The simple sophisticate is someone who prefers quality over quantity, sensible living over mindless consumption, personal style instead of trendy fashions, has an insatiable curiosity for life’s endless questions and a desire to live a truly fulfilling life rather than being led around by the nose. Inspired by her lifestyle blog The Simply Luxurious Life, Shannon Ables (the original Simple Sophisticate) shares with listeners tips on how to live a refined life on an everyday income, a life of true contentment. Founded on the principle of the art of living a life of quality over quantity, episodes explore topics ranging from creating an everyday life you love living, strengthening mindfulness practices, preparing seasonally delicious meals, building a capsule wardrobe, traveling the world (Francophiles and Anglophiles tune in as Paris as well as the English countryside are favorite destinations), and living life to the fullest without breaking the bank because living well is really quite simple.
*illustration by artist Sarah Löcker exclusively commissioned for the show
349: What I Have Learned in French Class, So Far . . . , Partie Quatre
"On ne comprend jamais tout à fait une langue avant d’en comprendre au moins deux."
It took 43 years for me to finally learn the French alphabet, and when I say learn I mean how to properly pronounce each letter, even after taking French classes in college and then again taking French 102 and 103 back in 2016 at our local community college.
After sharing this with someone recently, they looked at me perplexed, but you see I never enrolled in French 101 as it was a fall course, and during the 2015/16 school year I was head-first transitioning into my new teaching position here in Bend, so waited until I was settled with my own schedule to explore French classes. Backtrack to college, as explained in detail in my first book, a similar situation; I began my studies during winter term rather than fall due to a shift in my life journey and needing to acquire the necessary prerequisites to study abroad in French the coming summer.
With that said, learning the alphabet, and singing the French jingle to help cement the sounds of each letter into my memory was one of the most exciting and appreciative moments of my novice French learning experience thus far.
Beginning today is a return to the series I began in 2016, so today's episode/post is labeled as Partie Quatre (part four). As I make my way through my courses - a new quarter/course each season - look for future posts/episodes to be shared. You can explore all of my French-themed posts and episodes via the respective links.
The Simple Sophisticate, episode #349
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348: The Paradox of Manifesting the Life You Have Envisioned
"The greatest gift that manifesting can offer us is not to help us attract things for us to possess but to help us unleash the most empowered, authentic, self-loving, and truly magnificent version of ourselves that there is." —Roxie Nafousi, author of Manifest: 7 Steps to Living Your Best Life
How we live, how we think, what we think determines the destiny of our lives, and all three are thankfully within our control.
All three actions - living, thinking, selecting [which thoughts to think] - involve just that, being active rather than being passive. However, the paradox arises when we choose to first actively and consciously engage constructively with each daily practice - thinking, living, selecting - but then, . . . let go and let the magic unfold as it will.
347: How to Savor Christmas at Home, Alone, Simply Luxuriously
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 you
346: Parisian by Design and the Gifts of trusting the Stirrings of Your Heart, my conversation with David Jimenez
Those who know David Jimenez and his life journey often take a sigh of adoration followed by a smile and comment, “He is living the dream”. And indeed to us Francophiles, he is indeed.
Having called Paris home for the past six years, American interior designer living in Paris David Jimenez partnered with Diane Dorrans Saeks to bring to readers Parisian by Design: Interiors by David Jimenez.
Parisian by Design showcases the seven residences he has called home over his life journey of decorating, beginning in San Francisco, moving to Kansas City, then to his apartments in Paris that lead him to his now sanctuary on the City of Light, his apartment on Île Saint-Louis, as well as his design atelier on the same petite Île and, what I think is my favorite of all of his abodes, although each is inviting and quintessential European in its aesthetic with a strong affinity for Parisian touches, his apartment in the French countryside (see pics below from David's IG account).
In our hour-long conversation, David will introduce readers to what they will find in the book which includes a 10-page source list for you too to enjoy and peruse first-hand David’s personal recommended shops, artisans and destinations, not only in Paris, but beyond, and we will also dive deeper because David made his dream a reality - calling Paris home. Exploring how he trusted his journey from a very early age along with sharing what he has learned along the way to be the best life advice for knowing what to do next, we talk about nudges from the universe, trusting yourself and so much more.
Oh! And his Petit Plaisir is Petit Plaisirs! Yes, David shares multiple Petit Plaisirs in the middle of our conversation, painting a picture for our minds through the senses that, if you are anything like me, will inspire and remind how powerfully rejuvenating savoring everyday seasonal pleasures can be. But I don’t want to give too much away. 😊
As well, our final question speaks to the winter holidays in Paris, and how we too can bring a touch of the charm into our own homes.
I do hope you will tune in and thank you for stopping by.
Visit David Jimenez’s website David Jimenez Studio and follow him on Instagram @davidjimenezstudio
~Explore more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast in TSLL's Archives or wherever you listen to podcasts.
SIMILAR EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY
10 Everyday French Details I Incorporate into My Routine, episode #37
15 Ideas for Savoring Paris, episode #328
36 Ways to Welcome Joie de Vivre into Your Everyday Life, episode #253
~Explore more French-inspired podcast episodes on The Simple Sophisticate
345: 13 Simple Ideas for Adding Luxury to Your Home, Part Deux
The concept of luxury at its core is what brings you comfort.
A space, piece or item that brings ease, calm and perhaps a sigh of letting go and being able to fully relax and savor the present moment. In 2013 I shared a list full of ideas exemplifying what true luxury is; the items on that list are worth exploring as we become more in tune withwhat luxurious living is. It is important to note that a fundamental element of what constitutes something as being luxurious is the effort and dedicated intention to bring your idea to fruition. In other words, you have taken the time, expended the effort, energy, investment, so that when whatever it is that has been reached (tangible or intangible), you appreciate it and will by no means toss it aside blithely for the next 'new' or 'better' model, version, trend, etc.
When it comes to decorating our homes to create luxurious living spaces, while most certainly, luxury when it comes to interior design can be expensive, it need not always be that way, and it is important to note that size - a grand, large abode doesn't guarantee the space will be luxurious if the details are not tended to well.
To walk into a luxurious space, small or large in scale is only part of being truly luxurious; it is when you engage with the space, live in it, sit down in the chairs, sleep in the beds, pour yourself a hot cuppa, that you then discover whether or not the home is truly luxurious.
In today's episode/post I want to tend to those simple ideas that when you tend to them can elevate the luxury in a room immediately upon a guest or yourself living in the space.
Three years ago, I began this series with a post sharing 10 Simple, Significant Decor Ideas to Add Luxurious Touches to the Home inspired by interior designer Cathy Kincaid's new book at the time, The Well Adorned Home. And as you will discover in that list, while the simple touches may be investment decisions, they significantly elevate the luxurious presence of the room, beckoning the inhabitants to relax and stay awhile.
Part Une, 10 Simple, Significant Decor Ideas to Add Luxurious Touches to the Home, episode #260
In part two (deux) of this series, I am sharing 13 ideas that while simple are also quite affordable and don't require a contractor or even the expert eye of an interior designer (all except #12). There is something almost impossible to describe with words but felt by our nervous system when we step into a decorated space that to our eye is luxurious, as well as to our other senses. Immediately there is a noticeable decrease in our stress levels, dopamine may even be released, and we let our guard down and sigh, exhaling a deep breath as though we are 'home', we are safe, comforted, we have found a place to unwind and be rejuvenated.
344: The Importance of Investing in Key Décor Items and What Items Are Worth Investing In
"I am sure there are [trends], but I don't really like them because I think trends come and go very rapidly." —Nina Campbell
Creating a sanctuary takes time.
But it need not take the same amount of time each time you set up a new home.
Similar to getting to know ourselves, unconsciously from day one we may be drawn to certain tastes, preferences, aesthetics, etc., and this is where we can begin both in understanding ourselves and in curating a sanctuary that rejuvenates, comforts and welcomes us home, even if the location of our home changes over the years.
However, unlike our wardrobe, the sizes of the types of furniture or décor items we are drawn to will not change, even if the colour palettes do which is good news because that means you can begin investing in the items for your sanctuary before you even have a penny in your bank account saved up for a down payment or the first month's rent.
Decorating our homes doesn't have to begin from scratch each time we move into a new home; in fact, if we are starting from scratch each time, we are wasting money, time and harming the planet (unless we are leaving all of our furniture for the new buyer). And you actual liberate yourself when you invest in quality décor pieces initially which enables you to never have to start from scratch again. Why does it liberate you, especially, you might be saying, because you just spent all of your extra money on a custom sofa for example? Well, that is exactly what today's episode is all about, sharing the many reasons why investing in key décor items will help you curate a sanctuary that is tailored to you and the life you love living.
1.Endurance to last a lifetime or at least a few decades
"[It was] good in the first place, and [is] still good today." —Nina Campbell
Similar to well-made clothing with high quality fabric, furniture that is made well from the inside out - structurally sound sofa, chairs, beds, tables, etc. will go the distance, many lasting your entire lifetime. I will include stoves in this as well because if you are someone who spends regular time in the kitchen, invest well in a stove and yes, it can last your entire lifetime.
The quote above was shared by renowned British interior designer Nina Campbell in a podcast episode in which she shared an experience of working with a client for the second time, about 10-15 years removed. Many of the primary pieces did not need replacing because they were made well. Below in #5 we will talk more about the benefit of having high quality furniture and large appliances, but generally speaking, you save yourself an extra step of having to go shopping for yet again another item. If you purchase a cheap item that looks good today, but isn't made well, no matter how many times you recover it, it will still not work nor last, or be comfortable.
The idea of starting from scratch is eliminated when you buy well, yep, paying more, up front for the first time purchase, so that you don't have to pay for it again down the road when your tastes change, or what is more likely, the piece falls apart or you realize it doesn't fit well or is not comfortable.
The sustainability choice in buying a quality piece of furniture or large appliance for your home ensures you won't be clogging up landfills. Mass produced furniture that is typically inexpensive also enables us to be less attached to the items and thus make the item easier to toss. Granted some may take their items to Goodwill or have a garage sale, but when you purchase furniture you love and is well made, and that you need as it provides a function in your home, you are able to keep it and use it for decades to come and also often become invested in it to take care of it well.
As I will share in #7 on our list in detail, part of why buying antiques and consignment and vintage is worth doing is because of the sustainability appro
Perfect podcast! Wonderful combination of all the many things that make life worthwhile. I think there’s a good balance between “easy” subjects, like style/decorating, and “bigger” subjects like contentment, the bigger picture of improving the quality of your life. I enjoy this podcast very much
A lovely companion on my journey of modern elegance
This podcast, and Shannon’s writing, is covering diverse topics that will enrich the quality of your life if you follow her advise. I look forward to a new episode every week. Although I already practice a lot of what Shannon preaches, she still gives me new ideas and it is very good to have someone reminding me of the old.
A cozy and lovely podcast!
I look forward every Monday to hear Shanon's warm and positive vibe. Always great, practical advice ⚡️