Monthly Archives: June 2016

Six Months without Social Media (What I Learned)

June 28, 2016

Six Months without Social Media (What I Learned) | modernfrenchblog.com

Last year I quit social media and then promptly shouted it from the rooftops because, well, I have a tendency to over share.

See, social media had become too much for me. I was so obsessed with getting likes and followers that I was missing out on socializing with my own friends and family. Plus, algorithm changes and forced ads in all my feeds were really getting me down (damn the man, right?).

Overall it wasn’t making a positive impact in my life, so I drank a glass of wine, deleted all of my accounts, and said au revoir.

The Tough Transition

A little bit of honesty here: The first couple of months were pretty hard.

Not only did it take me a while to get over the nervous habit of checking my phone for updates every two minutes, but then I basically switched one addiction for another and upped my internet usage. I subscribed to more blogs, followed more YouTubers, and often fell down an Internet rabbit hole that lasted one or two (or even three) hours. Whoops!

Eventually, I had a reality check with myself and decided I needed to figure out a way to limit my screen time…and I needed a solution fast!

Filling Free Time with Hobbies

It was then that I rediscovered the wonderful world of hobbies. By definition, a hobby is a regular activity that is done for enjoyment, typically during one’s leisure time.

As a kid, I had a gajillion hobbies including reading books and magazines, playing soccer, writing in my journal, making crafts, collaging, sewing, dancing, playing violin, collecting erasers, and (oddly enough) rubber stamping. Even if the Internet had existed then, I clearly wouldn’t have had time for it.

While Adult Alyssa had some leisure time on her hands, it definitely wasn’t as much as Kid Alyssa had. So, I did some soul searching and decided I would go back to my two greatest loves (reading and writing) and also tack on a new passion (cooking).

Hobby. Explosion. All of a sudden I was speeding through library books, writing blog post after blog post, and cooking up a storm in our little kitchen. It was a creative revolution, and the best part was that I didn’t even miss social media.

Happiness and The Domino Effect

Doing things you love will make you happy. This is awesome in of itself, but what’s even cooler is that it created a domino effect. Seeing the positive effects of good habits led me to pursue even better habits.

For instance, I finally signed up for French classes (a benefit for my brain) and started biking to work (a benefit for my body). A month or so after that, I started walking in the mornings while listening to my favorite podcasts (even more fuel for my brain and body).

Getting Back to Social Media

But then it started to happen. Every time I finished a great book or made a new recipe, I’d hear a little voice say, “Share it, shaaaaaare it.” Then, I’d re-do a little corner of our petite maison or drink an incredible wine and would hear it again. Share it, Alyssa, shaaaaare it.

Eventually, I had to admit that I really missed sharing little snippets of my life on social media and, more importantly, seeing little snippets of life from my friends and favorite bloggers. And so, I’m back on social media. This time with a better attitude and less time to obsess over it because I’m so busy with all these hobbies.

For now, you can find me on Instagram as @alyssapacaut. I’ll be the one posting photos of French things (because duh), white space (because j’adore), good books I’m reading (because you know I really want to share them), and glasses of wine (because that’s what I do when I’m not working or hobbying).

Are you thinking about doing a social media detox? Or have you done one before? If you have already taken a break from social media, what did you enjoy most about your time off? I’d love to know more about your own experience and hear your thoughts.

Photo from my Instagram.

French Connections

June 23, 2016

French Connections | modernfrenchblog.com

Exactly one year ago today, I started the Modern French blog. The first post was about how my French Obsession began and set the tone for 12 months of Francophile-tinged posts. To date, blogging has been my favorite pastime. I rush home from work and wake up early to write, and loved taking white-spaced filled photos even thought they aren’t all that great.

Every once in a while, someone pops up and gives me a compliment. It makes my day, nay my month, especially as I’m the worst self-promoter and never tell anyone about my blog. So, if you’re sitting here reading this, I don’t know how you got here (Internet miracle?) but I can already tell I like you.

Ten tips for decorating your home à la française.
• Snaps of Hotel Grand Amour in Paris. I want to go to there.
• The ultimate guide to dining al fresco.
• Wedding season is in full effect and wine might just make the perfect gift.
• Need to make time for this fashion exhibit at LACMA.
This song on repeat. #summeranthem
• Nothing says summer like a straw woven tote.
Download French-themed wallpaper for free. I’m partial to the “Oh la laaa” one.
• And finally, the first Modern French blog post for nostalgia’s sake.

Wine Review: J.L. Quinson Côtes De Provence Rosé

June 14, 2016

Wine Review: J.L. Quinson Côtes De Provence Rosé | modernfrenchblog.com

Wine: J.L. Quinson Côtes De Provence Rosé
Region: France
Retailer: Trader Joe’s
Price: $6.99

A couple weeks back we went to a fancy pants party along the California coast. All the women wore pastel dresses, the men were in loafers, and there were a million bottles of rosé in silver ice buckets.

At one point we escaped from the party and walked down to the beach. We sipped rosé from our glasses and watched the sun set over the crashing waves as we thought to ourselves, “This is the life.”

While we can’t afford the wine from the party, this budget-friendly rosé is a great replacement. The first sniff is full-on strawberries, which perfectly matches the light-pink color. But that’s where the sweetness stops. The taste is bright and acidic with a mellow hint of something fruity on the back end. It’s not very complex or layered, but shouldn’t a summer wine be easy and breezy anyways?

For me, the best pairings for rosé are a hot day and ice to keep it super cold. However, if you’re really looking for foods to complement it, then look no further than your typical summer BBQ fare. The dryness of the wine goes well with salty potato chips, hot dogs, and hamburgers.

Food from a French-style barbeque would also taste good with this refreshing rosé. Try it with thin slivers of saucisson sec as an appetizer or for the main course with grilled veggies, pork sausages, or a tomato tart with a creamy, cheese base.

Above all, enjoy this light-hearted drink and let it be a reminder of the best of summer i.e. hot days, long nights, and good times with good friends.

P.S. Another awesome rosé and the five best cheeses at Trader Joe’s.

Five Ways to Dress Like a French Girl

June 7, 2016

Dressing Like a French Girl | modernfrenchblog.com

Everything I know about dressing like a French Girl I learned from a French Guy.

See, last fall I was getting ready for our trip back to France and the pressure to be chic was real. So, I went on a shopping spree and came home with a ton of shopping bags.

Giddy with excitement, I rushed to try on my new clothes and walked out to show my husband. It was then that I realized we were dressed almost exactly alike and I had, apparently, learned a few things about French style from him.

Build a Foundation of Basics

First things first, you need to build up your basics so that you have great foundation. You’ve likely seen or read an article about the basics of a French wardrobe. It usually includes a list with the perfect white tee, a black blazer, a striped top, and ballet flats among other things.

One look at what I keep in my closet and you can see that I’ve taken a lot of those lists to heart. While these basics definitely work for me, I urge you to figure out what fits your lifestyle and your taste. The key here is to buy what you really love. If black and white isn’t really your thing, your color palette can be gray, army green, and pink. Or maybe you walk a lot so flats make more sense than sky-high heels.

Once you have this foundation, it makes getting dressed infinitely easier because you have a bunch of individual pieces that you can combine into an infinite number of outfits.

Shop Less and Shop Strategically

When the French go shopping, they typically go with a purpose such as replacing a worn-out item or buying something for a special event.

For example, if Arnaud has a pair of jeans that are starting to look ratty, then he’ll say au revoir and buy a new pair. Summer wedding coming up? He’ll get a fancy suit jacket to dress up other items that he already owns.

Similar to the One In, One Out rule, this style of shopping ensures that you always have space in your closet. It also keeps you from “just browsing” and spending money on something cheap or trendy that you don’t really want. Not that I’m guilty of that…but then I’m not 100% French yet.

Know When to Invest

The French always seem to know when to invest in clothing and Arnaud certainly isn’t an exception. He doesn’t spend much on the plain tees, jeans, and other everyday basics that make the foundation of his wardrobe.

But the fancy suit jacket I mentioned above? That was an investment piece. He also splurges on leather boots, designer sneakers, and dress shoes because the man loves his footwear. Other items that land in the investment category include clothing for colder weather and fancy occasions.

The key with these types of pieces is that you should only purchase them few and far between. Arnaud may love shoes but he doesn’t own a million pairs, and he only has a few coats and winter jackets. Most importantly, investing every once in a while usually means you will be spending less and therefore have more money for wine (huzzah!).

The Art of Repetition

When we first got married, I was surprised that my French husband would wear the same outfit whenever we went out. He’d put on a denim button-up shirt, black fitted slacks, and black leather boots. Every. Single. Time.

This was shocking for an American who was taught to buy a new outfit for every occasion, but the art of repetition is ingrained in the French. Just think about Carine Roitfeld and her winning combination of a silk blouse, pencil skirt, and sky-high heels. Or try to imagine Emmanuelle Alt in anything but skinny jeans (I know, it’s hard).

The French wear these uniforms because they know it’s flattering and makes them look good. They also wear it with confidence and have zero regrets about repeating an outfit. And when you think about it, why would anyone ever apologize for looking good?

Rules are Made to Be Broken

If this is all starting to feel a bit limiting, you will probably appreciate this next tip. Rules are great and all, but go ahead a break one every once in a while.

Only wear neutral colors? Buy the bright yellow sweater. Tend to stick to vintage styles? Go for something in a super modern cut. Shake it up and do something different, because in the end fashion should be fun.

Conclusion

French Girls are effortlessly chic, but now that we’ve cracked the code you can be just like them. A quick recap on what we’ve learned:

• Build up the basics in your closet so that you have a great foundation with which to work.
• Try to shop with a purpose and hone in on what you really need.
• Know that it’s okay to make an investment and spend money on a special item.
• Learn the art of repetition and don’t shy away from creating a uniform.
• Break the rules! Life is too short to be super serious about your clothing.

Zat ees eet! Now that you’re armed with the rules of French style (and also have the power to break them), you can dress with ease and go out into the world as a stylish woman. Just don’t tell everyone that we learn all of this from a Frenchman. That will be our petit secret!