This & That: October 9, 2020

Oct 09, 2020

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A new and hilariously wonderful podcast, more than a handful of books on oodles of different topics – flaneuring, comfort food, Soviet spies in the Cotswolds, entertaining, hand-painted wallpaper, calming your mind, a kind curmudgeon, as well as the new season premieres of a British as well as French favorite television show. Oh, and there is still more!


Agent Sonya: Moscow’s Most Daring Wartime Spy by Ben Macintyre

I recently saw Ben Macintyre’s new book (non-fiction) highly recommended in The New York Times Book Review and wanted to share. Set in 1942, Agent Sonya is a Soviet spy living in the English Cotswolds and nobody is the wiser – except for a fellow female intelligence officer in the British military (but ignorantly, she is ignored by her male counterparts). Living in a small cottage with her three children and husband, Ursula Burton worked as a machinist and was friendly but reserved, speaking English with a slight foreign accent.

Hunted by the Chinese, the Japanese, the Nazis, MI5, MI6, and the FBI, Agent Sonya as well as her husband were high-ranking Soviet intelligence officers and ran powerful agents across Europe. If it sounds similar to the plot and characters in The Americans starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, you are not far off. Released last month, I am certainly intrigued and most curious to pick up this book.

Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader’s Guide to a More Tranquil Mind by Alan Jacobs

From the author of How to Think, Alan Jacobs has a new book (released this past September) which will help to offer ways to ease and calm your mind. “W. H. Auden once wrote that ‘art is our chief means of breaking bread with the dead.’ Breaking Bread with the Dead, Jacobs shows us that engaging with the strange and wonderful writings of the past might help us live less anxiously in the present–and increase what Thomas Pynchon once called our ‘personal density.'”

Breathe: The Staying Home Special Issue

While a magazine and not a book, I wanted to share with you one of Breathe‘s issues that may just be worth keeping around as a resource as well as a comfort as we are spending more time at home. Purchase this issue to “help turn [your] home into an all-encompassing place that provides shelter, community and familiarity in tough times. Among the highlights: puzzles to play now, how to set better routines, knowing when it’s time to turn away from screens, allowing yourself to be bored, and finding happiness through reading and writing.” 

An Entertaining Story by India Hicks

While we may not be entertaining as we once did, we will be able to again, and Prince Charles’ goddaughter, Indie Hicks’ new book will certainly inspire you to begin planning the next guest list for your first dinner party post-pandemic. “Organized by meal, the book begins with cocktail hour and ends with breakfast. In between, there are family suppers and big dinners, birthday cakes and Christmas crackers, great British breakfasts, quick teas and long lunches, mustard pots as vases, and bedcovers for tablecloths . . . Discover clever advice and inspiration for place settings, homemade flower arrangements, table design, and more.” 

Make Yourself Cozy: A Guide for Practicing Self-Care by Kate Vaz

Released in 2018, again a book worth checking out in 2020. Discover “how slow, cozy warmth can help you deal with the anxieties and challenges of everyday life. Filled with tips for creating the perfect atmosphere of coziness (super soft blankets, fluffy robes, and something binge-worthy on TV) as well as sweet, this book encourages readers to slow down and find joy in the little things.”

A Man Called Ove: A Novel by Fredrik Backman

Another book from a handful of years ago, and with more than a million copies sold, if you are looking for a feel-good novel, this is it (if you haven’t read it already). “Ove is a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell . . . But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time? Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.”

British Find

Shakespeare & Hathaway, Season 3

I happened to stumble upon seeing the latest season of Shakespeare & Hathaway appear on my Amazon Prime series list, and with ten episodes to enjoy (only three are loaded currently with the rest to come soon), if you enjoy a good cozy British mystery with a dose of humor, this is the series for you.


Modern Comfort Food by Ina Garden (the Barefoot Contessa)

Released this past Tuesday, the Barefoot Contessa’s latest cookbook is out. Modern Comfort Food. Clairvoyant? Perhaps. But as we know, nearly all of Garten’s cookbooks offer comfort food, and this one is especially welcomed. Learn more about Ina Garden in a recent profile piece in The Cut.


de Gournay: Hand-Painted Interiors by Claud Gurney

If you are looking for a beautiful book – front and back cover as well as what you will find inside, look no further than de Gourney: Hand-Painted Interiors. Celebrated for its hand-painted chinoiserie wallpapers, sumptuous patterns of colorful flora and varied birdlife, the company de Gourney produces additional collections that explore historical themes, such as nineteenth-century French pastoral scenes or exotic Brazilian landscapes bursting with wildlife.

This volume showcases de Gournay designs in situ, in beautiful interiors created by top designers in homes from San Francisco and New York to London, Paris, and beyond. The book explores de Gournay interiors in both city and country settings, how to take inspiration from English stately homes, and how custom wallpaper designs are created.


On The Rocks

Being released on October 23rd on Apple +, Sofia Coppola’s new film On The Rocks stars Bill Murray as Rashida’s Jones’ playboy father who helps her navigate and potentially investigate whether her husband is as faithful as she hopes. Have a look at the trailer below, and yes, when a scene in any film is set in the Bemelman’s Bar located at The Carlyle in New York City (as seen in the picture below), that scene alone grabs my attention. And in this case, the entire film does as well. 🙂

Francophile Find

The Art of Flaneuring: How to Wander with Intention and Discover a Better Life by Erika Owen

I am eagerly looking forward to reading Erika Owen’s book which was published last fall. “In The Art of Flaneuring, discover the many ways flaneuring can spark creativity, support a more mindful mentality, and improve your overall well-being, including: How flaneuring your mundane daily routine can boost your mental health; Why flaneuring isn’t just for jet-setters; How to manage your stress at the office by doing fun flaneur-inspired activities; and How to use flaneuring to connect on a deeper level with your friends and partner.” Learn how to channel your inner flaneur and cultivate a more creative and mindful everyday life.

Le Meuilleur Pâtissier, ninth season premiere

For those who enjoy or who are enjoying The Great British Baking Show’s 11th season, look for France’s version Le Meuilleur Pâtissier which just began its ninth season earlier this month. Many of the episodes are on YouTube as seen below (the season premiere of the most recent season), but you can also visit the home site and discover which channels to find it airing.



My new go-to podcast to lift my spirits and make me laugh out loud while I am walking is Smartless. Three friends, who most of us know as hilarious comedy actors – Sean Hayes, Jason Bateman and Will Arnett – come together in a new podcast which they came up with during quarantine which features a surprise guest each episode in which one of the men bring on without sharing who it is to the other two. “What ensues is a genuinely improvised and authentic conversation filled with laughter and newfound knowledge to feed the SmartLess mind.” I listened to Jennifer Aniston’s interview and thoroughly enjoyed it. Now I am looking forward to exploring Gustavo Dudamel’s interview and curious to see who they bring on next (the conductor of the LA’s Philharmonic).


DVF Friend’s & Family Sale, 30% off

If you are looking for a brilliant print wrap dress, scoop your favorite up now at DVF. The sale runs through October 12, and be sure to use the promo code FAMILY to save 30% off most items.

Theory Friends & Family Sale, 25% off

My go-to for blazers and classic sweaters and blouses, Theory’s sales are worth checking out as their items are timeless and high quality for a fair price. I have shopped a few items below, but be sure to check the entire sale out now.

The scene last Friday evening as the sun set and the work week wound down. No doubt, one week later, the vibe will be quite similar. My garden porch offers the rustling melodies of the aspen leaves tickling each other when a soft breeze blows through, and I soak up my mornings or evenings sitting whilst reading, sipping or simply closing my eyes and catching my breath.

I have found great comfort being in the yard these past seven months. After the work day has wound down each day this week, I stepped out into my garden and put my hands in the dirt. Planting hyacinth bulbs, snowdrops and alliums this week, I was immediately able to let go of the past and future and just be fully present.

I hope you too are finding regular everyday hobbies and interests that lift your spirits and perhaps provide an investment in a better tomorrow. Puttering in the garden is one of many ways in which our efforts are indeed an investment, and something we can play a role in regarding the time, thought and energy given.

Thank you to everyone who has stopped by the blog to tour my new kitchen. Your comments have been incredibly celebratory and fun to read. (If you are not a TOP Tier subscriber yet, when you become one, you will be able to view the full, detailed tour.)

The final weekends of warmth without a night of freezing are dwindling, so I am savoring the tomatoes and herbs which seem to be quite content in the garden at the moment. The down duvet filler is on the bed and full length pjs have been worn recently which intonates that yep, the seasons are shifting.

And perhaps as well, our sense of what truly warrants our attention and worry is shifting toward a worthwhile and deeper grounding of what should occupy our minds and what should not on any given day. I will be talking more about this idea on Monday’s episode of the podcast.

I do hope your week went well, and I also wanted to thank the handful of viewers who have shared a recipe they made inspired by TSLK and/or recipes from the blog this week. Be sure to cook and share, tagging me on IG – @thesimplyluxuriouslife – and yours as well can be shared not only on Instagram but on a future episode’s Show Notes of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen. Look for a new episode tomorrow, but first, below are articles and three videos (one is linked) for you to peruse and enjoy. Thank you for stopping by and until tomorrow, bonne journée.

The home and life of a creative, potter France Palmer in her Connecticut home and work space [House & Garden UK]

Paris to close all bars and cafes and tighten restrictions [The Journal]

Opening night at Carnegie Hall was Wednesday night, and I flipped back and forth between watching it to keep my nerves calm and watching the debate which was refreshingly civil. Watch the full hour program here on YouTube.

Planting a garden is scientifically proven to make you happier and less stressed[Charlie Harper – H & G UK]

What it really means to seize the day [Life Hack]

—An article to make you chuckle – Are some people becoming more attractive during the pandemic? [The Washington Post]

10 Quotes for Letting Go of “How Life Should Be” [Marc & Angel]

Monty Don talks about the need to put our phones down [BBC]

How to find the joy in life during difficult times [Life Hack]

—In preparation for the November season premiere of The Crown – ‘The Crown’ Cast Teaches You Royal Slang [Vanity Fair]

—I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation between Carolina Herrera and the talented designer Wes Gordon who is stepping in as creative director for her label.

Note that Amazon links and some other shopping links are affiliate, which means I may get a small fee if you buy. However, I only recommend books and items I myself use, recommend or am curious about.

18 thoughts on “This & That: October 9, 2020

  1. Another stellar This and That Shannon! I spy a couple of books in which I can’t wait to lose myself! -Jennifer

  2. Thank you Shannon!
    Love the VF video! It’s great to have something to wet the appetite for November return of “The Crown”.
    I look forward to Friday’s for the posting of This & That, it’s always informative and packed with fun things!

  3. I love Shakespeare and Hathaway! Did not know there was a season 3, so thank you!! I have the cookbook on hold at the library as well as the The Art of Flaneuring, it looks interesting. Will spend some time with a cuppa browsing through the links for some interesting reading. Thanks so much and have a wonderful weekend!

  4. Recently read A Man Called Ove and highly recommend as well. Feel good story with some tears at the end. Apparently there is a movie as well!

    I love the chair on your porch…beautiful and so inviting. So fun to see all the new additions to your home.

    1. Sandy, thank you for sharing as well. I had through i remembered there was a movie. Thank you for confirming. And yes, it has and is fun to finally and gradually make my home a true sanctuary. Thank you for taking a peek. 😌💛

  5. There is a film version of A Man called Ove. I think it’s Swedish and it’s really good. Definitely worth a viewing. My Sarah Raven bulbs have arrived too so I need to get on with planting.

  6. A Man Called One was fantastic! I’m looking forward to picking up a couple of books from this week’s list! Thank you for sharing!

      1. No worries. 🙂 I understood and autocorrect doesn’t always work well with us. 🙂
        Thank you for sharing that you enjoyed the book. Have a lovely rest of your weekend and thank you for stopping by.

  7. My “to be read” list grows and grows with each weeks this and that! Thankful that libraries in England are reopening, though for how long I do not know with lockdown restrictions tightening again… one thing I do look forward to with the increased restrictions is more time to spend in my garden and home, pottering and making it lovely. I intend to sow my sweet peas this weekend with hopes of a lovely display next spring.
    Perhaps I shall try some flaneuring too!
    As always, thank you Shannon – Sarah x

    1. Sarah, what a great idea to sow your sweet peas now. Thank you for sharing. Happy to hear the libraries are open, no matter how long it might last. Wishing you a wonderful weekend and thank you for stopping by. 😌

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