I have been traveling quite a bit for work these days, which inevitably leads to eating many meals alone. Eating by myself is not something I have ever really enjoyed — and I realized during a values exercise I took in my coach training program that sharing a meal with my family is an important part of my life. I ate at the dinner table with my family every night of the week growing up, so I feel a natural pull to want to eat at the table with my family as an adult.
But when you’re stuck in a hotel or airport alone, you just have to make do with what you have. Here are some of my tips for making solo meals enjoyable:
Order something nice. You’ll be much more likely to have a great meal if you’re eating something delicious. Don’t skimp just because you’re alone, all meals are meant to be enjoyed! Don’t forget to order yourself a nice glass of wine!
Take advantage of the opportunity to people watch. By far my favorite part about dining alone is the time I have to take in my surroundings. If I’m eating with someone else my focus would be on them. But if I’m alone I can people watch to my heart’s content without ignoring my date.
Catch up on your reading. If I’m in a quite cafe or restaurant, sometimes I will bring along the newspaper and catch up on the world news. Or, if I’m in the middle of a really great book I might pull out my Kindle. Right now I’m reading The Red Notebook and I have about 10 other books on my must-read list (see below!).
I always love supporting fellow bloggers whenever they do something amazing — like when they write a book! It’s no secret that I love everything and anything about France and Paris, so when Jennifer L. Scott, of The Daily Connoisseur, announced she had self-published her book on her time living in Paris, I went right to Amazon.com to purchase my own Kindle copy. Her book, Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris, has since been officially published by Simon & Schuster and has been receiving rave reviews! Earlier this week I saw her book at TJMaxx and, even though I own it electronically, I scooped it up so I could have a hard copy for “reference” in my collection of French living, lifestyle and parenting books, which is starting to overflow!
My favorite chapter is Chapter 8: Look Presentable Always. Since I work from home 95% of the time I feel like this is something I struggle with every day, and whenever I find myself still wearing pajamas at noon (yes, it happens!) I like to read over some of her passages to inspire and motivate myself. One of my favorite passages:
“Avoid telling yourself you’re ‘just going to the grocery store’ as an excuse to look like a complete frump. You may think you won’t see anyone you know–but trust me, you will. You’ll see your ex-lover and your frenemy.”
Now, I don’t know too many people in my new town yet, and I certainly don’t have any ex-lovers here, but it really is such a true statement for many of us. Some of my other favorite chapters include Chapter 1: Snacking is So Not Chic and Chapter 18: Find Simple Pleasures.
To read Jennifer L. Scott’s fabulous book, Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris, run out to your nearest Anthropologie, local bookstore, or download it on Amazon.com! Also, be on the look out for her new book! Not sure when it’s coming out, but she announced on Facebook recently that it’s coming soon. I know I can’t wait to read it!
I’ve always been an avid reader, but when the temperatures drop I seem to crave a good book even more. To me, there is nothing better than wandering through the aisles of a bookstore, picking out a few shiny new books, and then coming home to read them with a blanket and cup of cocoa next to the fire. On our last trip to Paris we of course had to stop at the legendary Shakespeare & Co. bookstore. Actually a tribute to the real Shakespeare & Co. which had been shut down in 1940, this shop near the Île-de-la-cité specializes in English literature. The top floor is also a library of sorts with older books that you can sit and read on the premises. Apparently the bookstore has also been somewhat of a “hotel” to traveling writers with claims that over 40,000 have stayed at the shop since its opening in 1951.
While wandering the shop I found that reading the book jackets of British-printed books was quite amusing, especially when the book was about America. I’m pretty sure one of the books in the travel section about the US had a huge red and yellow McDonalds-esque carton of french fries on the cover. Ha! I ended up coming home with a French cookbook (tailored for “English kitchens”) and a book about a British man who built a rowboat and traveled down the Seine. I’m in the middle of reading that book now.
It was certainly a fun place to visit — buzzing with both tourists and history. I do read most of my books on the iPad, but every so often I like to pick up a real book. I’m kind of afraid that the days of bookstores are numbered!
Anyway, if you find yourself in Paris head to Shakespeare & Co. Drop in for a poetry reading, Sunday tea, or some people watching. Maybe you can tell them you’re a traveling writer and see if they will give you a room!
Shakespeare and Company
37 rue de la Bûcherie
The forecast for this weekend is less than ideal. Rainy, cold temps, thunderstorms, and wind! Instead of thinking about what I can do this weekend, I keep dreaming about the beautiful beach day that is clearly not going to happen. I received a sample of the Coola sunscreen in my most recent Birchbox, but I think I will need to wait a bit longer to try it out! The only thing I had planned on doing that still seems like an option is to finish The Great Gatsby again before I go see it in the theaters. I guess it’s time to go unpack my bikini and sun hat and go search for my Hunters and rain jacket!
I hope your Memorial Day weekend is relaxing and fun… despite the weather!
Ever since I was a little girl I have been enamored with all things French. In elementary school I bought French picture-book dictionaries with my allowance money and wore berets to school until my classmates made fun of me (kids can be SO cruel!). I took French language classes from the 6th grade through high school, and I even sat for the dreaded AP French exam, even though we all knew we were going to bomb it.
Then in college I took five French language courses, even though a minor only required four. The classes ranged from French Literature to Business French and everything in between. For my fellow accounting nerds out there, did you know that in France their balance sheet is flip-flopped? (Assets are listed on the right!) I have always dreamed of visiting Paris, and eventually was able to take a trip of a lifetime to France last summer for our honeymoon, which I’ve traced below for you on the map below.
I dream about returning to France, for more than just a vacation. Paris & Bordeaux would be great cities to live in, but I loved Brittany and Cannes. too! But because I can’t move to France, I try to picture myself there by reading as many French books and travel memoirs that I can get my hands on. You can see some of them listed here.
One of my favorites style books is Ines de la Fressange’s Parisian Chic. Not only does her gorgeous daughter model in the pictures, but she gives so many tips and tricks to achieve your own inner French style from clothing and makeup suggestions to teeth cleaning tips. A smile is your greatest accessory, after all! But she’s not just about personal style and fashion; she has a section in the book about home decor, restaurants, hotels, cafes, hair salons, museums, bookstores and more!
Sadly, I have no current plans to return to France anytime soon. So until I do make some plans, I will just have to channel my inner French girl here in the States with my Breton stripes, red lipstick, and all my beloved French books.