that will satiate their customer's taste buds rather than in cheap processed ingredients.
3. Welcome traditions that workWhile not all traditions are worth keeping (ahem, look to #1 - walk away from the sugary cereals), some most definitely are when it comes to food. For example tea and a small treat (savory or sweet) in the afternoon if you are in England, and eating a large lunch rather than a large dinner as is more commonly practiced in France. Why? In each scenario, the body's needs are heeded without going to excess. As well, each tradition involves sitting down, savoring and fully experiencing the food and the company.
4. Mindfully eatThe habit of being aware of what you are eating, savoring the flavors and the preparation enables you to notice when food is indeed delicious and when it is not (stop eating in such cases). As well, being mindful helps to slow down the eating process and allow time for your physiology to recognize when the body is naturally full.
5. Food is the common denominator not the main attraction
"For France, a meal is a very particular moment, in which you share pleasure, the food as well as the conversation." —nutritionist Dr Francoise L'HermiteWhile indeed food is an art of its own in France, it is not the reason alone you sit down to enjoy the combination of flavors and seasonal ingredients. Rather the food enlivens the celebration and the moment of time spent with friends, family and even strangers depending upon the situation. In so many ways, food is the common ground regardless of culture, belief or age, and what a powerful common denominator to spark conversation and help recognize that we have more in common than not.
6. Select quality again and again and again
"They know that quality food means pleasure in the short-term and health in the long-term." via Empowered SustenanceFlavor matters. If you taste a fresh locally grown strawberry that has been sun kissed by the warm summer heat, you don't gobble down the entire garden's worth. Rather you share and perhaps make a tart or a short-cake or a parfait to heighten the appreciation and share with those around you. When food is top quality, we don't need much of it. And when the quality has been selected, we want to slow down and savor it, reminding our bodies to slow down as well.
7. Lose the negative descriptors of delicious foodGuilty pleasures, sinful bites, naughty concoctions. To label food in such a way is to lessen the moment of pleasure we can have when we take the first bite of dark chocolate mousse. Last month I had the opportunity to have dinner at the French restaurant in Portland I have fallen in love with, Coquine. After a lovely, seasonally perfected three course meal, upon paying our bill and to be enjoyed as we returned to our Airbnb, we received a hot-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookie with smoked almonds rolled in caramel and finished with sea salt (here's the recipe). I did not feel once ounce of guilt. I ate that cookie so slowly, with eyes closed and chocolate melting on my fingers that in that moment great pleasure was indeed experienced. The difference is quantity, and again, proportion plays a role. A savvy chef will make food for people, real humans who have a waistline and wish to keep it, but at the same time also want to taste delicious food. In other words, the piece of chocolate at night will not ruin your diet. In fact, if it is quality chocolate (preferably dark), with 60% or more cacao, it will help your overall health. Eat away (just one though, but that is all your tastebuds will want).
8. Take your timeEating while you drive, while you walk, while you work, while you do anything else besides talking with your dinner companions prevents not only the opportunity to be mindful of what you are eating but also the ability for your body to recognize when it is full. Again food is a significant component in our lives as we cultivate a way of life that is full of quality and appreciation and beautiful moments. And while food isn't the center, it shouldn't be looked at as a boorish necessity to fuel us.
9. Prepare real food, eschew processed and invented foodsAnother difference in the French approach to eating versus American and even English cultures is how often we cook our own meals. When we make our own meals, we are aware of what we are eating. And when we are aware of what we are eating, we can choose to cook with food that will heighten the quality of our life rather than inundate us with, for example, constant additions of sugar. As my palette matures and I begin to seek out natural flavors and appreciation of seasonal produce, I find myself noticing sugar in food that has no need for it such as thus choosing to refrain from eating it or seeking out more healthy options (such as Portlandia Foods' organic ketchup).
10. Make the visit to the market an enjoyable ritualOne of my bi-weekly routines is visiting the farmers market (when the seasons permit) and my favorite grocery stores (seen below is my visit last week to Trader Joe's - flowers are always on my list). I truly enjoy bopping into the store with my canvas bag with my list in tow and being part of the community experience of choosing food to fuel my life and savor each day. Such a concept may at first sound frivolous, but we don't enjoy our everyday routines, what are we enjoying? Life is made up of countless conscious and unconscious routines. Why not make as many as you can as enjoyable as you can?
11. Good fat is good for youYes, many have questioned the French Paradox (eat seemingly food such as cheese, chocolate and drink wine, yet still stay healthy and thin), but while their obesity rate has inched up due to outside influences (namely the United States' marketing campaigns for processed foods), they continue to eat differently by and large. In fact, 89% of the 2600 French people studied in the British Journal of Nutrition reported eating full fat cheeses. Why? Satiation occurs and the boy seeks out less food to feel full. As shared by Lisa Sasson, a clinical assistant professor of nutrition at New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health and a registered dietitian, is “The magic of the French diet, for example, is they still eat whole foods and eat more vegetables than we do. Yes, real food. Not fat free cheese.”
12. Keep it simple and eat the basics, just keep it realI was recently listening to an episode of Christopher Kimball's Milk Street Kitchen, and a great piece of advice was shared about how to learn how to cook well: Master 10-15 recipes you love and learn them by heart. I do agree with this piece of advice, and I also have found that if you master the basic concepts of fundamental recipes (how to create the aromatics for a savory dish, how to roast vegetables, how to make pesto, how to create a basic sauce, etc.) you can then play with these skills and use the ingredients you have on any given day. Part of the reason I made this list for TSLL Épicerie (episode #109) was so long as you have these ingredients on hand at all times, you will be able to make any basic recipe at any given time, regardless of the season (all you have to do is add the freshest seasonal ingredients you find at the market). Knowing how to cook a simple chicken breast so that it is flavorful and moist is a dish you can make again and again and again, changing the flavors up each time and pairing with the freshest vegetable in season.
13. Enjoy wine as a partner to elevate the meal
14. Feeling hungry is not bad for youLast but not least, the French do not snack (unless you are a child and then after school at around 3 or 4 the children enjoy their le gouter). Allowing yourself to feel hungry, not starving, not famished so as to be fatigued, but hungry is a good sign. In fact, when I wake up in the morning, I hope I do feel hungry as it means my body is ready to eat rather than just eat because it is time to enjoy petit déjeuner. How can you ensure you won't become hungry too soon? Eat well when you do sit down for your meals. Eat well-balanced, yet satiating food. Enjoy eating, take your time and be aware of what you are eating and let go of feeling guilting about eating. An important part of the process of developing eating habits that work for us and feed our bodies well is to pay attention to how the food we eat makes us feel. Case in point, at Coquine, with a brioche shrimp toast as an appetizer, poached Monterey Bay squid and Black Cod (two dishes for two people) for the entrées and Benne Seed Pavlova for dessert, I wasn't full, but I was absolutely satisfied (and the cookie to enjoy on the walk home, as mentioned above, added a sweet punctuation of deliciousness to finish the night). The flavors were thoughtful, and the evening was memorable due to the company, the ambiance of decor and fellow guests as well as the knowledgable the wait-staff.
~the entrées at Coquine, as described in the above text~Fearing food is to fear life. Food is what gives us life or if thoughtlessly approached, is what can shorten our lives. Why not discover the basic tenets of good eating (see below for posts to get you started or to reaffirm what you already know) and come to understand the simply luxurious approach to food which is inspired by the French: quality over quantity and never deprivation, only moderation. ~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
Petit Plaisir:Episode #4 - 10 Ways to Unearth Your Inner Francophile ~Episode #32 - The Francophile's Style Guide: The 14 Essentials ~Episode #144 - 20 Ways to Incorporate Your Love for the French Culture into Your Everyday Routine ~Episode #157 - Liz Burgerol of The Hot Sardines shares her thoughts on the differences between the French and American cultures SaveSave SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave SaveSave