Musings + Essays

Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 236: Decorative Pumpkins + Natalia Ginzburg.

By: Jen Shoop

My Latest Snag: Decorative Pumpkins.

I shared this earlier this week, but I snagged a couple of textured pumpkins for one of my mantels: this green one, two of these ivories, and one faux fur. Even more options below:

You’re Soooo Popular: Baby Halloween Costume.

The most popular items on le blog this week:

+Baby bunny Halloween costume.

+Lug Von Siga dress. (Swoon! I happen to know that a few of you chic brides-to-be snagged this one!)

+Reversible quilted jacket.

+BEST counter spray.

+My favorite pumps of all time.

+Clogs for $35!

+My favorite bra, on sale for 55% off.

+My devotional.

+SEA-inspired everyday dress for under $30.

+Another fab everyday dress from Target – I ordered this in the blue floral.

+Scallop-trim personalized stationery for $20!

+Waterproof school/playground labels for your little one’s gear.

+Nap dress in emerald floral.

+Zella running tank.

+Monogrammed wreath sash.

+Quilted cocoon puffer.

+Taper candles.

+Athletic shorts for littles.

Weekend Musings: We Were in Exile.

I mentioned yesterday that I would like to read Natalia Ginzburg’s book of essays, The Little Virtues, originally published in Italian in 1962. I read an excerpt from the first chapter and this passage fixed me to my seat:

“When the first snows began to fall a quiet sadness took hold of us. We were in exile: our city was a long way off, and so were books, friends, the various desultory events of a real existence. We lit our green stove with its long chimney that went through the ceiling: we gathered together in the room with the stove—there we cooked and ate, my husband wrote at the big oval table, the children covered the floor with toys. There was an eagle painted on the ceiling of the room, and I used to look at the eagle and think that was exile. Exile was the eagle, the murmur of the green stove, the vast, silent countryside and the motionless snow. At five o’clock the bell of the church of Santa Maria would ring and the women with their black shawls and red faces went to Benediction. Every evening my husband and I went for a walk: every evening we walked arm in arm, sinking our·feet into the snow. The houses that ran alongside the street were lived in by people we knew and liked, and they all used to come to the door to greet us. Sometimes one would ask, ‘When will you go back to your own house?’ My husband answered, ‘When the war is over.’ ‘And when will this war be over? You know everything and you’re a professor, when will it be over?’ They called my husband ‘the professor’ because they could not pronounce his name, and they came from a long way off to ask his advice on the most diverse things—the best season for having teeth out, the subsidies which the town hall gave, and the different taxes and duties.”

Sometimes reading is like opening a hand, and I receive what it is written like a gift, floating towards the experience of another. But sometimes I read with a kind of voracious selfishness, funneling and even bending the words to fit my own experiences. When I saw these words from Ginzburg, all I could think of was March through August of 2020, when we were hunkered down in our Manhattan apartment in quarantine. We felt in exile then, too — “our city a long way off” even though we were technically inside of it. We, too, were disconnected from “the various desultory events of a real existence.” We spent those months gathered together in the same rooms, straining for cadences of normalcy: not Church bells, in our case, but the nightly applause to cheer on the essential workers during those dark times. Even the final line of that paragraph feels perfectly-attuned to the way we all peered anxiously at experts during those days. “When will it be over? You know everything, when?!”

I think perhaps I am still processing that experience, and finding the words of others — even words that do not belong to this era, or this COVID context, and that I perhaps should not liken to my own experience for ethical reasons (i.e., we were not exiles of war) — a salve on a wound. Or if not a salve, some sort of medicine.

I know we are still very much living in the era of COVID, and that people are dying daily, and that we are perhaps too close in and to tender-hearted to begin to sketch out the contours of our experiences during this period. But the experience of living during that time in NYC versus later in the year in NYC, or currently in our home in Bethesda, manifest in stark contrast with each other. For this difference, I am overwhelmed with relief. I find myself thinking back on that period as if it were a nightmare. And so it is helpful to reframe those memories in the words of others, or to connect my own experience then to the disparate reality of Natalia Ginzburg in the 1940s in Abruzzi. Interestingly, the subtitle to the particular essay I excerpted above reads: “God has given us this moment of peace.” I’ll take that reminder, bird-like, back to my nest.

Post-Scripts: Fab Table Lamp.

+Fabulous table lamp at a great price.

+I’m not ready to think about Christmas, but I did come across these darling new ornaments at Nordies. Love this dachsunds!

+Love this scoopneck layering piece in all three colors. Great for tucking into skirts, layering beneath vests/blazers/etc. On sale for $26 right now!

+This top is just so pretty.

+OOOO this puffer coat!!!!

+I’ve been casually looking for a fun evil eye necklace when I want to layer a bunch of delicate pieces over a simple white tee. I think this one is the ticket, in the “E” design!

+I’m desperate to make this belt my own. Can you even?! I want to wear over everything.

+Outnet has some amazing scores ATM: this Sandro dress, these corduroy loafers, this Joie sweater, and this cashmere turtleneck.

+Recent Target finds.

+20% off everything at SuperGoop with code SUPER20. I am a major fan of their glowscreen. I wear it on mornings I go running when I want a tiny bit of oomph/coverage but don’t want actual makeup on.

+Just love these half-zips. Such good colors and the shape feels right for the season.

+Darling everyday dress with clogs!

+I’ve shared these organizational products before, but this expandable bamboo cutlery/implement organizer is the best — great quality and conforms with any drawer size — and these shallow clear containers are ideal for medicine cabinets, junk drawers, desk drawers, etc.

+And these drawer dividers are fantastic for dressers! They actually enable me to uphold folding things like Marie Kondo.

+Darling jumper for a little lady. Love it with a peter pan collar top.

+Loving these dried grasses for fall decor.

+This blouse, tucked into fab new denim for fall…

+A late entrant to my Tuckernuck sale finds!

+Cute little Lilly-inspired bracelet for your little lady.

+This frilled cardigan is in my cart.

+Outerwear and cool weather footwear for your littles.

+Adore the liners on these personalized notecards.

+This sweater. Wow.

+This jacket is major.

+My favorite foldable fabric storage cubes come in so many colors now — love the pale blue!

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4 thoughts on “Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 236: Decorative Pumpkins + Natalia Ginzburg.

  1. A couple of shops you might enjoy:

    Waiting on Martha- I have been in-person and shopped online. Mandy curates an incredible collection and is known for her velvet pumpkins each fall. I love supporting a small woman-owned business that focuses on supporting other small businesses and artisans.

    Holst and Lee. This is a fun jewelry brand and when you mentioned a fun evil eye necklace, I immediately thought of her.

  2. This has inspired me to read The Little Virtues. Being at home 24/7 most of 2020 with my partner here in Boulder was a strange, stressful, chaotic, and lonely time. I haven’t fully processed it. Thankfully we both could just WFH and even for most of this year we were still couped up until June again. Yay CO mountains and getting outdoors.

    And while I like you am not ready for the holiday end of year frenzy, those ornaments are lovely. I really like the glass trees too. As for your plush pumpkins those are lovely. I have a few glass ones myself. Thanks for a delightful post and for inspiration!

    1. Thank you for the sweet note! Oh man, you are so accurate in your description of this time: “strange, stressful, chaotic, and lonely.” It doesn’t even seem like “lonely” and “chaotic” make sense together but they truly capture the experience. Yikes! And yay for the mountains.


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