Sunday, November 19, 2017

My French-Inspired Sunday

Montmartre, Paris, France by John Towner
I wrote the following post quite a long time ago... and lost it.  I recently came across it again and wanted to share it with you.  I hope you enjoy it!


Yesterday I made like I was the French girl carrying out her maintenance.  Maintenance of herself and maintenance of her home (and in the process, maintenance of her relationship with her man).

On a Sunday morning my husband and I have been enjoying for a while our little routine of Sunday paper(s) in bed with English Breakfast tea.  We get the papers delivered so my husband goes down to the gate to get them while I make the tea.  I don’t like to sound like the ideal consumer but we got the idea off an ad for Twinings English Breakfast tea.  It showed Nigella Lawson taking her big mug of tea back up to bed of a morning, with the papers. 

When we’re sick of reading the papers and our backs are getting sore from sitting up in bed we head down for breakfast.  Often I will make something a bit treat-y for Sunday breakfast.  We used to go out for brunch but our business being open seven days a week stopped that for now.  So we recreate it at home.  And actually I prefer it.  There are no other people (I really don’t like ‘other people’ most of the time, I like my own space) and it’s a fraction of the cost.  And we can be as healthy or unhealthy as we like.

Today we had virtually no breakfast foods in the house (bacon, sausages) so I made scrambled eggs with cream and dill and baked beans on wholegrain toast.  Quite an English breakfast I think!  With that we had coffee freshly made in the Bialetti.  I make a good strong brew and pour a shot into the cup then top with warm milk for a homemade cafe au lait.

Then after I farewelled my husband to work after the kitchen was tidied and the dishes were done I put some clothes in the washing machine.  Vacuuming and mopping comes later.  I got down our Le Crueset lidded casserole and set it going with chicken carcasses from the freezer (from roast dinners) and hot water to simmer for stock all day.

And as for my body maintenance, firstly I gave myself a pedicure.  I had only my second professional pedicure last month when I was visiting my mother.  The first one about 15 years ago I have blocked from my memory as it hurt so much.  She really hacked into my cuticles and so I have never had another one.  The second one, my mother had been given a gift voucher for an hour long deluxe pedicure but didn’t want to show anyone her ‘ugly toes/feet’.  Isn’t that the point?

I wasn’t arguing though, and before too long I was sitting up on a beauty therapy bed in a serene, dimly lit room.  My feet soaked in warm water before being exfoliated and massaged (up to the knees - blissful) then cuticles were pushed back and nails painted - ‘Paris’ red, but of course.  The therapist said ‘choose a colour’.  When I saw they were named after cities, I had to look for Paris and luckily I loved the colour – a bright, cheery orange/red.

I am removing the polish and doing my own pedicure today.  I will remember to use the pink foam toe separators as they made such a good job of my toes.  And I filed rather than clipped my nails.  I have normally clipped my toenails and they are too short.  Following on from the pedicure I will file them.  They look so much nicer slightly rounded and level with my toes.

Everything I am doing has Carla Bruni playing softly in the background, to really put me in the mood to channel Sabine.

Next comes the shower, with scrubby body gloves and shower gel, hair wash and legs shaved.  I slather myself in sweet-scented body lotion and then paint my toes (with toe separators).

For lunch I made macaroni cheese (from scratch using real ingredients and herbs from our garden) and had a small portion of this (maybe two inches square) with... a salad.  I can’t not have a salad now.  I had a craving for macaroni cheese and bought some macaroni elbows yesterday.  In today’s Sunday paper – a recipe for macaroni cheese.  Being Autumn I probably can’t take credit for that coincidence – every man and his dog probably had macaroni cheese for lunch.  It was one of my favourite meals as a kid, and we often had it for Sunday lunch.

I will be enjoying the leftovers for lunch at work as well.

After some folding of washing, and vacuuming my husband arrived home, and I relaxed with a wine and the rest of the Sunday papers.

The best thing about a day of home and self-maintenance is that it is entirely free.  I think it is very chic to be thrifty.  Any old fool can go out shopping for lovely new things with their credit card, but it takes effort and imagination to spend (and enjoy) a day of cleaning and beautifying.

Rather than look at housework as a chore that I begrudgingly half-do, I try to keep in mind to enjoy the process while I do it and also know who I am doing it for – the peace and well-being of my husband and I.  My husband has been working hard all day and I love that he exclaims how inviting our home looks when he steps in – every single time.


Wishing you a wonderful week, and Happy Thanksgiving to my USA friends!


PS.  Christmas will be here soon, and I wanted to remind you about my book 'A Chic and Simple Christmas'.  If Christmas stresses you out every year, can I invite you to look at it in a different way?  One reviewer said of this book 'A very non-traditional Christmas book - but thought provoking' and another 'Used the ideas to have probably the best, low stress, Christmas I have ever had.'  Yay!

Check out the Amazon 'Look Inside' function to see if 'A Chic and Simple Christmas' is your cup of tea.   Available in paperback and on Kindle here.


  1. I felt relaxed and soothed and well-cared for, like it was me, after reading this. I love days like that. They are such restorative moments when I can take care of home and myself at a leisurely pace.

    Home cooked meals are the best and I much prefer staying in and having a lovely dinner rather than having to deal with 'other people' like you said. I completely understand. I'm starting to enjoy being at home more often whereas in the past I always wanted to get out and about every day.

    I love that photo!


  2. This is so well written Fiona. I feel like I have had a relaxing day just reading this.

    Love the papers - reading the papers in bed seems so decadent. I read that in wealthy households the servants used to iron the papers before delivering them to their recipients to read in bed!

    I Recently had a revival in painting my toes red too :)

    Aisling (I cant seem to publish under my name for some reason - i wrote the french dog comment the other week - your poodle post sparked my memory - i hope you didnt mind that it was a bit tangential. I looked it up and dogs are still allowed in-cabin on internal Air France flights! I have feeling this would not include our 2 rowdy wheaten terriers)

    1. So true, Aisling, I'm sure French dogs are always tiny and perfectly poised! I loved the French airline story, thank you.

  3. Much of this mirrors how we treat Sundays here, although our local shop no longer delivers papers so husband usually is the one who showers and dresses first and goes to collect them. But we do enjoy sitting in bed with our first cup of coffee of the day, and often, once he's collected the Sunday paper he will make some breakfast and bring me both the paper and breakfast back to bed, he will sit there (dressed of course) and I will be in bed, and we will enjoy breakfast together. Or I might get up, shower and dress and make breakfast which we will enjoy in the kitchen and then decamp to the sitting room with the Sunday paper (which has so many sections we can share them between us).

    We love macaroni cheese but I'd never thought of putting dill into macaroni cheese. Indeed, while I've tried this herb I can't say I'm fond of if, but sometimes I make macaroni and leek cheese, adding some freshly steam sliced leeks to the macaroni cheese before grilling it and having it with granary toast or crusty baguette.

    I confess to never having had a pedicure, but I do go to a podiatrist regularly to have any hard skin removed, and between times I use a battery-operated foot file and of course, I cream my feet and legs every day after showering. I might treat myself to a pedicure before too long, I think, it sounds wonderful.

    Enjoy your weekend, or what now remains of it - it's Sunday morning, 8 am exactly, here in the UK as I write this.
    Margaret P

  4. Since my husband is in the restaurant business, Sunday is just another day of the week to us. (Actually it is cleaning day.) He has off on Mondays and Tuesdays, so Tuesday is our Sunday, and we do more decadent things on that day. My husband will go off on an extended bike ride, while I sometimes visit the used book stores, consignment shops, or, if the weather is fine, I go hiking in the woods. I'll come home, have something leftover and delicious for lunch, then take a nap. Later, I dress up a little, and we go out for dinner. Then we usually watch a movie via Netflix. (We don't have cable, so watching on just our "weekend" is a treat -- not "business as usual.")

    The thing about having one's sabbath on Tuesday is that Wednesday is our Monday -- and it feels every bit of it. I like being out of sync with the rest of society, though.

    1. My husband and I had our days off during the week too, when we had our retail business. I loved it!

  5. I agree with the others that just reading this was relaxing. When you mentioned the massage up to the knees I almost drooled. The nice thing about going for a pedicure is that you can just lie back and melt; no effort involved. On the other hand, DIY has the advantage that you can avoid pain, like the too-aggressive cuticle trimming, and do it as often as you like.
    You have such a good outlook on life. We are lucky that you share it here.

  6. What a lovely read on a Sunday morning :)

  7. That all sounds heavenly! I've always loved Nigella, she makes cooking look so glamorous!
    Your breakfast certainly does sound English :) I've never thought to add dill to them, might try it next time.
    Alas our Sundays these days are anything but relaxing as our little ones wake us up early. My husband and I have been away for the weekend just the two of us, so it was a real luxury to have lazy mornings and hotel breakfasts. Yesterday I had Eggs Florentine with spinach which was delicious.
    Thanks for sharing all the lovely, inspiring details of your life on here, I always get good ideas from you and from your books :)

  8. This is my ideal Sunday, or any day! I recently bought a copper milk frother for my morning coffee, and took it for a trial run this morning while watching Sunday Morning. I did some yoga, then remembered that I had your Slimming Success recordings downloaded, so I listened to those while taking a nice shower, exfoliating and applying lotion. Then I put on a face mask and listened to another. I just finished prepping a nice lunch (hardboiled egg, diced celery, romaine and a dijion aioli dressing + a small wedge of brie) while listening to the 3rd. I'm now sitting and eating while catching up on your blog.

    It's only 1 pm here, and I am fully inspired to continue this beautiful day and carry it through the week. It's Thanksgiving here in the US on Thursday, and I am so thankful for you! You are such a chic mentor! Thanks for sharing with us.

  9. My favorite Sundays are spent just like this: tidying up, cooking and taking care of myself, my family and my home. The week is much smoother when this foundation has been set, and I always end the weekend feeling strangely relaxed after a day of work and rest. For what it's worth, Dorie Greenspan does an excellent pasta risotto recipe that is as easy as a box and yields a lovely mac & cheese! Amy

  10. Hello Fiona, really enjoyed this post and your lovely way of inspiring the imagination and appreciation for the simple things. I look forward to re-reading your Christmas book soon, glad for the reminder. I have most of your books and they are fantastic! cheers from Rita from Victoria BC.

  11. Great post! Feel the same way about cleaning the house...consider it "loving" my home and making it special for us. Always do my own manicure and pedicure ( like you , listening to good music and enjoying the time) and feel good about saving all that money. Will have to look for Paris Red as I am also obsessed with Paris! Thanksgiving here in the USA...heading to a friend's for dinner and then a cozy evening at home. Thankful for you and your wonderful posts !


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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