Q: Looking for an amazing cream turtleneck sweater for the winter.
Related: chic statement sweaters for fall here!
Q: Best (preferably midi) sweater dress for an outdoor drive-by baby shower (mine!)
A: Congratulations! This one is super fun with the bow in the back (and on sale, and cashmere!). Caveat emptor: I found Hatch ran really big. This turtleneck style is very on-trend with the exaggerated sleeves, maybe paired with a fun fall headband. And this one in the black would be sleek with some trendy flats. If you’re earlier in your pregnancy (slash this *could* work with a serious bump — can’t tell from the pictures), I am obsessed with this non-maternity sweater dress. Currently in my cart!
Q: I’m planning to move to DC from Seattle by Christmas. Any planning tips, especially in light of COVID19?
A: Wow! Good luck — I know how stressful a move can be, and then throw in COVID-19 and the fact that it’s cross-country and just know that you need to be kind to yourself. These were the things that helped us tremendously in all of our moves:
+Craft a long checklist in an excel document or digital list tool like Wunderlist or even the Reminders app in your iPhone of every last thing that crosses your mind that you need to do. Everything from registering your car to cashing in public transit fare cards to selling the couch you know you won’t be bringing with you. Add to this list as things cross your mind. For me, having a central, organized place to keep everything made me feel more in control and like I was less likely to let something slip through the cracks. Then assign each item a due date and an urgency level (high, medium, low). Organize by due date and make sure to tackle the most urgent items at the top of the list first.
+If you can swing it, pay for professional packers. This has totally saved my sanity the last three moves.
+Whether you use professional packers or not, you will need to organize, declutter, and pack certain items yourself. Start this early — even a month before the move date — because sometimes things take a lot more time than you think. With each move, I have found myself waylaid by all the organization/extra steps that come with sifting through items to donate, trash, and sell. It all takes time and coordination! Probably a good idea to tackle dense closets earliest.
+My dad has always been on me to change my license/ID as soon as I get to a new state, and transfer car tags, etc. He’s always been right. You can run into weird issues if you don’t do this ASAP.
+Pack a capsule wardrobe that can span two weeks and “living essentials” bag (i.e., cosmetics, hair care, brush, medicines, chargers, laptop, laundry detergent, dish soap and a sponge, plastic cups) for yourself and keep that isolated in a suitcase for yourself about a week prior to moving. That way, you can pack freely without having to worry about fishing things out.
+Keep a DO NOT PACK space somewhere in your apartment with a few rolls of paper towels, cleaning spray, sharpies, sponges, hand soap, masking tape, trash bags (!!!), and a wine key (ha). These are things you always need and that are easy to throw into boxes before you realize you still need them.
Q: Which do you value more, religion or spirituality?
A: I had to sit with this question for a long time. I felt instinctually as though I should say that I value spirituality more, as preferring “religion” might suggest that I am more interested in the rules and apparatus than I am its core teachings. But, upon reflection, the truth is that I don’t know if I can disambiguate between the two, as they are so deeply connected to one another for me. I was raised by devout Catholic parents, attended Catholic school until college, and frankly fell in love with the rituals and culture of the Catholic Church as a child. My spiritual life has developed within that framework — has been borne of it — and so I can’t imagine one without the other, or assign a value to either. I’m deeply curious about the provenance of this question, and what other Magpies would have to say about this topic.
Q: Any brother/sister Halloween costume ideas?
A: We are doing a family homage to The Little Mermaid. Mini begged to be Ariel so we got her a standard dress-up set (complete with red wig — it’s hilarious on her), micro is Sebastian (<<technically a lobster costume but looks like a crab), Mr. Magpie is King Triton (trident, wig, and crown), and I am a very lazy Ursula. (She assigned us our characters).
The fact that she was so adamant about being Ariel made it pretty easy. If your kids are not particularly jazzed on anything in particular, I’m dying over this baby Eeyore costume (they have all the Pooh characters for ages under 24M) and this for a toddler Piglet.
Basically, all the Disney movies present adorable brother/sister costume ideas!
Q: Any gift ideas for a 1.5 year old girl?
A: Yes! I did a round up of great gifts for toddlers here and recently a round-up of “slow-burn toys” for little children. Speaking specifically to this age, mini loved her mini Carolle doll, Little People house and toys, and play food, especially her tea set, at 1.5.
Q: I’m looking for casual clothes that also make me look put together. I’m a mom of two!
A: I hear you, mama! For fall, I would recommend buying a pair of jeans that makes you feel good about yourself first and foremost. J. Brand is still running this 40% off promotion, and I alternate between a few pairs of J. Brands and J. Crew toothpick jeans, which fit me like a dream and are almost always on sale. Add a pair of great everyday shoes that allow for movement and are comfortable — I have been living in my Gucci mules, my GG sneakers, and my VB loafers — and then buy some inexpensive on-trend tops and accessories. In short, my formula is this: invest in pieces that do the hard work (jeans and shoes that you’ll wear constantly!) and scrimp on the trendier pieces that you won’t wear for dozens of seasons but that make you feel “together” and “relevant” now. A few trendy scores I particularly like today:
Q: Any suggestions for games to play with family for Thanksgiving?
A: So fun! Love that you’re thinking ahead like this. I just ordered this to play with my sister and brother-in-law for the occasion, but if children will be around, Apples to Apples and Scattergories are always big hits in our family.
Q: Do you have recommendations for baby’s first Christmas ornament? Thanks so much!
A: Ooh, yes! I’m in love with these hand-stitched linen ones. Beyond beautiful.
Separately, another holiday item for children worth planning ahead for: an advent calendar. We gift mini little treats every day of Advent and I think I might upgrade to this one this year.
Finally, this custom home portrait ornament is such a stunning gift for a new home-owner!
Q: I’m looking for toddler winter gloves, hats, and scarves!
A: For gloves, I can’t recommend this inexpensive 3-pack more. Good colors and they will get lost, so it’s nice that they’re not super-precious. (Plus, I already like having multiples — I already stowed one set in her backpack.)
For hats, I am in love with the ones from Blueberry Hill. I bought one for mini last year similar to this and she received so many compliments. They are well-priced but look almost hand-knitted by a grandmother. This solid cream one is probably the most practical as it will go with anything, but I love this fair-isle style, too.
Q: When on a budget for clothes, shoes, etc., how do you choose where to invest and where not to?
A: My personal philosophy is to invest in good shoes. You wear them every single day, they probably take more of a beating than any other article of clothing you own (and therefore quality or the lack thereof shows quickly), and they can make a $20 cotton dress look amazing. “Good shoes” does not have to mean “non-trendy,” either. I have Valentino Rockstuds, Gucci Princetowns, and Aquazzura Christy lace-ups that I anticipated would fade out of favor but I still wear every single season and I still feel great about. These are shoes that look amazing after infinite uses because they are great quality and built to last! If I were preparing to invest in one pair of shoes, I would recommend a pair of Chanel ballet flats. These have never, ever, ever gone out of style and they go with everything from dresses to jeans to even shorts! You’ll feel like a million bucks in them.
The other area I would invest in is really good denim that makes you feel great — at least, if you’re like me, and wear denim most days of autumn and winter.
Then you can pair with inexpensive sweaters, exaggerated collar tops, and the like. My approach is generally to save on the upper half of my body (tops, accessories) and to invest in the bottom half (jeans, shoes).
Q: Best children’s books about Jesus or The Bible for a three year old?
A: I had to call in the expert for this one, who recommended this children’s Bible. (Elizabeth is also a very devout Catholic and I routinely turn to her for advice on raising my children in the faith.). She did warn that the questions at the end of every story are heavy-handed and repetitive, but added that her son (just turned 5) absolutely loves the Bible and those questions. I just ordered it for mini, realizing I did not have a children’s Bible for her!
The religious books that mini has loved for a long time are this lift-the-flap Noah’s Ark book, this Christmas book (which we read all year round — she’s loved this since she was one year old!), and this prayer book.
Q: What would you use for bathroom shelves or bathroom storage for a cramped space?
A: I so feel you on this. We had to get really crafty with using every spare inch of our bathroom in our first apartment here in NY in particular. A couple thoughts…
+This narrow storage cabinet has clean, simple, unobtrusive lines for stowing beauty products, toilet paper, towels, etc.
+This is a clever pair of free-floating shelves, one of which has a hand towel rack — could be perfect for above a toilet or next to a sink.
+I don’t love over-the-toilet furniture because I feel like they tend to make the space feel more cluttered and clunky, but sometimes you don’t really have a choice in the matter if you’re super tight on space. This one and this one are chic options.
+This caddy is an attractive way to make the most of a narrow space — use it horizontally!
+A storage cart like this or this (note the built-in pocket for hot tools!) could be the ticket — I like that they aren’t as chunky/bulky as a lot of furniture solutions might be, and the open shelving makes things easy to access (and blocks out less space in the room).
+This OXO shower caddy is SO thoughtfully designed. Randomly one of my favorite home purchases, with hooks for a loofah and a bed for your razor and the perfect height for most shampoos/conditioners. It also stores A LOT.
+A free-standing towel rack could be one way to get overflow towels out of a cabinet to free up more space for products.
P.S. More Magpie Mail.
P.P.S. Target home finds.
P.P.P.S. What are you secretly good at?