This & That: September 11, 2020

Sep 11, 2020

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A Francophile’s treasure of a book, comfort clothing to add true luxury to your evening routine, a film for jazz lovers, clothing to transition into fall, a cookbook for simple baking, decor touches, a mystery series set during the Roaring Twenties and much, much more.


A Year at Brandywine Cottage: Six Seasons of Beauty, Bounty and Blooms by David L. Culp

Lately, I have been looking for books of inspiration for cottages – whether a cottage garden or the interior decor, so when I read the description for David L. Culp’s latest book, “a guide to living your best life in and out of the garden”, I knew I wanted to explore further. “Organized seasonally, A Year at Brandywine Cottage is filled with fresh ideas and trusted advice on flower gardening, growing vegetables and herbs, creating simple floral arrangements, and cooking seasonally with home-grown produce. You’ll find suggested tasks for each month, including advice on when to plant and harvest, how to weed and water, and what to plant for year-round beauty.” Certainly sounds lovely to me.

Relative Fortunes (A Julia Kydd Novel), book #1 in the mystery series by Marlowe Benn

Set in the Roaring 20s in Manhattan, Julia Kydd is the amateur sleuth in Marlowe Benn’s mystery series that has critics applauding (the second and most recent mystery was just released this year).

“For sophisticated booklover Julia Kydd . . . with her cropped hair and penchant for independent living, Julia wants only to launch her own new private press. But as a woman, Julia must fight for what’s hers—including the inheritance her estranged half brother, Philip, has challenged, putting her aspirations in jeopardy.

When her friend’s sister, Naomi Rankin, dies suddenly of an apparent suicide, Julia is shocked at the wealthy family’s indifference toward the ardent suffragist’s death . . . Now, her death suggests the struggle was more than she could bear . . .Julia, however, is skeptical. Doubtful of her suspicions, Philip proposes a glib wager: if Julia can prove Naomi was in fact murdered, he’ll drop his claims to her wealth.” The protagonist reminds me a bit of Frankie Drake. I have a feeling I will enjoy this series, and perhaps you will as well.

What Are You Going Through?: A Novel by Sigrid Nunez

I happened upon a short interview with six-time novelist and winner of the National Book Award Sigrid Nunez this past Sunday on NPR’s Sunday Edition. The author’s latest book was just released this past Tuesday, and it was her appreciation for the love of writing and what she shared she most looks forward to after having to remain in her NYC apartment due to Covid that caught my ear.

Her latest novel What Are You Going Through? describes “a series of encounters the female narrator has with various people in the ordinary course of her life: an ex she runs into by chance at a public forum, an Airbnb owner unsure how to interact with her guests, a stranger who seeks help comforting his elderly mother, a friend of her youth now hospitalized with terminal cancer. In each of these people the woman finds a common need: the urge to talk about themselves and to have an audience to their experiences. The narrator orchestrates this chorus of voices for the most part as a passive listener, until one of them makes an extraordinary request, drawing her into an intense and transformative experience of her own.”

The Writer’s Library: The Authors You Love On the Books That Changed Their Lives by Nancy Pearl

Released earlier this week, America’s beloved “librarian Nancy Pearl and noted-playwright Jeff Schwager interview a diverse range of America’s most notable and influential writers about the books that shaped them and inspired them to leave their own literary mark. Illustrated with beautiful line drawings, The Writer’s Library is a revelatory exploration of the studies, libraries, and bookstores of today’s favorite authors—the creative artists whose imagination and sublime talent make America’s literary scene the wonderful, dynamic world it is.” This book certainly sounds inspiring as well as a book to spark wonderful conversation should it be a coffee table book placed in a living room or library.


One Tin Bakes: Sweet and Simple Tray Bakes, Pies, Bars and Buns by Edd Kimber

Released on September 1st, the winner of the first British Bake-Off has just released another cookbook – One Tin Bakes. Sharing 70 recipes that require few tools making them accessible to a wide readership, “Chapters include Cakes, Brownies & Cookies, Pastry, Desserts, No-Bake Bakes and Buns & Breads . . . [from] Anzac Caramel Slices for a sweet treat with a salty kick, Rhubarb & Strawberry Cobbler for an easy summer dessert, or Tahini Babka Buns for those weekend cravings.”


Jefferson Side Table, Gold

A simple, yet statement making side table as every sofa or chair needs a place for a drink as Rita Konig reminds. And this one looks quite perfect for a small space or favorite reading nook.


Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1959 rendition)

Originally recorded in 1958 during the Newport Jazz Festival, the documentary Jazz on a Summer’s Day has been remastered and just released. During a Rhode Island summer, Bert Stern directed the original film which features “intimate performances by an all-star line-up of musical legends including Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Anita O’Day, Chuck Berry, Dinah Washington” and more. If you enjoy jazz, as I do, this film will certainly be one to sit back and enjoy. Some viewers will be able to view on Amazon Prime. However, everyone should be able to stream the documentary here for $10. Others may have luck watching it here on YouTube.

Francophile Find

Clare V. OUI hat (more colors)

I don’t usually gravitate toward mesh-back baseball caps, but I have been choosing to wear hats more rather than sunglasses as I want to show some of my face while wearing a mask. And while my go-to is a sunhat, why not add a French touch to a casual topper? Clare V. has made this hat in a variety of colors (many are on a waitlist), but this navy caught my eye first. Check out which one interests you here.

Paris Chic by Oliver Pilcher and Alexandra Senes

Being released on September 16th, a tome of a treasure for a Francophile’s library: Paris Chic. While the price is steep, and not likely to be purchased lightly, photographer Oliver Pilcher and Alexandra Senes’ new book is worth taking a look at. Paris Chic steps inside “some of the most sophisticated homes in Paris, sharing an intimate portrait of various families. The quiet, daily moments of Parisian life are eternalized through Pilcher’s lens. Monuments don’t make a city; the people do.”


Aerin Happy Earrings

Earrings are becoming the fashion piece to remember to tend to for upcoming online teaching moments, and while I am not entirely sure if I am going to worry about this detail at the moment, as there is much more to have to figure out first, once I do, these earrings would be fun to add to the wardrobe.

Cuyana Classic Trench, Navy (more colors)

Trench coat season is returning! And while a khaki trench coat will always be a staple in my coat closet, having a navy one on hand is a modern take on the classic as well. Cuyana offers quality essential items in timeless styles, and this item is no different.

Draper James Midi Sleeveless Wrap Dress

Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James continues to offer designs that, well, just make you smile. Her midi floral wrap dress is no different. I can see this dress being a wonderful transition piece from summer to fall. Throw a cardigan over your shoulders when the temperatures drop, and you can be comfortable while working from home or in the office.

Kumi Kookoon Ashley Pajama Set

Comfort, comfort, comfort. When I think of comfort, I think of what I wear to bed, as well as what I wear as I am winding down in the evening. A luxury purchase indeed, but a quality item that will last, Kumi Kookoon’s silk charmeuse lavender pajamas set would be a comfortable and stylish choice for evening attire.

Kumi Kookoon Quilted Slippers, many more colors, three sizes

One more from Kumi Kookoon that is worth taking a look at – the slippers! Silk charmeuse slippers! Available in many different colors, if you are looking for a bit of pampering each evening, slip these on and begin to melt.


Away Luggage Sale

Away luggage is light-weight, durable and comes with a battery-charging pack as part of the luggage design to charge your technology while on the road or air. And in even better news, nearly all of their designs and colors are on sale, some 50% and all at least 15%.

I was proud to have Away as a sponsor of The Simple Sophisticate podcast a while ago, and had the opportunity to receive and then use one of their Carry-On pieces. I use it frequently for short weekend trips and recently used it for my two-day-getaway to the coast. Expandable, light and simply stylish (I chose the color shown left). So while we may not be able to travel as we want to yet, we will soon, so why be ready to go and save some money while doing so? 🙂

A couple of evenings and mornings this week have brought the taste and temperatures of autumn, and what a lovely gift they have been. After spending an evening relaxing in what I have called my “sunshine garden” with the birds nibbling away above my head, sipping a cuppa and slipping through a new book, for those moments, all was stress-free and good in the world (see above).

Oregon, along with our fellow western states have been hit hard with wildfires, and my heart and thoughts are with those families who have been affected and lives and homes devastated. Many TSLL readers have reached out to make sure I am okay, and rest assured, the fires are hours away (nearly 200 miles) and the only life-changing adjustment we have had to adapt to in Bend is an occasional day of smoky air when the winds pick up. Not wonderful, but certainly livable compared to what so many others are having to live through. Thank you very much for the emails of thoughtfulness and for your kindness.

In the world we find ourselves at the moment, it can seem as though we cannot enjoy our days; however, knowing how to do exactly that is a muscle we must tap into, tone and continue to exercise as now is precisely the time when finding joy and contentment in our days is most crucial.

When we can find our contentment, we can think clearly, prioritize well for our lives and the path forward as well as help when and how we can those in need. Being frazzled and drained by things out of our control is not helpful to our ability to navigate well during trying times as such times require far more energy to stay calm and move forward with clarity.

I have included a video below that speaks to the necessity of finding peace, and how such a skill might just be the new definition of success. Certainly something to ponder.

Along with the aforementioned video, an additional full episode for Anglophiles I thought you might enjoy and many, many articles and posts to explore this weekend.

Earlier this week on the blog, the first episode of Season 7 of The Simple Sophisticate aired and the topic centered around letting go of comparison. As well, I did a bit of shopping for you in this month’s Outfit of the Month – fall-inspired and timeless in hue.

I do hope your week went as well as possible, and you are looking ahead to a weekend to do exactly what you know you need to fully relax and restore your being and mind. Thank you for choosing to stop by today, and until Monday when a new episode of the podcast will be shared, bonne journée.

~Three Unexpected Things You Can Do to Be Happier at Work [Pick the Brain]

~The Best Films, TV Series & Books About Women in the City of Light [Vogue UK]

~What Seeds to Sow in September [Bud to Seed]

~Optimism is a Choice [Seth Godin]

~Major Life Changes Happen Like Clockwork [The Atlantic]

~Phew, I’m not the only one. 🙂 We Are All Socially Awkward Now [The New York Times]

~The Duke and Duchess of Sussex sign a deal with Netflix [The New York Times]

~French Cooking Classes Online [HiP Paris]

~I so appreciated the more signature approach to decorating one’s sanctuary as it is our sanctuary and not one to be approved by the masses – Christopher Howe’s Do’s and Don’ts of Decorating [House & Garden UK]

~Paris’ First Four Arrondisements Will Go Car-Free on One Sunday a Month beginning October 4th [Sortir à Paris]

~Monty Don’s Interview with The Financial Times is a fun read.

~Speaking of Monty Don, we learn much about his gardens, but not as much about his house . . . until the latest issue of The English Home. Read this profile interview. I thoroughly enjoyed discovering what his life is inside his sanctuary.

~The Women’s US Tennis Finals are tomorrow, and it has been a wonderful tournament for the ladies this year.

~Are you looking to adjusting your life to make it actually work for how you want to live? This chat on Marie Forleo’s TV channel and book by the guest may be just what you may want to check out. One take-away line that caught my ear, “Own our greatness instead of prove our greatness.”

Exponential Living (2017)

~I so enjoy historian Lucy Worsley and her examinations of British history. Here is the full episode detailing Jane Austen: Behind Closed Doors.

~Beginning on October 1, 2020, a significant change and much anticipated improvements in engagement will be coming to TSLL blog. Only subscribers will be able to view more than five posts a month along with other exclusive content (Shannon’s Home & Garden Tours, Giveaways, Saturday Ponderings, etc.). Learn all about TSLL’s Soft Paywall here.

13 thoughts on “This & That: September 11, 2020

  1. Thank you Shannon for another wonderful This and That…always a highlight for me..I so want a copy of the Paris Chic book, it looks like such a beautiful book.

    Last week on the ferry to Pender Island one of The Canadian Gulf Islands where we moor our sailboat I downloaded Fifty Words for Rain which I really enjoyed out on the water relaxing.

    I hope your safe from all the fires.

  2. Ah … I imagine curling up in the sofa with “Relative Fortunes” and those shortbread cookies as we are moving back into lockdown in my area due to a local outbreak. I have a busy birthday weekend for my son but will save it for the next.

    Wishing you a lovely weekend, Shannon!

  3. Lots of content piqued my interest this week!! Thank you as always for your effort, Shannon!

    I’m excited for the new changes – especially the “Cuppa with Shannon” videos you mentioned in your previous newsletter!

    It’s lovely to see how much the blog continues to grow since I started following along 4 years ago 🙂

  4. Thank you for putting your location to the fires in perspective. I have been thinking about you and the pups all week. Cheers to the distance!

  5. Oh my, many books to put on my list!!! I live in AZ and we are having days of very heavy smoke from the CA fires. I cannot imagine what it is like there and my heart goes out to everyone, anywhere, that is facing the real thing. I was baking oatmeal cookies while reading the post, and put the chocolate oatmeal ones on the list to make next! Thanks! Have a wonderful weekend.

    1. Michelle, thank you for stopping by. Yes, facing the ravaging effects of the fire would be heartbreaking and we in the far outlying experiencing the residual smoke certainly, while not wanted and unhealthy, are fortunate in this catastrophic time. I so appreciate your sharing how you are making the most of the time staying in. I have no doubt a delicious afternoon and evening awaits! Thank you for stopping by and wishing you well. 😌

  6. Here in Salem we are coping with the horrible smoke from the fires. Our community is safe, but neighboring communities have suffered horribly. Your Friday This and That post will give me something good to peruse this weekend while trying to relax. Thank you.

  7. Thank you for the wonderful Monty Don links. The man teaches so much more beyond “how-to garden”. Love the NYT article of all being socially awkward. When I first read it, I thought, “Right, now we all are geeks!” When I re-read it here in the link, I suddenly realized,”Oh dang. I’ve been going rogue introvert.” It is the oddest thing. I feel safer now speaking up publicly and being waaaayyy out there( for an introvert😁) than I did before.( Always could do online advocacy, how easy it that…) As in face-to-face, say-it-sister, calmly, succinctly, pointedly. Which I believe you address repeatedly as setting your personal boundaries and letting others know those boundaries in a firm, kind, forthright manner. Ye gods. Did I just evolve?! So glad to hear you and yours are safe. XOXO

    1. Rona, I immensely enjoyed reading your comment. Your self-awareness, humility and observation of growth is inspiring and a joy to observe as you’ve shared here. Thank you for your email. The boys and I are and will be fine. For that, I am extremely grateful and for readers like yourself as well. Enjoy the weekend and thank you for stopping by. 😌💛

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