Musings + Essays

Something Small and Perfect.

By: Jen Shoop

I wrote over a year ago about seeking out and celebrating the “slices of joy” in everyday life, echoing the sentiments of this quote from a Cup of Jo article:

“Happiness doesn’t have to be a constant overarching feeling.  It can come as sweet, short moments throughout your day.”

I realized the other day that I had lost track of this mindset, much to my detriment.  Two of my sisters and one of my nephews were in town, and we were all out for a quick bite to eat around the corner while mini napped back at home (our nanny was with her).  We were planning to visit the carousel in Central Park when she woke, and I remember feeling a sense of urgency about the lunch — “OK, we’ll eat quickly, scoot home, mini should wake up in about twenty minutes — and I can’t forget to pack her a snack and sunscreen –”

“What do you think, Jen?” interjected my sister.  I was caught off guard; I realized, with a jolt, I’d tuned out their conversation, instead contemplating the logistics for the rest of the afternoon.  I’d let plans get in the way of soaking up a lovely lunch with two of my sisters, whom I now see only a couple of times a year if I’m lucky.  HorribleTSK TSK!  In that moment, I reframed my lens.  I quieted the Type A part of myself and dialed in on the present — the alternately trivial and ponderous exchanges of sisterhood, full of short-hand, clipped memories, and laughter.  Once I created the space to enjoy it, I found there was something small and perfect about the day.  Actually, there were many small and perfect somethings about the day:

The tang of vinegar on fresh heirloom tomatoes at lunch.

The tangle of sunglasses on the tray at our front door, and the tumble of shoes along our console in the foyer — indicative of the fullness of our home for a couple of days.

The earnest conversation I had with my inquisitive nephew while holding his tiny hand walking down Broadway, after seeing a double decker tourist bus, his imagination afire:

R: “But why are they on the roof?”

Me: “So they can see the city and the trees better.”

R: “Oh.”  [A contemplative pause.]  “But maybe it’s also so that they can reach out and cut the branches off the trees so they don’t get in the way.”

Me: “Oh, maybe.  That would be smart.”

R: “And then a dump truck comes and picks up the branches before they fall into the street.”

The shocked outburst of laughter from mini while watching her cousin clumsily wield a mallet playing wackamole at the little amusement park in Central Park.

The warm stillness of summer air in Central Park, offset by the throngs of swarming tourists.

The implied closeness of mini toddling over to her aunt, nudging her with a book — and my sister pausing conversation to pull her onto her knee and read it to her.

The solicitude of my brother-in-law refilling my glass of wine wordlessly, without asking, when it ran low.

The devotion of Mr. Magpie, standing on a kitchen stool, kneading pasta dough, breaking into a sweat, singing Bruno Mars.

The intensity of focus my sisters had while rolling fresh pasta for eggplant mezzaluna that night in our tiny dining room.  “My edges are jagged,” said one of them absently.  “No, it looks good,” said another, without even looking.

The fits and starts of conversation, easy and unfussy, alternately abbreviated and languid, around the dining room table.

My jet-lagged brother-in-law dozing off in the living room for a minute, as comfortable in our cramped apartment as he would be at home.

The relief of sitting down at the table after what felt like a day of standing and chasing and walking, seeing these faces I love so much gathered around it, tucking into a meal that had taken two days to pull together.

My sister’s companionship on Tilly’s nightly walk — one of my favorite times of day in Central Park — the unhurried stroll we enjoyed together, caught up in an effortless heart-to-heart.

My taper candles burning low in their candlesticks, wax dripping down the sides, wearing the look of an evening well-spent.

The look, the generosity of spirit, the love my sister sent my way while washing the dishes at 11:07 p.m., long after we should have been asleep, when she asked: “Jen, what’s heavy on your heart these days?”

The realization that this particular Wednesday night — on which nothing important happened, but everything important to me was afoot — might be one of my favorite nights in recent memory.  It was small and perfect, and I’ll burnish its memory with care for years to come.

What small and perfect something has come your way recently?


Had to purchase these after they were discounted to an ultra-low 70% off.  TOO DARLING.  I’ll be wearing these with simple LWDs like this one.

Some things I’ve learned living in New York

PSA: this has been one of the most popular dresses I have ever featured on my blog.  Destined to sell out soon.

Loeffler Randall’s sale has just gone on sale — these are now under $80, and these are $118.  Amazing deals on truly well-made footwear.  Also: shoutout to MK for this tip, but you can find lots of ridiculously low prices on Loeffler Randall on Amazon!  These are as low as $33 in select sizes and these are only $97?!

Added to my reading list: this, at the recommendation of my brother-in-law and this juicy-looking novel.

Possible addition to your reading list: the beginning of my love story with Mr. Magpie.

I just swapped in Mrs. Meyers’ limited edition lilac-scent hand soap in our kitchen and have been smelling my hands constantly for the last few days.  Love.  I always use their soap in the kitchen — we go through vats of it, and it’s not overly expensive or overly perfumed — but this scent was to die.  Ordered this set immediately.

Can I pull off this shape?!  LOVE THE PINK COLOR.

This swimsuit is me, in swimsuit form.  The print!  The bows!  The fact that it probably best accommodates those of us modestly endowed!  Me me me me.  (And more polka dots…)

I listened to an interview with Olivia Wilde talking about her directorial debut for the film Booksmart, and I have to say, I’m eager to see it!  She said it’s all about the tender but intense female friendships you have when you’re in your late teens — and how they so often break up before college, never to be resumed again with such fierce emotion.  Such an interesting time in life, teetering on adulthood.  A little more on it here.


Is J. Crew back?  This dress is super cute, and, of course, there’s this whole situation…


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12 thoughts on “Something Small and Perfect.

  1. So much this!!! Did we have the same weekend? One of my best friends was in town with her family, and I was trying to make myself focus on the precious moments and not stress about what people would want for lunch when. AND I also got that soap, because I love lilacs and opened it for the visit and kept smelling my hands!!

  2. What a lovely reminder to stop and smell the roses (or lilacs?). A recent “small and perfect” something is watching the baby dramatically flop onto the pillows on our bed and laying still, for a split second, all big eyes and anticipation, before breaking out into peals of laughter.

    And also, the perfect glass of summer rosé outside in the evening.

    I love Beatriz Williams – adding the book to my summer reading list!

    1. OMG — the pillow flop! Mini does something similar and it kills me. The sweetest. And YES WAY ROSE!

  3. So one of my favorite movies ever is the animated film Up. It’s so great for many reasons, but one of the things it does so well is recognize that it’s really the small moments in life that mean the most, that end up becoming our favorite memories. Getting ice cream and counting red and blue cars with someone you love, what could be better?

    We can get so caught up in the milestones and the “big stuff”, but there is so much magic in those little things…

    1. Oh God — please never remind me of “Up” again [being facetious, because I loved it]. I legitimately bawled for hours watching that movie. Just the first segment alone. AHHH. You are so right: what could be better?!


  4. Such a lovely post about small-but-not-insignificant, delightful moments. I love thinking about this, and need to be better about capturing these moments in time in my memory to, as you put it, burnish. Love that! One of my recent moments include strolling through our leafy neighborhood hand-in-hand with my boyfriend at golden hour … so magical. June is the best month.

    Love that Zimmermann suit! I gravitate towards that neckline and it just does not work on me — at least not for the look I’m going for, if that makes sense (I am a C!)

    I wanted to ask a piece of advice as well. My cousin’s bridal shower is in about a month, and it’s happening on the East Coast (she lives in Seattle). I want to get her something that’s easy to transport back home — thinking maybe a pretty robe and something small to go with? Do you have any good ideas? Thank you in advance! xo

    1. A handheld stroll — be still my heart! Love.

      For your cousin’s bridal shower: what about a monogrammed lingerie bag to present the robe in? Something like this ( or this ( with her new last name? For something even smaller — a sachet of lavender for her linens / lingerie drawer? This one from l’occitane is a classic: — or buy a whole bunch and keep some for yourself / distribute as gifts to others:


      1. PS – I still think my Eberjey romper is one of my favorite purchases OF LIFE. I wear it pretty much daily when getting out of the shower/blow-drying my hair and sometimes in that hour or two between feeding mini dinner and getting into my jammies myself. This would be such a pretty gift for a bride: — but there are lots of others on sale right now, too, like these:

    2. Thank you so much for the inspiration! I found a beautiful Roller Rabbit robe that I love, but might sub in an Eberjey romper. And I love those lingerie bags — might have to get one myself!!

      Thanks again! xo

  5. I am so guilty of this, too…the Type A planner in me takes over and I spend my time planning the logistics of what’s next rather than taking the time to enjoy the present (ironic since that often involves a “plan,” too!). Thank you for the reminder as we kick off the week! Glad you had such a nice visit with your sisters 🙂

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