Dandelions + Good News.

By: Jen Shoop
We call plants "weeds" because they grow where we don't want them to. It is the work of a grateful heart to rename these things.

*Image above taken at Dumbarton Oaks last year. I can’t wait to visit again this spring.

I read Katherine May’s Enchantment in one long, satisfying draw. I was thirsting for its reminders: slow down; pay attention to what you pay attention to; live where your feet are. And I am generally drawn to biomimicry, of which she seems a determined pupil: the view of nature as mentor. Curiously, ten days after completing it, the message that clings to me like sap is about dandelions. (Of all the things!) In one tributary of thought, May comments that many of us consider dandelions “throwaway” flowers — weeds — but that some cultures value them so much they celebrate them, even pay exorbitantly for them. She makes the point that these cultures recognize that dandelions are remarkable because of their ordinariness. They can grow nearly anywhere, under almost any conditions: perseverance, personified. They are also nutritious (their leaves can be eaten), signal auspiciousness (thanks to the childhood convention of “making a wish” by blowing on the seed-head), and undergo a dramatic physical transformation as they evolve from flowering plant to seed-head, only to parachute seeds off into the wind. Upon reflection, I see that there is something poetically determined about this mode of seed dispersal: a dandelion is not waiting for the incidental bee or bird to secure its legacy; it relies on the surefire movement of the wind to send itself out into the earth. It has learned — evolutionarily — to hedge its bets.

Of course, there is much to say (and May makes this point) about the many wonders we overlook in our own lives because they are “ordinary.” It reminds me of an insight last year about truly seeing what is at eye level — in my case, the small bird’s nest lodged in the crook of two branches of a small tree that stands companion to the flagstone steps leading down to the garage behind our home. The nest was — is (it is still there! I checked yesterday!) — a facile metaphor for all the things in my own life that I neglect to marvel over because they are the stuff of everyday life.

It is not practical, I do not think, to live all of life in a state of wonderment. There are chores to do, and deadlines to meet, and one way or the other, my children need to be fed, bathed, disciplined, caressed, tucked into bed with little stripes of stuffed animals arranged in precise orders. But I could stand to notice the dandelions more often. And, thanks to May, I have been better at it. Each time I pass a dandelion on my walk with Tilly, I find May’s words, as if dandelion seeds themselves, floating determinedly toward me, planting themselves in my thoughts. Look at me, they say. Remember to praise this normal day.

Poet Thich Nhat Hanh once wrote:

They don’t publish

the good news.

The good news is published

by us.


The good news is that you are alive,

and the linden tree is still there,

standing firm in the harsh winter.

The good news is that you have wonderful eyes

to touch the blue sky.

The good news is that your child is there before you,

and your arms are available.

These observations — the merits of the dandelion, the notion of unpublished good news — nest snugly together for me. They remind me that weeds are abstractions, and that headlines are arbitrary, too. We call plants “weeds” because they grow where we don’t want them to, and we don’t trumpet the small and trivial wonders of everyday living because of their ordinariness–because they are grout rather than tile. It is the work of a grateful heart to rename these things.


+In praise of a normal day.

+More learnings from Enchantment.

+I’m visiting New York in a few days. New York is, as always, sure to be a shock.

+An ode to the Upper West Side.

+I was thinking recently that if I could go back to grad school, I would write something about the modern thriller as an extension of The Gothic mode. I am fascinated by this genre.

Shopping Break.

+I’ve heard such good things about these trousers from Spanx. Going to try (I ordered in the cedar colorway, which I think will be really chic and sophisticated with black accessories) and will write a full review. Love these brands that carry petite-length inseams!

+An absolutely perfect wedge sandal for all summer long. Specifically, obsessed with the leather upper. Looks like Hermes to me!

+Love this under-$100 woven clutch — try it in a fun color, like the green or pink, which give me Marni vibes and will create fun/playful tension with anything you’re wearing.

+This outdoor planter is SO fabulous. It’s giving Regency era garden-in-London vibes.

+WELP, I caved. Ordered these Gucci dad sandals. Will share how I style in upcoming posts, but immediately wanting to pair with floaty white summer dresses from Posse, or boho maxis like this $36 steal from Amazon. More on this trend here.

+These teeny tiny baby sandals look like Alexandre Birman for babies!

+Oh my GOSH. So many cute things at H&M kids. I have this gingham hat, these sandals, this $5 patchwork tank dress ($5!), this swimsuit, and these gingham sneaks in my cart for mini. All my top picks in a collage below, and links to everything here.

h&m children's

+These scallop-edged shorts are having a moment. Keep seeing them everywhere! Also come in black. I’m not really a shorts gal but am tempted. Would be cute with a simple white tank and a little cardigan/cropped jacket situation.

+This floral-embellished swimsuit reminds me of the much more expensive styles from Maygel Coronel — but in a more wearable style. All links here.

naghedi dupe

+Mini is starting soccer soon and totally shocked me by asking for pink cleats vs. blue ones (blue is, hands down, her favorite color). She’ll be rocking these neon beauties! I also found two pairs of cute soccer shorts for her (bought these in black and these in white) that have a nice short inseam / length — for some reason, I feel like soccer shorts when I grew up were only one length: to the knee. Of course had to do the pink shin guards, too!

+A really good striped shirt. Love the color, the collar, the wale, the cuffs — !!

+And a really good striped sweater. I ordered to try. I am envisioning pairing with my fleet of high-waisted denim.

+This scalloped gingham dress is SO sweet for a little lady.

+Another cute Easter basket filler — carrot-shaped crayons!

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