Category Archives: Shopping Solo

Here Comes Valentine’s Day

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I’m reminded that this can be a difficult holiday, if you’re not able to celebrate it with someone special.  This year, I’ll be on my own, so I thought I’d do something different that I can share with you.  I created a plan to incorporate some pre and post Valentine’s Day activities to try out a new way of celebrating being on my own!

“Rare as is true love, true friendship is rarer.”  Jean de La Fontaine

Celebrate with cards

Valentine’s Day friends

Strange as it may seem, this strategy, to extend the holiday over several days, is turning out to be very uplifting!  On Saturday morning, I set out to buy cards to send to friends.  Thinking about reinforcing my friendships by sending messages opened up my mind to the fact that others may be facing the upcoming holiday as well.  And I saw an opportunity to touch them with a reminder that their friendship inspires me and makes me feel grateful.


Cards, cards, cards!

Emails and text messages, FaceBook and other social media are great ways to communicate with friends.  But sending cards, through what has become known as “snail mail” is more fun on this particular holiday.  I think it creates a different impact on the receiver.

Send a note!

Snail mail!

And it caused me to think about my friends, as I wrote notes to them.   Getting all of the cards out in the mail shifted my attention from how the holiday will affect me, onto how it will affect them.  And it gives me something to look forward to…their surprise when they receive the cards on Tuesday!   That’s a great way to approach Valentine’s Day at “A Table For One!

Copyright 2017, Marion M. O’Grady

All rights reserved

Collecting Christmas

Years ago, along with the commitment to buying a bit of a bigger tree each year, I also began to collect ornaments from my travels.  It’s a great way to capture the essence of a special place you’ve been, or a special year you’ve had, or even just a keepsake as a treasured memory of home.  Christmas is a holiday you can celebrate all year, by collecting these mementos.

“One Christmas my father kept our tree up till March.  He hated to see it go.  I loved that.”                Mo Rocca

Christmas Ornaments

Creating a Collection of Ornaments

Christmas is so much a celebration of joy.  It brings with it nostalgia, anticipation of wonderful things to come and the warmth that comes with memories of good times with friends and family.  So, the first Christmas that I woke up alone in my little studio apartment in New York was a bit disorienting.  I had never imagined that I would have a Christmas morning alone.  It was both startling, disconcerting and also fun in a very different way.  I felt accomplished, having set up a tree, to ensure my Christmas day would start out festive and joyful.

Nantucket Ornament

Collect your ornaments all year long, including the wonderful places you visit!

I think that’s why having a Christmas tree every year, no matter what, became such an important thing to me.  It’s a wonderful and constant companion to the holiday, no matter if you’re with friends, family or on your own.  You will find yourself with plenty of time and parties to celebrate the holiday with lots of people.

But waking up to a tree dressed in the beautiful reminders of all the great places you’ve been to, or things that you’ve done, people you’ve known…that’s a really special thing that I think everyone should aim for at Christmas.  You get to savor the experience every day that the tree is up, not just on Christmas morning itself.  And it becomes so personal.



I have ornaments from London, Paris, Nantucket, New Mexico, Arizona, Provence, Italy, and more.  I have a small collection of glass bulbs from my mother’s trees.  I have ornaments that friends and colleagues gifted over the years.  I have a small collection of wooden ornaments, shells, a small creche.  I have a beautiful collection of the 12 days of Christmas.  And some that I made as a child in school.  Each one has meaning.

I always try to leave some ornaments out for anyone who comes to my home over the holidays to hang.  It gives me great pleasure to share my tree.  I call it “honoring the tree”.  And each morning leading up to Christmas, I turn on the tree lights, and sip my cup of coffee or tea while looking at it and recalling the meaning behind each treasured decoration.


Buckingham Palace London!

Playing special Christmas music.  Waking up to the refreshing aroma of pine, looking at this beautiful and unique creation.  All of it makes me feel so happy.  It’s a gift you can give yourself, every year, a very important one I think, especially if you’re on your own.

That’s “A Table For One” exquisite celebration!  Merry Christmas to all!

Copyright 2015 Marion M. O’Grady




Shop Originals In Italy

It’s well known that Italy produces some of the most original and beautiful leather handmade goods in the world. If you visit Italy, be sure to spend some time seeking out shops that offer one-of-a-kind hand made leather goods.  They will last for a lifetime.  And they are exquisite.

“Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind.”                                                              Johannes Brahms

For leather sandals, I have an absolute favorite shop in Sorrento that produces what I consider to be the most beautiful sandals in the world.  It’s named Corcione and when you visit this stunning shop, there is always someone there, working to make these beautiful shoes by hand. Tucked away down a side street in Sorrento, at Corso Italia 28, Corcione has been producing handmade sandals since 1925.

Gorgeous handmade sandals in Sorrento, Italy

Handmade sandals at Corcione, in Sorrento, Italy

One of the extraordinary things about this particular shop, is that they will allow you to participate in the creation of your own sandals.  You can choose the height of the sole of the shoe, along with the particular style and design you prefer.  The owners will fit the sandals to  your own feet.  Yes, you can always choose from their many ready-made versions, but the real fun, I think, is in making your own personal selections.  You need to come at least a day ahead to chose your design elements and then plan to return the next day, for a final fitting.

Gorgeous hand-made sandals

A touch of dragon-fly jeweled accents

In addition, you can choose the exact color of leather straps you want, along with the jeweled accents and other personal touches you wish to add.  Best of all, these handmade sandals are not totally beyond reach.  Ranging anywhere from 40 to 185 Euros and up, they are an outstanding buy!  And when purchased this way, they also become one-of-a-kind.

Hand-made and Hand-chosen details

Hand-made and Hand-chosen details

I have found that looking for this kind of unique shopping experience is a great way to spend time when you’re traveling on your own.  Making a connection with gifted craftsmen, like those at Corcione, elevates shopping solo to a whole new level.  The creative process feels like a collaboration between customer and artisan.  The results too are exciting!  Since you’re making your own selections, there’s a special anticipation that comes with seeing the final product.  You’re not buying something you’ve already seen!  Back home, when you wear your beautiful new sandals, you’ll be transported back to the experience.  And the compliments you get will be so much fun, because you had a hand in making them yourself!

Gorgeous handmade sandals in Sorrento

Gorgeous handmade sandals in Sorrento

Set out to treat yourself whenever you shop, by taking in everything around you.  At Corcione, you may need to wait, as the shop draws lots of locals as well as tourists.  They may tell you to come back in a few hours, but if you do, they may not be ready yet.  Of course, there’s no lack of things to do in Sorrento, so having to occupy your time while waiting is more than delightful.  But I find that giving these craftsmen a day or two works better.  The shop is small, it can sometimes get very crowded and In southern Italy, I don’t believe that there is a word for “rush”.

That’s also part of this wonderful shopping experience too!  If you can, always seek out the one-of-a-kind and the unforgettable!  That’s how to shop with “A Table For One”.

Copyright 2015 Marion O’Grady

All Rights Reserved







Strand-ed? Shop!


Books on a Certain Famous Corner in NYC!

Books on a Certain Famous Corner in NYC!

Some of the most fun shops are located on iconic street corners.  Weathering rain, snow and scorching summer sun, these book-boothes of the famous Strand bookstore stand more than time-tested in the heart of NYC.

“Who seeks shall find.”  Sophocles

Although I walk by these stands with some degree of frequency, in a rush usually, I love to carve out time to visit this iconic location for books and novelties that make great and inexpensive gifts.  The thing that’s really fun about shopping here, is that there’s so much going on around and it’s all outdoors.  You can find a selection of art and  “coffee table” books, children’s books, classics.  Although the stands are just a sampling, they’re an excellent representation of Strand’s full offerings at their store.

Linger And Look!

Linger And Look!

These are really simple, rough-hewn stands and tables that always remind me of how much is out there and available when you want to stop your world and go shopping.  Actually, this simple location is an inspiration to me when I travel too.  I look for similar set-ups and have found them…from Paris’ Left Bank all the way to a famous park in San Diego, California, where artists gather in an almost in-promptu array of tents and outdoor displays to sell their works.

Once you’ve located something similar, be sure to seek it out and keep it in mind when and wherever you travel.  At Strand’s street corner location, there are also lots of great souvenirs.

Tables of Great Souvenirs

Tables of Great Souvenirs

Buy a super tote, a city branded notebook to keep your journal on where you are…shopping for these tokens is a great way to spend an afternoon.  And if you pick something out for a friend, they’ll feel like they’re a part of the delightful time you had shopping for something different!  It’s something you can do, wherever you go.  “A Table For One.”

Copyright 2015 Marion O’Grady

All rights reserved


Special Occasion Shopping…For You!

I think most of us do far more “special occasion” shopping for others than for ourselves.  I definitely know this to be very true of me.  Every once in a while, it’s OK to shop for yourself.  In fact, it’s another celebration of you… an important expression of the art of being alone.

“If you want to live a memorable life, you have to be the kind of person who remembers to   remember”  Joshua Foer

When I finished my career of 25 years at The New York Times, I wanted to mark the event, by making a purchase of something that would remind me of the special occasion.  Most people chose personal patterns of china, silver and crystal for their engagements, weddings and anniversary registries.  Not having ever had a registry, I had rarely received gifts in any of those categories, but I certainly had shopped for these gifts for countless friends and family.

Beautiful Tiffany Audubon Silver Server and Spoons

Beautiful Tiffany Audubon Silver Server and Spoons

Over time, I developed a fondness for particular patterns, dreaming of a day that I might be able to create a list of my own for these gifts!  I have a great love of the outdoors and so I’m frequently drawn to colors and patterns that are evocative of nature.  There’s a particular pattern of silverware at Tiffany and Co. that I fell in love with years ago.  It’s called Audubon and I’ve always imagined how stunning it would be to set a table, inside or out, with this gorgeous pattern.

Tiffany Audubon Treasure "Reminders"

Tiffany Audubon Treasure “Reminders”

One Christmas, my mother lovingly gave me a serving piece in the Tiffany Audubon pattern, because she knew how much I loved it.  So, when I left The New York Times, I decided to shop for my special gift for this outstanding occasion.  I bought 2 large Audubon spoons that I knew would be great for multiple uses.  I keep them on a shelf with colorful bowls and such.  No-one else would notice, but every time I walk by them, I smile.  Their beauty reminds me of my mother’s special gift and my years of hard work and happy days at The Times!  (Maybe someday, I’ll even have a full place-setting or two…something to look forward too!)

 Copyright 2015 Marion O’Grady

Shopping Inspiration

If you try to observe what catches your eye as you walk along a beautiful street of shops, you’ll find the unexpected.  I love flowers and plants.  But I’m not always on the lookout for these shops, unless I have a specific purchase in mind.

“True life is lived when tiny changes occur.”  Leo Tolstoy

Floral Inspirations

Floral Inspirations

So I’ve taken it to mind to look out for floral shops whenever I can.  They have an abundance of beauty and can inspire your next table setting, an entry way welcome or even a fragrant bedside arrangement.  Taking the time to appreciate the beauty around you is an essential part of the “A Table For One” experience.  It’s essential to the art of being alone!

Copyright 2015 Marion O’Grady


Shopping Solo

Shopping is an entirely separate category when it comes to things to do alone!  What makes it specifically “A Table For One” experience is when you set out to shop, without a list or even specific purchases in mind.

“The less routine, the more life”.  Amos Bronson Alcott

This, for me, is one of the most fun ways to go shopping:  Go for a walk on a Main Street nearby, that’s known for its variety of small shops.  Or you can even go to a mall that has any number of different stores to visit.

Small Shops

Small Shops

Shopping is another great thing that will get you out and about.  You can window shop for inspiration.  Discover things you might want to add to your home decor.  You can wander into a shop you’ve never visited before.  You can see things you weren’t looking for.  You might even discover something you aspire to acquire and can start saving to purchase it!

Shopping stimulates your mind, not just your pocket.  And getting out and away from “screen” shopping is another perfect way to enjoy “A Table for One”!

Copyright 2015 Marion O’Grady