Gifting Guru: Mini Magpies.

In Accessories, Americana, Gifts!, Mini Magpie on December 2, 2016 at 8:44 am

Nothing gives me the warm and fuzzies more than remembering Christmas Eve / Christmas morning growing up.  My parents made it so special.  We’ve always celebrated Christmas Eve in a big way, in part because we tended to have extended family gatherings on Christmas day, and in part because (I think?) it was an Italian tradition we inherited from my sweet Italian grandmother to celebrate the Eve.  We’d go to an early anticipatory Mass, and then have a delicious dinner my mother had been slaving over all day (with Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider out of champagne flutes, which felt ridiculously fun as a child) and loads of cookies afterward.  Then, we’d each open a handful of presents from family friends / grandparents, saving the rest for the morning after, which was genius because it meant we’d get through all the boring socks and sweaters but would still have the thrill and promise of the good presents from Santa the next morning.

I particularly recall Christmas Eve from the room my sister and I shared for many years — we would giddily stare out the window hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa and his sleigh, sleeping fitfully and waking each other up off-and-on until we’d finally made it to 6 A.M., when we’d make the rounds waking up the rest of our siblings (five of us in total, holy moly).  There’s this feeling of adrenaline and exhaustion I remember so clearly from Christmas morning — the sun not yet up, the sky a weird periwinkle color just suggesting the beginning of dawn, a nip of cold in the air, the hushed and excited whispers of my siblings and I as we’d eagerly collect at the top of the stairs while my father would trudge downstairs to set up the video camera.  My mom had a navy blue robe with white piping that I strongly associate with these Christmas mornings.  And then, finally, we’d get the go ahead to race down the stairs.  But before we could tear into the gifts we’d ogle at with wide eyes, my mom would instruct us to place baby Jesus in the manger of her creche (she has an exquisite, stunning porcelain creche by the Spanish designer Lladro) and sing him happy birthday.  It was SO painful at the time — we’d race through the song at about 34 beats per second — but I now appreciate her insistence that we understand Christmas is not all about the gifts.  And then, finally, it was time to dig in.

Is there anything better than turning the corner and seeing a brand new pink bike with your name on it?  Or a pink Barbie house just for you?  Or an entire Playskool kitchenette just your size?  AHHH.  My parents really did Christmas right.  There were always these big and extravagant treats waiting for us and we’d play for hours around the tree.  My Mom said we were always very gracious, even about the littlest things in our stockings–like rolls of scotch tape.  We’d say: “Look, Mom!  TAPE!!!!”

At any rate — reliving these memories makes me excited to share some gift ideas for the mini set — so here goes!



Is there anything more classic than a Radio Flyer wagon ($69)?!   (Or $127 for the one with wood paneling.) The answer is no.  I love the image of one of these under a tree with a pile of presents in it.




For religious-minded families, this little Giving Manger ($35) would be such a thoughtful gift.  It’s described as “a fun + interactive Christmas tradition that will help families focus on giving and the true meaning of Christmas.”  I believe you add a piece of straw to the manger each time one of the minis does something sweet/generous.



The CUTEST kids jammies ever from Roberta Roller Rabbit ($65).  Also love this truck pattern from Winter Water Factory for a boy ($44) or this unicorn-print set from Oeuf for a girl (on sale for $43).

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Oh and p.s. — RRR also creates kids’ teepees ($160) in the same print, and they are freaking adorable.  Wouldn’t you have loved to have a teepee in your room when you were a kid?  To hide out in and draw / read?  Land of Nod also has some great teepees in adorable prints ($159), and don’t even get me started on their playhouses (OMG!)screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-4-27-11-pm


Speaking of zzzs, how freaking adorable are these little animal slippers (on sale for $12)?



Personalized wood puzzles ($30)?  I feel like my nephews (both under the age of 2) would love these!



No childhood should go without Lincoln Logs (on sale for $21).  I’m delighted to see they haven’t updated the packaging in decades.  Legos (the reindeer!!!) or Duplos, depending on age, are also always in style.




Melissa + Doug have these GREAT oversized stuffed animals ($48 for cheetah, $60 for zebra) that would be fun to play on/with, but would also be a stylish accent to a nursery.

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These hand-crocheted veggies ($28) are just too much for me.  I mean LOOK at the attention to detail!  They are gorgeous!  And my little nephew is very into helping his dad garden…





I was obsessed with my American Girl doll, Samantha, and was thrilled to see they still carry her ($115), albeit in different clothes!  Epic gift for a little girl.  They carry a ton of new styles, including ones you can customize to look like you!  Crazy.screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-4-44-17-pm


A rainbow of PlayDoh colors ($34)?  I would have loved this, especially with a tub of tools ($13).screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-4-47-19-pm


The Last 10 Things I Bought.

In Accessories, Beauty Products, Champagne!, Dream Wear, Fur, Jewelry, Magpie Must, Magpie Nest on December 1, 2016 at 9:15 am

I feature a LOT of insanely amazing finds on this blog, if I don’t say so myself.  That doesn’t mean I actually but them all.  (Though I will admit there’s a lot of moving-things-in-and-out-of-my-virtual-shopping-carts, and my fair share of returns.)  I thought it might be intriguing to see the last 10 things I actually bought…


I’d been eyeballing this little red crossbody from JCrew ($98) for SO long.  Once or twice a year, I snap up a fairly inexpensive little bag that feels on-trend, and this one had my attention because I just couldn’t bring myself to buy the Fendi micro peekaboo ($1550) despite the fact that I REALLY REALLY REALLY want it.  I just know I should put that money towards a more practical tote.  I was also tempted by this Sophie Hulme (on sale for $245), but went with the JCrew when I was able to use a 40% off code AND a $25 gift card…so, Merry Christmas to me.  Got the style I wanted for a cool $35.  But I still might get that Sophie Hulme in the pink.  But that’s besides the point.  I added this adorable little pom ($15) to the side of the red crossbody and it just makes me happy.



After seeing SO many chic peas in fur-pommed hats on Pinterest, I was head over heels for this Inverni cashmere and fur hat ($223), but wound up with this more practical J. Crew find ($39), which nails the look for far less.

Street Style during New York Fashion Week throughout the city during February 6-13, 2014.



This tunic sweater was TOO good not to snag ($79), especially when Gap was running an extra 40% off anything.  Will look incredible with leather/leather-effect skinnies and OTKs.



I finally snagged these ($125) earrings as my festive holiday jewelry pick for the season.



I am obsessed with this fir-tree-scented Diptyque holiday candle ($70).  It makes our house smell like Christmas.



With family coming into town, I had to snag a holiday puzzle ($16).  Anyone else love puzzles??  Such a great and cozy way to pass an afternoon, preferably with a good bottle of sparkling and some great snacks (homemade Chex Mix is my jam).



I know I’ve blabbed about how much I love Kuhn Rikon’s affordable ceramic paring knives in the past (GREAT stocking stuffer, BTW, for a committed home cook) — they keep their sharpness for a long time but are super affordable so I don’t mind using them for things I wouldn’t use my expensive Shuns for (i.e., you’re not really supposed to use good knives to cut into wrappers or pop holes in things, because you can blunt the tip).  I just snagged a few of these (3 for $24) as we head into heavy cooking season.  Incidentally, we just had all of our Shuns sharpened at Northwestern Cutlery here in Chicago — if you’re local, head down there!!!   It’s in Fulton River District (ahashdhdhsh, what a hellhole in the evenings!), but it opens early (like 8 or 8:30 in the morning) and they sharpen your knives for cheap compared to Sur La Table, which charges something ridiculous.  We had 12 knives sharpened for $30 and they’re good as new.



After waiting for them to go on sale like a patient good girl, I finally got these Loeffler Randall high-tops ($245) and am eagerly awaiting their arrival.  I’ve been such a reluctant entrant into the “sneakers-with-chic-outfits” trend, but these are epic and I needed them.  I can’t wait to wear them with frayed black denim and a black fur vest.

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I keep all my bathrooms stocked with Molton Brown hand soaps — they smell like heaven and last a good while.  Mr. Magpie needed a slightly more masculine scent for his bathroom sink, and I snagged this Rockrose + Pine scent ($28).  My personal favorite, though, is Rhubarb + Rose.



I love having a new set of pajamas for the holidays, and this plaid pair ($95) was just the ticket.




In Accessories, Beauty Products, Black, Bombshell, Dream Wear, Fresh Combos on November 30, 2016 at 9:48 am

I missed posting on Thanksgiving.

I also skipped posts on Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales (do they ever feel super overwhelming to you??!?!  I almost made it without buying anything on Cyber Monday, but then decided I needed a robe from Plum Pretty Sugar, because I’d been eyeing one of those pretty things FOREVER; this velvet clutch from Ann Taylor (!!!!!); a new pair of slippers from J. Crew; and Boy Brow from Glossier).

I even refrained from commenting on the election.

I realized the other day that sometimes that these absences speak louder than the content I do post.  Sometimes I’m genuinely too tied up (Thanksgiving being a prime example — we had my parents-in-law in town and I was trying to get through a ton of daily tasks for work, too), and sometimes I’m just feeling overwhelmed (does anyone need another list of all the sales going on for Cyber Monday?!), but sometimes I just don’t think this is the right space for some topics (ahem, politics).

And sometimes these absences sit awkwardly with me and I wonder–do my readers think differently about me because of this?  Are they waiting for me to comment on something in current events, or acknowledge a huge trend, or something?  Funny how silence can be deafening, and how writing this blog has built this unique relationship between me and you.  I think about you, my reader, all the time — what you’ll be interested in, what you’ll hate (probably the choker I featured recently…amirite????), what you’ll want more or less of.  It’s interesting to me because I used to tell the students in my writing class that writing shouldn’t feel solitary–or you’re doing something wrong.  You’re always writing to an audience, whether an academic paper (where you’re essentially talking to and acknowledging your professor’s perspective, if you’re doing it right) or a poem or a memo or even some copy on a website.  Who will be reading it?  What do they want?

So, just a little love note to you to thank you for being here, for being at the other end of this long and winding and often very fluffy bloglet.  You’ve given me a lot of happiness over the last few years.

In other words, a belated Thanksgiving post, thanking you for being here, for coming back, for reading along all these months and years.

And with that.

Some things I think you might like:


How fun are these gold tasseled flats?!  You’ll love ’em even more when you realize they’re under $60.





These simple and elegant peplum tops ($59) in crisp black/white are just the thing for an office holiday party, done up with some major blingy earrings or a big statement necklace and some simple black pants.  If you like even MORE drama, check out this even flare-ier top for $72.




Especially if you were to juju the top up with these fur-trimmed LR heels ($450).  C’mon, throw a little whimsy into things!




GUYS, THIS DRESS ($280)!!!!  It’s, to me, the perfect sophisticated NYE dress.  Not overly glitzy but has just enough pattern and texture to say “hello, I’m ready to party.”  I feel like this is something Serena Van Der Woodsen’s mom would have worn and slayed in on Gossip Girl.  I know, a deep cut.  But think about it.  With her perfect blond hair?  OK, guys, who am I?  You know you’ve turned a corner when you’re admiring the mother’s style on a TV show.  But she was such a babe!



There are so many BonBon knock-offs out there right now, and I can’t hate.  $275 for a pair of earrings is a little steep.  These silver ones ($98) caught my eye.




I thought this crushed velvet dress ($148) and plaid heels made for such a sweet holiday look on the blogger behind The Cheeky Been.  And that dress looks super forgiving for the 23 rounds of holiday cookies I’ll be indulging in when I get home.  My mom makes trays of different cookies; my favorites are called “Horns,” and they are from my Italian grandmother: a flakey, buttery pastry wrapped around apricot jam and topped with some chopped walnuts.  OMG are they GOOD.



Ugh, these Prada backless mules ($550) are perfection.  I mean it.  Understated, upscale perfection.  Very Calvin Klein in the 90s at the peak of minimalista chic.

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This asymmetrical top ($98) is SO loud and I loveeee it.  Other options: OMG, this ($60) or this ($98).  Or this, too.



I have spotted Stuart Weitzman’s Grandiose mid-calf booties ($525) all over the place and have become increasingly convinced that I need them.





More affordable variations available here ($126) and here ($160).


This little kit of DryBar blowout-extending goodies ($29) would be such a great stocking stuffer / mid-week pick-me-up.  All in mini-sizes, so easy to throw into your work bag / weekend tote to make yourself look gorgeous on the go.