Magpie Mail: Easter Menus, Baby Shower Dresses, and How to Visit NYC with a Baby.

Another batch of questions answered! If I didn’t get to your question here, I’ll tackle it in the next dispatch! And the picture above has nothing to do with anything but that enormous arrangement literally left me swooning. In a dream world, I’d stow all of your little queries, hand-written, in a little tray on a console in a fabulous entryway like this. A girl can dream?!

Q: What’s on your Easter dinner menu?

A: First comes Saint Patrick’s day, and Mr. Magpie is corning his own beef and I’ll be making Martha Stewart’s caraway-seed-studded soda bread (delicious slathered with Kerrygold butter). So we’ve been talking about that and deferring conversations about Easter. But most likely leg of lamb! (We made ham last year.)

We love Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc cookbook for major meals like this — a food blogger wrote about the Ad Hoc roasted leg of lamb here in case you want a preview. He also has some exceptional vegetable preparations in that book. I’m specifically remembering his “asparagus coin” recipe, which is kind of the perfect Easter vegetable since asparagus are JUST coming into season then, and it’s dressed in the most scrumptious chive oil. You can find the recipe here if you don’t have the cookbook.

I’m probably blending different Easters in my mind and I’m sure Mr. Magpie will be appalled and will correct me, but I think this was one of our menus from years past and it was BANANAS:

HOUSE-SMOKED SALMON (MR. MAGPIE SMOKED IT ON HIS OWN GRILL) AS AN APPETIZER WITH ACCOUTREMENTS

AD HOC LAMB

AD HOC ASPARAGUS COINS

SCALLOPED POTATOES*

DANIEL BOULUD CARROTS (ONE OF OUR ALL-TIME FAVORITE VEGETABLE RECIPES)

GREEN SALAD WITH BLANCHED SHELLING BEANS/PEAS, WALNUTS, AND FETA CHEESE

COCONUT CAKE**

*Be warned: this makes enough for a football team. Make sure you allocate enough time to peel the potatoes. I had multiple guests helping me — ha!

**If I recall correctly, I made a major substitution by using coconut milk instead of milk because I was cross-referencing Martha’s recipe and I feared Ina’s cake batter wouldn’t be coconutty enough. It worked out beautifully but it’s one of the bravest things I’ve ever done in the kitchen. I’m normally a fierce anti-substitution baker, as nothing grinds my gears more than reading a review of a recipe that reads: “TWO STARS — THIS WAS HORRIBLE. I swapped out the butter for applesauce and the flour for almond meal and didn’t have any milk, so I used water. It was disgusting.”

P.S. Our favorite cookbooks, 10 things you need in your kitchen, and some of our favorite recipes.

P.P.S. More Easter finds here.

Q: Do you have any ideas for push presents?

A: A special piece of jewelry, like an Aurelia Demark pendant engraved with your child’s name or birthdate on it, a Van Cleef & Arpels alhambra bracelet (I have always wanted one of these), or a diamond station necklace (I have this exact one and wear it every single day). For something a bit more reasonable, an engraved necklace from Merci Maman.

Or — an investment diaper bag! I was over the moon when Mr. Magpie bought me a Goyard before mini was due. I also love those Chanel Deauville totes if the baby is a summer baby.

Q: What are some ideas for a splash of green to wear to a St. Patrick’s day party?

A: I immediately thought of this dress, which I have been eyeing! Love. Or, if it’s a cocktail party, this stunning tiered number.

I also love this patterned top, which isn’t SUPER green but has enough green in it that it might count and would look darling tucked into white jeans or with high-waisted denim, this Brock Collection-esque top, or this chic green sweater. Alternately, pair a chic white top with green statement earrings (these are also fun).

Q: How do you deal with the “time is flying by” angst that comes with raising children?

A: Not well! I lamented this when I wrote that time is a thief. One actionable thing that helps (and I’m not always great at this) is keeping my phone across the room when I’m sitting on the floor with them. I find myself really dialed in and time seems to slow down (sometimes a little too much — haha). I always feel like I’ve really absorbed them when I take the time to do this, and I aim to do it at least once each day.

The other element is accepting practicality. My mother is really good at reminding me of this point. “Jen,” she says, “Hill will sometimes need to cry while you empty the dishwasher or make dinner. And that’s OK.” I always think of her pragmatism in saying things like this with regards to agonizing over how fast time is flying–it is, and it’s hard, but it’s also life and you’ve got to be practical and keep moving. I can’t sit around staring at my children all day! I have to run the household and write and be a human myself. Giving myself this pep talk helps me come to terms with how quickly time is going.

Q: What’s one thing you’re looking forward to in the next three months, next year, and next decade?

A: Fun question!

In the next three months: Emory’s third birthday. She is so excited about it and I’m looking forward to celebrating with her. Also, the arrival of our dining table, which has taken MONTHS to ship and is currently expected to arrive in mid-March. (More on our apartment progress here.)

In the next year: Celebrating ten years of marriage with Mr. Magpie in August and finally getting away, just the two of us.

In the next decade: Continuing to grow this blog into new and amazing things.

Q: I’m looking for lilac or mint-colored clothing for spring. Do you have any recommendations that are reasonably priced?

A: Ooh, this is so my lane! I shared a lot of my favorite pastel scores for spring here. Some standouts:

THIS PRETTY LILAC SWEATER (UNDER $80)

THIS SCALLOPED BLOUSE

THIS $50 SWEATER

THIS EYELET TOP

Not that you asked, but these in the raffia would be the perfect wear-with-everything spring shoe.

Q: I was gifted a great aunt’s pearl necklace (circa 1910). How to style to look current instead of stodgy?

A: Lucky you!!! How cool. I would go one of two ways:

1) Keep the rest of the look super clean and modern with a slim-fit white crewneck sweater/tee, high-rise dark wash jeans, and pointed-toe or cap-toe flats. The look is stream-lined and elegant.

2) Pair with a contemporary shape, like a puffed-sleeve or smocked bodice.

Q: Suggestions for a baby shower dress for a girl mom to be?

A: Congratulations! Exciting. A few of my top picks:

+I am obsessed with this new-to-me label Batsheva and this dress looks like it would be perfect with a bump. Pair with a delicate kitten heel/sandal and some statement earrings to keep the look young.

+Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m smitten with these Loretta Caponi dresses, especially with Hermes Oran sandals and a top knot and a bright lip. (Look how cute a very pregnant Julia from Gal Meets Glam was in this!)

+For a more formal/traditional venue (i.e., country club or tea), this dress looks very Jackie O and this dress (from the same label) is super sweet. I’d pair either with my Tory Burch Tatiana mules (sold out, but you can still find them on eBay / Poshmark).

+For something more modern, this plaid Ganni would be bump-friendly and so chic!

+I absolutely swoon over the gorgeous embroidered pieces from Mi Golondrina — this would be adorable.

+This floral is just darling. Love.

+This white midi is a showstopper.

P.S. Pregnancy must-haves.

Q: I really liked the Poppy Bows Etsy shop that you recommended, but it seems she has closed! Where else do you find toddler hair bows?

A: I love WeeOnes on Amazon! Great quality and ship via Amazon Prime. I like the medium ones for everyday and the king sized for a major statement (they are HUGE — 6″).

Q: You wrote at some point about buying a little scooter for your daughter. I was considering one for my child’s upcoming second birthday. Was a two-year-old able to master it, or would it be better to wait until age three? Any other gift ideas for a two year old?

A: Yes! We got mini the Micro Mini in cherry red. Two year olds can absolutely use it right away and master it quickly, especially this brand, which has just the right dimensions. Most toddlers in New York scoot around on these! More ideas for toddler gifts here, but one of our gifts for mini on her second birthday was a play table and a chair just her size. She has used it daily since!

Q: I am considering taking a family trip to New York in early June with an eight-month-old.  First and foremost, am I insane? I am curious as to your packing recommendations and suggestions for navigating the city for a weekend with a little. What are the must-haves to pack?  What to leave at home? Grateful and #blessed for your thoughts in advance.

A: Not insane! I can speak from experience because we moved to New York when mini was eight months and I can specifically remember being scared about that — but honestly, Manhattan is WONDERFUL if your baby can still fit into a carrier. I was obsessed with the Baby Bjorn mini and would recommend that hands-down, though micro did just outgrow it (he’s enormous) and so we’ve gotten a big carrier. But, MUST bring your carrier. You’ll find it easy to get around on the subway, etc., with that. If you own one of those Doona carseat/strollers, that seems like a brilliant solution for airport/longer cabs, though we worked with what we had: a Nuna carseat that snaps into the Babyzen Yoyo with these adaptors. (When mini was little, those adaptors did not exist, so we put the Nuna in this inexpensive carseat carrier. It’s not the best thing I’ve ever used (janky), but it got the job done and was cheap!) I would also recommend bringing a backpack so that you are hands-free and a ton of hand sanitizer.

Random things to make sure you have: dish soap, a bottle brush, and a travel drying rack; a travel white noise machine because NY is noisy!; diaper bags for stowing dirty diapers in the hotel room or when out and about; and — MOST IMPORTANTLY — a laissez faire attitude. Will you be able to follow your schedule? No. Will your baby have a blowout in a fancy restaurant? Yes. Will you wind up changing your baby on a bathroom floor because there’s no changing table? Most likely. Chalk it up to adventure and power on.

Things you can leave at home: travel crib (most hotels have them, but definitely call to confirm) and diapers (I have either Amazon Primed them to my destination or — in NY — just stopped at a Duane Reade or CVS, as they are on virtually every corner and diapers are SO bulky to pack!…of course, pack like six for the travel day; you always run through them faster than you think).

I shared more of my favorite gear when traveling with children here, and shared some thoughts on traveling with little children here.

Q: I need some inspiration for the room my boys will be sharing! I have twin beds but don’t know how to fill the space between them. Bedside tables? A bookshelf?

A: I would first make sure that I have a rug large enough to run from wall to wall — I think that will make the room look very cohesive vs. a rug that lays between the beds. A few of my favorite rugs for little boys’ rooms: this striped one, this Mark Sikes one (also comes in navy or tan), and this one, which is in Hill’s room. I would then consider using a wide dresser between the two beds. I love this one (or, if space is wider, this one), and then placing a lamp on each end (love these). Consider this photo for inspiration:

Q: Our daughter is getting married and I have a few showers to attend.  I am so thrilled for her and want to give her something special….something that is not on her registry .  Any thoughts???   I would love for it to be something she will treasure for years to come!

A: Ooh, I love this. My first thought was a few of the serving bowls / platters that go with her china set but that she may not have registered for. My MIL gave us bowls and platters that matched our pattern in duplicate and I am SO HAPPY she did because you kind of need a lot of them when serving dinner! Someone also got us this elegant coffee pot, which went with our china set but that I never would have asked for and it makes me so happy.

Luggage would be a wonderful gift as it is expensive and no one wants to invest in it but it is SO NEEDED and you can frame it as “something to take with you on your adventures as a couple.” People rave about Rimowa.

Another thought: my parents bought Landon and I a tree for the home we bought in Chicago. I was so moved by that. I’m not sure if your daughter owns her place, but that would be a very memorable gift. A rose or peony bush or maybe some boxwoods would be so lovely — plants/trees are so expensive!

They also offered to buy us a piece of furniture when we moved in New York and it was just the most thoughtful indulgence. It felt like they were investing in our lives together and helping us outfit our new home. Maybe you can have a sense for something she has needed or wanted in her house — a new dresser, an updated coffee table, new dining chairs?

Or maybe something she’s decided to “scrimp” or “save” on for the wedding — for example, my mother surprised me on the day of our wedding by having paid for lighting specialists! It totally changed the mood of the reception and it was such an extravagance that I’d considered but dismissed as too frivolous. You could do something like that — like maybe she’s decided to go with a simple and practical pair of white pumps and you surprise her with a trip to Nordstrom to buy a pair of Manolos.

For something ultra-splurgy, a set of sterling silver? I inherited a set from my parents and from Landon’s parents and I absolutely love using it with guests. It’s so special and something I will pass down to my children. You can buy new sterling silver from Christofle or Tiffany or scout out some beautiful vintage sets on Etsy (or, if you’re local to D.C., the Christ Child Opportunity Shop always has amazing silver).

These are all pretty big ticket item purchases, but I should also add that some of the most meaningful gifts I’ve received from my mom have been items of hers that she loved — handbags, scarves, necklaces, etc. That could be a special gift for your daughter on her wedding day, too.

Q: I’m a bridesmaid in a Bermuda wedding. Any recommendations for a light pink gown that works on the beach?

A: Ooh la la. This is pretty and beachy, this is right up my alley though possibly a little saucy, this is on-trend, and I always love Needle & Thread if the bride tolerates a little embellishment.

Q: I’m going to three weddings this spring — the kicker is that I’ll be seven months pregnant for the last one. The same dress is fine (the weddings are among different groups of friends) and I’d love to stay under $200 (ideally under $150). Help!

A: Hi! I mentioned this above in response to a baby shower query, but this dress could work with or without bump, though it’s not super-formal so it would depend on the events. Love that big dramatic bow in the back! This or this dress look very roomy/could work with bump, but the open backs would depend on your own comfort level. (I adore both though!) Also check out Zara’s Mama collection – lots of affordable and fashion-forward scores there that aren’t explicitly maternity.

P.S. More Magpie mail here and here.

13 Comments

  1. Oh, I love the Batsheva and Needle and Thread dresses you posted here! The Batsheva pick is really pretty, and would be great for non-pregnant people, too. I’m tempted, though I decided in late February to stop shopping for clothing, full-stop, until further notice, as I’m overwhelmed by my (very full) wardrobe and have come to the realization that I need to get more wear out of what I already have. It will probably be tricky as we turn towards spring, but I’m doing my best … ha!

    xx

    1. Oh I KNOW but the Batsheva dresses…!!! So on-trend right now. Kind of modern Victorian situation. LOVE.

  2. Thank you for answering my maternity wedding guest question! I love that Tyler Boe dress (but wish it came in a different color – may order it just to see anyways) and didn’t even think to check out Zara. I currently have about 5928262 dresses on their way to me from Nordstrom and even Amazon to see if anything will work – adding a few more of your recs now too. Thanks again!!

  3. Some advice for the mother of the bride – I just got married in September and at one of my showers, my mom gave me a set of vintage silver serving pieces. But it wasn’t just any vintage – it was pieces from the collections of my family members! Grandmas (and even great-grandmas) on both sides, aunts, and some of her own. She put a tag on each piece with who it was from, and what the pattern was, and a note reminding me that every day is a special occasion, so use it! It was so sweet and touching and an instant heirloom. (And I do, in fact, use them!)

    1. Oh my GOSH I love this. Not only because you have a set of family history living with you, but because it must have taken your mother so much time (and love) to put it together. So sweet 🙂 xxx

  4. I love the advice about the pearl necklace! I have some beautiful pieces from my grandmother that I don’t wear since they are more fancy/old-fashioned than my typical style. Pairing them with super simple attire would perhaps make them feel fresh rather than stuffy. Good advice!

    1. HAHA — THIS ONE in particular also jumped out at me, so much so that I texted a screen shot of it to my brother out of the blue. HILARIOUS. I love the matter-of-fact, punctuation-less reply: “Grace there is no vinegar.”

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