*Image above from the showstopping Laura Lines calligraphy Instagram account.
Sharing a few recent queries I’ve received via email/direct message. You can always shoot me a note! I love shopping for you.
Q: Do you have any recommendations for a first year baby book/journal?
A: You are reminding me I need to sit down and update Hill’s. My favorites are this heirloom-quality one, these ones from Sugar Paper, and these swoon-worthy monogrammed ones (wow!). For something less expensive, I like something simple and elegant like this.
Another idea: I personally find all the structured prompts in these baby books a little annoying; maybe buying an elegant Smythson notebook or one of these beautiful Papier notebooks and having it personalized with the baby’s initials and then updating the notebook with milestones would be even better?
Q: I was recently diagnosed with a chronic condition and will need to wear some kind of medical-alert jewelry. I’ve done some searching online but feel like I am only finding the “meh” Google hits. Do you or your readers have suggestions for something classic that could be worn daily? Maybe I just need to work with a jeweler to get something appropriate. It’s a new world for me.
A: Oh my goodness, I am so sorry to hear that. I’m sure that news has been difficult to swallow. I hope that the diagnosis is at a minimum helping you better understand symptoms / leaving you less in the dark. Wow, could this year get worse?!
I would love if fellow Magpies who have experience with shopping for this could weigh in down in the comments, but my first thought was something simple like this or this that might blend in with whatever else you regularly wear. Depending on how much information you need on there, you could also engrave something like this.
Any other suggestions, Magpies?
Separately but in a similar medical vein, someone asked me if there was a stylish way to package her daughter’s allergy medication for school. StoneyClover has all of these adorable pouches in all different shapes and sizes that you can customized with a medical symbol on the top (when customizing, go under “Objects and Symbols” and scroll to the bottom).
Q: How do you stay organized around household admin?
A: It’s a work in progress (input welcome), but a few practices that work pretty well for me are:
- I automate as much ordering as possible. I have dishwasher pods, laundry detergent, diapers, hand soap, wipes, and even Mr. Clean gloves delivered automatically using Amazon’s Subscribe & Save function. Instacart also has an easy function where you can shop/reorder previous orders, which makes adding the basics to the cart very easy (you don’t need to individually search for milk, yogurt, bananas every single time you place an order).
- I use a weekly planning pad to organize what needs to get done every day of the week. I actually love this inexpensive $10 pad over some of the other planners I’ve used because it’s so simple (lots of space to write whatever I want) and I am a leftie and so the binding on most notebooks usually bothers my hand. This is the single most helpful way to ensure I do not get overwhelmed and can periodically “empty my brain” of the never-ending mound of to-dos I amass throughout the day. Like most moms, I am constantly remembering things like, “Oh! Order that birthday present for Emory’s friend!” while my hands are full. Having a pad like this enables me to quickly jot down what needs to get done when I have a spare moment so I don’t need to keep it all in my head. I also like having a week at a glance because I can “sprinkle” non-urgent to-dos (i.e., return xyz to UPS store) across the week so they’re not all bunched up on one day. I add a checkbox before each item and tick it off when complete. If I don’t get it done within a day, I cross it off and add it to one of the days during the rest of the week.
- I use a shared digital tool with Mr. Magpie to keep track of what we need to order from the grocery, the liquor store, and Eataly (for specialty items). We used to use Wunderlist but recently started using Apple’s built-in “Reminders” tool instead, which we find works even more smoothly. You can share lists in that tool and it automatically updates in real-time across all devices. This is fantastic because it means when I’m preparing to place an order for groceries, I can check the list and buy whatever he’s added to the shared list. Conversely, on the rare occasion we are actually in a physical grocery store, one of us can check the list to buy whatever the other has added.
- I buy household staples we always need in duplicate or bulk so I am never without — i.e., two rolls of foil, two bottles of contact solution, bulk bags of loofahs, at least a dozen toilet paper rolls. I find myself checking supplies (and running out) a lot less frequently now that I’ve adopted this approach.
What other tricks do you guys have?!
Q: Any suggestions on toddler and nursery art? Looking for something whimsical but not too saccharine that can transition but not feel too grown up.
A: For a boy’s room, I absolutely adore these photographs of toy cars/fire engines, etc by Leslee Mitchell. They are just the perfect balance of whimsical and stylish, and I think they’d look equally fun mixed into a future boy cave / man cave.
For something more modern/punchy, one of my favorite pieces in Hill’s room is this reproduction of an Andy Warhol on stretched canvas (his is maybe a 20×20 size). It works so well against the mildly Western theme of his rug and a Pendleton-style camp pillow (also love the iconic Pendleton blankets) we have on a little bench in there. You could also do this cool astronaut one. We actually used to have the Warhol reproduction mixed into a big gallery wall in our living room, and it was such a fun contrast to a lot of the more traditional art; it would work well elsewhere in a home even after your child is older.
Sharon Montrose has a fun collection of animal photographs that are just a little more interesting and sophisticated than your run-of-the-mill animal theme for a child’s room. Emory has this enormous giraffe in her room. This buffalo would be amazing for a boy’s room.
Mirrors (also love this) or maps are also a great way to cover a lot of wall space without seeming too cutesy. Pick a place of personal significance to the baby or to your family, search on Etsy, and then have it matted and framed for a dramatic statement.
A few other thoughts: a letterpress print honoring your child’s home state (I have one of these from Virginia that I always get compliments on), Audubon bird prints reframed in modern/gallery-style frames with a wide mat, Liberty London name sign, a set of vintage racing car prints, and vintage-style botanical charts.
Q: Where did you get your daughter’s monogrammed puddle jumper from?
P.S. My favorite swimsuit on mini ever. The bow! The print! The ruffle at the leg opening!
Q: What do you bring for your daily trips to the park? How do you pack and contain everything?
A: Because Mr. Magpie and I often trade off on park trips depending on who is working in the afternoon, I keep everything in an inoffensive LL Bean bag that he won’t be embarrassed to carry on his own. (I don’t think he’d be super keen on carrying my rose gold M.Z. Wallace.) We keep it hooked on the stroller with one of these, next to our picnic blanket, which rolls up and comes with a carrying strap (similar to this and this). Inside the LL Bean bag, I now use Baggu pouches to organize their belongings. The biggest contains sunscreen (currently use this spray and this stick for their faces), first aid supplies (bandaids, neosporin, etc), insect repellant wipes, sanitizer, and — CRUCIAL — these tiny trash bags which I swear come in handy nearly every time I go anywhere. The middle-sized one contains snacks: applesauce pouches, raisins, goldfish, dried fruit, crackers, puffs. The smallest contains spare masks and gloves (#covid). We also keep diaper wipes there. I try my best to re-stock the snack bag and wipes every time I get home. I don’t bother packing spare clothes or diapers because we’re always only a few minutes from home. This live-on-the-edge approach has not bitten me…yet.
In the basket of our stroller, we keep bubbles, a stroller fan, sidewalk chalk, a few playground balls, mini’s beloved t-ball set (I picked this exact set because it folds up into a carrying case that fits in our stroller), and usually either mini’s binoculars or her magnifying glass. (She’s been very into bugs and birds this summer. We have read this National Geographic book and this board book countless times this summer! I think she would flip over these jammies…)
I also always keep their baseball caps in the stroller and throw in their sippy cups / water bottles last!
Q: I would love your opinion on milestone gifts such as 40th and 50th birthdays. Can you feature some suggestions?
A: My first thought was a piece of meaningful jewelry you can wear every day. Jewelry and time-pieces in general are such a great way to mark a major birthday — and something you can carry with you everyday.
Mr. Magpie has on many occasions purchased me pieces of furniture, decor, and art for big birthdays, too, using the same logic: these are things I will use and enjoy every day that memorialize major milestones and make my life just a little better every day. In the past, he’s had a console commissioned, purchased a custom silhouette of Emory, and bought me a beautiful lamp for my desktop. Other grand gestures in this vein:
+Having a room in the house wallpapered.
+A custom daybed or desk.
Q: Do you prefer Recliner pajamas to the Lake Pajamas?
A: Love both for different reasons. Recliner is more for an I’m-exhausted-and-want-to-crawl-into-bed-in-absolute-silence-and-comfort — the fabric is so, so drapey and soft and heavenly. Lake Pajamas are a little cuter style-wise in my opinion, thicker, more structured; I would much rather be caught wearing these by my neighbor when I sprint out to drop a bag of trash in the morning.
Q: Where is your white smocked dress from?
A: [I have worn this dress a few times in Instastories.] Sadly, this dress is now sold out, but it was from a special mommy-and-me collection by Il Porticciolo (they still have a few children’s sizes available here). I’ve rounded up a bunch of similar styles here, though!
Q: What’s on your shopping list right now?
A: A dress for my ten-year anniversary. Love this and this right now, and would probably wear either of them with my pearl Nicholas Kirkwood flat sandals. (We are likely going to be either ordering in from a fancy restaurant or packing a picnic for Central Park, so sandals are preferable. I don’t know how things are going in your neck of the woods, but I just don’t feel like most restaurants in NYC enable you to eat six feet apart from other diners.) Would love to finish my look with these whimsical butterfly earrings from Nicola Bathie. (I have such an addiction to her pieces!)
Also seriously eyeing this serum for hyperpigmentation, these No. 6 shearling boots for fall/winter, a pair of Rothy loafers for the transition to cooler temps in another couple of weeks, Bronzi drops, and a Le Lion zodiac sweater (marked down to 70% off! CRAZY DEAL).