Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 160: On Guilty Pleasures.

My Latest Snags: La Colombe Lattes + Sardines.

An odd combination, but such lovely newcomers to our pantry: these La Colombe lattes (also available at Target in four packs, including OAT MILK!) and Agostino Recca oil-packed sardines, which we use in several of our favorite pasta dishes, but mainly in the puttanesca recipe from Sauces + Shapes, which — I’ve said it fifteen thousand times before — is our absolute favorite pasta book. Mr. Magpie recently said the puttanesca dish might be his all-time favorite comfort food. It is so, so deliciously satisfying — briny thanks to the olives and garlicky and unctuously tomato-dense. (Conveniently, I think the only “fresh” ingredient you need for it is parsley. So we’ll wait until we can get our next delivery of groceries — increasingly challenging in these parts — and spring on this dish then.)

P.S. More thoughts on how to add little luxuries to your life right now.

You’re Sooooo Popular: The Tiered Maxi.

The most popular items on the blog this past week:

+This pretty maxi dress.

+Majorly gorgeous Self-Portrait. (Easter?)

+This stunning shirtdress.

+One of my favorite affordable thrills this season.

+Fantastic and chic storage bins.

+Love love love these red wine glasses.

+Might still be able to order these in time for Easter!

+This is ethereal.

+Drawer dividers and drawer organizers FTW.

#Turbothot: On Guilty Pleasures.

If there ever was a time to pull out that expensive candle you’ve been saving in the cupboard, or to eat off your wedding china, or to order that new set of sheets, or to upgrade your TV — now is it. Or so it feels to me, at least, as I clamber towards things that make the everyday a little or a lot brighter. I’m reminded of a post I did maybe a few years ago — so long ago I honestly cannot find it (!) — where I wrote about guilty pleasures and someone mentioned to me afterward that I shouldn’t categorize those indulgences as “guilty.” I chewed on that for awhile. The Catholic in me is wont to think in terms of guilt and innocence, errancy and atonement. And so I understood, viscerally, the loose danger of appending the word “guilt” to anything. When I was a teen and then in my early 20s, I ate too little and agonized too much over calories and reflexively separated “good food” from “bad.” Fries, bacon, full-fat anything, whole milk = bad; guilty pleasures. Light, low-calorie, skim, vegetables = good; everyday gruel. It took many many years of modeling Mr. Magpie’s way of eating to disabuse myself of those misguidances. (Mr. Magpie eats everything, but in small portions and good proportions with one another (“variety is the spice of life”), and he rarely snacks.) Unsticking the “guilty” prefix I’d attached to many of the foods that now routinely rotate through my diet took time and effort, but I’ve made it to the other side and thank God. Life feels much simpler and I am much healthier unclouded by the constant stress of calorie counts.

And so, yes. Categorizing things as intrinsically bad or good is poor form to the point of hazardous.

But we also must have ways to designate the quotidian from the special, because Lord knows I have needed to lean heavy into the latter category these days and if I were always pampering myself to high heavens, I’d have nowhere else to go. So I tell myself: Pull out the linen napkins! Light the candles! Take the bath! Order that pound of bacon! Etc. This is as close as you’ll see me to Carpe Diem! territory, something I’ve always eyed with leeriness as a prolific planner. So if they’re not guilty pleasures, what can we call them? Indulgences, extravagances maybe — under normal circumstances. Now: near necessities.


+This is just so chic.

+Love everything Little English has going these days. Already ordered mini this.

+Smitten with the dresses from this new-to-me label!

+I need these?

+One of my readers (thank you, Katie!) strongly endorsed Recliner brand pajamas (disclaimer: if you click this link, you will get $20 off your first pair and I will receive a credit, too). They were sadly all sold out in my size combo, but I did manage to snag one of their pairs of “sleep pants” and am anxiously awaiting their arrival.

+Update: this may be mini’s favorite activity of the lot thus far. She LOVED the process of checking on the beads every 15-20 minutes (maybe more frequently) to see if they had grown. She LOVED the tools it came with. She LOVED sitting in her bath tub playing with them and lots of tools, bowls, and scoops. Caveat: The size did make me really nervous with a crawling 10-month-old around, so I tried to restrict the use of waterbeads to the tub where they were less likely to go rogue. These are the perfect size for a little one to pick up and put in his/her mouth…just a heads up. I’m borderline neurotic on this front and have lowkey stolen all of the small parts to mini’s toys and stashed them in a few old tea tins in mini’s closet for the time being. I’ve heard too many horror stories and don’t mess with that.

+Speaking of tea tins: this is the perfect (non-caffeinated) tea, if I haven’t talked your ear off about it yet, and the tins make handy receptacles for small toy parts, too. I first fell in love with this tea while pregnant and have been hooked ever since. I have been drinking it nightly for the past week just before bed, while I read or watch TV. It’s the most calming ritual.

+I like to keep my tea in this insulated cup from Byta — I have it in the himalayan pink color, 16 oz. I absolutely love it because it keep hot and cold liquids at their given temperature FOREVER. Like, even overnight. When I was sick with the flu earlier this year, I was obsessed with it because I could get up in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning and have a sip of hot tea waiting without getting out of bed. But I will say two negatives: 1) it’s not dishwasher-safe. SO irritating to me. 2) it took a long time to ship. Just a heads up. I believe there are other brands (I think a lot of people love Yeti mugs for the same reasons) that do similar things, but I do love the Byta.

+This festive little thang is 20% off.

+…as is this beautiful floral midi.

+If you are looking for a well-priced candle that smells very high-end, consider this Seda in the Japanese Quince. Exquisite.

+I used to buy all of mini’s dresses in starchy-crisp cotton/poplin, but I’ve evolved to include more and more dresses in soft pima, which are easier to keep clean (i.e., require less ironing and hand-washing on my part) and comfortable for play. I love styles like this and this (ordered myself), both in super soft knits but still with that traditional vibe.

+One of my favorite items in my room.


  1. I very much agree with you. I am really trying to transition my thinking away from “this is good or bad or guilty,” etc. into more positive (or even neutral) language. It is nice, though, to have a delineation between the mundane and something extra. Maybe we could rephrase to “special indulgences.”

  2. Jen,

    I learn so many new words from you (like “unctuously”)! But I have trouble remembering them and integrating them into my normal life. Any tips? Would love to improve my vocabulary.


    1. Hi Veronica! I hear you. Sometimes I have to force words into circulation through brute strength. I will write down new words on a post-it or in my planner — somewhere I’ll see it a lot over the course of a week — and usually it filters into my vocabulary that way. I also find it helpful to look up a new word online to see it in a couple of different sentences/contexts. Maybe others have more practicable tips but those seem to help me!

      Good to hear from you!


    1. So jealous!! Can’t wait til they restock my size. Also – impressed with their shipping! I ordered on Friday and my pants are expected tomorrow. xx

  3. I ordered myself a dozen Momofuku cookies and two dozen birthday cake truffles yesterday….so yes, I feel you.

  4. I LOVE pasta puttanesca, it is my favorite pasta dish and I think the one I cook tastes better than any restaurant pasta I’ve ever had – I cook the Kenji Lopez version (https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2016/02/spaghetti-puttanesca-pasta-week-capers-olives-anchovies-recipe.html) and add a can of tuna at the end. I googled the Sauces +Shapes recipe but couldn’t find it online unfortunately, I wonder how it compares to Kenji Lopez’s? I imagine they are similar.

    1. Yes! These recipes are nearly identical. It is SO delicious and satisfying. What pasta shape do you use? Oretta contends that spaghetti/long pasta is more traditional but people use whatever. Another pasta cookbook we love by Tony Mantuano recommends penne.


  5. I TOTALLY agree about little extravagances — they make life in quarantine a little bit more exciting and indulgent!

    Love that Seda candle and did not know it was available on Amazon … convenient!


    1. Exactly! Excitement is definitely part of it. Nice to feel a little peak amidst a baseline of lather, rinse, repeat.


  6. Guilty pleasures – totally agree that now is the time! My husband made a cocktail last night but didn’t want to use our “good” vodka. If not now, when?!

    1. I don’t love the wording of “guilty pleasures” because, generally, it is used to minimize interests typically characterized as female. In the context over which you are mulling, however, I do like “special indulgences” as JC noted above.

      Further: “If not now, when?” is a SUCH a good mantra – and honestly, not even just for now in these extraordinary times. If anything, this time has taught me that life as we know it can be arbitrary and fleeting. So enjoy that good vodka – as long as you enjoy it!

    2. Hi Anna — Such an interesting point about how gendered that phrase is. The minute you brought it up, it took me all the way back to Eve being tempted in the garden of Eden. Good point.

      Agreed: this pandemic will have taught me many lessons, but one of them is how precious my “normal” life are and how much I have been taking it for granted. This is the pettiest of points given how much suffering is going on, but the fact that we can’t get groceries whenever we want them is such a profound change and makes me think about how many people in other parts of the world and in generations past had to be so much more resourceful about things I have taken for granted. And how much more deeply they might have appreciated, say, an extravagant dinner with fresh fish and fresh herbs. xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.