Monthly Archives: November 2016

Holiday Gift Guide for Minimalists

November 29, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide for Minimalists |

Don’t you just love the holidays? Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, all the twinkling lights, and the wonderful smell of pine trees. It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Though the act of giving a gift is fun, shopping for them can quickly suck the magic out of the holidays. The list below should help alleviate some of the stress whether you are a shopping for a minimalist or are one yourself.

Sur la Table Cooking Class

Experiences are the perfect gift for a minimalist, and a cooking class is a great way to hone cooking skills whether your loved one is a novice in the kitchen or an expert chef. Extra points if you can afford two classes and you spend an afternoon or evening together. Sur la Table consistently has the best teachers and they also offer a wide variety of times and themes.

Salami of the Month Club

Give the gift that keeps on giving with a Salami of the Month Club from Olympia Provisions. For twelve months, you’ll receive a different salami with a brief explanation and pairing notes. Best enjoyed with a little wine, a couple of cornichons, and good company, bien sûr. If the salami subscription price is too steep, you could spring for the French Salami Sampler instead. Vive le cured meat!

Super Fancy Wine Bottle

Buy a wine bottle they’d never purchase for themselves (i.e. a very expensive one). As always, Trader Joe’s is a great place to get your wine. I’d go for the Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon or a bottle of champagne such as Veuve Cliquot or Piper Heidsieck. It would also be fun to gather your favorite affordable wine bottles together and gift them as a set of 4, 6, or even 12.

Bon Appétit Magazine Subscription

There’s nothing I love more than coming home and finding a new issue of Bon Appétit in the mailbox. Immediately devouring the issue is half the fun, but the magazine also pushes you to try new recipes and becomes an inspiration for dinner parties. Twelve magazines acquired over a year doesn’t necessarily take up a ton of space, but going digital will satisfy the soul of your minimalist.

Homemade Wine Gummy Bears

Cookies are nice and all, but perhaps a little over done. And, since I’m being brutally honest here, a box of chocolates falls in the same category. So, why not take an afternoon and make a big batch of boozy gummy bears with this easy recipe? Red wine gummies are a crowd pleaser and your gals pals will surely love the rosé-flavored ones. If wine is not your thing, then you can make these Campari grapefruit gummies.

Collection of Favorite Recipes

If you love to spend time in the kitchen, you’ve probably gathered your fave recipes into one spot already. A fellow cook would love access to all that deliciousness! There are a few ways to gift a recipe collection: 1) Use Molly’s tutorial for recipe cards, 2) print recipes and put them in a binder or scrapbook, or 3) create a Tumblr blog of recipes just for them.

Museum Membership

As head of membership at the local aquarium, I am totally and completely biased when I suggest purchasing your loved ones a membership to a local museum, zoo, or aquarium. That said, it truly is a great deal and allows for unlimited visits to a place that is both fun and educational. Plus, membership dollars almost always support the organization itself. Win win!

P.S. A cheese dome or a cast iron skillet also make great gifts.

Three Real Ways to Be French

November 1, 2016

Three Real Ways to Be French |

Be chic! Drink wine! Eat cheese! The world is happy to give you advice on how to be French (this blog included), but you can’t pinpoint an entire country into a few sweeping generalizations.

In the real world, some French folks are dowdy and many choose to wear color over black. I even met a Frenchie who preferred beer to wine! Blasphème, non?

However, there are three things that all French people have in common whether they’re from the fields of Provence, the swanky coast of Nice, or the bustling city of Paris. These things are easy enough so that you too can join in and add a few French habits to your daily life.

Fill Your Glass Halfway

Prepare yourself for the easiest and fastest way to become French. Get a glass, fill it halfway, and, boom, you are now French. Extra points if the glass is small.

This may be (surprisingly) tough for Americans as we’re taught to grab the biggest vessel possible and fill it to the brim with whatever we’re drinking. However, this is how drinks are poured in France whether it’s water, beer, juice, or soda.

So far, I haven’t figured out the exact reason why the French seem to only drink from glasses that are half full. There is probably some optimist/pessimist metaphor hidden in this simple act, but it seems to be habit more than anything else.

Perfect Your Resting Duck Face

Though I’ve picked up a few French words here and there, pronunciation continues to be incredibly tough. New sounds, silent letters, and things that sound nothing like the way they are spelled (here’s looking at you French “r”).

Part of the trouble is that my English-speaking mouth isn’t trained for French. There are certain muscles and lip-pursing positions that are really hard to make!

It’s these mouth muscles we Americans lack that give French people what I call Resting Duck Face. They’re lips are slightly puckered and often rest just barely apart. It’s a look that adds an extra dose of sexiness and helps to make up the whole allure of the French.

Wipe Guilty Pleasure from Your Vocabulary

A while back Michael Pollan shared a study about global food attitudes. The survey asked people from different countries what came to mind when they heard the words “chocolate cake.” Americans most often replied with “guilt” while the French mainly said “celebration.”

Why are we Americans so adverse to pleasure? Perhaps it’s our Puritan roots or that we’ve started to believe what advertisers tell us about guilty pleasures.

Either way, let’s take a page from the French book of life and start enjoying the little things. Lose yourself in every morsel of that slice of chocolate cake. Delight in every minute of your romantic comedy marathons. If it makes you happy, who the heck cares?


Being French is a lot easier than it’s made out to be. Simply fill your glasses halfway, perfect the pucker of your lips (aka your Resting Duck Face), and enjoy your guilt-free chocolate cake.

Of course, I’m kidding here. Like many other cultures and people around the world, the French are a very nuanced people and they are more complicated than half-full glasses of water.

However, it is pretty fun to note the small cultural differences between the Americans and zee French. And if anyone figures out the “why” behind the glass thing please feel free to comment below and fill me in.

P.S. French-inspired products you can buy at Trader Joe’s and five ways to dress like a French Girl.