Musings + Essays

Don’t Forget —

By: Jen Shoop

The trail of ants down the paper-towel-wrapped stems of the saturated fuchsia and milky pink peonies clipped from the bush right off the kitchen, a mesmerizing nuisance on the short ride to school as I clocked the order and metronome of an other, formican universe, and a mild embarrassment when the posy was deposited shyly into the palms of my teacher, her mouth an “o” of surprise, her eyes warm and watery at my mother’s considerateness, at the unexpected gift.

Or the spring-loaded screech then too-fast slam of the screen door, which nipped at ankles and forbade discretion

On my mother’s morning errand, amidst the melee of five mouths to feed and ten sticky hands to wipe,

Down the steps to the flagstone patio, where my father had replanted her cherished peony bushes.

Even with syrup dripping off the table into a pool on the floor, and with my sister wailing from her high chair, and with the imminence of “Jennifer, put on your shoes! Time to go!”, I principally recall the measured, satisfied pace of my mother as she reappeared in the kitchen door frame with those peonies, as if their temporary manifestation in our home was itself a beneficence.

I did not get the fuss over that plant, nor the way my father lingered in front of the apple blossom tree that rained late-May petals onto our circular driveway, whose dip and curve was visible to me from the perch of my childhood bed,

Where my sister and I would cast magic with words far past bedtime, in those borrowed and forbidden hours, and my mother would occasionally sit rubbing my aching legs when I complained of growing pains, the presence of her face when I’d blink my eyes open from sleep nothing short of a miracle.

Perhaps it was that late-May snow-like petal fall that first hinted at the majesty my parents celebrated whenever my father would slow his car to an idle in front of the forsythia on the right side of our driveway in March, a riot of electric yellow against the dead-and-gray of late winter, where spindly grass poked through stubborn patches of ice, and we could still fog up the glass of the window with our whispers.

“But isn’t it beautiful?” he’d ask, gesturing at the forsythia, harbinger of imminent thaw, and we’d murmur or nod in bewildered or shrugging assent, shifting in our seats, anxious to return to play.

Or the way he’d drive the back way home from Church and put his car in park on the far side of our home, at the foot of the hill on which it sat, and point out recent plantings from Johnson’s on Wisconsin Avenue, or the growth of the boxwood hedge he’d installed at the property’s perimeter.

At the time, I could neither fathom nor feign their interest in such things. But now I see

When morning schedules have limited give, and time for tending to the plants in our own yard requires elbowing around plans, and entire months hurtle by in a blink,

Their care and nurture,

Their marking of the seasons,

Their every admiring comment at the blossom-then-fade a reminder that

Time is a gift.


+Moving back to the D.C. area has triggered a lot of lovely memories that took place in my childhood home. A few favorite glimpses from this period captured elsewhere on my blog:





+More on my parents.

+On our decision to move home to D.C.

Shopping Break.

+I am loving this statement blouse.

+If you are a Bugaboo mom, we absolutely love (!) this cozy foot muff in the winter. Currently 20% off!

+Two other great blouses: this Staud and this under-$100 En Saison, which brings to mind Ulla Johnson.

+And two chic sweatshirts: this Clare V. and this Velvet, whose color j’adore.

+This sweatshirt dress is chic!!! Pair with cool girl sneaks and hit the road.

+These longtime popular melamine plates are back in stock! Great to keep on hand for outdoor dining, or to give away with parcels/trays of treats on them at the holidays.

+This dramatic bed is seriously cool — it looks like it belongs in a chic hotel in Barcelona!

+This under-$100 dress is absolutely adorable.

+In love with these everyday earrings.

+This polo sweater midi dress looks far more expensive than it is. Pair with super polished flats for a Ralph Lauren vibe.

+A cute and inexpensive set of birthday plates for little ones. I actually really like the lidded cups that are included in that pack, though I use them more for snacks on the go for mini, who is really beyond using snack catchers.

+If you don’t want to invest in a labelmaker (though it is one of my favorite home gear purchases ever), you can buy pre-fabbed pantry labels for common items here or here.

+I love ghost chairs.

+This gorgeous tailored Brock Collection dress is 65% off…

+Handy dividers for a little lady’s dresser — great for organizing underwear, socks, hair bows, etc.

+More great home organization gear here!

+This was one of my most-worn dresses this summer, and it’s now like $50! I ALWAYS get compliments on this.

+The Dudley Stephens look for littles, for only $12!

+Another sweater I’m drooling over. (More great sweaters for the fall season here.)

+&OtherStories has some really fun new offerings — loving this white blouse (so elegant!), this printed maxi, and this frilled denim mini.

+This under-$50 cardi could be a great wear-with-everything staple, but especially to throw on over fall dresses.

+This ring is seriously fun. I haven’t bought a cocktail ring in ages and ages, but this is intriguing me.

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6 thoughts on “Don’t Forget —

  1. That was so nice to read today – I have been feeling so caught up in the day to day minutiae, especially after running around cooking and tidying, etc. with company the last two weeks.

    It was just the reminder I needed to stop and enjoy those small things each day, even in a new home with a garden/planting area that will be a major project next year! Perhaps I will have to consider planting a forsythia 🙂

    1. I’m so glad it reached you at the right moment. I’ve been feeling the same way, Julianna. This post was like a big post-it to myself. DO NOT FORGET, SLOW DOWN!


  2. This is a truly gorgeous post — both the theme and the way it is written. Thank you for sharing it! I’ve been feeling rather nostalgic lately (I’ve noticed that I often do during the second half of August!) and this piece speaks to my soul. It feels so good to focus on small, beautiful details while remaining rooted in gratitude for life and all it holds.

    P.S. That & Other Stories embroidered white blouse is SO gorgeous! I’m also intrigued by the Eliou cocktail ring (you know I’m a sucker for pearls!) My favorite cocktail ring is actually from Tory Burch, with two brass hands reaching around to grasp a large pearl. I ALWAYS get compliments on it!


    1. Oh thank you so much, MK! I also feel nostalgic at the turn of the seasons, and doubly (triply?) so since moving home and visiting lots of places from my childhood.

      Your ring sounds SO chic!


  3. So many good links today, Jen! Love the white &OtherStories blouse, I’m a sucker for a white blouse with a bit of interest. Also can’t resist the jcrew sweatshirt dress! Just wish it came in different colors…jcrew’s current muted color palette tends to wash me out. And that Tuckernuck dress!! Too cute!! But…is it actually *too* cute? Would I look like I’m wearing my 4yo’s dress? Do I care???

    I, like your father, am always excited to see the first forsythia blossoms. Winter is long and bleak here, the first signs of spring are so welcome!

    1. I hear you on that Tuckernuck dress! I think you’d need to pair it with sophisticated accessories, like maybe ankle wrap sandals and a leather bag, to balance it out!

      That blouse from &Other Stories is SO good.


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