This & That: February 23, 2024
Friday February 23, 2024

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Being released this next Tuesday, The American Daughters is set in the French Quarter in New Orleans, and when an enslaved mother and daughter are separated, Ady, the young daughter described as curious and sharp-witted, while initially left hopeless and directionless, “stumbles into the Mockingbird Inn and meets Lenore, a free Black woman with whom she becomes fast friends. Lenore invites Ady to join a clandestine society of spies called the Daughters. With the courage instilled in her by Sanite, Ady’s mother—and with help from these strong women—Ady learns how to put herself first. So begins her journey toward liberation and imagining a new future.”

Also being released this coming Tuesday and for anyone who delights and appreciates the birds in our world or anyone who is curious about birds, Birding to Change the World looks to be a delightful, informative and inspiring read.

“Trish O’Kane is an accidental ornithologist. In her nearly two decades writing about justice as an investigative journalist, she’d never paid attention to nature. But then Hurricane Katrine destroyed her New Orleans home, sending her into an emotional tailspin. Enter a scrappy cast of feathered characters—first a cardinal, urban parrots, and sparrows, then a catbird, owls, a bittern, and a woodcock—that cheered her up and showed her a new path. Inspired, O’Kane moved to Madison, Wisconsin, to pursue an environmental studies PhD. There she became a full-on bird obsessive—logging hours in a stunningly biodiverse urban park, filling field notebooks with bird doings and dramas, and teaching ornithology to college students and middle-school kids.

“When Warner Park—her daily birdwatching haven—was threatened with development, O’Kane and her neighbors mustered a mighty murmuration of nature lovers, young and old, to save the birds’ homes. Through their efforts, she learned that once you get outside and look around, you’re likely to fall in love with a furred or feathered creature—and find a flock of your own.”

Released last March, a book I look forward to reading and wanted to share just in case you might be as well. The Greatest Mindset shares Lewis Howes’ breakthrough discoveries revealing “how you can rewrite your past to propel yourself into a powerful and abundant future . . . With these raw and revealing personal stories, science-backed strategies from industry-leading experts, and step-by-step guidance, you will learn how to:

  • Clearly define a Meaningful Mission to enhance your purpose for this season of life 
  • Identify the root causes of self-doubt and conquer the fears that hold you back
  • Transform your mind to end self-sabotaging thoughts to live a rich life
  • Manifest your greatness to make the maximum positive impact on those around you”

Jennie Godfrey’s debut novel is already receiving raving praise both in her native UK and the states. The List of Suspicious Things centers around Miv and Sharon who live in Yorkshire, England, who decide to make a list: a list of all the suspicious people and things down their street. People they know. People they don’t.

“But their search for the truth reveals more secrets in their neighbourhood, within their families – and between each other – than they ever thought possible. What if the real mystery Miv needs to solve is the one that lies much closer to home?” An intriguing plot design.

Released last week, and ready to be enjoyed!

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The sleuths in Toronto, Canada, return for another season! Already having aired in Canada, those of us here in the states can begin to enjoy Murdoch Mysteries, its 17th season, beginning Monday February 26th with the first two new episodes becoming available and a new episode released each following Monday running right up to summer.

Being released this coming Tuesday, if you enjoy exploring history, British history and specifically a focus on women in history, this is the book to welcome into your library. “Using research skills honed in her work as one of our foremost historical novelists, Philippa Gregory trawled through court records, newspapers, and journals to find highwaywomen and beggars, murderers and brides, housewives and pirates, female husbands and hermits. The ‘normal women’ you will meet in these pages went to war, ploughed the fields, campaigned, wrote, and loved. They rode in jousts, flew Spitfires, issued their own currency, and built ships, corn mills and houses. They committed crimes or treason, worshipped many gods, cooked and nursed, invented things, and rioted. A lot.”

Described as a landmark work of scholarship and storytelling, Normal Women chronicles centuries of social and cultural change—from 1066 to modern times in England.

Vera, season 13, BritBox

Premiering on Wednesday February 28th is the latest season of Vera, starring Brenda Blethyn as Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope, and in this new season which contains three episodes, Vera’s original partner, who starred in the series from season 1-5, Joe Ashworth (David Leon) returns, but in a slightly different role that initially causes some tension (look for him to appear beginning in episode #2).

Having finally watched all of the episodes of the previous seasons, I am caught up and cannot wait for new episodes to watch. Such a great series p- from the cast, the complex capers to the many settings throughout NE England, if you haven’t begun to watch it yet, you will be in good company when you do as many TSLL readers enjoy it as well.

Wicked Little Letters

Being described as the best British film this year (as I heard it advertised on Classic FM this week), Wicked Little Letters looks like a riotous good time of a film. Based on a true story, the film will be released this week in the UK and on March 29th in the states. Starring Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Timothy Spall, Gemma Jones, and Hugh Skinner, this black comedy look hilarious, provoking, and well, just intriguing as all get-out. Have a look at the trailer below.

I have been meaning to bring this cookbook to you as I learned about it recently from one of Dorie Greenspan’s newsletters because Greenspan wrote the foreword of the latest edition. Maida Heatter, often better known as “the Queen of Desserts,” is the author of nine classic dessert cookbooks, including the New York Times best-seller and James Beard Award-winning Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts. And Happiness is Baking reproduces Maida Heatter’s best-loved recipes in a fully illustrated new edition and has been described a modern-classic collection of her all-time best-loved, tried-and-true recipes. Developed for foolproof baking by experienced cooks and novices alike, these recipes bear Maida’s trademark warmth, no-nonsense style, and her promise that they will work every time.”

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I have begun to imagine how to finish the long built-in console in my living room as I look forward to bringing you a tour of the full living room either this spring or early summer (a small portion of the living room – the reading nook – was shared in 2022), and one detail that I have already begun to tend to is to welcome home still life paintings or other framed pieces of art that capture my eye – for me that would be French and British inspired ☺️). This framed piece of original art caught my eye, and at its price, fewer than $200, it’s quite a nice find if it speaks to you.

Vintage Still Life Painting On Canvas 7769

Delft vintage and antique items have always spoken to me for their classic charm, and simple two-color palette, so I feel fortunate to have welcomed a couple of pieces into my home this past fall during my trips antiquing throughout the County Durham in England. Thankfully, I only paid £20 for the vase you will see below with the shared links, seen placed in my office, but these really are keepers and will forever be in style. I found this one just below that I have feeling you could barter with the dealer with and bring the price down. I am constantly finding flowers to place in my vase and make sure it is in use each week if possible as it always brings a smile to the room it is in.

Regarding the antiquing I did in England, I will be detailing the shops I visited in this year’s Annual British Week, so if you too love a good treasure hunt and travel in and about England, these local shops in England will be ones to save!

19th Century Delft Vase 3633

Golden Years

While released a couple of years ago in Europe, it is now available this weekend here in the states and has already received 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Golden Years, a German film, centers around Alice and Peter, “a retired couple is getting ready to enjoy their life as pensioners on a cruise trip through the Mediterranean. The spouses end up going on separate journeys of self-discovery and finding unexpected ways of how to spend their golden years.” Have a look at the trailer below and find it in theaters beginning today.

Released this past November, French Cooking Academy, with 100 showstopping recipes, takes you on a tour of the best France has to offer, prepared in the simplest way possible. Filled with all the sweet and savory classics you’ve always wanted to make, as well as some lesser-known regional delicacies, this book will be your guide to mastering classic French cuisine. Through helpful tips on efficient mise en place and tried-and-true culinary techniques aimed at budding home cooks, Stephane Nguyen shows readers that delicious food can be accessible to all and that French cooking doesn’t have to be difficult.”

On a slight side note, is anyone else eagerly anticipating their February box from Sharon Santoni? She just shipped them out yesterday, and I cannot wait to unbox and see the French treasures she has included this go-round (you can still order yours here – it’s all about cuisine and the French kitchen!). Now to this beautiful antique find.

Whether to hold fruit or other fresh items in the kitchen or atop the dining table during dinner or for decoration entirely on its own, these are beauties that make a beautiful statement. Three are available, each different a different style and size.

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Boden has some wonderful new dresses in their spring collection, and through today, Friday, you can save 20% using M2R3, and through the weekend 15% using the same code. I have shopped a few specific finds as well as a scroll of a handful of finds below.


Boss belted wrap dress in Linen-blend

A heads up! TSLL’s Annual Spring Shopping Guide will be posted here on the blog next Saturday March 2nd, and as I have already begun shopping and bringing together all of the shopping finds as well as breaking down the trends worth investing in, I wanted to share one find I came across and am absolutely loving.

A linen-blend dress in a neutral hue. There are SO many ways you can style this! Such a great dress for summer, and specifically traveling to France, even more specifically, the south of France and Provence! ☺️🇫🇷❤️ I think I might have to say yes to this dress soon! 🙂

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COS scarf-detail maxi dress, cream floral


Speaking of styling a dress. I can envision this beauty of a deal saver from COS being belted and with very few other accessories, making a beautiful statement wherever one goes.

Stanley, that Italian foodie! has an exclusive line of cookware having teamed up with Fortnum & Mason. Yep, only available at F & M, check out his TUCCI cookware line brought to homecooks by GreenPan. Tucci’s line “brings together the rich traditions of British cuisine with the inspired vision of Stanley Tucci, underpinned by the innovation of GreenPan. A fusion of culinary excellence and timeless style – and a must-have for keen cooks and discerning design lovers.”

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Elsbeth, CBS

Carrie Preston reprises her role first introduced in The Good Wife as Elsbeth Tascioni, an autistic and astute but unconventional attorney who, after her successful career in Chicago, makes her way to New York City to provide her unique expertise to the city’s police department in Elsbeth. Premiering next Thursday February 29th on CBS/Paramount+ from the creators of The Good Wife and The Good Fight, this looks like a fun crime drama, my kind of approach to this genre 😌. Check out the trailer below.


When I saw that the daffodils had returned for their annual hello at Trader Joe’s this past weekend, even with the beautiful snowfall that arrived simultaneously, my smile became brighter and refused to be turned down. 🙂

Picking up these posies of sunshine brought an instant lift to the house this week, and speaking of Le Papillon, a BIG thank you to everyone who stopped by and took the latest new home tour of Le Papillon as the fireplace snug was finally revealed after nearly three years of waiting for it be completely polished and finished. While the snow has now largely retreated, there is still a nip in the air, and the fireplace continues to be turned on in the evenings as well as mornings just to curb the chill.

Already we are stepping into the final weekend of February, and that means French classes picked back up again (this go-round is FR 201), and as I shared with someone earlier this week, those two weeks off really did give my mind a break because when it picked back up again, the regular workout I had missed revealed certain mental muscles need to constantly stay in toned good shape! Early to bed I went that first night and last night too (currently trying to wrap my mind around the use of pronoms ‘y’ and ‘en’ 🙃), mentally exhausted, but glad to be back at it!

This weekend will be quiet with some work being tended to, filming of lessons for the Contentment course as well as resting with the pups and making plans for a mini spring getaway with my mom to satiate our shared love of gardening. I hope you too are looking ahead to a weekend with moments and events that energize you as well as let you recharge.

Below I have gathered together a few posts and one video you might enjoy. As always, thank you for stopping by, and until Monday, bonne journée.

~An idea to return to as our ancestors knew the power of living with the seasons – to avoid burnout, embrace seasonality [NY Times, gift link]

~Ideas for what to do in the Lake District, including accommodations [House & Garden UK]

~Notre Dame reveals new spire and golden rooster as scaffolding has begun to be removed [Euro News]

~Let’s stay in Paris, shall we? And explore the 15 Best Bistros according to Frenchly.

~Fashion brands seem to finally be waking up to the value of catering to older women [WSJ]

~Jennifer Aniston just won the People’s Choice award for Best TV Drama Actor, and in Vogue recently she shared her beauty and fitness routine, much of it is quite simple and something all of us can embrace.

~I am loving this finding (and am reminded I need to find more reason to wear my many heels!)! And if nothing else, it is quite intriguing: High heels improve walking efficiency [Washington Post]

~This London apartment is my dream – full of gorgeous sumptuous fabrics and jewel box colors paired with heirloom pieces. Enjoy the tour. [House & Garden UK]

~Dr. Barbara Sturm shares 5 lifestyle hacks for healthy, glowing skin [Net-a-Porter]

~The Secrets of the Louvre, the Met and the Prado that most visitors miss [WSJ, might require a subscription]

~The A to Z of French Food, according to David Lebovitz [The Earful Tower]

~Interior designers share 20 brilliant, bargain ways to improve your home’s décor [The Guardian]

~7 Classic French fashion outfits Parisians wear on repeat [Who What Wear UK]

~Last Sunday I sat down and watched the BAFTA Film awards live as they were airing in London (you can rewatch them on BritBox for viewers in the states), and I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed the show. Hosted by David Tennant, here is the opening sketch (psst – it involves a dog!).


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11 thoughts on “This & That: February 23, 2024

  1. Wonderful inspiration as always, Shannon. You’ve reminded me to look for daffs at my Trader Joe’s. As you posted about cookware, I wonder if I might ask your readers for their favorite non-stick frying pans. Mine is due to be replaced. Thanks in advance, et bon weekend. Je te souhaite bonne chance avec “y” et “en”: c’est vachement difficile au debut.

    1. Alexandra, Thank you for the encouragement and sharing that I am not alone in initially finding this lesson difficult, but also with your words I appreciate the knowledge that it is only to begin with. I will keep at it! Bonne courage as you said! Merci beaucoup. xo
      I welcome TSLL readers to respond to your question and will share my recommendation. Here is an article to consider regarding the safety of non-stick pans. I only use my cast iron and keep it well-seasoned and it works wonderfully. I also use my copper pans and and stainless steel pans (the latter from from deBuyer).,stain%2Dresistant%2C%20and%20waterproof.

  2. Good morning Shannon, and again thank you for some outstanding ideas. I am just looking for a new read and The List of Suspicious Things is a strong possibility. Of course, Vera is a must. Just wanted to add, Stanley Tucci’s cookware is available at Williams Sonoma. I have a field trip planned to my favorite store. Kitchen gadgets are always a draw. One never knows what you might “need” until you visit. And last but not least, congratulations for sticking with your French lessons. I am impressed and so happy that you are such a dedicated learner. Have a lovely weekend, and smile at those daffs, Spring is around the corner!

    1. Lucy,

      Thank you for sharing what caught your eye and well, what does ‘exclusive’ mean then? 😉 Who knows! Maybe exclusively as it pertains to the UK?? Thank you for Either way, tickled it is easily available as it looks lovely. I so enjoy his Italy food series. Thank you for stopping by today and for your comment!

      1. It is my understanding that Williams Sonoma has a relationship with Fortnum and Mason for some items in the US. Online, there are quite a few F&M products. I admit to supporting that relationship 🙂

        1. A great partnership to support! ☺️🙃 That would make sense, and that’s right, F&M hampers (some of them) are sold through W-S. A great partnership! Thank you for sharing with us. 😌

  3. Happy T&T day!

    Imagine my thrill when I saw my daffodils in full bloom. Always a sweet sign that Spring is not far behind. It is also a reminder to prune the rose bushes, which is what I will be doing after a long walk with Abigail.

    Enjoy your weekend, and time with mom.


  4. 🙂 Lately it seems that my Fridays keep happening on others days… Thank goodness there is T&T to signal that weekend is here…

    What caught my eye:
    – Normal Women: Nine Hundred Years of Making History
    – Wicked Little Letters – I hope it will be available soon in Continental Europe
    – Boss belted wrap dress – definitely to say yes to this dress… 😉

    – and David Tennant, of course!

    Some links also caught my eye, so still some enjoyable reading in the wait.

    Ah, yes, and the daffodils! Such a joy!

    I hope you had a nice weekend, and wish you a great week! Hugs all around to you and N&N 🙂

  5. Good Morning — I, too, cannot wait to receive the February box from My French Country Home. Do you also receive a subscription box from the UK? If so, I would love to know your preferences. Cheers!

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