This & That: July 17, 2020

Jul 17, 2020

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Books for every topic of interest – current events, gardening and cooking in France, history, friendship, travel, a woman’s journey, flowers and still more. Planning a getaway to the Cotswolds? Find a lovely luxurious cottage, the Duchess of Sussex’s recent hat of choice, the Duchess of Cambridge has also been donning her coveted style, articles to read on a vast range of topics and yep, there is much, much more.


—Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman

From the hosts of the podcast Call Your Girlfriend, Friedman and Sow have become known for frank and intimate conversations.  Released on Tuesday, discover interviews with friends and experts as they have come to understand that their struggles when it comes to maintaining friendships are not unique. Ultimately, the most significant aha that is brought to light is that the most important part of a Big Friendship is making the decision to invest in one another again and again.

~Read the review for the book in The New York Times here.

~Support local and independent bookstores by purchasing this title on

Bright Precious Thing: A Memoir by Gail Caldwell

Pulitzer Prize winning author Gail Caldwell’s new book shares how the women’s movement revolutionized and saved her life, from the 1960s to the #MeToo era. “Bright Precious Thing is the captivating story of a woman’s odyssey, her search for adventure giving way to something more profound: the evolution of a writer and a woman, a struggle to embrace one’s life as a precious thing.”

~Support local and independent bookstores by purchasing this title on

Unexampled Courage: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring by Richard Gergel

I recently was introduced to Richard Gergel’s book as it was recommended by Chimamanda Adichie as a book to read to better understand America’s racist past. Published in 2019 and chosen as an NPR Staff Pick, readers learn how “Sergeant Isaac Woodard, a returning, decorated African American veteran, on February 12, 1946, was removed from a Greyhound bus in Batesburg, South Carolina, after he challenged the bus driver’s disrespectful treatment of him. Woodard, in uniform, was arrested by the local police chief, Lynwood Shull, and beaten and blinded while in custody. President Harry Truman was outraged by the incident. He established the first presidential commission on civil rights and his Justice Department filed criminal charges against Shull” who was later acquitted. The book goes on to share the awakening of Judge J. Waties Waring “who was conscience-stricken by the failure of the court system to do justice by the soldier. Waring described the trial as his ‘baptism of fire,’ and began issuing major civil rights decisions from his Charleston courtroom.”

~Support local and independent bookstores by purchasing this title from

Women in Sunlight: A Novel by Frances Mayes

Escape to Italy with Frances Mayes’s (author of Under the Tuscan Sun) novel which was released in 2018 and is now optioned for a movie (I do hope it comes to fruition!). Women in Sunlight tells the story of “Kit Raine, an American writer living in Tuscany [who] is working on a biography of her close friend, a complex woman who continues to cast a shadow on Kit’s own life. Her work is waylaid by the arrival of three women—Julia, Camille, and Susan—all of whom have launched a recent and spontaneous friendship that will uproot them completely and redirect their lives . . . With Kit’s friendship and guidance, the three friends launch themselves into Italian life, pursuing passions long-forgotten—and with drastic and unforeseeable results.” Happy reading and traveling!

British Find

Vacation Rental in the Cotwolds, Filly Island, luxury cottage

Now I know travel plans to visit the UK from the US or other countries are not happening at the moment, but I also know many TSLL readers live in Britain, so I wanted to share with you a new vacation rental from Unique Home Stays that caught my attention. Tucked away on Filly Island, complete with a story-like bridge to access it, bring your two dogs and one loved one and have a relaxing stay. Or, if I lived there, two dogs and just me. A writer’s oasis! Tour the entire cottage built in the 1700s (now newly renovated) located in Cirencester here.


Grandmont Street + Plain Goods Match Strikers

Since earlier this week I shared a decor post that garnered a wonderful response from readers about the one decor item you didn’t know you needed, I wanted to share with you another company that sells new, yet vintage-esque designs for an affordable price. Plain Goods sells Grandmont Street match strikes (their name) in three different colors. And as one reader who has had match strikers for twenty years shared, matches should go in tip down, rather than up for easy-grab-and-strike function. Thank you Tess!

Handmade Beeswax Candles

I have been spending some time on Michael DePerno and Andrew Fry’s online shop Plain—Goods lately, and couldn’t help but share one more item from their shop. Handmade and made in the states of entirely 100% beeswax candles in two different sizes – dinner (short) and sconce (taper), purchase a pair for $15. And find inspiration taking a tour through their new renovated cottage as shared in Veranda. As well, a video tour by Quintessence introduces viewers to the owners, their home and their shop. Have a look below.

Francophile Finds

The Cook and the Gardener: A Year of Recipes and Writings for the French Countryside by Amanda Hesser

Garnering oodles of awards when originally published in 2000, Amanda Hesser (of Food52)’s cookbook and book of writings is a book to have for Francophiles who love to step into the kitchen and are inspired by the French culture.

Winning the Best Book on France by a Non-French Writer Award at the Versailles Cookbook Fair; a finalist for the Julia Child Award, the Gourmet Magazine Award, and “Best Cookbook of the Year” sponsored by IACP; and nominated in the international category of the KitchenAid Book Awards of the James Beard Foundation Awards, The Cook and the Gardener, readers will find 250 season-inspired recipes “chronicling a year in the life of the walled kitchen garden at Chateau du Fey and its taciturn, resourceful, charmingly sly peasant caretaker. Using the fruits and vegetables harvested from Monsieur Milbert’s garden, Amanda Hesser creates four seasons of recipes tied ineluctably to the land and the all-but-forgotten practices upheld by Milbert.”

The Margot Affair: A Novel by Sanaë Lemoine

Topping the lists as the summer book to read, Sanaë Lemoine’s first novel was released just last month and is already a New York Times’ Editor’s Pick. Set in Paris, “Margot Louve is a secret: the child of a longstanding affair between an influential French politician with presidential ambitions and a prominent stage actress. This hidden family exists in stolen moments in a small Parisian apartment on the Left Bank . . . Exposing the seams between private lives and public faces, The Margot Affair is a novel of deceit, desire, and transgression—and the exhilarating knife-edge upon which the danger of telling the truth outweighs the cost of keeping secrets.”

~Support local and independent bookstores by purchasing this title at


The Land Gardeners: Cut Flowers by Bridget Elworthy and Henrietta Courtauld

Full of more than 280 photographs, The Land Gardeners – Bridget Elworthy and Henrietta Courtauld -“begin with their philosophy and origins as gardeners providing vital information on everything you need to create your own cut-flower garden, from necessary tools and how to support health to what plants flourish in which seasons and advice on gathering, preparing, and arranging your blooms. Providing a plan for growing flowers in all four seasons, this book explores the joy of gathering cut flowers and the importance of surrounding ourselves with healthy, vital gardens.”


—Frame Orange Gathered Striped Silk-Georgette Midi Dress, on sale (all sizes)

Summer attire in great leisurely comfort and signature style. Frame’s Georgette midi-dress is classic and modern all at the same time.

Iris & Ink Rorik Cotton-Twill trench coat, sand

Made in Italy, hitting just above the knee, this casual, yet classic trench would look wonderful with slim pants or denim or over a summer shift dress. Light-weight and versatile.

Janessa Leone’s Sammy Hat

The Duchess of Sussex (more about her recent speech below in the list of links and videos) was recently seen in Beverly Hills wearing one of Janessa Leone’s summer straw hats (now sold out, but a wait-list is available). Someone who has always wore hats, frequently donning a light-shaded fedora pre-royalty, the Duchess demonstrates how function and style can play hand in hand.

Summer temperatures, light linens to snuggle under at night and harvesting the berries from the garden. The middle of July is here!

I have been enjoying stepping out into my garden for a variety of tasks each morning and evening, and all the while always finding a way toward the strawberry bushes to enjoy one or two sweet gems.

As well, the cherries are ripe for harvesting at the moment (newsletter subscribers received a pic of my harvest for last night’s dessert – cherry clafoutis), and having the fruit in my own yard is a special treat I am extremely grateful for having never had cherry trees before.

This week was a week of getting into the routine of writing and nearing ever closer toward finishing the draft of TSLL’s third book; however, I was determined to hang my new screen door, and after two days and tips and expertise from my contractor (he would have hung it for me, but it would have happened in August), it is finally up! Look for a profile post in August.

I hope this week has been gentle to you, and you found some time to celebrate Bastille Day if you are a Francophile as well as put your feet up and unwind regularly. As I shared in last week’s This & That note from the editor, Shaun Bythell’s second book arrived (see below), and I have dove in completely. Loving it is an understatement as I take my spot in my porch swing and swing and read away into the evening. Also, for my fellow Anglophiles, I have created a new page in TSLL’s Shop for all of the British Finds shared on previous This & Thats that I recommend and/or have enjoyed. You can find it here.

And with that, the weekend has arrived. Below are articles, posts and videos I thought you might enjoy. Thank you for stopping by and until Monday, bonne journée.

~How to put which plants with what [The English Garden]

~Challenging the “French Women” Stereotype [The Guardian]

~The six garden tools that every gardener should have in their potting shed [Homes & Gardens UK]

~Are you an urban gardener? Check out these 6 City Gardening Tools that Are Expert-Approved [Domino magazine]

~If you were interested in Rita Konig’s online interior decor course from Create Academy, but the price was too steep, you can now purchase the class with 20% savings through July 19th with promo code RITASUMMER.

~If you happen to be able to travel to France this summer, Discover what to do in Paris [Vogue Paris]

~The Duchess of Cambridge, during a visit with three families involved in the creation of Tiny Happy People, a new platform from BBC Education that provides resources and support to parents and carers of children aged 0-4, wore a dress I am loving, and it is made by one of her favorite New Zealand-born, British designers. (the dress was from the 2019 Fall collection and is now sold out, but you can shop many more of the designer’s dresses on sale here.)

~Classical music is finally reckoning with racism [The Washington Post]

~Helpful Ideas for Busy Women to Achieve Balance in their Busy Schedule [Pick the Brain]

~Get ready to relax. Take this outdoor living space tour of Erin of Apartment 34 ‘s home in San Francisco.

~Thankfully, one Sur La Table store will remain open in Portland, but unfortunately, many others will close across the country. See if your closest store will remain open as we go into the fall season [The Kitchn]

~Fellow gardeners: A reminder that a garden with a soul, takes time. [The Washington Post], inspired by this new book, Spirit of Place: The Making of a New England Garden

~The Duchess of Sussex was one of the key speakers at this year’s Girl Up Leadership Summit. Listen to her 10 minute speech here – begin at 1:21:00. One of my favorite takeaways when speaking about equitable humanity. “It is mutually beneficial and better for everyone. That path to get there will take all of us. It will take girls and women. It will take men and boys. it will take those that are black and those that are white collectively tackling the inequities and structural problems that we know exist . . . We’re not meant to be breaking each other down. We’re meant to be building each other up. So do just that. Use your voice online to build each other up both on and off line.”

~If you just want to slip away to Italy and gaze at gorgeous Dolce & Gabbana clothing, here you go!

10 thoughts on “This & That: July 17, 2020

  1. Hi Shannon, Regarding the Shaun Bythell books, I wonder if you have read the novel written by his American girlfriend? It’s based on their relationship and is called “ Three Things You Need to Know About Rockets” by Jess Fox (pseudonym). I think you might enjoy it.
    Thank you for your lovely blog posts.

    1. Thank you Sharon for bringing this author to my attention. I kept seeing their books mention together, but now finally am making the connection. I am looking into her book now. Thank you very much again. 😌

  2. On the subject of Shaun Blythell, Can I recommend visiting the Wigtown Book Festival site which has moved online this year, where you can read of Shaun’s lockdown perspective amongst other talks and articles.

  3. What a packed this and that of delights. You do spoil us with all your finds. I am looking forward to the movie ‘Military Wives’ I so enjoyed the BBC 2 part documentary from conception to the Royal Albert Hall. The choir master Gareth Malone is excellent. He created other choirs with people who thought singing was not for them but he motivated them to find their voices . Also I have ordered the ‘Life of Margot’ . A certain deceased President comes to mind. Looking forward to French week. Would like to see you write something in French😊

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