“He who comes home with the most money doesn’t win. He who comes home with the most experiences wins.” – Steve Smith, contributor with Rick Steves in Rick Steves France 2015
The Simple Sophisticate, episode #23
One of the most exquisite pleasures in my experience has always been having time at home without a to-do list. To enjoy my sanctuary that comforts me, rejuvenates me and allows me to dream so that when I do step outside into the world I can do, seek and produce, is one of the things I most treasure about living simply luxuriously.
And so it began when I was a child, no doubt, as my mother always cultivated a warm home, but as I grew up and became responsible for establishing my own abode, it took much exploration, dead-ins from time to time and investment to create a space that allowed the everyday to be just as stimulating as new experiences brought about by travel.
And in so doing, paying attention to my home environment, I began to pay attention to how I spend my days. Was I exhausted and unfilled at the end or exhausted and feeling productive? Did I have time in my day to spend it with those I loved, converse with those who engaged in creative, uplifting and thought-provoking conversation or care for myself in such a way that respected my overall health? And depending upon my answer, I would tweak, eliminate, maximize or designate more or less time to those activities that improved the quality of living.
“He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much.”
-Bessie A. Stanley
As the quote reminds us, living well is truly about prioritizing how we spend our days. Did we make time to enjoy the day, spend it with those we hold dear, take time to respect what our minds and bodies need or did we cram everything into our waking hours in order to fit a mold that we weren’t asked for input regarding its creation? Everyone’s path to living well will be different, but the key is to know what you want – more loosely rather than specifically. Because as we know, our lives intermingle with the rest of the world, but if we bring our best selves, have good intentions and are willing to be true selves, success is possible when it comes to living well.
Recently, I was watching the travel guru Rick Steves discuss on PBS his explorations through the countryside of France. While staying at Chateau de Pray and dining on their outdoor terrace, his dining companion shared the quote listed at the beginning of today’s post. And I couldn’t agree more especially when it comes to travel, but why not bring a similar way of living into our everyday? Why not . . . live well each and every day? Why not use the nice china in the middle of the week? Why not treat ourselves regularly to dinner or lunch with a dear friend at a restaurant that piques our interest or tantalizes our taste buds? Why not sleep on silk pillowcases each night?
Many may quickly scoff at such ideas as being too indulgent, thus deflating the exhilaration that is felt when they are only experiences from time to time, but what I hope to bring to your attention today is that with patience and careful planning, everyday life can indeed be lived luxuriously and can actually enhance the quality of our lives. Below are 20 ways to foster a simply luxurious way of living, but these are just a taste. If you would like the full list inspired by the French way of living, check out chapter 10 “Indulging Your Inner Francophile” in Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman’s Guide.
1. Cook at home. Find simple, yet delicious recipes and discover the pleasures of cooking on your own schedule for your own dietary needs and preferences. (View TSLL recipes here.)
2. Indulge in café time. Once, twice or three times a week depending up on your schedule and enjoyment, select a favorite local café and stop in for some reading time, moseying through magazine time, or chats with friends. Indulge in one of the patisseries delicious sweet treats and lose track of time.
3. Wear luxurious lingerie everyday. As I talk about in my book, lingerie is a necessity for the woman who wears it, not for those who might see her in it. Why? Because simply knowing we are wearing beautiful, comfortable, luxurious lingerie feels good. And everything begins with our thoughts. If we feel good, we smile more readily, we are more open to new experiences and our attitude is lifted.
4. Let go of busy. A powerful decision that will change your day-to-day living drastically for the better. Busy doesn’t mean better or more productive, it simply reveals a life that perhaps could be managed better. After all, living well means living a life of quality. A life that focuses on what is necessary and lets go of the rest. And when you let go of busy, you have more time for moments of simple leisure and luxury that cultivate an everyday life to savor. (Click here to dive into this topic.)
5. Cultivate a capsule wardrobe for each season. Knowing you have in your closet clothes that will make you look and feel your best is a very powerful tool to possess as you begin your day. While this takes time and never really ends due to lives and bodies changing, it is worth our attention. (Click here to learn more about building a capsule wardrobe.)
6. Follow your own schedule. Perhaps it’s Friday or even Saturday night, everyone must be out doing something, staying up late, right? Wrong. Your daily schedule is one that works for you and those you spend your time with. Perhaps you prefer Wednesday evenings out because Thursdays are lighter days at work and you enjoy spending your weekends waking up early and getting things done. Whatever schedule works for your goals, intentions, health, family, etc – adhere to it and don’t apologize. After all, our lives, needs and desires change, listen to what is nudging you, calling your name and that is where you will find the unexpected beauty.
7. Discover a personal scent. Similar to knowing you are wearing luxurious lingerie is the choice of scent you layer upon your skin before stepping out the door for work or for play. A luxurious decision and investment, but one that will reveal your attention to detail.
8. Subscribe to daily/weekly/monthly periodicals. Running throughout the philosophy of living simply luxuriously is being well-read. Depending upon your lifestyle, curiosities, locale and interests, you will select reading material that interests you. Most importantly, gather knowledge, choose to learn something new each day, read a review of a new play or restaurant and be encouraged to give it a try. Become in the know of current events in order to strike up a conversation with anyone. Reading in truth, is a way of tickling your brain and refusing to live each day the same even if the events may be routine.
9. Save time and don’t wash your hair everyday. Purchase a dry shampoo and have on hand for the days you don’t lather up. Shampoo less often, thereby saving yourself more time in the morning, and believe it or not, improve the condition of your tresses. (Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk)
10. Invest in quality skincare products. In episode #13 of the podcast, specifics are shared on how to create glowing skin, and by investing in quality skincare products, your most beautiful skin will shine. The power of prevention is real, and while it takes time and a bit of investment, the pay-offs are tremendous.
11. Design a workout regimen to look forward to. Whether you enjoy exercising outdoors in Mother Nature or attending classes lead by instructors that inspire you and classmates that boost your mood, explore your interests and community to see what is available and what captures your needs and proclivities. Most people after having exercise will tell you that they feel better, energized and less stress, and if you can bring that into your everyday life, everything will be affected in a very positive way. (Revolver Yoga Studio, Walla Walla)
12. Find time to treasure hunt. Even if you are not necessarily going to buy, poke around in local consignment shops, yard sales, second-hand shops, antique boutiques and even boutiques that catch your eye. If nothing else, you will walk away with ideas on how to design, style and mix and match what you already have.
13. Be sincere, yet kind. While everyone has days that you are simply grumpy for any list of reasons, taking it out on others is something you will most likely regret. And even if you have to deliver news that isn’t favorable, there is always a way to do so with kindness. Being conscious of how we treat people and our delivery will almost always be appreciated, and even if it is taken for granted, at least we can go home at night and feel good about the energy we put out into the world.
14. Shop at local vendors and boutiques. Perhaps you live in a town that you hand-selected for the community it offers, but what if you didn’t? Either way, supporting local vendors when it comes to food or local boutiques when it comes to shopping for gifts, necessities and products not only builds good-will, but strengthens the economy of the local community. And additionally, when it comes to buying food locally, you benefit your overall health as most foods are free from pesticides and hold more nutritional value that your body craves.
15. Eat real food. Full of flavor that will satiate, real food is a choice your body will thank you for. Processed food may be more convenient and help you reduce the shopping trips to the grocery store, but in the long term, it is a bad investment. Returning home after a long day knowing the food you will be incorporating into your meal will be satisfying and nutritious will remove guilt and properly fuel your body for whatever it may be asked to do next.
16. Elevate the conversation. Easier said than done when we are exhausted, stressed and frustrated, but when you do your best to refrain from complaining and gossiping, you are less likely to go home in the evening regretting or feeling guilty about partaking. In fact, when conversations are full of curious information – books, local events, news, etc – you can walk away inspired, motivated and eager to do something new. Why not bring such a conversation to those in your world?
17. Create an evening routine to look forward to. At the end of the day, your body and mind may be entirely taxed which is why making time (even 15 minutes) for unwinding with a favorite pastime is crucial. Being able to look forward to this simple routine can be the silver lining no matter what your day has unearthed.
18. Schedule regular spa appointments for beauty and health maintenance. Much like exercise, caring for our bodies is a means to caring for our health, overall beauty and mind. So be sure to schedule your facial, massage, hair cut/color, waxing and any other must-dos before you walk out the door from your last appointment. They can often be the respite in a busy week and will no doubt leave you feeling rejuvenated.
19. Stock a bar cart for spur-of-the-moment entertaining. Whether you drink alcoholic beverages or not, stock a bar cart that has drinks and nibbles at the ready for last-minute guests. Even for one or two guests, having a bar with wine, beer or if it’s morning – croissants and hot tea keeps the food with the conversation in the living room or sitting room. Luxurious and ready for any everyday occasion. (A glimpse of my
20. Fill your home with inspired music. For techies or retro audiophiles, have your turntable or playlists ready for any occasion. From leisurely jazz tunes when you return from work and wish to read the daily news to beautiful Bach in the morning as you get ready for work, set up your music station, turn off the television and forget about time, even if for a moment.
Whatever inspires you in your travels or remains memorable to you from your past, why not bring it into your everyday life if at all possible? Cultivate an everyday life that perhaps no one would believe is possible, but rest assured it is. After all, as Annie Dillard reminds us, how we spend our days is how we spend our lives. Why not spend your life living well each and everyday?
~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Episode #32: The Francophile’s Style Guide: The 14 Essentials
~10 Gifts of Mastering the French Mystique
~Why Not . . . Indulge Your Inner Francophile?
~Why Not . . . Find Your Je Ne Sais Quoi?
~10 Ways to Unearth Your Inner Francophile (episode #4)
~French-Inspired Living: Books to Enjoy
Befriend a local wine shop to ensure great wines no matter what the occasion.
~Liner & Elsen “One of America’s six great main street wine shops.” –Bon Appetit
2222 NW Quimby St. (off 22nd Ave.)
Portland, OR 97210
- They can ship the wine to you!
- Staff who’ve helped me in the past: Neil Thompson and Kevin Geller
~Chateau Du Grand Bos (2005) Bordeaux, France (wine enjoyed in the photo to the right).
~Images: (1) a cafe in Paris in Montmartre captured by TSLL
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26 thoughts on “The French Way: How to Create a Luxurious Everyday Life”
I have always been rather nonplussed by the way most people go about life: they work grueling hours so that they can have a two week vacation, where they can live the way they would want to live. I think it better to live that way every day, even if it means taking a less statusy, but less pressured job. To have time and energy to do the things one wants to do — and live the way one wants to live — on a daily basis, is far more important in the long run than accumulating money and possessions. I think the problem is that most people do not even think about what they actually want in life. They just go along with what they think people “do”. They go for the high-pressure job with the long hours… they marry… have kids… eat convenience foods… because that’s what people “do”. Well, just because the majority do something does not mean that it is right for you. Conventional wisdom is for conventional people. Be exceptional; do your own thing — whatever it is. You’ll be happier in the long run, even if other people think you’re eccentric.
Mimi, I love your response and it is so very true! Thank you for your lovely and insightful comments! Eccentric, I am!
Very inspiring post. I definitely try to unwind and let go of the day completely when I get home. I don’t want anything getting in the way of my enjoyment outside of work and the daily grind.
Beautiful advice – just what I needed today! I think I shall pop to my favorite coffee shop tomorrow 🙂
Loved this article & just what I need as I was feeling bereft having just completed your wonderful book (although I will of course read again many times).
I love the phrase “elevate the ordinary” & due to the life constraints of elderly parents with late stage dementia & husband’s illness, I find it’s the little luxuries that lift my spirits daily.
Inspiring blogs & books like yours provide so much in the way of “food for the soul”!
Such a great post and I was pleased to see I have been incorporating more and more of those suggestions into my daily life and routine. I am fortunate because as an academic with the exception of scheduled classes and some meetings I can be in control of my daily schedule and have more time to work on some of the other suggestions. Every summer my partner and I take a week where we go on “vacation” in New York City. We go to a part of the city we have never been to, restaurants in another borough or neighborhood we do not frequent and always feel refreshed and new without ever leaving home. Sometimes when we look around our home and community with new eyes we see many things we never saw before.
What a lovely idea! I love your blog! I am a bit more conservative but love your pizzazz!
How lovely to see you on TSLL. Love your blog ?
Shannon, I absolutely loved this podcast! (Wow, can you believe it number 23?). I read a book several years ago by Alexandra Stoddard that started me on this road to living a authentic life. Your blog, podcast and now your FABULOUS book have only reinforced and refined my path. Thank you for your continued inspiration! Michelle
I loved Alexandra Stoddard’s book – Living a Beautiful Life – too!! I gave it to my mother, who definitely taught me to live that way. Cheers to a beautiful luxurious life!! Penny
Funny you say that. I was thinking the same thing. I have always worked on creating a life of simple elegance. The first author that I read books from, that spoke to this topic was Alexandra Stoddard. I had all of her books, my favorite being “Living a Beautiful Life”. Some of the things that I learned was to use the special everyday, the beauty of letter writing ( I now have a few cherished fountain pens and quality paper), using a. Filofax, and taking the time to cherish your passions and people you love. I have written a letter to Alexandra to thank her. Shannon’s works are in the same wavelength with a nod to France and English living which intrigues me. I am enjoying her content and Shannon is an excellent writer and speaker. I have been following Shannon for some time now, but I’m more recently devouring more content.
Love the music during the intermission! What’s the title/musician?
Thank you! Here is the requested info – “Walking in Paris” by Studio le Bus
I loved this so much. Just what I needed to read today!
which leather planner from Franklin do you use? style? I am having trouble figuring out one that looks nice.
Indiana, Great question. It will entirely depend upon your taste. The exact binder I have is not longer available (as I just found out), but I did purchase a leather binder that has a one strap closure (instead of a zipper). The strap versus zipper I have found to be handy (although pens/pencils can fall out if not secure). This planner from Franklin, while not real leather is beautiful, neutral and very similar to mine.
The Bella planner is also quite popular and available in real leather.
If you have any other questions, just let me know. I’d be happy to help if I can.
Awesome post! Just what I needed 🙂
Such a great post. Love this article, great thinking. It’s very informative and helpful just what I wanted. Thanks a lot.
I absolutely love your post, I resonate with it deeply. Recently, I wrote an article on the importance of selecting that perfect, indulgent lingerie, and of wearing often. So when I got to that part here, it really put a smile on my face 🙂
Thank you for stopping by Silvia. ? Happy to have brought a smile! Beautiful lingerie is most certainly something to enjoy during our Everydays.
Fantastic. Thoughts- resonates with my new principle of minimalism.
I love this!! Especially #6! My husband and I are both disabled, but not dead, lol. We like going out but since I have fibromyalgia, I can’t always stand for an hour to wait on a table. We go early because it suits us. Thank you for inspiring us!
Thank you for stopping by Kathy. Indeed, adhering to the schedule that works for you is the one that you should definitely choose regardless of what others may say. 🙂