Design

Have a Lovely Weekend.

gardens at middlefield

What are you up to this weekend? We’ll be knocking around the neighborhood and also going to our friend’s house for dinner tonight. (Our contribution is the strawberry cake:) Hope you have a good one — take it easy — and here are a few fun links from around the web…

Love this pretty shirt.

A home makeover in Vermont.

How to listen completely. “When people talk, listen completely. Don’t be thinking what you’re going to say… You should be able to go into a room and when you come out, know everything that you saw there and not only that. If that room gave you any feeling you should know exactly what it was that gave you that feeling. Try that for practice.”

Summer salad.

During this hot weather, I’m really into this natural deodorant. Subtle scent, really works.

A bath with a view! (NYTimes)

What kind of books do you like reading on trips? I recently packed Save Me the Plums, Ruth Reichl’s latest memoir about her time as editor in chief at Gourmet Magazine, and it was wonderful. (Caroline had recommended it.) Her writing is so entertaining, I felt like I was watching a movie.

Five women try out red carpet hairstyles.

The strangest person in the world.

“If you are very very quiet you can hear the clouds rub against the sky,” and other lies I’ve told my three-year-old recently.

Amazing what a can of paint can do!

Plus, two reader comments:

Says Jenny on realizing your bisexuality after marriage: “Being intimate with women has changed the way I think about myself and my performance of womanhood. Feeling electrified by a butt with cellulite, really wanting the jiggle of a thigh, experiencing little back rolls as soft and devastatingly cute…it’s opened a door to how much male gaze has taught me to hate myself and now I’m learning to love those parts of myself.”

Says Veronica on your most awkward dating story: “I met a date for the first time at a fancy restaurant. Seemed handsome, professional, normal. The hostess guided us to our table, where an older couple was already seated. This must be some mistake. Nope. Turns out…they were his PARENTS. HE INVITED HIS PARENTS ON A BLIND DATE WITH US. Did I stay? Yes. Why? Not sure. I was too frozen. Too awkward to leave. They paid for his bill and my salmon. Sometimes I wonder how Dave and Cindy are doing.”

(Photo of the garden at Middlefield by Gil Schafer and Deborah Nevins, via Abbey Nova. Parenting book via Storq. Three-year-old lies via Swissmiss.)

  1. Amber J says...

    I learned something in high school (in one of my homeschool textbooks, believe it or not) I’ve never forgotten. The author said that the best practice for being a good listener is always to listen with your mouth closed.

    It’s so natural, when I’m in conversation with someone, for me to open my mouth so I’m ready to say exactly what I’ve been preparing in my mind in response to what the other person said. But when I catch myself I think, wait — I’m not thinking about what the other person is saying; I’m thinking about what I want to say. When I close my mouth, I’m brought back to present; and then when it is time for me to respond, my response is genuine and appropriate.

  2. Olivia says...

    Suggestion for the strawberry cake, which I’ve made 3 times since June: arrange the strawberries in a uniform, circular way, similar to a fruit tarte. I put the cut side facing out along the edge, then cut side facing in so the triangular strawberries almost fit together, and then in the last row I alternate with each strawberry. It’s so pretty :)

  3. Tovah says...

    Wow, what a surprise that the listening quote is Ernest Hemingway! I definitely thought it was going to be more of a new age mindfulness meditation sort of situation!

  4. Lyndsay says...

    When I was kid, my Mom had me convinced that she could speak German but that it was a special dialect that only our dog could understand! She also had a trick for being able to tell if I was lying about something. If she suspected I was being less than truthful, she’d ask me to stick out my tongue. If it came out thin, I was lying. If it came out fat, I was telling the truth. It worked because if I was lying I would try and make tongue into whatever shape she’d said and if I wasn’t I just stick it out right way. Clever woman!

    • Sasha L says...

      🌟 for your mom!!!

    • Lynn says...

      agree. if we could all shop a little less or none on amazon it’d be great (sorry, that’s partially how you get paid at COJ, but that evil company is going to be the end of the world).

  5. I love the advice about listening–and generally just absorbing–more. My mind is always going a mile a minute (my therapist says I likely have ADD). I recently came across this Engaged Feedback checklist from Brene Brown which feels tangentially connected to working on how we show up in connection with others: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=2ahUKEwjNz5SRl7LjAhVIZM0KHe6pDz4QFjAAegQIAhAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fbrenebrown.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2017%2F10%2FEngaged-Feedback-Checklist-Download.pdf&usg=AOvVaw1tE0Dp1xJeqFuGEl4X_w46

    Have a great weekend, Joanna and Team!

  6. Ellen says...

    I’m way down the list waiting for the Ruth Reichl memoir from the library, I was hoping to have it for the vacation I’m just finishing. Thankfully I had a Bill Bryson travel memoir, which is always a great choice (really at any time). Related PSA: If you’re reading his Notes From a Small Island in public and you get to the part where he’s in Scotland, just be aware that you may soon be uncontrollably cry-laughing.

  7. I absolutely love the strawberry cake recipe. Have you ever tried it with any other fruit?

    • celeste says...

      Ooh I bet it’d be good with blueberries! I’ve also coated it with a light layer of buttercream frosting.

    • Ro says...

      We did peach and it was yum! It didn’t look as gorgeous, though.

  8. Deb says...

    Waiting for an excuse to treat myself to the new Ruth Reichl. LOVE LOVE LOVE her. Beauty uniform??? :-)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      omg we will try!!!

    • Deb says...

      OMG I will keep everything crossed!

  9. Claire says...

    Wonderful list, as always. I just love that poem about the lies we tell little ones, and the Ernest Hemingway quote about listening and observing too.
    The link to that JCrew blouse sparked the impulse for this comment, which I guess I’ve been harboring for a while. I have that blouse in a different print, and it’s expensive so I wanted to pass this feedback along. I am a complete fool for Liberty fabric, and the blouse is so pretty on the website- just the kind of thing I want to wear forever – so I bought it with a gift card. But I’ve noticed that in general the cut of J Crew tops, including this blouse, is lately just weird. The fit around the shoulders is kind of shrunken, like the shoulder seems are cut up too high, and it makes the shirt look and fit oddly. Every time I wear that blouse it bunches up in an odd way around the shoulders. Same with a couple of JCrew t-shirts that I bought over the winter (I do not have extra broad shoulders). The whole business is weird enough that it put me off of shopping at JCrew.

    • E says...

      I’ve had a similar experience! I sized up in a button down from j crew because I DO have broad shoulders, and it legitimately cut into my armpits after I drove for a few hours in it (something about my arm position), so I gave it away. Too bad, I loved the print 😭

    • Sasha L says...

      Claire, I love that pretty print too, but when I clicked and looked I thought it looked so odd on the models – pretty much like you’re describing. And if something doesn’t look right on the models, well, that’s a bad sign. Such a bummer.

  10. Charlotte K says...

    Vermont farmhouse….to each their own…I really love the “Before” farmhouse. Oh well, not my house!

    • Jade says...

      I agree. Many of the before pics look
      So cosy with colour and reflect a space to snuggle up with a book.

    • T says...

      Agree!

    • Charlotte F says...

      Maybe it’s a Charlotte thing lol. I thought the before pictures were so warm and homey and inviting. I couldn’t relax in that redesigned house.

    • MK says...

      Same! The afters are so minimalist and kind of cold … very Instagram-worthy , I guess. To each their own indeed, but I feel like this is why I’m having trouble finding a home to buy. People keep renovating and worse, flipping houses near me and I hate the current white-and-gray, marble, open-concept home aesthetic. I want an old-fashioned house. Just leave well enough alone!

    • MK says...

      Oh, and I hadn’t even gotten to the part where they took out the built-in bookshelves … :(

  11. Melkorka says...

    Oh that last one – ‘I will always be there.’ fills me with mortal dread when I think of my babies.

    I have told my daughter that all the T.V’s in the house stop working for one full day when she doesn’t ‘listen to her body and use the potty – because of SCIENCE.’ Before I had kids I smugly thought I wouldn’t lie to my own- but I shamelessly remind her of the ‘what will happen to the TV’s’ all the time when she obviously needs to use the bathroom.

  12. Loesie says...

    Re: Lies I told my three-year-old:
    Once when my (not-reading-yet) kid requested some way too sugared drink right before bedtime, I told him the packaging said the drink could only be consumed during the day, and not at night. Worked like a charm!

    PS: A short while ago my kid was sooo slow in going upstairs to bed; he kept making up excuses, needing to collect exhibit A,B and C in order to sleep well, etc. etc. Then I said to him: “For every second longer it takes you to start moving upstairs, I’ll be lowering your shower temperature with 1 degree.” His answer: “I’m going!” and he ran up the stairs right away. Score!!!

  13. Lauren B says...

    WOW. Lies i’ve told my 3 year old was cute and funny until the absolute gut punch of the last one. Warning to anyone with a (young) child, my interpretation might not be what the author intended, but it hit me hard.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      it was heartbreaking! i think it means that most children outlive their parents? so poignant.

    • Jenna Ciongoli says...

      Yes, a real punch in heart! I interpreted it the same way and my eyes instantly filled with tears.

    • Mary Beth says...

      @Lauren, I am 70 years old now and the last one really hit me too.

  14. t says...

    I love everything about the “Lies I told my 3 year old” post. First old school blog format! Second, hilarious. Third heartbreaking: “I will always be there.”

  15. Erin says...

    Regarding the comment about how loving cellulite, jiggles and back rolls taught the reader about how the male gaze has taught her to hate herself. Maybe I need to read the comment in context, but I object! In my experience, the female gaze is more critical, and males love those back rolls too.

    • Justine says...

      I have found this as well. It’s never been a man who has criticized my body’s “flaws”. I’m frequently surprised by the fact that my husband finds me most attractive when I think I look my worst – no makeup, feeling bloated, wearing something schlumpy.

    • AnneElise says...

      yes, that was my reaction, too. in my memory, guys i’ve been intimate with have only ever been kind about my perceived flaws, but i could never hear what they said because my OWN perception needed to change. i think most of the negative perceptions of my body were created in my own head between the ages of 12 and 16 while flipping through my sister’s copy of Vogue. to me, it seems like that must be why the author’s body image changed, because she began looking at other women’s bodies and realizing “oh, okay, i think your rolls are cute, so mine might be too”.

    • Robin says...

      Yes! That comment sounded very man-hating. It had the tone of “toxic masculinity” which I think is an obnoxious, man-hating term that needs to be done away with. The male gaze has overwhelmingly loved my overweight body. Many of my male sexual partners have specifically said they love my hips and butt, which are lumpy and jiggly. Maybe she experienced awful men who stole her body confidence, and a wonderful woman gave that back to her. Maybe she has lost confidence in men, but getting into man-hating is not helpful to the feminist movement.

    • Mari says...

      I mean, men “rule” society and society taught women to hate themselves and each other. Buuuut… Yeah, individually, I think men are more appreciative of the female form. Maybe. Not sure. Maybe just my husband?

    • Una says...

      Agreed! I mean, I can only speak for my own experience, but my husband is wild about my love handles and booty.

    • T says...

      To Robyn, I think discussing toxic masculinity is essential for men and women but especially children. A boy unable to cry for fear of looking weak, is toxic masculinity, he grows up damaged from this aspiration to be strong and tough and impenetrable. It doesn’t mean ALL masculinity is toxic, the same way that toxic mushrooms are lethal and then the edible ones, are, well, delicious!

    • Ellen says...

      But “male gaze” doesn’t necessarily refer to *individual* males, but rather to the way power dynamics are reinforced in society (including various ways, some subtle, in which women are punished for not conforming to particular norms). And absolutely, women can internalize the “male gaze” and be hyper-critical of themselves & others.

    • Ellen says...

      (“Male gaze” is a term from cultural theory.)

    • Vero says...

      I think you all misinterpreted the meaning of her comment (esp the comment about toxic masculinity. Yikes! That completely misunderstands the concept of toxic masculinity, which, on that topic, would be a great idea for a post on Cup of Jo… there is so much misunderstanding around that terminology.)

      She’s talking about how these aspects of our bodies that don’t fit the traditional idea of beauty and that we are taught to try to fix (through unhealthy dieting, cellulite creams, removing our body hair, surgeries and a healthy dose of body shame) are actually desireable for her! It’s not just about making peace with her own experience of those things but to see that these aspects in another are sexy and sweet and attractive, which I think is absolutely beautiful. It was my experience of this while I dated a woman in my last relationship as well, which was something I hadn’t experience while dating a man.

      It’s not a comment insinuating that your husband can’t love your body…

    • Meredith says...

      oh interesting, I read this as a reference to the concept of ‘the male gaze’ that originated in the art/literary worlds about how women are presented as sexual objects for men’s pleasure. not necessarily about an everyday interaction with an intimate partner vs. critical women, but about the presentation of women’s bodies in culture as objects for others’ appreciation, and how that impacts us. I found this reader’s comment very compelling, and didn’t get the ‘man-hating’ that other commenters have found. guess it’s a matter of perspective!

    • alysha says...

      The male gaze is concept of Laura Mulvey’s, a feminist film theorist. It’s the idea that women’s bodies, existence, and beings need to be consumable for men – that women exist solely for the pleasure of men. In Mulvey’s discussion of the male gaze in films, these men are either the viewers of the film itself or the subjects in the film. Women are passive.

      In real life, the male gaze isn’t a single man looking at you, it’s the collective understanding that women exist to be sexually attractive to men. It’s men feeling confident and comfortable telling strangers that “she’d be prettier if she smiled,” it’s men yelling at my girlfriend and me as we walk down the street that they “love lesbians!!!!,” it exists in the anger men feel when they ask a woman for a phone number and she turns him down.

      I’m really disappointed that Cup of Jo edited this quote to take out mention of the male gaze. I’ve seen consistent queer erasure on this blog and I think I’m done here after this literal erasing of a queer woman’s words.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much for your note and for helping others understand what male gaze means. i added that part of the quote back in and the only reason i had removed it before was that readers seemed to be confused and we didn’t have enough space in this type of post to explain it — the crux of her post was about her changing body image and that part was what we were focusing on here. (our reader quotes, house tours, beauty uniforms, week of outfits, and other types of interviews are always edited down to fit into the posts; and this is standard journalism practice that we do very slowly, thoughtfully and with great care.)

      we are huge supporters of LGBTQIA rights and are proud to feature queer people in our posts and hire queer staff members and writers. i’m not sure what you mean about queer erasure on this site, but if you have specific examples i would love to hear and of course always want and strive to learn and grow in all ways if i’m doing something like this without realizing. thank you so much, alysha.

    • Sasha L says...

      I appreciate this discussion so much. Thank you commenters. Always such thoughtful responses to complicated, complex, tricky issues. I feel more well informed, open and curious after reading this. And also hopeful that we can actually help each learn to be better people.

    • Justine Clark says...

      I don’t believe we can blame all female body image issues on the “male gaze”. Yes, there is a male/female power imbalance in most societies, but women have fully participated in monetizing and shaping the beauty/fashion industry for many, many years. Estee Lauder, Helen Gurley Brown, Madam C.J. Walker, Mary Kay Ash, Coco Chanel, etc. Women own, operate and staff magazines, business, advertising agencies, clothing stores, etc that actively define and sell certain image standards to other women and society as a whole.

      There are always going to be some insecure asshole men who say stuff like “smile you’ll be pretty”, or try to make their partners lose weight, gain weight, wear makeup, don’t wear makeup. Those are abusers who need to be called out, shot down, and charged if it comes to that. But that doesn’t mean we can or should attribute that behaviour to all men, which is why I reject the “male gaze” concept.

      On the subject of toxic masculinity, yes, that exists. But so does toxic femininity/womanhood. Women are just as capable of being cruel, abusive, manipulative and oppressive as men; ignoring those aspects of womanhood and blaming all of society’s ills on men infantalizes women, in my opinion.

    • Robin says...

      About my comment on toxic masculinity – I understand the concept, and agree with the example of some boys learning to hold in their emotions, because of cultural expectations about boys and men. However, I think the terminology itself is harmful. What if we related to the negative parts of religion as “toxic Christianity” or “toxic Islam”, or we called challenges to democracy “toxic democracy”? When we say the term toxic masculinity, it sounds like masculinity itself is toxic, which I think is harmful to boys and men, as well as the feminist movement.

  16. Heather D says...

    My mom is the queen of dramatizing things for my 4 year old. He is wholeheartedly convinced that “fire will shoot out” of any outlet he comes near.

    • Celeste says...

      I recently listened to “Little Fires Everywhere” and was disappointed when it was done. Reese and Kerry will own the TV show. If RR read “Save Me the Plums” I’d bet it would be excellent.

  17. Marlena says...

    The lies we tell our little ones. Ha! I recently told my youngest son that zombies and other monsters are SUPER scared of moms. Like SO SCARED. Moms freak them out so bad that they won’t even come near the house if they even think a mom is inside.

    This has improved my sleep so much I cannot even tell you.

    • jessica says...

      This is a fantastic lie. You get one million mom points (a currency that my mom invented :)

    • Melkorka says...

      ha! that is genius!

  18. Betsy says...

    OHMIGOODNESS. That date story! One time I went on a blind date and the grandma of the student I was teaching who set us up showed with her divorced daughter. And we all had horrible oysters at Red Lobster.