Mon, 18 November 2019
268: M. L. Longworth Talks Provence during the Holidays, Favorite Cookbooks and Her New Provençal Mystery
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Today's episode is my recent conversation with returning guest M.L. Longworth. Her latest mystery in her Provençal mystery series became available to readers last Tuesday, and it is the eighth in the Bonnet and Verlaque series: A Noël Killing.
Having had the opportunity to read and having thoroughly enjoy the book earlier this fall, I invited her on the show again to talk about the book and so much more. After all, France, and specially Provence, is a place TSLL readers are quite fond of along with myself, and why not learn more about this special place on the map from someone who has called it home for more than 22 years!
For the first time, the plot is set during the winter holidays in Aix-en-Provence, which prompted me to ask a handful of questions about Provence during this festive time of year.
Of course, food was the topic of a more than a few questions, and Mary Lou generously shares her go-to Provençal cookbooks as well as recipes she enjoys making for her family and friends and items she looks forward to purchasing from the artisanal shops during the winter season.
A Noël Killing is a true delight of a Provençal mystery that is cozy in all the right ways, and keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering who will turn out to be the culprit behind the unexpected murder. Be sure to tune into our conversation, and do not forget to discover her Petit Plaisir which is shared at the end of the episode: It is simple and lovely, as well as an inexpensive daily routine that will take the definition of simple luxury to the next level during this special time of year, put perhaps year-round too.
Links mentioned during the show:
~Listen to more French-Inspired episodes of The Simple Sophisticate here.
Sun, 10 November 2019
Here in the states, we may officially wait for the holiday energy to be set free, but by the time November arrives, it can easily begin to feel as though the holidays have begun. Whether that is due in part to marketers and shops shifting from Halloween on October 31st to red and green everything on November 1st, or an earnest desire for the holidays to begin by the public, I cannot quite be sure, but what I do know is that I love the three weeks leading up to Thanksgiving of which I am calling the "pre-holiday" season.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the holiday time between Thanksgiving and New Year's, but during the first third of November (Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday in November which this year is quite late in the month), I just linger with absolute contentment.
Today I would like to share with you 10 activities or ideas for savoring the pre-season period as the year that is begins to wind down to celebration and festive gathering.
1.Set the mood in your home without pulling out the decorations
From placing simmering spices on the stovetop to fill the house with luscious, warm and citrus as well as spice-filled flavors (check out my simple recipe here) or simply switching the wreath on the front door to an autumn theme (if you have not done so already), protect, yet acknowledge this time of year that is truly meant to be savored after a summer and early fall of harvest as we gear up for the bustle of the holiday season.
2. Put the yard and exterior of the home to bed for the winter
Depending upon where you live and when the temperatures begin to drop, take this time to be outside and winterize the home, tend to the plants that need to be mulched and trim the perennials, as well as plant the new bulbs that will emerge in the spring. Tending to the exterior of your home will enable you to sleep soundly at night during the snowstorms and frigid temperatures knowing all is taken care of so that you can simply enjoy the winter wonderland that appears out the front door.
~Trusted British gardener Monty Don shares a worth-keeping monthly list of what to tend to in the garden during the month of November.
3. Assess your fitness routine and improve now to feel your best during the holidays
When we are conscious of the benefit of a good and regular fitness routine as well as a well-balanced eating regimen, we are more likely to do well during the holidays. Establish or cement what is working well and plan now to figure out how you will maintain your ability to stay active and eat well even if you are traveling or removed from your regular environment.
4. Make a favorite fall dessert or main dish for you and the household just because it's fall.
From Apple Tart Tatin (check out my recipe and video tutorial below) to butternut squash and apples roasted to perfection for a lovely side dish with pork chops. (The image at the top of the post is a favorite fall dessert inspired by Julia Child - look for my adaptation to be shared in season 3 of the cooking show!)
~Quick recipe for roasted butternut squash and apples: Combine cubes of butternut squash and apples on a parchment lined sheet pan, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, toss the squash and apples with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, roast for 25 minutes, remove from the oven and enjoy!
5. Make sure you have something to look forward to just after the holidays wrap up - something simple, low-key and maybe just for yourself.
6. Have fun with fall foliage - arrangements, playing in the leaves, taking photos of unique compositions that catch your eye
7. Take advantage of weekend sales as businesses clear out inventory for the holiday season.
Currently many business are having sales during our long weekend here in the states, but that is just a start to what is to come. Whether you are beginning to shop for gifts for the holidays or have a list of items you love but are waiting for a sale, be sure to take advantage if the price is right and the item is exactly what you want. As I shared yesterday, I am looking for a fresh holiday wreath for my front door, and was pleased with Williams-Sonoma' 20% off sale.
As well, examine your fall, winter and holiday wardrobe: Do you have what you need? Are there any gaps? The fall collections are about to go on drastic reduction and scooping up your preferred and needed items at great prices will make you and your budget quite happy, not to mention ensure you look your best and feel comfortable going about your day.
8. Forage for the arts and literature and culture you love
On Wednesday of this week I shared a list of books, podcasts, and television shows to enjoy during the winter season, but what I love most about these three weeks leading up to the holidays is that I cozy inside my house far more than I would during warmer weather and pull out a book (or two, or three) and let the time pass by. The same happens when I discover a great show or when I toodling about the house or walking the boys while listening to a podcast in which I learn something but lifts my spirits or ensures my day will be better after listening to it by either teaching me something or deepending my understanding on something that matters.
Perhaps why I enjoyed my visit to Portland last weekend so much and stopping (and lingering) at Powell's Independent Book Store was because books and late fall and winter, along with the shorter days means more time to get lost in a book. Of course reading is savoring year-round, but there is all the more reason to further our knowledge and let ideas percolate giving them time to germinate so that they can bloom fully when spring arrives and summer follows.
9. Get cosy often and lose track of time
At the foundation of these three weeks is time without apology for self-care. Self-care needs to happen year-round and on a regular basis most certainly, but since we know what awaits in the near future, no matter how much we greatly look forward to it, we can enjoy it all the more with a fully rested self.
As 2019 began, the first Petit Plaisir of the year was the book Cosy: The British Art of Comfort by Laura Weir. Released in early November 2018, her timing was not on accident. The cosy/cozy season truly feels as though it begins with November's arrival.
10. Find time to be with yourself, not just introverts researchs finds
In a recent New York Times article, research was shared that "valuing solitude doesn’t really hurt your social life, in fact, it might add to it". Why?
With the new and different, wanted and unwanted people you will see and spend time with during the holiday season, there will undoubtedly be swells of emotion, good and perhaps not so good. Knowing how to regulate our emotions will help us navigate what has the potential to be a truly joyous time of year well and most beneficially not only for our own mental health but those around us. And it is with giving ourselves time to be alone that we learn to regulate our emotions.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is something we have talked about often here on the blog, podcast and in TSLL's 2nd book, and continued research finds that mastering this skill has life enhancing qualities. By giving ourselves time to learn how to monitor our emotions which when we are alone with ourselves and our thoughts expectedly will provide plenty of practice until we learn how to calm the tide and just be present, we give ourselves an awesome gift. Perhaps the best give to give during the holiday season, non? ;)
So cosy up in your favorite spot, turn on a lovely playlist that will wash over you and just do something that you love. At this very moment I am snuggled up with Oscar by my side in my oversized, very well-used chaise armchair, the jazz fills the house and I am watching the many birds dance around the birdfeeder determining who will have the opportunity to snack for a moment. The emotions are certainly swimming about, especially after the week my family has had with the loss of someone truly special to all of us, but because of much practice spending time with myself, I savor such moments and am thankful to have them.
May these three weeks, this "pre-holiday" season prior to the holiday festivities be joy-filled and provide many moments of contentment.
SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~based on Brian Stelter's 2013 book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV
~Habitually Chic's post: Outfits Inspired by Jennifer Aniston's Wardrobe on The Morning Show
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #266
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
~Listen and download the episode here.
~For TSLL reader information: Some of the links shared on the blog are affiliate links, earning TSLL a small commission at no cost to you. Please know, I recommend only products I genuinely like. Thank you so much.
Mon, 4 November 2019
A stroll through the Jardin du Luxembourg or one of the many other jardins located about Paris as the many carefully groomed leafy trees turn orange, red and brilliant gold is a memory to savor for travelers who come from far and wide to visit the City of Light during the autumn season. Granted, most travelers wish to visit for many other reasons as well, but being dressed well for the season ensures the visit will be comfortable and help one to fit in well so as to best experience the city as it goes about its everyday business and routines.
Last month I shared Timeless Seasonal Style — Autumn in Britain — with the promise to share each season a capsule wardrobe to pack for both Britain and France. Today, specifically Paris is our focus.
To visit during autumn is for a select lucky few, and while I have only traveled abroad during this time of year once due to work restraints, I look forward in the future to more visits during this somewhat "off season". After all, from rain, to chilly temperatures, to stunning fall days complete with cobbled streets sprinkled with leaves, autumn in Paris encourages all the more slipping into cafes, museums, bistros and just soaking up Paris and Parisian life.
Let's take a look at what to pack for a comfortable visit for day and evening in Paris.
Paris can be quite cold when the right combination of dropping temperatures and whistling wind sweeps through, so having warmth, yet stylish warmth is a good idea. Depending upon how long you are visiting, pack one or two sweaters, at least one being oversized for wearing over slim jeans or trousers.
Just about every person you will see in Paris, men and women will be donning a scarf that is functional and subtly (or sometimes not so subtle) chic and perfectly paired with their outfit. Pack a wool or cashmere scarf for layering with your coat as well as silk large square scarves for wearing with your outfit after the coat has been removed.
3. Opaque tights
Whether you prefer classic opaque black tights or what the French call collants fantaisie hosierie, tights with details in them, having a pair to keep your legs warm when you still want to wear a skirt or dress is a simple, yet necessary detail to have packed in your suitcase.
4. Ankle boots
Worn with pants, jeans or skirts and dresses, ankle boots are a go-to must-have for the fall season.
5. A Leather or Faux Leather jacket
Layering is the approach to ensure you have what you need to stay warm, but also look pulled together. A leather jacket is a versatile item pairing well for casual occasions as well as evening outings. Choose a color that works well with your wardrobe and skin tone, and don't feel you have purchase a black jacket. Shades of brown or grey are a wonderful neutral choice depending upon what you will be pairing with it.
6. Knee-high or Over-the-Knee boots
Depending upon your style, choose a boot shaft that is tall, but slender. Over-the-knee boots are quite en vogue at the moment and actually have been worn by style icons for years, those that had the aplomb to wear them. And wear them well they most certainly did. With more and more price points available, if you have a nice slim skinny jean or a skirt that is knee or just above the knee length, consider having some fun with this style. However, knee-high boots will always be in style and work well with all ages and wardrobes. If you are comfortable with a little bit of a heel, knowing you will be walking about in them a bit more than usual, go for a heel, but if not, keep them low or flat.
7. Skirts — day skirts that can transition
Knee length or just below the knee skirts are frequently seen on the streets of Paris. Depending upon your body's shape, choose a cut that flatters your figure, but is also versatile to pair with a sweater, your leather jacket as well as a nice blouse.
8. Jeans and/or pants
Whatever you feel most comfortable in and can dress up or down easily, pack two or three - jeans, pants or a mixture. Dark denim if you choose jeans and a color of pant that can be worn with at least two different tops you have brought with you.
9. A Trench coat and/or a Wool coat
Depending upon what time of the fall season you will be visiting, one or both of these coats is a good idea. Wool coats will be ubiquitous in the winter season, but there will still be warm and temperate days in early fall in which a trench would be perfect.
10. Loafers or sneakers
Sneakers are not a no-no anymore so long as they are not trainers. With a vast array of wardrobe sneakers to choose from at varying price points, find a color (white is popular, but it need not be the only neutral choice) that works best with the other items you have brought with you.
Loafers on the other hand can be quite comfortable as well and are perfect on those mild fall days in which letting your ankles meet the fresh air won't chill you at all.
~While your sneakers do not have to be as fancy as the Saint Laurent pair at the top of the post, having a pair that is narrow and simple will make walking comfortable and make sure you don't feel out of style.
11. A crossbody bag
As you will be walking quite a bit, even if it is simply to hop on the metro or hail a cab, having a handbag that is secure, yet a decent size without being overwhelming is a good idea. While pickpocketers are certainly something to be aware of, and a crossbody bag will help you keep your purse secure, choosing a bag that is just large enough for what you need is perfect for walking about as well as traveling to and from Paris. And since you are in France, why not choose a Polène Numero Un or Numero Un mini?
12. A long-sleeve blouse
Choosing a blouse in a print (is always a simple way to make a statement with the other neutral items in your wardrobe) or a solid that pairs with at least two bottoms in your suitcase is a way to offer versatility for both day and evening.
13. One or two dresses
While your wardrobe will be dependent upon your itinerary and what you will be visiting and how you best prefer to enjoy the city, pack one or two dresses. Midi-length is quite popular right now and flattering to many different figures and ages. Depending upon how you most feel comfortable dressing up, make sure you have at least one nice evening outfit. If that is a dress, pack the dress that raises your confidence meter at least two notches. For day, choose a dress that allows you to move, sit, stand and still look wonderful.
Wearing what makes you feel your best, so much so that you can forget about your clothes and just enjoy being in Paris is possible when the wardrobe is thoughtfully compiled. These items should keep you warm, but also trés effortlessly chic. Finish with a scarf, and a curious heart and mind, and you will look absolutely stunning.
~View the remaining three seasons of timeless style for traveling to France below.
TSLL's 2nd Book is now available in Audio Format! (Audible, Amazon and iBooks)
SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Timeless Seasonal Style — Autumn in Britain, episode #263
~22 French Beauty Secrets Worth the Investment, episode #258
~Top 10 Style & Beauty Lessons Learned from the French, episode #196
~The Story of French by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow
~The Story of French by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow