Magpie Mail: Avoiding Countertop Clutter, Fun Bridesmaid Shoes, + A Gin Punch Recipe.

Q: Recommendations for attractive ways to display dish soap, dish brush, etc?

A: This is a really funny question, as some family members find it crazy that Landon and I keep our paper towel dispenser under the sink because we find it to be an eyesore on the countertop. Ha! (As a bonus, this means we’re more likely to reach for dish towels than we are paper towels, which reduces waste!) BUT we do keep soap and sponges out — we’re not that insane. I currently use a William Sonoma set (includes the silver wire holder base thing) that keeps the essentials organized and this OXO sponge holder next to it, which I love because you can put the whole thing in the dishwasher every few days to keep clean. When we’ve had separated sinks in the past (so irritating in my opinion), we’ve placed one of these in-sink holders on the smaller side of the sink intended for soaking, but now that we have a farmhouse-style sink (LOVE), we want to keep the entire basin clear to optimize cleaning space, so we keep the sponges in a countertop holder. OXO has other variations depending on your needs, like this. My next upgrade will be to buy a Simple Human automatic soap dispenser (my mom has this), which is brilliant because then when you have dirty hands from mixing meatballs or whatever, you don’t even need to touch the spigot.

P.S. More organization gear I love and 10 things you need in your kitchen.

Q: Any thoughts on transitional dressing to make you feel chic while working towards your goal weight?

A: Cheering you on! I would say buy super chic flats that fit no matter what your dress size and make you feel like a million bucks — and are versatile enough to be worn with jeans or dresses/skirts. They don’t need to be expensive, either. These $100 mules are so fun. I am also smitten with these floral slingbacks, these monogrammable ballet flats, or a pair of classic Chanel flats.

If you’re somewhere warmer or looking forward to summer — how amazing are these floral slides or these elegant Hermes-esque leather sandals?

Beyond that, I’d invest in either dresses with self-tie waists that can adapt to your changing body (think shirtdresses and the like, where waists can be cinched tighter or sash can be left off entirely as you lose weight) or looser-fit cotton dresses. Pick patterns that are on-trend and make you happy just to see in your closet. A few I love:

THIS BLOCK PRINT BEAUTY

A CLASSIC DVF WRAP IN A FUN PRINT (<<THIS ONE ON SALE!)

THIS $40 SLEEPER-ESQUE SCORE

THIS BREEZY GANNI

THIS PAISLEY STAUD

PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING BY INNIKA CHOO

THIS FLORAL RACHEL ANTONOFF

THIS BREEZY MEADOWS DRESS

Q: Suggestions for fun bridesmaid shoes for dancing in a tropical city?

A: Ooh I LOVE this. My first thought was Loeffler Randall’s Penny Knot slides (adore them in this pastel rainbow colorway, too, but that might not mix with your bridesmaid dress!), as I can imagine dancing comfortably in them for a lot longer than anything with a slimmer heel. But if the bride wants a more refined look, these kitten heel Alexandre Birmans, these simple LRs, these Malone Souliers, or these bow-towed Seychelles (under $150!) are SO elegant and also SO practical for dancing the night away.

If you’ve been instructed to wear sandals with your dress (beach?) — check out the pretty statements from Polly Plume (<< all on sale).

And if you have carte blanche? Depending on your dress, a few shoes I’m swooning over:

THESE ROSEBUD PRADAS

THESE EMILIA WICKSTEADS

THESE CLUSTER PEARL STATEMENT MULES (UNDER $100)

THESE LOUD FLORAL BEAUTIES FROM J. CREW

THESE FLORAL PRETTIES FROM A COLLAB BETWEEN JOHANNA ORTIZ + TABITHA SIMMONS

Q: Any ideas for first day of preschool dresses? I’m a planner over here.

A: Ha! Fellow anticipator, reporting for duty. A few thoughts:

+I love the look of a fresh jumper with a white peter pan / ruffled collar top — mini wore this top with the plaid jumper (now sold out) shown in the pic for her first day of school last year. A few other jumpers that would be equally darling: this plaid one, this Bellabliss one (on super sale), or this one from Les Gamins. I like any of these styled with knee socks!

+In general, I love the Les Gamins collection because their pieces are sweet without being too frou-frou or precious. Mini has owned this dress in every size and multiple colors! I love it with an enormous bow and Cienta sneakers.

+I adore the CPC Kids Maddie dress for school!

+For a more traditional look, I love this plaid dress, this one (a bit summery for fall maybe, but I did just order it for mini!), this embroidered apple style.

+Cecil and Lou always has tons of great back to school options that can be monogrammed closer to the end of summer. But even something timeless like this windowpane check or this navy check option would be darling with a big monogram on front.

+Finally, I am almost always a sucker once a season for a beautiful piece from La Coqueta. Currently in love with this.

P.S. I tend to strike gold searching Etsy for vintage smocked pieces like this for such occasions!

Q: How do you politely deal with intrusive comments and questions while pregnant?

A: Rude! I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this. I usually found a way to turn the question back on the interrogator or politely demur — “hmm, how did you / your wife navigate that?” or “haven’t given it much thought yet!” — before changing the subject. I also found it easier for me to come up with “a party line” (ha) for repeated questions, i.e., “what will you name the baby?” and “how will you ever live with two kids in that tiny apartment?” and “why are you having a c-section for a second time?” Having a canned answer made it feel mechanical rather than emotional every single time. But the key for me was providing a clipped answer and moving the conversation along.

Worst comes to worst: excuse yourself to the bathroom and blame pregnancy bladder. Ha!

Q: I’ve repurposed my mom’s wedding dress. I’m looking for a nice shoe (not white!) to wear with it. The fabric is eyelet and I had it hemmed to a midi length.

A: SO cool. I actually like a lot of the options I shared earlier in relation to what shoe to wear as a bridesmaid for this circumstance. I also love and adore and frequently check back for a version of those beautiful bow-topped Valentino shoes from a few seasons back in my size at TRR — something like this saucy red pair or these blush suedes, if you dare. (They also have ones in gray and other shades I’ve seen!)

Q: Can you share the punch recipe you used for your daughter’s birthday party?

A: I got this question a lot — it was such a hit at the party! It gave the entire day a feeling of old-timey frivolity. The idea was entirely Mr. Magpie’s, who referenced his beloved Death & Co cocktail book for the following recipe:

BILLINGSLEY PUNCH

Note: Mr. Magpie doubled this recipe and then went back and made another serving. It was a hot commodity! He also made a big ice cube using a rectangular snapware to place in the bottom of our punch bowl. (I also own and love this glass cake dome which can be inverted to create a punch bowl! So versatile — highly recommend. And in case you missed it, he loves this angled OXO jigger for measuring cocktail ingredients, as you can see how much you’re pouring from the top versus needing to lift it up to eye level.)

12 white sugar cubes
8 oz club soda
6 oz Tanqueray No 10 Gin
2 oz aperol
2 oz grapefruit juice
2 oz lemon juice
4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
GARNISH: 6 grapefruit crescents

In a pitcher, muddle sugar cubes with 4 oz club soda until the sugar is fully broken up. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the remaining club soda) and fill the pitcher three-quarters full with ice cubes. Stir until cold, then strain into a punch bowl over 1 large block of ice. Top with the remaining 4 oz of club soda. Garnish with the grapefruit crescents and serve with a ladle and punch glasses.

Q: I will be 22 weeks pregnant at a black tie wedding in South Carolina in April. Any suggestions on what to wear?

A: Congratulations!! A few thoughts, and let me add a quick prologue by saying that I tend to bend the “black tie” conventions and have worn shorter dresses. I think that as long as you have statement jewelry and formal shoes, you can make it work — especially while pregnant.

+This breezy pink confection (or this maxi-length one with a metallic stripe) with an updo, glam earrings (I love the ones from Mignonne Gavigan, like this or this), and statement shoes.

+This $128 steal would probably work with a 22-week bump!

+This dotted mesh maxi — very important to pair with formal earrings, a bold lip, and formal shoes to elevate the more casual fabric.

+This stunning lacy maxi — can’t quite tell how figure-hugging it would be with the lining; worth a try.

+This splashy Azeeza.

+This $70 polka dotted beauty.

+All of the above are non-maternity, but you could also go with this elegant Hatch style, paired with a bold lip and ODLR tassel earrings.

Q: Help! I’m 30 weeks pregnant and desperate for new clothes but don’t want to spend a ton given how late-stage I am. Any recommendations for quick fixes?

A: Oh mama, I feel ya. This $33 dress was one of my absolute favorite maternity dresses — and I wore it post-partum, too. (Also comes in a fun red for even less!) You could also size up in this breezy $35 dress and this striped shirtdress would be right up my alley.

A bit more expensive ($60), but I feel like you could wear this black maternity dress for the next two months STRAIGHT. Dress up with heels, dress down with flats/sandals.

Then there’s always the strategy of buying something you can wear after pregnancy, too — this is SO pretty, and I bought and loved wearing this caftan (wore it home from the hospital — which was actually not a good idea since I’d forgotten you often kill a lot of time waiting to be discharged, and during that period, I had to breastfeed micro twice…and that dress is NOT a nursing-friendly dress).

And have I talked your ear off about these pajamas yet?! I owned three pairs and wore them every single night for months. They are a splurge, but they are so soft and comfortable and I love that it comes with a robe to cinch above the belly so you feel like you have a shape. Also great for postpartum/nursing…

Finally — don’t forget that accessories can sometimes make you feel like a million bucks. Consider a pair of trendy Veja sneakers you can wear now and after baby, some flower earrings, or a scarf headband.

P.S. In case you need to hear it today: you are enough.

P.P.S. Chic and affordable furniture finds and more home scores if you consider yourself a grandmillennial.

P.P.P.S. Distraction.

4 Comments

  1. Thank you for taking the time to answer my question (messy sink area). I just moved from a tiny apartment into a house and am trying to be an organized human now. I appreciate your tips!

  2. So many fun shoe finds here! I’m still loving the Polly Plume bow sandals & mules, and I can recommend the Vejas — I have two pairs: the V-10s and the Esplars, and love them both (I tend to wear the former in the cooler months and the latter in spring/summer.)

    Thank you for continuing to post during this challenging time — I love taking a few minutes out of my day for some much-needed escapism! Sending healthy, calm wishes to you & your family 🙂

    xx

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