This & That: December 25, 2020 (a Happy & Merry Christmas :))

Dec 25, 2020

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So many new films and series premiering today, books of all genres – a mystery set in the French alps, a cookbook by Thomas Keller, a vintage cosy British series set in the early 20th century, a book about the brain to inspire a more fulfilling life, Murdoch Mysteries returns, a unique new tote, chic bedroom décor and much, much more.


Addicted to the Monkey Mind: Change the Programming that Sabotages Your Life by J.F. Benoist

While released in 2018, I thought it was worth sharing J.F. Benoist’s highly recommended book about the power of the unconscious mind if we let it remain so, and when we do not, but instead change the programming we have accepted, create a deep sustaining joy in our lives. Acknowledging the detrimental effects that the pattern of negative self-talk can bring into our lives – with ourselves and others – is a pattern that can be broken, and when we do, our quality of life improves significantly. Addicted to the Monkey Mind shares actionable steps to shift away from self-sabotaging thinking and live with more contentment.

Dream, Plan & Go: A Travel Guide to Inspire Your Independent Adventure by Rachel McMillan

When travel becomes available, no doubt the skies and trains will be full, so why not begin to plan that dream of a trip you have been thinking about over these past ten months. And, if you like me, travel alone often or are considering traveling alone, but have never done so, be sure to pick up Rachel McMillan’s new book (released in May 2020) for helpful and inspiring tips to provide you with a peace of mind that indeed independent travel is a must-do.

“A travel memoir and guidebook, readers will receive practical advice on how to stay safe while traveling single, create a budget, prepare and pack efficiently, and much more. Chapter by chapter, you’ll encounter creative ideas for excursions as well as historical insights into some of the most fascinating destinations around the globe.” So why not, dare to travel and enjoy doing so all in your own company?

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein

A New York Times bestseller, recommended by Bill Gates and shortlisted for the Financial Times Best Business Book of the Year, Range is a book to explore if you are looking to 2021 with change in your professional horizon. “David Epstein examined the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters and scientists. He discovered that in most fields—especially those that are complex and unpredictable—generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one. They’re also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can’t see.” So, if you think it is too late to dive into a dream career after having chosen a different path thus far in your life, think again! And pick up Epstein’s book to not only boost your confidence, but reassure yourself that exploring a new path may be exactly where you will excel.

Yes To Life: In Spite of Everything by Viktor E. Frankl

If you read no other book from today’s list, read Yes To Life. From international bestselling author Viktor E. Frankl, an Austrian-Hungarian who survived imprisonment at Auschwitz, released for the first time in English this past spring to great critical acclaim, Yes To Life shares author, neurologist and psychiatrist “Frankl’s series of public lectures given in Vienna eleven months after he was liberated from the Nazi concentration camps. Becoming world famous, Frankl explained his central thoughts on meaning, resilience, and the importance of embracing life even in the face of great adversity.” At the heart of what the world of psychiatry calls the third school following Freud and Adler is Frankl’s theory that “the primary motivation of an individual is the search for meaning in life and that the primary purpose of psychotherapy should be to help the individual find that meaning.” A short book and a must-read.

British Finds

Bridgerton, Netflix

Shonda Rhimes is bringing her eye for story-telling to Netflix in a new 19th century British set series Bridgerton. Inspired by Julia Quinn’s best selling novels, season one focuses on the eight siblings of the Bridgerton family who are looking for love and happiness in the high society of London. With classical attire and settings mixed with modern touches to draw a 21st century audience, Rhimes looks to have created a hit. Read her conversation with The New York Times here and check out the trailer below. Season 1 premieres today. Enjoy!

Parade’s End

Late to the reminder about HBO Max’s mini-series Parade’s End, but I knew this series was one I wanted to share, Benedict Cumberbatch stars in a highly dramatic adaptation of Ford Madox Ford’s four-part novel series (published between 1924-1928) which has been hailed for decades as one of the best novels in English. “Celebrating the end of an era and the irrevocable destruction of the comfortable, predictable society that vanished during World War I,” Madox rawly shares the pain, the violence and the awakening to what might have forever been lost in English society. Have a look at the trailer below and find the entire series on HBO Max now.

A Rogue of One’s Own (three part series) by Evie Dunmore

A League of Extraordinary Women is a three-part series written by Evie Dunmore receiving quite high praise for its depiction of Oxford Rebels that threaten to upend the British social order. The first two in the series have already been published and the third will be published next year. A Rogue of One’s Own (book 2) was just published this past September and tells the story of Lady Lucie. “She and her band of Oxford suffragists have finally scraped together enough capital to control one of London’s major publishing houses, with one purpose: to use it in a coup against Parliament . . . Lucie tempts Lord Ballantine (Tristan) like no other woman, burning him up with her fierceness and determination every time they clash. But as their battle of wills and words fans the flames of long-smoldering devotion, the silver-tongued seducer runs the risk of becoming caught in his own snare.” A fun read and a step back in British history. Looks like a wonderful way to slip away on a cozy evening.


French Laundry, Per Se by Thomas Keller

Named Best Cookbook by Amazon and Barnes & Noble this year, Thomas Keller’s new kitchen resource for the daring and advanced cook is one to add to your library. Described as a masterclass in the state of the art of cooking, Keller’s celebrated restaurants—The French Laundry in Yountville, California, and per se, in New York City—are the muses for his new cookbook. Sharing “meticulously detailed recipes for 70 beloved dishes, including Smoked Sturgeon Rillettes on an Everything Bagel, ‘The Whole Bird,’ Tomato Consommé, Celery Root Pastrami, Steak and Potatoes, Peaches ’n’ Cream, Keller also includes within that 70, “40 recipes for the basics to elevate your home cooking.” That last description caught my attention immediately.


A & R Cashmere-Blend Throw, Crème Fraiche

Currently just beginning the redecoration of my primary bedroom, I came across One Kings Lane’s A Curator’s Bedroom, and so many decor items caught my eye. The small touches in luxurious and high quality finishes make a lovely difference if thoughtfully and sparingly used. A lovely throw placed on a upholstered chair or bench, simple and luxurious.

Milo Floor Lamp Gold

Setting the mood with the right lighting, while along with bedside lamps is a must. Create a small sitting area away from the bed to invite you to not only sleep well in your bedroom but rest and relax as you either end the day, begin the day or transition into the latter half of the day . . . all with complementary lighting.


Wonder Woman 1984 (WW84), HBO Max

Directed by Patty Jenkins and a sequel to the 2017 box office hit Wonder Woman starring Gal Gidot, the story moves to 1984, decades after the events of World War I. Diana (Wonder Woman) works as a senior anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., specializing in the culture of ancient Mediterranean civilizations. Diana continues to fight crime as Wonder Woman, albeit while maintaining some anonymity. Check out the trailer below and begin streaming on HBO Max now. Not an HBO Max subscriber? Now is a great time to think about becoming one as HBO is offering a 20% discount (a savings of $70 off the a six-month pre-paid subscription).

Sylvie’s Love

Released today on Amazon Prime, set in Harlem in the 1950s, a young woman (Sylvie) means an aspiring saxophonist in her father’s record shop. Slip away in a film which transcends changing times, geography and professional success as their love affair changes their world. Check out the trailer below.

The Truffle Hunters

Let’s slip away to Italy shall we, and hunt for truffles with the most adorable and savvy pups! “Deep in the forests of Piedmont, Italy, a handful of men, seventy or eighty years young, hunt for the rare and expensive white Alba truffle—which to date has resisted all of modern science’s efforts at cultivation. They’re guided by a secret culture and training passed down through generations, as well as by the noses of their cherished and expertly-trained dogs. They live a simpler, slower way of life, in harmony with their loyal animals and their picture-perfect land, seemingly straight out of a fairy tale. They’re untethered to cell phone screens or the Internet, opting instead to make their food and drink by hand and prioritizing in-person connections and community.” Originally this film was set to premiere today (and may still be in limited showings), but recently, the officialy released was pushed back to March 21st. Put this movie on your calendar as I think it will be quite the treat to watch.

Francophile Find

One By One: A Novel by Ruth Ware

Described by some as the Agatha Christie of the 21st century, bestselling author Ruth Ware’s new mystery has caught the attention of book critics in the most welcomed way. “Getting snowed in at a luxurious, rustic ski chalet high in the French Alps doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world . . . When the cofounder of Snoop, a trendy London-based tech startup, organizes a weeklong trip for the team in the French Alps, it starts out as a corporate retreat like any other: PowerPoint presentations and strategy sessions broken up by mandatory bonding on the slopes. But as soon as one shareholder upends the agenda by pushing a lucrative but contentious buyout offer, tensions simmer and loyalties are tested. The storm brewing inside the chalet is no match for the one outside, however, and a devastating avalanche leaves the group cut off from all access to the outside world. Even worse, one Snooper hadn’t made it back from the slopes when the avalanche hit.” A whodunit to keep you turning the page. I think this sounds like a fantastic caper for the traveler and the armchair sleuth.


The Bower Bag, LaLigne NYC

I think I could simply stock my closet with La Ligne clothes and be entirely set for each season, but as I was perusing, it was their new Bower Bag (two different designs, see below) that caught my eye, and I wanted to share. 🙂

Madewell Sale

Use promo code TINSEL and save 30-50% site-wide. For sweaters, for denim, or totes, the savings are quite sweet.


Murdoch Mysteries, Season 14 Premiere

Once I finally began watching Toronto set Murdoch Mysteries this fall, I watched all 13 seasons. I know! But they are quite fun, and I am a tremendous fan of the character Julia Ogden (who isn’t?). And today I have some good news, Season 14 is about to begin! The taping of the 14th season wrapped up this fall, and will be available to view Monday January 4th at 8pm on CBC (and soon to follow on AcornTV).

The end of the week, the last Friday of 2020 and it is Christmas. Keeping it quiet and simple, which is honestly how I typically spend it (and shhhh – maybe not shhhh – love it ☺️), I am excited to share with you this final This & That of the year.

Yesterday, my dad and I, along with Norman, took a wonderfully physically exhausting and exhilarating hike to the top of the moraine which flanks the east side of Wallowa Lake (a pleistocene glacier-made lake in NE Oregon) and saw gorgeous views of Mount Joseph and the entire valley (monthly newsletter subscribers saw a pic in their free delivery today and you can take a video tour with me in January 1st’s A Cuppa Moments). Needless to say, this may become a new tradition. I hope you too are finding new discoveries as you explore new or different ways to celebrate this holiday season. If you are celebrating Christmas, however you may celebrate it, I want to wish you a very happy day.

This final week of 2020 is the regular and only week I take off from posting new content on the blog each year, and I will be continuing this tradition. However, be sure to stop by tomorrow as a special day of celebration always takes place here at TSLL on the 26th. And beginning on Monday December 28th a week of Top Posts and Episodes from the past 12 months will be shared. There will not be a This & That on January 1st (my week off will run from December 28th to January 3rd), but there will be a new A Cuppa Moments video chat for TOP Tier subscribers.

I want to thank you for stopping by today or whenever you snuggle in and peruse this week’s This & That this holiday weekend. Wishing you a wonderful day and weekend of cheer, love and joy. Until tomorrow, bonne journée.

~7 Little Differences about Christmas in France [Oui in France]

~How to stay positive this festive season [Pick the Brain]

~My French Country Home’s Sharon Santoni sits down with Yorn Michaelsen and his time with Christian Dior

~Why the Oyster Man is the hero who redeemed 2020 [The Local]

~What if ‘overthinking’ is actually good for you? [Tiny Buddha]

~Even extroverts feel awkward in social situations this year [The New York Times]

~For fellow Anglophiles and those who love the talented British cookbook writer Elizabeth David – The Challenges and Pleasures of Elizabeth David [The Art of Eating]

~Top Secrets of High-Achievers [LifeHack]

~Classic French films to watch [HipParis]

~Speaking of French favorites, watch this snowball throwing film from Lyon 1896. [The New York Times]

~So good and worth remembering, when it comes to relationships of all types, apply the Vampire Test [Austin Kleon]

6 Ways to work smarter and unleash your productivity [LifeHack]

~Take the three minutes to read this article and improve your conversations forever [Pocket]

~I do love this tradition, but why is it so? Why do the French eat so much seafood at Christmas? [The Local]

~This video sums up much of what I have learned about love this year and perhaps it is the best video to end the final This & That of 2020.

22 thoughts on “This & That: December 25, 2020 (a Happy & Merry Christmas :))

  1. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Shannon! Thank you for a wonderful year of posts. I find your content so helpful, interesting and deep. You are a wonderful writer and I wish you all the best.

  2. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. As a fellow Anglophile and Francophile, I greatly look forward to your podcasts and blogposts and am never disappointed. I hope you have much happiness in the New Year, and I look forward to all you so generously share with all of us in the New Year!

    1. Thank you so much for your interest in TSLL blog and the podcast. I look forward to explore both cultures much more in the future and am tickled to hear you are enjoying what you find here. Thank you very much for your comment. 😌

  3. Merry Christmas Shannon! And thank you for all your thoughtful, beautiful, inspiring and funny posts throughout the year! The video “What love is” is particularly poignant…Je te souhaite une excellente annee 2021! xx

  4. “What Love Is”– such a warm, gorgeous, evocative little gift of a film. Thank you, friend, for sharing your insights, ideas, humor, and all the other whimsy with all of us. You are a rare treat. Here’s to 2021! XOXO🥂💖

  5. Merry Christmas, Shannon!🎄🎁 Hope you are having a peaceful and enjoyable day. Thank you for another lovely post. You have made the 2020 tolerable with your uplifting posts. I especially enjoy your Cuppa Moments. Cheers to a happy and wonderful 2021! 🥂😘❤️

    1. Thank you Gretchen. Evan especial thanks for sharing what you enjoy. Looking forward to 2021 and the conversations to be shared in the upcoming A Cuppa Moments. Thank you for choosing to subscribe to the blog. 😌💛

  6. Merry Christmas, Shannon! This year has been wild. The last few Fridays I have been so busy that I forgot to check in to This & That. When I got a chance to slow down & read your posts, it was like opening a gift. Thank you so much for all you do and your insightful musings. Enjoy a well earned week off & Happy New Year!

  7. Hope that you’re having a lovely holiday, Shannon. Thank you for all of the recommendations on books, films, etc. and your insights to help us navigate through life with an increased richness.💐

  8. Good Morning Shannon, and hope that you are having a relaxing and peaceful Christmas break!! I am so happy that I signed up as a top tier subscriber, as I have been enjoying reading all of the content that you post so much! Here in Michigan we have very little snow right now, but I am sure that will change and am looking forward to getting outside on my snowshoes. I am taking my time, savoring this week’s This & That articles and videos, but did take the time to listen to the video “What Love Is” and, oh my, that is lovely. Have a wonderful weekend, Shannon!

  9. Dear Shannon what wonderful offering now and throughout the year.So happy for you that you had precious moments with your parents at Xmas. “What love is ” is such a delight. “One day at a time” is something I have been practising for a while now. Also I am so pleased you included “The Challenges and Pleasures of Elizabeth David. Am a huge fan and perhaps you remember I recommended her books to you a while ago. Hope you have a well deserved break and look forward to 2021 with you.
    Bonne année😊

  10. So many goodies again this week, I simply don’t have enough time to devour all the films, books and shows you have recommended that I would enjoy immensely.
    I’ve added Yes to Life, the League of Extraordinary Women series and One by One to my TBR list, Bridgerton, WW84, Sylvie’s Love and The Truffle Hunters to my watch list.
    Thank you and again and I hope you had a lovely Christmas and enjoy a wonderful NY.

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