The Simple Sophisticate - Intelligent Living Paired with Signature Style (holidays)

The holiday of Christmas is a festive time that arrives a mere one week before the new year begins.

The arrival of Christmas stirs up nostalgia for some, angst for others, seasonal stress for most of us and a stream of quiet hope for perhaps nearly all of us that a Christmas miracle will occur. And regardless of what we imagine it to be as November arrives and we look ahead to the final two months of the year, it is a holiday capable of being exactly as we most wish it to be when we approach it with a conscious and loving heart and mind.

Discovering and then honoring what brings us joy is a step in the direction for a most enjoyable holiday.

Nigel Slater reminds in his The Christmas Chronicles that "many of the festival's observances date from pre-Christian times, and those who celebrate it as a purely religious event might be surprised to find out how much of the festivities hails from pagan times." The celebration of the winter solstice just days before the 25th, the beginning of more light to our days was, again as Slater shares, celebrated long before Christmas was celebrated "Saturnalia was the Roman festival of honor of the God Saturn, with feasting lasting from December 17th to the 23rd". And so in many ways, while religious or not, spiritual or atheist as Slater shares he is happily, we all borrow from each of the reasons to celebrate during this Christmas time of year, and that too is something to celebrate.

I had planned on posting on an entirely different topic for today's episode/post, but in the days and weeks leading up to curating this episode, I found myself becoming increasingly excited about my own plans for Christmas. Knowing that how I am choosing to celebrate is a less celebrated approach by the culture, I wanted to share because as I wrote in the December chapter of my book The Road to Le Papillon, it is imperative that we celebrate all holidays that come with traditions in such a way that brings us true joy. I acknowledge that not everyone lives alone by choice as I do, but even in a household of a couple or a family, knowing and voicing and observing what brings true joy to those we love and then honoring this need in some way as you design your day of celebration is a priceless gift to give.

So day, as the final episode of 2022, the holiday episode it will be, and along with the ideas for savoring Christmas home alone simply luxuriously, today's Petit Plaisir will be holiday inspired as well and ties in quite nicely with the theme of our conversation. While alone typically signifies one person, it can also include you and your significant other/partner/spouse or you and your household - family. Let's take a look of how to savor Christmas by focusing on quality rather than quantity thereby elevating the entire experience.

~Note to readers: More is discussed in detail in the audio version, so do be sure to tune in. ?

1.Choose to celebrate alone

During the past three years, more than most of us had no choice but to celebrate Christmas alone, so understandably, doing so yet again, may not be enticing or desired. However, I was one of those people during the pandemic who enjoyed spending some of the holidays in my own company, but this is also coming from someone who prior to 2020 chose to spend both Thanksgiving and Christmas in my own company more than a couple of times and had, hands down, some of the best holidays in my adult years I have ever had.

Knowing you have chosen to spend Christmas Day in your own company gives you time to plan, to anticipate, to prepare and thus to then savor the day when it arrives.

Especially if we are changing our plans from previous years of spending this day with family, knowing we have communicated and perhaps shared some holiday time together earlier in December, will make the change into a holiday tradition you desire more enjoyable knowing you have prepared well, so that your conscience can be at peace.

2. Savor other holiday social outings/gatherings/volunteer activities leading up to Christmas

Christmas Day has always been a day I don't want a grand dinner, nor do I want to dress up and throw a dinner party; however, as many of you know, I love hosting a dinner party, so it is rather how I view what Christmas Day is - cozying-in, getting snuggly and just having a wide-open day to savor the joy that has culminated over the past month or so. With all of that said, we need not wait for the actual date of the 25th to arrive to celebrate Christmas. No, no, no, no!

As I know many TSLL readers do, plan a special lunch or dinner date with your dear friend or friends to exchange gifts. During the past couple of years, my dear friend Veronique and I have done this, and dined at a favorite European-cuisine restaurant here in Bend, enjoying sparkling wine and oodles of conversation as the hours pass by, only remembering at the end to exchange our gifts because we've been talking so much! :)

3. Do something special on either the 23rd or the 24th

Every year I have done something slightly or significantly different, but these two dates are the special ones for me when it comes to soirées, hosting a dinner, going out to dinner and splurging, seeing something special with family or dear friends.

Every year as a child, Christmas Eve was the BIG dinner at my parents' house in which we and our guests would dress up for and we kids would do so obediently because we knew soon we would be in bed awaiting Santa's arrival. Now as an adult, the energy of the season is palpable and spending time with others, more than a handful is something even this introvert enjoys because it only happens once a year.

One year, in fact the last Christmas season I was in my house in eastern Oregon (Pendleton), I threw a soirée and more people came than I imagined, and it turned out to be one of the most beautiful memories of my time living in this home with the people attending from my neighborhood, my colleagues at school and my brother and his wife. It was held on Christmas Eve Eve (the 23rd), and it was perfect timing as then I had time to decompress on the 24th and look forward to a quiet Christmas Day.

This year, I am excited to be able to enjoy a full five course meal and share the meal at my neighbors', along with my own, respective houses as we will be enjoying a progressive dinner, and since we all live either next to each other or on the same street, we need only walk a couple house-lengths to enjoy the next course. The clean-up is less, the cost for each of us is more affordable, and as the weather looks to be snowy, it will be safer to imbibe and thoroughly just enjoy the evening. I cannot wait!

4. Plan your Christmas meal - brunch, dinner, dessert, etc.

As you will be in your own company and can dine whenever you prefer, decide what meal you want to enjoy and then do so at your leisure. Brunch is always a must-have on Christmas with pastries, eggs, a meat of choice - sausage or bacon, perhaps a Bellini and paired with The New York Times annual Puzzle section, I will be enjoying a good long meal in my pajamas, of which doesn't take that long to cook. Speaking of pajamas . . .

5. Select your favorite pajamas and have them ready to be worn

As it is quite cold in Bend, I enjoy wearing linen pajamas, and make sure they are freshly laundered and pressed. Just knowing you are wearing something comfortable and warm that you will likely be wearing part, if not all of the day, eliminates the guilt of doing something that is quite foreign to most of us, but something to savor on this special day.

6. Stuff the stockings for your four-legged companions

My pups each have their own stocking, and while Nelle doesn't know the fun that is in store for her just yet, both Norman and Oscar loves/d their stockings, and as you can see below, waited patiently to explore the contents each year.

7. Don't forget to give yourself a gift

While no doubt you have already shopped and wrapped and delivered your gifts for loved ones, even filling out holiday cards to send to personal and professional contacts and acquaintances you are grateful to have in your life, be sure to remember to include yourself on Santa's list to shop for.

Whether the gift to yourself is tangible (a nice Trudon candle) or not (purchase those tickets for your trip next year, or put the deposit on the vacation rental), give yourself something you've been dreaming about and maybe wouldn't purchase freely any other time of the year.

8. Make plans to do something unique/special on Christmas Day

Whether you stay home and take part, attend an event locally or pop up to the mountain to go skiing if snow is in your backyard as it is mine, have a plan to do something special on this day. This will get you up and give you an opportunity to move and perhaps exercise and just looking forward to enjoying this special something is a joy in and of itself.

9. Plan a special evening ritual to savor

As shared above in #4 if you have already planned on either a brunch, a lunch or a dinner, I would encourage to also include a delicious evening-into-the-night treat. What I will be up to after having a good brunch, then a jaunt to the mountain or a long walk in the snow somewhere nearby, is enjoying a slice of homemade Bu1che de Noël that I will be making a few days earlier, paired with hot cuppa or maybe a sip or two of cognac and enjoying whilst sitting by the fire, reading a bit from a book that is calling my name to suit whatever mood I am in, and then watching a bit of the new series that is this week's Petit Plaisir (see below).

A preview of what I hope I can recreate in my own kitchen. This was my mother's Bûche de Noël made, and we all enjoyed, last Christmas Eve.


Wishing you a wonderful, happy and merry Christmas this coming Sunday (and a Happy Hanukkah as well). Thank you for stopping by and look for a new episode on Wednesday January 4th, 2023.


Petit Plaisir

~A Storm for Christmas, Netflix limited series


~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #347

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Direct download: 347HolidayAlone.mp3
Category:holidays -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

Of all summers, the summer of 2022 understandably beckons us to travel, explore and leave our homes and the towns and cities we have been staying close to for nearly three years due to the pandemic. Perhaps even our homes want us to leave so it can have a breather from us!

However at the same time, with demand high, prices for travel fare are driven ever higher as well, so it may not be in the budget to travel during the summer season, or simply it just may not be of interest to travel as it indeed will be busy, at times chaotic and even stressful which negates the purpose that most of us align with traveling for a holiday.

With all of that said, if you have chosen to stay put this summer, just as I have, I wanted to share ideas for savoring this time of year at home and in your home town wherever that might be. After all, we spend the majority of our lives in our abodes and in the town where our home address is found, there is most definitely a reason we remain, and hopefully a reason founded in appreciation for where we have the good fortune to call home, so let's explore how to make it even more special.

1.Permit yourself the luxuries during the summer season you discipline yourself from when working

If you are spending your vacation time at home, be intentional about permitting yourself to wake up when you are ready (put away the alarm clock), take a nap if it calls you to do so, make your favorite meal, say yes or no as you please to invitations and opportunities - only partaking if you truly want to. Create rituals that you love and enjoy them throughout your vacation at home.

2. Turn off your phone or limit who you let contact you

To immerse yourself in the mindset of being on holiday while staying home, remind yourself that part of getting away is to be less available. Set clear boundaries for a week or two, however long your holiday at home will be, as to whose calls you will take, what messages you will respond to and how often and when you will check your email. In other words, let yourself be free from being requested, needed, and required to do anything that does not let you wholly relax. Do not feel guilty about this. You need time to just be and do as you are drawn in order to reap the benefits of what a holiday is all about.

3. Tend to a garden and revel in the beauty that comes forth

As the temperatures rise, when you are home, you can easily ensure the garden is watered well and regularly, whether you have plants in the ground or in pots. And it is during the summer months that the work in the garden decreases and time spent outside luxuriating in the beauty that begins to share itself is a priceless, evanescent treat. Knowing such beauty only lasts for a short period of time makes it all the more special. Seeing the butterflies dance about from flower to flower, witnessing the cherries ripen into their ruby red splendor in a blink of an eye it seems as July arrives, and waking up to blackberries blossoms nearing their transformation into fruits to nibble on are moments that can only be savored in summer, making it all the more difficult to ever want to travel during these precious warm months.

With my schedule now my own as I work from home, no longer having to only have my summers off as was the case when I was teaching, I am looking at the calendar and considering when would the best time be for me to travel, and I must say, because I love to savor the garden that receives so much planning and preparation during winter and spring, it will be hard to travel during the summer months as the years unfold. The garden during the summer is less in need of attention, and is now more a space to relax and savor the hard work you have given to it. With each year's passing, the garden matures and begins to present the vision you had in your mind, but it takes time, so most definitely, spending time in the garden is a highlight for me when I choose to stay home during the summer months.

4. Create an outdoor area to relax

While for half of the year in Bend, it is too cold to sit outside on the porch without a coat and other bundling accessories, the other half of the year is pure bliss outside, so I have intentionally created three (and hopefully in the future will add a fourth) outdoor areas that invite me or my guests to relax, slow down and just savor the natural beauty not only of the garden, but of the beautiful weather and long summer days.

Perhaps you have a porch where you can add a swing?, or is there a nook where you can add an Adirondack and foot rest to while away hours reading in the shade whilst the birdsong fills the air? Add a small bistro table and chairs to enjoy dining al fresco, or add a lounge chair or settee upholstered with outdoor fabric to withstand the sun and elements and relax in true comfort (and maybe close your eyes for a bit and take a nap).

7 Ideas for a Porch Swing Living Space for Luxurious Calm

~explore becoming a TOP Tier Member to take the tour of rooms, indoor and out, at Le Papillon~

5. Explore new recipes in your kitchen after visiting the local farmers' market

With open-air markets in full swing, the fresh seasonal produce is abundant and invites us to try making a dish we may have never given a go in our own kitchen. Find a cookbook that shares recipes aligned with each season (I have shared a few below), and find a recipe for the produce you find at the market. Give yourself permission to invest in necessary ingredients to make the dish what it has the potential to be, and then have fun bringing it to your dinner table (or dine alfresco under the lights).

Seasonal Cookbooks I recommend:

6. Pick up the weekly or summer entertainment guide for your town/city

Here in Bend the summertime offerings have returned and the entertainment is aplenty and then some. From concerts in the amphitheater, events downtown, multiple farmers' markets now open, trails to hike and high lakes and rivers to explore with the paddle or kayak. Whatever you most enjoy, let yourself do so. Take your low-back chair and find a spot at the concert of the performer who is coming to your hometown. Revel in the opportunities right at your doorstep and partake. Even if you have to go alone, which I often do to the concerts at the amphitheater here in Bend, you know your hometown, you will likely run into acquaintances or people you know and discover you have something else in common - the same preference in music!

7. Watch a movie outdoors in your garden or lawn

Perhaps inspired a bit by Home Again starring Reese Witherspoon, but it really is as simple as draping a light-colored sheet over a line strung from two parallel points, purchase a simple projector to connect to your laptop or tablet and enjoy sprawled on the grass or in your lounge furniture, sipping a glass of wine, and nibbling on something scrumptious and fresh. Just remember to be mindful of the sound/volume and your neighbors.

Outdoor portable projectors:

8. Enjoy breakfast and/or dinner al fresco regularly

9. Explore the many parks and walking areas in your town/city

10. Give yourself permission to slow down and take time to just be, regularly

Especially when it is hot outside, let yourself relax somewhere cool without feeling the need to be doing something. If you take a nap, let it happen, and let yourself rest.

11. Host a garden party, small and intimate or large

Whether for aperitif or a full meal complete with courses, invite friends and/or neighbors to enjoy an evening in your garden and outdoor spaces.

12. Find the water and enjoy it how you want

Depending upon where you live, the type of water you have access to will vary. Here in Bend, we are fortunate to have rivers, lakes, swimming recreational centers and even a white water surfing park. As many readers of TSLL blog know, Norman and I like to stand-up paddle, so during the summer, we try to do so at least once a week at a variety of locations either in town or just out of town on the road toward Mt. Bachelor.

Being close to, in, or on top of water is soothing. If you live near the ocean, take walks, sit on the sand, take a book to read, whatever nurtures you, do so and savor being near water. However, the access to water need not be vast bodies of water. Consider adding a bird bath or a small DIY water feature with a solar generated fountain (find one here for fewer than $20). Simply being near water can be incredibly soothing and calming which again is the essence of going on holiday, to bring a feeling of calm into our lives.

13. Read, read, read to your heart's delight

Often summer gives us more time to read what we want, rather than work materials that while we may enjoy them, are still required reading. While in the summer months what I read doesn't change, it is how much time I have to read that lengthens, and I savor this time, gobbling up more books, which leads to more books, and new authors and titles to explore.

14. Schedule outings to be pampered

If you don't already have regular facials scheduled in your calendar or a regular massage, any self-care pampering that is out of budget to enjoy on a regular basis, schedule your favorites during your holiday at home. This will not only give yourself something to look forward to, but the pampering itself will feel as though you are on vacation.

15. Hire someone to clean your house/car/mow the lawn/etc.

In other words, any have-to chores you don't enjoy, spend the money you may have had to use for travel to have someone tend to your chores so you can fully relax around your home and in your daily routine. I personally look forward to someday hiring lawn-care (mowing and edging) as the noise and jarring to my hands is uncomfortable. Such chores, whatever they are for you, look to delegate them and look at it as buying yourself time to do as you want rather than as you have to.

16. Invest and complete a project in your home to create an even more beckoning sanctuary

The project need not be something you hire a contractor for which would likely take more than the three months during the summer. But whether the project in your home décor is something you can do yourself - painting or wallpapering or swapping out new light fixtures, or giving yourself the bathroom you had always dreamt about, why not explore creating a space in your sanctuary that elevates the comfort you feel when you step into it.

Just this past week, the curtains for my living and dining room were installed. This detail of adding window treatments to the open-plan living spaces immediately transformed the space in my eyes - providing warmth, separation of designated areas and sophistication - softening the light, as well as letting more light in, providing privacy, but also creating more welcome. The image at the top of today's post offers a petite glimpse at the curtains in my dining room, and I look forward to sharing a full video tour in this coming August's A Cuppa Moments video chat with TOP Tier Members as well as sharing a detailed post on the blog for TOP Tier Members in August to source as well as share tips for customizing your own curtains, an investment that for me will be with this home for the lifetime of my residence here at Le Papillon.

Finishing a project that changes the space in your home, creating a different mood from what you felt at the beginning of the summer is a reminder that the advantage of taking time off and staying home during such time that we give ourselves can yield powerful benefits to our daily lives the rest of the year.

17. Add a sartorial detail of preference to your summer capsule wardrobe

When we are planning for a typical holiday getaway, we will often access our wardrobe to see what we need for a comfortable and enjoyable trip. Why not do the similar assessment for your summer holiday at home? What do you need to enjoy spending more time in your garden, wandering the markets, visiting your hometown haunts? Whether it is one item or a handful, doing so will again set the tone that staying home is a choice and doing so whilst feeling good in what you are wearing does make a difference.

~Explore this past week's This & That: July 22, 2022, for Panama hats

Staying home during the summer holiday season can be thoroughly enjoyable. It begins with a mind-shift to keeping an open mind to explore all of the possibilities and then asks you to shift your habits and approaches to everyday living: doing more of what brings you pleasure and delight and being determined to step away from guilt society or ways you were raised or nurtured drilled into you as wrong. There is nothing wrong with taking care of your well-being; in fact, quite the opposite, and if it begins by just taking a week or two in the summer to permit yourself, perhaps you will notice the benefits it brings into your life and explore ways to integrate what works best for you throughout the entire year.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday. Bon Voyage!

Petit Plaisir

~The Home Cookbook by Monty and Sarah Don

episode #331

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #335

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Direct download: 335SummeratHome.mp3
Category:holidays -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

When it comes to the winter holiday season, cozying in asks of us to be inside our homes far more than we would be during the warmer months which is why our homes need to become a sanctuary inside which we love spending time.

Over the years my approach to how I decorate for Christmas, the New Year and the wintery weather has evolved, and this year I am excited to share with you 12 ways I have simplify, and at the same time curated decor that surrounds me and those who spend time in my home with warmth, comfort and an abundance of joy.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life —

Direct download: 271HolidayDecor.mp3
Category:holidays -- posted at: 7:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #184
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

~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 traditions

As 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 season

If the festive season of ho-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 idea

Michael 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 it

Whether 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 everyday

Keeping 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 Example

Having 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 or freezing temperatures at night.

7. Take a walk through the neighborhood to enjoy the lights

Instead of hopping in your vehicle, even if you live far away from neighborhoods with lights, park your car in a 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 simple

The 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 small

For 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 recipe

So 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 Saturday

Make 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 we call home.

12. Perfect a simple holiday cocktail

Last 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. Volunteer

Whether 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 been curious to read

Earlier 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 expectations

The 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 examine 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 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.

Petit Plaisir

~Murder on the Orient Express

~Agatha Christie's original Murder on the Orient Express (January 1, 1934)  

This episode was sponsored by the following:
  • Save 40% with code SIMPLE40 on your first order through November 30th
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Download the Episode

~All Images via TSLL's Instagram, London November 2017 Trip

Direct download: 184holiday.mp3
Category:holidays -- posted at: 12:00am PST

From the moment you wake up until the minute you snuggle up in bed, Shannon shares 21 ways to enjoy a simply luxurious Thanksgiving tailored to your tastes and comforts and those you love. 

This week's Petit Plaisir is a Thanksgiving leftover sandwich that will melt in your mouth. 

Direct download: 71simplyluxuriousthanksgiving.mp3
Category:holidays -- posted at: 1:00am PST

With just a little preparation and arranging of priorities, the holiday season can be the best time of year and set the stage for a wonderful start to the new year. With these eight strategies you will be able to plan and let go allowing the events to unfold as they will inviting endless opportunities for beautiful memories to be created.

Direct download: 14-HolidayPrep.mp3
Category:holidays -- posted at: 11:30pm PST