Long ago, I was 18 years old and living in New York City. I knew no one and tended to hide in the apartments of friends of my mom, who were kind enough to lend me their homes rent-free while they were traveling on business or on longterm vacations. I was waitressing and saving up for a deposit on a shared space that I hoped to have one day. I’ll never forget those days and nights that were filled with cold take-home food from my shifts and long soaks for my aching feet.
After a particularly challenging shift, I was walking home wondering if it was all worth it. I decided to take an outdoor seat at the cafe below the building I was staying in. I didn’t really think about it, I just sat down and was startled when the hostess appeared and asked “Table for one?” in a less than enthusiastic way.
“Yes.” I replied in a voice with such strength and pride that I was completely taken by surprise. It was one of those moments when your growth pops out before you even knew it sprouted. I dug into my backpack and arranged my things on the table. My scarf served as a soft throw and I doodled on my coaster to make it my own. I was fully aware that the server was concerned I might “dine and dash,” but I settled in regardless. I needed this and I was taking it. Today, we’re partnering with Shutterfly on their Home Décor line to share the lasting benefits of making the decision to take a seat at a table for one.
My current “table for one” set-up includes my favorite thrift store chaise, fresh flowers, plus a soft blanket and pillow I designed on Shutterfly. The day before “my reservation,” I whip up a few batches of homemade soda and store them in growlers I designed. My Tangerine Basil batch is waiting for me in the black growler on my table for one.
Scheduling private time and giving yourself the opportunity to sit with all your favorite things during that time is a necessity. Period. I learned that lesson on that day many years ago, but I still struggle to make it a weekly affair. Committing it to paper (and on your calendar) like the list above serves as a visual reminder that you deserve this.
One of the most important elements of private time is connecting with your creative self and creating beautiful examples of that connection throughout your home. Shutterfly helps make that possible with their custom home decor line. —Caitlin
Click through and let’s go through the menu to create your table.
Pick out your books a few days before. Chances are you aren’t going to getting a lot of reading done, but that’s okay. It’s more about sitting with your favorite things and reminding yourself what you’re passionate about.
I actually created some ceramic tiles over at Shutterfly that I use for various things, like printed coasters, spoon rests and as a hot plate when I’m serving a family-style dinner. I did this to subliminally connect with passions and habits that I want to encourage in my life.
I’m re-reading Designing Your Life and ended up creating a tile with my personal “mind map” on it that I’m using as an oversized coaster at my desk and at my table for one. Living with a visual representation of the things I enjoy and want to spend more time in my life doing has been a really helpful way to integrate them into my life. They aren’t fleeting desires any longer! They’re sitting with me every single day, so going outdoors on my lunchtime break feels way less out of the ordinary.
Every time I pick up my drink I’m reminded of the importance of time for myself so I can experience everything I’ve outlined on my map-meets-coaster.
The bright pink flower tile you see in the mix is a nice reminder that spring is on its way and my photography class is paying off! I’m imagining a collection of my photos on different sized tiles and using them for a custom table top. Instead of this being a major project that falls into the procrastination pit, Shutterfly turns the process into a quick and easy endeavor. In today’s busy world, it’s more important than ever to focus on you and to take advantage of digital tools like Shutterfly’s that make it possible for you to update your home with little reminders of your individuality.
I’ve actually created multiple pillows using different parts of the same image. When that orange Shutterfly box arrives on my doorstep, I get that giddy feeling because I know that not only do I have a high-quality, affordable piece of home décor, but I DESIGNED IT in 15 minutes! Major victory.
Soft Things to Snuggle With
I’ve always been a bit of a blanket snob (wool always and forever), but when it started to get cold earlier this year, I noticed how darn soft my daughter’s fleece throws were. So I decided to make one for myself, with my own images instead of unicorns and anime characters. Who wouldn’t want a cozy blanket at their table for one? So I turned to Shutterfly’s blanket section, where you can create warm, comfy blankets with your own design or images. If you don’t dabble in photography, The Met museum has an archive of amazing art that is copyright free! I chose my art, uploaded it to Shutterfly and was snuggling with this blanket in four days.
Other notable organizations with archives filled with free images available for non-commercial use are Getty Open Content Images and the Rijksmuseum’s Rijkstudio. Imagine the garland from the 18th century print below covering a piece of home décor that you designed!
Shutterfly also has a fun and free Art Library you can peruse for more inspiration or whimsical images and designs. You can see some of my favorites below.
A Colorful Project (or two)
I’m getting ready to re-do my bathroom so I’ve been poring over paint chips and making notes. Whether or not these notes becomes actionable, it matters not. The importance of having a colorful project is that color quickly connects you to you. Once that act of connecting becomes a habit and you find yourself needing to make a reservation for your table of one, you’re golden!
A Refreshing Beverage
For some it’s wine, for me, it’s “so sparkly it burns” soda. And I like to make it myself. Whether it’s my own kombucha or straight-up simple syrup with sparking water, I like to make and store it in bulk — so these growlers were the find. They hold 64 ounces so having six of them filled and ready to go in my fridge makes me a very happy camper. I love that I could have them engraved so my ginger doesn’t mix with other flavors. Shutterfly carries them in stainless, black and copper.
Aromatic Skin Care
I always opt for working my aromatics or aromatherapy into my skin care during my “me” time. Doing some dry brushing at my table reminds me that there are many still ways I can care for my body and senses without having to spend money or leave the house. My Shutterfly catch-all tray works well to gather all the little things I like to have at my table for one.
Family Photos (optional)
When I sat at my first table for one in NYC, I must confess I looked at my wallet photos of my family more than once. I knew my rite of passage had to be traveled alone, but it was so nice to know they were with me in spirit. Know that it’s the same when you take time for some self-care like this. As soon as I sit down at the table now, I miss my daughter who I’ve sent off to Grandma’s for the day. I have to remind myself this is the time when I can think of her and be proud of her, so I made two canvases with some favorite memories of her — the day she discovered photography with my big-girl camera and the day she decided ballet wasn’t for her. I love to look at these images during my time and reflect on her growth. Without her yelling for her iPod.
Quiet & More Quiet
Since music has the power to transport you to other times and other places, practicing some silence is a good way to stay in the moment and focus on you.
Author’s Note: I hope you soon find yourself sitting at your table for one! Until then, breathe deep and know you have a standing reservation.