This & That: March 19, 2021

Mar 19, 2021

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Spring is nearly here, so gardening is on the mind! So too are spring outfit item ideas, a French film to enjoy with wonderful acting, a biopic of a beloved singer, novels to take us to the past with similar parallels of the present, a delightful fun read about wine and much more.


Discovering Dahlias: A Guide to Growing and Arranging Magnficent Blooms by Erin Benzakein

Floret’s Flowers, aka as Erin Benzakein,’s new book was released this week. Discovering Dahlias will dazzle the eyes as well as teach you how to successfully welcome these beautiful late summer bloomers into your garden.

To Calais, In Ordinary Time by James Meek

Released in 2020, set in the 14th century England, “a gentlewoman flees an odious arranged marriage, a proctor sets out for a monastery in Avignon, and a young plowman in search of freedom is on his way to volunteer with a company of archers. All come together on the road to Calais. In the other direction comes the Black Death, the plague that will wipe out half of the population of Northern Europe.” Perhaps in many ways paralleling our own times, with a catastrophe in the backdrop, love, death and power come to the forefront of this story which transports you not only to the past, but to England and France.

British Find

Gardeners’ World, season premiere

Finally, finally, finally, Monty Don and the entire Gardeners’ World team returns for their 53rd season today on BBC Two. As detailed in what is already the most popular post of the year on TSLL, sharing 7 Reasons to Watch (whether you are a Gardener or Not), the weekly gardening show set in England has become one of my simple luxuries. The New York Times profiled Gardeners’ World in a worth-reading write-up exploring how they were able to record all last year even throughout the pandemic. Check out BritBox, stream through Amazon Prime, or if you are in England, tune in to BBC Two at 9pm tonight for the first episode, an entire hour long.


Beata Heuman: Every Room Should Sing

London-based, Swedish-born interior designer Beata Heuman founded her eponymous studio in 2013, and has become known and loved for her “colorful spaces enlivened by exuberant elements and poetic inspirations, capture her signature quirkiness and Scandinavian attention to detail while staying rooted in practicality.

“Organized according to design principle, each chapter offers fresh ways to think about decorating a home, finding your voice, making ordinary details extraordinary, and forging a truly unique space. Vibrant photographs showcase standout properties–including several London town houses and a Nantucket vacation residence–that are brought to life by cheerful color palettes, unexpected contrasts, and a dégagé use of bold patterns and texture. With original drawings and whimsical graphic details, this new tome is a dynamic look into the ethos and work of one of the most exciting names in interior design today.”

~One of my favorite home tours was designed by Beata, the Sussex Cottage (seen below). Click here to take the entire tour.


Genius: Aretha

Premiering Sunday night on National Geographic, the Genius series enters its third season spotlighting the one and only Aretha Franklin. Starring Cynthia Erivo in what critics claim could be her greatest role yet, Erivo plays the role of Franklin, displaying her “musical genius, her incomparable career, and the immeasurable impact she has had on music and culture.” Have a look at the trailer below.

Francophile Find

5ème Set (Final Set)

Australia’s French Film Festival is currently running, and one of the films that caught my eye was Final Set starring Kristin Scott Thomas. Centered around a mother (Scott Thomas) and son, “Alex Luts plays the role of Thomas, once touted as France’s next great champion but never living up to the hype. Against the advice of his wife and mother Judith (they advise him to retire), Thomas opts to take one last shot at Roland-Garros. He draws a new tennis prodigy, Damien, in the first round. What happens next, of course, is something you just have to watch and see.”

There are many other films which piqued my curiosity, and I look forward to them all becoming available to stream soon. I will keep my eye on them and share when they are available.

Welcome to Wine: An Illustrated Guide to All You Really Need to Know by Madelyne Meyer

Released this past November, author Madelyne Meyer grew up in a family that’s been in the wine business for five generations. And while you don’t need a book to enjoy wine, sometimes our curiosity to explore further is worth following.

“In Welcome to Wine, Meyer pairs her expert knowledge with 200 witty, whimsical illustrations that make all the essentials crystal clear.” Discover ideal serving temperature (without getting hung up on precision), key wine regions and exactly how wine is made. Simple, fun and helpful.


Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively

From the Booker Prize winning author, “Penelope Lively takes up her key themes of time and memory, and her lifelong passions for art, literature, and gardening in this philosophical and poetic memoir. From the courtyards of her childhood home in Cairo to a family cottage in Somerset, to her own gardens in Oxford and London, Lively conducts an expert tour, taking us from Eden to Sissinghurst and into her own backyard, traversing the lives of writers like Virginia Woolf and Philip Larkin while imparting her own sly and spare wisdom. “Her body of work proves that certain themes never go out of fashion,” writes the New York Times Book Review, as true of this beautiful volume as of the rest of the Lively canon.”



I recently learned of designer Cynthia Rowley and her daughter Kit Kennan’s podcast Ageless when researching Norma Kamali’s new book – I Am Invincible as Norma was a guest on their show. Tune in as the hosts explore fashion, business, wellness, and motherhood through the lens of their adventures around the world.


DVF Nicola Georgette-Blend Midi Dress

Spring in a dress. I am smitten.

Everlane Drape Trench (more colors)

A cotton-blend trench, perfect for everyday getting around as we transition into spring, and available at an affordable price as well.

Joie, 30% site-wide sale

If you are looking for simple layering pieces, made of lovely silks, be sure to check out Joie and use the promo code FRIENDS to save 30% throughout the entire site.

Tan Tanya suede mules (more colors)

A classic sandal with a little bit of height.

Theory Silk Georgette Draped Shell Top (more colors)

Perfect for layering underneath your favorite blazers, suits or jackets.

The White Company seagrass Oval Tray Basket

Having random baskets to use for bread when serving aperitifs in the evening or a croissants for breakfast is a must, and this basket would work well inside, or outside, when the dining moves outdoors.

A week of awareness, bravery and new beginnings and the week-long spring holiday commences here in Oregon. With a fixed dishwasher, progress made on home projects and fresh daffodils in the house (see below), I am incredibly excited for a week entirely on my own schedule. I will be staying home, tinkering in the garden, encouraging my daffodils to share their full beauty, working on blog projects and simply savoring the everyday moments as spring officially begins.

If you haven’t checked out this past week’s postings, what a week of new favorites! Episode #303 quickly became a listener favorite of the podcast as I shared 33 Ways to Live Your Fullest Life (as taught by Norma Kamali) and Wednesday’s post is THE top post of 2021 already! Thank you to everyone who stopped by and shared what they enjoy about Gardeners’ World and Monty Don. 🙂

I want to send a thank you to Everyday Parisian‘s Rebecca Plotnick for including The Simple Sophsticate in her list of Favorite Podcasts, and as well to a handful of readers who shared this week on IG what they enjoyed about #tsll2ndbook and/or the podcast (did you know #tsll3rdbook is coming?!!! Yep!). Word of mouth truly is the reason TSLL is what it is, and your sharing and kind words mean more than you know. Thank you very much.

Now to the weekend! Below I have gathered up more than a few articles you might enjoy, and I also included one video to just help you get up and tap your toes a bit. Wishing you a lovely Friday and thank you for stopping by. Until Monday, bonne journée!

~This article tickled me this week – How to master the zen art of pottering (puttering to Americans) [House & Garden UK]

~David Lebovitz talks about one of his favorite French cookbooks

~Omar Sy shares his experience filming Lupin during France’s lockdown [Hollywood Reporter]

~10 Things You Do Not Need to Be Happier in Life [Marc & Angel]

~Cup of Jo is matching donations in support of the Asian-American community. Learn more here.

~A Happiness Syllabus – are you one of the more than three million people who have you taken this course already from Yale through Coursera? [The New York Times]

~The joy of not getting what you want [Tiny Buddha]

~Leo of Zen Habits shared a post of thoughtful contemplation on Meaningful Impact when the new world has not emerged yet

~A fun music video I think you might enjoy (and if you want to dance after you watch it – or during, I completely understand ;))

13 thoughts on “This & That: March 19, 2021

  1. Thanks for once again your emphasis on appreciating your time and rejoicing it it. Some of your articles will help— the emergence of Spring has left be very unsettled because I want to do more— slowly it will happen. Deep breaths and walks in the sun .. I’m feeling so desperate for a delicious Cafe experience. 💚

    1. Lindy, Yes, a cafe experience is a yearning and it will be experienced in our future. Indeed! Indeed! We will certainly savor it all the more. 🙂
      Thank you for stopping by and yes, the beauty is coming, all in its own time. Take care and wishing you a lovely weekend.

  2. Hello Shannon. Enjoy a well-deserved spring break doing exactly what your heart desires. I saw David’s suggestion of the book Eating France and I ordered it immediately. I can’t wait to receive it! I’m traveling for the first time since COVID…and I’ve never been on cleaner airplanes or in more pleasant airports. Everyone seems to be taking mask precautions seriously…it’s not overseas, but it certainly is nice to get out and about!

  3. Another lovely list.
    I hope you enjoyed your Saturday morning watching Monty and co on Gardeners World – I did! Patti and Nell never fail to make me smile, especially when Nell carried his basket!
    Also I enjoyed The Dig finally last night, following your recommendation. What a truly beautiful film. So emotional.
    I’ve added the Ageless podcast to my subscriber list as I have added the Penelope Lively book to my TBR book along with To Calais! The aretha film looks fascinating too, not sure where I will watch in the UK though.
    I hope you’re enjoying a lovely weekend ! X

    1. Sarah, Soooooo happy to hear you enjoyed the film! Such elegant simplicity and lets the story shine for so many characters. And yes, I did enjoy the first episode of the season. Nell carrying the basket made me smile immediately! Wishing you a lovely start to the spring season in your garden. xo

  4. That French cookbook!!! 😍 😍 😍 Now on my Wishlist! Thanks so much for that and all the fun reads!

  5. Again Shannon lots to enjoy this Spring weekend. Loved the Jeremy Loops dancing video .I love dancing as I think it’s very therapeutic. Used to dance (classical Indian) at weddings as child! Family friends would give me pocket money for a performance. Feeling nostalgic about the Abel & Cole cheesecake recipe. Will make this for our wedding anniversary next week. They were my favourite online organic grocer’s in the UK. My box arrived every Friday with goodies and a recipe card. Here in France the sun is out and I am immersed in spring cleaning and all things garden listening to the glorious birdsong and the hum of the bees. They arrived early. The garden is prepped and seedlings on the go. Radishes, mesclun, carrots and onions. Curfew is now until 7pm so hopeful we can pop out for a quick apero. Have a great week.

  6. Such nice suggestions! ι’m new in your site! I am excited to bring your way of living in my everyday life 🙂

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