Sun, 23 June 2019
"San Francisco is one of the great cultural plateaus of the world — one of the really urbane communities in the United States — one of the truly cosmopolitan places and for many, many years, it always has had a warm welcome for human beings from all over the world."—Duke Ellington
In 2002 I began my career in teaching - my first job was teaching 9th grade English in a small town at the bottom of South Lake Tahoe in northern Nevada. And on occasion, maybe two or three, I believe it was two, times I made the four hour drive to San Francisco for long weekends. I found a small boutique hotel near Union Square, walked and drove the hills (becoming more proficient with a clutch than ever before) giving my calves an exquisite workout, enjoyed a delicious brunch at the Empress Hotel with my mentor who showed a bit more of the city to me on a long holiday weekend, as well as drinks at the Top of the Mark, but each of my visits was well before Google Maps and the entire tech sector engulfed Silicon Valley and the city by the Bay, so I wasn't sure really where to go and just visited as far as my feet and my comfort would take me.
Fast forward sixteen years, and I finally had the opportunity to return to San Francisco.
Since before moving to Bend, it has been on my list of places to visit. After all, it is in many ways the West Coast's New York City. Understandably, each city is uniquely its own, but having visited Los Angeles, Seattle and many times Portland, Oregon, San Francisco isn't quite like any other west coast urban destination. In fact, I have to agree with Cecil Beaton,"San Francisco is perhaps the most European of all American cities". Now, New Orleans certainly is a destination unique infused with French and Spanish cuisine and history, but San Francisco involves more ease and community than any other major urban city I have visited, sports the most delectable food options, offers transportation that is varied and easier than any other American city I have traveled, as well as a temperate climate that is never too extreme in any season. Again this is my opinion, but perhaps Twiggy is right, "I’m just mad for San Francisco. It is like London and Paris stacked on top of each other".
But I am getting ahead of myself gushing about San Francisco. I'd like to share with you all that we experienced in a mere 72 hours this past week, offer up some recommendations, and perhaps encourage you to either visit or return to the Paris of the West (an old term used primarily in the late nineteenth early 20th century largely because of the three waves of French immigrants arriving in San Francisco beginning in 1849 with the Gold Rush, in 1852-53 when Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte III offering a national lottery of trips to California to rid the country of his intellectual opponents, and a third wave of many women and children as in San Francisco's early days, the city was comprised of 90% men. In short order, in 1852, six thousand of the city's 36,000 residents were French). No wonder I love this city so much. :)
I've organized today's episode/post into the three fundamental parts for any trip to any country/city to be most successful. Thinking of it as the tripod foundation of traveling with ease: knowing how to get around to wherever you want to go (transportation), knowing you have a comfortable and safe place to sleep at night, and knowing you will be fed to satisfy your appetite. Where to eat, sleep and get about.
Once these three decisions are made, reserved and settled, I am able to loosen up on the itinerary and also relax and look forward to my trip.
Let's begin the 72-hour visit to San Francisco. The good news is you don't have to make your plans too far in advance to still have a wonderful experience. Case in point, for our trip last week, the trip was decided upon in April. Plane tickets and hotel arrangements were made, and then one month prior to the trip, dinner reservations were made as well. The only piece of the three part puzzle was to tend to the on-the-ground transportation, which I had researched, and will talk about more below.
~Fisherman's Wharf - classic fishermen’s boats docked in the bay.~
When to visit:
"The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."
Depending upon the weather you hope to experience, as one of our Uber drivers who has lived in the city for decades shared with us, don't come in June, July and August and expect traditional summer temperatures. Nope. While there is the rare extremely warm day as there was a couple of weeks ago, the average high in the summer is low 70s - expect the fog to roll in and out throughout the day and if you're by the bay, the wind will rip through in the afternoon.
If you are looking for the idyllic weather, our driver, after sharing Twain's quote above, suggested coming in September and October. I quickly took note. The rain will abate in April and not truly return until November. Again, taking the advice of the driver, so readers who live in the Bay Area or who have lived in the area, please do confirm or correct.
Also, we traveled during the work week. The opportunity to arrive on a Tuesday and return on a Thursday was perfect for the pace of everyday life. Nothing was too extremely tourist-laden (there was still an abundance), the evenings were very quiet on the street as we had a street-side window, and traffic at the airport and getting about was as would be expected in any work day scenario - rush-hour, etc.
Whenever you visit, bring layers. One day we both were kissed by the sunshine more than we expected, but in the evening we needed a jacket. My mother packed her light-weight cashmere scarf, which was perfect. I saw many people with scarves. What did I forget, of all things? A scarf. I won't forget again. It is a city in which to wear a scarf.
How to Get Around Once You Arrive
~waiting for the airport shuttle to take us to the BART airport stop~
Where to Stay
While my list won't be long in this section, what I can share with you is where we did stay during our trip and why I highly recommend it. I know it will not fit everyone's budget nor be what everyone would prefer, but if you are looking for the following, you will be very happy with The Argonaut Hotel on Fisherman's Wharf:
~Fisherman's Wharf seen directly out our hotel room window.~
~wallpaper in the bathroom~
Where to Eat
As one Uber driver who has lived in the city for 22 years told us, San Francisco has always had a strong food culture. Boasting 5000 restaurants, whatever type of cuisine you prefer, you will be able to find it. While he couldn't guarantee it would be delicious fare at every destination, he did note that you can find many wonderful places throughout the city and Bay Area. So let me share with you four places I HIGHLY recommend.
~the scrambled egg plate and avocado toast~
~the dining room for Boullettes Larder (open to the public for breakfast and lunch; private group dinners in the evening)~
~Bouli Bar (open for lunch and dinners for the public)~
~Pistachio Cake with strawberry ice cream~
~the entrance to Chez Panisse in Berkeley~
~the menus - guests can keep them~
~dessert: Savarin cake with fresh summer berries and candied pistachios~
Now it's time to tailor it what you love
Each one of us who visits San Francisco will come to the city for different and special reason. As I shared in last Friday's weekly newsletter with subscribers, my visit was all about the food in preparation for The Simply Luxurious Kitchen's upcoming second season. And the city did not disappoint. However, there were a few other places we took the time to see and experience, and I'd like to share them below in case you too might be curious to check them out.
~Ghirardelli's Square in the background, park in the foreground~
With the 72 hour trip nearing an end, we decided to hop in an Uber to take us to the airport as we didn't want to lug our luggage onto BART amongst the crowds, although, it wouldn't have been impossible to do, we were just tired. In a swift 30 minute time period, leaving from our hotel, we were at the airport ready to return to Bend.
While I knew we had soaked up every minute of our trip seeing and exploring and eating, we also were able to take a nap each day which for me was absolutely necessary. But even with the naps, I slept deeply and quite more at length this past weekend than I have in awhile. What a pleasure this trip was, and I am thankful it is only a 90 minute flight away. Needless to say, with even more recommendations from readers, and places I look forward to visiting again, I look forward to returning.
"Leaving San Francisco is like saying goodbye to an old sweetheart. You want to linger as long as possible." —Walter Kronkite
Be sure to stop by the blog later in the week for a detailed post on Chez Panisse.
~None of this trip was sponsored and all was entirely planned according to my own curiosities and predilections. However, there are some affiliate links.
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Traveling Alone Well, episode #220
~French Trip Travel Musings, Part Deux, episode #216
~Written and Co-Produced by Mindy Kaling, starring Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling, John Lithgow, Reid Scott (VEEP)
~Support women in Hollywood to promote multi-dimensional, diversity in age, ethnicity, life-experience and the varied representation of women that inspires women and young girls to be the hero of their own lives and others, not the playmate in someone else's story. Learn more about the statistics of women in Hollywood. While the numbers are gradually improving, they is progress to be made, and when we go see films that support what we truly applaud and wish to see more of, producers and film executives follow where the money is.
~All images via TSLL, any image with Shannon in them were taken by my mother (thank you Mom!)
Sun, 16 June 2019
We talk quite often about the importance of routine, and how by having a routine, we actually set ourselves free, especially our minds. And it is in that vein that Mason Curry shares his two books Daily Rituals. His second is focused entirely on Women at Work, sharing the routines and preferences of creative women who lived and created over the past four centuries.
I thoroughly enjoyed his second book, even more than the first which I also found great inspiration. It was refreshing to see so many women living their lives in a variety of different ways, but all in which they discovered worked well for them and the craft they most loved.
Not all of the ideas resonated with me, but it was wonderful to get into the minds for a moment of these women and how they approached their days. I highlighted vigorously from beginning to end, and would like to share 34 daily routines to consider to enable your creative ideas to flow freely and without withdrawal.
Some will speak to you, some will not, but each one is inspired by a woman's routine which is shared in the book: Daily Rituals: Woman at Work - 143 artists on how they paint, write, perform, direct, choreograph, design, sclpt, compose, dance, etc.
~Be sure to tune into the audio version of the podcast where much more discussion takes place on each point.
1.Begin with a hot glass of lemon water
Designer Elsa Schiaparelli woke up at 8 am, sipped lemon-juice-and-water and a cup of tea for breakfast as she read the papers, handled private correspondence, made telephone calls and gave the menus of the day to the cook.
2. Wake up early if that is when your creativity is most fruitful
—Lillian Hellman would wake up at 6am.
—Marie Bashkirtseff would wake up at 6am
—Maggie Hambling wakes up at 5am each morning
"I get up between three or four o'clock in the morning, because that's my best writing time." —Octavia Butler
3. If spending less time with people fuels your creativity, embrace it fully
"I enjoy people best if I can be alone much of the time. I used to worry about it because my family worried about it. And I finally realized: This is the way I am. That's that." —Octavia Butler in 1998
4. If traditional "holidays" don't work for you, create your own, or dive into what you love.
Coco Chanel worked six days a week, and dreaded Sundays and holidays. As she told one confidant, "That word, 'vacation,' makes me sweat."
5. Greet the day in a habitual way that sets the tone for a great day
6. Live your ideas, don't talk about them
"People would sit around and talk about things constantly. I never really went in for that. If you talk something out, you will never do it. You can spend every evening talking with your friends and colleagues about your dreams, but they will remain just that —dreams." —choreographer Martha Graham
7. Keep a small journal next to your bed to capture ideas
"I always have notebook and pencil on the table at my bedside. I may wake up in the middle of the night with something I want to put down." —American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay
8. If you work at home, carve out a part of the day to get out of the house and just absorb inspiration or let go of the day completely
"In the nocturnal evening, I get the hell out to some movie or damn play and I come back and sleep like a rock." —Frida Kahlo
9. Figure out the ingredients that are needed to let the ideas find you
To develop a new work of choreography, Agnes de Mille needed 'a pot of tea, walking space, privacy and an idea'.
10. Don't feel obligated to keep the same schedule when you are in the middle of creating your art or craft
Margaret Bourke-White required long periods of solitude to write, with as few interruptions as possible." In an interview with a Life photographer Nina Leen, Leen remembers after asking her if she would have lunch with her, "She told me she was writing a book and there was no hope of a lunch for several years.
11. Don't feel bad for loving your work and working on what you love beyond the traditional work hours.
"Everything seems petty and uninteresting, everything except my work . . . ". Russian-born painter and sculptor Marie Bashkirtseff
12. Do something during the day that is relaxing and keeps you present
'I relax before lunch by arranging flowers . . . When these are all beautifully arranged in bowls and vases, it's usually lunch time." —English actress Gertrude Lawrence
13. Have a studio or space of your own to create
"The most important thing is to have a studio and establish and preserve its atmosphere." —Agnes Martin
14. If you love solitude, embrace it
"But it is, as Yeats said, a 'solitary sedentary trade.' And I did a lot of gardening and cooked my own food, and listened to music, and of course I would read. I was really very happy. I can live a solitary life for month at a time, and it does me good." —poet Katherine Anne Porter
15. Trust your intuition as to what works best for you
"It's not right if it doesn't feel right." —English painter Bridget Riley
16. Find regular time to just read what you love
Rachel Whiteread [English sculptor] would "at some point stop for lunch, and she'd often spend an hour of the day reading sitting in a comfortable chair away from her desk.
17. Establish a flexible routine to work with what you need
Morning routine: "Zittel feeds her chickens, waters plants, and performs other outdoor chores before meditating, taking a shower, making breakfast and getting dressed. In the winter, Zittel's morning schedule reverses: She meditates, showers and eats breakfast first; then, once the sun has raised the outdoor temperature, she heads out on her hike and does chores. 'It's really all about establishing a flexible routine."Andrea Zittel, an American artist, in 2017
18. Don't quit trying to live the life you wish to live
"It never occurred to me that I couldn't live the life I wanted to lead. It never occurred to me that I could be stopped . . . I had this very simple view: that the reason people who start out with ideals or aspirations don't do what they dream of doing when they're young is because they quit. I thought, well, I won't quit." —Susan Sontag
19. Try a crossword puzzle like Joan Mitchell
20. Determine what view in your studio/sanctuary/work space is most productive for inspiration
"Where do I write? In a Morris chair beside the window, where I can see a few trees and a patch of sky, more or less blue." —Kate Chopin, American writer
21. End the day with a signal to your mind to relax
"During the performance I drink water with breadcrumbs, which is most refeshing. After the ballet I have a bath as soon as possible. Then I go out to dinner, as by that time I have an unmerciful hunger. When I get home I drink tea." —Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova
22. Let baths be your creative muse
"Baths also played a part in her creative process - a post-breakfast bath enjoyed regularly by Virginia Woolf.
23. Let lunch be a true mid-day break
At 1:00 p.m., Hambling has lunch, takes her Tibetan terrier, Lux, for a walk, and switches on the television to satisfy her tennis addiction.
24. Write when inspiration hits - even if it is in bed in the morning so as not lose the ideas.
25. Go outside and breathe in the fresh air
"Fresh air and cold water are my stimulants." —Harriet Martineau - the first female sociologist
26. Enjoy someone's company for tea, lunch or a walk regularly
Emily Post would regularly welcome a guest or two for tea in the afternoon.
27. It's okay for your personal time to be less than what others feel is acceptable
"It seems to me you have to have your personal life organized so that it takes as little of your time as possible. Otherwise you can't make your art." –Eleanor Antin
28. Don't expect the routine to come naturally, create one and stick with it as it enables you to flourish
29. Cook and walk
"The only other essential component of her day is a twice-daily walk with her dog, during which she avoids thinking about her writing project. In the evening, she makes herself a simple dinner and goes to bed at 10:00 or 11:00 p.m.." —Isabel Allende
30. Create space for your ideas to be seen
"Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient." — Hilary Mantel
"I think the way to become inspired is to empty your mind and let things come into your mind." —Joan Jonas
31. Do you and don't apologize
"I live here as in Paris. I rise every day at 5 o'clock; I drink my two large glasses of hot water; I take my coffee; I write when I am alone, which is rare; I do my hair in company; I dine every day with the king, chez lui, or with him and les seigneurs. I make calls after dinner; I go to the theater; I return to my place at ten o'clock; I drink my hot water , and I go to bed." —Marie-Thérèse Rodet Geoffrin, a major salonniéres of the French Englightenment
32. Turn on music paired with your favorite drink to start the day
"I wake about nine, turn on the symphony and have juice, fruit and a pot of black coffee . . . " —Grace Hartigan, American painter
33. Leave evenings open for your social engagements
"In the evening, she would see a friend for dinner or attend another social engagement. But the real key to this perfect writing day, she said, was to know that the following day would be exactly the same." —Eudora Welty
34. Be patient until you find what works, then cherish it
"Trial and error, and then when you've found your needs, what feeds you, what is your instinctive rhythm and routine, then cherish it." —novelist Doris Lessing
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Chilled Cucumber and Yogurt Soup with Dill and Fresh Mint, a Patricia Wells recipe, click here for the recipe
~Check out TSLL's IG account, see the Highlights and Part 3 of my FR Trip '18 - mid-roll to see the presentation of the dish in Provence.
~Chilled Cucumber and Yogurt Soup with Dill and Fresh Mint, enjoyed in Provence with Patricia Wells and the other cooking class students during the summer of 2018~
~the same dish served this past weekend as the second course during a dinner party at my home. Cool and crisp cucumber and yogurt soup.~
Sun, 9 June 2019
"Across the world, despite all prejudices and beliefs against it, singlehood is the growing trend." —Elyakim Kislev , author of Happy Singlehood: The Rising Acceptance and Celebration of Solo Living
It is highly beneficial to understand the construction of our beliefs regarding singledom, so that after discarding the myths and acknowledging the realities, we can "freely choose whatever lifestyle fits [us] best".
With the life expectancy in most developed countries rising to just under 80 years, it is a statistical probability that all of us will be living single or solo at some point in our lives whether by choice or circumstances, and consequently, knowing how to enjoy being single is a skill that would be most beneficial to acquire.
Depending upon our innate temperaments, which is different than our personalities, each of us is more predisposed to be comfortable or prefer more or less social engagement. And depending upon what we most enjoy doing in our careers and in our free time, we will be more or less inclined to seek out companionship for long or short durations.
Elyakim Kislev's new book, which was released in February, includes extensive research and an abundance of studies that demonstrate the reality of our modern world that no matter what you prefer, will enable each of us to live more consciously and thus more fully, as well as support others in our lives who choose to live in a manner we may not prefer or choose.
The first powerful finding that spoke to me was the acknowledgement of an unspoken truth regarding marriage (these studies involves a large majority of the industrialized world, not just the United States) - why do people step more easily into marriage even with modernizations of the world we live in today.
Studies have actually proven that the 51% of individuals entering into marriage acknowledge that it is "a fear of aging alone or dying without anyone at our bedside that drives us into marriage".
"Marriage may not be such a good way to escape loneliness in old age. Not only do married people feel lonely in surprisingly high numbers, but also long-term singles are often better equipped to deal with loneliness later in life".
Yes, that does then mean 49% of people did not report this as a reason, but that alone should give us pause, especially when we know that the divorce rate is nearly as proportionate and the percentage of a second divorce is higher still. While each couple's situation is uniquely alone, to not address this fear is to place an undeserved burden on individual we are marrying. In fact, studies have proven, when we do address this fear, as those who have never married do, earlier in our lives, the individual is more likely to make the best decision for themselves and thus improve their overall happiness no matter what the decision may be.
Many TSLL readers/listeners know I am single and have been for the majority of my life. Don't worry, this is not a post/episode advocating for being single if you are either already in a happy marriage, happy relationship or wish to be coupled. Rather today's posting will hopefully broaden our understanding of the realities of societal norms, motivations, pressures, expectations, unconscious biases and realities so that whatever your life's journey is and will be, it is one made with a clear mind that has discarded the myths and is then able to make the best decisions for you and the life you wish to lead. True contentment, in other words, is the goal of today's posting.
26 Ways to Ensure Happy Singledom
~Each of these points are discussed in detail in the audio version of this podcast episode. I encourage you to tune in for further clarification of each point or pick up the book Happy Singlehood from which each of these points were inspired.
1.Assess honestly your self-perception of how you define loneliness and where that definition was constucted.
2. Build and continually nurture a strong social well-being
Having a strong social well-being helps eradicate or reduce social loneliness and emotional loneliness as you will have people in your life in which you feel close to and may turn to (emotional), as well as have both intimate and peripheral acquaintances that give you a sense of belonging (social).
~Listen to Episode #92 - Elements of a Strong Social Well-Being - for further discussion on the construction.
3. Conduct a life review: Self-reflect and find peace with your journey thus far
"Happy older singles [have] the ability to look back and gain control over the circumstances that led to being single".
4. Celebrate and exercise the ability to make your own decisions
5. Revel in your solitude - produce your own "show" so to speak
6. Take responsibility for your own contentment
~View a long list of archived posts and episodes on cultivating true contentment or pick up my 2nd book - Living The Simply Luxurious Life
7. Distinguish between the myths regarding marriage and singlehood and reality
Myth versus reality:
"Young people fear being physically vulnerable in old age more than elders [actually] do".
"Fifty-seven percent of the eighteen-to-sixty-four-year old population anticipate memory loss in old age, while only 25 percent of those aged sixty-five and above actually experience it. Furthermore, while 42 percent expect serious illness in old age, only 21 percent of those aged sixty-five and above experience the same."
"While an expectation of loneliness arises among 29 percent of young people, only 17 percent experience loneliness in old age."
8. Foresee and prepare for potential emergencies
In other words, financial planning - engage with it early, often and regularly, craft a living will, construct your own "family" - .
9. Engage with your community for resources, connection and engagement
10. Learn how to socially engage as a singleton in a manner that makes you feel safe and fulfilled
11. Refrain from seeing marriage as a form of "self-validation".
In other words, seek validation from within, as society's values are limiting, dynamic and generalized.
~A post you might enjoy on this topic: First, Seek Self-Approval
12. Use your time being single as a time for self-growth and development - find the road to your truest self
~A post you might enjoy on this topic: Why Not . . . Live Alone for a While?
13. Maintain and strengthen your overall health - physical and mental
~An episode you might enjoy on this topic: The Six Pillars of Good Health, episode #212
14. If you are a pet person, welcome a pet into your life.
15. Confront the fears that are causing you to assume marriage is the answer to assuage them before you get married for the wrong reasons.
16. Simply be aware of the social stigmas, discrimination and pressures placed on singles.
Doing so will enable you to confront and effectively deal with situations when they arise in a productive way to potentially bring more awareness to the realities and discrimination that exists.
17. Have a positive self-image and self-perception of your life as someone who is single
Present yourself to the world, whether at work or in your personal life as the confident and happy person that you are - some who happens to be single - knowing that is not all that defines you. Gradually, images change when we put a face to the reality.
18. Build your self-confidence
Find work and hobbies in which you feel valued and accomplished - this could be in your career, in your hobbies or in your social network. Be willing to try new things, and as you see that you can learn, change, improve and grow, you begin to realize you hold more power to cultivate the life you love than you may have realized - thus your confidence grows.
~An episode you might enjoy on the topic: Confidence: How to Gain It & Why It's Invaluable, episode #5
19. Consciously avoid the social pressure and discrimination
In other words, your attention gives validation. And if you choose not speak up, what is said or done is deemed as acceptable. Whether it is the conversations you listen to or engage in, the people you spend time with, the films you pay to see, the music you listen to, etc., your time, money and attention are powerful - give it consciously.
20. Speak up and confront discrimination when it occurs
Often people aren't even aware of their bias regarding marriage being the "best" option. Construct a parallel question to those who ask "Why are you still single?" or "I'm still keeping an eye out for you." There are some great ones in the book. Make sure to keep the comment or question equal to what was received so that the speaker can see the error of their words and assumptions.
21. Seek a career or a calling that gives you purpose, in which you feel you are contributing something of value to the world.
22. Find a balance with work and leisure
23. Let your curiosities guide you to seek out educational opportunities for growth
24. Strengthen your three pillars of good health - physical, mental and financial
25. Acknowledge and cultivate manageable household responsibilites
26. Recognize that choosing and embracing being single is not out of weakness or selfishness, but of strength and awareness to connect often more consciously.
"As singles, we know more than anybody else that true independence is actually interdependence."
We liberate ourselves when we recognize there are many different ways to live well in our modern world. And even for those who do not fully or will never accept that there is more than one traditional way to live contentedly and contribute to society positively, as well as giving ourselves the opportunity to be self-actualized, when we model the reality rather than the myth, we encourage others to explore and reach their full potential as well. A more content world is a peaceful world.
If anyone is so fortunate to find a partner to enjoy life with should they wish to and be able to reach their fullest potential without feeling they are limited, confined or lonely in something they "should" be doing, what a magnificent awesome union. Losing such a person, no matter what our age would be heartbreaking, but we can only control and strengthen ourselves, and when we strengthen the muscle of self-reflection, acknowlegement of fears rather than a suppression, we set ourselves free to live well throughout the entirity of our life's journey.
The responsibility each of us has is to not place upon someone else's shoulders that which we are capable of doing ourselves. When we take on this responsibility of cultivating our own happiness and contentment, we will see more clearly what path we truly wish to travel, we will strengthen all of our relationships as we recognize we are interconnected in large and small ways, and we will give ourselves a deep breath of relief and excitement for the next step in our journey forward.
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~The Truths & Myths of the Independent, Single Woman, episode #94
~Daily Rituals: Women at Work by Mason Curry
Sun, 2 June 2019
"I firmly believe that it's the little things we do that eventually add up to a happy life. I am not asking you to change everything about the way you live, but perhaps to reconsider a few details of your daily routine. Remember that joie de vivre is not revolutionary —but it is evolutionary." —Robert Arbor, author of Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living
Sixteen years French chef Robert Arbor released a book that offers a personal glimpse into his everyday routines which adhere to the French's simple approach to living well. With time split between living in Connecticutt and living in a country home in Flaujac-Poujol, France, with his wife and two sons, he shares how the secrets of the French are really quite simple when it comes to elevating the everyday.
Yes, it took me far too long to pick up this book, but as soon as I did, his words were music to my ears as he too celebrates and revels in the everyday routines, cultivate seemingly simple rituals that are savored and deeply appreciated. A way of life that is inspired by his own upbringing in Fontainebleau, France, just outside of Paris.
Many readers recommended Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living and many readers have shared they return to read this book often to reminders of how to slow down and savor the lives they have worked so hard to have the opportunity to live. Joie de Vivre is a gem of a resource for reminding ourselves of the beauty of life - understanding that our lives are made up everydays is all we need to do to recognize and embrace a truly contented life.
While I will certainly be picking up the book many times more in the future, having highlighted and annotated heavily throughout, I wanted to share 36 ideas Arbor shares in the book as an introduction to how grand the everyday can be, and how it truly is quite simple.
~Be sure to tune in and listen to the podcast episode and more discussion on each point is shared.
1.Breakfast - enjoy alone and make it nice or with a very close friend, someone you like - make it your personal time of the day.
2. Savor the buttery goodness of a croissant on weekend or for special occasions
~TSLL's homemade croissant recipe~
3. Cloth napkins for everyday dining
4. Cultivate a routine you enjoy around your breakfast and morning "to give a quick thought to each day's potential".
5. Cultivate your own potager (vegetable garden) to "grow a few things to eat fresh". And only grow what you love to eat and share.
6. Disperse flowers throughout your potager, let go of perfection and separation.
7. Place your fresh, delicate vegetables and fruits (tomatoes, courgettes, most fruit) in a compote on the kitchen counter to be reminded to use them immediately (or very soon).
"A big part of comprehending joie de vivre is understanding that enjoyment in day-to-day life is the true key to happiness. Finding happiness in small things means that ordinary days are filled with pleasures rather than obligations. Joyful anticipation of life's everyday events is part of bringing joie de vivre into your home in a lasting way."
8. Grow your own garden of herbs
9. Make food shopping enjoyable - visit a special shop, a farm stand or make it a social engagement.
10. Enjoy good, seasonal food and revel in it.
11. Welcome cheese into your eating regimen
12. Regularly frequent le marché in your area when available
"Great food and ingredients can be found anywhere. One just has to make more of an effort and decide on a lifestyle choice about the quality of the food."
13. Make the kitchen the center of the house, but it need not be state-of-the-art.
14. No need to spend a lot of money to have a pleasant workable kitchen - regular height chairs, let go of the high stools, so you can relax and enjoy conversation - sitting back, etc. Only purchase the equipment you will actually use and buy quality items that will last. Here are a few ideas: 3-4 pots with lids, a cast iron skillet (keep it seasoned), a teakettle on the stove for boiling water, a Dutch oven or cocotte, but again, only tools you will need for the food you and your household enjoy eating.
15. Have the basic cooking utensils stocked in your kitchen so no matter what the season, you can make what you enjoy: 3 sharpened knives (paring, chef's and serrated), 2 cutting boards, earthenware jugs full of different wooden spoons and spatulas, a stainless-steel spoon and 8-oz ladle, perforated stainless steel spoon, tongs, a whisk, 3 graduated mixing bowls, a fine mesh strainer, hot mitts, a hand-cranked can opener, cork screw, cotton kitchen towels, and a scale, measuring cups and spoons, rolling pin if you are a baker.
~A Cook's Kitchen (necessary utensils)
~A Baker's Kitchen (necessary utensils)
17. Tidy your kitchen as you go to make the space a place you enjoy stepping into each time.
18. Lengthen and deepen (full and satiating) your midday meal as much as possible.
"This is a time for stepping away from your work — even if you are eating with your coworkers—and talking and thinking about something else . . . Whatever the company, the conversation is always pleasant and positive. And that, naturally, adds to the pleasure and anticipation of lunch. It is a real break from the rest of the day. Le déjeuner is not about using time, it is about taking time."
19. Enjoy a picnic and make it comfortable
"I do love a picnic in the French style, which, of course, means comfort, comfort and more comfort. First of all, a French person is simply not going to eat on the ground. Although we might lounge around on a blanket later, it is much butter to eat sitting up."
20. Reserve Sunday to enjoy a big Sunday lunch, focusing on pleasure rather than obligation.
21. And grab that nap after the lengthy lunch to add regular moments of rejuventation .
"Remind yourself that sometimes the best ideas and solutions rise to the surface when you're not thinking so hard."
22. Grab an afternoon break regularly with la pause gourmande to give yourself a treat - "a treat with a purpose" and offer the perfect solution to the "afternoon blahs".
23. Enjoy dinner in the dining room regularly and offer the opportunity for everyone to contribute (whether by setting the table, etc.) somehow.
24. Unwind after dinner with a little dessert treat (nothing too grand), and partaking in something you enjoy on your own or with others so that you can go to bed happy and content.
25. Share dinner with friends with a casual dinner party - only invite people you truly like and don't "overstretch yourself".
~10 Ideas Gleaned & Confirmed from My last Dinner Party, episode #235
26. Create a warm and inviting atmosphere, which means you need to be able to be relaxed and enjoy the evening as well. The goal: good food, good conversation and good fun.
27. Begin with apéritifs - small nibbles and drinks.
28. Have very small groups of flowers on the table to create a welcome, but not cumbersome table to sit around and enjoy the meal.
29. Add candles to the dinner table either in glass hurricanes, or small tea lights spread around the tabletop.
30. Add a low volume lyric-less music to the background, as the conversation amongst friends is the best music.
31. Enjoy cheese and a vinaigrette dressed salad course after the main course prior to dessert.
32. Add water to the meal to be enjoyed while enjoying glasses of wine with each course.
33. Dessert need not be homemade when you have a favorite local patisserie.
34. Savor the winding down at the end of the day and do not skip this important part of each day. Cultivate a pleasant ritual, perhaps a different one for each season.
35. Make lavender-scented linen water to add an inviting scent to your bed linens.
36. Enjoy a good night's sleep
"Americans are fascinated with how the French manage to live so well, and so contentedly, in their ordinary, day-to-day life. It's not just about cooking, decorating, or entertaining — it's about enjoying all the small details of domestic life." —Robert Arbor
May your everydays be full of simple pleasures and moments of joy as well as you remember how extraordinary your life already is at this very moment.
~Order Robert Arbor's book Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living
~SIMILAR EPISODES/POSTS from THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~The French Way: How to Create a Luxurious Everyday Life, episode #23
~View all French-Inspired podcast episodes here
~Call My Agent (Dix Pour Cent)