Monday Reflections 3.9.2020

Daylight savings and a bought of 60’s and 70’s has gotten the second week of March off to a very happy start in New England!

Some reflections from the past week:

1. Apologies for the self pity party of one. I went a little overboard with my self indulgence, and I feel bad about it. Is my fault that I did not have more results. My R3BILT coach and the whole team there have been super supportive, and I am not giving up. Plus, if this is the biggest problem that I have regarding my health, I should consider myself fortunate!

I am working on liking myself more and being grateful for my overall health (Knock wood).

2. Dad’s birthday. We celebrated my Dad’s 75th in Baltimore this past weekend. There was a good bit of eating and hanging out, and lots of niece and nephew time. V and I flew! It was so great to spend time with everyone.

These two are both so awesome!

3. Coronavirus and flying. It is a different world flying these days. There are a lot less travelers than there were last month. Lots of masks and lots of people like me wiping everything down. I worry that flights will be cancelled domestically as well as internationally. Has anyone told you that the dirtiest thing in your hotel room is the clicker? It got me to thinking- I cannot remember the last time they have cleaned the clicker. Until I read that, I had not.

Ghost town at BWI on Sunday, March 8.

4. Loving the porch days. There have been some lovely sunny days over the last week. I love seeing my boys so happy in the sun.

Tom Applehead, retired from the streets and basking in sun and kisses.

5. Elizabeth Warren’s exit from the Presidential campaign. I am bummed. I will be bummed for a while. She is so smart and such an ass kicker. I would have loved to see her take on Trump. It broke my heart when, in her concession speech, she said that girls and women would have to wait another 4 years to see a woman run for president. Will this country ever be ready. Whatever your political preferences, I hope that you support a woman being VP candidate in 2020.

Copied from @buzzfeed

6. Seniors for Seniors. I was contacted by a wonderful member of my senior pets page about a great initiative. I cannot elaborate more now, but I am so excited! More on that soon!

My senior FIV+ cat Tom Applehead, being cleaned by his FIV+ brother, Maxence Jacques.

7. Talbots top Fohr influencer under 25k for the second month in a row. Talbots is my top larger brand that I would love to work with. I am still trying to make this happen!

I am still hoping to work with Talbots!

8. I cannot stop thinking about the space that Kelly Golightly designed with Frontgate.

Image by @kellygolightly

9. Benefits of R3BILT. I am trying to focus on the positive instead of the negative on my journey. I love my R3Bilt workouts, and here are some reasons why: increased flexibility, decreased shoulder pain, I like to do yoga, I love stretching and I like working out in the mornings and I am more productive when I do.

I am such a big fan of R3BILT’s workouts!

10. New to me brand: Chelsea Gunn. I discovered Chelsea Gunn on Instagram, and I am so glad that I did. She lives in Florida, and her dresses are made in Florida as well. Her dresses are flattering for all shapes and sizes. And they are a great price point.

I am wearing the Kauai cap sleep dress in M.

Lots more updates coming. Stay safe, everyone.

Xx, Jen

@preppyfrancophile

Monday Reflections 3.2.2020

Happy March! I cannot believe that it is March already! Spring is in sight, and I cannot wait to swap out my winter clothes for warmer weather clothes!

Reflections from this past week:

1. Palm Beach Lately x Vineyard Vines dress try on. I stopped by my local Vineyard Vines shop at Derby Street in Hingham to try on the new releases. The pink and white striped linen was beautiful, but it was so tight across the bust that even sizing up one size did not fit.The winner was the white eyelet dress.

I loved the pink and white striped dress, but it was way too small across the bust.

2. Benetton just releases a pink and green plaid capsule to die for. I want everything apart from the too short mini skirt!

Benetton, I want it all!

3. Whole Life Challenge. It is officially over, and I am weighing in/doing a body scan tomorrow. I do not feel like o have had a lot of success. I will post separately about this.

4. R3BILT has got me stretching. So, I have talked about my inflexibility and my lack of yoga skills before. I am happy to say that I have improved greatly, and I actually look forward to the stretching part of my workout. I took an hour long stretching class with Monica, and the foam roller was the best therapy. Have you tried it?

It isn’t pretty, but I have been showing up!

5. Spring fever redecorating. We are looking to redo our bathrooms, kitchen and repaint our sunroom. I have old window trim, and I love the nautical look – like an old sea captain’s house. We are contemplating painting the trim white. Thoughts?

We were going to go with this light coral color, but we changed our minds and decided to go with Icelandic blue.

6. Plastic bags banned in local markets. This is great and really overdue. But I honestly had gotten them sometimes and used them for cat litter disposal. I found this alternative on Amazon.

7. Dairy-free alternatives for calcium. I cut out dairy when I was doing the Whole Life Challenge. I had some chowder last night, and it did not go well. I was talking about this with V, and we looked up some calcium rich alternatives to dairy. I found this article.

Kale is a great source of calcium. This sweet potato and egg white waffle sandwich is my brekky fave.

8. Better, Not Younger. I will talk more about this in a separate post, but one the morning before I left for Europe, my stylist of about 15 years, Danielle, noticed that I had some hair loss and asked if I had been particularly stressed about something. The answer is, of course! But I freaked out and was afraid all of my hair was going to be gone. I am taking supplements, and I recently discovered Better, Not Younger, a hair care line for women over 40. I noticed a difference after the first shampoo and conditioner application. My hair looks so soft and beautiful!

I am literally obsessed with this shampoo and conditioner. It’s a game changer!

9. My new Caroline Grace by Alashan Cashmere poncho. I love my new poncho – this print makes me so happy! The blue is so beautiful! It is 95% cotton, 5% cashmere, and it is great quality. These are limited quantity, so hurry!

I will be wearing this poncho on repeat!

10. Sailor Sailor Spring 2020. Another of my favorite small, women-owned brands, Sailor Sailor Clothing, just dropped their spring line. I adore it. Which is your favorite print and style?

Just some of my sailor-sailor Spring favorites!

11. The Democratic Primary. I won’t get into the guts of it, but I am a lifelong Democrat, and I still don’t know how to vote. All of the candidates have strengths and weaknesses, and I just want someone to beat Trump. I hope that if you are a Democrat, that you vote!

Have a great week!

Xxoo Jen @preppyfrancophile

Monday Reflections 2.24.2020

Whoa! What a week! Here are a few snippets from the last week.

1. Overpriced Tea. I went to a friends birthday tea at Sea Grille at Rowes Wharf, and the service and overall experience left something to be desired. Our tea was cold and there was a pathetic amount of sandwiches and treats for $50 per person. The assistant manager called me back when I called to complain, but they made excuses and did not invite me back. I guess when you depend on wealthy tourists to support you, people who live and work in the city dont matter!

It was pretty at tea at the Sea Grille, but the overall experience was a rip off.

2. Last week of Whole Life Challenge. This is the final week of 6. While I feel like I have developed some great habits, I do not feel like I have lost weight. I can just tell by how things fit or don’t fit. My problem: grazing! I have been sticking to my workouts and tracking my activities.

I am still keeping up with my R3Bilt workouts, and IslandTime PB makes the best workout wear ever!

3. #scenicsundays. I started a new feature on my Instagram: #scenicsundays. I will be sharing a shot of a place I love each week. I hope you enjoy!

Green Park, London

4. Adler Grier: A pretty new discovery for me of a small jewelry maker on the East Coast. I love their Swarovski pearl jewelry. Another small, women-owned business who laws classics for all women. I am all in, and I am so happy to be working with them!

5. Quenelles to die for at Bar Lyon. Okay, I thought that the menu at Bar Lyon was limited for a pescatarian like me, so I had not gone. I went last week to have dinner with my darling friend, and I ordered a quenelle as an appetizer. Quenelles are pile (fish) dumplings that are light and airy with a sauce. It was to die for. I wanted to go back every week.

6. Political ads. I was thinking about the hundreds of millions that the candidates are spending on advertising. What a horrible waste of money. I wish that a big chunk of that would be directed to building shelters for homeless people and animals.

This ad did NOT cost millions, but it says it all.

7. Credo is having a sale!! There are some amazing deals, including a Red Flower set with my favorite rose serum that retailer for $120 and is now $37 (I ordered two)! I linked my picks here, along with a few new arrivals.

Score! Great sale at Credo!

8. Duffield Lane just launched their Spring line, and it’s adorable. I will be writing more about this, but, in the meantime, you can shop the new releases here.

Grab the Coldwater Wrap Dress Before it sells out!

9. Nemo. This is Nemo. He is 11 and FIV+, living in Daytona. His people don’t want him anymore. If you are interested or know someone in that area who is or can foster, let me know. Giving up a senior pet for no good reason is horrible.

Nemo is a sweet wonderful cat. Good with cats, dogs and kids. Please help him find a new home.

10. Pink For Pigs. 9 year old Alaina started Pink For Pigs to educate people about the myths on teacup pigs, potbelly pigs and mini/micros pigs. She makes merchandise and gives profits to pig rescues. Bravo!

The cutest little girl with a giant heart to help rescue pigs?

Have a great week, everyone!

Xx, Jen

@preppyfrancophile

Monday Reflections

1. Don’t get on the scale. We had our half way check in with the Whole Life Challenge, and I was so scared to get on the scale. I have noticed a positive difference, but I hate seeing numbers. I was afraid if I haven’t lost anything or only a few pounds, I would be so discouraged. So my coach said, don’t do it. So I didn’t- and I felt so much better!2. FOMO. So, it is February break in New England, and families are jetting off to fun destinations. I have been on two incredible trips in the last two months, but I still am SO JEALOUS. Is anyone else guilty of this?

My toes were in the sand just two weeks ago.

3. The Whole Life Challenge compliant donuts that I made. I was inspired by a local blogger, Jenna of Boston Chic Party, to make a version of her chocolate covered strawberry doughnuts. I subbed coconut flour for regular flour, coconut sugar for regular sugar and powdered stevia for powdered sugar (1/3 cup per one cup). The consistency could use work, but they were delicious!4. The New England Boat Show. I visited the New England boat show, and for a prep who loves sailing like I do, it was the stuff of dreams. They were boats of all types and sizes, there was shopping, there were exhibits (including a whale conversation exhibit) and there so much more. We went on some big boats just shy of $1 million, but a little dingy caught my heart. You have to start somewhere!5. Morning workouts at R3Bilt. I have been trying to get up to make a 7:00 a.m. class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I don’t always make it, but I love it when I do. It feels so good to get the workout in, and I love the combo of weightlifting, yoga and rebounding and meditative breathing. I used to HATE it yoga, but now I look forward to the 20 minutes in the hot room!

Long way to go, but I am not stopping!

6. Ice Skating. V really wanted to go. We went in Seaport at Snowport. I only fell once, and I did it slowly so that I did not do any permanent damage. I wore my new coat, and a button popped off, so I am not too thrilled about that.

I only fell once. Thanks to V, it wasn’t a full wipeout.

7. Whale conservation. We went to the NE Boat Show on World Whale Day, This exhibit spoke thousands of words, and I made me feel so angry and powerless. We got to do better.

People suck.

8. Valentines Day. I told V not to waste his money on a card. We are both trying to cut down on frivolous purchases, and that is one to me. I actually just bought cards for my niece and nephews. I made V his favorite corned beef and cabbage and a banana cream pie from scratch. It was a good day.

9. Jewels. She’s 12 with Cushings disease at Lowell Humane Society in Lowell, MA. I want her so badly. I don’t think that the timing is right, so I am sharing her and hoping she finds her forever home ASAP!

My heart is breaking. This dog!

10. Missing my family. My mom went to see my sisters in their kids in Philly. I will see them all in a few weeks, but I was sad not to be with them. Seeing pictures and talking to them all makes me sad that I do not have any children. It has been my choice, but it is sometimes I feel like I got left behind in life with my sisters and many friends being parents.

That’s it for this week. Drop me a line any time if there is anything that you would like me to talk about.

Xx, Jen

@preppyfrancophile

Monday Reflections – 2.10.2020

Happy Monday! I am not in nearly as happy of a place today as I was last Monday, when we were in sunny and warm Florida.

Reflections from this past week.

1. Joaquin Phoenix’s acceptance speech at the Oscars. Did anyone else cry their eyes out? It was so raw and sensitive. Was anyone convinced to stop drinking milk? I am not a vegan but I never drink milk. And I have never eaten veal in my life. The idea of eating any cow, especially a baby, is completely repulsive. 2. Suitably. My sweet friend Annabel Gatto and her husband just launched a capsule line of under $100, machine washable classic work wear aimed at women just starting their careers. These versatile pieces belong in every wardrobe. Annabel has worked so hard to start her incredible business, and, on top of that, she was kind enough to refer me to a former coworker in the legal industry to help me grow my business, which next to no one takes the time to do. She’s a true champion of women supporting women!3. The Coastal Creative Conference on March 26 in Greenwich, CT. East Coasters: have you heard of it? Are you going? Kim Thomas of Shorelines Illustrated has put together an amazing panel of bloggers and creators, and I cannot wait to learn more and take my blogging to the next level. Plus, some of the speakers are friends, I have friends attending and I cannot wait to meet some bloggers and brands that I follow! Register here.4. Bleu. V took me to a lovely French restaurant on the Cape called Bleu. I am ashamed to say that I have never been there. But now that I have, I will be back! I got the escargots, which were perfectly cooked and perfectly garlicky, and the delicious halibut special, with pesto over cauliflower purée. V got a Caesar salad with white anchovies and the coq au vin, which he said was fresh and fork tender. We would have loved to make it to dessert, but we were way too full. The portions are super generous here. And the chef/owner’s name is Frederic Feufeu, which may be the best French name that I have ever heard.5. Galentines Day. My sweet friend Azulena hosted a fun Galentines event with local tea company Jenwey teas at Encore Casino. We got to select our tea blends, and I chose chocolate rose with mint. I really love going to fun blogger events! I have made some great friends through blogging, and I met some more lovely girls at this event.6. Margo and Motor Mike. Margo is my pet sitter and friend. She co-runs a rescue in Maine for feline leukemia cats called Ralphie’s Retreat. They do such amazing work giving these cats a great life in a good home. Margo took in a beautiful 8 year old cat named Motor Mike this past summer and gave him so much love and care. Mike passed away last week, and I am crushed for Margo. I cannot put into words how much she has done for me and my cats. I wouldn’t have had a life these past three years without her. If you would like to donate to Ralphie’s Retreat, you can to so here.

7. Feed and blog updates. I asked my followers on Instagram what they would like to see more of, and some people kind of freaked out, thinking that things were going to change. Relax! I am not going to change. I am in my 40’s, and I know who I am. I just like getting feedback!8. Still a work in progress. I am midway through the Whole Life Challenge. My mindset and habits have changed, but I don’t see a big difference.That’s all I’ve got for now. Have a great week.

Xoxo Jen @preppyfrancophile

Monday Reflections – 2.3.2020

Happy Monday from sunny Daytona and Orlando! We are visiting V’s family, and the weather just keeps getting better!

Some reflections from this past week.

1. I.HAVE.WAY.TOO.MANY.CLOTHES. I have a big shopping problem, and I love clothes. I clearly need to work on this. I have been trying to get stuff up on Poshmark, but I cannot catch up! 2. Daytona. This is my first time visiting. I am going to say that I am the only prep in a several hundred mile radius. We have been discovering beautiful spots together, like this state park!3. #girldad: as the oldest of three girls and also a self-designated family photo archivist, my mom asked me to put up a post on my dad and his girls. How could I refuse?!4. My insta-friend Claire from @homewiththewileys posted this from @meylissa_saves. Mind blown. Thinking I should transfer $27.40 a day from my checking to savings every day.

5. The last week has reaffirmed that I never want to live more than 30 minutes from the beach, and that I would love to love to Florida for the winters. The beach makes us so happy!6. Being comfortable in my own skin is an ongoing process. I had a really intense day of hating how I looked – clothes didn’t fit, no angle looked good, just a really low first world problems kind of day. I had someone who just met me recently compliment my confidence and self- awareness. If she only knew!7. I am always humbled and grateful for those who follow me and who are so supportive. I would love to know something special about each person. Comment in this post or in my stories to tell me something you would like me to know about you!8. Maxence. Nothing short of a joy.Have a great week!

Xxoo, Jen

@preppyfrancophile

Monday Reflections 1.27.2020

As part of my wellness journey, I wrote a reflection each night. One of the wellness practices is journaling.

Take me back to the Marais in Paris.
I am going to try to get into the habit of reflecting on feelings and events from the past week/weekend on Monday.

A few thoughts over the past week:

1). The Whole Life Challenge is going well. My body feels so much better not eating all of the processed sugar and crap that I was putting it into before! I am also finding it so much easier to eat plant based meals. This is not a huge stretch for me, as many of my meals were already vegetarian.

Mushroom Walnut Bolognese

2). The Grammy’s: I did not watch it all because I honestly do not know a lot of the popular acts. I didn’t love the Camilla Cabello song, but I still cried when her father cried. Aerosmith sounded rough- for the last few decades, I told myself that they aren’t that old and that Joe Perry was still hot. Last night, that changed- he looked like a grandpa and they sounded ROUGH. And, I cannot get Demi Lovato’s “Anyone” out of my head. Her performance broke my heart. I feel for her and I wish her happiness.

3). V and I were just saying that it has not been that bad of a winter. We probably cursed it. But, traditionally we get most of the snow in February up in New England. I hope that it stays in the high 40’s for the rest of winter.

The beach in January? Yes!

4). Kobe Bryant. I am not going to pretend that I was a fan of his or that I was ever a Lakers fan. But, I am devastated for his family and friends, and for the family and friends of the others who perished in the crash. Kobe was the same age as my sister. Cherish every second you have with your loved ones

5). Looking forward to: Florida this weekend. I am going to the opposite coast – East coast- to see V’s parents. Stay tuned! It will not be beach weather, but I will take 20 degrees warmer.

6). This link, shared by Rebecca of Everyday Parisian, and written by Liz Alderman, about how luxury stores are replacing local businesses, breaks my heart. I felt this so much when I was in Paris. Many of the little shops that I used to visit are gone. My dad asked me about the old standby in the Marais, Chez Jo Goldenberg, and I told him that it had been gone for over a decade. As a supporter of small businesses, this makes me so sad to see the changing landscape.7). Remembering: Tipper. My hospice cat, who was 20, was put to sleep this past week. She had an incredible 14 months with us, and she was only supposed to have days or weeks. I have no regrets. She was really happy until the last few days. I was flying back from Europe when a volunteer picked her up and took her to the rescue so she could go to the vet. I am sorry that I did not get to say goodbye, but she knew so much love with us. I wish that my cats had lived to be 20!8). V and I have been having some major grown up discussions about planning for the life that I have been dreaming of, which includes spending the winters in Florida. There are so many parts to making this happen. Cross your fingers for us!

9). I received an advance copy of my sister, Aliza Fogelson’s book, The Lending Library, out in June. I am so excited to read it and so proud of her! She has worked so hard and so long. It is an amazing achievement! Reserve your copy here.

This is MY SISTER’s NEW NOVEL!!

10) Something funky is happening with my Pinterest. My views and engagement has plummeted. Working on figuring that out.
That is it for this past week. Drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Xxoo, Jen @preppyfrancophile

Before…

It is no secret that I have struggled with my weight for many years. I eat with passion and frequency, and I love cheese and macarons and chocolate.

This was not the only baked good that I ate that morning.

I brought all this back from London and Paros. I did share some of it.

I have tried several different diets like Keto (too tough as a vegetarian) and Take Shape for Life (I could not eat another bar that tasted like air). I did lose 25 pounds on the latter, but I gained it back plus another 5 when I went off of the diet.

When I heard about the Whole Life Challenge from Rene Kennedy at R3Bilt, I was ready to make a change.

WLC Team Leader and Trainer Rene Kennedy. And she loves Nantucket!

It just started on January 18, a week and a half after I returned from London and Paris.

About the Whole Life Challenge

The Whole Life Challenge is a six week challenge that encourages you to make sustainable and healthy changes in your life by focusing on seven healthy habits.

Nutrition – Eat good things

Exercise – At least 10 minutes a day. No excuses!!

Mobilize – Stretch 10 minutes a day. It feels so good!

Sleep – Set a realistic goal. Mine is 7 hours.

Hydrate – Drink a third of your body weight in water. This is so much more than I have been drinking!

Well-being – Develop healthy habits. This week’s is no social media 2 hours before bed. I am struggling!

Reflection – Write about an achievement that you have made, or your thoughts in general.

You get points for accomplishing each of the seven habits, and you lose points for not meeting your daily goals.

About R3Bilt

R3Bilt in am anti-aging gym located in Milton, Massachusetts , founded by Allison Barnes, an expert in fitness and nutrition.

Girl Boss Alli Barnes!

Seriously. She is a Jill of all trades. I took a gut health class with her at her shop, the Juice Barn, and I signed up for R3Bilt before the gym was opened!

R3Bilt got its name from its three phase approach. I am not going to do as good of a job as the website describing the philosophy, but here it is in a nutshell. Rebuild – muscle, function and mobility. Recover – between exercising, increase mobility. Reverse – reverse signs of aging with red and yellow light therapy, rebounding, vibration plates and heart rate based breathing. Read more here.

The Before Pictures

These are not pretty, but I promised to share.Ugh, the back fat.

So that’s that. I hide it well, don’t you think? It could be worse, but it could be so much better.

Whatever size you are, I hope you are happy! That is where I am trying to get to, and that is what this journey is about.

It is a long road ahead, but I am ready.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Xxoo, Jen

@preppyfrancophile

What I Wore In London and Paris

I am not one to plan outfits in advance, but when I headed to two of my favorite cities, London and Paris, I knew that I needed to outfit plan.

I wanted versatile and stylish pieces that I could wear all day and be comfortable in. I knew that it would be cold, so I packed pants and sweaters. But, truthfully, I do not like how I look in pants these days, so packed midi and maxi skirts and a few dresses.

I wanted comfortable shoes that I could walk in, and I ended up I walking at least 8 miles a day.

As for a bag, I would have brought my Barrington Gifts tote, but it did not zip, and there are pickpockets everywhere. I brought an old Herve Chapelier bag, and then I ended up buying a plaid Cath Kidston bag in London that I had my eye on.

So, without further ado, here is a selection of what I wore.

The faux suede boots, green beret and similar items can be found at my LIKEtoKNOW.it post at http://LIKEtoKNOW.it./2J7ue . Paste it, follow me on the app or screenshot my Instagram post.Duffield Lane Striped Cooper Cardigan – This cardigan is a four season piece for me. I love the long length and the soft fabric.Maine and Ivy cashmere sweater – I flew across the Atlantic both ways in this sweater. It is warm, a perfect weight and it has a lobster on the sleeve! It comes in a few other colors, including a periwinkle blue that I am crushing on.Bee + Roo cashmere poncho – Mine was a summer color, but I wear it year ’round. I linked a color that I am loving called grey lady (for obvious reasons). And at a $129 price point for some of the softest cashmere that I have ever worn, it’s a no-brainer.Black midi skirt– I bought mine years ago, but this Lands End skirt is a classic

Michael Kors navy sweater skirt – it is like wearing a sweater as a skirt. So comfy!Jack Tar Togs navy and white striped boat top – not all are created equal, and I love the fit and quality of this one!

Duffield Lane Radcliffe dress – the details on the sleeves are so cute, and this dress is so comfortable that I could sleep in it!

Hermès scarf- my blue one is a classic. Best place to find old gems online: Tradsey.

J.Crew plaid pants.- mine are actually from Banana Republic Factory, but I linked a similar pair.

Salut cashmere sweater -so cheeky cashmere from j. crew last year.Kelly green beret – because, what other color would I choose?Clark’s shoes -okay, they may look a little dumpy like they should be worn by women in the over 70 club, but they were so comfortable and they want with a lot of my navy!

Faux-suede navy over the knee boots – I love these flat boots! And, guilt free!

Cath Kidston plaid zip tote – I was so excited to visit Cath Kidston that I actually went three times to two different stores! This plaid tote is study and it zipped, which, as mentioned, is a must to prevent pickpockets.

Tristan & Bruce Paris clutch – I kept my passport and other documents in here the whole time. I love the vintage look!Haverhill Westerly necklace – a go with everything classic.Maine Melon porthole ring – a cute and fun classic for me!

Addie Parker earrings – navy and silver, they go with everything. I get so many compliments on them. And they are $14!

I also had a lot of comfy shirts under my sweaters, a pair of Banana Republic girlfriend jeans that I wore on travel days and a pair of dangly pearl earrings that I got a hundred years ago.

How did I do packing for my trip? What would you have worn?

Xxoo,

Jen @preppyfrancophile

My Thoughts on (Mostly) Solo Travel

Bonjour tout le monde! I have returned from my trip to London and Paris, and I am so happy that I went!!Ah, the Paris outdoor cafe spaces!

I slept on the plane, and was ready to hit the ground running (speed walking)!Walking the streets of London.

I knew that it was going to be a great trip when New Song by Howard Jones was playing in the ladies room at the airport. If you were born in the 80’s or before, you will appreciate that!

As soon as I got out of the tube in London, I could not stop smiling. London will always be a part of me, and so will Paris. I immediately asked myself WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO RETURN?Plaid in Green Park

I got to do whatever I felt like doing all day and at night. Don’t get me wrong – I love traveling with family and friends, but I really enjoyed getting to be completely selfish and going with my own flow. Nothing against my amazing travel partners, but there was no way that I could have done at least half of what I did if someone else was with me!Pierre Herme croissant isphahan

Full disclosure that I met the lovely Emily Johnston of @emilyjanejohnston for a wonderfully enjoyable lunch in Notting Hill on my first day in London, and I did meet up with my friend Wendy in Paris for a drink Sunday night and for lunch and dinner on Monday (her birthday)!Escargots et Champagne pour le déjeuner

But I spent all of my days alone and every dinner except the last one alone.Solo dinner a Le Bar à Huîtres in Paris. So many memories there!

My friend asked me if I would now travel regularly alone. The answer is maybe. I am very comfortable in both London and Paris, and, even with the strike and the trains not working, I was able to get around by walking (8-10 miles a day) or taking the bus.The train actually ran once or twice!

But, if I had a trip planned to Asia or Australia or even somewhere that I have been before like a Caribbean island, I would have postponed unless I was part of a tour group.

And I should add that I am looking into a tour group for a potential trip to Provence for my big birthday this July if V or no friends or family want to go with me.

I am really proud that I did this trip and that I made it all work. It was a big step for me, and I rediscovered travel, which is a part of what completes me as a personVin chaud at 11 a.m.

Stay tuned for recaps, stories and some guides of both London and Paris. I have big plans, but I also have a full time job!

The cutest biscuit (cookie) boutique in Notting Hill!

Thank you so much for my parents for the gift of miles, for Rachel and Wendy for getting me to go and for all of you who messaged me, who commented on my Instagram posts and stories and who supported me at different times by wishing me well. It takes just a second to do, but most people do not take the time! Your comments and positivity made my journey even more enjoyable!Closing down a new favorite restaurant in Paris.

Xxoo, Jen @preppyfrancophile!