This & That: February 12, 2021

Feb 12, 2021

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Books to take you to Paris (two of them!), a tour of British gardens throughout four centuries, making French cookies with a beloved cookbook author, two new series premieres, designer clothing sales, inspiring books and still so much more.


Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning by Tom Vanderbilt

As the new year began, I came across this article by the author of a new book Beginners. I appreciated and was encouraged by the idea regardless of our age, we can be beginners, which in turn strengthens our mind and body, and adds good health and longevity along with improved quality of living to our lives.

“Inspired by his young daughter’s insatiable need to know how to do almost everything, and stymied by his own rut of mid-career competence, Tom Vanderbilt begins a year of learning purely for the sake of learning. He tackles five main skills (and picks up a few more along the way), choosing them for their difficulty to master and their distinct lack of career marketability–chess, singing, surfing, drawing, and juggling . . . Along the way, he interviews dozens of experts to explore the fascinating psychology and science behind the benefits of becoming an adult beginner. Weaving comprehensive research and surprising insight gained from his year of learning dangerously, Vanderbilt shows how anyone can begin again–and, more important, why they should take those first awkward steps.” 

Brave: 50 Everyday Acts of Courage by Margie Warrell

I first came across an article Warrell wrote for Forbes a couple of years ago (shared in the link list at the bottom of today’s post), and immediately wanted to read more she has written. Turns out, her first book which inspired the article was Brave, and I was interested. Perhaps you might enjoy it as well.

British Find

Men in Kilts: A Roadtrip with Sam and Graham

Costars in the drama series Outlander Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish take viewers on a tour of Scottish history and culture, covering everything from the local food and music to the stunning landscape, all while fittingly swapping out their pants for kilts. Tune in on Stars this Sunday February 14th in the US and on the 15th in the UK to enjoy all eight episodes. Have a look at the trailer below.

The Secret History of the British Gardens, hosted by Monty Don

I shared a peek earlier this week after learning from a reader about Amazon Prime now making available the four-part series The Secret History of the British Garden. Hosted by Monty Don on AcornTV, enjoy exploring the history in each of the four most recent centuries beginning in the 17th and touring well-known and lesser known by the wider public, gardens throughout the UK. Have a look at the trailer below. If you’re like me, you may enjoy one episode each night and escape to England with each viewing. Quite a lovely way to spend a wintery evening.



With Jon Batiste’s song being nominated for a Golden Globe in the Pixar film Soul, I wanted to see what the film was all about. Now that I know, I want to watch it. With the voices of Tina Fey and Jamie Foxx, follow along a thought-engaging storyline about what the soul is really all about. Have a look at the trailer below and look for it on Disney+.

Francophile Find

Au Contraire! Figuring Out the French by Gilles Asselin

Another French book to further explore the people and the culture of France. The second edition was released 10 years ago, but I always think it is worth exploring various insights from different times even in the modern past as there are always layers to cultures even as they too evolve and change.

“Written for anyone interacting with the French-tourists, businesspeople, international students, Francophiles-Au Contraire! offers a perceptive understanding of French cultural beliefs, assumptions and attitudes, along with practical advice on building strong personal and professional relationships with the French. Addressing issues like friendship, politics, work, education and romance, bilingual and bi cultural authors Asselin and Mastron draw upon their own experiences as consultants and trainers, as well as those of students and professionals, giving readers a complete-and compelling-look at French culture.” View more French culture and travel books I recommend here.

Bake French Cookies with Dorie Greenspan

With a long weekend here in the states, and Valentine’s Day on Sunday, why not cook with French cookbook author Dorie Greenspan on Monday February 15th virtually as she guides viewers on the tips and tricks for making French Cookies: Madeleines and Sablé. Offered through Williams-Sonoma, many other classes are available as well, but this may just be a wonderful way to start the week.

L’Amacoeur (Heartbreaker)

A recommended French rom-com which was released more than a couple of years ago, you can find it on Amazon Prime and slip away to France a comedy of classic, yet only in France storyline (okay, there is more than a bit of American culture infusion). Have a look at the trailer below and enjoy!

The Paris Dressmaker: A Novel by Kristy Cambron

Brought to my attention by TSLL reader Sarah, Kristy Cambron’s new book (released on February 16th) looks to be a wonderful novel to welcome a touch of history, sartorial beauty, French escape and an intriguing storyline.

Inspired by “true accounts of how Parisiennes resisted the Nazi occupation in World War II—from fashion houses to the city streets—comes a story of two courageous women who risked everything to fight an evil they couldn’t abide.”

Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain

Released last year, and to a great reception, “when Hubert Larnaudie invites some fellow residents of his Parisian apartment building to drink an exceptional bottle of 1954 Beaujolais, he has no idea of its special properties. The following morning, Hubert finds himself waking up in 1950s Paris, as do antique restorer Magalie, mixologist Julien, and Airbnb tenant Bob from Milwaukee, who’s on his first trip to Europe. After their initial shock, the city of Edith Piaf and An American in Paris begins to work its charm on them. The four delight in getting to know the French capital during this iconic period, whilst also playing with the possibilities that time travel allows.” Sounds like a lovely fun read.


Net-a-Porter Sale

It is Presidents’ Day weekend here in the states and that means sales. And as I keep my eyes open for sales on designer items which never can be purchased at full price, when Net-a-Porter has a sale, I do some perusing. I have shopped a few items for you below, but be sure to check out the full sale here.



Having aired on BBC last summer, those of us here in America can now enjoy the series Luminaires as well on Starz beginning this Sunday. “Author Eleanor Catton leads this adaptation of her novel of the same name, which spins a web of danger and romance among the inhabitants of coastal 1860s New Zealand. Eve Hewson stars as Anna, a British expat looking to find thrills and fortune in this corner of the Southern Hemisphere.” Have a look at the trailer below.

~recipe for Honey Baklava Tart~

The snow began falling in Bend just before noon yesterday, and it has not stopped. While it may take a breather (or a nap) tomorrow morning, it is expected to fall for four days without a warming trend in sight. Needless to say, the snow shovel has already been put to use as it seemed a handful of the neighborhood thought to get a jumpstart on what we know will be an ongoing task this long weekend. Seeing everyone outside, chatting a bit with each other (Norman running too and fro to say his hellos as well) was an absolute delight and welcome.

I bustled to the market before the first flakes arrived, with three recipes for dinners and two desserts in mind, making sure all necessary ingredients were purchased to ensure a delicious, cozy weekend will be in store.

Winter certainly can change life’s momentum and tasks in a hurry, but knowing for a couple of days this storm was coming, made the waiting for it sweet as we could prepare and imagine what a lovely wintery weekend could be.

Thank you for stopping by today, and be sure to look for a new post over the weekend. Below I have gathered up quite a few articles I think you might enjoy, and two videos as well. Wishing you a wonderful love holiday however you choose to celebrate it, and most importantly, a weekend of rejuvenation and self-care and self-love. May you have the opportunity to spend it with those you care about, and until later this weekend, bonne journée.

~As Valentine’s Day is just around the corner – The Kind of Love That Makes People Happiest [The Atlantic]

~A feel good newsstory from France – ‘A glass of wine a day’ – French nun turns 117 after surviving Covid [The Local]

~Currently in the middle of figuring out the design and decor of my small bathroom, this article could not have been more timely – Small bathroom ideas and designs [House & Garden UK]

~The future of travel in 2021 [Shondaland]

~40 regrets you don’t want to have in 40 years [Marc and Angel]

~6 Mindset shifts for introverts to bolster inner peace [Introvert, dear]

~Six things lucky people do that others don’t [Forbes]

~25 Interior design tips and decorating secrets from the world’s best interior designers [Homes & Gardens]

~An easy guide for putting plants together [The English Garden]

~The real reason we want to decorate like Parisians, according to experts [My Domaine]

~The real story of Rosa Parks (worth reading to deepen your true understanding of history during the Civil Rights movement in the US), [The New York Times]

~This news story captured my attention and created a driveway moment (when you sit in your car even though you are home or where you have arrived simply to finish the story), a historic portrait found, including one of Susan B. Anthony [NPR]

~Agreed! And a big thank you to a TSLL reader for sharing this article with me – Sorry Emily, Call My Agent is the best Netflix show about Paris [Harper’s Bazaar]

~10 small garden planting ideas that really work [The Middle-sized Garden UK]

~Let’s talk lemons – the fruit of the week, and a recipe too – this is one épicerie staple I always have in multiples in my kitchen [Country & Town House UK]

~I agree with this sentiment quite deeply – Texting before calling. Yep! I so appreciate the thoughtfulness if someone wishes to truly have a conversation on the phone [LifeHack]

~After watching and absolutely enjoying The Dig last weekend, I was reminded how much I enjoy Carey Mulligan. Here is a peek inside her beauty bag [Harper’s Bazaar UK]

~Looking forward to this Masterpiece’s new drama series, Atlantic Crossing, which will premiere this coming April. Check out the trailer below and rest assured, I will include in a future This & That when it becomes available to view.

15 thoughts on “This & That: February 12, 2021

  1. Lovely list of new things to try – and a few articles to enjoy over the weekend too.
    I look forward to enjoying Men in Kilts – I’ve never seen Outlander but Sam and Graham’s trip looks fun!
    Also Vintage 1954 intrigues me! I watched Soul some time ago and truly enjoyed it. It reminded me of a modern (animated) It’s a Wonderful Life !
    Enjoy your weekend and your delicious food – intrigued to know what you will be cooking and baking this weekend !

    1. Sarah, Happy Friday! What a great comparison for the film. Yep! That is what reminds me of as well! Thank you for sharing and stopping by. Have a wonderful weekend.

  2. So exciting that you have included a Norwegian series, “Atlantic Crossing”. It’s the story about the Norwegian Crown Princess and her children (one of them our current King) that spent the war years in the US. She was very close to Roosevelt and even rumoured to have a relationship with him. The series has received a lot of media attention here in Norway due to its historical (in)accuracy so will be exciting to see how you will receive it abroad.

    Have a lovely weekend, Shannon!

    1. I cannot wait to view it. This is admittedly, a detail during WWII I had never heard about until recently sounds intriguing. And I will be most curious to learn more from those who know Norwegian history well due to exactly as you have shared – what is true and what is dramatized, etc.. Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful weekend! ☺️

  3. What a wonderful post, Shannon. Both Atlantic Crossing and Vintage 1954 have caught my eye.
    I wanted to ask a question I have had for some time…Many time you reference a movie on Amazon Prime, but when I check it out (yes, I am a U.S. Prime member), there is a charge to view it. When I hear or read Prime, I assume it is included in my membership. Am I understanding this correctly?

    1. Thank you for stopping by and happy to help! Some shows, series, movies, while showing up on Amazon Prime are made available to view on Amazon but are from a different streaming service (PBS Passport, Acorn, BritBox, MHz for example) which require their own monthly or yearly subscription. Apple TV does the same thing: you may view other streaming services on their platform, but you still have to subscribe to the individual streaming service.

      Have a wonderful weekend. 😌

  4. So happy you included the French film Heartbreaker. It is an absolute favourite of mine and it always makes me laugh! I also recommend Priceless ( hors de prix) with Audrey Tatou which is also set in the south of France and A Good Year with Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard for some French summer sunshine. Also thank you for listing the book Vintage 1954. I read about it last year and was interested but didn’t note down the title- now I know what it is! Hope you have a great weekend 🙂

    1. Tara, Thank you for stopping by! Yes, Priceless is a wonderful fun French film. I too would recommend it. 🙂 Doesn’t Vintage 1954 look most curious? I look forward to reading it as well. Have a wonderful weekend. xo

  5. Wow! So many interesting items. I, too am looking forward to Luminaries, Men in Kilts, and Atlantic Crossing. Vintage 54 sounds right up my alley with time travel and Paris Dressmaker imbibing my love of WWII history. . So many books, so little time! I’m looking forward to Soul now that we have Disney+

    You really hit the nail on the head with this issue of This and That!

  6. Everything you post immediately goes into my what to watch/read pile😂 I love that I don’t have to search for something to watch….I just refer to your list.

    Thanks, Shannon!

  7. Thank you for letting us know about The Secret History of the British Garden! I didn’t know this existed and since I was gifted an Acorn subscription for Christmas (thanks to your suggestion!), I’m so looking forward to sitting down to watch with a big cup of tea. 🙂

    1. Debby, Enjoy! I absolutely loved each episode and learned so much. Of course Monty’s sincere love and curiosity made each episode all the more lovely as well. 😌

  8. So many lovely recommendations as always. Thank you! My Amazon account certainly registers an uptick every Saturday morning as I peruse your recommendations. Loved that sweet story about the French nun and the article by Brooks…just the uplift I needed. And new Monty Don content? Yeah! I could listen to him read from a dusty old users manual and be entranced.
    Will definitely check out the Vintage book…sounds intriguing.
    Have you read Atomic Habits from James Clear? (you may have recommended it as well…) I’m very much enjoying it.
    Have a cozy weekend, ladies. Shannon, it is snowing (but hovering near 0 degrees!) here in Wisconsin as well. I purchased a Swissmar Raclette grill that came just in time for Valentines Day…we my husband and I will try something new and fun!

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